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Old 03-05-2004, 06:55 PM   #1
Bęthberry
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Shield The White Horse Inn, Act III

The curtain rises on The White Horse Inn, Act III, Rohan's premier Inn and purveyor of fine gaming and characters.

The plot so far:

It is the 4th Age, Year One. This is the year 1423 by Shire Reckoning and four years after the events of the War of the Ring, fourteen years after the events of the previous White Horse Inn.

For the world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, and I smell it in the air. Treebeard.

Aragorn, ruling as Elessar, and Arwen are King and Queen of the combined kingdom of Arnor and Gondor.

Éomer Éadig sits on the throne of Rohan as King of the Mark, in the Golden Hall here in Edoras, with his wife, Queen Lothíriel, daughter of Imrahil, who he wedded last year.

Faramir, Prince of Ithilien, and his wife Eowyn reside in Ithilien, laying the foundations to return it to the garden.

Treebeard and Quickbeam and the other Ents are reforesting Fangorn and the lands that lie eastward are now open to them.

Gimli is become Lord of the Glittering Caves, having brought south a group of Dwarf-folk from Erebor and Legolas has brought south a group of elves out of Greenwood, now called Eyrn Lasgalen in its reclamation. Soon these two will move to dwell in Ithilien.

Erebor and Dale are recovering from the devastations of The Battle of the Dale and The Seige of Erebor, where fell both their kings. Thorin III Stonehelm now rules the Dwarven folk as the King under the Mountain in Erebor while Bard II is King of Dale.

Rivendell is become a ghost town; Lothlorien, a silent forest.

Will Whitfoot is Mayor of The Shire, where years of bounty have returned and the sole Mallorn tree in the western lands blooms.

Aylwen Dreamsong is now the Innkeeper of The White Horse, where Bethberry, the former Innkeeper, still resides as owner, although she leaves the running of the Inn entirely up to Aylwen.

Other ongoing characters of the Inn are: (Please PM Bethberry if you wish your character to be a regular working in the Inn or around Edoras. She will add your character/s here.)

Ongoing characters in the Inn


Aedre, serving maid (Orofaniel)

Aylwen Dreamsong, Innkeeper (Aylwen Dreamsong )

Bethberry, former Innkeeper (Bethberry)

Goldwine, the cat (Imladris)

Leofan, stable master and his family
Frodides (the mother)
Maercwen (seventeen-year-old lass)
Gomen (twelve-year-old lad)
Giefu (ten-year-old lad)
Mereflod (seven-year-old lass)
Deman (six-year-old lad)
Fierlan (six-year-old lad; twin to Deman)
Motan (four-year-old lass)
Middaeg (two-year-old lass)
Beorht (two-year-old lad; twin to Beorht)
Drihten (the bonny baby laddie)

(shades of Sam and Rosie! ) Nurumaiel

Ruthven, the village pedlar or rag lady (Bethberry)

Talieasin (?) Imladris


Use well the Inn, Writers of the Mark.

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Old 03-05-2004, 06:58 PM   #2
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Shield Some notes about gaming at The White Horse and in Rohan

Anyone whose posts can meet the minimum standard for gaming in The Shire may post in The White Horse. Please make sure you are familiar with The Redbook of Westmarch (in The Shire) and The Golden Hall (here in Rohan); these treads provide valuable information about gaming at the Barrow Downs.

No SAVES are allowed in the Inn.

The White Horse Act III is run as an interactive, improvisational game. You can plan events via PM or email but the main point is to take your cue from the posts which precede yours. Please read them carefully so your posts reflect current events, the time, the weather, and who other characters are and what they are doing.

Only the Innkeeper or the Moderator can move the Timeframe foreward.

Gaming at the Horse is open but playing in Rohan games is restricted to gamers who have shown they can can game responsibly and reliably, demonstrating the basic techniques of interactive role playing and writing in clean, clear, correct English. (No chatspeak is allowed.). Please see the next post for the lists of Rohan Game Players and Game Managers.
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Old 03-05-2004, 07:11 PM   #3
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Shield Rohan Game Players and Game Founders/Managers

Anyone can game at The White Horse as long as their posts meet the minimum standard for writing as described in The Shire.

Rohan is the place where gamers build upon the skills learnt in The Shire and prepare to become fully independent gamers in Gondor. (It is still a moderated forum but gamers are expected to be more independent and responsible ) For that reason, we have two levels of gamers in Rohan, based upon the level of successful gaming experience in The Shire. People who have participated responsibly and reliably in Shire games and who have demonstrated at least the potential for creative, imaginative, excellent writing skills are Rohan Game Players.

People who have founded and run a game successfully in The Shire have full status as Game Founder (or Manager) as well as Player. These gamers have proven they can maintain a level of enthusiasm and interest over the duration of a game and can motivate their fellow game participants.

Please note that Rohan games are owned by everyone who participates in them. While the Game Founder (or Manager) has an idea of how the game is plotted and structured, all gamers participate in creating the story by writing it.

For the full list of Game Founders and Game Players, please read the thread
The Golden Hall

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Old 03-05-2004, 07:22 PM   #4
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The setting

Spring equinox is two weeks away in Edoras but more significantly, the month of March brings remembrance of the culminating events of the War of the Ring. The Shirelings might not commemorate March 25 or September 22 but who is to say that the Rohirrim do not as their nation was more intimately involved in the War than was The Shire?

March 10: The Dawnless Day, the Muster of Rohan

March 15: The Battle of the Pelennor

March 17: The Battle of Dale and the ensuing Seige of Erebor

March 25: Sam and Frodo ascend Sammath Naur; Gollem and the Ring fall into Mount Doom. The Passing of Sauron. (See Appendix B to LOTR)

How will the Rohirim mark these events, so soon after their occurence? It is up to you to imagine, Writers of the Mark. Did your character fight in any of the battles? Did you have family or friends fall in the slaughter?

As for opening day of The White Horse Inn, Act III, it is mild, with the snow and ice melting into small rivulets and much mud. Eventually this water feeds the stream which flows out of Edoras into the Snowborne and on towards the marshes of the Entwash. The wind which blows in off the plains has lost its bitterly cold edge but nights are still very chilly.

(For more details about the walled, gated town of Edoras, please read "The King of the Golden Hal," chapter 6 of Book I of TheTwo Towers.)

It is mid morning and the Innkeeper of The White Horse, Aylwen Dreamsong, has been about her work already for several hours. The sun is shining brightly even though the air is cool.
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Old 03-06-2004, 06:02 PM   #5
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Crisp air filtered through the cracked windows of the White Horse, heralding the harsh end of winter and coming of spring. It was a brilliant morning and it seemed the sun was yearning for a time when it could bring its warmth. Aylwen smiled contentedly as she went about her work in the White Horse.

The day would be particularly busy, for celebrations in Edoras as well as within the Inn would begin that night to commemorate the strength of the Rohirrim in the War of the Ring, not so many years before. Stories would be told later that evening, songs and poetry would be recited as people reminisced about ages and relationships past. There would be dancing and reenacted tales of the heroes from the War. For some it was hard to remember without feeling pain, but for others who had moved on it was a time to show appreciation through the happiness that had been restored.

For Aylwen, it had been fourteen long years at the White Horse Inn. So much had happened and so much had changed as the days had flown by and the years had culminated. The White Horse had been given paint touch-ups and the roof had been repaired, but it all seemed the same to Aylwen. One kind apprentice to a carpenter in town had shaped and painted a new sign for the White Horse Inn, with a white stallion on a field of green. Before the nipping chill of last winter had come, Aylwen had gone out with some of the children to plant the flower bulbs that would grow along the lane leading to the door of the Inn that spring. Looking out the window Aylwen saw the old stable, which had gathered its share of vines the past summer. All the vines had lost their green luster, and had become brown in the winter season. It had been built strong, lasting through long storms and many winters since it had been built. Aylwen still told the story of the day it burned to the ground and the ‘valiant heroes who had saved horses and rebuilt the stable’.

Patrons excitedly ate their food or conversed with their friends, looking as decorations were put up. Children played hide and seek around the tables until a laughing Aylwen told them to take it outside while the grown-ups were working. Looking forward to that night’s festivities, Aylwen continued to cater to the needs of the patrons of the White Horse Inn on that cool near-spring morning.
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Old 03-07-2004, 07:19 AM   #6
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Harold Brandybuck

Harold Brandybuck was for the first time out of his sweet Shire,but he did not regret it as he had mind for travelling all the Middle-Earth now that there was a King in Gondor and the roads were open and no longer controlled by the ruffians.He was standing 4 foot tall and to a Rider of Rohan he would seem only a child or so he thought.

He had journeyed for a long time and at last he had reached Rohan,he was sore and hungry ,he had only little food and his little pony Henry was underfed ,he wondered where he could find a Inn or whether there was any Inn in Rohan.He also wondered how would the people of this land treat him,at the gates stood two tall guards covered in mail of green .

They stooped him asked"What may be your name and your business in this country of Rohan?",and they wondered at this traveller for they had never seen an hobbit before. Harold replied "I am a traveller and a carpenter and am looking for an Inn in this country.",then the guards let him in.

And there looking he found the White Horse Inn and he was relieved he went to its stables and locked his pony in and then went inside and sat in the Common Room looking for someone to chat with.....
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Old 03-07-2004, 09:35 PM   #7
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Tolkien

An old man, his feet tripping over his flowing white beard, trudged up the road towards the White Horse Inn. His breath wheezed, ragged breeches ended at his knotted knees, he shivered at the breath of a mild breeze. He leaned upon a wooden cane, a twisted one that wobbled when he walked, and he wiped his nose occasionally with an embroidered hanky. His fingers were stained with blackish ink, and his fingers traced letters in the air. As he plodded along in the dusty street, he muttered to himself, as if he was talking with a friend that was not there. Across his left eye, there was a morbid patch, a banner of rougher times, while the right one was a shimmering, limpid blue that stared, unblinking, at the horizon.

Upon his shoulders sprawled a golden cat with clouded golden eyes and a mangled paw. His tail served as a scarf to save the fragile man from the choking fingers of the spring time wind that searched for warmth to kill and breath to steel. Once every two minutes, the man’s hand would absently stroke the graying fur and the cat, Goldwine by name, would like the gnarled limb with a pale pink tongue.

With a little smile that showed his yellowed face and creased his face with more wrinkles than before, he pushed the door open and blinked at the bustling people. He tried to remember what special event the party would celebrate, but he couldn’t quite remember it. But something hovered around his memory, like flaming balls falling just outside his vision.

He eased himself into his chair and took out a crinkling piece of parchment. From another pocket, he pulled a crystal bottle with a narrow, urn-like neck filled with murky, blackish ink. Taking a slim, goose feather, he dipped the quill into the ink and, with a soft melodious scratching sound, wrote the name Taliesin .
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Old 03-08-2004, 03:03 PM   #8
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Oin had wandered for days, looking for some place to rest. His companion had left him, bereft of all save his life's breath barely resting upon his lips. Ahh! Ponto had had his own problems, it was no wonder that he had left him behind.

He came to Edoras; and, passing through the gate, he saw that sight which he had only heard about through his distant relative, Gimli. He was his second cousin twice removed on his father's aunt's mother's brother... oh, let the women, who are few, meddle with relationships! He was tired.

He found the Inn, the White Horse. As he walked inside, he smelled the clean, crisp air of a well-used establishment. He would enjoy it here.

-------

As he sipped his ale, he saw a few people move through the door, in and out, going about business, in their usual manner. He saw a carpenter hobbit who looked a lot like his friend, Ponto. Maybe he would travel to the Shire one day, and see for himself how Ponto had gotten along.

Now he was merely traveling through on his way to the Glittering Caves of Aglarond, where he was going to work and live. Oh, that he could see them now! Ah, well. He was a few days journey still from them. Siiiip!
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Old 03-09-2004, 01:36 PM   #9
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Shield Aedre

The sun was shining outside. Its warming rays were about to melt the ice cubes, which were now lingering around the window frames. Every so often, you could hear the melted ice drip down from the window frames and fall to the ground, making small rivulets. But in order to hear it from inside, there had to be a perfect silence and you had to concentrate. This however, was not a problem for Aedre; she’d already heard it many times. “Ahh…How much it reminds me of spring!” She had said each time and laughed merrily.

It was still cold outside, but the winter was soon to fade away and a new season was about to dominate the country. The warmth would come, and Aedre could feel it already. It was a very comforting thought.

Even though it was early, Aedre had a job to do; there were tables to clean, dishwashing to do, floors to sweep and it didn't really stop there. She didn’t want to complain about how tired and exhausted she was though, because the poor innkeeper had already been up for hours. Complaining wasn’t really one of those things Aedre did either. She had decided long ago to see things in a more positive way; instead of complaining about the lack of sleep, she would be happy for even having such a wonderful job. Aylwen Dreamsong was also a wonderful and caring innkeeper and Aedre was happy to work for her.

Aedre was originally a chef, but lately she’d been working as a servant and a maid at the Horse. When she’d first come here to find a job, for around half a year ago, Aedre had been insecure about applying for a job. She knew that the White Horse Inn had a great reputation, and there seemed to be nothing but nice words to describe the Inn, but she had feared of being rejected. She had tried to get jobs like these before, and it had always been the same answer. The thing that was so great about the White Horse was that it was very close to her home. By this, she had the opportunity to see her parents as often as she liked. This was absolutely the best place to work, and she would always be grateful towards Aylwen for taking her in. Aedre had felt at home at once, which wasn’t a big surprise because Aylwen had always been very polite towards her and Aylwen welcomed her right away.

Without even noticing it herself, she’d been standing thinking about the past for quite some time. She shook her head, hoping that it would take her into the present, and it certainly did.

The employers at the Inn had many things to prepare since it would soon be some very special and important events for the Rohirrim. Aedre was quite curious about how the Inn was going to mark these events, but she hadn't been able to ask Aylwen yet. Even though she didn't know what they were going to do, she wanted to join the preparations. That she knew for certain.
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Old 03-10-2004, 08:08 AM   #10
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Harold Brandybuck

Harold Brandybuck had come newly to Rohan ,a distant country to him,he had found the White Horse Inn to rest himself from the long journey and now he needed some food and some drink he thought,but he did'nt find anyone in the room.

So he went out and in the common room and there he found a woman cleaning tables and chairs,Harold wanted to know where he could get food and also wished to know who this woman was,so he approached her and bowing low he said," Hello ,my lady I am Master Harold Brandybuck from the Shire ,you may not have seen many of my kind in Rohan,but I have journeyed far and long and I have a mind for food and drink,May you be kind enough to show me where it is served.OH! What a most disgracefull hobbit I am not ,I did'nt even ask your name.Forgive my foolishness but what may your fair name be my lady ?",he asked.

The Lady looked at him in astonishment as if she had seen a ghost and replied....
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Old 03-10-2004, 11:30 AM   #11
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Shield Ruthven and Bethberry talk about hobbits and dwarves

Two women, one elderly, the other of indeterminate age, sat in a small alcove with full glass doors that gave out onto the back of the White Horse Inn. Through them could be seen a row of young apple trees, maybe ten feet high. If one were close to them, one could see tiny buds appearing on the branches, but from the Inn they still appeared like dark skeletons against the sky, branches leafless and budless.

The women's eyes turned back towards the Inn, watching the partons congregate.

"More people from distant lands appear these days, " observed the older woman, her grey hair plaited in thins rounds about her head, her shoulders stooped from toil, but her eyes still bright with shrewd life and wit.

The other woman turned to her, her face now showing a few lines of wrinkles about her mouth and her eyes holding a solemn air of composure mixed with sadness.

"You still find hobbits fascinating, Ruthven?" Bethberry asked.

"Indeed, I still do. They remind me in some ways of Madi--not all, but some."

"I wonder what he would think of your observation."

Ruthven laughed. "He would snort indignantly and tell me my eyes are failing."

Bethberry smiled. "Well, we shall have to get to know more hobbits like this one. I think Aedre told me his name is Harold Brandybuck."

Ruthven did not answer. Instead, the two women sipped their tea, enjoying each other's company.

"I'm glad Oin found the Horse," remarked Bethberry after some time. "He looked a bit forelorn and lost when I first saw him. "

The sun shone through the full panes of glass, warming the women and outlinging their figures with light.
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Old 03-10-2004, 03:00 PM   #12
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Boots Finky

Finky came slinking to Edoras; being a Dwarf by birth, he still had dunlanding blood in him that was apparent in some regards. He hoped his cloak would hide most of his giveaways. His real name wasn't Finky, they just called him that; he knew neither mother nor father, nor what his real name was.

Slipping in a group of travelers passing through the gate, he made his way inside the capital-fortress of Rohan. He had been told that there was an Inn about, the White Pony, or Grey Stallion, some colored beast of Rohan.

Finding the White Horse - that was it, the White Horse - , he slipped inside there; even though there did not seem to be any great number of soldiers guarding the entrance, it was wise to be cautious.

Who should he find when he got an ale and sat down, but his friend, Oin Stealthanvil. " 'ello, Oin! It mus' 'as been nought but a bit o' bad luck as kept usn's apart affer that fight."

"Aye, couldn't imagine what else could've." Oin said grumbling, staring at his ale. But then, he always was a grumbler.

"Why'd ye come 'ere, Oin? Thi' tain't na place ye should be, ye're apposed to be in dem Glitterin' Cavy tings."

"I come here ta have an ale and rest; I ain't have need of going to the Caves for nigh two months, as my, um, er, 'relation' Gimli has given me leave to try to find our friend Ponto," was Oin's unevasive reply.

"May I as join ye?" asked Finky.

"Might as well." Oin replied. "I don't know why you would want to, but oh, well....." Siiiiiiip!

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Old 03-10-2004, 05:25 PM   #13
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Noon draws near...

The Innkeeper continued her work at the front desk, calculating revenue and filling out papers. Looking up, Aylwen smiled as the maidservant Aedre continued her work. The Innkeeper was always glad to have such a dedicated worker who didn't whine or complain. Aylwen hoped that the job wasn't too horrible for Aedre. It was tiring, yes. Always tiring. Then Aylwen sighed and corrected herself, remembering how life seemed to get more tiring with each passing year.

As she looked about the Inn, Aylwen also saw Ruthven and Bethberry. Bethberry was the owner and former Innkeeper of the White Horse. Aylwen and Bethberry had known each other for many long years, but Aylwen still remembered the circumstances of their meeting so long ago. Aylwen remembered when she first came to the Inn, and she recalled Ruthven and the little being called Madi. Aylwen laughed at the memories of the little man and his funny way of talking.

Aylwen watched, intrigued, as a little Hobbit man began to converse with Aedre. It was interesting and surprising, to say the least, seeing a Hobbit in the Land of the Horse-Tamers. Other customers went about their day, and in one of these groups came a slightly peculiar man who proceeded to sit down with a dwarf nearby. They began to speak with each other, and all seemed fine despite the sly nature of the man-sized companion to the dwarf. But Aylwen had no reason to suspect anything of anyone…

Noon was fast approaching, and though the sun continued its journey across the sky the air continued to stay cool and did not seem willing to change any time soon. Decorative flowers and banners were going up, minstrels were practicing jigs outside the inn, and many locals waited for the sun to drop and the festivities to begin.

Aylwen’s favorite parts about the March celebrations were the stories about the war that patrons told. Some were bloody and gruesome; others were heartwarming with the relationships between fellow soldiers. Many were sad, others were happy with what had occurred because of the defeat of Sauron. The best part about the stories, though, was that they were never exactly alike. After all, not many people with stories to tell stayed in the Inn long enough to tell them twice.

Snapping out of her reverie, Aylwen got back to work with a smile on her face as more customers entered or exited the Inn.
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Old 03-10-2004, 09:39 PM   #14
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Tolkien Goldwine, Prince of Cats

With the congenital equilibrium that is so peculiar to our felinity, I remained upon Taliesin’s wasted twisted shoulders. ’Twas strange the revolutions of time that spun the thread of mortal’s lives: long ago, when the kitten’s fur had but shortly left me, I had been here before. But then another shoulders, strong and lithe with the vigor of youth, had born my frosted aurulent aura. Faran: noblest of bipeds. Now all he was was cadaver, the remnants of which will undoubtedly be found in various edacious, beaked beings that follow the trail of vermilion cruor
in times cruel conflict.

Do not ask me the location or the time of day of his death, for I, most ignobly, was cowering within the frail arms of a ligneous cottage within the fortress of Helm’s Deep. It was there that I sullied the sublime intemerate nobility that I once could claim as my own. The shafts of death that winged over the walls should have been as the phantoms of my imagination to me and that I failed was a transgression of such ponderous, colossal proportions that I contemplated the aggregation my beloved throne. But, after cool reasoning, I realized that I could not and that the only thing that remained to be done was to acquire a new master who would become my sole subject. And amid the healing houses tainted with the air of bereavement, I found Taliesin.

A film has formed before my eyes, and all the activities of this inn are nothing but a whimsical blur of motion. No longer do I roam the wooden floors with coquettish grace, no longer seek for milk from a ladies ivory hand. As a layman, I sit upon Taliesin’s shoulders, and as a servant I travel the dusty roads with this man who, over the years, has become my devoted friend.
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Old 03-11-2004, 07:40 AM   #15
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1420! Aedre is introduced to Harold...

Aedre had just finished sweeping the floor in the kitchen, when she remembered that she’d forgotten to clean the tables in the common room. She didn't want the tables to be dirty when people were going to eat by the tables. She found her cloth and hurried over to the common room. The room was almost empty. It was quite cold inside the common room, even though it was quite sunny outside. She drew aside some curtains that were hanging in two of the windows so that the sunshine would come in. Aedre stood there for a moment just feeling the warming rays on her skin.

Aedre was lucky, because the tables weren't that dirty even though they had not been washed since....she couldn't quite remember. Maybe some of the others servants or maids have been cleaning, she thought and found another table. This was probably the worst part of the job, but Aedre didn't mind doing it.

Suddenly she heard a voice from behind. She jumped and was about to let out a little scream, but then she turned around and noticed the small Hobbit standing in front of her. "Oh..I'm sorry!" Aedre exclaimed. "I'm just a bit jumpy..." She said and laughed. He didn't say much, just smiled and apologised if he scared her. Aedre however told him that it wasn't his fault; "I'm always like this.." She said and laughed again.

"I am Master Harold Brandybuck from the Shire, I have journeyed far and long and I have a mind for food and drink. May you be kind enough to show me where it is served," he asked very politely while introducing himself. "How lovely! A Hobbit from the Shire, eh?" Aedre said clapping her hands together enthusiastically; just to show how happy she was to finally meet a Hobbit from the Shire. She had heard of the Shire many times, but never been there herself. The suddenly he interrupted her:" Oh! What a most disgraceful hobbit I am, I didn't even ask your name. What may your fair name be, my lady?" he then asked and apologised yet again.

"Don't worry....No need to apologise" She said and smiled. "My name is Aedre, and I'm very honoured to meet you, Harold Brandybuck...of the Shire," she continued smiling even wider at the small fellow. "I'll find you something to eat and drink...don't worry. Just take a seat if you wish..." She said and took the chair...."Here.." She said and looked at the chair.

"So, now as we've been introduced...what can I get you?" She said taking her cloth down, waiting for taking the Hobbit’s order.
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Old 03-11-2004, 08:35 AM   #16
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Harold Brandybuck

Harold had benn new to Rohan and in the White Horse Inn he had found a fair Lady asking him what he would liked to eat.

Harold had a mind to eat but he also wanted to know more about Rohan ,so he asked the fair Lady named Aedre,

"Oh thank you but would you be more kinder by bringing some bread and some meat and some soup if you have and then can we have a chat while I eat or should I say we both eat , why don't you get yourself something and if you don't have much work you can talk with me if you like that is,and tell me more about Roahn and I will tell you more about the Shire.Now what do you say to that my Lady?".

Aedre was most astonished she had really been surprised when she had seen the hobbit and now she was surprised at how hobbits have the energy to talk endlessely and she replied....
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Old 03-11-2004, 11:08 AM   #17
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Pipe Oin Sthealthanvil

Oin hadn't really lied to Finky, he wasn't expected at the Glittering Caves for a good month or two. Now with Finky here he could try to find Ponto. Not that he wanted Finky, him slinking around everything he had, snooping where he shouldn't. It was just that he knew he better find Ponto and let Finky bother him, as Finky had sworn to serve Ponto and not Oin.

"Come now, Finky. What has happened to you, since we were last parted?" he asked, not wanting a real reply, more trying to start a conversation with him to occupy Finky's less than average mind.

"Well, a kind man took me in and he had the girl who you said liked Ponto with him; I ...."

"Where was this?" Oin asked, breathless at the mention of Rosie. "When did this happen? Where are they now?" He grabbed Finky and pulled him close, saying, " If you don't tell me where I can find Rosie, Finky, I'll not speak to you again" Finky looked slightly scared and withdrew his head into his shoulders.

"What would it matter to friend Oin?" he said with a wink in his eye, "I thought that Rosie mattered not to either you or Ponto."

Oin released him, partly at the few questionable eyebrows around the room, and partly because he knew he had just let the cat out of the bag; good luck trying to get Finky to tell him anything now....
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Old 03-11-2004, 11:48 AM   #18
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Hearpwine’s cloak bore upon it the mud of all the lands between Edoras and his humble cot far away in the remotest reaches of the Westfold. He had traveled for days to reach the Golden Hall, and his horse Hrothgar was almost as tired as he after their long journey. After seeing his friend properly stabled and fed, he headed toward the front door of the White Horse Inn for a refreshing cup of beer before presenting himself before the King.

He had never been to Edoras, but he knew it as well as if he’d been born and raised there for he had heard and sung, hundreds of times, every song that dealt with its greatness. In his own land, he was acknowledged to be the greatest bard anyone had ever heard. But he knew that this meant little. To be great in a small land was nothing – to be the greatest bard in Edoras, to sing, perhaps, for the King himself. . .! It was an aspiration that Hearpwine had long held close to his heart. When news had come to him of the contest that the King was to hold on the anniversary of King Theoden’s death, he had leapt upon Hrothgar’s mighty back and left upon the instant, determined to reach the Golden Hall before it was too late.

He entered the Inn, and immediately attracted the attention of a number of its patrons, for he was tall and strong of limb, and his skin shone with the vibrancy of youth and health. His golden hair hung down his back in a tight braid and his close-cropped beard shone like freshly-harvested hay. He looked about the room with his keen green eyes and saw the Innkeeper at her books. He strode toward her to ask if she knew about the contest at the Golden Hall. “Contest?” she replied, looking up from her accounts.

“Aye,” Hearpwine replied in his deep baritone. “To select the new Bard for the Golden Hall! All bards of talent are to present themselves before the King on the anniversary of the Great Battle before Minas Tirith and sing of Theoden’s fall. The whole court shall then judge who will become the Bard to the King!”

The Innkeeper said that she remembered having heard about the contest, but that it had slipped her mind. “Do you sing well?” she asked provokingly, but not unkindly; she had obviously seen her fair share of young men from the country come to Edoras with equally grandiose dreams. By way of answer, Hearpwine straightened his back, threw back his head and sang:

“To fires consuming and foes unconquered,
Orcs waving weapons, stained with the blood
Of the Sea-kings, slaughtered by hundreds
Before the stone-walls of their strong city,
Rode the Rohirrim on the red-road of war.
Noble Men of the west from Minas Tirith
Calling to Theoden, that greatest of kings,
Begging for aid, bid him remember
The oaths he had sworn, and send to them now
Strong spears and broad shields.”

A silence fell upon the Inn for a moment as the denizens listened to the strong melody of Hearpwine’s song. For those among them who had known battle, it stirred their blood with memories that rang to the bone. For those who were yet untried by war it raised pictures of horror and glory. When he was finished, the people in the Common Room returned to their conversations and the young man turned to the Innkeeper once more. “My name is Hearpwine, and I come to Edoras to claim my place as Bard to the King! Might I ask your name, so that I can include you in the song that I shall write someday in celebration of my arrival in Edoras?”
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Old 03-11-2004, 08:51 PM   #19
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Watching with approval, Aylwen saw Aedre cheerfully greet and seat the little Hobbit. Aylwen was indeed lucky to have such a careful, polite hand to help around the Horse. Aylwen had gone back to her ledger and account books when a young man walked in to the Inn and then up to her desk. He asked Aylwen if she'd heard tell of a contest to determine the King's Bard. They conversed about this for a few minutes, until the man had revealed his intentions of attending and competing. Having an interest in music and song herself, Aylwen countered the man's answer with a question to his ability to sing...

So Hearpwine sang.

Aylwen listened to Hearpwine's song with a broad smile lighting her face. Seeing such young men and sometimes the occasional young lady come to Edoras to chase dreams always stuck a chord with Aylwen for some reason. Aylwen remembered her mother the bard, gone with the War of the Ring. She'd taught Aylwen all she knew, and Aylwen still had the set of panpipes her mother had given to Aylwen on a birthday. The contest had been announced months before, and the date to be set during all the other March festivities. Yes, Aylwen was impressed and hopeful for the young lad.

“My name is Hearpwine, and I come to Edoras to claim my place as Bard to the King! Might I ask your name, so that I can include you in the song that I shall write someday in celebration of my arrival in Edoras?”

At this comment Aylwen laughed cheerfully, closing her ledger books and stacking papers neatly before looking up again at Hearpwine. "Some just call me the Innkeeper, but my name is Aylwen. With such a voice, bold Hearpwine, I am sure that your place does indeed lie next to the King. In any case, I had heard about the contest, and I know it is to be held tomorrow at the Golden Hall. I wish you luck, dear Hearpwine, and perhaps I have been convinced to steal away from the Horse for a short time tomorrow and watch you compete for your place!"
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Old 03-12-2004, 09:35 AM   #20
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Hearpwine laughed loudly, crying out “I am in time then for the Contest! I was afraid indeed that I might be too late, for news comes slowly to my land – good news at least, the bad always arrives as though borne by the great Shadowfax himself! Aylwen, you say. ‘Tis a fair name, and well-deserving a place in one of my songs:

“Aylwen the Innkeeper, fair keeper of ale,
Cup-bearer to many and courteous to all!”

And again he gave voice to his infectious laugh. “But the Contest you say is tomorrow? Then I shall have to wait until then before I can have any beer. It may be a powerful drencher of thirst, but the very worst thing for the voice. Nothing but water shall pass my lips until I’ve had the pleasure of singing before the King! Come, let me have a cup; you seem to know somewhat of music, and I delight greatly that you will come to hear me tomorrow. But for now, let us sit and talk of our songs – perhaps there are some that you can teach me?” So they sat and spoke of the lays that they knew and of the great bards they had heard. Hearpwine was eager to hear everything Aylwen could tell him of the songs and singers at Edoras, for he had spent his life in the retirement of the Westfold where few of the great bards ever came. He coaxed her into singing a few short songs that he quickly was able to memorise; one in particular that took his fancy described the parting of the Lady Eowyn and the Lord Aragorn at the Muster of Rohan. “I’ve never heard that song, but it is beautiful indeed. The Muster,” he sighed deeply, “Alas, I was not able to reach Edoras in time to join the King on his ride into the East, so I have only seen that great event in the songs that I’ve heard tell of it. Would that I could have been there!” His eyes flashed. “Thankfully, I did not pass through the War without any chance of honour. Those of us who arrived too late to fight and fall at the King’s side were sent to defend the northern marches. We slew many hundreds of the orcs who came raiding from across the River, looking for easy pickings among the emptied lands of the Rohirrim.”

“But enough of the past,” he said. “For my mind is full of tomorrow and the glory that awaits me in the Golden Hall! I am always looking for songs to learn, and for people to teach me them. You are, I know, a busy woman, but if you could vouchsafe me an hour or so of your time I believe I could learn somewhat from you. If you are restless about your duties, however, I shall seek amongst the others gathered here.” Hearpwine looked around at the strange mixture of peoples at the Inn. “I daresay there are many here with songs I’ve not heard, and tales yet untold that need setting to music.”

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Old 03-12-2004, 09:48 AM   #21
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Pipe Oin and Finky

Oin knew they had better get under way soon; the other inn peoples had things they wished to do, and most things they liked he could have no part of. The sooner they were gone the sooner they could leave.

"Come on, Finky. We had better get going..."

-----

"...get going..." was what Oin had said. But Finky did not want to leave. He was enjoying the warmth of the Inn.

"Come on, Finky. There'll be other Inns," said Oin persuasively, hoping that Finky would listen.

"Alright then I'll leave without you. See if I care for your health, then!" Oin said, while he stumped out the door.

"Wait," Finky breathlessly uttered, "Wait for your friend Finky, Oin!" Finky rushed outside to catch up with Oin.

"I knew you'd see it my way; there is no other way for you, you miserable stinking varmint."

Secretly, Oin knew that he could not have left Finky in the Inn, he was quite attached to him really...


------


"...why do we have to come back here of all places?(mutter, mutter)..."

"Because master Oin, it is the only nice place for travelers! I like it here. It is warm and the day is still here, the sun shines. Ah!"

"Well, if we could have left today it would have been better. Now you remember that you didn't talk me into coming back, it was the mud at the gate of the city, you miserable creature, understand?" Oin glared at his traveling companion, hoping that any hint of camaraderie did not show through his mask of mutterings.

"Oh, I understand, Oin," Finky said with a sly look on his face as he and his friend stepped through the door, "It was the mud, oh yes, the mud!"

"We will not stay here long, Finky. Only long enough to prepare for the journey to the what-sit-called, the tire... or hire... Shire! That's it! The Shire!''

"I understand, we won't stay long... " Finky slyly winked at Oin...

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Old 03-12-2004, 09:21 PM   #22
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Shield

A young girl, fair of face as would befit a maid of Rohan, paced up and down in front of the door of the White Horse, gazing anxiously at the little road that led up to the Inn. Nearby her twin brothers, Deman and Fierlan, were sitting astride a bay stallion that was tossing his head and chiding them with his neighs when they became too careless. They cried out to each other that they were brave soldiers in the battle of Helm's Deep and seemed to be enjoying their little game.

"Maercwen, lassie!" A man stood in the door of the stable, dirt and bits of hay clinging to him. He cast a fond, careful look towards the two lads, then put his back to the frame of the door and, folding his arms, fixed an amused look on Maercwen. "What are you doing out here still when you should be inside helping your mother with the baby? And I thought you were going to ask Aylwen today if you could have a job as a serving maid?"

"I am, Papa."

Her reply was short and rather sharp and the man, her father Leofan, looked a bit taken aback. And then an understanding smile came over his features and he also turned to look at the road running up to the Inn. An impatient whinny behind him told him that one of the horses was in need of him. Most likely one of the newest arrivals. Leofan bit back a chuckle when he thought of the little pony belong to the hobbit. Maercwen hadn't seen the hobbit yet, but he hoped that when she did she wouldn't stare too hard.

"Liornung will be here soon," he called to his daughter and slipped back into the stable. For it was true that that was what was bothering Maercwen. Her uncle Liornung had promised to be there that night to sing songs and tell tales, but had not yet arrived, and now that the sun was telling that it was noon the lassie was becoming worried that he would not arrive in time. Leofan was confident that Liornung would be there on time. He knew his little brother liked to make a late entrance so people shouldn't pester him too much beforehand. At least that was what he always said.

Leofan put a hand lightly upon the front of the pony's face and smiled. People indeed. Liornung was obviously referring to all the children who were begging for a tune before it was time. And what a lie it was. There could never have been a prouder uncle than Liornung. Everyone in the family loved him dearly, and he appreciated it very much. Maercwen especially loved how he would stare anyone down who had the nerve to give him the high title of a bard. He said he was a wandering fiddler and so he would be forever. He'd take the little sideroads that were seldom trodden upon and sing for people who would forget him the next day, and he was quite content with it all.

Casting another look outside, Leofan saw that Maercwen had resumed her pacing in front of the door. Chuckling, he ran his hand down the pony's neck and said, "He'll be here."
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Old 03-15-2004, 11:16 AM   #23
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Shield A song's ripple

Hearpwine's song would not leave Bethberry's head alone. Round and round it pooled in her memory; the more she shook her head, the more insistently she recalled it.

Finally, she rose from her desk where she was writing and looked out her window, where the voices of Leofan's family mingled with the song and stirred memories.

Not of the war nor the battles but of the strange combination of events which preceeded Sauron's downfall. Of the strange way that the dark fell on Edoras. It was a story not many knew, more a personal perspective, yet, after all, what is history but personal witness.

That Gondorian, Azaziel, had been so persistent in pursuing his interest in the rebuilding of the stable. reminisced Bethberry to herself.
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Old 03-16-2004, 11:20 AM   #24
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Silmaril Aedre

Aedre didn't quite know how to respond to Harold's very kind invitation, but in the end she managed to say some words. She only hoped that her random words, she’d put together were forming an understandable sentence. "Um..I'm very grateful for the invitation. But I'm sorry to say that I'm still not quite finished with my work. I could, however sit with you for some minutes, and then go back to work. I'll find your food first, of course...." She said and laughed while blushing a bit. She didn't really know if she had turned the invitation down or not, and was anxious to hear Harold's respond. Of course, she would love to hear about the Shire, but the timing was rather bad she admitted.

The Hobbit smiled, and didn't seem disappointed at all. "Then you must promise me that I can tell you about the Shire another time!" He said and laughed merrily. Aedre nodded and laughed as well. "You have my word, little Harold of the Shire." She said turning around, heading for the kitchen to get some food for Harold. “It was soup, meat and bread right? And something to drink?” Aedre asked him. His order had completely slipped her mind, and she just wanted to make sure she gave him what he really wanted.

“Yes, please..” Harold said and started to whistle.
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Old 03-16-2004, 05:26 PM   #25
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“But enough of the past,” he said. “For my mind is full of tomorrow and the glory that awaits me in the Golden Hall! I am always looking for songs to learn, and for people to teach me them. You are, I know, a busy woman, but if you could vouchsafe me an hour or so of your time I believe I could learn somewhat from you. If you are restless about your duties, however, I shall seek amongst the others gathered here.” Hearpwine looked around at the strange mixture of peoples at the Inn. “I daresay there are many here with songs I’ve not heard, and tales yet untold that need setting to music.”

Aylwen laughed at Hearpwine’s undimmed spirit and confidence. His seemingly frank and honest persona lit his already beaming eyes. “Of course I could spare time for a fellow musician. Though I am sure that you know more songs than you think yourself to. There are so many! Songs of battle and war, songs of love and songs of hate, there are so many different songs!” Aylwen raised her hands in emphasis. Smiling, she continued her speech. “There was one old man that my mother told me about; he was blind from an old war wound. He sang my mother a song and story that she taught me years ago…” Aylwen stood and withdrew her mother’s old set of panpipes from her belt-purse. Piping the notes she remembered then clearing her throat, Aylwen sang in a clear alto voice the song that she had learned to Hearpwine.

“Though better minstrels far than I
May strike the quiv'ring string;
and bards more worthy of the theme
Thy praises loud shall sing.
Yet I, a wand'ring harper blind,
With sightless, up-turned eye,
By harp and voice to honor Rohan,
My feeble strains to try.

My voice upraised to wild swept chords
I sing thy fertile dales;
Thy frowning mountains, rushing streams,
And all that makes thy wondrous tales.
All these I love and all have seen
Though gone now is my sight,
I can but feel the breezes play
For all the rest is night.

But even yet, it ye'll but list,
To my old harp's best note,
I'll sing to you your country's deeds,
To them my songs devote.
Now guided by my faithful hound
I stray from door to door,
And tell how Rohan has fought and bled,
And tales of old time lore.
"

After the last note had faded, Aylwen explained the song. "The old man was blind and his back was bent over like this," Aylwen made a ninety degree angle with her forearm and hand by bending her wrist. "And he was led by a faithful young pup with shining, golden hair. The old man stayed in the same in as my mother once, and they spent long hours trading stories and songs. He had a rusty old harp with two of the strings broken. However,” Aylwen continued, her smile becoming a little grin as she tried to mask the fun she was having singing songs to Hearpwine. “If it is a war-time song you long to hear, there are much more suitable songs than the song of that little, frail old man;


Forth to the battle!
Onward the fight,
Swift as the eagle in his flight!
Let not the sunlight o'er our pathway close,
Till we o'erthrow our evil foes.
Strong as yonder foaming tide,
Rushing down the mountainside;
Be ye ready, sword and spear,
Pour upon the spoiler near.

Winds! that float o'er us,
Bid the tyrant quail,
Ne'er shall his ruffian bands prevail!
Morning shall view us fetterless and free,
Slaves ne'er shall Rohan's children be.
Heaven our arms with conquest bless,
All our bitter wrongs redress;
Strike the harp! Awake the cry!
Valour's sons fear not to die.


So what say thee, Hearpwine?” Aylwen finished, sitting back down at her desk. She had work to do to help lighten Aedre’s load, and there were still celebration orders to be filled, but Aylwen was having a good time remembering old songs that she had thought were long forgotten. “What say thee to one last song before I go back to my work? One last song and if you wish I will take your order as well. You must be wanting refreshment after arriving in fair Edoras.”
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Old 03-17-2004, 10:20 AM   #26
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Hearpwine was delighted by Aylwen’s songs and he paid great heed to both. I can but feel the breezes play, For all the rest is night, he sang to himself to set the lines in his memory. The Innkeeper’s voice was clear and strong and he could see that the guests of the White Horse had a rare treat in her: it was not many an innkeeper who could feed both the body and the spirit. “Wondrous” he said aloud, putting all of his enthusiasm for the music into his tone, “wondrous songs, both! You have a rare talent. Not merely My Lady of Ale, but of Merriment too! The blind bard you speak of, I have heard tell of him even in my distant land. I am too young to have heard him sing, but there are those among my household who still remember him and his golden dog coming to our vale once every few years and singing for his lodging and food. Richly was he repaid, for my people value three things above all else: the bridle, the spear and the harp.”

“Your land sounds like much the rest of Rohan,” Aylwen replied.

“Of the rest of Rohan I am greatly ignorant, for I have only traveled it here and here,” Hearpwine said, touching first his head and then his heart. “Only through music have I seen Edoras and the Golden Hall, explored the great vales and valleys of the White Mountains or ridden across the vast plains that lie between the arms of the mighty rivers. Indeed, before now the only time I have journeyed forth from my land was to do battle in the War, and for that we had to ride fast and hard, taking no time to look about us at the wonders of our beautiful land.

“But, you do me the honour of asking for another song, so I shall give it you. You try me sorely, though, by forcing me to choose between song and food! A hard choice after my long ride, but what the spirit requires the body can endure, so I shall sing first, then beg some bread and water of you.”

Hearpwine fell into a moment’s silence as he thought of an appropriate song. His eyes lit up, and he said, “As I have chosen to nourish myself with music rather than food, I think it appropriate that I sing of a meal –

“The Boar is dead,
Lo, here is his head:
What man could have done more
Than his head off to strike,
Huntsman like,
And bring it as I do before?

“He living spoiled
Where good men toiled,
Which made my mother sorry;
But now, dead and drawn
Is very good brawn,
And we have brought it for you.

“Then set down the beast,
To furnish the feast,
With which we crown his fall;
Let this boar’s-head and mustard
Stand for pig, goose, and custard,
And so you are welcome all.”

He finished with a hearty laugh and then said, “‘Tis something of a silly song, I know, but it tells the story of my first mighty battle, when, as a youth, I hunted and killed a boar of the Wild that had been devastating the fruit in my mother’s favorite orchard.” He laughed again at the memory. “But now kind Aylwen, if my song has earned me some refreshment I would gladly take whatever meat or bread you have to offer at this time of the day. Mind, I do not want any beer or ale to go with it, for my voice must be at its purest for the King tomorrow. Clear water is all that I will drink.”
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Old 03-21-2004, 09:23 PM   #27
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“But now kind Aylwen, if my song has earned me some refreshment I would gladly take whatever meat or bread you have to offer at this time of the day. Mind, I do not want any beer or ale to go with it, for my voice must be at its purest for the King tomorrow. Clear water is all that I will drink.”

Aylwen laughed at Hearpwine's merry spirit. "Aye, Hearpwine. Your song has earned you the refreshment you desire. I dare say your presence alone brings such cheer and intrigue that is deserving of a meal anyway. I will be back in a moment with your meal and clear water!" Aylwen smiled and went into the kitchen to get the promised food and drink herself.

Inside the kitchen, Aylwen nearly bumped into young Aedre, filling an order for the jolly little Hobbit who had been conversing with the serving maid earlier. The plate in her hand was filled to the brim, and held a bowl of steaming soup, fresh bread and meat. "An interesting patron, this Harold of the Shire, is he not?" Aylwen asked with a smile, taking the plate for Aedre while the younger woman filled a mug with ale.

"Aye, quite interesting, to say the least!" Aedre agreed, nodding her thanks to Aylwen and taking the plate in her now free right hand and grasping the mug firmly in her left. Aylwen was quite proud of Aedre's abilities and talent for helping out around the Horse so well. Aylwen propped the kitchen door open for Aedre, who smiled as she left the kitchen. "But he's got a kind heart, no doubts there!" Aedre said before going off to bring Harold his food.

Aylwen went back into the kitchen and prepared Hearpwine's plate, humming the tune he had sung earlier when he had first entered the Inn. When she was finished getting everything for Hearpwine -- including the clean, clear water she'd promised -- Aylwen left the kitchen and its wonderful scents and served Hearpwine his food and water.

"I hope this is refreshment enough, jolly Hearpwine!" Aylwen said as she set the plate and glass before him. "You will enjoy the festivities tonight, I'm sure, if staying here is what you intend to do until you take your leave tomorrow. However, I'm sure the celebrations will be most entertaining no matter where you stay! The March and spring festivals are always the best, full of wonderful tales and songs of remembrance, glory, hope, and adventure."
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Old 03-22-2004, 03:46 PM   #28
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Deman and Fierlan were growing tired of each other's company and soon, arguing over whether their battle was Helm's Deep or not, they fell to quarreling. Soon their voices raised to shouts, and a few inside the Inn began peering out the windows to see what was going on. Maercwen was by Mihtig's side in an instant, putting one hand over each mouth. "Hush you two," she said. "You're annoying the guests."

They did fall silent then, so silent that their breathing could just barely be heard. In this almost overpowering silence, a song reached the ears of the three children. Maercwen caught her breath, then shook her head. It was probably the bard that had gone into the Inn. She had heard him singing. But, no, surely the song came from the road that led up to the Inn, and surely the voice was familiar.

Eyes dancing, Maercwen whispered something in the ears of her twin brothers and they scrambled off Mihtig and listened also, tense and ready to start running down the road.

There's a piercing wintry breeze
blowing through the budding trees
and I buttoned up my coat to keep me warm.


And those three lines were enough for the children. With cries of delight they flew down the road, Mihtig trotting very serenely after them. A man, who looked young but was in truth middle-aged, trudging up the road paused and hesitated when he saw them, and almost looked as though he were going to flee, but decided not to. He ceased singing and, laughing, caught the twins as they threw themselves on him with screams of, "Uncle Liornung!" They did not wish to be hugged though, and pulled away from him with ferocious energy, each trying to speak to him at the same time. He nodded absently and took Maercwen's hands, kissing her cheek. "And how are you, pretty little one?" he asked. He did not wait for an answer though, but took the twins by the hand and began bringing them back towards the Inn, questioning Maercwen as he went.

"Is Bethberry still the Innkeeper? Ah, Miss Aylwen is now then, eh? Lovely. I came, you know, just so I might speak with her about playing my fiddle tonight at your little party. Perhaps I might even sing a song or two, if she'll allow me. Where is she, for I must speak to her about it?"

"She is inside, trading songs with a bard," Maercwen replied.

"Ah." Liornung said no more, but blushed very deeply. He had a very deep respect for real bards as he himself was only a 'wandering fiddler,' and he always found himself madly shy whenever in the presence of one. "Well, perhaps I shall go in and listen a bit... tell your father I'm here now, would you?" The twins hastened to do so. "And you, Maercwen, can come with me and if they aren't singing but merely talking we can also talk and I'll tell you tales about the Little Folk and perhaps if you talk to me about the Little Folk I'll be able to come up with a song about them to sing tonight."
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Old 03-22-2004, 07:34 PM   #29
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Snippets of songs and the laughter of children drifted up and down the streets of Rohan, carried onwards by the soft breath of the returning spring. Townsfolk and merchants smiled and paused for a moment to listen. Over the years, the White Horse Inn had gained quite a reputation for the number of bards that graced its threshold as well as its excellent service. Another figure heard the joyful noise as he rounded a corner onto the lane that ran in front of the establishment. It didn’t take very long for the local residents to dismiss him as just another Gondorian soldier who was seeking something do in his free time. Unusual, especially this quickly after the spring thaw, but not completely unheard of. His physical appearance did little to dissuade such thoughts. Despite slightly over a decade and a half of service, Azaziel Danwedh still did not feel the need to travel in anything more extravagant than a normal field uniform.

Time had not treated the Gondorian kindly. He suspected that the stress and constant pressure while serving at Osgiliath and subsequently at the Siege of Gondor had caused his premature loss of hair. However, he was only two years shy of fifty years of age, and his family had a history of premature baldness. Rather than display a bare patch of skin on his head, Azaziel had elected to shave his himself bald. Neither his thin frame nor his gaunt face betrayed any excess of fat or muscle—indeed, he had caught a fever in the siege works of Osgiliath that occasionally returned to sap his strength. The siege engineer’s left hand was noticeably larger than his right, and cloaked in a large black glove. It, in turn, rested heavily on the hilt of a well-crafted long sword that hung from Azaziel’s belt.

He opened the door with his right hand before pausing for a moment to survey the sturdy stonewalls of the stables. While he had been recalled shortly after the inn’s owner had left town, the engineer had had ample time to poke around the construction site and suggest a few changes. It had been a curious task, but Azaziel understood the strange dealings that often went on away from the prying eyes and ears of the public. With a short sight, he crossed the threshold and paused long enough to allow his eyes to adjust to the darker lighting. What had Bethberry thought when she had returned and found her unexpected thorn had disappeared? There would be ample time to find out—he was not needed at the embassy for another three days. The soldier crossed the room quickly, singling out the innkeeper while he walked. She looked remotely familiar, even though he had never spoken to her. “Ms. Innkeeper, is Bethberry still in the area?”

Aylwen glanced curiously at the interloper. “She’s working upstairs. Can I help you?”

Azaziel stroked his chin thoughtfully for a moment. It was a bad habit he had picked up during long night hours spent pouring over drafts and documents. “Well, could I have a tankard of ale? Fine stuff, if I may say so. Could you, or perhaps one of the servants, run upstairs and tell her that Azaziel Danwedh would like to see her? She’ll remember me.”

The required number of coins changed hands and the Gondorian soldier accepted the still-foaming mug with his right hand. He found an empty table near the stairwell and sat, placing his left hand on the tabletop with a dull, metallic thump. While he waited, Azaziel savored his drink and delved into the memories of the past.
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Old 03-23-2004, 11:00 AM   #30
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Silmaril Castar

Castar and Brytta stopped in front of the White Horse Inn. Deneth stood by her mother's coarse red skirt hem. Today was the first day Brytta allowed her out of the house without a shawl, and the girl basked in the freedom and the returning caress of a spring breeze. She looked up at her mother, awaiting the time when her mother would say that she could run and join the other children that were enjoying the warm weather as well.

"Windheneb said that he would meet you here, then?" Brytta asked Castar. Deneth's father brushed back a loose strand of hair and nodded. "I thought I should get some shopping done. And do you mind if I fit a new dress for Deneth? She just seems to grow so quickly these days."

Deneth wrinkled her nose. If Brytta planned to get her a new dress, she would not be able to play with the other children. She looked to her father, who usually intervened in such matters.

"Oh, I think this dress should pull through for a little longer," Castar said, much to Deneth's relief. "If you want to buy a new one, of course..."

"Really? Do you think it will do? Well, I suppose it may. I can always buy the fabric and fit her later." Brytta turned to her daughter, who looked at her expectantly, "Deneth, I suppose you can go and play, then."

Not leaving her mother with the chance to go back on that thought, Deneth smiled gratefully at her father, then ran towards a group of her friends, leaving her parents standing in front of the Inn. Soon, their quiet moment was broken by a shout.

"Castar!" A dark-haired man wove his way through the crowd. Castar smiled at Windheneb and stood on tip-toe in an attempt to see whether his friend brought another girl with him this time. Sure enough, Windheneb was engaged in conversation with a pretty, dark-haired woman.

"Ah, Castar, this is Deoreth. Deoreth, this is my friend, Caster." Deoreth nodded and smiled. "Well, Deoreth, I must part ways with you now. I hope I shall have the pleasure of your company another day."

This time, Deoreth giggled a little as Windheneb kissed her hand. She bustled away through the crowds, carrying a basket with her. Brytta raised her eyebrows at her husband's friend, but refrained from speaking. Castar kissed Brytta on the cheek, and she blushed a bit, smiling as she left him.

"I see you are the same as always, Windheneb," Castar said, smiling at his friend.

"Oh, and you change?" Windheneb asked, nudging Castar as they entered the Inn. They sat at a table and each ordered ale from a girl that came to them.

"Excuse me?" Castar asked of the girl, "Do you know where Mistress Aylwen may be?"

"I believe she's around, Sir," the girl answered, "If you wait, I'm sure you'll see her."

"Thank you, m'lady," Castar said. When he turned back to Windheneb, his friend was looking at him with a spark of amusement in his eye. "What? We are friends."

"As I said, my friend," Windheneb said, "Some things never change."

"Oh, you stop it," Castar said, blushing slightly. However, he still kept an eye open for Aylwen.
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Old 03-23-2004, 12:23 PM   #31
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1420! Aedre

Aedre had warm soup, bread and delicious smelling meat in one hand. In the other she had a cold mug. It was so cold that Aedre thought she was about to slip it any moment now. She hurried over to Harold, who smiled as she approached. She placed the soup in front of him, it was reeking and it smelled delicious. Aedre found herself standing still for a moment, just looking at the food. Suddenly she felt quite hungry herself and at some point she regretting putting down harold’s invitation to eat with him. "I believe this was what you wanted..." Aedre said kindly while waiting for Harold to confirm. He nodded and tanked her; "Thank you Aedre. It smells lovely."

"That is good to hear. I hope it tastes as lovely as it smells..." She said and laughed merrily. Harold nodded and smiled; ”I’m sure it will."

"Is there anything else you want?" Aedre said as soon as he'd finish his sentence. "Well, nothing as I can think of...." Harold started.” Well, it would be nice to have the pleasure of your company..." he said and smiled weakly. Aedre blushed a bit. What a sweet Hobbit, she thought. "We could always arrange something like that...I'll do the rest of my work later on," she said and smiled while she seated. "Well, if you’re too busy... I don't want the Innkeeper over my neck afterwards," Harold said and laughed over his own silly joke. Aedre laughed as well, but then assured him that Aylwen was the most loving and caring employer someone could ever wish for. "I'm lucky to be able to work here..." She said finally.

The two of them chatted for a while, and then Harold wanted Aedre to hear about the Shire; he told her about his childhood, his family and of course about the green fields in the summer. Aedre didn't say anything while Harold explained, she was to busy just imagine what it would be like. When he had finished she was completely speechless, and needed a few moments to collect herself. How could there be such a wonderful place as Harold had told her about? She wondered. Then at the end she managed to say a couple of words;” It must be lovely to live in the Shire..." She said as it was her home, and she was longing for it. Harold noticed this and laughed a bit. "Yes, it truly is.." he said and smiled.

They didn't get any further because there seemed to be people entering the Inn. They were seating at a table, and Aedre felt it was her duty to take their order as quickly as possible. At the same time she didn't want to leave Harold.

However it seemed that Harold knew what she was thinking, because he nodded and told her that she should go and take their order. "I'm very grateful for your pleasant company, Aedre. Thank you very much...for the food as well," he said and smiled. Aedre smiled back at him, and told him that she wasn't the one to thank. "I would love to hear you tell stories about the Shire again," she said and looked at the Hobbit.

"Then lets do so..." he said and smiled while he waved. "Hurry!" he said and smiled. He obviously found this quite amusing. Aedre giggled and curtsied. "If that's your wish, Harold of the Shire.." She said and turned while hurrying over to the other table.

"Hello, what can I do for you this lovely day?" Aedre asked kindly. They greeted her, and then they ordered some ale. "Ale you shall have...in a moment!" Aedre said and turned away.

"Excuse me?" one of them suddenly said, something that made Aedre turned towards them again. "Do you know where Mistress Aylwen may be?"

"I believe she's around, Sir," Aedre answered. "If you wait, I'm sure you'll see her," She continued.

"Thank you, m'lady," the man said kindly. "By all means.." Aedre said and turned yet again. "I'll tell her that a nice gentleman is waiting for her in the common room if I see her..." Aedre said and smiled.
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Old 03-23-2004, 09:26 PM   #32
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“Ms. Innkeeper, is Bethberry still in the area?” Aylwen turned towards the speaker without hesitation, and when she saw the customer her eyes subconsiously squinted. The Innkeeper had seen the man dressed in Gondorian livery before; she remembered the man being quite a pest during the rebuilding of the stable. Aylwen had never spoken to him, but then, there is a first time for everything.

“She’s working upstairs. Can I help you?” Aylwen replied monotonously, glancing curiously at the man...Az -- Azzel? Azaziel! Aylwen recalled the name in her mind. The man stroked his chin in a quite peculiar way, until his well thought out response left his parted lips.

“Well, could I have a tankard of ale? Fine stuff, if I may say so. Could you, or perhaps one of the servants, run upstairs and tell her that Azaziel Danwedh would like to see her? She’ll remember me.” I'm sure she will, Aylwen agreed internally. Still, Aylwen smiled and brought the man his ale and proceeded to trudge upstairs to the room Bethberry occupied.

Knocking on the door softly, Aylwen waited until she heard footsteps moving to the door. Bethberry opened it, and they both smiled briefly. Aylwen hated to bother Bethberry... "Do you remember Azaziel Danwedh?" Bethberry nodded at Aylwen's inquiry, so the Innkeeper continued. "He wishes to see you. He's just waiting downstairs drinking his ale."

"If you see him, tell him I will speak with him soon..." Bethberry said after a pause. Aylwen nodded and went back downstairs, where she walked past Aedre. The young girl stopped and turned her heels after Aylwen and stopped the Innkeeper.

"Oh, Miss Aylwen!" Aedre began, the information at the tip of her tongue. "I was asked to inform you of the presence of two nice gentlemen who wish to see you," Aylwen was about to ask their names, but the wonderfully competent Aedre knew what Aylwen was thinking. "I did not catch their names, and did not think to ask. They're over there!"

Looking through the crowd where Aedre had pointed, Aylwen smiled and thanked Aedre as she saw who the 'nice gentlemen' that were being discussed. Aylwen strode quickly over to the table of her two friends, Castar and Windheneb. A smile was growing steadily until she reached their table.

"Well, well, well! If it isn't Castar and Windy back at the Horse!" Aylwen said, laughing and pulling a chair to the table so she could sit next to the men. "How have you two been?"
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Old 03-24-2004, 11:59 AM   #33
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Hearpwine finished the last of his meal and drained his cup of water. Wiping the crumbs from his beard with the back of his hand he stretched out his arms and legs to their full length and allowed himself the luxury of a cat-like stretch that cracked each of his joints. He had been a long time in the saddle, and then he had done little but sit with Aylwen and sing and talk. He needed to work out the stiffness from his bones and warm up his voice a bit more if he were to be in top form for the Contest before the King. He picked up his plate and cup and walked them back to the kitchen himself as his mother had always taught him to do. His family had lands, but not a great amount, and the few servants they employed were better used in the fields and stables than in household drudgery.

The woman in the kitchen looked up in surprise as Hearpwine came in with his own mess, but quickly smiled and thanked him for the help. He deposited the plate where she indicated but asked if he might have another cup of water. She quickly brought him one and Hearpwine drained it in a single deep quaff. It felt good to have clean water from a well rather than having to stoop to suck drink from a creek. Now that he had arrived, fed, drank and sung, Hearpwine began to feel the need of those other civilising amenities that all travellers longed for at the end of the road: a bath and a bed. He chuckled softly to himself as he thought of all the time he had spent with the Innkeeper singing, when he should have also paid some heed to getting a room for himself. There’s more to life than music, I deem he thought. A hard truth, indeed!

He was about to ask the maiden about a room when a small snatch of music drifted toward him through the door to the yard:

"There's a piercing wintry breeze
blowing through the budding trees
and I buttoned up my coat to keep me warm."

Hearpwine’s heart leapt into his throat and he cried out with unmingled joy, much to the surprise of the kitchen maid! Without so much as a word to the startled woman, he rushed through the door and into the yard, looking about him for the source of the music. He ran around the side of the Inn and saw the bard Liornung at the door of the Inn with a young maiden. Crying out in a ringing voice, he rushed toward the older man, his arms already reaching to embrace him:

"The diamonds of the hoar-frost
Were sparkling in the sun.
Upon the falling leaves the drops
Were shining one by one.

"The hare lay on the fallow,
The robin carolled free;
The linnet and yellow finch
Twittered from tree to tree.

"All nature seemed rejoicing
That glorious morn to see;
All seemed to breathe a fresher life -
Beast, insect, bird and tree."

When he had finished he took Liornung in his arms and gave him such an embrace that it almost lifted the man from his feet. Laughing, Hearpwine let him go and cried out, “Of all the joys I thought awaited me here, I had not looked to see you! My dear friend!”

Liornung caught his breath and looked at the young man in shock and surprise. “I’m afraid I don’t have the pleasure of your acquaintance, friend,” was all he could muster.

Hearpwine’s smile was undeterred. “I would not expect you to remember me, for it has been many years since you came to my family’s small estate in the Westfolds, and I was but a small lad then. But your music it was that first moved me to set aside the paths of my family and become a bard. How fitting that you should be here to witness my triumph before the King tomorrow! Come, let me buy you some meat and drink – and then we shall sing the night through!”

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Old 03-24-2004, 03:41 PM   #34
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Oin and Finky had settled down in the Inn to await a proper time to depart for the Shire, and Oin had leaned back in his chair, when he heard a song...

..."piercing wintry breeze" ..."through the budding" ..."button up my coat ...

"Bards!" he said, "Why do they come everywhere? They only sing!" Oin growled and muttered.

"Aye, but aren't the songs they sing very wonderful? I rather enjoy them..." was Finky's reply.

At just that moment, an old, haggard woman approached them...
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Old 03-24-2004, 09:29 PM   #35
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Shield

OOC

Writers of the Mark, please welcome Arestevana to Rohan as a Game Player. She has gamed consistently and reliably in two Shire games.

Arestevana if you nudge, cajole, pester and otherwise hold out carrots perhaps you might persuade one of our dormant Rohan Game Managers to run a game for us.

In the meantime, please join us at The White Horse Inn.

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I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.

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Old 03-25-2004, 01:36 PM   #36
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Shield Liornung

It would have been hard to say who was more startled, Liornung or Maercwen. Liornung of course was quite startled that a strange young man should come rushing up to him and embrace him, but Maercwen was equally as startled when she saw no flicker of recognition in Liornung's face. She had believed he knew nearly everyone in Rohan.

He was thinking deeply. The Westfolds? Something stirred in Liornung's memory. He did recall a wide-eyed lad hanging onto every word of every song and every note of a tune. He remembered a lad telling him that he too would be a bard. Faint though the memory was, it grew stronger with every moment that passed.

"I almost recall your name," he said, gazing into those eyes which were surely the same. He stood there blankly a moment, then a laugh burst from him and he returned the embrace with great fire. "I do believe it is Hearpwine!" he cried. "Oh, you never let me alone as long as I was at your parent's home. I did know my fiddle could charm the hearts of young lads and lassies, but so well as for them to remember me despite such long years? I am more accomplished than I thought."

"You seem," said Hearpwine, "to be better in your trade, unless my ears hear amiss. I do recall when I first met you that you were almost frightened to sing a song, though you did with all courage you could muster, which was indeed a terrible amount of courage."

Liornung laughed and put an arm about Hearpwine's shoulders, leading him towards the Inn. "My courage has increased most greatly," he said. "I've taken to composing some songs myself. Not very many, mind. I do tend to sing more of the old songs than my own works, but I do work out my own from time to time. The only one who has ever heard me sing a song that I composed myself was a good man who lives here in Edoras. But tonight for the first time to friends and strangers alike they shall hear my own songs. The good Miss Aylwen is arranging a party here at the Horse tonight to celebrate the events of the War of the Ring. And you tell me that you are to become Bard of the King?"

"I fully intend to," Hearpwine replied, confidence written all over his face. "I shall be very surprised if I do not gain that honor."

"As will I," said Liornung. "As will I, for I am not competing. If I were, young lad, you shouldn't stand a chance." Both of them laughed quite loudly and were about to enter the Inn when a devastated expression crossed Liornung's face and he whirled Hearpwine around. "I am a most rude fellow," he said woefully. "In my excitement at seeing you again, and a fine young bard rather than an enchanted little boy, I have forgotten my niece Maercwen." Proper introductions were made, and Liornung most politely invited her to sit with them and listen to their songs. "Now as you have said, good Hearpwine, let us sing this night away in the grand party that is to ensue. And I will see if my fiddle still bears the power of enchanting you."
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Old 03-25-2004, 11:32 PM   #37
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Boots A muddled bit

That old, haggard woman who was approaching Oin and Finky was none other than Ruthven, who walked with a slower pace it is true and who seemed to favour one side. Yet the wrinkles around her eyes and mouth danced as her face broke out into a grin when she saw the two dwarves. Her pace hurried a bit as she held an old brown coat tight, as if keeping herself warm.

"Ruthven"

"Finky"

"Allow me" said Finky.

"No, me," said Oin, rising, pulling out a chair.

"But I saw her first," retorted Finky, jumpi.ng up and grabbing onto the other arm of the chair.

"I saw her second." Oin pulled the chair towards him.

"And it was by seconds." Finky pulled the chair back towards him.

A third voice commented. "But this is a first."

"It is?" held forth both dwarves at once.

"I've never had dwarves arguing over me," chuckled Ruthven, reaching the chair and beginning to sit in it as Oin dragged it over towards him.

The arm of the old oak chair bumped soundly into Ruthven's hip, knocking her off balance and into Finky, who tumbled over, taking the chair with him, but not before he had grabbed the tablecloth and almost brought down the tankards, pitcher and plates upon himself, had not Ruthven caught them in mid air, wavered, and plunked them back down on the table, where they sloshed their ale over Oin.

"This is a fine how do you do," complained Finkey.

"There's nothing fine about it," objected Oin, wiping his pants.

"Sssh now you two, settle down, before Aylwen fines the both of you," suggested Ruthven, taking hold of the chair in her two hands and holding it tightly as she placed it closer to the heat of the Inn's second fireplace.

"I never thought I'd get the mud off me," she said with a remembrance rather more fond than one would expect...

~ ~ ~ ~

Ruthven had been grumbling, perhaps even cursing, the muck of the alleyways of Edoras as she wheeled her small cart ahead of her. The thick mud and the heavy assortment of odds and ends weighing the cart down made rough going. She stopped, sweat plastering her hair and then chilling her when the brisk spring air blew around the corner. It had been another long, hard winter, the worst since the War. Indeed, nothing had improved for the poor of Edoras, although there was new feasting in The Golden Hall. She needed to finish this trip, taking the small wooden cabinet to the fishmonger's wife so she could collect the money owing her. In short, her ebullient mood which the tea with Bethberry had produced was gone. She was, in short, in a mood most foul.

She had grunted as she pushed at the cart, even calling it names, with little success, and that likely had brought the two dwarves around the corner, wondering what the commotion was.

"Here, let's help her with that cart," had said Finky.

"Why," asked Oin, following behind him.

"Why not?"

"We'd be butting in, and we'd best be on our way," intoned Oin.

"I'm not butting in," corrected Finky. "Here, let me take that handle," he offered to Ruthven.

She eyed the two, having seen them earlier at The Horse. Fine lot of good two argumentative dwarves would be, she thought..

"You'll help me with this cart?" she asked

And that was how it had started.
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Old 03-26-2004, 09:47 AM   #38
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“A party!?” Hearpwine cried, “Ah, that is welcome news indeed. Miss Aylwen never mentioned it to me, but I suppose that’s because I never gave her a chance. All I wanted to do was sing with her. It’s one of my greatest short-comings, I’m afraid. As soon as the music begins, all else goes from my mind. In fact, twice today I’ve intended to ask about a room at the Inn, only to have that thought driven from me by song. The last time was just now as I heard you come up the street, so I shall hold you to account for that!”

Liornung smiled. “If I am to pay the price for your love of music, I fear I shall have nothing left ere long.”

“Never fear, my old friend, the payment shall be in kind. A song in payment for the song that kept me from the bath! One of your new creations will be all that I ask of you in return for my absent-mindedness.” Together they entered the Inn. The maiden Maercwen followed them, gazing at them both with something that looked almost like admiration. Hearpwine was still embarrassed by his manner toward her earlier. My mother would have me by the ear right now, had she seen that. Dashing by a maid without so much as a greeting. In an attempt to make amends, he turned to her and asked if she were fond of music.

The lady smiled broadly. “I love my uncle’s fiddle-playing and singing, sir; and I heard your songs earlier – they were very good.”

Hearpwine grinned and bowed to her. “That is bed and bath for me both. The praise of a comely lady is the purest kind of payment for a bard such as myself. But you needn’t call me 'sir'. As your uncle will attest, my family’s estate is but a small one, and as you can see for yourself I am but a simple man of music seeking his fortune in the world. ‘Hearpwine’ will do between friends!”

She returned his smile, saying, “Then Hearpwine it shall be. And you must call me Maercwen.”

“You honour me; and long may you joy in the Mark!” He turned to Liornung. “And what news of you my old – and learned – friend. It pleases me beyond all words that you remember the boy who dogged your very shadow all those years ago. What roads have you travelled since you last charmed me with the enchantment of your instrument? Tell all, for if I am to write a song of you I must know everything!”
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Old 03-27-2004, 04:12 PM   #39
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Silmaril Castar

"Well, well, well! If it isn't Castar and Windy back at the Horse! How have you two been?" Castar rose quickly as Aylwen came and sat. "Sit, sit!" she said, "No need for formality after these years! I reiterate: how have you two been?"

"No worse for the wear, m'lady," Windheneb said, "Although with Brytta, that wife of Castar's...I do not know. She may have him living in the stables soon. And he would say that he liked it."

"That is not true!" Castar said, smiling, but blushing a bit as well.

Windheneb apparently thought to say more, but decided that he would not embarrass his friend any further for a moment. He took a sip of his ale, then turned his attention to Aedre, who was bustling about the room. However, it was still apparent that most of his attentions were still directed to listening to Aylwen and Castar's conversation. Aylwen followed Windheneb's gaze, and when it alighted on Aedre, she laughed a bit.

"You still like the women that work here, Windheneb?"

"Some things never change," Windheneb said, turning back to Aylwen, "We were just discussing that when you came over, actually."

"Really? What examples did you use?"

Castar cleared his throat, "Well, mostly Windheneb's fascination with creatures far too young for him. I keep telling him he should slow down--"

"Why can't they keep up with me, then?" Windheneb asked, his eyes glimmering with mischief.

"The girl you were with when you met me seemed to be able to do such a thing," Castar said, smiling at his old friend. He then told Aylwen about the girl Windheneb arrived with. Windheneb added details about who the girl was as Castar went along. Aylwen asked after Brytta and Deneth, and Castar recounted a story in which Deneth somehow managed to get her hands on one of the horses, and went riding through the blacksmith's shop.

"That has the taste of something one of my sister's would have done," Windheneb commented. Castar smiled: it did, indeed, sound like something one of Windheneb's relatives would do, especially his sister Kalia. She was still, at thirty, one of the best horsemen Castar ever saw. That probably had to do with the fact that she never married, and therefore never gave birth. This enabled her to keep in shape. If Castar ever had an errand to run, he called on Kalia. When his parents were still living, she rode up to their farm nearly every weekend to verify that they were safe and did not need money.

Castar's parents died roughly five winters ago. He sold the farm and the animals, as he now lived in Edoras with Brytta and Deneth. Castar wondered how Deneth was getting on with her friends.

When Castar came back out of his own thoughts, he caught some bits of Aylwen and Windheneb's conversation.

"--more to life than just pretty women?" Aylwen was saying. Windheneb feigned shock, his eyes growing wide.

"I have been telling Windheneb that for years, m'lady," Castar said, joining in again, "And I have yet to see him listen to me...on any topic, really."

"Perhaps it just takes the right woman," Aylwen said. She rose then, excusing herself, as she saw a matter that needed her attention. After she left, Windheneb ordered another ale from Aedre, complimenting her on something at the same time. Castar did not pay enough attention, drawing back into himself and into contemplation.
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Old 03-28-2004, 05:55 PM   #40
bilbo_baggins
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Oin and Finky's Mishap

Oin thought that the woman they had seen earlier in the Inn would do nothing but give them trouble with the way Finky (and maybe himself) had acted about her.

"Here, lets help her with that cart," said Finky, his companion

"Why?" Oin replied

"Why not?" Finky said, seemingly thoughtless to all else but to help the old peddler woman and her cart.

"We'd be butting in, and we'd best be on our way," said Oin, trying to give his voice an edge that Finky could not say no to.

"I'm not butting in," replied Finky haughtily, "Here, let me get that handle," proving Oin's voice tone wrong and making the peddler Ruthven uneasy in the same gesture.

"You'll help me with this cart?" The lady Ruthven asked, raising an aged eyebrow at the strange pair.

"I will at least, but my friend Oin is not a kind one, I'm sorry to say," answered Finky.

"Finky, we really need to go now," said Oin, grabbing Finky's belt to try and shift him.

But Finky just grabbed the cart handle harder. "No Oin, we should help Ruthven to get to wherever she's going,"

As Oin pulled harder, Finky's grasp slightly loosened, and then...

*Splash*

Finky's poor grip had given in, and sent Oin and Finky into the mud.

"Now look what you did, Finky! I just got these clothes cleaned here in town and you go getting them muddy. I could just squeeze your ears off!" Oin said, being very hast and angry.

"Now that we're muddy, we could help Miz. Ruthven with her cart," replied Finky, hoping that Oin would agree. Oin always would give in eventually.

And that continued the drama...

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