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Old 10-04-2004, 07:25 AM   #121
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Shield Introducing Umaviel

Umaviel walked into the Vineyard Inn looking for a nice cool drink of wine. He had travelled a long way to get here.Umaviel was 7,000 years old, a great warrior of the Sindarin elves and he was once a lord of Gondolin. Umaviel was a tall, kingly looking elf from Rivendell with long black hair. He had come here because had heard that the Goblins of the Misty Mountains were coming this way.This strange news was told to him by Gwahir, Lord of the Eagles of the Misty Mountains.Elrond had advised that he should try to find out as much as possible about the movement of the goblins. Umaviel did not doubt Elrond and so he went.

The inn was located near Laketown. It seemed nice and joyous though not nearly as nice as Rivendell. "Innkeeper, I would like a pint of wine please," said Umaviel. He needed this because it was a chilly day outside and the wine would raise his spirits." There you go. What brings you here, we don't get many of the fair folk here anymore?" replied the innkeeper. " I am here to find out the truth in rumors that I have been hearing of about the goblins of the Misty Mountains. Supposedly they are on the move." answered Umaviel. "Thank you for the wine," with this Umaviel turned and walked to a table on the far side of the inn.
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Old 10-06-2004, 05:16 AM   #122
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1420! Ædhral

Stoney’s soup was good if not a little too spicy for Ædhral. The others seemed to enjoy it immensely, especially cook, which could only be a good sign. She let Rochadan try hers that he too could offer his opinion. “Hmm very good!” he said nodding his head in approval. A knowing smile meant only for Ædhral spread across the stable masters prominent features, he knew she had not the taste for spicy foods, but also did he know that she would not say so. Especially with the proud and elated smile of satisfaction beaming on the dwarves face and he was right! With an ever pleasant smile and a nod of her dark head she thanked Stoney for the soup and told him that she was sure the customers of the tavern would be glad of such a warm and hearty soup after a hard day’s toil.

The conversation over lunch was a mixed affair with several different discussions going on at once, beginning with Stoney relating how he came to be in Esgaroth? and that he did indeed come from the lonely mountains. Then he and Nell discussed the tavern, the town and food in particular the cooking of, with Finian and Rochadan adding their comments here and there were they saw appropriate. Ædhral however had the attention of Sallie as she told her eagerly of Andhun’s singing and the song of the young woman Rochadan had brought to their table, Earcwen had sung for them, but after a time the stable masters daughter became sleepy and nestled herself into her fathers lap leaving him to pick up a conversation with Earcwen.

Ædhral sat back and listened watching the faces of her friends as they enjoyed each others company. When living with her grandfather before the destruction of lake town she had often wondered what it was like to be part of a large family and now as she sat watching her friends she thought she knew, this was her family and she was happy to be a part of it and share in their lives. A warmth of contentment settled over her heart which showed in the warmth of her smile and the twinkle in her eye, but as she looked over her family she noted that two where missing. Kannah and Ærosylle! Suddenly awakened from her reverie she sat up straight.

“You must excuse me, for Kannah has been on her own too long and will be most aggrieved that she has yet not been introduced to our dwarven friend.” she said nodding politely as she quickly excused herself.

“Wait I will come with you!” Finian said wiping the last of his bread across the bottom of his bowl and popping it hastily into his mouth as he rose. “Excellent!” he murmured again for about the fifth time as he licked his fingers and followed her into the common room.

Reaching the bar Finian drew her a mug of cider and slide it across the counter to her a mischievous glint coming to his dark eyes, “why did you not just tell him that it was too spicy for you, you know you will have to tell him sometime if he is to know?” he grinned as she took the mug and washed away the burning still in her throat. “I know” she smiled “But he just looked so pleased, I did not have the heart to tell him.” Finian just laughed and shook his head “I do not think he would be offended you know!” he said as he picked up a cloth and wiped the top of the counter. “Ok, ok, I will tell him later!” she laughed seeing that she would not hear the end of it if she did not, then sliding the empty mug back at him with a jovial wink she turned and began collecting the empty mugs and dishes of the taverns guests, leaving the innkeeper to usher Kannah and Ærosylle if he could find her off to the kitchen.
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Old 10-09-2004, 12:42 AM   #123
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Finian hastily drowned a bit mug of water to cool the tingling burn on his tongue. If anything, Stoney would bring add an interesting and spicy flair to the food. He grinned...that was exactly what the Tavern needed. Something different to make it stand out from the other Inns along the wayside...except that there were no other Inns around...Finian sighed. He wouldn't have minded a bit of competition.

He wondered where his sister was....he hoped that she had not run off again, and was pretending that she was a bird or a fish. That would be very devastating...not good at all...He scratched his scalp...it was exceedingly itchy. He wondered why. It almost felt as if bugs were crawling over his skin. He shrugged. Too many things to worry about it now.

He caugt sight of his sister with the elf. He had dried himself off, and seemed to be shrinking in the shadows, avoiding the eyes of any maidens happening to pass by. Finian grinned, remembering Ædhral's and Thalinar's first meeting. He was probably still remembering it...Finian bit back a laugh as he leaped over the counter, grabbed two mugs of ale, and strode towards the pair.

He handed the mug to Thalinar, bowed, and said, "Hopefully my sister wasn't bothering you..." He tousled her hair, and she leaned her elbow against his waist, grinning at him. "Anyway, I hope everything was to your satisfaction?"
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Old 10-10-2004, 06:30 PM   #124
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Introducing Bragorn

The rider entered the inn's yard from the direction of the center of town, having just come from a brief meeting with Esgaroth's town managers and leading merchants. He wore the livery of Gondor and carried a messenger's satchel slung across one of his broad shoulders. A sword hung sheathed at his side. Dismounting in front of the stable, he tied his horse to a hitching rail and took a quick look around for the stablemaster. Finding no one, he turned and walked toward the front door of the inn.

There was a soft clink of mail as he patted the dust from his cloak. He pushed the door open and stepped inside, pausing a moment to allow his eyes to adjust from the brightness outside to the relative darkness of the common room. Then, seeing an empty table, he seated himself and looked around for the innkeeper. It had been over a year since his last visit to Esgaroth and he found the changes since the dragon's attack a bit disorienting, what with the entire town having up and moved off the platform over the lake on to dry ground a short distance away. He had heard talk in the south of the damage done by the dragon's fire and noticed a good many familiar faces were now missing, including, apparently, that of the innkeeper Aeron. Another much younger fellow, presumably Aeron's son, seemed to have taken over by the look of it. Catching the young innkeeper's eye where he stood conversing with an elf and a young girl, Bragorn signaled for an ale. Then, he sat back to look around the place.

Whoever had rebuilt the Vineyard Tavern had done an excellent job of it, Bragorn decided. He had been quite fond of the old inn and found that the new version offered the same comfortable, homey feeling as before. He glanced up as a serving girl with rather flashy good looks and dressed in brightly colored silk, paused by his table, a tray resting on her hip. "An ale for you, sir?" she asked.

Bragorn nodded gratefully for he was truly parched. "That would be splendid."

She nodded and turned to go, but Bragorn caught her wrist. She stopped and gave him a sharp look, which caused him to release her instantly. Once he had done so, she smiled rather brusquely. "Is there something else, then?"

"Yes," answered Bragorn, with a grin. "An old friend of mine used to work here as the stablemaster. I haven't seen him for some time and am hoping to discover what has become of him. Rochadan was his name." He leaned toward the serving girl with a roguish twinkle in his eye. "And while we are on the subject of names," he added. "What might yours be? I am Bragorn, a messenger here on behalf of the Steward of Gondor."


*****************************

Rochadan

Having found Stoney much more interested in discussing his cooking than the Lonely Mountain or matters of arms, Rochadan let the subject drop and allowed his conversation to drift elsewhere over the remainder of the lunch. Cooking had never been one of his strong points or even of particular interest to him, so it didn't leave him with much to talk about to the new fellow, although he did have to admit he found the mouthful of the dwarf's soup that Ædhral had shared with him quite tasty. He liked the spiciness, and was tickled to no small degree by Ædhral's manful attempt to eat it as well when he knew she had no fondness for spicy food. Nonetheless, he found it typically sweet of her to consume the full bowl, never letting on for an instant to the beaming dwarf that the soup was not to her taste. Someone would have to tell Stoney eventually, though, or the poor girl could be suffering through the dwarf's hot curries indefinitely. He figured it unlikely that Ædhral would say anything herself, her being the sort who would not want to hurt the dwarf's feelings.

Finally, as the luncheon wound down and Finian and Ædhral returned to the common room, Rochadan looked at the faces remaining around the table. Little Sallie had climbed into his lap and was sleeping peacefully with her cheek against his chest. Andhun, who sat across from him, was looking drowsy as well, his thin face drifting closer and closer to the tabletop as he struggled to stay awake. Earcwen, bright-eyed as ever, had joined into a lively conversation with Nell and Stoney over the relative merits of hot peppers in cooking. Rochadan listened for a moment, then rose quietly and carried Sallie off to finish her nap on the bed in Cook's room near the kitchen. Nell watched him go without comment as it was fairly common for her to lend Sallie her bed for her naps. That way, she could keep an eye on the little girl while her father went on about his work.

Returning, Rochadan dispatched Andhun to his room for a nap as well. The boy had had a difficult day so far and, if he had any hope of regaining his strength, would have to get plenty of rest. By the time he returned to the kitchen for the second time, Rochadan found that the conversation around the table had moved on from hot peppers to a rehash of the dragon's attack a year earlier that had led to the burning of the platform city of Esgaroth and the original inn. Thinking of Andhun's burns and the death of Finian's father Aeron, the innkeeper who had been so like a father to all of them, Rochadan felt a rush of sadness mixed with regret. The weeks that had followed the dragon's attack had also been the last time that Rochadan himself had put on his mail shirt and buckled on his sword to ride forth with the other men to fight on behalf of Lake Town. While it had been a time of great stress and sorrow for all of them, it had also been exhilarating to have a sword in his hand again, to be riding back and forth between the camps of the different armies, carrying messages and dispatches between the leaders. Leaning against the door frame, Rochadan sighed. He had been feeling restless of late, anyway, and all this talk of the dragon only dredged up memories that made him more conscious of it than ever.

Taking his leave of the three still seated around the table, Rochadan beat a hasty retreat to the stableyard where he found a few newly arrived horses tied and awaiting his attention. Running a hand idly down the neck of one of the waiting horses, he gazed longingly out toward the road that ran past the inn. How little it would take just to saddle his horse and go...

He shook his head, knowing he mustn't think of such things. He had Sallie's happiness and safety to consider and, now, Andhun's as well. Besides that, he also had a responsibility to Finian and the inn. Sighing again, he knew that he would not be going anywhere. Perhaps later, if he could convince Nell or Ædhral to watch Sallie for him, he would saddle Alydar and go for a long ride along the shore of the long lake. Still looking toward the open road, he raised a hand and pushed his dark hair back from his face. Perhaps he could work the restlessness out of his system that way. Turning, Rochadan led the first of the guests' horses into the stable and let the door swing shut behind him.
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Old 10-11-2004, 09:15 PM   #125
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Kannah

Kannah studied the newcomer briskly, her lip wrinkled somewhat in a visage of disdain. "Bragorn, is that it? Kannah."

"Cannot what?" the man asked.

"Kannah. My name. My name is Kannah," she snapped. The man irked her. Most men irked her. Most everything irked her, come to think of it. The corner of her mouth tugged up in what was almost a rueful smile as her dark eyes flashed warningly at Bragorn.

"Kannah is an unusual name. Where does it come from? Not Rohan, surely. Is it Northern?" Bragorn asked, either truly interested or faking it well.

"Southern," Kannah said shortly. Bragorn raised an eyebrow. "I am from Southern Gondor. My name comes from Harad."

"What does it mean?" Bragorn queried.

Kannah leaned in close to his face, a sickly sweet smile dancing on her lips. "What does it mean?" she echoed. Bragorn cocked his head to the side. "It means she who should not be bothered unless you actually intend to order something!" she exclaimed, snapping back up straight. "Now! That ale."
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Old 10-12-2004, 06:41 PM   #126
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White Tree

Thalinar's eyes were cast downward as he spooned his meal into his mouth, he could feel the eyes of the curious Ærosylle on him as he had concluded his story, regretfully sparing no detail in his account of the events.

A shadow loomed over his shrunken figure and an ale was placed in front of his face. A familiar voice resounded in his ear, "Hopefully my sister wasn't bothering you..." He tousled her hair, and she leaned her elbow against his waist, grinning at him. "Anyway, I hope everything was to your satisfaction?".

Thalinar looked up at him, "No not at all, I didn't realize she was your sister, we were just discussing her ability to talk to certain objects", he took a sip of his ale to wash down the stew, "and yes you have been very accomodating, thank you kindly".

His smile was shy, as he put another spoon full of stew into his mouth, "can you please tell Ædhral that I am sorry for everything, I mean not now, perhaps later when I am away and not so much a nuisance".
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Old 10-13-2004, 08:11 AM   #127
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Bragorn

Bragorn hesitated for the slightest instant, surprised at his charm being rejected so firmly out of hand - for he had been making an attempt to charm the young lady -, then he roared with laughter.

"Whoo!" he gasped finally. "Hey!" he called after her, as she left to fetch the ale. "Make it a brown ale, if you can manage it! If you can-nah, let me know and I'll give you a hand!" In response, the serving girl, Kannah, looked daggers at him, which only made Bragorn burst into fresh paroxysms of laughter. As his mirth finally began to taper off, Bragorn sat back in his chair and wiped at his eyes, still chuckling softly. If you can-nah... I'll give you a hand he repeated under his breath and laughed again, infinitely tickled at himself and his own wit.

"Oh, and how about some bread and cheese with that ale, eh?" he called over his shoulder to her above the din of the other conversations in the busy common room. Once he had finished laughing, he had realized that he was also very hungry. "There's a nice girl!" he added as Kannah acknowledged his food order.

Can-nah, he repeated again and laughed. Oh, this is going to be fun... Watching as Kannah's rather glamorous figure disappeared into the kitchen, he wondered if Kannah was new to the inn or if he had just managed to miss her the last time he was there. Either way, he was happy not to have missed her this time. Her prickly manner amused him no end. As for the other serving girl, - what was her name? Eda, Ida? Something like that. He remembered her from the last time because of an unfortunate remark he had made about her in passing to Rochadan - something about her and the hayloft out in the stable. The stablemaster, his old friend no less, had nearly punched him. After that, he had left Aedhral - that was her name! - alone. But Kannah! She seemed much more his style, anyway.

"A loaf of bread, a pint of beer, and thou beside me, singing in the wilderness!" he sang in a rather tuneless baritone as Kannah reappeared beside him with his ale. "So you're from southern Gondor, are you, love?" he asked as she set the heavy glass down on the table in front of him. "Whereabouts?"

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Old 10-13-2004, 03:22 PM   #128
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"So you're from southern Gondor, are you, love? Whereabouts?"

Kannah looked up, her gaze darker than the ale that she set before Bragorn. Her brown eyes studied him briefly but intensely as she decided on an answer. She turned her head a bit, and the bells that hung from her ears jangled in a merry way that contrasted with her sour expression. "My people...they are from the Ethir Anduin," she said finally, slipping a napkin underneath the mug. "I was born in Dale. Raised there." She looked up at Bragorn from the table, her eyes challenging him to say something.

"My father was a healer," she continued imperiously. "We moved to the South so that he could procure the supplies that he needed. They--my parents--started something of a medicinal business there. The South is good for business. Lots of commerce, and good products." She rustled her silk skirts. "These are from Harad." This was a lie. They were imitations from Rohan. "My parents made a good living in the South. But--"

She stopped abruptly. What was she doing? She was about to tell this rogue everything! She tossed her hair over her shoulder and rubbed her hands vigorously on her apron. "I've told you enough about myself. What of you, sir? From whence do you hail?" She endowed the sir with enough scorn to cow several grown men, but she was not surprised when Bragorn hardly seemed to notice.
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Old 10-16-2004, 07:08 PM   #129
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Bragorn

Bragorn listened to Kannah’s discourse with interest, his merry gray eyes taking in the imperiousness of her manner with something between amusement and delight. Although she seemed to be making her best effort to intimidate him, Bragorn felt anything but cowed. In fact, as far as he could see, her haughtiness was merely her way of flirting with him. He smiled as she rustled her bright silk skirts, and obligingly looked down at them in admiration. As he did so, however, he raised one dark eyebrow ever so slightly. Hadn’t he just seen some skirts remarkably similar to hers in a merchant’s stall at the market in Edoras when he had passed through Rohan on his way north? He remembered thinking at the time that it was a pity he was currently without a wife or sweetheart, as they were an excellent buy. But then, he was no judge of ladies’ clothing. Perhaps the skirts in Edoras had been merely well-executed copies of Haradrim originals such as these. After all, if lovely Kannah said that hers were the genuine article, then who was he to beg to differ? He did like those earrings, though, especially the way they tinkled when she tossed her head.

“What of you, sir? From whence do you hail?” she asked with enough scorn in her voice to wilt a full field of alfalfa.

“I?” answered Bragorn lightly. “Not from the deltas, that’s for certain. My people hail from the northern end of Gondor, near the Rohirrim border, a small village close to the Firien Wood. Horse people there. Some people think of us as being more closely akin to the folks of Rohan, than of Gondor, though we are indeed Gondorians. Your people are healers, you say?”

“We are,” answered Kannah firmly, with a slight lift of her chin.

“That’s brilliant!” He smiled and took a long gulp of his ale. Putting the glass aside - half-empty - he wiped the foam from his mouth with his hand. “Maybe you can help me. I took a bit of a tumble the other day when my horse happened to step in a gopher hole. The shoulder’s a bit stiff.” He leaned toward her with his most charming smile and, pushing his thick black hair aside with one hand, used his other to pull back the neck of his mail shirt revealing a glimpse of very brawny shoulder. “Anything you can do about that?”

He really had taken a fall from his horse a few days prior and the shoulder really was a bit sore, but it was nothing for which he would ordinarily seek the attentions of a healer. It was simply all he could think of on short notice that might capture her interest, so he waited patiently, affecting the look of a wounded martyr. In the meantime, he expected her just as likely to reach out and pinch him as anything else. The more he thought about this possibility, however, the more the shadow of a grin danced on the corners of his mouth, transforming his martyred look into a rather twisted and silly grimace.
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Old 11-10-2004, 11:27 AM   #130
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Rochadan

As Rochadan led the last of the waiting horses inside to be groomed and stabled for the night, he found himself giving the dusty animal more than a second glance. The bay gelding was very, very familiar to him, almost as familiar to him as his own horse. With a sudden and knowing smile playing on the corners of his mouth, he reached down, loosed the cinch strap, and lifted the well-worn saddle from the animal’s broad back. There, just as he had a expected, he found a large “B” embossed into the leather.

“Bragorn!” he said aloud. It had been a long time since he had seen his old friend, in fact, since before the dragon. Rochadan went about the rest of his chores quickly that he might get to the common room and find the Gondorian messenger and have a few minutes to sit down and share news with him, catch up on old times, before the dinner rush of new arrivals to the inn. He hurried also because he knew Bragorn’s character very well and was aware that the fellow would be hard at work bothering the serving girls. Rochadan knew that Bragorn never meant any harm by it, but he could be a tremendous annoyance.

Finishing with the horse and saddle at last, Rochadan jogged to the front door of the inn, and went in. Sure enough, there sat Bragorn with a goofy look on his face, showing his shoulder to Kannah. As he watched, Kannah snapped the back of the messenger’s head with her dishcloth and spun away in a rustle of cheap silk. The messenger erupted into laughter, calling after her that even if she couldn’t fix his shoulder, he still wanted his bread and cheese. Rochadan pulled out a chair and sat down opposite his old friend.

“Greetings, great messenger and terror to all unsuspecting women,” he said amiably. “You’re almost as bad as the dragon. How long have you been in Esgaroth?”

“Rochadan!” exclaimed Bragorn. He half-rose from his chair and, in his exuberance to embrace his old friend across the table, upended what remained of his beer. Not having anything with which to clean up the mess, he just let the puddle stand on the tabletop and set the heavy - but now empty tankard - upsidedown in its center, where it presided over the conversation like a moated fortress in miniature. “You are still here!” continued Bragorn without missing a beat. Grinning broadly, he flopped back down into his chair. “You know, I asked that lovely creature if you were still about somewhere, but I don’t think she ever told me. As for Esgaroth, I only arrived here this morning. Official business, you know, so I had to attend to that first, but this was my first stop afterward.”

“Did you have any trouble finding the inn?” asked Rochadan. “It’s all so different since the town was moved and rebuilt.”

“None at all,” Bragorn assured the stablemaster. “But it was a little disorienting when I first arrived...kind of like Esgaroth but not Esgaroth at the same time. I must say you’ve done an admirable job of rebuilding. Such wild stories we’ve heard in the south about your dragon and the great battle at the foot of the Lonely Mountain. I take it you were there in the middle of it?”

“Quite,” answered Rochadan with a rueful smile. “I feel almost disloyal saying it - the inn has been quite good to me - but it was nice to be in the saddle again with a sword in my hand. To be honest, while I enjoy my life here, I miss the excitement of battle.”

Bragorn’s wide, cheery face sobered. “Well, if it’s that sort of excitement you are missing, there’s plenty to go around in the south,” he said grimly. “Do you remember Bonden?”

Rochadan nodded although he hadn’t heard the name in very a long time. “Big fellow - face like a baboon? He had that roan horse that liked to bite.”

“Exactly.” Bragorn nodded. “He was slain by orcs outside of Ithilien last year. Killian, too. I’m not sure what is happening across the river in the east, but it seems that there have been more and more orcs about lately. The roads grow ever more dangerous, especially for our sort - couriers and messengers, that is. Truth be known, we could use a man like you.”

Rochadan’s expression darkened. “Killian and Bonden were both good men, good fighters. How did it happen?” Both men had been particular friends of his. He could recall in years past sharing many a meal and friendly drink with them both. Bonden, if he remembered correctly, would have left behind a wife and three children.

Bragorn shrugged. “Ambushed on the road is all I can guess. Killian was pierced with so many black arrows that he looked like a pin cushion. Nothing was ever found of Bonden but bones and his broken sword. In both cases, their message bags were gone. In fact, I‘ve had a few close calls myself. All I can say is that I thank Eru daily for my dash of good luck and a fast horse.”

“Luck and a fast horse,” echoed Rochadan quietly. “Sometimes that’s all it takes.”

Bragorn nodded. “Let’s have another round and drink to our fallen comrades.” He raised his hand and, catching the attention of the innkeeper, gestured for two more ales.
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Old 11-10-2004, 12:53 PM   #131
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Shield New Game In Town

OOC

Writers of the Mark, please take a look at Fordim Hedgethistle's new game, Shadow of the West

It is an excting game of intrigue set in the Second Age and exploring the creation of the Nazgul.

Come join the fun!


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Old 11-16-2004, 08:35 PM   #132
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Tolkien

Ærosylle heaved a sigh, looking around for the elf. He had disappeared...probably into the sunset like Finian was always saying. A tear pricked her eye. Why was she crying? She had seen many elves...yet she had never spoken to one. Yes...that must have been it.

Stop crying you slimy human the grumpy plank growled. Be like us wood...we who are solid and stern. We never cry...do you know why? It's because we, in the wisdom of our over long lives, know [/i] that crying will do one no good. It won't solve a thing.[/i]

Ærosylle sniffed. The Wooden Plank could be so wonderfully cheering sometimes. She blinked at it and slipped away. She would leave him to his own cynic views.

She crept outside and stared at the birds. She wished that she could turn into a bird and fly away toward Mirkwood and have adventures. She remembered that when she had been younger, she had wished that she could grow wings, but Finian had told her that it was impossible to grow wings and to stop thinking foolish thoughts.

Could a human turn into a bird?

She bit her lip and meandered into the barn. Finian had never said that it was impossible. Had he even mentioned the subject. She cocked her head, beckoning the Breeze to remind her if Finian had mentioned the subject and if he had, what he had said. The air remained still. The Breeze would have come when she had called him with her silent plea. But the Breeze was a lazy thing and would only come if he was really needed.

She nodded.

His abscense meant that Finian had remained silent upon the subject. Since Finian had not mentioned it, it must be possible.

With a deep sigh of contentment that reminded the hay of a golden ray of sun, Ærosylle reached a grubby hand for an even grubbier ladder and began to climb to the hay loft. She could hear the hay mutter accusingly as she passed. She had forgotten to visit them. She felt a pang of guilt. She was supposed to have brought tea too. She shook her head and patted the hay, hoping to pacify it. It worked as it always did. Hay didn't have the sense or inclination to be angry long.

Opening the loft door (there was a name for it but her memory quite failed her -- it was wretched at its job) she perched upon the wooden step.

How did one turn into a bird?

She closed her eyes and thought hard with all her might. Birds...feathers....soaring winds...
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Old 11-25-2004, 10:01 PM   #133
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Kannah

"Anything you can do about that?"

Kannah stared at Bragorn's shoulder with a mixture of seething fury and piqued interest. Who was this man? He surely had enough gall for several men his size. She almost laughed aloud: several men? More like half a village. She put her hands on her hips in what she assumed was a fetching manner, leaning into the position like she had always seen her elder sisters do. "Let me see that shoulder, sir," she said, dropping her voice down at least an octave from the shrill pitch she usually employed. "Oh, it looks bad! Luckily for you, my people have exactly the remedy for a shoulder like yours."

Bragorn looked up. "Do they?"

Kannah nodded, picked up her skirts, and went to the fire. She drew a red-hot poker from the hearth and raised it up, studying it dramatically. She delighted to see Bragorn's eyes grow wide out of her peripheral vision.

"You see," she said, approaching him with the poker, "your humours are all off. Was it a fall? If so, then you might have too much earth elemental in your shoulder now." She rattled off some more nonsense that she made up off the top of her head, hardly even listening to herself. A small smile crept onto her lips.

"If we just make a small laceration--"

She heard some dogs go wild outside. They began to bray, howl, as if the world itself was coming to an end. She sighed loudly and trudged back to the hearth, sticking the poker back in.

"I have to go see what those fool dogs are going on about," she said to a wide-eyed Bragorn, and then stormed outside.

"Beasts! What are you howling about? If you're just having at each other, I'll whip you within an inch of your miserable lives, you black holes! The amount you eat, I'm surprised this inn hasn't gone under twice over. I'll--"

She finally followed the dogs' line of sight, and gasped. Ærosylle! She ran to the edge of the barn. "Ærosylle! Stay where you are! If you jump--"

She couldn't think of a threat. Her heart was in her throat. "Ærosylle, don't move!"
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Old 11-27-2004, 10:14 AM   #134
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Rochadan

Rochadan stopped Bragorn's call for ales with a gesture, his ear cocked toward the outside. He had passed Kannah on his way in. Having finished threatening Bragorn with a poker, she had gone out the door as he had come in. For a moment after she left, he had heard her screeching something ill-tempered at a pack of dogs that had set to barking, but abruptly her tone had changed. While he had not caught her words, her voice sounded frightened, almost panicky. Thinking that she might be in danger from the dogs, he pushed his chair back and rose.

"Bring your sword," he said to Bragorn, indicating for Bragorn to accompany him. As he passed the fireplace, Rochadan picked up the poker that Kannah had so recently put down. In fending off wild dogs, it would do quite well for a weapon.

As the two men left the common room and rounded the corner of the building in the direction of Kannah's voice, they stopped short in bewilderment and lowered their weapons. Kannah stood before the barn, looking up at the roof, surrounded by a shaggy pack of dogs. The dogs danced around her skirts, all wagging tails and lolling pink tongues, seeming more excited than threatening. It was a moment before Bragorn touched Rochadan's elbow and sheathed his sword.

"Up on the roof," said Bragorn quietly. "It seems a lass has found her way on to the roof of the barn."

"Oh, no..." murmured Rochadan, his dark eyes following Bragorn's pointing finger. "Ærosylle." Still holding the hot poker, he walked over to where Kannah stood. Bragorn followed a few steps behind.

Reaching Kannah, Rochadan exchanged a quick glance with her, then looked up at Ærosylle. Shading his eyes with one hand against the bright afternoon sun, he waved the poker in his other hand in a friendly manner.

"What, ho, Ærosylle! What are you doing up there?" he called pleasantly. "Did the dogs scare you?"

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Old 11-27-2004, 12:05 PM   #135
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Ærosylle heard someone calling from far far below....dragging her from the sky and clouds. It sounded vaguely familiar....

Then there was another voice...a man's voice, saying, "What, ho, Ærosylle! What are you doing up there? Did the dogs scare you?"

The Dogs? Oh yes, the Dogs. Dogs scared birds. She had seen them yapping after little blue birds...they had gone to the treetops in a flurry of feathers. A chill pricked down her spine. Nasty dogs.

She swallowed and called down, "Yes! The dogs were after me so I scuttled up here! Dogs are always frightening birds," she said with a disdainful glance towards the dogs who were flopped in the shade. "All they care about are themselves! They are great big bullies! So I am going to fly away!"

"Fly away?" called the man -- whom Ærosylle now recognized as Rochdan. "And how are you going to do that?"

She thought that she could perceive a twinkle in his eyes.

She sighed patiently. "I'm a bird!" She spread her arms and flapped them in demonstration.

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Old 11-27-2004, 04:56 PM   #136
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Andhun followed Rochadan, completely oblivious of what exactly was going on. He saw Ærosylle, and admired her courage for climbing up there. With a sigh, he looked down at his crippled foot and felt deep regret that he could never engage in such activities again. He raised his eyes to the girl again when she said she would fly away, and a deep longing came into his heart. He wished he were a bird, he wished he could fly away and find his sister. Maybe his sister would be a sweet and kind and funny as Ærosylle was.

"Oh, I wish you wouldn't fly away!" he called to Ærosylle, his voice vibrating with the notes of all the homesickness, loneliness, and longing for family in his heart. "I wish I were a bird, so I might also fly away."

And how, also, he wished he were like Ærosylle. She could find friends everywhere: in the dishware, in the tables and chairs, in the steps... especially the step that didn't like to be stepped upon. She could content herself with her imaginings that she was a bird, or a fish, or whatever she wanted to be. And he felt always the lost little boy without a mother or father, crippled and disfigured, and lonely for a friend.

He had been moving much that day, and his leg was weary, and was paining him. He gently sat upon the ground, and looked up at Ærosylle, flapping her arms, and it seemed to him that she was flying away already. He bowed his head, and at the moment he did a soft hand touched his hair, and Earcwen stood beside him. Her eyes were wide and her face was pale as she looked up at Ærosylle, but she smiled at him and sat beside him. "What troubles you, Andhun?" she asked.

"Miss Earcwen, I was just wishing I were a bird," said Andhun. "If I were a bird I would fly above the houses, and sooner or later I should find my sister."

"If you were a bird your sister would not recognize you, and would only love you as a pet, not her dear brother," Earcwen replied.

"You are right," said Andhun, "but if I were a bird I should not be lonely for my sister."

"And therefore you should be very unhappy, because you would not even love her."

"I suppose so," said Andhun.

"Don't be upset because you miss her," said Earcwen. "When I miss anyone I take it as a comfort. If I did not miss them perhaps I should feel that I did not love them. You can't want to see someone unless you want to see them, you know." Her words were sincere, but her eyes were distracted and ever drifting to the little bird Ærosylle upon the barn.
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Old 12-03-2004, 09:34 PM   #137
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Rochadan

Rochadan watched nervously as Ærosylle's shoulders dropped in a visible sigh. Then she began to flap her arms in a disturbing way. "I'm a bird!" she called down to the group on the ground. Rochadan handed his poker off to Kannah and was just opening his mouth to respond when he heard a plaintive little voice crying out behind him:

"Oh, I wish you wouldn't fly away!” Then more softly, “I wish I were a bird, so I might also fly away."

Rochadan recognized the voice instantly and turned in Andhun’s direction, but the concern that had been etched into his face by the sadness of the boy’s voice, vanished at once when he saw that the child was accompanied by Earcwen. As Rochadan watched, the young woman tenderly stroked the boy’s hair and sat down beside him, speaking to him in a soft voice. Knowing now that Andhun was in good hands, Rochadan turned his attention back to Ærosylle on the roof.

“Oh, I wouldn’t recommend trying to fly, Ærosylle,” he called up to her, doing his best to maintain a pleasant and conversational tone. “You see, you haven’t got any feathers. Without them, you’ll just come plummeting down to the earth, which would be none to fun for you in the long run. How about I bring the ladder around instead?”

Behind him, Bragorn piped up. “I couldn’t recommend staying up there, either. Or flying for that matter. When I rode in this afternoon, I saw a bloody great hawk hanging about, plucking little birds right out of the air with her talons. Nothing left but a few bits of fluff floating down on the breeze. Not a happy sight, I can tell you!”

Rochadan turned around and gave Bragorn a look sharp enough to make the Gondorian fall back a step. “Well, I did see a hawk,” Bragorn muttered stubbornly. Then, thinking the better of arguing the point under the circumstances, he added: “Eh... how about I go find that ladder?”

“Yes, please,” answered Rochadan. “It’s standing against the side of the inn. I put it there this morning for a guest.”

Bragorn nodded and took off to fetch the ladder. As he did so, he gave Ærosylle a friendly wave. “Just have a seat there, love, hey? I’m going to fetch the ladder.”

“Who’s that?” Ærosylle called down as Bragorn walked away. She stopped flapping and let her thin arms fall to her sides.

“It’s Bragorn. Do you remember him? He used to come stay here from time to time when your father was alive.” Rochadan paused. Inwardly he cringed a bit, wondering if it had been so very smart to bring up Ærosylle’s father, who had been so tragically killed by the dragon, while Ærosylle was still perched on the roof. He changed tactics quickly. “Bragorn’s bringing the ladder around. Will you come down? If you like, I could even come up there for a while and keep you company. Or I’m sure Finian wouldn’t mind coming up for a spell either. We could fetch him if you like. What do you say?”
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Old 12-06-2004, 06:37 PM   #138
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"I don't need Finian coming down to fetch me," Ærosylle called pettishly.

She sniffed and stopped flapping her arms, letting them hang limply at her sides. The boy hadn't wanted her to fly away. She hated it when people left. It was so mean of them. She supposed that it would be mean of her to fly away when none of the people down there wanted her to fly away.

And that other fellow, the one who had told her about the hawk and called her love, he seemed nice enough too. According to Rochadan his name was Bragorn....a man who used to come when her father was still alive.

Ærosylle didn't remember her father that well. She remembered that he had disappeared in bright flame....and she wondered if it had hurt very much.

She heard the ladder clunk dully against the loft, heard the wood creak wearily as someone climbed up it. Turning, she saw Bragorn standing there, his arms open and his eyes twinkling.

"Now come here, there's a love!" he said.

"The ladder doesn't like you," said Ærosylle. "It creaked you know."
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Old 12-07-2004, 12:53 PM   #139
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Bragorn

Bragorn's smile faded slightly as he gazed thoughtfully down at the ladder. Then, he swung himself on to the edge of the roof, where he sat with his legs dangling over the side. "Is that what the ladder said?" he asked gravely. "Are you sure it didn't creak out of petulance for being left out in the sun all day? If so, that would be Rochadan's doing, not mine." He looked down at the ground where the stablemaster stood watching them. The lovely serving girl, Kannah, stood beside him, holding the poker she had menaced Bragorn with earlier. Rochadan must have handed it over to her at some point after the two of them had joined her outside. Behind them were the sad, scarred little boy and his companion, and beyond them, closer to the inn's front door, a small group of other onlookers who had come outside to see what the commotion was about. Bragorn gave them all a happy wave, then lay back against the warm surface of the roof, tilting his head upward to see Ærosylle, who remained perched at the roof's peak.

"Usually I have a way with ladders," he said mildly.

Ærosylle did not reply. Instead, she squatted down where she was and wrapped her thin arms around her knees, watching Bragorn with wide, interested eyes.

"Stairs, too," he continued after a moment. "Now, doors, on the other hand, doors have always had it in for me. Like the front door of my father's house in Gondor. All I have to do is crack the hinges open for it to squeal as though it's been wounded. For my sisters? - I have five of 'em, you know, a jolly bunch, every one of them - but for my sisters, the door doesn't make a sound. They can bang in and out of it all day and not a peep. I can't help but think the door doesn't like me."

"Perhaps you've done something to offend it," suggested Ærosylle.

Bragorn nodded. "Perhaps so, though I can't imagine what. After all, it was Prudence who put the big scars in the door's frame when she tried to run into the house holding a butter churn crossways across her body. Of course, it didn't fit and she flipped over the top and landed bang on to the floor. Buttermilk went everywhere." Bragorn chuckled softly at the memory. What he neglected to tell Ærosylle was that he had been chasing his sister at the time, threatening to put a field mouse down the back of her dress. He had been twelve years old and his sister had been eight at the time. "We had a jolly good laugh over it, but I'm sure the door was none too pleased. Our mother was quite angry."

Ærosylle crept a few inches down the roof toward the man. "Why was your sister running with a butter churn?"

"She was afraid something bad would happen to the butter if she left it outside, so she was trying to carry it inside." Bragorn laughed again, reliving the incident in his mind. "Honestly, though, I wouldn't have done anything to the butter."

"So you were chasing her!" cried Ærosylle triumphantly, intuiting what had truly happened. "Of course, the door is angry with you. The gashes are all your fault. I'm sure the door would forgive you if you would apologize."

Bragorn nodded solemnly. "I shall do that." After a moment, still lying flat on his back on the rooftop, Bragorn reached out and placed his booted foot idly on the top rung of the ladder. "In the meantime, love," he continued to Ærosylle. "what shall we do about the ladder?"
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Old 12-09-2004, 12:28 PM   #140
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OOC

Open a new keg! We have some new members of Rohan to celebrate.

Congratulations are due to Nuranar for founding and running the very successful game Wilderness, Weathertop, and Wild Things with the always-able Envinyatar. Welcome to full status in Rohan as Game Player and Game Founder, Nuranar!

From the same game we welcome Primrose Bolger and Saurreg as Game Players to Rohan. Good characterisations, cooperative work, and good ability to move the action forward, both you!

I also ought to commend current Rohan Gamers Envinyatar, Esgalhugwen, Fordim, Kransha, and Meneltarmacil for good work in this game as well.

I particularly enjoyed the very creative naming of characters in this game. Names can sometimes be difficult to create, but every one of the characters in this game was superbly named.

Come join some festivities at either of Rohan's glorious Inns!

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Old 12-31-2004, 08:37 AM   #141
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Rochadan

The stablemaster watched with dire misgivings as his old friend Bragorn climbed the ladder up to the roof - presumably - to rescue Ærosylle, or at least to convince her to come down. He had meant to go himself, but Bragorn had insisted that with five sisters at home, he would be well-qualified to talk to the girl. But, Rochadan thought to himself, that was precisely the problem with sending him: Bragorn, among other things, liked to hear himself talk and could go on forever if you let him. Rochadan watched as Bragorn reached the top of the ladder, waved at them all on the ground, then flopped over on to his back on the warm thatch of the barn roof. He could hear the rumble of Bragorn’s voice, talking away, as Ærosylle remained perched near the roof’s peak. As Bragorn’s dangling foot landed on the top rung of the ladder and began moving the entire ladder idly back and forth, Rochadan exchanged a glance with Kannah, who still held the poker he had given her earlier.

“Well, do something,” she said crossly, placing her hands on her hips. “If you leave it up to your friend, we’ll be out here all day.”

Rochadan laughed. “Between him and Ærosylle, we could be, at that.” He stepped closer to the base of the ladder and put out a hand to stop its restless sway.

“Ho, Bragorn!” he called up to his friend. “What’s happening up there? Are you planning to come down?”

In response, Bragorn pulled up his feet. Presently, his face appeared over the edge of the roof. “Well, yes, I am, but there’s a wee problem. You see, the ladder doesn’t like me and we haven’t figured out just yet what to do about it.”

Behind Rochadan, Kannah called out, “The ladder’s not the only one who doesn’t like you, you know!” She brandished the poker.

Bragorn laughed loudly and kissed his hand at the serving girl. “Later, my love! You may abuse me to you heart’s content, but right now it’s the ladder’s turn.”

The ladder? That sounds like a bit of Ærosylle’s nonsense, thought Rochadan to himself. He groaned inwardly. She was always telling people things like that, that the stair didn’t like you, or the door was a grump. Leave it to Bragorn to believe her.

“What do you mean the ladder doesn’t like you?” he asked. “It’s just some wood and nails.”

“Well, that’s what Ærosylle tells me.” Bragorn withdrew his face for a moment to say something to the girl at the peak of the roof. Rochadan could have sworn he heard the words: See? I told you it was Rochadan that the ladder’s angry with. Such an attitude!

Behind him, Kannah threw up her hands as Bragorn’s face reappeared at the edge of the roof. “We can’t come down until we figure out what to do about the ladder,” Bragorn said pleasantly. “Have you got another one?”

At that, Rochadan felt a flare of temper. “No, we haven’t got another one!” he shouted. “There’s nothing wrong with this one. In fact, I just mended it this afternoon.” He was just putting his foot on the lowest rung of the disputed ladder to climb up himself when a shadow passed over him. Looking up quickly, he saw the dark brown body of a large hawk with a brilliant red tail sail over the roof of the stable, barely missing Bragorn before rising upward on a fresh thermal. Out of sight of Rochadan, Ærosylle shrieked. Rochadan shot up the ladder as quickly as he could go.
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Old 12-31-2004, 02:27 PM   #142
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"The ladder is a most aggravating fellow," said Ærosylle pleasantly as she cuddled herself into the straw. "He's very straight you know -- he makes sure you know that he is upset with you. But sometimes he's a bit narrowminded too...and he doesn't forgive all at once." She nodded her head solemnly.

Oustide Rochadan was shouting words outside and she listened with interest. Silly man who didn't believe that the ladder was upset.

"It's not just wood and nails," she informed Bragorn. "It's a ladder and if Rochadan cannot see when it is upset then...." her voice trailed off delicately and she shook her head.

She heard the stablemaster shout, "No, we haven’t got another one!” he shouted. “There’s nothing wrong with this one. In fact, I just mended it this afternoon."

Sighing Ærosylle explained, "The reason we don't have another one is because this one is insanely jealous, aren't you?" she asked, patting the ladder as if it was a dog.

At that moment a monstrous bird with a crimson tail soared above, diving straight for Bragorn. Ærosylle shrieked with delight screaming, "She wants to take you with you, Bragorn!" But the bird went away, flying away into the clouds. Ærosylle sighed and said, "If I were a bird I would have taken you with me."

Below, she could here Rochadan climbing up the ladder. As his head appeared over the ladder she said, "It's a good thing the ladder has forgiven you. I would like some tea, and to see if my friend the elf has come back."

Standing, she waited for Rochadan to descend.
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Old 01-12-2005, 09:13 PM   #143
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Another bird appeared in the sky, not as large as the one with the crimson tail which had so intrigued Ærosylle but still a swift and mighty flyer. He flew unerrantly and directly towards the tavern, his wide wing span marking a rhythmic swoop and lift which brought him closer and closer. Yet there was no glee or joy inspired by his appearance. Rather, an aura of doom.

As the bird--bird of prey it could now be seen, a falcon--come closer there also could be seen in his beak a roll of something. It was not meat or carrion, for the bird held it without biting or chewing. And as the creature came near the Vineyard, it swooped long and low by the stablemaster, surprising him but not upsetting him from the ladder. And then swiftly the bird flew into the Tavern, depositing the scroll at the feet of Andhun. The lad picked it up, read it with dismay and melancoly sorrow and looked around for the Innkeeper. Not seeing Finian, he tacked the scrll to the large door of the Vineyard Tavern and stepped back to reread the sombre words.

Bring our your guests! Bring out your guests! The Vineyard is being sold.

By decree of the Mayor and Treasurer of this fair city, it is herebye decreed that in forfeit of taxes and other debts owing, ownership of the Vineyard Tavern has been assumed by the City, which has auctioned it off to the highest bidder. Patrons are encouraged to complete their business as soon as possible or within the next seven business days, upon which time deed of ownership will be turned over to Master Harsten, who will turn the property into a manufacturing enterprise.


Gasps of outrage and shock marked every reading of the scroll, yet none could deny that poor young master Finian and his sister had fallen indeed upon hard times.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

OOC

Sadly, Imladris has had to withdraw from most gaming enterprises on the BarrowDowns and with her departure the Vineyard Tavern will be closed. It has attracted a splendid crew of gamers with a fascinating mix of characters. Any who wish to provide some closure for their characters can write concluding posts. I will leave the thread up and open for a week to allow for imagination to percolate. And I then invite everyone to join the The White Horse Inn.

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Old 01-13-2005, 11:11 PM   #144
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Cynan came skipping up the lane, whistling cheerfully. Ah, and there was the Vineyard Tavern! He had decided to come and see how Andhun was getting along. True, it hadn't been so very long since he had left the first time, but Andhun was such a frail little fellow, and no doubt needed looking after. Up the walkway he tripped... and paused in dismay.

What was this milling about of the guests, this shock, dismay, and even despair upon their faces? What was the awful thing that had occurred? Cynan's eyes roved desperately for Andhun. There he was! He was sitting upon the grass with his head bowed and tears, which he valiantly fought against, shining in his eyes. Cynan hurried forward, knelt down beside him and awkwardly patted his shoulder. "There, there, Andhun," he said. "Whatever is bothering you, don't let it. I'll take care of you." He paused, and looked again at all the unhappy faces. "What is bothering you?" he questioned.

"The Tavern is being sold," said Andhun, gesturing despairingly towards the notice, "and now I have nowhere to go... except... except... except to my old master." He could not fight the tears any longer. They streamed down his cheeks and he tried desperately to stop the shaking of his shoulders.

"Now, that can't happen!" said Cynan, his eyes flashing. "We'll never send you back to that evil man, Andhun, never. I'll die first."

"I have nowhere to go except to him," said Andhun.

"We'll find somewhere for you to go," said Cynan. He stood, went to the notice, and glanced over it. "Why," he said, "if I were a wealthy boy I would pay of all those debts of the Innkeeper, and then you could stay here, Andhun. But that's no help at all, because I'm not wealthy." He sat down wearily. "We'll think of something," he said. "You're not going back to your master, even if I have to become wealthy in one day."

"You're so good," said Andhun, brushing at the flowing tears and attempting to smile. "I'll try to be cheerful, really I will. I know you won't let me go back there."

"You're wholly right," said Cynan. "I won't. Now smile even wider, Andhun, because you don't have anything to worry about."

So Andhun smiled wider. But whether he would allow Andhun to worry or not, Cynan could not deny that that very emotion, worry, pervaded his own heart.
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Old 01-14-2005, 09:54 AM   #145
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Rochadan

Rochadan ducked as the falcon flew low over his head and dropped the scroll at Andhun's feet. Seeing the boy pick it up and tack it to the front door of the inn, Rochadan felt a strong sinking sensation in his stomach. He exchanged a somber glance with Bragorn, then lowered his head and climbed quickly down the ladder. Forgetting the alleged crankiness of the ladder, Bragorn and Ærosylle followed. For once, Bragorn was quiet.

By the time Rochadan reached the door and the scroll, Andhun had already been joined by Cynan, Andhun’s friend of earlier in the day. Both boys seemed to be trying very hard to put a brave face on what was very bad news. Rochadan gave them each a nervous smile, then leaned forward to read the notice. As his dark eyes reached the end, the part about the property being bought out by Harsten of all people, Rochadan’s face flushed with rage. It was such an insult that this place that he and Finian had rebuilt from the ashes with their own hands should go to such a monster... and to be used as a place for manufacturing.

Behind him, Bragorn blew out a long breath. “Harsten... oy, that’s an ugly thing for sure. And the inn seemed so prosperous, too.” He shook his head.

The first flash of rage passed, Rochadan just nodded, speechless. He had known that Finian was struggling, but he had had no idea that things had come to such a point. Finian had said nothing about it, shouldering all of the worry on his own. Rochadan shook his head. “If only Finian had said something...” he said at last. “I have a bit of money saved up. I might have been able to, if not prevent this, put it off long enough for us to find a decent buyer for the place. Someone who might preserve the place and keep it open as an inn. But this!” He threw up his hand.

Bragorn again shook his head. “What will you do?” he asked quietly.

Rochadan shrugged. “Go back to riding, I suppose.” Pausing, he looked around the crowded yard. As his gaze happened upon Andhun, whom he had briefly forgotten in the wake of reading the terrible news, he forced a smile back on to his face. Walking over to the two boys, he nodded to Cynan and placed a hand on Andhun’s shoulder.

“You mustn’t be afraid, Andhun,” he said kindly. “You will always have a home with me and with Sallie. Before I took care of the stables here at the Vineyard, I was a rider and a long distance messenger, like Bragorn here. I can always go back to it.” His face softened. “In fact, the pay is much better. With the money I make, I can easily afford a little cottage here in Esgaroth for us to live in. If you would come along, it would be of tremendous help to me, too. You see, if I return to the road, I shall need someone around to play with Sallie. She is very fond of you already.”

“But, sir,” Andhun began to object softly.

Rochadan gave the boy’s shoulder a squeeze. “Of course, you would not be left alone. I shall have to find a housekeeper, too, but I have friends about town. Here at the inn, even. And your friend Cynan, here, would always be welcome to come about. It will work out. So, what do you say? Can I count on you?”
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Old 01-14-2005, 02:04 PM   #146
Nurumaiel
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Andhun studied the ground, his heart throbbing with the surge of emotions that had swept over him in the space of a few minutes. Sorrow... fear... despair... relief... joy... gratefulness. He could see himself sitting with Sallie when she was lonely and singing songs to her. He saw himself helping Rochadan with those little jobs it didn't hurt him to do. He would be free to look for his sister. He looked up, his eyes shining with tears of thankfulness. "Yes, sir," he said, lifting his burned and scarred little chin. "You can count on me."

"Hurrah!" said Cynan, and he danced a little jig. Then he caught Rochadan's hand and shook it heartily. "You're a good man, such a very good man," he said. "If I had thought of it, I would have offered to take Andhun, too, you know... but since I'm already working my heart out to take care of my mother, it's a wonderful thing of you to take Andhun. I'll visit whenever I can and if I have a spare day I'll help Andhun watch over Sallie. And we'll look for your sister, Andhun, we surely will. And we'll play as long and happily as ever we want. And - " here his eyes twinkled with mischief " - we'll come here often and throw pebbles through the windows at Harsten's guests." He raised his chin in aloof dignity. "I will never come here as a guest. No really good person would ever stoop so low as to go to the Tavern when Harsten was in charge."

Andhun said nothing, but his eyes still shone, and the tears still spilled down his cheeks.... tears of happiness.
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Old 01-18-2005, 02:54 PM   #147
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Rochadan couldn't help but chuckle at Cynan's enthusiastic approval. While on one hand, it tickled him immensely, on the other hand, he was grateful for it. Andhun needed that extra bit of confidence and encouragement. With Cynan's companionship, Rochadan felt certain that Andhun's recovery would be that much easier, both physically and psychologically.

"Well, that's capital, then," he said to them both. "Thank you," he added. "You have both already set my mind so much more at ease."

Giving the two boys one more quick smile, he turned and ducked into the common room in search of Finian. Seeing him in a rather secluded corner attempting to console a weeping Ærosylle, Rochadan decided that he would speak to Finian later. After all, anything he had to say to Finian at this stage could wait. Ærosylle was far more important. Seeing him, Finian gave Rochadan a rather apologetic shrug, then shook his head. Rochadan shrugged, too. What else could be said? They had certainly given the inn their best.

Walking on through to the kitchen, Rochadan wondered what Finian and Ærosylle would do in order to provide for themselves once the inn had closed. Ærosylle needed someone there with her so much of the time that Finian's options were decidedly limited unless he could find someone to help keep an eye on the girl while he went about the business of earning their keep. He was concerned for Ædhral, as well, and Nell the Cook. He had no worries for Kannah, though. That young woman was strong and resourceful, despite her sharp tongue. Whatever happened, he had a feeling that she, like a cat, would land on her feet. Entering the kitchen, he found Nell standing at the sink, wiping a tear from the corner of her eye with her apron.

"Oh, it's such a shame!" she said as the door to the common room fell shut behind the stablemaster. "I shall go live with my sister. She has plenty of room for me on her farm, but it's you young people that I worry about. Have you anywhere to go?"

Rochadan nodded, explaining to her his plan to take a little cottage in town and to go back to his earlier profession of messenger. Nell seemed satisfied, but did give him a solemn look. "Now, you be careful out there on the road," she said gravely. "Don't take too many chances. Those children need you, both Sallie and Andhun."

Rochadan smiled and gave Nell a hug. "Never fear, Nell," he said. "I shall be the soul of prudence." He nodded in the direction of Cook's room where his little daughter was napping. "Is Sallie awake yet?"

"No, not yet," answered Nell. "But perhaps we should let the little dear sleep a bit longer. After all, when she awakes, her whole little world will be turned upsidedown."

Rochadan nodded. "Yes, you're right. I shall let her sleep then, but please send for me as soon as she awakes."

"That I will do," said the cook. Rochadan thanked her and took his leave, departing through the back door and returning to the stable where there was already much to be done. With the inn closing so abruptly, guests already waited outside for him to bring their horses to them, while others had gone on into the stables to fetch their mounts themselves. Rochadan fell to the work of matching each guest with his or her horse with determination, but a growing sense of unreality washed over him from time to time. Yes, he was taking an active approach and doing what needed to be done, but the idea that the inn would be closing still had not fully sunk in. He still could not believe that in a matter of days, the Vineyard Tavern as he knew it would be gone.

Finally, as the last horse aside from Bragorn's and his own trotted away down the dusty lane, Rochadan leaned back against the door to one of the now empty stalls.

"Well, that's that, I guess," he sighed. Across the aisle, his horse, Alydar, whinnied softly in the silence of the otherwise empty stable. Soon they, too, would be gone. Idly, Rochadan reached out to stroke the animal's forehead, remembering how that morning he had so longed to be back on the road. Now that it was happening, he felt a tug of reluctance. Rochadan laughed ironically.

"Be careful what you wish for," he cautioned Alydar. "For surely you will get it. And sometimes sooner than you think!"

With that, Rochadan gave the horse's nose a final pat, then returned to the inn to collect his daughter and the young boy he had already begun to think of as a son, and to say good-bye to the other employees of the inn. Over the years, he had begun to think of them as family, too, but with the closing of the inn, he knew that they would all be going their separate ways. They would all pack their belongings now in readiness for a new life and new adventures somewhere in the wider world beyond the Vineyard Tavern. He hoped with all his heart that whatever paths they took, each every and one of them would find his or her own happiness.
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Old 01-20-2005, 08:11 AM   #148
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