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Old 04-01-2006, 07:03 PM   #161
Bêthberry
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Ruthven had trundled over to the cistern that had collected the rain water running down from the roof. She poured some water over her hands to wash them, and was drying them on her shawl as a commotion came to the window. She watched as first one leg and then another leg appeared out the window, bereft of skirts and apron and none too ceremoniously. She winced. Frodides was far from a vain and cantankerous woman, and was one of the best and kindest mothers around, but she had a proper sense of her own dignity and decorum. And this event did not match that. Any cook worth her salt and her herbs would want to walk directly out of her kitchen.

Quickly though the young 'uns attended to her and one ran off to call the healer.

"Could I take one of your shawls, please, ma'am?" asked one of them.

Ruthven looked down at her shawl, damp from wiping her hands. Yet it was the best they had to offer. She wrapped it 'round Frodides' shoulders with a matter of fact tug and turned to the girl.

"What was it that ye jumped on to reach the window? Would there be a cask or chair there we could retrive, for Frodides? I can help lift ye back into the kitchen. We'll be wanting something for Frodides to put under her leg, to keep it lifted like."

The sound of males voices was muffled and the women, the three woman, stood there and considered what they were about.

"Well, lass, will you go back in to fetch a support for our cook?" commented Ruthven.
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Old 04-01-2006, 08:44 PM   #162
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Degas cajoled Eodwine. Eodwine didn't like being cajoled. He kept his face in a mere frown as his innards churned to give rise to his arms to lash out. He sighed. And sighed again.

“Were we all just hearing things?” Léof asked, “Or is something else going on here…?”

"What? Heard you voices in the kitchen?" Eodwine asked, distracted. "I heard nothing."

"Surely," offered Falco, "there's a back door to the kitchen. Maybe it's open. I'll go check."

"Shirking real work again, Master Falco?" Eodwine threw the hobbit's way with a rueful grin. Falco grinned back and was gone from sight. Eodwine sighed again, and wishing to look anywhere other than at the ruined door to the kitchen, caught sight of Léof favoring a foot. "Are you limping, boy? Is there something amiss with your foot?"

Intro to Eorling Mead Hall rpg
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Old 04-02-2006, 07:24 AM   #163
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The broadset man with the thick straw coloured hair had two names, but he was only ever known by one of them, Larswic. This was a nickname he had acquired at a young age, and even though it suggested his being an untrustworthy man, it had its advantages. To go around calling yourself a cheat made people wonder if you really could be one. If a man was to say "I never tell lies" then it might suggest he was lying, but if he said "I'm a liar" then he would appear to be honest. The nickname had never let Larswic down and now nobody but his elderly father could remember his birth name, which Larswic kept to himself, as secret as the bag of gold tucked into his shirt.

He stood scratching his bristly chin as he wondered if this place really could be the Mead Hall of the new Eorl of Middle Emnet. The building looked to be unfinished, and worse, perhaps even in a state of destruction. He heard shouting of women and was surprised not to find a guard or two on duty as was usual in Edoras. He smiled. Disorder was to his liking as it meant easier money to be made, and an Eorl who ran this kind of establishment might also be less careful with his levies. He decided he already liked the new Eorl and would take the time to greet him.

Larswic had not come to Edoras alone and he was not there just to greet his new Lord; that would have been a wasted trip in his mind, especially when there was so much gold to be made in the city, and merriment. He had brought along horses to be traded, both sturdy workhorses that the farmers liked to own, and the fine, temperamental horses such as the nobles liked to ride; breeding horses was just one of the many ways his family made their money. To help with the horses he brought his eldest son and the lad's cousin, both boys of fourteen. This was their first time in Edoras and though they looked about them wide eyed, they knew not to be distracted, to keep quiet and look after the horses as Larswic had ordered. Wultheof, Larswic's son, was almost as big as his father, with the same straw coloured hair; he looked on his father and the horses proudly and was not impressed by the people of Edoras. Leocsley, Larswic's sister-son, was more slightly built, and though also proud, he looked at the city people, especially those with finery, through narrowed eyes.

Larswic dismounted from his own horse, and with a wave of his hand and few words, dismissed the boys to find stables for the horses. He walked to the Mead Hall, noting the faces about him, who he thought looked wise, and who gullible, and smiled as he thought of the sets of Dice and Knucklebones in his pocket.
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Old 04-02-2006, 07:42 AM   #164
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Saeryn met Falco as he ambled (though with more speed than usual) toward the kitchen.

"Falco!" she said, carrying a tray of cold drinks. "How are they doing up there?"

She nodded in the direction that she was walking, and though she slowed, she continued forward.

"Where'd you find those cups?" asked Falco, thinking he knew the answer.

"The kitchen, of course. We thought the men might like refreshment as they work."

"Frodides?"

"Quite safe. A deep cut, but it's being taken care of."

"Where is she?"

"With the ladies." She paused a minute, watching his mind work before adding, "The window, Falco."

He stopped dead before breaking out in loud laughter, pounding his small fist against his knee as he doubled over to about the size of a large pumpkin, nearly shaking with mirth. He pointed in the direction that the men worked silently, doing it again toward the back of the building. He sputtered and laughed again. Saeryn smiled and caught the fresh scent of the cold cider. Water would prove well enough for common refreshment, but the chilled explosion of fruit would serve better to cut through the stale dust and would leave a more pleasant taste than damp debris.

"If you'll excuse me..."

She rounded the corner, stepping over several of the more aerodynamic rocks without spilling a drop of cider. She spotted Eodwine sighing heavily and noted his face, redder than usual, and his carriage... tenser, muscles nearly rippling with use or want of it. The dust had coated his golden hair, fading it to where he looked as if he had aged years in a day. The dampness of the weather coupled with heavy lifting had combined to cut clean paths through the grime on his skin. He was a sight and no mistake. She worried over his state as he took yet another breath. Angry, or working himself too hard?

She walked slower now, picking her way across strewn debris, balancing her tray carefully.

"Take a drink." she ordered Eodwine. "You look fresh from battle and there's no reason for it."
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Old 04-02-2006, 08:09 AM   #165
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Bebother that horse! Why did it have to be Eodwine himself who noticed? Oh, no, oh, no. In the space of a few seconds a million responses flitted through Léof’s mind. Limping? No, not at all – my foot is fine. Except Léof was a horrible liar, and he faltered under Eodwine’s steady gaze.

“Well, yes, maybe a little,” Léof admitted. “The horses spooked in the stable when the wall fell in, and my foot got stepped on. But I’m sure it will be fine,” he hastily added. “It doesn’t hurt that much, and I’ve had worse before.” This very last part, at least, was true. On the other hand, he had no idea how fine it would really be. He wished that he had had a chance to look at it himself before someone else had noticed. And the very last thing he needed was a doctor coming in and telling him it had to be rested for some indefinite length of time. He did not think it would come to that, but he preferred to play it safe – and that meant no doctor.

Eodwine frowned as if trying to discern how much truth was in Léof’s words, but thankfully he had no time to call for a healer or anything of the sort because three men rode up at that point with several horses. “I had best go help,” Léof excused himself and made his escape, taking care to walk as normally as possible, although the pain of doing this was dizzying. If nothing else, Gárwine would cover for him. As Léof passed him, he cast him a glance that Léof could only hope Gárwine would correctly interpret. Gárwine nodded slightly, and Léof could only trust that it was so.

As he approached the newcomers, he realized that two of them could not be older than himself, although both were taller. By the time he caught up with them, the third man had already walked off, presumably to find Eodwine.

“Good morning to you,” he offered. “My name is Léofric, and I am the ostler here.” He had no idea what it was that led him to use his full name and not the shortened form. Perhaps it was an aura of being completely unimpressed, but Léof for some reason felt an inexplicable need to assert himself as belonging here. Maybe some of it even came from his injured foot. “I can take some of those horses,” he said. “There are several open stalls about midway down the aisle…”

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Old 04-02-2006, 11:58 AM   #166
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Off walked Léof, trying very hard to hide his limp. Eodwine shook his head, grinning. He would have to have a word with that young man. It seemed he was too used to being untrusted and hid what should not be. Hmm, oh lord of Middle Emnet, that's not bad thinking for a lord of the Eorlingas; maybe there's hope for you yet. Eodwine rolled his eyes. Fool, any grown man could think as good a thought and have not the makings of a lord of other folk. Go help the others and quit thinking for a bit.

He took a step in the direction of Degas and the others, busily at work removing broken pieces of wall from the kitchen door - they seemed to be making quite good work of it without his help - when he stopped and looked about him. The rain was lessening. In fact, he and all the others, no doubt, had clean forgotten that it was raining at all in all the hubbub since the downed wall.

The downed wall. How had that happened? The next thought shook him at a deep level that would have scared him had he paid closer attention to it, but the thing itself distracted him. Where was Manawyth? Eodwine frowned. Could the tipped wall had been foul play? He began walking amid the mess of lumber and plaster, taking care not to slip on the wetness of it all, looking for any clues to what caused the wall to fall.

He was busy about this when he heard footsteps behind him. He turned, half expecting Manawyth, ready to glower. It was Saeryn, bearing a tray of drink. He tried to cover his surprise at such a fair sight amid all the tangle and woe both in his mind and before his eyes.

"Take a drink." she ordered Eodwine. "You look fresh from battle and there's no reason for it."

"You're not supposed to be in here," he grated, but took the offered cup and drank, peering at her face over the rim of his cup. The cider tasted good, and the spike of age soothed his nerves. She'd made a good choice. Another mark to the good for her as hostess, though he thought her more as guest than otherwise. "What mean you, no reason?"

Noises of chinking harness and scratching leather came to his ears and he looked to what had been the entrance to the mead hall. Picking their way through the debris were a man and two youths, Rohirric by the look of them.

"Hello there! Best not step any more in this mess, we've had a wall fall over. Saeryn, my hostess, will show you to the makeshift lunch room, though I'm not sure what lunch we have to serve you right now as the kitchen's a battlefield. Oh! I'm Eodwine, keeper of this inn and erstwhile lord of this not so fair mead hall. What are you called?" Eodwine ruefully thought that he sounded in all that rush of words like one busybodied innkeeper of Bree he'd met in his northern travels. Saeryn had not moved, staring at him with quick glances at the newcomers. "Go on, hostess," Eodwine gruffed with a toss of his head, "I'm not fit to be seen and you are. Show these men where to go, and maybe to some clean rooms to get them out of harm's way."

She nodded, though not without a raised brow mixed with pointed look, and began making her way to the three men. Eodwine watched her slim, trousered figure as she seemed effortlessly to wield tray and step surefooted amid the clutter. Another mark to the good, he thought as he watched her greet the guests and lead them back out and around to the makeshift meadhall.

Intro to Eorling Mead Hall rpg

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Old 04-02-2006, 12:37 PM   #167
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Wultheof watched the ostler approach, taking note of the other lad's size and how strong he might be. He dismounted from his horse and squared up his shoulders, casting a quick look back at Leocsley. His cousin was busy with the horses, pointedly not looking at the ostler. Wultheof knew that he would have to take the lead here while his cousin waited and listened, as usual.

"Wultheof of Middle Emnet," he said in greeting to Leofric, nodding his head slightly. It was enough of a greeting to be polite, but not so much that he might appear weak. Leocsley only raised his hand in greeting and still would not look at Leofric.

"My father would like the use of your stables, at least for the night. How much longer they will be needed I wouldn't say. Our horses usually attract buyers quickly. They are well bred and strong." Wultheof did not exaggerate. The horses were as fine as any to be found in Edoras, and indeed many of those already in the city were of the same bloodlines.

He knew his father would not like him to barter for the price of the stabling, and he knew not to do this until his father returned, but he was determined to impress upon the ostler that even though he was still a boy, he was not stupid or weak. In as gruff a voice as he could muster, he asked: "What chance is there of a deal for the cost of stabling such fine horses?"

***

Larswic could see what had caused the trouble at the Mead Hall. The walls of the serving quarters had suffered some kind of collapse. Among his many ways of earning gold was his skill in building; it was a useful skill and had in the past earned him plenty of money during lean periods with the horses, or with his other schemes, but it was one he also knew out of necessity. His family had been used to moving about in the past. At one time this had been to follow the horses across the fields of Rohan, but recently it had been due to the effects of the War, and knowing how to quickly put up a rough house was a useful skill.

He could tell straight away that this was something far beyond his own skill, it being a Mead Hall, but that didn't stop him from offering his advice to anyone who would care to listen. A new scheme came quickly to his mind.

"You want to be setting some stronger beams in there," he said. "And the wattle wants replacing too. I daresay that might cost you a fair few pieces of gold."

A fair few pieces of gold. But it would only cost him one or two pieces from the supplier he had in mind, and there would be a nice profit to be had for his own purse. Larswic's blue eyes twinkled as he thought about it.

His words seemed to have had some effect as the new Eorl, his new lord, raised his head from the mayhem and introduced himself. The greeting was rough and rushed, and anything but formal. Larswic nodded and offered his name. He thought for a split second before adding "...my Lord" after his name. This Eodwine might not be given to formality like other Eorls he had known, but Larswic was not prepared to take a chance of causing offence. That might mark him out and make the Eorl remember him, and remember those levies and dues.

A young woman approached to lead him into the Mead Hall, and he was shaken from his thoughts by the sight of her. She could not have been much older than his own daughter, his eldest and most loved child, but this woman moved as a man might. He felt he ought to follow her as he was told to do so, and lowered his head a moment as he greeted her, even though she was a serving woman and he need not do so.

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Old 04-02-2006, 01:54 PM   #168
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"A talk for later, Master Larswic." said Saeryn, guiding him carefully out of the wreckage. She mentally patted her own back for having worn shoes today as she nimbly moved across the stone-strewed ground. Not only were her feet safer than they would normally have been, but she presented a far more convincing hostess than she'd have without. For a reason she was unsure of, her standing in this man's eyes seemed of more importance than usual. Perhaps it was his inspecting glance, taking in everything and everyone, and Saeryn's own knowledge that the hall was marginally less than presentable. Perhaps it was the look in his eyes when he spotted the lord of the hall up to his eyes in grime, but whatever it was, Saeryn wanted this man to know that he was amongst those deserving of the utmost respect. An unshod hostess wasn't exactly what she considered demanding of it, and she felt unusually aware of the way her own appearance reflected that of Eodwine. She spoke again even as she resolved to begin wearing shoes again, no matter how lovely the weather.

"Coins or not, nothing can be done until a few other things have been taken care of. M'lord," she added over her shoulder, using Eodwine's title more for the benefit of the newcomers and for propriety than for any tendency otherwise. "Frodides is safe and outside with the ladies. I meant to tell you before you shooed me off."

Turning back to Larswic, Saeryn smiled politely at him, expecting no argument and happily receiving none.

"Now where are you from, Master Larswic? I daresay that I can find you and your young men a meal if it's desired, and certainly rooms. Will you be staying long?"
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Old 04-02-2006, 02:02 PM   #169
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Is he trying to impress me, now, or intimidate me? Léof wondered. And why such silence from the other one? He had not even spoken a word of greeting. Too high and mighty to deal with the stable manager? Léof bristled slightly at this thought, but he turned back to Wultheof to answer his question.

“Bartering will not be necessary,” he explained. “This is a Mead Hall, not an inn; all such fees are covered for you. You will find the same to be true for your board and meals.”

Wultheof appeared rather put out of his reckoning by this. Not wanting to make him too uncomfortable, Léof saved him from responding by adding, “Come, let’s get these horses inside the stable.” He took one of the strings of horses, deliberately staying on the other side of the horse than these other two so as to better hide his limp. Léof did not know exactly why he felt so inclined to hold so firmly to his place with them. What did he think they would do, ambush him or something? They had certainly never acted threatening. Threatening? Where had that come from? Ease up, Léof! They’re just like any other visitors – it’s you who’s wound tighter than a spring!

As they stabled the horses, Léof decided to attempt conversation, if only to ease his own nerves. “Trading horses – is that your business then? Do you breed them yourselves?”
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Old 04-03-2006, 03:17 AM   #170
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Larswic smiled as he spoke to Saeryn and finally looked her in the eyes. His gaze did not drop now he had got over the shock of meeting a young woman with such a confident, masculine manner. He was struck by how attractive this young woman was, and wondered if she might be ready to be charmed a little.

“I should like a drink if there’s any in this Mead Hall as the name suggests. I could drink as much as a horse. It’s been a long journey. Though not so long as other journeys I have made,” he said, flashing a wide smile at Saeryn.

“My land is on the borders of Middle Emnet and Eodwine is my new Lord. A`Lord we did not expect, you might say.” He drew up his shoulders as he said this. Larswic's lands had now come under the control of this new Middle Emnet, a new level of control, and one he had not chosen. He had grown accustomed to running his affairs in his own way like many other men, and he was uncomfortable with the idea of new levies and dues to pay. There had been a lot of argument in the village, mostly in the evenings, around the fires with ale to fuel the talk. But even with clear heads the men were not all sure what would come to pass and the talk continued out in the fields and in the smithies.

“But I’m not here just to pay allegiance to a new Eorl,” he smirked and reached into his pocket. “I have business to attend to. Larswic of Halan is known for his particularly fine horses. And not only that…”

Larswic raised his hand and out of it fell a long golden chain with a small, thick square of gold suspended from it. The square was plain and highly polished, and it glinted in the low light. As it spun, it reflected their faces as though they were engaged in a twirling dance in a fire lit hall.

“Could be Orcish gold. Could be Dwarven. Who can say? Can you?” Larswic did not take his eyes off Saeryn, who was watching the pendant spin as though mesmerised. At his words, she looked back at him.

Larswic patted the pack slung over his shoulder. “I may have more of these precious little beauties.” He drew the pendant up to his mouth and gently bit down on the edge of it, as if to show the high quality of the god. He did not withdraw his gaze.


***

The wind had been taken out of Wultheof’s sails with the news that there was no bartering to be done. He had hoped to impress the ostler by his knowledge of grown up, manly business. He had a quick mind though, and soon found a new way to impress when he was asked his business in Edoras.

“My family are known for the horses they breed. Some of the greatest horses of Rohan have come from our bloodlines. There could be Mearas ancestry in the line, so my Grandfather has told me,” he gently patted the horse which stood next to him. Leofric could not fail to notice how gentle a touch the burly Wultheof gave to the horse; he had revealed that he was not always the tough young man he liked to be.

“But we are here to trade,” said Wultheof. His face brightened as he thought of something, and a boyish enthusiasm came over him. “One of the great Horse Fairs is on isn’t it? I’ve heard they have contests of all kinds. Will there be wrestling?”

Leocsley’s face suddenly brightened and he broke his scowl. He looked straight at Leofric for the first time.

“Archery? Will there be archery?” Leofric noticed that Leocsley carried a bow across his back. Both lads now looked expectantly at Leofric, as Larswic had promised that in Edoras, they would have the chance to compete in their favourite sports, to show the other boys of the great capital of Rohan just how strong and skilled the country boys were.

Last edited by Lalwendë; 04-03-2006 at 03:53 PM. Reason: political correcting ;)
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Old 04-03-2006, 07:21 AM   #171
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Without the other young lasses around to push her through the window, Kara couldn't jump high enough, even with Ruthven giving her a bit of the old heave-ho, or as much as her aged bones could allow.

"ummph, a bit more," Kara advised.

"ppffftt," exhaled Ruthven. "I'm trying lass, but girls these days are fatted with the feasts of peace. You're a bit heavy for me."

Kara pulled harder on the window ledge, but lacked the strength of arm to pull herself up fully. With a wiggle and a turn, her foot accidentally kicked the old woman in the stomach.

"Yowww!" exclaimed Ruthven, dropping Kara as she fell over. Her old bones shook as they met the ground and her stomach hurt. Bruises at her age hurt.

For her part, Kara grabbed tight to the window's ledge and was left hanging there, yelling 'hey" and 'help' as her legs swung back and forth a bit.

A moan from Frodides brought their attention back to the real problem here, a cook with a terrible gash, still bleeding. Ruthven rolled over, rose to her feet, and went to check on the cook. She was shaking. Ruthven ripped some of her undergarment and tied it tightly around the younger woman's knee.

"We'd best not wait for Linduial to find Aedel--p'raps there's been trouble there too. I'm off to fetch the men folk. They can just as well carry Frodides as make all that confounded noise we hears." Limping a bit and rubbing her side, Ruthven made off in the direction Saeryn had taken.

* * *

Wouldn't you know, she thought, as she rounded the Hall and saw the rock piles and mess and dust and new arrivals. No wonder no helps comin' for Frodides.

"Saeryn, lass, have ye forgotten our cook? " Ruthven eyed the tall, dark stranger with the glittering eyes and sought out Eodwine.

"Loord of the Tumblin' Mead Hall," she announced to Eodwine, who still looked none too pleased with himself and events, "We be needing help out back. We wimmin have found our cook, but she's bleeding and we canna carry her. Be there any young able bodied men with strong backs and stronger characters who'd care to help?" She was out of breathe and couldn't say more, her side still aching from the kick from Kara.

Wincing, she then continued. "There's a lass hanging too, in somewhat undelicate circumstances, lest she's dropped now too, that needs picking up and putting down."
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Old 04-03-2006, 09:04 AM   #172
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Linduial ran as fast as she could through the debris, with a speed and agility her usual sedate, graceful manner barely hinted at. She found Aedhel just leaving the undamaged wing of rooms, the basket of herbs and supplies the healer had left for her over her arm.

"We got Frodides out," Lin gasped, "and she's got a cut on her leg. Bleeding and needs wrapped, but I suspect it looks worse than it is."

Aedhel nodded and took off for the kitchen garden without delay, leaving Lin to catch her breath in the doorway. She looked her reflection up and down in a glazed window, realizing with dismay just how unkempt she looked, thankful that Degas wasn't here to see her. Her dress, caked with stone-dust and mud, was certainly ruined, the lovely green color she'd delighted in this morning undiscernable under the mess, and she was glad she'd put on shoes before going out to the stable that morning, or she'd have ruined the light, small slippers she usually wore. Her hair looked more gray than near-black, and she had odd streaks on her face where she'd pushed strands of hair out of her way.

As the main crisis seemed to have passed, and Frodides was sure to be all right, she slipped quietly into her room. She shook out the worst of the mess on her dress (it seemed pointless and time-consuming to change it before the rest of the dust settled) and combed the grey stone-muck out of her hair. A soft cloth and water from the pitcher soon fixed her face, and she emerged into the courtyard feeling much refreshed and more herself, to find Saeryn greeting a bulky man also covered in dirt, but this had the reddish clay hue of road-dust.

The man was dangling a rude golden necklace from work-roughened hands, leering in Saeryn's direction, and Lin, with a sideways sympathetic glance at her friend, walked past haughtily without sparing the man so much as a look, vowing silently to keep her own delicate filagree goldwork under lock and key as long as he remained here.

Ruthven was in Eodwine's way, probably demanding help for Frodides, who by now was probably getting the same from Aedhel, who'd gone the back way around. Eodwine's expression was black as a thundercloud, and Lin wondered at Ruthven's courage to approach him. Degas, Thornden, and Garwine seemed to be rather uncertain of purpose, standing behind Eodwine (and a safe distance away, it seemed to her), and staring around at their home with a certainly disheartened expression. Two young lads were walking a large band of beautiful horses towards the stable behind Léof, who seemed to be walking rather stiffly. Linduial doubted there was room for more than a few of the veritable herd the boys were leading. Falco was leaning against a rock, laughing near-hysterically and holding a mug--Saeryn must have informed him of their rescue of Frodides. And Marenil, dear Marenil, seemed the only one in sight who was his normal self.

He was sitting on one of the larger stones, holding a broken-off piece of wood, with which he was sketching in the dirt, frowning down at his work. Linduial walked to him curiously, carefully stepping around his neat diagrams, and sat down beside him on the rock, looking out over what she immediately recognized as a floor plan of the Hall. Marenil was cheerfully sketching out the Great Hall, and Lin looked at the drawing intently.

"That's bigger." Her tone was inquiring.

Marenil looked up at her with a grin. "Wonderful opportunity, this collapse," he said, looking around at the wreckage. "Look here...all this rock can be used to build a sturdy thick base for the walls, about two feet high. Then Eodwine can build wooden walls, and a high roof, sloped like the Hall in Meduseld, and only a trifle shorter, as Lord Eodwine wills. I would build an open circular hearth in the very middle of the hall, or you could build a huge one on the end, you could do anything, really. I'd build big impressive double doors, and put up carved latticework across part of the hall, about half way down, and split up part of the Hall for the official business of the Eorl, and the rest for the day-to-day comfort of his household. You could put in a cellar for storage, and a door from the residential wing, maybe even a balcony looking over the hall from the Lord's rooms on the second floor, a new door from the kitchen here, and change the way it's hinged so it could open from either way..."

Marenil was drawing excitedly as his mind ran off with ideas, and Lin caught his enthusiasm readily as the two spoke rapidly in their own language. "We could send for stonemasons from home, who'd know how to build a firmer wall or chimney, with mortar. We owe Eodwine a debt anyway. There could be windows all along the top of the walls, almost under the eaves, to let in light and keep it from getting too smoky if Eodwine chooses a central hearth. And much of this wreckage could be reused, though it doesn't look it. You'd need the main beams, and maybe a little lumber, but it wouldn't take too much longer than remodeling the hall was going to already."

Marenil smiled, pleased that Linduial had learned her lessons at his knee so well. "It all depends on what the Lord wishes, of course," he cautioned, "and he may not wish to hear all is not lost until he gets over being angry about it." He indicated Eodwine's scowling face with an elbow, continuing to draw in the dirt, and Lin looked up to see the Lord kick at a rock in frustration, sending it skittering across the courtyard, and she winced.

"He's not being very sensible."

"Lords and Ladies are not any more sensible than anyone else," Marenil chided, taking the opportunity for a little lessonizing. "They get frustrated and angry, they get proud and rude and lazy and far too full of their own importance. Some never bother to use any brains at all, and are no use to anyone. Sometimes Lords and Ladies fall in love just like us common folk, and then they don't even remember what sensible means half the time."

Lin shot Marenil a sharp glance, but, as she had learned was wisest when he took that tone of voice, repeated his words to herself, mulling them over as she studied the rough plan that Marenil had laid out.

"It's almost a pity I'll be going home in a month or two," Marenil said, almost wistfully, startling Linduial. "This is going to take a long time to build, but the Lord here is a good man, and its a worthy endeavor. I'd like to see it done before I die, and Lord Eodwine in a proper home for a man of his stature in the world." The two friends, young and old, fell silent, looking out over the plans Marenil'd drawn in the dust of the ruined hall, and over the years ahead of them.
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Old 04-03-2006, 11:21 AM   #173
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Thornden quit the steady and incessant heaving, pulling, and tossing to turn and look at Saeryn as she flitted almost effortlessly through the rubble, the stranger following her. Degas did, too, and leaned his elbow on the convenient knee raised from where his foot stood on a high pile of rock.

'If Fordides is out, there's not reason to be unpiling this rock,' he observed, looking at Thornden. They had both heard what she had told Eodwine over her shoulder.

'That appears to be the case,' he agreed, looking at a small chunk of rock in his hand. He tossed it up and caught it a few times, turning his eyes towards Eodwine. 'We don't have to do it now, this instant, anyway.' He threw the rock to the side and looked at the prospect. The kitchen was inaccessible and put well out of use. Without a kitchen, he didn't know what they would do. The door would still have to be unblocked, but the cause was not quite as desperate as they thought.

He turned, pivoting on his heel, and walked towards Eodwine. The older woman he had seen earlier was speaking with him and Thornden stopped several feet away. He still heard what she had to say to him.

'We wimmin have found our cook, but she's bleeding and we canna carry her. Be there any young able bodied men with strong backs and even stronger characters who'd care to help?' She paused and her eyes flicked towards Degas and Thornden as she panted for breath. 'There's a lass hanging, too, in somewhat undelicate circumstances, lest she's dropped now, too, and needs picking up and putting down.'

Thornden wondered mildly how ladies could manage to get themselves into such scrapes. Fordides had her excuses, but the second one mentioned. . . 'Where are they?' he asked, walking forward. 'Tell us where you've left them and Degas and I will go see what we can do for them.'

Ruthven told him the desired information and with a motion of his hand to Degas to follow, he started off, picking his way carefully through the fallen wall. They rounded the corner of the kitchen and saw the women grouped under the window. Fordides sat with her back to the wall, Aedhel knelt over her, her hands gently cleaning the cut on her leg. Kara stood sat two paces away, her arms wrapped around her knees. They seemed unaware of the wet ground and grass. It probably didn't matter much, anyway, everyone was damp from the drizzling rain, if not wet from what was dumped on them from the tarp roof.

Aedhel looked up as they approached. She said a quiet word in greeting and turned back to her work. Thornden stopped and watched in silence for a moment. It was not a deep gash, but it was wide. Aedhel had dabbed away the blood, but there was also skin to be gotten out of the way before it could be bound. It would take a few minutes yet. He looked at Kara.

'Are you the one who was left hanging?' he asked. 'We were told someone else was in quite a predicament, but it looks like you are alright, unless you were hurt when you jumped back down. Are you alright?'
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Old 04-03-2006, 01:24 PM   #174
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Kara had been a little worried when Ruthven had simply disappeared, leaving her hanging from the windowsill. She hoped it wasn't in retaliation for that accidental kick, but whatever the reason she was still in a bit of a predicament. Straining her arms she tried to lift herself up, but couldn't get a good enough grip to do so. Left with two options now Kara considered just waiting for someone to turn up and help her down, but Aedhel was too busy with Frodides to either help her or fetch anyone else, and there was no knowing how long it would be before anyone else appeared.

Sighing she looked down between her feet. The drop wasn't huge but it was larger than she would ever voluntarily jump. She remained undecided for a few moments, gently swinging back and forth, until the wood she was holding onto began to creak and made the decision for her. As the material splintered beneath her fingers Kara let go and closed her eyes, hoping the ground would be soft.

A few seconds and a soft thud later and she was back on solid ground. Shifting all her limbs Kara was relieved to see that she was, again, unharmed, and thanked her lucky stars that something was keeping her safe today. Thankfully the rain that had caused all of these difficulties had softened the ground and so the landing was not as hard as she had feared it might be. She saw that Aedhel was still keeping watch over Frodides and offered help, but the girl waved her off, saying she was doing fine by herself. Happy to leave the cook in Aedhel's capable hands Kara moved off a little way and sat down, glad for the rest.

Moments later Thornden and Degas appeared round the corner of the building. Kara assumed that Saeryn must have told Eodwine and the others that Frodides was now free, and felt surer of this when the men didn't appear suprised at the sight of the cook laying on the ground. Thornden saw Aedhel tending to her and turned his attention instead to Kara.

"Are you the one who was left hanging?' he asked. 'We were told someone else was in quite a predicament, but it looks like you are alright, unless you were hurt when you jumped back down. Are you alright?"

"I'm quite alright." She replied smiling. "But Frodides is not. Could you help us get her inside? We need to get her out of this rain."

Thornden nodded and motioned to Degas to help them. They helped Kara and Aedhel get Frodides to her feet and slowly, with most of the cooks weight resting on the broad shouldered men, they made their way inside. So much of the downstairs was now in disrepair that it was suggested they take poor Frodides upstairs, so she could be in a warm and clean room. This was done, and after they had helped the cook onto her bed, Thornden and Degas left to give Eodwine news of what had happened, while Aedhel and Kara stayed to keep an eye on Frodides.
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Old 04-03-2006, 03:01 PM   #175
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As the other two lads, mostly Wultheof, talked, Léof had slowly begun to let down his guards. It seemed to him that perhaps these two were simply trying to find a place in an unfamiliar city, and this Léof could certainly sympathize with. And their enthusiasm over the horse fair was certainly catchy.

“As for your first question,” he nodded towards Wultheof, “the horse fair isn’t going on right this second. It’s scheduled to start soon – tomorrow, or the day after? I’ll admit, I haven’t been here long myself, and I don’t hear a lot of news. But from what I have heard, there will certainly be contests of all sorts: the horse events being most prominent, of course – races and others – and, yes, wrestling. I hadn’t heard anything about archery, but they probably have that, too.” He hoped Leocsley would not be disappointed; it was the first sign of friendliness Léof had seen from him yet, and he didn't want to send that trait burrowing back into its hole.

Wultheof nodded. “What about you, Léofric? Entering any events?”

Léof realized rather unhappily now that even if his duties did permit it, his foot almost certainly would not. What would you do, anyway? And he realized he did not have an answer to that. He had little skill in any kind of weaponry, and his slight frame hindered him in athletics. Not in riding, though – in fact, there it was quite beneficial. He and Æthel would have figured something out. Instead, he simply answered, “I haven’t decided yet.” He doubted that he would be able to hide his injury forever – Eodwine had certainly noticed quickly enough, and Léof had the uncomfortable feeling he had seen through a lot more as well – but he sure wasn’t going to tell the whole world in the mean time.

By now, all the horses had been put in stalls, and Léof showed the other two lads where the hay and water were. With three of them working it did not take long, but Léof still had plenty of time to notice just how few stalls were left empty. The number of horses in the stable had doubled or more with these new additions – good thing that they would be traded away in the next couple of days, and hopefully the Mead Hall would not gain more than a couple more visitors with horses in that time, or else Léof would not know where to keep them.

“Well, I guess that about settles it,” he said. “Thanks for your help. You can stick around here if you like, but you'll probably want to head out to join your... father? A piece of advice, if you decide to head out to where everyone else has gathered: you arrived at a rather chaotic time, and it might be best to stay out of people’s ways. I’m not exactly sure what happened, and they still may be trying to figure it out, too, though it may have calmed down some. Other than that, feel free to come and go.”

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Old 04-03-2006, 03:25 PM   #176
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Saeryn watched the dangling shimmer with all the fascination of a crow with a shining penny. Though no light from the sky touched it, it seemed to catch what light there was and reflect it back toward her as it spun slowly on its chain.

“I may have more of these precious little beauties.” The man made her curious. She had met those like him, of course, but they had never gained her attention such as this. She put it down to that the last time she had been in such company, she had been clad in a fine gown with her hair styled and had been seen only as a fine-brained lady with no mind for barter.

"Perhaps later, Master Larswic, you shall tell me the history of this lovely piece. I wonder at the lovely woman whose neck it once adorned. But as you can see, now is not quite the time or the place." She gestured simply, somehow capturing the illusion that she had pointed simultaniously to the drizzle falling lightly from the dull grey sky to the mud about their feet and the imperfect shelter nearby. "I must admit to a slight chill, and I suspect that if I've one, others of this household do as well. I'll need to check the state of rooms closest to the fall and organize a meal of some sort, and all that that will go unnoticed otherwise. If you'll excuse me..."

They had walked as she spoke and were now within the building at the end farthest from the destruction.

"This room should suit." she said, opening a door wide. She had cleaned it that morning before Lin had joined her for sweets and laughter. "You are, of course, welcome to wander, but please take care. I am sorry to be so abrupt, but there is much to be done and less time to do it in."
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Old 04-03-2006, 04:37 PM   #177
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Wultheof knew that when another boy said he had not settled on a sport or he had no idea what he was going to compete in, it usually meant he was afriad to compete, that he had no real strength. But as Leofric talked, Wultheof could tell that the other boy was clearly made to be a jockey. That would explain why he was working as an ostler, to be closer to the horses. Wultheof did not say anything, but this impressed him. A good rider was highly prized in all quarters of Rohan, but out on the plains, horse riding had become not just a skill, but an art, and a good rider would be sought out by the owner of a good horse to compete in the regular races held.

Wultheof made sure to remember to tell his father about Leofric.

They worked hard to get the horses settled. A horse was worth a lot, and everyone in Rohan respected the animals, making sure they had comfort before they sought their own. The work was done without any second thoughts. Once it was finished, Wultheof and Leocsley headed back towards the Mead Hall, hoping to find some food.

"He looked to have a limp. Lame old horse," muttered Leocsley to his cousin.

"Limp or not, he knows his horses. I reckon he'd give us more than a fair race, if it came to it," Wultheof said. "Least he wasn't soft in the head like you."

"Look who's talking, fool," Leocsley quickly stuck out his foot and his cousin stumbled. he was rewarded by being bundled to the ground and punched in the shoulder. The boys scuffled for a moment before getting up again, covered in muck and laughing.

***

He could see she was interested. That was enough for now, to dangle the idea and wait to see what unfolded.

Larswic had been dangled something interesting himself. This young woman was clearly not born to be a serving girl, she had more grace and a certain bright intelligence hidden beneath. He knew there was a story here and he resolved to find out more. His own daughter was a simple girl, beautiful but quiet.

Here was another young woman who seemed to have a man's ways. He did not quite understand why so many chose to act that way, but since the King's sister it was more common, and she had been a brave lass, as brave as any man. Still, he could not square a young woman like Saeryn with the presence of the other finely dressed, but dusty young woman he had seen pass by on the way in. One was fine but chose to hide it, the other displayed it for all she was worth.

There might be money to be made here after all, he thought to himself. He thanked his hostess kindly, and made sure to press a small gold coin into her hand for her troubles.

He looked at the room out of courtesy to Saeryn, and found it as he expected, clean and plain, and at any rate much better than the tent they had used to camp in on the journey to Edoras. Larswic was not the type to fuss about his lodgings, so as soon as the hostess had left him, he turned around. He had to make sure his horses were properly stabled to set his mind at rest, and to check that the lads weren't being knuckleheads, and making fools of themselves, and more importantly, him.
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Old 04-03-2006, 05:15 PM   #178
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At first Æðelhild had not much liked the idea of having to take Frodides upstairs. Though she had neatly stitched up the wound and dressed it tightly with a compress of Knitbone (Comfrey) root and Calendula oil, it was still tender. She wouldn’t be able to put weight on it for sometime and climbing stairs was the last thing she should do, but there was no help for it. The lower level was now littered with dust and debris. The mock hall was no better an option as there would be no peace for the woman to get the rest she required to overcome her shock. No up stairs was all that was left and after Thornden and Degas had assured her that they could see the injured woman safely up, she had relented.

After the men had left and Frodides had finally drifted off to sleep, Æðel helped Kara to light a small fire in the hearth, to keep the room warm. She had not known where all the others had been when the wall had fallen only that Frodides had still been in the kitchen were she had left her only moments ago, noting that Thornden had realised the same thing and was trying to clear a way the debris to free the trap woman she had instinctively rushed to her room to collect the herbs and oils Meduseld’s healer had given her on his last visit. Only now, now that Frodides was safe and well did she think of the others and hoped that none of them had been in the hall when the wall fell, but still she had to be sure. So whispering, she told Kara that she thought she should go and make sure that there were not others requiring her assistance. Kara nodded, agreeing to sit with Frodides, until she or someone else returned.

“ I shall try not to be long and if I can I will also try to procure a kettle or something in which to brew a nice warm calming tea, perhaps Chamomile or lavender? Frodides will be thirsty when she awakes, and when memory of the state of her kitchen comes back to her she my need a little something to calm her nerves.”

Kara’s eye widened slightly at the thought, “Aye, perhaps it would also be best for you to advise our lordship not to pay visit till after she’s had the tea then!”

“Yes I believe that would indeed be wise,” she replied with a chuckled as she picked up her basket and again headed down stairs.

Reaching the bottom of the stairs she stood aghast, as finally the full extend of the damage lay before her. The front wall had fully collapsed in on itself, completely covering the old hall and blocking the way into the kitchen and Kara had already told her the damage within as they had lit the fire in frodides room. She had stood stunned for a moment, this would take months to clear up she thought, then with thought to how Lord Eodwine would be taking this she looked round.

She found him talking to Thornden, Degas and Falco were with him and to her relief neither Eodwine nor Falco seemed hurt. As she approached them she noted Linduail and Meneril sitting a little away lost in thought, but neither seemed hurt.

“M’lord!” She respectfully nodded in greeting. “I bring news of Mistress Frodides, The severe gash to her leg, though not deep still required some stitching. I also took the liberty of applying a compress of Knitbone root and Calendula oil, both to prevent infection and to aid in the healing, she will be fine, but she will have to stay off that leg for sometime. She is resting now in the west quarter on the second floor, but I think it would not be wise for you to visit until after there has been chance to brew ..eh…erm a more calming remedy.”

Falco let out a deep hearty laugh, catching on to what she was politely implying. “Even wounded she don’t lose that fire!” he roar digging Eodwine jovially in the ribs.

Æðel said nothing but waited for the Lord to speak, before asking him if any others required her attention.

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Old 04-03-2006, 06:02 PM   #179
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A weathered grey cart slowly rumbled up the muddy road, its lone horse and driver fighting the dismal weather. Wheels squeaked unwillingly, threatening at every moment to become mired in the rain carved ruts in the path. The driver, however, was safe from the showers, having tied a thick canvas between poles that rose on either side of his seat. His freight was likewise protected from the elements; the covering continued to drape over the rear of the wagon, into which he continually shot concerned glances.

Once too often, for during one of his checks, the cart struck a large stone, and one of the front wheels was torn from its axle. The cart ground to a halt, listing precariously to the damaged left side, and the driver reined in his horse with a muttered curse. His head snapped around again in panic, and he shouted something to the back of the cart. The muffled answer, perhaps the echo of his own voice against the cart’s tall sides, seemed to reassure him, and he dismounted to look at the results of his accident.

The collision had splintered a spoke where it joined the base of one of the wheels and broken the bolt attaching it to the cart. But the damage wasn't as bad as expected. The man smiled grimly. "There, Garstan," he mumbled. "Not too bad at all. A few bolts, and we'll be on our way, though any work isn’t like to be pleasant in this soup." He worked furiously in the rain, binding the splintered wood with bits of metal, until the cart at last stood level. The wheel would do, for a little while, but Garstan would need to find a new one. His fragile repair would never last on the rough journey ahead.

The cart rolled on hesitantly while Garstan's eyes darted ahead in search of a place to rest. A half-hour's journey brought him to what appeared to be an inn. He stopped, then stared and laughed. This inn, if it was an inn, appeared to be in worse condition than his cart, with walls tumbled down into piles of rubble and people scattered throughout the yard. Garstan nearly left then and there, but an ominous creak from the hastily mended wheel stopped him. He could go no further. Besides, a pile of stones in the rubble called to his stoneshaper's hands. Perhaps he could be of use.

Garstan climbed down from the cart and shouted into the yard. "Hello! Are there any about who might aid a weary traveler?"
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Old 04-03-2006, 06:04 PM   #180
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Eodwine waited for Æðel to finish her report, not betraying any sign of his own mood; that is, until Falco ribbed him. Eodwine scowled but recovered quickly enough, or at least so he told himself. Frodides would be a spitfire for a while. He hoped she would be willing to stay on.

"My thanks, Æðel, for taking charge of Frodides' care. There is another whom I would have you look after, unwilling though he be. Find Thornden and Gárwine, and have them wrestle that Léof down and take his boot off. I wager that foot he's hiding is at least bruised if not harboring broken bones, and I'll not have him suffer the longer hidden. Will you do that?"

"Yes, lord," she nodded.

"One thing more."

"Yes, lord?"

"Know you where Kara is?"

"She is in the room where we have laid Frodides, building the fire in the hearth."

"That is good. When she has built it to her satisfaction, tell her that I send her to market to buy food for a late midday meal and tonight's meal."

Æðel curtsied and went in search of Kara, Thornden and Gárwine.

"Now Falco, let's you and me have a look at what we can find in the mess I call my mead hall."

They picked their way through the rubble and shivered beams lying at all angles across the floor and over crushed tables and chairs, and searched every nook and cranny they could get to. After much labor at this that took them well into the middle of the afternoon, stomachs groweling, the two reached the same conclusion at the same moment, Falco speaking while Eodwine nodded.

"It was bound to fall, Master Eodwine of the Gap. It was the roof and its beams holding up the wall instead of the other way around. And that roof and those beams was getting weaker by the month. Had you not had the roof taken off when you did, the wall would have fallen at any road, and most like on top of guests in the middle of their supping. And that would ha' been tragic. So you're a lucky lord, is what it looks like."

Eodwine shook his head. "As hard as it was to believe such a thing just a couple of hours ago, I do believe you have the right of it." Someone approached. It was Saeryn.

"Hello my lovely!" Eodwine called cheerfully. "We have found us a secret worth the telling!" But then he noticed that her face was drawn in a frown, and there was a purposed fire in her eyes. "But you seem to have somewhat to tell of yourself, so I'll hear you first."

"These new men," she said. "They're freeholders from within the bounds of your new realm, and they don't sound too happy about it."

"What be you a-thinking?" Falco asked.

Before Saeryn could answer, a call issued from out front: "Hello! Are there any about who might aid a weary traveler?"

There was a cart led by a single horse, and a man standing beside it looking desperate. Off the three of them went to see what was what.

Intro to Eorling Mead Hall rpg

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Old 04-03-2006, 06:43 PM   #181
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As soon as Wultheof and Leocsley had left, Léof hobbled as quickly as he could into his little room, hoping that he would have at least a few minutes to himself. He would need at least that long to have a look at his foot. After closing the door almost all the way (so that he would still be able to hear out), he sat down and gingerly removed the boot, then the sock beneath it.

He sighed at what he saw. Unsurprisingly, most of the front half of his foot was already starting to turn color and would undoubtedly be a mess of black and blue before too long. He tentatively prodded at it with his finger and felt spasms of pain with every touch. The toes were the worst. He could tell that his third and fourth toe had broken; he did not know about the other three (or the rest of his foot, for that matter). He did not have enough experience with injuries to tell how much was broken. Legs, fingers – those were easy to tell, Léof knew from experience. As were sprained ankles. But feet?

Convinced that he could do nothing more than hope it healed itself up, he padded his foot with some bits of cloth he found from his pack and forced himself to shove the boot back on his foot. He had no intention of taking the boot back off any time soon, not until the foot didn’t hurt as much.

But now he had other business to attend to. He recalled now the bang he had heard before Æthel and Herefola had been pushed completely over the edge and guessed that one of the horses had kicked a wall or something of the sort. If so, it would not be unlikely that the horse would now need some sort of care – perhaps a new shoeing. Léof limped off to find which horse it had been, determined to carry on with his normal duties. He had been forced to work with worse before, after all, and what was a few broken toes compared to that?

The horse he was looking for was the fifth horse he had checked on, a flighty grey gelding. Léof did not feel comfortable alone in the stall with this one, and so led him out into the aisle with some difficulty. Tying him securely outside the stall, he was moving around to check the horse’s feet when he heard people entering the stable. He looked up to find Gárwine and Thornden walking straight towards him. Léof suppressed a groan. He could easily guess what they were here for. He pretended to ignore them at first, inspecting first one back leg of the horse, finding nothing, and moving on to the other.

“My answer is ‘no’,” said Léof without even looking up. He picked up the horse’s other back leg, and, sure enough, the shoe had come lose. He would be taking this horse to the blacksmith later – and he could even ride Æthel there, avoiding the need to be on his feet.

“Léof, you can’t be walking around on a broken foot,” said Gárwine. “I saw how much pain you were in before.”

“I can and will,” answered Léof evenly. “I’ve had worse, and there’s work for me to do. Besides, it’s already feeling better.” He found the blatant disbelief in both of their faces rather annoying. Why couldn’t everyone just leave him alone? He’d be fine. “I’m not coming with you.”
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Old 04-04-2006, 03:14 AM   #182
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After being dismissed Æðel had hurriedly returned to Kara to deliver Lord Eodwine’s instruction, then hastened to find Thornden and Gárwine. The news that her friend had been injuried had caused her no amount of worry, she knew how much he wanted to impress upon Eodwine that he could forefill the role given him and how stubbornly he would work regardless of any injury to insure that the postion would remain his. His need to see his sister with him was great and one she understood, but she would not simply let him go on suffering needlessly. She was his friend and this she could help him with and as she followed silently, blocked from view by the opposing broad shoulders of the Lords men, she silently resolved to help him weather he wanted it or not.


“My answer is ‘no’,” Léof issued before she could even come out of the shadow of the two men. This sharp response startled her and she waited to hear more, as Gárwine attempted to entreat the young man to see reason.

“I can and will,” came the even response “I’ve had worse, and there’s work for me to do. Besides, it’s already feeling better.” At this Æðel’s normally shy and temperate deamour shifted, like the others she could not believe what she was hearing, a very fine horse man he was but a healer he was not! She would decide if it was feeling better or not! She had expected him to be stubborn, but not a complete bonehead, his foot could not possibly feel better if anything it would only get worse!

So as the young ostler blatantly refused to go with them she stepped out of the shadow of the two men, regarding her friend with an irritable and frustrated look. “Who said anything about going anywhere? Here is as good a place as any!” She issued, nodding to Thornden and Gárwine, who quickly stepped forward intent to apprehend the young ostler, that she could attend to his injury.

“This is for your own good” she sighed sympathetically, seeing the wounded look he shot her.
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Old 04-04-2006, 09:31 AM   #183
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After building the fire to her satisfaction, Kara had sat with Frodides and kept a careful eye on her. She didn't seem to be running a fever and there were no nightmares disturbing the sleep she had fallen into since Aedhel had returned with the chamomile tea, so when the message from Eodwine came that she was to go to market and fetch food for the days meals she felt that it would be alright to leave.

Making her way back down the stairs Kara had seen that the rest of the Hall's inhabitants seemed perfectly alright, even if the building itself was in a bit of a state. She began to walk towards the kitchen to pick up her cloak for the journey, but stopped as she caught sight of the pile of rubble and thought that perhaps she could do without it for one day. Nodding to Saeryn and the newcomer as she went out the front door, Kara left, a little worried about the journey as it was the first time she'd had to plan two entire meals by herself. She had thought about waking Frodides to check that what she was making was alright, but then wondered if it was worth the tongue lashing she would receive for her insecutiry. Anyway, if Frodides was leaving Kara would need to get used to this.

* * *

Kara returned a couple of hours later, laden down with goods from the market. Things seemed to have calmed down a little since the disaster that morning, though plenty was still going on. She put everything down just outside the doors to keep it away from the dust still being stirred up inside, and suddenly realised that she had nowhere proper to put the food, or indeed to cook it, since the kitchen was a mess.

Deciding to leave that problem for a few minutes she ran up the stairs to check on Frodides, and found that she was now awake and seemingly in not too much pain. She stoked the fire until it was back as full heat, despite Frodides' insistence that she need not be fussed over. Ignoring this Kara poured the cook a little more tea and sat on the bed next to her until she, grudgingly, drank it. As she did Kara told her of her dilemma, and was told in no uncertain terms that it was Eodwine's job to make sure the household ate and she should go speak to him about it at once. But it might be an idea to suggest an outdoor oven, as that was bound to get people involved.

Taking Frodides' reluctant advice Kara ran back downstairs to find Eodwine. It took a few minutes of searching but she eventually came across him and put the question to him.

"My Lord, I have the food for the meals but nowhere to cook it. Frodides suggested an outdoor oven, would it be too much to ask that some of the men help me build one that I might get something made?"

Eodwine thought for a few moments and then nodded. Motioning for Kara to follow him he led her out of the Hall and around to the east of the building. He pointed toward the grass a little way off.

"It will have to be done in a camp style and make a stone-rounded firepit somewhere in this area. I would be happy to let Saeyrn and Degas help you but they are indisposed right now. Can you not do it alone?"

"I'm sorry my lord but it will be difficult for me to build and prepare the food at the same time but if you don't mind your meal being a few hours late then yes I can."

Eodwine looked a little surprised at her being so candid, but then smiled.

"You can ask for help from anyone here. I'm sure there will be someone who is willing and able."

Thanking him Kara headed back inside to find some helpers. Marenil soon offered his services, but warned that he would not be able to do anything too demanding as he was still not completely recovered. Happy that she had at least one person Kara accepted and sent him off to find wood for the fire. She set to work marking out a space for the oven to go, and hoped that someone would walk past and offer help as she and Marenil alone wouldn't have this finished before midnight if they had to work alone.

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Old 04-04-2006, 09:59 AM   #184
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Linduial had changed out of the ruined dress, finally, laying it carefully aside so she could try to salvage some of the silk embroidery thread later. She now wore a gown of yellow linen, delighting that they seemed to have left the rain behind with the morning, and had spread her cloak on the large stone she now sat on, carefully transferring Marenil's dirt drawings to paper, writing his rough measurements and the ideas he'd told her down in her fine lady-like hand.

Her hair was now neatly tied back and up into a womanly chignon at the base of her neck, and she was enjoying the warming air as the early spring sun shyly peeked around the thinning clouds. She'd grabbed an apple out of the stash in her room when she'd changed and fetched the paper, and ate it slowly, careful not to muss her work with the juice. She was quiet, and thoroughly engrossed in what she was doing; she noticed little of the doings around her, except for Marenil, who was slowly beginning to sort what bits of wood and stone he thought were salvageable, and piling the rest in a corner of the yard for Kara to use as kindling, not interfering with Lord Eodwine's own survey of the damage.

The two of them were an island of calm in what was still a fairly chaotic atmosphere.
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Old 04-04-2006, 10:16 AM   #185
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Thornden didn’t like the way Léof refused help. He was absolutely certain that the boy’s foot had to be killing him, if it was as bad as Eodwine had said the limp had been, and having heard what Gárwine had to say about it, he was sure that the injury was worse than Léof made it out to be. Æðel seemed to be of his same mind set, for she suddenly stepped out from behind them. Léod had not seen her before and he looked up at her with surprise as she spoke.

“Who said anything about going anywhere?” she asked. “Here is as good a place as any!” She looked at Thornden and Gárwine pointedly and nodded her head towards Léof. They understood and stepped forward, intending business. Léof sent her a hurt look and dropped the horse’s foot. The gelding immediately stepped away from him and sidled up against the aisle wall where he could watch matters unfold. Léof was left standing alone in the middle of the aisle.

“Come on, Léof, we don’t want to force you,” Thornden said. “But Eodwine gave clear orders that your foot was to be examined and bandaged as necessary.”

“Well, it’s not necessary,” Léof replied, and Thornden regretted his use of the word. He also was annoyed. Léof looked like he wanted to bolt, and Thornden was absolutely certain that if his foot had been under no necessity of being looked after, he would have. Instead, he stood still, though he was tense and rigid. Clearly he wasn’t about to be dragged off easily.

Thornden and Gárwine reached out together and each took hold of one arm. Léof pulled back and twisted and turned in attempt to get free, but he wouldn’t have had much of a chance of escape had only one of them been sent, but with the two of them, his cause was hopeless. There was a bout of pulling and tugging, twisting and turning as Léof put all that he could into trying to get their hands off him.

Thornden kept a strong grip on his arm, one hand above the elbow, the other holding his wrist. It wasn’t an overtly simple thing to keep a hold on him as he struggled and pitched every which way. Thornden thought to himself as he began to pull him towards a bench to sit that it was probably a good thing that his foot was hurt or else there would be some flying boots to add in the fight for freedom.

They fairly dragged him away from where the horse stood to a bench against the other wall, and there they shoved him down and held him firmly. As soon as he was seated he ceased to struggle, though Thornden felt him still tense beneath his hands.

“Now,” he said, slowly relaxing his hold and taking a small step away, ready to spring should Léof try to bolt, “are you going to take your own boot off, or shall I do it for you?”
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Old 04-04-2006, 03:22 PM   #186
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Léof was smart enough to know when he had been beaten. He slumped against the bench as he was fairly shoved down. “Now,” Thornden was saying, “are you going to take your own boot off, or shall I do it for you?”

Léof gathered what shreds were left of his pride and fixed Thornden with a sullen glare. “I am quite capable of taking off my own boot.” Thornden, however, made no indication of moving away, and Gárwine remained standing a half-step behind him. “I don’t need an audience,” he snapped. “I’m not going anywhere.” Not that he really could – after that struggle, his foot hurt worse than ever. He hadn’t even been fighting, as Thornden and Gárwine may have supposed, to escape having his foot checked, but rather to avoid being picked up and carried like a wounded puppy. In that, at least, he had succeeded.

They backed up fractionally – not nearly enough. “I’m serious,” said Léof coldly. “In fact, I’d be much happier if you just left right now.” Still keeping an eye on them, he leaned down to pry off his boot, going slowly until Gárwine and Thornden had retreated sufficiently. As they backed off, Æðel approached slowly. With Gárwine and Thornden, Léof was deeply annoyed; but with Æðel, mostly he was hurt. She had not even tried talking to him, just sent the other two after him. In fact, he may have even been more inclined to listen to her in the first place rather than Thornden and Gárwine, whose sole purpose in being there at all almost had to have been manhandling him into power. Like I’m some sort of half-broke colt. That didn’t even sound right to him – he would treat colts better than that, anyway.

“I’m sorry, Léof, but it really is for your own good,” she commented. Léof remained resolutely silent and finished extricating his foot from the boot. He held it out for her to inspect. After a few moments, he started to say, “You had better not-”, then stopped abruptly. She had hurt him, insulted him even, but somehow that didn’t seem the right thing to say. “Really, I can get along. Just… don’t tell me I can’t work,” he said, then added with no small amount of willpower, “please.” He didn’t try to explain; he did not feel like being conversational right now, especially not with the perceived conspirators in this betrayal. He figured she’d understand why, anyway.

He honestly was not completely sure why this was all necessary, so used was he to taking care of himself. Sure, it hurt, but it wasn’t going to be fatal or anything – it would probably heal itself up sooner or later anyway. And it wasn’t like he was nobility or someone that needed to be pampered with every little cut or hurt. “Not like I’m anyone really important,” he muttered.

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Old 04-04-2006, 04:51 PM   #187
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"Just get on with it. I want every last bit of dirt cleaned off those bridles, and I want them shining. My horses will have only the best. And I don't want to hear any more shouting."

Larswic had found the lads hanging over a fence and shouting challenges at some other lads, who looked ready for a fight. He only had to yell at them and they jumped back down from the fence and shuffled over quietly. He knew the best thing to do was to set them to some hard work that would keep them busy until their next meal, and after that, they would be so tired they would want to go to bed. It was one thing to run about and make a noise in the fields, but here in the city they would be bothering people. Besides, he didn't want them bothering him.

The sun felt warm and he wandered around the yard, inspecting the buildings. If there was no other money to be made here, he thought, at least some could be made by labouring to help rebuild this wreck. It was like a barn compared to the golden hall of Meduseld with its gilding and carvings. Still, a less elaborate Mead Hall meant less of a levy to pay. He liked the thought and laughed to himself.

The finely dressed young woman was sitting in the yard, working on some plan on paper. She might be haughty, but she was ladylike, and that was something he understood, unlike the young women who liked to take on masculine ways. He stood and watched her for a minute; her concentration on the plan she was drawing interested him. Then he noticed the plan. It seemed to be of the Mead Hall itself.

One of the horses in the stable snorted loudly, and the girl looked up and noticed Larswic looking at her. He nodded and turned away, struck by her scornful gaze. He felt sure he would find a way to get her interest, maybe with some of the finer gold he carried with him. Patting his pocket, he checked it was all there, as he did many times a day.

This made him think of his Knucklestones and he took out the little leather pouch he kept them in, sat down on an empty barrel and began to practice his hand for the catching game. The knucklebones were real bones from pigs, but older than he was, and now barely recognisable as such. At some time designs had been painted on them but these were now worn and chipped, they were so old and well used.

He made a fist of his right hand, then placed each little, ivory coloured bone on top before giving his fist a sudden flick upwards which sent the bones into the air. As he did this, he opened his hand as quick as lightning and snatched them all up into his palm. Anyone who had seen him might have thought they had disappeared into thin air, his hand moved so swiftly. Over and over he repeated this move, the bones making a soft and barely audible clatter as he caught them, his concentration was complete. This was one of the ways he made his money.
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Old 04-04-2006, 09:34 PM   #188
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Garstan stood beside his cart, looking to see if anyone would respond to his inquiry, and wondering how he should behave if they did. Never at ease among strangers, Garstan felt doubly uncertain now that he was forced to ask for aid. He'd little money with him, and begging charity was outside his sense of decorum. No, he would not be asking charity. Any aid given would easily be repaid by good solid work.

A small group – a man, woman, and a child – approached. Were they the family in charge of this place? Garstan looked again and realized his mistake. The third was not a child, but a halfling. He was filled with wonder; everyone in Rohan had, of course, heard of the famous halflings of the War, but Garstan didn’t expect to meet a Shireling in person. Amazement banished some of his injured pride, and Garstan found himself able to speak. He addressed the man, all the while stealing glances at the halfling.

"Hail, friend. I am Garstan. I come from the North. I…I…" Garstan’s voice trailed off. "My cart is damaged and I cannot go further on my journey until it is repaired. Might I stay here for the time? I cannot pay you, but I can work." His eyes glinted. "Garstan is a shaper of stones, craftsman, and builder. I will work. A better man cannot be found easily. What say you?"

Garstan bemoaned his reemerging vanity. Even if justified, this was not the proper time to show it. Not while asking a stranger for help. And he didn't even know who this man was. For all he knew, he might have insulted some noble of the land by inappropriate familiarity and seeming arrogance.

Before a reply could be given, an eager voice interrupted the conversation. "No sir! You'll never find a better stone-shaper. Not if you sent all the way to Gondor!"

"Hush, Garmund! Go back and wait. I'll be with you soon." Garstan looked behind the boy to note a small girl about to complete her descent from the cart, eager to agree with her brother about Garstan's merits. "And take Léoðern with you."

"But father…"

"Do as I say. I won't be much longer."

The children hesitantly climbed into the back of the cart, bright faces peeking out from the canvas in anticipation.

Garstan spoke again. "Forgive me. They are good children, but over eager in manner sometimes." He laughed. "As is their father. But come! Tell me. May we rest here?"
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Old 04-04-2006, 10:04 PM   #189
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"I don't need an audience," Léof snapped at Gárwine and Thornden, "I'm not going anywhere." Gárwine gave a glance at Thornden, who took a pace or so away from the cranky Léof, and Gárwine did the same. "I'm serious," said Léof, glaring at them, "In fact, I'd be much happier if you just left right now." Gárwine shrugged, Thornden sighed, and with long, slow paces they began to stride out of the stables, with occasional glances back to Léof where they could see him smoldering on the bench like dying coals.

Gárwine and Thornden came to the entrance of the stables, facing into the courtyard. Gárwine was a bit disappointed not to see Léof's wound, but Léof was surprisingly grumpy. "He sure put up a fight," Gárwine said, "A horse stepped on his toes, you know, and what with stomping around in that boot all day, his foot can't be in good shape. He'll probably miss a lot of work, kept off his feet." They came into the courtyard, where they loitered for a bit while Æðel inspected Léof's foot. The morning's rain clouds were vanishing and the weather was sunnier. The sun was creeping out of the clouds, and the weather was finally looking more like spring. "Léof was rather grumpy, wasn't he? I didn't expect him to resist us so much."

"I suppose he's just proud, and doesn't want to show that he's hurt," said Thornden, "He wants this job, you know, and it wouldn't help him by hurting himself while working."
Thornden paused to take in the fresh air, and continued, "I myself don't doubt that he'll get the job when the month is over."

Gárwine nodded. His eyes scanned across the yard, and it looked as though another cart had arrived. He also saw Linduial, in a yellow dress, seated and drawing something. "Oh!" Gárwine said out loud. He would have to tell Linduial that Léof's injury might not let him help her decorate her room today. "I've got to tell Linduial that Léof can't help her hang tapestries today," he told Thornden, "Or at least I doubt it; I couldn't imagine him standing on tip toe on that foot of his." He smirked at the thought of Léof standing on his toes, reaching high up a wall in typical defiance of his pain.

"She seems occupied at the moment," said Thornden. And it was true. One of the new young boys had approached her, and sat down close enough to distract her from her drawing. The boy, much younger than Gárwine, carried a tiny brown bag. He emptied this into his palm, and Gárwine could see the dull white faces of dice and knucklebones. "I've seen my uncle play with those before," Gárwine commented, remembering the many days Uncle Wilfrid and his friends would gather together in the evenings around the old round table and gamble. Now the boy was arranging his own dice on the back of his hand, and with one quick movement flicked them into the air, and caught them in his palm when they fell back toward earth. Gárwine leaned nonchalantly against the stable wall to watch.
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Old 04-05-2006, 01:01 PM   #190
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Linduial drew a fine line down her paper to mark the last wall, and rose, pointedly ignoring Larswic playing with the Knucklebones. She played no games of chance: her father had always taught her it was unlady-like, but she could see Garwine across the yard intently watching the man, and she hoped the quiet and polite man-at-arms would not lose much money to the brute.

She was aware that her opinion of the man was based on very little, and as like undeserved as anything else, but something about the combination of the man's careful observation and leering expression minded her of the cunning of a beast. The boys accompanying him seemed well enough--but boys, interested in weapons and horses and boys' games, and they held little fascination for her. Their--father? master? made her nervous, and that was enough to unfavorably color her impression of the whole crew.

She decided the ink was dry enough, and rolled the paper up tightly, securing it with a scrap of ribbon, before standing, stretching her arms behind her, ran it into the building and upstairs to her room. She dropped it off quickly and once again stepped outside, but this time into the front courtyard of the Inn, attracted by the sound of every-day hustle and bustle. A pleasant-looking man was climbing down off a broken cart, eyeing the ruin of the hall with intelligent interest in his eyes, and conversing almost shyly with Saeryn and Eodwine. Linduial caught a glimpse of two small faces grinning impudently at her from under the canvas covering the back of the wagon, and grinned back with answering youthful mischief.

A tall draft-horse still stood in halter, waiting patiently for someone to tend to him, and Lin wondered where Léof was. He was usually immediately available when a horse needed care, appearing almost by magic at one's elbow, courteously reaching for the reins before a guest could even think of looking after his own beast. She hoped that he was all right, but did not worry about it over-much. She had seen him helping Eodwine digging in the rubble, and assumed he might have twisted his ankle or fallen in that mess easily, and no worse.

Degas was walking to the party from the stables, carrying a lead-rope, and set about the work of caring for the horse without a word of complaint or question. Lin amused herself by surreptitiously making strange faces at the children in the cart, who periodically disappeared underneath the cover, giggling, but out of the corner of her eye she was discreetly watching Degas, and the way his muscles played on his arms and back under his light shirt as he manhandled the broken cart out of the horse's way and gently led the beast into the stable.
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Old 04-05-2006, 06:08 PM   #191
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"Quick! She's seen us! Let's hide under the cover." Garmund hurriedly retreated behind the heavy canvas, pulling Léoðern after him. The children huddled in a their corner of the cart, a little area free of Garstan's tools and made soft and warm with pillows and quilts.

Léoðern giggled merrily. "It's a game! She's so big and grown to play with us. What should we do? I think I'll make a face like this." She twisted her face and held her breath until Garmund joined her laughter and made a face too. They scurried to the opening in the canvas and peeked out again, ready to startle their new friend. But she was ready for them with yet another face that sent the children into shrieks of laughter as they ducked back inside.

"She's funny," Léoðern said. "Garmund, did mother play with us like that?"

The boy's face turned sad and oddly thoughtful for a child of nine. "I think she did. It was so long ago. I hardly remember." He looked at his sister, trying desperately to bring up distant memories. Their mother's face was fading from his memory, though he kept a few vivid moments with him. Dancing under the trees in their old home. Her voice as she sat by the fire telling tales. And there was Léoðern. She reminded him of their mother. Their eyes were the same shade of blue. And they had the same red hair. But Garmund couldn't remember if their mother had shared Léoðern's freckles.

"Brother's sad. Don't be sad. Do you think we'll stay here? I hope so."

"So do I." Garmund shook off his reverie. "Do you think she's still watching? Let's see what she's doing."

And the children peeked out again to catch a glimpse of the funny big girl, wondering if they would be able to stay long enough in this place to become friends with her.
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Old 04-05-2006, 08:26 PM   #192
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"Forgive me. They are good children, but over eager in manner sometimes." Garstan the stoneshaper laughed. "As is their father. But come! Tell me. May we rest here?"

Eodwine smiled. "I give you good greeting, and rest here you may, though I wager you'll find more work than rest if you've a will to it! I am Eodwine of the Gap, newly made eorl of the Middle Emnet, and you have happened upon my humble mead hall to be. This is Saeryn of the Folde, my hostess, and this is Master Falco Boffin, of the Shire in the north."

Falco bowed low, receiving a stare of wonder from Garstan, and giggles from the cart. Falco straightened and aimed a big wink at the two lumps with eyes peering at him from the cart, and was rewarded with fresh giggles.

Saeryn spoke up. "Is there anything to eat or drink I can offer you, sir?"

"Well - I - uh - have little coin..."

"Fear not!" Eodwine interrupted. "My guests are true guests. I do not take their coin." He turned to Saeryn. "'Twas a good thought, Saeryn. See what Kara may have to offer if you will." Saeryn nodded and made her way to the back of the kitchen.

"You look in need of some coin, if I may dare to say so," Garstan said in a somewhat conspiratorial tone.

Eodwine laughed. "Yes, we have had an accident this day. The wall fell over this morning. 'Twould seem the roof that had rested on it was propping it up and we knew it not. We'll have some clearing to do and a new Great Hall to build, and -" Eodwine paused. "-did you say you're a stoneshaper?"

"That I did, lord."

"Would you stop a while and ply your trade here?"

Intro to Eorling Mead Hall rpg
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Old 04-06-2006, 04:14 AM   #193
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"Would you stop a while and ply your trade here?"

"That I shall, lord, if you wish it. In truth, little could please me better." Garstan hesitated, but went on. Despite their difference in position, there was something in the Eorl that inspired Garstan to speak openly. "I had hoped to find a place to work and earn a reputation. In truth, lord, this wandering life wearies me. And it isn't fair to the little ones. So you see, the greater the task, the better! I'll not impress half the countryside with my talents by building a simple hearth."

Léoðern's voice suddenly chirped, "May we come down now?"

"Yes. We'll be staying for a while." Cheers rose from the cart as the children scrambled to the ground and ran, Léoðern to the tall girl and Garmund to the winking hobbit.

Garstan looked thoughtfully after the children. "Yes, they need a home. I was mad to go back to roaming the countryside. Though there was little to keep me home after..." His voice trailed off. "But enough of the past! I thank you for your hospitality, lord. When shall we speak of your plans for the hall."

Eodwine smiled. "Over supper, perhaps?"

"Yes, lord. My thanks to you again!"

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Old 04-06-2006, 06:14 AM   #194
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Linduial's attention was drawn fully to reality as the young girl ran helter-skelter toward her across the yard. Her sister's son was about this age, but he was a shy, reserved boy, and Linduial had always longed to play with him. With a friendly smile, Lin caught the trusting child as she approached, lifted her up, and spun her quickly around, feet flying out, as the girl squealed in excitement. Lin made a full circle, then pulled the child safely in, sitting down on the stoop as she suddenly seemed much heavier than she had in the first throes of impulse.

She grinned over at the golden-haired little girl, the two of them catching their breath together on the stoop. Had Lin not been significantly taller, neither of the two would have looked much older than the other, just at that moment. As soon as she had breath enough to talk, Lin introduced herself to the girl. "My name's Linduial, and I'm from Dol Amroth, in Gondor. What's yours?"

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Old 04-06-2006, 08:07 AM   #195
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“I’ve seen my uncle play with those before,” Garwine said, leaning against the stable wall to watch the knucklebones in the hands of a man Thornden didn’t know. Thornden looked in the direction that his young friend’s eyes had been drawn. He cocked an eyebrow testily when he saw it and then looked at the mild interest on Garwine’s face.

“I’d advise you not to be a fool with that man, Garwine,” he said. “I’ve seen that game before, too, at the guard room when there was nothing better to do.” Garwine’s eyes flicked towards him briefly, but Thornden didn’t explain himself. He fixed him with a silent look that could have meant lots of things, but only of grim nature, and then walked away.

He went to Eodwine, just finishing a conversation with a new arrival. The man smiled and thanked him just as Thornden stopped behind Eodwine and turned to tend to his animal. Eodwine turned to Thornden.

“Well, how did it go? Is Léof properly looked after?”

“Yes, my lord. He didn’t want to be and wouldn’t have if he had had any choice in the matter. He demanded that Garwine and I leave before he even took the boot off, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you how he is. You’ll have to wait for Æðel to get a full report.”

A slight smile came to Eodwine’s face at Thornden’s words, likely imagining the struggle the little ostler had put up. “Well, good. I will wait for her, then.”

“You’ll have trouble with the lad if it ends up being badly hurt, and he can’t work. I heard what he told her as we were leaving, and he’s either scared or angry that he won’t be able to do what’s necessary. Perhaps, if Æðel does think that it’s so serious he should lay up for a few days, it would be best if you talked to him yourself to tell him that it’s alright if he doesn’t do his work just now, that it won’t make your decision of his being your ostler go one way or another. That’s what he’s worried about, I’m almost sure of it.”
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Old 04-06-2006, 11:00 AM   #196
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Degas went this way and that, wherever he was needed, answering calls from here and there. He took the new party's horse from their custody and led it carefully to the stables with a polite word to the man and a sereptitious wave to the children.

"Lèof!" he called softly. "Are you here?"

He'd long felt that it was unneeded to speak loudly over stable noises. Ostlers, in his experience, had a sixth sense about visitors. Perhaps it was the perk of the horses' velvet ears or a creak of the floorboards, but he'd never needed so speak above a polite resonance to be heard.

A pained squeak, nearly suppressed, led him to Lèof and Æðel. Degas admired the cloudy sunset of Lèof's foot, taking notice of the blues and purples of a few of his toes.

"Ouch." he said, conversationally. He still held the reins of the horse, careful to keep his active fingers from wrapping the leather around his hands. He'd broken his fingers that way as a youth when a stranger's horse in his care had startled and cinched the leather tight. He expected that Lèof's foot felt about the same as his hand had then, though the lad had been walking on it in attempt to under-play the injury.

Lèof looked up at him and looked almost as though he were about to hide his foot.

"I'll take care of the horse," the lad said. "If you can just-"

"I think not." said Degas. "I'll handle it, unless you think that a lord of the Folde has no horse sense? Come now," he added with a kind smile. "Æðel would shoot me the most paining of looks were I to leave you with a charge just now. How about a deal? Young Kara will need help quite soon for building an outdoor fire. I'll tend the beast until she sends for me, if she sends for me, and then I'll let the rest stand for you. At least let me clear the drying mud from this poor fellows hooves? Just think how you'd feel in that state."

Lèof, foot still in Æðel's firm grasp, nodded finally.

"Besides," Degas added. "It's been an adventurous morning and I need a calming task before I face less important work again."
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Old 04-06-2006, 12:31 PM   #197
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"My name's Linduial, and I'm from Dol Amroth, in Gondor. What's yours?"

"I'm Léoðern. I come from in there." She pointed to the cart, still breathlessly laughing after her whirl in the air. What fun that was! "We go everywhere in that. It's crowded and my brother teases me. But I like games. Do you? What kinds of games do they play in Dol Anrug?" She stopped her lighthearted prattle and giggled. "Antrun? That's a hard word to say."

"Amroth." Linduial sounded the word slowly. Léoðern repeated it several times, struggling over the foreign syllables.

"Am...roth. Amroth. It's hard, but nice. It must be very far away." Léoðern's eyes twinkled mischieviously. "Do you know tag?" Linduial nodded, and Léoðern tapped her arm. "You're it!" she shouted and ran off at full speed toward the ruined kitchen, glad to be in the open after so many days in the cramped cart.
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Old 04-06-2006, 01:09 PM   #198
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Linduial jumped in surprise as Léoðern took off running, and she caught her breath watching the child running through the rubble. What if she should fall? But the girl's footfalls were swift and sure, and Lin scrambled to her own feet as quickly as she could. Léoðern was already out of sight, and Lin followed where she thought she'd gone more sedately, wondering how her father (or any parent, really) had the energy to keep up with such a vivacious little squirrel of a person. As she reached the corner where the girl had disappeared, she found it easy to follow the sounds of giggling to where she could see reddish hair poking up behind the short remains of a wall.

Lin smiled to herself and began searching the rubble in earnest, careful to keep her skirts out of the dust as she overturned boulders and pebbles alike. "Léoðern...!" she called. "Léoðern? Where could she be? Is she under here?" Lin lifted a thin piece of wood and checked for a girl in its miniscule shadow. The giggling from behind the wall intensified, but Lin cheerfully didn't show any notice of the small head peeking at her as she straightened up, carefully schooling her features into a perplexed frown.

"Hmm...," Lin tapped a slim finger against her face, rolling her eyes around in a parody of concentrated thought. "Maybe she didn't come this way at all." Another fit of giggling from the wall. "Maybe she disappeared! Like magic!"

There was a quickly stifled "No, I didn't!" from the wall, followed by more giggling, and Lin spun around as though searching for the source of the sound.

"I knew it!" she crowed happily. "Léoðern's invisible! She's probably following me around! Maybe if I go back into sunlight I'll be able to catch her by her shadow." She stepped carefully out of the rubble into the clear courtyard. The sound of footsteps behind her nearly made her giggle, but she forced it down and schooled her face back into perplexity before spinning around, searching the ground with her eyes, but carefully never meeting Léoðern's impish grin. "I know you're back there...I can hear you. Make yourself visible again!"

"I'm not invisible...," the little girl said, but she seemed a little unsure of it, and Lin once again fought off a smile, as she turned and walked a little further into the courtyard, as Léoðern followed her, tugging on her skirt and insisting "I'm right here!! Right here!"

Lin ignored her completely until they had almost returned to the cart and the party there, then swooped around as fast as she could and tickled the girl, who squealed and tried unsuccessfully to get away. Lin picked her up and happily handed her over to her father with a serious expression on her face. "Your daughter, sir," she said, "bears watching. Did you know she can turn invisible?"
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Old 04-06-2006, 06:12 PM   #199
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"Léoðern! What have you been doing?" Garstan's face took on a expression of alarm as Linduial plopped the child into his arms. "Invisible? What sort of mischief have you been in?"

Léoðern cast a puzzled glance at her father. "I've been playing with Linduial. What's mischief?"

"Mischief is trouble. Which is what I'm sure you've been in." Turning to Linduial, Garstan said, "I hope Léoðern hasn't caused you any inconvience. Thank you for bringing her back to me." He sighed. "Léoðern, Léoðern. Whatever am I going to do with you?" Garstan's free hand went to his chin as he braced himself for the scolding he feared was coming from Linduial. He had heard it so many times before. Lectures on letting his children run wild. Speeches about lack of discipline. It had been so difficult caring for Léoðern and Garmund alone for these past years. For Léoðern in particular. She was so high-spirited, forever in some scrape or another, and Garstan didn't know what to do about it. The problems she caused were never the result of meanness, and for that reason he found it impossible to scold her. Garmund, at least, was more sedate, more easily directed. Already, he had started to teach his son the ways of stonecraft. But Léoðern was so hard to manage. Garstan couldn't look at her without calling up the image of sunlight on a brook, but the sunbeams could easily turn to shadows at the slightest harsh word. And he couldn't bear to see her unhappy. Or worse, risk suppressing her irrepressible joyousness permanently. More than once, the sound of her laughter had banished the aching weariness of a too-long day's work, and Garstan had given thanks for her cheerful ways.

The clouds were already forming. Léoðern's blue eyes began to tear. "I wasn't in any trouble. I was only playing." Her lip quivered dangerously, and she began to sniffle.

Garstan gently stroked her curls. "There, child. Don't cry. I know you didn't mean to do anything wrong. But you should act more like a big girl now. How old are you?"

"Five and a..a...a...a half." Léoðern was still on the verge of sobs.

"Well then, you have to be ever so much bigger than you were when you were five, don't you?"

"Y..yes."

"So you see, you should try not to run off into trouble all the time."

Linduial began to feel sorry for the little girl. "Léoðern wasn't that much trouble. In fact, I'd say that we had a good time together." She directed a conspiratorial wink at the child, who smiled faintly and began to wipe the tears from her eyes.
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Old 04-06-2006, 07:26 PM   #200
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Eodwine had just welcomed Garstan's prolonged stay as his new stone-shaper when Thornden came up from behind and tapped him on the shoulder, fresh with a report on the state of their young ostler. It seemed the boy was finally being properly cared for by Æðel. But Thornden's next words set Eodwine to thinking and rubbing his stubbling chin (rainy days always did cause him to forget his beard-knife).

“... he’s either scared or angry that he won’t be able to do what’s necessary," Thornden said of Léof. "Perhaps, if Æðel does think that it’s so serious he should lay up for a few days, it would be best if you talked to him yourself to tell him that it’s alright if he doesn’t do his work just now, that it won’t make your decision of his being your ostler go one way or another. That’s what he’s worried about, I’m almost sure of it.”

Eodwine gave Thornden a measuring look. Thonden coughed into his hand, looking anywhere but back at Eodwine for the moment. The Eodwine broke into a wide smile. "Your thoughts are one with my own, Thornden. I was thinking that I would have to have words with Léof to allay his fears. Your agreement makes me all the more sure. You read people well! That is a good trait in a steward! But more to the point, you have thought of the best way to deal with the problem, at least to my thinking. Well done!"

Thornden coughed into his hand again, taken somewhat aback by his lord's praise. "Well I - I am simply doing what seems right."

"That you are! Of course!" Eodwine grinned and slapped him on the shoulder. "Now I will go see our stubborn young ostler."

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