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Old 04-28-2007, 02:38 AM   #761
Taralphiel
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Lys watched the younger boy struggle with his emotions. It was hard for him to understand the emotions Elfthain may have felt. He had little personal experience to draw from. Would he feel wounded if Thornden had a son, and showed him greater love and care? He most likely would. He wondered what Thornden was doing now. That was another thought he pushed out of his mind. He had seen Thornden quickly take charge of the situation that had claimed the Hall, and he knew he would ride out to Lord Eodwine’s aid. He must simply wait for him to return.

Lys spoke softly to Elfthain. “You have a hard thing to deal with, Elfthain. I would not think your Uncle would forget you so easily. He seems to be an honest man. And you are a nice person. Why would he overlook you? It is nice to have an Uncle like that, I think.”

Lys watched the boy look up at him, and saw that the words were not going to comfort him. He stood slowly. “I do not know when Thornden or Lord Eodwine will be back, so would you like to take a walk? I can show you around.”
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Old 04-29-2007, 03:23 PM   #762
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Garmund glanced back over his shoulder. Ritun and Lefun no longer followed.

"Wait! Rilef's gone!" Garmund cried out and started to turn back.

Eodwine caught him by the shoulder. "We have to keep going. It's not safe for you here."

"But we can't leave Rilef behind," Cnebba protested.

"They were hurt." Garmund's worried face turned back towards the mound.

The pair of outlaws shouted as they drew nearer.
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Old 04-29-2007, 08:31 PM   #763
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Eodwine grimaced. This was a bad situation. If he hadn't two lads to keep from danger, he would be back following Rilef to see if he could rescue the twins without endangering his own life too greatly. But to go back with Garmund and Cnebba in tow would be reckless. If anything happened to them in such a pass, Eodwine knew that he would never be able to forgive himself, and he would not, of course, be able to blame Garstand and Stigend and Modtryth for holding their deaths accountable to him. No, it could not be.

"Come! These are dangerous men! If they did not kill you, they would take you captive and make slaves of you. What would I tell your parents? Once I have brought you to safety, I give you my word that I will go back for Rilef. Now run!"

It was too late. The bandits were upon them. They waved short swords and daggers in both hands. Eodwine wished that he had had relieved the guard by the tower of the short sword he had seen on him, but there hadn't been time. Desperate, he bent down and dashed at the ground with his hand, sending dirt and debris into one of the bandit's face.

"Run, Garmund! Run, Cnebba!" Suddenly they had wings on their feet and they fled west, leaving Eodwine between them and the bandits. He threw himself at the one scrabbling at the dust in his eyes, and rolled him to the ground, clutching at both his wrists. He used the force of his tackle to roll the bandit between himself and the other, and just in time, for the second bandit had lunged toward him, and just caught himself from stabbing the wrong man. Eodwine bashed the first bandit's wrists against the ground and the man's grip loosened on his weapons. Eodwine pushed his knee into the man and made a swipe at one of the blades, with no success. It was either try to get away, or try for a blade again and risk getting cut himself. He fled. But he was going southwest. He had to get between the bandits and the boys.

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Old 04-30-2007, 03:35 PM   #764
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Thornden struggled on, pushing through the underbrush, and running as fast as he could manage on the narrow, choked path. Finally, he came to a heavy curtain of grape vines that blocked the path. He stopped for a moment, his heart pounding with tension, excitement, and exertion. He listened carefully while he stood there. On the other side of this curtain of thick vines and leaves, he knew there was an opening of ground. Little underbrush grew there, and the main remains of the ruins still stood in that area. Once he stepped out, he would be in easy view of whoever watched.

But it was not only for that reason that he stood listening so intently. He heard the sound of leaves crackling and branches snapping. It seemed to him that something heavy was being dragged across the sound. In such a circumstance, he could not help but think that it could easily be some body just recently killed.

The noises stopped and a man spoke. Thornden did not recognize the voice, nor the rough accent. “Blimey, but this thing’s ‘eavy! We sh'd just kill'im! ‘E’s no good to us!”

“Don't complain,” came the curt answer. “Come on, you’ve rested enough.”

Then started the labor again. There was less noise, for they were apparently beyond the bracken and underbrush, but still Thornden knew that they were dragging something, and he knew it was a body, though not a dead one.

He also knew that there were two outlaws out there, and there was only one of him, and he really only had one workable hand. He drew a deep breath and lifted his right hand to look at the dagger. It was a clumsy weapon, but it was sharp and would do it’s business, as he well knew by the blood still on the blade and the memory of its recent owner. Then he lifted his left hand and looked at the curled fingers and the blood and green of the leaves that showed beneath and between them. He’d have to do his best and that was all.

With a sweep of his left arm, Thornden drew back the vines and ducked through, entering the glade almost silently. Almost directly before him two men were struggling with the massive burden of an unconscious Lefun and Ritun. Thornden ran forward mutely, hoping to reach them before they noticed him. He was almost upon them when one of them turned and lifted his head. He gave a warning yell, and dropped Rilef’s ankle while dodging back, away from Thornden’s swinging arm. He nearly escaped the blade, and though he escaped immediate death, the knife sliced his chest and his shoulder.

Thornden did not halt his forward momentum and he passed between the two outlaws, leaping over Rilef’s body. He turned about, lifting the knife in his hand, and hurled it towards the second, unwounded villain. Unfortunately, Thornden knew little of knife throwing and the blade spun crookedly, hitting the outlaw with little damage.

In a flash, Thornden’s sword was drawn. The sun glinted briefly on the cold steel. A swift glance at the first man he had wounded told him that he would be easier to overcome in the end, so he turned his attention to the second man, with the minor wound.

This fellow now had his own weapons in his hands he had a sword in his right hand and a long knife in his left. He looked a dangerous adversary as Thornden stood considering him.

They stood still for a moment, measuring each other up. Then the outlaw lunged forward. He feinted to one side with his sword and then swung about to the other. Thornden turned the blow and answered it with one of his own. Then they were locked in a mighty battle of flashing and slashing swords. It was fierce and hard and quick, and in a moment, they stumbled back from each other. The outlaw was waving his left hand in the air. His knife had fallen to the earth and blood streamed from his hand.

Thornden’s body tensed to spring forward again, when the other outlaw stopped him.

“Hold fast, or I’ll slit his throat.”

Thornden stopped and turned to look. The man had a dagger blade pressed against Ritun’s throat and Thornden cursed himself inwardly for not killing him sooner. The outlaw himself was badly hurt, Thornden saw now. He would not be able to fight Thornden, but he could stop him after all.

Thornden’s tensed and ready muscles relaxed. His sword lowered half a foot and he took a step backwards. In that moment, the outlaw he had been fighting, leaped forward, hoping to catch Thornden off his guard. Instinct that had been instilled in him by training caused Thornden to fight back immediately. He dodged to the side, and his hand went up and then down again in a diagonal stroke. He got behind the other’s guard and the blade went deep.

Quicker than thought, he spun about - pulling the sword after him, out of the other’s body - and ran the few paces towards the other outlaw kneeling by Rilef. The man’s hand had paused and he hadn’t killed Ritun left. He seemed shocked by his companion’s sudden death, and his hand was perhaps arrested for another reason, too. Either way, it was too late. Thornden knocked him backwards away from the twins and while he still lay on his back, Thornden’s sword tip came to rest on his throat.

“Now,” Thornden said, panting a little, “drop the knife and stand up. Slowly, man. Slowly.”

“Aren’t you going to kill me?” the man asked.

“No,” Thornden said. “I’m going to let the king’s officials do that. . .if that wound doesn’t kill you. I hope you don’t poison your daggers because that belonged to one of your companions.”

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Old 05-02-2007, 01:36 PM   #765
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Eodwine was running as quickly as he could, round about. He had to get between the bandits and the boys. But that would only drag things out as he and the boys became more weary while the outlaws cagily waited for them to weaken. No, there had to be a better plan. It had been easy to tackle that one outlaw back by the tower, but this was deep woods and --- Eodwine stopped running and ducked down low. He had thought of something. It was very risky, but could be very decisive. Why not let the outlaws think they had the boys within their grasp? He had a hunch that they wouldn't kill them right away. Make bait of the boys. Garstan and Stigend would no doubt foreswear their liegemanship to him, but he couldn't think of another way to save them.

He listened. He could hear the outlaws.

"F'rget the big 'un! He's too much trouble! The two lads'll give us plenty o' game though, eh?"

Harsh laughter followed these words, and then the outlaws were running west, crashing through the brush. Eodwine gave stealthy chase, aided by the outlaws' recklessness.

~*~

It was not long before he heard them.

"Now don't think ye c'n hide from us b'hind that ol' tree. We knows y'r there."

Eodwine slowed and crept stealthily. He could imagine that the boys feared that he had left them to their fates. It was a hard thing to do to them, but he couldn't let them know he was close by either, or they might give him away.

Eodwine looked above him. A great old beech tree grew beside him, and must have been planted when this place was not a ruin, for its branches, big as a giant's arms, spread far in all directions in the middle of this wood. As soundlessly as he could, Eodwine used the lowest branches as steps, and walked on top of a branch that reached over the outlaws. Luckily, there was a little bit of undergrowth beneath the tree so that it was easy for Eodwine to see without being seen. Peering through the leaves, he watched one of the pair take off his belt and start handling it like a whip. The other bandied a pair of knives before him like he was cutting a slice of meat off a hock.

"Little rabbit caught his foot in a snare did he?" the knifer sniggered. "Wonder how it feels to be et slice by slice, my little ones, eh?" His fellow cackled and cracked his makeshift whip. Eodwine wondered what the outlaw meant and took a closer look. Cnebba was lying in an odd position and Garmund was huddled over him. This was not good!

The outlaws were within two yards of the boys, whose heads could be seen from Eodwine's vantage point over the edge of an old rotting and mossy log. Cnebba's face was twisted with pain. Garmund was looking out over the log, his teeth gritted and his brow knotted. That boy has courage! thought Eodwine. The outlaws came a step closer, hooting and mocking at the boys with their knives and whip. The boys were tensing. But Garmund was not fleeing.

Suddenly with a boyish roar Garmund leaped out from behind the log and rushed the whipper. In the same instant Eodwine dropped from the branch, legs and arms spread wide to knock both outlaws down at once. Garmund hit the whipper in the legs. The whipper brought his belt up for a swing and the knifer bent down to cut the boy. Eodwine hoped desperately that he wouldn't injure Garmund. Neither blow fell, for the outlaws crumpled beneath Eodwine. He landed on his feet with a spring of his knees and then stamped on the knifer's wrist. The knifer dropped the dagger while Eodwine stomped on his other wrist, then kicked him in the jaw. Only then did Eodwine pick up the daggers.

Suddenly the whipper was howling. Eodwine heard what sounded like a little dog growling in a high pitch, gnawing on its enemy for all it was worth. Garmund had sunk his teeth into the man's leg just above the ankle. The outlaw scrabbled at the boy in vain. Eodwine finished him off with a kick to the head.

Garmund rose to his feet and glared at the whipper with the eyes of one who had bested his foe. "Well done, Garmund! Now see how Cnebba's doing."

"Aye, lord," Garmund said proudly, then turned and went over to Cnebba. While Garmund was busy looking over Cnebba's twisted ankle, Eodwine quietly dispatched the two outlaws, slicing their throats.

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Old 05-03-2007, 01:26 PM   #766
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“I do not know when Thornden or Lord Eodwine will be back, so would you like to take a walk? I can show you around.”,


Elfthain seized on the chance to substitute activity for brooding. His fear seemed a little foolish now he had voiced them and while he had lost his father to war and sister to illness he still had his mother and an extended family. Lys seemed to have no one of his own.
"Oh yes, I have been here before but for not a while and I never got the chance to explore. I don't remember it very well anyway" he finished the last morsel of cheese and stood up - " but will you be alright?" he added anxiously "Won't it make your leg hurt too much?
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Old 05-04-2007, 08:10 PM   #767
Taralphiel
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Lys coloured as Elfthain looked down at his leg. He'd tried his best to make it seem less noticable, but it seemed he hadn't done the best job.

"My leg? Oh, it will be fine. I have grown stronger and I don't need to rest as much. Hrethel the Healer has given me good strong boots too."

He looked up slowly at the boy, and knew he was curious. But he couldn't bring himself to tell him.

"I'll take you around past the kitchens first. The gardens are wonderful too. I would visit Hrethel, but he would be busy..."

Lys stepped away from the bench and tried to look like his limp bothered him as little as possible. He smiled.

"Really. It is nothing."
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Old 05-05-2007, 08:39 PM   #768
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Eodwine faced the boys. Garmund was looking at him, hands hanging at his sides, his eyes wide; his glance slipped to the two dead outlaws.

Eodwine cleaned the dagger blades on some fallen leaves from the previous autumn, slipped them inside his belt, and knelt down by the two boys. Garmund did not flinch.

"Do you understand, Garmund, what I did, and why?" The boy nodded. "Then tell me."

"They would have killed us, and if you had not killed them, they would have tried again."

"Aye. You are a smart lad. Now, let's take a look at that ankle, Cnebba."

Eodwine felt it carefully and asked where it hurt and how much. It seemed to be either a twisted ankle or a mild sprain. He helped Cnebba to his feet and asked him to see if he could stand on it, then limp about. With much wincing the boy was able to put only a toe-hold of pressure on his ankle.

"That settles that, young man. It seems I'll be carrying you. You're not so big as you can't sit on my shoulders."

Eodwine reached down and placed Cnebba, sitting, on one of the beech tree branches, then backed up until he was under the boy, who slid down onto his shoulders. He hoped that there would not be too many low hanging branches.

They walked for a little while and could hear shouts and hollarings off behind them.

Suddenly they came out in a clearing. Five dogs, thankfully chained, started in an uproar of barking and growling, their hackles raised and their teeth bared, saliva dripping. Garmund cringed against Eodwine's leg and Cnebba's grip around his neck almost choked him. Two of the dogs were Dunlending wolfhounds by the look of them; one was big as a mastiff; one looked a wolf except for its curled tail, and the fifth was a hound with drooping ears.

Behind them, tied tight to a tree, legs bound by rope, was a woman in rough smock over a threadbare skirt. Tough boots were on her feet. Her blonde hair fell this way and that in shaggy strands, but could not hide a frankly stunning beauty of face.

"I would untie you, lady, but for these dogs!" Eodwine called. "You must be a prisoner of these outlaws!"

"Claw!" shouted the woman "Fang! Gray! Bull! Bear! Quiet! Lay down" The dogs stopped barking and their growls diminished to a bare-fanged grumble, but their tales went down and their ears back, and one by one they settled on the grass surrounding the woman.

"They obey you," Eodwine said in open surprise. "Are you a captive of these outlaws?"

She nodded. "The men are often gone, and I have won these five over. They are not vicious."

Eodwine helped Cnebba to the ground and ordered Garmund to watch over him while he untied the lady. "How long have they held you?"

"Two years, I think. They burned my father's holdings to the ground, killing everyone, and took me as their slave."

"I am sorry. What is your name?"

"I am called Rowenna."

"I hope they did not treat you too shabbily."

"They kept me well enough..." she paused, her face reddened and her eyes became hot with humiliation, but she did not look away ".... well enough for their purposes."

"Come with me away from here," Eodwine said.

"Not without these my dogs," Rowenna declared. "They will obey me instead of them."

Eodwine's eyes widened. "Will they attack whom you say?" She nodded. The mastiff looked big enough to serve as a mount for Cnebba. "Will that one bear this boy? He has a bad ankle."

"If I tell him to."

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Old 05-06-2007, 04:49 PM   #769
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Deep in the shadows of the trees and carefully hidden by a thick covering of thorny brush, a pair of dark eyes watched at a distance. A solitary witness to the eorling’s dispensing of justice; swift and quick; without hesitation. Thin lips curved beneath the dark covering that masked the strangers face. He imagined the anger and distain that had driven the Lord of Middle Emnet’s hand. Oh yes he knew exactly whom it was he watched. Who it was who had unwittingly stumbled into this babbling band of fools; Unknowing puppets, easily swayed by their own lust and greed. He wonder if they even realised who it was that pulled their strings and how fragile those strings were. They mattered not to him they were not his friends nor his allies and if they all died here today it would be of no great loss to him.

He watched a little longer as the Eorl wiped the bloody dagger on some near by foliage while turning back to the two lads he had gone to great lengths to defend. The smaller of the two boy’s appeared to be injured and as the Eorl helped him up, The stranger silently took his leave. There was no gain for him in killing the Eorl and these two boys. Well at least not yet, he thought darkly. Besides he had gained something much more valuable, knowledge.

Unlike those other fools he had followed the Eorl discreetly and silently through the shadows. He had seen fear and indecision turn to courage and honour, a man unafraid to make the hard decisions. Something that would be worth remembering and perhaps may just prove invaluable someday, but not today. Today that fool who called himself leader had made a bad decision and likely not the first, but the price of this days failure was not one he planned to share in. This Eorl would be missed and soon others would come in searching of their Lord and Master, by which time he planned to be long gone, but not before he collected his true prize.

The sounds of not to distant battles assailed his ears as he cautiously made his way back towards the ruins. so soon, he mused, stopping to listen. The sounds seemed all around ; shouts and scattered orders came from somewhere ahead and to the left of him, while ahead and to the right the sound of weapons rang faintly. But it was the sudden baying of the dogs that made him look back in the direction he had just come. The fighting was ahead, so why where the dogs back there, had they found those brats and their eorl? Or had…… he pondered the thought a moment longer, suppressing the urge to laugh darkly at the cunning and resourcefulness of another, another that also might bear watching someday. Putting those future thoughts from his mind he focused on the job at hand, he had not ingrained himself in this band of ruffians only to loss his mark to the point of a sword or the hang mans noose.

Silently he edged his way around the trees careful not to alert his presence as the sound of voices grew closer. Reaching the rear wall of one of the larger ruins not far from the tower, he carefully snuck inside. Enough ivy and vines grew on the outside to hide his presence from those without. Carefully he crouched down to peer through a small hole that had been worn away in the stonework. Another body had been added to that which the eorl had dispatched earlier and a third; the one he had come for was badly wounded. His Job was half done for him and only the matter of collection remained. But one problem still presented itself, well not really a problem, more of an inconvenience. It seemed his mark was in the custody of another, a tall; broad shouldered follow and although bent over the body of the unconscious body…bodies of that that ….hell he didn’t know what it was! he remained cautiously guarded, no doubt ready to use the sword in his hand at the slightest movement.

But ever resourceful and ever prepared he had a plan. Sneaking out the way he had come in he made his way quietly through the trees again keeping to the shadows so as not to be seen, till he came to a large overgrowth of thorn and brush, taking a last glance about to make sure he was alone and being satisfied he quickly tore away the bracken (more easily that would be expected) to find a very weather worn wooden door with a rusty handle. The truth was he had found this secret entrance to the tower days ago and had planned to use it to escape if necessary, but now it would get him back into the tower and close to his targets.

It was dark in the tunnel but he knew the way and soon found himself in what was left of the towers basement, the stairs to the next floor had long worn and crumbled away and only a few bricks held stubbornly to the wall, it was the reason why the bandits had not found the passage and it’s secret exit. But he knew a way, it was dangerous but he was agile and lithe enough to make it. So slowly he climbed foot following hand one after the other, careful not to dislodge any loose stone and dirt. It wasn’t far and soon he was pulling himself up onto the ground floor.

Stopping to catch his breath he listened, it sounded as if the big fellow was still trying to rouse his …friend.. Lefun?…Relif?…he could barely make out the words over the bandits moaning and continuous whining about his injuries. He couldn’t help wonder at the big fellows reserve? By now he would have killed the idiot just to shut him up.

He had heard enough, reaching into his shirt he pulled out a leather roll and quickly untying the binding he let it roll out silently. Inside was a five inch tube and twelve darts, six red to the left and six green to the right, his hand hovered momentarily over the red before moving to the left and carefully pulling out a green one and placing it into the pipe. A quick glace round the window showed him his target, then with out hesitating he blew. the dart struck the big fellow in the side of the neck and he was quick enough to duck back down as the fellow turned and an instant later he heard the thud.

In another instant he had grabbed up his remaining darts and vaulted the window. “Ced…” came the stunned and wheezing voice of the bandit, as he thought he had just been rescued. But Ced did not stop, instead he walked purposely toward the big fellow. there was no mark of the lords house on the man but by his attire he marked he had been right in thinking that this man was one of the eorls rescuers.

There wasn’t much time the affects of the dart would not last long. He removed the dart from the mans neck and lifted his fallen sword, it was a nice blade and another time he may have taken it as a prize. But today it would serve another purpose.

"I thought I were for the noose for sure!” The bandit wheezed as he struggled to join him.

He didn't look up only continued to look at the light catching the blade or so it seemed. “we could share the spoils ya…., but before the fool could finish his words Cedric as this idiot knew him swung round fast, the blade in his hands cutting through both flesh and bone severed the bandits head clean from his shoulders. Blood sprayed into to his face and clothes, but he didn’t finch merely watch as the head bounced once and rolled towards the trees, and the body dropped to the ground. Then turning he placed the sword into the big fellows hand, Let any who happen on this scene think this one did it, then claiming the head he disappeared back into the tower.

As the last affects of the drug began to wear off, he was half way through the tunnel and on his way to retrieve his horse on the other side of the woods, then on to collect on this bounty.

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Old 05-06-2007, 05:40 PM   #770
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"With what name do I call my rescuer?" Rowenna asked as she held the mastiff still while Eodwine lifted Cnebba onto its back.

"I am Eodwine of the Ga-" he paused; no, that was no longer adequate. "I am Eodwine, Eorl of the Middle Emnet." The mastiff did not protest.

Rowenna laughed. "You mock me. There is no such thing."

Eodwine grinned, abashed. "Nay, 'tis so. Eomer created me an Eorl, and charged me with a portion of his realm. My mead hall is in Edoras not far from Meduseld."

"An Eorl's mead hall within sight of the king's? That is odd."

Eodwine looked about. They were too easily seen. "We must leave this place. Let us head west toward Edoras." He started off.

"Then why go you south?"

Eodwine stopped and looked at her questioningly, then following her eyes, looked up the slopes of the White Mountains straight ahead of him. He shook his head. "I must have gotten turned around in the woods. Where are the ruins from here?"

"They are to our north." She pointed in the direction from which Eodwine had unwittingly come. "If Edoras is to the west from here, then it is that way," she indicated.

"Then that is our way."

They left the clearing, Rowenna holding the leads of five big dogs.

"You say you have made friends of these beasts?" Eodwine said, marveling.

"Aye. 'Twas easy. The hound, Bear, grew up with me on my father's farm. I gave bits of the little food spared me to these five. It was not long before they saw me as friend."
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Old 05-08-2007, 10:22 AM   #771
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The dart had felt momentarily like the sting of a small insect. He had not had long enough to feel any worse pain before falling like a stone to the earth. Minutes later, when his consciousness slowly returned, the first thing Thornden felt was a pain at the side of his neck. As he raised himself up on his left elbow, his right hand unclasped the sword hilt and he lifted it to feel the sore area. His fingers touched the area gently, feeling out the welt that was rising around a very small indentation.

Once he had found out what very little he could of that, he shook his foggy head and looked up around him. He looked at Rilef, relieved to see them in the same position that they had been, and then turned to see if the wounded man had crawled away.

An audible gasp, bordering close upon a cry, burst from him as a jolt of surprise shook him. The headless corpse lay but two feet away from his face, and the bloody stump of his neck was nearest of all. He sat up and backed quickly away from it.

How did it happen? Thornden wondered. He stooped forward to retrieve his sword. Who would put me down and then come in and kill him and leave Rilef and me unharmed? His thought stopped there, however, as he lifted the blade, stained with bright red blood, still wet. He had cleaned the sword after wounding the one and killing the other, he was sure. But now fresh blood showed on the blade from half way up it to the very point.

“It was a clean sweep,” he observed, gnawing his under lip. “But with my sword.” He stood up and walked away to where a clump of clean grass grew. He knelt and cleaned the blade once more and then sheathed it. His next object was to get Rilef up on their feet and get them out of this tangled mess of vines, trees, and old ruins.
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Old 05-08-2007, 02:09 PM   #772
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Thornden came toward Ritun and Lefun, reaching down to give them a hand up.

"Move us not!" winced Ritun. "They evil did us."

"What do you mean?" asked Thornden, his brow creasing with concern. "Where are you hurt?"

"'Tween us," Ritun grimaced.

Thornden noted how pale their faces were, especially Lefun. Between them? "Let me see."

Lefun shook his head. Thornden saw then that Lefun's right arm hugged Ritun's middle very hard, while his left arm was buried between them. Worse, he saw now that blood was soaking their shared trousers at both hips, and a red stain was expanding around them in the dirt.

"What have they done!" Thornden cried, but he believed that he knew.

"Pulled us apart they tried," Rilef grunted. "Lefun ripped inside is, methinks."

"I've got to get you out of here!" Thornden cried.

Ritun shook his head. "Nay, we're done. Save your Eorl, a good man he is."
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Old 05-08-2007, 03:00 PM   #773
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Thornden stared in horror and he felt himself moved to his very heart with pity and furious anger both at once. How could they have done this? Why? And when did they do it? Not when…not when…he cursed audibly, both at himself and at the brutal men. What had happened, just a moment back? Was more damage done that the outlaws head being removed? A great, hard lump rose in his throat at Ritun’s words, and tears rose in his eyes.

“I can’t leave you here to die by yourselves,” he said, his voice rasping. “They might come back and try to hurt you more. There are other men here from the Hall, Rilef,” he said, trying to speak encouragement. “They’ll find the eorl and save him. I can try to help you. When all of the bad men are killed, we can carry you back home.”

But Ritun shook his head again. “Can not one of you be saved?” Thornden asked desperately, trying hard not to succumb to tears. “Can not at least one of you yet live?”
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Old 05-08-2007, 04:29 PM   #774
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Léof had still been recovering from his own shock when Stigend had run away from him. He took a moment to reconstruct the events in his head: yes, he was still alive, and yes, he had escaped relatively uninjured, somehow. Had he really promised Stigend that he would stay behind? He had no intention of doing so; he had come this far, and while he might be useless as a fighter (he vowed, then, to ask someone at the Hall, Thornden perhaps, for at least basic lessons in weaponry, after this whole mess was over), Eodwine and Rilef were still out there somewhere. He might be of some use to them, and he was not about to sit back uselessly while others headed off to rescue their lord.

He did take Stigend’s advice, however, in taking the outlaw’s long knife. Then he plunged off into the trees in a different direction than Stigend had taken. He went more carefully, now, than he had earlier, taking care to avoid any sounds of fighting. After another encounter with an outlaw, he might not be so lucky. For some time he did not find any, and counted himself fortunate. He also began to feel rather lost, however, unsure of where any of the others or the horses were. He had not been out here to the ruins before, after all. He was not sure that he would be able to retrace his steps; his path had not been straight. Just as he was beginning to feel truly worried, however, he thought he heard voices and warily approached – it would do no good to run into the midst of a group of outlaws!

As he drew nearer, he recognized one of the voices as Thornden’s and came into their presence suddenly, coming around a large rocky outcropping. He caught only Thornden’s most recent, stricken words, “Can not at least one of you yet live?”, but these combined with the scene that opened before his eyes, were sufficient to give Léof some vague idea of what was happening and to replace the relief he had felt with a sickening feeling in his gut. “What has… how can I help?” he stammered out.
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Old 05-11-2007, 10:01 AM   #775
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"How many outlaws are there?" Eodwine asked Rowenna.

"Twelve."

"Make that two less at least," Eodwine said.

Just then he heard cries of distress, and stopped. He and the others had not gotten far. If he had the rights of it, he knew that those cries were coming from none other than the tower where Ritun and Lefun had been imprisoned. It was no good. He could not leave the twins there, not knowing if they could be saved.

"Cnebba and Garmund, you stay with Rowenna! I'm going back for Rilef!" He turned to Rowenna. "Keep out of sight and keep safe! Watch for my return!"

She nodded, and he started of at a run. He had two daggers now, little enough they were against swords, but they would have to do.
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Old 05-12-2007, 09:04 PM   #776
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Rilef did not answer Thornden's last question. Perhaps he was not able to, or perhaps he did not want to. The question was badly asked, Thornden realized after a moment. How could he ask if one could live without the other?

But before the silence was long, Léof was there, running up quickly through the underbrush. He stopped short on the edge of the clear space and stood for a moment, looking. And then, with hesitant steps forward, he ventured, "What has...how can I help?"

Thornden slowly lifted his head. He gathered his scattered wits together and cleared his eyes of tears. "Léof," he said, rising slowly. "Have you seen anyone else nearby?" Léof shook his head, his eyes fixed on the twins. Thornden was about to ask him another question when a movement and grunt caught his ear. Thornden turned about, his hand on the hilt of his sword. For the first time since coming, he noticed a third outlaw in the near vicinity. The man lay half on his back, in a twisted sort of position. Apparently, he had been senseless, but now he was waking back up. He groaned again and turned towards the ground.

Thornden looked quickly towards Léof, nodded his head in the outlaws direction and waved his hand. The two of them closed in quickly, coming upon him silently. He didn't notice them until they were quite near, and only because he had begun to raise himself up on one elbow. He gave a start, rising half to his knees, but Thornden drew his sword and in a moment, had it at his throat. The man knew better than to move and he remained rigid, on his knees. Thornden commanded him to stand up, and he obeyed.

"Léof, go back to Rilef. I'll figure out what to do with this one." Léof turned to obey, but before Thornden could even begin to think of what to do, another person came running and crashing through the underbrush. "Léof, be on guard!" Thornden called. Without thinking, he opened his left hand grasped for his dagger. A pain shot through his hand, from the cut on his palm, but he drew the blade anyway.
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Old 05-13-2007, 01:42 PM   #777
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Eodwine came to the ruined tower, and almost ran headlong into the point of a sword. Léof was on the other end of it, looking ready to kill. In a half a moment, his eyes went wide and his mouth formed an 'o'.

"Lord Eodwine!" He lowered his sword, then his eyes to the twins lying behind him. Eodwine saw the growing stain of blood on the ground around Rilef. Behind them both was Thornden, looking grim, holding the outlaw hostage that Eodwine had knocked out a few minutes ago.

"My thanks for coming! So Falco made it back whole. That is good. Are there others?"

"I have brought Garstan, Stigend, Garreth, and Harreld with as well, lord," Thornden announced.

"And here they are now," Eodwine replied as he watched them come near from out of the brush. "There are twelve outlaws; so says the maiden I have freed and is waiting with Garmund and Cnebba."

"Cnebba!" cried Stigend.

"Garmund!" cried Garstan.

"What do they here?" both shouted at once.

"They came on their own and got themselves into a load of trouble which they then helped me get them out of. But it meant saving them and not Rilef. Would that I could have done both. At any rate, there were twelve outlaws; I have killed two. How many others have you seen?"

Thornden named two kills, and Stigend one; Garstan, Garreth, and Harreld named two more between the three of them. This accounted for seven deaths, but not one for the eighth body lying nearby. Thornden explained that the one extra seemed to have been killed by someone else while he was knocked out by a dart. It seemed rather odd. Then there was Thornden's captive, making nine.

"That leaves three unaccounted for," Eodwine concluded. "Keep an eye and ear out, then." Just then, raucous and angry barking exploded in the distance. "Rowenna! Léof, help tie up Thornden's captive! Everyone else, follow me!"

"Lord, Léof and I will stay with Rilef!" Thornden said.

"Very well! We'll come back this way and meet up with you."

Eodwine picked up a bloodied sword lying next to one of the bodies, and dashed back the way he'd come, in the direction of the yammering dogs. Soon they came in sight. Rowenna and the boys stood with their backs to a big tree. Rowenna was holding the leashes of the five dogs who were snarling ferociously at two big men who stood with swords drawn. Just as they came in sight, the two men swung their blades down on two of the dogs, who were permanently silenced. The three remaining grew fiercer yet, snapping at the outlaws' arms.

"Hold!" Eodwine shouted. "You are outnumbered! Lay down your swords!"

Garstan, Stigend, Harreld, and Garreth spread out two to either side of Eodwine, and swords drawn, advanced step by step toward the two men.

"Lay down your swords, or die this day!" Eodwine warned.

The biggest gave Rowenna a dirty look, then threw down his sword. His fellow did likewise."

Eodwine directed his four men to bind them with the useless leashes of the two dead dogs. As soon as the two men were secured, Garstan and Stigend made way through the now calmed dogs (who were sniffing at their cohorts), to Garmund and Cnebba.

"Name yourselves!" Eodwine commanded. The two men said nothing.

"They are Ulric and Withold," Rowenna said. "Ulric is their leader, and a murderer of women and infants. Withold is only less an evildoer in that he takes orders from Ulric."

Ulric scowled at Rowenna. "I'll flay you, you traitorous witch!"

"Silence!" Eodwine commanded. "I am Eorl of the Middle Emnet, and you will be tried in my court tomorrow, and if your guilt is not countered, you shall hang." He looked to this men and said, "This band of outlaws has seen its final day of crime, it would seem."

"But lord," said Stigend, "only eleven are accounted for!"

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Old 05-13-2007, 02:25 PM   #778
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"Really. It is nothing."

Elfthain realised he had done the wrong thing in asking about Lys' leg - the older boy clearly didn't want a fuss made but it was hard to ignore the fact that for him each step was a small triumph while Elfthain moved with agility and careless ease.

Elfthain decided the best course of action was to accept Lys' words without quibble and to moderate his own pace.

"That's good - resting is boring. I fell out of a tree once and my mother made me rest for ages " He shuddered a little at the memory of what had in fact been a very short restriction.

"I wonder if my mother knows Hrethel, she knows a lot of herblore - learnt it from my grandmother along with the midwifery - lots of the people in the village come to her for possetts and simples so she must be good, but she doesn't think so, says that they are just used coming up to the farm from when my grandmother was alive" Elfthain knew he was talking too much, trying to cover any residual embarassment from his earlier faux pas. "She doesn't make boots though - there is a man in the village who does that - I don't think she really likes sewing at all much... but she does like gardens" he added, and it occured to him, that his mother was much happier outside the house than in it. He did not analyse the realisation further but picked up the plates and things they had used.

"We better take these back to the kitchen - I suppose you know everyone here" he added looking around, " ....and all the ones who have gone away. I hope they will be back soon." Elfthain hoped he would not have to leave before he could get to hear about all that had happened and tried to calculate how long it would be before he was looked for.

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Old 05-13-2007, 03:12 PM   #779
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"But lord," said Stigend, "only eleven are accounted for!"

Garmund could think of yet another member of the party who was not accounted for. Almost as soon as the Eorl returned with the others, he noted that Rilef was not among them.

"Where's Rilef?" he blurted. "Did you see them while you were away?"

Eodwine did not answer, but it seemed to Garmund that he was troubled.

He knows something, thought Garmund. Something's wrong, and they're afraid to tell me.

"Where are Ritun and Lefun?" he repeated.

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Old 05-15-2007, 10:01 AM   #780
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There was a pregnant pause after Garmund's repeated question. It was going to be the Eorl's job to answer the boy.

"They are back at the tower, under the protection of Thornden and Léof, Garmund."

His words did not allay the disquiet amongst the group, and especially in the boy.

"They are wounded to the quick. I am sorry."

Eodwine looked to the boys' fathers. "Garstan and Stigend, you may bring the lads with us to the tower, or you may stay here until I return; 'tis your choice."

The fathers looked at each other and wordlessly agreed. "We will come with you. The boys need to see their friend."

"I warn you," Eodwine said, "his wound is evil."

"Nonetheless," said Garstan.

Eodwine nodded and led his men and their prisoners, Rowenna and her three remaining dogs taking up the rear. Eodwine had meant to ask her what she wished to do about the two dogs who had been killed. The question would have to wait.
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Old 05-15-2007, 01:32 PM   #781
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Thornden turned again to the prisoner as the others disappeared behind the leaves and branches. He considered for a moment what he ought to do. He had nothing to bind the man with.

“Léof, run back to the horses quick as you can and get a rein or a rope. We’ll use that to bind his hands. No,” he said suddenly, changing his mind. “There are many creeping vines here, small enough to be twisted easily. Gather as much as you can in one long strand and we’ll settle for that, until the others get back.

Léof did as he was told, and began pulling at a long trailer. It’s thin, shallow roots, came up easily and as he gathered the vine in as neat a coil as he could, he walked forward slowly, tugging gently as not to snap it.

The outlaw stood rigidly and uncomfortable, waiting with a sour look to be tied up with a vine. Thornden kept his eyes and attention on him, his sword drawn and held ready at his side.

In the end, Léof came back with a fair length of about fifteen feet. “Do what you can with it,” Thornden told him. He would have bound the man himself, but he figured it would be best if the sword remained in his hand. Léof was just a boy, and had never fought nor killed before, as far as Thornden knew, and he might hesitate with a weapon in his hand should the outlaw attempt to do anything.

So Léof took the vine and set to work, doing his best to bind the man’s hands securely behind his back. When he finished, Thornden examined it. The job was as well done as possible, and though Thornden did not like being without rope to do the business, he was prepared to be satisfied with that for now.

He commanded the man to sit down with his back to a tree and he put Léof over him to guard him. He then turned and went to Rilef’s side. He knew of nothing he could to help ease their pain and he thought of no words to comfort them. So he waited in silence, watching them and looking for Eodwine’s return.
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Old 05-15-2007, 01:58 PM   #782
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Cnebba limped towards Stigend. It was only then that he realised his son had been injured. He rushed towards the boy and lifted him up to his arms. He looked at Cnebba to the eyes and glanced concernedly at both lord Eodwine and Garstan .

"What is it Cnebba? You are hurt?"

Cnebba nodded shyly and turned his head away from his father. "It was when we ran away from the outlaws... I tumbled...", he muttered silently feeling guilty about his clumsiness.

Stigend was abashed for the information but did not show it. He stayed as calm as he could although the instincs of a father were getting strong. He wished he could just get his boy to safety as soon as possible. But it had been settled already and he could not change the situation now as the others had already started towards the tower.

He saw that Garmund and Garstan walked hand in hand.

"Okay Cnebba. I'll carry you to the tower", with that he dropped his spear and lifted Cnebba to his shoulders with two hands. Cnebba knew the game now. He threw his good leg around Stigend's neck while his father was hoisting him up so as to sit on his shoulders and Stigend took a firm grasp of his knees as Cnebba had settled.

"You're alright?" Stigend asked and after the comfirmation from his son he started kneeling down carefully. "Just hold it, I'll pick my spear..."

And they were on their way reaching the others.

Stigend's mind was overloaded. What should I do now? If what lord Eodwine said is even near the thing I presume, would it be wise for Cnebba to see it? And how can I make it safe for him anyhow? And where is that one missing outlaw? He took a firmer grip from his spear and with his left hand he pressed Cnebba's legs tighter. They catched the others in no time. Stigend was panting now but didn't care.

"Garstan?" he asked as he got level with his friend who was walking steadily ahead with Garmund.

"Do you think this is wise?"
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Old 05-16-2007, 10:37 AM   #783
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Dusty and footsore, the young man had been traveling hard for what seemed like an eternity. He knew that he must be somewhere in the vicinity of Edoras, but since necessity had dictated that he avoid the main roads, he had gotten a bit turned around and wasn’t entirely certain where the city lay in relation to his current location. A compass and quadrant would have been helpful at this stage, but he wasn’t sure how much. After all, even aboard ship, navigation had never been his strong suit. Besides, it suddenly occurred to him, in order to get an accurate location, you had to have a clear view of the horizon. He was surrounded by trees. Lots of them. In fact, they were beginning to make him feel a bit claustrophobic.

He sighed and squinted up with very blue eyes at the thick canopy of branches over his head. He was sorely tempted to take a quick climb up for a look around but had a feeling that all he would see when he got there was more trees. Shaking his head, he chose a direction at random and started to walk. If it didn’t take him to Edoras, at least it would take him somewhere. He hoped. He was growing low on supplies and needed to find a town, a city, a berg. A house. Anything.

Besides simply being lost, he also had been hearing the echoes of a skirmish of some kind for some little while: shouts, the barking of dogs, and the intermittent clashing of swords. Although he had never been the jittery type, it set his nerves on edge. The fighting sounded close-by, but the trees had a way of bouncing the sound around so that he couldn’t tell precisely where it came from. As a matter of precaution, he drew his sword, carrying it loosely in his hand as he walked. While he had no idea who was fighting or why, he knew it was always better to be prepared to defend oneself, and never a good thing to be set upon by surprise with one’s sword safely sheathed at one’s side. Nonetheless, while he was a good hand with a sword, he had no desire to get in any more fights for awhile. After all, he was still reeling from what had happened in Belfalas.

“Talk about disaster…” he mumbled to himself. As result of that mishap, he was trying to put as many miles as possible between himself and the coastal city. Surely, they wouldn’t look for a petty smuggler this far north. Would they? Guards had been killed. Frowning, he shook his head. Surely not.

He was still pondering this thought when he rounded a bend in the trail and nearly stumbled over the body of a man, freshly slain, his blood still glistening dark and liquid in a pool under his wounded torso. Curious, Elián gave him a long look and decided that the fellow must have been an outlaw or brigand of some kind, judging by his coarse look and the state of the beat-up sword that lay in the dirt just beyond the reach of the dead man’s stiffening fingers. But, Elián guessed, he had likely not been killed by other outlaws, as the fellow still had his purse attached to his belt.

Unable to resist temptation and being a bit short on funds himself, Elián bent over and, with a deft slice of his sword, severed the man’s purse strings. He tossed the purse into his own shoulder bag, figuring he would look at the contents later. In the meantime, he thought it best to keep moving. Whoever had killed this fellow probably was not far off. In fact, the sounds of dogs and human voices suddenly seemed very near indeed.

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Old 05-16-2007, 12:51 PM   #784
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"Wise? That I do not know. But there are times when I would put kindness before wisdom. This is one."

Garstan thought for a moment of the final outlaw who remained at large. Léof and Thornden were ahead. Once Garstan and Stigend met with them, the outlaw would be a fool to attack, outnumbered by four to one, all the more so knowing that his fellows were all captured or dead.

"And there can be no great danger from the one outlaw who has not been found. I think the fates of the others will have taught him to keep away from our party, outnumbered as he is."

Though they knew the scene ahead would not be a pleasant one, Garstan and Stigend hurried ahead, fearing that they might already be too late.

"It's not fair," Garmund mumbled. "We tried to save them - Cnebba and I did. We tried. Maybe Rilef's not hurt as bad as the Eorl thinks."

Garstan did not answer.
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Old 05-16-2007, 03:32 PM   #785
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Thornden and Léof came within view. Their prisoner had been tied with a vine. Now there was a piece of ingenuity, Eodwine thought. But his attention was quickly turned toward Ritun and Lefun. Their faces looked pale .... too pale. He set aside the sword he had been carrying and knelt down beside the two. They lay still.

The two fathers and their sons came up on either side of Eodwine, and looked intently at the still forms of the twins.

Eodwine felt the side of Lefun's neck, then Ritun's. He could feel no pulse.

"They have passed beyond the walls of Arda," he said quietly.
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Old 05-18-2007, 05:20 PM   #786
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Léof had been quite content to follow Thornden’s orders in dealing with the ruffian; he himself would not have had any clear idea of what to do with the fellow, nor was he sure that he would be able to kill the man if it came to that. Thankfully it had not, yet, and as Thornden had gone over to check on Rilef, Léof had been left guarding the tied up man. Léof had pulled out his newly-acquired knife, although he hoped he would not have to use it, with the man being bound and Thornden only a few feet away.

Soon the small party with Eodwine leading them arrived in the clearing, and Eodwine knelt down to take Rilef’s pulse. Although his words were quiet, they were easily audible in the still clearing: "They have passed beyond the walls of Arda.”

Léof bowed his head in respect, but in truth he did not feel particularly moved by the statement. He felt some vague sense of sorrow at the horrible way they had died, but no personal grief. The one conversation he had carried out in their presence had been one of the most uncomfortable in his life, and although he realized intellectually that they had very human thoughts and emotions, he had not really reached the level of considering them, well, human.

The thought made him feel guilty, but did not change fact. Léof knew that his life would not change significantly because Rilef was dead, nor would he feel any particular emptiness in his life. Their life had simply not impacted his enough for their death to affect him.

Not that he would say so, of course. Others here would probably mourn, and he would let them decide the next steps.
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Old 05-18-2007, 07:28 PM   #787
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Falco and Javan arrived at the place in the road nearest the ruins. They dismounted and Falco waited and listened while Javan tied his horse to a a tree trunk just off the road.

"Shh! Quiet!" Falco whispered. "It's too quiet hereabouts considering there's outlaws." He feared that Eodwine had been taken captive, or killed, as well as Thornden and all the others, and the outlaws were already long gone. That fool Thornden would be in no such scrape if he'd allowed me to come along in the first place, Falco thought irritably. "Follow me as quiet as a mouse," he said to Javan.

Javan followed Falco's footsteps and seemed to be trying his best not to be a lumber footed human. It helped he wasn't full grown yet.

Falco put out a hand to stop Javan.

"There's somebody just over there." It was a young man and a stranger. Falco wondered if it was one of the outlaws, but he didn't seem the type. He was got up outlandish with strange clothes from far away places that made no sense to Falco. There was an ink picture on one of his forearms that had to be a compass, of all things. And his hair was long as an Elf woman's. A brief recollection of the overbearing Uien of Lorien came to mind and Falco quickly dismissed it.

Javan stepped on an old dead stick and it broke with a snap. The young man's head turned suddenly in their direction. Falco put his finger to his lips to shush the boy. He didn't figure the young man could see them behind the foliage, but just in case he was wrong he slowly and silently drew his dagger from his belt.
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Old 05-19-2007, 01:21 PM   #788
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Dead. Garmund listened, unbelieving, as Eodwine's words worked their slow way into his head. Ritun and Lefun were gone.

He blinked, fighting the tears that had already started to sting his face. Anger at the twins' cruel end turned Garmund's cheeks to fire. The twins deserved better.

"It's not right. Not fair. Lefun and Ritun didn't hurt anyone," Garmund mumbled. He walked ahead and looked down at the twins. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I wish - if we'd been faster." His voice caught on something rising in his throat, and Garmund fell silent.

Garstan came up to the boy and put a hand on his shoulder. "It's not your fault, Garmund. You couldn't have saved them."

But Garmund, seeing only the pale faces of his friends, did not hear.

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Old 05-19-2007, 02:12 PM   #789
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As Elián moved quickly along the path through the woods, it became increasingly clear to him that an encounter with other people, either outlaw or otherwise, was likely if not inevitable. The path was a veritable hodge-podge of footprints, both human and canine, coming and going, trampling back and forth across each other so much so that it was impossible to tell how many sets of prints were involved, much less which set of prints belonged to outlaws and which to the other folks. Elián paused, staring down at the confusion of tracks. He was considering his options, unsure which he would rather meet – the outlaws or the forces of law and order, if that was in fact who the other folks involved in the skirmish were. There were advantages and disadvantages to both. If he could decide which was which and choose his side accordingly, that would be one thing… but, he decided, unable to make heads or tails of the multiple sets of prints, it’s a throw of the dice now. He would just have to wait and see who he encountered first and try to run with it.

Elián was just straightening with the intent of continuing on his way when he heard the distinct snap of a twig. His senses suddenly on edge, he turned his head sharply in the direction of the sound and peered into the leafy undergrowth. He thought he saw movement but whatever it was was subtle and stopped at once. For all Elián knew, it could have been a rabbit or a squirrel – after all squirrels around these parts were as big as the housecats back home – but with all the people scampering about the woods that day, he figured that it would be prudent to check it out. Lowering his drawn sword and dropping it slightly behind him into what his old weapons master used to call the sucker’s stance, he moved cautiously in the direction of the thicket. He knew full well that the position of his sword was only called the sucker’s stance, because it looked deceptively harmless and defensive. Given enough space, however, it could turn lethal very, very quickly, and Elián was a very quick young man. Nonetheless, he eyed the trees on either side of him with a growing sense of doubt. He might not have enough room to swing a sword, should it come to that. With that thought in mind, he reached back and, with his left hand, pulled the dagger from its sheath at the small of his back. He could fight just as well with either hand and might as well be braced for anything.

Holding the dagger at the ready in front of him, Elián stopped in front of the suspect thicket. Instantly, he felt the sensation of being watched. It was almost as though the very bushes held their breath. He knew then that there had to be someone hiding within.

But who?

Boldly, Elián reached out and flicked the topmost leaves of the nearest bush with the point of his dagger. “Ahoy, there, Master Bunny-Rabbit,” he said pleasantly into the bracken. “You might as well show yourself. I’m not much in the mood for a game of Hide-and-Go-Seek.”
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Old 05-19-2007, 03:42 PM   #790
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Javan’s heart leaped and his breath caught in his throat. He didn’t move a hair’s breadth while he waited, listening as the man’s footsteps drew nearer and nearer. He wanted to turn his head to look, but fear kept him from it. Now that he was here, he wished that he was away again.

He had caught a brief glimpse of the man. He was of strange appearance, clothed as not many people were clothed about Edoras, and he had a strange look about his face and bearing.

Javan had only seen him briefly and could tell nothing further, except that he was armed. With that knowledge, he stood now, waiting with tense muscles, as the stranger drew slowly and carefully towards them.

And finally the man stopped, not far from where Falco and Javan stood. There was a short silence. Perhaps the man was trying to see them. And then he called out, “Ahoy, there, Master Bunny-Rabbit! You might as well show yourself. I’m not much in the mood for a game of Hide-and-Go-Seek.”

Bunny-rabbit? Javan thought to himself. Ahoy there? That is not how one speaks! Who is this cocky-snop? He looked at Falco, his face lined with confusion. Besides, if you’re not in the mood for hide-and-seek, then don’t play it and leave us alone…I’ll wait for Falco to make the move.
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Old 05-19-2007, 06:44 PM   #791
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Falco lost his reserve. He dropped his dagger to his side. It was clear that this one was no outlaw; at least, not one of those that had attacked first and mocked later, never mind about 'asking questions later'.

"I'll Master Bunny-Rabbit you, you oversized clown!" Falco forced his way through the brush and into the presence of this odd young man - and his well-proportioned stomach up to the point of the young man's ready sword. "I'm Master Falco Boffin, Shirriff of the Shire, if you'd like to know, and nothin' like a bunny rabbit, as you can plainly see. Now take that sword point away from my vest before you put a scratch on it, so I can do proper Hobbitish courtesy!"

The young man regarded him with a raised eye-brow, then a smirk upon his countenance, before he pulled his sword away from Falco, who promptly bowed. "At your service!" he said.

He looked back to introduce Javan, but the lad had not come forward.
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Old 05-20-2007, 04:51 AM   #792
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"We better take these back to the kitchen - I suppose you know everyone here....and all the ones who have gone away. I hope they will be back soon."

Lys looked up and smiled. "To be truthful I know very few people. I have only been able to move out of my room for the last few weeks. I am also shy...I have found most people are too busy to talk with me."

He took his share of the plates and with Elfthain following him walked back to the kitchen and gave thanks for their meal. Then he lead Elfthain on a simple tour giving him small snippets of the big news from the last few weeks from what Thornden had told him. Elfthain had already seen the stables so Lys took him for a look through the Great Hall and the garden, now temptingly warm from the attention of the sun. Then taking Elfthain out to the street, he smiled shyly.

"I am afraid I still know little about what is around. Perhaps we can explore? I would like to see more! But...must you be off home? Will someone worry about you?"
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Old 05-20-2007, 12:56 PM   #793
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Elián couldn’t help but raise a surprised eyebrow as a stout and indignant hobbit burst out of the bracken almost directly underneath the point of his dagger. He took a step back and, not without considerable effort, managed to choke the snort of laughter that threatened to escape him down to an amused smirk as the hobbit blustered through a rather angry introduction of himself. Smiling, Elián sheathed his dagger as requested, though he still kept his sword drawn, held slightly behind himself and down.

“I am pleased to make your acquaintance,” he said politely as the hobbit completed his bow. “Allow me to apologize for the bunny-rabbit remark. I had no idea that such an illustrious person as yourself would be skulking about in the bushes like that. I am El… eh, Elbörn of Belfalas. At your service.” He offered a hobbit a shallow bow of his own, hoping that the fellow hadn’t noticed the slight hesitation over the name. He had only decided to lie at the last second as it occurred to him that it might not be such a clever thing to give a Shirrif his proper name, be he Shirrif of The Shire or of wherever. Elián had decided to own up to Belfalas, however, as it was fairly obvious that he came from the coast. As there were literally thousands of sea-farers in the vicinity of Belfalas it was hardly incriminating in and of itself. Besides, the name of his home port was tattooed on to his upper arm, in the crossbar of an anchor. It wouldn’t do very well to deny it as he would be branded a liar the second his arm was bared.

Hoping to distract the hobbit from any further inquiries, Elián continued in friendly tone of voice. “I can’t say as I would recommend hiding in the bushes like that as a common practice. It’s a good way to get oneself killed.” He dropped the Shirrif a quick wink. “If I’d had a bow and a handful of arrows about me, I might have shot first and asked questions later.”

As the blustery look began to fall again across the hobbit’s face, Elián pressed on, not letting him get a word out. He had noticed the hobbit had cast more than one furtive glance back into the undergrowth as they were talking and began to suspect that maybe someone else was concealed there yet. He leaned toward the Shirrif.

“And speaking of hiding in the bushes,” he said softly, as though begging a confidence. “I get the impression that you conceal someone behind you yet. Would it be the good Mrs. Shirrif, by any chance? Or perhaps another young lady that the good Mrs. Shirrif would perhaps rather not know about. If so, I can certainly understand your desire for secrecy. You can bid her come out now. I will do her no harm.”

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Old 05-20-2007, 01:12 PM   #794
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Javan could not believe his eyes when the hobbit burst forth from their hiding place, right up to the stranger. He couldn’t get himself to move and he winced as he heard Falco’s angry sounding salutation, expecting any moment to hear him cut down by the man’s sword. But no blow fell. Instead the man returned the introduction with his own name and home country. Javan began to breath a little more and he peeped about through the leaves.

He was just getting the courage to step forward and go out when he heard Elián (or Elbörn as Javan would call him) speak concerning him. “And speaking of hiding in the bushes, I get the impression that you conceal someone behind you yet. Would it be the good Mrs. Shirrif, by any chance? Or perhaps another young lady that the good Mrs. Shirrif would perhaps rather not know about. If so, I can certainly understand your desire for secrecy. You can bid her come out now. I will do her no harm.”

Javan flushed red up to the ears, indignant towards the suggestion. He thrust his way through, his boyish face screwing up into the most grown up scowl he could muster. “I’m not a girl!” he said angrily, facing up to Elbörn with puffed chest and clenched fists. “So just you take that back! And I’m not afraid of you, anyway!”

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Old 05-21-2007, 02:12 PM   #795
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Elián couldn’t help grinning as the boy charged out of the thicket, rising like a hungry mullet to the bait that he had cast upon the water. He threw a lightning quick glance behind the youngster just to make sure that there was no one else in the thicket that needed to be drawn out, hoping that there were only the two of them. He was running out of calculated insults and would be hard-pressed to come up with anything else off the top of his head that would be inflammatory enough to pull strangers out of the hedgerows, yet mild enough that he could apologize it away once the remark had served its purpose. Thankfully, he saw no one else.

“I’m not a girl,” sputtered the boy, nearly purple with rage. “So just you take that back! And I’m not afraid of you, anyway!”

“Ah, sorry, mate,” Elián responded cheerfully, adopting a much less formal tone with the boy than he had taken with shirrif. “It was an honest mistake.”

He dropped his sword into a relaxed position at his side as the boy continued to eye him suspiciously. “I take it back,” he added after a moment and was pleased to see the high color begin to ebb from the boy’s face, returning his features to a reasonably normal hue. Elián had learned years ago that children should never be discounted as potential allies. He didn’t have any children of his own, but had discovered through hard experience that they could turn out to be valuable friends or dangerous tattle-tales, depending on how you treated them… particularly the independent little guys like this one seemed to be. Seeing the boy at least temporarily mollified, Elián turned his attention back to the shirrif.

“There was a dead man on the path not too far back,” he said. “And the sound of fighting nearby. If there is trouble, I would be happy to assist you in any way I can, or, at the very least, travel with you as far as the nearest town. I’m a skilled hand with a sword. Perhaps I can be of use.”
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Old 05-24-2007, 05:22 PM   #796
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Falco had not so long ago been the kind of hobbit who based his impressions of others solely on appearance; one particularity actually: size. If someone was not a hobbit, it meant that someone was Big. And if someone was Big, that someone was Trouble. Not to be trusted. All that had been dashed by Falco's adventures with the Elven maiden, Uien, along with other Elves and Humans, in the attempt to rescue Eodwine, held captive in Hills of Evendim already a year ago. And here he was in a land of Big People, some of whom thought him trouble (he thought of Thornden with an inner grin).

This fellow was, however, downright outlandish, even for the Eorlingas. From the seaside, he claimed to be, and if he didn't smell of it, he certainly looked oddly dressed enough for it. But the question that faced Falco was, did he trust this fellow enough to tell him what was going on?

Maybe a little of it, and time would tell how much further he could trust him.

"Well, Elbörn, if that's your name, you can be of help if you choose, for we may have need of aid, me and Javan. Or the town's a mile off thataway, if you prefer to leave us now. And if you heard fighting, then fighting's what it was, and to the death, if you saw rightly. As to the dead man, he could be an outlaw, or it could be an Eorling. I haven't seen him, so I couldn't say. But any road, we were going to that ruin of a tower that you can just barely see through the trees there."

"Then let's go see," Elbörn replied gamely.

"I'll go first then since I'm quietest on my feet, and Javan in the middle, and you can take up the rear."

Elbörn did not resist the hobbit's insistence, and thusly they made their way until they came upon Eodwine, Thornden, and the others - - with Ritun and Lefun lying in the midst of them, lifeless.

"Rilef?" Falco called. "Rilef! What's happened to him?" The hobbit pushed his way through and around legs to the side of the twins.

"He's - they're dead, Falco. Killed by the outlaws," said Eodwine. "I'm sorry. Who is your friend?"

Despite his catching throat and pointless rage at the now dead killers, Falco quieted himself and introduced the fellow calling himself Elbörn.
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Old 05-31-2007, 09:24 AM   #797
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The silence in the clearing was very deep when Falco, Javan, and the stranger arrived. As quiet as the three came, their footsteps could clearly be heard. Thornden looked up and around towards them, not knowing who to expect, and when he saw who it was, at least who Falco and Javan were, he could hardly have looked more surprised.

The third one was a complete stranger and he was soon introduced by Falco, who gave his name and origin. The man had come a long way and stumbled upon them upon an unfortunate time. But that would soon be all set to rights. Shortly, they’d head off to the Mead Hall again. Things would be set back in order. And, Thornden thought, he would find out how Falco and Javan came to be there after both being ordered to stay behind. He looked at his younger brother and then back at the hobbit and doubted not a little that Falco had quite a bit of hand in it.

But sifting to the bottom of that would wait. There were heavier and sadder things to see to. They had prisoners now, and a dead friend to take care of.
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Old 05-31-2007, 03:14 PM   #798
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As Elián followed his newly found companions, Falco and Javan, into the clearing where another party had already assembled, he could tell at once that something horrible had taken place just prior to their arrival. Someone who had apparently been greatly loved by all had been killed and still lay where he – they? – had fallen. Sensing the gravity of the moment, Elián sheathed his sword and tried his best to remain out of the way as the others went through the sad and deeply personal rituals of recognition and grief. Curious, he stole a glance past them at the individual who had been slain and was startled to see two torsos adjoining a single set of legs. He looked away quickly in a conscious effort to avoid gaping at the poor soul. Souls. He had never seen anyone like that before and was disappointed to run into him, them, after their deaths. They might have been interesting to get to know.

Oh, well, he thought to himself. So it goes. Elián turned away, letting his attention shift from the dead fellow – fellows? – to the other faces assembled around the clearing. He found them to be an odd mixture of folks to be out chasing outlaws around the woods: two of what he would consider professional fighting men; two villagers, probably tradesmen, with their children; and a woman holding a pair of goodly-sized dogs. The woman seemed to be watching a handful of prisoners, while the others hovered over the dead fellow. Fellows.

Elián that hoped he didn’t know any of the prisoners, as that could not possibly lead to anything good. He was just beginning to sneak a careful glance in their direction when his attention was yanked back toward the group surrounding the dead fellows.

“Who is your friend?” asked the older of the two fighting men, obviously the leader of the group, addressing the hobbit Shirrif.

As Falco made a quiet introduction of Elián as Elbörn, Elián offered a deep bow. He could see the man was a high-ranking nobleman of some kind and, as such, he was entitled to a good deal of courtesy.

“At your service,” said Elián politely as the introduction was finished. “I seem to have arrived at a bad time. My condolences for your loss.”

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Old 06-01-2007, 09:54 AM   #799
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Suddenly there came from the road the sound of many horses galloping. The sound died away suddenly to be replaced by urgent voices calling. One voice rose above the rest, giving orders.

"That will be the muster form Meduseld," Falco said. "Javan and me, we took it upon ourselves to give word to the King's men that you were in need, Eodwine. But it seems you didn't need as much help as I thought you might."

Falco gave Thornden a quick glance and smirk, noting the young almbudsman's narrowed eyes looking at him.

It was not long before the small party was joined by a captain from Meduseld and a few followers.

"Halt!" he yelled, raising his arm. The line of men running stilled with not a little jostling back down the path.

The man took stock of the situation, then gave greeting to Eodwine.

"We'd heard there were outlaws about. It seems we are not needed. And you've killed yourselves a two headed monster into the bargain."
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Old 06-02-2007, 10:22 AM   #800
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A two-headed monster? Where?

Elián’s ears pricked up at the mention of a monster. He had seen a few monsters from a distance at sea and had a lively curiosity about them as long as they were dead. Looking around, however, he quickly came to the realization that the cavalryman was referring to the poor two-headed chap who had been killed just prior to Elián’s own arrival into the clearing. As far as monsters went, that fellow seemed about as scary as a flounder. In fact, from Elián’s perspective, he looked just like an ordinary villager. With two heads. Aside from the extra head, there was nothing about him that even suggested the notion of monsterhood: no necklace of severed fingers or baby-sized skulls dangling about his neck. Nothing.

“Old Blackjack Snorrisson is scarier that,” he mumbled to himself, conjuring a mental image of his old ship’s captain. On his bad days, Blackjack Snorrisson could give any ogre or orc a good run for his money in terms of scariness. Elián wondered if Blackjack had gotten away during the skirmish with the guards or if he had been recaptured and hanged back in Belfalas. Guiltily, Elián found himself half-hoping that his old captain had hanged. If he hadn’t and was still running around loose, odds were that he was not too happy with Elián and would take it out of his hide when he found him. Having a well-developed instinct for self-preservation, Elián had seized the first opening and fled during the Great Escape rather than going to the aid of his shipmates. He’d never liked those guys much, anyway, at least not most of them.

Disappointed at the lack of a real monster, Elián backed away, giving the nobleman room to talk to the cavalrymen. The timing of their arrival was actually pretty good for Elián as he had been dreading being questioned by the Eorl, who looked like the no-nonsense type when it came to keeping order under his domain. As long as the Eorl was preoccupied with the cavalry, Elián wouldn’t have to answer any awkward questions. With that in mind, Elián really hoped that the Eorl would forget all about him and concern himself with more important matters.

With the others all pre-occupied with the arrival of the cavalry and the death of the “monster,” Elián found himself at loose ends. He drifted again in the direction of the prisoners, casting surreptitious glances at them, hoping to discover them all to be strangers and, as such, no threat to his anonymity. The first two appeared to be just that: the sort of cut-throats that you would find around any smuggler’s market or disreputable tavern, only more so, as they seemed to be the ringleaders of this particular outfit. They stared sullenly at either the ground or their shackles, giving Elián no mind at all. They had been caught and they knew that things were likely to go ill for them. The third outlaw, on the other hand, the one whose wrists were bound with vines, was staring pointedly at Elián. Catching Elián’s eye, the outlaw gave him a slow wink and tapped his leather bracer.

Elián blanched and looked away quickly. He knew the guy. In fact, a year or so earlier, Elián had sold him a lovely set of lock picks, along with a very fine dagger and sheath that was so small that it could be easily hidden behind a belt buckle or inside a bracer without anyone being the wiser. Barely three inches long and a quarter of an inch wide, the blade, if it had been properly maintained, could slice easily through those vines.

Following his instincts, Elián made snap decision. Careful to avoid any further eye contact with the prisoner, he walked purposefully toward the woman with the dogs as she seemed to be the only one who was not wrapped up in the matter of the dead two-headed villager.

“Don’t ask me how I know,” he said barely loudly enough to be heard over the snarling of the dogs. “But this man has not been properly searched. If you value your life, check behind his buckle and bracers. He still has the tools to free himself.”
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