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Old 02-26-2006, 10:14 PM   #81
Feanor of the Peredhil
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Spotting 起el, Saeryn hastened to her, her gait a long-legged combination of run and stride.

起el looked at her in surprise and moved more quickly to meet her.

"What is it?" she asked quickly.

"A man, a visitor. They've only just arrived, he and a woman." 起el's mind raced at possibilities, her still puffy eyes a reminder of her plight. Saeryn caught the fleeting look on her companion's face and set it aside for another time's thought. "The man has collapsed. You've experience, you said?"

起el blinked at her, taking in her words... or trying to. Saeryn paused now, taking a moment for a deep breath, composing herself, if she had known it, the very same way 起el just had. She clarified. Little dust devils swirled about their motionless feet as the breeze picked up. A storm moving in, perhaps, though Saeryn recalled this sort of promising weather to be tricksome to predict.

"I have no healing experience, nor does Eodwine. Perhaps some of the newcomers do, however we do not know and have no time to learn. I remembered that you spoke of the houses of healing... Eodwine bade me to find you. Will you come?"
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Old 02-28-2006, 08:45 PM   #82
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起elhild quickly nodded that she would, not missing the sense of urgency in the other woman抯 voice, though she knew not yet how much help she would be. Yes, she had help tend the sick and the wounded of Gondor during troubled times, but only in an assisting capacity and although she had learned much from the healers she had always worked under their strict supervision and instruction, she had never had cause to test her knowledge on her own, not that was until now!

As they hurried back to the hall Saeryn described to her what had happened, from their guests seeming shortness of breath to him finally collapsing to the floor grasping at his chest, A troubled frown creased 起elhild抯 brow as she recognised the signs that Saeryn described. It had been the same for her grandmother only by the time the healers had arrived the seeds of sickness had taken root and claimed her life, so that now she knew that this mans life might very well be placed in her hands.

With this realisation all of her own fears and doubts suddenly gave way to the urgency at hand and she quickened her pace considerably. She did not pause as she entered the hall, but strode to were Eodwine and a few others were gathered about one of the large tables upon which the stricken guest now lay. He was not young and instantly 起elhild noted the weakness of his pallor and the beads of sweat upon his forehead and her concern grew somewhat though she tried not to let it show.

起el, Saeryn tells me you have some knowledge of the healing arts, can you help? Eodwine whispered as she came beside him, bending over her patient to lay her hand on his brow.

揑 shall do what I can, she replied glacing up momentarily, taking in his worried expression, knowing that she could promise no more. Then turning to Kara she bade the young woman bring her cloth and water.

Turning back to her patient she loosened his tunic and lowered her ear to his chest. It was as she had feared the rythmatic drumming of his heart was slowed and beat with a distinct irregularity that made his breathing sharp and shallow. 揌agedorn, she Murmured, A food for the heart she recalled being taught.

揗y Lord! she said turning again to Eodwine, 揌is breath grows shallow and his heart weak, he requires immediately a tonic made from the juices of the Hagehorn berry!
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Old 03-01-2006, 09:18 AM   #83
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Kara had stood back from the commotion surrounding the ill man, not wanting to get in the way. She watched as Saeryn left and then reappeared with another woman in tow, who went straight to the fallen arrival and bent to his chest. Kara could see the worry on her face as she turned towards her and gave directions to bring a cloth and water.

Doing as she was told, Kara ran back to the kitchen she had been working in all morning, unable to believe the speed at which everything had changed. As she entered she saw Frodides still working at the midday meal. Still unsure as to where everything was Kara began to pull open drawers and rummage through cupboards, trying to find a good size bowl to fill with water. On her knees halfway inside a large space filled with crockery she found a suitable one and pulled it out. As she did so the remaining contents of the cupboard fell down around her with a crash, making Frodides jump. The cook turned with a reprimand half formed on her lips, but took one look at Kara and quickly wiped her hands on a cloth before taking her by the shoulders and pushing her towards a stool.

Kara struggled, knowing she needed to get back. Frodides kept her there, and continued to ask what was wrong. Her calming influence allowed Kara to settle down enough to get the words out, and once she had spoken the cook let her go, with instructions to fill the bowl while she found a clean cloth.

Moments later Kara was hurrying back to the main hall, trying to keep the water in the bowl while going as fast as she could. The cloth and her clothes were already damp by the time she reached the little group in the doorway, but the woman who was tending to the man on the floor seemed pleased with what she'd brought, sending a smile her way as Kara handed over the bowl and cloth before turning back to her patient.

Kara moved back a little, though stayed close in case she was needed to fetch anything else. She stood in the doorway in the hope that the sun shining down would dry her out a little and waited.
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Old 03-01-2006, 11:38 AM   #84
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As 苩helhild leaned over Marenil, Lin released his hand, moving back and away, trying to contain her fear for the older man. It was not easy. She curled into herself in a chair in the corner where her view of first 苩hel and then a confident healer from Meduseld working quickly over Mar抯 still form was unobstructed. She didn抰 notice when a mug of warm honeyed ale was pressed firmly into her hand by梥omeone梐nd she drank it without noticing the taste. She didn抰 notice the silent tears pouring down her face, dripping off her chin to add their saltiness to her drink, her eyes locked on Marenil; her thoughts locked on each memory she had of him.

Linduial had two older brothers, and an older sister with a son of her own. The boys, now grown into strong and good-hearted men, were dear beyond words to their father, and while he loved the pretty, delicate, witty little woman who was his youngest child, it had always been a source of almost wonder to him that he, a rough-and-ready warrior, could possibly have produced her.

He treated Lin as though she were a rose made of glass, exquisite and perfect. He抎 gotten her the best tutors he could find, a dancing, dainty chestnut mare from Rohan, the finest silks and wools and brocades from all over Middle-Earth for her dresses. Her brothers were much like him; they were rough and rude and crude, excellent fighters both, but around Lin they were courteous, nervous, trying desperately to speak of things they thought would interest the lady-like little girl (she always seemed so tiny beside their tall muscular frames) who gazed up at them with such big, fascinated grey eyes. They brought her presents from all their adventures, and as they never really knew what to get her, her rooms filled slowly with a delightful mix of delicate treasures, exotic sweets, and completely random things the boys had seen and thought she might like.

The only reason she knew any weaponry at all was because they had found for her a delicately and elaborately carven bow梩hey抎 traded their pack-horse for it, far from home, though they never told her梐nd had nervously taught her the use of it, flinching with her when she accidentally snapped the string against her knuckles, competing for her smiles, and, both of them, staring at her in shocked admiration when she hit the bulls-eye within her first ten shots. Since then the younger brother had taken to bringing her colorful feathers and fletching her arrows with them. Sometimes they flew a little unpredictably, but her quiver was a riot of reds and blues and greens.

Always, Marenil was there. As steward of her father抯 household, his duties were many and never-ending, but he had seen the danger her father ran of spoiling the little girl. Once, when the Lord and his sons had been gone for a long time, little Lin had taken to following him around, lonely and bored. He抎 quietly encouraged her, teaching the clever lass accounting and book-learning, and sending her off on little errands. It became a fond joke among her father抯 men, the little Lady trotting cheerfully behind the Steward, running her little errands with such earnest concentration, brows furrowed as she worked. When the Lord returned, Marenil somehow convinced him that such an education was necessary, that she must learn how to run a household so that she need never be dependent on her servants, and from then on it was settled. Linduial became Marenil抯 special charge.

Her father bought her a fine horse梑ut it was Marenil who taught her how to ride it, how to fall off and get back on. Her father sent her to learn from many different tutors梑ut it was Marenil who confined her to her rooms until she worked at her lessons. Her father bought her fine fabrics梑ut Marenil gave her a few sheep, and despite her father抯 protestations, put her in the charge of his wife until she had learned how to spin the wool into cloth. After that her father never questioned Marenil抯 treatment of her, for the pride in her eyes as she showed him the rough-woven cloak she had made hushed anything he could have said. As she grew up, she loved and respected her father梑ut Marenil she adored.

And now, he, her rock, was lying there helpless卆nd she could do nothing.

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Old 03-01-2006, 01:42 PM   #85
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起elhild and the Healer from Meduseld bent together over the ailing man. Eodwine paced at the head of the table, looking rather anxious himself. As for the girl. . .the young woman, she had retreated to a corner and a chair, looking badly frightened. Thornden glanced at her briefly and turned towards Kara.

揜un to the kitchen, lass, and fetch some warm ale with honey. The lady yonder needs it. Kara looked up at him briefly and he nodded towards the kitchen. She immediately turned and went off at a pleasingly swift pace, coming back in little time at all with the desired drink. Thornden took it from her hand and went quietly to young stranger.

Without speaking, and without breaking the line of vision to where the man lay, he gently pressed the cup into her hand and curled her fingers about it so that she was aware of it before he let it go. Numbly, she drank it, and not once did she look up, nor was she aware that Thornden stood watching her and the tears which escaped unconsciously from her lashes.

揌e抣l be alright yet, lady, he finally said. She gave a start, suddenly aware of him, and looked up. 揟he Healer is a greatly skilled man and I have seen him heal many wounds and sicknesses. Your friend could not be in better hands. Take heart. He抣l see through this day and many more after it.
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Old 03-01-2006, 09:02 PM   #86
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Late Afternoon

The sun had fallen more than halfway down to the western slopes. It now hung a fist's width over the Golden Hall, making that slated beacon glimmer with a sheen that made the spring thaw seem the more promising. There was quite a racket going on outside, the pounding of hammers, saws grinding, voices calling out for help or orders. The makeshift tent would be up by the end of the morrow. Then the builders could start dismantling the roof and hearth.

Eodwine sat by the fire, nursing a cup of mead, feeling just a little light in the head. He had become so of a purpose; this day had had more than enough adventure and new faces that all took some getting used to. Not that he didn't enjoy people, far from it! But the wildness of the day had taken its toll. Besides, he had to get himself ready for the advent of the Smith brothers, Garreth and Harreld. There was no knowing what kind of great blithering and blathering they'd make of all that had happened at the Hall this day. Eodwine's mouth lifted in a slow grin. It was going to be fun.

"What're you grinning about?" Falco asked after uncovering half his face from the large mug he'd been drinking from, licking his lips with deep satisfaction.

"Garreth and Harreld will be coming by soon for their suppers."

"And that's a good thing?" Falco gave him a skeptically raised brow. "You know what a cantankerballyhoo they'll make of things."

"A canta - what?" Eodwine asked, giving Falco a double take.

"Never you mind. I made it up." He drank another swale of his ig.* "How's the old man doing?"

Eodwine sighed. "Better. Marinel is resting abed. His daughter, Linduial, however, is a wreck. Have you seen her hands?"

"Aye. Never stop moving, all the while doing nothing but fidget. But you're a wreck too for calling her his daughter, if I heard it rightly. He's her guardian not her father."

"Ah! Right you are. That is the way of it on both scores!" Eodwine smirked as he watched Falco's befuddled face as he tried to work out what 'both' Eodwine meant. "Thornden has been kind, however, which is very good."

"You haven't failed of kindness yourself, Lord Eodwine of East Emnet."

"Well maybe I haven't, but it's still good to have a right hand man to go along with my left hand hobbit."

"It's left, now, is it?"

"If I had two right hands, you'd get one too. But you won't be paid, nor would I have you as anything but a guest in my house, so left hand hobbit it'll have to be."

"Very well!" Falco grinned. "A guest I'll be. I'm glad to see you've warmed up to Manawyth the Minstrel, or whatever you'd like to call him."

"He plays well enough. I'll need more than music from him, though, and I think he knows it."

Eodwine looked around. There was Manawyth still near the hearth with the harp, running through song after song, his ale mug never empty nor food from his plate; Eodwine had made sure of that. He wanted his men loyal, and any lord knew that the best ways to breed loyalty in a man was through gift, praise, and respect. Not in that order, but as occasion allowed.

There was 起elhild, speaking with Gudryn and Saeryn, probably discussing the situation of Marinel and Linduial. L閛f was in the hall, seated with G醨wine at a table close to the wall. Both were apparently watching and listening to Manawyth.

The front door opened with a bang. In walked two large men with blonde hair flowing to their shoulders, and scruffy beards covering their collarbones. Their faces were beet red - as always - and the first one in spoke quickest.

"What is going on here, Master Eodwine! Are you putting up a circus next to your inn?"

"Nay, Garreth," Eodwine smiled, rising. "'Tis a tent to serve as meeting place whilst this room is changed to serve as my Mead Hall, for this is not longer the White Horse Inn."

"Oh! I forgot!" Garreth's eyes flitted across the room and stayed at the promising vision of three young maids, all three of whom he and Harreld had seen on previous nights. Garreth rubbed his hands and grinned. "I'm ready for food and drink and talk and - and -" he suddenly looked confused.

"-and dance," Harreld supplied as if by way of reminder.

"That's it! And I see we have us a minstr-" Suddenly Garreld's brow furrowed darkly. "What's a Dunlending doing here?"

*the reversed letters are not a mistake.

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Old 03-01-2006, 09:52 PM   #87
Feanor of the Peredhil
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Saeryn smiled at the sight of the twins. She'd gotten used to their presence and enjoyed it greatly, though she had not seen them in several days due to her own recent persistance at hiding from the world when unneeded. Now she politely excused herself from Gudryn and 起el and crossed the hall nudged Garreth in the ribs, and reaching up to do so.

"Dancin', ye say," she poked at him with an open smile and laughter in her eyes. "Ye see our new minstrel, and he's a'goin' to play us a tune. Manawyth, something fit for laughter?"

She was still cautious with the Dunlending, still unsure of him, but willing to play. If she could not poke and prod him as she could every other member of their small community, she wanted to know quickly. And more the better if her request was able to put these big men at their ease.

Manawyth looked at Saeryn with uncertain emotion in his eyes. Just as the silence became nearly uncomfortable, he nodded almost imperceptibly and his weathered fingers plucked an airy tune.

Saeryn took Garreth by the large, calloused hand, and pulled him into a bright bit of dance with neither rhyme nor reason. Ducking beneath his arm, she took Harreld as well and allowed the surprised man to spin her. Clapping her hands lightly and letting her bare feet take her whither they would on the path of the melody, she found herself before Eodwine and Falco, hand extended, thoughtless but for the joy of motion.

"Come, master of the hall, here is a song and these men called for a dance. And look," she pouted prettily, never ceasing the bright step, "they've gone and stopped. You'd not let a lass dance alone, now would you?"
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Old 03-02-2006, 10:45 AM   #88
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Saeryn hopped from bare foot to bare foot before them, smiling winsomely as she invited Eodwine to dance. Of course she made it seem as if she'd take Falco just as happily, but her eyes spent more time on Eodwine. His mouth had gone dry and his fingers slick of a sudden. Her unbraided hair bounced upon her brow and shoulders. The smell of her worked like a potion on him, rendering his restraint limp as a banner without a wind. Thankfully she wore soft breeches and a laced shirt rather than a gown, looking boyish except for her hair. It would have been too much otherwise.

Eodwine coughed. To buy time he said, "Falco, I think she means you."

"As like use a pony as your warhorse!" retorted Falco. "You dance with her, and be quick before the song quits!"

So much for buying time. Eodwine drained his cup, peering over the rim of his mug at her with a heated eye. He slammed the mug to table, rose, and wiping his mouth on his sleeve, he offered her his hand.

"I will show you how to dance, lady! See if you can keep pace with me!" She placed her hand in his and he grabbed her other hand. "Sash right!" he cried, and began spinning her round him, making a little vortex between them with the sudden speed of their steps. She was grinning. "Arm right!" He dropped both hands and took her right elbow with his right, and spun her the new way, keeping time with each step.

A pipe began to play above the harp, decorating the melody with trills and flourishes. 起elhild. Eodwine grinned. Falco was clapping, a smirk on the other side of his puffing pipe.

"Arm left!" They dropped arms and locked left elbows, skipping the opposite way.

Someone had started beating a drum; Eodwine looked. Garreth, grinning, was beating the nearest table with his fists. A makeshift cymbal started up, Harreld beating a plate with a wooden spoon.

"Join the dance!" Eodwine shouted. "Keep it up, Manawyth my minstrel!"

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Old 03-02-2006, 10:28 PM   #89
Feanor of the Peredhil
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"Trying to make me miss a beat?" Saeryn accused with a wink as she sashayed right on time. "Would you make a lass look the fool? Such a kindly lord and master you be."

She stuck out her tongue and he laughed, spinning her about. Though she was dizzy, she knew that he'd not let her fall. Her head ached slightly, but her spirits were too high to mind it. Of a sudden, a sharp pain shot through Saeryn's side. Her breath caught and she stifled a cry, having forgotten her still tender ribs until now.

Eodwine caught her instantly from her spin and held her steady as she gasped for breath, clutching her side. The music faltered but she waved them to play on.

"I'm... fine..." she choked out, the pain gone as quickly as it had come. She breathed deeply as he looked worriedly down at her. "I suppose I'm not quite ready for spritely steps as those yet... perhaps something a little less frolicksome.

"Falco!" she turned to the hobbit with a laugh, trying to calm the protective look on Eodwine's face, still confusedly aware of the warmth of his hands as they held her steady by the waist. Her breath came quickly still. The bright tune modulated into one slower, more airy and somehow, more sad. "May I have this dance?"
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Old 03-03-2006, 03:48 PM   #90
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Manawyth had at first thought, as he sat at the hearth with the foreign harp in his prematurely hardened hands, that he had best stick to his oblique promise to sing of his own story. But as he plucked at the strings gently, and the hours grew darker and darker, he realised that he was neither mentally nor verbally prepared for such an undertaking. In practical terms, many changes would need to be made, to keep the Rohirrim from despising him for insulting their kind. But more importantly, the memories of the days in the company of the dark host of Caerissin, the horror of the Hornburg, he loss of poor Orwindoc, the one of his brothers least quick to anger, the shortest one, with kind, dreaming eyes...

It would make a fine song, he realised, a beautiful song, but not at such a time and in such a company. It would be six hundred verses long, each beginning with "They went to Caerissin," and ending with "Crebain-meat they." He looked from the pretty, hesitant Saeryn, to the jovial halfling to whom he owed his reception. On these, he could not inflict his bloody past. Tonight another ballad would have to do.

Yet he was a Dunlending, and sadness grew in his nature like ivy on a proud, regal oak. He would have none of the light, brisk, coarse, witty carousal-songs of the mark. No, he would show the Horse-Lords of the beauty of sorrow on which the remnants of his people prided themselves. In such a mood he rose.

"I will to you sing," he started, "a song known by every true-hearted man in Dunland," (ha! many would not admit to the existence of such beings!) "yet one that comes not from us, nor from your country."

"This is a tale of the old days, and the King in the North at Annuminas, and a voyage he bade be made unto distant Forochel. Our legends say it thus, that a Dunlending was among the crew, and alone survived to sing...but to the song itself..."

He was proud of the short speech he had delivered. He found the Rohirric tongue easier to construct in the high style of song.

"Of course, we sing it in our tongue, but in the south changed it has been somewhat, so that our languages meet. I hope that when our tongues meet again, in the age upon us now, they will bring happier times than those of which I shall now sing."

A long strum on the harp, echoing about the rafters of the hall. And he began.

The King sits in Annuminas
Drinking the blude-ried wine:
'O quhar will I get a guid sailor,
To sail this schip of mine?'
Up and spank an eldernmon,
Sat at the king's richt knee
'Pengolodin is the best sailor,
That sails upon the sea.'

The King has written a braid letter,
And signed it wi'his hand;
And sent it to Pengolodin,
Was walking on the sand.
The first line that Pengolod red,
A loud lauch lauched he:
The next line that Pengolod red,
The teir blinded his e'e.

'O quha is this has don this deid,
This ill deid don to me,
To send me out this time o'the yier,
To sail upon the sea?
Mak haste, mak haste, my mirry men all,
Our guid schip sails the morne.'
'O say na sae, my master deir,
For I feir a deadlie storme.

Late, late yestreen I saw the new moone
Wi' the auld moone in hir arme;
And I feir, I feir my deir master
That we will come to harme.'
O their North nobles wer richt laith
To weet their cork-heil'd schoone;
Bot lang owre a' the play wer played,
Thair hats they swam aboone.

O lang, lang may thair ladies sit
Wi' thair fans into their hand,
Or eir they se Pengolodin
Com sailing to the land.
O lang, land may the ladies sit
Wi' thair gold kems in their hair,
Waiting for thair ain deir lords
For they'll se thame na mair.

Haf owre, haf owre to Angleton,
It's fiftie fadom deip:
And thair lies guid Pengolodin,
Wi' the North lords at his feit.


The ballad, with inconsequential alterations, is a version of Sir Patrick Spens, one of the traditional Scottish Child Ballads by an unknown hand.
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Old 03-03-2006, 06:57 PM   #91
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The day was finally drawing to evening by the time L閛f returned to the Mead Hall. He had stopped by once to make sure Marenil was doing all right; G醨wine抯 hurried explanation had worried him and he was relieved to find that he would eventually be fine. But other than that brief sojourn, he had spent the rest of the time happily alone in the stables.

Before returning to the hall, he did remember to clean himself up a bit. He washed his face with the same fresh water he used to fill the horses buckets and straightened his hair out as best he could without being able to see his reflection. He could do little about his rather worn clothes except brush the worst of the dirt off; changing them would be no good since his only other outfit was equally worn and dusty. At least he did not look like some stray lad off the streets anymore or so he hoped.

The sound of merry music greeted his ears as he pushed through the doors. The lord Eodwine and Saeryn had struck up a vigorous dance, and many of the people were contributing to the music in some way, whether with real or makeshift instrument. As L閛f picked up the beat, he began to clap along in appreciation. He was not much of a musician himself, nor had he ever learned much of dancing, but he appreciated good music as much as anyone. He did feel stabs of regret, however: not for himself, but rather for his sister, three years his junior. When would she ever learn to dance like that or have time to enjoy herself as all young lasses should? She had been even worse off than he, and she was still trapped at home. And within a few years, their father would undoubtedly marry her off, thus sealing her cage. She did not have any way out, either, not like him. Not that she ever complained. She held her head high and bore it all in silence the obedient child that L閛f could not be. L閛f had always regretted that he had never been able to help her in any consequential way, and had been wishing over the past several days that he had not needed to leave her behind. He had to get her out of there. Eventually, when he could save up enough money, he would bring her out of there to Edoras. He did not have much of a plan for after that, but he knew that he had to get her out. He knew that he was his only hope, and it was a burden he placed willingly upon himself.

Such thoughts for the lively tune! But as he came back to himself, he realized that the harp抯 music was no longer vibrant and joyful but poignant and mournful. How odd, he mused, that the Dunlending should take so much of the joy out of this place with his dark song? Is that the manner of his people, to take a near-party and turn it into something sorrowful? As the song drew to a close, L閛f found himself more confused about the choice of song than particularly moved by the song itself. And as rustic and out of place as L閛f had felt in his short time in Edoras, he could see those traits exemplified tenfold in the Dunlending, however accepting L閛f might be. He had no idea how he ought to respond to the music, and for once he was thoroughly glad that he was faded into the background.
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Old 03-03-2006, 09:11 PM   #92
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"Falco! May I have this dance?" Saeryn cried, her voice shaking slighlty from the pain, it seemed, as Manawyth's harp slowed. 起eldhild's pipe faltered. The twins stopped their beating.

"Nay," said Falco, "I'll not be reminded of my childhood adancing with my mama." His light words belied his sombre tone, for he seemed to pick up the feel of Manawyth's harping.

Eodwine guided Saeryn, his hands to her waist and shoulder, to a nearby seat. Once she was seated, a slight wince passing once over her face, Eodwine gave ear to Manawyth's ballad. He'd heard the like before, having grown up so close to the Dunlending borders. He liked it. It was odd how that Dunlendings sang of seafaring, their lands locked far from any shore. Maybe they had come years long since from the western shores into the land they held now. Eodwine shrugged, for there was little chance to prove out the notion, seeing as there were no Ents nor Elves about the place to ask what was within the bounds of their memories.

When the song had ceased, a silence lingered. Well it should, the better to savor such a song. At last, when some had begun to stir, ill at ease it seemed with the lengthening quiet, Eodwine clapped.

"Well done, Manawyth!" For a while he clapped alone. Then others joined him for a space, then all was quiet again. "Set harp aside for now and let us place tables and chairs upon the floor. My measuring's long since done, and this floor need not be cleared for a day or two yet while the shelter outside is put up. Thornden! I bid you go outside and tell the builders to quit their work and come inside to feast. Frodides has been busy at my beck, cooking enough for an Eored!"

Manawyth and others joined in the work of setting tables and chairs.

"You stay seated!" Eodwine said to Saeryn. "I was a fool to tax you so, and I'll not see you lifting heavy tables and chairs, not while your ribs need healing." Saeryn rolled her eyes and stuck out her tongue, receiving back a grin from Eodwine.

Soon board was ready, and Frodides and Kara brought out great trays piled high with roasted and seasoned ox flesh, barley-bread, and kegs of ale. The builders joined them and soon the hall was full of the noise of feasting.
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Old 03-05-2006, 07:18 PM   #93
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Linduial sat in the aftermath of Manawyth's ballad, curled into an old wooden chair just outside the circle of friends familiar with the Hall. She had appreciated the morose melody, though she had not understood the words. Her grasp of the Rohirric tongue, while more than sufficient for conversation, still occasionally struggled with song and verse, and the antiquated language of the song had baffled her entirely. The melody however...it just seemed to fit her mood, a little afraid, and uncertain of her future.

Marenil had not planned on staying for more than a day. The plan had been to exact an oath of guardianship from Lord Eodwine of the new-formed Middle Emnet, so that Marenil could leave, and the young unmarried Linduial could stay in Rohan with no danger to her reputation. But now...

You're feeling sorry for yourself, Lin. Marenil would be disappointed in you. He always urged her to be independent, able to see what needed to be done, and stepping in and doing it--with the added complication of doing so without stepping on any toes, which she was the first to admit she hadn't mastered. She shook her head, forcing herself to focus on what she had accomplished in the hours since Marenil's sudden illness. She'd penned a letter with borrowed ink and paper, sending it off to her father with a messenger of King Eomer's house, and written a letter to the Queen, commending the skills of the physician that had been sent, and asking her if she could offer the man a gift in thanks once her trunks had arrived. She'd sat with Marenil until he had awoken, so that he would first see a familiar face, holding his hand, and telling him he'd be all right. At some point this evening she hoped to speak to Lord Eodwine. With Marenil ill, it was still required by propriety for Eodwine to take official responsibility for her. Sometimes, I just wish I had been another boy. Life would have been a lot simpler.

She watched the impromptu festivities with a shy smile, missing having her brothers around to watch out for her--and, more importantly at the moment--dance with her when there were few she knew around her. As it was, here only Lord Eodwine and the Lady Saeryn seemed, by their manners, to belong to the level of society she was accustomed. She wasn't snobbish, her long association with Marenil and his family had cured her of that...but she was finding that the line was rather vaguer here than in her homeland. These country dances the Lord and his Lady (for such a relationship seemed obvious to her mind, and no one had told her differently) were doing with such confidence--she didn't know them. She only knew the less vivacious, more formal dances of the nobility of Belfalas. She watched silently, but with a quiet yearning, wondering how long it would take before she felt at home here. Actually going home, to Belfalas...she didn't plan on doing that for a while, perhaps a long while.

As the meal was served, she silently rose, took a plate of the simple, homely fare, and returned to her quiet, lonely corner to eat. She missed the seafood and pastas of her homeland, but the food was tasty.

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Old 03-05-2006, 08:27 PM   #94
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"May I join you?"

Saeryn had watched the young woman, Lin, she reminded herself, and saw the same signs of unease that she had felt upon arrival. She contemplated the wisdom of giving the woman her space before throwing away the idea and offering her companionship.

Without waiting for response, Saeryn slid into a chair beside her.

"An excellent view from here." she spoke quietly. "I find watching others a wonderful experience. You learn so much. Look there: the hobbit, Falco, speaking with the twins, Harreld and Garreth. So at ease, the lot of them. You can see at a glance confidence, comfort, and open hospitality between the races."

Saeryn spoke as though to herself, carefully pointing out and naming each member of the group. She held a cup of tea and occasionally sipped, in no rush.

"Ah, and here Kara comes... she is a new face, only beating your own arrival by a few hours. Frodides has her busy, but by her smile, she enjoys the effort. Yes, Kara, please more tea, and thank you." She smiled to the girl, beckoning for her to give Linduial a cup as well. "Gudryn; the daughter of Eodwine. Do you see how she laughs so sweetly? And the care in his eyes for her."

There was a comfortable silence in which the young women watched the lively group. Eodwine's eyes met Saeryn's from across the room and she smiled, winking. He nodded, seeing her intent, and turned back to Thornden.

"I am cold." Saeryn spoke suddenly, though still quietly. "Would you care to find a blanket with me? I would hate to be seen looking the fool, but if two of us sit curled in quilts, perhaps we could start a trend."

She smiled and winked, hoping to elicit a grin.
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Old 03-05-2006, 08:49 PM   #95
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Linduial threw Saeryn a grateful, radiant smile before dedicating herself to listening to the names. Luckily her training in statecraft gave her an edge in such efforts and before Saeryn had offered a place by the fireside she had each name and face committed to memory. She looked at the large fireplace, where most of the company were gathered.

"Thank you," she said softly, with a shy grin. "I would not wish my reticence to cause you discomfort. Please, I would love to help you find something." Now that the crisis had past, Lin's voice was pretty and clear, with a soft lilt of an accent as she spoke in the Rohirric tongue. She actually had a fine singing voice, though she rarely sang for anyone other than herself, and Marenil. She placed her empty plate on a cart that had evidently been left for the purpose, and gracefully rose, waiting for the woman (who seemed about her own age) to rise. It was faint, but Lin had clearly seen the woman was favoring one leg, and didn't want to rush her.

"Please, my Lady, events today have been so rushed, I haven't had a chance to really get to know anyone. Your Lord seems such a kind man. He has given Marenil such wonderful care."

Saeryn nodded and smiled, letting Linduial speak, now that the young woman finally seemed to have recovered from the shock of her guardian's fall.

"I wondered...how long have you been wed? I mean no offense, but you are barely older than myself. If you are newlyweds, I must offer my congratulations."

Lin was paying careful attention to the Saeryn's reactions. Part of the reason she had left home was to escape a marriage. She had never really known her mother, and her brothers were unmarried. The only couple she really saw were Marenil and his wife Falas, and they had been together for years. Marenil had supported her flight, knowing the reason, but she knew how happy he was. Marriage terrified her, but here was a woman her own age, who seemed perfectly happy. She wanted to understand.

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Old 03-05-2006, 09:16 PM   #96
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Saeryn choked on her tea, coughing before finally laughing. Eodwine saw and stood, ready to come to her aid. She beckoned for him to sit back down, laughing still.

"Wed?" she asked, amazed. She coughed again, this time intentionally. "Linduial, the lord of the hall and I are not wed. We are merely friends. I left my home lands partly because of the prospect of marriage. The lord Eodwine has sworn an oath for my protection. He has kept me safe in the past and I owe him very much. My position in his hall is as hostess. I merely take it upon myself to see to his health and happiness. Every good man needs a lass to make him smile and eat on time. I daresay he'd work himself too hard without someone to encourage dance and song.

"Perhaps you'll find it rude of me to ask, but I notice you travel with a protector rather than a consort. What of your own status? A fully fledged lady of the land, or one still, shall we say..." she considered her words before projecting her own quandary with a look inviting laughter, "running as fast and far from the fetters our lands place upon us for our own good?"
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Old 03-05-2006, 09:35 PM   #97
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Linduial narrowed her eyes momentarily. Not wed, she'd believe. But the Lord as only Saeryn's friend and protector? She wasn't so sure. Mayhap the lady herself was unaware of the impression her actions with Eodwine gave. But the reason Saeryn had come here, that she could definitely understand.

"I fear we are much of a kind, you and I, Saeryn," she said with a sardonic smile. Her tone and the smile spoke a great deal toward her comfort with this newfound ally. "Ostensibly I made this journey to visit the Queen. She's my first cousin, on my father's side...but she was always more the companion of my brothers than myself. The real reason was because my father was contemplating a marriage for me, with a lad who I suppose I had no real issue with, but... I convinced him, with Marenil's help, that I should make this trip." Here a sparkle in her eye gave a hint of how, exactly, she had managed to do the necessary convincing. "Marenil is Father's steward, I didn't expect him to back me up. But naturally, with me in Rohan, the negotiations for the wedding couldn't possibly go through..."

She giggled, but there was definitely a tense note in her laughter. She was a lady of the House of Dol Amroth, it was part of her duty to her house to wed, and she had no problem with that. But she wanted it to be on her terms. She wanted to have what Marenil had...what Saeryn and Eodwine seemed to have, admit it or no. That ease with each other, and that warmth...
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Old 03-05-2006, 11:43 PM   #98
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"Indeed... weddings..." Saeryn looked down at her breeches and blouse and imagined a delicately fashioned gown and soft slippers. She grimaced. "Can you imagine? If I had stayed at home... I would be raising little ones already, no doubt. It's a rather terrifying thought."

Lin nodded, agreeing completely. Saeryn blushed suddenly, and Lin looked at her. She shook her head, repressing a silly grin. She remembered fondly the sweet stolen kisses in the shadows of the stables and held back a smile. He'd tended their horses for years unnoticed until one late afternoon, she'd seen him with new eyes. She'd known then that it could not end well... but she had thought herself in love. If no-one knew, than what would be the harm? Kisses and whispers in her ear...

She remembered how it had ended - so abruptly - and sobered. The smell of hay and the sound of rain on roof top as they stood hand in hand watching the sun set far beyond the clouds across the plains through cracks in the walls, the last desperate beams piercing through the rain to dance on their faces still lingered in her memory, and she remembered his eyes, so grey blue. She remembered his face when last she saw him, when he'd been sent away, and she remembered now how much she missed him. She would have married... she'd thought on it many times, always fruitlessly, and always sorrowfully. It could never happen; she knew that... she had known it then. If she hadn't been such a foolish girl... They always said that sixteen was the most foolish year...

Lin looked curiously at her, one eyebrow raised delicately.

"It's nothing." Saeryn lied. It was the past. Nothing had come of those stolen moments... that forbidden love she was not even certain had been real. He'd left and she'd stayed for years longer. But she still remembered how beautiful he'd made her feel. She longed for another man to treat her as an equal... to be her companion as much if not more than her love. But she'd done nothing then to compromise her reputation and she would not now. If she had nothing else, that remained.

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Old 03-06-2006, 08:21 AM   #99
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Linduial was young and innocent--but she had been trained in statecraft. She usuall knew when someone lied, but she also knew it was at the very least unpolite to point it out. If Saeryn didn't want to tell her about something, well, they'd only met that day. Her curiousity could wait.

She found a simple wooden quilt-rack in the hall where the rooms were, and snatched an especially warm-looking wrap, crying out in mock triumph. Saeryn grabbed another, and the two girls wrapped themselves up and paraded back down the hall toward the commons room. Linduial wrapped hers around her in a mock-bridal gown and processed down the hall, humming a march, then collapsed in a fit of girlish giggling against a wall. She had never really had a chance to have a friend her own age...

She looked down at herself, suddenly, still wrapped in her mock-cloak, and tried to imagine the bright-colored silks and and exotic linens her father had stored up for her against the day when she would wed. A strand of melancholy thought had twined itself around her, and she spoke before it occurred to her not to.

"I don't mind marrying, someday, and I'll marry someone as befits my House and standing; I've always understood that requirement--but I want it to be to someone that I love, not just some random lad whose father knows my father. Far too many men with sons know my father. But I've never had even a chance at a sweetheart. It's different here, things are so much less formal. At home we would never take our meals in the same room as folk such as are welcome as family here. Even Marenil is, well, a servant. My father's steward, and while his family is proud and old, it's...it's not the same. Here, he could be equal, or more near it. It is a strange difference, one I didn't expect."

Lin was babbling a little, but Saeryn merely sat against the wall beside her and--listened, just listened. Lin had never felt anything so wonderful as this tenuous freedom to tell a friend just what she felt. She hoped fleetingly that she wouldn't regret it in the morning.

"I don't want to marry until--I want to be kissed, and told I'm beautiful (I know it, but I still wouldn't mind being told,) and I want to hold hands with a man and take a walk, in the gloaming, with no one watching to make sure I follow all the rules. I want, for once, not to have a guardian, or if I must have one, for him to be blind and deaf, or willing to be for a little while. I want--" she paused, searching for a word that meant stars, and moonlight, and old ballads, and fairy tales, and impossibility.

"Have you ever been to the Citadel, in Minas Anor? From the Citadel at night, when the stars are out, there is a bench where you can watch the stars fall from behind the branches of the Tree, glimmering in the dark. You can see ghosts of the shadows of the mountains across the land, and there are stars on the ground, nestled campfires and homesteads to match the stars that fill the sky...I snuck out, while we were there, early in the morning, before daybreak. I watched the morning star, I watched the Moon set and the Sun rise...The feeling I had, while I set there, before one of the Queen's elven ladies found me...That's what I want. She knew it, too, just sat there with me until I was ready, said not a word...

"That's what I want. Freedom and the whole world in my eyes, before I return gladly to my tasks."

Lin stopped suddenly, surprised at herself. She had known that that morning on the Tower had affected her deeply, but she hadn't tried to put it into words until this moment. Saeryn beside her was nodding, slowly, as if she'd understood, and Lin was filled with a sense of quiet exultation. Perhaps...perhaps it was not too high a goal.

The two girls sat for a moment in silence, before Lin jumped up and wrapped herself back in the quilt, with a playful, childish light in her eyes. "I wish I had a cloak like the Fellowship had..." (for all their deeds had passed into legend) "I would hide behind rocks where no one could see me, then jump out as people walked by!" She laughed merrily, and led the way back into the common room, wondering anew if she would regret her honesty later.
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Old 03-06-2006, 07:47 PM   #100
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L閛f was greatly relieved and much more comfortable when feasting and high spirits took over the hall. He piled his plate high with the tasty-smelling food and looked around for someone to talk to or at least someplace to sit down. He considered joining G醨wine, the only one whom he really knew, but then he noticed that the serving girl 起elhild, he thought he had heard someone say standing by herself. He watched her for a moment or two, wondering if he should wander over towards her. She seemed to be about his age and felt much more approachable than, say, the young noblewoman Linduial.

With his mind made up, L閛f approached her with a light smile on his face. 揑 don't believe we have been properly introduced, he said, 揵ut you looked like you might like some company. My name is L閛f. He had already grown tired of using his full name. He did not dislike it but rather found it tiresome and rarely used it. Only his father had ever really called him L閛fric.

She smiled and introduced herself in kind, but L閛f thought he saw a trace of something else in her expression, though he could not think of a reason for it. Her only contact with him thus far had been when she poured his and G醨wine抯 mead cups had one of them said something to disturb her? The idea seemed strange, as they had only been discussing the Dunlending, nothing that should have impacted her. Yet what other reason for the look? Already L閛f was confused, and they had barely said anything to each other.

But he did not feel quite comfortable trying to clear up this confusion right away he didn抰 know anything about her, and the question could be considered rude. And if it was anything big, as L閛f suspected it might be, he doubted she would tell her problems to a virtual stranger. 揝o how long have you been working here? he asked. 揂nd what is it like? He really was curious about this especially about the people, with whom he had thus far had so little contact. The concerns of the day had been so largely constructed around the Dunlending and then Marenil, so that L閛f had not really even considered what the 憆egular people around here might be like. He did not even know half their names, but perhaps 起elhild would be able to tell him.
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Old 03-07-2006, 10:20 PM   #101
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"Now I want to know," slobbered Garreth, "what became of Gob and Twiddle! That tale never got done, and I think it ought to get carried on!"

"Then say away," Eodwine retorted, "but swallow your food and wipe your mouth first so poor 起elhild doesn't wear half your supper by the time you're done!"

Garreth grinned good naturedly. "I had that coming. And that scrumptious little morsel needs none of my food chunks to look the more winsome!" Garreth winked at the already blushing 起elhild gamely, clearly thinking that he had laid a most cunning compliment upon her. 起elhild giggled in embarrassment for the lout. Meanwhile his brother Harreld coughed loudly by way of stifling a mockish guffaw. "But about that tale. What say you, Master Falco Boffin?" With that, Garreth took another mustache soaking swig of ale.

In between puffs on his pipe and swallows of his ale, Falco eyed Garreth with a measuring glance. "You'd hear me tell the tale? Let's see then, the last we heard of them, they was-"

"Hold!" cried Eodwine. "It is not right that we should start in the middle of the tale with so many new folk who've never heard it. Are all who know somewhat of it sure it's worth the retelling?" Eodwine looked around and saw nods of heads from those who had had a part. "Good! Then let's spend this evening telling it over, as best we may from memory, and maybe better for having heard it once and adding somewhat to it! I'll begin."

"Do not forget," cried Saeryn, "the game we chose to play with the tale!"

"Indeed!" Eodwine replied with a smile. "The tale is passed from teller to teller as the whim takes us. Let us reckon for now that those who told the tale as far as we've heard it, say their part until we're caught up; and if part has been told by a guest who has traveled on, I will do my best to recall those words."

With that, Eodwine embarked on the tale of Gob and Twiddle, from the very beginning in which he told how they looked and acted. Then he told how old Bill Ferny had press ganged them into Sharkey's service. He continued with the tale of how Gob and Twiddle were marched right into Hobbiton where they smelled the awful mill of Ted Sandyman. At this point, Saeryn picked up the tale of Gob and Twiddle's plan which seemed to involve something called sherbet. She handed the tale back to Eodwine, who related that which had been told by one Brokhelm, about how there were whisperings of gold. Now Falco joined in, recounting how he had first met the two slackers.

Once Falco had finished his part, he called for more ale. Once 起elhild had refilled his and others' cups from the ram's horn (which had required three refillings, so this gave everyone a bit of a break from tale-telling), Eodwine reminded her that it was her turn to have a pull at the yarn, for she had told the next part. She took a deep breath and related the incident of the shirriff's feather. Now Eodwine picked up the tale again, in which Gob and Twiddle told Falco their plan. Next, Falco demanded the right to tell old Ruthven's next thread of the yarn, in which Gob and Twiddle discussed the finer points of dressin' an' undressin'. Eodwine related Brokhelm's next bit, in which the prospect of baths entered into the plan. With some embarrassment, Eodwine came to the part of the tale in which he admitted not knowing what came next. Falco came to his rescue yet again with the an aside regarding Bill Ferny. Falco wrapped it up as far as it had got: "And them southern men were the worst."

"Now that's a dire way to stop!" Eodwine said ruefully, but then Bethberry's friend came and the next thing we knew, she was gone, then I was off to the King, and then I'm handed the whole of the Middle Emnet and this Mead Hall, and in all the muddle of it, the tale of Gob and Twiddle had been forgotten until now! And great thanks to Garreth for reminding us!" With that Eodwine stifled a large yawn. "All that tale telling has made me tired. It is late, for the sun's well past its setting, and there is much cleaning to do! Frodides will not be happy come morning with so many ale cups to wash first thing! Who will help me take the load off our cook?"

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Old 03-08-2006, 07:07 AM   #102
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Linduial heard Eodwine's offer to help with the dishes with a sense of mild shock. He was the lord of the hall, and he did the dishes with the others? She remembered telling Saeryn that the rules were more relaxed here, and let out a brief, but loud, chuckle. She had no idea.

Her laugh however, had turned heads toward her, and Eodwine was looking at her expectantly. Here's your chance, you silly girl, she thought. You know you need to speak to him in private.

"I suppose I could help," she answered him, with a winsome smile, and jumped up nervously to follow him to the kitchen. "I owe you more for your hospitality and care of Marenil than can be repaid with a few chores"

"But I have to confess," she added, once they were out of earshot of the rest. "I've never actually washed dishes before...and if I break something, remember I warned you in advance."
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Old 03-08-2006, 10:20 AM   #103
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It had been an eventful day and as the others set about supper 起elhild took a moment to step back and reflect, the tension surrounding their new bard seemed to have lifted, at least for the time being she thought seeing Garwine抯 surreptitious gaze pass idly over the dunlending as he ate. Their guest Marenil, was now comfortable and resting after his ordeal, the Healer having left strict instructions for him to get plenty of rest and to refrain from any strenuous work or travel. He had then left in her care the herbs and instructions required for a weak tea that would help the old man regain his former strength . 揟hree times a day for about a week should suffice I think, but I will check up on him before that just to be sure, he had told her. Then he took Eodwine quietly aside, she assumed to inform him of their guests condition but several times she felt their gaze pass over her making her feel uncomfortably nervous.

After that she pretty much kept out of the way, busying herself, with the tasks she had planned to do earlier and it wasn抰 until near supper time that she reluctantly returned to the hall. But the merriment that she found as she entered held her much at ease. So much so that as Searyn and Eodwine began to dance she picked up her pipes and joined in the frivolity. But the bards tune turned then suddenly as he sang a sorrowful ballad, a strange choice she had thought, but beautifully sung none the less and though she understood not all the words in the bards strange dialect, the sorrow and loss within the notes of the song moved her, reminding her again of her own loss and sorrow.

It was then that she became aware of a voice cutting into her thoughts. It was the new Stable master, he was smiling as he offered his company and politely introduced himself, she smiled in return though the memory of the young mans conversation with G鄏wine still wavered nervously in her thoughts. 揗y name is 起el, she answered nervously.

揝o how long have you been working here? he asked. 揂nd what is it like? he seemed genuinely curious and 起el relaxed a little as she followed his gaze towards where the others where seated.

揘ot long, she answered . 揃arely a week if truth be told, it was the innkeeper of the old White Horse who gave me employment, but Lord Eodwine is a kind and honourable man and chose to continue my employment and for that I am most grateful!

揑 don抰 know what I would have done if he had not, she sighed not fully aware that she had spoke her thought aloud.

揃ut what of your family, couldn抰 you return to them? Leof asked with a hint of hesitation in his voice.
Then seeing her pained look, he thought maybe he had been to bold and tried to apologise. 揑抦 sorry I did not mean..

But she stopped him then, 揘o no it抯 ok, she assured him. 揗y mother died when I was little so I never really knew her, I was raised by my Grandparents and my father in Minas Tirith. My grandmother had a weak heart and died three years past this fall, that抯 how I knew that Hagehorn would help master Merenil. she paused then for a moment then continued, 揗y grandfather and my father both served in Gondor抯 army and I was placed in the tutelage of the healers in their absence, but after the victory at Morannon they never returned, so now it is just me. She smiled weakly, deliberately leaving out any mention of her uncle and the tragic events of the night that had forced her leave her home.

揃ut anyway, she suddenly smiled brightly, trying to deflect from the morose misfortunes of her family and sensing the beginnings of an uncomfortable silence. 搃f you really what to know what it抯 like here, you have merely to sit awhile and see for yourself.

She grinned then inviting him to join her at Eodwine抯 table. 揑抦 sure Master Falco will entreat us to a tale or two if pressed, she said pointing out the stout halfling who was now eagerly helping himself to seconds.

揟hen there are the twins Garreth and Harreth local smiths who are friends of our lords and sup oft in the inn or hall as it is now to be known. Garreth can be quite encourageable at times, she chuckled to herself, recalling the formers garish manner, 揵ut his brother more than makes up for the subtlety his twin lacks, she assured him.

Leof nodded with interest, as he followed her to the table. They sat then for awhile enjoying both meal and company, while 起el suitably introduced him to those he did not know, but all to soon the feast had ended and Eodwine called for help with the clearing up. To her surprise the young noble woman Linduial agreed to help Eodwine with the washing up, while Gurdyn and Searyn each took up brooms and began sweeping the hall floor, 起el with the help of Kara and Leof carefully cleared the table taking empty dishes and mugs through to Eodwine and Linduial for washing, and though she thought it improper that they should be doing the work she did not say so.

揑 should check on the horses before I turn in for the night, Leof was telling her as they left the kitchens. She nodded her understanding, offering to help if she could. He smiled and nodded, saying that he may need some help refilling any empty buckets they found. Then lighting a small lamp they crossed the yard to the stables.
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Old 03-08-2006, 04:38 PM   #104
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Thus far, his conversation with 起el had piqued his curiosity further rather than lessened it. She had told him much of her family, yet L閛f sensed that she was not telling him all of it. He would not pry, as he understood well the desire for concealment, but still he wondered. This did not stop him from enjoying her company greatly; they seemed to have much in common, and conversation came easier with her than it had with G醨wine, who had sometimes seemed worlds beyond his experience.

The stable was dark, lit only with the small lamp that they had brought from the hall. A few horses shifted in their stalls at their approach, but mostly the stable was quiet. L閛f and 起el moved down the aisle, collecting any empty buckets from the stalls to be filled from the trough. Now, perhaps, would be the right time to ask the original question that had been bothering him. He hoped that it would not be too pushy, as she had not seemed eager to talk about any events after the war.

揈arlier today, began L閛f hesitantly. 揑 noticed that when you were pouring my and G醨wine抯 cups, you seemed rather disturbed. I hope it was not something that one of us said.

But she only shook her head. 揑 had been reminded of something that would perhaps be best left alone, 起el responded finally.

For a moment, L閛f did not say anything. She did not quite trust him yet, but he was not sure that he expected her to. She really knew very little about him. Perhaps perhaps the best way to inspire trust would be to give it. And if her story was not common knowledge, if she had secrets too, then his story would not likely around to the others. But

揕et me tell you a bit about myself, said L閛f. She cocked her head slightly, showing that she was listening, and L閛f continued. 揑 have lived on my family抯 farm in the West Emnet all my life, and I was mostly happy. But six years ago now my mother died, and after that, my father changed. Sometimes he drank, and he was always hard on both me and my younger sister, finding fault in everything we did. I often escaped out to our small stables, just to be away from him and his fault-finding, and many nights I even slept out there. Finally, it was getting to a point where I couldn抰 take much more, and I probably would have left had it not been for my sister. I started standing up to him more and more, and our last argument about two weeks ago ended in him throwing me out of the house. I took my horse, 苩hel interesting how alike to your name hers is and without anywhere else to go, I decided to come here to Edoras in hopes of finding some work, not only to support myself, but also to hopefully bring my sister here eventually. She抯 thirteen, now, and I don抰 imagine that it will be very long before my father tries to get her married off. Enough people turned me down that I can抰 tell you how glad I was to find that Eodwine needed workers here and was actually willing to take me on. After the torrent of words, L閛f抯 rather abrupt stop seemed to echo in the quiet stable.

They walked a few steps in silence before L閛f said, 揑 don抰 expect you to tell me anything you don抰 want to tell, though I won抰 deny I抦 curious. He smiled sadly and shrugged slightly. 揃ut I do understand something of hardship, and starting over. Sometimes you don抰 want everyone to know. But if you want to talk to anyone, you can trust me.
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Old 03-10-2006, 09:43 AM   #105
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"I've never actually washed dishes before...and if I break something, remember I warned you in advance," Linduial bantered.

"Then you shall learn!" Eodwine replied with a smile. "And I'll not take ill to a broken dish or two if you are willing to put two hands to it. After all, pretty broken plates can make a cheery footwalk." Eodwine cast his manner brightly, partly because he had enjoyed retelling the tale of Gob and Twiddle; another part was that Linduial was a cheery enough sort; yet another part was that a man lay abed with a sickened heart, and cheer might not hurt.

"I'll wash. You rinse and dry," he said, and set-to, noting 起elhild's reproving expression that a lord should do drudge work. He grinned. "I was not always a lord, young lady! Some habits are hard to break!"

起elhild blushed, grinned, and left the kitchen after depositing a share of crockwear.

"And now," Eodwine said, tilting a glance toward the Gondorian princess (who held the drying towel like a kerchief rather than a weapon against wetness), "now's the time to tell me a bit about you and your guardian. I'm all ears."
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Old 03-10-2006, 09:55 AM   #106
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Linduial blushed and dunked the earthenware dishes Lord Eodwine handed her in the rinsewater, then dried them, not quickly, but carefully, as though they were finest porcelain. "My father allowed me to make this journey on the condition that I did not travel alone, and his steward, Marenil, was sworn to my guardianship. He was happy to come, but he was to exact an oath of you that you would protect me and my honor as my father and my brothers might, and then return home."

She paused to carefully stack the plates on a counter, thinking through her words carefully. "But now he is ill, and the healer my cousin sent from Meduseld says he must stay in bed for at least a week, and mustn't think of travel for six months. I have written a letter to my father that I need to post, telling him what has happened, but Marenil cannot discharge the duties of his oath, and I would like to tell him that someone has taken his place as my guardian." She paused.

"And in a more prosaic tone, my trunks should arrive with a merchant caravan from Minas Tirith in the next week, and I would like the advice of you or the Ladies Saeryn or Gudryn on a suitable gift to send to the healer in thanks for Marenil's care."
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Old 03-10-2006, 10:15 AM   #107
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Thornden addresses Manawyth

While the dishes and food was cleared off the table by many willing and helping hands Thornden quietly got up and drew away. He had listened with great amusement to the telling of the tale of Gob and Twiddle. Having been part of the populace of the Hall for an entire day, Thornden found the company very likeable, and their lord and Eorl, Eodwine, even more so. A man of many characteristics, generous and kind in nature, willing to help everybody. Everybody. . .even a Dunlending. . .a man who at first, he appeared to dislike for his home land.

With the thought, Thornden turned to look for this newcomer. He had not sat with the company at the large table, but was withdrawn several places, still near the fire and in the long shadows cast by it. Saeryn was just carrying away the dishes that he had used and Manawyth sat back, crossing his arms and sticking his feet far forward, prepared to sit and watch the evening unfold.

Thornden approached him almost warily, not knowing exactly what sort of welcome he would receive.

揇o you mind if I join you? he asked, grasping an empty chair as he spoke. With or without permission, he sat down a couple feet away and looked at him. Manawyth sat up instantly, and Thornden, bowing his head to hide his smile, was reminded vividly of himself being told sharply to 憇it up and not slouch by his mother. The next moment, he looked up again, quite serious again. 揧ou played well today, friend, he said. 揌ow did you learn the art of singing and harp playing? Is it a widely known talent in your land?
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Old 03-10-2006, 11:54 PM   #108
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The odd things being an Eorl put one in for! An oath of guardianship did not surprise Eodwine. A query as to a gift for a healer, now, that was unexpected! He'd spent his time among men at war for the first years of his grown life, then married and had son and daughter, but Minna, his late wife, had taken care of all such worries. They addled Eodwine's head and she had known it.

"Best see Saeryn on such as that. Gudryn would be flustered, I fear, though she'd try hard enough."

Eodwine finished the last of the platters and moved on to the mugs.

"I will guard you as long as Marinel is abed, for you are a guest in my house and I would do no less for anyone. Once he is up and about, we shall talk of this again, but for now there is no need.

"Tell me, Linduial, a father's blessing may be extracted easily enough by a loved daugher, but why would a princess of Dol Amroth leave the comforts of such an abode filled past full with luxury and servants at every beck? Why come here?"
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Old 03-11-2006, 08:25 AM   #109
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Manawyth nodded simply as Thornden sat down opposite him. He did not smile-apparently not yet fully used to going through the expressions of joy-but his eye showed respect, mixed, admittedly, with not a little surprise. He listened carefully to the Horse-lord's questions, and paused before answering, clearly considering his reply.

"The harp...is the instrument of the shepherd, the herdsman, now? For in winter and the cruelness of climes before...blodwyn...flowers...spring...aye, then the wind is cold and fierce, and only music can warm the gut, the heart."

He seemed to be drawing on a memory or a concept that rose him to a state of passion he had not yet reached in the evening. Perhaps he was unused to the mead; but he had drunk but sparingly so far.

"The harp is what our fathers and grandfathers played, but now is...used...by too few. For war is constantly upon us. Unhappy times, unlike here, did not end with the Dark King...no, few think much of harp strains now. For the shepherds are dead and the flocks are wild and dispersed...or herded east and south, here...horns ad drums are played by the warbands of the chieftains, and an old art has died."

Manawyth stopped, as if realising how his voice had risen. "Forgive...my mood is...too sober. It is a grim tale to me, though. I am but the least of harpers...my brother taught me all I can play now. But he was no good with an axe, and so..."

Manawyth shrugged, his meaning all too clear. He shook his head, driving unwelcome thoughts from it.

"Perhaps here I shall find memories that will make me glad. For now...I would like yours. Do you..." he paused again, thinking, "are you wedded? For indeed I have noticed that this marriage seems to...disturb the women here..." he finished wryly, in clear reference to Saeryn and the Gondorian newcomer, whom he had overheard earlier.
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Old 03-11-2006, 09:50 PM   #110
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Linduial smiled to herself at the lord's question, examining her wrinkled fingers in amusement.

"Luxury and servants are too easily taken for granted, my lord. To be honest, luxury and servants, to a degree, were what I expected here. My cousin Lothiriel is older than I, but she was used to much the same luxury. Her letters to my brothers have been filled with nothing but happiness and the ordinary frustrations of a woman running a large household. If she had complaints or was surprised about the differences in the way of life here, she said nothing of it--as may have been necessary of a queen, I think."

She paused, pulling another dish out of the rinsewater and carefully drying it, aware that the Lord was keeping quite easily ahead of her, but still nervous about breaking anything. She was stalling, and she knew it. This man had helped her through an enormously difficult day, and taken on the responsibility of her guardianship without a second thought. Surely such a man deserved honesty from her. She wondered briefly what it was about some men that inspired confidence. One of her brothers, the younger one, had the same air about him, and always had the power to draw honesty from her. She wrenched her way to a decision, and spoke softly, but stopped avoiding the issue.

"I chose to travel here because my father had begun to speak of a marriage, my lord, and I did not wish to marry. The price of luxury and servants is to be handed off in marriage like--like a prized mare, perhaps dearly loved...but a mare is still a horse, and I--" She laughed, wondering whether this simile would mean what she meant it to, here, in Rohan, Land of the Horse-Lords. "I am not a horse, my lord."

"The man my father chose is kind and good and well-meaning. He is my age, he is of my class and standing, and I have seen my friends make far worse matches. But--my lord, I have known this man for many years, and never once have he and I had anything to speak of together. We exchange polite nods and chat, but never do we talk. When I make a jest, he does not realize he is meant to laugh. When I read verse or sing, he thinks I am making fun of him. To wed him would mean luxury and servants until the day I die, and maybe I am destined to have such things, but not in this man's house. Not as his wife. And I knew that if I left for a time, he would find another lady. His father is ag閐, and wishes to see him wed before his death."

"It's been a long trip though, and sometimes I wonder if I was perhaps wrong to avoid this match. It is what my father wanted, and maybe conversation and jests and poetry have less meaning than I thought. I am doubtful, and unsure. But I am here, and wheree'er I go in this life, I can only start from where I am. Am I not right?" She looked up, a sunny smile on her face, but her essential doubt was there, in the tightness of her lips and the intensity of her grey eyes, as though she were looking for reassurance.
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Old 03-12-2006, 02:07 PM   #111
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White Tree

Gudryn despite all the goings on had wandered off into the garden shortly after dinner. As friendly as she was large groups of people made her nervous and perhaps a little frightened.

She wasn't sure why but she sought to immediatly escaped the tension. Gudryn scolded herself for being such a weakling, she was a young woman after all. A young woman who had witnessed and been victim to many horrible things in her short life. And she was angry that those things kept her from trying to live a normal life, almost kept her from being human.

Her skinny form wanted to scream until nothing was left of her but a memory. She rested herself up against a large apple tree, STUPID GIRL!!, she banged the back of her head up against the trunk. She despised the burning tears grazing her cheeks, but she couldn't stop them from flowing.

A gentle voice creeped in with the pain, soothing like the old woman she used to know. Her only friend when Rand was free.

You are stronger than this dear child, let those past experiences raise you up not bury you in endless despair. You have been given a new life one filled with love and hope, don't toss it away, you're not a dumby are you? No I thought not, no dumby would be able to do what you've done. You've changed your life around with sheer will and that's something to be proud of!

By the time the elder Lady's speech was done, Gudryn's tears were dried and she had a small smile on her face. She stood up and started to dance around the tree singing merrily to herself. She knew she was crazy, but right now she didn't care.
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Old 03-12-2006, 04:09 PM   #112
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"Am I not right?" asked Linduial.

Eodwine smiled, just enough for the girl to see in the light of the lantern they washed the cutlery by. He looked at the piece of hog lard in his hand that he had been using to scratch the cutlery clean. Pungent stuff. He would have to get Frodides more. She would wonder how he got through so much in just one short night.

"Start from where you are," Eodwine murmured absently. "Yes, of course; that is always true, I suppose." She was saying something deeper than that. She sought reassurance, naturally, especially in the face of such difficult goings on as she had had to endure this day. It was no more business of Eodwine's than she chose to make it, what she was fleeing from or what she hoped for. Yet she was opening her heart, at least in a small way. Ah, the ways folk do things, say things. It was a small test, not only of reassurance in the wisdom she had spoken, but of the trust she was hoping to place in him, this unknown lord, newly made, no doubt she had found out by now, of a newly wrought Emnet. How am I to reassure her without overstepping her unspoken question?

"I have a thought," Eodwine said at length, "that maybe it would be good for me to send a letter to your father along with your own, telling him who I am, and giving what bond I may at distance. To put his mind at rest. What think you of that?"
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Old 03-12-2006, 05:24 PM   #113
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Linduial smiled shyly, drying the last dish and starting on the cutlery, moving a little more quickly. "I think my father would like that. As would I. I will enclose it with my own letter and send it to Belfalas as soon as I may." She finally caught up and finished rinsing and drying the cutlery.

"If it please you, sir, I would visit Marenil now before I sleep." Lord Eodwine nodded, and she ran out of the room with her small smile still on her face.

~^~

She slipped quietly into Marenil's room, where the old man lay sleeping, the natural color finally seeping back into his skin. She sat down in the hard, hand crafted wooden chair, leaning over far enough to slip her small white hand inside his gnarled, calloused one. "I'm so glad you're all right, Marenil," she whispered. "I was so frightened." She sat there, watching him sleep, for a few more minutes, then laid his hand back along his side and pulled the blanket up where movement in his sleep had pulled it down, tucking it gently around him with an almost motherly smile. He'd spent so many years taking care of her, and had the circumstances been different, it would feel very good to return the favor. As it was, it only felt--right, and proper.

She turned off the oil lamp, and moved out of the room with near silence, giving the sleeping man one last smile before walking into her own room next door.

Last edited by JennyHallu; 03-13-2006 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 03-13-2006, 10:15 AM   #114
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揥edded? Thornden repeated, rather amused. 揗arried? No. Not I. Rather a determined old bachelor, if you asked my friends and family. It抯 quite a hopeless endeavor for me, you know, he cocked his head, his eyes twinkling merrily as he smiled at Manawyth. 揃ut what marriage seems to disturb what women? I have heard of nothing. . .

Manawyth told briefly what he had heard, and Thornden could not help but chuckle. 揑 doubt the young ladies would be too pleased to know that you overheard their conversation, he said. 揃ut have no fears, it won抰 reach them from me that you hear. Nay, there is no one wedded here that I am aware of. He looked over his shoulder at the twins and the hobbit, still at the table, talking and laughing before they departed. 揑 am not certain that Eodwine has not had a wife, but I really don抰 know him particularly well. He turned back to Manawyth. 揑 am almost as new in this place as you are.

There was a short silence. Thornden looked at his folded hands and considered what Manawyth had said. He drew a long breath and looked back up. 揧ou have clearly lived a hard life, Manawyth. But here, where you have come, peace dwells, at least for a while. You抳e come to witness a new beginning of the Mead Hall, and perhaps it will give you ground and place to begin a new life of your own. Happier memories you hope to acquire. You mourn for the lost art of harp playing- motioning towards the harp sitting near by -and I think you抳e come to the right place to nurture that skill. Stay a while. Eodwine loves a good song, and anyone who can make it clearly has a welcome from him.

He rose as he finished. 揑t is late. I am going to see about getting a place to sleep. Are you going to stay here?

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Old 03-14-2006, 08:54 PM   #115
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A week had passed since that busy day when so many new folk had arrived. Now they seemed old hands, though most of them still had three weeks to work before their one month stints were done, at which time Eodwine would give them news of his thought in their regard.

Marinel was improving and Linduial was happier with each new day's greater health in her guardian. Eodwine had written a letter to her father to send with her own, and it had been posted six days agone. Travel being what it was, it would be at least months before they heard back.

It was raining. The cattle-skin roofing of their tent was noisy with the patter. Eodwine sat on a wooden chair in the midst of the enclosure, which had been erected hard by the western wall of the Mead Hall. That building was missing its roof, at least over the Great Room. And the hearth had been disassembled and laid safely away until its parts could be used in the building of the new open hearth that would sit amid the floor at the very center of the new Mead Hall.

A new door had been cut in the wall of one guest room that had had to be emptied, so that there was easy passage between kitchen and tent-hall, and between guest rooms and tent-hall. It was a mess, truth be told. Dirt and grit and water and sticks and broken dishes turned into footpath stone here and there.

At least it was warm for the season. The new year had come with the first day of spring, marked now on March 25 to honor Frodo the Nine-fingered. It was now the first of April. Eodwine smirked, wondering what shananigans might not happen on such a day amongst such a young and lively folk as dwelt in his Halls.

Breakfast had come and gone, and midday meal was a little way off yet. Of course, Falco was yammering for his Second Breakfast from an unsympathetic Frodides, but Kara seemed to like favoring him with whatever she could find.

At the moment, Eodwine was the only one sitting under the tent in the rain. He knew Falco and Kara and Frodides were in the kitchens, Marinel in his room, and L閛f in the stables, but of the others he was unsure. Well enough. He liked the sound of the rain and would not mind a mid-morning slumber if chance brought it. He closed his eyes and sighed contendedly.
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Old 03-14-2006, 10:15 PM   #116
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Saeryn smiled to herself contentedly by the low fire she had kindled in her room's small hearth. She sat curled in a warm quilt, cozy, watching raindrops streak the window. She had made early rounds, seeing to it that nothing was wanted. Now she took the rest of the morning to herself, listening to the heavy pitter-pat of water above her, smelling the musty fresh scents of spring.

Her ribs felt nearly new, still achy in the damp, but no pain plagued her no matter how swift her motion. She pulled her hands from around her knees, tugging the edge of the patchwork closer to her chin. It was not cold, but the extra warmth comforted her. It was a day for rest... her features softened as she let her thoughts wander, pausing on only those that lingered. Her eyes focused gently into the grey distance through her window. The coals of the fire shimmered, the light within them dancing brilliantly red beneath their blackened edges. The light smell of burning wood filled the room and Saeryn breathed deeply, relief filling her that she could comfortably do so simple of a thing. She briefly entertained the notion of talking a walk about the halls before letting it pass. If she was needed, she'd be found.
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Old 03-14-2006, 11:10 PM   #117
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Luckily, the rain ran off the well-trodden earth alleyways and roadway, into the large stone channel which ran through Edoras. No sucking sound of squishy mud accompanied each plodding step that the old rag lady made. She wound her way amidst the wooden beams and wattled buildings. Spring had brought brisk trade in the rag business and Ruthven had had much to do since her friend Bethberry had taken leave of the mountain city. Yet on a day such as today, with its rain inhibiting large amounts of out of door labour, it was high time Ruthven stopped by the old Mead Hall to see what progress or lack thereof Eodwine had made in his constructions. Besides, she hadn't had a good laugh with Falco for over a week--they had at first often seen each other around the town, but Eodwine was keeping him working so hard that Ruthven feared the poor halfling might be at risk of losing weight.

And so, with her cloak wrapped around her and her hood pulled well forward, the old woman plodded her way into the tenthall, spying Eodwine asleep--or at least napping.

"Tut! March Warden or Reeve or what high faluting name you be calling yourself these days, you have picked up some halfling habbits to be asleep so early in the morn. Did you overeat at breakfast perhaps?" With a hearty shake of her head, her hood fell back and rivulets of water drops splattered over the man, who came to somewhat indignantly.

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Old 03-16-2006, 10:05 AM   #118
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Thornden walked aimlessly along the hall where the real roof and building of the old inn still stood, mostly untouched. He could hardly stand having nothing to fill his hands with. The last week had gone well, and he had had things to do and was kept busy. But todays rain kept further building out of the question. He sighed deeply and his hands dug unconciously deeper in his pockets. Passing the kitchen and hearing voices from within, he stuck his head in, and almost immediately withdrew it, chuckling.

"Dear old Falco," he murmured, heading towards the roofless Great Room. He had rather grown to like the inhabitants of the Hall, and the hobbit not in the least. He was still smiling as he stepped out of the door. He stopped almost on the threshold and stared only briefly as he saw Eodwine practically leaping up to his feet to great an elderly lady just arrived. Seeing that Eodwine was clearly about to be occupied, Thornden looked away and walked across the floor and exited the protection of the cattle hide roof.

The rain was not very heavy, but it had been falling steadily all morning. He ducked his head a little lower and walked a bit faster until he stepped into the dim warmness of the stables. Once there, he shook his head , sending the small droplets flying from his hair. He had not yet had time to look at the stables and now that it was rather wet and dreary elsewhere (he usually found rain wet and dreary), he figured it would be a good time to come and look about.

With genuine curiosity he set forth. He noticed with satisfaction the cleaniness of the place and smiled as he recalled Leof's arrival. He hadn't talked to the young man much, except to give a few random orders as the case required. At the first stall he stopped and looked over the door. In the stall, a large, grey mare stood munching calmly on her morning hay. She looked briefly at Thornden, and apparently decided that she'd rather eat than greet him properly and turned back to take another mouthful. Thornden grinned and passed on.

Some of the following stalls were empty, and others had horses in them. Only half of the animals came to recieve a kindly petting and then return to their breakfast, whereas the others chose to almost ignore him entirely. The last stall he came to had not only a fine looking steed in it, but also Leof busy grooming him. At the moment, he had one arm thrown over the horse's withers for support as he bent half over and brushed under his belly. Thornden folded his arms and leaned against the post. In a moment, Leof stood upright, and Thornden spoke.

"Good morning, Leof! Hard at work?"

The youth turned quickly and a smile flashed briefly over his features. "Good morning, sir. Yes, I am." Thornden nodded and looked approvingly at the shiny sides of the horse.

"Who's horse is that?"

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Old 03-16-2006, 09:38 PM   #119
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"Tut!" snapped an aged woman, whom Eodwine recognized immediately even with his eyes closed. "March Warden or Reeve or what high faluting name you be calling yourself these days, you have picked up some halfling habits to be asleep so early in the morn. Did you overeat at breakfast perhaps?"

Eodwine kept his eyes closed, preparing a weather-denying dry response, when he was doused with a splatter of water. He sat up, opened his eyes, stood up, and peered down at Ruthven.

"Thanks for the extra bath, rag lady. But you know rain is sleepy weather, and the builders cannot do much at this stage of the work with rain coming down for what looks to be the whole day.

"What think you of the labor done so far?" Eodwine peered at the shell of the mead hall. As Ruthven was uncharacteristically silent, he continued. "At least the builders got the tent roof over that wood floor in the nick of time. I was worriting about that. Makes so the tables and chairs can stay put. But enough of that! Would you sit with me? Or do you have ought to speak of with Frodides or someone else hereabouts?"
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Old 03-17-2006, 10:16 AM   #120
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Marenil

Marenil woke to hear the gentle patter of rain on the thatched roof of his room. He checked carefully about--no Linduial. Good. The child was determined to keep him in bed for the rest of his natural life, and he had no such intentions.

Carefully he pushed back the warm blankets, and swung his feet around and off the side of the bed. He sat up, and paused for a moment before standing. He reached out and steadied himself on the bedstead as a quick rush of blood made him momentarily dizzy. Yes, he had definitely been in bed too long. He found all his things, cleaned and carefully folded, in a cabinet, and dressed quietly before stepping into his boots and moving toward the door.

He pushed the door open carefully, peeking around it to make sure Linduial wasn't there. He didn't want to deal with the girl until it was established that he was up, and fine. No one was there. The hall was very quiet, actually. It seemed that little was going on. He moved toward the main hall and finally caught the sound of voices, in the kitchen and the hall. A loud rumble from his stomach caught him by surprise, and with a grin that revealed the handsomeness of his youth, he decided the kitchen was definitely the way to go.

He cheerfully opened the door and greeted the group within...



Linduial


Lin was in her room. She had finally gotten her trunks a few days ago, two large sea-chests with cast-iron locks and delicate carving by her eldest brother. With Saeryn's approval, a delicate golden necklace fashioned in the form of her family crest had been sent to the Healer as thanks for his aid. Lin repeated in her mind the advice Saeryn had given her, for it had been good: "He's a healer and a proud man, he'll accept no gift for himself...but he has a wife and a daughter, gift them something pretty they can't get here."

She had rose late this morning, lulled to laziness by the gentle sound of rain on the roof, and then startled into sudden wakefulness by a cold drip of water on the back of her neck. No wonder Eodwine had been replacing the roof as well as remodeling the interior of the old Inn. As she dressed in a pale green gown with delicate rose embroidery on the long elven sleeves (styles in Gondor had been heavily influenced by the beautiful things the Queen Evenstar had brought with her from her home in the North), she idly wondered how long the building had stood here, welcoming travellers from every land. Her own home was old beyond imagining, inherited from father to son through many generations, but the tall stone buildings near Dol Amroth weathered the years and the storms off the sea with little to mark the passage of the ages. The wattle-and-daub construction of the buildings in Edoras was entirely new to her.

It occurred to her that she was hungry, and she folded her night-things neatly and put them away before rummaging for the apples she'd stashed away, wondering if perhaps Garwine or Leof would help her to hang some of the silk scarves and the single tapestry her chambermaid seemed to have placed in her trunk. Garwine's whereabouts could be unpredictable, but Leof would surely be in the stable this time of morning. That was across the courtyard -- she grabbed another apple and a shawl, and made her way to the courtyard door, throwing the shawl over her head before stepping out into the rain.

She couldn't help but be aware of the odd and unladylike figure she must have been, running across the courtyard juggling an apple and her skirts in her mostly successful attempt to keep the hems out of the mud, but there was a covered alcove before she entered the stable proper, and she straightened her skirts and rearranged her curls before stepping in, grateful that Marenil was safely in bed and couldn't have seen her.
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