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Old 05-21-2015, 03:43 PM   #1
piosenniel
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Shield Hard Winters RPG

Short general introduction to the Scarburg Mead Hall

Scarburg Mead Hall had had a stormy beginning. By king Eomer’s word, Eodwine was made Eorl of Middle Emnet to bring it under king’s peace. This was done because it was known in Edoras that some of the stronger and wealthier local landholders in Middle Emnet sought more to add to their own wealth than to rule well, show loyalty to the king, or work for the common good.

Finding only smoking ruins at Scarburg Hall, the folk who joined Eodwine began the hard task of rebuilding the old Hall and establishing the new Eorldom. Sadly, Eorl Eodwine took ill before he had time to see either task finished, and was deemed beyond healing.

Believing his loyal servant to be dying, king Eomer chose as new eorl for Scarburg, Athanar, a renowned hero of the War, battle tested chieftain, a man strong enough of fiber to make firm the King's rule. Although given to quick wrath, he was reliable, trustworthy, stern, and strong.

Eorl Athanar’s efforts at bringing the Mead Hall under his rule were doomed to failure from the very beginning, for the folk of Scarburg were loyal to Eodwine's memory and light-handed rule, and chafed under the more stern authority of Athanar. They had no wish to be ruled by the new eorl. Amid much mayhem, with great resolve Eorl Athanar did finish the mead hall, and by a set of bold moves brought the local landholders under the king’s rule – at least for the time being.

Then, unforeseen by all, like one risen from the dead, Eodwine came back.


Jumping to the present Mead Hall

Year 16 of the Fourth Age saw the finishing of the Mead Hall. Not all wounds were healed inside the Mead Hall but with Saeryn giving birth to twins even those ills seemed to be set aside by most people for the time being. The two eorls seemed to get along well enough and seemed content with a sharing of responsibilities. Eodwine still healing, and a father of the newborns, Athanar oversaw the daily life of the Mead Hall – but was hearing the counsel of Eodwine. Thus, most of those loyal to Eodwine came to trust Athanar a little more.

The summer was far busier than anyone could have expected. With king Elessar’s trip to lake Evendim, all the lands under his rule received many visitors journeying where they had never dared to go before. The Scarburgers built a two-story shed for visitors who were happy with a more modest bedding.

The local landholders, eager to line their pockets, set aside their dislike of the new masters in Scarburg.

As the spring of year 17 of the Fourth Age carried with it troublesome news. There were more raids of Easterling tribesmen and groups of orcs from Wold, East Emnet and North Marches.

King Eomer called a muster of eorlingas from the northern and north-eastern parts of the Mark. He called upon Athanar to be chieftains over all of the eorlingas from the Middle Emnet. He took with him most of his men and some of eorl Eodwine’s as well. Athanar's sons, Wulfric and Wilheard, were mustered alongside most of the local landholders and their sons.

Having not fully recovered from his illness, Eorl Eodwine was charged with sole rule of the Mead Hall once again – with only a handful of eorlings left to defend it.

A not so small group of easterling fugitives from the wars in the east, stumbled upon the Mead Hall. By lucky chance, Cnebba and his friends were puttering about amid the outskirts of the Scar, and spied the undisciplined rabble before they knew they had been seen, and well before the easterlings realized what kind of easy booty lay before them.

Cnebba brought the news to the Eorl, who mustered the few eorlings in his charge. They took their places in defense, and by means of a sudden rain of arrows upon the enemy, made it seem as if there were more of them than there were.

However, the easterlings' sudden losses did not lessen their desperate greed to take this prize and what loot it might have to offer. They laid siege. A sense of dread set in among the folk of Scarburg, for they were badly outnumbered.

Rowenna came to Eodwine and asked leave to gather any boys, girls, and women who were willing to be given quick and basic training in banditry, and do what damage they could. Eodwine thought the request odd, but given their dire straits, saw no reason to say her nay.

Between night raids, baiting, and other means, Rowenna and her makeshift gang of bandits picked off one, two, or three easterlings at a time. It was a mere few days before the easterlings were demoralized, according to the reports from Rowenna's well placed spies, and in the face of an eorling sally at dawn, the easterlings broke camp and fled, or sued for mercy.

Knowing that the Mead Hall could not feed and house so many captives, Eodwine charged them to leave the Middle Emnet, going he cared not where, and that any found within a day's walk on the morrow, would be killed on the spot. Whether Eodwine meant his threat or not, became a matter of debate among the folk of the Mead Hall, for he would not say.

The following day, search parties were sent out, and only one easterling was found within a day's march; this one was found sitting cross-legged, not two stone's throws from the Mead Hall beyond the Scar. His weapons were laid down and he rose, his hands held above his head. In broken Westernesse he said that the unmercy of the mead hall, whether death or imprisonment, was better than any other fate that awaited him elsewhere. Eodwine took pity on him against the heated objections of Rowenna. This one proved his worth over the following months and years. His name was Jian.

The riders of the Riddermark drove the scattered enemies away from the eastern parts of the Mark, but before they could return more serious news was brought to Edoras. King Elessar had come back from the north and was mustering an army to ride north-east, to Rhûn, to defeat the source of the raiders that festered the eastern borderlands of Gondor, of which the raiders to the Mark were only a small part.

Lord Athanar and his eorlings were mustered with the larger call to arms and rode beside king Eomer to the east led by the high king Elessar his Gondorian army late in year 17.

In year 18 of the Fourth Age the spring came late and the northern parts of the Mark missed the first sowing. Most of the men were waging a war in the east under the banners of king Elessar of Gondor. It was clear there wouldn’t be a good harvest this year. Many thought these were ill omens.

The eorlingas came back from the war in the east in early autumn. Their return brought hope, and there was a night of singing and dancing to celebrate the victory. The dead, including Athanar's oldest son, Wulfric, who was cut down in the closing battle, were honored and buried with song.

Eorl Athanar was awarded for his bravery and leadership in the war in the East with a chieftainship on the frontier of the Rhun, answerable directly to the Prince of Ithilien - a prestigious post indeed. Thus was ended the unhappy double leadership in Scarburg since seeing that Eorl Eodwine was whole enough to claim back his seat in Scarburg.

But the worst was to come. The men came back just in time to help with the second harvest, but just after two days winter came. It was October.

Biting cold settled in upon the Mark for many days. The ground froze. The crops died in the fields. Athanar deemed it wise to take leave, with his folk, so there would be fewer mouths to feed in Scarburg. He took with him a large party back to Edoras, vowing to ask king Eomer for any goods that could be spared. He left a few eorlings behind to help Eodwine, for their number at the Mead Hall had become thin indeed.

Then came snow. Athanar and his folk escaped the first blizzard in thenick of time. Wind swept fields, forest, and roads were covered. When sunlight finally glared over the vast white, the drifts were man-high. The Mead Hall was cut off from the rest of the Mark, even the nearest landholders..

The snowbanks hardened and were very hard to dig through. New snowstorms added more layers of snow. Walking on the face of the desert of snow was treacherous, for one never knew where one might fall through and land a few feet below. The folk dug narrow, high walled paths to their store of chopped wood, the meat shed, and the smithy. They were soon low on firewood.

In year 19 of the Fourth Age the winter took even firmer grip of the Mead Hall.

In February they tore down the sheds they had built just two years ago for firewood. They sent a few eorlings to find help during sunny cold days in March. The men made makeshift shoes of cross-cut wood, tied to their boots, so they could walk on the top of the man-and-a-half high snow. The men never returned.

In late March, the Mead Hall began to feel the pangs of starvation: the old and infirm were dying, first one then another a few days later, then another a day more .... until a pall hung over the Mead Hall, and it seemed that death and despair might win the day as well as the night. In April they tore apart the upper story of the guest wing, and used it for firewood, and ate bark from trees boiled in snow.

In May, spring came suddenly. Days and days of balmy sunshine warmed the air and melted the snow quickly.

Five days after the sudden warming of the weather the people of the Mead Hall heard a remarkable sound from far away: something very noisy was coming through the snow and the rising flood waters.

Carts trundling down the muddy road, filled with food, were spotted first by the children, who ran back to the hall screaming in joy. They were saved!

In the lead wagon was Athanar’s son Wilheard.

~*~ writen by littlemanpoet

Last edited by piosenniel; 06-13-2015 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 06-20-2015, 02:32 PM   #2
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The snow and mud were mixing into an ugly grey puddle under Bolt's hooves. The bad-tempered mare wasn't particularly enthusiastic about wading through the sloshy remains of the hard winter, and even less enthusiastic about keeping a pace with the slowest carts in the caravan. Wilheard couldn't really blame her. If it had been up to him, they would have galloped all the way from Edoras across the open lands and arrived in Scarburg days ago. He patted Bolt on the neck. ”We'll be there soon. Good girl.”

Wilheard shot an exasperated glance over his shoulder. The carts were rolling through the treacherous ground slower than Wilheard thought possible, and the horsemen accompanying them kept a leisurely pace as well. A couple of them were singing a bawdy song as they rode. They seemed to be quite enjoying themselves, and not in a hurry. ”I'm sorry,” he muttered to Bolt. He had just reminded himself that it was no one else than Wilheard, son of the lord and war hero Athanar, who had set this sluggish pace Bolt was suffering from. He was really not cut out to be a leader, he exasperated even his own horse.

”Hey sir, is it far yet?” a cheerful voice called from behind. ”The ladies would like a rest soon.”
Wilheard rolled his eyes. Ladies. And what ladies they had with them, even a spoiled little Gondorian seamstress for no reason he could fathom. A little belatedly, he realized it was he who had been addressed.
”We're not stopping until we're there,” he shouted back. ”If you looked ahead, you could actually see it.”

There it was, along the scar, the Meadhall from which these land were governed. And where I am supposed to learn my manners, Wilheard thought. How well it worked out the last time. The place was accursed, and there were many memories connected to it, both good and bad, that Wilheard tried to keep from his mind. He was ridiculously lonely, and in the brink of losing it all he knew. He gritted his teeth. Onwards, we have a mission, he told himself. He had once had a brother who had despised weakness in a soldier.

The caravan trudged on through the afternoon. It was becoming hard to tell which one was more unhappy and restless, Bolt or Wilheard. But slowly, Wilheard could make out individual buildings, then horses and people, and finally he rode onto the yard of the Scarburg Meadhall, Bolt splashing a fair amount of mud on a child that foolishly ran towards the approaching caravan. Wilheard cast a furtive glance around himself. The hall looked positively miserable, and so did the people streaming out to greet him. So many faces, both familiar and unfamiliar, all eyes fixed on Wilheard and those that came behind him. This leadership thing was definitely not for Wilheard. Nonetheless, he reined in his horse and raised his voice:

”Westu hal, Eorl Eodwine! We bring to you food and supplies from Edoras.”
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Old 06-20-2015, 02:47 PM   #3
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Scyld

It was with considerable trepidation that Scyld now returned to Scarburg. It had been just over four years since he left. He’d never meant to be gone so long, but one thing had led to another, and before he knew it, the time was just gone. His errand had seemed so urgent at the time. He fingered the letter in his pocket absently. It was a bit worn around the edges, for he had handled if often, wondering what would happen when (or if, he had eventually began to think) he would give it to the Eorl. Linduial, once he had finally found her, had been happy enough to write it for him. She had even offered to come herself, saying it would not be far out of her way the next time she came to Rohan. He had declined; he needed her testimony, but he did not need her to fight his battles for him. He would handle this on his own terms.

He had read the letter, before Linduial sealed it. “Don’t you trust me, even now?” she had asked. And he had mocked her for her trusting nature, to hide the shame he felt – shame which only grew after he read her words. The letter was an even more generous depiction of his nature than he thought he deserved. It did not hide the fact that he had aided in the kidnapping, but it emphasized the small ways he had helped her and his role in her escape.

“Thank you,” he’d said, and meant it.

“It is the least I could do, after how you helped me and after how far you came to find me. Will you stay long?”

He told her no, for though he was loath to begin already the long journey back (it had taken him nearly two months to get there, and truly had he recently told Rowenna that he did not fancy living out of doors), his task was achieved and he had nothing further to gain there in Dol Amroth.

Linduial had protested, saying that she herself intended to return to Rohan at the end of the summer, that he might travel with her, as part of her guard if he wished. He had laughed, less meanly than he once would have but not without scorn. “Perhaps the purses of Gondorian noble ladies run deep, but mine do not: I fear I cannot afford to stay so long without occupation. And you choose a poor man for your guard: a poorer swordsman you are unlikely to meet.”

“I have seen you throw a knife,” retorted Linduial, “and half the point of a guard is to dissuade bandits from attacking in the first place, so that they do not have to be fought. As for work…” she paused, and a light jumped into her eyes. “There is an envoy here, from Harad, recently arrived, seeking a trade treaty. It is a good offer, but we think they may be trying to trick us in some way. You are skilled at finding information out, I think – if you would see if anything might be found out from the sailors that came with the envoy, I would be grateful, and would pay you well for it.” He had tried to protest, but Linduial’s mind was made up and he was swept along by her plan. In the end, after talking to, eavesdropping on, and a couple times sneaking into the rooms of the Haradrim, he had been able to place a tip to Linduial that Dol Amroth stood to profit far less from the treaty than the Haradrim would have them believe, and the terms had been renegotiated.

Thus did Scyld spend the better part of a year in his journey to Dol Amroth and back. In that time, he had thought long on the letter from his brother, and eventually curiosity had overcome his bitterness. Upon his return to Rohan he did not go to Scarburg but followed the directions in Bedric’s letter, thinking to spend perhaps a few days or weeks there before bearing Linduial’s letter to Scarburg.

He’d realized, as he walked the last couple miles to his brother’s house, that he had no idea what he would say. Would they even be recognizable to each other? He asked for directions from a couple men he met along the road, and they pointed him toward a snugly built cottage with a smithy nearby. It was nearing dinner and the smithy seemed quiet, so he walked directly up to the cottage and knocked at the door. A young blonde girl, not even waist high, answered. “Who are you?” she asked, staring up at him with large blue eyes.

“Well,” said Scyld, who had never been comfortable around children, “I think I’m your uncle.”

She frowned at him, clearly not sure whether to believe this outrageous claim. A man came up behind her, and Scyld felt a jolt of recognition. His features had aged, but certainly this was his brother. “Who’s here, Agnes?” he asked.

“He says he’s my uncle,” said the girl – Agnes. She continued to talk but now Bedric’s attention turned sharply to Scyld, a disbelieving look on his face.

“Hello, Bedric,” said Scyld, a bit stiffly. “I got your letter, though it took some time getting to me.”

Then Bedric laughed, a joyful booming noise. “Come in, then! I couldn’t decide if you’d never gotten the letter, or if you just wanted nothing to do with us. Agnes, he most certainly is your uncle – this is your Uncle Scyld.” And then there were introductions all around: to Bedric’s wife and three other children – two older than Agnes and one a babe scarcely walking. They had just been sitting down to dinner and a seventh place was quickly prepared. Much of the meal revolved around the children, helping them with their meals and listening to their chatter, for which Scyld was grateful – a bit of time for him to watch the family without answering any difficult questions. Afterwards came the cleaning up, and just when Scyld thought the time might be coming for more serious conversation, Agnes approached him. “Can you tell a story?” she asked.

“Agnes, honey, I’m sure your uncle is tired from his trip - ” Bedric started to say, but Scyld made the quick decision that dealing with the child was immensely preferable than trying to explain himself.

“That’s alright,” he said. “Storytime, it is.”

With a delighted squeal, Agnes hauled herself up into his lap. Startled, he tried to figure out where to put his arms – having been the youngest of his siblings, he’d never held a child before. He did not notice the twitch of amusement on Bedric’s face. He thought of a story that his father had used to tell him, when he was a child. He began clumsily, but soon the rhythms of the tale began to come back to him. By the end of it, she had fallen asleep in his arms, and his heart was won.

Maybe that’s when his decision was made, that he would stay longer than just a few days – that his family was worth getting to know.

He started trying to find ways to help out during the days. He was worthless as an assistant in the smithy, but his oldest sibling, Aelfred, was a leatherworker, and Scyld found that the work intrigued him. Without formal arrangement, he began spending more of his time there, helping as he could. Learning a trade was an opportunity he’d never had while with Sorn, and he was pleasantly surprised to find how satisfying it was: he could easily lose himself in the tasks of piecing together the leather or detailing an intricate design. Aelfred, serious and quiet, was a patient teacher and seemed to appreciate Scyld’s companionship. They rarely talked except of their work, which suited Scyld as he began to lose his fear of prying and uncomfortable questions.

He continued to stay with Bedric, and it was not long before a glimmer of the easy rapport they had shared as boys began to return. Scyld told him as few details as he could manage about his life with Sorn, and eventually Bedric stopped asking, content to share the present rather than dwell in the past.

Adney, Scyld’s oldest sister, he saw seldom, for she had married a farmer who lived some ways away, but Gytha, the younger of his sisters but still three years his elder, seemed to see and understand him most clearly. He caught her, sometimes, looking at him intently. It made him uncomfortable: not the fact of her attention, but what she might see in him. She never pressed him, but it was she who came to him nearly three years after he had come to them, and said: “I still wonder, sometimes, that you are here with us and not dead, and I would be glad to have you with us until we all grow old and have grandchildren about us. But I sense there is still something you are searching for, some healing you have not yet found. I thought, when you came to us, that it was your family that you had been missing, but now I think it was not so – not wholly. If you know what it is you are missing, and where you might find it, you should go to it.”

She had smiled at him, but he had only nodded thoughtfully back. When he had gone there and then decided to stay, he had tried to put thoughts of Sorn and Scarburg out of his mind, to see if perhaps this was the place where he was meant to be. Then, unbidden, thought of Rowenna come to mind, and he thought of Linduial’s letter unopened, and he knew Gytha had seen more clearly than he himself.

Three years among his siblings, and still he had never told them. He was grateful to them, thirsty for the kind of simple joy they found in life together. He wanted to share it – to anyone who did not know him well, it would seem that he did. Still, there was a barrier between him and them. At first he had simply not wanted to explain to them his life with Sorn, and why he had stayed when his ten years were up, and how he had gotten mixed up with Linduial’s kidnapping. Then after a time, he had wished to, but had not known how. How could they understand? He did not know which he desired less: their pity, or their spite. Either they would somehow try to explain it away, say it wasn’t his fault, or they would hate him for it. He could imagine their revulsion as they tried to hide it, wishing that they had not invited him into their homes. He could not stand the thought, and would not take that chance.

He had met only one person who might understand, and knew of only one way to finally be free from his past. So, in the fall of the eighteenth year of the Fourth Age, he began to make preparations to leave and return to Scarburg. His brothers gifted him with his own set of leatherworking tools: knives, awls, needles, stamps. “Can’t have those years of learning go to waste,” Aelfred had said gruffly – like Scyld, he was uncomfortable with emotionally fraught moments.

In October he set out for Scarburg, but made it only as far as Edoras when a heavy snow fell across the land, unseasonably early. He found there also a delegation from Scarburg, and was able to find out from some soldiers he had known the news from Scarburg: the harvest destroyed and the hall in need of supplies, but the heavy snowfall preventing the delegation’s return. Scyld’s heart sank. The way back to Bedric’s cottage was likewise unpassable, so he took up lodging in Edoras, figuring that snow which had come so early would soon melt, and that he would make his way to Scarburg soon enough with the supply train. After several weeks, it became apparent that this was not to be the case, and he managed to put his newly gained skills to use, working on commission for another leatherworker in town who currently had more work than he could handle and earning enough to pay for his room and board while waiting for the weather to clear.

Over the long winter, he’d had plenty of time to think, to second-guess his decision. He supposed his welcome back to Scarburg would be lukewarm at best: he did not flatter himself that he had been well-liked. Tolerated would perhaps be a more apt description. He wondered if Rowenna had missed him; if she had been sad to see him leave, she had hidden it well. What if she had forgotten him? Or was gone? Or married? As the winter wore on, new worries began to set in as well. How low on food supplies was the Hall? Had they run out? Were they dying? Thus with great anxiety he had joined the supply train when the weather broke and the great thaw began. What would he find, when he reached the Scarburg?

He paid little heed to the other members of the caravan as he drove one of the carts (Sorn had had a cart much like it, once, that he had had Scyld drive now and again). He made polite conversation as necessary, introducing himself once again as Nydfara to those he did not know (he had resumed use of this name in Edoras over the winter). It would not do to begin using his right name until he should present his letter to the Eorl. Slowly they rolled into sight of Scarburg, and Scyld felt his anxiety rising further. He took deep, steadying breaths and allowed a placid smirk to creep onto his face. He belonged here, he told himself. Let no one doubt it.
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Old 06-21-2015, 05:44 AM   #4
littlemanpoet
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Eodwine

All the folk of Scarburg streamed out of the hall and outbuildings at the call. Eodwine stood in the thawing muck, a heavy cloak wrapped around his thinned frame, his bony hand holding it tight around his throat. Maybe it was not so cold as it was, maybe the frost was gone from the air, but the cold was in his bones even yet.

"Well met! Is that Wilheard?"

"Aye, it is I, eorl Eodwine."

"You have brought many -" mouths to feed, was his first thought, but if they brought food and new clothing and aught else, then maybe these brought more than they would take. "-many folk! All are welcome! Come! There is a fire in the hearth, and warmth enough within. Did you by chance bring wood? We have little left."
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Old 06-21-2015, 08:37 PM   #5
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Léof

Léof leaned against the fence, taking a break for a moment to watch the horses freshly released into the pasture. He found it necessary to take breaks frequently, these days: the effects of constant hunger taking their toll on him. He had always been thin, and though he had gained a few inches in height and his shoulders had broadened out since he had taken up his position at the Meadhall five years ago, he still did not have much in reserve to sustain him through these weeks of hunger. He’d found that keeping busy distracted him from his hunger, but that he was also losing the stamina to work for extended periods of time.

Finally, finally, it was warming up though, and he thought the horses were nearly as ready for spring as he was. He smiled as a pair of yearlings suddenly took off at a gallop, as if racing each other. He loved watching the young horses. Over the last several years, he (with plenty of help) had gotten a small breeding program started at the hall. Considering his near total lack of experience with breeding when he had gotten the whole thing started, he thought he was doing all right. With the combined knowledge of those at the Hall and some local horsemen who were friendly and generous with their advice, Léof had learned an enormous amount and was becoming ever more self-assured of his skills.

His first thought had actually been to breed Æthel, in large part because a foal might be worth good money. He had no coin for a stud fee, but instead had offered a share of the foal. That colt had been sold nearly three years ago, as a yearling, and had fetched quite a good price, leaving Léof’s pockets heavier than they’d ever been. One of the yearlings out there in the paddock now, in fact, was Æthel’s second foal, a lovely bay filly. Too thin, though – all the horses were, after this winter. One of the pregnant mares had lost her foal, and he was afraid that the others that would be born this spring and summer would be under-sized. Still, the horses were in better shape than their human counterparts: the first two harvests of hay had been unaffected, and since Athanar had left with most of his folk and their horses, there were sufficiently few horses that Léof had been able to make the hay last through the winter with the horses on reduced rations. He had estimated that he had less than a fortnight’s worth of hay left in the stable when the weather had finally broken earlier this week, rapidly melting the snow. The pastures were a soggy mess, and the grass was yellowed and sad-looking, but he thought it would provide ample nourishment to supplement the dwindling hay until more could be gotten.

Behind him, one of the children shrieked, startling him out of his reverie. He turned around and thought he saw in the distance a train of carts. His stomach twisted – could it be that finally they would have food again? He scarcely dared to hope, but made his way over to the front yard of the Hall to find out.

There were several carts, piled high with all sorts of supplies. He wondered how soon there might be food set out to eat. As he walked up, folk were already beginning to unload the carts. He realized with an unhappy start that attached to those carts were horses, all needing care and stabling. He hoped these newcomers were in a helpful sort of mood, because even the thought of handling all these new horses exhausted him. Nevertheless, he approached the nearest cart to get started.
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Old 06-22-2015, 02:21 PM   #6
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Ladavan

It was an odd place to be, Ladavan thought.

He was riding an old grey horse that seemed not at all pleased to be bearing his weight for so long a time, slender though Ladavan was. Carts, wagons, and other horses filled out a long, dusty, and hard-bitten caravan that wound its slow, plodding way toward Scarburg Meadhall.

Most of his fellow travelers were, judging from the gold that adorned their heads, of the Horse-lords that until recent years Ladavan had been taught were bitter enemies.
The Great War had changed much, though. Ladavan had been on the wrong side of the conflict, though even now he remembered the enthralling speeches given by the lord Saruman to him and so many others of his people; words that spoke to their hearts. Saruman had railed against the wrongs done to the men of Dunland by the Strawheads over the years, in which they had been aided by the Men From the Sea. The latter were hated scarcely more than the Horse-lords, for it was by their hands that Men of Ladavan's race had been driven from their ancestral homes.
These memories Saruman had fiercely rekindled, saying he had the power to slay and drive away all the invaders, and great reward would come to those who would join his forces.
Thus, Ladavan was brought into war. His older brother Meryk, too, had volunteered. And both had found themselves fighting against the hated Men of Rohan.
At first, they had confidence in victory, though Ladavan and many others had not liked being near the filthy, violent creatures called Orcs that made the most part of Saruman's troop count.
Defeat had come so quickly to them though that Ladavan still did not know how it had happened. Their assault on the fortress where the Strawhead king was said to be, had been broken by some strange force of trees that walked, and Ladavan had fled in terror before them. It was the next day that he found Saruman's armies shattered, and he himself taken to a camp for those like him, where he expected to be killed by the enemy.
To his surprise, all his people had been released, on the condition that they first help to repair damage done to Rohan during the fighting. Ladavan had been amazed to find Meryk during that time, for he had thought him likely dead.
Meryk, though, would not return to Dunland. He had said he had news that there was a refuge in the North, up the ancient road past Tharbad, where Men could have plenty and rule lesser folk. He was setting forth with some dozen companions, and left as soon as the Rohirrim let them free.

Ladavan shook his head at the memories. Now he was going toward a new future. He had tried to go back to the old life in Dunland, but his parents were gone, no one knew where, Nor were they the only disappearances. Ladavan had known that even as some of his race had served Saruman as fighters, others, too old or unable to war, had gone to Isengard to serve as laborers and food-tillers. After Saruman was beaten and had left his old dwelling, Ladavan had gone there and found it changed greatly. The walls and mighty gate were in ruins, and fearful tree-men too like those that had menaced him at the Rohirrim's fortress had stalked the area. Ladavan saw no hope in searching, for no Men seemed to remain.
Dunland had been uninviting and dreary with so many gone, and he had been encouraged by the mercy of the Rohirrim toward defeated enemies. He thought to make a life in a new place, free from old hurts and grievances.

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Old 06-23-2015, 10:05 AM   #7
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Stefnu

She had arrived to Scarburg close after the turn of the year, when one week there came a sudden relief in the form of unexpectedly beautiful weather. For three days, the sun shone, and it was only mildly cold outside. Crust had formed upon the snow and she deemed it safe to travel. She had been decided already for a while back then, the possibilities for her were only two: the other was to remain in the silent house until the last of the supplies had disappeared from the cellar, and if thaw didn't come by then, lie down next to where she had buried her husband's body. She would not let herself dwell on that, however. The only thing that had kept her going, as also the nearest neighbours went silent and there was nothing for company save the trinkets Mildric had brought from afar, was that her mind had been on the future. She had been imagining and planning what she would do once the snows melted. She would send a letter to her son, who was surely apprenticed somewhere warm and safe. Maybe he had become a blacksmith, working in a blazing forge all day, or maybe he had become a baker, pulling fresh warm loaves of bread straight from the oven. She would save her husband's feather quill for writing the letter, the colourful one he had brought from his travels in South Gondor; the rest of them she had fed to the fire already. She should also write to Mildric's firstborn, yes, she should, and settle the matters regarding the old house. It was something to occupy her mind with during the long days of the long winter, when it was not safe for her to go outside. She had decided, though, that she would not stay in the old house after the winter, there was nothing for her there. She was still young and beautiful, oh yes, the soldiers from Scarburg had been telling her that, and she could see it from the looks they gave her even without it. One in particular, Áforglaed, probably as much younger than her as she was when she had married Mildric, but strong and handsome and wonderfully amusing with his often silly behaviour. She had found herself thinking about him more and more, she knew he had not left with the rest of eorl Athanar's men in the autumn. She had not seen him since then. How was he? Was he still alive? Stefnu was convinced that he, of all, would survive the harsh winter, a healthy and strong young man. She would see him, too, once the thaw came. Or earlier. She began to think of Scarburg Mead Hall, she was certain lord Eodwine and lady Saeryn would welcome a pair of hands; it had happened in the past. And then, who knows? Soon, Stefnu's resolution gained a clear shape.

But as the winter did not cease, she had not dared to leave the house. The Mead Hall was far, and people had died for less than a few miles. Eventually, her thoughts began running in circles as the fires dimmed with the last of her husband's fine Umbarean furniture burning down, and the last of the supplies dwindled. She even drank the barrel of Bree ale Mildric had stored in their cellar a long time ago, then burned the wood. And it was then when the weather suddenly cleared for a couple of days, and she knew it was now or never.

And so I am here, she thought to herself several months later, moving around in the kitchen she had already grown fond of, even though these days there was not any real meal to cook. We have made it through the winter. It won't be long before somebody comes from the outside, to help us get back on our feet. They will bring food and other supplies. Every day, together with the other women in the kitchen, they would talk about it and look out of the windows. And one day, at last, one of the children burst into the kitchens - a poor, gaunt thing, but still with the liveliness all children possess no matter what - and shouted: "They are coming! I saw them! They are coming!" And indeed, as the women - and half of the Mead Hall - started pouring out of the doors, a man on a fine horse appeared on the road, and then another, and another, and another, and laden carts behind them.

"At last," somebody's voice escaped from behind Stefnu, and similar sighs of relief and happiness followed from all around.

"Béma bless them," Stefnu whispered. They were saved. They had food. They had wood. The last of the winter was finally over.

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Old 06-23-2015, 03:34 PM   #8
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Stigend

Stigend was pounding the sawdust with the chips and slivers of wood into a paste that would replace some of the flour in the dough the women in the kitchens would bake the bread from. He wasn’t sure how much of the actual flour there was left but he did know that Frodides asked for more of the stuff every day and the small pieces of the daily bread he had tasted less and less like bread and more and more like the dust he was pounding into a paste.

He was tired. He was so tired and weak he didn’t recognize himself any more. It was not how he felt being himself would feel like. How many days did they have left? How many days could they continue even if the weather had started warming up steadily already the last week? One, two, three days? The cold wasn't the only killer, hunger was one too. Was there a point in continuing the struggle? He thought of Garstan...

Suddenly he stopped the pounding. He thought he heard voices from outside the empty workshop. Just as he straightened his aching back the door was flung wide open and Leodthern ran in with her eyes wide from excitement.

“People are coming!” she yelled, “Come and see! People!”

Before Stigend had time to even mentally react to the news, Leodthern had grabbed his hand and was pulling him determinately off from the carpenter’s bench. Without a word, in something like a dream, he threw his gloves on top of the table and followed Leodthern’s lead.

From the doorway he saw it. There was a caravan coming towards the Mead Hall and people were coming out from all the doors to greet the incomers. There was joy and excitement in the air.

Stigend had to breath in slowly and hard not to burst into tears while Leodthern was pulling him from his hand. “Come Stigend! People! Everyone’s there!”

With Leodthern yanking him forwards Stigend suddenly collapsed to the ground face on. His legs were just not carrying him anymore.

He vaguely heard Leodthern calling for help and thought he was trying to rise up himself, but only after a couple of hands took him from the armpits he came back to his senses and realised he was being lifted up. He saw Modtryth’s troubled face in front of him.

“Are you allright?” she almost whispered, worried, looking at him in the eyes.

Stigend nodded and fell down to his knees – and burst into tears of relief.
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Old 06-23-2015, 03:44 PM   #9
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Hilderinc

He felt like he had not eaten for years. Even if the snow was gone and the prospects started to look better for all of them, Hilderinc had refused to eat when he thought there were others more in need of it. There were not too many older than him left, but women and children there were. He wondered whether anybody had spotted his habit of slipping away during mealtimes whenever he could do it without being too obvious. He assumed it must have started showing in his countenance, but then again, who of them looked well anymore?

As the carts rattled into the courtyard, Hilderinc finally realised this was over. Feeling strangely light-headed, he followed the eorl and others who were with him to welcome the long-awaited caravan. He had never thought he would feel so happy to see Athanar's younger son. He had never thought he would feel so happy seeing anybody after being stuck so long in the same circle of people slowly starving to death. He caught Wilheard's eye as the young man surveyed the crowd. Hilderinc smiled and nodded, even though with his ghastly appearance it must have looked terrifying.

He figured lord Eodwine would have them help unloading the carts so that first food could be made, then the rest of the supplies could be stored and distributed in a more organised manner. He made his way closer to the caravan so that he could promptly get to work once Eodwine would issue the order. As he walked past one of the carts, he noticed another of the Scarburg soldiers, Áforglaed, already kneeling next to a small wooden box inside which a few chickens were making protesting noises, apparently unhappy about being tossed around during the long journey.

"Cluck-cluck-cluck," Áforglaed was trying to communicate with the chickens, poking his finger between the bars and removing it just in time to avoid being pecked.

"What are you doing?" Hilderinc asked. Áforglaed jumped up, looking somewhat embarassed.

"I haven't seen a chicken in a while," he said, apologizingly. Hilderinc pressed his lips together in a smile. His lips felt so thin that he was sure his teeth must be showing through. "Don't worry," he said. "Now I hope we all are going to see some every day."

"On a plate," Áforglaed added cheerfully.

"I hope we first see their eggs," Hilderinc said, but then paused and looked around as he heard lord Eodwine saying something.

"Guess we could start unloading these soon, if our stablemaster also shows up to take care of the horses," he added, looking up. Then he noticed another familiar face. "Nydfara!" The man looked older, with possibly a few more wrinkles on his forehead, but he wore the same smile Hilderinc had remembered and that he had always found slightly irksome. He also bore himself on the cart as if he had just returned from a short trip into the town, despite the fact that Hilderinc had not seen the man for what must have been - three years? Four years? There had not even been much time for them to get to know each other very closely, but Hilderinc remembered him well, just as he did all those he had met at the beginning of his stay in Scarburg. The memories of the first days were always the freshest. And now he was one of the last few of Athanar's men remaining.

"You could not have picked a better time," he said, squinting against the light as he looked up at Nydfara.

"Well you could have, a couple of weeks sooner," Áforglaed chimed in before anybody could slap him over the mouth.
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Old 06-23-2015, 06:58 PM   #10
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Scyld

Despite Aforglaed’s jesting tone, Scyld could see that it was the truth. “Indeed, it looks as though none of you has had a decent meal in weeks,” he said. All around him were the gaunt faces and loosely hanging clothes of those who had gone too long with too little food. There were many faces he recognized, but quite a few that he did not as well. He saw no sign yet of Rowenna, though he tried to tell himself that he was not looking for her. He did not know whether to feel relieved or worried.

He forced his mind back to the task at hand, unloading the cart. “I have mostly grain in this cart,” he told them. “Flour and oats, I think. And the chickens, but you already found those.” He hefted a flour sack over his shoulder and grabbed another with his other hand to take inside to the kitchens. Before heading inside, he added with a wry smile: “If you’re deciding over a chicken to eat first, I’d take that brown one in the far cage. Wouldn’t quiet down for a single mile of the trip here.”

Hilderinc’s welcome, such as it was, along with the obvious relief and joy of the folk at receiving supplies, had heartened him. Maybe he needn’t have worried so much, he thought, as he carried his burdens into the Hall.
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Old 06-24-2015, 04:24 PM   #11
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Cnebba, Garmund and Leodthern

Cnebba, Garmund and Leodthern were searching for any vegetation revealed under the snow that could be used as food a bit farther away from the Hall when Leodthern first heard the voices. They all heard it soon enough.

“Someone’s coming! Athanar’s coming to save us!” Leodthern shouted.

Garmund looked at her little sister in dismay. “You wish”, he snorted but turned back to gaze where the road made a turn half a mile a way. They were all tense with excitement trying to hear and see anything that would relive them from the immediate fear of a false hope. And there it was, a sound of carts wheeling slowly towards them, the muttering of voices, the slow pounding of the hooves – and they were all coming closer. It was true! Someone were coming!

Suddenly the figure of Wilheard came from behind the corner riding proudly in front of a caravan spreading behind him. The three were speechless just watching the caravan spilling out into their view cart by cart, soldier by soldier – and whoever there were riding with them.

“We must tell dad, mom… everyone!” Cnebba yelled but Garmund was not reacting. He stared at Wilheard with his eyes fixed. “Garmund!” he yelled again pushing his arm but Garmund just shook his hand away his eyes still fixed on the convoy.

“Go Leodthern, go! Tell dad, tell mom, tell everyone! I’ll bring Garmund!”

Leodthern hesitated for a moment but obeyed. She ran towards the Hall as quick as her feet were able to carry her in the slippy sleet and snow still covering most of the forest.

“Garmund. We have to go.” Cnebba told his friend in an even more commanding fashion pulling him from the sleeve when Leodthern had gone. “C’mon Garmund, we’ll got to tell them.”

Garmund wrestled his arm free from Cnebba’s grip and turned sharply towards him.

“You go if you will. I’m going to stay until they come by. I want to see them.” With that he turned away from Cnebba once more.

Cnebba was hesitating. They should do things together, like they always did. But Garmund had fixed his eyes again to Wilheard leading the train and was clearly paying no heed to him.

Cnebba looked at his friend for a moment and then sighed. “Bah”, he breathed out and turned to run after Leodthern to break the news.

Garmund’s eyes were fixed on Wilheard. When he was a child he had feared lord Athanar and especially his sons. But he was no child anymore. And Wilheard was leading a van of supplies: grim-looking, strong and muscular in his bright armour, a seasoned warrior, an eorling in his prime…

Garmund would be like him one day, he knew it now. He would not be one who suffered the cold and famine. He would be one who relieved others from it, with a sword if need be. He’d protect the weak and suffering with action, not with sheepish resignation or vain labour that wouldn’t help his dearest to live. He swore it to himself then and there, his eyes still fixed on Wilheard who was riding ever closer to him.
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Old 06-25-2015, 10:48 AM   #12
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Ledwyn was swept along as the people of Scarburg piled outside. “They brought the food!” she heard someone exclaim. “At last!” she responded, more to herself. They could all do well with some food. Ahead of her, Stefnu said softly in her deep voice, “Béma bless them.” That woman was odd. Ledwyn just could not understand her.

As she stepped over the threshold, Ledwyn was blinded for a moment by the bright sunlight shining right at her face. She was surprised at the warmth – she has not been outside since the snow began to melt. No, surely it was longer than that. A fortnight? Maybe even longer.

Her left foot splashed in a puddle. Oh, the muck! Of course, she thought. With this much snow in the winter, there would be flooding when it melts. She looked around regretfully at the people around her, joyfully dirtying their clothing and boots as they rushed to greet people they recognized or to unload the supplies. All of that would have to be washed. She grimaced at the thought of washing; that is how she ruined her hands. Two fortnights after the early onslaught of winter it was clear that the snows will stay until spring, and tasks that were meant for the fall were carried out in the winter cold. Knowing that it ought to be done anyways, Ledwyn did not consult with anyone but took the washing outside to clean before the winter deepened. She warmed the water beforehand, but it was not enough. She should have known beforehand that it would not work. It was plain stupid, she thought angrily. The water cooled within minutes, and at the end her hands were so numb that she could not feel them. She rubbed them by the fire afterwards, but it did not stop the blisters from appearing the next day. Most of them healed, but one of her fingers was left black and splotchy. Without thinking, she covered it with her good hand.

Ledwyn looked at the new arrivals. She noticed a young woman with elegant black hair, a lady, by the look of her, sitting on one of the wagons. Beside her, an unfamiliar man was speaking to his companion with a strange accent. Gondorian, most like. Behind them she could swear she saw a Dunlending, by the look of him. Why did all these people have to come? Not only would they have to be fed and welcomed, but they would require housing, and most of them would probably stay. Why did the people have to change so? She wished that her home would remain as it was before the winter – before the war, even. She knew that these people were not at fault, and that she should be grateful for the aid they brought, late as it came, but why did they have to change her home?

She took a hesitant step back and nearly stumbled over someone. Turning her head, she saw the people standing all around her, eagerly crowding towards the carts or carrying boxes of goods back into the Hall. She realized that it would be uncourteous and embarrassing for her to leave now. She fidgeted with frustration. If only I was more like Rowenna, she thought, I would have turned around and left right right there and then! She never cared much for what people would say, she would just do what she felt right. But another voice at the back of her head told her that Rowenna wasn’t as ungrateful and uncharitable as she was to begin with.
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Old 06-28-2015, 05:33 PM   #13
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Léof

Realizing that the carts needed to be unloaded before the horses leading them could be led away and unhitched, Léof decided to approach one of the riders first. A couple of the riders were familiar, and but many were not, and Léof put them at the top of his priority list, since they would be least familiar with the Hall.

There was a dark-haired man dismounting from a gray horse (A Dunlending? wondered Léof, as he caught a glimpse of the man’s face. Odd, but the few he had met had been courteous enough, and he had no personal grudge against that people). Léof walked up to him and said, “I am Léof, the ostler here. Can I take your horse, or show you where he will be stabled?”
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Old 06-28-2015, 07:25 PM   #14
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Ladavan

Finally the journey was at an end.
The creaking caravan came to a halt in the muddy track, and people were running to meet it. Ladavan saw gaunt faces with hungry eyes looking at the horses and wagons, some with joy etched on their features, others with blankness, as if they did not trust their own sight. He had heard talk of the dearth the freezing season had visited upon this part of the country, of course.
For the moment, though, it was still hard to envy them; Ladavan's thoughts returned again to the previous night, when they'd been stopped, preparing for the last stage of the ride.
He had been stooped over, looking at his horse's hoof, when suddenly something bumped him firmly, knocking him to the ground.
He'd rolled over and looked up to see a large, yellow-haired man about his own age, gazing down at him.
'Oh, sorry' he said, with a mocking look on his unpleasant face.
Ladavan stood and looked around. There was no reason the man could have done that by accident.
'Skûdthu viaren!' The curse escaped Ladavan's lips before he could stop it.
The man stepped closer and Ladavan tensed, waiting for a drawn blade. But the man only smiled thinly.
'I know little of your tongue, Dunlending. But that is no matter. I give you advice. It is not by right you stand here in Rohan, but by the mercy of King Éomer, and behind him, the Lord of Mundburg. But you would do well to remember this: not all here are as merciful as kings, nor as forgetful of the past.'
He had then stalked away without a look back.
Ladavan had since in turn been angered over the incident and worried, wondering if more of the same would come.

But now someone did approach him. This was a younger man, though. He wore the same look of hunger and weariness as the others streaming in to meet the caravan. He spoke.
'I am Léof, the ostler here. Can I take your horse, or show you where he will be stabled?'
The was no sign of hostility here, but it was still better to be cautious.
'You may do both,' Ladavan said. 'And there are things a stranger needs to know in a new place. Perhaps you could talk of them as well.'
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Old 06-29-2015, 07:58 PM   #15
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Léof

The man’s accent was strange to Léof but thankfully not too thick, and his tone was polite. Léof smiled. “Of course. This way.” He gestured toward the stables. Before trudging off through the muck, he relieved a second newcomer of his horse, mindful of making as few trips as possible.

He led the stranger to the stables, chatting as he went. “To the right here is the main hall. I think most of the goods the caravan brought will be going in there for now. The kitchens are there, as are the sleeping quarters. There are a smithy and a woodworking shop on the other side of the Hall as well, away from the horses here. And these are the stables – there are paddocks for the horses in front of and behind the hall. Probably most of the new horses will have to go out into paddocks for a bit here, until stalls can be gotten ready for them. I’m afraid we’re a bit short on straw, so they won’t be very thickly bedded down, unless there’s some on one of those wagons.”

Léof broke off his monologue as they reached the tack room. He tied off the horse he was leading in the aisle and indicated for the stranger to do the same. He began untacking the horse, cautious for any tricks the unfamiliar animal might try to pull, but he seemed grateful to be at the end of a long journey and stood quietly for Léof.

“I hope that helps a bit,” said Léof. “I’m sure you’ll get it down quickly enough. Do you plan to stay long, Master …?” He trailed off, realizing he did not know the man’s name.
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Old 07-01-2015, 12:50 PM   #16
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Ladavan

Ladavan followed the man, who obligingly pointed this way and that, keeping a steady stream of conversation.
He took special note of the woodworking shop, thinking he'd likely spend a good deal of time there, at least for a while. He was hoping to have his own shop eventually.

The man tied Ladavan's horse (a ragged beast he had not even thought to name) and turned, saying

“I hope that helps a bit. I’m sure you’ll get it down quickly enough. Do you plan to stay long, Master …?”

"I am named Ladavan,", he said. "My thought is to remain here a while. I have some skill with wood, and perhaps could make a living while I see what fortune brings. He paused, then added
"Your manner is helpful, and it is good to know someone to call upon in case of trouble or doubt."

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Old 07-01-2015, 04:42 PM   #17
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Léof smiled at Ladavan. “When folk on horseback come to the Hall, I am often one of the first they talk to. They ask many of the same things, and I am used to answering them.”

He stowed the horses’ saddles and bridles in the tack room, mindful of where each was placed. He had long since corresponded each rack in the tack room with a specific stall in the stable, and it had cut down on the clutter and confusion considerably.

They led the horses out to the small paddocks in front of the Hall (Léof would see to them more thoroughly later). “Stigend is our woodworker here,” he told Ladavan. “If you do not meet him on your own, ask me later and I will introduce you to him.”
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Old 07-03-2015, 09:13 PM   #18
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Having calmed down her unreasonable anger, Ledwyn found her eyes returning again and again to the dark-haired lady. She was certainly beautiful. Her hair was artfully arranged and seemed unruffled despite her journey. Though Ledwyn could not see her whole dress, she judged her garments to be much richer and more elegant than anything the women of Scarburg ever wore. Ledwyn felt incredibly plain when looking at the newcomer - though beauty, like nobility, had its cost, she reminded herself. She would not want to be a lady.

Ledwyn realized then with a guilty pang that she and the woman were the only ones still unoccupied with any work. She darted towards a sack of grain left in a cart, but then changed her course. If this is truly a lady, she must be greeted properly. She is probably waiting for someone to show her to a room - ladies are like that sometimes. If no one else is here to do it, then it shall be my task. If I cannot feel gratitude, I can at least show some courtesy. Wishing that Eodwine or Saeryn were in her place, she walked over to the cart where the lady sat gracefully.

Ledwyn inclined her head. "My lady," she said somewhat uncertainly. She stammered slightly, and felt like a fool. Anyone else would do a better job than her. "Welcome to the Scarburg Mead Hall." She paused. She should probably say more - this was as sparce a greeting as real flour in their bread this last week. "Was your journey long?" No! That was just the wrong thing to say, that is why someone else should have said the greetings. Why did that forward question have to jump out of her mouth? That is no fit way to welcome strangers, and certainly no fit way to speak to a lady. This time Ledwyn did not try to correct herself for fear that she would blunder even further.
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Old 07-04-2015, 12:11 PM   #19
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Modtryth

"There, there," Modtryth said, wrapping her arm around Stigend. Her voice, she thought, had become a mere croak over the winter, and her hair too had grey streaks in it now. Maybe she would have eventually turned into a scrawny black and grey crow, had they been in the clutches of winter for longer, but now it looked like spring had finally taken over with a magic entirely its own. The children, it seemed, were already enchanted. Modtryth watched them run away, not as carefree as before, but full of life still.

"Come, let's sit down for a moment," Modtryth told her husband and led him toward the kitchens, where they sat on one of the many empty boxes that had contained food a lifetime ago. All the women had gone to greet their saviours, to cast their hungry eyes on what they brought, and it was the quietest Modtryth had ever seen the kitchens. "We will have to clear up here for all the supplies," she said, casting a critical eye around. "Maybe they even brought more people to work here. More mouths to feed too, then, of course."

Stigend nodded. He seemed a little distant still. Modtryth took his hand. "It's going to be alright," she said.

She was not entirely sure of that. To tell the truth, she was a little worried. Stigend was strong, but it was a man's strength Stigend had - strength to work, strength to fight an enemy - not the sort of strength to endure and endure, to hold on to whatever was left and wait. Winter is time for wolves and women, Modtryth's mother had used to say, and she had hard time arguing against that. She thought: Yet now it is spring again.
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Old 07-04-2015, 04:27 PM   #20
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Elfthain - and - Thornden

Mithalwen’s Post -- Elfthain

"Can't you get me out of it Uncle? I am your shield bearer? " Elfthain had asked on the eve of departure. The boy had looked hopeful but his uncle laughed but with a hint of sadness and shook his head. " You expect me to countermand both your mother and the king? You are still on leave and to risk such folly I would have to think it a bad idea. And I am sorry 'Thain but I don't".

The boy looked a little hurt and Elwin raised his hand to stem the budding protest. "You are my sister-son and I love you just as much as my own children - for your own sake, as well as hers, and that of your father who was my dearest friend ; but you are not a child anymore and the time for playing is over. I know your heart isn't in soldiering... and really I don't mind. You are lucky enough to have a choice.." Elfthain hung his head at this - he knew his father and uncle had been scarce older than him when they rode to Gondor in the great War, "but whatever you do, you should do it wholeheartedly. Your mother has worked very hard to keep the estate going for you - it hasn't been easy for her and she has sacrificed much. If you intend to take control when you are of age, you need to do things properly. She raised you better than to be the sort of landlord who gives a few orders to his steward and sits back and collects the rents"

"I do know uncle..and I do want to farm.. farm properly.. it was just mother took it the wrong way.."

His uncle grinned and commented that from what he had heard there wasn't a good way to take what had been said. Elfthain realised that further discussion would be fruitless. It was clear that his remaining leave would be spent sloshing through the mud to some forsaken place rather than in the restored comfort of Upbourn Grange, finally emptied of the many villagers and estate tenants who had taken refuge there during the worst of the winter for economy of fuel and other reasons.

Only the foundling remained and it seemed was unlikely to be going anywhere soon: In the midwinter a woman had been found in the woods at Upbourn, dying of hunger and exposure, and sheltering beneath her cloak was a young girl, a toddling thing, little more than a baby. The woman seemed to be of the Eorlings but the child's hair was as dark as a raven's wing and as healthy as the woman was ailing. Clearly all resources had been devoted to the little girl. They had done all they could for the woman but to no avail and she had died without giving much clue to their identity. The child had been no help, unable to provide even her own name she had been addressed as "poppet" so often that she had ended up calling herself Poppy and it has stuck. And Elfthain's mother, Elfride, had seemingly become besotted by the little girl to a point that worried her son. Some might have said he was jealous unused for many years to sharing maternal affection and attention but for the most part his concern was genuine... a strange light seemed to come into her eyes at times when she held the child, fierce and defensive as if she might never let her go. And he worried about her health too..she was thinner than Elfthain had ever known her. Elfride had put all her energy into getting the village through the winter, taking minimum rations herself to leave more for the still-growing young, the ill, women with child or nurslings. By and large she had succeeded. There had been deaths of course - cold could be helped but the toll of years could not yet few died who might ordinarily have been expected to see Spring and all from mischance in the extreme conditions rather than starvation or cold. Save the stranger...

So it was not to be wondered that Elfride, exhausted, had responded badly to her son both querying her attachment to the child and saying that things should be easier now the snow had gone. He had received a lecture as to how she was perfectly aware that Poppy wasn't hers, let alone her lost daughter returned and then a detailed breakdown of how parlous the situation still was - they had depleted the firewood stored to season for next winter and the portion of the crops reserved for seed, many animals had been culled to save feed and so there would be fewer eggs, less cheese and butter, rations would be short until first harvest and perhaps after since they should do all to prepare lest this Winter not be a one off. Thought would have to be given to preserving as much as possible and to repairing and refurbishing the villagers and tenants homes to insulate them better against the cold. It was not going to be easy at all.

And so it had chanced that this exchange had been vastly ill timed, early on the day his mother had been summoned to Edoras to report on what supplies they had left and what could be spared for the succour of the outlands. And since his mother had been raised at court and had known Eomer since childhood the audience had moved on from the requisition to comparing notes on the hazards of raising sons. The upshot had been that it had been decided it would be good for him to be part of the escort and to see first hand how much worse the Winter had been in the remoter areas and he had been despatched along with the waggons to Edoras with barely time to gather his belongings let alone change his mother's mind. And Poppy had formally been placed in his mother's care until such time as her kin could be traced.

"Mother, will be alright won't she Uncle?" Elfthain queried as he made his final preparations. "Cenric says women go strange and witless around her age..." Elwin made a noise between a choke and a snort and then erupted in laughter so violent his nephew feared he might injure himself.

"I strongly advise you not to repeat that in your mother's hearing... but if you do I beg you give me sufficient notice that I may charge admission to the spectacle". His sister was still only in her 35th year and was far from losing her wits, though she had lost her temper with her lackadaisical son. Cenric was another esquire and inclined to give Elfthain rather dubious advice based on his six months seniority in age.

"My horse knows more of the womanly mind than Cenric and would give you better counsel..." Elfthain ruffled his nephew's curly hair and became more serious. "My sister has more mothering in her than even the most demanding only chick could exhaust, Elfthain, and now you are almost fledged and away, do not grudge her the pleasure of having a child in the house - even if it is only for a little while". Elfthain gulped and focussed hard on the strap he was fastening. It was nearly time to go and the courtyard was full of loaded carts, horses, those who were to travel and those who were seeing them safely on their way.

"Tell mother I am sorry won't you?"

"You can tell her yourself," Elwin gestured and Elfthain saw his mother making her way through the melee on her grey palfrey, the child Poppy, seated before her.

"I had to bring her" Elfride stated, by way of a greeting, dismounting and settling the little girl on her own two feet "there was no time to leave her with anyone and I couldn't let you go with only the memory of hard words."


Elfthain's glib tongue nearly pre-empted his brain to say he was only going to Scarburg not war but he stopped himself just in time. Instead he crouched down and scooped up Poppy who was trying to hide behind his mother's skirts. "Will you look after Mother for me while I am gone?". The little girl nodded solemnly though he doubted she truly understood what he said. He planted a gentle kiss on her brow before putting her back down and addressing Elfride. "I am sorry, I will try to make you proud of me".

"I already am. Come home soon, come home safe!". With that the muster horn had sounded and there had been time for little more as he had made ready to ride. A salute to his uncle and a bow to his mother and he had taken his place in the convoy momentarily at least resolved to make good his promise.



Elfthain might have even enjoyed the journey over unfamiliar territory had its leader been more inspiring or even cheerful and the pace less glacial. Usually of a lighter hearted disposition, he had followed the example of his commander. His resolution failing in the lack of opportunity for pride inspiring valour, he had spent much of the slow trek mum-chance and brooding over his banishment. It seemed a hard fate to spend what was meant to be his free time plodding along beside a cart when he could have been schooling his new horse - a fine iron-grey colt he had coveted since it was foaled and which had finally become officially his on his recent seventeenth birthday - all just because of a couple of ill-considered remarks. His older horse, Safran, though less glamorous was ideally suited to this venture, barely fifteen hands and a quarter mountain cob, she was smaller and sturdier than most of the other riding horses but surer footed and sensible enough to need little guidance from her master whose thoughts were often elsewhere. The evenings were no better , Wilheard gave no greater impression of desiring conversation at camp than during the day and he was shy of imposing his company on the older soldiers who seemed to be having a more convivial time.


Yet if the journey had been dismal the destination once reached had presented a scene of quiet desperation. The people were thinner and more haggard than any he had seen in Harrowdale or Edoras and even the buildings seemed to have been butchered. They were right, he thought sadly. Others have had a much harder time of it. He didn't need to wait for orders. It was obvious the most useful thing he could do among these starvelings. He dismounted and loosened Saffy's girths before hitching her to one of the waggons, then fell to unloading

--------------------------------------------

Folwren's Post -- Thornden

The courtyard was in chaotic activity by the time Thornden arrived. He glanced about, noting the newcomers intermixed with the tired, hunger-worn Scarburgians. Eodwine was speaking with Wilheard (Thornden looked about quickly for Wulfric and saw him not before continuing to scan the yard), Léof was leading a horse into the stables, followed by a stranger, and Ledwyn was speaking to a woman, also just arrived. Others were carrying sacks of grains from the wains into the kitchen.

"Javan," Thornden said, addressing his brother as he passed, "run and help Léof with the horses. Leodthern," he said, spotting the girl running amongst the adults in delight and excitement, "find your mum, and ask her to direct things in the kitchen until Saeryn arrives. Garmund! Cnebba,” he said, spotting the two boys threading through the people. “Take those chickens to where they belong and make them comfortable.” He almost followed up with a more detailed list of ‘find some old hay to line their nests, and get them water,’ but realized before beginning that they were old enough to figure it out on their own.

He began to thread his way through the wagons and peering in each one to see what was brought and decide where it ought to be taken. Two were full of wood, and these he directed the drivers to turn the horses about and take them around back where the old wood piles used to stand. He sent two or three men to follow them and help unload and stack wood.

Another wagon held large barrels full of dried and salted meat. His pinched stomach quaked a little at the thought of supper that night. He had not been truly full for he knew not how long. Tonight there would be something of a feast, he reckoned. He bit his lip and turned his mind back to his task.

Last edited by piosenniel; 07-13-2015 at 10:03 PM.
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Old 07-04-2015, 05:16 PM   #21
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Wilheard

"All are welcome! Come! There is a fire in the hearth, and warmth enough within. Did you by chance bring wood? We have little left."

"Aye, we did," Wilheard replied, dismounting. "And there will be more now that the roads are open. The King will send another caravan in a moon's turn."

Wilheard approached Lord Eodwine to greet him formally. The Eorl of Scarburg looked old and frail, he thought. He questioned, again, his father's decision to send him here.

"King Éomer sends his regards, as does my father, Lord Athanar." Wilheard was certain there was something missing in his niceties, but he had never been good at court manners. He was glad his mother couldn't hear him. "And my father also wishes you would find a place for his son in your household, for a time," Wilheard added, doing his best to keep his voice neutral. He produced a piece of parchment from his belt. "He wrote you a letter."

~*~

Brith

Brith sat on one of the wagons, a little reluctant to get up. She felt like an intruder here among all the people laughing and crying and rejoicing at their arrival. The folk here looked haggard and starved, worse than any Brith had seen in Arnor, even though the winters were often harsh there. Their relief felt very personal, it was none of Brith's business really.

"A little overwhelming, huh?" Caranthir asked.
Brith snapped out of her daydreaming. "A little," she admitted, and smiled at the sellsword she had traveled with for half a year. "Where's Fréa?"
"Took his horse, and yours."
"Oh," Brith said. "Do you think he's still mad at me?"
Caranthir shook his head. "He still disapproves, though. Anyway, I better see to my old lady here or I'll hear about it too. I'll catch up with you later."
Caranthir took the reins of his pretty grey mare and started leading her away. Brith sat and hugged her knees like a little girl.

Travelling with Caranthir and Fréa had been like travelling with a pair of uncles. Brith had come to greatly depend on the two old sellswords, and Caranthir's counsel and Fréa's cheerful spirits had got her through much. But Uncle Caranthir was sometimes a little too protective, and Uncle Fréa would always nag her about exercising her horse and taking care of him herself. Brith was a decent rider and she liked feeding her old gelding apples, but she preferred travelling in a wagon and she found taking care of her own horse tedious at times. Well, the Rohirrim sure loved their horses.

"My lady," said a voice in the rough but melodic speech of Rohan. Abruptly, Brith turned, realising she was being addressed by a waifish woman maybe half a dozen years her senior, a maid judging by the clothing. "Welcome to the Scarburg Mead Hall."

Brith smiled a little and nodded, acutely trying to remember what else than "thank you" she could say.

Then the other woman blurted out something, really fast, and Brith realised she had no idea what had just been asked. She looked around for Caranthir or Fréa, but neither of them was anywhere to be seen.

"Ummm... do you speak the common tongue?" she asked.
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Old 07-04-2015, 08:24 PM   #22
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Ladavan

“Stigend is our woodworker here,” the man who'd named himself Léof said. “If you do not meet him on your own, ask me later and I will introduce you to him.”

Probably more skillful than I, Ladavan thought ruefully. Ah, well.

"Fine," he said aloud. "For the moment, I need know only two more things: where to find bed and board. I see too that our coming is very welcome, and there is much to set in order. I could perhaps help with the unlading before I see to other matters."
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Old 07-04-2015, 08:47 PM   #23
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Javan

Javan came strolling about the corner before Léof answered and interrupted without thought.

"Léof, Thornden told me to help you with the horses," he said. He glanced at Ladavan curiously. "You come with the rest of them?" he asked. "You don't look like..." He paused and shut his mouth. He squinted a moment and then turned back to Léof. "What would you have me do? Bring the horses in, prepare stalls, or groom them?"

Before Léof could reply, two more men entered, one leading two horses and the second bringing in one. Javan turned to glance over his shoulder at them. "Here are more horses now."
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Old 07-05-2015, 11:49 AM   #24
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Saeryn

In one the inner rooms of the hall, Saeryn sat on the edge of her son's bed. Here, the sounds of the arrived caravan had not reached her. She brushed the hair back from Eoghan's forehead and peered again into his little face. His pale eyelids finally hid the tired, sunken eyes, but though he slept, he did not seem to sleep comfortably.

Saeryn rose, tucked the coverlet close under his chin, and left the room, pulling the door shut behind her. She paused just outside the door, her head bowed in troubled thought. Slowly, she became aware of the sound from outside. She raised her head and looked out towards it, and finally, as though weary with weight and age beyond her years, her feet moved towards the commotion and she went out.

She stood in the doorway to the hall, taken aback by the activity of the courtyard. The place had been silent and empty not an hour before, and now it teamed with life. She felt her heart rise with hope, until she remembered the little figure lying asleep on the bed in the house behind her, and the light left her eyes.

Approaching her with his hands full of a large sack came someone she knew. "Nydfara!" she said, surprised. "What brings you here? What is all this?"
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Old 07-05-2015, 05:39 PM   #25
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Léof

Léof closed his eyes briefly and took a deep breath. His mind seemed to work so much slower these days. Once he would have managed this chaos efficiently but now his mind just felt muddled. One thing at a time.

“Ladavan, I would head back out to the courtyard and help unload, as you say. Once all is inside, I reckon someone will see to putting a meal on the table and getting the newcomers housed.” The man nodded and left with thanks.

He turned to Javan and regarded him thoughtfully. How best to divide the work? Before he could lay out a plan the two men with the three horses had approached.

“Are you the stablehands?” asked the fair-haired one.

Once the question would have set Léof bristling, determined to be taken seriously. Now he simply nodded and replied, “I am Léof, the ostler. This is Javan, who often helps me.” He paused again, wishing his thoughts clearer. “The tack room is up the aisle there,” he said gesturing. “I have started untacking the horses and putting them out in the paddock until we can get to bedding down the stalls and grooming the horses.”

“We can see to them ourselves, if you show us the way,” the fair-haired man replied. “I’m Fréa, and this is Caranthir.”

Much relieved, Léof replied, “Of course, welcome.” To Javan, he said, “Go ahead and start preparing stalls. Then I’ll have you help me with rubbing down the horses and getting them settled.”
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Old 07-05-2015, 05:49 PM   #26
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Ledwyn

Ledwyn watched in dismay as the woman's face grew somewhat worried. Instead of accepting the welcome in the usual way, as Wilheard had done, she kept looking around her, as if searching for someone. Turning to Ledwyn, she addressed her, asking of something. Ledwyn caught the words "Common Tongue" - one of the very few things she could say in that speech. Did she fail completely with her greeting because she was supposed to address strangers in their speech? What pushed her to this task in the first place, when there were others much more skilled than her?

The lady was looking expectantly at her. "I would explain all to you if I could," Ledwyn wanted to tell her, but, of course, she could not. Maybe she should seek out someone of proper authority to welcome the guest. Looking over her shoulder, she saw that Lord Eodwine was still speaking with Wilheard. Thornden, on the other hand, stood much closer to her and seemed unoccupied for a brief moment. He would know what to do, he always does. Ledwyn shot an imploring glance at the lady and nearly ran towards Thornden, which turned out to be a mistake.

She barely took two steps when her foot caught on a rock, hidden beneath the swampy muck. Had she been watching her step, she might have regained her balance, but as she was still looking at the dark-haired woman, she flew forwards. Throwing her arms out instinctively, she managed to grab someone's arm. "What!.." came a surprised exclamation, and she realized that she fell on Hilderinc's bad arm. A sack of potatoes that he was carrying fell to the ground, and both woman and soldier followed suit. The sack was not tied well, and potatoes came rolling out into the puddles. Hilderinc muttered something and stood up, trying to brush the dirt out of his clothing. Ledwyn looked at her own ruined dress, then at the soldier, at the spilt potatoes, and at the woman, still waiting to be greeted, and grabbed her head. "It is all my fault!" she wailed.
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Old 07-05-2015, 07:25 PM   #27
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Scyld

As Scyld was carrying his second load into the hall (a large sack of oats), the Lady Saeryn stepped into the doorway. She looked tired, weighed down with care – a look that was becoming rapidly familiar to him but seemed intensified somehow in Saeryn. Of course – hers was the care of the Hall, and Eodwine had seemed particularly frail as he had greeted the caravan. And, he suddenly remembered, hadn’t she been pregnant when he left?

Her gaze landed on him. "Nydfara! What brings you here? What is all this?"

He nodded at her in greeting, unable to do more with his hands full. “Eomer King sends food and supplies from Edoras – much needed, I gather. As for myself, I always meant to come back, though it has taken longer than I planned,” he said dryly.
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Old 07-05-2015, 08:27 PM   #28
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Eodwine

Eodwine trudged slowly back to his rooms. He carried the letter in hand, having concluded his conversation with Wilheard. Had he given him instructions or directions? He did not remember.

Each step seemed like lifting logs and moving them to a new resting place. Many folk were doing many things all around him. All he wanted was to rest.

He came into the mead hall, struggling with the door to close out the cold. Everything was always cold. Others spoke of being glad that the winter had passed. He still felt it, and wondered that they did not.

He moved toward his rooms, and stopped. There was Nydfara speaking with Saeryn. He did not move, but watched them, and listened.
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Old 07-05-2015, 09:24 PM   #29
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Saeryn nodded and let him pass without further comment. She stood a moment thinking about his words. Great tears welled up in her eyes as she realized that this was their salvation. Much longer on the fare they had, and most of them would be dead before spring truly came.

She turned to go to the kitchen and begin at once to prepare food for everyone, though inwardly she knew it was primarily for Eoghan. She saw Eodwine and stopped. "You have heard the news, Eodwine?" she asked. "You have been out? I am going to prepare a meal at once. Everyone will want to eat after unloading and after..." she trailed off. She was going to say, 'After being so hungry for so long,' but she couldn't bring herself to it. Didn't they all know how hungry they all were without her saying it? Had she not watched as her husband and children grew thinner and weaker before her eyes, and she had been unable to do anything for them? It was going to change now. No more were going to die.
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Old 07-07-2015, 01:54 PM   #30
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Hilderinc

Pain throbbed in Hilderinc's right arm as he got himself up. Next to him, Ledwyn broke out in utter distress. His mood dropped too as he saw the potatoes, the precious food, suddenly roll in the mud. But he wanted to reach out and calm the woman down, and then the wound betrayed him again.

"Calm down, it is noth-" he started, but again came a sudden throb of pain, so strong that it actually made his sight go black for a while. More instinctively than wittingly, he suppressed a scream that came out only as a soft groan. The arm kept doing this to him from time to time since it had healed, but usually not so badly, and not in front of so many people. Not that Hilderinc was in a state to analyse. His only thoughts were just that it hurt a lot, and that he wished it would not, not now of all times, and he could not think of anything else. While he saw some of the other bystanders dive for the spilled potatoes, all he could do for the moment was to clench his fist, close his eyes and grit his teeth.
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Old 07-07-2015, 05:15 PM   #31
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Ladavan

Ladavan tuned as another man's voice addressed Léof, then saw the man himself appear from around the corner.

Then, apparently noticing Ladavan, he said
You come with the rest of them?" he asked. "You don't look like..."

Like what? thought Ladavan. One of you? He sighed inwardly, thinking how welcoming a bed would be.

Léof looked suddenly weary himself.

“Ladavan, I would head back out to the courtyard and help unload, as you say. Once all is inside, I reckon someone will see to putting a meal on the table and getting the newcomers housed.".

"All right, I thank you," Ladavan replied.

Nodding curtly to the man who'd spoken, and ignoring two others who'd followed him, Ladavan left for the courtyard.
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Old 07-07-2015, 07:35 PM   #32
littlemanpoet
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Eodwine

"... and after-"

Saeryn did not finish her thought aloud. they come inside? Or maybe something else. Eodwine had not the strength to make anything of it.

"I met with Wilheard at the gate with the food and clothing." They are much needed. He looked at his hand absently, holding the letter. "Wilheard brought a letter from Athanar." He sat at one of the tables and unfolded it to read.
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Old 07-07-2015, 08:05 PM   #33
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Scyld

Scyld stepped past Saeryn into the Hall to add his sack of oats to the growing pile of goods. A couple of the women of the Hall were already sorting through it, undoubtedly planning a meal for the evening. He nodded a greeting to them but did not stay to chat.

He retraced the muddy tracks back out of the Hall. A vivid memory struck him as he eyed the bootprints, of Rowenna kneeling and scrubbing the floor, as she was so often wont to do. He realized that he had never asked whether it was a task that was given to her, or one she took on herself. An endless, thankless task, surely. So clear was the image in his mind that he half-expected to see her appear before him, telling the men off for tracking so much muck into the Hall.

It crossed his mind to turn and ask the women standing there at the pile whether she was still here, but he resisted. If she was around, he would see her soon enough, and without any gossip swirling around.

He returned to the courtyard just in time to see a woman collide with Hilderinc, sending a sack of potatoes flying. One came nearly to his feet, so he stooped to pick it up and return it to its sack. He supposed it was no dirtier now than it had been the day it had been pulled from the earth. He rescued a few more potatoes along the path but tried not to crowd too close, as a small knot of people was already forming around the fallen.
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Old 07-07-2015, 11:27 PM   #34
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Saeryn

Saeryn left Eodwine reading the letter from Athanar. She entered the kitchen and found Stigend and Modtryth seated together there.

"Stigend, we need a fire started," she said. "I hope they brought more wood. Use what you must. We will get water going." Kara entered behind Saeryn, carrying a large bowl full of oats. Saeryn smiled without quite meaning to when she saw them. "Modtryth, fill two pots with water."

"There is barley as well," Kara said, setting the oats on the table.

Saeryn took them and poured them into an empty pot and handed the bowl back to Kara. "Go and get some, then. We will make both." Kara took the bowl and headed for the door. Saeryn looked about at the empty bins and boxes lining the walls. She called after Kara, "And if you see them bringing more grain in, send them in here."

"The bags may be wet," she commented to Modtryth as she began to open the bins in preparation for the grain. "We want no ruined grain."

--

Thornden

Thornden saw rather than heard the commotion. He cast a swift glance towards everyone diving for the potatoes, and he smiled a little. But then his eye landed on Hilderinc, standing back from the others and hunched rigidly slightly to the right. His eyes were closed and his jaw clenched tightly.

Thornden was by his side in two steps and he held his hand out towards him to offer support.

"Are you unwell, Hilderinc?" he asked, in a low voice.
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Old 07-09-2015, 05:13 AM   #35
littlemanpoet
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Rowenna

Rowenna stood in the wind and cold, standing on the peek of the final rise of the Scar. She looked out over the vastness of the plain, wrapped in a warm cloak. The snows were thawing, but it would take much more warmth of the sun for all to be turned to spring floods. She came out here often, in part to be away for a little while from the distress of the starving folk; but also to be alone with her thoughts.

She had told Nydfara how it had been for her among the brigands in the White Mountains, how she had risen from slave to leader in all but name. It had been four long years since that moment, and he might be dead for all she knew.

There was noise in the burg, a bustle of activity from the sound of it. What could have happened to cause anything like it in the starving place? She turned from the emptiness and retraced her steps.
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Old 07-09-2015, 02:21 PM   #36
Legate of Amon Lanc
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Hilderinc

"Are you unwell, Hilderinc?"

He shook his head, an instinctive response. He opened his eyes and met Thornden's gaze.

"It's just my arm. I might have overestimated after this long winter and took too much load for myself."

The pain still throbbed, but it did not feel as terrible as in the first moment. He looked down at his arm.

"I will be all right, but if you permit, I would perhaps be of better use elsewhere at the moment." He pressed his lips together in a wry smile. "Maybe I could keep an eye on that the guests do not create disorder in the Hall, or if some need to be showed around." He nodded vaguely toward the group of wagons.
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Old 07-09-2015, 09:29 PM   #37
Folwren
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Thornden

"No, you are right," Thornden said quickly. "They will all need direction about where to go." He cast an appraising eye about quickly. Most of the newcomers were men. In fact, there was only one woman that Thornden could see, and she stood just a few feet away, looking on the bustling confusion with a lost expression on her face.

"The men can be put up anywhere," he said to Hilderinc. "Go and greet the lady and take her inside. Find out who she is and what she is doing here." He narrowed his eyes as he studied her quickly, turning away before she noticed him staring. "She looks...important. Find lady Saeryn if necessary. She will tell you where to put her."

So saying, Thornden left him to it with an encouraging slap on his left shoulder.
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Old 07-10-2015, 08:39 PM   #38
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Eodwine

Having read the letter from Athanar, Eodwine folded it and tucked it inside his jerkin. He went to his rooms and found Eoghan lying on the bed. He did not look well. The boy was sleeping.

"Do you know where your sister is, my heart?" he whispered. "No matter. No doubt she is well enough. Eodwine settled on the bed as carefully as he could; the boy stirred but did not wake. I would give you all the health I have if it would help you live. He lay his head down and rested, wondering what the final rest was like before he drifted off to sleep.
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Old 07-12-2015, 06:09 AM   #39
littlemanpoet
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Rowenna

Rowenna passed between the paddocks. As she turned toward the Meadhall she saw a wagon and many folk, more than lived here. Who had come? Bringing wares for sale?

A woman ran into a man; she fell and her potatoes scattered over the ground. Quickly a small group gathered to help. Starting toward them. It was her wont to see the exceptions and differences, and so her eye was drawn to a man stooping down away from the group to pick up a potato here, a potato there, staying back from the knot of folk around the woman. If she did not know better, she would have thought it was Nydfara.

She came closer. It was Nydfara! Her heartbeat quickened. An image played in her head of herself running to him and jumping into his arms, welcoming him home. She would do no such thing, of course. Her legs felt weak. He was alive. He seemed well enough.

Four years gone, and suddenly here. No word, but why would there be? Who was she to him that he would send word? Yet there was anger in her that he should have been gone and never a word for four years. And this anger ran alongside that old familiar excitement, that quickening in her of senses and feeling and heartbeat that none but he could work in her.

She started to walk again, her legs feeling oddly unsure still, until she came near the group. She looked to make sure that they were doing all that must be done for the fallen woman before she turned to him, and stopped.

"I greet you, Nydfara. It has been years. Who brings this food?"
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Old 07-12-2015, 07:36 AM   #40
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Brith

This visit, it seemed, was starting even more confusing than she had thought. Fréa and Caranthir were nowhere to help her, and the poor waif that had welcomed her and blabbered to her in the riders' tongue was gone too, only she had crashed into a man carrying a sack of potatoes, and they had both fallen on the ground and the potatoes had spread all over the yard. People were diving in after them, picking them from the mud, polishing them with their hems and gathering them.

Brith watched it all unfold like in a dream. She could have cried for the poor people and their precious potatoes, but there was something hilarious about it all too. Quickly, she looked down to hide her smile. She didn't want to seem malicious.

On the ground by the wheel lay a perfect yellow potato, covered in mud. No one seemed to have noticed it. Brith slid down from the wagon and made a face when the mud made a soft splash under her boots and the hem of her gown became spotted with brown and grey. Clothes can be washed, she reminded herself, and picked up the potato. Gently, she scarped the mud off with her sleeve. She looked up. The man who had fallen was now talking to another man, younger and more handsome. They looked over at her. She wondered if they thought she was trying to steal their potatoes. The handsome man slapped the muddy one on the shoulder, and the muddy one approached her.

Brith held out her hand with the potato on it. "Greetings," she said with her best Rohirric. "You want this?"
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