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Old 04-12-2007, 06:01 AM   #721
Taralphiel
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Lys watched the boy enter, and smiled as Lèof gave him his name. Javan began questioning him, and Lys found he had nothing to ask that Javan had not already thought of.

Lys slowly sat at the other end of the stall, taking care to keep safe a distance from the horse. He was now more sensitive to its size and strength. He thought about what the newcomer had said, about a General Hama...a General that had come back from the dead. This was all that his curiosity had been craving. Heroic deeds were being called to his mind. He wondered about the General's strength, and whether he could one day be so brave. He would ride out on a great grey horse and find all the memories that had deserted him. He would ride to war and banish enemies! To be brave and strong and able to swing a sword and run, that would be marvellous!

Just as Javan had been, Lys was then found daydreaming, and had not listened to a word that was said after Javan had finished his questions. And he had completely forgotten Javan's earlier question to him.
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Old 04-12-2007, 08:03 AM   #722
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Kara awoke late that morning, her eyes not opening until long after the light of the sun fell on them. She lay still for a few moments, enjoying the unexpected sensation of a lie-in, but as she woke up properly the realisation that she should have been in the kitchen more than an hour ago struck her and she leapt out of the bed and into her clothes in a panic. Rushing downstairs she found most of the Hall up and breakfasted, including a man she had not seen before. Had she not been late she would have stopped to enquire about him but seeing that he had been taken care of already she continued on her way.

"I'm so sorry!" She cried out as she entered the kitchen, seeing Frodides was hard at work clearing up the used breakfast dishes. "I didn't realise the time. I didn't mean to leave you to cope with all this alone again."

Grabbing her apron and a clean towel she stationed herself by the sink and started washing up, slightly surprised to find that quite a large amount of it seemed to have already been done.

"Don't fret, girl. If I'd needed you so badly I'd have sent someone along to get you up, but luckily for you I had help from another. Remember me telling you there were some new faces here last night? Well ..."

But before Frodides could finish her sentence the sound of happy chattering came from the doorway leading to the yard and seconds later two people entered the kitchen. The first was Modtryth who nodded to Kara as she came in but the second was a girl she had never seen before.

"Kara," she turned slightly hearing Frodides' voice behind her, "this is Ginna. She's going to be with us for a while as she's to learn wenching. Ginna, this is Kara."

Turning back to the now introduced Ginna Kara quickly dried her wet hands and held one out.

"Then I suppose it's you I have to thank for doing what I should have been this morning." She said smiling at the newest addition to the workers of the Hall.
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Old 04-14-2007, 04:17 AM   #723
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Ginna took Kara's outstretched hand and smiled back.

"It's nothing; I realise you must be tired from yesterday. I have to learn doing this, anyway, and besides, Modtryth here was a big help."

And she really was. Once upon a time Ginna would have stayed late in bed after such a tiring day as the one she had previously. But last night she had a wonderful time chatting with Modtryth that she looked forward to more of the female company she provided, which she had not experienced since her mother died. Modtryth and Frodides had been extremely patient with her, and considerate of her wounded state.

That morning, however, Ginna woke up with her hand feeling better, and so she was able to help with the dishes. She and Modtryth had just been resting a while - with Frodides's permission - when Kara arrived.

"I'm sorry we didn't get the chance to meet last night," Ginna continued. "Perhaps you would like to break your fast with us after we're done?"
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Old 04-15-2007, 03:14 PM   #724
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The Courtyard

A single pony came charging into the courtyard from the road, and came to a wild stop just before the stables. Master Falco Boffin dismounted as quickly as he could but fell to his knees in the dirt. A bandage was wrapped around his forehead. A bloodstain stood out just behind his right ear. He scrabbled up and rushed headlong into the stables while his pony stood in one place, breathing heavily.

"Léof! Léof! Ready every horse! The Eorl has need of riders! Léof!"

"Falco!" answered Léofric. "What is the matter? Where is Lord Eodwine?"

"He is back at the ruins, surrounded by outlaws! They tried to pressgang us! Rilef's wounded! Hurry! I'll go round up some riders!"

Off Falco went, heading for the mead hall, his short legs taking him faster than onlookers had thought him capable.
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Old 04-15-2007, 06:11 PM   #725
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Javan

The four boys’ talk came to abrupt halt as both Javan and Léof turned their heads at the sound of hooves in the courtyard outside. The sound stopped abruptly and a minute later, Falco stumbled in through the door, shouting like mad for Léof to get every horse saddled. Léof moved towards him at once, asking what was wrong. From where he stood, Javan saw the bandaged head and he heard the fear and anxiousness in the hobbit’s voice.

“He is back at the ruins!” was Falco’s answer to Léof’s question concerning Lord Eodwine. “Surrounded by outlaws! They tried to pressgang us! Rilef is wounded! Hurry! I’ll go round up some riders!” And with that, he had turned about again and run back out.

“Outlaws! They’ve got Lord Eodwine? Can we go, too?” Javan asked at once. Léof turned back towards the three waiting boys. His face was grim and worried.

--

Thornden

The door burst open and crashed upon the wall behind it as Falco came in, his eyes wide and his face pale. Thornden’s head jerked up and the conversation between him and the general came to an abrupt halt as Thornden unceremoniously leaped to his feet.

“Falco!” he cried, but didn’t get any farther before the hobbit interrupted him.

“Every man that can ride a horse! At once! Lord Eodwine has need of riders!”

A look of confusion crossed Thornden’s face. Eodwine was in danger, that much was clear, and Falco had been hurt as well. Immediate action must be taken, but Falco needed help as well as Eodwine. He turned partially as three women entered the hall from the kitchen.

“Kara, Modtryth, go as quickly as you can and gather all the men about the place. Hurry! You, girl,” he regretted not remembering Ginna’s name at the moment, “run back into the kitchen and tell Frodides to prepare hot water and whatever else she’ll need to fix Falco up.” The three of them disappeared with immediate obedience and he turned towards Falco again. “We’ll go out, but you’re already hurt, and you need to stay here and get your head tended to.”

Last edited by Folwren; 04-16-2007 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 04-15-2007, 06:32 PM   #726
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Kara had just begun to answer Ginna when an almighty crash emanated from the Great Hall, causing all four women to jump. She, Ginna and Modtryth rushed out to see what had happened, leaving Frodides fuming as she worried over the oven she couldn't yet leave. As the three ran into the Hall they found both a bloodied Falco and an incensed Thornden shouting instructions, with men running across each other in their haste to do as they were asked.

As Kara heard what had happened she found her blood running cold with shock. This kind of thing just wasn't supposed to happen so close to Edoras, and especially not to a man so obviously peaceful as Eodwine. Thornden's loud orders pierced the fog that had momentarily enveloped her and she rushed to obey him, seeing Ginna head back to the kitchen out of the corner of her eye.

As she moved toward the door to find any who might be outside and unaware of the happenings another sound caught her attention, audible even above the chaotic noise of the Hall. Leodern was crying. Glancing around Kara located the little girl sitting huddled up in a corner.

"Ginna!" She called out, trying to make herself heard across the room. Fortunately the girl had just reappeared in the doorway after warning Frodides and caught sight of Kara who waved frantically to keep her attention.

Quickly Kara made her way over to the frightened child and lifted her into her arms. Making her way back across the hall she found herself following in the wake of Falco who was heading toward the kitchen for treatment, despite his attempts to be allowed to go back and help Eodwine.

"Here." She said breathlessly, pushing Leodern into Ginna's arms. "Take her into the kitchen and keep an eye on her. Frodides will have her hands full with Falco."

Not giving poor Ginna, who must surely not have been expecting this on only her second day, a chance to reply Kara headed back across the hall, only hoping she could find Garstan before he panicked about the apparent disappearance of his youngest child.
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Old 04-15-2007, 09:38 PM   #727
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“Every man that can ride a horse! At once! Lord Eodwine has need of riders!”

Náin looked up from his stonecarving. The Dwarf had been busy since before most of the Hall had risen, reinvigorated by his day of rest, and deep into further projects for the ornamentation of the Mead Hall. A stone lintel over one of the new fireplaces would be well-adorned with motifs of the Mark...

Looking up, Náin saw Thornden rushing to join the exodus of Men set on rescuing their apparently beleaguered lord.

"Are you not coming, Náin?" asked Thornden, slowing down before he left the room altogether, upon seeing that the Dwarf made no move to depart.

"I am a Dwarf, am I not?" said Náin, carefully setting aside his chisel, though making no other move to depart. "I am neither a Man nor a rider, and I shall not become either in the time needed to assist Lord Eodwine."

"Then ride with another," said Thornden. "Lord Eodwine's position is not far, and you could be carried so far with no trouble. You could fight from the ground once we arrived."

Náin laid his mallet aside, and glanced for one long moment at his barely-started project. He knew which task he would much prefer.

"I shall be in the stables momentarily," he said. "I will grab my battle-axe, helm, and mail."

Last edited by Formendacil; 04-16-2007 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 04-16-2007, 06:06 AM   #728
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Lys jumped and yelped, almost losing his seating on a railing when Falco careened into the stable and began to yell. Lys had not met the Halfling properly, but always noticed his warm and inviting face. At this moment Falco's face looked neither of these, and his arm looked even worse. Lys' stomach made an unwelcome turn. He did not like the sight of blood.

Javan immediately made to give aid where he could, and though Léof certainly looked distressed, he was quick to take action. But Lys did not have any way of helping, and knew that he was better out of the way of a horse being rushed on to help Lord Eodwine.

With that jumble of thoughts and his hasty, wobbly hop to his feet from the railing, he again noticed young Elfthain. He could not be much older than Lys, if at all. And he too looked equally helpless in the face of the sudden turmoil.

He spoke softly. "I think it would be best if we are out of the way, Elfthain. Tell me, have you eaten? Perhaps you would like to come to the Hall with me?"
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Old 04-16-2007, 07:45 AM   #729
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What a chaos! Modtryth thought. She was glad Cnebba was not in the Hall.

She ran to the new kitchen and found Stigend and Garstan chatting about some changes made to the wall. She rushed in.

"Stigend, Garstan, Lord Eodwine is being attacked by outlaws at the ruins. All men capable of riding are needed at once, you'll get horses at the stables. Hurry!" For a blink of an eye the men stood still, stuck by the news.

"What's happened?" Stigend asked.
"Where's Leodern?" Garstan asked.
"Master Falco came bearing the tidings. I don't know anything more", Modtryth replied, "And I haven't seen Leodern in a few hours."

"Now let's hurry!" Stigend said before Modtryth could.

They all rushed out of the kitchen, to meet Kara. "Garstan, Leodern's in the kitchen with Ginna. She's a bit panicked, but alright", the young cook explained hastily.

Modtryth cast a quick glance around. "I'll go to alert the twins", she said. She turned to her husband. "Take care, Stigend, and don't hurt yourself", she said with a serious voice, gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and ran off to fetch Harreld and Garreth.
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Old 04-16-2007, 03:00 PM   #730
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Elfthain had just time to say that he lived at Upbourn but was staying at his uncle's, but the sudden arrival of the pony and it's rider meant he had no time to explain that the duration of his stay was dependent on when his new cousin was born and how long his aunt would need the expert attention of his mother. He was not entirely sorry .... the women at the house seemed to forget that childbirth was not a topic of choice for a young boy even though he be the son of a skilled midwife and healer.

And besides he was astonished not so much by the news, which he scarce registered, as the messenger. He had never seen anyone look like Falco before but he had heard enough stories from his uncle and father to know that he was of the Holbytlan like Master Holdwine ...

Amazed and slightly bewildered he answered Lys a little wistfully, " I think you are right .... we will be in the way here" and falling into into step beside the other boy, noticed his limp for the first time. Elfthain realised that though Lys was surely older than him, he seemed a lot less strong ...frail almost. His curiosity was piqued but he remembered his mother saying something about how you could ask about good things but had to let people tell you their sorrows in their own time. So he confined himself to replying to Lys's question.

"I haven't eaten but I don't know if I have enough money" . He felt in his pocket and found a few coins of small value - change from an errand he had run to the market the previous day - and showed them to Lys doubtfully. "I didn't know that I would need any..... but maybe if it isn't enough they would let me get the money later from my uncle Elwin? They might know him". This was quite likely since Elwin was an officer of the King's guard but Elfthain was certain that to elaborate would count as showing off. "Maybe they won't have time to serve food with all this going on... do you know more about what is happening ?"

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Old 04-16-2007, 05:34 PM   #731
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“Outlaws! They’ve got Lord Eodwine? Can we go, too?”

“I don’t think so, Javan,” answered Léof distractedly as he unclipped the general’s horse from the aisle. That was the first thing – to get this tired horse out of the way and into a stall.

“But why?” asked Javan.

“Start pulling horses out,” Léof reminded him first, then added, “It’s not your place, that’s why.” Léof could think of several reasons, the primary one being Javan’s age. Besides, Léof would not feel comfortable permitting Javan to do something like this – he would want Thornden’s approval first.

But what about for himself? Léof wondered if he ought to ride out as well. He was a skilled enough rider, and probably old enough – Gárwine would probably going, now that Léof thought of it, and they were of an age. But he was the ostler, without any skill in weaponry. What use would he be out there in the wilderness, except to bolster the party’s numbers? Of course, these would be brigands, not soldiers; perhaps no real fighting would be required.

Troubled in thought, Léof set about speedily readying several horses for riding, lugging saddles and bridles out from the tack room and cinching them on the horses as quickly as he could. In this, at least, he was of some real use. There was no time for the brushing that he would normally give a horse before it went out riding. Occasionally he threw out a comment to Javan, but for the most part his concentration was dedicated to the horses, and soon the men to ride them began pouring into the stable.
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Old 04-16-2007, 08:05 PM   #732
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Falco had no idea how many men at arms Eodwine had. He had not made it his business to know such things. After all, Eodwine had it well in hand. Well then, I suppose Thornden must have it well in hand with Eodwine gone. Falco hoped so.

Sitting in the kitchen, with Frodides clucking about like an upset hen with her hutch all abother, and Kara, Ginna, and Modtryth running in and out on this or that errand, he had had time to take stock of his own well-being, or mayhap the lack of it. He looked at his forearm. It had a deep cut on the inside, now swathed in a bandage Kath had given. He hadn't noticed this wound at first. It was beginning to sting. He winced. The cloth was turning red. He gritted his teeth. I am not one to faint at the sight of blood! he insisted to himself.

"How many Men does Eodwine have, I wonder?" he said to nobody in particular. "I can't say as I've seen more than Thornden and Garwine as men at arms. You'd think that in two whole months Eodwine would have found more than that. Where's that Trystan off to? At least Garstan and Stigend are stout and hardy enough to help in a pinch. That Léof, now, he ought to be gettin' a horse ready for himself, if you don't mind my saying so. And Manawyth! That fellow's been slinking about too! Sure he's under house arrest and all, but he's still the Eorl's man for all that!"

No one answered him. "And what about you, Master Falco Boffin?" he said to himself. "What are you doing, sitting here like you're done for? What if it were Master Samwise in your place right this minute? What would he do?" Falco had heard the stories. The Mayor had been a douty warrior in his day, fighting off orcs and that gollum creature, and even that huge ugly spider thing! And here he was sitting in a kitchen, acting as if one of the Nazgul had breathed on him or something. He shook his head and stood up, ignoring the pain.

"Now you stay right there, Falco Boffin!" said Frodides the moment she saw him moving. "You're hurt and you'll only get hurt worse if you go back!"

"Not as bad as the Eorl, I'm sure!"

With that, he left the kitchen and made his way back to his pony.

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Old 04-16-2007, 08:29 PM   #733
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There was no time for Ginna to wonder how so many things could happen in her first two days in the Mead Hall, or to be disappointed that her plans with Kara and Modtryth had been thwarted - or so it appeared. Without hesitation she followed the man's order (she could not remember meeting him, but how could she question an authoritative voice like that?), took a sobbing Lèoðern from Kara, ran about, and now she was back in the kitchen.

Falco had just left again, amidst Frodides's warnings, and now the cook was talking animatedly to herself as though scolding the hobbit. Lèoðern was still crying as she sat on Ginna's lap. The urgency in the air outside could be felt even there in the kitchen.

Ginna had the sudden desire to get up and join the men. It did not occur to her how much danger might be waiting for them, or that Eodwine might be more angered than pleased to see her if she did, or even that the stern-looking man who did not know her name would most likely not let her. A day was too short a time to make her forget how much freedom she used to have, even if that day had been as event-filled as her first in the Mead Hall. She did not care what awaited her outside, so long as she could be there.

She had almost thoughtlessly begun to stand when she felt the little girl's weight on her lap. Lèoðern still had not stopped crying. It brought Ginna to her senses.

"Ssh," she whispered, gently rocking Lèoðern in her arms, "it's alright." Lèoðern quieted down a little, her sobs reduced to sniffles. Ginna remembered that she had asked the girl to take her around the place when they first met, but had not talked to her again since her father took her away.

"Frodides," Ginna looked at the cook, who stopped abruptly to face her, "do you mind if I take Lèoðern for a little walk in the yard? It might make her feel better."

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Old 04-17-2007, 09:26 AM   #734
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In the courtyard things were busy and near being in an uproar. The men about the place had responded well and immediately to the call for help and all were ready and willing to go to their eorl’s aid.

It was not long at all before Lèof began leading horses out from the stables. Javan came behind him, two more in hand, but instead of darting immediately back inside to get more, Javan stayed outside, looking around for his brother. Thornden found him first, and walking towards him, asked quickly, “Javan, aren’t there any more horses?”

“Yes,” Javan replied.

“Then go in and help Lèof get them!”

“Thornden, may I go, too?”

“No,” Thornden said without pausing to think. He turned to walk away, but Javan followed him eagerly.

“Thornden, please! I won’t get in the-”

“This is not child’s play,” Thornden said sharply. “Now get back into the stables and help Lèof with the rest of the horses.” Javan scurried away at once, able to recognize danger when he spotted it and knowing better than to ask again.

Thornden’s mind left his younger brother’s request behind at once. His eyes scanned the courtyard with the men around it. Four horses already had riders either mounted or standing by their heads. Garstand and Stigend were there, as was Gárwine. Even Trystan had arrived in the courtyard, Thornden noted with mild surprise. Nain was there, too. And a moment later, Garreth and Harreld came trotting into the courtyard, heavy hammers in their hands, ready to leave at once.

Before Thornden could go towards them and ask them how they knew to come, his quick eye caught sight of another unexpected figure. Falco Boffin came out into the courtyard. He did not look at all well, but his face was set in a determined sort of fashion as he made his way over to his pony, who still hadn’t moved a step.

Thornden threaded his way quickly through the men and horses to where Falco was, hailing him before he was quite near. “Falco! What are you doing out here? You’re supposed to be inside getting bandaged and sent to bed! You can’t come with us,” he said in finish. “You’re hurt and wouldn’t be able to do much good because of it.”

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Old 04-17-2007, 03:16 PM   #735
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Falco eyed Thornden balefully.

"First things first. I went to Manawyth because he's one more man at arms, but he said he's prisoner and won't be leaving his prison grounds. Make of that what you will.

"As for me staying here, you listen to me, Thornden. I'm a guest here, see, and not a hobbit at arms to be told what for by you. It wouldn't matter if you were Eodwine himself! I'd say the same. But enough! This isn't about doing your bidding or not. Eodwine's my friend. I stand by my friends. I'm walking on two feet with no limp. I can use both my arms, and I can see and hear at least as well as you. One thing more. I can move more quiet than any of you!" He gestured in the general direction of the now quiet and gawking riders. "So like it or not, I'm the best you've got for spy. Don't be a fool and try to force me to stay. Now let's not waste any more words on this. Do I have your yes?"

"Let the hobbit come!" yelled Garreth. "He claims he saved the Eorl's life once. Now he can prove it was true!"

Harreld cuffed him on the shoulder and Garreth subsided.

The other riders waited for Thornden's reaction.
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Old 04-17-2007, 06:52 PM   #736
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Garstan's mood was grim as he hurried into the stable to make ready to ride to Lord Eodwine's aid. If only aid from the hall would not be too late.

Before leaving the hall, Garstan had returned his his room to take up his dagger again - the same that he had worn in the not too distant past when he had gone with the Eorl to rescue Linduial from another outlaw band. Life, it seemed, could not long stay quiet near Edoras.
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Old 04-18-2007, 04:22 AM   #737
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Lys shyly reached over with a hand, holding it over Elfthain's outstretched palm.

"When I came here I had no money. I still have no coin to my name, and no thought on how to earn it. Lord Eodwine has kept me in his Hall only on a promise I would earn my way. I do not think you have to worry Elfthain..."

Lys' led the young boy towards the kitchens, but found the disruption begun in the stables had spread through the Hall quicker than they could retreat. Lys stood by the threshold to the kitchen, watching the women worry about a crying younger girl. With as much speed as he could manage, he walked into the kitchen and begged their pardon. He explained there was a newcomer in need of a small meal, and acquired some cheese and bread on a platter. Lys' berated himself for the blush on his face as he backed out the door into the Hall - he was still not used to talking to more than two or three people at a time. He felt guilty for bothering them at such a time.

Nonetheless, he took his humble meal back to one of the long tables, trying his best to stay ahead of the able-bodied Elfthain. Lys begged Elfthain to begin and take the greater share as his breakfast had not quite worn away. Lys then remembered to answer his last question.

"I am not certain what has happened. But I am worried. Lord Eodwine is a great man, and he has saved me. I do not know why anyone would want to harm him."
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Old 04-18-2007, 09:19 AM   #738
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Thornden’s frown etched itself deeper in his face and as Falco went on with his fantastic spiel about being a guest, not a man at arms, of being a friend of Eodwine, and able to go fight for him, Thornden's eyebrows drew closer together. It didn’t help his humor, either, when the loud mouthed twin, Garreth, put his opinion into the matter and called to allow the hobbit to come. Thornden scarcely gave him half of an annoyed glance before looking again at Falco.

“I understand your wish to help Eodwine, Falco,” Thornden said as calmly as he could. “But you have helped him already. You have stood by him while you could, and I don’t believe he expects more, not after you’ve been hurt. I don’t think we’ll need a spy, and if we do, I think one of us can manage it. I won’t hear an argument. Falco!” he said, his voice growing sharp as the hobbit opened his mouth to argue, “You’re hurt and I couldn’t stand to see you hurt again. Nor could I face Eodwine if you were.”

He turned his head as he heard more horses being led from the stables. He looked at Lèof and then back at Falco’s determined face. “Lèofric,” he said, turning away from the hobbit. “Take Falco’s pony in and unsaddle him. Put him up and don’t let Falco get him out again. If you’re coming with us,” he added a second later, “give that message to Javan.”
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Old 04-18-2007, 02:35 PM   #739
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“Yes, sir,” replied Léof, taking Falco’s pony in hand. He guessed by the expression on Falco’s face that this argument would not end so easily as that, but he was not about to get in the middle of it.

He entered the stable just as Javan was walking out with another horse. “I think that’s the last one,” Léof said as they passed. “Javan, after you take him out, I want you to walk out and brush Falco’s pony here.” The words popped out of his mouth before Léof even thought of them, and he realized that Thornden’s parting comment had decided him. He was going to saddle up Æthel and ride out with the rest of them to help Eodwine. He didn’t really want to think of Javan’s reaction to this.

He clipped Falco’s pony into the aisle and left him there for Javan as he fetched his own saddle and bridle. He paused as he passed the shelf where he recalled so long ago placing the knife he had found on the same day Trystan arrived. A knife might come in handy on this venture. He took it and attached it to his belt as he continued to the tack room. He took his gear straight to Æthel’s stall, not taking the time to tie her out in the aisle – something he wouldn’t have done with any horse except her. Æthel’s ears pricked up and she nudged him hard as he entered – she knew they were going riding, and it had been some time since they last had. As Javan re-entered the stable, he stopped outside the stall. Confusion crossed his face. “I thought you said that was the last horse.”

“It was… until I decided to go with them and had to saddle up my own horse.” Léof told himself that he shouldn’t feel ashamed for being able to do something that Javan clearly wanted to and could not.

“How come you can go and I can’t?” demanded Javan.

Léof opened up the stall door and led Æthel out. He swung up on her back – it felt good to be riding – and answered Javan simply, “Because I’m four years older than you are.” Perhaps the response was terser than it ought to have been, but they were in haste, and Léof didn’t have time to argue with Javan. Javan appeared to be trying to think of a response, but Léof nudged Æthel forward before he could say anything. If necessary, he could talk to Javan later – after they had come back.
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Old 04-18-2007, 02:59 PM   #740
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Now Falco was getting angry. Eodwine would hear about this.

"You ninny! Do you know how many outlaws there are? How are you going to find out, walk right up to one of 'em and ask? You need a spy, or at least a scout, someone who can sneak quieter than any stomp-footed Man!" He raised his arm. "Besides, the bleeding's almost stopped."

"Falco," said Thornden, "I've no more time to waste on you. Go back into the mead hall and rest."

Falco scowled. "Thornden, you and I are not done with this! Mark my words!" He took his leave. He noticed that Léof had come out of the stable on his own horse, which left Javan behind; with his own pony. Falco had an idea, but he would not put it into action until Thornden and the rest had left the courtyard.

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Old 04-18-2007, 08:18 PM   #741
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Good! The hobbit decided to give in. There wasn’t much else he could do, after all, with his pony being taken under custody. Thornden turned about and took the reins that Javan offered him. “Thanks,” he said quietly. He looked Javan in the eye and offered him a small smile, but Javan frowned and looked away. It was clear he did not like being left behind.

Thornden quickly mounted up in the saddle and looked around him at the men gathered. Everyone was in their saddle, ready and waiting to be off, bearing what weapons they had. He caught their attention with his sweeping glance and then turning his horse’s head about, he led the way through the courtyard gate and out into the cobbled street. The horse’s iron shod feet rang upon the stones and they clattered down to the gate and out into the open plain.

The way was not far to the ruins. The horses trotted and cantered easily the entire way. Thornden’s mind was busy planning.

Falco was right. He didn’t know how many there were. Nor did he know where they were, or at least where they had been when the four were ambushed. He scowled to himself, thinking that the foolish hobbit instead of arguing with him and telling him that he didn’t know could have at least given him what information he did know!

All Thornden knew was that they were in the ruins, Ritun and Lefun were taken, and Eodwine obviously badly off himself. Anything further would have to be learned as they discovered it. As for plans… They would stop some way away and approach on foot. Go in as quietly as possible and see if they could not ambush the ambushers. Their chance lay in surprise. . .
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Old 04-19-2007, 09:49 AM   #742
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Frodides was all in a muddle. Not five minutes had passed since she'd thought that with four of them working in the kitchen they'd soon have everything dealt with and could have a nice sit down. 'Should have known better,' she admonished herself as she heard Thornden's commanding voice coming through from the hall demanding riders to help the Eorl.

Minutes later and half the inhabitants of the place were running through the kitchen, people heading off in different directions without a word as to why. Ginna appeared for a breathless few seconds to tell her of Falco's injury and imminent arrival but even the Hobbit stayed only a few moments to receive a bandage before disappearing again and so she got no information out of him.

Confused and suddenly rushed off her feet Frodides barely listened as her newest charge asked her a question.

"Frodides, do you mind if I take Lèoðern for a little walk in the yard? It might make her feel better."

"You do as you like, girl. Just so long as her father knows what you're doing with her."

Ginna replied that Garstan was aware that she was looking after Leodern and took the little girl outside, leaving Frodides alone in her kitchen, free to worry, grumble and prepare for whatever fate had in store for Eodwine and his guests.
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Old 04-19-2007, 02:29 PM   #743
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Elfthain was relieved that he would not need to find his uncle to fund his meal - or still worse his mother, who, nervous of overindulging her surviving child was much stricter about anything that might be regarded as unnecessary expenditure. Elwin was very attached to his sister-son and, acutely aware of the losses the boy had suffered, felt no need to deprive him of anything that might give him pleasure. The source of so many sweetmeats and extra pocketmoney was unlikey to have refused to have bought his breakfast but the timing of the request would not have been the best and thing were getting so interesting here he did not want to leave and risk not being permitted to return.

However he had been humbled by Lys's words and actions. This boy who had nothing had understood all too well the fear of not being able to pay one's way and was trying to insist that Elfthain took the lion's share of the food he had garnered from the kitchen.

Elfthain's first instinct was to refuse Lys is offer but he had wit enough not to act on it. His very temporary lack of food and means had equalled them and he accepted Lys' generosity resolving to repay it with interest as soon as the opportunity arose. Sitting at a little table the physical differences were minimised and Elfthain listened to Lys' reply, though it was hard not to be distracted by everything else that was going on.

Elfthain had heard Eodwine's name before and more than once, but he had never really paid attention. He did seem to be important though and he clearly meant a lot to Lys. He did not know how to reassure the older boy. How could he say that he was sure Lord Eodwine would return when his father had gone with the King and the King of Gondor to fight rebels in the far southlands, and had not returned? Part of him felt that it was inevitable to lose those you cared about and he bit his lip. However he did realise that Lys' admiration meant he could ask the question he really wanted to know the answer to and he spoke with slight hesitation.

"Try not to worry, Lys ... they probably are already on the way to him already". He craned his neck for signs that might confirm his assertion, then lowered his head and asked more shyly, "How did Eodwine save you?".

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Old 04-19-2007, 03:09 PM   #744
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Falco went into the mead hall, passing two lads he barely knew on the way to the kitchen, and demanded an ale from the cook.

"Get it yourself you ungrateful hobbit!" cried Frodides. Her reaction seemed well out of proportion to his words, but that was what it was. Falco shrugged his shoulders, pulled an ale mug off a shelf, then helped himself to a pint from his favorite cask. He took a few minutes to slug it down, during which time he heard the distant rumble of a little more than a half dozen horses departing from the mead hall courtyard. He swallowed the last of his ale, plopped the mug down on the counter, and walked toward the stable.

There he found Javan kicking at straw, scuffing his feet, his hands thumbed into his trousers waist, looking put out.

"Javan!" cried Falco. The boy looked up, and when he recognized him his brows lowered in mild suspicion. "Look here lad, I have need of a pony and you want adventure. Let's help each other out." The boy was about to raise a protest but Falco raised his hand. "I will not be going to the ruin; leastways, not directly. I'm going to Meduseld to give warning there, and to see if they will lend a small company. I've no notion why Thornden didn't think of doing it, but he didn't, and it ought to be done. Will you help me? We can ride together."
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Old 04-20-2007, 07:30 AM   #745
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The plan seemed workable enough to Javan. Léof had not relayed Thornden’s message entirely accurately, but he had done so half way accurately.

“I’m not supposed to get your pony back out,” Javan said after considering for a moment.

"I'm a guest here, young man," said Falco, "and your brother had no call to jail me nor my pony. So he's gone against the Eorl's word in this, see, and you'd be doing no wrong by letting me have what's mine by rights."

Javan looked carefully at Falco and considered the situation a moment. He didn't want to let Falco's pony back out. The animal was tired, and to disobey Thornden and Léof both at the same time seemed to be asking for trouble. But...Javan smiled suddenly.

"I have my own horse! He's little, kind of, and he'll be fresh and fast! I don't want to get your pony back out, Falco, Thornden might get mad at me. But I'll get mine, and you can ride in the saddle and I'll ride behind!" And without waiting for Falco to say anything, Javan darted off to fetch halter and rope to bring his horse out.

In a few minutes, the saddle was on and the horse waiting impatiently to be mounted and off. He was very large compared to the hobbit, though, and Javan had to give him a boost up with his hands, for Falco couldn’t reach the stirrups. Then Javan untied the horse’s reins and put them over the saddle horn. He hurried to the horse’s side and scrambled up beside the saddle.

“Take the reins, Mr. Falco, and we’ll be off.”

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Old 04-21-2007, 08:46 PM   #746
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Falco

Fair enough, Falco thought to himself. The little conniver had more cheek than a hobbit in his tweens. Soon they were off trotting into the heart of Edoras, approaching Meduseld. It was not long before a general disturbance had been wrought on the grounds of the King's hall, and a small cadré of Eorlingas had been rounded up and were galloping down the main road of Edoras, past the Eorling Mead Hall, and out toward the the ruins. Nevertheless, they arrived there a half hour after Thornden's crew.

Falco had decided not to join the cadré, but to trot back east at a leisurely pace. Javan's horse trotted past the Eorling Mead Hall, and Javan questioned Falco as to why they were not stopping.

"We may be needed," Falco said simply.

Eodwine

Eodwine hunkered down in a nettle. He had considered holing up in that circular chamber, but having no bow and arrows, he had decided that his enemies would climb over the top in too great numbers and soon overwhelm him. He had thought of climbing a tree, but he would be no safer than a roosted bird and arrows could reach him, or worse, fire. So he had left the paths and half-paths and forged into the close brush and nettles, and had instructed Ritun and Lefun to do the same. He saw no sign of the twins now. He hoped that Falco had gotten away safely. Eodwine lay low and tried to calm his breathing. Are you being a coward? The stray thought didn't surprise him, but it most certainly did not help at the moment. No! he insisted to himself. This place is overrun with outlaws! There must be at least a dozen! He could hear the heavy thud of feet running hither and yon. It was best to lay low, if he could manage it, until help came; if it came. He hoped Ritun and Lefun were safe.
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Old 04-22-2007, 11:27 PM   #747
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The reassurance of the young boy made Lys smile. He did not know how the day would play out, but he was glad he had someone he may count as another friend to spend it with.

"How did Eodwine save you?"

Lys paused and fiddled with the chunk of bread he had set to eating. He did not like telling people what had happened. Lord Eodwine, Thornden, Hrethel and Léof seemed to have kept mostly quiet about his state. All knew a sickly boy resided at the Hall, but few took notice. He still felt uncomfortable and ashamed.

"Lord Eodwine...took me in." Lys said, noting he was being repetitive. "I have been..unlucky I suppose. And Thornden has cared for me also. He is as close to a father as I will ever have."

Lys felt like he was lying but did not say more. He looked up at the boy, wondering what else he might ask. Would it be so bad to tell him everything? He was not certain. Lys decided to turn to another subject.

"And what of you? You said that you have an Uncle? Is he here?"
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Old 04-23-2007, 03:42 PM   #748
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Garmund and Cnebba messing with things too...

"Garmund, look!" Cnebba sprang up and let his grip loose of the sheep Garmund was shearing.

"Auch! You..." Garmund cut a small wound to his index finger as the sheep struggled itself away. But as soon as he saw what Cnebba was pointing at he froze.

The two boys were following the tiny rider in the distance with their eyes. They couldn't believe what they saw. The truth was just too demanding.

"That's master Falco! He's hurt!", Garmund shouted in the end as if Cnebba hadn't realised the fact already. They both screwed up their eyes to see the riding shape properly.

"Where are the others?" Cnebba asked insecurely. He couldn't hide the sudden fear that had taken over him from his voice.

Garmund and Cnebba had seen the four riding towards the ruins in the distance earlier in the day. They had been particularly jealous of the sight, both for reasons of their own. They had followed the riders keenly enough with their eyes then. But now after an hour or so the feeling was not that of an envy but that of an anguish. Even their young minds realised that something had gone bad.

"Should we..." Cnebba began shakily but Garmund was already on his feet and running.

"C'mon you sissy! I know the place!"

Cnebba followed Garmund through the long grass as fast as he could. He couldn't catch him but neither could Garmund make any more headway to him. Cnebba was soon panting heavily. He just ran without a thought, following Garmund who led the way towards the ruins more than a mile away.

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Old 04-23-2007, 08:12 PM   #749
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Thornden drew rein a little way from the ruin and leaped down from the saddle. The place where Falco had indicated that Eodwine was would be just around that small hill.

“We’ll leave the horses here,” he said to the men, “and go in on foot. We don’t know what is in there and the horses will merely announce our coming. Spread out however you can – the underbrush is thick – but don’t stray too far from each other. Depending on how many there are, our main chance may be in collective strength. But if there are not many, than each of us fighting alone or in pair may be all we need.

“Forward, now. Quietly. Keep your eyes open and yourselves quiet.”

He drew his sword, a thing he rarely bore, and went forward cautiously. The men moved behind him, holding what weapons they had in their hands. There was not a faint heart among them as they advanced into an unknown place and against unknown enemies.

Rounding the shoulder of the hill, Thornden could see before him the twisted vines and underbrush that grew over the old stonework. Trees grew far apart where he was now, and the underbrush was not very thick, but in there it was like a jungle, twisted and tangled, full of hollow pockets where men could hide and lie in wait.

He forged forward, taking the path that he, Falco, and Garmund had taken a few days ago, leading straight into the heart of the ruins. He moved slowly, his body tense with expectation, his ears straining until they hurt with the effort to hear something out of place. His eyes peered forward and to the sides, looking for any sign of anyone.

A stick snapped to his right. He jerked about, just as there was a rush of crackling bracken and leaves. A man flung himself forward upon him and Thornden’s left hand lifted just in time to grasp at the descending dagger. The blade cut his hand severely, but it turned the blow away from his chest. The outlaw stumbled, thrown off balance with the force of his attack. Thornden fell backwards, too, momentarily dizzy with the shock of the impact and the pain in his hand, but by the time the man regained his balance, Thornden had regained his wits, and they turned towards each other at the same moment.
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Old 04-24-2007, 10:31 AM   #750
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Æðelhild had been up with the dawn and had ridden out to the lower slopes in search of fresh supplies of wild wort and fennel root. The dusty coloured Dun she had purchased a week now passed with the coin Lord Eodwine had been sending , suddenly lifted its head and pricked up its ears as they returned. approaching the golden halls stables there was a foray of noise and a hustle and bustle of both men and horses, a clatter of spears as many armed riders mounted ready to ride out.

“What is going on?” Æðelhild asked as a young stable lad came to take her reigns. “It’s Lord Eodwine of Middle Emnet,” the lad answered hastily as he lead the dun away from the mounting riders to the stable proper. Æðelhild’s eyes widen as the lad went on, “they say he is hold up by bandits in the ruins east of the mid Emnet, they can not say how many harry the Lord, but they seem greatly eager to take their leave and be on the road as soon as we can have horses ready.”

“How come they by such grievous news?” she asked as she dismounted the dun. “ Em a Hobbit what was his name…Fal…to or Falc…ar”

“Falco, Master Falco!” she exclaimed, to this point she had thought the boy mistaken surely Lord Eodwine had not found such trouble , but that the news had come from Falco meant it had to be true she had to find him and find out if Eodwine or any others where hurt. “Keep her saddled I may have need of her shortly.”

By the time she reached the lower steps of the hall the kings riders were all ready beginning to leave, she stopped trying to find the halfling among the riders but she could not see him. Turning hurriedly on her heels she raced up the steps and through the corridors stopping whoever crossed her path asking if they had see the hobbit to had brought news of Lord Eodwine’s misfortune. After finally discovering that Falco head and arm crudely bandage had left behind the riders she made her way to the healers hall.

Hrethel was there with a few others and they turned at her abrupt entrance, watching as she quickly gathered up what supplies she thought she would need. She did not exactly know when she had decided that she was going, but she knew she had to. Falco was wounded and very possibly Eodwine was too, though she hoped not. The riders meant only one thing there would be a fighting and Æðelhild knew that meant her gifts would be needed and whether or not any man thought it would be inappropriate for her to be there she very much intended to be.

“Æðel,” Hrethel asked placing a concerned hand on her shoulder. She turned her face flush and her eyes glistening close to tears, “ I have to go Hrethel, Lord Eodwine is….”

“ I know all about Lord Eodwine’s trouble, word has already reached us of Falco and his request for aid.” The older healer answered gently. “but I am sure the riders will find him, you should stay and let them bring him home.”

“ And what if he is wounded when they find him Hrethel, and how many will be wounded or even die in the finding him ? Eodwine Pays for a healer and I am yet to prove my worth.” Æðelhild’s eyes pleaded with Hrethel to let her go but still he tempted to dissuade her.

“ Lord Edowine sent you here to learn what I can teach and you have learned much Æðel, but there is still much you have yet to learn. I do not believe that Lord Edowine would wish you to ride out even on the edge of battle on the off chance that he may be wounded, no Æðel it is our place to wait and be ready to tend those who return to us. what use are we to those wounded if we end up wounded or worse dead ourselves!”

Æðelhild sighed heavily. What Hrethel was saying was true, but she could not shake the obligation she felt towards Edowine, after all he had given her a roof over her head, food in her mouth and the coin in her purse and perhaps most of all and without even knowing it he had given her back her life… no it was not the grand halls of Gondor or the boar and pheasant banquets of the Gondorian Lords nor even the peacefully tranquil halls of the healers of Minas Tirith , but she felt at home here. And although the trauma’s of her past remained they were but clouded memories, blanketed by thoughts of new beginnings and future friendships. No she could not lose that hope nor the one who had given her that hope.

Realising that she would not persuade Hrethel to let her go she nodded resignedly, “ you are right Hrethel, I apologise for such outbursts, I….”

“Hush, no need for apologies. Such loyalty is to be commended but you will be needed here.” Hrethel replied gently.

“No not here,” Æðelhild answered shaking her head. “It will be to Lord Eodwine’s Hall that they will return.”

Hrethel paused for a moment to consider then smiled, “off course, then you should go. I must remain here, but you should go and be ready for any who should return wounded.”

“Yes” Æðelhild answered with a nod. “And Hrethel I am sorry.”

Gathering up her things she left with the old man considering that second apology. She hated to lie to him, but she knew she could not wait, she would go to the hall but not yet, not until she had found Falco and only then if he could reassure her that Edowine was uninjured. Within Minutes she was again mounting her dun and Galloping through the gates of Edoras in search of Falco Boffin.

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Old 04-24-2007, 02:18 PM   #751
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"And what of you? You said that you have an Uncle? Is he here?"

"Here?" Elfthain was startled slightly having been distracted by Lys' previous words, "Oh in Edoras but not in the Hall.... he is a knight of the kings guard ...and well he is the nearest I have to a father now ... he is very kind but it is not the same ..... and my aunt is having another baby - that is why we are here, my mother is good with that sort of thing - and if this one is a boy maybe he won't be so interested in me anymore".

Elfthain suddenly looked a lot younger and his lip quivered... he had part overheard his mother telling her brother that maybe if he had a son of his own to raise he would interfere less in how she brought up hers and taken it overly to heart.

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Old 04-24-2007, 03:06 PM   #752
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Seeing everyone around him draw their weapons, Léof had followed suit, unsheathing his short knife and holding it awkwardly in front of him. The short weapon was of small comfort; even if he really had known how to use it for fighting, he imagined that it was too short to be really effective: it was scarcely half a foot long. He wished that they had not had to spread out so much, even if two or three of the others were within sight, if he looked for them. He felt utterly incapable, and, yes, scared. His knife hand was trembling slightly. Why had he come? He had known he wouldn’t be much use in fighting. He was more like to get himself captured like Eodwine, or killed, than to be of any help.

He walked forward slowly, listening carefully for any sound. Every dell, every tree seemed to hide an outlaw. Then somewhere off to his right there was a clashing; Léof jumped at the sudden noise. He hesitated; ought he to keep going, or run towards the sound? Did someone need help? Had they found something? Without thinking too hard about it he began to run in that direction. Before he had gone even three steps, he tripped and went flying, landing heavily on his stomach. Just as he was reorienting himself, something large landed on top of him. One word registered in Léof’s hazy mind:

Outlaw!

He began to struggle, kicking wildly and trying to get the great brute off of him. He felt crushed, unable to draw a deep breath of air. One of his kicks connected firmly and he felt the man grunt and move slightly off him. He managed a gasp of breath and cried out. Help! He needed help!
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Old 04-24-2007, 03:33 PM   #753
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Eager to come to Falco's aid, Garmund ran faster than he ever had before. He did not know what had gone amiss, but there had to be something wrong. Even from a distance, Garmund had seen that the hobbit had something wrapped around his head.

For a moment, Garmund thought of being glad to be away from the slow shearing and from the simmering fight with Cnebba, now pushed under a stony silence broken only by grumbled comments on their work. He chided himself. If there was trouble at hand and if Falco had been hurt, that was far more important than the quarrel.

The unkempt thicket near the ruins drew near. Not long ago, Garmund had approached cheerfully, ready for an adventure. Now the place seemed somehow forbidding. Falco was nowhere to be seen, and a quick glance behind showed that Cnebba had been left far behind. Garmund was alone.

Or so he thought. Whispered voices and footsteps came from inside the thicket and Garmund dropped to the ground alarmed. He crawled under a tangle of brambles and tried to peer into the deeper undergrowth.

Several pairs of booted feet paced just ahead. Garmund held his breath, not wanting to be heard, and slowly crawled back out from under the brambles. Cnebba was coming, and quarrel or no quarrel, had to be warned to be on his guard.

He headed back the way he came, first slowly and on tiptoe, then, once some distance separated him from the thicket, he broke into a run. He soon came back to Cnebba.

Out of breath, Garmund gasped out, "There are strange men in the thicket. We have to be careful. Come on."

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Old 04-24-2007, 04:03 PM   #754
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Garmund and Cnebba reached the ruins undetected. First they had been covered by the tall grass and nearer the ruins they had taken to crawling beneath the underbrush. They were panting heavily, leaning their backs to the remnants of a once powerful tower giving to the east.

They had seen three rugged men dragging the twins by force into the mound from a half collapsed doorway. One of them had slapped Ritun brutally to the face when he had cried for help.

Both of them were trying to control their breath but couldn’t help it. Their cheeks were red from exhaustion and their hearts were beating on overrates. Cnebba’s hands were shaking visibly and he tried to bury them under his legs not to show the trembling to his friend. Garmund was pressing the shearing knife so hard in his hand that his knuckles were white. With one word, they were scared to death after seeing how the outlaws had handled the twins.

“What do we do now?” Cnebba hissed from between his teeth.

Garmund was quiet for a while but then seemed to pull himself together and whispered back to Cnebba. “I have these...”, he raised his hand to show the shearing knife to Cnebba, “Pick some pebbles... we must get the twins out from here”.

Cnebba was about to voice his fear of the big men but decided to shut his mouth as he saw the determined look on Garmund’s face.

Armed with a shearing knife and a few pebbles the boys started crawling beneath the underbrush towards the doorway some twenty yards from them. They stayed close to the broken ancient wall that had been growing grass for decades for the vegetation was thickest just beside it.

“More of them coming! Hurry up guys! Giddyup!”

The sharp voice coming from the left froze them both to their positions. Neither dared even to breathe.

Suddenly there was movement all around the place. Four men appeared from behind the corner some thirty yards in front of them and ran towards the voice. Two of the men who had dragged the twins inside the mound emerged from the doorway and followed the four. There were also sounds of running feet behind them but they didn’t dare to turn their heads to see. For a while they just waited.

Eventually Garmund started to crawl forwards again. Cnebba had no choice but to follow. He didn’t wish to be left alone in this place anyhow. He was hoping, he was hoping indeed, that his father and Garmund’s father, and lord Thornden and all of the men from the Mead Hall would be here. He just hoped.

Garmund stopped abruptly and turned to look at Cnebba. “Okay Cnebba. Now we get up and run... we run fast but quiet. You understand? The doorway is just a few yards away.” He pointed carefully forwards. “You see it?”

Cnebba nodded slowly and pressed the pebble he had in his hand. He swallowed and then looked at Garmund to the eye. “We run then”, he said quietly.

“As I count to three...” Garmund whispered.
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Old 04-24-2007, 05:41 PM   #755
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Garmund could feel the blood pounding in his ears. He stared intently at the one man who remained to guard the mound, holding his breath and clenching the small knife in his fist. The guard's back was to the boys.

Garmund swallowed hard, worried that he and Cnebba had come into more trouble than they bargained for. But, with the other six men gone, this was their best chance to help the twins.

"One."

He clenched the knife tighter.

"Two."

Now or never.

"Three."

Garmund stood quickly and ran on tiptoe towards the doorway. Cnebba was just behind him. The guard did not turn.

The ground was covered with straggling vines from the surrounding thicket. One of them wrapped around Garmund's ankle. He fell, and as he caught himself, the knife slipped from his grasp. The guard turned sharply and gaped at the boys.

Without thinking, Cnebba flung his pebble at the guard, striking him squarely in the forehead. In the moment gained by Cnebba's quick action, Garmund caught his footing and snatched the knife.

"Come on!" he shouted and sprinted to the doorway.

The boys stood in the doorway, shoulder to shoulder, and faced the guard, who approached with a smirk on his lips.

"Come no closer," Garmund cried shakily. The knife flashed in his hand.
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Old 04-25-2007, 07:57 AM   #756
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The outlaw fairly laughed at Garmund’s threatening motion of the knife. Ghem enjoyed a good show of bravery and sport, especially when it posed no danger to himself. Regardless of their harmlessness, though, he slowed his advance and came on slowly and gently, as though he were stalking a shy horse.

“‘Ey, me lads, now, I haint gonna ‘urt you,” he said softly, a wicked smile twisted to get free and spring on his face. “You put up a nasty li’le foight, don’ yea?” His left hand brushed his forehead briefly, where the stone had struck him. A little blood showed on his fingertips, but he ignored it. He didn’t care.

He was glad these boys had come along. He was always left to guard prisoners and it was always the most boring job of the whole commission. Rarely had he had visitors, and rarely had the visitors been so small and promised so much fun.

And all the while the thoughts sped through his mind, he advanced slowly forward, ready to make a quick spring, capture that knife arm and put some sense into these brave, foolish, and very unlucky little boys’ heads.
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Old 04-25-2007, 09:17 AM   #757
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Thornden

Thornden’s fight was short and fierce. His sword helped him little at such close range and the man was practically savage in his attacks with the knife, but Thornden was taller, stronger, and heavier. This outlaw’s best chance had lain in surprise, but Thornden had recovered from that surprise.

In less than a minute, he had overcome the man and thrust his own dagger into his heart. Thornden got up and stood for a moment, looking around him for some plant who’s leaves he could hold against his sliced palm. The blood was flowing freely and it burned like fire. He had no cloth to bind over it.

His eye spotted a small, leafy plant that grew close to the ground. His mother had often pointed it out to them when he was young. It grew beneath bushes and trees and rarely grew more than two inches high, though it spread it’s leaves in a broad diameter on the ground. He knelt and plucked several of these leaves, furry and soft, stuff them in his mouth, chewed once or twice, and then pulled it back out and laid it across his palm. Then his fingers curled down over them and he stood back up. He sheathed his sword and picked up the long bladed dagger. That would be a better weapon in this tightly woven wilderness of vines and thicket.

It took less time to do these things than it takes to explain them. In seconds he was up and on his way again, running forward, this time, instead of walking. He had to find Eodwine. The danger was thick here, and Eodwine in the most danger of all, for he was weaponless.
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Old 04-25-2007, 04:45 PM   #758
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Eodwine moved as quietly as he could through the dense foliage and thickets, trying to find his way away from the noise. A real man would sneak up on one, disarm, him, dispatch him, and join forces with his friends. Eodwine didn't like the thought that had slipped into his mind, for it implied that he was a coward. For one thing he was not sure anybody whom he'd call a friend was anywhere nearby. On the other hand, this was pure survival.

But what about Rilef? What if they had captured him? What mockery and cruelty might they not resort to? Eodwine cursed softly and turned around, making his way as quietly as he could back the way he had come.

He heard sword's clashing and feet thumping along worn down paths. Horses whinnied in the distance .... that was a good sign. Dogs growled and barked aggressively in the opposite direction. He was almost back to the tower.

“‘Ey, me lads, now, I haint gonna ‘urt you,” came a soft, menacing voice. “You put up a nasty li’le foight, don’ yea?”

Was Falco back? But there were two lads. Where were Rilef? Eodwine peered through the foliage and saw a ruffian stalking toward Cnebba and Garmund.

No!

Eodwine forgot all about protecting himself of a sudden. This was not to be allowed! He sprang out from his covering, quickly closed the short distance between himself and the ruffian, and tackled the lout who fell sprawled face down beneath him. Eodwine didn't give him a chance to react and beat him about the head until he was senseless.
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Old 04-26-2007, 12:16 PM   #759
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Stigend and Leof (and Garstan)

Stigend unmounted by Thornden’s orders. He took the shorter spear to his left hand and the longer one to his right. He patted Snowstreak to her neck as tenderly as he could with all the excitement and pulled the reins over her head. “Keep cool my love, keep cool...” he whispered to her more to assure himself than her.

Stigend felt insecure as they walked forth towards the grassy hill in front of them. Can these people fight? Thornden probably can... He realised how little did he know of his fellows that were advancing this grassy mound. Well, he did know them by names surely but he had still spent most of the time in the Mead Hall with his family or then with Garstan and their work. He knew Náin also and relied on his stounchness but the dwarf was trailing long behind him as Stigend tried to stay along the level of Thornden. We’re spreading too wide.. now where’s Garstan?.

Knowing someone by name was not much when you were possibly walking to a fight. Stigend was missing the straighforward calls of the officers at the men-of-war –camps. There was a certain order there and when they had to actually fight the two times he had been involved everything had been orderly and clear and he had known what was demanded of him. Now he was much more insecure. Thornden had just called them to spread and advance... Stigend was getting worried about the distances they were making to each other. It was not the way he had been taught.

Thornden was attacked first.Stigend’s body stiffened as hew realised it was an ambush they were walking into. Just as he was about to rush to the aid of Thornden he heard noises from all around him. Then there was a call of help to his left.

“Leof!” Stigend cried as he recognised the voice to his left. He turned and started running to the direction of the call. Leof! You’re so young you shouldn’t be here in the first place! I won’t let them harm you! Just hold on! I’m coming! Stigend was overwhelmed with his thoughts. Fatherly instinct they were? Possibly... no doubt the image of Cnebba flashed in his mind as he thought of Leof.

After a short sprint Stigend thought he had an idea where the cry had came from. Happily the grass were swinging to and fro at the point near enough the one he had been targeting. So there they were. He rushed forwards throwing in everything he could. He changed the spears in his hands while he ran. There was no use of the throwing-spear here.

And he caught them. The outlaw was on top of Leof and they struggled. Leof was just barely pushing the knife of the outlaw from the wrist to stay away from his throat. It looked really bad indeed. But everything that followed happened fast then.

Stigend dropped the longer spear to the ground two paces away from the struggling pair. With the next he secured a two hand grip from the shorter spear and with the last bounce he bellowed as mightily and loud as he could.

The outlaw had time enough only to turn his head to face Stigend as the spear ran through his body. It went in from the shoulder and through out to his other side. The spear hit the ground and yanked Stigend who was still holding it savagely to the side. You were to drop it...!

Stigend was immediately back on track and turned around to face Leof on all fours. Simultaneously he was trying to swerwe the spear from the still trembling outlaw.

“You’re alright Leof?” He asked, panting after he had freed his spear from the body of the outlaw.

“Mmhh... I guess I am...” Leof managed to answer, gurgling the blood of the outlaw from his mouth.

Stigend looked at him worriedly at first but then nodded as he could see no open wound on him. He crawled over Leof and picked his longer spear from the ground. Then he turned back to him.

“Promise me you will stay behind! And take this brute’s knife, it’s far better than yours!”

Leof nodded with confusion while Stigend was already standing up straight. Leof saw Stigend to take a quick look around and then he heard him shout out aloud.

“Come together! Closer to each other!”. With that he ran away from Leof.

At the moment Stigend started towards the middle of the Mead Hall men he saw a man emerging from behind Garstan whom he had just spotted from between the grasses.

“Garstan! Your back!” he shouted and at the same time threw his spear. The outlaw was too far for him to reach and the spear seemed to fall some yards too short. But the outlaw yelled in pain. It had seemingly hit him into his leg. But with the force of the sudden effort Stigend fell down himself. He heard oncoming noises of feet approaching and went to his knife.



---***---



Garmund, Cnebba and lord Eodwine

”Master Eodwine!” both of the boys yelled in unison when Eodwine fell upon the brute. The fight was quickly over but the sight of lord Eodwine hitting the brute’s head first with his fists and then just banging it to the ground sent shivers to both of the little boys. All the blood around... the way the brute’s body stopped responding... They were petrified.

Eodwine looked them anxiously over the numb body of the outlaw, panting heavily.

“Rilef is in there...” Garmund managed to utter at last. Cnebba was pointing inside the doorway as well.

“It’s good to see my good friends armed and by my side” lord Eodwine said warmly amidst the panting. He drew breath to calm himself.

“But from now on you two should stick to the pebbles... Do you both have them?”

Garmund hesitated with the shearing knife still in his right hand but Cnebba produced two pebbles from his pocket and laid them to Garmund’s free hand. The two boys glanced at each other and then turned back to face lord Eodwine. They nodded to him in concerto.

“Now, promise me not to try any heroics. You’ll come five paces after me the nearest, you understand?” Eodwine queried seriously, not waiting for an answer.

“You can help with your pebbles if there’s a need, but otherwise you just stay behind. That understood?”

The two boys nodded.

"And if something bad happens you two get deep in the thickest brush until all's clear, then try to get some help. Do you understand?”

The two boys nodded again

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Old 04-27-2007, 02:28 PM   #760
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"Now, lads," said Eodwine, "I'll look inside the tower. You keep watch. Got it?"

The boys nodded their heads eagerly. Eodwine turned toward the doorway to the tower and took one cautious step at a time until he could see around the corner. Inside the land dipped down, as if there had once been a floor built at the level of his feet, which was now gone.

He saw Rilef, lying on the ground.

"Ritun! Lefun!" he whispered hoarsely.

The twins did not respond. Eodwine looked to right and left and saw no other outlaws in the circular chamber. He approached Rilef. Both twins had head wounds, gashes at their foreheads. Eodwine knelt by them.

"Rilef! Rilef!"

He slapped them gently on the face, and their eyes came open, and showed recognition.

"Come! The outlaws are not far! Let's get out of here and into the brambles where it is safer! Garmund is here with his friend Cnebba. Can you rise?"

Rilef did so, but with difficulty. Eodwine called for the boys who came in wide eyed and happy to see Rilef standing, though unsteadily. They helped him to the doorway, across the opening where the path lay, and toward the bracken opposite the tower.

"You!" came a harsh voice from down the path away from the East Road. There were four outlaws running toward them. They struggled into the bracken and tried to put as much distance between them and the path as they could in the short time allowed them. It was not long before Rilef was dragging behind, and fell. A knife skewered the bark of a tree trunk just instances from Eodwine's face. The outlaws were upon Rilef again, and looking at Eodwine and the boys. Two of the outlaws started dragging Rilef back again while two gave chase to Eodwine and the boys. He ran slowly so as not to outdistance the boys, and pushed them with his free hand and his urging voice. He wished he had taken a moment to look around the tower for possible weapons, or at least to take the dagger the bandit had.

Eodwine and the boys pushed deeper into the woods. The two outlaws were gaining.
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