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Old 10-30-2007, 04:30 AM   #921
Taralphiel
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"My my! Almost doin’ backflips, lad! I’m impressed!"

"Gant! You know that hand-walking would be my strength. My feet are not the best." Lys chuckled as he stepped back off the foot-ladder after securing a thick rug to the side of the waver’s stall. He stood back and checked to see it was draping straight, then turned back to the man.

"I think I am doing much better at this, now I am able to climb that ladder without being so frightened". Gant grinned and nodded "You are doing a fine job, lad. When I first saw ye it was painful to see a boy so sad. Putting a task to one’s mind is often the surest way to recovery o’ all parts o’ the body"

Lys quickly turned to see to a woman thumbing a patched blanket rolled on the front table. He had won this ‘job’ from Gant not long after the day that Rilef had been slain. Lys was not in the Hall at the time of the disturbance but felt the pain it had caused everyone in the Hall. He was most concerned about Thornden, but kept that to himself. Instead Lys had, after walking by that stall more than once, secured himself an agreement with the merchant Gant. He would work until he could take the weave as payment. Lys had spent every day since working with the man and was happily counting the time until it could be his.

"I can still remember the change in your face when I called you over to strike our deal, Lys. Your face almost made me sing out loud. You were so happy! I am glad I have had your service. I am not young, my lad".

Lys smiled politely at the woman and handed Gant the coins from her purchase. He eyed them, nodded, and slipped them in a pouch on his belt. Lys had become accustomed to listening to Gant and completing his tasks.

"It means so much to me to have that blanket. It reminds me of something. But it is not…clear. I wish I knew."

"You will with time. I am certain. Now you must be off for lunch!"

Lys nodded and began his walk back to the Mead Hall. He still had a limp, and flushed with embarrassment as younger boys sprinted past him. As much as he wanted to run, he knew it was also something that would take time if it could be cured at all. Lys gave a little shrug and hurried back to the Hall.

After entering the kitchen and taking a small lunch for himself he Lys saw Thornden sitting with some familiar faces and new additions at the table. Approaching shyly, he said "May I join you all?"
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Old 11-02-2007, 08:34 PM   #922
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Eodwine

"Lys! Of course!" cried Eodwine. "Here, take Rowenna's place. She seems to be done."

Thornden spoke up. "How have you fared this morning, Lys?"

The boy told them of his morning's adventures.

Rowenna

Rowenna had been nowhere to be seen, as Ginna had noticed. She had done a most risky thing: she had quietly left the Hall when the visitors came, in lieu of cleaning the room next to the Eorl's, had taken a cup and placed it against the wall and listened through the wall to the Eorl's conversations with both men who wished to be innkeeper. As soon as the interviews were over she snuck back out of the room, unseen or heard by any others, as far as she could tell, and returned to the chore Kara had set for her before Eodwine had interrupted her.

In her opinion neither man was at all suited to the job, but she was impressed with the Eorl's quick decision as to how to use Norjm's obviously good qualities.

She went about her work, busy with her own thoughts, moving here and there in the Mead Hall, making every effort to know where the others were, and with whom they talked, and when possible, what they said. Every little bit of information could turn out to be useful.

Falco

Falco had been about to come out of his room and had seen Rowenna turn into the room next to Eodwine's, and had seen her leave after Eodwine's interviews were over. He tilted his head and closed one eye, squinting through the other, wondering what was up, if anything? His stomach growled. It was time to go eat! He had moped in his room all morning, and moping was hungry work, especially for a hobbit. He wondered if he ought to stick around and see what Rowenna was up to. Maybe nothing, but maybe something. It wouldn't hurt to keep one eye and one ear open just in case, while he waited for word from Eodwine about others who might be leaving Edoras for parts west and north.

No one else had known that the Eorl had included his request in his errand into Edoras that morning, but that was how Falco wanted it. He needed to get back to the Shire, but he needed to do it safely, and King's peace or no king's peace, recent events had convinced him that robbers and bandits and other sorts of ruffians and sharkies might be more than happy to separate him from his pony or his purse, or him from his freedom, or worse yet his head from his neck. He would wait.

He entered the Hall and saw that many were at table already.

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 11-02-2007 at 08:42 PM.
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Old 11-03-2007, 09:14 AM   #923
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Relieved at the arrival of Lord Eodwine and Norjm, Ginna quickly excused herself and retreated to the safety of the kitchen, where there were no little girls to catch her unawares with sudden exclamations of "You like him, don't you?"

She stopped at the threshold and sighed, grateful that she had not been obliged to respond to Fliede. Ginna wondered how Harreld must have felt about the comment . . . or how he would have felt if Ginna did respond.

The very thought made Ginna flush. She had no idea how she would respond. Perhaps that was why she was careful not to be seen when she talked to Harreld: she did not want to risk being confronted about it. But her precautionary measure had been to no avail, and a visiting child, of all the people in the Mead Hall, had breached her defences! It was not as though, however, Fliede had really accomplished anything. No one had followed up her query. Ginna was simply thinking too much, and decided to think no more of it.

Kara was putting down a tray of bread on the table when Ginna entered the kitchen. "There you are," she said, "I thought you had disappeared for good!"

"I'm sorry," Ginna replied as she took the tray. "There are more people who will be having lunch here. I'll bring this out for them."

"Maybe we could join them, if the lord does not mind. I'll get some water and follow you."

Ginna did not really feel like being around a lot of people, after what had just transpired. She feared that Fliede might have trouble keeping her tongue in check, and with Eodwine back there . . . she did not even want to imagine the scenario. She quietly dropped the tray of bread on the table, hoping to stay unnoticed amidst Lys's storytelling, and started back towards the kitchen.

Last edited by Lhunardawen; 11-04-2007 at 05:43 AM.
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Old 11-03-2007, 10:03 AM   #924
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Harreld

Harreld was no fool. He did get tongue tied in the presence of fair women, and thus said foolish sounding things, but his mind was good; good at reading hints. He had seen the relief on Ginna's face when Eodwine had come back with the elderly Norjm. She had not had to answer the girl's question. "You like him, don't you?"

Harreld chewed on his hard black bread and drank the dregs of his ale in silence while all those around him carried on as if the world was full of joy. He watched as Ginna came back in with a tray laden with more bread, and how she snuck quickly away, not willing to be in the same room with him.

Yes, Ginna liked him, or she would not have pulled him aside to ask if he would go to Scarburg. But she was embarrassed by him, too. She did not want the Mead Hall, much less, Edoras, to know that she had any feelings toward the bumbling twin smith of the eastern quarter of Edoras. If she did not wish to have it known that she liked him, much less would she want to be his wife someday; or if she did lower herself - for she was not lowborn as he was, he knew - she would be embarrassed by him their whole life. It would not be good.

He stood up more abruptly than he had meant to and caught the surprised looks of the others.

"I must be back to my smithy," he growled, and shoulders hunched, plodded out of the Hall.
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Old 11-03-2007, 11:42 AM   #925
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The room was well lit and the small fire in the hearth gave a subtle warmth to the room, it was not as stately a room as she had imagined but more inviting than some. To one end of the room was a large desk with several lacquered boxes neatly arranged upon it. To the other end was a round table littered with what she thought must be maps and charts, then to the centre was the hearth. By which sat several high backed comfortable looking green fabric covered chairs each with it’s own rearing white horse embroidered into the fabric. Above the hearth over a dark wood mantel two spears crossed and between them glimmering against the fire light sat the kings crest. As well as this decoration several portraits adorned the oak panelled walls, past kings of Rohan no doubt, but one portrait stood out an oddity among the wise old faces. It was of a woman in a rich green riding dress upon a white mare adorned with both sword and shield. Æðelhild could not help but stare in awe as she recognised the figure of Lady Eowyn. The princess and the witch king had been a particular favourite tale of hers growing up and as a child she had always fancied herself becoming a shield maiden like the lady Eowyn, it had been why she had pestered her grandfather into letting her watch his students train, even when her father had insisted it was not the done thing for a lady of Gondor. But that was a long time ago and another lifetime, a childish fantasy best forgotten.

“An Extraordinary likeness , do you not think?” The subtle rich tones of the kings voice shook her from her reverie.

“Eh, why I would not know, your Majesty. I..I have never had the good fortune to see her ladyship close up.” she stumbled over her words realising that she had been gawking like a wide eyed, awe struck child. Blushing profusely she dropped into her best curtsy, her eyes cast down to the floor. If the king had seen her embarrassment he took no notice of it as he crossed to one of the high backed chairs beside the fire.

“Come, sit.” he issued, gesturing to the chair opposite him.

She looked up, startled and confused by kings break in proprietary. In these halls she should have been regarded as little more than a servant, but to be asked to sit by the king! Surely even here that was a strange thing, but feeling the weight of not one but five pairs of eyes on her she was quick to obey. Master Hrethel, the corners of his eyes creased with what looked like sympathy stood to the kings left , attempting to smile encouragingly as she sat. While to the kings right the tall and straight form of Captain Hama stood watching her as a hawk would its prey, with a glint of distrust and suspicion in his eyes, that made her want to squirm, but that look was not for her alone for it also took in the two men that stood near her chair by the fire. Two men that at first glance seemed little different from any other Rohirrim man at arms, only that their scabbards were empty and their dirty blonde hair did not seem right on their dark weather worn features and the younger of the pair even seemed uncomfortable in the stiff woollens and leathers he wore, but catching her eye he smiled and she could swear there was a light of excitement in his grey eyes as he turned to his companion, who dipped his head courteously to her. The gesture almost froze her for there was no mistaking the recognition in those dark hard eyes. She quickly turned away, ready to enquire as meekly as she could as to why she had been summoned, though she was now all but sure she knew the answer. But as she turn, it was to the King studying her so thoughtfully that the words where lost on her tongue.


There was a long moment of silence before the King spoke. “It would seem Miss Æðel that you are a puzzle that must be solved, you see my Captain here has been quite uneasy about allowing someone, a foreigner you might say reside within my halls without proper recommendation.”

“But your Majesty, Lord Eodwine.” She protested weakly looking uneasily between the king and his captain, she would have also taken in Hrethel if not for the guilt in her heart that she thought her eyes would betray.

“I Believe that Lord Eodwine knows even less than we do.” Captain Hama answered evenly, with no hint of accusation in his voice, though his eyes narrowed slightly toward the two men by the fire, but if they noticed they did not show it, only continuing their careful scrutiny of her. Almost as if they where curious as to what she would do next, but with a readiness that reminded her of the silent shadows, The name given to her late fathers patrol. Six men who it was said that along with Lord Faramir where the only survivors of the hidden refuge of Henneth Annun, after the madness of Lord Denethor had forced their lord and captain to take them into Osgiliath a mistake that had come at a heavy price and a place that her father would never speak of despite Lord Faramir’s promises to cleanse the ancient city and again reopen her gates.

“It would seem so.” The king nodded agreeing with his captains assessment, “but we will get to that in due course, but first to continue,” the king went on. “To so elevate my captains concerns I had Hrethel here, Write to the healers in Gondor that it was said you had once studied under.” Æðel looked up at the old man at the king gestured and even through her own guilt she could not help but feel a little hurt by his deception, but seeing that same hurt look reflected back at her she looked away ashamed, ashamed of what she had kept from him and listened as the king went on to inform her of the glowing praise and recommendations the Hall had given her and of their disappointment that she had not chosen to remain with them, but their relief that she was safe.

“I don’t understand?” she said confused looking between the king and the two men to her right, who she had now convinced herself that despite their clothing and hair in the Rohirrim fashion where knights of Gondor sent to bring her back. Why had the healers not said anything and why was she here if they had spoken so highly of her?

As if reading her thoughts the older of the two men spoke, “His Majesty King Eomer was not the only one to receive word of Miss Æðel or should I say Lady Æðelhild of Arnen from the halls.” At the declaration of her full name and title the colour drained from Æðel’s face, her muscles tensed and panic flooded through her, wave after wave like a turbulent sea and before she even realised what she was doing she was on her knees begging, no pleading for Mercy and Safe haven to the King of Rohan. Retelling as best she could through tears and broken sobs her tale and how it came that she found herself here in Rohan.
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Old 11-06-2007, 08:10 PM   #926
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Thornden felt sorry for Ginna. At first he had nearly laughed, again, for Fliede amused him greatly, but her embarrassment was so obvious that he really felt a great deal of pity for her. He was kind enough not to look at her and allowed her to slip away unnoticed while the attention turned to Eodwine and Norjm’s entrance.

He was pleased to see Lys. The boy had been getting on wonderfully and Thornden saw him comparatively little now that he had begun to work for the weaver.

Whilst the lad told about his morning, Ginna entered with a new platter of fresh bread and exited again at once, with nary a glance towards Harreld. Scarcely had the young woman left the room again than the smith rose abruptly, cutting Lys’ talk short.

“I must be back to my smithy,” he said in excuse before turning and stumping out. Lys, Falco, and Eodwine, all of whom knew nothing of what had passed before, stared after him, wondering what the trouble was. But Thornden knew well enough. He was the first to turn his eyes away from the door and addressed Lys, trying to pull the attention back to him instead of it remaining fixed on Harreld’s clipped words and sudden departure.

“Sounds like you had a successful morning, Lys,” he said. “But I don’t want you wearying yourself out.”

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Lys began recounting his days spent with the weaver and his success. He felt glad that he could tell Thornden he was being useful and was not seen with his obvious weakness when he tended to his agreement.

"I think I have worked to earn it. I am glad I can do something useful. I now know how to sort money and I can tell when someone offers a price too low. Gant has said I could do this for proper work one day, had I wares to sell. He said I have an open face and that is what draws people!"

Lys continued to bubble over with his tales of people he had met and what he had sell between great bites of bread. He stopped when the man sitting across from him, Harreld, quickly excused himself. He blushed a little. "I am sorry, I am talking too fast. I'm too excited!"

"Sounds like you had a successful morning, Lys," Thornden said, reassuring Lys he had not done wrong, "But I don’t want you wearying yourself out."

Lys shook his head and said quickly "Oh no! I am doing well! I am not in pain as much as before. I can almost run but it looks silly. I feel it is making me much stronger!" Lys stood from the bench and carefully put his weight on his poorer ankle. He winced, but was able to almost stand on one foot. He looked up at Thornden and smiled.

"See, it is much better..." He paused, before adding quietly "Would you like to see what my work will earn me? I would like to show you."

Last edited by Folwren; 11-17-2007 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 11-10-2007, 01:03 PM   #927
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Late Afternoon

Harreld strode to the Eorling Mead Hall, having put away his hammer and tongs and banked his fire. He could not bank the fire inside. And the hammer and tongs in his mind kept on beating upon the same anvil of undeniable reality.

Garreth had heard him out during the afternoon. Which meant that Harreld had mumbled a little about maybe thinking about the possibility of considering becoming Lord Eodwine's smith in Scarburg. Garreth badgered him with question after question until he had from Harreld everything needed to make the first '2' of '2 + 2 = 4'. He figured out the second '2' for himself: Ginna. But Garreth had not left it at '4', because he could tell that Harreld was still holding something back that was not sitting well at all. Garreth badgered and badgered until Harreld snarled all at once in words ringing louder than any hammer on anvil.

"Ginna finds me embarrassing!"

The ensuing silence had been deafening.

"Then she is not worthy of you," Garreth had said finally.

Harreld had snorted his response. "Idiot, I'm not worthy of her. She's highborn and I'm lowborn. She'd never marry me. Why did I never see it before?"

"Then why go to Scarburg?" Garreth had asked. It was a good question. Harreld had left Garreth with a dual purpose: to ask Ginna if she would ever consider the possibility, some day in the future, of becoming his wife, and if not, why would he go to Scarburg?

Harreld came to the front door of the mead hall, stopped and stared at the doorpost, and sighed a deep, reluctant sigh.

"No use standing here until Turin returns. I might as well get this over with."

He passed through the door, through the armory where he set aside his pair of daggers, and entered the mead hall.

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Harreld crossed the hall and took his usual place at the table nearest to the kitchen. He sat hunched over, one leg on either side of the bench. No one else was there yet. He waited for Ginna to come as he beat his fist lightly against the table. What he needed was a good large ale cup.

After some time Ginna came in carrying empty dishes and silverware, Lèoðern tailing her. They had spent the last few hours together, chatting as they sat on the bench in the courtyard when they had become too tired of playing tag. Frodides had yelled at her to set the table for supper and Lèoðern had insisted on helping. Ginna was unwilling, however, to let the little girl carry anything, for her safety, so she had to be contented with simply coming along.

The sight of Harreld sitting alone at the table startled Ginna. She quickly became aware of her flushed face, her hair in disarray, but it was too late to make herself more presentable. She flashed him a self-conscious smile, and looked immediately away to set herself on her task.

The moment Ginna entered the hall, Harreld watched her every move, for he needed to know by any sign he could find in her. Not even a greeting beyond a quick, fleeting smile. Harreld pursed his lips in annoyance at the seeming verification of his doubt.

"Good greeting, Ginna," he said gruffly, not trying much to hide his ire. "I would like some ale and bread."

Ginna was yet to put down a few plates, and walked around the table towards the side farthest from the smith. "Lèoðern, dear," she called to the girl, who stood aside watching her, "why don't you run along to the kitchen? Kara might need your help." She nodded at Lèoðern, smiling encouragingly, and closed her eyes in relief when the child took off.

"Talk about good greetings," she finally said when they were alone, with nary a glance at Harreld. "What's wrong with you, anyway?"

Her words were like a slap in the face. But Harreld was one to consider any question posed to him. He looked down at the floor and gave thought. There were many things, he supposed, that were wrong with him, but what was it this time? It was the fear of dashed hopes. Could he say that to her? He looked up.

"I am unsure of how things stand between you and me." He thought of saying more, asking her if he had any chance at all of having her to wife, but he could not bring himself to ask, not yet.

How things stand between you and me. Ginna felt a shot of tingling up her back, crawling to her cheeks. She felt her heart pace, she could hardly breathe, she wanted to run away but was frozen where she stood, staring at the last plate in her hand. How could he spring such a question on her? What was she supposed to say that would be honest, yet would not hurt him either?

"I do not understand," she finally said when she had breath enough, still not looking up at him. "Are we not friends? Why do you ask me this?"

Friends. Every man knew that such words were the death-knell of any hopes such as Harreld had been entertaining. His frame sagged and his eyes became sad. His face settled into a defeated smile. "Yes, we are friends. I would be a fool to hoax - I mean expl - I mean think otherwise."

Now standing right in front of Harreld, Ginna cast a quick glance at him and frowned lightly. But nothing more remained to be said, not by her. She had no good thing to say, apart from one: "I'll get your ale and bread," she whispered.

And as she walked away, she could not help noticing the transparent barrier that had sprung between them, and blaming herself at the thought that she might have lain down its bricks.

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 11-18-2007 at 06:27 PM.
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Old 11-11-2007, 09:44 PM   #928
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Much Happened after Æðelhild finished her story and not at all what she had expected. First off the King seemed annoyed, even a little angry, but the deep furrow of his brow was not directed at her but towards the two men she believed sent to drag her back to Minas Tirith and the hangman's noose. But as Hrethel helped her back to her chair the King was demanding answers of his two guests. It seemed that what news they had brought had not matched her recount and although shocked by some of what they had heard, neither man seemed surprised, if only a little disturbed.

Again it was the older of the two men that spoke first, evidently the one in charge. "Milord, as no doubt indicated in Lord Mordavim's massage, it was suspected that the charges against Lady Æðelhild where unfounded," [I]Mor...Davim? [I]She Knew that name, But a lord? "however until now we had no proof of it and the evidence against Milady was... well... is... persuasive and only strengthened by her unexplained absence." Strangely with an almost fatherly look the man glanced her way sympathetically before again turning his attention to the King. "The charges that Cild has brought against his own niece, puts her in danger weather true or not and..."

"Wait!" Æðelhild interrupted confused, "You mean to say that my uncle is not dead?" The two men looked at each other hesitantly, "No, you said the charges Cild 'HAS' brought..." a wave of relief rolled over her that she had not murdered the man, but it was short lived as she rose unseadily to her feet frowning. "If he is not dead then what charges does he bring?" she demanded uncertainly.

Again the two men hesitated seemingly reluctant to accuse her of that they did not believe, but she needed to hear it. Finally it was the King himself that spoke, reading aloud from a white parchment in his hand. " It grieves me to inform you that the charges made against Lady Æðelhild are of a most serious manner, that of theft, assualt and murder." If Hrethel had not been at her side she would have collapsed as her legs buckled under her from the shock. "No" she whispered tearfully, Even from a great distance it seemed her uncle could still deliver a painful blow, he would have known that with those charges she would dare not return.

But it had been too much and as the events of that night and those empty dead eyes staring at nothingness again haunted her memory something in Æðelhild snapped, anger and resentment poured out of her, How dare he! How dare he accuse her of the murder he committed! "No, I will not let him get away with this Insult!" she screamed angrily. "Even if I must return with you and petition the King himself." she resolved turning on the two as yet unnamed soldiers.

This time it was the younger of the two that spoke, stepping forward as if meaning to console her until he noted the sharp cool anger in her dark eyes. "I am afraid Milady that will not be possible, you see at this very moment the King is travelling northward with his family to spend time with friends in Everdim."

"And your uncle it seems has a great many friends or at least eyes and ears to insure that you never reached sight of the white city." The older of the two added sourly.

"Who are you?" Æðelhild suddenly asked regarding each man suspiciously. How was it they knew such things? And why were they really here? The more she looked and listened the more she thought the older of the pair familiar, as familiar as the name of her fathers closest friend; Mordavim or Uncie Davim she vaguely recalled calling him as a child. Another she had thought dead, Mordavim by all accounts had been in the Party including her father that had been ambushed and killed by supposed bandits in southern Ithielien, Though she had never believed that possible.

"My apologise Lady Æðelhild," The King announced, breaking the tension "forgive my manners, This is Captain Balvir of Ithielien."

"At your service Mi'lady," the older man replied bending his leg graciously.

"And this is Master Matrim of Arnen." he gestured to the younger man.

"Yor servant Mi'lady," he answered bowing as formally as the other.

This Matrim she was unfamiliar with, but Balvir... Captain Balvir, that name she did recognise he was another of her fathers friends. The silent shadows, she mused silently, as she tilted her head to regard the man thoughfully. But before she could ask why they were helping her and where they had been when she could have really used their help the King was speaking.

"It seems that Lord Mordavim agrees with his captain's assesment of matters and has requested that you stay away from Gondor until such time as matters are resolved or he sends for you. Having heard all that I have I would strongly advise you to take his counsel, but as to arrangements here that must be discussed further. But first we must eat, noon bell has long since rung and no man should make a decision on an empty stomach, come let us eat and see if I cannot help in some way." So with a graceful nod she and the others followed the King to the main hall.

It was late afternoon before those discussions drew to an end, to which much she had merely listened, picking out what was relevant and perhaps unsaid, but of them all it was Balvir and Matrim that left the most unsaid and she was in no doubt from some of the questions they asked her that it was of her uncle and some deeper matter, but for now she let it pass. The King as was undersandable remained reluctant to become involved in what he considered a Gondorian dispute, but he did remind her of her debt to Lord Eodwine, A debt of kindness she had always meant to pay off in service to his house. Although the other two did not see it, offering to have the lords Inconveniences repayed, Æðelhild knew this was the help the King had spoken of giving, even if it was the course she had originally chosen for herself.

After careful consideration she gave a slight nod of acceptance unseen by the others to the king. Who then rose breaking an arguement that had risen between Hamma and Balvir and making his apologises that he could be of no further help in this matter. All three of them rose and thanked the King for his time before bowing accordingly as Hama and Hrethel followed the King out.

It wasn't until she reached her own room that Æðelhild told the two men (who it seemed had been ordered to protect her) of what she intended to do. After being concerned that they did not know this Eorl and at the length of service she intended to take they reluctantly agreed. She sent them off to ready the horses while she quickly packed, it was in this time that Hrethel came to speak with her privately.

"Æðel my child, forgive me but I must ask. What do you intend to tell Lord Eodwine?"

"I mean as I all was did to tell him the truth and let him decide for himself the risks, It is the least I can do after the kindness he has shown." she answered truthfully.

The old man smiled suddenly, nodding his head as he pulled a sealed parchment from his belt, "The King bade me give you this letter, with message that you should give it to Lord Eodwine after you have revealed to him your secret. I know not what is written but it is sure to help.

"Be well and be safe Æðel" the old man said in farewell, "Be well and be safe." she returned clasping his hand "And thank you" she whispered as he let go and slipped out of the room.

Lifting her Pack and stuffing a small wooden simple under her arm she headed out to the stable. Balvir and Matrim already had the horses ready and waiting, and after helping her to attach her belonging they started out for the mead hall.

"Are you sure about this Milady?" Matrim whispered as they approched the hall, earning him a sharp look from his captain. "Indeed I am sure master Matrim, Lord Eodwine is a good man and I am sure he will help. But you must remember that I am Æðel a healer seeking to serve in Lord Eodwine's house and that you are a gaurdsman looking for work."

"I will remember Miss Æðel" Good enough she thought as they stopped at the stables.

"Matrim, see to the horses" Balvir ordered not seeing a stableman at hand, "Then join us in the hall." The young man nodded and went of to find the stable man or empty stalls she was not sure which, though she did not think Leof would be best please to find him snooping about. "the Stablemasters name is Leof," she called after him. Then she and Balvir entered the Hall together.

The hall was well lit and very busy, the delicious smells of honey'd ham and glazed mutton wafted through the hall masking the usual smell of stale ale and beer. Lord Eodwine was not hard to find and as she approached he rose to greet her and inquire as to if she would join him and his guests.

"Your Lord is most gracious as always," she smiled politely inclining her head in gratitude. "But I am afraid for the moment I must decline and more so I must ask your guests forgiveness as I hope to deny them your company that we may speak in private."

Last edited by Nerindel; 11-12-2007 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 11-13-2007, 11:01 AM   #929
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Suppertime

Eodwine arched a brow. Æðelhild's bearing was different; more noble, he supposed. He gestured to his left, toward the corridor that led to his receiving room. She nodded once to him, then to the others sitting at table, and proceeded in the direction he had indicated. The other guests, who had quieted, resumed their conversation as Eodwine followed her out of the hall.

She seemed not only more noble in her bearing, but a bit troubled. Eodwine wondered how things went with Hrethel at Meduseld.

She stood aside as he opened his door. He led her into his receiving room and offered her a chair, then sat down across his small table from her. The lowering sun still was high above the horizon to the west, so he needed to light no candles yet.

"Pray tell me what news you bring," Eodwine said.

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Old 11-18-2007, 12:30 PM   #930
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Matrim

In the stables Matrim found only a sole groom, a young lad carefully brushing the forelock of a dark gelding, but on seeing him the lad carefully set down his brushes and quickly came around to attend him.

"May I help sir?" the lad asked, curiously peering past him at the sound of the three horses impatiently nickering outside, but falling short at the sight of the long sword sitting on Matrim's hip.

"I am looking for one master Leof, who I am told is the stable master of these halls. Are you he?" Matrim inquired with a slight grin as the young lads eyes drawn away from his sword suddenly widened.

"Oh, oh no, I am not Leof." The lad answered. "Master Leof is at supper, but I can get him for you."

"No, there is no need to disterb his supper, I am sure that between us both we can see to the three horses outside." Matrim replied jovially, allowing the lad to lead the way back out of the stables.

Matrim was careful to ensure that he delt with Balvir's black warhorse as the animal could be somewhat temperamental about his handling and even with Matrim the beast tossed its head and stamped a hoof indignantly if he did something the animal did not like.

"Are you a Guardsman?" the young lad asked suddenly from behind lady Æðelhild's dun, without so much as a glance as he carefully unstrapped the saddle.

Matrim grinned at the lad's astuteness or perhaps his candidness. He had seen the question forming on the boy's face from the minute he had laid eyes on the sword at his hip and although carefully sidestepped the lad had obviously not forgotten it.

"Aye that I am, or at least I hope to be." He answered, pulling off the black stallion's saddle and copying the boy; placed it over the low hitching post.

The lad now looked at him as they both turned to unsaddle his dark brown gelding, with a grin broader than any he could manage and a light of interest and excitement that reminded Matrim of himself at that age.

"Lord Eodwine is looking for guardsmen," he said eagerly, "or so I heard my brother say anyway." He shrugged as an afterthought, holding the geldings reigns as Matrim unfastened the straps.

"I do hope so," he chuckled as he slipped of the saddle to put with the others, or I and my friend Balvir will have had a wasted journey."

"There are just two of you?" the young lad asked confused as he took in the three horses.

"Oh, the dun is miss Æðel's," Matrim answered casually, though still uncomfortable at addressing her so. "We met her at Meduseld."

"Meduseld!" the boy exclaimed wide eyed. "You've been to the golden hall?" he said tillting his head disbelievingly.

"Aye," Matrim laughed again, he defiantly liked this lads candor. "My Friend has higher hopes than myself and thought we could get work in the kings guards. However it seems the king has as many guards as he needs, but the captain there was good enough to suggest that we try here and as miss Æðel was coming to the hall she agreed to show us the way." The lad nodded seemingly accepting his story as they led the horses into the stables, and Matrim took the opportunity to put a question of his own to the boy.

"I am afraid I have to admit that I do not know too much of your Lord Eodwine. I mean what is he like? Is he good to work for?" Closing the door of the stall he had just put Balvir's Stallion into he took off the animals halter and waited patiently for the boy to reply.

***************************

Balvir

After disarming as was required by this lord and his hall, Balvir took a seat that gave him a good view of the corridor to which Æðelhild and the man he assume to be this Lord Eodwine she spoke so highly of retreated down. It was agreed that he and Matrim would remain in the hall while she spoke to the lord alone, if only reluctantly on his part. Mordavim had sent him to protect her and as such he had argued against this recourse most heatedly, until Æðelhild rightly pointed out that a healer with guardsmen would draw too much attention. It needed to be seen that they were not together and that only a chance encounter had brought them to the hall at the same time. There is much of her father in her. he thought fondly as he relaxed into the chair, watching the corridor without openly appearing to do so.

Before long a serving maid approached asking if he required food or refreshment, to which he smiled and replied that he would indeed like some ale and perhaps some bread and cheese if she had it. The young maid nodded once befor hurrying off to fetch his order.

Balvir was just wondering what was keeping Matrim when the serving maid reappeared, setting before him a plate laden with generous slabs of bread and various cheeses along with a very inviting cup of dark golden ale.

He thanked her and as she turned to leave he stopped her, "Excuse me miss, but could you tell me who I should see about possibly gaining work here, my name is Balvir, I am a Guardsman by Profession and they tell me at Meduseld that I may find work here."

************************

Æðelhild

Æðel studied the chair for a moment before deciding that perhaps it would be best if she sat. For some of what she had to discuss with Lord Eodwine still left her a little shaky and she needed to appear strong and sure of what she was about to ask of him.

"Pray tell me what news you bring." Eodwine asked.

Æðel had been worrying how to brooch the subject since leaving Meduseld, but now sitting here before Eodwine she felt strangely at ease. She had witnessed the Lord of the mead hall have this effect on others, even when he himself was not aware of it and with her fears and uncertainties it had kept her nervous and more than a little distant for him. But now was not the time for regret, it was time for honesty, she owed him at least that much. He was a good man and deserved to know what taking her bonds would mean if her uncle was to discover her location.

"My Lord, I bring news that my studies with master Hrethel have come to an end and I would ask to join your household as your healer. However before you consider my request I think there are a few things you should be made aware of." She paused for a moment gathering her thoughts as Lord Eodwine studied her thoughtfully, before indicating for her to continue.

She kept her eyes level as she spoke, "My Name is Æðelhild Of Anren, daughter of Lord Arethil, high captain of Ithielien and in Gondor charges of theft, assault and murder are held against me." As she spoke each charge it stung, but she had managed to hold back the tears letting her anger strengthen her resolve as she continued over Lord Eodwine's obvious shock.

"All but the latter are perhaps founded, if you count defending yourself assault and taking that which was given theft, then yes I am guilty! But to the charge of murder that is an outright lie concocted by my uncle to hide his own guilt and to no doubt prevent me from ever returning. I beg only that you listen to my story before making any decisions."

And with that Æðel went on to describe her life after her father's death, from the arrival of her uncle; her first and subsequent beatings; the nights he came uninvited to her bed chambers and the night that had lead to the death of her closest and most beloved friend Halfric, with whom she had conspired to run away with, only to be twarted at the last minute by her uncle's early return.

"...My uncle was furious, he drew his sword on halfric. I tried to stop him, but I was not strong enough and he threw me aside. I hit my head and the next thing I remember was waking to find Halfric's lifeless dark eyes staring back at me, I screamed and my uncle dragged me up by my hair. he was stiil angry, murder burned in his eyes and blood dripped from his sword, I was scared and fearing for my life I frantically felt behind me on the desk I had apparently hit, for something, anything. Then finding what felt like the silver paper knife my uncle had often threatened me with, i wrapped my fingers around it and plunged it into his chest! He fell to the ground. I thought he was dead, afraid and sickened by what I had done I fled, taking only the few coins Halfric had given me and my fathers sword, that I had long kept hidden from my uncle."

What Æðel did not relay was that the coin had not lasted and more than once she had been waylaid by bandits who had not only thought to relieve her of such a valuable weapon but also what virtues still remained to her and it was only by mere chance and luck that she had managed to escape with either and find her way eventually to Edoras and the kindness of Lady Saeryn, Mistress Bethberry and the Eorl whom before she now sat.

There was still more that needed to be said, of her summons, the revelations that her uncle was not only alive but accused her of Halfric's murder, Lord Mordavim and the men he had sent to protect her. Who even now were here under Eodwines roof enquiring after work as guardsmen for the hall. It was all draining and a little of her resolve was crumbling at the second recount of that horrible night. It hardly seemed fair that she had to subject herself to it again and again while her uncle no doubt gave it not a thought. It was painful, but necessary she reminded herself. So she took a moment not only to compose herself but to allow Lord Eodwine to speak, for she knew there would be much on his mind.

Last edited by Nerindel; 11-18-2007 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 11-18-2007, 04:53 PM   #931
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Javan

Javan welcome the company of the young soldier. Léof had not been in an exactly sociable mood all afternoon. He had accepted Javan's apology, of course, but there had been little talking afterwards and no friendly banter. So Javan was ready for something to turn his mind to instead of brooding on Léof unreasonable behavior, and this newcomer was perfect for such a thing.

He seemed an easy going chap who didn't mind abrupt questions or talking with someone younger than himself. This was a good trait among grown ups, Javan told himself. There was nothing more annoying or bothersome than a stuck up grown up, because not only did one feel small and unnecessary, but one also had to keep quiet and do what the stuck up grown up wanted, or else get in trouble.

But this guardsman, or soon to be one, was not like that at all.

“I am afraid I have to admit that I do not know too much of your Lord Eodwine,” Matrim asked as they put the horses into stalls. “I mean, what is he like? Is he good to work for?”

Javan took the bridle off of Æðelhid's horse and exited the stall, fastening the latch after himself. He turned towards Matrim. “I think he's nice, but I don't know much about lords and all that. He's let me stay on, but my older brother's his right hand man, so that may have something to do with it. He gave me thirty days to prove myself.”

“Did you?” Matrim asked, with a smile.

“Well, I'm still here,” Javan said, but his brows knit. “I was supposed to stay in the stable for a month, but then I disobeyed my older brother and he said I couldn't work with the horses until I proved myself trustworthy, so I was stuck with him for a long time, and I only came back to the stables today. I guess lord Eodwine has quite decided, perhaps.

“I think Eodwine will like you,” Javan continued. “You seem nice to me, anyhow, and he likes nice people...all the people here at the hall are nice, leastways, so he seems to have a pretty good eye for such people.”
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Old 11-18-2007, 05:08 PM   #932
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Kara had found herself out of the kitchen for a fair amount of the afternoon. What with Ginna popping backward and forward and Frodides in something of a huff due to the impromptu nap she had taken earlier it had seemed a good idea to offer the other girl help. So it was that she found herself confronted with a new face, and once she'd fetched him the food and drink he'd asked for she thought hard about the question he'd asked.

"Excuse me miss, but could you tell me who I should see about possibly gaining work here, my name is Balvir, I am a Guardsman by Profession and they tell me at Meduseld that I may find work here."

"I would think it's Thornden you need to ask. He is Eodwine, I mean the Eorl's, right hand man here and he's definitely in charge of protecting this place. I would say you should speak to the Eorl directly but he seems to be busy."

"And where do you suppose I might find this Thornden?" Balvir asked.

"He's just over there." Kara replied, pointing in the direction of the table at which Thornden was seated. "Once you've finished your meal I'm sure he'd be glad to speak to you."

Balvir gave his thanks and Kara left again, spying a familiar face leading Eodwine away from the main hall. What was Adelhild doing here? Speeding her pace Kara hurried back to the kitchen, sure that the news of an old friend would put Frodides into a better mood.
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Old 11-18-2007, 06:58 PM   #933
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Eodwine

Eodwine had not been able to keep his brows from rising at several points during Æðel's tale. She seemed to be telling the truth. His ire rose at hearing how this uncle had used her ill in too many ways. It seemed to him ironic that young women in flight from relatives seemed to find their way to his Hall. He wondered where Saeryn was, and wished she might return some day sooner than later. But this was another young woman, also apparently of just as noble blood as was Saeryn, though Gondorian instead of Eorling.

He sighed and allowed his eyes to close half way as he considered her situation, and what keeping her on as his healer could mean. He had sworn himself to be Saeryn's protector as long as she stayed in his Hall, and that had created problems unforeseen. Were Æðel to become his healer with a price on her head, it did not matter that the charges were probably false; they were still charges and the law was the law, and the only way he could truly protect her was to trump the law that sought her for crimes with another, better one. He couldn't think of a better; not at the moment.

He rejected out of hand the thought of turning her down. It was not in him to do so. So he considered what she had said some more. She had just come from Meduseld. She had said that she came back because here training under Hrethel was complete. Was that the only reason to come back from Meduseld?

"Lady Æðelhild, taking you on as my healer places me in difficulties. The laws of Gondor cannot simply be ignored. The Eorlings and Gondorians have a strong alliance and it therefore our duty to cooperate with them in keeping their law. The simple thing to do would be to escort you back to Gondor and present you to the King and have these charges addressed in his court. Why should I, or the King's men at Meduseld, not do that?"
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Old 11-24-2007, 05:10 PM   #934
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Matrim

“Why thank you, master…,” Matrim paused realising he had not asked the lads name.

“Javan, my name is Javan” the boy offered as he led Matrim’s gelding into the last stall.

“Well then master Javan, my name is Matrim, but you can call me Mat if you like. Most of my other friends do.” He smiled, stroking the long face of his gelding as Javan closing and latching the stalls door suddenly looked up, a broad grin splitting his face, seemingly pleased to be included his friend.

“But speaking of friends,” Matrim continued. “My friend Balvir will be wondering where I have gotten to and as much as I would like to stay and get to know my new found friend better. I had better get back to him and besides I do not think Master Leof would be too happy if he knew I was keeping his only just returned groom from his other duties.” He grinned nodding towards the dark gelding Javan had been working on when he first arrived.

“No I don’t think he would be,” Javan laughed, turning back to the gelding. Matrim laughed along with him. “Well it was good meeting you master Javan and I hope that we can talk again soon.”

“I would like that.” Javan answered excitedly, picking up the curry brushes. Matrim nodded once, before turning to leave, then stopped remembering something the lad had said.

“Oh Javan,” he said, drawing the boy’s attention once more. “If Lord Eodwine has as good an eye as you have told me, then he will surely see that you have the makings of a fine groom or he is a blind fool indeed,” he winked jovially, leaving the lad beaming with pride. A little praise when warranted always goes along way and doesn’t cost a thing, his father always told him.

Matrim’s jovial smile only lasted till a few paces from the stable, some of what Javan had said troubled him. In his book nice men meant honest law abiding folk who avoided trouble where ever possible, which would not bode well for Æðelhild, especially as she was not in lieu of all the facts. Things ran much deeper than any of them could have imagined and although he knew Balvir was not ready to trust this Eorl, he could not help thinking that some of what they knew could help. But he had promised to follow Captain Balvir’s lead, after all the man did have more experience; being one of the famed shadows; hero’s of Ithielien. Though he was no fool and fully aware that his father had him sent on this errand to keep him out of trouble. His frequently increasing displays of open hostility toward the head Merchant of Minas Tirith was causing problems. Problems that Lord Mordavim could well do without, especially if they were to discover the proof they so desperately needed and telling him of Æðelhild and who she really was had secured his co-operation.

A look of disgust crossed his face as he thought of the things they had forced Æðelhild too reveal, if he had disliked the man before he totally detested him now and even the hangman’s noose would be poor justice, he thought bitterly. He breathed deeply expelling his anger as he pulled open the door leading into the main hall and wearing a wide grin and a cheeky wink for a passing serving girl he removed his sword and went to find Balvir.

The man wasn’t hard to find sitting at a far table seemingly eating a meal and drinking a good ale as he enjoyed the atmosphere of the hall, but Matrim knew better, the old man would be thinking hard, planning what to do next if Æðelhild’s Eorl refused to help her.

“So did you find us work then?” he asked loud enough that those close enough would hear, but not so loud as to draw to much attention as he sat opposite the older man.

“Aye, Perhaps,” Balvir answered around his mug. “I got it from one of the maids, that the man we should talk to is Master Thornden.” He nudged his head slightly to indicate a tall fellow, older than Matrim but certainly not as old as Balvir, enjoying the company of the others at his table. “Apparently the Eorl’s right hand man.” Balvir added almost offhandedly.

Matrim’s eyebrows raised slightly as he glanced at the man. “Young master Javan’s older brother, so the lad was not boasting,” he laughed. Causing Balvir to frown at him as if having missed some great joke, so after stopping a passing maid and ordering more ale and some cooked meat, Matrim told him of his conversation with the young groom and the lad’s assessment of the Eorl and the others in the hall. As they spoke neither one made any mention of Æðelhild or the errand they were on.

*******************************

Æðelhild

Æðelhild nodded, she was fully aware of the predicament she placed on the Eorl if he took her as his healer and of the strong alliances between Rohan and Gondor, but she would not return, at least not yet. Although she was still not entirely sure why her father’s friend chose to speak for her he had and as a lord of Gondor that would surely cause problems for him as well. She knew the right thing to do would be to return, even with the king gone she could still petition the steward, but Balvir’s warning still echoed in her mind, along with Lord Mordavim’s advice that she stay away until he sent for her which she could only hope meant he had some kind of plan, a plan that her early return might jeopardise.

“For two reasons Milord, the first being that the King is not at this time in Minas Tirith and the second being that Lord Mordavim of Ithielien has requested that I stay away until such time as matters can be resolved or that he sends for me.” She answered carefully.

“Lord Mordavim?” Eodwine asked questioningly and she went on then to explain her Meeting with King Eomer and the two men sent by Lord Mordavim to be her protectors, she also told him of Mordavim and Balvir’s connection to her father, and how she felt that both men had held back, if not with the King certainly with her.

“The King thinks as you do that this is a matter for Gondor and although I am not fully aware of his reasons I believe the King meant for me to return here and ask for your help,” she concluded. He had Hrethel give me this letter for you.” Reaching into her pouch she took out the fine parchment and handed it to Lord Eodwine.

Last edited by Nerindel; 12-02-2007 at 04:51 PM. Reason: Æðelhild's reply
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Old 11-29-2007, 09:05 PM   #935
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Soon after Matrim left the stables, Léof came in search of Javan to tell him that he was going to go eat and Javan could stop working and go in, too.

“No, thanks, Léof ,” Javan said, “Not yet, leastways. I need to get these new horses water, yet, and hay.” He looked at Léof hopefully – perhaps he would notice that Javan was responsible enough to think of it on his own. If he noticed, Léof gave no particular sign.

“That sounds fine,” was all he said before leaving.

Javan sighed just a little bit and then he took up the two buckets and fetched water. When the job was finally done and the mangers were filled, he drew water again from the well and washed his face and hands. He raised his arm to wipe the drips of water from his nose with his sleeve when his eyes caught sight of something. His arm froze. The water ran down unheeded. And then a grin spread over the boy’s face.

Javan glanced swiftly about the courtyard. There was no one in sight. He ran forward, silent and quick, like a fox and stooping, picked up a small pouch. He had seen it often – quite often – in Falco’s hands as the hobbit drew it from his pocket to stuff his pipe full of weed.

“Smoke!” Javan muttered to himself. A movement caught by the corner of his eye jerked his head up and he stuffed the pouch into his pocket. It was only Kara, tossing some water out from the kitchen door. She spared him a mere glance before returning inside and Javan breathed a sigh of relief.

“I wonder what it’s like,” the boy continued in his musing. “It wouldn’t be…it wouldn’t be…too difficult to find out…”

Everyone else was at their meal. Javan would be able to slip in the side door and head straight up to Falco’s room, find one of the hobbits’ pipes (none of the men smoked there), a flint or something to spark the weed, and discover just what was so enjoyable about it. “It must be something quite good,” Javan said, beginning to move on his plan at once. “That li’l chap’s at it constantly, nearly.”

He opened the door a crack and peered in cautiously. As silent as a shadow, he slipped within and darted up the stairs. Only a couple minutes later, he found what he was in search of and came back down. Once again, in the courtyard, he looked right and left and then sped away towards the stables again. No one was there, as he knew, and he hoped he would be left a while longer in peace.

He went back to where Léof slept. It was a small room, cozy and comfortable, and, most importantly, private.

Javan took a seat on Léof’s bed and drew the packet of weed from his pocket. He proceeded to stuff the pipe full, as he had often seen Falco do, and then attempted to light the pipe.

His attempts were futile. Nothing he could do could make the spark from the flint catch the weed in the pipe on fire. His frustration grew, until suddenly, he remembered Falco taking a stick or straw and lighting it in a larger fire and then carrying the flaming end into the pipe and from that, lighting it. He glanced around and noticed for the first time the straw that covered the floor. In a great deal of excitement, Javan knealt and brushed an area clean and then carefully made a pile of straw. He carefully lit it with his flint and almost at once, a flame sprang up.

Rubbing his hands with glee, Javan picked up the pipe and searched for a stiff, long straw with which to light it. As soon as he found one to his liking, he thrust the end of it into his fire and carried it to the pipe and gently, just as he had seen Falco do it, he sucked in his cheeks and drew in air and smoke.

He erupted into a hacking, coughing volcano. He tossed away the pipe, dropped the straw, and grasped his throat, his eyes bulging, and his tongue wagging. “By all the stars!” he gasped, coughing again. “What on earth does that holbytla find so enjoyable about it?” He coughed, trying to clear his throat and he shook his head to clear it.

“Hoi,” said he. “It does smell a lot, doesn’t it?” He wiped his eyes clear of tears and then looked down.

For a moment, his body, his very blood, froze in terror. And then, with a shout he leaped forward, stomping at the flames that had sprung up from his burning straw. “Fire,” he gasped, his throat constricting with fear. “Fire…” The fire was spreading. He grabbed the coverlet off Léof’s bed and began to beat at it, finally finding his wits and his tongue.

“Fire!” he screamed.

Last edited by Folwren; 11-30-2007 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 12-02-2007, 04:01 PM   #936
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Eodwine

"Fire!"

It was a scream coming from the stables, which had begun to erupt in panic stricken whinnies. Eodwine stood quickly, tucking the letter in his jacket and bumping the table toward Æðelhild, who put our her hands to ward it from pushing her.

"I am sorry," Eodwine said. "I must see to this. Please do me aid and spread the word in the Hall!"

With that Eodwine leaped out of the room, ran down the stares, out the courtyard door and toward the stables.

Rowenna

Rowenna pulled her ear back from the wall in the room next to lord Eodwine's, stood. She had had her wash bucket propped up against the door to give her warning should someone enter the room while she spied. She moved the bucket now and resumed her work, sprucing up the bedclothes. She had been able to hear pretty much all that had been said, by both lord Eodwine and the young noblewoman called Æðelhild. Rowenna tucked away the young woman's story in her mind for later use as opportunity might avail.

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 12-03-2007 at 10:53 AM.
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Old 12-02-2007, 06:22 PM   #937
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Æðelhild

“Off course!” Æðelhild nodded, alarmed at the sudden change of events, she watched as Lord Eodwine tucked the letter into his jacket and leapt from the room. Knowing that the stables a joined the halls residence’s she quickly knocked on the next door and pushing it open to check it was empty she saw a dark haired woman freshening up the bed linens, a maid Æðelhild thought spying the bucket . The woman looked up seemingly surprised by her sudden entrance.

“Sorry I did not mean to startle you,” she said, “but there is a fire in the stables and all these room’s will need to be vacated, do you think you could make sure the rooms up here are emptied while I find Master Thornden.” the Maid nodded and Æðelhild heard her knocking on the next door as she hurried down the stairs.

She ran across the hall to where Thornden was sat with Leof and a few others of the hall she recognised, she did not see Balvir and Matrim rise and follow her concerned by the look of urgency on her face. “Master Thornden” she breathed “the Stables are on fire, Lord Eodwine asked that I alert the hall.”

Matrim

"Javan!" Matrim breathed hearing Æðelhild's words. "The boy was in the stables Balvir!" he announced turning to his captain, looking for permission to go. Balvir nodded once and Matrim leapt for the door and out into the court yard towards the stables.

The flames licked at the walls and black smoke billowed out through the stables entrance, "have you seen a young lad, yay high dark hair" He asked one of the man frantically trying to put out the flames. The Man frowned and shook his head that he had not.

"JAVAN, MASTER JAVAN ARE YOU IN THERE CAN YOU HEAR ME" he shouted over the panicked horse's screams, But there was no reply. Looking about Matrim thought quickly, grabbing a bucket he filled from the water trough and sloushed it over himself then ignoring the protests of the man seemingly in charge he dived into the stables.

The smoke was thick and it stung his eyes but he had to be sure the lad was alright, the flames seemed to be everywhere but he managed to pick his way through the stables calling the lads name hoping that the boy was still able to reply.

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Old 12-02-2007, 09:18 PM   #938
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Javan

Javan gasped and panted as he struck valiantly at the flames. Did anyone hear him? Did anyone know that there was fire here? What was he going to do? The fire was spreading, for all his struggling with it, and the smoke was curling up in a great, wafting, choking coils. And what about the horses?

The horses! The thought struck him violently and without a moment of hesitation, he threw down the blanket and ran out into the main aisle. Smoke was already spilling out there, and though it was not so thick for him and difficult for him to breath, the horses were already nervous, some were whinnying, and almost all were moving about their stalls.

Javan paused momentarily – what was he going to do? How could he get them out of there before –

There was a sudden whoosh from behind him, a burst of heat and light, and Javan turned about. The fire had found its way through the boards of Léof’s tiny room and lit the stock of hay. The flames were growing and dark smoke was curling upwards and repulsed by the stable’s roof came flowing back down.

“Get the horses out!” Javan gasped to himself as he coughed. He plunged forward to the farthest stall, his hands fumbled with the latch and he jerked the door open. The horse, one of the ones that had come in less than an hour ago, stood trembling in the farthest corner. Javan stumbled in. “Come on, get out! Go!” Oh, what he would give for a rope! “Go!” He stepped to the side so that he would not block the door and he went at the horse.

The mare lowered her head, blowing air from her nostrils, and then she plunged forward, half shying, half lunging at Javan, and then she did a half leap, skittering strangely out into the aisle. Javan plunged out after her and shooed her desperately towards the open door. She raised her head, tucked her tail, and ran. Javan turned to the next stall, and at that moment, as he tried to get this door open, he heard someone calling his name.

“Javan! Master Javan! Are you in there? Can you hear me?” It was that newcomer fellow, Matrim. Javan opened the stall door and was thrown backwards against the opposite wall as the horse plunged out at once, knocking him violently with his right shoulder. Javan slumped momentarily, gasped for air and got a lungful of smoke instead. He struggled up and forced himself forward again. His mind swam, his senses seemed disoriented. Horses were screaming, some were kicking at the walls of their stalls. The noise of the fire was intense and the heat unbearable. He grasped the latch of another stall and forced it open. This horse leaped out at once, too, and Javan fell back, clear of his hooves as he galloped away.

And then, out of the thick smoke, the figure of a man became visible. Javan tried to get up. He tried to speak. His throat constricted and his tongue clove to the roof of his mouth. His limbs felt very heavy, his eyes burned, and his chest felt as though a great board were pressed upon it and he couldn’t draw air.

Without uttering a sound, he slumped back, half senseless and unable to move.

Thornden

Thornden felt the blood leave his face as he heard Æðel pass Eodwine’s message. He sprang at once to his feet and glanced about the hall. There were not many men there now, but the others would be somewhere about the hall. There was Harreld there, and the two strangers, but one of those two were already running out

“Go, Harreld!” Thornden cried to the Smith, “Go out and help, and you, sir!” he said, to Balvir, although he did not know him. “Miss Æðel, find Stigend and Garstan.” He started towards the kitchen at a run, calling over his shoulder as he remembered, “and Garwine! And anyone else who can bear a bucket and water!”

He ran into the kitchen headlong, practically knocking Kara down as he entered. He caught her and set her on her feet, but he didn’t let go of her shoulders. “Buckets, Kara – quick - many as you’ve got – we have a fire.” Mutely, she handed the one she held in her hand to him. He grabbed it, reached for another beneath the table half full of scraps and rushed out the outside door. As he sprinted towards the stables and the billowing smoke, he flung out the scraps of food, emptying the bucket and preparing it for water.

And all the while, he thought, “How did a fire start in the stables?”

Last edited by Folwren; 12-03-2007 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 12-03-2007, 04:13 PM   #939
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The stables are on fire. The words thudded dizzyingly in Léof’s mind. The stables are on fire.

Æthel.

He had not a thought for the other horses, not a thought for Javan, not a thought for the rest of his possessions, not a thought for the cause of the fire. His horse was in those stables.

He bolted from the table, scarcely begun meal forgotten. Fear granted wings to his feet; he flew through the Great Hall, across the courtyard, into the stables. How many times had he told Javan not to run in the stable? Irrelevant.

Already smoke billowed; the fire could not have started but minutes ago but already fighting the fire seemed to be a hopeless cause. The stable would go down; it was only a question of how many horses could be saved in the meantime.

He ran straight to Æthel’s stall, where the flames were thickest. He could hear her frantic screams and the thudding of her hooves against the wall boards. He flung open the door; her neck and flanks were lathered and he could see the whites of her eyes. “Easy there, easy,” he crooned, trying to keep the panic from his own voice. He reached up for her halter, but she flung up her head beyond his reach. Wary of her hooves, he laid his hands on her neck, trying to calm her by his touch but ever conscious of the time this was wasting.

If only he had something to cover her vision with! He cast about for something, but he was woefully unprepared for this situation; his shirt would have to do. Without a second thought he pulled it over his head and lifted it over Æthel’s head. Now at least he was able to catch hold of her halter and pull her forward, however reluctant she was to move. As quickly as he could, he led her outside and into the paddock.

Now finally he took thought to the other horses. He fleetingly thanked his luck that half of the horses were still outside since he and Javan had moved them out here at noon. Before the thought was over, however, he was already running back into the stables to retrieve the next horse.
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Old 12-03-2007, 07:41 PM   #940
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Eodwine's thought was only for Flíthaf, and he ran headlong toward the entrance to the stables closest to his stallion's stall. The moment he entered, he encountered billowing smoke and a cacophony of horses and humans screaming, and hooves striking wood. He could see flames dancing along the stalls and reaching quick hungry hands up to the roof. He pulled his shirt up to his nose and plunged in.

He came to Flíthaf's stall, which was thankfully closest to the opposite end of the stables from where the fire had apparently started, which was Léof's little room. How odd, his thought skittered a moment, then he was at Flíthaf's stall. Hooves came flying out at head height. Eodwine dodged just in time. The stallion was bucking his way right out of his stall, into the aisle. Soon the horse's head was out. The reins dangled then flew out of reach, then whipped back again.

"Flíthaf!"

The horse ignored him. How was he going to get at all near the horse? Once he did, should he grab the reins, or try to ride? That would be foolery, he decided. He began to step closer to his bucking stallion, to try and grab the reins. Suddenly the horse became aware of the relative light beyond the entrance, and bolted. Eodwine leaped out of the way just in time. He was happy his horse had escaped, but did not look forward to searching far and wide.

Eodwine rose and looked around him. There was Léof leading a horse in his direction.

"What happened? How did this start!" Eodwine demanded.

"I don't know! I was in the hall!" Léof hustled by. Eodwine followed his ostler's example and looked for another horse to lead to safety.
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Old 12-04-2007, 07:27 AM   #941
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Thornden came to the scene of the burning stables abruptly, running around a corner and suddenly being engulfed by the noise of the many men and boys already at work attempting to douse the flames. The men here were not just those who lived at the Mead Hall – they were men from the city, stopping on the street at the sight and sound of fire to help, Thornden realized.

But all their help was going to little or no good use at all. The place was in an uproar of confusion. Men ran to and fro, some with buckets, some without, taking water from the trough and casting it into the stables. But that water would soon run out, if nothing was done to refill the troughs, and even though the stables were on fire, was the water reaching the actual fire?

Thornden plunged forward into the thick of the hustle. “Form a line to the well!” he shouted, trying to make himself heard. “Form a chain! Take the buckets and form a chain!”

But there were too many other men shouting their ideas of orders for him to be heard. The tumult remained the same and no one listened. But if men will not listen like men, they must be driven like cattle or sheep. Thornden’s hand reached out and he grasped a stranger by the shoulder, spinning him forcefully about to face him. He shoved one of the buckets in his hands and pushed him in the direction of the well. “Go to the well! Fill this with water and hand it to the next person I send!”

With the same rough handling of anyone Thornden thought he could do it with, he began to make the chain, and those that Thornden did not think he could manhandle, soon caught on themselves and followed suit.

Within minutes, two chains from the well to the stables had been formed. The ten or twelve buckets that they had plied to and fro as quickly as human hands could possibly carry them and each bucket of water was used as best it could, for the line of men went into the very structure of the stables and as near to the actual fire as the mortal body could handle.

But would it be enough to save the stables? Thornden stood at the head of one line, pitching water onto the flames as his eyes watered and teared in the smoke, sweat poured down his body, and his lungs struggled to collect air through the fabric of his shirt, and even with all the work and turmoil that every one of them put into it, would they be able to stop the fire before the entire stable went down?

He grasped another bucket full of water as he passed the empty one back down the line and used its contents. They must. They had to put it out. And perhaps…perhaps it was slackening some…perhaps just. . .
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Old 12-04-2007, 08:29 PM   #942
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Eodwine saw the first bucket of water - half filled only, grabbed it and sloshed it at the father. The fire hissed, recoiled momentarily, and shot out a head of flame, like a serpent, toward the nearest rafter. Eodwine shook his head. He ran out of the stables, bucket still in hand, along a makeshift, straggling line of bucket passers, back to the well where he found Thornden.

"It's no good, Thornden! Not enough buckets and the stables cannot be doused! It's the guest rooms I'm worried about! There's nothing to stop the fire from spreading along the building. Better take axes to the stable's walk-through and then soak the area between. I'll find axes and hammers and able bodied men, and you command the water!"

With a brief nod from Thornden, Eodwine ran off to the armory, hoping to catch as many folk, men and women, as he could, to destroy the stable walk-through. He hoped he had enough time. He looked up at the sky, hoping against hope for a hint of cloud cover and possible rain. The sky was brazen, not a cloud in the sky. The sun watched from just above Edoras in the west: a couple hours remained before dark.

There was no one left in the Hall. Many plates of food had been left half eaten. Eodwine shifted to the courtyard where he found a few gawkers and other folk trying to make a pitiable difference. He collared one or two men and ordered them to the armory with him to grab anything that could be used to break down the beams of wood.
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Old 12-05-2007, 04:59 PM   #943
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As Léof plunged into the stables a third time, he could see that it would not be much longer. A stable, he knew, was one of the worst possible places for a fire, since it was built entirely out of wood and kept dry so that the hay would not grow rank – a fire could not help but easily catch and spread rapidly in such a place.

There was a flash of light and a whoosh just behind and above him – the hay in the loft had caught fire! He quickly checked each of the stalls as he passed for horses still remaining; unless he missed his guess, one or two still remained. He found one of them about half way down the aisle, a normally placid gelding now worked into a frenzy. As well as he knew the horses in this stable, none of them trusted him so well as Æthel, and as with the second horse he had brought out this one was not so easily calmed as Æthel, even once he had managed to clip a lead rope he had grabbed on his last trip to his halter and swing his shirt over his eyes. Too much time, this was taking too much time!

He heard a crash somewhere outside the stall, further spooking the gelding. Léof finally abandoned his attempts at calming the horse enough to follow him and gave him a good smack on his hindquarter; the horse plunged forward, nearly ripping the rope from his hand.

Now that the horse was outside the stall, Léof could see the source of the crash; the boards in the hay loft were beginning to give out. The aisle was no longer clear enough for him to lead the horse out by the shortest way; he would have to go around, wasting even more time.

His eyes were watering and his throat burning from the smoke. When he finally emerged into clear air, he took great gulps of it, only to begin coughing violently. He couldn’t stop, though; not until all the horses were safe. He led the gelding around to the paddock where he took stock of the horses there. It took him a moment, but it suddenly hit him: Herefola was still inside!

Even though his chest was burning, he again broke into a jog, rushing past the men who were trying to halt the fire’s progression to the residential wing. Someone shouted after him, “No, Léof, it’s too dangerous!” But he did not heed him, rushing for the last time into the burning stable.
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Old 12-09-2007, 08:10 PM   #944
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The stables walls were falling quickly with men hammering them down. Men worked in feverish hurry to break through and clear away the plunder. And the smoke billowed out through every crack, the fire roared within, and the heat grew more and more intense.

Thornden worked still with the line of men and the buckets racing up and down the chain. They soaked the ground and then, when there was one, the gap between the stables and the residential wing of the great hall.

Out of his eye, he saw Léof leading a horse past them. Good, Thornden thought to himself as well as he could, that should be – hopefully – the last one. But then saw Léof running towards them again, a rope in his hand and an intent look in his eyes as he fixed them once more at the entrance into the stables.

“No, Léof!” Thornden shouted, turning swiftly about. “It’s too dangerous!”

If Léof heard him, he didn’t make any sign, and almost immediately he had plunged again into the dark, grey entrance of the stables. Thornden turned again, panic attacking him suddenly. He spotted Eodwine near, striking at the remaining beams with an ax. He ran to him and grasped his sleeve. “Léof has gone back in, Eodwine!” he cried.

Eodwine’s paused, his arm lifted in mid-swing and he looked at Thornden. Then they both glanced at the door of the stables.

“Should I go after him?” Thornden asked. Now was not the time to ask permission or advice. Go after him? To what end? Léof had gone in to save another horse, and that would mean time spent fumbling with the latch, catching the horse, calming it enough to come out - Léof could be minutes in there, provided he did not collapse from lack of air to breath or from heat. Of course Thornden had to go in after him, to bring him out - willing or not.

"Never mind," he said to Eodwine almost as soon as he had asked his question, and he turned away and ran after Léof.
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Old 12-13-2007, 09:48 AM   #945
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Eodwine stopped his arms in mid-swing and watched dumbstruck as Thornden raced into the maelstrom. Almost, he reacted on instinct and dropped his axe to chase after Thornden, throwing himself into the self-same impending doom, but he caught himself.

"I've two fool heroes in my keeping," he muttered, and swung his axe again and again, watching the progress of the intentional destruction of the stable walk-through. At least that much was going well.

It was also helpful that there were five other wells not too far distant from the Mead Hall: one in the holding of their neighbors to either side, and to three directly across the road. More and more townsmen and women were arriving with buckets and others were taking the lead and forming lines to other wells. It would be too late to save the stables themselves, but everywhere else was getting quite drenched. So it was beginning to look like the guest rooms would not burn.

Eodwine looked back at the stables moment by moment, fearing the worst for Léof and Thornden.
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Old 12-20-2007, 04:15 PM   #946
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Inside the burning stable the very air seemed to be alight with flames. The fire had by now reached the roof of the building; at any time it could come crashing down on him. Briefly Léof considered turning back but recklessly decided against it. He could not leave Herefola here to burn alive.

He could hardly see; the smoke stung his eyes and burned his throat. Had he been relying on sight alone he might never have found her stall but as it was he went nearly straight to it, coughing all the way. The flames licked at Herefola’s walls, further terrifying the panicked horse. Léof searched for an opening amidst her flailing hooves, hoping he could get her out before the entire stable collapsed on them.

Before he could even get a hand on her halter, however, he heard the shouts echoing down the aisle. “Léof! Léof, where are you?”

“In here!” Léof replied without thinking, and shortly Thornden came into sight.

“You’re going to get yourself killed! We have to get out of here!”

“I’m not leaving without her!” Léof answered stubbornly, turning his attention back to the horse.

Thornden laid a hand on Léof’s shoulder. “Now, Léof! It’s just a horse!” Even as he spoke there was a great moaning and creaking of wood outside the stall. “You’re wasting time!”

“You’re the one wasting time!” Léof snapped. “Either help me or let go of me!” And with a violent twist he jerked from Thornden’s grip into the raging horse’s stall.
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Old 12-20-2007, 09:50 PM   #947
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Help him! By the great stars of heaven, Thornden was going to kill him, if the fire didn’t kill him first. His hand swept out swiftly after Léof but the boy had already dodged out of reach, into the stall, into the range of those flailing hooves. Thornden immediately recognized the greater danger and he wavered momentarily, completely unsure of what to do.

Heat and pain and lack of air forced him into action. He lunged forward to the door of the stall. Léof was standing before the horse trying to get hold of her halter as she shied away from him and kicked at him. He was trying desperately to get near enough to contain her head and keep near her shoulder, but the mare didn’t let him come close. She plunged forward, her head held high, running against one side of the stall – Thornden heard the sound of the impact of her shoulder on the wood with strange awareness – and then she backed up again, kicking out, turned and ran to the other corner. She was caught, and she wouldn’t let Léof help her.

“Come on!” Thornden shouted. “Get out!”

“No!” Léof responded vehemently.

The fire roared with sudden vehemence and the far end of the stables caved in. Thornden swore. Léof dove for the mare’s head. The horse reared with a wild shriek. Thornden ran forward to snatch Léof away from beneath her flailing hooves and dragged him away.

He fought all the way to the door. He was still fighting when Thornden stumbled out into sunlight, obscured by billowing smoke. He would have run back again even then, but Thornden, intent on keeping him out, grabbed him by his hair and forced him back.

Thornden looked up and watched as the flames grew higher and the sound swelled. Léof begged to be let loose, but he struggled and begged in vain. “It will go any moment now, Léof,” Thornden told him. “You’d die if you went back.”

They heard a moaning creak. Thornden half turned his face away, but his eyes remained fixed on the burning structure. A moment longer it stood, the tone of the fire remaining the same, and then the last bit of roof and wall fell inward. A huge cloud of smoke, ashes, and dust shot upwards, the fire became quiet for a fraction of a second and then leaped up with a renewed frenzy.

Thornden drew a shuddering breath. He let Léof go and turned away.
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Old 12-21-2007, 06:14 PM   #948
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All the strength and will that Léof had been drawing from to fight Thornden suddenly died as the last of the stable collapsed in flame and Thornden released him. He felt weak, powerless, numb.

He had failed.

He had not gotten all the horses out; Herefola had been left. He had tried – how he had tried! And if it wasn’t for Thornden - ! A word of reproach rose to his lips and died – he felt too tired and sick, both emotionally and physically, to raise an argument. He could only watch dumbly as the flames consumed the remnants of the stables. Soon there would be nothing left.

Nothing left. So where did that leave him? An ostler without a stable! Now there was a jest, and a sick one at that. More than his work – all of his possessions had been kept in that small room. Not that he had many; clothing could be replaced, and the coins making up his small savings had probably survived the fire if he cared to look through the ashes. The thought nauseated him. Even so, there had been a few small keepsakes that he would miss, and Æthel’s saddle and bridle would have to be replaced… that might be more expensive than he could afford…

His thoughts drifted off into vagueness. How could this have happened? So quickly – all of it gone. So quickly, gone.
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Old 12-23-2007, 09:21 PM   #949
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The stable roof fell in. The drenched walk-through adjacent to the guest wing did not catch fire. Slowly the flames died down, a people throwing half-empty and half-hearted pails of water on the dying embers. Soon the heat from the flames dissipated and the glowing coals darkened. People walked around listlessly, transfixed by the process of the dying fire.

Kara, Modtryth and Ginna came around passing out cups water to everyone. Sitting on the ground, his back to the wall of the guest wing, Eodwine took one from them and downed it in one series of crackingly thirsty gulps, with his thanks.

How had this happened?

There was Léof, with Thornden, who stood with his back to the ostler, staring at the remains of the stable. Eodwine got up achingly, and walked over to the two.

Léof, having seen his shadow, looked up at Eodwine. Thornden turned.

"How did this happen?"

"I do not know," Léof responded listlessly. "It was already alight when I came back from supper."

"Nor I," said Thornden. "I learned of it from Æðel."

Eodwine nodded. He looked around the courtyard and his eye caught a stranger kneeling by Javan. From a distance and gathering twilight it was hard to tell, but the boy looked covered in soot.

"Javan!" Eodwine said, his brow furrowing. Léof, rising from the ground, and Thornden both looked at Eodwine in startlement, which turned to stiffening and dark looks. No words passed between the three, but it was as if each of them knew what the other was thinking. The three walked together to Javan.

They stopped before the two, glowering.

"What happened?" Eodwine asked curtly.

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Old 12-23-2007, 11:32 PM   #950
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Javan was aware of nothing except an extreme dryness in his throat and lungs. And then, slowly, he felt the ground beneath him and a hand on his shoulder. Many loud voices filled the air around him and as his senses became more firm and his mind began to work again, he could make out words, and the sound of fire, and everything else in the chaotic scene.

Slowly, he pushed himself up into a sitting position. He faced the stables and his eyes were fastened to the burning remains. Men were working on putting the last fires out. Matrim was kneeling beside him, no longer taking hand in the attempt to quench the flames – the job was nearly finished anyhow.

“Matrim,” Javan said, his voice hoarse. “Matrim, what happened? I don’t remember…I was letting the horses out. . .”

“Yes. And then you fainted, or something, and I carried you out.”

“It’s all gone, then…” Javan said. “All of it…all because…” He stopped and pressed his mouth close. He felt a hot sensation in his eyes, but no tears. He drew his knees up to his chin and clasped his arms about them. “What will he say?” thinking of Thornden. His stomach knotted itself. “What will the eorl say?”

Perhaps he could go and hide somewhere. Perhaps he could escape, until it had blown over. It would never blow over. But if they didn’t have to find out immediately. . .

And then suddenly they were there. Not only Thornden and Eodwine, but also Léof. They stopped just by him, looking down at him. Matrim stood up and took a step back, and Javan was left alone sitting on the earth.

“What happened?” Eodwine asked.

Javan looked up at him. Fear, worry, regret were all written clearly over his face. But also question – for he silently, furiously questioned himself what he could possibly say in answer. He could not lie – Thornden stood there, grimly looking at him. His own brother. He could not lie.

He stood up, his limbs trembling, and stood before the three of them. All of them he wanted nothing but to please. And now he had done something horrible, despicable. But it had been an accident.

“I’m sorry, sir,” he said, sharing a glance between Eodwine and Thornden.

“Sorry for what?” Thornden asked sharply. Javan didn’t reply at once. He looked down at the ground. “Answer it, Javan!”

“It was an accident!” Javan gasped out. “I didn’t mean it! I didn’t mean to start the stables on fire, I swear it! It was a straw from trying to light a pipe. I dropped it and it caught another straw, and then it just went up!”

So that was it. Thornden stared at his brother without the slightest glint of friendliness or brotherliness in his eyes. He didn’t understand, but he almost felt he didn’t want to understand. Eodwine would certainly have more questions, surely. And Léof…he at least deserved an explanation. But Thornden, besides being Javan’s brother, had very little to do with it. So he remained silent.
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Old 12-24-2007, 09:34 AM   #951
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Falco Boffin sat down against the wall, letting the bucket lie nearby. He had done what he could to help.

"The inconvenience!" he muttered to nobody in particular. "Here I am trying to pack and plan my way back home and somebody up and lights the stables on fire. Most inconsiderate. I could use a smoke."

It might have seemed to any of the Eorlings that wanting to smoke his pipe moments after a major fire had been put out, but to Falco it seemed just the thing. There were not many creature comforts that seemed right at home to the hobbit, here and the Eorling lands, so his own pipe would have to do. He reached in his pocket. It wasn't there.

"Now where did I last leave it?"

He traced back his steps, and with sudden horror realized that he had left them in the stables.

"Oh no! Lost for good!"

Just then he noticed Eodwine, Thornden, and Léof standing over Thornden's little brother. He got up and walked over to them.

"Eodwine, I fear my pipe has been lost in that there fire."

Eodwine looked down at him, his face set and grim. "I know. This boy started the fire with your flint." Eodwine turned to Thornden. "Take him home. You shall leave today."

Eodwine turned and trudged across the courtyard and into the Hall.
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Old 12-24-2007, 11:14 AM   #952
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Javan had told the truth, the entire story being dragged from him reluctantly with direct, sharp questions from Eodwine. And now to cap it off, Falco, the very person from whom Javan had stolen the items to start the fire, walked up and learned at once that Javan had started it. The boy new that soon everyone would know – it wasn’t something that would be kept secret – but it did burn a bit. The way Eodwine said it sounded as though he had done it on purpose.

And then Eodwine turned away from him and spoke to Thornden. “Take him home,” he said. “You shall leave today.”

Without looking again at Javen, the eorl turned and strode back towards the hall. Javan looked after him, feeling crushed. “Lord Eodwine!” he called out, finding his tongue before the eorl made it to the door. “Lord Eodwine, please! I’ll do anything!”

Thornden reached out and grabbed Javan’s arm. He turned him about sharply to face him and shook him. “Be quiet! Be quiet, do you hear?”

“But, Thornden,” Javan pleaded, tears welling up in his eyes. “I didn’t mean to, and I want to make up. I don’t want to go home.”

“I don’t think you have much choice.”

“Please let me talk to him…plead my case. He is a judge of a court, isn’t he? I should be heard, shouldn’t I?”

“A judge!” Thornden exclaimed. “Javan, if you were to stand before him in his court, there would be worse judgment than just being sent home, I can promise you!”

“But if he didn’t kill me and let me stay, then I wouldn’t care what the judgment was,” Javan said, beginning to cry.

Thornden had no patience to stand and talk with him. Daylight was fading quickly. Their ride would be done in the dark, obviously, and the sooner they set off, the better. He directed Javan towards the Hall and let him go with an emphasized nudge. “Go get your things together. We’re leaving as soon as I can find horses.”

Javan made off obediently, his head hung low and his shoulder’s hunched forward, weighed down with guilt and shame. Thornden turned to Léof. He had not said a word the entire time.

“Léof,” Thornden began quietly. He didn’t know if he should ask him just now, or apologize, or what. But he had been given orders. “Léof, are there two horses that can bear us tonight?”

“The horses are fine,” Léof said. His voice was flat, void of emotion, and he didn’t look at Thornden. “But I think all the saddles were burned.”

“No, actually,” Thornden said. “Someone managed to save a few at the very beginning. It was one of the men who stopped from the street.”

Léof nodded and turned. “I’ll get Javan’s horse and another for you.”

Thornden paused a moment. He looked towards the door of the hall and then after Léof, and decided to follow the ostler and lend a hand there.

---

Javan entered the Hall by the same door Eodwine had. He kept to the shadows of the wall as he went into the main hall and scurried as quickly as he could towards the door to the residential wing. He was half way there when he spotted the eorl, standing in the twilit gloom of the open hall.

Javan’s feet stopped. He looked at Eodwine, his heart thumping against his ribs. The eorl did not seem to be aware of him. Slowly, Javan turned from his course and approached him.

“Sir?” he asked as he finally drew near. Eodwine looked up, and Javan’s advance halted abruptly. “I – I would like to stay, sir. Is there no way I can make up? I’ll promise to do whatever you want. I won’t cause trouble – I’ll do my best to be good.”
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Old 12-26-2007, 01:04 PM   #953
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Eodwine had been making his slow way to the kitchen, and stopped by his eorl's chair when the boy, Javan, the culprit, the arson, had come up to him.

Eodwine had just been thinking about how court would be held the next day, and how it would not be out of the way to bring charges against the boy, to make him work for years to pay the debt of the lost stable and the horse and all else that had been lost in the fire. It would make the boy his serf for a long, long time, and amply deserved; but it was not something he cared to do. Better to send the boy on his way back home. He would see to it that Kara provided bread and drink for Thornden, and coin enough to find an inn or bribe for a stranger's bed.

The boy had nerve, or such desire. Of course he could not stay. It did not matter what promise he might make right now, he had little self-control, even for one of his own age. Apparently he had been spoiled back home, and not trained to do what he was told and earn his way. Eodwine was not moved by his plea. He was young, and would recover given the right circumstances. But for Eodwine the decision had been easy and would not be easily changed. The boy was too reckless, too out of control, too in need of constant supervision, to be --- and suddenly Eodwine was caught in a possibility. He looked over the boy's head, allowing the silence to stretch on, no doubt uncomfortably for the boy.

"I will think on it this night and decide in the morning. Send for Thornden, boy. I must talk to him. Do this one thing now and do not delay, and perhaps it may go well for you."

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Old 12-26-2007, 06:20 PM   #954
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The eorl’s look was not entirely friendly as he stood and seemed to consider Javan’s question. Javan waited for the answer, torn between hope and dread. The expression on Eodwine’s face told Javan nothing of the thoughts that ran through his head – all the lad could see were the hard lines of a jaw clamped tight and eyes that didn’t seem too friendly. And suddenly, a brief, slightly changed look passed over the eorl’s face and finally he looked directly at Javan.

“I will think on it this night and decide in the morning. Send for Thornden, boy. I must talk to him. Do this one thing now and do not delay, and perhaps it may go well for you.”

Javan stepped forward eagerly. He half extending his hands, and then seemed to remember himself, and he drew back. His eyes were bright suddenly.

“Yes, sir! Yes, sir! I’ll get him at once!” And away he dashed, running as quickly as he could. He went out again to the courtyard and asked the first familiar person where Thornden was. They directed him in the direction of the horses and he made off again.

“Thornden!" He gasped, coming up to where Thornden and Léof were leading out two horses. “Thornden! Lord Eodwine wants to speak with you! He wants to see you now! He told me to fetch you at once! We won’t need the horses tonight, put them back – put them back. Come on! Here, I’ll take your horse.”

“I can deal with it,” Léof said abruptly, reaching out and taking the lead rope before Javan could. “I don’t need help.”

Javan shot him a confused look before shrugging it off and turning again to Thornden. The older brother obviously wanted more explanation, but there wasn’t time for it. With Javan behind him, Thornden started off towards the hall.

“Javan told me you wanted me,” Thornden said finding Eodwine still in the hall. Javan stepped beside Thornden and offered the eorl a smile, as though to say, ‘I have done your bidding quickly, now may all go well with me?’
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Old 12-28-2007, 04:43 AM   #955
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Eodwine glanced back and forth between Thornden and the boy, who was already looking hopeful and eager in that dangerous way of which Eodwine had suddenly become very aware. He locked eyes with Thornden.

"I will speak with you alone, Thornden. We must find someone to watch the boy in the meantime. Follow me to the kitchen. Mayhap we shall find someone there."

Javan, as Eodwine said this, noticed with some surprise that Eodwine had not called him by name since he had learned what had passed. He looked with slightly dimmed enthusiasm at him and his smile faded.

Eodwine led them toward the corridor to the kitchen. He stopped abruptly as Rowenna was just coming out of the corridor from the kitchen. At least, so it seemed. She always seemed to be very ready to hand when someone was needed. A good trait, he supposed.

"Rowenna, watch the boy. Thornden and I must talk. With no one else to hear."

"Aye, lord," she said with a nod, and led the boy off toward the kitchen.

"To my rooms," Eodwine said with a glance. Thornden followed without a word. When he had closed the door behind his almbudsman, he had him sit but paced from wall to wall himself as he spoke.

"Thornden, at first I was going to have the women send bread and drink and coin with you so that you would not have to travel far this night, but the boy came and begged."

“He came and begged, my lord? For what? Not a more merciful judgment, certainly? I told him you were already being merciful.”

"Yes, he begged. But nothing he said persuaded me." Eodwine stopped and looked at Thornden, who was staring at him in frank surprise.

"Persuaded you, lord? Of what?"

Eodwine could not hold back an abrupt ironic chuckle. "What, indeed." He resumed pacing. "At first I thought of hauling him before court tomorrow and requiring him to work for me until he has paid, in coin, every last copper a new stable will cost. But then I thought that he should just be sent home as he is too reckless to be trusted with work here. Yet I thought to myself that it would be no good to him to send him back to the place where he seems not to have been supervised as much as was needful. Then I had a new thought, that instead of holding a job here, he should be taught to be a man, here. Yes, he should be schooled."

Schooled! Thornden was still surprised...almost bewildered. How is someone taught to be a man? What else would Eodwine do, other than giving him a job and holding him to it? But Eodwine said, "Instead of holding a job here, he is to be schooled."

"How do you intend to do this?" Thornden asked after a lengthy pause. "And who will? Lord Eodwine, I will be frank - he's not your or my responsibility. He's my father's, if anyone's. You should not have to make him into a man." But then Thornden stopped. He didn't like the idea, merely because he did not like Eodwine thinking that he himself should deal with Javan's upbringing. On the other hand...he wondered what good it would be for Javan if he were sent back home. Perhaps Eodwine was right. Perhaps it would do no good to send him back, he'd just continue to grow in the same foolhardy, spoiled way, his boyish instincts and thoughtlessness never checked.

Finally, he sighed and looked down. "I don't know what you intend to do or how you think you can teach him, but I'm willing to listen."

At last Eodwine sat down across from Thornden and leaned on the table, eyeing his almbudsman with a twinkle in his eye.

"Why was he sent here, Thornden? Why did he come?"

Thornden was doubtful. "He came to work for you. To get a foothold someplace so when he became a man, he had a position at least somewhere in your court." He stood up. "I didn't think he'd be like this...thoughtless, careless...even dishonest...I mean, to take Falco's pipe and try to smoke it and then burn down the stables!"

It was clear to see Thornden's feelings. He felt angry, and he was ashamed - ashamed that his younger brother should be so without responsibility, should act dishonorably.

"I'm sorry," he said, sitting down promptly again. "I'll listen."

"So we agree that he is not ready to find a place as a worker for me, and that it is no use sending him back home. So he must be taught to be a man. If he is not ready for work, then he must be supervised, every minute of every day. Since he has trespassed against me, I can use the law of the Eorlings to aid us. Mayhap he should be made to think that he works drudgery to pay the cost of the stables.

"But neither you nor I am ready to say yes to this thought tonight. Let us both sleep on it and talk in the morning, and see if it still seems as madcap then as it does now. What say you?"

Thornden did not know exactly what to say. He still saw little promise in the idea at all, but at this point, he thought, perhaps there was no exactly good choice.

There was one thing more. "My lord," Thornden asked, his voice a little sharp, "if he is not to be sent back, what will be his punishment? You said yourself you will not charge him and make him your serf, but there must be some judgment, mustn't there?"

Eodwine sighed and nodded. "Yes, there must. That is my added burden, and I shall sleep on that. For now, good night."

They both rose and Eodwine saw Thornden out of his rooms.
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Old 12-28-2007, 10:53 AM   #956
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Javan sat on a stool by the kitchen table. Rowena was silent - she often was quiet - as she washed the dishes and Javan found it very trying. Finally, he heaved a sigh and stood up. Rowena watched him like a hawk as he paced from the window to the stone hearth and to the door and to the window again.

“Rowena,” he said finally. “What do you suppose they’re talking about?” He looked up at her, but she, not one to mince words, said nothing - she didn’t know, why waste breath saying so?

“I did an awful thing, you know,” Javan continued, not having waited long enough for the pause to become awkward. “I was going to be sent home, but I may have changed his mind. I hope,” he said as a sudden thought seemed to strike him, “that he does not decide to do something terrible.” Rowena still didn’t answer him. Javan stopped to kneel on one of the stools and put his elbows on the table and cradle his chin in his hands. “Have you ever done something so terribly bad and wondered what was going to happen to you?”

Rowenna’s hands stopped in the sudsy water and her head came up partially. But before she could answer they heard footsteps in the corridor and a moment later, Thornden strode into the kitchen. Javan scrambled up to his feet, somewhat alarmed at the brooding expression on Thornden’s face.

“Come on, Javan.”

The boy didn’t move immediately. “Am I going back?” he asked.

“I don’t know yet, come on.”

Javan started forward, slowly. “When will you know?”

“You’ll find out soon enough!” Thornden said sharply. “For now, all I know is that you’re staying here for the night, so get upstairs, clean yourself up, and get in bed.”

Javan looked sour. He wanted his question answered for real. He didn’t want to go to bed, and he wanted something to eat. But the look on Thornden’s face told him it would be foolish to say any of these things, so he didn’t and went passed Thornden into the corridor.

“Goodnight, Rowena,” Thornden said, and turned to follow his brother.
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Old 12-29-2007, 03:36 PM   #957
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"Good night, Thornden," she half whispered, since he had left without waiting for reply.

The question the boy had asked. “Have you ever done something so terribly bad and wondered what was going to happen to you?”

I murdered my own babies, and I choked the life out of two women so that there would be a greater chance that I would live. Does that count? I wondered if I would survive. It didn't work the way the boy meant it, but they were her chains of memory.

She turned her thought away from her own hard road. The boy had burned down the stables. Rowenna had overheard Eodwine tell Thornden that he and the boy would be leaving, and had found a dark corner to hide in to overhear anything else near the eorl. The boy had come and begged. "I’ll do my best to be good!" The sheer effrontery! But coming from this boy it did not surprise her; he seemed unaware of the weight of consequence of his actions, as if nothing he did could possibly truly affect the rest of his life. She knew better.

What had surprised her were the eorl's next words. His mind seemed ever changeable. Was that a good thing, or a bad? She supposed that it depended. But what was he thinking? She forced down a sudden urge to dry her hands, run to his room and go ask him. Such a foolish thing it would be to do. She kept at the pans.

Then there were steps coming down the corridor. The eorl came in. "Good even, Rowenna. Thank you for watching the boy. Thornden took him then?"

"Yes lord."

"My teeth need something to knead. What have we to spare?"

"Kara set a loaf of black bread in the pantry, lord."

He got out the loaf and sat on a stool on the other side of the table from where she stood. She kept her hands busy, hearing him tear a chunk off and chew. She could feel his eyes watching her back, but not in that way those ruffians had had, as if she were so much meat devour.

"What is my lord thinking on?" she ventured, staying her hands.

An ironic laugh escaped from him, harsher than she usually heard from him. "The boy and how to school him."

"You mean to let him stay then?"

"I'm thinking upon it."

She dried her hands on her apron and turned. His face looked dour in the lamp light. "Why let him stay?"

He looked up and studied her. She looked down at her hands after a moment. "Why make him go?" he asked.

She allowed a half smile. Now she must play the game, having asked a question of one higher ranking than herself, who could by rights turn the game any way he liked will she or nill she. "My lord is not bound to keep as laborer one who costs him more than he pays him."

"Is that why you work so hard, Rowenna, to make sure that you cost me less than I pay you?"

She looked up and was caught by his eyes. "I-" What he was asking was probing too close. "I do what I can to earn my keep," she said. She must turn the talk back to the boy. "So why keep him?"

"Because it is the best thing for him, I'm thinking."

"Better than sending him home?"

"He was spoiled there."

"So you would make a proper Eorling of him." How had he gotten her talking so?

"Not I alone. You, I think, Rowenna, would be able to teach him things the rest of us could not."

"My lord?" Like what, how to survive at the expense of others?

He shook his head. "No more talk tonight. I am not sure I will do this. I need to sleep. And so do you. Tarry not overlong," he said, and left the kitchen.

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Old 12-31-2007, 05:14 PM   #958
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Léof watched for a moment as Javan followed Thornden back to the Hall to talk to Eodwine. Léof had known that Javan could be reckless, immature. Yet they all had kept giving him chances, time and again, and this was how he repaid them. Oh, yes, it was an accident, but Javan seemed to think that somehow that fact made up for the loss. It didn’t. It was an accident, but wholly brought about by Javan’s foolishness. Trying to smoke Falco’s pipe! And using Léof’s own room to do so! Léof felt overwhelming disgust and disappointment. How could Javan ever expect Léof to trust him again? Eodwine might forgive him – at the least, Javan was not immediately being sent home, which was far more than Javan had any right to expect – but Léof would yield much less easily.

He turned to the horses that he and Thornden had saddled up and began to untack them. Imagine saving saddles while horses still were trapped! Léof couldn’t understand it. In his mind, the act was comparable to saving the crib while the baby wailed only feet away. If whoever it was that had retrieved all these saddles had taken a moment to retrieve a horse or two, Herefola would still live.

After a short while he turned the two horses loose in the paddock and draped the saddles over the top fence post for lack of a better place for them. Then he retrieved the other couple of saddles and bridles that were lying about; with a jolt, he realized that one of them was his. This, anyway, was a pleasant surprise, but Léof gleaned little joy from this find in the context of the larger loss.

Since there seemed to be little else for him to do and the sky was growing dark, Léof supposed it was about time for bed – but he didn’t have a bed anymore, Javan had burned that down with the rest of the stables. He briefly considered just sleeping outside with the horses but quickly realized the impracticality of it and headed off to find Eodwine. He wished that this whole day could just be a nightmare that he would wake up from in the morning.
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Old 01-01-2008, 02:42 PM   #959
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Eodwine was about to pull off his tunic when he heard a knock on his door. He opened it and found Léof's drawn face looking up into his face.

"I need a bed, lord."

Eodwine shuttered his eyes as hard as he could then opened them. Of course!

"Forgive me, Léof, for failing to think of your needs." He searched about in his mind for an option. Everybody was to bed except Rowenna, whom he had ordered to do likewise at first opportunity.

"You will have my bed this night."

"But-"

"No, I will not argue it. It is the least I can do after how you have served this Hall today and ever since you became my man. I'll find another. After all," he winked, "I've rights to whatever unused bed I can find."

"But lord-"

"Tut tut!" Eodwine pulled Léof into the room and used the leverage to push himself out. "I bid you goodnight." With that he closed the door, his last view inside the stunned look on Léof's face. With a chuckle he went into the Hall and found himself a mat and bed cloths and wrapped himself up. As he nodded off to sleep he considered that the boy was probably too distraught to think of bedding down in the Hall with the footmen.
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Old 01-01-2008, 09:38 PM   #960
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When Javan reached the room that he and Thornden shared, the first thing he did was to carefully take off his shirt. It was covered in ashes, suet, and smoke. He went then to the basin of water and began to clean his face, neck, hands and arms.

The job was only just begun when Thornden came in. Javan stopped when he entered and turned to look at his brother. Thornden did not address him and after a pause, the boy went back to his washing.

The silence between them stretched on for several seconds. The water sloshed gently in the bowl as Javan scrubbed himself. Then he spoke, quietly, hesitantly. “I am sorry, Thornden,” he said. “You do know that, don’t you?” Thornden didn’t make much of an answer. Javan put his hands on the edge of the basin stand and turned his head to look at his older brother. “Look, just ‘cause I asked him if I could stay doesn’t mean that I don’t realize what I’ve done.”

“The fact that you think that saying you’re sorry will suffice shows me that you don’t realize what you’ve done, Javan,” Thornden replied.

Javan turned his head away and two emotions flared up – anger and remorse both. Thornden was being unreasonable. He wouldn’t listen. He would not accept any sort of apology. And at the same time, Javan wondered if he should. He had been terribly stupid and had done a very terrible thing, and he was sorry for it.

Thornden looked at his skinny back and hunched shoulders before turning away himself. “Léof lost a horse, you know,” he said finally.

Javan whirled about. “He did?” It was the first he had heard about it. “Who?”

Thornden shook his head and shrugged up his shoulders. “I don’t know. All I know is that I stopped him from trying to save her, and he’s terribly hurt by it. And if it weren’t for you-” He turned about abruptly, prepared to launch into some long lecture or scolding, but the look on his brother’s face stopped him. Javan gasped and dashed away his tears. He looked at the ground.

“That is why he was angry tonight,” Javan said, “and didn’t let me help with the horses.”

“I’m sure that’s not his only reason,” Thornden muttered.

Javan turned away again, finally so overcome that he couldn’t speak any more, and thrust his hands back into the darkened water. After a while, he found his voice again. “Does lord Eodwine know?”

“About the horse? Yes.”

Javan nodded, mute again. New doubts crept into his mind as he finished washing away the traces of the fire. He wondered what the morning would bring. If Eodwine did not send him home, what would happen to him? He would have to wait until morning and he would have to try to sleep. As he laid himself down and turned in his bed, he knew it would likely be a long, very sleepless night.
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