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Old 11-01-2009, 03:58 PM   #521
Nogrod
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Stigend, Garstan and Harreld were the first to rush to the last two carts. The wagoners were scrumpy old men and didn't pay too much attention to them while they examined the loads.

"Look at the quality of the timber!" Stigend shouted in awe.

"Look at the slate stones! We'll get a stone floor after all!" Garstan yelled.

"Iron! Real iron! Wait 'till you see what I will make of this!" Harreld went on enthusiastically.

It was like a birthday to them.

Stigend was looking around and finally spotted a soldier who was still standing beside the carts and holding his horse.

"Hey you there! What is your name?"

"I'm Baldwic, son of Baldwin..." the man said hesitatingly, and added: "What is it up to you?", trying to reach a more comfortable tone.

Stigend smiled and walked towards him. "How old are you Baldwic?"

It was a question that took Baldwic by surprise. And before he realised it he gave an answer. "I'm eighteen years old, sir."

Baldwic looked genuinely confused on his own behavior and tried to change it only to see Stigend taking the last few steps to face him straight on. "Now what...?" he managed to utter before Stigend was in front of him.

"If I were you I would ask this officer of yours to order some helping hands around here. Remember, no ale before everything is unloaded..." Stigend looked at the young soldier trying to keep his face stern. It was hard as he felt such a pity and care for the young insecure soldier in front of him... he remembered himself back in times when he had to show off a brave face even if he was just too young to pose as a soldier. He struggled between real pity for the lad and a burst of well-meaning laughter to life and everything.

"What's going around here?" a rider appeared from somewhere still on horseback. "Any trouble Baldwic?"

"No Feargall, no... I was just..." Baldric began.

"My friend just told him you guys could give us a hand here unless you're strongly against having a pint of ale soon..." Garstan put in smiling to the man on the horse.

"It's up to Hilderinc to give orders around here... not me... or you." the man named Feargall said calmly.

Suddenly they all heard the noises from around a few wagons ahead of them. It was like there was an argument of sorts. The discussion was closed and they all rushed to see what had happened.

~*~

"Where should we then?" Cnebba hissed in enthusiasm as the three kids were looking at things unfolding at the yard leaning at the warm kitchen wall.

"Sneaking to the meeting inside?" Leodthern thought out aloud.

"Blah, that's boring... that's just talk and talk... How about the horses? Look at those..." Garmund noted while seeing two great white stallions passing them with shining riders on them.

"Hey... a fight!" Cnebba ran. Garmund and Leodthern followed him. There was a fight to be sure beside the first carts. And what would be more exciting than a fight!

They were on place just too late. They had seen from further away there was a fight but they reached the place only when Harreld took the two apart and others ran in. The disappointment could be read from the young faces...

Last edited by Nogrod; 11-02-2009 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 11-01-2009, 04:06 PM   #522
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Saeryn was incensed, and Thornden sitting near her could feel it. This was all very difficult for her, he knew, and neither of them knew where it would end. He addressed Athanar.

“For myself, I willingly accept the position you offer, insofar as it does not contradict any wishes of my lady. I will do my best to aid you in whatever way possible. Coenred must, of course, take charge of the men-at-arms.” He looked the captain in the eye and nodded his head slightly. He hoped Coenred was as good a man as he looked.

Thornden looked again at Athanar. “But as for lady Saeryn, I fear that I speak for both of us, when I say that she can not be replaced, even by your wife. Do not mistake me, I mean no disrespect to you or your wife, sir, but it can not be forgotten that lord Eodwine is not dead, and you are not here to replace him but to temporarily fill his place. Lady Saeryn is here, and she is still in her rightful place as lady of hall. She must have a say in what is done here, and if your wife takes her place, then she will no longer have the authority she needs.”
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Old 11-01-2009, 04:45 PM   #523
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Athanar had nodded approvingly while Thornden spoke about his own position in the Mead Hall, but the veins clearly visible on his forehead were getting larger as he listened to what Thornden said about Saeryn and his wife, but he cooled himself astonishingly fast - even to Wynflaed's experience. He forced a smile as he knew not what he should say. But as an experienced lord he was quick into a solution.

"As I said, I'm ready to grant her..." he turned his eyes towards Saeryn. "to grant you, a special status in here. You will have a say in what is done here... You will. But you'd need to negotiate things with us... and we'd help you as you'd help us." He made a pause recollecting his thoughts.

"The main thing is, that we should get through these following hard months as united as possible. We face the landlords, the building-work, the possible problems with the different staff trying to learn to live with one another... As leaders we should show some leadership in that, don't you think? If we argue publicly - or if anyone learns we argue on things even privately - then building unity in the Mead Hall is a lost case. That's why I ask you lady Saeryn to talk with your brother and I am ready to forgive him his harsh and incosiderate language if he comes to his senses. We can come back to the issues of procedures and statuses when the winter comes and we have overcome the first hurdles in front of us. What do you think?"

From the corner of his eye Athanar saw that Coenred was clearly troubled and turned towards him. "Coen..." he addressed him. "If you think you'd like to take a look outside on how Hilderinc is faring, please do it. We can settle the rest without you as well as your position is now clear."

He had known Coenred for almost fifteen years and always knew when he was unhappy. Now his face had just screamed to be sent off from the meeting and Athanar was more than willing to grant him that. After all he was a bit worried how the men would come along with one another outside and how Hilderinc could handle any possible problems out there.
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Old 11-01-2009, 05:11 PM   #524
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As Lilige coaxed the unloaders into at least attempting to be gentle with the load, she heard shouts, and saw flurries of movement out of the corner of her eye. Turning, she saw one of the soldiers who had traveled here with her party and one of the locals wrestling on the ground. Lilige's eyes widened. They had only just arrived, and already they were being attacked by locals. She moved so that her back was against the cart, as far away from the brawlers as possible.

"Is this behavior common here?" Lilige asked one of the men unloading the cart. Her voice trembled and squeaked. She cleared her throat and began again. "Is brawling a common pastime here?" she asked. She feared for the safety of her Lady and her Lady's daughter in such rough conditions. She was, of course, also afraid for herself, but the Ladies were noble born. They ought not to be expected to bear with such brutal surroundings. Another thought occurred to her.

"How did the fight start?" she asked. There may be a perfectly reasonable explanation. She couldn't think of one at the moment, but then, this place and its manners were new to her. It was possible that she was overreacting. The fight was over now, anyways. Shaking her head at her own childish fear of a event that probably had little importance, Lilige returned to reminding the unloaders to be careful with the trunks.
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Old 11-01-2009, 05:35 PM   #525
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"I'm glad to see you of all people."

Dan had seen Erbrand coming out of the Scar, seemingly in pain. He was trying to hide it and put on a brave face, but Dan could see that Erbrand had been in some sort of fight or struggle. He did not look injured, but was hurt nonetheless. What could have done this? thought Dan. He was a strong man, one not easily beaten in a fight, and so Dan was at a loss. His immediate thought was that it must have been someone from one of the surrounding lands, someone under the lordships of the land landlords that had opposed Eodwine's rule.

He thought back to that fateful day. The had all seen Eodwine, sent away in a wagon in the night. Sent to Edoras, where they hoped he could have been healed. They had seen the grief in Lady Saeryn's eyes as her newlywed husband was borne away into the the darkness before dusk. She had hardened her heart, determined to stay in the Meadhall until the landlords had left, to stay strong and defend her household even when she was in despair. He held an admiration for the woman. And they had heard that Eodwine had been sent to Minas Tirith to the Houses of Healing, where the skill of the Gondorian healers would tend to the eorl. The people of the Meadhall had moved on from the initial shock into despair, which gave way to a distant sadness as those of Scarburg realised that their Eorl might never return.

Dan had thought of leaving this place and moving on to Edoras, but he had searched inside himself and realised that his allegiances lay with the people of Scarburg, and even though their lord was lost, he would stay to help rebuild the Meadhall. And besides, though he was still considered somewhat of an outsider, he had been accepted into the Meadhall and had made some friends, like Erbrand...

This thoughts had returned to the present, shaken out of his daydream. Erbrand was standing there, looking at Dan expectantly, waiting for a response.

"What happened?" Dan had asked, not having time to think of a more tactful way to address the situation at hand.

Erbrand paused for a moment, and it had seemed to the Drûg that he had not yet organised the events in his head, and was still trying to piece the events together.

"I... I was sitting out in the Scar, as you know I do, hoping to find tracks of an animal to hunt. But alas, there was no normal quarry. Several days ago I had seen tracks - prints - not of an animal, but of a man, and I knew they were not my own."

Dan winced, dreading the story to come, and filling with guilt. He was trying to work out what he would say, and how he could justify his passed actions. The dazed Erbrand continued.

"I heard a rustling in the trees, but as I came closer I realised that it was not me ambushing it, but it (and it was a person), was ambushing me. And I was attacked." At this, Dan's face filled with regret, knowing he could have prevented this, and that he could have made the Scar a safer place if he had not kept his promise. But Dan was a man of his word, and would not betray someone he had made a promise to, even a mysterious and seemingly (at the time) harmless stranger.

"Then he hit me over the head with the notched end of his staff. And when I woke up, I was alone, with only my knife and Traveller beside me," he finished.

Dan looked at Erbrand expectantly, but he seemed to have fallen silent, waiting for Dan to respond instead.

"So I suppose you want me to go back into the Scar with you to track down this attacker and bring him to the Meadhall."

"Yes, to put it plainly," replied the bruised Erbrand. "But it seems to me that you know more than you say, as you do not seem surprised at this news."

"Alas, it is true. I know who the rapscallion is. And I know his name, or at least the one he gave me. Oeric, he calls himself."

He looked as Erbrand as the other man seemed to piece things together, and looked at Dan in realisation. "So when you..."

"Yes, I did indeed meet him. I have never so far not successfully tracked my quarry. But also another man did I meet there, Scyld."

"So you..." began Erbrand.

"Yes, I lied. I lied to Eodwine and I lied to all of you. Oeric said that he needed time to prepare before he arrived, and I believed him, I believed the lying scoundrel!" Dan broke down for a second. After recomposing himself, he continued. "So I brought Scyld to the camp instead of Oeric, because he was willing to come, he wanted to enter in Oeric's place, and I let him!" Dan stopped for breath. His stomach clenched with guilt. "I was going to... was going to... tell Eodwine, but I kept on putting it off, hoping that the problem would sort itself out, that Oeric would be true to his side of the promise, but I was mistaken. And now he has attacked one of us."

Dan stopped. The guilt came flooding in, his heart was pounding, and he could feel his ears ringing. He waited for Erbrand to say something, anything, just to shift the focus away for himself, even for a second so that he could compose his thoughts.
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Old 11-01-2009, 07:15 PM   #526
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Coen nodded at Thornden with a light smile in polite gratitude when he was acknowledged, but he nearly sighed aloud again as the man continued. Regardless of how temporary any of this would be - and Coen did not know the precise orders of the king - Athanar and the Lady Wynflaed would replace the former Eorl and his wife. If Athanar took up his duties, he was the Eorl. He was even more so the Eorl if appointed by the king. For all these people respected work and duty, they seemed to be more concerned with titles and power at the moment.

Coen admired Athanar's calm and diplomatic response. He did not repeat anything about replacement, or titles, but rather turned it into the hard truth of the matter - strong leadership was needed for the center of this new Mid-Emnet to live and grow.

The captain was relieved when Athanar gave him leave, though a bit embarrassed that his discomfort had been that apparent to his lord. Thinking about how he would apologize to Athanar later, as well as thank him for the opportunity to take part in the meeting, Coen rose and bowed to his lord before bowing in general to the rest of the company and left the hall.
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Old 11-01-2009, 08:09 PM   #527
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“No, you are right,” Thornden said. “We do need to come up with a unified front, if we are to have the people follow us as we wish them to. If we do not work together, the entire populace of this hall will be set one against the other, and that is not lady Saeryn’s wish.”

Searyn finally spoke up. Her voice was held in careful check as she responded. “Of course you are right.” She looked from Athanar to Wynflaed and back. “And of course your wife must take my place, as long as you are eorl here.” The simple fact was that she had no will power to continue arguing her side. Fair or not, she had come up against a hard wall of authority and she could do nothing about it. Athanar, so far as she knew, was in his rights. But it did not lessen the fact that she felt passionately angry and very wronged. She kept her storming emotions in check only with great difficulty and immense use of control.

“I will not interfere when I need not,” she said. “But at least grant me the right to mention to you and expect your attention when I see a problem that needs to be addressed. I will not be brushed aside in my own home.”

Thornden turned his eyes from Saeryn to Athanar, admiring her strength and wondering, at the same time, what Athanar’s answer would be.

--
Javan, in the courtyard

Javan was one of those organized to help with the unloading of the wagons. He attended to the maid’s orders to be careful, but he found them soon becoming tiresome, as it did not seem to matter how carefully they placed the trunks on the ground and she still complained. His attention was hardly drawn to the fight, until he saw Lilige shrink against the wagon.

“Is brawling a common pastime here?” she asked. Her voice was tense and frightened. Javan straightened and looked over the wagon to what appeared to be Harreld breaking up a fight.

He shook his head. “No.” He looked again. It had been Matrim in the fight. “No, the men never fight. Sometimes the boys fight.” He didn’t include the fact that he was one of the said boys. “But the men don’t.” And he bent again to his work.

“How did the fight start?” she asked.

Javan once more straightened to look. The two soldiers who had been fighting were standing before the officer in charge. He shrugged. “I don’t know. Your man probably said something or did something not quite acceptable.”
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Old 11-01-2009, 10:52 PM   #528
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Ædre heard her name called and was pulled out of her thoughts.

“Ædre darling… go with uncle Fulcher.”

“Yes, papa” she said sweetly while silently plotting ways to ditch Fulcher. They had been travelling for a while and she just wanted time to herself. She wanted to explore this new place she was supposed to call home, without a nursemaid. “I am not a baby” she thought to herself.

“Uncle, I’m going to use the privy. I’ll come right back.”

Fulcher nodded, happy for a reprieve from the spoiled child if even for a short time. He was glad to do whatever Athanar asked of him but he could be of more use than being the chaperon to a difficult girl.

Ædre wandered in the direction of where she assumes the privy to be and then as soon as she was out of viewing distance she changed direction and headed toward the stable. She wanted to make sure these new people would take proper care of her horse and maybe have some time to be away from all these people.

She walked into the stable and looked around. Thankfully she was able to sneak in unnoticed. She looked quickly around until she found her chestnut brown mare and slipped into the stall. Leta whinnied as Ædre pulled out her favorite brush and began grooming. The motion soothed both horse and owner from the stress of the move. Ædre began talking to her horse a way to get her thoughts out.

“I know dear, it’s not as nice here but you have been groomed and fed well. Don’t worry I won’t let these people hurt you. You are the only one who understands me; I won’t let anything happen to you.” She kept talking and grooming until she heard someone enter the stable.
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Old 11-01-2009, 11:01 PM   #529
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Degas, not wishing to alarm the child, called out, "Hello?" rather than simply entering.

He heard what sounded like a dropped brush, or something about that size and weight.

"Is there somebody in here?" He knew there was, but from what he'd heard, the cooing voice of a girl, he was beginning to suspect that it might be Athanar's child, and he knew little of her. As a consequence, he dealt with her like he would a scared dog: he gave her plenty of warning of his advance, speaking gently and calmly as he moved forward so that she wouldn't panic and snap at him.

When he reached the stall, he looked into it and saw Ædre. The horse blew irritably at him, to all appearances seeming like she was chastising him for interrupting a private moment.

"I am Degas," he said. "You are Ædre?"

She nodded, looking quickly at the door, and he wondered if she was supposed to be here.

"She's very beautiful," he said, reaching into his belt purse. He held out his hand, in which sat a few small wafers consisting of baked grains and apple. "Does she like treats?"
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Old 11-01-2009, 11:31 PM   #530
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Ædre dropped her brush when she heard someone call out “hello?” She glanced around quickly wondering if there was any way of escape. She realized there were none and huddled closer to Leta. The strange man walked into the stable and started talking to her. She barely looked at him and heard very little of what he said.

“She’s very beautiful. Does she like treats?”

Ædre noticed that he seemed to be waiting for an answer so she nodded her head in thanks and in answer to his question.

She then stuttered “I am sorry. I must go,” as she ran past him and out of the stable.
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Old 11-01-2009, 11:45 PM   #531
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Degas smiled a little with his eyes, amused by the child. Saeryn was just like her at that age. They even looked a bit alike, except that Saeryn's hair was dark red instead of blond.

He saddled up Gleowyn and paused on his way past Leta's stall, unfastening his belt purse. This particular one contained nothing but treats; he had grabbed it from his things en route to the stable. He fastened it to Leta's stall door, out of reach of her questing nose, right where Ædre could find it. Nobody would bother it, most likely assuming Ædre herself had put it there.

As he led Gleowyn out the far door and off in the direction of the Scar, he shook his head, but not angrily. The girl was charming, in an awkward way. He hoped she would find the bag soon. She looked as though she could use some cheering up. Once away from the buildings and the people, Degas let Gleowyn break into a trot, and then a canter, enjoying the wind in his hair. Though they had ridden here, and though Gleowyn had not been neglected, little of Degas's time recently had been spent riding for the sheer pleasure of the sensation of flying. Too busy farming, he thought a little ruefully. But then he distracted himself by steering Gleowyn toward a large, broad boulder, and he stood a little in his stirrups, leaning back, and she took the boulder with a long leap, landing gracefully, whinnying, enjoying the exercise easily as much as her master did.

She slowed and frolicked, and he let her, taking the time to move without thinking, one with his horse, one with the wind that came today from the west, blowing along the cold mountains. His hands were cold, but the rest of him was warm, his movement countering the chill of approaching winter.

The sky was blue. The grass was thick and lush. Any problems at home or at Scarburg were, for now, of no matter.
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Old 11-02-2009, 09:31 AM   #532
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Never had he felt so betrayed. He stood for a long moment in disbelief. Dan had been his loyal companion ever since he had come to Scarburg. How could he put him, all of Scarburg, in danger? Slowly he felt his anger begin to swell and his breath came in long blasts.

Long ago, on the very first day Erbrand had first come to Scarburg, he had encountered a stranger spying upon Scarburg; however, the stranger had been able to escape the Erbrand. Lord Eodwine had sent Dan to track down and find the stranger and brought back someone called Scyld, a shifty character. If Scyld was not the stranger Erbrand had first encountered nearly four months ago, then this was indeed the same character that had dealt him these bruises. Oeric was the stranger’s name then, Erbrand would not forget it.

“Are there any other people whom you have failed to mention?” Erbrand’s tone was angry and filled with hatred. Dan didn’t speak and shook his head. The poor little fellow looked as if he might cry and looked very pitiable.

“Ahh,” Erbrand exclaimed in frustration, torn between pity and contempt. “I can’t blame all of this on you, Dan, my friend. There must have been good reason for you to keep this news secret for this long.” Dan’s face lit up with joy. Erbrand almost smiled, Dan looked just like a child.

Together they walked to the edge of camp and Erbrand told Dan of the fight in detail. If Oeric was indeed spying on Scarburg, what would be the gain? Was he in on it alone or was someone hiring him? The landlords, who had visited last month, immediately came to mind, but there was no proof of it. The only way to find out for sure was to catch this Oeric and question him.

“Shall we tell Saeryn of this fight?” Dan asked as they were about to enter camp. Erbrand rubbed his chin for moment in thought.

“I don’t think so. Saeryn will have a lot of issues on her mind with the arrival of the new lord,” he paused for a moment and looked at the crowd gathered around the wagons. I wonder what type of a fellow this new lord is? “But let us not think on that for now. If this Oeric fellow is wise, he will lay low for a couple of days.”

“You still haven’t answered my question Erbrand, who are we going to tell? Remember, you nearly got killed due to my silence.”

“True, my friend,” again Erbrand paused and thought. “My advice is for us not trouble lady Saeryn with this. I’m not too sure of this new lord, but he will have to know sooner or later. Besides, Thornden will doubtlessly maintain some of his former prestige and he will know what to do.”

After they had put Erbrand’s horse, Traveler, back in the stables, both headed for the Meadhall; however, they were informed that Thornden, lady Saeryn, and the new nobles were in a counsel and were under no circumstances to be disturbed. Erbrand grimaced, Are they trying to take control already? Now, now, give this Athanar fellow (I think that’s his name) a chance, he might be very good. The door opened suddenly and out walked a soldier. Erbrand grabbed him by the arm and forced him to stop as he tried to slide past.

“How goes the counsel?”

Suddenly, Erbrand realized that this was not one of the soldiers native to Scarburg. Erbrand released his grip as if he had been holding a red hot brand. The informality of the old Scarburg under Eodwine’s rule had finally begun to sink in; however, lady Saeryn had warned Scarburg that nothing but the best behavior was to be expected of them when Athanar arrives. Erbrand stood a little stunned with what he had done.
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Old 11-02-2009, 01:04 PM   #533
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Lilige was somewhat comforted by the boy, Javan. The tension was sharply felt, and Lilige could tell that even those unloading the wagon were unhappy with her coaxing, probably because she was one of the new arrivals.

Shaking her head slightly in a futile attempt to banish the tension, Lilige noted with pleasure that the unloaders had finally retrieved the last box from the wagon. "Gently!" Lilige murmured, but she doubted anyone heard, and besides, there was no real need. Either they would remember her countless earlier admonishments or they wouldn't.

"Where will Eorl Athanar and the Ladies be quartered?" Lilige asked. Looking at the scattering of trunks on the ground beside the wagon, she dearly hoped the place would be nearby, and not uphill. The unloaders had barely managed to remove the trunks from he wagon with out breaking anything. She dared not imagine what kind of harm could befall the trunks on a longer journey. Hoisting the trunk carrying her own clothes, Lilige followed Javan and the others to her master and mistress' new quarters.
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Old 11-02-2009, 02:33 PM   #534
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“But at least grant me the right to mention to you and expect your attention when I see a problem that needs to be addressed. I will not be brushed aside in my own home.”

Lord Athanar was a man of principles and required that everyone knew their place. That being observed he was quite a reasonable and polite man dealing with other people. He had no idea of lady Saeryn's background - the pure fact that he didn't know her lineage suggested to him she would not be from any influential or aristocratic family - but he had still decided to treat her as the wife of an eorl... well to all odds a former eorl, but still. He had honoured her as being on par with him. But now he was losing his temper.

So this woman is not only of low birth but also of shallow wits... or with terribly short memory... Wynflaed saw his husband's expression and threw a sharp glance towards him. Athanar noticed it clear enough and held his temper. That's what a long marriage creates; an understanding from a slight wink of an eye. And Athanar knew his wife was right.

"Of course lady Saeryn..." He bit his lip to hold back the words his mind went through. I just said a minute ago that she will have a say in what is done here... But that she'd just need to negotiate things with us... and we'd help her as she'd help us... with a special status at the Hall... Now what else is she looking for?

"We will actually need your help in pointing out things that require addressing lady Saeryn, and I think my husband agrees on it fully." It was Wynflaed who decided to save the situation as it took time for Athanar to continue.

"Yes I do." Athanar smiled to his wife and then nodded to both Thornden and Saeryn.

"I think there is one thing you both might point to us rather now than later..." lord Athanar had once again gathered himself and was into bussiness. "Now I understand people loved lord Eodwine - well you of course are a special one lady - but the people in general working and living here loved him..."

The two nodded, Saeryn did it especially slow but firmly.

"It is clear for any experienced leader that new subjects are not too enthusiastic about any new order and there maybe even an air of resistance or people trying the guts of a new leadership. I'm pretty comfortable with that as I have led many households and companies of the Rohirrim... one to the war in the end. But looking at the situation here... can you tell me of any individuals who I should be more careful with, or any issues the people here would be especially sensitive on? That information would be valuable indeed, for the good of us all."
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Old 11-02-2009, 03:12 PM   #535
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When Hilderinc walked to the scene, he was too late to see what had just happened, but he could as well make a good guess. A group of the Scarburgians was glancing at him sideways as he approached and several of lord Athanar's soldiers were standing just a short distance apart, surrounding Áforglæd. Hilderinc glanced at the horse: it looked fine, while Áforglæd did not. Picking a fight with the Scarburgians? That didn't sound like Áforglæd's style, though from what Hilderinc knew about the young soldier, it would not be impossible to imagine that he provoked the fight by some rather impetuous action.

Hilderinc turned first to him and the group surrounding him.

"Why are you not taking care of the horses?" he said, as if he did not notice the few bruises on Áforglæd's face. "If yours are already in the stables, go and help to lead the cart-horses there, if the wagons are already unloaded."

The soldiers followed his order, some of them slightly reluctantly or with ambiguous expressions.

"Áforglæd, you stay here for a while."

Some of the soldiers looked back.

"They started it, Hilderinc," shouted Scyrr, the senior guard of Athanar's house.

Hilderinc turned to him with cold eyes. "Didn't you hear the lord's order? Go about your business."

"Oaf," he heard Scyrr whisper under his breath, but ignored it. Over the past few months, he got used to the fact that some of Athanar's guard did not respect him because of his incommunicativeness. But he did not concern himself with it now. He turned to the Scarburgians. He could have as well asked Áforglæd himself, but he felt it was more tactical to engage the natives directly, also to emphasise the impression that he was not taking any sides here.

"What was that?" His eyes moved from one to another, he was not quite sure to whom of this company he should speak to as to their representative, but he did not let his expression give out anything of his uncertainity. "What happened here?"

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Old 11-02-2009, 05:38 PM   #536
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Thornden and Saeryn glanced at each other. “Not in Scarburg,” Saeryn said, shaking her head and looking at Athanar. “I mean, the people here are not quarrelsome. They loved Eodwine because he gave them all he had. You treat them fairly, and serve them half as well as Eodwine served them, and they will respond to you as whole-heartedly as you should wish.”

Saeryn spoke like a woman, and even Thornden realized that. He addressed himself to Athanar. “What my lady means is that we have no truly hardened characters here. They will do their best to please and be pleased. But, yes, there are issues on which they will be sensitive about. They will be very upset when they hear that your lady has taken Saeryn’s place. Not,” he added quickly when he saw the cloud once more forming on Athanar’s brow, “that they have a right to form any judgement about such matters, but nevertheless, they will feel that she has been wronged. I am merely warning you – be careful how you handle that and in what way it is finally broken to them that she is no longer their lady.

“And they will not like anything that Eodwine has done to be changed. I know you will not be pleased with this, my lord, but to change the plans of the hall will appear foolish to them, especially the carpenter and his helpers. They know, as do I, that we have made plans that will utilize our supplies to their greatest fulfillment. We have planned the bare necessities, and we cannot finish the plans with what we have here. Now that you have brought some supplies, we will be able to finish, but if you try to alter the floor plan and add a great deal to try to make this into some great hall. . .no, that will not go well with them at all.”

Athanar listened carefully, looking Thornden squarely in the eye as he spoke. “Is there anything else?” Athanar asked, when Thornden paused.

“Forgive me, sir, yes,” Thornden said. “You have already removed me from my place as leader of the men-at-arms. That is all very well, for Coenred is my superior in rank, and the soldiers, at least, will realize and accept it. But be careful of replacing everyone here. You will have idle people on your hands and they may grow resentful.”

“Ha! They’ll hardly be idle!” Athanar said with a laugh. Thornden did not smile.

“I am serious. Eodwine has carefully chosen the people he has, and to replace them would be changing what he set up, and as I just said, the people will not like that.”

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Old 11-02-2009, 06:37 PM   #537
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Coen simply looked at the man for a moment, having been pulled sharply from his thoughts. He was a local, as Coen did not recognize him and he was in very simple peasant garb. Once his mind could wrap itself around the question, the captain thought about his response for half a moment, though he knew immediately what he should convey.

"It goes well, sir," he said politely. It was clear the man was embarrassed by what he had done, grabbing Coen forcefully. Either nerves were that strung out or he had thought Coen was someone else. "The lord Athanar and your lady Saeryn have begun their friendship and have started discussing business of the Mead Hall."

He paused, considering the man for a moment. He was about the same height as Coen, and quite a bit younger it seemed...and there was an odd smell about him, which took Coen a moment to place - he was a tanner.

"I am Coenred, a servant of the lord Athanar," he introduced himself.
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Old 11-02-2009, 06:50 PM   #538
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"Duly noted, Thornden," said Wynflaed. "Rest assured that my lord Athanar will only implement those changes which he deems absolutely necessary for the good of the Hall." Her eyes flicked over to her husband.

"You must understand, and indeed it shall be our burden to make known to the people, that we of Edoras often have a different conception of what exactly that good is. Yet trust that we do not change things for the sake of change alone, nor that we change things without any discussion beforehand.

"My lady Saeryn," she said, turning to look at her, "I hope, when my family and I are more settled, and matters press in on all of us less closely, that we may arrange some sort of private meeting concerning the domestic ordering of the Hall. I do not wish to court the disfavor of the people through letting them think I am naught more than a usurper."

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Old 11-03-2009, 07:45 AM   #539
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Thornden was right. Saeryn allowed him to speak while she sat by silently. She had wanted to paint an overly good picture of the people, but Thornden showed a more realistic side. He did not exaggerate. What both she and he had found startling and otherwise unacceptable in their minds at the meeting here, everyone else would be dissatisfied with, too.

She was growing tired of this. Athanar had expressed a desire to talk, so that they could decide how best to run Scarburg, but all it seemed that he did was tell them how he was going to run it.

“You must understand, and indeed it shall be our burden to make known to the people, that we of Edoras often have a different conception of what exactly that good is. Yet trust that we do not change things for the sake of change alone, nor that we change things without any discussion before hand.”

Why must anything change? When things are smooth among a set of people, when quarrels are seldom, and everyone works together like a well oiled machine, what could possibly be better? Did they really think that they were sent here to make order among the people? They were only here as figureheads, so that the other ignorant landlords would honor them and pay their dues.

It was pointless to say any such thing. She looked politely towards Wynflaed as she addressed her.

“My lady Saeryn, I hope, when my family and I are more settled, and matters press in on all of us less closely, that we may arrange some sort of private meeting concerning the domestic ordering of the Hall. I do not wish to court the disfavor of the people through letting them think I am naught more than a usurper.”

Domestic ordering of the hall, indeed! What do you plan on changing? We do not live in filth and stench – the place is kept clean, I have no complaints – and our meals come on time. What more do you really expect from the girls?

Saeryn inclined her head slightly, smiled a little, and said out loud, “Of course. I will be ready whenever it is your convenience.”
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Old 11-03-2009, 09:35 AM   #540
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Lithor

“I can answer your question,” Lithor said stepping forward with a bright smile. Time for him to work some magic, to turn a possible disaster into a opportunity.

“It was but two minutes ago when my friend and I where admiring the magnanimous gifts presented to us by the gracious Athanar that we heard a commotion here. I came to inspect the situations, as is my duty as a guard in Eodwine’s house and found that two of our soldiers were quarreling.” Lithor felt that it was necessary to emphasize the word our. He didn’t want Hilderinc to feel as if this was an incident worth reporting to Athanar, who had only just arrived.

“I inquired as to the nature of their quarrel. In short, it appears that that young man there,” Lithor pointed to Áforglæd, “had given my lady such an insult as to make my ears burn. The lad was sorry, however, that he had spoken hastily in insult, but equally as hasty was my friend to uphold the honor of our lady Saeryn! I was unable to pull our two men apart, but thankfully Harreld and Crabanna here intervened. Both brawlers were hasty and wrong was done on both sides, but I pray that you not punish either of them. My friend has defended my lady’s honor and your friend has taught his lesson.”

Hilderinc glanced at Áforglæd and then scanned the surrounding people. “Where is your man?”

“Gone, I’m afraid. That was my doing. I think that it is better to let things settle before he shows himself. Besides, he won’t be hard to find, he’ll be the only one with bruises.” Lithor laughed and searched the man’s eyes—hollow and emotionless.

“He won’t have any reason to hide, will he?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Erbrand

Thank goodness, this wasn’t a grouchy, old, “experienced” (which Erbrand often figured to be a polite way of excusing arrogance) soldier. The man seemed quite genteel, very nice in the way he answered Erbrand’s question. So the counsel is going well then. The people of Scarburg are in good standings with the newcomers! The man introduced himself as Coenred, Athanar’s servant no less—the man with inside knowledge of all his lord’s doings!

“Coenred,” Erbrand let the word roll of his tongue and swirl around in his mind for moment. “My name is Erbrand,” he responded, there was no prestigious epithet that he could give to himself that would impress or interest this person.

“The counsel is going well then, that is good news indeed. Everybody seems on edge right now, it is good to hear that some people are getting along.” Erbrand laughed nervously. Coenred just smiled.

“I am sorry for stopping you like that, I thought you were… well, someone else—a friend.” Erbrand immediately regretted saying that. Idiot! “Someone else?” “a friend?” Stupid, your making this man feel unwelcome and you are looking like the simpleton you are. Make it up to him, show him courtesy.

“Don’t let me stop you from what you were going to do. Perhaps I can help?”

“No thank you, I can take care of it.” Coenred replied courteously.

“Oh but I insist!” Actually Erbrand was in no place to be insisting anything. Coenrad was an influential man and Erbrand was a mere peasant.

Coenred’s response was cut short by loud thuds on the grass behind Erbrand. The noise surprised Erbrand and he spun around quickly to see what had happened. Trunks, lots of heavy trunks were being piled (none too carefully I might add) next to the Meadhall. It suddenly occurred to Erbrand who all these people really were. They were not newcomers as he or Harreld or Rowenna or Dan had been. Their lifestyles were strange from the rustic country folk of Scarburg and their mindsets were equally as different.

It occurred to Erbrand that the majority of the newcomers were city folk, not at all the type that Erbrand liked. He had been a city man not long ago in Aldburg, a large city by Rohan standards yet out far enough to have its rustic qualities. However, that lifestyle was not to his liking at all and while his life at Scarburg had been rough and downright dangerous, he would not trade it for the city life. However, these people were from Edoras, the cushion pillow of Rohan society. To Erbrand, city folk meant soft, soft meant weak, and weak meant death out here in the wilderness, especially with winter coming on. Even the soldiers who this Athanar brought with him looked less hardy than Eodwine’s guards.

Athanar! Erbrand thought with horror of what man this new lord might turn out to be. This lord Athanar is from the city, what does he know of the rough living in the Middle Emnet? I bet he’s one of those cavalier type of Rohirrim that fought in the great war. The type that did valuable service to King Theoden (may he rest in peace) and asked for an earldom: something that he knows nothing about, at least out here. What happened to the type of service that the antique world taught? When service sweat for duty and not for reward. I am young, but I am not for these times when none will sweat, save for promotion and having that, do choke their service up with more ambition. If Athanar be such a man, I will not swear allegiance to him! Lord Eodwine was kind to me, he earned my trust and lady Saeryn earned it by becoming his wife. Athanar will have to earn my love and trust just as Eodwine did, but he will never have it completely.


Erband looked back, Coenred was looking at him in a peculiar manner. At least this one wasn’t all that bad. “Still at your service, sir,” Erbrand said wiping the scowl off his face. Despite his thoughts of these new people, Erbrand liked Coenred (as far as first impressions go).

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Old 11-03-2009, 01:51 PM   #541
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"He won’t have any reason to hide, will he?"

Hilderinc frowned. "You tell me. I assume you should know better than me, if you have witnessed these events, and if he is, as you say, your friend." He could not help but to feel a strong stab of aversion to this man at first sight. A soldier, clearly, but honey-tongued in a rather repulsive way. Hilderinc did not like men like this, who tried to buy others' goodwill by speaking in such manner. "My friend and I where admiring the magnanimous gifts presented to us by the gracious Athanar", indeed! Such an obvious sweet-talk, trying to win Athanar's men's sympathy. No way are you going to lull me like that, you serpent. I can see right through you, Hilderinc thought. He also noticed how this man had used the expression "our soldiers". Fairness and just approach towards different people is one thing, but obvious sweettalk is another, and it is not worth a proper soldier. When Hilderinc came, he did not have any intention to pursue the matter of the fight, if it could have been avoided. He did not want to contribute to creating any ruptures among the natives and Athanar's men – from his experience, he knew well that some awkwardness would be present at least during the first days, before the people get used to each other - but the way this soldier seemed to attempt to win his goodwill set him alert. Was his friend really so "innocent"?

Hilderinc, however, did not let any of his inner thoughts show in his face. Let's hear Áforglæd's version, then. He turned to the bruised soldier.

"What can you tell me about this, Áforglæd? Is this man speaking the truth?"

The soldier reluctantly moved his head in affirmation.

Hilderinc also nodded. Well, it seemed at least that this was how the matter went. It was true that the other man attacked Áforglæd first, but Hilderinc could very well imagine what kind of remark might have caused that.

"You know that I should report you to Coenred," he addressed the soldier. "However, if you are going to watch yourself, there is no need to do that. But be assured that if something like that was to happen again, there'll be no avoiding the punishment. If the matter is settled," he turned again to the Scarburgian who spoke before, to see an affirmative reaction, "go and take care of lord Athanar and lady Wynflæd's mounts," he pointed at the animals standing peacefully nearby.

"And then you can think of improving your looks before meal, so that the local kitchen ladies don't fly from you. We seem to be almost done," he added, looking over his shoulder to the rest of the soldiers.

As Áforglæd walked away, Hilderinc turned once again to the Scarburgian who had spoken before.

"What was your name?"

"Lithor."

"Well, thank you for your help," Hilderinc said, but maintained a straight face, to make sure that he won't give the sweet-tongued soldier any false hopes. This was a well-settled matter, but if the man aimed to ingratiate himself with Hilderinc, he picked the wrong person.
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Old 11-03-2009, 03:40 PM   #542
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Wulfric & Wilheard

Wilheard was rapping the table impatiently. He never felt comfortable indoors for long times, and meetings like this were a pain to him. All the pompous, boring words meaning nothing, his parents' typical lordly waffling and Wulfric looking as self-important as if the King himself had appointed him to clean his shoes of horse dung.

He could not understand why he had been summoned to this meeting. There could be nothing he could contribute to the discussion and nothing he could do, for Mother had told him to hold his tongue and just be quiet and observe so many times that it had really gotten on his nerves and he had had to promise to do so. He had no idea what this pathetic cow-like soldier and the whining - although quite pretty - young babe could give them. He envied Coenred who had been freed from the torment.

He tried to amuse himself by imagining taking a wild ride to the Scar to see the surroundings properly. Unconsciously, he started rapping the table more quickly and loudly to mimick the gallop of his horse.

"Stop that," Wulfric whispered and shoved him with an elbow. Wilheard threw his elder brother a murderous glance.

Wulfric rolled his eyes. He could not understand why Wilheard could not behave. This meeting was boring - that he could wholeheartedly agree on - but they would have time to have fun later. Now they should concentrate on showing the order of things to these peasants. He himself did his best by sitting very stiffly and looking at them as menacingly as he could. He was quite sure he was an authoritarian figure with his broad shoulders and commanding eyes.

The women were talking now about some feminine arrangements. This was surely not important, so Wulfric concentrated studying the features of Lord Eodwine's second-in-comand, Thornden. The man was maybe a few years older than Wulfric himself and had a warrior's aura. Wulfric was yearning to know if he'd beat this peasant on the battlefield.

The man was taller than Wulfric, but not any broader. He would have a few years more experince in the arts of war, but on the other hand, he had surely not had the best teachers and tutors Edoras could offer, unlike Athanar's sons. Wulfric's biggest fault as a fighter - or so had his teachers told him - was underestimating his opponent, so he reminded himself not to make quick judgements, but he just couldn't see himself losing to this peasant. He grinned to himself. He would love to have that fight.

He glanced at his father, rather meaningfully this time. Surely it was time to end this meeting if nothing more important than women's chores remained to be negotiated. Besides, he had to agree with his agonised-looking little brother: this was getting incredibly boring.

~*~

Modtryth

"Now, tell me everything." Frodides's tone was rather authoritarian, and Kara's bright eyes were full of curiousity although she smiled cheerfully at the older woman being so characteristically herself.

Ginna glanced at Modtryth and the dark woman sighed. "Well then, I'll tell you I guess. But what's there to know? You saw them yourselves, I don't have much to add."

Frodides looked as if she was about to protest, and Modtryth, suppressing a laugh, continued before any exclamation was uttered. "Both the lord and his wife seem courteus yet firm inside. I hope they're not going to be any trouble." The women exchanged worried glances.

"I think they were alright," Ginna said soothingly.
Modtryth nodded. "I agree. I'm not so sure about the sons though. They seem a bit too rash and full of themselves to be utterly harmless."
Frodides waved her hand dismissively. "Any kind of idiocy can be whipped out of a child."
Modtryth gave the old cook a slight smile. She knew her well enough to know what exactly she meant. But she was troubled still - it might be that Cnebba or Garmund or Javan would start behaving after a gentle slap, but these two were grown up men. "And the idiocy can only be whipped out if the parents are willing to use the whip..." she muttered, more to herself than to anyone else.

"Did anyone manage to have a look at any of the other new arrivals?" Kara asked after a short and uncomfortable silence.
Modtryth and Ginna shook their heads.
"Well, off you go scouting then!" Frodides said. "Although I wouldn't mind if one of you helped me and Kara with the dinner, it has to be extraordinarily well done today, and there's more to do than normally."
"I'll stay - shall I fetch water?" Ginna asked quickly. She grinned at Modtryth mischeviously.
Modtryth smiled ruefully.
"Coming back with a detailed report, sir," she said in a mock soldier-like manner, bowed stiffly to Frodides and hurried away to have a look at the newcomers with the excuse of helping them unload and arrange stuff.

~*~

Cnebba

"Hey, you two, come give a helping hand!"

Cnebba and Garmund glanced at each other desperately, but they knew there was no way to run away unnoticed. So they nodded sheepishly and walked to Raedwald.

"There seem to be some stuff there. The woman who was organising things around said they should be carried to the main building."

Cnebba and Garmund repeated their sheepish gestures and walked over the wagon. They took a pile of relatively small, neatly packed packages and started walking towards the main building.

Soon Cnebba started having problems. The package he was carrying seemed to be of a difficult shape. "Which way is this supposed to be carried?" he grumbled and shifted, managing to drop a small and elegantly carved wooden comb from the package.

"Oops," he muttered.

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Old 11-03-2009, 04:35 PM   #543
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“Of course. I will be ready whenever it is your convenience.”

After Saeryn's words there was an awkward silence as all present - not probably counting the two sons of Athanar - saw the bitterness in them.

"Well... Shall we call it a day then?" lord Athanar asked matter-of-factly trying to hide the storm inside him. "I think this was a good meeting and I have learned a lot."

Turning towards Thornden he continued: "Good Thornden, I do appreciate what you told me and I respect your frank openness. I do trust you and will pay heed to your advice."

Moving her eyes to lady Saeryn he added: "And lady Saeryn, you're clearly under an emotional stress and that is just natural. You've been through some hard times... harder many of us have to experience in our lives. But fear not, we're on the same side, on the side of Rohan and king Eomer - like lord Eodwine would have been, were he here..."

Wynflaed looked tormented with the clumsiness of the soothing-attempts his husband was up to and broke in. "Please lady Saeryn, we appreciate your stature here... it's not my convenience but the good of the Mead Hall we have to think, together."

"Right..." lord Athanar added. "Now let us call this meeting off."

Saeryn didn't react but Thornden nodded courteously.

"Then... I'll postpone the meeting with the craftsmen for later tomorrow and the soldiers will have an exercise led by Coenred early in the morning. I hope I could see you two after the breakfast... Now I must beg your pardon. I need to think."

Wynflaed turned towards her husband and Athanar paused.

"Yes, forgive me... I'm clearly overloaded... I'd like to see you two accompanying us at the banquet, by our side. I'll make a few announcements. And you can address the people if you wish then as well. And if there is anything you wished to talk with me before it, feel free to address your concerns or your propositions. Is that allright for you?"

Lord Athanar rose up noticing the approving nod from Saeryn and Thornden and turned towards his sons. "Go and help people outside if there is anything left to do. And don't go messing up with anything... We'll have a party tonight and everything needs to be in order. You understand?"

Wilcred and Wilheard flied from their seats. Their releavment was apparent indeed. Lord Athanar shook his head as he watched them go.

Athanar glanced at her wife and nodded to her. "I will go for a walk, just to look at the place... and to think. Shall I see you my love, in an hour or two? You must be busy arranging our apartment before that?"

Last edited by Nogrod; 11-03-2009 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 11-03-2009, 06:29 PM   #544
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Coen dearly wanted to escape this man, but could not think of a way to do so without upsetting him. In his mind, a 'no thank you' was as plain as 'no' any day, and he couldn't think of a polite way to say 'no, I'd really rather you go away now.' He did not hold any quarrel against this Erbrand, though he had seen the look on the man's face only a moment before. It was perhaps best to step lightly around this man, if possible, so Coen simply nodded politely in recognition of his reinforced offer. He then turned his attention immediately to those carrying the baggage and requested, "Try to be careful with those." They weren't all his men, so he did not wish to sound like he was barking orders at them yet.

He was about to go find Hilderinc, leaving his conversation with Erbrand as it was - if the man wished to follow him, so be it - when just moments after his 'request' he heard a very slight thud and an "oops." He turned to see a boy with a package about to unwrap or fall from his hands, and one of (he assumed) Lady Wynflaed's combs already on the ground in front of him. Coenred closed his mouth and went over to the boy, and stooped to put a hand under the package in the child's arms and pick up the comb.

"That's a difficult one," he said simply. Taking the package from the boy, he turned to Erbrand and offered him the package. "Would you mind placing this with the others, sir? There's something I dearly need to attend to."
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Old 11-03-2009, 09:48 PM   #545
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Lilige directed the unloaders to put the trunks in the center of the room and had them go back for the rest. She opened one of the trunks with Lady Wynflaed's clothes and began smoothing the wrinkles out. She folded each and placed them in a neat stack near her Lady's bed.

Emptying one trunk, Lilige turned to the next one. This contained the personal heirlooms and other small items Wynflaed had brought with her. Lilige set those aside, waiting for her Lady's direction about where to place those.

Lilige moved through the rest of the trunks, hoping to have the room fairly well organized by the time Wynflaed and Athanar were done with their counsel. Smiling, she surveyed her work during the lull while she waited for the next trunks to be brought in. She was well on the way to finished her small contribution in helping her Lady settle into her new life.
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Old 11-03-2009, 10:05 PM   #546
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Saeryn regretted her choice of words as soon as they had escaped her lips. She looked crestfallen as their effect became obvious on the newcomers. When would she ever learn to curb her tongue and her feelings? She listened in silence while Athanar wrapped up the formal meeting and dismissed everyone. She and Thornden rose and stepped back, they both bowed slightly to Athanar and his wife and then drew aside.

“What would you have me do now, my lady?” Thornden asked.

“Just go out and see that all is well between our people and the newcomers, Thornden. See if you can help with anything.”

“Of course.”

“I will be in my room,” she said. It was not really her room. She had given up the room she and Eodwine had stayed in so that Athanar and his wife could be in comfort while they were there, and the place where she and Eodwine had lived was the only real comfortable place for a man and wife to be together. She had proposed moving into the women's quarters with all the other ladies, but the people would not allow that. Stigend and Garstan had assured her that it would be a simple matter to put up a privacy wall in one of the corners. With a little bit of persuasion, she had agreed, and they had built her a private room for herself. She would be near the other women, but she would still have her own place to go.

Thornden nodded and turned to go. “Thornden,” she called after him. He turned. “Thank you for speaking there for me, just now. I’m so glad you’re here.”

Thornden nodded again. Then he said, “If there is anything else I can possibly do for you, do not hesitate to let me know.”

Saeryn smiled a little. “Thanks. I’ll remember that.” He bowed and turned away again. Saeryn’s smile faded and she, too, departed the hall. It was colder in the women’s quarters and in her room. Saeryn picked up her shawl from her bed and wrapped it close around her shoulders. She sat down on the foot of the bed, pulled off her shoes and curled her legs beneath her.

For a long time she sat, silently mulling over what had just passed. Had she acted acceptably, or had she spoken as a fool? Did she have a right to wish to cling to her status? Was she frightened for imaginary reasons, or real ones? She felt so lost and confused, she didn’t know what to think. As the thought of Eodwine sprang to her mind, tears filled her eyes suddenly.

“I try to be strong,” she murmured aloud. “But I need you, Eodwine.” She laid her hand on her stomach. “Soon I will need you more than ever.”

Her musings were doing her no good. She must talk to someone, and the only person she could truly pour her heart out to was Degas. She rose to go find him.

Last edited by Folwren; 11-04-2009 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 11-04-2009, 08:27 AM   #547
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Wulfric and Wilheard walked out of the hall and strecthed almost identically in the fresh air.
"Whoa," said Wilheard. "That was easily the most boring meeting ever." "Possibly," Wulfric agreed drily. He was looking at the crowd unpacking the arrived goods and packages. There were a lot of people and even more folk was joining the chores, now the peasantish officer and a suspiciously Dunlending-like woman.

"Hey! Where are you going, Will?" Wulfric shouted. His little brother was striding not to the masses of people, but to the stables.
"Riding," Wilheard replied with a slight shrug.
"We were supposed to do the unpacking, idiot," Wulfric pointed out.
"As if I cared," Wilheard replied. "There seems to be enough peasant folk seeing to the stuff, we would be just on the way."

Wulfric set his jaw in a stubborn way. "You are not going anywhere, kid." In truth, he preferred riding to unpacking just as much as his brother.
"You're going to run and tell mummy and daddy, are you?" Wilheard asked gleefully.
"No," said Wulfric with a hint of a grin. "I'm going to beat some sense into your thick skull."
Wilheard flashed a grin in return. "Catch me if you can, then!" Without further warnings, he dashed to the stables and appeared in no time at all, riding his grey steed who seemed to be as enthusiastic as his master. "You'll never catch me, Wulf, I've always been a superior horseman!"

"Maybe so, but if I catch you, you'll be in deep trouble - for I've always been the better fighter, you little maggot!" With this words, Wulfric ran to the stables to quickly saddle his horse and urge it to follow the grey, almost running over some peasant carrying packages. But Wilheard, of course, was already almost out of sight. Cursing, Wulfric urged his big white horse to run.
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Old 11-04-2009, 10:18 AM   #548
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Lithor did not know what to say. His plan had not worked. He could not understand it, this had always been his usual course for lightening up the mood. Did he overdo it? No, for it had always worked before. Maybe a straight forward approach would work—Lithor did, obviously, not impress his guest with all his court talk. However, Lithor decided against it, Hildernic was did not seem in any mood for humor.

“Now that hurt.” Lithor said inspecting his clothes after Hildernic left.

Foul is most foul, being foul to be a scoffer. Hildernic, was certainly a tough nut to crack. Perhaps later at dinner they could get a word in edgewise. Lithor would not give up on the man. Besides, he did not believe Hildernic to be as gloomy as he let on. Yet, there is time for all that later, for now, duties were to be done. Lithor took the horses that Hildernic pointed out as Athanar’s and took them to the stable. He had never considered himself a stable boy, but for today it would be prudent for to act as one.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Erbrand

Nodding slightly, he took the package and Coenrad thanked him before taking off. Erbrand held the package in one hand and examined the tool that Coenrad had picked up with the other.

“What on earth is this?” Erbrand wondered out loud. Another one of those city comforts?

Cnebba was still standing looking at the package and then pack at the large pile of boxes and trunks waiting to be brought. Erbrand noticed it and took the hint.

“Make yourself useful Cnebba, run and find some mischief like young boys are supposed to do. At least you’ will be out of everyone’s way.” He finished with a wink and a smile.

Erbrand placed the box down and went for another one. The morning was almost spent and he had not done any real work yet. Some work would do him good, take his mind off his fight and the newcomers.

Last edited by Groin Redbeard; 11-04-2009 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 11-04-2009, 09:35 PM   #549
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Ædre ran out of the stables and looked for a place to hide just in case that man came looking for her. It wasn’t that she feared him at all. She just didn’t know where she stood with him or how to act around him.

These peasants are so strange. No one at home would have spoken to me like that.

Degas did have one thing going for him, though; he was nice to Leta.

Frustrated and uncertain, Ædre was scanning the area. She noticed a group of people unloading her family’s belongings. She was about to turn away to find something more interesting when she saw a boy who looked younger than her, drop her mother’s favorite comb and then just stare at it. An older man picked it up and spoke to the boy who then meekly trotted off. She saw this as an opportunity to settle herself into the hierarchy that she knows exists – at least at home - between all local children. She was the new girl and she needed them to know that she wasn’t to be bossed or pushed around. She was, after all a descendant of Aldor the Old, and not to be treated as a commoner.

“Hey! You, boy!” she shouted at the child who was trotting away. Cnebba, startled, turned around to look and see if he was the one being summoned.

“Me?” he asked. Ædre nodded and Cnebba began to introduce himself because obviously this girl was new around here.

“I do not care,” said Ædre interrupting him. “The only important thing is that you know that I am the daughter of the Eorl and a descendant of Aldor the Old.”

Cnebba just stared at her not sure how to react to the way he was being treated. He began to speak again but was interrupted.

“Go bring me my trunk, because who knows where it has landed, and then run to the kitchen and bring me something to eat. I am hungry.”
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Old 11-06-2009, 01:57 AM   #550
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A simple word to one of the locals gave Wynflaed the location of the eorl's bedroom. No doubt Lilige was within, diligently unloading her belongings. Wynflaed let a small smile grace her lips. She was rather fond of her maid, though of course she would not admit such a thing to her face.

The meeting had gone about as well as could be expected. She had hardly thought that she and Athanar would arrive with no challenges to their authority, and it would take time to wear the walls of distrust and hurt down.

At least those two sons of hers had done as they were told and kept their mouths shut! It was hard enough when her husband had momentary lapses of tact--though, of course, she appreciated his ability to utter truths deemed too impolite to come from a lady of the Eorlingas.

At least the Lady Saeryn was not pressing her counterclaim... for now. She was already feeling from the servants' dark looks of curiosity that she pretended not to notice that her household would not be wholly welcome, not for a good while at least. She did not doubt that if--say, that Degas pushed her to some rashness--the will of the people would remain with the old order of things. And that would go ill for all.

She had hoped to speak with her husband before the banquet, to remind him once again to temper his new pronouncements with soft words. He had already done well to release the new provisions from Edoras to the people, as soon as they had arrived. But no matter. He already knew her mind on this, and she knew from long years of experience how effective a lord he made.

She stepped inside the room that was to be theirs for--how long? She had heard much of the healing arts of Gondor; it could be that the Lord Eodwine could still recover...

She pushed the thought from her head. The room was sparse, and from first sight the bed looked much plainer than the one that had graced their house at Edoras. But already most of her things--of those that had arrived, at least--had been put away.

"Thank you, Lilige," she said, without turning to look at her. She bent over to pick up a small, polished, wooden box. It had been carved from a tree whose trunk now upheld the roof of Meduseld. Carefully she set it just so on the corner of the bed and opened it. She would have to decide which of her gems would make the best impression on these new and uncouth people.

"I shall want my hair in a braided crown for the banquet tonight, Lilige," she said. Then she turned to look at her maid; she was emptying whichever trunk must have been brought in most recently. "What think you of the people here, thus far?"
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Old 11-06-2009, 08:32 AM   #551
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Hilderinc once again briefly overlooked the situation, to see if everything goes right, and sent a few soldiers who seemed to have nothing to do to help with unloading and carrying some of the goods inside. For a short moment, looking after two men rolling a keg towards the kitchen, he looked at the stream of smoke coming from there. Meal was being prepared, no doubt. Hilderinc suddenly felt hungry. On the way, he was limited to cold and dry soldier rations, a proper warm meal perhaps with a sip of good ale... agh, horrible! He should not start thinking about that, his mouth watered. He forced his gaze away from the kitchen. There was still work to be done. But there will be time, later, in the evening.

"I hope we are going to have some grub soon," said a voice behind his shoulder. Hilderinc turned to see Áforglæd looking also in the direction he was looking just a moment ago. So he was not the only one to think about food, of course. Hilderinc looked around. All the soldiers, most likely, were starting to think about meal now, and certainly looking forward to the evening. First evening in the new place. A great event. Barrels of ale. Hilderinc already pitied those who would be picked by the lot to stand guard that night.

He turned back to Áforglæd. "Did you take care of lord Athanar's horses?"

"Aye sir, they are properly stabled now."

Hilderinc nodded. "Good." He noticed Coenred heading towards them through the courtyard.

"The Captain's coming," he said calmly. "Wouldn't you prefer to stay out of his sight for the time being?"

The soldier cast a quick look in Coenred's direction. His grimace told Hilderinc exactly what his thought was. If the commander sees him from close-by, he is going to ask where did he come to the fresh bruises.

"Bloody good idea," he said and turning, swiftly hurried away.

Hilderinc met Coenred.

"Sir," he saluted. "Everything is proceeding well, the horses have been stabled and men are unloading the rest of the supplies. We should be done in no time. There have been no problems."

He briefly wondered if Coenred was bringing any news from the inside, if he and lord Athanar and the local people have decided something that they were going to announce, and if things were going well. But it was not by any chance his place to know, unless Coenred himself had told him. For now, maybe there were other orders, or maybe the soldiers could at last go and see the place where they were going to live.
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Old 11-06-2009, 12:47 PM   #552
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Crabannan held his tongue as Hilderinc headed off to check the unloading of the wains, but he had a healthy variety of belligerent remarks which he would have loved to call after the man. He turned to Lithor.

"You realize we're going to be asked to help if we hang around here?"

Lithor grinned. "The thought had occurred to me, yes."

"Of course," Crabannan continued, "You and Wilcred here are somewhat obligated, being vassals of Rohan, but I, on the other hand - I'm not even supposed to be here. I could leave right now."

"Face the facts, Crabannan. You're happy here. You'll never leave," said Wilcred, who had finally begun to cool down, though he was still following Hilderinc with his eyes.

Crabannan fell silent. You might be right, Wilcred. You might be right. The same notion had been growing on his mind recently. Why had he never left? Crabannan knew himself to be a wanderer by nature, shiftless, always trying to stay a step ahead of his past. If he stayed anywhere too long, all the dark things he had done would catch up with him he felt. And yet he stayed on in Rohan - despite the fact that everywhere he looked, he saw familiar faces from the War, faces he deserted. Did they remember him? He hoped not. And desertion wasn't the worst of his crimes...

"Well, here I am," Crabannan said. "I have nothing against helping my friends - but if this new eorl, whats-his-title, tries to give me any responsibilities, Horse and I will be on our swift way. Let's see what can be done."
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Old 11-06-2009, 01:28 PM   #553
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Lilige closed the lid to the now empty trunk and moved to stand behind Lady Wynflaed. She gently began pulling her hair back into the braided crown her Lady had specified.

"The soldiers are already brawling," she said. "I don't know why, or what happened, but it was quite startling. I do hope it does not continue. The servants who unloaded the wagon could have been more gentle, but what can you expect? The children here seem helpful and polite, as far as I could tell. I've not had a chance to meet many other people," she admitted, "but so far they seem to be good sorts, if a bit rustic. They are all anxious to meet you and Lord Athanar, and eagerly await the banquet."

Lilige wished she had something more helpful to tell Lady Wynflaed, but she truly couldn't think of anything more to say. Her experiences among the people so far had not been overly enlightening. She hoped to learn more during the banquet.

"Which gown will you wear tonight, my Lady?" she asked, nudging a stray hair into place. "This banquet is sure to be a grander affair than any these people have seen in a long while. You look splendid," she added, stepping away.
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Old 11-06-2009, 03:04 PM   #554
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Cnebba

“Go bring me my trunk, because who knows where it has landed, and then run to the kitchen and bring me something to eat. I am hungry.”

Cnebba had absolutely no idea what to do. His eyes scanned the surroundings for Garmund, but his friend had disappeared. He saw his mother carrying a heavy package and following two soldiers rolling a wine keg to the kitchens with it. She caught his eye, but he looked away quickly - the last thing he wanted was that his mum would come and interfere.

"Are you deaf? I said bring me my trunk and then bring me something to eat."

The girl's tone was full of authority and she was both older and bigger than he was. And his mother had told him to be nice to the newcomers.

"What does your trunk look like?" Cnebba asked, his ears red. He didn't like to be ordered around, especially not by girls.

"It's light brown and there's a blue flower embroidered to it."

Cnebba would have wanted to ask where was he supposed to find the trunk, but the girl's eyes were so commanding that he fled without any further questions.

He walked around the yard looking for a light brown trunk with a blue flower embroidery, but he didn't see anything like that, not even in the hall. The trunk could've been anywhere, in the worst case in some private women's chambers where he would never ever go - he'd rather die. So, he decided to sneak away to the kitchens to find the food instead.

"Cnebba! What are you doing here? Weren't you supposed to be helping with the unloading?"

Cnebba jumped when his mother addressed him. She seemed busy with putting fresh meat to dry, though.

"The new eorl's daughter asked me to bring her something to eat."

Cnebba saw Kara, the younger and prettier cook, give his mother a quick grin and say something about young gentlemen. Cnebba's ears grew even redder. He wondered if there could be any worse humiliation than this. Fortunately Kara relieved him quickly by giving him a piece of fresh bread with meat and a mug full of blackcurrant juice. He muttered a half-hearted thanks and hurried away.

He could see already from afar that the new girl wasn't happy at all. Still, he steeled himself and called as he approached:

"I couldn't find your trunk but I brought you something to eat."

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Old 11-06-2009, 05:17 PM   #555
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Thornden went out and found the courtyard full of people and activity. Wagons were still being unloaded, but he was not surprised to see that many people did not know where to take their belongings. He walked forward, intending to begin directing the men, but then he paused, and his eyes swept about for Coenred. It would be best to speak to the man accustomed to directing them, he decided.

He found Coenred speaking with a soldier who had been directing the work during Coenred’s absence in the council.

“Coenred,” Thornden said, stopping just to his right. “I can show the men where they’ll be staying so that they can finish the unloading.”


Saeryn

Saeryn left the hall by the side door, hoping to avoid all the people out front. She sighed a breath of relief when she saw no one. For so long she had been bogged down with the responsibility of overseeing. Questions were always being asked her. Now everyone was busy, others were in charge, and she had a moment to be alone. A moment to go and ask someone else what she was to do. She only to find Degas.

Where would he have gone after being so insulted and rebuked in his own sister’s hall? Saeryn’s cheeks burned with embarrassment and shame to think what he had endured, all while he was merely trying to defend and support her. He was so good. And the dear brother had not even lost his calm and flown into the arrogant Athanar’s face. He had grown.

But the question – Where would he be? Her eyes scanned the fields around the hall. She saw the figures of two horsemen galloping in the distance. Neither rode with Degas’ style, but instinctively, she knew that was the answer. Degas had gone riding. How better to escape the people and free himself from the frustration and sting of Athanar’s words?

She turned back into the hall, hurried through to the front door, and went out. She threaded her way through the people (so many people!) and entered the stables. There was less activity there – most of the horses had already been put away. She turned right to find Léof, but a flash of white from withing the first stall caught her eye. She stopped and looked.

“Who’s horse is that?” she demanded out loud.

A man grooming a horse farther down the aisle looked up. He turned to face her and stepped forward. “My lord Athanar’s horse, my lady,” he said. Saeryn looked sharply at him. His polite answer saved him from a sharp reply. She merely nodded curtly and he turned back to his horse.

Saeryn looked about for Léof. A glance showed her he was not in the stables, but before she could begin searching for him, he entered from the end of the stables, carrying two large buckets full of water.

“Where’s Flíthaf?” she asked him.

“Out in one of the paddocks,” he said, setting the water down. He looked tired and harried. The sudden traffic in his stables and extra work seemed to be overwhelming him. Little wonder. And now Saeryn was demanding about his lord’s horse. He looked at her, hoping he had not done wrong. “I turned him out this morning so he could exercise.”

“Of course,” Saeryn said. “Well, someone has presumed to put lord Athanar’s horse in his stall.” She jerked her chin in the general direction.

“It is the best stall,” Léof conceded quietly. Saeryn glared.

“You can put it in another, and Flíthaf will go back there.” Léof nodded slowly. “Thornden is in the courtyard,” Saeryn continued. “Go out and tell him or Coendred, the new chap in charge, that you need help. You can’t be expected to feed and water all these horses on your own. Tell them I said so.”

“Thank you, my lady,” he said.

She strode past him, and then remembered her original purpose. She turned again. “Léof. Have you seen Degas?”

“Yes. He came and took his horse out a while ago. He went that way.” He pointed. “He didn’t say when he’d come back.”

“Thank you.”

“Do you want your horse?”

Saeryn shook her head. “If I change my mind, I’ll get him. Thanks.” She gave Léof a smile, before turning and walking again out of the stables.
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Old 11-06-2009, 06:51 PM   #556
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Lord Athanar opened the doors and let the autumn wind blow to his cheeks for a while before taking a step forwards and letting the doors shut behind him. It was a brisk and windy afternoon and he loved it. He was so happy the hot days of summer were over...

There was a hustle and bustle all around him. People carrying things this way and that way, people discussing with each other using their hands to bring home the message, people walking around looking for something to do... That was something he really liked; looking at people being busy and getting things done. Like when he still was a captain of the Rohirrim back in the years so long past; seeing people do what they were told to and as a unit being more than the sum of the individuals in it. He somehow loved that sight - and was proud of the people making the miracle true.

He smiled to himself and headed towards the scar behind the Mead Hall.

But as he walked away from the front-yard his spirits did sank a bit... and then a bit more.

Thornden had spoken of some great grievances he had been able to foresee himself as well... but not the wealth and scope of them. He would have to be really careful with his words when addressing the people at the banquet for the first time but he would have to stay firm and steady as well... It was a question of principle, a question of authority, and a question of his allegiance to king Eomer.

And if he was to establish his sovereignity over the landlords he would have to have the people of the Mead Hall behind him... well, especially the soldiers. Coenred would take care of that tomorrow... hopefully with the help of that Thornden fellow. He's a good lad indeed. He may be a bit twisted by the surroundings but he's a man king Eomer would love... and if I can win his trust, he'll be the most valuable officer around...

Lord Athanar finally reached the scar and turned to look back towards the Mead Hall - or what was under construction to be a real Mead Hall on a later date.

It was both smaller and more modest he had thought of it when king Eomer had called him to take it over. But somehow, right now, it didn't bother him. Standing on the top of the cliffs and the autumn wind blowing his yellow-grey hair he just felt good. So free, so much on his own!

And put that against all the trouble and toil he would have in front of him when he would go back... So why not stay a little here, with the wind and the blessed solitude?

Looking at the basic structures in front of his eyes his mind went on planning how the Mead Hall would need to look like to please his eye... to please his hunger for effectiveness. How small parts could be more than just a loose union of them, how a great house would be more than what went into it... how the practicality would turn into beauty... to be beauty itself.

He fell deep into his thoughts and dreams.

Last edited by Nogrod; 11-06-2009 at 06:55 PM.
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Old 11-06-2009, 08:23 PM   #557
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Ædre watched as Cnebba walked away to find her trunk. She was quite pleased with herself. He looked a little hesitant to be following her orders but he went off to do it. Now she would just have to make sure the rest of the children behaved the same way.

While she was waiting for her trunk and food she looked around to see what else was going on. She could no longer see the boy but she saw a bunch of people still unloading the wagons. She watched as her trunk was unloaded from the wagon. Now she was really starting to wonder where the boy had gotten to.

Where did he go. I have been waiting forever. This should not take this long. I can see my trunk from here. Where did he go!

She was starting to get really irritated when the boy returned a few minutes later only carrying some food.

"I couldn't find your trunk but I brought you something to eat."

“You couldn’t find my trunk? Did you even look?!” She yelled. “I can see it from here! Do I have to do everything myself? And what took you so long?”

“I’m, I’m really sorry” Cnebba stuttered. This girl was really starting to scare him and he just wanted to be done with her. The only thing that was stopping him from running away was that she was the daughter of the new Eorl and he didn't want to offend her.
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Old 11-06-2009, 09:48 PM   #558
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As they grew up, Saeryn and Degas were so rarely apart that they rarely had chance to notice what happened when they were not. But on rare occasions when they were apart and something momentous occurred, the other tended to know faster than logic allowed for.

When Degas fell from their father's horse and broke his arm when they were seven, Saeryn began to cry in the middle of her work on a tapestry, and ran from the room. She was followed, and her sister found her on the ground, holding Degas while someone ran for a healer.

When Saeryn found herself in the hayloft of the stable at age sixteen, sharing kisses with the stable boy, Degas knew the exact moment she panicked and fled as the boy grew more insistent. Degas first comforted his sister, and once she was calm and indoors, her fright forgotten, Degas confronted the stable boy, breaking the fingers of the offending hand.

It was harder when Degas was in Gondor, because any unexpected flare of emotion could not be easily investigated. But here, now, Degas felt both his fury and humiliation and his sister's.

Letting his horse guide herself, he sat introspectively and was only half surprised when he found himself at the gate into the courtyard. There she was.

"Sister!" he called.

Saeryn, who had been standing near the well, her face a mask, looked up.

"Ride with me? Gleowyn will gladly carry two."
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Old 11-06-2009, 11:11 PM   #559
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She was relieved to see him. Her face brightened visibly when he called to her and she went forward to meet him.

“Ride with me?” he asked. “Gleowyn will gladly carry two.”

“Oh, yes,” Saeryn said, smiling outright. “I would love to.” She hurried to his side and he extended his hand downward. A foot on the stirrup and a heave upward and she was behind him. He turned Gleowyn’s head out and away they trotted.

For a while, there was a silence between the two of them. Finally, Saeryn broke it. “I am sorry how you were treated, Degas. I would Eodwine had been here. He would have stopped it. I would I could have stopped it.” Degas tarried in answering. Saeryn’s hands tightened as she gripped the back of the saddle. “Degas, he makes me so angry!”

“Why don’t you tell me what happened after I left?”

“He asked us to talk about what we needed to accomplish, but I wanted to gain a clear understanding of where we stood. After he had treated you so abominably, I didn’t know what he thought of the rest of us! I never got a clear answer on that question, though. Thank heaven Thornden was there, he kept a cool head on his shoulders, and tried to answer the man. But Athanar did come back to where everyone’s status would be.”

“And...?” Degas pressed when Saeryn paused.

“And the lady Wynflaed is to take my place as lady of the hall, because her husband is taking Eodwine’s place as eorl.”



Javan

The maid, Lilige, kept Javan busy, carting trunks from the wagon to the lady’s room. How many gowns did the new lady have? How many did she think she really needed? Saeryn certainly didn’t have this many. But, of course, Saeryn was a sensible woman, and not even as girly as his own sisters.

He was coming back out for the last trunk he would have to haul when he caught sight of Cnebba being verbally abused by a girl he had never clapped eyes on before. He did not like the looks of this at all. No one should come in and start bossing the boys around. He neglected his errand and went their way.

“Hey, there!” he called as he drew near, but the girl didn’t hear him.

“Sorry, are you? By the stars, I oughta-”

“See here!” Javan said again, coming up right beside her. “What are you doing, talking to him like that? Who do you think you are?”

The girl drew herself up. “I am Ædre, daughter of the Eorl, and descendent of Aldor the Old.”

“Lord Eodwine is the eorl, and almost everybody is descendent of Aldor the Old,” Javan replied. “Now you mind your own business and quit yelling at Cnebba.”
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Old 11-07-2009, 10:16 AM   #560
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Degas drew Gleowyn to a halt and half turned to look at his sister, concern and fury etched into his features. "Which leaves you with none of the wealth and power you were promised upon marriage to the most powerful lord in the region."

Saeryn was silent, but angry and helpless tears sparkled in her eyes as the wind pulled her hair from its neat coif.

"Perhaps," he growled, "in Harad or in Umbar are the noble ladies relieved of their authority and their belongings when their husbands fall ill, but not in Rohan. In Harad and Umbar, yes, the line of succession has more to do with who has more physical strength than in who has the right to a place. In Harad, yes, usurpers wait for any moment of weakness to claim the land as their own and the ladies as their thralls, but this is not Harad! Your husband is not dead. Upon his return, will Athanar and his people quietly return his authority to him? And will he be pleased to hear that his lady wife was relegated to household staff, there for the convenience of those who are merely stewards?"

Gleowyn pranced at his tension, and Saeryn closed her eyes tight to keep her tears from flowing.

"Saer, if the king desired to strip Eodwine of Eorldom due to illness, he would not also strip him of his lands. He would still be the voice of authority in his own home; you, in his absence, are that voice. The proper course of action if Eodwine was no longer Eorl would be more or less what Eodwine experienced: lands would be bestowed, and the seat of the Eorldom would go to where the new Eorl settled. That the king would gift the lands rightfully belonging to you to a new man while your husband yet lives, instead of gifting uninhabited lands wherein Athanar could establish his own household and rule...

"Would a new king have stepped forward when Theoden King fell to the bile of Grima Wormtongue, casting aside Theoden King as a relic, claiming the rights and responsibilities of king while Theoden still lived? Saeryn, it is a farce. There is something wrong here. Regardless of Athanar's place as Eorl, he has the rights of guest and Eorl over your estates, but not the place of lord. Saeryn, he's not the bloody lord of Scarburg, unless Eomer King has stripped Eodwine and you of your titles and lands, and if this is so, the nobles will rise to defend you."
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