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Old 07-08-2008, 06:34 PM   #161
Thinlómien
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Cnebba (same day, late morning)

“You always get in trouble. I don’t want to be in trouble with you by disobeying. We already are in trouble for fighting.”
“I do not always get in trouble! Take it back!”


Javan was eyeing Garmund fiercely. Cnebba stepped to stand side by side with his friend.

"Yes you do!" he interrupted. "Garmund was right to say that. You burned the stables."
Cnebba's tone was accusing, and there was a dark edge to it. He had noticed that his family's old horse, Snowstreak, had been grumpier and more easily scared after the fire. (His mother would have been surprised and proud had she known her son had noticed such thing. Cnebba, however, had kept the notion to himself.)

"And you always disobey Lord Eodwine. Like that when we arrived," Garmund added.
His tone was rather dark too. He and Cnebba had always been behaving themselves, if not well, then at least not badly either. Javan always caused trouble but he was never punished seriously, or so it seemed to the younger boys. They had talked about it with each other, and both of them thought it was quite unfair.

"And you broke my nose," Cnebba finished defiantly.
He was sure it was broken as there was blood coming out of it. (Only a little now, though, he had to admit.) Where was the healer, anyway?
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Old 07-10-2008, 08:19 PM   #162
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"And you always disobey Lord Eodwine. Like that day when we arrived."

They were taking a set against him. That much was clear. Both of them disliked him and believed he was good for nothing. The accusations stung, and he needed badly to protect himself. He saw only two options: retreat or fight. Retreating seemed out of the question. That would seem as though he agreed with them, that he was giving up, defeated.

“And you broke my nose.”

Cnebba added this as an extra proof that Javan was not a good boy. It was merely annoying and childish and it gave Javan possibly another option of escape.

“I did not almost break your nose. You’re just a big baby. I might not have been perfectly behaved in the past, but at least I’m not a wimp when it comes down to it. Now you two just shut up about the stables – it was an accident and I shouldn’t have to keep explaining myself – and I don’t always disobey Eodwine! Do you understand?” Those words seemed very grown up and mature to Javan and he was rather proud of himself of having been able to use the phrase to some younger than himself.
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Old 07-10-2008, 11:12 PM   #163
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So this was the eorl after all. Crabannan stood taller and narrowed his eyes a bit as he examined the man Eodwine more closely. He seemed fair and good, but Crabannan had suffered too much at the hands of first impressions as a to say more than:

"My name is Crabannan. I am a traveler from the north, and I happened upon your village early this morning."

The rest he held back: whence he came, whither he went, what he had done. All the things that made him truly himself he kept hidden as a rule. His naivety and credulity as a young man had earned him, among other things, a term of service in the Gondorian Long Guard, the misunderstanding of a variety of legal magistrates, and the enmity of an assortment of jealous, burly husbands whose existence had taken him rather by surprise. As a result, he had learned caution, even distrust, always keeping the world at arm's length, and relying on his wits and fists to keep himself alive.

Crabannan nodded to Harreld, glanced at Rowenna, and smirked at Leof. Then he turned back to Eodwine, and paused.

"I may stay some time. Just to rest, before I continue on to Edoras. But I'd like to work for my meals, if I could. I'm master of no trade - unless you count soldiering - but I've worked at many since I left home, and could likely lend a hand here and there."

Afraid of babbling, he promptly closed his mouth, and stood waiting for a response - tall, dark, and aloof, and more than a little enigmatic.

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Old 07-11-2008, 12:36 PM   #164
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early afternoon- same day

The man left much unexplained, but there was time. It would be best to have a trusted man near this stranger as often as possible, until they knew him better.

"You are welcome to stay with us for a time, Crabannan," Eodwine replied, "and from what I can see here, not much has been done getting the tents readied for use. It would help us greatly if you could lend Garstan the stoneshaper a hand with the tents .... and the boys, including Javan."

Crabannan thanked him and walked off.

As Eodwine and the others made their way back to the fence posts and rope and animals, he wondered how Dan was faring in the swamp. He had been gone all morning. But he was of the Pukel men, so maybe it was their way to take the whole day and come back with an answer in the evening. Eodwine told himself to have patience. He also wondered how the hunting party was doing, and how Stigend and his group was doing with the trees. He did not know whether Frodides had given them food for mid-day or if they were coming back for their food, and had not thought to ask her. There was much to do, and Eodwine decided that the matter was something that neither Stigend nor Frodides was likely to overlook, so he let the matter rest.

The day was getting now and sweat dripped from Eodwine's hairline into his face and down the back of his neck, just walking. Suddenly it hit him: no one had checked the Scarburg well to see if it was good. Much mead and beer and other drink had been drunk, but with weather like this, they would need a well. Did Scarburg even have one? If so, was it any good? He turned to look at his friends.

"Has any one of you seen a well on this land?"
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Old 07-11-2008, 04:33 PM   #165
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Hunting party, late afternoon

Their breathing was heavy and fast as they tugged at reins of they tired horses. Erbrand stumbled as he pulled Traveler after him. He loved his horse but fear had taken hold of him and he constantly was looking over his shoulder expecting to see a large number of armed peasants on horseback pursuing them with speed that would soon overtake him. He glared at his tired wretched animal with impatience and yanked on reins harder. Traveler obeyed and quickened his pace, but soon stumbled and fell on his hind legs.

"Easy there, Erbrand," Balvir barked, showing the same impatience to him as he had just shown to his steed, "The camp is close by." Erbrand stopped pulling on Traveler's reins and this time waited for his mount to get back up.

Soon their heavy breathing turned to laughter as the came within plain view of the camp. They all began to shout and call at different people, some of whose names Erbrand remembered from the groups previous talk. Soon people were swarming around the four hunters asking questions, examining the quarry that they had brought back, and telling them all about the days works. Erbrand looked back across the open plains to catch a glimpse of the peasants. He breathed an uneasy sigh: they had not followed them.

"Erbrand," Erbrand quickly snapped his head at Balvir in surprise, "Unload the deer and take the hides for yourself. Lithor with take the horses back to the stables."

Erbrand nodded his head in agreement, and in thanks, and led the horses away from the group of people with Lithor, while Balvir and Matrim went off by themselves. Erbrand guessed that they went looking for Eodwine.

"Well you've done good work today," Lithor said with a friendly smile as they unloaded the horses of their burdens, "These deer will make some excellent skins for you. Not to mention good stew." Erbrand laughed at the gleam in Lithor's eyes as he mentioned food.

"Thanks, I enjoyed it a lot. I'm looking forward to more hunting trips with you."

"Oh don't you worry there will be plenty more. The Eodwine's people have healthy appetites, they will soon be needing more food." Both of them laughed at the joke as they led the horses to the stables.

Lithor unstrapped the stirrups from the horses while Erbrand gathered the bows, quivers, rope, and what arrows where left. Lithor motioned for him to leave Matrim and Balvir's longbows standing next to his. When Erbrand asked where to put his bow, Lithor laughed and told him to keep it.

"With such shooting as you have demonstrated today, you've earned it."

He thanked him and ran back to the deer, that were left piled on top of each other out of view from the camp so that the people may not see the messy work that was being done. He stared at the carcasses for a minute, wishing to delay the tedious and long task of skinning the hides off of them. Finally he withdrew his long knife from its sheath and grabbed one of the dormant deer by the horns. He had just got himself situated and was about to cut into the animals flesh when a thought struck him. The Sun was sinking fast in the west, it would soon it would be dark! His snares which he had made earlier that morning weren't set in the marsh!

All other thoughts left his mind as he raced back to his tent to retrieve his snares. He flung the tent flap open, grabbed them, and raced back towards the marsh, bumping into several people on the way there. As he neared the marshes edge he tested the patches of grass to see if they would support his weight, remembering the embarrassing act earlier that morning. Suddenly another thought struck him: he desperately wanted to talk to Dan!

"So much to do and so little time," he thought to himself, "Well, nothing can be helped by worrying about it, best get these snares set first."
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Old 07-12-2008, 02:43 AM   #166
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Dan- Late Morning

For a while Dan lay there on his front, coughing and spluttering, a soggy, muddy mess. The man beside him, bent over, panting. Dan was much heavier than he looked. It was all that muscle, or so Dan would say to himself.

Then, after some failed attempts, with a squelch, he managed to support himself enough to sit up.

“Next time, be more careful,” said the man who was sitting next to him. It was not the sort of voice that Dan would have expected for a man that looked so hard and toughened. It was the voice of a young, tender man who had suffered greatly. Nonetheless, for reasons unknown to himself, one of the famous Drúadan grins, the sort that didn't seem to fit, cracked through Dan's face, and the mud covering it parted. It might have been all the recent events, and their sheer preposterity, or something in the way the unfamiliar man spoke to him, but a laugh started deep in his stomach burst forth out of his mouth. It was rich and rolling, like the plains of Rohan, like freshly tilled earth in early spring, like an early sunrise. And before long, the other man was laughing too, strangely in unison with him. After a slightly longer delay, he suddenly heard a muffled chuckle, which turned into laugh, from not nearby. It started off thin and biting, but endied up loud and full of merriment. Probably the first proper laugh that person ahd had in ages. He could tell that someone had not wanted to be seen or heard, but no-one couldd resist the power of a Drûg's laugh. So he was being watched, was he? Were his saviour and whoever it was who had laughed working together? Or were they not aware of each other? Or was one trying to avoid the other? Only time would tell. But at least now he felt better. Laughing always did that to you.

Then, apparently having not heard the other laugh, the man broke into conversation. “So what do they call you?” he asked.

Dan, caught off guard answered his natural response of “Dagan-Turi-Dan, but Dan is probably easier.” And after his mind suddenly being brought back into the present, he added, “And thanks, I owe you my life.” He wondered, should he have told this man his real name? He was in hiding, in the bog. Surely there must have been a reason for this.

At that, the man looked upwards philosophically into the sky. At length, the he replied “I’m glad that I was able to do that for you, Dan.”

Dan looked towards the bog, remembering that just minutes before he was thinking that he would be stuck there forever, and not even his bones would be recovered. Now he was sitting in the sunlight, peacefully, talking to the man that had just saved his life. The sun shone brightly on his face, drying the mud and water that was on his body. He thought he heard birds singing, but would there be birds in a place, or was his mind just playing tricks on him?

Before Dan could say something, the man continued slowly. “Would you be willing to do something in return?” Dan had expected something like this. It was always the way. No act was done purely out of kindness, at least not many were. But the man had seemed slightly hesitant, slightly ashamed to ask the question, so maybe had saved Dan as an act within itself, not caluating the consequences or benefits. Anyway, Dan was indebted to the man. But he had a sneaky suspicion of what it would be. He looked at the man with his dark eyes. I would like to keep my presence here unknown, at least until . . . until I decide the time is right. I don’t know if you have come here with these settlers, but if so, I would ask that you say nothing of me.” He had known it. It was best to tread carefully in these matters.

"I will answer you question if you first tell me your name," said Dan. This seemed reasonable. After all, the man had known his name for the last few minutes, and Dan was feeling left out. At least now he would know the name of who he was addressing.

The man looked thoughtful, and Dan guessed he was wondering whether he ought to tell his real name or make up one. "Oeric," the man said. Judging by the uniqueness of such a name, Dan guessed that it was probably his real name. Or else he may just be very sharp, said Dan to himself.

Then Dan answered the man's question. "As a Drûg of Drúwaith Iaur," he started, then taking a deep breath continued "I must be steadfast with my companions and masters. I must not decieve them or put them in any danger. Those are the rules of my kin, my race, and to forgo these would be to lose my name as a Drûg warrior, and my honour. Therefore I cannot allow the Eorl to be in any danger. But since you do not seem dangerous to me (after all, you saved my life), then I will give you the benfit of a doubt and not tell him of your existence. You saved my life, and a debt like that is hard to repay. I will do what I can, even if it endangers me."

So, he had agreed agreed. But one thing was still worrying him, "But I want you to tell me, how am I going to be able to prove this when you have already been sighted by a member of the camp. Lord Eodwine will suspect me of trickery."

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Old 07-12-2008, 09:06 AM   #167
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Crabannan found Javan putting up tents. Or, rather, he found where Javan was supposed to be putting up tents, because he was getting very little done. Instead, he was exchanging angry words and angrier glances with the two boys he had fought with earlier. Where was Garstan? Crabannan wondered. He had been in enough fights and arguments to tell that this one was quickly heading in the wrong direction.

He only caught the last few sentences from Javan: "I might not have been perfectly behaved in the past, but at least I’m not a wimp when it comes down to it. Now you two just shut up about the stables – it was an accident and I shouldn’t have to keep explaining myself – and I don’t always disobey Eodwine! Do you understand?"

An accident? There was evidently history here with which Crabannan was unfamailiar. Nonetheless, to his rough sense of justice, it seemed that Javan was being unfairly singled out and picked on. He acted accordingly. Children could be so devilishly cruel sometimes, and this made him angry.

Crabannan quickly stepped to Javan's side and glowered down at the lad's tormentors, Garmund and Cnebba, fixing them both with the darkest, most menacing stare he could conjure up. He looked from one to the other, and back.

"First, tell me what's going on here. Second, where's Garstan? Third, why aren't you putting up tents?"
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Old 07-12-2008, 10:04 AM   #168
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Scyld, around noon

With this last statement, Scyld stood and strode towards the two men. They were in a pickle, alright, and here was the opportunity he had waited for: the chance to put both of them in his debt. He would give this Dan fellow someone to take back to his Eorl, and Oeric would remain uncaught and unknown. “I shall go with you,” he declared to Dan as he drew closer. “You may act as though it was I you were searching for and I who rescued you from the mire.” Oeric looked stunned, but it was difficult to read the Wild Man’s emotions from his face.

When no one immediately responded, Scyld took it as an affirmative answer and continued. “Now, you say that Oeric has already been spotted by those of the camp?” Oeric nodded slowly. Well, this could be problematic – Scyld did not want to be known as one who had evaded capture. “What happened?” And between the two of them, Scyld got what he figured was basically the full story. Upon its conclusion Scyld smiled slightly. “That is well,” he said, for I shall simply say that I was unaware of the Eorl’s arrival and thought the man a mere brigand. Coupled with my willing arrival, I think the story should suffice.” He looked from one to the other. “Well? What say you?”

“You are serious, aren’t you?” asked Oeric. When Scyld nodded once, curtly (for he had little patience for such inane comments that progressed the conversation not at all), Oeric smiled. “Then I thank you. You have done me a great service.”

Dan, too, slowly nodded. “It will do. I would first ask your name, however, since you already seem familiar with ours, and our business as well.”

“Your pardon,” said Scyld, bowing slightly and with some irony, though that could not be detected save by one who knew him well – and no one knew Scyld well. “Nydfara at your service, wanderer and jack of many trades. I should be happy to offer my services to your Eorl.”
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Old 07-12-2008, 02:12 PM   #169
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The highwayman came and stepped to Javan's side. He stared at Garmund and Cnebba so darkly that they both had to take a step backwards. In truth, Cnebba might have taken two.

"First, tell me what's going on here. Second, where's Garstan? Third, why aren't you putting up tents?"

There was a silence. As Crabannan was so clearly looking at the younger boys, Javan didn't answer. Cnebba figured he was enjoying the situation mightily.

"My father went to fetch water," Garmund replied, staring boldly at the man.
"And he told us to wait," Cnebba added. Then he glanced at Javan. "Except that he wanted to start getting the canopy ready, although Garstan told us to wait." He too stared at the stranger defiantly.

"And what's going on here?" two voices said in unison.

The three boys looked from one man to other. Garstan, just arrived with two heavy buckets of water in his hands, was looking at the younger man politely but questioningly. Crabannan was looking at the stoneshaper, looking a little surprised by his sudden appearance. Cnebba wondered if the glint in his dark eyes meant he was amused.

"You must be Garstan," Crabannan said.
"Yes, I am," the man addressed replied before Crabannan could continue. His tone was friendly yet firm. "Who are you? I don't think I've ever seen you before. And why are you scowling at my son, and at Cnebba?"
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Old 07-13-2008, 03:52 AM   #170
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"Well, Garstan, there appears to be something of a disagreement between these boys. It seems to me that Javan is being attacked unjustly by your son, and this other boy - you, what's your name? - Cnebba, that's right. I'd as soon have them fight it out..."

Crabannan trailed off. He rightly read Garstan's expression as one of disapproval. "But maybe you know just as well as I that Javan would whip both of them." Crabannan smiled. "And Garmund is your son. I reckon you'd best deal with the three of them. If it makes any difference, though, I'm on Javan's side." He glanced over at Javan, who was looking at him appreciatively. Garstan got his attention again.

"You still haven't told me who you are." Garstan still felt unsure of this fellow; he was just a little too...

"Apologies, Garstan. I'm Crabannan. Eodwine sent me to help you and these tusslers set up the tents. Though...it's looking as if we won't get the job done. We've got quite a few tents to go yet, and we can hardly look after the little boys and work at the same time."

"I'll deal with them, Crabannan, if you don't mind."

"That would be best. I can be a bad influence."

Crabannan turned to face the job at hand - but not before giving Cnebba and Garmund one last dark glare, just for good measure. They quailed. Then, with his back to Garstan and the boys, he seized a coil of rope and a hammer, and set to his task with a will. He would eat well tonight, and he would earn it, too.

Pounding the stakes felt good. It had been a few weeks since he had done any proper work, and he found that he almost missed it. As he worked, he fell into a rhythm which was interrupted only by the occasional pain in his right leg - the old knife wound, and the only thing which had prevented him from feeling entirely at ease and at home in the fledgling Scarburg, which, over the next weeks, began to rise about him, phoenix-like, from the ashes.

He could have let this unease propel him onwards, wandering again, but Scarburg felt restorative to him, almost idyllic. And he had begun, already, to make friends here: Javan, Kara, maybe even Garstan. But then he would recall the hastily buried corpse at the foot of the Scar and the ruined hall, images staining his idyllic first impression of Scarburg with mystery and suspicion. And, ironically, this held him even more. He could not leave. There was adventure here, perhaps even danger, and he found himself fascinated, riveted.
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Old 07-13-2008, 09:18 AM   #171
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Wood-party, around midday...

Stigend looked disappointed gazing at the swamp in bright daylight. The trees standing were scarce and most of them were thin, growing warped and twisted. On the ground there were some thicker and straighter trees that had fallen down who knew when.

“It seems the swamp has been drier earlier… decades ago, I’m afraid.” Wilcred said thoughtfully.

“Right… And that means the fallen trees probably are of no use…” Stigend added. “And from those still standing one might make decorations but not planks or boards…”

“Definitively no baulks or beams…” Wilcred continued.

“We’ll still have to give them a chance.” Stigend said now a bit louder turning to look at Aethelstan and Osmund. “Knock them with the back of your axe a few times from different spots and listen to the sound. Those that sound soft or dampened or dull and hollow are of no use. A firm and sharp sound means it’s good. Mark the good ones with your knives… Okay?”

The two nodded and went on for their work. Stigend frowned looking at the marshland opening before their eyes. Wilcred patted him on the shoulder encouragingly. “Let’s not lose hope Stigend. I’m sure we’ll find at least a few good ones. Some of them must have fallen on hammocks or other drier spots...”

Stigend nodded slowly pulling his axe from his belt. “Let’s join the two and get this over with.”


Stigend had asked for lord Eodwine to let Wilcred accompany him. It had been only a few months ago he had learned that this calm and somewhat quiet elder soldier knew a thing or two about trees. It had come as a surprise to lord Eodwine himself as well. Wilcred surely was not one of those who liked to open their lifestories to any passers by. But Stigend had learned that his uncle had been a landowner and the lands had consisted mainly of forests from which he had made his main living by selling wood. During his youth Wilcred had spent whole summers at his uncle’s place and thence the familiarity. But Stigend also appreciated his calm presence. Nearing his forties he was no longer a hotheaded rascal but more a considerate professional soldier: reliable and firm.

The two younger soldiers Stigend knew less about. Aethelstan seemed to be a bit quick-tempered and enthusiastic about things he found interesting – and this mission clearly wasn’t one he appreciated. Stigend thought he would have much more preferred to join the hunting party. About Osmund he knew even less but that he was quick to laugh. Both were young guys, at their twenties Stigend would guess.


After they had gone checking for the fallen trees for a few hours Stigend finally called for a break. After they counted everyone’s tally they learned that they had found eleven stems that could be used. After Stigend had checked those marked by Aethelstan and Osmund he had to bring the number down to eight.

“How much is that in real terms?” Wilcred asked as they sat eating their provisions Kara and Frodides had given them.

Stigend thought it for it a while. “Prime floor-planks, maybe five… for tables or benches, well… that’s not the best stuff for that. I mean a Mead Hall needs to have quality in those things as everyone notices them. But a good pile of second rate board for where it’s needed; cupboards, lockers, sideboards, shelves, beds… maybe two or three pieces of them, like three beds or a cupboard and a sideboard.”

“That’s not bad…” Wilcred half pointed out half asked.

“It’s not as bad as I feared after seeing this place in daylight… but not promising us to get even near to what we need…” Stigend said and shook his head.

“Shall we go back then?” Osmund asked suddenly. The two younger soldiers had been looking bored to what they clearly thought was just empty chatter of the two elder men. That was easy to read from their faces. Stigend felt he would take none of it anymore.

“If we can’t find the wood here we need to find it from farther away. But if you two have nothing to do why don’t you go and start dragging those we’ve found to the solid ground from there?” Stigend almost snapped his last sentence. He was stressed and disappointed, and anguished of the problem they faced.

The two soldiers looked at each other. It looked like Aethelstan was about to jump up offended when Osmund pressed him back down. “Let’s go Aeth, let’s get it done while the oldies take a rest and chatter...” He glanced at Stigend to see if his comment had the intended outcome.

Wilcred broke in before Stigend had time to jump on Osmund’s words and the open scorn behind them. “Cool down everyone! And you two, lord Eodwine named Stigend to lead this party and you’ll do what he says you’ll do… Just drag the logs there to the firm ground and you’ve earned yourself a good break. We’ll go searching westwards for more as the ground feels drier there.”

Stigend cooled down as soon as he had gotten angry. But he was wondering about his own behaviour. It had been a long time he had gotten angry the last time. Maybe he was just stressing too much.

“Wilcred talks wisely. Feel free to have a break until we come back. It may take several hours.”

Aethelstan and Osmund grumbled lightly for principle’s sake but went to their duties looking somewhat relieved. The promise of a long break without the older men had clearly cheered them up.

Last edited by Nogrod; 07-13-2008 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 07-14-2008, 08:39 AM   #172
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Saeryn + the wood-party, afternoon & early evening

Folwren's Post

Saeryn woke again finally in the late afternoon. She felt calmer and collected, strong and able to rise. She lifted her head and looked about. The tent was empty, the flap fastened shut. She gently lifted the light cover off of herself and strained to see her wounded side. The dressing and wrap was fresh and it felt cool and soothing.

She drew a deep breath and then let it out slowly again as she sat up. With only a little difficulty, she rose and dressed herself and then headed out of the tent.

She wanted to see the new holding before darkness fell and she wanted to do it without being hindered. Everyone was at work and no one noticed as she exited the tent. She would explore the place quietly and unobtrusively as possible and then seek the company of the ladies.

Soon, she told herself, she would be one of the inhabitants again. Then no one would ask questions, or wonder about her. This, at least, was her hope. Her past was behind her, and with no one left to come stir it up and to find her, she thought she could be happy and content to stay.



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


The wood-party...


Nearer the center of the swamp and the Mead Hall the ground had been in part dangerously wet full of puddles and treacherous ditches but walking westwards Stigend and Wilcred found the ground becoming drier and firmer. What first had been mostly ponds and puddles dotted with some hummocks changed into drier ground only spotted with clearly visible drains and ditches. The smile in Stigend’s face grew wider as he spotted the first straight trees standing tall here and there.

“Hah, we should have come here in the first place… Now this looks more like it.” Stigend said delightedly.

“Yes, if not for any other reason, then for the number of mosquitoes…” Wilcred grinned slapping himself to the cheek and watching the three dead insects in his palm. “You need help with yours?” he offered raising his hand ready to a swing.

“You just try…” Stigend said laughing and backed a step only to tumble into a hummock. He fell backwards and rolled over it. Unfortunately behind the hummock there was a small but deep puddle into which Stigend fell head on. Wilcred jumped after and helped Stigend to his feet and out from the puddle. Stigend’s hair and face were dripping muddy water and his shirt was soaked full of half-decayed leaves.

“I’ve heard the fine ladies in Gondor take mud-baths to make their skin more beautiful… I must say I do doubt the effects…” Wilcred grinned. Neither of them was able to keep up the poker and they went on roaring with laughter.


In a few hours the two fell six pine-trees and three firs. And they marked fourteen fallen ones as good for use. In the end it was less Stigend had hoped for but much better he had anticipated after their first effort nearer the Mead Hall.

They took a break sitting on a biggest fir they had fell and sipped some wine from their skins. They were both sweating and their faces and cloths were covered with mud. They had been panting heavily as they had sat down but slowly their breath started to settle down.

“Should we go and see if the guys have rested enough to give us a hand here?” Wilcred finally asked with a grin.

“You go. I’ll start lopping the branches from these fresh ones. We’ll get home earlier…”

Wilcred nodded patting Stigend to the shoulder as he rose up.

Wilcred left and Stigend sat alone for a while. He was in his thoughts. Did I just say “home”? Home? Stigend was confused. They had wandered around for years making their living here and there. There had been no home for him after he had left his parents – and the way it happened wasn’t encouraging any too positive associations to the word home. Home was something belonging to the childhood and past; to the village he had learned to scorn because of the attitudes of the people - especially that of his father - towards his wife and child.

But here he was in a swamp buzzing with insects all soaked and sweating calling a burnt down ruins they had moved in just yesterday his home. No it’s not the ruins… they can’t be it… it’s these people that are my home now. They are? Can people be one’s home? I’ll talk with Modryth about this…


Wilcred found Aethelstan and Osmund wrestling for fun beside a neat pile of logs. They followed him a bit reluctantly but were not arguing or scorning anymore. The feelings had clearly mellowed down and in the end Wilcred outranked them anyway and thence was indeed their superior.

It took them two more hours to drag the trees to the nearest place at the edge of the swamp dry enough for a horse to come and collect them. It was hard work dragging the heavy tree-trunks over the marshland scattered with puddles, ditches and drains. Stigend and Wilcred worked as a pair and Aethelstan and Osmund as another for there was no chance anyone could have dragged one alone. Looking at the robustness of the elder men dragging the trunks with no breaks or moaning first astonished the younger soldiers but then led to them trying to show they were no less tough in the work. Had there not been this “competition” on the part of the younger guys the job would have taken a lot longer.

After the last trunk had been dragged to dry land they all fell down to the grass panting. It was late afternoon already but no one made a move to head back to the Mead Hall.

They had lied down for a few moments when Wilcred broke the silence. “Good job lads, good job…”

“We dragged ten and then the eight back there.” Aethelstan said some pride in his voice.

“And those eight were even harder ones” Osmund added.

Stigend smiled at the bragging. “Yeah, you did a man’s work today. I’ll let Thornden learn about your actions today…”

Stigend could sense the tension his words had caused. Immediately he realised where it came from. He felt he needed to correct the misunderstanding. “Don’t get me wrong guys… Let’s make a deal we somehow just can’t remember anything about the noontime. I’ll promise I will only remember this afternoon when talking to Thornden… I mean I was a bit uptight myself back then as well. I’m sorry about that incident. It was partly my fault as well.”

“Maybe I’m to blame as well. I hope you forgive me my stupid words – I mean you two are tough guys even if you’re older. I know it now.” Osmund pleaded sounding honestly repentant.

“Consider it done Osmund.” Stigend answered. “As I said I’ve forgotten all about it…”

For Aethelstan it was clearly hard to join the general apologies and he remained silent. All four were just lying down in their own thoughts still breathing heavily after the effort.

“Does anyone have any wine left? My skin seems empty.” Wilcred asked after a while.

“Here, catch!” Aethelstan called and threw his skin to Wilcred. “Pass it to Stigend as well.”


It was early evening when the four dead-tired and dirty but good-spirited men finally reached the Mead Hall. Only Stigend was still a bit worried about their wood supply, both it’s quantity and quality. But he would talk about that with lord Eodwine later. Now he was just happy to be back after a good day’s work.

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Old 07-14-2008, 08:48 AM   #173
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Late Evening

After the evening meal, Crabannan wandered off towards the edge of camp where, rather than spend the night in one of the tents he had helped set up, he threw down his bed-roll a little apart from everyone else. Picketing his horse nearby, he sat down on his blanket and leaned back against the creature's warm side. The trees were to their back and from where he sat he could see both the camp and the high Scar by turning his head this way and that. Lamps flickered within and among the tents, casting distorted shadows against the canvas walls as the inhabitants of Scarburg prepared for sleep. But beyond the perimeter of the encampment, all was dark and silent, save for the clustered burning stars and the silver moon.

Pensive, Crabannan pulled from beneath its heavy cloth wrapping an old harp, and began, almost absent-mindedly, to play it. At first he plucked the strings slowly and somewhat aimlessly, but soon a melody began to take shape, as if he had followed his wandering thoughts through all the old songs he had learned in Dale in his youth until they led him to one of their choosing - and then the tune began to flow through his fingers apparently without effort or thought. The song took shape as its notes drifted out into the brisk night air: sad and sweet and gentle (nearly everything that Crabannan was not, in fact). It was a haunting lament for young soldiers lost at war, and as Crabannan played with the light of memory in his staring eyes, his expression softened somewhat. Even after he had finished playing, the expression remained for a few moments, before he silently bound the cloth back about the harp and put it away.

Turning back, he saw in surprise a flickering fire away up on the Scar, as if of a torch or small fire. He could not know how long it had been there, for he had been paying little heed as he played, for which he cursed himself. He jumped up, and as quickly as he had seen it, the flame vanished again without a trace or a sound. Crabannan remained standing, stock-still. He listened hard, but there was nothing, and he found himself wondering, despite his certainty of a moment before, if he had not merely imagined it, and the fire on the Scar drifted into hazy uncertain memory.

Crabannan lay back down and though he waited and watched for nearly an hour, sword and longbow near at hand, the fire did not return. Finally, long after the last light had been extinguished in the camp, he fell asleep, entirely exhausted, but happier than he had been in months.
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Old 07-14-2008, 12:47 PM   #174
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Almost an hour before Midnight

The sun had set and the moon was high in the clear cloudless sky. Tired and exhausted from the days work, Erbrand slowly walked back to his tent with a bucket of water in his right hand and a towel slung over his shoulder. The snares had been set and the deer had been skinned, the dry blood still clinging to his hands. He had gone without dinner in order to get the skinning process done before dusk, the meat was then put into salt water until the blood had all drained out. He then put them all in large sacks and tied them up on a branch in a tree; the carcasses will stay there until the morning and then the cooks will treat them. Erbrand dug his hand into his pocket and pulled out a handful of the dried meat that he packed for the hunting venture and munched on them greedily.

All of the tents surrounding his were silent. A few were lit up with candles and he could see the still shadows inside, but for the most part everyone had gone to bed. He knelt on one knee as he let down bucket beside him, and then plunged his hands into the cold water and scrubbed his hands and face until it was rid of grime. A long, slow, deliberate sigh protruded from his lips as he leaned back against his tent pole, and rubbed his fingers through his wet hair. It was a day well spent.

Erbrand began to feel sleepy and his eyelids began to slowly close. However, he perked up again, listening intently to what he thought was harp music . He looked up and down the row of tents and discovered that he wasn't the only one awake. Around six tents from where he was sleeping a long legged man clad in grey was plucking on a small harp. The man's song was beautifully played and Erbrand couldn't help but smile as he watched the mans fingers float from string to string. If this were at any other time Erbrand would have taken out his Fiddle and struck up a tune in harmony with the man, but consideration for the other sleepy members of Scarburg stopped him from doing anything that might awaken them. Erbrand guessed that the man who was playing might be lord Eodwine's bard, and a pretty darn good one at that. It puzzled him for awhile, he had not seen the man that morning before he left with Lithor, but he did remember seeing him when he got back. After a long moment of gazing at the man Erbrand shook his head in dismissal of the thought and made himself comfortable.

Erbrand didn't bother getting into his makeshift bed, which was little more than a blanket placed on straw. Instead he pulled his wool cloak over himself and got into a comfortable position right where he was. His head soon sagged and his body finally gave into his exhaustion, falling into a deep sleep.
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Old 07-14-2008, 07:50 PM   #175
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August 9, Fourth Age Year 15, Early Morning

A cock crowed. Birds of many voices began to sing. Eodwine opened his eyes. He wiped the sleep-dew out of them with the edge of his sleeve. He used his tunic to wipe the sweat off his forehead and face. It was hot, for it had never cooled all night. But he had slept, for the exhaustion of hard work makes sleep come easily no matter the heat.

He sat up and looked about in his tent. The others had prevailed upon Eodwine that as lord of Scarburg he ought to have his own tent, and better than ground with root and rock beneath to sleep on. He had been hard to convince, but when the entire assemblage took up the same cry and would not let it go, he finally relented, glad of such friends.

He got to his feet and struggled into trousers and a fresh tunic with his back bent from the low roof of his tent, and bending over, walked out of the tent and onto the wet grass and sunshine. He stretched and looked around. There was Harreld's smithy, a proper one now, to the right of the ruin, or what was left of it. Just beyond the ruin was a very large pile of shaped stones, and to the left of that were, protected by canvas, the logs and cut wood, prepared by Stigend and his men. The meat curing shed still stood where the corpse had been found, but it was now cleaned and being used as it was meant to be, much thanks to Rowenna and Saeryn, between whom the beginnings of a friendship seemed to have formed. They tried to outdo each other in finding the hardest work to do, it seemed. When Rowenna wasn't looking (at least Eodwine thought she didn't notice), he marked that she was purposely mimicking Saeryn's ways, seeming to think that they were those of someone of noble birth.

But the hardest work of all had fallen to the strongest men. The result of their efforts was a deep well, back toward the Scar, amid the dryer ground. It had been a hard dig, but worth it, especially as they found good clean water that seemed to have no end at perhaps three fathoms down.

Today they would be celebrating the end of the first part of their endeavor. They had cleared away the ruin (which was now nought but bare earth except where the stairway led to the basement and the cage). They had moved many stones from the Scar which had undergone the careful surgery of Garstan's skill. On the morrow they would begin to build.
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Old 07-14-2008, 08:21 PM   #176
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Shortly after cockcrow

Náin son of Narin son of Nóri, had walked most of the night, the legendary resilience of the Dwarves not so much legendary as factual. He had rested for a couple hours just after midnight, but knowing how close he was to Scarburg, the Dwarf had not rested long. By waking early, he would be able to reach the new settlement in time to put in a full day's labour.

It would be good, Náin thought, to see some of his old friends from the Mead Hall. Though he had been pleased when King Éomer had seen fit to allow him to depart Edoras and join his kin in the Glittering Caves, he had missed the Eorlings that had befriended him during his stay at the Mead Hall, and was pleased that they could use his services again. With the departure of Eodwine from Edoras, the grander plans for the expansion of the Mead Hall had been terminated, and with it the need for Náin's services.

It had not been long, however, before Eodwine had sent word back to Edoras that he planned to rebuild Scarburg as his seat, and since the Eorl had grand plans for the inclusion of stonework in his new hall, the Dwarves of the Glittering Caves had been sent to. As one both proficient in stonework and specifically mandated by King Thorin to act as ambassador to the Eorlings, Náin had been delegated with the task.

As he walked across the grounds toward Eodwine's camp, Náin was keeping a sharp eye open for good locations to quarry. If the Eorl wanted to use much stone in the construction of his hall, a local source would be necessary, firstly because of the cost of hauling in stone from elsewhere and secondly because of the lack of good roads to haul it over. Other than the Gondorian-constructed great road that ran from Minas Anor past Edoras and through the Gap of Rohan on towards Bree and Fornost, there were few roads in the Riddermark suitable for the passage of heavily laden, stone bearing, carts.

Still, Náin was not concerned, for as close to the White Mountains as Scarburg was, there was plenty of stone available, and Náin had seen a few suitable sites for quarrying thus far, though he hoped he might find one even closer to the house itself; the less distance the stone had to be hauled, the easier it would be for all concerned.

As Náin came into the encampment of the Eorl, most of the Eorlings were just beginning to stir, and a familiar smell wafted on the air, bearing the scent of Frodides' early morning bread, already baking for consumption at breakfast. It was a pleasant smell indeed, for whatever other amenities the Dwarves had in the Glittering Caves, there were no cooks among them and Náin was indeed hungry after his long night's walk.

Deciding that Eodwine could wait, the Dwarf decided to follow his nose to wherever the encampment ate its meals.
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Old 07-19-2008, 09:14 AM   #177
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His eyes slowly became aware of the dawn as the cock crowed and awakened Erbrand’s senses. He groaned slightly as he raised himself up and rubbed his face wearily. The days were long, but not long enough to get all of his jobs done. As well as working for lord Eodwine, Erbrand was responsible for making the saddles that were lost in the fire. He had stayed awake long into the nights tanning and hardening the many layers of leather needed for the saddles and would often be the last to go to bed.

Erbrand got up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. His face looked older than it did a month ago due to the thicker beard and longer hair that he grew. The long days of strenuous work had made his body hard and strong, he was no longer the petty specimen of a man that had wondered into camp thirty days before.

He picked up his shirt and stumbled to the flap of his tent, tripping over the four unfinished saddles that he kept inside. The camp was beginning to come alive as he stood upright and breathed in the warm morning air. Yesterday had been the completion of stone shaping for the Meadhall, soon the hall would be rebuilt with the help of Garstan the stone shaper. Garstan was a hard worker; Erbrand liked this about him and admired the perfection that he had accomplished with his it. However, Garstan’s shyness, mixed along with Erbrand’s nerves, had been the cause of several short and uncomfortable conversations that never got beyond the topic of work.

After putting on his shirt, and tucking it in, he quickly walked over to the mess tent to grab an early breakfast, which he often did, before going to look at his snares in the marsh. He soon became acquainted with the kitchen women and took an instant liking to Kara who always greeted him with a quiet “hello” which he would immediately smile and respond with, “Good morning mam.”

Kara and Frodides were there when he arrived at one of the tables.

“Hello, Erbrand.”
“Good morning mam.” He replied with a grin.
Frodides put his breakfast on a platter; usually some leftovers from last night and watered oats. He didn’t want to make the ladies to get up early to cook a bigger and hotter meal for him just because he was in a hurry. In fact he rather enjoyed his morning meals. Not only because the ladies were good cooks, but also because he got all the interesting news that floating around camp. He would sometimes chuckle to himself whenever Rowenna would come by with a bit of news or some sort of prediction about some members of the camp. Matrim’s advice about Rowenna didn’t make sense to him now. She was kind and aloof, not at all what Matrim described as a ruthless turncoat who would play nasty tricks on her friends for a bit of amusement, but he could feel a great amount of bitterness bottled up in her and tried to avoid getting into a personal discussion that might uncork those emotions.

As he munched on last night’s stew and soggy oats, he saw Harreld and Dan talking. Two strong willed and gentle spirited people, he had taken an instant like to Dan since that morning he arrived, and after a couple of odd shallow conversations with Harreld, Erbrand began to find more things to talk about and soon considered Harreld as a close friend. This was very much unlike that new character, Crabannan. Much to Erbrand’s disappointment, he found out that Crabannan was not a bard but a brawler and had gotten into several frivolous, yet intense, arguments with him since his arrival. Erbrand considered him to be nothing more than a trouble maker that would sooner or later rob lord Eodwine blind and hit the road, so for the most part Erbrand kept a close eye on his things.

He hastily shoved the last spoonful of oats in his mouth and got up from the table.

“Much obliged ladies.” He said with a thankful nod and headed towards the marshes for an early look at his snares.

Sometimes if he was lucky he would find a deer, or something similar to that, grazing on the far end of the marsh. Lithor had taught him how to use the bow to the point of perfection and was now able to ride and shoot with it, as well as hit a target from one hundred paces.

As he reached inside his tent for the bow and an arrow he spotted Crabannan emerging from his tent, energetic and filled with new mischievous energy. Erbrand walked towards him, he desperately wanted to avoid a conversation that would lead into a fight but he didn't want to be rude either.

"Good morning, Crabannan," he said dryly, "I hoped that you slept well?"
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Old 07-19-2008, 04:59 PM   #178
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Javan had been up before dawn. He crept out when all was still dark and only the faintest sign of morning could be felt in the air. He gathered the arrows and the bow he used while teaching the two younger boys their lessons and went out towards the horse pasture. A twilight lay over the world when he reached the horses. He had a rope halter and with it, he caught his horse and brought him away from the herd and to the fence. There, he clambered up onto the horse's back and rode him away from the other horses.

The sun was just beginning to rise. Javan imagined that over at the camp, people were beginning to stir. He had a little bit of time before breakfast. He strung his bow and set and arrow to the string. Today, he wanted to teach Garmund and Cnebba something new, but he had to find out for certain if he could do it.

It had been a strange and unexpected consequence for fighting...Javan still wondered why they all had decided in making him teach the two boys the skill of archery. He had been told, yes, that it would help draw them together in some sort of friendship bond, but was that really all of it?

“Well,” he said, as he knocked an arrow to the string, “p’raps it has made us friends. Some.”

It hadn’t at first, though. He thought back to the first day they had tried it. The boys had been surly and quiet and Javan himself was unhappy with the situation. Cnebba and Garmund were slow to understand what Javan thought to be the very basics. They had come within inches of fighting several times that first day, and only Thornden’s threat of a thrashing had kept Javan from starting a fight.

But, the archery sessions were short, due to so much work having to be done in Scarburg. They continued day after day and it had not been long before all three of them actually began looking forward to it. The two younger boys loved to learn, and Javan discovered new things as he taught. However, the grown-ups’ plan of them becoming good friends had not as yet seemed to work. Javan seemed only to tolerate the two younger boys, and that was all they seemed to do in return.

The arrow sped from his string. The horse stood perfectly still, not even his ear moved backwards. Javan nodded in satisfaction when the arrow struck the target and he moved his horse forward into a walk.

The boys had learned to shoot on the ground, and then they shot with horses beside them, and eventually they had learned to shoot fairly accurately sitting on their horses. Today, he had decided, they would shoot while moving.
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Old 07-19-2008, 06:09 PM   #179
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"Good morning, Crabannan," said Erbrand, "I hoped that you slept well?"

Crabannan stretched and flexed his sleepy muscles, and then knelt down beside the bucket of water that he kept outside his tent.

"Well enough, Erbrand. Well enough."

He splashed the still-frigid water over his face and head and, standing up, threw back his dripping black hair and shook it, running his fingers through to keep it off his face. He looked at Erbrand and smiled his peculiar half-smile. In a way, that summed up Crabannan's relationship with many in the camp, Erbrand in particular: Crabanna was pleasant enough when he chose to be, but there was always part of him withdrawn, held back, part of himself that he never comitted. A month in the camp had improved and developed his ability for friendly interaction, but he still retained his tendency to brood, a characteristic which put many off. A little thing would throw him into deep, silent thought at a moment's notice and in that state, Crabannan was easily angered. Generally, his anger was just, but rarely was it merciful.

Crabannan swept up his short sword and began to buckle it on. He would just as soon have walked away from Erbrand without further conversation, which he knew would be forced and ingenuine (as it always was), but his marginal sense of social propriety, which he had somehow retained from his upbringing in Dale (or had the friendly and open Eorlings been rubbing off on him?), made him stay a moment longer.

"Up early today, Erbrand?" Erbrand was always up early. He said it was to check his snares (Erbrand fancied himself a hunter), but Crabannan always felt that he was more interested in spending as much time as possible with the kitchen-ladies, Kara in particular, than in the day's catch. This, at least, was Crabannan's impression, which may not have been as objective and disinterested as he like to believe...

At any rate, the catch was typically slim (a tough old buck-rabbit, a miniscule grouse, etc.), but would always be brought in with great seriousness and business-like modesty, in true Erbrand fashion. Crabannan knew that Erbrand rubbed him the wrong way and though he managed to keep his feelings hidden, he could resist pretending to take Erbrand as seriously as Erbrand took himself. The result was a series of facetious jabs. And, in turn, Crabannan had always felt the polite and proper Erbrand's subtle disapproval and dislike; for what, he couldn't say.

"How is hunting these days? Are the rabbits keeping up with you? They breed quickly, of course, but...I daresay you put a great strain on the poor mothers."

As he began to walk off towards the kitchen, where he guessed Erbrand had just come from - he was ALWAYS hanging around there, behaving obsequiously towards the cooking women - he could not resist asking: "How is Kara?"

As soon as he spoke, he knew he oughtn't to have said anything.

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Old 07-20-2008, 08:00 PM   #180
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Though it was early enough that he was among the first to arrive at breakfast, Náin was late enough to have a properly prepared breakfast, and not to be joining Erbrand in his gruelish repast. Frodides welcomed him back with warmth. As far as the old cook was concerned, Náin was still in her good graces. Kara was elsewhere at the moment, to Náin's disappointment, but to Frodides' assurance that she'd be back any moment with whatever she had slipped out to fetch, Náin simply thanked her, but said not to worry. There would be plenty of time time to see Kara yet in the day, and Náin was firstly concerned with eating; it had been a long night and he expected that he would have much labour yet to do, and he wished to be at it as quickly as he might.

Carrying his food aimlessly towards the tables, Náin took a wrong turn, and ended up going a longer way around, and past one of the tents where too men were standing, talking.

He assumed that the two men were Rohirrim. Certainly, they weren't Gondorian, and if they were in Eodwine's retinue, that would make sense. As he approached, however, Náin had to wonder, however, because the accent of the one asking about the other's trapping didn't sound Rohirric. The Dwarf wasn't sure what it was... more northern, perhaps.

"How is Kara?"

It seemed the stranger-sounding man's question was unwelcome, from the look on the other's face, though Náin did not know why. Before the other man could answer, the Dwarf walked up beside the glowering trapper, and introduced himself.

"Náin at your service," he said, attempting a bow awkwardly, as he was still carrying his food. "In service to King Éomer of this land, at the request of King Thorin of the Lonely Mountain, and--if the Lord Eodwine does not object--the mason-advisor to project of rebuilding Scarburg."

The two men stared at him somewhat blankly, as if not quite sure what to make of him.

"And you are.... ?" Náin prompted.

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Old 07-21-2008, 04:48 PM   #181
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Cnebba, Garmund and Javan

Cnebba didn’t like Javan. He didn’t like him at all. He was noisy and in a way self-assured Cnebba never was. Cnebba had learned to be the underdog all his life, the one who always had to prove himself to be worthy, the one who would have to earn the respect of others. But Javan was something different, “self-assured noble-man”, as Cnebba thought of him; someone who felt like he thought it was self-evident people would grant him special treatment. Like that incident with the stables… Cnebba just knew he and his family would have been thrown away from the Mead Hall if he had been the one to burn the stables, but with Javan it was different… lord Eodwine had gone all along to make a public show for the reconciliation. There would never have been a show like that if he had been the one igniting the stables.

And what had lord Eodwine talked to them the day after! He had pointed to Javan one should not leave a fight... How about him... or Garmund? No... lord Eodwine had only thought of Javan and not Cnebba or Garmund and that was the way the world was... there were the high ones and the low ones and he had been used to his place, but anyway Javan annoyed him.

And he was most bitter about Snowstreak. Snowstreak was his best friend, it had indeed been his only friend - beside his parents - for years, but after the incident he had found it hard to control the horse. It was like the horse was not ready to play with him anymore. Cnebba didn’t understand what it could have been, but it had been already twice that Snowstreak had thrown him off the saddle when they had practised around the campfires. It felt panicky and Cnebba associated that with Javan.

But there had been other emotions as well. When they had began their practises on archery Cnebba had soon realised he had talent for it and he kept beating Garmund day after day. Javan had encouraged him and he had done his best. He had a respect for Javan’s skills with the bow and soon he felt it was him and Javan who knew the trade and Garmund was the loser who couldn’t manage it.

But after they took the horses along, everything changed. Now Garmund was the star Javan appreciated and Cnebba felt himself an outsider. He tried his best but it was never enough as he had trouble keeping Snowstreak still while he aimed. And that was the fault of Javan and his stupid fire that had upset Snowstreak, his friend being robbed from him by that arrogant wanna-be for just toying around with matches…

But today they went riding away from the construction site and the fires and Snowstreak felt like the good old Snowstreak Cnebba knew. He was full of anticipation as Javan finally gave them the instructions.

They had rode west something like a mile to the place where Stigend and his company had dragged the logs out from the swamp for use a long time ago. There were several large rocks around which reminded one of the scar but also a few left-over stumps scattered around. They lifted a few of the smaller stumps on top of the rocks and then Javan told them to ride past them shooting at the stumps as they went.

Both boys went on in at the same time. Javan realised it was not a good idea and tried to call them back but they wouldn’t listen.

“Get off the way you walker!” Garmund shouted to Cnebba who was steering Snowstreak past him.

“No way, sissy! Shoot when you can!” Cnebba yelled back encouraging Snowstreak to an even faster speed.

“You’re spoiling this you moron! Get away or I’ll shoot you!” Garmund cried aiming at the first stump but realising Cnebba was between him and his target..

Cnebba left his first arrow on the way and hit the stump into the middle. “Fore!” he shouted and continued onwards preventing Garmund a decent shot.

“I’ll shoot you in earnest at the next one!” Garmund threathened as the horses galloped forwards.

Cnebba was aiming his bow for the next mark when Snowstreak suddenly got wild and turned around rising in the end to it’s backfeet. Garmund released his arrow and it hit the stump but suddenly he also had a task to hold his horse who went on to a halt as well.

Both boys were still on horseback but they stood silent looking back first at Javan and then gazing around startled.

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Old 07-23-2008, 09:50 AM   #182
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Harreld

Harreld liked his new smithy. It was well built, had room to spare (with no twin brother to take up the space), and was designed exactly the way he wanted it. All his tools were hung on spikes driven into the south wall just where he wanted them. The furnace was the best shape and the fuel could be easily placed inside. He had brought his anvil with (thankfully there had been carts to haul it for no poor horse should be so burdened), and now it sat in prime center on a good frame of iron.

He worked more quickly than he used, so that he would have time toward late afternoon to see Ginna. He had begun to court her. He had busied his mind with questions he could ask her, and then that he could answer also. Where did you grow up? What did you like best about it? What did you like least, and why? What was your favorite place there, and why? There were many more questions, and each one led to new ores of interest. Ginna liked to talk about such things, and Harreld loved her more with each new thing he learned about her. Her face became animated, and she had begun to laugh with him around. He had not jumbled his words in weeks, and found that once at ease with himself, for interest in her stories, that his mind sometimes turned clever phrases and jokes, and these made her laugh the more, and he loved making her laugh. It made her eyes dance.

The door opened and let in the morning light; the shadow of one of the others at Scarburg, briefly hid the day, then the door was shut.

"Hello! Who is there?"

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Old 07-24-2008, 11:07 AM   #183
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The situation deteriorated faster than Javan thought possible. Someone was going to get hurt, or killed - this was no game, and he’d told them that a hundred times before, at least! Now they were riding forward, one in front of the other, and the one behind (Garmund) was still drawing his string back to shoot.

Javan was hollering at them and had been hollering for a long time. Finally, the boys were listening. “What are you trying to do?” he shouted furiously. “Kill each other? Or your horses?” He trotted over to them. “I told you stop, but you didn’t listen, did you? Garmund, you might have killed Cnebba!” He stopped short abruptly. The boys’ look was not because of his anger but because walking towards them out from a stand of bushes and trees came Garstan.

Javan reined in his horse beside his two pupils and together, the three watched as Garmund’s father came near. His face was grave. He stopped and put his hand up on Garmund’s horse’s neck.

“That was interesting, boys,” he said.

“I tried to stop them,” Javan began while Garmund and Cnebba hurried to put in their stories, too - “I was going in first, but Cnebba cut in front of me.” “I was in the fore, Garmund should have waited till I was through! He threatened to shoot me!”
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Old 07-25-2008, 09:39 AM   #184
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Crabannan responded pleasantly enough. That simple answer would have been enough to satisfy him and he would be glad to walk away and get on with his work, but the conversation went on with Crabannan asking the questions.

"Up early today, Erbrand?" Crabannan asked.

"Yes, but no more than usual."

"How is the hunting these days? Are the rabbits keeping up with you? They breed quickly, of course, but... I daresay that you put a great strain on the poor mothers."

Rabbits! Was that all Crabannan thought he did: hunt rabbits! An insult and a complement in the same breath. Already Erbrand's temper was beginning to flare, when he got in these moods his anger was easily kindled.

Crabannan smiled his crooked smirk and began to walk off towards the kitchen. Relieved at the short encounter, Erbrand began to leave, but was stopped when Crabannan turned:"How is Kara?"

Erbrand spun around abruptly. He liked his privacy and got easily offended if someone would start sticking their noses into his own life. Even though he enjoyed listening to the gossiping of the kitchen women, he always dismissed it as just that: gossip. He made it a point to not pay any serious attention to mindless talking, and left it up to himself, not others, to form an opinion. He would have payed no attention to Crabannan's question, respond, and then walk off, but something about the name of Kara caused something to snap inside him.

He was frustrated with himself over his feelings, he had always made it a point to avoid the ladies in his home town and was convinced that he would never marry, making it all the more shocking to find out that he might be wrong. There was something about being around Kara that was different from anyone else, he smiled at the thought of her, and cherished the short conversations that they had. He did not yet know if she liked him in the same way, and he was still unsure about his own feelings. Erbrand didn't like the way that Crabannan asked the question, and all of his feelings blended together to remind him of his anger and sadness over the situation.

The look on his face was that of disgust, for Crabannan's unnecessary prodding in his matters and for him even mentioning Kara's name in such a way. He approached him with long swift strides, but before he could express his contempt for Crabannan's question they were approached by a figure who's height could only be expressed as lacking.

The short man announced himself, talking through his massive beard, as Nain. Erbrand didn't know what he meant by referring to far off places and of King Eomer. It took a moment for the information to register in his head before he realized that this wasn't a short man, it was a Dwarf! Erbrand's mouth dropped in amazement, a legend of folklore and myth was standing in front of him.

After a moment of awkward silence the dwarf asked who they were, prompting Erbrand to grab ahold of his senses.

"Oh, I'm sorry. My name is Erbrand," he extended his hand to the dwarf who firmly shook it, "I have heard the kitchen ladies talk of you, Nain," he paused, glancing over Crabannan, he feared that he had just strengthened the brawlers notion of him and Kara. "Your skills will be of much use here, Nain. I've heard the dwarves are amazing craftsmen when it comes to building things."

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Old 07-27-2008, 07:38 AM   #185
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The last month, his first in the camp of Lord Eowine had gone by like a blur. First there had been that whole businesses with Oeric and Nydfara, and then there had been some of the other strange events that had happened to him. He had never spent so long among people that were not of his own kin, and it had got to him. They had such strange customs, and everything was built on tradition and hierarchy. Back home, life was more free, and no-one had as much authority over people as people like King Eomer. Lord Eodwine though, reminded him of the chief of his clan back home (or what the Rohirrim would no doubt call a "mægþ" in their tongue. You see, Dan had learnt a lot on his travels lately). There, the chief had authority, but he was not some sort of untouchable figure, like some eorls that Dan had met on his way here.

But life was good, on a day-to-day basis. He had become closer to Erbrand lately, them both being new to this area. They also seemed to share similar interests, not least hunting. They would often talk in the evening after a hard days' work, sitting outside under the stars, about things that had befallen them, and about their lives so far. He learned that he had come from a large town called Arlburg nearby, and that he was a reknowned leather-craftsman there. Dan would talk often about his ventures into the dark forests beside his home, and of his carvings which had become somewhat famous among his family. They had bonded, but Dan was not as relaxed as he felt that he should have been.

He still had an uneasy feeling, a queasy feeling in his stomach. He had not told his Eorl about the other man he had met near the camp, Oeric. He wandered what had become of the man, and if he was still okay. He had promised to come, in return for his existence being unknown t anyone but Dan himself and Nydfara. It had been part of the deal once Nydfara had exposed himself. Dan had told them that as a Drûg, he could not allow Eodwine to be in danger. It was part of the Code. But he knew would not be able to keep lying about what had happened. He had felt bad about it, and it was growing on him. If Oeric would not come within the next two weeks, he would tell Eodwine. Every time he looked at Eodwine, the just lord who trusted him, or Erbrand, his friend, or exchanged The Look with Nydfara, he was squirming inside. The bad feeling in his gut would not go away.

He turned the contents of the oilskin pouch in his hand, wondering when the time would come.

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Old 07-28-2008, 10:52 AM   #186
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"You hail from Erebor, Master Dwarf? Indeed? Then we may have met before, for I am from Dale - though I have not been there in many years," said Crabannan. He shot a brief dark look back at Erbrand, just to ensure that the fool was making ready to clout him over the head. No, he was just standing there, glowering - evidently he was less a fool than Crabannan had thought him. I almost wish he would take a swing at me, thought Crabannan. It'd be the last thing he did for a while. He wasn't sure how he had expected Erbrand to react, or what he had been trying to accomplish by needling him. In fact, he almost began to regret it. He turned back to the dwarf.
"Nain, in the town of Dale, there is - or was - a cooper, an old man with black hair and the disposition of a firecracker. His name is Crabannald. Do you know him?"

Nain hesitated for a moment, seeming unsure. He searched the recesses of his memory.

"Or have you at least heard any news of him?" Crabannan seemed strangely interested in this old barrel-builder, and he wasn't paying the slightest to Erbrand now. Erbrand was taken aback for a moment, catching what seemed to be a note of genuine feeling in the tall man's voice. Not scorn, not anger, not cynicism, but genuine selfless interest in another person.
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Old 07-29-2008, 09:19 AM   #187
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The conversation had cooled down between him and Crabannan. In fact Erbrand was quite startled at the genuine concern in the mans voice, it was not the tone that he would usually take while asking a question. He guessed from the simularity in names that the barrel maker was a relative. For a moment he almost found it pleasant to be with Crabannan, but he quickly forgot about it when he remembered the reason for their encounter.

"If you'll exuse me sirs, I have business to attend to before the day begins, rabbits and all that stuff." He glanced at Crabannan with an offended look. "Good morning Crabannan, and It's good to have you with us, Nain." He conjured up a brief smile that lit up his face for a second, but it was quickly erased by his normal austere expression.

He walked briskly to his snares, which he quickly emptied. Two stoats, and yes one rabbit, was his prize. Seven out of the twelve snares had been chown apart, and two of the snares had their contents already emptied but with no damage done to them. This had been happening to him for the last several weeks, he could not figure out what creature would be that clever[Oeric]. This bothered him less than his problems with the wolves, he worried about the consequence if they were allowed to breed to even larger numbers before winter set in, then the whole camp would have a problem on their hands.

He was walking back into camp, wondering on what to do with this new problem when he noticed a short man emptying the contents of a water pouch, it was Dan. Erbrand's features lit up and his worries left him for the moment.

"Good morning, Dan," he said in a cheerful voice, approaching him. Dan lowered the pouch from his lips and swallowed the water in his mouth. He seemed troubled about something, his brow was sunken and it took a moment for his face to lighten up.

"Are you alright, Dan," Erbrand asked in genuine concern, "Is there anything I could do to help?"

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Old 07-29-2008, 07:05 PM   #188
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Saeryn woke from a troubling dream. For a moment, she lay on her back, her arm draped over her forehead, thinking about it. Then she drew a breath and glanced outwards. It was already light outside. She had over slept. Her conscience told her to hurry and get out there and start the day's work, but the dream had stirred something in her memory.

She got up and knelt down beside her bed where her saddle and saddle bags lived. She lifted the blankets and moved the saddle. Lying beneath them was the old scabbard which held her short sword. She picked it up and drew the sword. Although clean, the blade was dull and marred with a couple small nicks. She decided after a moment what to do, and thrust it back into its sheath.

Quickly, she dressed and went out, carrying the sword with her. She hoped no one noticed her as she carried it across camp to Harreld’s smithy. She knocked on the wooden door frame, peering through the open door. The smith turned and came forward to greet her.

“Good morning, Harreld,” she said in reply to him. “I was wondering...I don’t know if you’re able, or if you’ve ever done anything like it, but...” she pulled her sword into view and drew it from the scabbard. “This ol’ thing has seen better days, and last time it was used, it didn’t fair too well. Do you think...” she was almost afraid to ask, in case she would be disappointed. She put the sword forward a little, hilt towards Harrled. “Do you think you can sharpen it again?”

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Old 07-29-2008, 08:52 PM   #189
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Náin's prompt met with a responce. The one who was clearly Rohirric answered.

"Oh, I'm sorry. My name is Erbrand, I have heard the kitchen ladies talk of you, Nain."

From the way Erbrand glanced at his companion, and from what Náin had heard walking up, this seemed to be a theme of the morning. Náin resolved to ask Kara what this was about, if he saw her--and if he could think of a comfortable way to bring it up, though the prospects of that were unlikely. Though he knew Kara was aware he was fond of her, his Dwarven heritage and his own awkwardness were such that he had no intention of stating this outright. As Náin thought this out, he almost failed to notice what Erbrand said next.

"Your skills will be of much use here, Nain. I've heard the Dwarves are amazing craftsmen when it comes to building things."

Indeed, Náin paused just long enough, trying to process what Erbrand had said, that the other man spoke next, obviously taking his silence for modesty or else for not seeing a need to respond to the obvious.

"You hail from Erebor, Master Dwarf? Indeed? Then we may have met before, for I am from Dale - though I have not been there in many years," said the other, now glancing at Erbrand in his turn. Erbrand gave him no reply though, and he looked back at Náin.

The Dwarf was nodding. He had thought the other man sounded more northern.

"Nain, in the town of Dale, there is - or was - a cooper, an old man with black hair and the disposition of a firecracker. His name is Crabannald. Do you know him?"

Nain was not sure. He had not travelled into Dale often, though in his fifty-three years, he had become familiar with the Mannish town. He thought back, trying to recall if he had ever met or heard of a cooper. Nothing was surfacing.

"Or have you at least heard any news of him?"

Alas, thought Náin, if I cannot remember him, how can I have news of him? Crabannald... Crabannald...

"If you'll exuse me sirs, I have business to attend to before the day begins, rabbits and all that stuff. Good morning Crabannan, and it's good to have you with us, Nain." Erbrand gave a brief, becoming smile, and then departed. Náin, who had not caught Crabannan's name previously, seized on it to cover his inability to recall this cooper that seemed to matter to the Man before him.

"I take it from your names, that you and Crabannald the cooper are close kin?" he asked politely.

"Yes, very close," said Crabannan and something about his half-smile triggered Náin's memory. The details stubbornly refused to return to his mind, and Náin was quite sure he had never known Crabannan's name before, but he had seen the Man before, in a tavern in Dale.

Náin had forgotten why he had been in Dale. Probably, he had been working on one of several reconstruction projects that had followed, and still followed, in the wake of the War of the Ring, and he had often stayed in the town rather than returning to the mountain. Having been to many taverns, Náin could not recall the particulars, but he did recall what the proprietor had told him in a low voice when he had caught him glowering at the newcomers arrival.

"That one's trouble," he had said. "Gets into half a dozen brawls a week. Doesn't buy enough either to cover the bad business. Just likes trouble, I guess."

Náin's eyes narrowed for a moment, as this memory blinked across his mind in the moment after Crabannan had replied, and the Dwarf found himself immediately suspicious of the man in front of him, and he remembered the Man's words to Erbrand that had sent the Eorling spluttering as he had approached. "How is Kara?" Perhaps Crabannan had not acquired the same reputation in Rohan he had held with the tavern master in Dale, but Náin was suspicious and Dwarven loyalty overcame Dwarven reticence.

"Perhaps you could answer a question of mine, Master Crabannan," he said. "I could not help but hear you mention Kara as I approached, speaking to Master Erbrand, and I am curious what you meant. I was well acquainted with Kara when I stayed at the Mead Hall in Edoras, and would be pleased to hear of her good fortune--or to commiserate over her ill."

Although his words were fair enough, Náin's hand clasped itself tightly around the shaft of his heavy mason's hammer, just below its ponderous head, and his muscles, hardened as they were by decades of physical labour, clenched tight. If this troublemaker were sullying Kara's name in any way, Náin had no intention of seeing him continue.
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Old 07-29-2008, 09:05 PM   #190
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Degas

The mind of Degas of the Folde was tumultuous, a maelstrom of duties, of desires. With Farahil's approval of his intentions had come Farlen's, yet between the marriage of Degas and Linduial still stood his status: the exiled younger son, the poet and musician who supported himself as a traveling artist. Lord though he may be, Degas lacked the lands and the purse to wed the niece of Imrahil, the only daughter of distant sons of Mithrellas.

He clenched his fist, letting his mare pick her way across the long road of lands she had never trod. Rohan. His home. Glèowyn, a gift from Farlen, a pretty horse, tall and brown with dark mane and stockings, stepped lightly over the wheel ruts and small washouts of the road. It had obviously rained heavily not so long ago. With Feo safely in the keeping of Adragril – or rather, under the thumb of Adragil’s wife - Degas found he could travel twice as quickly, riding faster and longer, but he had discovered barely out of Dol Amroth that he missed the gap-toothed boy's quick wit and endless questions while traveling.

The trip had taken much longer than before, for then he had ridden in the company of Linduial's brother, and quiet though Farahil was, he was as good a horseman as he was the captain of his fleet, and when they made and broke camp, it was quickly, with competency and with quiet understanding. Degas had remembered quickly Lin's stories of her adventurous older brothers' travels not only to Rohan, but to as far north as Erebor, where they rendezvoused with not only with descendants of Bard the great bowman of Dale, but with Dwarves from both the Lonely Mountain and the Iron Hills. Adragil and Farahil had traveled to Far Harad, returning sun burnished and tattooed with the fierce symbolic narratives of the farthest South. Adragil wore his history proudly, his arms stained with the story - to those who could read it - of his defeat of the merciless Na'man Sufyan, his survival - horseless and without water - of the burning sands, and his stroll into camp with the head of his enemy held by its hair, wrinkled by heat and sun, stinking of blood and rot. He had won the allegiance of at least one tribe that day, delivering them from the terror of Na'man, who had forced obedience through indiscriminate impalement.

Farahil, however, wore loose shirts in which he could conceal many knives, and which had long flowing sleeves, fastened at his wrists, which kept his history from view, and while Adragil was prone to loudly recounting his tales for riveted listeners, Farahil sat quietly in the shadows, listening, and gathered others' stories to himself.

After months of companionship, Farahil and Degas had become as brothers, and Adragil, at Farlen's bequest, had requested - though as a request, the statement lacked the opportunity for negative response - that Degas accompany him on a short fishing trip: a week or two at sea, for Adragil to judge Degas's potential as a seaman.

When they returned, Adragil dark brown and glowing with virility, Degas burned and exhausted, Adragil had announced to Farlen and the silently watching Farahil that Degas "would do."

With no way to support Linduial, the lords of Gondor had chosen to find Degas a respectable way of deepening his purse and building his popularity amongst the people. The folk of Farlen's lands adored their lady, and it was a matter of diplomacy to prove to them that Linduial's northern friend was worthy of her hand.

So it was that when Wulf, an honest farmer of the Folde, had arrived at Dol Amroth with a broken arm carefully set, but healing poorly out of use, with the news that Saeryn had been gravely injured and could not be found, that the fields had burned and much of the town had been destroyed, and that Fenrir was dead, Degas had not been at home. For home, to him, was now Dol Amroth and Farlen's holdings as much as Rohan, for Degas had lived and traveled more in Gondor in his adult life than he had in his native fields.

He smiled bitterly as Glèowyn trotted toward Scarburg from Edoras. News of great import to the world of Men traveled swift as eagles flew, yet the news that Eodwine's household had moved had escaped Degas in his exile to Gondor. Nobody knew where the lady Saeryn was, or if she was alive?

Eodwine would have word, if he did not have Saeryn herself. Degas knew his sister, though they had seen so little of each other in recent years... But with Fenrir dead? Degas would be forced to move home, to care for his people, to be the benevolent Lord his father had been, and Fenrir had failed to be. The younger son, fulfilling his doom. If the news were true - and Wulf was a true hearted man, a true man of Rohan who spoke no lies, and rarely spoke uncertainly - then Degas now held enough lands, enough coin, that even Adragil, heir to Farlen, could not argue his position as a provider to Linduial.

Yet... If it was true, and the lands were burned? A summer's harvest destroyed? Though perhaps it would not be so bad, with early vegetables, and some hayings complete... Yet if the barns had burned as well? If the stock and surplus was ruined? Degas would beggar himself to feed his people and their horses this winter, yet how could Farlen let his child marry the poor Lord of a destroyed set of lands any more than he could let her marry a wandering orphan with impotent nobility?

But then... could he marry Linduial and use her dowry to purchase materials for his people? He loved her, and they were to be wed. Would it be so bad to use what money she would bring to him for such a noble purpose? Would she believe his intentions? Or would she see him grasping for ways to pay?

Degas struggled with himself until Glèowyn pranced jerkily, and he settled. He wished to marry Linduial now. His longing grew, a fire which raced through his blood. He wanted Linduial as his wife, his equal, the mother of his children. He envisioned straw haired toddlers, learning to run; boys he could train as Riders of the Rohirrim, girls who could ride and shoot as well as them, but who could also manage a household. Degas had always been astonished by the unfathomable depths of his mother, his sisters. While he had developed his skills as a Rider, as a Man of Rohan, they had learned all he knew as well as how to weave, how to raise children; they had mastered the art of haggling, something which still left him with what felt like an empty purse and a far smaller purchase than anything with which Saeryn could walk away.

Saeryn. Why had she left Lotheriel? Why had she gone back to Fenrir?

And for all that made sense in the world, what had happened upon her return?

With the Mead Hall of Scarburg in view - but it was tents and raw lumber; what had happened here? - Degas let Glèowyn open her stride. Eodwine would have news of Saeryn. Degas needed his sister. He had skirted his lands on his ride home, needing to know what to expect. Needing to know if his beloved twin was safe... if she was alive.

He dismounted, delighted, even in his dismal mood, to see familiar faces. Under other circumstances, this would be for him somewhat of a homecoming. Yet now, he desired only to see the lord of the hall.

But surely he could not stride in, a familiar face to some but a stranger to most, demanding immediate audience with a man only just eating breakfast. Thornden would greet him, would find Eodwine for him, but would these others who were unknown to Degas? And if they did, would his brusque manner offend them?

He closed his eyes for a moment, blinking back tears of frustration, of anger, of terror. His sister-- but he durst not think of it.

He hitched Glèowyn for now to a post driven deep and near fresh grass, and strode toward the tent from which most voices seemed to emanate. Blinking the early sun from his eyes, he felt glances fall upon him.

Seeing Náin close to him, Degas crossed swiftly to him, barely noticing the Dwarf's hand upon his hammer.

"Master Náin," he began. He stopped, collecting himself. "Who now..."

Again Degas paused. Dignity, he told himself. Dignity, humility, confidence, politeness. "I must speak with Eodwine, as soon as may be. Can you help me?"

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Old 07-29-2008, 09:52 PM   #191
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"Master Náin, who now..."

Náin started, and turned abruptly to see a figure that it took him a moment to recognise. It was true, he admitted, that he had not been close to Degas before his departure to Dol Amroth, but he could see that the young man was changed all the same. There was a greater confidence about him, or at least, there was a greater strength. There might have been confidence, but this seemed to be lost as Degas was struggling somewhat with some inner turmoil.

"I must speak with Eodwine, as soon as may be. Can you help me?"

Something must be afoot if a traveller so early in the morning preferred the eorl to breakfast, Náin thought.

"I..." he glanced at Crabannan, who was looking a bit confused at them, though whether this was because of Náin's question, the arrival of Degas, or both, or perhaps some other thought. The fact that the troublemaker (for so the Dwarf now thought of him) was confused mollified him somewhat, and he relaxed his grip on his hammer, though he did not release it.

"Certainly, Degas," he said, though his eyes still lingered on Crabannan, which Crabannan noticed, though Degas seemed a little too agitated to do likewise. "I need to see Eodwine myself, though I was in no hurry. I have not seen him yet, however, having only just arrived myself. We can seek him together." Náin did not forget Crabannan, though.

"Well, unless you know where we can find the eorl?" he said.

"Thornden will know where he is," said Degas, who was still not paying attention to Náin's odd attitude towards Crabannan. The lad must be troubled, one part of Náin thought, while the part of him that wanted to give Crabannan a fairer chance was hoping this meant that he was still nonchalant in action.

"Aye, but I have seen as much of Thornden as I have of Eodwine," said Náin, looking down at his breakfast. "But we can be off. Would you prefer to eat first, perhaps? You cannot have eaten this morning, but perhaps you would rather wait?"

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Old 07-31-2008, 11:21 AM   #192
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"I broke my fast on the road," Degas answered swiftly, "but I thank you for your consideration. My business with the Eorl truly cannot wait."

Self-consciousness overbore him then, and he wondered at how Adragil could command the attention of a room without effort. Walking in and speaking in as low a rumble as he could produce - for Adragil's voice was like thunder: loud and deep - Adragil still managed to send maids scurrying to do his bidding. Even silent Farahil seemed to have legions of loyal followers at his command: if not the men of his fleet, then the men and women of his household it seemed would fight for the honor of providing the man with what he desired. Degas, with business more urgent, perhaps, than ever had he been entrusted with before, could think of no way to channel either Adragil's brazen strength or Farahil's shadowy certainty.

"Is there any man here who knows where he can be found?" Degas peered around him, his eyes unable to adjust to the darkness through the door of the tent. Even so soon after dawn, the sun was bright to ride toward, and standing in it still, he could not make his eyes see who stood or sat, greeting each other and the day mere steps from him.

This would be another problem for him to deal with: Linduial came from stock of men for whom others would gladly lay down their lives. Degas's people had known little of him during his childhood, for he had been the shier of the twins, and had left home early to learn his art at Elessar's court. He would be hard pressed to win their allegiance after the iron fisted rule of Fenrir.

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Old 08-01-2008, 08:19 PM   #193
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Harreld

He lifted a brow in response to Saeryn's query. He had his pride. She must not know much about smithing.

"Sharpen this sword? Of course! Any smith worth his barter should be able to sharpen a sword properly. I had much such practice during the War. Bit if a young buck I was back then, but I learned plenty. It's like horseback riding you see, once you know how, you know how, the skill just needs a little honing. When would you like it back? See, I have a backlog what with Lord Eodwine's hall buidling project and all. What? What's wrong?"

Saeryn was looking at him as if she was stunned. He wondered why. And he wondered if it was because he'd strung so many words together at once. He'd started doing more of that since he'd begun talking more with Ginna. Females no longer tied his tongue just by being in the same room; he'd picked the one he was after, and the rest were no cause for alarm anymore.

Eodwine

Eodwine had found Thornden first, then Stigend near his tent, and asked them to go for a stroll along the borders of Scarburg. They had talked about the hot weather, about the previous day's work, about other various small things that had gone on in Scarburg over the last month. Stigend and Thornden related how things had been going between Cnebba, Garmund, and Javan since the bow and arrow lessons had begun.

They came to the Scar and climbed up it so they could see the plains to the north, and squinting into the distance they discussed the folk who came with torches lit to spy on them during the night. Eodwine had sent Dan, Erbrand and Lithor to find out what they could about them, and the folk had been found. They lived in a makeshift settlement on the Entwash; it was a poor affair. The folk hunted deer, fished the river, and grew some crops to subsist. It had been the opinion of the three spies that this folk did not like the competition for deer that Scarburg now represented. This made sense.

It also made sense that these folks were subsisting on land that was within the realm of the Middle Emnet, and thus fell under the lordship of Eodwine. He discussed with the two the best ways to bring the land under true lordship rather than that in name alone.

"For today we celebrate all that has been achieved so far," Eodwine said finally. "I know not if it will be on the morrow or a few days hence, but it is time for me to go to Edoras and see the King, to report what has happened here, and to take counsel with him for the furture of Scarburg and the Middle Emnet. While I am gone, you two will have leadership: Thornden over the guards and the protection of Scarburg, Stigend over the daily work. If the two of you cannot agree on something, I give final word to you Thornden, but only after you have had Stigend's counsel.

"Have you any questions for me?"

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Old 08-01-2008, 11:19 PM   #194
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In aspect, Crabannan seemed to listen to the newcomer and Nain converse, but in reality he was paying them little heed, for his mind was filled with questions and doubts. Why had he provoked Erbrand? He could not lie to himself; he had known exactly what he was doing, but not why he was doing it. He had been intentionally trying to make Erbrand angry - but was the cause merely their casual dislike for one another? The conflict had nearly come to blows just now - why had Erbrand's reaction been so violent? Was there some unconscious point of contention that he had struck upon, something unspoken?

Kara?

Was that it? Surely not, he thought, though he would have been the first to admit that recent history suggested otherwise.

"Is there any man here who knows where he can be found?" said the young stranger, whom Nain had called Degas. Crabannan was paying a little attention to the conversation, but not much. They were talking about Lord Eodwine now, but that was all he gathered.

Crabannan made an effort to pull himself out of his thoughts, which he knew were not leading him anywhere he wanted to go. If I'm not careful, it will be East Emnet all over again. It's curious: women can either bring out the very best, or the very worst in the men around them. And then he directed his attention to Degas, and spoke.

"They passed that way not ten minutes ago," said Crabannan, and pointed northish, beyond the tents. He had seen Eodwine, Thornden, and Stigend at a distance while exchanging pleasantries with Erbrand - before things had turned sour. "Towards the Scar, I think."

Crabannan noted that Degas must have had a hard ride, because he looked tired and hungry, and then wondered what it was that was so urgent.

"Shall I show you the way?" Crabannan was not particularly interested in spending his morning leading Degas around the camp, but if Degas should accept his offer of help, Crabannan would conveniently avoid answering Nain's question for the present - which would be all to the best, because he did not yet know the answer.
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Old 08-02-2008, 07:55 AM   #195
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"I am Degas of the Folde, friend," he responded, turning to meet the man's eyes and posture, "and I am grateful for the kindness you show me. If it would not inconvenience you, please do show me the way to the Eorl."
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Old 08-02-2008, 09:09 AM   #196
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After exchanging a few words with Dan, Erbrand went off to quickly skin the animals he had caught earlier that morning. Dan had never been like that before, he had never seen him so flustered about anything, but the he kept on insisting that it was nothing. Erbrand had asked him if he would like to go hunting with him later that day, which Dan immediately perked up and responded approvingly at the offer. They had made an excellent team with hunting, Erbrand was by far the better shot of the two with a bow, but Dan, it seemed to Erbrand, had a supernatural ability of tracking their game. He looked forward to tonight with great excitement.

It took him no longer than a few minutes to de-hide the rabbits, it was not a hard job for someone who knew what he was doing. As he finished, he wiped the blood off of his knife and neatly wrapped the meat in some clothe to be brought to the kitchen. He had felt out of place with his profession since moving to Scarburg, his was the only one that dealt with death on a day to day basis. Before, in Aldburg, he had depended on the hunters in the town to supply him with all the animal furs, but now he had to put his hunting skills to good use in catching the hides for himself. Although he was sure that it didn't bother the male population at Scarburg, he was certain that it had bothered some of kind hearted ladies, and especially the young boys. They had caught him several times in the middle of skinning his quarry, it was very messy work and at such a young age the boys reacted to it at being no less than barbarism. This had pained him, for he loved children and he often laughed at the way they would compete with each other.

The kitchen was alive with commotion when he arrived, the girls were running all about getting breakfast ready for the tables of hungry people. He walked up trying not to be noticed, or at least not to be a bother, and placed the wrapped meat in it's usual spot.

Today was not going to be a busy day, everyone was tired from the days of hard labor hauling the rocks from the scar to build Harreld's new smithy. Erbrand walked briskly back to his tent, where his four unfinished saddles awaited him. He pulled the canvas from his tent, before he sat down, to allow him some sufficient light to work and for the cool early morning breeze to cool him from the relentless heat of the sun. He still needed to cut out the stirrups and add another broad piece of leather to hang down, so the horses sides would not go raw from the constant rubbing of the riders garments. Reaching for his carving tools, and a wide piece of leather, he started cutting out the design for the stirrups. He had to be careful not to make a mistake, every bit of material was precious, it would take him a long time to get them cut out but he would do it without complaint or rest. Humming a soft tune to himself, to calm his nerves and prevent him from slipping with his cut, he slowly made his outline. He slowly lost track of time and the sounds of the camp slowly faded as his mind focused on his work.

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Old 08-02-2008, 02:25 PM   #197
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Rowenna

There was no scrubbing to do since there was no Hall with no floor. This meant that Rowenna found it hard to find someplace to go where she could be alone with her thoughts, and today was proving to be like most others at Scarburg. So she asked Frodides what needed doing. This time it was go to the curing shed and get venison to be used as strips of bacon as they had no pig.

So she walked toward the curing shed, her mind flitting to this and that, and, as it had over the last month, somehow hovering like a hungry bee over the new honey it had found in the person of Nydfara. They had barely talked at all, spoken mere pleasantries one might expect from an acquaintance, but she could not help thinking about him; and she could not help stealing glimpses of him when he was at table or elsewhere around Scarburg.

He had a good look to him, and was not weak of build. He was always very quiet, keeping to himself most of the time. And he kept his thoughts to himself; but Rowenna could tell that he was always thinking, always ruminating on something, some secret; for she had watched him enough to know that when he pursed his lips and seemed to chew on his right cheek right at the lips, something not good was on his mind, for this always accomanied a frown however slight.

This man had been spying on Scarburg, and been found by Dan and brought to Eodwine. She had asked Eodwine what he thought of Nydfara, and for answer had received first a frown, then a look of rumination, and finally noncommittal words: "Too early to tell. We shall have to see."

And this meant that Eodwine was holding back on trusting the man; she was sure of it. She wanted to find out what his secrets were, but did not know how to go about asking unless it were to make herself desirable to him; how else to interest such a man? One did not just walk up to such a private man and ask him, "so what are you thinking?"

She entered the shed and picked out a well salted stide of venison and started on her way back to the baker.

Just forget about him! she said to herself, for you have an eorl to win. Yes, she knew this was her goal, and when she focused her attention on Eodwine and doing and being those things he had said he sought in a wife, thoughts of Nydfara faded ... until the next time she saw him, which was all too often in this small camp. And then she would try not to stare, and she would wonder, and play with her hair, and she would go about her errands and duties with a little bit more of a saunter than she usually did; at least when Nydfara was within sight.
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Old 08-03-2008, 02:37 PM   #198
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Scyld

Scyld rose shortly after morning’s light and stretched, much as he had any other day the past month. A whole month – yes, it had been that long now. In commemoration he decided to take a short walk before hunting down some breakfast. Unswervingly his feet took him down to the cleared ruin of Sorn’s hall. Gone, just as it should be. In this he had not minded serving the Eorl. Erasing Sorn’s mark was a worthy purpose, and so he had willingly spent the last month working here. And still he was not entirely sure of his purpose among these people. Just what did he hope to accomplish? And to what end? He had spent nearly his whole life scheming, waiting for something better. With Sorn’s death and Linduial’s escape he had felt some temporary satisfaction, some brief but real deeper feeling. Temporary. Then he had come face to face with the reality that he was adrift in a wide world, with no one knowing of or caring about his existence. So now he was here. Working, and working hard, to help the new Eorl build his hall from the ruins of Sorn’s estate. Was this to be his purpose? Simple work to occupy his days and ensure that at those days’ ends he would have food in his stomach and a place to lay his head?

No, that was for Nydfara. Nydfara might be satisfied with such a simple life, but Scyld could not be. He could not be satisfied, because he could not trust the simple pleasures such a life might afford, nor the people involved in it. This then brought him full circle to the original question: why was he here?

Consciously removing the thoughtful frown from his face and the troubling questions from his mind, he began a circuitous route back to the baker, nodding a cordial good morning to those he saw on the way. This was a remarkable skill of Nydfara’s that Scyld had not previously thought himself capable of. As ideal a servant as he always made himself seem to Sorn, his cynical sarcasm and biting wit had remained fully intact in his dealings with Sorn’s underlings, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the circumstances. Nydfara, however, was far warmer than Scyld ever had been, always ready to lend a hand, polite towards the ladies of the camp and companionable if reserved towards the men. He remained slow to talk and quick to listen, and thereby had learned much. The patterns and undercurrents in the camp were many, but as a boy avidly studying a colony of ants Scyld had come to make sense out of their actions – as much sense as people willing to serve others’ needs above their own and governed by emotion could make, that is.

Take, for example… Rowenna. The corners of Scyld’s mouth twitched upwards at the sight of the serving woman as she emerged from the curing shed with a side of meat. There was a woman with some depth to her! It was common enough knowledge (and therefore easily enough learned) how she had been ‘rescued’ (somehow the term stood out as dubious in Scyld’s mind, though he did not precisely understand why) from the outlaws and brought under Eodwine’s ‘protection’ – again, a dubious term; Scyld doubted such a woman needed much protection. Here was one who knew the ways of the world. Such similarities might have led a different man to seek alliance, but Scyld could trust no equals and would suffer no partners.

As they were headed the same direction, Scyld (or was this Nydfara speaking?) held up a hand in greeting and adjusted his course slightly to meet her. “Good morning to you,” he offered as a greeting. “Busy already, I see?” He asked, indicating her burden. Small talk, how it galled him – but Nydfara was good at small talk, even if Scyld hardly cared for the answer. It did, however, amuse him not to offer help carrying the meat – he was sure she had it well under control.
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Old 08-07-2008, 09:28 AM   #199
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Rowenna

She glanced at Nydfara with a grin. "Yes, as always." She looked to the front again and switched the side of meat to her other hand, away from him. "And you dally before setting to your own work." It was a playful jibe.

Why was he suddenly talking to her now? What had she done to earn his notice? Did she really want it? These questions raced through her mind. But they were quickly followed by even more pressing questions: what was on his mind when he was so quiet? Where had he come from? What had he been up to in the past? She would place coin on it, had she any, that his life was not so different than hers.

"But I want to know," she continued, "why have you worked with such a will on the old ruin when most folks here like to vary what they do?"

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Old 08-07-2008, 09:31 AM   #200
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Saeryn

Saeryn shook her head. “Nothing,” she replied quickly. “Nothing at all.” And then she grinned, for some reason finding it amusing that Harreld spoke more than usual. She handed the sword to him. “I’m in no rush to have it back. I feel more relieved just knowing that you can do it, is all. You see,” she went on, explaining the other half of why she had looked surprised, “back home, when father was still there, we had a sword smith who would take care of all of our weapons, and the iron smith just did the household things that I have ever seen you work with, so I wasn’t sure if you were able.”

There was a short pause and she hoped she hadn’t offended him by even suggesting that he couldn’t do it. She looked around the tidy smithy as she thought about what he had said. Although she had said she was in no hurry to receive the sword back, she did feel anxious about knowing just when she would get it back. “How long do you think it will be before you can do it, Harreld?” she asked.

--

Thornden

Thornden stood quietly beside Eodwine until he had finished, asking as he ended, “Have you any questions for me?”

“How long will you be gone?” Thornden asked. “You speak as though you thought you would be away from some time."

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