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Old 03-12-2011, 09:57 PM   #41
Mnemosyne
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"We still don't know everything!" said Brinn. "Even if Samwise and his family and the King himself are coming, they're coming to be entertained, not to be given a dry recitation of what they already know. I'd rather not do anything until we receive official notice of their attendance. Then, and only then, we'll work together on fixing things. In the meantime, it will be well for us to run through everything as it stands now, so, at the very least, we can figure out what will need to be changed and what will remain. Everyone, and I mean everyone, if you're not on-stage and something contradicts what you were directly told by this Samwise, you'll make a note of it and we'll investigate it tomorrow. We've learned things quickly before; surely it can't be too difficult to change the script around where it needs to be. Please," she said, gesturing to the players on-stage, "continue."
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Old 03-13-2011, 06:53 AM   #42
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"Besides," said Asta fiercely, "I am most definitely not going to play a halfling!" She had not realised until this moment just how much the rôle of the Elf-maid meant to her. While she played various walk-on parts– she was now, for example, draped in a sheet as a Ringwraith– her only other speaking rôle was the much-less glamourous Gollum the She-orc.

"Not that I believe any of you are sober enough to remember what this Samwise person said– if you ever met him in the first place– and I refuse– refuse, do you hear me– to have our play butchered on the word of a gang of fool actors who are clearly to drunk to stand up straight!" The glare with which she finished also took in Amdír, whom she held responsible for the entire mess, and Aldarion.

"And no, Aldarion, we can't put on anything else– there isn't time, and none of the trolls are in working order, and the bear costume got moth-eaten so we can't do the battle scene in "Smaug". And as for "Children of Húrin"– look, you must know it won't do. I mean, really!"

It was not that she did not appreciate the playwright's attentions, but the part he had written her as his love-interest in that dismal epic crossed the line from flattering to downright disturbing. He claimed it was all historical fact, but Asta had her doubts.

"Now," she drew a fold of cloth across her face, "if we could manage to get on with the rehearsal? Sereth, I think it's your line."

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Old 03-13-2011, 11:54 AM   #43
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Hastily, Coldan put on Sam the servant's costume and a pair of furry socks that were supposed to look like hobbit feet while striving to digest what Harrenon had told him about their encounter with the mysterious Lord Samwise, who had quite inconveniently turned out to be not only Frodo the Ringbearer's esquire himself, but moreover neither dead nor the halfwit they had been going to present him as. Just like Aldarion to make a mess of his history! Who knew what else might be wrong with the script?

Nevertheless, it was high time for them to start rehearsing at last, so he stepped onto the stage together with Sereth and Amdír, and they began with the first scene, in which Frodo told his fellow-halflings Sam and Peregrin about the Ring and their quest to destroy the Dark Lord. Coldan had little to do in this scene except to nod in the right places, utter a few stupid interjections and cheer Captain Frodo, Lord of the Ring in the end, so he allowed his attention to stray just enough to overhear Therian saying to Brinn:

"Or there might just be one Merry and he is a he, and he is also only a couple feet tall, and he may or may not own the parts of the Shire that Samwise and Prince Peregrin do not? It was all pretty confusing, especially with Branor talking all about how our dinner companion was not really alive..."

What was that? Could it really be that Mary the heroic elf-maiden was in fact another halfling, and a male to boot? Thoughts started racing like mad in his brain, one precipitating the other like the gears of a clockwork, and before he could stop himself, he blurted out: "Zen - zen she - I mean he - vasn't in love viz Boromir at all?"

Luckily - for one look at Asta's irate face told him she was less than amused by this turn of things - his words were drowned in the following heated discussion between Aldarion and Brinn, the playwright advocating some thorough revision of the play while Brinn adamantly insisted on going on with the rehearsal.

"Besides," Asta protested, "I am most definitely not going to play a halfling!"

Of course, he thought, wincing with dismay. How silly to assume for a moment that she would take the threat to see her one showpiece role abolished, or changed into another furry-footed midget, lying down. He hid his blush behind a corner of his cloak, pretending to rub at the smudge of ink on his nose, and muttered to himself: "A nice pickle ve hev landed ourselves in!"
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Old 03-13-2011, 03:06 PM   #44
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Branor slumped on the wagon, next to Therian, trying to remember when his cue to go on was, but all he could hear was Asta yelling.

"Whats she makin all that loud noise for? Ack! It hurts us!"

"I believe it has to do with you coming back stumbling drunk and demanding Brinn re-do your entire Elessar part."

"You seem to be enjoying yourself a bit much." said Branor. "You know, I call you Tragic Theri, because usually you are terribly depressing to be around. But Brinn, whysshee got her britches in a bunch for? She has a pretty name, it suits her pretty looks well, but I dun like her in this mood."

"Come on, Bran. Even you got to admit, So Brinn, Elessar is all wrong, who's your lord now! was not very tactful."

"But, b-but, you were there!? You heard Master Sammy, Elessar was the greatest spy-king...ever. Kings do not have that many names, and do not reek THAT badly. There is only one reason for him to be so dirty, he had to be undercover! This play can not go on when the history of its star is all wrong. Yes, wrong, wrong, wrong."

Branor lifted himself up and was going to march over to Brinn, but his head became light. He turned facing the wagon, "I better just...stay here and lie down -" he swooned a bit and then splatted face first on the wagon.

"Agggh, owwww." wailed Branor. "You wanna know something, Therian? You would serve much better as a king than that dreadful part you have now. How can you stand it? You are not going to get Aragorn, while I am here...duh, and you do not look at all kingly" (was this supposed to be Branor's idea of motivation?) "your face is far too young, but it is much easier to get older than it is younger, on stage. It's not like finding you a faux beard and giving you some silver highlights would be a troubling task. I can see it, you have the right attitude and passion to play a king, and that, my boy, is all that matters. What is make-up and costumes not for, if to make us look the very part we know we can act?"

Therian was perhaps about to make a reply, but Branor had passed out, face down on the wagon and legs hanging off the edge.
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Old 03-13-2011, 10:06 PM   #45
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Therian came over to Brinn and touched her shoulder.

"Now what is it?"

"Er... uh, Branor's passed out backstage."

Brinn bit back a curse and pinched the bridge of her nose again. "All right. We don't rehearse any of the scenes that Elessar--oh, wait, he's in most every scene, isn't he?"

"I could understudy for him, for now."

"No, we need you--" to fill in random parts and then humiliate yourself playing a woman you disdain offstage--marvelous job, really "--well, the rehearsal's in shambles anyhow; we'll just do the scenes we can run safely without him--the Pelennor and the witch-dragon doesn't have him in it, does it?"

She looked back at the stage. Aldarion was currently attempting to inject nuance into King Butterbur. Everyone was looking expectantly at the place where Elessar was supposed to show up, and she realized it was Branor's cue.

"Branor's passed out backstage," she said, "so we'll just move along to the mines."

"Don't we need everyone who's fighting for that?" said Harrenon

"And the mechanics," said Asta. "I can't just do them on the spot, you know."

"What about the Sorceress?"

"Mechanics."

"All right, then! Saruman--and I know that that doesn't require anything fancy. Then, Asta, let's get together the things to run the Sorceress and her evil trees."

She heaved a big sigh, and Rollan, at least, was willing to take the upheaval in good stride, eliciting a chuckle or three from the few locals who had gathered in his portrayal of Saruman. Backstage, she ran over her lines quickly while Asta was getting the things in place for the trees.

Determined to make this rehearsal as right as possible, Brinn strode back onstage on her cue, right on top of one of the tree roots. Her foot caught, and with a wrench of pain, Brinn sprawled upon the floor.
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Old 03-14-2011, 09:01 AM   #46
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Asta did not actually drop the tree she had been fitting into place, but she set it down very hastily indeed before dashing to her sister's side. Brinn was clutching her ankle and wincing. The tree next to her swayed violently back-and-forth; even as Asta got there it slipped from its controlling rods and fell across Brinn with a rustling crash. Asta pulled it off her, almost wailing when she saw the damage. The tree-prop was a hollow affair, too lightweight to hurt Brinn any more than she was already, but it had itself been crushed right out of shape, the wires and struts of its framework bent, snapped or protruding through rents in the fabric skin.

"I think– I think it's broken!" said Brinn.

"Broken? It's ruined!" said Asta. "At least, I don't think I can fix it in time for–"

"No, silly, I mean my ankle," gasped Brinn, white-faced with pain.

By this time the others had gathered around. Rollan prised his wife's fingers from her ankle, which indeed was swelling and discolouring rapidly. He said he did not think it was broken, though he was not sure, but that it looked pretty bad.

"Brinn, you are a clumsy goat sometimes," said Asta, more in sympathy than insult. "Objects just seem to jump out and– and bite you! Oh dear, oh dear, what are we going to do now?"

Brinn echoed her distress, concerned not for herself but for the fate of the performance, for she doubted her foot would be better in time.

"Oh, don't worry, we'll find some way..." Asta looked around her as if for inspiration, but saw only the gaping mouths of the Evil Trees, leering in mockery. "I've always heard there's very good healers in the White City. Or perhaps we could have the Sorceress sit down– she could be on a throne, you know... or maybe," she added with just a touch of malice, "Therian, you could take over the rôle?"

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Old 03-14-2011, 11:43 AM   #47
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Just what we need.... an injury!

Aldarion looked on in concern. The ankle did not look good, but worse than that was Aldarion's imaginings of what Brinn would do. He feared she would tell everyone off and try and tough things out and end up hurting herself worse. The show must go on, after all, and Brinn could be quite stubborn.

In an attempt to appease her sense of dedication, Aldarion offered, "Rollan or someone can take you to the healers immediately, or go and fetch them if you do not feel inclined to move, and the rest of us can continue rehearsals. You are important to our rehearsals, but it is far more important that you are functional come performance time."
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:02 PM   #48
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This production was clearly jinxed, Coldan thought while he anxiously watched Rollan examining Brinn's ankle. First the plot of their script had started falling to pieces, then their lead actor had passed out in a drunken stupor, and now the backbone of the troupe, the one person who could be counted on to keep their crumbling act together, had managed to incapacitate herself. Could it come any worse?

Fortunately, most of Brinn's roles in the play were walk-on parts which could be taken by any of the other Players, except for the Sorceress of the Golden Wood; that, however, posed a major problem because of the crucial seduction scene, in which all of Frodo's companions were supposed to be on stage with her at the same time, leaving none of them able to stand in for her.

"Perhaps we could have the Sorceress sit down", Asta suggested, "she could be on a throne, you know... or maybe, Therian, you could take over the rôle?"

Therian didn't seem too enthusiastic about that proposal, but to Coldan, it was a stroke of genius. Yes, of course! Make him the Sorceress and let Asta play Éowyn the Shieldmaiden instead! Therian's sullen mien would do nicely for a six thousand year old hag, and this way Asta could get to play a heroine after all; killing the Witch-King herself should recompense her amply for not dying a tragical death.

This time, however, he managed to keep his thoughts to himself for the time being. There would be opportunity enough to bring them up the next day, or the day after that, when they had found out what else in the script needed to be changed. For now, Brinn's injury had to be dealt with. Aldarion was doing his best to convince her to be sensible and let herself be looked after, and for once, Coldan found himself agreeing with the playwright's common sense.

"I zink you should stay here and lie down, Brinn", he said. "You shouldn't valk on zat foot. Ve'd hev to take you to ze Houses of Healing in a vagon, and zat's uncomfortable on zese cobbled streets. Better for one of us to run and fetch a healer. I can go, Rollan, if you'd rather stay viz her. Amdír can give me directions, and I trust ze rest of you should be able to remember your lines vizout me by now."
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:13 PM   #49
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Oh no! Sereth thought. Poor Brinn! She walked over and sat next to the woman who had become both a big sister and a mother to her. "Are you sure it's broken?" she asked, wincing sympathetically.

"And anyway...." she added, hesitating a little, not quite sure how to say what she thought, maybe it was stupid or something... "Or, I mean, maybe it's just sprained. Or even if it's broken - I don't mean that it wouldn't hurt - but, Brinn couldn't the Sorceress walk with a crutch? She's supposed to be very old anyhow."
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Old 03-15-2011, 10:17 AM   #50
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Brinn sighed and gingerly poked at the injured ankle, already swelling. Sprained or broken, it hurt.

"I can't put any weight on it," she said. "I'll either have to be carried to the Healers, or one of them brought here. We can decide what to do with the Sorceress after we know how things will look at the end of the week. In the meantime," and she nodded at Aldarion for his suggestion, "we can, at the very least, run the final scenes of single combat, and a few others as well."

Rollan helped her to stand up, then gently lifted her down from the stage as they decided what to do next.
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Old 03-15-2011, 01:14 PM   #51
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Aldarion nearly agreed to Coldan's offer to fetch a healer, but upon second thought Amdir seemed the better choice, as a local would surely be the swiftest, and might also know which healers to try and secure. But of course his character, Pippin the Hobbit Prince, played a major role in the various skirmishes the troop needed to walk through, and also had several lines in the confrontations in Rohan and Minas Tirith, where as Coldan's Gimli was not quite so important.

Not entirely decided, Aldarion spoke up and gave a summary of what could be done without Amdir. "Well, the orc attack on the Anduin would be problematic, but we can have the boat conversation between Mary and Boromir as well as Frodo and Aragorn's conversation on the bank- I can read Branor's part. We are split during the Rauros battle anyway- Boromir and Mary will miss Pippin in their battle scene, but we can at least say our lines- perhaps Sereth can read for Pippin from Rauros on, as the two never appear together after that."

"Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli can have their battle as well- I should be able to stand in for Branor for both lines and the fighting." Aldarion resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Branor's fighting after all is little except puffing up his chest, shouting, and taking a big swing. How I wish he would let me actually give him a choreographed sequence! "For the orcs that would've been Brinn we'll just have to pretend. Asta can do Mary's escape from the orcs with Sereth in as Pippin, and they can do the forest scenes as well. The fighting in Rohan should be pretty well fine, other than we'll be missing opponents every so often."

"The confrontation with Saruman we may wish to skip, as everyone has something to do besides Sereth, and we have two holes to fill- Branor and Amdir. Since the main cast is often apart during the battle of Minas Tirith most of those scenes should be fine, and the Mordor scenes will be pretty well unaffected."

"So," finished Aldarion, "Do we send Amdir?"
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Old 03-15-2011, 03:48 PM   #52
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Coldan shrugged. "I hev younger legs, but if you zink I'll get lost, send Amdír. It's up to you."
The indifference was faked, of course. He would have given a lot for a chance to save the day by bringing a healer to Brinn in no time, thereby earning a grateful or (maybe, just maybe) even admiring glance from her sister, but of course Aldarion had to ruin that. (A small voice in the back of his head whispered to him that it made perfect sense to send a man on this errand who knew his way around the city, and that Aldarion was doing rather well at organizing things in this disastrous situation, but that didn't help.)
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:59 PM   #53
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“Just when I thought nothing else could go wrong,” Harrenon muttered when Brinn broke her ankle. He could not understand why nothing went right for them that day. It was not usually like this. Yes, they had their misfortunes, but they usually did not tumble down on them all at once.

Aldarion suggested sending Amdir for a healer. which was a sane choice, as far as Harrenon was concerned and he quickly stated his agreement with the plan. He would have liked to accompany him, but it seemed that Aldarion wanted for them to continue the rehearsals and it also seemed that he could not be spared.

Harrenon looked worriedly at Coldan when the latter suggested that he should go instead. He slowly shook his head. He hoped that the others would not agree with this, or at least that they would send him with Amdir. He was, after all, the one that knew the city best, wasn’t he? What if Coldan got lost?

Harrenon ran a weary head over his face. It seemed as if days had passed since they had first arrived in Minas Tirith, not mere hours. He looked around.

“Shouldn’t we wake Branor?” he asked. “It is not fair that he should sleep through all this mess.”
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Old 03-15-2011, 07:17 PM   #54
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There was crashing, banging, painful wailing, and commotion. Branor rolled over as the amount of noise was even enough to stir him awake. He was concentrating on the heavy pounding in his head until he felt a sharp pain in his shin. Branor grunted. Then another kick, almost in the same exact spot as the previous one, and Branor grunted again.

It was Therian. "Get up, Bran" with yet another kick.

"I am up, I'm up." grumbled Branor.

"No. You are still lying down and I can not lift you, now UP." another kick.

"You kick me again you better be well out of arms reach by the time I get up."

"So, you say you are still not up?" Branor knew then he made a mistake and talked himself into another kick from Therian. It wouldn't have been so bad had Therian not managed to hit nearly the exact same spot with every kick.

But Branor was finally awake and off the wagon. And Therian promised no more abuse unless upon Branor's request to get his senses back. Therian updated him that the commotion he heard was from Brinn injuring her ankle. They were debating on whether someone should take her to the healers or to bring a healer to her.

The brief rest had sobered Branor up for the most part, and thanks to Therian he had forgotten about the splitting headache for the time being. He saw a crowd huddled around Brinn and some seemed to be shock to find Branor was actually awake and no longer babbling nonsense about spies and filthy kings. "Now Brinn, if you needed me for rehearsals, you could have just splashed water on me, you did not have to go getting yourself injured!"

"You don't need a healer for that Brinn. Why, you remember the time when my knee popped out of place? And why I said, you would have to saw off my leg before I left the play?" For some reason, Brinn did not remember it happening as Branor described. "But then Rollan just set everything back in place, grabbed two poles, some bandages and made a nifty splint for me? A healer aint gonna be able to do much more for ya, whether it's broken or sprained. I am sure Amdir's got some spare pieces of wood from the set, and Rollan can do the same thing for you in no time, or perhaps use one of the staves for a crutch. No sense in wasting time going to the healers."

Branor looked to Rollan, or Aldarion to find out if they agreed. A healer would not be able to immediately fix up Brinn's ankle. Better to just get it wrapped up in a home-made splint and continue with rehearsals.
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Old 03-15-2011, 08:03 PM   #55
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"Bones can set wrong," Brinn retorted, in no mood for Branor's posturing. "Amdir, please run and get a healer; there are plenty of scenes that you can run without me, or him, in the meanwhile."
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:13 AM   #56
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Amdír practically sprang into action once Brinn gave her assent to Aldarion's plan. In large groups like the Players he was not prone to lead when problems arose, but would follow orders once given regardless of the difficulty. It was the legacy of his time as a soldier, of twenty years service to great lords, but more than anything else, it was the result of having two older sisters and an older brother. The brother had died in the War, and one of the sisters had died from a winter ailment two years back, having passed her sixty-fifth year. His last sister still lived in Lamedon with her husband and children.

Funny that he should be thinking of his siblings, Amdír thought as he struck out down the streets. The last time he'd met one of them had been his now-deceased sister, who had also moved to Minas Anor in the years following the War. Her eldest daughter had since taken over the family household, and Amdír was invited over to dinner once a fortnight. He and his brother-in-law were both widowers now, and easier in each other's company than they had been in most years past.

It was Brinn's request for a healer that had Amdír thinking of his family, for they had not summoned one for his sister until it was too late to help her. Since then, he had not had cause to think of healers.

It was too far up the city to fetch help from the great Houses of Healing in the sixth circle. That was probably where Coldan would have gone, or been directed had he asked for directions, but Amdír knew that one of the healers from that house lived not far away, still in the first circle, with her great-aunt Ioreth, who had once been a healer there. She had been one of those who cared for him in the House during the War. She must have been quite ancient now--as old as they said King Elessar war, but of course the King was a very different case with his Elven blood and northern lineage--like a great Númenórean of old--though, it was said, he was also a great healer. Perhaps healers were simply better at taking care of themselves?

In any case, it was no more than a ten minute trot for Amdír to reach the healer's house. Mistress Inbeth came to the door shortly after he began pounding on it, moving with a quickness that surprised one, when you considered her years. She was nearly sixty, the grand-daughter of Ioreth's eldest sister (and theirs had been a large family), a large, grandmotherly woman whose steely-grey hair did not betray her age so well as the laughlines that crinkled her face.

"Amdír the carpenter, of Master Hallas' household, isn't it?" she asked. "What can I do for you?"

"There's a young lass with a broken ankle who could use your assistance, Mistress Inbeth," said Amdír. "She's one of the King's Players, just arrived in the city."
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Old 03-16-2011, 05:32 PM   #57
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"So", Coldan said brusquely, when Amdír had left, "are ve going to go on viz ze rehearsal, or what?" He wanted at least something positive to happen at the end of this day, after all the bad luck that seemed to dog them since they had entered the city.

"I guess I can stand in for Amdír, if need be", he added, trying to sound not quite as grumpy as before. "He forgets his cues so often, I probably know most of Peregrin's lines by heart by now." In fact, Amdír's memory wasn't nearly that bad, but Coldan's responsibility for prompting had indeed acquainted him so well with the other Players' parts that most of the time he hardly needed to consult the script anymore.

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Old 03-16-2011, 06:14 PM   #58
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Aldarion turned to address Coldan. "Frodo shares fewer scenes with Pippin so I thought Sereth would be the obvious replacement choice, but now that you're volunteering..."

Aldarion looked directly at Brinn (as did nearly everyone else), hoping for her to make a swift decision, but she was momentarily occupied, speaking with Rollan about her ankle. A few feet to her right stood Sereth, still looking generally at Aldarion after his last comment. Aldarion widened his eyes briefly to gain her attention, and then gave a small gesture towards her followed by the smallest of shrugs and a questioning glance, asking her wordlessly, "Do you want the role?"
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:20 PM   #59
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Rollan moved Brinn farther away from the stage, where the Players were--slowly--beginning to pick up the shattered remains of the rehearsal. It would not do to distract them even further once Amdir returned with the healer.

"So," said Rollan, "what are we to do if you can't heal in time? Even now, with all of this hacking and hewing of the script we're like to do..."

Brinn buried her face in her hands. "Cancel the show?"

Rollan grinned. "Think we can't run this thing without you even for a week, eh? I'd love to prove you wrong and take you down a notch or three."

"You're right, we need the money too much anyhow. I should trust you more--all of you--but then I look at that lot over there, and--"

"Don't be hard on yourself, or on them. The main thing is, we all love the theater, and we all love making people happy."

"But we won't be able to make anyone happy at this rate!"

"Well, if nothing else, I can always leer and make bawdy jokes."

"Not with the King present!"

"What, he's married, isn't he? And given how gorgeous the Queen looks, even on a coin, he'd be mad not to--"

Brinn was spared her husband's further ministrations by the arrival of Amdir and the healer. Rollan waved to catch their attention.

"Are you the lass with the broken ankle?" said the healer.

"Lass, hardly. Broken ankle? I hope not, but probably. The name is Celebrindal."

"I am called Inbeth. Will you show me the injury?"

After a few minutes of fussing and poking, Inbeth informed Brinn that her ankle was not broken, but it was badly sprained, and she would have to put no weight on it for at least a week. Brinn took the news with a sort of grim resignation. "Could I at least have crutches?"

"There may be a few pair in the Houses, but they would not be to your height, and we try to reserve them for those who need them more--broken legs and amputees. Were you thinking of going far in them?"

Brinn opened her mouth to reply, but Rollan interrupted. "No, she wasn't," and he gave her a very fixed look.

"That is well. I can look, but I cannot guarantee anything."

"Would Inbeth need to trouble herself with that?" said Amdir mildly.

Brinn thought a moment. Oh, right--he was a carpenter.

"No, of course not," said Rollan, and he clapped Amdir on the back a little too heartily. "We do have a carpenter, after all. Thanks for your time, my lady." He reached into a purse to pay her.

"And you needn't trouble yourself on getting the crutches done tonight," said Brinn. "There'll be plenty of work to do sitting, at least for a few days; I'd hate for Aldarion to get so much control of the script that he makes it all dry and tasteless. We'll have to send people out to learn more of the true course of events--or at least, what people here are likely to believe. But I don't trust everyone to report things accurately. Perhaps we should have them ask about in pairs?"
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Old 03-17-2011, 04:33 AM   #60
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This state affair was proving quite as tiresome, Lord Cirdacil thought, as he had ever prognosticated.

For diligent, serious-minded public servants like him, all this standing up for no particular reason was the absolute limit. The only figures seated at the evening levee, upon a verandah facing north and west, were the Queen of Gondor, her ladies, and a couple of very odd looking individuals indeed. It was, Cirdacil mused gloomily, probably only fair that this Consul Samwise and his rubicund wife should be honoured and permitted to sit beside their golden-headed daughter in the Queen's suite. And even he had to admit that the pherrian Lady Elanor was as amiable as she was, in her minute way, exquisite; she had once done him the kindness to have a delicious buttery crumpet brought to him as he toiled late at the Exchequer.

Still, it galled him slightly that her oafish looking progenitors could lounge at their ease on either side of Queen Arwen. They spoilt the presentation of the thing, whoever they were and whatever they did, and they seemed to have a slipshod view of protocol, especially that interminable wife - Lady Rosa, was she? - , who was telling one of her long anecdotes about Master Samwize's rural accomplishments, again. The Queen listened with more than simple politeness, with a real appearance of fascination. It was hard to have anything against her, though her way of looking at Cirdacil with a fraction of a smile always unnerved him. Best not to pay any attention to those stories one heard, about her practising sorcery and riding to battle and what-have-you. Still.

Most of all, he wanted to sit down; his age was knotting in his legs like a family of Haradrim serpents. At that very moment, a long shadow crossed his vision and a firm, almost unsteadying hand impacted on his shoulder. He realised he was suddenly in conversation with his sovereign but was not left time adequately to bow.

"Come, my good lord of Burlach, and sit beside me opposite our beloved friends. I would have some speech with you, and I believe they too desire your acquaintance."

The shocked gratitude Cirdacil felt at the King's observant act rushed through him as he sat down, but soon dissipated in the air, into the rising fume of those dratted northern smoking-pipes the King had insisted on introducing at court. Their smell made Cirdacil feel older and tetchier. The more fashionable young knights had all adopted them; the King, the pherian Consul, and, rather shockingly to Cirdacil, the Lady Rosa were all indulging with enthusiasm. At least the Queen and the Lady Elanor appeared to share his aversion.

"Sam, this is Cirdacil," the King opened cheerfully, and Cirdacil grimaced a little involuntarily at the lapsed formalities. Sometimes the King could go too far in his insistence on "not standing upon ceremony". The Lord Denethor never would have...

"He's my latest Master of the Revels, Sam, in charge of arranging this play that you and Rosie are so curious about..."

Master Samwise turned his jowly face towards Cirdacil, who was busy failing to smile. The Halfling's formal clothes looked improvised, almost as if he had just flung them on after a quick round in some low tavern, or something.

"Oh," the honoured guest asked cheerfully, "do you act as well?"

The King laughed with a laugh like song, Cirdacil choked, and Queen Arwen and Elanor - clearly the forces for decency here - had at least the grace to blush. The Mayor's wife looked a bit puzzled, sensing her fellow had dropped a clanger somehow, but Sam continued unabashed.

"As it happens, you see, Master Cirdacil," (the lord of the sloping fief of Burlach winced), "as it happens, on the day after the Lord of the Ring was no kind of Lord, afore the coronation, or perhaps after, for if you take my meaning my thoughts were a little muddled like at the time, what with Mister Frodo barely out of bed and all, I took myself a rest with Legolas, the Elf that is of course..."

You mean the lord Legolas, procurator of Ithilien and prince of Eryn Lasgalen, Cirdacil thought irritably. The pherrianathic flow continued.

"...and we settled in a house what went by the Rohirric Unicorn, nice enough place, so I thought I'd do it the courtesy of a return visit on this occasion, wouldn't seem right not to, if you take my meaning..."

He'd taken it twice, now. Did these creatures ever finish their sentences?

"...and I came across some of the King's own Players, as chance would have it! Brandor and Therian, they were called, and another fella who was a sort o' quiet type. Friends of yours?"

"I think one of them," Cirdacil answered as chillily as he could, "may have been a carpenter, some time in my employ."

The vagabond actors, boozing mid-Circle with the guests from Eriador! Somehow, the troupe would pay for this embarrassment, Cirdacil silently swore...
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:12 AM   #61
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The rehearsal was not going well. Branor was now relatively sober, but he still insisted on playing King Elessar in the light of what he now claimed to know about him; that is, as a sinister, disreputable figure given to cryptic mutterings and to slinking around in the background of scenes, including those in which his character was not actually supposed to be present. This last became too much to ignore in the climatic love scene between Mary the Elf and Boromir.

"Boromir, on either road I shall go with you and our doom shall be– no!" Asta cried, pulling out of Aldarion's embrace. "No, I can't do this! Not with him staring at us the whole time. –Branor," she appealed to the actor, who was currently peering from behind one of the artificial trees, "can't you see you're spoiling the atmosphere? This is supposed to be a tender romantic moment!"

Branor airily told them to carry on, as Strider the Spy was just gathering intelligence as usual.

"Oh, how I wish we had sawed your leg off when we had the chance!" said Asta.

Coldan gave her an astonished look which surprised her in turn. She had thought it no secret that she found Branor annoying; at least, no secret to anyone except Branor himself, for whom the idea that any girl could not be in love with him was quite beyond his mental horizon.

Asta marched over to where her injured sister sat, talking to Rollan.

"We'll have to send people out to learn more of the true course of events--or at least, what people here are likely to believe," Brinn was saying. "But I don't trust everyone to report things accurately. Perhaps we should have them ask about in pairs?"

"Whatever we do, we'd better do it sooner rather than later," said Asta. "At least we need to clear up this nonsense Branor has somehow got into his head about the King Elessar! Imagine if the King really does attend? Why, we'll find ourselves clapped in irons and thrown in a dungeon. Or," she added, her imagination running wild under the influence of the historical epics Aldarion was always trying to foist on the troupe, "or maybe– maybe they'll cast us off that rock up in the Citadel!" She had no idea what the penalty was for slandering Gondor's ruler so badly, but it had to be something fairly spectacular.
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:26 PM   #62
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Harrenon felt worried. He did not possess Asta’s sometimes worrying imagination, so he really was not afraid of being clapped in irons or thrown from the Citadel. But he was still uneasy, thinking that if they really were getting some of the play – or, with their luck, most of it – wrong there were bound to be consequences. If they somehow offended the King – or even his guests from the Shire – things would most likely not go well for them.

“I am more afraid that they would never allow us to perform in Gondor ever again,” Harrenon said in answer to Asta’s panicked words. “Or never allow us to set foot here again, for any reasons.”

Not that it was any better. Harrenon was from Gondor after all. He might have been on the road with the Players most of the time, but if somehow after many years he decided to retire, he wanted the chance to go back to his home in Lossanarch. If they could manage to get information about the real events, perhaps they would be able to avoid any trouble. Harrenon walked towards Coldan:

“So, what do you say?” he asked him. “How about you trying your luck with me in the city?”
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:29 PM   #63
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Aldarion nodded his head in private agreement with the way things were turning. If we are going to attempt to climb this cliff, we should indeed invest considerable time and effort into gathering more information. And certainly there are a few members that should not be allowed out alone, as they are likely to edit any information they collect to fit their own devices.

While everyone was busy speaking to one another, Aldarion stepped up beside Asta and spoke in a low voice while looking straight ahead at the seated Brinn and Rolan. "You're quite right about Branor's antics ruining that last scene, but perhaps we should not be too eager to disprove his new information. At least this version of Aragorn doesn't strut about the stage speaking unnecessarily slowly and posing during battles. Just before, in that encounter with the orcs on the Anduin, this new backstabbing Aragorn actually looked like he was trying to be lethal. No doubt there are flaws in Branor's information, but I like this version as a starting point compared to the old character."

Still looking straight ahead, Aldarion continued in a whisper as the other conversations seemed to lull simultaneously. "If need be Brinn can put her foot down on his wandering about during inappropriate scenes. And as far as getting clapped in irons- I imagine you can escape unscathed by simply blaming the whole thing on the playwright."
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Old 03-18-2011, 04:12 PM   #64
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"Sooner rather than later, I agree," said Brinn. "But let's sleep on all this first before our imaginations get away from us." The sun was getting lower, but still hadn't set yet. The rehearsal was sputtering to a halt.

"But first thing tomorrow, let's set out in pairs to discover the truth of the matter. Not me, unfortunately, but someone should stay to guard the carts anyhow.

"Therian and Branor, see what you can learn about the pheriannath--all of them. Harrenon and Coldan, why don't you do the same thing about the men of Gondor--also, all of them." She hoped that was sufficient code language for "the King" without getting Branor's ire up--she'd have to speak to one of them later to make sure they knew. "Asta, look after Sereth for me, and both of you, see what else you can learn of the marvels and the villains--we may have to ditch the Sorceress, but I'd rather not ditch her woods after all the work you've put into them. Rollan, love, why don't you go with Aldarion, and learn whatever you can of--" she paused in thought "--any of the characters I haven't already mentioned?"

"Amdir, I don't think we can spare you, since those sets take time, plus I really should keep off my feet as much as possible. But anyone who needs advice for the City should talk to him."

"That doesn't seem entirely fair!" said Rollan. "Why don't I get to stay behind and cosset you?"

"You don't know the sets, Rollan," said Brinn, a little more harshly than she meant it. "And I can take care of myself perfectly well, as long as someone brings me my meals--which you can do for breakfast and the daymeal. At any rate, you have all day today to pamper me, and plenty of time once this whole thing has blown over. Till then..." she grimaced and squeezed his hand. "We'll all have to work hard if we want to pull this off.

"And remember, if you find something that we've done right, well, that's one less thing we have to change."

So saying, Brinn--warily--stood up, her husband supporting her. Taking a few deep breaths, she told herself that they could--and would--make this work.
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Old 03-18-2011, 04:58 PM   #65
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Therian elbowed Branor.

"What?!" said Branor.

"Shh," said Therian. "Over here."

As Brinn continued discussing assignments, the two slipped away to the back side of one of their wagons.

"We're supposed to find out about the halflings, right?" said Therian.

"Yes."

"And people are extra chatty when they aren't sober, right?"

Branor looked mildly concerned, as though perhaps this was an accusation.

Therian continued. "And people usually haven't been drinking first thing in the morning when Brinn wants us to go talk to them, right?"

Branor's eyes lit with understanding.

"So I think," Therian finished, "That instead of waiting for morning to go find out about hobbits, we should go find a nice bar full of talkative folk."

"Now?" asked Branor.

"Yes. Now. Let the rest wait until morning."
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Old 03-18-2011, 05:34 PM   #66
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Branor caught on to Therian's plan and he was feeling irked about Brinn not letting him investigate the King. Elessar was his character, his responsibility, he would have to try to talk to Coldan and Harrenon to make sure they knew what to investigate.

"I must ask, what would the great Detective Elessar do in this situation?"

Therian knew exactly what to say to get Branor to agree. "He surely would not rest until he had completed a full and proper investigation. And the best stories come from adventurers in the taverns, when they are nice and...talkative."

"How right you are!" Branor was begining to think Therian was not as hopeless as he always thought since Therian joined the troupe. "I'm in!"
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Old 03-18-2011, 05:38 PM   #67
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As the others settled down for the night, Therian and Branor made their preparations. Therian's preparations were as simple as digging some coin from his pack. When he met Branor by the furthest wagon, he found his companion clad head to toe in black, crouching halfway under the wagon, peering out between the spokes of the wheel.

"You look like an idiot," Therian whispered without ceremony. "Let's get out of here."
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Old 03-18-2011, 06:16 PM   #68
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Branor pretended not to hear Therians slight, and continued babbling about what spy gear he had forgotten and needed to go back to get:

"A pipe! Yes, yes, I need a pipe. And Master Samwise talked about how Elessar was unclean when he was undercover. I need mud!" It looked like Therian was contemplating knocking Branor into the mud, purely out of annoyance. "No! Wait! Hold the mud. That was Elessar's cover. A true spy needs his own cover! The cover always starts with an alias -"

"Yeah, great Bran. How about you tell on the way back to the Rohirric Unicorn." They could not be held up by Branor's distracted mind any longer.

"Back to the Unicorn! Great plan! They are already familiar with Branor from earlier today, but would not know Cottontree, Rick Cottontree. So, here is what we should do. I have a seat in the corn -"

"You know, I just figured we would start by talking to people, and making friendly conversation buying them some drinks if necessary."

Branor started to object. "But that would not - "

"Listen, Bran..."

"Rick" Bran corrected.

"Bran, didn't you just say that a spy had to find his own method? Sneaking around in the corner is not your thing, and you know it. You worked Lord Samwise for information magnificiently today, and you did it by getting him comfortable and chatty. That is your method, easy but effective."

"I did play that dumb hobbit like a fiddle today, didn't I?" Branor chuckled. "Very well, we do it this way, Rick Cottontree's way."
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Old 03-18-2011, 06:23 PM   #69
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The Unicorn was bustling when they entered. The bar was lined with men on stools. The corner tables were taken.

"Mead, if you've got it!" called Therian over the noise. A pretty barmaid served it in pints. "Haven't you got any half pints? Hobbit sized ones?"

She smiled the kind of smile that assured him they'd be well tended all night, and said, looking him up and down, "Are you, perchance... hobbit sized?"

"I'm proportional," he said, and began to say something else when Branor interrupted.

Branor stuck out his hand. "I'm Rick. Rick Cottontree. We're here to find out about hobbits."
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Old 03-18-2011, 06:52 PM   #70
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"You want to find out about hobbits?" the bar-maid was confused. It was a very general question.

"Yes. Three hobbits specifically. My friend Therian, and I, are not from around here but have always loved the story the Quest of the Ring. I have been told the people of Minas Anor are very familiar with the three hobbits, and the mightiest hobbit of them all, Frodo Baggins."

"Oh yes, indeed, that is a very familiar tale to us, although I'm curious why you only want to know only about three of them? There were four and all were great, in their own manner."

Branor was able to recover much better now, then he had in the morning. "It was by blind fortune we ran into the Lord Samwise earlier today. He told us a lot, but not about the other hobbits on the quest with him, and as you can tell from my friend requesting a hobbit-sized pint he loves those little, curly-haired men."

"Is that so?" The bar-maid giggled under her breath and Therian elbowed Branor in the side. "So, you said you met Master Samwise. I take it then you want to hear about Masters Frodo and Meriadoc, and the Lord Peregrin?"
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Old 03-18-2011, 07:12 PM   #71
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Therian gulped his mead and watched as Branor did the same.

"Will you fellows be needing more mead, then?"

Therian responded before Branor could. "I'd like the stoutest ale you have, but Rick, here... he would be happiest with a fruity drink. Something sweet, and smooth. Have you anything a man of delicate tastes would enjoy?"

"We've a plum brandy, I believe. It's my favorite."

Therian choked on the last of his mead. This was not going properly. "I suppose what we'd like to know, but only if it does not interrupt your work... and now that I think of it, what is a lovely young thing such as yourself doing working amongst drinking men this late at night?"

The girl raised an eyebrow as she filled their mugs. "Do you mean to suggest a lass should not earn her own wages? I am told that Master Samwise's wife, the lovely Lady Rosie, was a barmaid. Do you mean to insult the friends of the King?"

A large man lumbered over. "Is some'n insultin' the King?" he bellowed.

The girl sighed and shook her head playfully. "Now Olog, is nothing of the type. I was just telling Rick and his friend that the halflings in the Shire treat their women with more respect than the men of their parts seem to do."

Olog banged his giant mug on the counter, silencing the bar. "You mean to tell me these boys are treatin' you badly, Antian?"

Rick's friend? Rick's friend! Therian was torn between introducing himself properly, expressing his irritation, and running flat out away from this troll of a man. This problem could be solved fairly easily, Therian thought. It would certainly show Branor.

"I was just suggesting that Miss Antian here was uncommon pretty, and that I hoped she had a papa or a brother or a husband to make sure nobody would bother her. Rick here was the one saying-"

Olog grabbed Therian by the shirt, yelling into his face, "I AM HER HUSBAND."
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Old 03-18-2011, 07:47 PM   #72
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Harrenon and Coldan left early the next morning, as quickly and as inconspicuously as possible so as to avoid another encounter with Branor, who had been giving them detailed advice as to what they should find out about King Elessar. Harrenon barely restrained himself from pointing out that actually their mission was to disprove Branor’s wild notions about the King and not confirm them.

“You know, Coldan,” he told his companion as they were slowly walking through the city streets, “There’s quite a lot of pressure on us two. I mean – asking about the Pherianath is one thing. It is quite another to pry in the life of a King. My King, actually, I should say.” he added as an afterthought.

Coldan did not look too troubled about that and Harrenon told himself firmly that now was not the time to feel uncomfortable. There surely was no law against asking for information about the King and anyway, it was the alternative was to go along with Branor’s ideas about Elessar, which were getting more and more ridiculous and would have perhaps been mistaken as purposeful ridicule.

“Vere to?” Coldan inquired. “As a Gondorian, do you know vere to look?”

Harrenon shrugged his shoulders and halted, looking around helplessly. Only then had he realised that he actually had no idea where to start looking.

“To tell you the truth,” he replied, “Lossanarch is quite different from Minas Tirith and I don’t really know my way around as well as expected.” He stood for a while pondering what options they had, then said the first thing that came in his mind. “How about looking for armouries or smithies? You know, places where you can get swords and the like. Soldiers go to such places even in times of peace, or so I’m told. Who knows? Maybe we might even run into some of the Citadel Guards, if we’re lucky.”

He looked expectantly at Coldan, waiting for his comfirmation.
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:21 PM   #73
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Branor's eyes darted from the exit to the large man about to pound Therian's face in. He could just quietly leave. Therian got himself in this mess, with his mouth, had he just let Branor do the talking, they would still have the pretty bar lady talking about the hobbits.

Then a thought came to him, what would the King do in this situation? Would the King run and leave his companion behind to face certain death alone? No. Branor had to step in.

"Friend" he said to Olog, giving the man a friendly slap on the shoulder.

"Get your hand off me!" Olog barked. "I don't know you!"

"Sorry. Sorry. I just mean to tell you you don't want to do this and you look like a reasonable man, we can surely work out this misunderstanding." Branor was about as tall as Olog, but not nearly as solid. He tried to buff out the chest as much as possible.

"What mis understanding? This fetcher insulted my wife and me, and now I am going to squash him!" Olog squeezed Therian tighter.

"Therian meant no insult, I assure you. We are not from Minas Anor and I believe it is just a minor miscommunication, since we are not used to your proper speech habits in Gondor. I am not saying you are wrong to feel insulted by my friend's poor manners. I am merely saying it was not his intent to offend and this place was built on laws and customs, yes? I am sure we can come to an agreement resolving this matter, that fits your City's laws. It hardly seems just this boy loses his adorable face, simply because he was looking out for your lady's safety, but did not know she was in your very capable...hands."

Olog looked mostly confused by Branor's exhaustive speech. But it seemed to work as he loosened the grip on Therian and then shoved him away. Olog was probably only using half his strength, and still managed to send Therian into one of the bar stools. "Fine. What's your offer?"

In truth, Branor did not think that far ahead. He only wanted the very large man to let Therian go, because even if Branor wanted to, he knew he would not stand a chance against this troll. And who knows if he had any other dumb bruisers in the tavern. Branor motioned for Therian to slowly move behind him. "My offer? Your wife was the one disrespected, so my offer is to her."

Antian gave Olog a look saying it was ok, let Branor make his offer.

"How can a pretty lady like you be happy with your life, waking up to a dumb oaf like that everyday?"

There was a loud crack, which was no doubt Olog breaking something, but Branor was not curious to find out what it was. Something hit Branor in the back of the leg, but at least they both escaped, in one piece.

When they were both assured they were well away from Olog and the Rohirric Unicorn. Branor panted "I don't think I make a very good spy. I am just going back to regular King Elessar. That is enough action for me!"

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Old 03-19-2011, 08:46 AM   #74
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Amdír poked his head into the barn that sat at the back of Lord Hallas' estate. He had risen with the dawn to travel out there with one of Lord Cirdacil's waggons. It was nice to get out of the city. The estate was nestled under the shadow of Mindolluin in the western part of the Pelennor. Normally, Lord Hallas was nowhere near his estate, preferring to dwell at his fashionable city house in the fifth circle, only venturing out to the country when he had a party of fashionable young lords and ladies to accompany him. His lively interest in the theatre and eagerness to have a good time had made him an excellent Master of Revels, though perhaps one a bit too loose with the royal purse, and Amdír missed his involvement--even if Lord Hallas had a tendency to look right through the actors he was hiring, save when they were onstage.

The setpieces that had been kept in storage were mostly created, back when the Players had first come to Minas Anor, for their production of Bard the Dragonslayer or The Battle of the Five Armies, but because the set included a corner of a house (to represent Laketown) and a generic mountain/stone backdrop to represent the Lonely Mountain, it could serve a number of stories. The mountain backdrop, especially, would serve well in scenes with either the Misty Mountains, the Ephel Dúath, or even Mt. Doom itself.

Amdír was less certain that they would use the house-corner. Most of the War of the Ring story took place out of doors--either Elessar's Fellowship was travelling in the wilds, or they were fighting battles in fortresses. Probably, Brinn was going to need or want a section of battlement. If they had any indoor scenes, they were probably going to convey it by means of furniture, rather than backdrops. Finding that furniture--such as a throne to use for Denethor--would also be Amdír's task. Although the Players had some basic furniture to use while travelling, their patronage in Minas Anor meant that they could borrow some fancier things. Amdír wondered if Lord Cirdacil would have such a chair they could borrow, and whether he even wanted to ask. It might be better just to ask Lord Hallas, who would probably be more congenial about it, even though he was no longer formally connected with the Players at all.

Having laded the waggon with the first half of the mountain backdrops--a task that required the assistance of a couple of Hallas' men--Amdír started back towards Minas Anor.
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Old 03-19-2011, 09:04 AM   #75
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An ominous arrival...

A sound of rows of ceremonial bells on bridles mingled with the repeated reports of hoofbeats to interrupt the noises of dawn in the First Circle. Some streets were still dead calm, others were filling up during this season of festival with stallholders and swarming hawkers, but the sight of the six riders going by affected the quiet and the active alike. Housewifes, discreetly attending to hanging up their linen, stared glumly from high windows or loitered in their doorways. Rowdy toughs outside warehouses let their jaws slack the better to concentrate on staring. Any Guards of the Citadel were an unusual sight so far down in the city; and not a universally welcome one, either.

The small but formal calvacade rode two abreast, Guards leading and Guards at the rear. Three of these four horses rode black stallions, which were becoming once again prized, now that they were not associated invariably with Mordor; especially by the haughty and somewhat menacing officers of the Guard. One of the lead riders rode a big roan instead, not so flashy a statement but looking a more formidable animal even than its companions.

It was clearly an escort; in between the two dark pairs a couple of unarmoured men, one very old and one scarcely come to manhood at all, were ensconsed. Their bearing made them rather obviously commanders, rather than prisoners, of this little detachment. Lords nearly always travelled by litter; these nobles must be in a hurry, and the folk of Minas Anor knew well enough to get out of their way and watch their path from the side of the cobbles.

"Where did you say the ragamuffins were stewing themselves?" the Lord Cirdacil barked at his son.

"The Inn of Ingold, close enough to the city gates themselves, father," Sador spoke softly in answer.

"I've a good mind to thrust the pack of 'em back through them," the old man expostulated. "How far are we from this Ingold's place, captain?"

"A negligible distance, my lord," the officer on the roan answered with a tone so obedient it was almost insolent. Cirdacil did not exactly like the Tower Guard officers as a rule; they were all better born than him, and they tended to intimate that they knew it. Still, it was worth dragging a few around with him to keep up appearances in...disciplinary cases like these. They had, now, indeed arrived at the inn.

Without needing to be commanded (and again, Cirdacil thought grumpily, that was a little too consciously meticulous) the lead captain rode up from the formation and rapped on the door.

"Open up, open up at once for the Master of the Revels!"

Even in this reassuringly powerful context, Cirdacil could not help but recoil a little at the mention of his latest title. It was all just so irritating.

Beside him, Sador looked cheerful and interested; as if he was excited at the prospect of laying eyes on the famous King's Players, rather than already anticipating his plan to cast their production into rank disarray...

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Old 03-19-2011, 11:04 AM   #76
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Asta woke from a confused dream in which King Elessar cut all the trees down and they fell on the yelling Sorceress, to find that the blows of the axe continued: a loud knocking somewhere outside. Below that, she could make out the sound of horses moving around, and the light jingling of bells.

"What is it?" she asked Sereth, who was peering out the window, silhouetted against the faint dawn light.

"I don't know," the girl told her. 'There's a whole lot of men on horses, and someone was shouting to open up. I think they're guards, Asta!"

Asta joined her at the window, which overlooked the street. Sure enough, the street outside the inn was almost blocked by a small group of riders, four of them in the distinctive black-and-silver livery of the Guards of the Citadel.

"Oh my goodness!" said Asta. "This must have something to do with Branor!"

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Old 03-19-2011, 12:05 PM   #77
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Did he say "Master of Revels"? Aldarion rose from his desk and stuck his head out of his window. By the arched entrance to the courtyard he could see several horses topped with armored men. Soldiers! By the Valar- I hope this has nothing to do with Branor!

Soon after he had retired to his room the previous night Aldarion had heard the window in the room next to him grind open. Curious as to what Branor was up to, Aldarion had peeked and caught a glimpse of Branor slipping out, dressed all in black, sneaking from tree to tree. So- gathering his information in the style of the new spy-king, eh? We'll see how this ends.

Aldarion's mind immediately recalled that moment, and he berated himself. Why didn't you stop him, or go after him? You should've known something awful would happen. He probably tried to sneak into the seventh circle and got caught attempting to climb in the Queen's window! The King probably thinks we're spies!

For a moment Aldarion considered checking on the other players, but there was little hope that the entire troop could evade arrest if it came down to it, and Aldarion felt he could be of more use out of prison than in it, as he was more likely than the others to be able to forge useful contacts in the city, or if need be he could travel back to Dol Amroth and explain the situation to the Prince.

Aldarion rushed to his door and sprinted down the hall as silently as he could towards the common room. There was a low fire burning in the fireplace, a couple tables of breakfasting travelers, and a man asleep in a padded chair by the fire. Aldarion lowered himself into a chair next to the sleeping man and turned it slightly so that he could see the doorway to the hall. If the soldiers go to our rooms, I will see them pass by.

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Old 03-19-2011, 03:09 PM   #78
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There was a commotion outside, enough to awake Brinn. She pushed her husband awake. "Is it dawn already? Or past? We're losing time!--go out and see what the matter is!"

Rollan sighed. His wife was feeling her confinement already. He rolled out of bed and blearily stepped out of the cart--they'd gotten a room at the inn, but since Brinn's injury decided it would be better to stay with the carts so she wouldn't have to move nearly as much. "There's talk of the Master of the Revels," he said. "And some guards. I think they're here for us, and not for good, either."

Brinn groaned. "Well, someone will have to go out and meet them. They'd better not have started charging for the right to make folk smile! Tell them--tell them that we're not official, we never have been, and if they're going to make a fuss about it we'll move out to the Pelennor where he can't say anything about it." In recent years Minas Anor had grown too small to house everyone who came for the festivities. "And if it gets to be too much trouble, bring them to me."

Rollan frowned in thought. When had he become that "someone"? "But don't you need help getting dressed?"

"I'll be fine, go! Would you rather have Branor be our spokesman?"

She had a point there. Still, before leaving, he went through the trunk and pulled out one of Brinn's overdresses. "There," he said. "Now you won't hurt yourself even more for your stubbornness."

He dressed himself hastily, ignoring Brinn as she told him to put more care into his appearance for the Master of the Revels, and stepped outside. There were horsemen outside the inn, and a very pompous-looking mule of a man standing just inside.

Rollan bowed. "My lord?" he said. "Is there aught we can do for you?"

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Old 03-19-2011, 03:23 PM   #79
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Still yawning, for he hadn't slept that well, Coldan trudged along through the streets, doing his best to keep up with Harrenon's brisk stride. The fresh morning air and the gleams of early sunlight on the upper stories of the buildings around them contrasted sharply with his muddled brain and the gloomy mood he had carried over from yesterday.

It could have been worse, he reminded himself. At least Brinn had shown sense enough to team Aldarion up with Rollan and keep him safely away from Asta for most of the day. (Remembering how the two of them had intimately whispered together last evening sent renewed pangs of jealousy through his heart.)

At first, he had relied on Harrenon to come up with an idea as to where to start their research, but it soon became apparent that the young Gondorian was about as much out of his depth as himself.

“How about looking for armouries or smithies?" Harrenon finally suggested. "You know, places where you can get swords and the like. Soldiers go to such places even in times of peace, or so I’m told. Who knows? Maybe we might even run into some of the Citadel Guards, if we’re lucky.”

"Sounds good to me", Coldan replied, "if you know how to find such a place."

Harrenon didn't, so they agreed to just stroll on and enquire for directions on the way. Their first stop was Lamedon Square Market, which was already filling with a busy crowd eager to get hold of the best goods while they were fresh; two or three city guards were patrolling among the market-goers, but none of them looked old enough to remember much about the war.

"Lots of people to ask for the vay", Coldan observed. "Let's start zere!" He pointed to a bakery that sat right in the middle of the square, at the intersection of two crossing roads. Harrenon had been in such a hurry to set out that he had had to forego breakfast, and his stomach was complaining rather loudly. He bought some delicious-smelling golden rolls from the owner, a well-rounded woman with a friendly face, and asked politely: "Vould you know, good mistress, vere to buy a good blade in zis city?"
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Old 03-20-2011, 06:58 AM   #80
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Lord Cirdacil waved the two guard officers at the front aside, craning forward to get a better view of the fellow who had opened the door.

"Who is this fool?" he asked no one in particular, examining Rollan with impersonal disapproval. "I was under the impression these charlatans answered to a woman, one Mistress Celebrindal."

"If what I remember from Amlach is correct, father," Sador put in, speaking in his usual measured way, "this will be her husband, Master Rollan. He is a comedian, I gather, of some note."

Sador's honeyed accent sounded genuinely impressed to encounter such a renowned personage. But his father knew him well and understood that the main import of his explanation had been a slight. When, accordingly, he addressed Rollan directly for the first time his curt voice had lost none of its asperity.

"I have business with your consort, not you, sir. I want her, and that carpenter attached to the Revels purse - Amdir? yes, him, as soon as they can be found."

"Although," Sador added in an assuaging manner, "it will be good to have you present as well, Master Rollan, indeed. I think we have certain subjects to discuss that will interest you all. Finally, if your playwright, Master Aldarion, is at liberty from his intellectual pursuits, I have a letter for him that I would be grateful if you would deliver."

"So do I," said the leader of the guards, who had dismounted quietly from his roan horse, and, no sooner had Sador put his letter to Aldarion into Rollan's hand than the guard followed suit. Sador looked very taken aback by this, but his father had lost interest in this side-issue.

"Well, hurry up then," Cirdacil barked out anew. "Chop chop, my man, fetch the wifey, the carpenter and anyone else with an interest in the future of this...troupe. My escort is hungry; we shall wait here and tuck into a hearty breakfast."

The previously dour and wordless officers exchanged grins at last...

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