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Old 10-03-2011, 10:07 PM   #1161
Folwren
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Quin glanced up towards the eorl’s table with some alarm, but as yet Scyrr’s loud and aggressive behavior had not been noticed. Why must something like this start now? He nearly stood up and steered Scyrr away, but Léof answered Scyrr’s rather enigmatic question almost at once.

“I think that Lord Athanar has just made it very clear that both he and Lord Eodwine will be staying here. What I do not know is why you seem to think I might have more knowledge than anyone else in this hall.”

Quin looked at Léof, surprised at his bold reply. He smiled, then, and turned his eye back to Scyrr, and the smile was wiped off his face. Scyrr did not like Léof’s reply, but Quin realized that Scyrr would not like anything Léof said that night. He was drunk. And worse than that, he was in a foul mood and unlikely to be gotten out of it. He stood up and walked about to Scyrr.

“Come on. You don’t want to start anything here, Scyrr,” he said, laying his hand on his arm. “Go outside, clear your head. You’ve been in your cups too long.”
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Old 10-04-2011, 12:42 PM   #1162
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Coen hated these formal occasions, and this one would be more uncomfortable than usual. He found himself remembering the fateful feast on the day of their arrival. Hopefully with Lithor and Erbrand gone there would be no more debacles. Coen knew he should be there to help keep his men in line, but he had an excuse for being late. And later his presence would matter more, once everyone had gotten into the drinking.

He left the stables and headed into the hall, slipping quietly toward the soldiers’ table. But on his way he caught Scyrr standing over another table, his face flushed and his eyes flashing. His anger seemed to be directed at one of the young stable hands. Coen was ready to go immediately to him and drag him back to the rest of the men, but he saw Quin had a steadying hand on his arm. Perhaps the younger man would talk him down and there was no need to embarrass Scyrr by stepping in and ordering him back to the soldiers’ table.

Coen went to the nearest wall and stood, trying to stay out of the way of servants. He watched Scyrr and Quin closely, occasionally letting his eyes wander around the hall, including to the eorl’s table, to see if anyone else had noticed the possibility of trouble. His eye’s passed over Lord Eodwine with a spark of annoyance, then rested on the Lady Saeryn for a brief moment before he looked away. And what did she think, now that her husband was back? She had been demanding from the start, even when it seemed her husband was dying.

He turned his attention back to Scyrr and Quin. He could only concern himself with what was among his duties.
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Old 10-04-2011, 01:38 PM   #1163
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Scyrr turned his eyes to Quin standing next to him. It seemed to take him a few heartbeats to fix his eyes upon the young soldier.

"Leave me be!" he shook Quin's hand off. "I don't need to calm down! But you are not doing well in making friends with this witty fellow, no, not at all!"

Quin cast a quick look at Léof and opened his mouth, but Scyrr continued.

"Ask your wannabe friend what he would like to see us do," he growled. "He would love to see us gone! Yes, both me and you! He would be much happier back with just his old friends, isn't it so?"

He eyed the other men at the table with his slightly drunk stare; in his state, the thought of being afraid of them had not even crossed his mind.

***

"I wonder if we should not go after him," Baldwic said, looking over his shoulder.

"I don't think Scyrr needs any help," Áforglaed said. Scyrr had always been his friend and Áforglaed had in many ways looked up to him. And he was sure that if it came down to any trouble, even a fight, Scyrr would be able to handle it.

Baldwic shook his head, thinking of a different kind of trouble than Áforglaed had in mind. "I don't think Quin can handle him alone. And I think he might get himself into trouble. See, the Captain is looking. Over there." He nodded towards the wall Coenred was leaning against.

Áforglaed followed his gaze. Suddenly, he felt unsure what to do.

"The Captain will be angry if there is trouble..."

"You can bet he will," Baldwic said.

"Where is that silent man when we need him?" Áforglaed tapped the edge of the table nervously. "He had been always good in telling people off and stopping fights..."

"Some brave soldier you are," Baldwic looked at him. "Scyrr is your best mate. Why don't you want to go and stop him from doing anything silly before Captain does?"

Áforglaed remained silent. Baldwic turned his head again.

"We can wait and see if anything happens," he said. "But if it does, I think it will be best to be ready to jump up and get Scyrr before half of the Hall is upon him."
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Old 10-04-2011, 06:50 PM   #1164
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Garreth watched the soldier, Scyrr, towering over Léof, hearing his wild talk, and scowled. When the man shook off Quin, he set his tankard down and half turned in his seat as if ready to get up and take matters into his own hands.

Harreld saw his brother's restive move and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Calm, Garreth," he said in his ear. "The man's had too much to drink. If all he has is words, there's been no call to act."

Garreth turned to his brother. "The moment he takes a swing at Léof or anyone else, I'm wrestling him down. You with me?"

Harreld hesitated, looking around. He noticed Coen standing against the wall, casting a watchful eye around the room, including Scyrr. "Wait and see." He nodded in Coen's direction.

"You wait and see. He's too far away. I'll keep this man from beating up our friend if nobody else will."

Harreld looked at his brother reproachfully. He'd come to Scarburg angry and stayed that way, had been spoiling for some kind of fight since the day he'd arrived. If Garreth got himself into a fight, Harreld knew that he would wrestle him out of it if he could. He hoped it wouldn't come to that. He was impressed that so far Garreth had kept his words to himself. That was something, but not much.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:01 PM   #1165
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"Ask your wannabe friend what he would like to see us do," Scyrr growled at Quin. "He would love to see us gone! Yes, both me and you! He would be much happier back with just his old friends, isn't it so?"

Léof stared at Scyrr in distaste and irritation. He was sick of being hounded and picked on, and seeing Scyrr transfer the same sort of treatment to Quin just bothered him more. He stood up to show his support to Quin.

“Only half-right," said Léof. "You're the only one here I'd like to see gone. Leave us alone."
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Old 10-05-2011, 04:44 PM   #1166
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Hilderinc was standing outside, under the bright stars of the chilly evening. He breathed in and out, savouring the crisp air. Gone was the damp smell of the moors, gone was the scent of the trees from the nearby woods he had been smelling on the first days after his arrival. The winter was coming mercilessly and its sharp sting of frost had dulled all the scents. Now any of the smells hardly stayed in the air, least of all by night when the world was asleep. Yet there was still some pleasant flavour in the air, one of the things Hilderinc had begun to like about Scarburg almost at the very beginning. Now at the threshold of winter, it was the almost painful, yet pleasant sharpness of the night breeze, the soft scent of smoke and wood, so unlike the smell of smoke and grass in the wild wind of Edoras, so unlike the smell of open fires in the camps of Wold, and so much unlike the smell of smoke, fire and steel so long ago, in the times of the Great War, which the wind had carried over the Isen.

Hilderinc stopped, gazing at the stars twinkling above the dark formless silhouette of the kitchen building. Only a small sliver of light was coming through a crack – perhaps a not throroughly closed window - otherwise, it was all dark.

Why did I once again think about the War, he wondered at the last flash of memory, peering into the distance as if he could find an answer there. As if today had tried to bring it back to me now.

Yet now and here, under the bright star-strewn sky of the last days of autumn, he felt as if he had nothing to fear for the moment. Perhaps there was something Elvish in that night with myriads of small shiny dots above him, but Hilderinc would not have thought of it like that. Any thought of accidentally opening something that he would have liked to remain forgotten deep in his mind was simply gone, as if he could be sure that the keys to his worst memories were safely out of his reach now. He could just think, freely think and ponder the strange events that had led him to become so fierce on that morning, when helping Crabannan, Nydfara and the others to build the sheep-pen.

He had already got past the initial puzzlement over his reactions. Now he was just embarassed, still embarassed with himself, but not because of what he had done, but because of feeling so embarassed in the first place, and because of having to spend so much time thinking about it.

It was not such a big deal, he thought again. Everybody can explode in anger at some point. The important thing is not to act like a kid all the time. And I didn't. I told Crabannan what I had been thinking. And that I still care? Isn't it good to know that I actually still care about some things? Isn't it good that I care about what people think?

He frowned slightly, trying to make his mind up.

It might be this situation which brings back so many memories, he thought suddenly and if that strange, Elvish-evening mood still had not been resting about him, he might have became worried. The two groups of men, the division within their ranks - the uncertainity, the mistrust in the powers and the justice of the lord... just like back then. It had not been in my power to stop people following what I had believed to be misguided notion... I had not been in any position to do that... yet what is my position now?

He looked down and kicked a single small rock with the tip of his boot. It flew several feet and dully thudded into the shutter of the kitchen's window. Hilderinc straightened himself.

I serve Athanar, he told to himself. That is what I am now, and I should serve him. But is it not, after all, the very thing I have been trying to do since my first day here, even though I have not been consciously aware of it - to bring these two groups to reconciliation? Is this not the smallest thing I can do, here and now, to make all these rows between 'old' and 'new' Scarburgians stop?

Everything seemed calm and he felt he cold night air on his face. He stood outside the kitchen, in silence, thinking.

***

Scyrr clenched his fists as Léof had told him so boldly to leave, and it would have sufficed just a little and he might have struck him. But somehow, suddenly, as if some realisation came to him, he paused in thought.

"I am the only one you want to see gone?" he repeated, eyeing all the men at the table. "Really, are you?" Suddenly his face twisted into a triumphant smile. "Tell me, then, what about lord Athanar? Do you want him gone, too? Is it not that you want to see me and him gone, huh? You see," and he leaned closer to Léof, almost as if he was talking to a close friend, yet his face had an unmistakeable menacing look, "I think I've heard you wishing something like that in the morning, boy! Ha!" He roared triumphantly and stood up straight again, as much as his condition had allowed him to.

"And wanting him gone means wanting us all gone, just so that you know," he added matter-of-factly, raising his eyebrows and pointing at Quin. "So don't you go tell-tales on us, kid!"
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Old 10-05-2011, 05:38 PM   #1167
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Quin looked back and forth between Scyrr and Léof as they exchanged words. Léof’s boldness surprised him, and he feared that Scyrr would strike out in drunken anger. He prepared to step in if Scyrr even appeared to threaten to hit Léof, but after he didn’t. Quin was surprised at first that he chose not to fight, but his poisonous and hateful words soon explained Scyrr’s decision to change his course. It had always been his wont to insult and get under his opponents skin and to irritate them, like a fly that buzzed rather than a wasp that stung.

He cast his eye on Quin and something else entered his mind to jab at Léof. “And wanting him gone means wanting us all gone, just so that you know. So don't you go tell-tales on us, kid!"

Quin's eyes sparked as he felt the insult aimed at Léof. "Quit, Scyrr," he said. "Just stop. Léof isn't a child. You're a lout and a trouble-causer. Leave him alone, because if you bother him, you've got me to deal with, see? Now get out." He clenched his fists at his side as he spoke and stood squarely up to Scyrr. His heart beat a little faster after making his statement, for he really, really did not want to fight Scyrr. But he would, if he had to, and he made that clear in his expression as he met Scyrr's eyes.

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Old 10-05-2011, 06:39 PM   #1168
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Coen watched as the stable boy stood up to face Scyrr and twisted his lips in frustration. The boy had some guts, he would give him that. Perhaps he was a little lacking in common sense at the moment, but not lacking as much as Scyrr. Coen sighed and worked his way over to the table, careful to avoid rushing servants. Scyrr bellowed some more, something about ‘wanting us all gone.’ The captain let out another sigh. Not more of this.

He came up by Scyrr’s side and laid a hand on the man’s shoulder. “What’re you doing picking on a lad, Scyrr?” He spoke just loud enough to make sure Scyrr heard him at the least and kept his voice plain. If all the man heard was an accusation he would keep on blustering. “Come on, let’s get back to the riders’ table.”

He ignored Quin and the stable hand, though he would make sure to have a word with them later.

~

Tyrdda kicked open the kitchen door, her hands full carrying a heavy bucket, scraps and kitchen waste -- she would pick out the decent bits for the dogs before taking the rest to be given to the pigs. She was just going to call for the dogs to come get their treat when she noticed the man hanging around the back of the kitchens.

She quirked an eyebrow and smiled a little. It was too dark for her eyes to recognize him, but the way he carried himself reminded her of a rider rather than one of the other servants. “If you’re looking for someone I don’t mind letting her know,” she said with a slightly suggestive tone.

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Old 10-06-2011, 01:20 PM   #1169
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Léof frowned faintly at Coenred's and Scyrr's retreating backs. The captain's words echoed in Leof's mind: “What’re you doing picking on a lad, Scyrr?” It was just like he'd said to Thornden earlier: to nearly all these newcomers, that's all he was. A lad, only to be picked on or dismissed. Maybe Scyrr wasn't so far gone in his accusations, thought Léof bitterly. Scyrr indeed was not the only one he wished gone. The truth was rather backwards from that – Quin was the only one he wished to stay. Was Quin's presence worth theirs? He wasn't sure.

He guessed that meant it was fortunate it was not his choice to make.

And it was still possible that he could get them all to see him and listen to him. He had ideas. They just needed to be put in place.

Recalling his earlier resolve helped him shake off the whole confrontation and sit back down at the table to enjoy the feast, if less jovially than before. “Well,” he said, “I guess that Scyrr pretty well just proved my point... looks like the riders still aren't too happy with me.” He looked over at Quin. "Or you either, now. I hope they won't cause trouble for you."
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Old 10-06-2011, 06:29 PM   #1170
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Hilderinc

Hilderinc looked up when the door to the kitchen opened and a woman came out. In the light coming from the doorframe, he could see her better than she could probably see him; he recognised her, but she was one of those he hardly got to know during his stay. He had not managed to get to know the women in Scarburg very well anyway, it had taken him at least some time (even though he had been ably aided by the gossiping of some riders like Áforglaed or Baldwic) to remember all the women's names and also (as a sort of unwanted result of listening to the gossip) to learn which of the local women are already "taken", as the riders put it.

Maybe as another result of some of the riders' attitude, the woman addressed him with probably similar thoughts in mind.

"If you're looking for someone I don't mind letting her know."

Hilderinc grinned involuntarily, his mood had been still lightened up somehow.

"No, thank you, but I am not in fact looking for anyone," he replied. "I know that I might be the only one, but I was just outside, clearing my head a bit. Even though," for the first time in a while he frowned slightly, remembering Scyrr and his mood at the time when he had left the hall, "even though there might be others inside to whom it might do some good to get some fresh air, too," he said, more like to himself. But he had immediately put himself into present again, recalling his good manners.

"But whatever is happening inside now - let me thank you for the meal today – a feast indeed, it was delicious," he added, half-acting a polite bow. "And these are not empty words, mind you – I have been in service in many different places and I know something about what it means to have good food on the table."
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Old 10-07-2011, 11:55 AM   #1171
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Crabannan was sitting at the end of Leof and Quin's table and, without looking up from his plate, he watched from the corner of his eye as Coen directed the unsteady Scyrr back to their own table.

Satisfied, he slid the stag-horn knife back into his boot.

A year ago, he wouldn't have hesitated, and it was almost shame he felt now at having sat silent by. He took a drink and looked over at Leof as the younger man sat down, breathing quickly, but apparently no worse for the wear.

"Or you either, now. I hope they won't cause trouble for you," Leof was saying to Quin.

"You shouldn't take that kind of talk from them," Crabannan said. "It gives them ideas, and that lot already think they're above the rest of us."
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Old 10-08-2011, 08:12 AM   #1172
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Saeryn

She had expected grand talk and a speech given and she sat with a polite but distant look on her face as Athanar gave it. Her eyes idly ran over the gathered faces looking up at Athanar as he spoke of their joy at Eodwine's return. She rested her cheek on her hand just an instant and then lifted her head again. She wondered exactly how joyous Athanar was at Eodwine's return. She thought of what she had said to Athanar of her intention to set Eodwine back in the place of eorl. He still had not mentioned it and nothing in his look or manner indicated that he felt threatened or concerned with her ultimatum. She glanced at Athanar.

“Today we celebrate his return with a feast held in his honor. Three cheers for Eodwine, Counselor to the Eorl of Scarburg!”

Saeryn stiffened without meaning to. Her face froze in an icy expression and she did not cheer with the rest. She carefully schooled her face to take on a neutral look. Conflict must be avoided this evening at all cost, she knew, and by the time Eodwine looked at her after Athanar had ceased speaking, he saw her calm and collected, but the look was entirely insincere.

Counselor indeed. To the Eorl of Scarburg. Might he have made the distinction any more clear? Eodwine should be the one who was eorl! She bit her lip and turned the cup in her hand. Don't think thus, she said to herself. Eodwine wills not to be eorl. You must be content with whatever position Athanar gives him. Counselor is an honor.

Yes, supposing he takes any counsel. Even Thornden could not talk any good sense into him, as you well know. She drank deeply of the mead and set the cup down again. Counselor, she repeated silently. Counselor. Counselor for what? How to run this place? Ha, he already has his own ideas. She fingered her knife and fork and stared out as she thought. Her eyes rested on the layman's table and she witnessed in silence the end of the quarrel between Leof, Quin, and Scyrr. Counselor about how to keep his men under control? Her fingers curled suddenly she gripped the utensils tightly. It was all so unfair. She couldn't forget, she wouldn't forget, how Athanar had come and replaced Eodwine in such a brazen, unfeeling way, his first night occupying Eodwine's hall and putting Eodwine's men to shame, and now his men were abusing Leof, unnoticed, unchallenged – except just now, of course, Coenred had interfered. But there was no disgrace, no punishment. He led him back to the table and then Scyrr went outside, and that was probably all.

Saeryn wouldn't stand for it. Disrespect towards Leof had not gone unnoticed by Saeryn. She had kept watch over her people as well as she knew how during Eodwine's absence, and she knew how the men from Edoras treated him, as well as some of the other people. It had troubled her greatly, but until now she had no thought about how to stop their rudeness and disrespect. But now she knew what she could say, and she had an opportunity to say it, having just watched what passed.

She stood and turned away from the table without consulting Eodwine. She passed along the edge of the hall and thence to the door where Scyrr had disappeared outside. She went out, too, and called into the darkness.

“Scyrr!”

The soldier had not gotten far. He turned and came toward her. “What?” he asked in a surly voice.

“Just now, in the hall, you were on the verge of attacking Leof. I saw you. Now, I've seen and heard of your savage attack on people before. You goaded Erbrand into the fight just after coming here. That's not acceptable, do you hear? You'll leave Leof alone from now on, do you understand me?”

“Just like the coward,” Scyrr growled. “Sending a woman out to do the fighting for him.”

“I am not Leof's messenger, I am lady Saeryn, Eodwine's wife. I came out myself. I don't like you bullying my men, and I have had enough, and you'll mind how you talk and act from this day forward.”

Scyrr leaned towards her. She smelled the mead on his breath. “I don't take orders from a woman,” he said. “And certainly not one married to a sick man who vies for Lord Athanar's place like a dog trying to take his master's chair.”

Saeryn swung as hard as she could and struck Scyrr across the face. “Dog!” she said, furious. “You do not know of whom it is you speak!”

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Old 10-08-2011, 11:03 AM   #1173
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Aldric had continued his conversation with the others seated nearby, for which Scyld was grateful. It left him free to pay attention to what everyone else in the hall was doing. (It was probably good for Aldric, too, since just about anyone else would be a more sympathetic listener than Scyld.)

When Athanar stood up to speak, Scyld paid less attention to the speech than he did to the reactions of the listeners. He did not expect any great surprises from Athanar; the grandiose and impassioned speeches had long since lost their novelty, and they all spun variations on the same theme: unity in the hall. Scyld probably could have given the speech himself; he thought he had Athanar at least that well figured out.

There were a lot of surprised looks when Athanar named Eodwine his counselor, but Scyld's was not among them. Of course Athanar would have to give Eodwine some kind of honored position, or he would risk alienating Eodwine's former household. He caught the soldiers exchanging worried or upset looks. Eodwine's expression was polite but passive. Of everyone in the hall, he was the one who seemed least disturbed by his own absence and return. His wife, on the other hand... her face now was carefully schooled, but Scyld had not missed how she had stiffened in her seat, and how she did not cheer along with the rest of the hall. Had he not been watching for it, he would have missed it, but it seemed that Aldric's gossip was good: Saeryn was not pleased with matters as they stood.

He was distracted from the head table by the kerfuffle unfolding between Scyrr, Léof, and Quin. It did not come to blows, however, which made the encounter hardly out of the ordinary. He wondered briefly how Scyrr had managed to keep his position with Athanar; the man seemed far more trouble than he was worth.

Then something interesting did happen. Saeryn rose from her table and stalked out of the hall after Scyrr. Under the guise of getting up for more mead (for Rowenna, unsurprisingly, had not come anywhere near his table and his mug had thus gone without refill), he passed close enough to the hall door to hear a snatch of their conversation:

“I am not Leof's messenger, I am lady Saeryn, Eodwine's wife. I came out myself. I don't like you bullying my men, and I have had enough, and you'll mind how you talk and act from this day forward.”

“I don't take orders from a woman. And certainly not one married to a sick man who vies for Lord Athanar's place like a dog trying to take his master's chair.”

Well. That was gutsy of her, to defend young Léof. On the other hand, it was hardly her place to discipline Athanar's riders, and Scyld suspected that it would not make the situation better for anyone involved. Perhaps Aldric was not all wrong. Maybe Eodwine did need to take a firmer hand with her. To each his own, he supposed. And now to refill his tankard.
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Old 10-09-2011, 04:58 AM   #1174
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Saeryn swung as hard as she could and struck Scyrr across the face. "Dog!" she said, furious. "You do not know of whom it is you speak!"

Scyrr paused for a while, watching Saeryn as if surprised by what she just did. Then he chuckled.

"Ha!" he said. "Don't I? Is he the man who sends a woman to fight for him, then?"

He leaned closer towards her, so close that she could feel his alcohol-smelling breath.

"I don't care what he used to be. He is just another man in the Hall now. Why did he come back? He is and he will never be the eorl again."
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Old 10-09-2011, 05:00 AM   #1175
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Eodwine

Saeryn got up and did not say a word, not even to excuse herself. That was not quite right. But then, this was an odd situation. She was probably just taking care of nature's course. What was that row going on by Léof? Who was that drunkard? Eodwine figured that he would find out soon enough. He felt weary.

Now why was Saeryn going out that way? The latrines were the other direction. Eodwine shrugged. Leave well enough alone, she'll be fine, he told himself.

Harreld & Garreth

"Lucky for that Scyrr that Coenred took a hand," Garreth mumbled to Harreld. Harreld just rolled his eyes.

“Well,” said Léof, “I guess that Scyrr pretty well just proved my point... looks like the riders still aren't too happy with me.” He paused. "Or you either, now," he said to Quin. "I hope they won't cause trouble for you."

"You shouldn't take that kind of talk from them," said Crabannan. "It gives them ideas, and that lot already think they're above the rest of us."

"What's all this bother about them or us?" asked Garreth. "The sooner every man gets over it, the better off we'll be. Now, the real 'them' to watch out for is those women!" He nodded meaningfully toward the kitchens. "Don't trust a one of 'em, I say."

"Garreth," said Harreld, "shut up. You're as bad as Scyrr in your own way."

Falco

Big People just seemed not to notice him, including this here Nydfara. Of course, the man was clearly distracted by what they both had heard just outside.

"Dropping eaves, are you, Nydfara?" he said.

The Man looked down suddenly, noticing him for the first time.

"Maybe you and I might lend the Lady Saeryn a hand if trouble starts, if you take my meaning."
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Old 10-09-2011, 07:00 AM   #1176
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Saeryn trembled with contained wrath. Her hands clenched into fists by her side, but she did not strike again. For a time, she had come to peace that Eodwine would never be eorl again, but to hear it told her like this, from a drunken rider, caused the blood to boil in her veins again. At the same time, she realized she could do nothing about it. A sense of total insignificance and weakness overwhelmed her. She had expected Scyrr to be abashed, apologetic, when she confronted him. Instead he ridiculed her and her husband. She was forced to realize that not only was Eodwine no longer eorl, but she no longer had the status of an eorl’s wife.

“Lord Eodwine chooses not to regain his position as eorl,” she said, her voice low and quivering. “That is why he will never be eorl again. And he is not weak because of it,” she added sharply when she realized that perhaps that would be another dart for the man to use against her and Eodwine. “If you do not begin to show Eodwine the respect he deserves, and if you do not take my warning about your treatment of Léof to heart, I will not hesitate to let Athanar know.”
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Old 10-09-2011, 05:24 PM   #1177
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After hearing Athanar's name, Scyrr paused once again, but only for a short moment. He could see that the woman was taken aback at his last words. She was losing this word-fight - no, he corrected himself, she had already lost, and she knew it.

"Don't you dare to thrat-threaten me with reporting to my lord Athanar," he said in what would have been a confident tone if his tongue had obeyed him completely. "As if he were gonna listen to your whining. I've been in his service since I have I came of age, and even before, I've seen-been seen-seeing him since my childhood. My old father was, and still is, one of his good friends. They are Riders. Lord Athanar values this, you know."

Inside his head, Scyrr was starting to get more and more the feeling that he was having the higher ground. He felt that he should just keep talking and crush this woman with the weight of his words.

"And your Eodwine is not weak because of what you said, no. If it was even true anyway that he don't want to be eorl," he said. "Which it is not. He is weak because he sends his woman to talk and cannot stand up for himself. If that's what you want to hear!" he growled and waved his hand, as if Saeryn was an annoying fly he wanted to chase away.
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Old 10-09-2011, 07:04 PM   #1178
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"Now the real 'them' to watch out for is those women," said Garreth, "Don't trust a one of 'em, I say."

Crabannan had his eyes on the main doors, through which Saeryn had disappeared some moments earlier with a grim expression on her face and a firmness in her step. Crabannan had learned to fear that expression and that tread decades ago, for he found that they were common to all women. Usually, they meant trouble.

"Garreth, shut up. You're as bad as Scyrr in your own way," replied Harreld.

Crabannan glanced down at Harreld and Garreth, in part feeling the rebuke in himself. He had not met Garreth, but he had heard Harreld had a brother, and if this man was not he, then no man was. They were clearly cut from the same cloth...in frame at least.

"I don't know, Harreld -- it sounds like he's speaking from experience."

But his mind was in the conversation. It was on Saeryn. What was going on out there? He had half a mind to step out and see. And, after all, it was warm in here and he could use a breath of fresh air. He wouldn't get involved, just pass by, take a look.
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Old 10-09-2011, 08:35 PM   #1179
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"Don't you dare to thrat-threaten me with reporting to my lord Athanar. As if he were gonna listen to your whining. I've been in his service since I have I came of age, and even before, I've seen-been seen-seeing him since my childhood. My old father was, and still is, one of his good friends. They are Riders. Lord Athanar values this, you know."

Saeryn did not know how to contain herself. She was angry at more than just Scyrr. She was angry at herself for having gotten herself into a position where she saw no way of escaping without ruining her own reputation. And she saw this knowledge reflected in Scyrr’s face. He seemed to puff himself out, realizing that he had the better of her.

"And your Eodwine is not weak because of what you said, no. If it was even true anyway that he don't want to be eorl. Which it is not. He is weak because he sends his woman to talk and cannot stand up for himself. If that's what you want to hear!"

Perhaps it was that he called Eodwine a liar. Perhaps it was that he called Eodwine a coward. Maybe it was both. But his words caused Saeryn’s temper to snap. She made a sound, half between a scream and growl of rage, and she reached up with both hands, catching a handful of Scyrr’s hair with one and his ear with her other. She hauled his head down while striding swiftly towards the door.

“Come and tell him he’s a coward to his face!” she shouted. “See if he has really asked me to talk for him! See if that’s what you want to hear!”

She kicked open the door, which was already opening from the inside, and jerked mercilessly on Scyrr’s head. “Get out of my way!” she yelled at Falco and Nydfara standing there, and she pushed past Crabannan without a glance. They stumbled into the hall, Scyrr struggling and grappling with her hands and arms, but she pulled without relent on his ear. When they stood well within the doors and had already caught the attention of many people there, she let him go. They stumbled apart and she stretched out her arm, pointing at him.

“My lords!” she shouted above the hubbub of all the other voices. “My lord Eodwine,” she said more poignantly. “This man – this man here – has somewhat that he would say in your hearing."

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Old 10-09-2011, 10:02 PM   #1180
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Scyld was startled by the voice coming from below. Falco! Where had he come from? Scyld was unused to be taken by surprise, but the little fellow seemed to have a way of moving about unobtrusively.

"Maybe you and I might lend the Lady Saeryn a hand if trouble starts, if you take my meaning," Falco said.

Scyld did not bother to defend his listening in, but instead reconstrued it. “As you say,” said Scyld, inclining his head. “It seems to me that both of them could do with some watching, though few enough people here seem willing to do so.” Scyld eyed Falco's short stature skeptically. “Though should it come to trouble, I daresay that you shall need me more than I shall need you.”

Before Falco could reply, the door slammed open and Saeryn dragged Scyrr in by his ear, yelling all the while. Shock registered on Scyld's face – he had more expected to have to pull Scyrr off of Saeryn, not the other way around. He leapt into action, trying to pull Scyrr away from her grasp but he only roared louder and batted at him with an arm. Scyld fell back and before he could make another attempt, Saeryn addressed the hall: “My lords! My lord Eodwine. This man – this man here – has somewhat that he would say in your hearing."

Scyld knew his was not the only head that snapped towards Eodwine at the head table. Those who weren't watching Eodwine were watching Scyrr. Nor was Scyld the only one ready to move should more fighting break out. For now, though, he just waited for someone to speak.
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Old 10-10-2011, 01:09 PM   #1181
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Scyrr's face was fully red, both from the large amount of ale he had been consuming as well as now from when Saeryn had dragged him into the hall and the embarassement and anger as he realised that almost all the eyes were upon him. He cast a furious look at the woman, but before he could even think about any way of paying her back for how she had humiliated him by dragging him in front of everyone, Falco and Scyld were between them. Whichever way Scyrr would have acted and whether he would have done anything in front of all the people, even in his drunkenness, thus remained unknown both to himself and the public.

Scyrr therefore tried to straighten himself and look composed. Somehow, he was painfully aware of everyone watching him, he had noticed fellow riders, Áforglaed with his mouth open, Coen, frowning, Athanar, and also Léof and other men sitting around him. One or two of the women carrying the mead around were also looking at him now, and that angered him even more. Then his eyes turned back to Athanar, whose face was completely stern, and that felt like a splash of cold water for Scyrr. The only way he could now think of turning the shame away from himself was to turn it on somebody else.

"My lord Athanar, and everyone here," he roared, however the drunkenness was still heard in his speech, as well as perceived in his rather confused behavior. "This woman – she –" His eyes were searching for Eodwine, and it took him a long time since he had started looking for him from the opposite side of the hall, not realising he was sitting right next to Athanar.

Finally, his eyes met Eodwine's. "There!" he said, pointing his finger at him. "This man sent his woman after me – yes!" murmur rose at these words, but Scyrr shouted louder over it. "Don't you go sending your woman after me!" he yelled towards Eodwine. "If you have anything to tell me, come and face me like a man!"
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Old 10-10-2011, 06:54 PM   #1182
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Coen did his best to suppress his anger and surprise. Scyrr had left; Coen figured he would cool off and once he was fully back to his senses, he would deal with the troublemaker. And Saeryn had been sitting at her lord's side...when had she left? He did not suspect whatever had happened now to be a chance meeting.

Coen went up to the lord's table and knelt, waiting to be acknowledged by Athanar, who gave him a quick nod. "Yes, I believe this concerns you as well, captain." Coen could almost sense in his lord's voice a wondering of just what 'this' was...

He stood near Scyrr, laying a hand on the man's arm briefly before removing it. "Whatever has happened," he said quietly to the man so that only he would hear, "remember Eodwine is a lord. And Saeryn a lady. Whatever has happened." He did not look at the Lady Saeryn as he wasn't sure what his eyes would betray.

He waited to speak, knowing that the next move was up to the lords, unless Scyrr saw fit to say more. If he did, Coen hoped it was an apology for his insult to Eodwine.
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Old 10-11-2011, 04:47 PM   #1183
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Eodwine

"This woman – she –" the unnamed man began, then started looking around, confused, until his eyes landed on Eodwine. "There!" He pointed. "This man sent his woman after me – yes! Don't you go sending your woman after me! If you have anything to tell me, come and face me like a man!"

'Horn of Helm!' thought Eodwine. What was this idiocy, and how had Saeryn gotten mixed up in it? Surely the fool had said other than what she had hoped or expected! No, she hadn't. He wagered that she had not thought this through at all, whatever she had done to rile him up.

All eyes were on him. He thought fast, allowing time to stretch, painfully, and did not allow his ire to show on his face. Were he well and not the eorl's counselor, he would teach this fool a lesson with a naked blade. He felt very, very weak.

How to respond? Don't embarrass Saeryn further than she'd already done to herself. Don't demean Athanar or himself. Treat this drunken fool better but no more seriously than he deserved. Ah, that was it. A slow smile came to his face, and he rose from his seat.

"It seems," he grinned, pitching his voice to the crowd, "one of our riders has been a little friendly with his mead cup."

Some of the crowd laughed, albeit nervously. Silence quickly resumed. One would have been able to hear a piece of dust hit the floor.

With a half smile he continued. "And my wife has been zealous for the honor of her husband's name. Can a man ask for more than that?" He grinned broadly.

"Of course he can," one man cried, "an' that bump on her belly says you already have!"

Now the men roared with laughter and Eodwine allowed himself a public chuckle. Once the laughter died down, Eodwine spoke again, looking directly at the man, with a broad smile on his face, but his eyes were hard.

"Rider, I don't know who you are, so I could not have sic'd my wife on you had I wanted to. I'll excuse your words tonight since you're drenched in drink." Then he looked at Saeryn. "Wife of mine, I desire your company here with me. Come stand with me, Lady Saeryn, and see what a fine folk have made Scarburg their home!" He raised his mead cup as Saeryn left the man and came to the table, for how could she refuse in front of the assembly? He knew she had enough sense to follow his lead in this. He gazed out over the crowd. Soon she stood beside him.

"Raise your cup, my dear." She did, and he turned to the folk. "A toast!" He waited for the folk to raise their cups. "To the folk of Scarburg!" He put the cup to his lips and drank.

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Old 10-11-2011, 10:26 PM   #1184
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Saeryn had not won. There would be no way to win in the situation that she and Scyrr had placed themselves in. She went and stood by Eodwine’s side, but she neither saw the fine folk of Scarburg nor tasted the fine mead that had been made there. She sat down when the toast ended and looked down. She wished she could disappear, but she did not feel at liberty to stand and leave the head table again. Instead, she rested her forehead in one hand, acting as though she were tired and needed to rest her eyes. In reality, it was a ruse to hide her face from the view of everyone, thus concealing her shame.

As the moments passed, the blood in her veins cooled and her mind harped back to the argument. Her face burned with the thought of her rashness, and then her jaw clenched at the remembrance of his words. How had he managed to provoke her with mere words? She had acted like a child taunted by a large boy, and although she knew his words were false, she had struck out and reacted as though they were true, or as though they could harm her or Eodwine. Of course, now when the heat of the moment had passed, she saw that her actions had the potential of shaming him worse than anything Scyrr had said to her out in the courtyard. She had been unable to bear his taunting in private and so she had brought it out to the open.

She was going to cry, she could feel it. Her hands trembled and her throat was swollen shut with emotion. She reached out and touched Eodwine’s hand. Briefly, she looked at his face when he turned to her, but she did not meet his eye.

“Have I your leave to go to our chamber? I am weary of this gathering.”
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Old 10-12-2011, 05:15 AM   #1185
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Scyrr stood, wordless, still at the same place when the rest of the Hall had raised their cups to the toast. He was completely taken aback by what had just happened. In the flash of a moment, everyone's interest in him suddenly ceased, nobody was watching him anymore. Even Athanar's men at the other table cheered merrily upon Eodwine's proposal.

"He may not be such a bad chap, after all, that Eodwine," Áforglaed evaluated, turning the empty cup in his hand. "Pretty funny, he is, I think. I thought he would be just some annoying old dotard."

"He's not even that old," Baldwic said.

"I know," Áforglaed replied. "But I mean - you know what I mean."

"No," said Baldwic. He cast a quick look over his shoulder. "But hey, look, I think we might want to take Scyrr back here. Or maybe to sleep, that might be safer. Look at him standing there."

"What?" said Áforglaed, distractedly, since he had been just getting his cup refilled, but Baldwic was already gone.

"Come, Scyrr," he approached the now gloomy-looking Rider, standing still on his unsteady feet near the entrance. "Let's go..."

Scyrr looked at him, frowning, but did not say anything. Baldwic took him by his shoulder and led him away.
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Old 10-12-2011, 04:58 PM   #1186
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Eodwine felt a light touch to his hand from Saeryn. He faced her silently. She glanced at him briefly. Tears stood in her eyes. She barely opened her lips to speak.

“Have I your leave to go to our chamber? I am weary of this gathering.”

His heart went out to her. It happened so easily, all the time. She was feeling humiliated. It was critical that he not allow her to humiliate herself further.

"Stay with me, my dear. I know it is hard. I do not know what words passed between you and that fool, but clearly he hurt you with his words. I will seek redress in the morning. Stay with me now. You have strength. Be strong."

She shook her head, as though his words were impossible to her.

"Trust me in this, Saeryn," he whispered with greater emphasis. "Leave now and you will seem to all here as if you are beaten. Stay. Raise your chin. Take a deep breath, several. Hold your head high, you are the Lady Saeryn. Hold yourself with firmness to this moment, stay by my side through dinner. Show these folk that you are of far greater mettle than that fool. Rule yourself and show that you are fit to rule others. I will be at your side through all of it."
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:32 PM   #1187
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Léof watched the debacle between Saeryn and Scyrr unfold in astonishment. Had Saeryn truly just physically and publicly assaulted Scyrr? And had Scyrr really just publicly denounced Eodwine? And now no one was getting punished, or even reprimanded, for it?

Well did Léof recall the early days of Athanar's reign and the harsh punishments meted out to the original members of the household who had spoken out. He had liked Erbrand and Lithor, far better than he liked these riders who had taken their places.

But then, Léof supposed that was the difference between Athanar and Eodwine. Eodwine was far quicker to let things pass, to give people chances. He had given Léof himself a chance, and so Léof could not find it in himself to inwardly judge the man he still thought of as his lord, no matter how much he would like to see Scyrr punished.

His eyes drifted from Eodwine to Saeryn, now seated beside her husband. Had she gone well and truly mad? He suddenly recalled her flight from the stable this morning, driven from his mind by all the events that had happened since. “It's the baby,” Léof said aloud to the table. “Saeryn has not been acting herself all day long. She really oughtn't be making decisions in her state.”
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Old 10-13-2011, 09:52 PM   #1188
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Saeryn lifted her head as Eodwine instructed and stared through bleary eyes out at the sea of faces. Her hands twisted in the fabric of her skirt, but she remained still. At first, she did not understand his request for her to stay. But he continued to talk, his voice low and gentle, soothing her, until her breath was calm and the tears were absorbed again.

“Hold yourself with firmness to this moment, stay by my side through dinner. Show these folk that you are of far greater mettle than that fool. Rule yourself and show that you are fit to rule others. I will be at your side through all of it."

She turned and looked at him again, this time her eyes adoring. “Eodwine,” she said, again in a whisper. “I love you.” It was such a simple phrase, but she meant it entirely. He had just been insulted, and yet he showed no anger either towards the man who insulted him or his wife who had caused the whole horrible situation. Instead, he offered her strength and courage to overcome the trial of staying and sitting the night out.

No more could be said here, though. She wanted to talk to him freely, to tell him what she had felt and why she had acted the way she had, but right now that was impossible. So, she would wait.

--

Thornden

Why was it that every time the people were gathered for a special feast or celebration, something absolutely ridiculous happened? Thornden had reacted just as everyone else in the hall had: he became absolutely still when Saeryn and Scyrr made their loud entrance and then felt his heart stop when Scyrr called out Eodwine. When the crisis had passed, and after the first wave of relief had broken across the assembly, keen annoyance and indeed anger flared inside him.

Could Eodwine not return to his hall after a two month’s absence and not be mocked at his table? It was wrong in more ways than one, and Thornden felt it deeply. On the other hand, while answering Scyrr, Eodwine had caused all the other riders to respect him.

He said nothing to any of the riders sitting with him. He listened as Áforglaed and Baldwic exchanged words. He nodded in mute agreement when Baldwic expressed concern that Scyrr be taken away and watched approvingly when he acted on his word and took Scyrr out. Good. Remove the man before any more embarrassing thing might occur.

He picked up his cup again and paused with it half raised to his lips. “Does anyone know why lady Saeryn went out after Scyrr, anyway?” he asked to the men seated near him.

--

Quin

“Decisions!” Quin said, nearly choking on his meat. “What are you talking about? She wasn’t making decisions. She probably wasn’t even thinking. And I don’t think that baby had anything to do with her grabbing Scyrr and hauling him in here. I’m surprised it didn’t get more in her way.” He blushed, once he’d said it and quickly changed the subject.

“I am surprised Eodwine answered him the way he did. Athanar would have had that man’s head.”
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Old 10-15-2011, 08:44 PM   #1189
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Eodwine

Saeryn looked at him with shining eyes. “Eodwine," she whispered, “I love you.”

"You know my heart is yours," he replied. He took her hand in his and they remained so for some time until the vittles arrived at their table.

She did have the mettle he had called upon. He was convinced that it was one of the things that had drawn him to her in the first place. With her by his side, giving him such good words as these, he knew that he would be well very soon. And their life at Scarburg, and wherever they were, would be good. They would have each other. It was enough.
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Old 10-16-2011, 07:15 PM   #1190
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Garreth

“It's the baby,” Léof announced. “Saeryn has not been acting herself all day long. She really oughtn't be making decisions in her state.”

“Decisions!” Quin said, nearly choking on his meat. “What are you talking about? She wasn’t making decisions. She probably wasn’t even thinking. And I don’t think that baby had anything to do with her grabbing Scyrr and hauling him in here. I’m surprised it didn’t get more in her way.” His face went red. “I am surprised Eodwine answered him the way he did. Athanar would have had that man’s head.”

"I can't say as I place all the blame on Scyrr," said Garreth. "Maybe he was too much in his drink but she had no call hauling a man in here. She's married and should keep to her husband. What's she think she's doing messing in the business of other men?"
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Old 10-17-2011, 03:42 PM   #1191
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Tyrdda

Tyrdda laughed. “You have some very nice manners for a rider! I can’t say I have too much of a hand in making the food, but I’ll tell cook he’s fit for a fine hall.”

She put down the bucket and strolled a little toward the man, glad to have a distraction from her work. “A little tense in there, huh?” she jerked her thumb toward the hall. “Not nearly as bad as that first feast when the new lord came. I hope no one makes quite so much a fool of themselves. Drawing a spear in a lord’s hall! Could have been a much worse outcome to that, I tell you.”

~*~

Coenred

Coen quietly thanked Baldwic for taking Scyrr out before heading back to the riders’ table. He felt so weary, as if he were twenty years older or more. How long had he been captain at this hall? It already seemed like a lifetime, and that he had worn out his days as a warrior and a leader, that it was time to pass the position on to someone else.

It was all this…maneuvering. For a small hall, Scarburg had its lion’s share of schemers and troublemakers. Scyrr could be a rabble rouser with his tongue, but he had not quite been the same, not since the fight with Erbrand. Coen imagined Scyrr still felt shamed for that, and a shamed man was much more likely to stir things up to prove himself. And that was precisely why he had not dragged Scyrr from the hall, or ordered him a punishment in front of the men he had been arguing with, or the entire hall… The Lady Saeryn needed to learn a good bit more about men before she went around shoving their noses in their messes like dogs.

Coen sighed and tried to physically shake off his anger. Perhaps he was being no better a dog himself, feeling that his territory had been trespassed. He sat down at the riders’ table. Faerghall turned to him with a sympathetic smile. “A long evening already, eh captain?”

“Truly.” He looked down along the table. No one seemed much bothered by the events passed, thankfully. He hoped that the men, whether old or new to Scarburg, had gotten to know Scyrr enough by now to know he was not a cruel man. No, not patient or kind, but to expect that from a warrior, and a fairly young one at that, was foolish. “You all being well-fed tonight?” he asked, forcing a smile. “Well, don’t get used to it,” he added jestingly.
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Old 10-18-2011, 01:31 PM   #1192
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Hilderinc

The corners of Hilderinc's mouth twitched in almost invisible smile - which, however, for his generally rather impassive face was more than enough of an effort. What Tyrdda said had reminded him of the first evening which could have easily ended up in a catastrophe, and all the trouble that followed.

"I could not agree more," he said. "Still, I believe the biggest jesters have left us after that... a pity, maybe," he wondered, remembering Erbrand. "I did not get the chance to get to know them, but they were among the first ones to talk to me here... well, under different circumstances," he added. Then his mind returned to the present. "But no, I would certainly not object to being spared from events similar to that of the first evening in the coming days."

Hilderinc, too, had overheard some raised voices from inside the hall, and briefly wondered what was going on there. Suddenly, however, something which sounded more like a general - or at least bigger - burst of laughter seemed to echo from the inside. That calmed him down a bit.

"You seem to be right, I wonder what is going on in there," he looked at Tyrdda, who also seemed to have noticed the strange sound. "Maybe there were still some jesters left, then, whom you have managed to keep hidden from us? Unless..." he said thoughtfully, "unless Eodwine brought some with him?" He remembered those who accompanied Eodwine: there was just Falco, but also, he recalled suddenly, that woman whose name he did not even know.

"I assume you might know what is the name of the young woman who came with him?" he said aloud. "Who is she?"
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Old 10-21-2011, 02:36 PM   #1193
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Léof

Léof hesitated to respond to Garreth's remark. He had always respected Saeryn, but he agreed she shouldn't have dragged Scyrr in here. But she'd been through a lot lately, so he couldn't come down so hard on her as Garreth had.

“She definitely could have handled that better,” Léof agreed. “She should've just told Eodwine about it or something... but I'm not sure they're getting on all right. Do you know, earlier I walked into the hall straight into the middle of them fighting? I don't know what about – they left pretty quick.”
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Old 10-21-2011, 10:15 PM   #1194
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Quin’s eyebrows rose a fraction of an inch. “Fighting?” he repeated, leaning inward. Léof nodded. Quin made a silent whistle and relapsed momentarily into silence. In his mind, he recalled comments the men had been making all morning, ever since Saeryn had first shown spirit since Eodwine’s return. That would be as soon as Eodwine arrived, Quin reflected.

“Some of the men have said something that I find rather doubtful,” Quin said slowly. He leaned forward on his elbows and shared a glance amongst Léof, Garreth, and Harreld. “Garreth, since you seem to have had some experience with women, maybe you’ll be able to explain. I’ve heard at least two of the men say that Eodwine should, how did they put it. . .take a stronger hand with his wife? Control her, I guess, but how do they expect him to do that? I mean, really, I’d be afraid to scrap with her after what I’ve just seen, and if your stories of how awful women can be are true…well, then…” he trailed off noncommittally, clearly confused about the relation between a woman and her husband.

Garreth was unused to being asked to speak as an expert, least of all on the subject of women. He cleared his throat in a show of gravitas. "Well." He had no idea what to say, but that had never stopped him before. "A woman should know her place. A man knows better, about everything that matters. Money. War. Trade. It's just the way things are. But women, they let their feelings rule them." He stopped, feeling like he had said everything that needed to be said.

Quin contemplated Garreth a moment, mulling over his answer before speaking. "What about food?" he asked. "Seems that's one thing of importance that women know more about. And what about the Lady Eowyn? She knew of warfare as well as the next man, if the tales I hear are true. Saeryn reminds me of what I heard of Eowyn. Maybe she's like her. And if she is like Eowyn, how do you and others expect someone like Eodwine, sick as he is, and mild, by all accounts, to 'teach her her place' when the king's command couldn't keep Eowyn home from battle?"

"Well! Ahem. The Lady Eowyn was young and unwise! She was very lucky to escape alive! Food and drink and household chores are where women belong. it's a man's job to make sure they see that."

"Lady Eowyn stood where no man was brave enough to stand and slay the fell beast and its rider," Quin said with some heat. "If you think she'd better have stayed home and seen to her house work, perhaps it's time you re-thought!"

"Um - er - well - she is of the king's house. Maybe things are different for such folk."

Quin sniffed and drew back, allowing the conversation to close. He was not impressed by Garreth. Harreld was a good man, quiet and sober, but Garreth was loud and rough and frequently out of sorts, and this last word against Eowyn annoyed Quin. Eowyn was still highly spoken of in Rohan by most people, men and women alike. It was well known how she had stood by King Theoden when all the others of his household had fled or had been slain. Her deeds were put into song and the songs sung far and wide, and no one, so far as he had ever heard, spoke ill of her.

He did not know quite how Eowyn had been brought into their conversation of Saeryn, but perhaps, if Saeryn was much like Eowyn, maybe she was alright, after all.
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Old 10-26-2011, 01:40 PM   #1195
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Eodwine

At last dinner was over. Eodwine offered to help with the dishes but was roundly rebuked, told that he was the honored one and it would not do for him to do dishes on such a night. Stigend and Garstan offered to replace him, and a few other men also volunteered, which helped the cooks and serving women to make much quicker work of the clean up than they had anticipated. While they helped in the kitchen, most of the men (who could still stand) moved tables and chairs out of the way.

They came out of the kitchens after a reasonably short while, the women smiling brightly. The minstrels among the folk pealed away from the others, produced lutes, harps, hand-drums, and pipes.

Watching, Eodwine turned to Saeryn. "I think I'd like to get my harp."
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Old 10-27-2011, 07:19 PM   #1196
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Léof

Eventually the talk turned to subjects less contentious and lighter-hearted, and Léof began again to simply enjoy the banter of friends and the good food. Soon he found himself sitting with an empty plate and a full belly, and all around folk began to break out their instruments. It had been far too long since music and laughter filled the hall.

Léof groaned and said with a laugh, “I am far too stuffed for dancing!”

~*~*~*~
Scyld

Following the incident with Saeryn and Scyrr, Scyld faded back into the background of the hall. He got his tankard refilled, as he originally planned on doing, and took his time making his way back to his seat. He paused at several of the tables to listen to what others were talking about and to chip in with a couple of harmless comments.

He finally sat back down shortly before the music started up. Aldric glanced at him. “You've nearly missed the whole meal,” he said.

Scyld shrugged. “It only takes a little bit from every table and it's as if I sat down for the whole meal here,” he said.

Aldric grunted. “If you are so full, then it is your turn to talk to the wench.”

Scyld was surprised Aldric recalled their earlier conversation so well. He suspected that Aldric was simply eager to see Rowenna turn him down. He said, “But right now the fitting reason to approach a woman would be to ask her to dance, which I have little skill at.” It was not untrue. Under Sorn, Scyld had been afforded little reason or opportunity to learn or practice dancing. However, he was keen enough to have picked up the basics, and he knew that most dances did not require much more than that.

Aldric grunted again, but Scyld was spared further conversation when another soldier turned to Aldric with a question. Scyld turned his gaze back to the larger hall to watch.
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Old 10-30-2011, 06:31 PM   #1197
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One of the musicians raised his pipe to his lips and burst forth in a merry tune. The others almost immediately picked up on it, setting off at an admirable pace, playing the familiar dance tune brightly and invitingly.

Those they played for did not ignore their invitation. Stigend took Modtryth’s hand and led her out while at the same time Garstan came, swinging Lèoðern about in the air. Before they could join hands in a circle, more couples had arrived: Kara with one of the riders named Aiden, Lilige and Fearghall, Ӕðel and Readwald, and even Frodides with a brave rider who ventured to ask her to dance with him. Rowenna and Ginna were the only two women who stood amongst the men who were not dancing.

Thornden set down a bench he and another had carried out of the way and then set about to ask Rowenna to dance. On the way, he clapped Harreld on the shoulder as he passed, saying, “You should ask Ginna, you know, before some other fellow snatches her and you’re left wishing you were he.” He didn’t wait for a response, but made as straight a line as could be contrived to Rowenna’s side.

“Will you dance with me?” he asked.
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Old 10-30-2011, 07:20 PM   #1198
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Rowenna

Rowenna watched the dancing begin. It seemed there were more women in Scarburg than before she had left last time. Where did they all come from, she wondered? For all that, there were not nearly enough women for all the men in the burg.

The piper played a merry tune and the other players picked it up. Rowenna let her head follow the beat, and her feet as well, though she remained standing where she was.

Thornden approached, and he was looking directly at her as he came. She allowed one brow to rise, and a smile slipped onto one side of her mouth as he stopped by her side.

“Will you dance with me?” he asked.

She smiled full. "Of course!" She placed her hand in his and they took a few steps into the open area. She let him start them off on the downbeat, and quickly they were dancing with the rest of them.

Rowenna loved dancing, and she found that she liked dancing with Thornden. He had good rhythm, and he was confident. And he had a nice smile.

"You're good at this!" she said.

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 11-01-2011 at 04:40 PM.
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Old 10-30-2011, 08:04 PM   #1199
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Rowenna followed his lead as admirably as he could wish for.

“You’re good at this!” Rowenna said.

“Only as good as my partner,” he responded. They turned to face out of the large ring of dancers, stepped out with the rest and then fell back. The partners faced and turned, passed each other by the shoulders and then came back.

When their brief separation was over and Thornden had Rowenna’s hands in his again, he commented, “I didn’t know you could dance when I asked you. I’m glad to find you can. You must’ve learned when you were young, as I did.” They turned away from each other and then came spinning back. “Family gatherings and harvest celebrations – that’s when we danced. How ‘bout you?”
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Old 10-31-2011, 10:02 PM   #1200
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An uncomfortable and unwelcome wave of jealousy washed over Scyld as he watched Thornden escort Rowenna out onto the dance floor. Well, if he liked it so ill, he should have asked her first, he scolded himself irritably. There had been ample opportunity; it was not as though Thornden had snatched her up without giving another a chance. So if he had not asked her, he could hardly be upset that she had found another partner.

So said the rational part of his brain.

He had feigned lack of interest and told Aldric that he had not wished to ask her to dance because he was a poor dancer. In truth, however, he was scared, and that bothered him. Afraid of a woman? Ha! He had faced many things far scarier than the rejection of a woman.

But she seemed so happy dancing out there with Thornden! And why not? Thornden was a good man, with a not immodest post here at the hall. A good dancer, too, Scyld saw. So be it, if that was what she wanted.

“So she'll dance with that ninny but not with me?” snarled Aldric. So he, too, had noticed. But for once, the thought of needling him further held no allure. The remark was not particularly directed at Scyld anyway, so he did not respond.

What is wrong with me? So she's sharing one dance with Thornden! So what? I'll ask her for the next one, that's what I'll do.

Aldric's conversation had gone on: “You can always cut in on him,” suggested one soldier. This cannot end well, thought Scyld. He briefly considered trying to send him towards Ginna, who stood alone without a partner, but could not bring himself to set such a boor on an unsuspecting girl. He was done interfering. It was too late anyway; Aldric was up and swaggering towards the dance floor.
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