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Old 03-15-2011, 09:10 PM   #1
Feanor of the Peredhil
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1420! Lamedon Square Market

"He came at last by arched streets and many fair alleys and pavements to the lowest and widest circle, and there he was directed to the Lampwrights' Street, a broad way running towards the Great Gate." - RotK

At the corner of the Lampwrights' Street and Blacksmiths' Road, in the lowest circle of Minas Anor, is set the Lamedon Square Market, where all manner of vendors and buyers congregate daily to sell their wares.

In the manner of any market, there are the regulars, there to set up shop, or there to loiter, or there to make the daily purchases. And there are sometimers, who stop in now and again when things are needed. And there are those that stop in once and are never seen again. There are humans, mostly, but this is Minas Anor: it would not be unheard of for a visiting halfling, or a Dwarf, or an Elf even to make an appearance. This is, after all, where disparate people come to exchange that which – whatever it may be – they did not have before. A marketplace, bustling, is above all else a public place of that nature--where people jostle elbows and come and go. It can be a launch point for adventures... chance meetings... friendships... romances...

---

Mistress Fea, a baker by trade, was at the market at all times. Up well before dawn to put the loaves in the oven, she was the first to set up shop and the last to leave at the end of day. And at the end of the day, she was still available, because her shop, The Risen Loaf, was situated right within the square, on the very corner of the two roads.

This night she had not slept at all, because this day was a special day. It was the first of the spring harvest, when those outliers that winter away from the city would enter with their first wares of the season. It was a busy time, and anyone might arrive, and all would demand cakes and loaves and rolls and breads with fruits and breads with meats. Though most kitchens made their own breads, most market-goers would never dare resist the tantalizing scent of a long loaf of Mistress Fea's crusty bread filled with sausage and cheese. With the farmers from outside the city walls entering for the first time since autumn, the Market would be especially busy. A normal morning's baking of a normal batch of wares would simply not be enough.

As Fea shooed her shop boy Erchan away from her long tables, back into the bakery. The sun would rise soon, and the bells would begin to ring. Today would be a sunny day, and the oiled canvas they stretched above their goods when the weather was poor and rain fell would not be needed. The first breads to be laid out would be the golden rolls brushed with egg yolk; they would shine in the morning light like a dragon's horde. Those and breads stuffed with raisins and dates and nuts, and any other fruits that lasted through the winter. Morning breads for morning shoppers. As the day progressed, the goods would change.

"Erchan!" she shouted after her boy, "If you dare sneak a pie, I will flay you!"

"Abusing your help already, Mistress?"

Fea sent a dimpled smile to the speaker. "Captain Formy, you rogue, you know well that a boy his age would eat a pie and more every handful of minutes if not watched. Up a bit early, are you not?"

"On the early watch this day, what with all the new folk coming into the city for Market."

Having been to market for years, this came as no surprise, and she need not have asked except that it was habit to converse back and forth with abandon. "Well if you see a floundering shop keep or farmer's daughter with a crate of chickens, let them know the stall over by the Old Guesthouse is empty, what with Old Frid having gone off to Southern parts for the season. As long as they arrive early, of course. Lazy comers will end up half way to Candlewick Row, I should think. I do wonder what fresh new faces we shall see... Pie, dear?"

IT IS NOW VERY EARLY IN THE MORNING, IN LATE SPRING, WHEN THE FIRST FRUITS COME RIPE. THE WEATHER IS PLEASANT.


THE MARKET IS COMING BACK TO LIFE AFTER ANOTHER NIGHT.
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Old 03-16-2011, 05:22 PM   #2
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Bertie raised his head and sniffed appreciatively at the early morning air. ‘Aaaahhh!’ he sighed, leveraging himself up on one elbow from his bunking down quarters a short ways away from the market place. “Quarters” was a rather grand word for the pile of dusty burlap bags in the narrow alley way where he’d spent the night. Nonetheless he was grateful to have stumbled upon them when his watering place of choice last night had closed and barred its doors.

He heaved himself up, bracing his back against the alley wall as he planted his crutch firmly in the dirt. With a grimace he stretched the kinks out of his spine, and then bent down to grab up his leather bag. Reaching his hand into one of the pockets in his greatcoat he found the few coppers he’d saved to break his fast.

‘Old Bertie’s comin’!’ he called out to the source of the singular, savory smell. Mistress Fea’s lovely golden rolls, soft enough for him to chew easily, beckoned him on. ‘Might just have enough for a small cup of raisin-jack wine, too, if I work it right.’

He stopped just short of the baker’s booth, hearing the familiar voice of one he wished to avoid. ‘The Cap’n’, he muttered. ‘Lookin’ to give me grief as usual.’ Bertie melted into the shadow of a large old tree to wait ‘til the Guard had moved on.
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Old 03-17-2011, 03:40 PM   #3
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Well, Fea thought, that was no surprise.

"Erchan!" she called behind her into the shop. Her tables were spread before her business, making it easy enough to restock if she needed. Of course she could have sold breads from inside, and the folk of the Lower Circle would still come for it, but it simply was not the same as good human interaction. And besides, this way she knew what was happening here and there and just about everywhere.

The boy emerged with a bang, tripping over the doorway, wiping his hands on his breeches. "Yes'm?"

"Boy," she propped a fist on a hip. "Have you been sampling again?"

"No'm." His fingers looked sticky.

She raised an eyebrow. "Captain Formy, if you would be so kind as to watch my things for a moment, I need a word with my boy inside."

"Abuse him only gently," Form winked.

Fea took her shop boy aside and inspected him head to toe. His mother had died in childbirth, poor dear, and while his father was a good type, he let the boy leave the house with messed hair and grubby ears. "You will need to comb your hair if you want to help sell today. I will only have you out with me if you look presentable."

"But ma'am," he whined. "My hair just gets all bothered again anyway."

She cocked her head and he looked down meekly.

"I've a task for you, boy."

His eyes lit.

"Old Bertie needs his daily roll and he won't be coming for it if he sees the good Captain. Bring him a roll. He is off in the shadows by old Garn's spot. And you get the coin before he gets the roll, do you hear me?"

"Yes'm."

Fea shook her head and wiped her hands on her floury apron as she walked back out, her boots rap tapping on the cobble stones. As she neatened her rows and stacks of breads, she made casual conversation with the Captain, but her eyes were on the receding back of the boy as he headed across the square, out of the sight of Form, roll in hand.
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:55 PM   #4
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A small boy saw the door to The Risen Loaf open and his face immediately brightened. It was the new harvest, and he loved the Lamedon market, particularly the bakery owned by Mistress Fea. He hurried to the entrance but stopped and laughed at the door propped open. He remembered first coming to The Risen Loaf two years ago, and whenever Mistress Fea got tired of him and Erchan messing around, she would put one fist on her hip, point her finger and say, "Lenny! Erchan has enough work to do, without you nipping at his heels. Since you clearly want something to do, I'm trusting you with a very important duty. Can I?"

Lendir could not imagine what this very important duty was, but he wanted to know and he wanted the kind misses to trust him. "Yes, Ma'am."

"Good. You will be my doorwarden." Doorwarden? What was that, it sounded official. "I want you to hang around outside the shop. You are to welcome and hold the door open for customers. But, this is the most important part, I do not like trouble makers coming into my bakery. If you run into any trouble makers you are to come tell me immediately or go get Captain Formy. Can I trust you?"

Lenny had trouble containing his excitement. Mistress Fea's doorwarden and he did not want to disappoint. "Yes Ma'am!" he saluted and stiffened his shoulders "I'll be the best doorwoordin you can have!"

Lenhir smiled with that memory. Now he understood Miss Fea just wanted him out of the way, but he didn't mind. She was a very busy misses and could not be expected to watch over a boy who was not hers to watch. He thought he was a great doorwarden, the best. And after he proved himself to Miss Fea, she sometimes asked if he could mix or knead dough for her. Helping Miss Fea make her assortment of rolls, breads, pies, and baked good was Lenhir's favorite. Although he was definitely not allowed near the fire-oven. No way. That was off limits and he would get in trouble if Miss Fea caught him.

He raced through the door-way and nearly knocked into Captain Formendur. "Oh, sorry, Captain Formy Sir!" (Lenhir always called him Captain Formy Sir, because even if he was not a mean person, Lenny was still frightened to cross the Captain. He was someone Lenny guessed you wanted on your side and not against you).

"Hey there! Watch where you're going, Lenny. I know I blend in well, but I am not a hard person to miss!."

"Yes, Captain Formy Sir. I will." Lenny spotted Mistress Fea and went up to her.

"Is Erchan here, Miss Fea?" he asked.

"He is, but I sent him away to make a delivery. What can I get for you today, Lenny?"

"Oh nothing, today, I just have wonderful news and I wanted to tell Erchan, and you!"

Miss Fea was still working but let Lenny know she was listening and waiting for the news.

"Ma says I'm going to be a big brother! Can you believe it!!!?"
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:51 PM   #5
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"Well that's quite exciting. And will you be as good a brother as you are a helper to me?"

Lendir nodded seriously.

"I think, then, that this is deserving of a special treat to celebrate." Having finished putting her breads in order, she leaned heavily against the table, making quite a show of thinking deeply. "I could have you... no, that would not work. Oh! I could always allow you to... ah, but that would never do."

She bit back a smile as Lendir fidgeted, too well trained to interrupt, but obviously dying of anticipation.

"Ah," she said, "I've thought of just the thing. It is a very important job. Far more important than doorwarden."

The boy's eyes grew huge.

"There are twenty pans," she said, "of hot cross buns, just come out of the ovens. They've cooled enough now for their frosting, which is already inside a pastry bag."

She thought his jaw might well detach and fall off, it hung so low.

"People will arrive any time now, Lendir, and my buns need to be crossed just right with their frosting. I cannot do it, because I have to watch my wares. Can I trust you, boy, to cross every bun just right, and when you finish, bring them out here?"
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Old 03-19-2011, 01:49 PM   #6
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Bertie growled as he felt a tug at the back of his coat and clumped about, ready to thump whoever had snuck up on him with his crutch. ‘What, boy?!’ he said low, holding his finger to his lips. ‘Erchan, ain’t it?’ He twisted to peek out from behind the tree. ‘Quiet now, don’t want the cap’n get wind of our business, do we?’ He focused his one good eye on the roll the boy now offered.

‘Bless that good missus as sent it!’ he went on, reaching out for it. Just as quickly, the boy put out his other hand cupped open and barring the way to the roll.

‘Old Bertie’s got it. Don’t you worry!’ He fished a copper jot from the recesses of his pocket and laid it in the boy’s hand. Transaction done, the roll slid into the same pocket to be savored with his soon to be gotten morning drink.

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Old 03-19-2011, 05:23 PM   #7
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‘I’ve got them, Posy. Last ones.’ Derry shifted the small violet filled basket from under his arm and set it down next to the girl. ‘Granny Henwyn let me have them for setting up her stall and sorting out the flowers and herbs.’

Posy buried her nose in the basket taking in the light, sweet scent of the violets. ‘Perfect!’ she said smiling up at Derry. ‘And I’ve a little bit of baby’s-breath left from yesterday to fit in among the posies.’ She gathered a few violets and a little stalk of babies-breath together and wrapped a bit of green thread about their stems to hold them together. ‘Makes ‘em a bit prettier, don’t you think?’

Derry had no opinion on the ‘prettiness’ of the little nosegay, but he knew if Posy thought it so, then there would be those wanting such a thing and that meant coins coming in to buy food. There were eleven of them now, what with the new boy just off one of the ships, and that meant more bread would be needed as well as cheese. There was still a half crate of wizened apples he and one of the other boys had ‘found’ near the backdoor of a tavern. And milk would be nice, at least for the littler ones.

‘I’ll take the twins with me today,’ Posy went on. ‘The ladies think they’re quite adorable and will buy a posy from them. And the gentlemen will buy when I tell them how our mother is sick-a-bed, our father dead and I’ve got to sell enough to get her medicine.’ She put on her sad and worried face and looked hopefully in Derry’s direction, showing him her sad-tale face.

In only a short time, the posies were done and arranged in a flat basket on a bed of moistened moss. ‘Come, Garan and Goran. Let’s catch the early crowd at the market if we can.’ She tousled the yellow curls of each of the boys into place, and wiped a smudge of dirt from Garan’s cheek with a lick of her finger. The elfin seven year olds grinned and made for the door, running circles all about her as they made their way toward the market.
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:45 AM   #8
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As Erchan ambled back to Fea's shop, taking the longest way in order to secretly enjoy the biscuit he was quite sure Fea did not see him take, his stopped suddenly when he saw two men leaning against each other, both propped and sleeping against a wall.

Minas Anor was full of nooks where roads crossed, archways met walls, or where the architecture simply allowed for places for secrets to hide. In this little hollow, the two men seemed hidden, but only just. In the dark of night, they would have been all but invisible. In the early morning light, still silvery and cold, they were quite apparent, and Erchan wondered if he should fetch Captain Formy. Except that Old Bertie was still right around the corner, and wouldn't thank Erchan one bit for drawing the attention of the Guard in this direction.

Perhaps he should tell Mistress Feane? Even though she was just a baker, Erchan knew she was more than that, somehow. To him, she was the Queen of the Lower City, not that he would ever say such a thing. He had seen Queen Evenstar sometimes, at special events. Okay, he admitted, just that once, but she was beautiful, she was, and he meant no disrespect, but there was ruling a kingdom, and then there was ruling a community, and it wasn't the same, nor would it ever be.

One of the men wriggled a bit and Erchan stood there watching. The man cracked his back and Erchan saw he had a bruised eye. They were fighters! What if they were dangerous? He looked behind him, and Bertie was still there, savoring his breakfast. Erchan knew that if he shouted, Captain Formy would come right quick, but somehow he didn't think he should yell.

The man with the bruised eye looked around, bleary and confused. Suddenly he pounded on his companion. "Bran, Bran get up."

"What?" the other man moaned.

"Get up, you fool, Brinn is going to kill us."

Killing? Erchan ran full pelt back to Fea's stall, dropping the rest of his biscuit. As the boy disappeared around the corner, a small mouse darted forth to snag his own fresh baked breakfast.

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Old 03-20-2011, 08:10 AM   #9
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There were more than a couple of hangovers in the Market Square that morning.

A wagon carrying supplies to the drapier's shop trundled its way in, and disgorged some unusual cargo. A slightly built young fellow, in expensive satin clothes of yellow and blue, put a couple of silver tharni into the drover's hand as he slipped off his seat beside him, and began to stride, unsteadily enough, in the direction of the bakery.

Angelimar of Edhellond was going to need an excellent breakfast indeed to unravel the evening before the morning after with anywhere near enough accuracy to boast about it the evening after the said morning. Some kind of meat would be good, but first a roll was even more essential. He was not usually either in the Square at this time of day or particularly interested in buying bread, but everyone knew Mistress Feane; in his case he had occasionally ordered elaborate cakes to impress (usually lady-) friends.

So when he reached the Risen Loaf, it was in a rallied tone - not quite clear of grogginess, but basically enthusiastic - that he greeted its proprietress...

"Morning, milady Fea. Lovely morning it is. Well, isn't really for me, but the point stands. Could y'get me a loaf about the dimension and softness of a pillow to make it feel any better?"
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Old 03-20-2011, 03:21 PM   #10
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Bertie shambled a little ways away from the market site, heading for The Compass Rose Inn. More of a dive, really. Its faded sign swung from one rusted chain, the other having been yanked off one night by a bearishly big sailor fellow just off ship and itching to give the first one who crossed him a beating. Or so the story went. Most likely it had just pulled out of the rotten beam from which it hung and was now suffering from the same general neglect as the rest of the place.

But the rotgut there was strong and cheap.

And One-Eyed Gorm was none too particular about his custom as long as they paid and took their fights out to the yard. The first he fully enforced; the second he was less rigorous about, especially those nights he felt himself in need of busting a few heads with his oak club just to keep in practice.

Before Bertie could get to this fine establishment he was knocked over by two small tornados hurtling down the footway. His crutch went skittering a ways along the packed dirt and his foot went flying out from under him.

'You tickle-brained flap-dragons!' he yelled out, casting a rheumy eye on the twins. 'Now look what you've done!'

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Old 03-24-2011, 08:55 AM   #11
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Crossover Posts from The King's Players:

Pitchwife:

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?"

---

Fea

Therian woke with the rough edge of a cobble stone digging into his hip. His head was on Branor's shoulder in the most undignified of ways. The two of them were crammed into the space between two decorative archways. It was chilly; he could tell by his breath coming from him in bursts of white.

"Bran, Bran, get up."

Branor woke up with a moan. "What?"

They were in some corner of the city, and Therian could not remember how they had ended up there. He smelled fresh bread, which meant it was morning, and besides that, it was getting light.

"Get up, you fool, Brinn is going to kill us."

Some motion caught Therian's vision off to the side somewhere. A boy, perhaps?

"Where are we?" Bran grumbled.

"Olog... chased us... but then I don't remember..."

They hauled themselves to their feet and stumbled toward an intersection, following the smell of bread. A large sign pointed their way, emblazoned with the words, "Lamedon Square Market: This Way!"

---

Pitchwife

The baker was just about to answer Coldan's question when a young boy came running at the top of his speed, stopped himself abruptly right in front of them, waving his arms for balance, and shouted: "Mistress Fea - Mistress Fea - there's two men over there - they've been fighting - and someone's going to kill them!"

The woman turned to him and took him gently by the shoulders. "Easy, boy, easy", she said in a voice that managed to sound sober and comforting at the same time. "One thing at a time. Where are they? Did you see them fight? Was somebody threatening them?"

"Over there, ma'am, near Saucepan Alley", the boy panted, pointing into the direction he had come from. "They were alone, but one of them has a black eye, and he said to the other one: 'Brinn is going to kill us'."

"Vat?" and "What?", Coldan and Harrenon cried out simultaneously, staring at each other in alarm. When Coldan's eyes followed the boy's pointing finger, he saw two all too familiar figures emerging from an alleyway into the market square, making for the bakery with a stiff gait that looked like they had spent the night lying on hard ground.

"Merciful Valar!" he groaned. "Can't zose two be trusted to stay out of trouble for a few hours at least?"

---

Boromir88

"Vere have you two been and vat exactly have you been doing?" Coldan asked when Branor and Therian walked into the bakery.

"Glad to see both of you as well" shot back Branor. He was stiff, tired, and thus in no mood to banter or feel like he had to answer to anyone.

"I make no offense," replied Coldan. "but you have made a fine mess of things vith your antics so far."

"Do not concern yourself with us," Branor muttered "we decided it was better to investigate at night than in the morning. Mornings everyone is busy with daily duties and is in no mood for friendly chat with strangers. Besides we found out a good deal about the hobbits yesterday, aint that right?" He looked to Therian for support, but it was clear Therian, like Branor, did not remember last night's events.

Coldan and Harrenon looked at Therian's bruised eye and wondered how much investigating the two really could have done, but did not protest further.

Branor's stomach was grumbling and when he saw the lady attending her goods, he tapped Therian's arm. The misses's face looked worn, like any person who runs a store typically does, but there was still a fair and vibrant beauty to her. Branor could tell she took great care to make her goods and give her customers the best. If Therian really wanted to know how to properly address a lady than Branor was going to show him.

"Hello Misses" he smiled and leaned forward onto the counter. His tone softened to a near whisper "I am in desperate need of nourishment and have heard high remarks about your wares and ability to satisfy what I need."

The Mistress firmly placed her hand on the counter, expressing just tell me what you want and go about your business.

"But I have not been in here before and do not know what you have. I am feeling something sweet and filling. Can I see your finest sweet buns, honey?" Branor cleared his throat. "Pardon me, that was supposed to come out as, can I see your finest honey buns...sweetie? Ahem. No. Do your buns have honey drizzled on top?"

---

Fea

Fea crossed her arms over her chest and shared a look with Captain Form. "Now, young man," she began, though Branor could easily have been her age for all she knew, "it looks from your bruises that you have been fighting. And that is not looked kindly upon in the King's City, or in my market."

Therian gulped and stuttered, "Your market?"

"Yes, boy, mine, as far as that sort of thing goes. You are not from around here, so I would not expect you to know it, but in these parts we have ways of behaving. I take it the two of you are the cause of my shop boy scooting his tush back into my kitchen faster than I've ever seen him move, all the while yelling of murders and ruffians?"

Therian looked at Branor. Murderers? But they were just actors! A puzzle piece of memory locked into place and Therian saw for a moment the flash of Olog's bear shaped body as he lumbered after them down the road. How, he wondered, had they escaped? They had not had that much to drink, had they? And for the sake of it all, why had they slept on the ground? "I... um... well, by 'kill' we meant our Boss... and not really kill so much as be very upset with us... in a way that might mean she will not be our boss any more?"

Fea humphed and found a sweet sticky roll for Branor and charged him double her normal price, to make up for Erchan's loss of productivity, and because the fool had to learn one way or another, and maybe an empty pocket would enforce the idea of a mouth that had no words coming out of it.

"And," Fea said, "In the mean time, you've had me neglecting another patron. If you will excuse me..."

---

Formendacil

Amdír made good time returning from Lord Hallas's estate, and was slowing climbing up into the city from the Great Gate before morning had truly passed. It helped that Lord Hallas's estate was close to the city, no more than a league or two. It also helped that days were long, and one could get a lot done when the sun rose early.

Normally, Amdír would have avoided going through Lamedon Square Market with a laden waggon, but even though it was coming busy as the morning wore on, he didn't fancy trying to take the waggon, which was more cumbersome than most carts he drove, down one of the back ways, and decided to continue slowly up Lampwright's Street, even if it meant braving the impatience of the crowds.

He was passing through the Market, irritating the occasional seller or buyer of goods and wares when he caught sight of Branor and Therian looking rather worse for the wear next to a well-kept baker's stall. A large man wearing the uniform of a Tower Guard loomed nearby.

"Branor! Therian!" called Amdír. "Hello, there!"

Instead of immediately catching the two actors' attention, Amdír's salutation was noticed by the Guard.

"Good morning, good yeoman!" returned Captain Formy jovially. "Are you responsible for these impertinent ragamuffins?"

Amdír's natural respect for those in authority caused him to overlook the jovial diminishment of the two actors.

"No, sir, though I know them. They are members of the King's Players, staying at Ingold's Inn."

"Good King Elessar has players? What do they play at? Are they a troop of gamblers that play at the games of dice said to be prevalent in the cold of winter in the King's northern homeland?"

"No sir, they are an acting troupe--from Dale. It is from King Bard II that they take their name. They are here to put on a performance as a part of the Cormarë revels."

"Best see they take a break from their own revels, if they wish to entertain anyone else," suggested the captain with a mock-stern glance at the actors.

---

Dimturiel

“That’s it,” Harrenon said after the problem with Therian and Branor seemed more or less solved with the arrival of Amdir. “If I had any doubts until now, I don’t anymore. First we find out we might have faulty information, then Brinn breaks her ankle and now this. There’s no doubt about it. We’re cursed. This play is cursed. We’re not meant to do it. We can’t put up a performance about what happened in the War of the Ring. It’s wrong. We’re…we’re meddling with something that’s too…too grand for us and we can’t do that. We’re receiving all sorts of signs that we can’t do it. This play is doomed. I’m sure it is!”

It was not often that Harrenon lost control like this in public, but when he did, his outbursts where usually memorable and quite embarrassing in hindsight. After he was finally done he was aware of a sudden silence around him and realised that many had stopped whatever they were doing to listen to him curiously. Coldan looked quite uncomfortable at the turn of events. Harrenon bit his lips, realising that the only thing he had done was to draw even more attention to the Players.

“I’m sorry,” he said sheepishly to Coldan. “I shouldn’t have done that. I’m really sorry. Now can we please find that blasted armoury before I say something else that might cause trouble?”

---

Pitchwife

(partial post)

"Zat will be for the best, I zink", Coldan agreed, dragging Harrenon away from the bakery before the huge captain of the guard who had shown up in the least convenient moment could think of inquiring what legitimate interest two civilians, whose friends had just caused rumours of fighting and murder, could have in finding an armoury. As for Branor and Therian, Amdír could probably be relied on to take the two goodfornothings back to the inn without much further mayhem, and once there, Brinn would have a word or two with them that would hopefully put some reason into their heads, if reason could bear to dwell there.

---

Boromir88

Branor, despite that disaster, was grinning when he walked back to Therian. "And that, my boy, is what women will do to you. They will take your money and leave you on the side standing helpless. And that misses, not all that interesting anyway, certainly not as pretty as Brinn. Oh my, uhm, you did not hear me say that." In truth, he was just trying to save face, even though he guessed Therian knew Branor had that blow up in his face.

He was not bothered by being charged extra, since it was probably the best sticky bun he could remember having. "Mmm, that was quite tasty. I would go back and ask for another, if I was assured she would not hike up the price on me again. Still, she woefully undercharges for her sticky buns."

"What do you expect from, you know, from a shop being owned by...a her." Therian said. He still seemed focused to figure out how every lady he's met in Minas Anor defies traditional logic.

The large guard-Captain was not enjoying their conversation as he always was shooting suspicious glances, as if he was looking for a reason to throw the two out.

"Branor! Therian!" called Amdír. "Hello, there!"

Amdir was engaged in conversation with Captain Formy, and was slowly looking more stern towards Branor and Therian. When the two approached Amdir and he saw their faces a look of exasperation, what had these two whippers been up to? And how did they get Captain Formy so riled?

"I suppose I need to take you both back to the Inn, after your adventures last night?" Amdir gave them a hard look.

Branor was lost, how did it seem like everyone knew what happened last night except for Branor and Therian? Not that he would apologize for any trouble making he caused, as it most likely was not his fault. It would still help to know why he needed to apologize? All he did was save Therian from getting squashed. Unless Olog finally caught up to them? He could have sworn, while Olog had the clear advantage in strength, they more than made up for by outwitting the lame half-wit.

"Thanks, Amdir, but that will not be necessary." said Branor. "I am going to continue following Brinn's orders by investigating the hobbits. You can tell her this if you see fit. Therian, you coming?"

---

Fea

Therian somehow found the generosity not to laugh at Branor. It helped that he was rather busy feeling concerned about his behavior over the night. This Captain Formy seemed to know much of everything, and he had mentioned nothing, nor tried to arrest them. This Mistress Fea looked as though she knew everything, and she had said the market was practically hers. Surely if they'd done anything too awful, she would have known, but instead she just repeated her shop boy's words. Really, anything they'd done could not have been that bad.

He thought about what they'd done, or what he couldn't remember them doing, and realized unfortunately what he knew they had not done: learned anything of value about the hobbits, except that Master Sam's wife used to serve beer for a living. He was not sure what value that was, except that probably Sam liked his brew, which Therian already knew from meeting him.

If they went back now, war would all but break out. Best to go back with definitive proof of something, anyway. And besides, they might find out what they'd done in the night.

Therian looked at this Mistress Fea, watching as she deftly sliced a loaf of bread for a patron, wrapped it, and tucked his coin into her apron band. She was a pear shaped woman. He wondered if she had children, or a husband. Ugh, he thought. Olog. How could that pretty young thing at the tavern be married to an oaf like Olog? The man lumbered. Any man whose locomotion so closely resembled that of a bear or a boar should not be married to such a delicate specimen of femininity. This Fea, however, crushed his thoughts without doing a single thing. She was no delicate flower, no elanor on a hillside. She was no single willow in a vale, wistfully blown about by the breeze. This Mistress Fea was a mighty oak, he thought, or perhaps more of a maple. He watched as she pulled a small bag of bite sized muffins from some hidden place and gave one each to a handful of small children. They bounced and ran away squealing. Sturdy, she was, but sweet. And like autumn leaves burnished gold and red, she had an undeniable beauty even if he thought of her as a tree.

Branor snapped his fingers in Therian's face.

"What?" Therian snapped.

"You coming or not?"

Therian looked back at Fea. Here was a woman completely at home in the body of a woman. She wore no men's garb like they said Eowyn wore into battle. She did not stand here selling things dressed as a fellow, clad in a fellow's trousers, her breasts bound flat, her hair hidden away. She did not flaunt herself, surely, yet she wore serviceable skirts and petticoats, and sturdy boots, and a blouse and a shawl and over it all, an apron. She dressed as Therian's own mother had dressed before she died: for practicality. But there was something to the flare of her skirt that admitted her womanhood, drawing the eye from her pinched waist around the curves of her hips and out. She was no Queen Evenstar, of course, but she dressed as a woman though she did the mannish work of selling things in a public place.

Nor did she disguise her voice, as they say Eowyn did. In fact, this Mistress Fea appeared to pretend to be nothing except what she was: a woman that baked and sold her baked goods. A woman that was used to being obeyed. A woman that was not unnecessarily crude or vicious to men. He had known some women like that: ones that behaved as though venom from their lips would somehow change the world. Well, as his mother always said, you catch more flies with honey. Or was that sugar? And what was it that you didn't catch them with, vinegar? Milk? Milk made no sense. He couldn't remember flies ever going to milk.

But the point was the same. There was something to this baker lady that caught his attention.

Branor hit him in the arm. "I'm leaving."

"Huh?"

Amdír asked, "Are you drunk?"

"No," Therian said. "Not drunk. Leaving. Going. Branor, where are we going?"

---

Boromir88

"No," Therian said. "Not drunk. Leaving. Going. Branor, where are we going?"

"We are going to do what Brinn sent us off to do." Branor yelled back. He was already quite a few paces ahead of a trailing Therian.

"What was that again?"

Branor stopped and waited for Therian to catch up, just so he could hit him in the chest. Therian did not look happy, but Branor was more shocked when Therian did not attempt to strike back. Seriously, what was wrong with this boy today?

"Ever since waking up this morning, you have been acting weird. Particularly back there at Mistress Fea's. I thought we got away from Olog, but it appears he's knocked the wits out of you!"

---

Formendacil

Since it was clear that Branor and Therian had no intention of returning to the Inn, Amdír bid Captain Formy a good day, and continued on without them. He unhitched the horses from his cart once he reached the inn, and tethered them, before going inside to fetch help in hauling down the first setpieces. As he did so, he could not help but notice six handsome steeds already tethered. From their glossy coats and fine tack, it was clear to Amdír that someone of importance was present, and had a fearful premonition that it might be the new Master of Revels, the Lord Cirdacil.

A bit fearful, for he had not yet determined the measure of the lord, Amdír entered the Inn, hoping he was wrong, and wishing he was still carting his way across the Pelennor.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:01 AM   #12
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"Morning, milady Fea. Lovely morning it is. Well, isn't really for me, but the point stands. Could y'get me a loaf about the dimension and softness of a pillow to make it feel any better?"

Fea had sold Angelimar a loaf, but in the bustle had become distracted. With the actors having shifted onward, she turned her attention back to him.

"Is that quite sufficient?" she asked, "Or will you be needing anything else?"
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Old 03-24-2011, 05:19 PM   #13
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Garan was mortified at the sight of Bertie sprawled in the dirt. He like the old soldier, called him ‘Uncle’, and bedeviled him whenever he could to tell stories about his time in the Great War. He ran to fetch Bertie’s crutch. ‘Didn’t see you, Uncle! Sorry, sorry . . .’ he repeated several times, attempting to dust Bertie’s raggedy coat front off as the man stood up.

Goran, for his part, was bent over with laughter - tickle-brained indeed by the very idea of a “flap-dragon”. ‘Oh, that was a good one, Uncle!’ he chuckled, collecting himself enough at last to go help his brother try to leverage Bertie to a standing position.
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Old 03-25-2011, 05:01 AM   #14
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The young reveller took the healthily sized loaf with eager gratitude, and broke off a corner of the top at once, the better to examine the fluffy pallour of its interior...

"You've excelled yourself as ever, madam. Perfect. Oh yes, actually; you know I'm not usually down here when the day's so nearly started, but I'm trying to get a breakfast together; so could you tell me where the best butcher in this square is? And even maybe where I could find myself some mustard?"

Angelimar had overpaid her a little, not commenting and indeed as if by accident; for certainly this young man liked to be liked...
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:27 AM   #15
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"Ah, well, there's nothing so easy as one best, I'm afraid," Fea responded with a smile. "Bill is best with birds, Charl is best with domestic beasts, and if you've an eye for game, then there's a fellow that comes in around lunch time. Looks a bit seedy, but he's good people and hunts his own, and takes only the best. Mustard? I've not seen any around for some time, but there is a new man from up Bree-ways, says he'll be in town for the week. Sells spices and such. He would be your best bet, but I make no promises."
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:09 PM   #16
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‘Careful now! These threads are a might fragile.’ Bertie balanced precariously on his crutch as he fended off Garan’s attempts to dust off his coat. He patted his pockets, making sure his various objects of value were still safely within. When he reached the side pocket in which he’d stashed his morning roll from the bakery, he reached into it. Disappointment met his fingers as they curled about a rather mashed bun. He pulled it out, noting the ground in pocket rubble covering the flattened surface.

‘Well, there goes my breakfast, boys.’ The roll crumbled apart and rolled off his palm in several chunks. ‘I guess it’s nothing but pigeon grub now,’ he finished, eyeing the trio of bedraggled looking birds that were eyeing him in return as they crept closer to the bready treat.
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Old 03-27-2011, 10:04 AM   #17
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Angelimar narrowed his eyes in surprise at Mistress Fea's last piece of help. "A fellow from Bree? That village in the north? Well, such a man would be an interesting curiosity, at any rate...thank you, Fea, and may we meet some day when I am in...better health...and you less beset by industry..."

But it was towards Charl's stall that the young man now hurried, too busy even to take in that old chunk of walking wounded, and his pair of small familiars. Once he had reached his objective, he fell in to easy conversation with this butcher, who had that most reassuring attribute of resembling his products in his appearance. He bought several rashers of good bacon.

Nor, apparently, were Angelimar's desire for mustard, or his inquisitiveness, strong enough feelings to detain him into waiting for the Breelander, when pitted against his hunger and his frenetic way of life; the moment he had both bread and meat, he scarpered from the Lamedon Square Market, less conspicuously, but much more quickly than he had come to it.
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Old 03-27-2011, 02:21 PM   #18
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As Bertie eyed his fine feathered friends, Goran nudged Garan, nodding his head toward the rich looking fellow who’d just passed by. ‘Now there’s a plump little pigeon who could stand a few less coins weighing him down!’ He smiled, a devilish light playing around his face. He cocked a brow at his brother.

‘Uncle – you go on down to the Compass Rose and have a cup. Me ‘n’ Garan’ll bring you back a nice fresh roll to keep your ribs from knocking together.’ Goran linked his arm through his brother’s and hauled him toward their quarry. ‘Hurry now, he’s quick on his feet.’

~*~

Posy turned the corner, her baskets of violet nosegays perched on her hip. ‘Now where are those two off to?’ she wondered aloud at the sight of the two quickly receding figures. ‘Bertie, did they say what they’ve gone to do? ‘Sposed to be helping me out today!’
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Old 03-28-2011, 09:36 AM   #19
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About to leave the Square behind him, Angelimar became aware of the twin urchins he had barely noticed earlier homing in. He came to a dead stop as they neared, assessing his surroundings. As luck would have it, close by was 'Nimloth's Stall of Sweeteries, white toffee apples, Bon Bons and wizard floss sold here' - perfect.

It was well equipped with a bag of treats that the sleight-handed popinjay prepared to meet his distinguished pair of challengers. For he was sure enough what they were up to...and quite curious, too, to find what would be in their pockets at this stage of the morning's routine. He strolled up to Garan and Goran, whistling with a competent enough harmony.

"Good day, lads. I just happen to have a bunch of sweeties here. Seem to have picked it up somehow, and don't have much of a sweet tooth myself, unfortunately...would either of you be interested in them?"

He surveyed the twins keenly, assessing the feelings that would be jangling in their heads. He had surprised them by seeing them, by stopping for them, most of all by speaking to them, and they were a little afraid. They were surprised at the sudden appearance of the treats - truth be told, Mistress Nimloth would have been even more surprised, and it was a good thing he had intercepted them out of her range of notice. But uppermost in the minds of the boys was greed, and, as they started to calculate the size of the bag and to turn their eyes on each other, envy, too.

"It'll be a hard time dividing them up," he confessed. "I only seem to have one white toffee apple, for example, and everybody knows they're the best ones. Perhaps you'd care to join me in a game of chance to determine the winner...?"
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Old 04-20-2011, 02:38 PM   #20
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‘Some pigeon you picked!’ Garan hissed in a whisper to his brother. Goran shrugged his shoulders as he glanced from the proffered sweets to Garan. He slipped his hands into the pockets of his breeches and looked back at the gentleman.

‘Sorry, sir, you’ll have to eat that apple yourself, I guess.’ Goran sighed and looked quite sad at the thought. ‘Me and my brother got nothing to play with.’ He pulled out his pockets, both empty save for a bit of lint, a few old crumbs, and one broken wooden button. Garan pulled out his pockets, too – as empty as those of his brother.

‘And besides, our big brother’d give us both a hiding if he caught us playing games of chance.’ Garan nodded solemnly at this pronouncement.

Goran cocked an ear and furrowed his brow as if just barely catching some sound. ‘It’s Sis,’ he said, elbowing Garan . ‘I think she’s calling us.’

With a nod of their heads to the gentleman, and one last look at the bag of sweets, the two took to their heels and ran off . . . like little mice bent on escaping a wily fox.
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Old 04-20-2011, 02:51 PM   #21
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The thieflings receded to the soft melody of the young man's laughter.

An object would rear over their heads in a neat arc. In this bright morning, its whiteness was not especially conspicuous, though the twins had, of course, much-practiced sight. With barely the mildest of thuds it came to rest, a yard or so ahead of them.

If the pair were to look back, they would find their new acquaintance's exit complete - but he had had the basic kindness to them, if not to Mistress Nimloth, to leave his white toffee apple behind him.
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Old 04-20-2011, 06:12 PM   #22
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Having taken the early morning shift, watching the Market from the pinkish hours of dawn, Captain Formendur was technically off-duty once the bells rang from the Tower at noon, but he rarely left the Marketplace while it was still daylight--and sometimes not at night. He had given his early adult life to the Tower Guard and had never found a wife. Now that he had grown older--and larger--he had bestowed his pent-up paternal concern on the marketplace that formed the centre of his military ward.

As usual, once the bells rang, Captain Formy made a final, lazy loop of the marketplace, and then settled into one of his favourite pubs. The Bastion and the Badger Inn was one of the few inns that opened directly onto Lamedon Square, rather than one of the side-streets, and Captain Formy had established it as his base of operations in the afternoons largely because of its easy access to the street. The fact that they had one of the best tavern cooks in Minas Anor didn't hurt either.

IT IS NOW APPROXIMATELY 1:00 IN THE AFTERNOON
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Old 04-21-2011, 09:11 AM   #23
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Shield Shoveler To The Queen

Bragel wasn't entirely sure of mixing mountains and horses. On the good green earth, everything was much of a level. Everything was where it should be, and where you can put it.

But when you put a horse in a city and the city on a mountain, you had to move stuff. The people with money to ride wanted to live up high, while the room for pastures and barns was outside the walls. What went into the front of the horse had to constantly be moved higher, while what came out of the back would go lower. This was here, and that had to be there.

Furthermore, there was supposed to be some fair queen way up somewhere who enjoyed singing to a tree. Somehow, Bragel, with his shovel and his cart, was responsible to make sure the tree smelled good. Well, at least the part of the tree nearest to the Bastion and Badge. He'd do what he could, but it would take a lot of boys with a whole lot of shovels if the entire tree was supposed to smell good enough for this queen.

Bragel. Shoveler to the queen. Would the Queen of the Riddermark need so many shovelers?

But it wasn't all shoveling. They did really need people who knew horses. Even the city folk knew how to handle a shovel. They didn't know horses, not to speak of. Tree or no tree, queen or no queen, Bragel figured to keep busy. Keep busy, and one could have a full stomach and maybe even a roof to sleep under.

Meanwhile, he'd stand watch. In his pocket, a carrot. By his side, a shovel. And he wasn't watching just the horses. Those with two legs could make a mess too.

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Old 05-07-2011, 08:51 PM   #24
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Fea looked about her. It was the quietest first day of open Market that she could remember. No whispers of thieves, no haggling over prices. Not even any good gossip, and after the hubbub of the morning with those silly young actor fellows, even Erchan was nowhere to be seen. But with the constant thump and thud of kneaded bread, she knew the boy was pounding dough for her, beating his small fists into the giant wooden bowls. She mixed the dough just after lunch, combining ingredients with her strong arms, and as it rose in the afternoon heat, blooming up like a fat pig's belly, the boy punched it back down.

Of course she could do it faster than him and still have time for the shoppers, but it gave him a project, and meant one less thing for Fea to do herself.

When the sound was off, a bit too wet and sticky, she yelled through the door, "More flour, boy!"

She leaned her round hip against the edge of her table and hurrumphed. It was a boring day.

But maybe now that the general shopping for necessities had gone by, and the household servants had brought wares back to their masters, the folk with more money and more time might start wandering with loose wallets and loose lips.
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Old 08-03-2011, 07:40 PM   #25
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The donkey walked along the wide street. He would have slowed down and looked around more if it wasn’t for Ghalakrìd’s mood and the cumbersome cart. He has never seen anything as big as this city before. It was grand; the white walls shone in the sun. It was such a warm and pleasant day. Why did his mistress want to hurry? And why was she in such a bad mood when the weather was so lovely?

Ghalakrìd scowled at her donkey, who showed every sign of turning around again to study some other traveler. “Move on, Mule!” she muttered with a smack on the donkey’s back.

Now what have I done to deserve being called ‘Mule’? the donkey thought indignantly, but trotted along obediently nonetheless, his feet making a regular clip-clop rhythm on the cobblestones. They soon came to a wide square where many colourful stands were set up, their owners advertising their goods in every way imaginable.

Ghalakrìd scowled again. This was why she tried to make haste: all the good visible spots near the center and along the streets were already taken by other merchants. There was space for her wagon in the farther corners, but she knew she wouldn’t be able to sell half as many things there. People of Gondor did not buy that much from her as it was; they preferred to trade with their own kind. They trusted their own kind. They did not trust Ghalakrìd’s. Yet there was still smaller money when she was shunned off to the corners. If it only wasn’t for these wretched, rude, disrespectful children, these… – Ghalakrìd searched for a fitting description, and finding none, gritted her teeth. Nothing could be done to change anything now.

It begun with one lad. He had dark brown eyes that were unlike any other Gondorian’s. They were deep, but they were not grey; they had a true brown in them, with specks of gold. Grey for the treacherous waters, brown for the sure earth we stand upon… Ghalakrìd knew not why that simple village boy who didn’t even reach up to her waist made her heart feel warm. She almost smiled when she saw him. But then he said it, and her smile was cut short before it reached her lips. Rhûnwen. At first his voice was quiet, barely above a whisper. Then he called louder. And again. He giggled. Other lads and lasses, big and small, came running out from every house, every door. They came in front of her, not letting her pass through. And all were laughing and shouting one word. Rhûnwen. Ghalakrìd looked at the boy whom she was fond of a minute ago, whom she trusted – he was laughing with the rest, jumping around her cart. In this land, even the earth is treacherous. Then came the sticks. At least they weren’t stones, though this did not give much solace. And then… Ghalakrìd did not quite know what happened. Apples rolled on the dusty road. The children stepped on them, giving them no heed. These were her apples. She picked them from the wild trees.

Rhûnwen. It was becoming unbearable. ’Tis the noise they are making, Ghalakrìd made herself think, though she knew that it was not the noise, but the name. It seemed like the whole world was filled with arms flailing and sticks flying and din; Ghalakrìd alone stood motionless, looking with bitterness and a speck of hatred on the crazed children. She thought she would not have gotten away from that village if an old man didn’t come out to see what was happening. He called the brood away, and they reluctantly obeyed. The man did not help her pick up the fruit, not dirty and bruised. He looked mistrustfully in her direction and turned away. Ghalakrìd heard him say to the children as they walked away, “As if they haven’t killed enough of our men during the War! Now ‘tis peace, but they are unhappy still! Accursed Rhûnhoth!” And yet he stopped the youngsters. Hounds, not human children!

Only the donkey seemed to have taken real pleasure in the outing. He did not understand what all the fuss was about, but he was happy to eat one of the apples that rolled around him. He would have eaten another one, but Ghalakrìd, noticing in time, smacked him on the muzzle. She collected all the apples and washed them in a small stream before hurrying on to the city. She arranged them carefully in the basket, so that the bruises didn’t show too much. She did what she could. But the time she lost she could not regain.

Ghalakrìd lead the donkey through the market by a rope that she used as reins. It used to be white once. Now it had the same indefinite hue as Ghalakrìd’s dress. They went past a stand with loaves of fresh bread loaded on the shelf. They smelled delicious and looked so rich and crisp! But there wasn’t the money. Ghalakrìd would have to wait.

The donkey was of different mind. While Ghalakrìd was concentrating on looking around for the right place where they would park the wagon, he took a step towards the bakery and grabbed one of the loaves that lay closest.
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Old 08-07-2011, 02:22 PM   #26
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Fea faced the doorway of her shop, lecturing the street children that had tried to slip past her notice, when she heard teeth snap together entirely too close to her backside.

She spun and grabbed a loaf, the long and crusty kind meant to dip in soup to soften it before one eats it, and hoisted it like a club until she saw the horrified expression on the stranger's face, and the well pleased chomping of the donkey. Her anger melted into a chuckle as the donkey flicked his tail at a fly, absently chawing away at one of the best buttery loafs.

"Ah, well, that one had a fly land on it earlier anyhow."

Ghalakrìd's face pinkened. "I... I will pay-"

Fea eyed the woman's shabby cart and its bruised apples. This late in market day, most folks had already bought all they needed, and all that was left to buy were the things the folks had the temerity and the coin to want. They'd not be wanting second-rate apples, to be sure. If the woman got any attention, it would be from the street rats Fea had just chased away from her own wares. It would never do.

The baker met the apple seller's eyes. "Well, of course it will need to be paid for, but I've an idea. I wanted to make some apple bread for tomorrow, but when I sent my boy off to find some fruit, he came back with good eatin' apples that I couldn't bear to cut and cook. Of course the rotten scoundrel knew that all along, so it meant he got a big sweet apple with his noon time meal, and it means I haven't got an apple to my name, and a long list of customers planning to stop by my stall on the morrow, hoping to buy a big spiced loaf loaded with fruit. Mayhap we could arrange an understanding between us?"
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Old 08-07-2011, 06:29 PM   #27
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Ghalakrìd turned sharply, feeing that something was not right, only to see the bread disappear in the donkey's mouth. Too late.

Did she hope the Gondorian won't notice? Did she hope that what the ignorant Mule did would pass quietly, unheeded? The beast meant no harm, she knew. But, intended or not, the harm was done. And Ghalakrìd was the one who had to fix it.

Whatever hopes she had, she would not run away or hide from anyone's anger. She faced the stand firmly as the woman inside held up a different loaf ready to smite the thief with it. Ghalakrìd was not surprised; there was very little these Western strangers - and strangers they were, although she was in their midst for over two decades - could do to surprise her by now. Neither was she dismayed when the woman lowered the bread and laughed lightly.

"Ah, well, that one had a fly land on it earlier anyhow."

"I..." Ghalakrìd began to explain, apologise, say all the truth, but she stopped herself in time. Her eyes became remote, sealed, as though they were two windows suddenly slammed shut. She will not go down so low as to beg that Gondorian woman, whatever the cause be. Her clothes may be torn. She may be hungry. But she will not beg. "I will pay."

The woman eyed her sharply but kindly, like a stern disapproving mother looks at a naughty child that scraped her knee while going on another adventure. This was not to Ghalakrìd's liking.

"Well, of course it will need to be paid for, but I've an idea. I wanted to make some apple bread for tomorrow, but when I sent my boy off to find some fruit, he came back with good eatin' apples that I couldn't bear to cut and cook. Of course the rotten scoundrel knew that all along, so it meant he got a big sweet apple with his noon time meal, and it means I haven't got an apple to my name, and a long list of customers planning to stop by my stall on the morrow, hoping to buy a big spiced loaf loaded with fruit. Mayhap we could arrange an understanding between us?"

An understanding? There could be an understanding between them, between Gondor and Rhûn. Just as much as there can be an understanding between the land and the sea, the Sun and the Moon, the day and the night. Those who have victory, and the enemy. Yet there is harmony between the day and the night, one replacing the other, both comming and going in an endless circle. And there is harmony between the land and the sea, one beginning where the other ends. Shall it always be so with Men? The Men of the East and all their deeds and hopes beginning only where the Men of the West are no more?

"An understanding? Yes, if by that you mean an exchange. You need the fruit, you say. Take what it costs to pay for the bread, and if you need more, I am not the one to take more coin than my things are worth," Ghalakrìd finally replied. Her tone was not kindly. She did not seek to befriend any Gondorian, much less a plump baker who was giving her an all-knowing look mixed with a form of pity. She did not need the pity others gave her. All she wanted...

...Did she know what exactly she wanted? She came to Gondor more than twenty years ago to find food and a means of living. There was famine in her homeland after the War. The King's army did not level the country to the ground, but with all the men gone - dead, or lost - there was very little hope for many families. Many mouths to feed and much work to do. Heavy work. And not nearly enough money. That is why she left. She couldn't stand living there a year longer. Just like now, she couldn't bear returning there. She did not know how her little town was faring. She did not want to know. Even if the famine was past years and years ago, she couldn't return.

So this is what I want. A place. A home.
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Old 08-08-2011, 04:35 PM   #28
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"An understanding? Yes, if by that you mean an exchange. You need the fruit, you say. Take what it costs to pay for the bread, and if you need more, I am not the one to take more coin than my things are worth."

Fea raised an eyebrow, set down her loaf-weapon, and settled her hands on her round hips. "And I am not one to waste coin I've hard earned. Normally I would say a pound of apples for a loaf of bread this good, but the apples in your cart are looking bruised enough that once I cut them, I'll be tossing more than I'd like out to the hogs between the cores and the damaged bits."

If the woman wanted to be as stubborn as the donkey she came in with, she could do just that. After such a quiet day, Fea was spoiling for a good haggle.

When the donkey finished the loaf and began to eyeball another, Fea brandished the long loaf again and glared at it until it flicked its tail as if to say, I wasn't doin' nothin'. "I'll take two and a half dozen for the bread your beast stole, what with them being small, and what's to say they won't be bitter anyway?"
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Old 08-08-2011, 07:14 PM   #29
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"I'll take two and a half dozen for the bread your beast stole, what with them being small, and what's to say they won't be bitter anyway?"

Two and a half dozen! That is about a quarter of all that I have! Pushing down any indignant feelings, Ghalakrìd firmly resolved to stand by her earlier thoughts. She will not beg.

"They are not bitter. It is early for apples, but this bunch is good stuff," she said stiffy, looking straight into the baker's eyes. "And if you do not trust my word, you can try them for yourself before we make it a deal." Of course she does not trust such folk as I am. She is just like the other Gondorians. Ghalakrìd doubted that the woman would challenge her further, so she turned and bent over to reach the bucket. She pulled it closer with some effort before picking up four fruit and putting them on the shelf in front of the baker. "Where do you want them? Do you have a basket handy to put them in?"
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Old 08-10-2011, 09:03 AM   #30
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"Where do you want them? Do you have a basket handy to put them in?"

Fea hid a smile. Well, at least this one was not the fool she might have been.

"Four!? That's barely a pound, as small as they are. If it was a plain loaf I might consider six, but a loaf like this? They tell me the Queen herself prefers my loaf above all other market breads, and you would ask me to take just four tiny apples in recompense?"

Just then, a chicken flailed its way through the air, causing a ruckus on its own. It was swiftly followed by a bony boy yelling for pardon with his arms in the air in front of him, trying to bat the fat bird back into captivity. The storm of feathers and dust covered a well dressed silver-haired man who stood paralyzed in disbelief.

Through it all, Fea grabbed a sheet and threw it over her wares to protect them from the filth.

With the chicken and the boy gone so swiftly, it would have felt like a dream except the man came over to Fea's booth. She pointedly ignored a feather in his hair and said, "I'll be right with you, sir. There is haggling afoot."

With that she waited for the newcomer's retort.
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Old 08-10-2011, 01:36 PM   #31
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"Four!? That's barely a pound, as small as they are. If it was a plain loaf I might consider six, but a loaf like this? They tell me the Queen herself prefers my loaf above all other market breads, and you would ask me to take just four tiny apples in recompense?" The woman was clearly angry about this, but her eyes twinkled somewhere deep inside.

Ghalakrìd was about to give her answer when she was interrupted by a commotion behind her. A hen, making a bid for freedom, was flapping its wings wildly trying to escape a boy who was wildly flapping his arms at the fugitive. When they were gone, everything was covered in feathers and dust. Everything, except for the breads and cakes that the woman timely covered with a cloth.

A man came over to the stand. The baker asked him to wait so that she and Ghalakrìd could decide on the price. "You mistook me," Ghalakrìd said calmly, "I do not think that your bread is worth that little to equal four of my apples. I am not one of those who triple the price of my wares. Yet I also do not think that it is worth thirty fruit. The Queen of Gondor may have a taste for your cakes, but that does not make the one this mule ate more precious. I say that a dozen or so will be enough to repay my debt. I will need a basket to put these in for now; I cannot hold twelve of them at once."

Meanwhile, the donkey, understanding that under the watch of two tough ladies he won't be able to grab another delicious loaf from the sill, turned to watch the strange man that came close. He was a curious man. The donkey didn't fathom why the ladies were making such a fuss out of nothing, and he didn't really care. But the man was intriguing him. His clothing was all funny. The donkey took a tentative step towards him - let the women argue! Then a few more steps. He almost touched the man with his muzzle when a sharp word from his mistress brought him up short and made him retreat, pushing the cart into its previous place.
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Old 08-10-2011, 03:06 PM   #32
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"I will need a basket to put these in for now; I cannot hold twelve of them at once."

Fea scooped a basket from under the back side of her table and deposited it without ceremony. "In that case, the basket is right here. Though I'll still be needing thirty apples, I'll pay for the rest in coin, or in trade if you'd prefer."

The gentleman's eyes moved back and forth from woman to woman as though he watched a throwing match between young men. Occasionally his eyes settled upon the brazen donkey, which eyed him with disdain.

Erchan ran from the kitchen into the street, a plume of smoke behind him. "Fea, I burned your loaves, please don't beat me!"

Fea thought for a moment she might just beat him for suggesting to a street full of people that she abused her help, but that seemed counterproductive, so she stopped him, turned him, and pushed him back into the smoky building, saying, "Get the loaves out and set to cooling. We'll cut off the burn, break the rest into pieces, douse them in egg, and rebake it all into cobblestone bread. Stop your panicking, you're worrying the folks around us."

Fea rolled her eyes at Erchan's retreating figure, clearly addressing the apple woman. "Boys. They make things easier and harder at the same time."
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:18 PM   #33
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Ghalakrìd couldn't help smiling inside when the baker agreed to the price she set. It was a fair price, but... well, she will allow herself to glee over nothing, just this time. And she won't show anything. She placed the apples into the basket and bent down to her own basket to reach for more.

At this moment a boy ran out of the booth, shouting "Fea, I burned your loaves, please don't beat me!" The woman turned to him to calm him down.

Ghalakrìd froze with the apples in her hands. Images unwanted came swirling into her mind. She was making a lavash-like food - a poor substitute for proper bread in times of hunger - when her neighbour ran into the house without knocking, and pleaded her to come help her. Ghalakrìd went, leaving her brother in charge of the oven. When she came back, her brother rushed to the door. "Ghallë, I burned your bread!" he shouted in geeting.

"Boys. They make things easier and harder at the same time." The woman's voice startled her out of her memmories. Ghalakrìd dropped the apples she was holding into the basket, not too carefully, and replied absent-mindedly, "Boys, yes. Help and trouble." She bent down for more.

The boy called that woman Fea. Ghalakrìd tried to remember what that meant in Elvish. She always had trouble with that language, so unlike her own. Aha! Found it: Spirit. Well, the name definitely suited it's bearer.

Then she remembered. She still did not give a price for eighteen more of the thirty apples. "For the fruit I will take two or three loaves of the simplest bread you have, depending on their size. If they are big enough - just two."
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:23 AM   #34
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Fea inspected what was left on her table. It was well after the noon meal and she hated day old bread.

Well, that was not true. The truth was that she subscribed to her grandmother's philosophy on baked good. Excellent the first day, passable the second day, bird food after. She would eat her own bread the second day, or sell it at discount, but it was better to sell the whole day's bake and start fresh each morning.

Still on the table were some baskets of sweet rolls, the kind that tide you over between noon meal and supper. They would sell yet, and the few that did not would go home with Erchan as a treat for his family. He apprenticed to her and learned a trade. His family made do with his absence by a regular influx of bread.

Let us see- there were two loaves left of oat bread, dense and a bit sweet, dusted with flour so the tops were soft and white. Good and filling, but not much to them unless you had a wedge of cheese and a sausage alongside.

This one, cracked wheat and pine nuts. Good and hearty, but not simple. The woman asked for simple.

"I've a loaf of white and a loaf of brown that both go well with whatever you serve. Not too sweet, filling, and simple. A humble bread. Shall I wrap the loaves?"
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Old 08-11-2011, 01:04 PM   #35
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"I've a loaf of white and a loaf of brown that both go well with whatever you serve. Not too sweet, filling, and simple. A humble bread. Shall I wrap the loaves?"

"That would be a good thing. Thank you," Ghalakrìd replied. She finished counting out two and a half dozen apples and took the bread from Fea. "That is it, I suppose?" The woman nodded, turning to help the man who waited patiently all this time.

Ghalakrìd clicked her tongue - a signal for the donkey to move along. The beast followed her at a sullen walk. He didn't get another cake, not even an apple! "Hurry up, Horse!" the Mistress called. Horse? Horse? This was something unexpected, though not at all unpleasant. Maybe I should eat more bread next time, if she likes that! he thought, quickening his pace to a dignified trot.

Ghalakrìd led the way to an empty spot in the market. In a few minutes she positioned the cart in such a way that it would be seen better. She unbuckled the donkey to let him have some rest, but tied the end of his rope to the side of the wagon, so that he won't go about doing any more mischief. She then unwrapped two pieces of pottery - a jug and a bowl - from the cloths that covered them and kept them from developing cracks on every rut in the road. She put them on the visible spot, next to the apples. She had other pieces, but she did not want to put all out at the same time.

Seeing as there were few people around and she would not be able to get much attention with her wares, Ghalakrìd sat down on a rag beside her cart and took out a thin piece of wood and a small metal tool. She began whittling away at it. This was going to be a pennywhistle.
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