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Old 08-26-2003, 11:58 AM   #170
Child of the 7th Age
Spirit of the Lonely Star
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Eckthelion's eye methodically swept the ballroom as the Steward weighed and measured the attributes of each member of Finduilas's circle. He was wary of approaching one of the fine ladies who'd accompanied the bride to court. Concerned with pleasing the ruler of Gondor, they'd pick and choose what to reveal, glossing over any unpleasantness. Nor would he gain much insight from questioning the younger servants. Either they'd be overawed by his presence or offer him a laundry list of complaints and rumors with no indication of what was important and what was not. No, he needed to speak with an older member of the household, someone whom Finduilas trusted, a woman with a level head but one who wasn't afraid to voice her concerns.

Eckthelion sauntered over to a side gallery that jutted out from the main hall just off the area where the buffet was set up. Although secluded, it afforded a direct view of the ballroom floor. A cluster of servants had gathered there, eating and chatting and hanging over the balustrade as they gazed out at the dancers. Eckthelion's attention was immediately caught by an unfamiliar figure with dark hair that had only two or three grey tresses interspersed. The woman wore a gown in immaculate taste, suggesting she had some standing among the servants as well as more than the usual share of common sense. He struggled to put a name to the face and mentally scanned the list of retainers whom Finduilas had brought with her until he reached a match.

Ah,....this was Diorwyn the seamstress. She'd left behind a family to come serve her mistress for one last time. What most intrigued Eckthelion was the woman's dark and observent eyes, which seemed to drink in her surroundings, missing very little of importance.

After a few initial titters and giggles on the part of several young maids at the Steward's approach, the crowd of servants respectfully drew back, leaving Eckthelion free to walk forward to the chair where Diorwyn was seated. As the seamstress began to rise in respectful greeting, he cautioned her to sit down again, and drew their two chairs close together to be able to talk without interference.

"Mistress Diorwyn, let me congratulate you. You've outdone yourself with the butterfly gown for the Lady Finduilas. It shows off her gentleness and her high spirits just as my son would want."

Much to Eckthelion's relief, Diorwyn responded with quiet assurance and gave no indication of being overawed. Determined to plunge ahead with his questioning and find some explanation for the unease he sensed in the hall, the Steward reached over and gently lifted up Diorwyn's hand into his own, "It must not be an easy thing for Finduilas to leave the city where she grew up and the sea which she loves with all her heart. Nor can it be easy for those who came with her. But tell me, have the people of Minas Tirith made you feel welcome? Have the ladies at court extended their hand in friendship? I am truly concerned about this for I wish Denethor's bride to be happy."

Diorwyn shifted uneasily in her seat uncertain where to begin and wondering whether or not she should speak the truth. Sensing her discomfort, Eckthelion gently sqeezed the hand of the seamstress to encourage her to continue, "Come now, if there is a problem, it's best to discuss it. I spend from morning till night dealing with the problems of the citizens of Gondor. I have heard all manner of complaints and concerns. Nothing you say could possibly surprise me....."

[ August 27, 2003: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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