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Old 09-19-2006, 02:14 PM   #561
Firefoot
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“His name is Lys,” replied Léof in the same quiet tone. “He was found on the side of a road here in the city near death about two months ago, I think; he has spent much of that time recovering, and I don’t think he remembers much. Actually, your brother was the one to find him and has taken quite an interest in him; he could probably tell you more.”

This seemed only to increase Javan’s curiosity. Why not ask him to join us? The thought jumped suddenly into Léof’s mind, and he was surprised he had not thought of it before. Lys was still weak enough that he did not spend much time with the rest of the household of the Hall, and would not know many people or feel comfortable with them. Wouldn’t he want some companionship?

“We could go introduce ourselves and ask him to have lunch with us,” suggested Léof. “I don’t think he knows many people yet.”

“Alright,” Javan readily agreed, and the two walked over to Lys and Hrethel.

Léof reckoned he ought to talk first; he did, after all, at least know something about Lys. “Hello, Lys,” he said. “I’m not sure we’ve ever really been introduced, but I’m Léof, the ostler, and this is Javan; he’s visiting Thornden his brother at the Hall. Anyhow, we were about to eat lunch and wondered if you might like to join us.”
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Old 09-19-2006, 03:00 PM   #562
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“So you’ve heard, have you?” Trystan asked hoarsely. “How?”

Thornden watched him warily a moment. He didn’t answer at once. He took a couple careful steps forward and bent quickly to the pick up the knife the young man had drawn, and then he retreated again. He gave himself time to study Trystan carefully and thoroughly. He didn’t understand.

“I haven’t heard anything,” Thornden finally said, in the calmest and quietest voice he could manage. Trystan was like a horse, frightened and dangerous, apparently calm and in control one moment, and snapping his teeth and rearing the next. “There’s been no crime or death. And I’m not trying to threaten you.” He glance down at the blade in his hand. “I can’t say, though, that I’m too fond of being threatened myself. What is it you’re hiding? Have you done something?”

“No!”

“Then what are you afraid of?” Thornden shot back at once. “Trystan, for heaven’s sake, I haven’t accused you of a single thing! You assume that what I ask is for your ruin, and I don’t have any such thing in mind. You keep talking as though I’m trying to prove something on you that isn’t true! There are two possibilities that might explain for your behavior – you have done something wrong and haven’t been found out yet, but think you might be on the verge of being discovered, or – you haven’t done anything wrong and someone who has the ability to get you into trouble says you have. For my part, I’d like to believe that you haven’t done any wrong, but from the way you’re acting, goodness knows!”

Trystan said nothing. He didn’t even look Thornden full in the face. His expression was hard and closed. His fake self had come back into place. But Thornden wasn’t fooled. Only annoyed.

“Speak to me!” he said sternly. “I can’t help you if you don’t say anything but lies. No one can.” Still the boy was silent. Thornden stood silently for a moment. The muscles in his jaw worked in and out. He looked again at the knife in his hand. Then he sighed a very deep sigh and looked back at Trystan. When he spoke again, his voice sounded tired. “We need to go back. You will come with me. I have to tell Eodwine and Saeryn what has passed here.”
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Old 09-20-2006, 04:40 AM   #563
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“Hello, Lys,”

Lys started as he heard a voice next to him. He turned and saw two young men, a few years older than him, both tall and strong. The taller smiled and spoke kindly.

“I’m not sure we’ve ever really been introduced, but I’m Léof, the ostler, and this is Javan; he’s visiting Thornden his brother at the Hall. Anyhow, we were about to eat lunch and wondered if you might like to join us.”

The shadow of his fear lifted from him immediately as he replied warmly to the two.

"I would be very happy to! I am hungry, and I know so few people here. But you say you are Thornden's brother? That is great news! I'm sure he will be happy to see you..."

Hrethel coughed and Lys turned back to him. "I think you have some companions to spend your afternoon with, young man. I will not slow you up, and at any rate, I have chores to attend to. Mind you do not wear yourself out!"

Lys grinned. "I will be careful, Hrethel. Thank you for your care." Hrethel shook a hand in his direction. "Nay, it was a task easy to do. I will return to check on you."

As the Healer turned from the group, he nodded at Javan and Léof. "You take care of him. He is strong, and can hold his way, but he is not healed yet!" With this last warning, the Healer shuffled away from the Mead Hall in search of a steed to carry him back to Edoras.

"I am glad I have others to spend the day with" said Lys finally, "I feel a burden on Hrethel, and on Thornden. Everyone has been very kind to me. But I would now ask a kindness of you Léof, and ask you lead the way to the kitchens. I am still not familiar with the world away from my bed!"
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Old 09-20-2006, 05:11 PM   #564
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The thought of a child starting to learn a trade too young was not one that had been in Garstan's mind. There were limits, of course. Strength of arm and body were needed. Garmund could wield the hammer well, so long as the work was light. The simpler tasks of carpentry were not beyond Cnebba. And those who came to apprenticeship with some skill already learned would find the years of training easier.

Still, Garstan had been without guidance in his choice to teach Garmund early. When they journeyed alone through Rohan, there had been no other way known to Garstan or his son. Garmund had been happy in learning stonecraft, and had shown gifts for the work. But since they had come to the Hall, things had changed, and Garmund would sometimes look away, listening to the sounds of the other children at play, and more eager than before to put his tools aside.

Mayhap he had been too strict with Garmund. Garstan thought of the boy's serious, thoughtful face that oft made him seem older than he was, and of the short times of high spirits that brought back the truth that Garmund was only a boy. Garstan could not, and would not, release him entirely from lessons, but he would think upon lessening the hours spent at the hammer.

Sliding his bowl to the edge of the table, Garmund spoke. "It seems to me, Stigend, that a likely lad cannot too soon begin to learn the skills of a trade, if his arm be steady and strong enough for it. But neither would I see him - Garmund or Cnebba - unhappy.

Might you bring Cnebba to learn some of the lesser tasks? It may be well too for me to leave Garmund free more. With neither always at play or yet always at work, the trouble might be eased."
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Old 09-22-2006, 12:24 PM   #565
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Since Eodwine had held court and fatefully taken Manawyth the Dunlending under his own protection, a great silence had fallen upon the foreign singer.

His music was utterly quashed, certainly. Every time he picked up a harp Manawyth felt like a usurper. He was no bard, he felt now, and he had lied within himself when he sold the sword that had protected him and marked him out.

It was the act of telling his story that had muted all subsequent stories.

They were all too vivid now, brothers living and dead, enemies living and dead, parents dead and sister...who knew? But they all spoke to him at night, and made him weep, secretly.

He kept his own company. He could not leave the Inn alone by the Eorl's edict, and so he rarely did at all. He drank, not in publicly in the mead hall in the raucous forgoil way, but alone, with a Dunlending passivity he took pride in. Defeated pride.

Falco Boffin's friendly greetings still occasionally reached him, but he rarely replied, and his tentative rapport with Thornden had quite decayed.

Often and long he lay on his straw pallet with furs about him, and waited for winter like a weary boar. But it was the very coming of the colder, crisper, autumn, that rebuked him, and reminded him of when he had been something better with better prospects.

Manawyth pulled himself from beneath the coverlet, struggled into a pair of boots and walked, more or less steadily, downstairs, following the call of chattering voices. They seemed more reassuring than mocking now; but he remained on his guard still.
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Old 09-22-2006, 01:03 PM   #566
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Lys, Javan, and Lčof

Lys walked between Javan and Lčof as they walked into the Mead Hall. Lčof told them to sit down at one of the long, wooden tables while he would run off to find some food. Lys and Javan went over and sat down on the hard, wooden bench. There was a silence between the two of them. Javan looked around in great interest. Medreth and Saeryn were not in the room but near by there was a group of three older people, talking over their lunch, and just by them, two children sat.

His attention came back to the boy next to him as Lys made a slight movement on the bench. “Do you know my brother?” he asked. “Thornden?”

“Yes,” Lys said, looking up with a smile. “He’s the one who found me and brought me here. And while I was healing, he visited me a lot and told me stuff that was going on and helped me get better.”

“What was wrong with you?” Javan asked, curious, as most boys his age are.

“I think I had a couple broken ribs and a broken ankle, too. I couldn’t stand for a long time. It was very dreary, being alone most of the day in my room.”

“I’m sure it was,” Javan said, understandingly. “How’d you get hurt so bad? Don’t you have parents who’d take care of you?”

“I’m back!” Lčof announced, interrupting the answer. “Here, Lys, take one of these bowls before I drop it.” He stood behind the two of them and bent over slightly towards Lys. Lys turned and took the offered bowl and Lčof set another one down before Javan before sitting down on his other side.
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Old 09-22-2006, 07:56 PM   #567
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In the ruins

"Where were you?" Thornden demanded, for Falco had just led Garmund back into the circular enclosure.

"Exploring," Falco answered with a tip of his head in the direction from which they had come. He winked at Garmund, who flashed a smile.

Thornden saw the wink and scowled, turning to the boy. "Garmund, I told you to stay here! And Master Boffin, you were supposed to stay and watch him!"

Falco raised his head and stood straight, pulling himself to as much height as he owned. "You've no call ordering me around, Master Thornden, almbudsman or not, as I ain't beholden to you for nothing but my word. And my word is that I'm beholden to Garstan for they boy, as much as you, and here he is safe and sound and never out from under my eye. I just wish I could say the same for your care of him, leavin' him all alone to be stumbled on by anyone at all. Lucky it was for us that it was Trystan who found him and not some scoundrel we don't know from an orc."

"I-" Thornden began to protest but Falco cut him off.

"Now I won't go tellin' on you to Garstan that you left the boy all alone, leastways not lest you do somethin' so tweenish again!"

Thornden was beginning to turn a strange color in the face, which Falco took for pent up dander. He admitted to himself that he was having more fun riling the almbudsman than he ought to, but there it was.
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Old 09-23-2006, 04:39 AM   #568
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"Dad, I'm not a baby", Cnebba said defiantly. Modtryth cast a venomous look at Stigend.
"No one has said anything like that, dear", Modtryth replied him. "Now, you two seem to have eaten your food." Lčođern nodded, but Cnebba seemed to sense what his mother was going to say. Before he could open his mouth, she said: "I saw two frogs on the yard near the new kitchen a while ago. The bigger one was this big." She spread her fingers at least five inches from each other.
"Let's go, Cnebba! I want to see it!" Lčođern jumped from her seat. "Can we go to see the frogs, daddy?"
"Of course", Garstan smiled. The girl ran to the door. She turned. Cnebba was still sitting at the table.
"Cnebba, come", she urged.
The boy sighed, cast a grudging look at his mother and ran after his friend.

The adults watched them race off and Modtryth started to speak before Stigend could reply Garstan himself. "Cnebba is eight. He is only a child." She knew it was not unusual that a child started to learn the family trade at the age if eight, or even earlier. "And carpentry is dangerous work", she continued, casting a meaningful look at her husband. He maybe thought she hadn't noticed the tiny rip on his trousers, or that he was slightly favoring his other leg.

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

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Gah! Modryth was tough and crafty as usual. Just a moment before Stigend had been most confident that things were at last going his way but now he wasn’t so sure any more. Indeed he started to have doubts about his success. Everything Modtryth said were both true and reasonable: Cnebba was just eight, carpentry wasn’t the safest of the trades... Stigend felt his leg still aching.

“Maybe Cnebba would do better beginning something else, at least for the time being? You know how he’s interested in all things in nature. Maybe someone here would be willing to teach him those things? Or how he’s interested in all the tales of old and new, or how he likes to count and sort all kinds of things and arrange them. I admire your trade dear husband, but I do think Cnebba’s talents may lie elsewhere. We do not yet know what will he grow up to be”, Modryth said and looked at Stigend challengingly. Garstan frowned. This seemed like a topic those two had argued over quite a few times before and he had no wish to put his head in between the two.

Stigend was indeed preparing himself for defeat. When Modryth took a position this firmly there was no turning her head, at least with means known to Stigend. He swallowed the piece of bread he had been chewing and took a sip of the wine. Then he looked at both Garstan and Modtryth and said half-jokingly, trying to win time to have one more decent argument: “Maybe you should take him with you when you go to the town for your duties?” With that he nodded smilingly to Garstan.

“Yes, why not. That's a good idea indeed.” Modryth seemed happy with the idea. Stigend stiffened down to his toes. “And Leothern is surely welcome to join us, if that suits you Garstan? They could learn so many things about measures and qualities, and they would meet different people and learn about different characters. And...”

“Allright, Modryth! My son is no merchant... and will not become one!” Stigend was clearly agitated. He dropped his spoon into his bowl somewhat ostentatiously and pushed the bowl away from him like he was about make a leave immediately.

But Garstan laid his hand over Stigend’s and looked at him straight to the eye. Stigend froze back to his seat. “Let’s give her a chance, my friend? Now, she will not turn our children into fraudulent merchants by just taking them to learn a couple of new things on the market!” Stigend hesitated. He didn’t know what to say or do. They were both against him, but they were speaking sense too. Stigend was baffled.

While Stigend was speechless, Garstan continued: “I suggest the following. Modtryth takes Cnebba and Leothern with her to the town, now what is it, once or twice a week?” He turned towards Modtryth with the question. She nodded back to Garstan and immediately flashed a triumphant smile to Stigend. “So on those days I’ll take Garmund with me to learn stonework. Not one child is forced to be separated from the others as the others play and our problem is solved. Doesn’t that sound reasonable to you Stigend?” With that Garstan patted Stigends hand lightly. Stigend withdrew his hand from under Garstan’s but then, after a moment’s hesitation, took hold of it.

“Maybe you’re right my friend. Maybe you’re right my wife.” He glanced to the contendedly smiling Modtryth beside him. “It does solve our problem, and what comes to Cnebba’s future... well he has a lots of it in front of him, days and years to come. Maybe we should not decide that yet...”

So they finished their supper, mainly sharing funny incidents their children had been involved in before the time they had known each other. They were laughing a lot and slowly even Stigend started to regain his usual hearty mood.

“By the way”, Stigend said, when they were getting their empties to the kitchen, “my job of hewing the baulks is getting ready. It will be done in just a couple of days. Then I would need a few pairs of strong hands to aid me to actually put the walls together into a framework. We need to hoist those heavy logs on top of each other and secure them with dowels. The children should be away from the site then. To be sure... I guess I will need to ask lord Eodwine for a couple of men to help me there, but I would really appreciate your help there too Garstan – if your own work allows you to join in.”

“My work with the oven is getting ready, so rest assured, I will be there.” Garstan answered. “I’m looking forwards to it. Maybe I’ll learn something, as you did when you helped me with the brickwork”, with this he smiled to Stigend and he smiled back. Modtryth was smiling too, albeit for very different reasons.

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Old 09-24-2006, 12:23 PM   #569
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Thornden bit down on his tongue savagely. He dearly wished Falco stood about three feet taller just now. It wouldn’t be an honorable thing to say or do any one of the ideas that popped into his head just at that moment. To argue would be childish, to strike out would be cowardly and stupid. He was annoyed to feel a hot flush rise to his face.

“Are you ready to go back, then?” he asked shortly after a pause. But still Falco’s words rankled him. ‘Now I won’t go tellin’ on you to Garstan that you left the boy alone…’I left the boy alone?” he burst out. “I wouldn’t be afraid of you telling anybody!”

“Well, you did leave him, didn’t you?” Falco asked, a mischievous (and infuriating) twinkle in his eye. Thornden felt Trystan’s gaze on him, and he saw Falco’s difficultly kept serious face and Garmund’s weak attempt to keep from laughing. He generally wouldn’t mind being laughed at, but Falco was painting him up to be ridiculous and foolish, and he did it in such a way that left Thornden almost entirely defenseless.

“Falco,” he said, his voice quivering with the effort to keep it even and low. “You know very well that I had little choice but to leave him in order to go and make certain that you weren’t being hurt or killed. You can say what you like when we get back to the hall, but if you open your mouth to make me out to be the careless one, I’ll tell Eodwine you’re not fit to leave the court without supervision on account of your foolish curiosity and daft disobedience to common sense. We’re leaving. Now.” He jerked his head in the general direction of the horses and stalked to the wall of ivy that they had come through when they first arrived. He swept away the broken branches and held it open for the others to pass through before him.
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Old 09-24-2006, 07:01 PM   #570
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Falco chuckled. Thornden could be fun.

"Now now, Master Thornden, Eodwine knows me far better than do you, an' I'm just pricklin' you for fun. No need to get all bebothered. I-"

"Rilef I'm called."

Falco noted Thornden's eyes suddenly widen before he turned himself to see Lefun and Ritun, only they had the look of one man with a sack on his back again.

Garmund cried, "Lefun! Ritun! You're-"

"Garmund! Hush now!" Falco cried, putting his hand on the boy's shoulder and quickly whispered into his ear. "Play along with the twins now, eh?" Garmund's eyes became circles and his lips turned into an 'O'; Falco was satisfied that he understood.

"Rilef," Falco said, "Welcome. Would you come to the Mead Hall with us?"

'Rilef' eyed Trystan and Thornden with thinly veiled suspicion and fear; but Trystan seemed suddenly to have been put at his ease for reasons Falco could only guess at. Rilef (it was Lefun with Ritun holding tight round his neck) finally settled his gaze on Falco.

"Aye. With you and the boy I go. These two walk ahead."
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Old 09-24-2006, 07:15 PM   #571
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"I’m back!"

Lys was almost delighted to hear Lčof's voice. He knew very well Javan meant no harm in his questions. His condition could have been caused by a brave fall, or could even have a brave story of rescue by his Uncle to tell. But it was nothing so heroic on Lys' part, and nothing he liked to think about amongst kind company.

"Here, Lys, take one of these bowls before I drop it." Lys reached up and took the warm bowl, wincing just a little as the weight bore on his tender ribs. But neither of the boys saw him discomfort, and for that he was glad. Lys looked about as he slowly ate his meal, marvelling at how the Hall came alive for the midday meal. Lys picked out carefully all sort of interesting folk, and tried to match them to the stories that Thornden had told him. Lys then saw the figre of a tall man walk silently into the room. He at once knew this man was Manawyth. Trying to keep his gaze from looking too obvious, Lys looked and wondered why this man was so separated from all the rest gathering for his lunch. His appearance, true, was a bit different. But Lys could only look with childish wonder at the Dunlending. He seemed to be troubled, and Lys could not understand why.

Looking back at his meal, Lys began to think out loud about his friend.

"I wonder when Thornden will return? He did not say where he would be going today. I do not know how long you have been here, Javan. Perhaps you know?"

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Old 09-27-2006, 08:36 PM   #572
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In the Ruins

In a flash of thought, it all became very clear to Thornden. Falco’s and Garmund’s disappearance seemed explained. He had been duped, fooled, into going after Trystan so that Falco and Garmund could speak to this man, and now he was coming to the Mead Hall! He drew a great breath, his eye never leaving Rilef. Finally, he looked away and his gaze settled on Falco.

“This is your doing, no doubt.”

“Nay, my dear fellow, more of Gamunds, I’d say,” the hobbit replied.

“Be that as it may, do you think it is wise?”

“You’re on your way to ruining everything Garmund and I fixed up with this fellow. Now, just run along and do as he asks. It’ll be fine. I’ll explain everything to Eodwine. Rilef is a harmless chap. He won’t hurt anybody!”

Thornden looked again at Rilef. He hadn’t moved a step and he stood as still as a statue, waiting, until Trystan and Thornden moved off. What was he to do in such a position? Falco wasn’t inclined to do anything he said anyway, so why even bother to argue with him? If he was asked to explain Rilef’s appearance, he could always give that as an excuse. Oh, excellent excuse, Thornden, my man, he thought bitterly. A hobbit made you do something you didn’t want to do.

Yet what was the actual danger in it? There had been doubtful and possibly dangerous folk pass through the Mead Hall. And now, on closer and more careful examination, Rilef wasn’t quite as huge as he had first imagined in his surprise. Falco did say he was harmless. He also knew Eodwine a great deal better, he claimed. What was more, it wasn’t fair to deny Rilef free passage to the hall. He was a man, regardless of how wild and un-kept her looked.

Finally, after long seconds of heavy silence, Thornden shrugged and his tense muscled relaxed slightly. “Very well,” he said in a clipped tone. “As long as you are willing to vouch for him.”

Falco nodded and smiled. “I am!” he said cheerfully. Thornden turned away and ducked through the broken vines and went down the near invisible path towards the horses.
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Old 09-27-2006, 08:55 PM   #573
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Javan with Lys and Lčof

“I haven’t been here very long,” Javan said, glancing up from his bowl. “My sister and I only arrived. . .maybe half of an hour ago. Lčof and I have been busy since then putting up the horses. And then after that, he showed me the other horses he had and we talked about his horse and how they’re friends and all that jolly stuff.

“I don’t know anything about where the ol’ Thorn’s got off to. All I heard was that he wasn’t here and he might be back for the evening meal. But that’s still a long way off. Besides, if I know anything about Thorn, he’ll get hungry before then. I also think since he forgot totally about us coming today, he’s got to remember sometime and then he’ll come back. You’ll see.

“Do you know my brother well? He never writes us hardly any letters at all, so I haven’t heard of anybody, except lord Eodwine. Do you suppose I’ll be able to meet him? Is he a very great man? When Thorn wrote about coming here and trying for the place of steward to lord Eodwine, I always imagined the eorl at least as tall as Thornden, a grave, stern chap, but who occasionally gave a nice smile. I mean, he used to be a warrior, didn’t he? He must be grim, isn’t he?” He looked curiously at his two companions.

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Lys paused a moment. To be truthful, he knew little about the Lord of the Mead Hall. He was the first man he had met once he woke, and he seemed to be very kind. Lys had not seen him as a man of war, though through Thornden's stories of the past few weeks with the kidnap of Lady Linduial, he knew well of his bravery.

"I do not know very much about Lord Eodwine, save that he is a very good and kind man. I have only spoken to him once, but he has let me stay here without a word of payment in return. Any Lord to be so kind could not be a completely grim man."

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Old 09-29-2006, 09:09 PM   #574
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Thornden mounted his horse while Trystan walked ahead. Falco did not ride, nor did Garmund, but walked with 'Rilef'. Falco wiped at his eyes periodically, for the stench of the men was horrible. Garmund sneezed often on the way, blaming the dust from the road, but Falco knew better. It was slow going for 'Rilef' was barefooted and seemed content to take his time. Lefun was the eyes for the twins, but Ritun seemed to have his ears cocked for every little sound, for the 'sack' twitched now and then, and the 'tie' around Lefun's neck moved about of its own accord; not enough for Thornden and Trystan to notice, not knowing what to look for, but it was clear enough to Garmund by the way his eyes followed the twins.

Finally they reached the Mead Hall. Falco motioned and cajoled 'Rilef' to the back yard where there was a makeshift shower consisting of four wooden walls, an old wooden tub, and a bucket of water raised over the head on the remains of an old tree, its trunk rising higher than Thornden could reach on his tip toes. Saeryn had insisted upon it's being built, which Stigend had managed in all of one day.

"Now Garmund," Falco said turning to the boy, "let's keep mum until we're ready to spring the news, eh?" Garmund nodded. "That's a good lad."

"Here, Rilef," said Falco, handing them a bar of coarse soap, "you stink to be frank." Garmund nodded energetically. "Wash yourselves up and you'll be presentable."

In the approximate privacy of the makeshift shower room, Rilef became Lefun and Ritun again, and they both stared at the bar of soap dubiously. "Rub this on me?"

"Yes, that's right, with water."

Lefun held the bar up to Ritun's nose, who sniffed then wrinkled his nose. He opened his mouth to bite a bit off.

"Don't eat it!" Falco cried. "Here, let me show you!" Garmund fell to the trying to keep as 'mum' as possible in the midst of his giggles. Falco proceeded to demonstrate the use of the soap bar on his hands, drying them on his own tunic. "There. Now you try."

Closing the 'door', if door it could be called, Falco looked at Garmund with an expression of my what we have gotten ourselves into!. Garmund grinned, putting his not entirely clean hand over his mouth.

"Are we going to bring them to my Dad and Lord Eodwine?"

"That we will. What think you we should say to them?"
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Old 09-30-2006, 12:20 PM   #575
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Garmund had not thought through all of the things that would need explaining at the hall. Falco's question caught him off guard, and Garmund's lip went under his teeth.

"I don't know what we should say. We can't," Garmund pointed over where the sack lay on the ground, "We can't tell them that Rilef is Rit..."

Falco raised a finger to his lips. "I'd say not. Leastways not right off."

"No. Well, suppose we tell them we found a lost stranger out by the ruins and brought him here. My dad always used to say to give help to those needing it. And Rilef looked like he needed our help."

A low hum came from the shower. The twins were learning to enjoy their bath.

Garmund frowned. "They'll have to find out before too long. Lord Eodwine and Dad, I mean. How long can we keep the secret?"
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Old 10-01-2006, 06:42 PM   #576
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Thornden rode straight to the stables where he dismounted and led his horse inside. “Lčof!” he called. Horses poked their heads out over their stable doors, but Lčof didn’t answer. “Lčofric!” Still no answer. “Probably eating,” Thornden muttered to himself. He tied his horse to one of the rings and set to unsaddling. He put his horse away, leaving further care of the horse to Lčof and headed inside.

A simple glance around the main hall showed him that neither Saeryn nor Eodwine were there. Lčof sat at a table to his right, his back to Thornden, and beside him, a boy who’s back of the head Thornden didn’t recognize, and on the other side of that, good gracious, it was Lys! Thornden felt sorry he had not been there to see Lys come out. He approached, both to speak to Lys and to tell Lčof that his horse probably needed seeing after.

Before he got there, they all three turned to see who came near and he stopped suddenly as he recognized his brother Javan.

Javan leaped up from his seat. “Thornden!” he cried, stepping over the bench and towards his brother. “It’s about time you got back, did you forget we were coming?”

“Quite forgot,” Thornden said allowing himself to be hugged. “When did you get here?”

“Nigh an hour ago, I’d guess,” Javan said. “Or more. We’re almost done with the meal as it is. Where’ve you been?”

“Exploring somewhere with Falco and Garmund is all. Falco’s a hobbit and Garmund is a boy. Lčof, my horse needs seeing after. I’ve unsaddled him and put him back into his stall, but I didn’t rub him down. He’s not in too desperate need of it, I guess. Javan, I’m so sorry I forgot. Is Medreth here?”

“Aye, she’s here,” Javan said with a huge grin. “She’s probably going to knock your head off. She said she would, if you forgot, and you certainly have forgotten. I’m not sure where she is just now. She and lady Saeryn walked off someplace.”

“Dear me, she’s already met lady Saeryn,” Thornden said in a distracted sort of way. “Thanks, Javan. Finish eating. I’ll be back shortly, I think. I’m going to find her first.”

Lys stared as Javan embraced his brother and talked cheerfully with him. The picture of Thornden with a family gave him a small pang of loneliness. But it was not lasting. Thornden called to Léof, and Lys smiled and nodded at the young man as he was called back to his duties. Lys turned back to his food, content to let Thornden be reunited with his family.

“You have a happy family.” Lys said gently as Javan sat back down. “How many are you? It must be nice to have so many people about to keep you company.”

“There’s six of us children in all,” Javan answered Lys, picking up his spoon again. “Only four living at home now, though, of course. Medreth’s married, you know, and Thornden’s here! Nice to have so many? Not at all, my dear fellow! Do you know what’s it’s like having three older sisters at home? All telling you what to do? It’s like having three extra mothers!” Lys chuckled, and Javan grinned in return before setting about to finishing his meal.

Last edited by Folwren; 10-08-2006 at 12:00 PM.
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Old 10-01-2006, 06:43 PM   #577
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The lad was a bright boy. Falco smiled. "Maybe we ought to tell only your Dad and Lord Eodwine first, eh?"

Garmund looked like he was thinking hard for a moment before he nodded slowly and seriously.

"Right then," Falco smiled, pulling out his pipe and Old Toby from his vest pocket. "Now where did I put my flint?" He patted his pockets to right and left of his protruding belly. "Ah! Here it is!" He produced the flint and lit his quickly filled bowl under the fascinated eyes of Garmund. Soon he was producing smoke rings; Garmund tried to hit them with his hand and turn them into so much shapeless patches in the air.

Meanwhile, the twins were humming and mumbling to each other in their bath. Falco wondered what it would be like to have a partner stuck to himself, sharing the same pair of hips and legs, someone to always have to look out for and talk to, or ignore and be angry at like as not. It seemed such a bother. He sympathized with the plight of the twins before forcing his thought away from such wildness altogether.

"How are you coming, Rilef?" Falco asked.

"Rubbed raw!" said Lefun. "Right good!" said Ritun. Luckily their voices sounded like enough that anybody overhearing would think only one man had spoken.

"Now Garmund," Falco said, "Lord Eodwine's not back till sundown I'm thinking, off to the King's hall Meduseld he is, so we need to keep Rilef hid till the sun goes down. Where do you s'pose we should hide 'im?"
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Old 10-02-2006, 07:16 PM   #578
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"Well, it's hard to hide around here. There's always someone in the stables and in the yard." Garmund had wandered over most of the hall and its grounds with Cnebba and Lčođern and knew well that there were few quiet places. Everyone was up and busy during the day, from the moment they left their rooms until they went back to their rooms after supper.

And that was the answer. Garmund grinned. "What about in one of the rooms? No one goes back there in the day. If we can slip inside without being seen, we could hide them there, at least until until tonight."
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Old 10-03-2006, 06:08 PM   #579
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That is precisely what they did. There was one room that had not yet been taken by anyone, and Falco led Rilef inside. Once inside, the door tightly closed, Ritun took his hands from around Lefun's neck and stretched.

"Good we hide not so much."

"Maybe more," Lefun said darkly, his brows lowreing.

"If it comes to that," said Falco, "you're better off in the ruin. I say you've half a chance or better here. You'll see once Eodwine returns."
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Old 10-05-2006, 08:09 PM   #580
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Thornden found his sister in the kitchen, with Kara, Fordides, and Saeryn. All four of them sat at the table, talking and laughing as though they had all known each other forever. The mirth stopped as he opened the door and entered and all of them looked up. Kara half rose, expecting to have to serve up another plate. But when they saw that it was Thornden, Medreth made it to her feet before Kara had.

“Thornden! Where’ve you been?”

“I’m sorry, Medreth,” Thornden replied. “A couple of us went exploring in some old ruins nearby. I did get your letter and I did remember, until Falco started talking about going on an adventure.” Medreth shook her head, giving him a look that he read quite easily – ‘Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? Running off after adventures at your age!’ “I am sorry,” he said again. “I hope you haven’t been waiting too long.”

“Oh, no, not too long,” Medreth said, brightening instantly. “We’ve been having a very fun time, just talking. But I am surprised you weren’t here. Kara, get him a plateful, please. You must be starved, Thornden. Will you join us?”

“I think I’d do better with the boy’s eating outside in the main hall,” Thornden told her, sending an uncomfortable glance at Saeryn. “Did you bring anyone else with you, other than Javan?”

“No, it’s only us two today, big brother. Father sent me on an errand and with a message. He knew I wanted to come see you. I am starting back in an hour, I think, to make it back with plenty of daylight. But you must sit with me, I’ve got something to ask you. Here, Kara, set that here.”

Kara obediently set the steaming bowl full of stew beside Medreth. Thornden sighed in defeat, an easily won battle for Medreth. “Let me wash my hands and then I’ll join you.” In a minute, he sat down by his sister. “So, what is your question?” he asked as he picked up his spoon. He paused with it half way to his mouth and leant towards her. “It had better not be if I’m planning on getting married,” he whispered savagely.

Medreth laughed gaily. “No, no, you silly boy, nothing of the kind – though are you?” Thornden looked away, rolling his eyes and frowning. Medreth laughed again. “No, it’s something entirely different. I came with Javan to ask a favor of you, or, maybe it’ll be more of a favor of the lord Eodwine. But he is not here today, so I thought I could just as well as you. You are his steward, aren’t you?”

“No,” Thornden said. “Just his almsbudsman. I am not fit for a stewardship yet. Saeryn here may be able to answer your question, though. Fire away, and quit taking such a long time with getting to the point.”

“Right. Well,” Medreth went on, shifting on her seat and glancing from Thornden to Saeryn and back again. “Father asked me to ask you if Javan could stay here and become part of the eorl’s court. He thought it would be a good idea if Javan got a foothold here in Edoras earlier in life, you know.”

“But I thought he wanted someone to take over the land!” Thornden said in surprise as he stopped eating to look at her. “He protested so much when I left!”

“Yes, Thornden, but you were the oldest. Javan’s the youngest, and he doesn’t have a mind for farming. He’s smart, Thornden, and dreadful impatient. He loves horses, but that’s all. And he only likes horses because they can be exciting. He hates crops and cows more than you! Idread had an excellent mind for all that sort of thing. He’s grown up a lot since you’ve left, Thorn. You’d hardly know him. He’s doing most of the work with father now. He’s constantly by his side. He’s going to take over after him.”

“What does Javan think of being left out of it? I mean, at least I left of my own will, but it sounds like Father’s sending Javan off here whether he likes it or not!”

“Javan’s up for the adventure.” Thornden made an impatient movement. “I know what you’ll say - it’s more than an adventure, it’s deciding what he’ll do with his life - but you’ll admit, won’t you, Thornden, that if he starts earlier in learning things here in Edoras the better off he’ll be when he becomes a man? What do you say? Can he stay?”

Thornden hesitated a moment. He looked up at Saeryn who gave him a small smile. “Lord Eodwine said he will not be returning until nightfall,” Thornden replied, looking again at Medreth. “You have to start back before then. I would say, leave Javan here for now and if Eodwine cannot have him, I’ll escort him back one day.”

“Thank you, Thornden!” Medreth said, her face lighting up. To his great surprise, she threw her arms about his neck in a girlish, impulsive hug. “They’ll be so happy at home!”

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Old 10-06-2006, 12:58 PM   #581
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As the sun set and the members of Eodwine's chaotic household began to settle down to their meals, Marenil made his way slowly through the halls and tables, seeking out those Linduial had sent letters. He found Saeryn in the kitchen with Thornden and his young brother, and handed her both hers and Degas' letters with a silent shrug, not wishing to interrupt the spirited discussion. Saeryn raised her eyebrows when she saw Degas' name etched on one envelope in Lin's elegant hand, and Marenil shrugged again. He didn't know why the lad had practically fled the Hall, and he wasn't sure he particularly cared. With a father's fierce protectiveness, he was sure that neither Degas, nor any other lad that walked the earth and was not yet spoken of in song, was good enough for his pretty Lin.

He slipped out of the kitchen as quietly as he'd slipped in, searching for little Leodern and her father. He smiled. Here was an attachment he could whole-heartedly approve of. He had a great respect for Garstan, and the child was bright and trainable--and showed like to be as pretty as any King's court could boast of, a superficial trait, perhaps, but as tangible an advantage as any in the sophisticated circles Lin would walk in. A bit young for a real companion, perhaps...

He found Garstan almost by running into him, though he didn't immediately see the girl. Offering a quiet greeting, he took a seat beside the man and laid out the letter (this one in large block letters, he noticed with a smile, so the child could learn to read it as quickly as she learned the letters at all) on the table, along with the thin package.

"What are those?" the artisan asked, looking at them almost suspiciously.

"Well, this," Marenil said, tapping the letter with a thick finger, "is a letter to your daughter, from Lady Lin. I thought I would stay until she returned to you this even, and read it to her." He made the offer matter-of-factly, neither surprised nor upset over Garstan's apparent illiteracy. "And the package is a gift, to and from the same. I haven't read the letter yet, but I know what's in the package. I gave it to Lin myself, almost fifteen years ago, when she was only a bit younger than Leodern."

Garstan picked up the package, inspecting it carefully. "Some sort of book?" he asked briefly.

"A lesson-book," Marenil elaborated. "For the teaching of reading and writing. Lin's asked me to teach Leodern to read, which, honestly, I'm rather eager to do. Don't have enough to do here, not that uses my skills. I suppose any of the other children are welcome to join the lessoning too, if you or Stigend wish to send them early in the mornings. I'll teach them figuring and bookkeeping too, if it please you."

Last edited by JennyHallu; 10-06-2006 at 05:16 PM.
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Old 10-12-2006, 07:15 PM   #582
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Medreth had, in her letter, asked Thornden to arrange an escort for her return journey. As the time for her departure drew near she asked him what he had planned. “I figured on going back with you myself,” he told her quietly. “See the family, and your son. I only half hoped that you would manage to bring him, and as you haven’t, I’m even more happy to go with you.”

“But – but what about Javan meeting lord Eodwine?”

“Oh, he’ll do very well by himself. I can ask Saeryn to get him ready when his time of return draws near, if that will comfort you. But, really, I think I’ll be able go with you and get back only a little while after Eodwine returns himself, and if I am not very long in returning, then I will still be able to introduce Javan before Eodwine asks too many questions."

So they settled it. A little more than an hour after they had finished the midday meal, Thornden and Medreth left the Mead Hall. Javan watched them go and sighed as they disappeared down the road. But it was not a melancholy sigh and the look on his face was nowhere near melancholy, either. Javan considered it no bad thing that he was left with no one in definite charge of him.

He spent a great deal of the afternoon in the stables, speaking with and helping Lčof. Lys joined them at first, but after a while, he grew tired and Lčof gently advised him to go inside and rest. After spending a couple of hours there, Javan took his leave of Lčof and the horses and went out. He left the Hall and courtyard entirely and he set out on foot to explore the city of Edoras.

Not until dusk began to fall did he finally return to the hall. Saeryn took charge of him almost as soon as he stepped foot indoors. Thornden had spoken to her before he left and she took full responsibility. Within minutes he was entirely washed up and looked quite presentable, and then he was sat down to dinner, being told that he’d better eat quickly – Eodwine could be expected any moment.
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Old 10-12-2006, 07:58 PM   #583
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Garstan held the book, noting how small it felt in his hand. Such a weighty matter for so light a trinket. He had never gone beyond writing his name and a few simple words for the tools of his trade. He had never had the need to learn more, but he knew that Lčođern would have need of those skills when she joined Lady Linduial, and he thought that Garmund should learn if his sister did. Garstan would not have his children grow apart through one's learning and another's lacking of the same chance.

With a slight bow at the shoulder, Garstan said, "I should be happy to send both of the children for lessons. Figuring and bookkeeping would please me well. It would be a comfort to know that Garmund could attend to the business of his trade as well as the craft."

Stigend seemed to have been listening closely to Marenil. "I would like to send Cnebba too. Some book learning would do him good."

He looked at Garstan and grinned. "And here, maybe, is an end to our other problem. With all three busy together in lessons, no one will be left out."
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Old 10-14-2006, 06:14 AM   #584
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It was after sundown when Eodwine finally returned to the Mead Hall. His intereviews with the King and the Queen were only the first of a series. There was talk to be done with the king's steward, with Haleth's replacement, one Brenwald.

At long last he walked Flíthaf into his stall and took care of his harness and brushing down; it seemed Léofric was at supper. Well and good enough; the boy had a right to eat.

Eodwine mulled over what he had been told: move the mead hall to Sorn's old lands; give Saeryn to be one of the queen's ladies; start searching for likely warriors amongst the young lads of the Middle Emnet; and all that beside his original purpose of having gone to clear up the matter of the flow of coin.

Eodwine left the stables and entered the main hall. There were many milling about. To Eodwine's great pleasure Garreth and Harreld were there. Their presence always seemed to make the place seem more bright and cheery. Well of course, Garreth had enough cheer to lighten any dark hole. Falco was nowhere to be seen, but that was not so unusual. There was a seat at the table of the blacksmith twins. Eodwine took it.
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Old 10-20-2006, 06:47 PM   #585
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Eodwine was just starting into his tankard of ale and rashers of bacon with brown bread slathered with cream, listening to Garreth hold forth on his own well honed skills in reading women (much to the mirth of the others around the board), when Falco tapped him on the shoulder.

"I have somewhat for you to see in a room upstairs," said the Hobbit.

"Can it wait a bit? I'm half starved and just into my munching."

"This shan't wait. You'll see."

Mysterious! Eodwine stood and noisily backed his chair from the board by way of showing his pique at being forced to leave off

~ * ~

Falco led Eodwine into one of the rooms upstairs. Sitting next to Garmund on the bed was a monster. Get the boy away from that monster! was Eodwine's first thought. The boy and the monster were playing 'rock, leaf, sheers', and both were silly giggling. The monster stopped abruptly and looked, both heads, at Eodwine, all four blood shot eyes showing their whites.

"These are Lefun and Ritun," said Falco, "they're twins. We found 'em in the ruins off a ways down the road from Edoras."

The monsters stood. "Much bliged we be to ye lord," the one on the right mumbled.

Eodwine was at a loss for appropriate words, and so gave up on appropriateness. "Are you human?"

"We be Eorling but none will ha' us to home, lord," said the talkative one.

Eodwine cleared his throat. "Er, what can you do to earn your keep?"

"Anything, lord, so long as safe we be from men's hardness."

The pathetic look of suffering in their eyes melted Eodwine's heart. He could about imagine what the life of these two must have been like.

"Stay here and I'll see that food is brought up."

The two bowed. "Thanks to you, lord."

Falco and Garmund were grinning broadly.

"Can I go tell my pa now?" Garmund cried.

"Have him brought up to the room and sworn to silence for now," Eodwine said.

"You heard the Eorl, boy! Go get your pa!"

Garmund tore out of the room.
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Old 10-22-2006, 03:57 PM   #586
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Garmund ran down the stairs, almost ready to shout for joy. Lefun and Ritun had been seen as they were, and they were to stay. The Eorl had been as kind to them as Garmund had hoped, and the look of wonder and happiness the twins wore at their welcome left no doubt that bringing them here had been wise.

Garmund tore into the great hall and scanned the room in search of his father. Not finding him there, he went on to the kitchen, nearly running headlong into several of the household.

He found his father there, seated in a corner near the stove, slowly turning the pages of a small book.

After speaking with Marenil, Garstan had asked to keep the small book for a time. Marenil had given him a knowing glance before nodding and leaving the book with Garstan, asking that it should be returned for lessons in the morning. It had spent the rest of the day in Garstan's tool bag until, as the sun dropped behind the edge of the land, he found a quiet corner in the kitchen and held it again. He been studying the letters in the book by the low firelight in the kitchen, and trying his best to stay out of Cook's way, for the last few hours.

Letters and figures. Garstan knew little of them. He had never needed to know more than he did. But now, with both his children about to learn, a thirst for that knowledge awoke in him. He could not join the children's lessons. A grown man among a group of children who had not seen ten winters could only look foolish. And he had the task of teaching his own children apart from lessons in reading. How could he be their teacher if he joined them as a pupil? And so he quietly claimed the book for the evenings, hoping that he could piece together the puzzle on its pages through the use of his own small knowledge.

"Father! Come! Hurry!"

"What?" The book was closed hurriedly and hidden away under Garstan's tunic. "Garmund?"

The boy was already pulling at his father's arm. "Hurry. Upstairs. The Eorl wants you."

Garstan rose. His first thought had been that there was something amiss, but Garmund's excited voice ended that fear. Curious, he followed Garmund up the stairs and through a door near the end of the hallway.

He first saw Eodwine and Falco. Then he noticed another man in the room. He looked again. There were two - no one, but yet two, and he took a step backward, looking from one face to the other in confusion, and not knowing what to say next.
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Old 10-23-2006, 07:27 PM   #587
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In the room upstairs

Garstan looked surprised. Well he might, thought Eodwine.

"Garstan," said Falco, "these are Ritun and Lefun, twins that your son and I found in the ruins off east of here. They have become our friends." Falco turned to the twins. "Ritun, Lefun, this is Garstan, the stoneshaper of this hall, and father of Garmund. He is a good man (as men go) and can keep our secret."

"Thanks, Falco, for making introductions," said Eodwine. "I have told them that they may stay here and be safe. For now only we know they are here, and I would have it stay that way until we have made plans."

"Pardon, lord," Falco coughed, "but Thornden and Trystan also know they are here, but not that they be two."

"I see."

"Lefun, Ritun, show the Eorl and the stoneshaper how you make like you are but one."

The twins nodded and performed the transformation before them, complete with rough tunic covering Ritun. It was a most unique transformation to say the least, to Eodwine's mind. He was racking his brain to figure out how to introduce this pair to the rest of the household in a way that would not be overly upsetting to either, and was coming to no answer.

"That is enough, Lefun and Ritun," he said. "Please be at your ease." As they unraveled from their contrived knot, Eodwine turned to Garstan. "Have you any suggestions how we might best make these two known to the others and the others to this pair without overmuch trouble?

~ * ~

Garreth and Harreld hold forth in the hall

"Women, now," said Garreth loudly as he set down his ale cup with a loud report on the board, "there's a way about them that it takes a wise man to figger out!" He looked around the table conspiratorially, including the women of which he spoke, "an' I know the secret!"

"Garreth," Harreld chided, "if you know a secret about women I for one don't know how you learnt it, not having been near any in the last five years!"

"Little you know!" Garreth retorted amid the laughter of the others. "You're not always a-by me! Most times when you've drunk yourself under the table and art snoring to scare away the rats, I leave you and use my born charms to good ef- ef- ef- er, to the good."

"You're dreaming while you snore under the table yourself!" Harreld said.

"Don't listen to him, friends! Who of you wants to know the secret?"
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Old 10-23-2006, 07:42 PM   #588
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At dinner, Javan once more found himself sitting with Lčof and Lys. Near the beginning of the meal, two young, largely built men entered the company. They were accepted immediately with merry greetings and broad smiles. Javan soon understood their warm welcome as, while they ate, they talked and joked quite easily and in such a fashion that he found himself laughing despite not being acquainted with them. With their jovial conversation, he quite forgot to watch for Eodwine’s return and when Lčof nudged him with his elbow, he jumped with surprise.

“There’s lord Eodwine,” Lčof said in an undertone, nodding his head respectfully towards a man just entering the building. Javan stared for a moment, before remembering himself, and looked quickly away. Lčof was quickly eating the remainder of his food. He stood up, picking up his plate. “His horse may need tending to,” he explained.

“I’m done. I’ll go with you,” Javan replied, leaping up immediately. “Lys, do you want to come?” He asked, pausing before rushing away.

“Yes, please!” the boy said, a flush of pleasure rising to his pale face. He started to rise, more slowly than the other two.

“Here,” Javan offered. “I’ll take your plate to the kitchen so you don’t have to walk so far.”

“I can walk,” Lys replied quietly, looking Javan directly in the eye. He nodded as he reached for his plate. “I can walk.”

The three boys quickly disposed of their plates and hurried back through the hall towards the door. Before going outside, Javan stopped and looked back. Lord Eodwine was only now taking a seat at the table after washing off the dust of the road. Javan paused a moment, knowing that shortly he would be meeting the man and Eodwine would be decided what would become of him. He drew a deep breath and ducked outside.

As it turned out, Eodwine had taken care of his own horse, and Lčof had nothing to do. The three boys remained in the stables, however, and while Lčof busied himself with cleaning and oiling a few bridles in desperate need of cleaning, the three of them talked. Javan grew more and more curious of Lys as they discussed different topics. Lys listened a great deal, and when he spoke, his voice was quiet – almost un-boy like. He acted older than he looked, and yet, somehow, he also seemed. . .younger. Javan couldn’t figure it out. Neither could he ask questions, for not only did Lys seem the type that would be embarrassed to be questioned about himself, but Lčof seemed careful about keeping the conversation away from anything that would lead to questions about Lys.

They had been sitting for some time thus, and Javan was in the midst of some story when they heard the door open and a horse led in. Lčof got up and put his work aside and walked forward. Javan and Lys looked up, too, and they both recognized Thornden as he came into the light of the first lantern. He exchanged a few words with Lčof and handed him the horse’s reins.

“Thanks, Lčof,” he said, smiling and thumping him lightly on the shoulder as he passed. He walked to the two waiting boys. “Good evening, Lys. Hullo, Javan. Will you run along and help Lčof there with the horse? When he’s all put away nicely, we’ll go in and I’ll see if Eodwine is available and I’ll introduce you.”

“He’s eating now,” Javan said. “Well, maybe not, he’s probably done by now,” he realized as he walked forward to do as Thornden asked.

Thornden turned to Lys as Javan disappeared into the stall that Lčof had led the horse into. “I’m glad to see you up, Lys,” he said. “I’m sorry I was gone the whole day, though, this being your first day on your feet.”

“It was alright,” Lys said, shrugging and looking down briefly. He brought his eyes back up to meet Thornden's. “Javan and Lčof both kept me company and we enjoyed ourselves.”

“Good.” Thornden paused a moment. He bit his lip slightly and his eyes wandered to the door of the stall from which they could hear Lčof and Javan talking as they rubbed down the horse. He looked back at Lys who stood waiting for him to speak again. “I am going to be introducing my brother to lord Eodwine tonight, as you probably know. I thought also that tonight I could speak to Eodwine of you coming under my care, as we have discussed before. I wanted to ask you if you still wanted that.”
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Old 10-24-2006, 05:03 PM   #589
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"In truth, lord, I know not. If they are to be known as one, they may be brought to the company as a new worker to help with the building here. That much will do, but it will be hard to say why a man bears his pack even at his meal. If as two, that is harder still, for they may bring to mind old tales." Garstan thought for a moment of reminding the Eorl of children's stories of two-headed monsters that he once told to his own children but stopped, noting a suddenly growing look of fear in the twins' faces, and his first startled mistrust was replaced by pity.

"Nay, do not fear," he said. "You are safe here. But I cannot think of any easy way to make your introductions to the rest of the household."

"Quite a puzzle we have for ourselves!" Falco exclaimed.
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Old 10-26-2006, 06:49 PM   #590
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Lys' face lifted, and he did not try to keep his joy back. He rushed forward as quickly as his body let him and hugged the taller man.

"Of course! Of course, Thornden! I...I would very much like to have a family..."

Lys stepped back, hands wringing the edges of his tunic. Again, the thought of his stay at the Mead Hall and earning his keep began to worry him. He was left with a limp that, whilst still improving, would probably haunt him the rest of his life. Lys already felt the options of occupation left to him were narrowing. As it was, he was not a very strong boy for his age. He looked up at Thornden with sudden sadness.

"I am worried that he...I mean...Lord Eodwine...will not have me here. I do not have much skill at all, and I am slow. What can I do to earn my way here, Thornden? Being a burden on everyone, it is not what I want. I loathe it..."
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Old 10-27-2006, 11:01 AM   #591
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Thornden smiled and nearly laughed and Lys’ threw his thin arms around him in a hug. The boy’s answer put Thornden at rest. He had half feared that Lys would think, now that Javan was here, that Thornden would no longer want him. But Lys clearly had not thought that, and Thornden was happy.

But then Lys’ face clouded and the joy dimmed and faded from his eyes. “I am worried that he...I mean...Lord Eodwine...will not have me here. I do not have much skill at all, and I am slow. What can I do to earn my way here, Thornden? Being a burden on everyone, it is not what I want. I loathe it.”

“Well, to begin with, I’d advise you to stop thinking that Eodwine won’t allow you stay here. He’s not likely to decide that you need to leave all of a sudden. He’s been keeping you here so far with you not being able to do anything, hasn’t he? You mustn’t worry about being weak still, Lys. You’ll get stronger. I’m sure of it!” Lys still didn’t look convinced. His glance fell away from Thornden.

“What if I never walk right again?” he asked in such a low voice that Thornden could hardly catch the question. “I think this limp will never go away.”

“There is more to be done here than taking care of horses, being a soldier, or running errands," Thornden assured him. "We’ll find something suitable for you to do, so that you’re not a burden to everyone.” The stall door opened and Léof and Javan came out. Thornden laid his hand on Lys’ shoulder. “Don’t worry about it,” he said quietly. “I’ll speak with Eodwine tonight. You’ll be able to stay, I’m sure, and we will find something that you can do.”

“A’right, Thorn, the horse is put away,” Javan said, coming to a stop before his brother and Lys. “Can we go in and meet lord Eodwine now?”

“Yes,” Thornden said nodding. “Goodnight, Léof. Thank you. Lys, you probably should...” he paused a moment as he turned back to him. “Well, never mind. You can stay out here, if you want.” Lys nodded and Thornden and Javan went out. They crossed the courtyard and entered the main hall.

Lamps were lit and placed upon the walls and most of the inhabitants of the hall still sat around the dinner table. They did less eating now than talking, though. A quick glance at the gathered company told Thornden that Eodwine was not among them. He smiled and nodded to a few people who looked up at him, but he did not stop or speak to any until he came to Saeryn. She was not aware of him as she sat laughing and talking with the person opposite her. Thornden tapped her shoulder and she turned around at once.

“Where is Eodwine?” he asked.

“Why, I’m not so sure!” Saeryn replied. “Several minutes ago, Falco came and dragged him away from his meal and he hasn’t come back.”

“Is he busy then?”

“Oh, I can’t imagine Falco giving him too much business, no. I think I would have heard of it earlier today. Try upstairs, in his room.”

“Thank you.” She smiled and turned back to the table and Thornden took her advise and went upstairs, Javan trailing him. They went up the stairs and to the door of Eodwine’s chamber, but no voices came from within and no one answered Thornden’s knock.

“I think I hear voices down the hall a bit,” Javan said, tilting his head in that direction. The two brothers walked down two more doors and stopped again. Thornden lifted his hand and knocked thrice.
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Old 10-27-2006, 08:35 PM   #592
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"Quite a puzzle we have for ourselves!" Falco exclaimed.

Eodwine was about to asnwer with a rejoinder about not shouting about it when someone knocked on the door three times.

"I'll answer it," Eodwine said, and went to the door, blocking the view of the room from the corridor. It was Thornden. "Thornden! What news?"
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Old 10-28-2006, 05:31 PM   #593
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The door opened almost at once to Thornden’s knock. Eodwine stood there in the opening. He looked up in surprise. “Thornden! What news?”

“A great deal of news, actually, my lord. May I speak with you, or are you busy?”

“One second, and I am at your service.” Eodwine stepped back within the door and spoke to the people within the room. A moment later, he emerged entirely, shutting the door firmly behind himself. “Come, let us go to my room and we will speak there, rather than standing here in the hall.” He led the way to his room and allowed Thornden and Javan to enter before him before he went, shutting the door once more behind himself.

“Lord Eodwine, I would like to introduce my brother to you,” Thornden said, opening business at once. He turned half way around towards Javan and Javan stepped forward and bowed. “This is Javan, my youngest brother. He is almost thirteen summers. Today, he and my sister came to Edoras and Medreth informed me that our father wishes that if there is a place, he could take a place in your court.”

Javan stood before Eodwine, silent and rigid. Thornden quit speaking, and the boy wondered if he was supposed to say or do anything. He didn’t know what he would say or do if he was expected to, so he stood in silence, instead, and waited.
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Old 10-28-2006, 08:34 PM   #594
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The boy was a miniature Thornden, standing there as if for warrior drills. Some day this lad will make as good a man of arms as his elder brother, Eodwine said to himself.

There was need for more able-bodied workers around the Mead Hall, and with the addition of Sorn's holdings to his own, Eodwine was in even greater need of such folk. He would break that news later, as well as who would be expected to move at what time, and who would stay.

"A fine lad you look to be," Eodwine said at length, "and welcome here. We have need of lads who are not afraid to work and learn. Are you willing to do both, Javan?"

"Yes, lord!" said the boy eagerly.

Eodwine smiled. The boy's eyes were open wide and he very clearly wanted to impress both lord and older brother.

"Very well," he said presently. "I would have you sit at the feet of Marenil so that he can find out what you know, and I will speak with your older brother to find out what you can do. But I have two questions for you, Javan lad." He paused as the boy's attention became even more intent. "My questions are these: first, what would you most like to do here; and second, what would you most like to learn to do?"
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Old 10-29-2006, 05:55 PM   #595
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"Very well," Eodwine said. "I would have you sit at the feet of Marenil so that he can find out what you know, and I will speak with your older brother to find out what you can do.” Javan wondered briefly who Marenil was and why he would sit at any man’s feet, but Eodwine’s next sentence brought his attention back entirely on him. “But I have two questions for you, Javan lad.” A short pause, and Javan waited expectantly. “My questions are these: first, what would you most like to do here; and second, what would you most like to learn to do?"

Not simple questions to answer. What was available for him to do here? How long would he be here? What could he learn? He had many interests and many things he was capable of doing. He did not know if it would be polite to ask questions, though, in his turn. So instead he stood without answering for some minutes while he thought.

He loved horses, but Eodwine already had an ostler. Did he need any more guards, or men-at-arms? Even if he did, Javan decided an instant later, he was yet too small and too young for that. Javan really had no idea of what to say. What needed to be done in such a setting? He was used to the country, to a farm, helping his older siblings take care of animals and crops, or learning his lessons inside with his mother in the morning and taking long, pleasurable rides in the afternoon.

Perhaps the second question would be easier to answer. Yes, it was, definitely easier to answer, and Eodwine was waiting.

“To the second question, I’ve an answer,” Javan said at last. “There are two things I’d like to learn. How to become a soldier like my brother and how to work with horses so I’m good at it. But I can do anything, sir,” he added quickly, “really I can. Whatever you need, I’d – I’d be fine with doing.” The two thoughts of becoming soldier and working with horses had occupied his mind so often, he thought it could never come to pass, and he did not want to appear as though he only came for pleasure seeking purposes. He would do whatever lord Eodwine set him to, he told himself. No matter what it was.

“I see,” Eodwine said in answer. “Thank you, lad. I will consider what you have said and in the morning, I will have decided what you will do. Now, I believe you have had a long day, have you not?”

“Yes, lord.”

“You may go then. Have you met the lady Saeryn?” Javan nodded. She had been one of the first to meet Medreth and him when they arrived at the hall. “Run down and ask her to arrange someplace for you to stay, if she hasn’t already figured that out.”

“I think we have, Eodwine,” Thornden said. “Another bed has been set up in my room. I would not expect another room to be prepared.”

“Very good. You may go, Javan.” The boy bowed again and went to the door. He paused there, glancing back, before going out into the hall and shutting the door after him. “Now, Thornden, there is more you wish to tell me?”

“Yes. There are two more matters that I have to discuss, one not so pleasant as the other. But I will ask concerning the happier matter first.” He paused a moment, considering how to put his request into words. “You remember, over a month ago, I brought in a lad…Lys, he named himself to us.” Eodwine nodded. Of course he remembered him. “Until today he has been confined to his room, unable to walk due to his injuries. This morning, however, he came out. He is nearly completely healed and his strength will return to him, I’m sure.” Eodwine nodded again. “He has not regained his memory, lord,” Thornden said, his eyes dropping away from Eodwine’s. “He knows nothing of his past, what happened to him, who he is, or who he belongs to.” Now he looked back up. “Eodwine, if I may, I would like to take charge of him. He is as good as an orphan and needs someone too look after him, teach him what he can not remember, help him as he regains his strength, and get him back on his feet. What do you say?”

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Old 10-30-2006, 08:02 PM   #596
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Eodwine was giving thought, and had his answer formed before Thornden had finished asking the question. His almbudsman had a good heart. He knew this already, and this new thought and question put the stamp on it. It would be a different sort of task than Thornden had yet taken on, having been a warrior and horseman for the last few years, weilding sword and bow and wit for war more than aught else. Eodwine wondered of the last two or so months in a more homely place as was the mead hall, had brought this about? More like, it was always in the young man, and the chance had now availed itself.

"I say yes, and with a good will! I think it a good thing to do, and I think well of you for it. Now tell me, what of this not so pleasant matter?"
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Old 10-31-2006, 01:22 PM   #597
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The smile and flush of pleasure that had risen to Thornden’s face when Eodwine made his answer quickly faded again as Eodwine asked to be told of the final matter. Thornden paused a long moment in answering. He felt reluctant to even begin - he hated the idea of being an informer. Yet it had to be done.

“It is concerning Trystan, my lord,” Thornden said. “I am aware that you do not think the most highly of him. Before I being, I must beg you to not make any hasty judgement against him and do not be angry.”

Thornden then commenced telling Eodwine of what had happened that morning at the ruins. Of arriving, seeing the strange man, Falco following him, bringing Falco back, and Trystan having joined Garmund in their absense. Then he told him about Falco sending Trystan and Thornden off together in search of the stranger.

“I did not want to follow him, Eodwine. I had no wish to meet him again, and I didn’t think he wanted us hunting him down. After a little while, I told Trsytan so. It was then that I first noticed that he seemed afraid. I don’t know what about. I can not guess what he was thinking. But he was afraid. And then, he nearly told me something, but stopped, and then admitted that we shouldn’t be following the man and that he had no reason, and he was going to leave it at that, but I pressed him to speak.

“Perhaps it was wrong of me, but I can not tell. He became angry when I suggested that he might have something he should tell me, or you. Before I was aware of what I had said wrong, he drew a knife on me. This one.” He produced the small knife, the blade of which was only a couple inches long. He extended it, with the hilt towards Eodwine, as he continued. “He said that we suspected him upon no grounds. He seemed to think that we had heard of some crime that took place and immediately thought of him. I never accused him of a thing, but he told me - Eodwine, he was furious, but I think it was from fear, he yelled at me - that he hadn’t done anything wrong. A moment later, he dropped the knife and stepped back away from it, and then he said to me - ‘you’ve heard, have you?’ That startled me nearly as much as being threatened with the knife. He would say nothing after that. I asked him if he did anything wrong, he said he hadn’t, but he made no defense of himself.

“I do not know what to make of it. I am sorry to have to tell it to you. Something is bothering him, Eodwine, and he’s afraid to speak.”

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Old 10-31-2006, 09:17 PM   #598
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Eodwine considered, and spoke.

"'Oft-times guilt speaks though the guilty mean not to.' Or so the saying goes. Maybe it is not so with Trystan. I have not come to know him well; he keeps his distance from me. And that, as well as all you say, Thornden, makes me give pause. I will think on what you have told me, and take no action until I have thought much more, and taken more counsel with you and others I trust."

He set the knife on his desk.

"I do know of the man from the ruins of whom you speak. Come with me, and we will talk to him now. What was his name?"

"Rilef, he called himself, lord."

"Ah. Rilef. Right and left." Eodwine grinned as from a private joke. "Come with me." Eodwine led Thornden down the corridor and to the door from which he had come minutes before. "Wait here while I go in a moment."

Eodwine passed through the door and shut it behind him. Lefun, Ritun, Falco, Garstan, and Garmund had been talking among themselves and had become silent the moment the door had opened. Relief was on their faces when it turned out to be Eodwine.

"My friends, with the four of us to stand beside Ritun and Lefun, I think it safe to introduce him to the others. Thornden stands outside the door. Unless there is anyone in this room who would object, I will have him come in and see Rilef as he, or they, really are. Well?"
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Old 11-05-2006, 02:23 PM   #599
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"Well?"

The twins again looked uneasy, though Garmund thought they seemed less so than at first.

For a few moments, no one spoke. Then Garstan answered.

"I think that would be best. If they are to stay here, they must be known as they are. They cannot always be hiding behind doors."
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Old 11-05-2006, 05:43 PM   #600
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Eodwine nodded to Garstan and turned to Ritun and Lefun. "Well, sirs? You cannot stay hid up in a room all your lives long, and we four, plus Thornden, will stand by you. What say you? Shall we make you known as you are to the rest of the household?"

Ritun and Lefun frowned. Eodwine could see the fear in their faces. They looked at each other and said nothing for long moments.

Garmund walked up tentatively and put his little hand in the twins' big right hand. "I - I will stand by you and I'll beat up anyone who says something mean."

"Garmund!" Garstan scolded.

But Ritun and Lefun grinned. "Nay," said Lefun, "beat none for us, Garmund friend." He looked up at Eodwine. "Show us them." Ritun nodded his agreement.

"Very well. First, Thornden." Eodwine opened the door wide and said, "Thornden, meet the twins, Ritun and Lefun. There is no such man as Rilef, except at grave need."
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