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Old 07-27-2003, 01:28 PM   #121
Idgian
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Tolkien

It was a trick Madi learnt during his time on the streets. He discovered it one hot summer’s day whilst he hid among beggars and rubbish, steering clear of those his ugliness angered. He saw a lizard scaling a wall and was transfixed by the little creature’s ability to search for food with one eye, while the other kept watch for predators. With both eyes moving independently to each other, the lizard had all angles covered, defensively and offensively. Madi instantly recognised the potential benefits of learning such a trick, especially in his position. So he taught he eyes to be like the lizards.

And now, as Berry and the Old One spoke across the table, Madi became fed up with the dizzying motion sickness looking from one to the other gave him, and employed the trick. His eyes slowly separated and he assigned one to each lady.

Satisfied now, Madi reached up and took his clay mug of milk from the table, lifting it to his mouth hidden in his hood. Master Jian had once told him that when women spoke it was called ‘yimmer-yammer’, and rarely was it worth listening to. So he didn’t, and drank the safely white-coloured milk in blissful ignorance.

As he drank, he frowned the brow above the eye on Berry. Blue was not her colour. But the amber ball was lost now and the Old One was angry because of that. Or was she? In fact, Madi was quite sure how he ended up pulling the cart, but he was glad for the blue satin bolt. It meant Berry received what she asked for, even if it was quite clearly the wrong thing. It also meant Madi was free to slip away and search for the lost amber ball. It was still around, close by, somewhere. He kept catching its scent very vaguely, but the smell of the flowers inside the inn was heady and overpowering. Perhaps he should . . .

Madi stopped drinking as his other eye noticed the Old One looking at him. He held the clay mug in place and slowly drew his eyes together, remaining absolutely motionless. She was frowning as if he had done something wrong.

“Madi!” said Bethberry, a little exasperated. “Ruthven is talking to you. Don’t be rude.”

Madi turned to the landlady. He hadn’t been listening to a thing. The Old One had obviously said something to him, and was supposed to know what. But he didn’t. He offered Berry his milk with an uncertain grin. Perhaps that would do instead.

Bethberry rolled her eyes, took the half empty mug from Madi’s small hands and placed it on the table. Then, with gentle movements, she slowly pushed back the little man’s hood. Madi’s breath caught and panic froze him. He looked imploringly into Bethberry’s eyes, but she softly held his hands down when he tried to keep the hood in place. With slow, encouraging movements, Bethberry pushed the hood back and turned Madi to face Ruthven.

Madi closed his eyes and waited for the moment when his senses were invaded by the colour red: the colour of danger. Then he would have to run from angry people yet again. Any moment now there would be shouts and curses, and then he would take flight and be gone from this good place. Berry didn’t understand. Ugly faces frightened people. She new what he looked like and didn’t care, it was different for her. She was like Master Jian. The Old One might see his face then attack him and strangle him. She might tell others to chase him down and kick him. She might . . . she might . . .

To Madi’s surprised his nose wasn’t filled with the smell of red. Nor were there any sounds of sharply in-taken breath, or angry accusations. The only sensation to greet Madi’s anxiety was a finger, tickling him under the chin, and the light scent of white in the air. Without opening his eyes, he gave a crooked grin, and chuckled throatily. It wasn’t Berry’s finger; it was the Old One’s. He’d met another good person. Not since Master Jian had he felt this safe and among friends. Berry had found him some nice.

Revealing in the safe sensation he rocked back on his heels, lost his balance, and fell flat on his back.

Bethberry and Ruthven quickly stood over the little fallen figure. Oblivious to their presence, Madi continued to chuckle, arms and legs flailing about, his eyes squeezed shut.

“He’ll do,” Ruthven laughed. “I’ll take him with me the rest of the day. Maybe tomorrow also.”

Bethberry shook her head. “Are you sure you know what you’re letting yourself in for?”

“Aye,” she said. “I’ve got ways of keeping our little man under control. Best that people see him for what he is. It’s the only way he’ll get known and accepted.”

Bethberry pursed her lips at the writhing figure on the floor. “What do you think, Madi?” Her question was met with more obliviously happy squirming. “Madi!” she said sternly.

Madi stopped all motion and opened his eyes at the sound of Berry’s raised voice. He looked up into her face with a questioning stare. He could smell a light green colour. Berry was unsure about something.

“What do you say?” Bethberry repeated, and chuckled at Madi’s blank face. “To mine and Ruthven’s idea?” she prompted.

Madi shrugged. “Yimmer-yammer,” he replied.
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Old 07-27-2003, 01:58 PM   #122
Kryssal
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Silmaril

It seemed that Lowfel had scouted out for her more than Shrae thought he would have. Smiling slightly she picked up another piece of bread and broke it into tiny pieces, putting them on the table in front of Reen for him to pick up on his own. The little eight month old was thoroughly enjoying himself now that he had some food in his tummy and was able to play around a bit.

Shrae nibbled on some bread herself, it having been at least five hours since her last real meal. Reen had gotten some milk and fruit in before now, but she had been hauling some of her things into Lowfel's front room at the time.

Looking around she saw some customers having a hearty discussion and the bar tender setting up some glasses, but no maid to come with more food or directions to her room.

Well, if someone doesn't come soon I can just find it myself. It shouldn't be too hard; a small room above the kitchen with only a cot and crib. Reen really does need to nap soon or he'll fall asleep at early night and then keep me up all late night.

Reen looked up at her with a big smile on his face. Shrae put on a big smile and raised her eyebrows at him, making him laugh at her funny face. When he reached his pudgy little hand up with some bread in it she put his whole fist her in mouth and gently 'bit' his hand with her lips over her teeth, finally succeeding with getting the bread out. Reen burst into a fit of giggles and tried to pry open her now tightly closed lips.
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Old 07-28-2003, 11:59 AM   #123
Nurumaiel
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Shield

Leofan walked up and down the stable aisle, inspecting each stall carefully. His eyes, sharp in this business, caught even the darkest corners. At last he nodded and gave a grunt of satisfaction. All the stalls were cleaned and were, for the moment, perfect. Now came the next task of grooming the horses... all of them. But for Leofan this was an easy task. A complete and thorough grooming of four horses would take him no more than an hour.

The stable door opened, and Frodides walked in, Mærcwen at her side. "I just wanted to tell you, Leofan, that Mærcwen and I will be going to the market. Almost everyone has left, and though I didn't intend to go, I can't keep Mærcwen locked up in the inn."

Her husband nodded with a little sigh. No, there wasn't much point in going to the market. Almost everything sold there was too expensive for them to buy. He looked down at Mærcwen, who was beaming up at him happily, excited at the idea of going to the market. Coming to a decision, he reached into his pocket and withdrew a few coins, putting them into Frodides' hand. "Buy Mærcwen a little treat," he said with a smile. "Buy something for yourself as well."

Frodides eyes opened wide and she stared in bewilderment at Leofan. "But... but..."

"It doesn't matter, Frodides," he said. "If we were back home, it would be something I couldn't possibly afford to do. But now it will be made up for. We'll regain what I just gave you, because now I have work that pays."

"I keep forgetting," said Frodides in a wondering voice. "It is true though."

"Have a good time at the market," said Leofan. "Don't stay too long (Bethberry may need you), and avoid pickpockets... we're not rich, even if we can spend a little money."

Frodides and Mærcwen left the stable, and Leofan picked up a box of grooming tools and entered the first stall to continue with his work. As he began running the brush down the horse's coat, the door to the stable opened again, and he glanced over his shoulder, expecting it be Frodides with a question for him. But it wasn't. Aleia, if he recalled the name correctly, came into the stable, a thin, weary-looking boy at her side.

"Well, well," said Leofan, leaving the stall and approaching the two of them. "What's this?"

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Frodides made her way through the crowd, clutching Mærcwen's hand tightly. The last thing she wanted was for her daughter to become lost. She kept a close eye out for any suspicious looking people, as well as for a stall that Mærcwen would enjoy. A turn of the corner and she found it. Different little trinkets for sale: fake rings and necklaces, pretty little things that flashed in the sunlight.

"Here, Mærcwen, what would you like?" Frodides asked, leading her daughter to the stall. The little girl picked up a necklace and a ring, and looked at them both, considering carefully. "Mummy," she said with a little sigh, "I don?t know which one I want."

Frodides hesitated, then she took all the coins her husband had given her and put them in the seller's hand. "Then take them both, love." After all, the happiness of her daughter was worth more to her than any cheap trinket she could buy for herself.
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Old 07-29-2003, 10:56 AM   #124
Horse-Maiden of the Shire
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Sting

As they made their way over to the stables, Aleia stopped Anwir and faced him.

"Now, Anwir, you'd best be promising me this: that you won't be stealing from the stables. The Horse is a kind place, but only for those with good intentions. You won't be taking anything from the White Horse premises, will you?" she asked. Anwir gulped and said with a determined face, "No, miss lady. I won't steal anything from this here place. It's real nice."

Aleia smiled and ruffled Anwir's hair, saying, "That's right, lad." When they got into the stables, Aleia was about to call for Leofan when he stepped out of a stall.
"Well, well, what's this?" he asked, eyeing the pair.

"This is Anwir, a young man who was caught thieving in the market. I brought him to you because I thought you might need an extra hand in the stables," answered Aleia. Anwir still looked a little wary, and he kept close to Aleia's side. Leofan looked skeptical, and he said, "How can I trust this boy not to take anything from the stables?"

Aleia nudged Anwir, and he took a deep breath and said, "I won't take anything from the White Horse or the stables, sir. This place is real nice. I promise that I won't take anything. I promise!" He looked up at Leofan and a smile lit up his grim little face.

Leofan chuckled and said, "Well, boy. You had better stick to your promise, or a real punishment will be in hand. You don't need to thieve to get by around here. A good honest day's work will get you a meal."
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Old 08-03-2003, 11:35 AM   #125
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"Thank you, miss," Leofan said with a little nod to Aleia. "I do believe I will take this young lad on. I suppose I could do with some help around the stables." Aleia grinned, gave Anwir another warning, and then departed.

"I suppose first you'd better learn the ways of the job," said Leofan, turning his gaze to the boy. "You won't have any specific job in the stables. If I call you, you come; if I tell you to do something, you do it. That's the basics of it. It will mean more work for me, because I'll have to teach you everything, but it will be good for you." He knew it would also be good for himself, to teach a headstrong young lad who had previously made a living from stealing to do honest work and learn the ways of caring for a horse.

"We'll start with my own steed, because I know he won't harm you and you're just a beginner," said Leofan, leading the boy to one of the stalls. "His name is Mihtig, and though he has his faults, he's gentle and will treat you kindly, if you do the same to him."

Anwir reached up a bit nervously, for he had encountered many ill-tempered horses in his days wandering the streets. He ran his hand down Mihtig's shining bay neck. The stallion nicked in pleasure and stretched out to nudge the boy with his head. Anwir gave a cry of alarm and jumped back. Mihtig also looked a bit startled and tossed his head, then, observing Anwir's frightened eyes, gave a low whinny as if he were chuckling.

"What would you like to learn first?" Leofan asked.

"I don't know what there is to learn, sir," said Anwir, cautiously stepping up to Mihtig's head again. "But with your permission, I'd like to get to know your horse better first." His voice faltered, as if he were unsure how to put his thoughts into words. "I think that maybe I could work better here if I knew horses better."

"That's a very sensible plan, lad," said Leofan. "You and Mihtig get to know one another, and I'll get on with my work. Just let me know when you feel confident enough to learn." Then he went back to the horse he had been grooming, leaving Anwir and the stallion alone together.
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Old 08-03-2003, 03:47 PM   #126
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Bêthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bêthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bêthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Shield

"Is it yimmer-yammer to lie there grinning like a contented silly, Madi? Is that what yimmer-yammer means?" inquired Ruthven as she gently prodded his little body with her sandaled foot, not quite tickling him, but not pushing meanly either. Still, she was challenging him.

Snorting and huffing a bit, Madi rolled over because of the insistent, nudging foot and stood up. He straightened his hood and his burlap habit and eyed the two women with a more serious demeanour.

"No. Madi doesn't yimmer-yammer. Master Jian said women yimmer yammer," he intoned solemnly.

"So you've come here seeking yimmer-yammer, then, Madi?" asked Bethberry sprightly. A look, a cross between a grin and rolled eyes, passed over her face. "How will you recognize it when you hear it, if you don't pay attention?"

Now Madi was confused. Berry expected to be listened to. She expected him to pay her attention. Perhaps he had missed something. He wished now he had listened to the Old One and Berry as they talked.

"Madi came for some nice. But Madi will work," he reminded her.

"Well, Madi, that's what we were asking you. About some important work. What would you like to do?"

Madi gulped. He hadn't expected this. This was new. It wasn't frightening; he didn't taste red. But it was ... unknown. A hint of green rose on his tongue as he became unsure, but then a flood of brown swept over his senses as he realized with surprise and some shock that Master Jian might not have been right. At least about these creatures called women. Maybe it was important to listen to yimmer yammer after all. He scratched at his messy hair and sat down again at the table.

"You want Madi to do what?" he asked, a look of intense concentration covering his face as he tried to determine what these women were about.

"Bethberry was thinking you should get to know Edoras. And that people should get to know you. I told her what happened at Market. She doesn't want people to laugh at you, so she thinks you should help me with some deliveries," said Ruthven, looking straight into the little fellow's face so that he could neither avoid her gaze nor separate his eyes again.

Madi squirmed. He was not used to being given a choice. Nor being looked at so squarely and directly. He scrunched up his mouth, as if frowning with his entire face, and extended his long tongue in thought. The brown moment was lasting a long time. He looked at the Innkeeper.

"Madi can still stay here? And come back to work for Berry?"

"Yes, Madi," the Innkeeper smiled. "But let's find out what kind of work you do best. An Inn is a busy place, you know, not at all like the silent, quiet room, I bet, where you worked with this Master Jian. We are crowded with people who will come to know you. You will have to learn to pay attention to yimmer yammer, also." She raised an eyebrow and cocked her head at him as she said this.

"Okay," said Madi, feeling like he was caught in a headlock, "let's go." He had already decided that this might be a way to find the lost amber, which he could still faintly sense. He would be able to explain Berry's colour better to her once he had the amber to give her.

Bethberry looked quizzically up at Ruthven, who nodded.

"Day's not getting any younger. Nor am I. I've got your pillow slips to show to the fishwife and some old glass to Barthaew. Come," she said.

The two, the stooped, limping old woman and the small fellow, trundled off. Bethberry was left quietly mulling over events, fingering the bolt of blue satin and wondering why something about it didn?t feel quite right.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ruthven trod a regular route, for habit was what made people look out for her. She didn't walk the front streets, either, but the back alleyways; she called to the back windows and kitchen doors. Madi was fascinated by the warren-like patterns of the streets and utterly mixed up about direction. One and two story mud and timber buildings leaned over the streets at odd angles and ditches ran with smelly fluid. There were no stone roofs like there had been at Minky Ting.

"Veny," he asked. "Why does grass grow on top of houses here?"

"Heh," shrugged Ruthven. "None hereabouts are wealthy enough for slate roofs like the White City boasts. Too much of our money goes to fill the trade coffers there and too little is left here for our needs. Except for the Golden Hall. There's a fair bit of mucky pride there."

Madi didn't know for sure what mucky pride was. He wondered if this was part of yimmer yammer, so he though perhaps he should ask Ruthven about it.

"What's mucky pride? Is it like the smell in the puddles here?"

Ruthven responded with a deep cackle which startled Madi. "Worse, lad. They think they don't stink," she said, which confused Madi all the more. This yimmer yammer, he decided, was going to be hard to understand.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

They approached the fishmonger's house and familiar scents of the sea port tickled Madi's nose.

"Rags, bottles, oldenwares," Ruthven cried out. "Goods for exchange."

The fishmonger's wife poked her head out a large window. Her nose was large, reddened, and veined, and she was still holding in her fist a bloodied cleaver that bore pieces of fish flesh. "Have ye any bed linens today, Ruthven?" she asked.

Madi, gasping as he spied the cleaver, hid once again behind the cart. Unbidden, words came tumbling out his mouth, not in his regular voice but in an unusual, sing-songy falsetto.

"Three blind cows.
Three blind cows.
See how they run.
They all came charging after the fisher's wife who cut off their tails with a carving knife.
Did you ever see such a sight in your life.
As three blind cows."

The fishermonger's wife howled throatily.

"What have you got there, Ruthven? You've added stories and a merry laugh to your exchanges."

"Just about, Ulmea. I've got me a help today. I'm breaking someone in for The Horse's Innkeeper."

At the words 'breaking someone in' Madi began to shake his head adamently. "No, no, no," he moaned.

Both women laughed again and Madi blushed. He decided he didn't like this yimmer yammer at all. No wonder Master Jian had told him to ignore women. This was more head lock.

"I've got some pillow slips. Fine condition. Well kept. Pressed and neat. Not even needing mending."

"I can give you an old bellows for them. Wood's still good and real brass too, but the leather has cracked and split, won't hold much air."

"I'll take it," agreed Ruthven, who knew the tanner owed her a favour and would replace the leather for her. She marched around the cart, pulled Madi upright, and placed the slips in his hands.

"She likes you, lad. People seem to cotton to you real quick. Go to her now, there's a lad. She won't bite."

Ulmea came out the door, her hands wiped clean on her messy apron and the cleaver nowhere in sight. Madi could sense a bit of white about her, not much, for her messy apron spoke volumes about dead fish, but at least he didn't fear for himself any more. He puffed out his cheeks and frowned at Ruthven.

"Berry wouldn't do this to me," he pouted.

"No, not all. That's why I'm here," she replied cheekily, with a wink of her squinting eye, as she pushed him towards Ulmea.

Guardedly, Madi approached the fishmonger's wife and held out the pillow slips. He hoped they wouldn't get covered in the messy red smear from her apron. They were clean and creamy yellow.

Ulmea handed him the bellows and told him to wait. He stood an eternity waiting for the tingle of red to arise, but it didn't. Instead, Ulmea returned with a cracked bowl of pickled herring and sour cream and a small handful of cucumbers.

"Here's reward for your joke, lad. You look hungry. So Bethberry's bringing in a jester for entertainment to The Horse, eh? She'll be drawing crowds for sure with you."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The two walked on, Ruthven shuffling more and more as the day wore on but Madi tramping about keenly. They shared Ulmea's offering, Ruthven, a poor, thin woman, eating the pickled herring and cream avidly, while Madi, saying he didn't like the taste of purple, nibbled contentedly at the cucumbers, letting their juice run down his jaw out of the corner of his mouth and then smearing it over his face with his hand by way of wiping it off. Once finished, Ruthven patted him merrily on the shoulder and chuckled good naturedly.

"Madi, my lad, you've made a friend. You were a hit. That's the first time our shrewish fishmonger's wife has volunteered anything extra to me. You've a gift there, telling stories and songs and jokes. Getting folk to laugh at themselves instead of you."

Madi had no idea what Ruthven was talking about. Or what the rhyme had meant. It had just come over him when he saw the bloody cleaver. It was like a story he had swallowed and then brought up again, out of fear. But he didn't tell Ruthven this; he thought it important not to ruin her fun. He smiled, then, just a tiny bit pleased with himself, hoping this was the right yimmer-yammer way to do things.

[ August 04, 2003: Message edited by: Bêthberry ]
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Old 08-03-2003, 04:24 PM   #127
Aylwen Dreamsong
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Sting

Aylwen, Castar, and Windheneb continued their trek through the market well on to noon. They passed by bricklayers and bakers, glassblowers and herbalists, jewelers and shoemakers, not to mention the frequent jesters, acrobats, and minstrels. Many times the group of three would stop for a time at the wishes of Windheneb to speak with women who he thought fancied him. At these many stops, Winny would talk and flirt with several women at once, while Castar and Aylwen would walk together and look at whatever booths and businesses were closest.

"So you only come here every few months for the Market?" Aylwen asked Castar as they watched a few older women braid hair for money. Windheneb was flirting with one of the young ladies getting her platinum blond hair braided, and was helping her choose the ribbon color as his friend and Aylwen spoke. Castar nodded in response to Aylwen's question, and winced as he watched an elderly woman tug at a little girl's hair to make the braid tight. Aylwen laughed. "The price of beauty, for some women, is painful. But for them it is not in vain, especially with men like Winny floating around the market."

When Winny was done flirting with the women at the braiding stall, the group moved on ever slower as Windheneb stopped more often to speak with women. Sometimes it was quick chatter, but other times Winny would talk for what seemed like hours. Castar was anxious to find the face painter, and Aylwen wanted to return to her duties at the White Horse, for she had already been out for most of the day.

"Forgive me Castar, but the day is no longer young and I have been away from the White Horse for much longer than I had anticipated. Perhaps we will meet again, but until then, it was wonderful meeting you," Aylwen said to Castar when Winny decided to stop to speak to a woman acrobat. Aylwen hugged Castar, and before she left him she said, "Castar, the face painter is across the market way from the man selling quilts. Over there."

After pointing Castar in the right direction and waving goodbye, Aylwen turned away and made her way through the market back towards the White Horse. It was late afternoon already, and the sun was already descending on the horizon. When Aylwen had escaped the frenzy of the market and was on the main road back to the White Horse, she began to murmur a little tune to herself:

Tell me the tales that to me were so dear,
Long, long ago, long, long ago,
Sing me the songs I delighted to hear,
Long, long ago, long ago.

Now you are come all my grief is removed,
Let me forget that so long you have roved.
Let me believe that you love as you loved,
Long, long ago, long ago.

Do you remember the paths where we met?
Long, long ago, long, long ago.
Ah, yes, you told me you'd never forget,
Long, long ago, long ago.

Then to all others, my smile you preferred,
Love, when you spoke, gave a charm to each word.
Still my heart treasures the phrases I heard,
Long, long ago, long ago.

Tho' by your kindness my fond hopes were raised,
Long, long ago, long, long ago.
You by more eloquent lips have been praised,
Long, long ago, long, long ago.

But, by long absence your truth has been tried,
Still to your accents I listen with pride,
Blessed as I was when I sat by your side.
Long, long ago, long ago.


By the time the last verse and the last hum of Aylwen's voice had faded on the warm summer air, the Assisstant Innkeeper was back at the White Horse. The White Horse was attended at that time only by Bethberry, but Aylwen was glad for the Innkeeper's presence, so that Aylwen could deliver the thistle bracelet she had purchased for Bethberry.

[ August 03, 2003: Message edited by: Aylwen Dreamsong ]
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Old 08-04-2003, 09:46 AM   #128
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Sting

The gilr shook her head politely, turning on her heel and heading in the other direction.

"Must be busy," Barthaew mumbled to himself, ducking under the stall under the pretense of replenishing the dwindling supply of plates and bowls.

As he resurfaced, he saw the play actors' circle now surrounded by acrobats. Children circled it, clapping and laughing in delight as the people tumbled on the grounded and jumped through the air. He saw one, a short woman acrobat, do a rather impressive flip through the air, landing flat on her feet.

Just in front of her was a young man, who looked to be about Barthaew's age. He wore a cheeky smile, but this she obviously easily forgave, as he was a very good-looking fellow. He spoke to her, leaning forward slightly, and she nodded bashfully at his comments. Barthaew pursed his lips, pushing his hood back, observing this more carefully. He had never considered himself skilled with women or even anyone that they would be pleased to have grinning at them like that, but it wasn't as if any woman would slap him in the face for trying. Why couldn't he be more like that fellow? Of course, he made it look like second nature.

One of the other acrobats (male, or they would have been there all day) beckoned to the girl, and she turned back to her fellow workers, waving a little to the man as she went.

Barthaew watched him as he smiled and turned away, putting his hands in his pockets and surveying the rest of the scene. Before he could look away, Barthaew saw that the young man's eyes were now locked with his. Barthaew looked away, ducking under the table again, though there wasn't room on the table for him to put anything else.

"Lose something?" a cheerful voice spoke up above him.

Barthaew rose slowly, to see the young man now standing in front of his stall.

"Just a bit of dignity, I suppose," Barthaew mumbled. "Uhm...may I interest you in something?"
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Old 08-04-2003, 11:29 AM   #129
Sophia the Thunder Mistress
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Sting

Iswyn rose, white faced, from the ground where she'd been kneeling. Most of the cloves had been replaced in the tiny fabric pouch, and luckily all her other packages had stayed tied. With all her purchases safey in the basket, she glanced about for Deol's flowers. There they were, a few steps ahead of her, dusty and a little crushed, but still nice. She picked them up, shaking the dust from the green ribbon still tied around their stems and tucked them on top of the rest of her things. She clutched at Lachlan's outstretched hand as she got to her feet, still trembling and weak in the knees.

Silly girl, she chided herself inwardly, nothing happened to you. Stand up straight and have just a little dignity for once. She let go of Lachlan's hand and looked up at him. "I should go. Talan will be angry with me." She took two steps in the direction of Hamish's stand before Lachlan was beside her again. Her steps had been shaky, yes, and she was glad to have his hand on her shoulder.

"I'll go with you, make sure you get there all right." The expression on the young man's face was kind, and Iswyn vividly relived the moments where he defended her against the drunken old man. How strong he was, and how safe she was with him. She relaxed just a little and let him guide her through the market, back to where Talan paced the dusty street alone.

"Iswyn!" He looked shocked to see her. She glanced down at her dress and shoes, noticing that they were dusty and rumpled. Her face must look a mess too. She wanted to cry. How humiliating. How awful. Wordlessly, she pushed the basket in her hands at Talan and felt a hot tear run down her cheek.

"She had a bit of trouble at market today." Lachlan spoke over her head to Talan. "She ought to get home and have a rest." Talan nodded solemnly, readjusting his own purchases to take the basket from her shaking hands.

"Hamish will deliver those birds to the inn later." He said, with a nod to the red faced shopkeeper, before reaching out to take Iswyn's hand. Iswyn shook her head no, clinging to Lachlan's hand like a little girl. She knew she was being silly, but she didn't dare let go. Not till she was back at the Horse, back in the warm kitchen where everything was safe.

Lachlan exchanged a helpless glance with Talan. "How about we all three go back together?" He suggested. Iswyn nodded enthusiastically at this proposal, still clinging to his hand like a limpet. Only a short walk and the day could be over. Bethberry couldn't mind about the sand in the cloves, she simply couldn't. After Iswyn told her that she had done her best she would be free to go to the kitchen and the vegetable gardens, free to relax in the clean sun and reclaim the good day she'd had earlier. Haltingly the three set out to return to the inn.

After only a few steps Lachlan's face brightened. "I've got the cart with me today. How about I go and fetch it and drive you two back?" Iswyn looked up at Talan's face, beaded with sweat, and his arms full of both their packages. Reluctantly she relinquished Lachlan's hand and watched as the young man set off at a brisk walk in search of his cart.

[ August 09, 2003: Message edited by: Sophia the Thunder Mistress ]
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Old 08-04-2003, 08:37 PM   #130
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"He is so adorable!"

Shrae looked up at the feminine voice to see a very pretty young lady.

"Hi," she said with a big smile on her face. "My name is Mia and I'm supposed to show you your room."

Shrae smiled in relief while trying to get Reen to focus back on his bread instead of holding on to one of her loose locks of hair.

"Oh, good. I was afraid I'd have to find the room on my own."

Mia raised her eyebrows. "My, we couldn't have that! Oh, the tongue lashing I'd get from Bethberry if she even suspected the thought. Now, what could I get you right now?"

"I think I need to get Reen here to a nap first off. He's eaten enough to last him till dinner is served."

Shrae stood up and hefted the squirming boy onto her left hip. "Oh," she added as the thought came to her, "my name is Shrae and this little fellow goes by Reen."

Mia's smile got bigger as she bent down to look the baby in the face. "Well, hello Master Reen," she said as she wiggled one of his hands. He just stared at her with a quizical look on his face, then turned to Shrae as if wanting an explanation for the servers behavior. Both the ladies burst into laughter.

"Well, I did say he needed a nap," Shrae got out when her giggles had subsided.

"Here, this way," Mia said as she turned and led the way up a staircase located near the back of the Inn.

The room was indeed small with only a cot, crib and a tiny dressor filling up all the walls, leaving a small five foot area in the middle to turn around in.

"Whew, it's a little hot in here. Must be because of the kitchens," Mia said as she let out the window above the cot. "There, that should help a bit. Right, the food is included with the room so you can help yourself, and if you need anything just ask one of the servers or come find me."

"Thank you Mia," Shrae spoke to the departing back.

It was a tad stuffy in the room, but compared to the journey they had just completed the room was practically cool with the slight breeze flowing in from the window.

Laying Reen into the crib that eaily held his small frame, shrae quickly unburdened herself by tossing her bundle, carrying cloth and money onto the top of the dressor.

Reen was not happy about being in the strange bed and had stood up with the help of the side board. As Shrae turned to him he started crying. She just sat down on her cot and started to sing a soft melody that her mom had sung for her and Lowfel when they were children.

Reen had gotten to sleep by her side on the journey, but Shrae didn't want to keep it up; she'd seen children unable to sleep without their parents and she didn't want Reen to be so dependent later on in life.

As Reen continued his wails Shrae switched from one song to the next.
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Old 08-05-2003, 01:02 AM   #131
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Sting

Lachlan drove the cart down towards the Inn, the young girl clinging to him for dear life. Inwardly he said 'Well, I asked for excitement...'. He looked at the pale faced maid, still shaking a little. Lachlan did not blame her.

He also noticed how worried her friend was. He remembered the lad from the Inn, Talan was his name. He was sure this boy could take care of her just fine, but she seemes resolute. He remembered his deliveries left to be done, and took up a little more speed.

'Ai..I still have to see the carpenter...hmm...well I'll just have to work hastier now' he thought as he rounded the corner, and headed to the Inn at the end of the road...

Before he got there, he turned and smiled at the young maid 'Well, Im sure your friend and yourself are quite busy, by the look of those packages. Its lucky I came by then.' he said, trying to cheer her up.

[ August 10, 2003: Message edited by: Taralphiel ]
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Old 08-09-2003, 06:51 AM   #132
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Shield

“Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Fianna
Happy Birthday to you!”

Fianna´s eyes grew as round as apples as Mia brought in the big birthday cake. Made of different doughs, with lots of honey, dried fruit, nuts, and some whipped cream on top of it all; it was truly a masterpiece. Secretly, Mia thought it was her best creation yet and was planning to suggest it to Bethberry at the next big party. The next party! she laughed to herself. The last one was barely over and she, Mia was making plans for next year!

“Happy Birthday, my big girl!” Mia hugged her sister tight, giving her an extra big birthday kiss. Fianna giggled. “Tickes.” she confided, but glanced up hopefully. “More?” Mia laughed, giving her another kiss, and another one, and another... “There! Six kisses, one for every year you´ve been my little sunshine!” They laughed.

Mia scooped cake on everyone´s plates and watched Deor and Briga give their sister her presents: Deor had scraped up his last money for a honey-pop from the market; a sticky and very sweet candy the kids were crazy after, but Briga gave her a little stone she´s found, shaped like a butterfly. After these sweet little gifts, Fianna exitedly looked up at her sister. “And you?”

Mia pulled out a parcel from behind her back. Fianna eagerly ripped it open and, oh what joy as she found a brand- new jump-roap and two dresses for her favourite doll. Fianna clutched all her treasures in her arms as they went off to the White Horse.

Later, the day had turned to be as normal as ever, and Mia was depressed. It was Fianna´s birthday, afterall! Shouldn´t she be organizing a party instead of standing here, in the kitchen, making soup for strangers?! She had promised her mother on her deathbed to make the children happy, and now she couldn´t even make Fianna´s birthday a fun and happy occasion? She could hear the city kids, occupied with their usual games –hide and see, fire-water-earth, tag- and from time to time caught Fianna saying things like “It´s my birthday, you know...”- it could have broken her heart.

After showing a new visitor –accompanied by a gorgeous baby- her room and pushing her false cheerfulness to the end, she made a decision.

“Misstress Bethberry?” Chewing her lip, she looked at her boss. “Umm, ma´am, you see, it´s my sisters birthday and I was wondering, could I, maybe...have half the day off? Please? I promise I´ll come in at night tomorrow, I´ll do whatever you want me to, but please, can I just do something with Fianna today?”
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Old 08-10-2003, 09:38 PM   #133
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Sting

An excitement filled the air as Lairwyn walked out of her small house and closed the door snugly behind her. She lived close enough to the center of town that the sounds and smells of the market were already stimulating her senses. The slight skip in her step moved her along more quickly than her normal pace, and she arrived at the edge of the stalls within minutes.

Taking a moment to soak everything in, Lairwyn took a deep breath and thought about what to see first. She tucked a blonde strand behind her ear as she turned to the right and surveyed what was in store in that direction. A few stalls from where she stood hens were restless in their cages. A little further down the row, a woman had a variety of materials and ribbons laid out, and Lairwyn made a mental note to stop there before the day was over. She’d saved a little extra money this week after an unexpected birth two nights ago, and she hoped to maybe find a nice fabric with which she could make a new dress.

To her left Lairwyn spotted a produce stand she would need to visit to pick up some onions and tomatoes. This direction led to the center of the activities and what looked to the woman like a play or production of some sort. It was decided; Lairwyn pulled the handle of her basket up over her arm and made her way toward the center.
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Old 08-12-2003, 08:04 PM   #134
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1420!

The player Wingesith counted out the coins they’d gained, with only an occasional glance at his partner Fremman, who had been genuinely drunk and who still couldn’t be trusted with such a task. Not that he ever allowed him to handle the money in any case; the man had no thought of the future when he might need coin for something other than drink, or when he might need a partner for something other than stealing from. The man who was king on the streetcorner was subordinate to his counselor in the rest of the world, just as Wingesith supposed real kings often were, although he doubted that any king in Rohan had ever been as irksome as his current companion, who was currently elbowing Wingesith in an effort to get him to laugh at some joke comprehensible only to his own alcohol-sharpened mind. His eyes, of course, were fixed on the money. A noble king indeed.

But Fremman was the darling of the crowds, and regularly brought in more money than Wingesith had ever been able to garner on his best days, if only one could manage to keep it away from him. With a slight sigh, Wingesith looked out at the way the crowd had reformed since the end of their performance. His eye caught a few young thieves plying their trade, one well suited to the young and agile, who could ward off starvation without being saddled with such a partner. He smiled slightly, imagining a man with his own tall and imposing build attempting to sneak through the crowd the way these children could, standing close enough to pick someone’s pocket unnoticed. It was a far more comical idea, somehow, than that of picking up a thief and setting him to play counselors. After all, that was Wingesith’s own story. He sighed.

“Cabbage,” remarked Fremman.

“What?”

“Cabbage, I said.” He nodded decisively, as if the comment were self-explanatory. Wingesith stared at him. With an exasperated sigh at the stupidity of his colleague, he elaborated in a slow, patient voice, as if he were talking to a child who was still learning to speak. “We need cabbage. For the act. Cab-bage Ki-ngs.” He nodded again, pleased with himself.

“Of course!” said Wingesith brightly. It was an odd idea, and he still wasn’t certain exactly what Fremman had meant by it, but he had learned that the man’s bizarre ideas were as profitable as his drunkenness, and there was no point in letting him think he came up with everything himself. “That’s it exactly. How clever you are,” he added in a voice that was just condescending enough to let him know he would have come up with the same idea in another five minutes, or five minutes ago had he not been contemplating something deep and unspecified. Fremman, disconcertingly enough, chuckled, nodded sagely, and contemplated Wingesith with a careful and surprisingly clear eye.

“Am I then?” he asked softly.

“Er… yes,” answered his companion lamely. “Why don’t… here, the vegetable stands are this way.”

The excitement in the city center was of a different style than the usual, noticed Wingesith, both tense and cheerful, and not businesslike in the slightest. Something new was here. He frowned. Here was a dumb show, one he’d never seen in the city before. He stood still on the edges of their crowd and watched carefully. He didn’t know them, unless the one with the ridiculous mustache turned out to be old Ellorthain, but their performance was astonishingly expert. One of the strengths upon which Wingesith prided himself was knowing both uncertainty and cheating when he saw them, and here he saw neither. He looked over the crowd quickly, trying to calculate whether it was larger than their own. Would cabbages be enough to keep people interested in them?

“Fremman,” he said, “what do you want to do with the cabbages?”

But he got no answer. Fremman had wandered toward the stalls by himself, and was looking at onions over the shoulder of a woman who had not yet noticed his presence.
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Old 08-13-2003, 09:12 AM   #135
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Sting

Iona ran up the stairs to her small room, her shoes noisy on the wood. Dumping her basket filled with packages on the bed, she flew back down the stairs and into the kitchen, trying to avoid the watchful eye of Froma, as she was already late.

Donning an apron, she set to the increasing pile of dirty dishes beside her – mostly glasses, the smell of beer and ale strong in the air. The noise in the hall outside grew louder, as she heard men, women, and young children all coming in from a morning at the markets. Busy listening to the strains of conversation wafting through the door, Iona forgot what she was supposed to be doing until a large crash on the floor jolted her to her present task. Remnants of a shattered glass were scattered across the floor.

To Iona’s relief, Froma and the other servants were out of the room, and so she quickly swept it up and disposed of it. No one had been around to witness her clumsiness, at least. Wiping the last dish clean, she moved out into the hall where the tables were filling up, and began to take orders.
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Old 08-13-2003, 10:21 AM   #136
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Shield

Bethberry held out her right hand and looked keenly at the intricately detailed bracelet as Aylwen snapped it on her wrist. The Innkeeper could almost imagine the sting of the thistles, so well-wrought was the piece of jewellery.

"Aylwen, I don't normally wear jewellry, but this is indeed a special piece, chosen thoughtfully. I will wear it with honour, a single ornament, in recognition of the cost of life well-earned."

Aywlen nodded, happy that her gift had been understood. Before she could speak again, Mia appeared with a most earnest request. Aywlen chuckled aloud.

"I'll leave this for you to handle, Innkeeper," she said, a smile coming unbidden to her face, as she bowed slightly in making her departure.


The Innkeeper looked into the earnest, tumultuous eyes of the young Mia, too young, really, to have to handle such a responsibility yet. Yet the girl must learn or she would fail her task. And what then of the little ones?

"Mia, indeed, a celebration with Fianna would be delightful; I can well imagine it. But suddenly leaving, even in offering to work another time, is not a responsible way to run an Inn. There are others here who depend upon us, rely upon us, to provide for their needs. Had you thought to plan ahead, asked me yesterday, or even early this morning, I could have arranged for another to cover your work. As it is, now, with so many staff away at market, we have few enough on hand to do the work. There is much to do to prepare for dinner and to attend to the rooms and laundry. The Inn cannot spare you now."

The girl's eyes widened in her disappointment, tinged perhaps with anger and surprise at being denied her request. Bethberry watched for a reaction, knowing that in the balance hung whatever success Mia would have to care well for her younger siblings.

A crash of glass interrupted them. With a nod, the Innkeeper strod off to the kitchen, in time to observe, unnoticed, Iona sweeping away the last shards of broken glass. Seeing that the girl was unhurt, she tucked the memory of the accident away in her mind and returned to Mia.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

OOC
I cannot access my PMs. Some of you sent me queries about futher interactions. Could you please resend them to my addy and I will be back in touch asap:


bethberry@barrowdowns.com

Thanks!
Bethberry



[ August 22, 2003: Message edited by: Bêthberry ]
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Old 08-13-2003, 12:23 PM   #137
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Sting

All conversation ceased as a tall, black cloaked figure entered the Inn. He paused, then proceeded to the end of the bar, mail clinking beneath his cloak as he walked. Aylwen looked up as he passed and waved. "Hi Grrralph," she said without concern as she resumed her task of polishing the bar.

He pulled a scroll from beneath his cloak and tacked it to the wall, before turning and walking out without a word. All gathered waited for the door to close before rushing up to see the notice which had been posted. It read as follows:

"Greetings! The Moderators and staff of the Realms of Gondor, Rohan and The Shire have undertaken a review of the Rules governing the RPG Forums here at the Barrow-Downs. If you would like to offer a comment or observation or register a complaint (or even...gasp...make a compliment) please do so HERE. Thank you!"
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Old 08-13-2003, 09:12 PM   #138
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Sting

Lairwyn held her basket close to her side as she looked over the vegetables lined up in the small bins in front of her. Reaching out she picked up several tomatoes individually and rolled them around in her hand testing the firmness of the fragile fruit. After selecting four and placing them gently into her basket, she moved down the line to the onions and performed a similar ritual to assess their quality. With her final preferences in her basket, Lairwyn carefully pulled out a small green bag she kept tucked snugly in the top of her stockings. She counted out the appropriate amount of coins and placed them in the palm of the merchant’s hand.

As she began to return the bag to its hiding place, she stepped back and onto something…or someone! Spinning on her heels, Lairwyn apologized profusely before looking up and seeing the tall man standing over her. As soon as their eyes met the smell of liquor hit her and she gasped. While trying to back away from the man who stood smiling down at her in what she felt to be an inappropriate manner, she managed to bump into someone else and then dropped her money pouch. A couple of silver coins rolled out and she quickly knelt to catch them.

“Here, I’ll help you with that.” The man immediately dropped to his knees to help retrieve the coins. However, Lairwyn snatched them quickly out of his grasp and held them tightly in her fist. The man’s drunkenness had slowed his reaction time, and it was several moments later that he fully realized the money was no longer loose for the taking.

“I’m fine, thank you.” Lairwyn was already back on her feet dusting off her small gray dress, when the man’s gaze found her again and that creepy smile was restored. After snagging her basket from below her and throwing it over her arm, she turn hurriedly away and tried to leave the area, but she stopped when a large hand took hold of her elbow and spun her around.
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Old 08-17-2003, 11:45 AM   #139
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Madi’s belly was uncomfortably hard. He sighed and pulled his habit taught against his spherical midriff, worried about its cannonball size.

Ruthven looked down and chuckled. “Only one left, Madi,” she said, offering him the last cucumber. “Shame to waist it.”

With a sour expression, Madi shook his head at the cucumber, his eyes imploring Ruthven to take it away.

“Over eaten, eh?” the old woman mocked.

Madi wasn’t listening. He suddenly jumped to his feet and gripped the edge of the wagon tightly. A pained look cracked his features. He darted his confused gaze around the area, panic rising in him like a fever.

“What is it, Madi,” Ruthven asked, her concern clear.

Madi’s eyes widened to the size of saucers and he belched massively (surprising himself as much as Ruthven) and fell back into the wagon seat, snoring loudly, deeply asleep.

* * *

It was the smell of curiosity that disrupted Madi’s slumber. A darker shade of green that tickled his nose and sneezed him awake.

“So you’re back with us, little man,” Ruthven said playfully. “Is your stomach feeling better?”

Madi stood on the seat and stretched. He scratched his head and looked around, feeling a little sleep-disorientated. “Madi dreamt of honey,” he mumbled and plonked back down beside Ruthven. He yawned and looked up at her. “What?” he asked pointedly.

“What do you mean ‘what’?” Ruthven retorted, somewhat wrong-footed by Madi’s abruptness.

“Madi can taste your questions.” He smacked his lips to emphasis the point. “Just ask,” he assured.

Ruthven smiled with more than a little wonder. There was no fooling this one, she realised. Something deep down told her there was a well of discovery beneath Madi, and she wondered if even he realised it was there. “All right,” she said after a moment. “Tell me about master Jian; the scholar, from Minas Tirith.”

Madi nodded. “He was nice. Madi was his helper. He was old and died.”

Ruthven nodded sympathetically. “And what did you help him to do?”

“Speak.”

“Speak?” Ruthven echoed.

Madi confirmed with a curt nod, but offered nothing more by way of explanation.

“Was master Jian a mute, Madi?” Ruthven prompted.

Rolling his eyes, Madi tsked. “No.” He began drawing in the air with an invisible quill. “Madi speaks. Master Jian writes.”

Ruthven pursed her lips and thought for a second. It took a moment for her to realise what Madi meant. “You dictated,” she said, with a soft chuckle. “Master Jian wrote down the words you . . .” Ruthven looked at Madi sharply, the implications dawning on her. “Madi, can you read?”

Madi shook his head and screwed his face up, wondering what reading had to do with anything. Venny, he decided, had trouble sticking to one subject at a time.

Ruthven frowned. “Then what did Master Jian write?”

If Madi was honest he could’ve sworn Ruthven was mocking him now. After all, there was only certain number of ways one could say the same thing differently. He took several long sniffs of the air. No, all he could smell was the dark green shade of curiosity. There was no fun being made here. Perhaps Venny was a bit slow on the uptake.

“Master Jian wrote what Madi spoke,” he said, spreading the words in a slow, deliberate way, making it easy for her to understand this time.

“Then . . .” Ruthven paused, wondering if the little man was mocking her. Perhaps he was finding it difficult to understand and follow the conversation. “What did Madi speak?” she asked, adopting the little man’s tone.

Madi made an exasperated noise at the back of his throat. “Words!” he snapped, jabbing his hands forward to emphasis the statement.

Ruthven stopped the wagon and eyed Madi curiously, struggling to find a little extra reserve of patience. She tried to see his face hidden in his hood’s shadows.

In return, Madi pushed his hood back and looked up at Ruthven with a semi-irritated glare. “Problem?” he enquired, prissily.

Ruthven’s sternness dissolved and she laughed heartily. “I think Bethberry, was right,” she said and reached under the seat. “I don’t think I’ve realised what I’ve let myself in for. Aha! This should help make things clearer.” She lifted up a rolled parchment triumphantly. “I’ve had this thing a long time. Never been able to read though.” She offered it to Madi. “Will you speak to me like you did for Master Jian?” She asked kindly.

Madi smiled and took the parchment. Venny might be a bit dim, but he was quite happy to do as she asked. Of course, he realised he was giving away nice for free, but that was all right, just this once. He remembered how much his speaking pleased Master Jian, and he felt safe and wanted around the old one.

Madi unrolled the parchment and sniffed it. He smacked his lips and closed his eyes.

Slack-jawed and dumbstruck, Ruthven watched in incredibility as Madi stuffed the parchment into his mouth and began happily chewing. Noisily, he ate the whole thing in one go, even seeming to savour the flavour. Madi swallowed the parchment in a single, throat bulging gulp.

“What are you doing?” Ruthven demanded, her momentary stupefaction passing.

Madi hiccupped, licked the end of each finger, and cleared his throat. He stood and opened his arms as if addressing the world. When he spoke, it was with a voice not his own. Gone was the simplistic, careful and overly pronounced accent of Madi. Now a smooth, deeply rich tone purred from his voice box. Even his gestures and mannerisms had changed and belonged to someone else entirely.

“He caught her, held her fast! Water-rats went scuttering. Reeds hissed, Herons cried, and her heart was fluttering . . .”

Ruthven baulked. “Madi?”

But the little man was somewhere else, and continued, oblivious to the old one’s surprise, rolling poetry from his tongue like the purrs of a cat.

[ August 17, 2003: Message edited by: Idgian ]
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Old 08-17-2003, 01:01 PM   #140
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Sting

Leofan stepped out of Mihtig's stall and walked away. Anwir stepped back again from the stallion's neck and eyed him nervously. When he had been younger, Anwir had been bitten savagely by a stallion just like this one, and his arm still bore the scar to prove it. But this horse was unlike that one; his eyes were kind and gentle. Anwir reached up a trembling hand and stroked Mihtig's velvety nose. The stallion nickered softly and nuzzled the boy's hand. Anwir smiled, confident now that the stallion wouldn't hurt him unless he had good reason to.

Anwir spied a brush lying on the floor of the stall and picked it up. As he started to brush Mihtig's silky coat, the stallion nickered his approval and tossed his mane. When Leofan came back to check on Anwir and Mihtig, he was pleased to see that the two were interacting beautifully.

"So, lad, have you been getting to know Mihtig?" asked Leofan. Anwir started and whirled around, panic on his face, until he saw that it was only Leofan. He relaxed and said, "Yes, sir. He's a very nice horse."

Leofan smiled and said, "Do you like horses, Anwir?" The boy smiled back and answered, "Yes, sir. Most of them are very nice, like Mihtig."

"Good," said Leofan. "Because now you are going to be learning about how to groom a horse properly. Listen closely, lad, and if you have any questions ask them, because if you don't know what you're doing you can get into a muck of trouble."

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

Aleia stepped out of the stable into the sunny afternoon, leaving Anwir and Leofan to the horses. She stretched and yawned as she walked back towards the market; she hadn't gotten up very early but she was still tired. As she stepped back into the bustling market, she surveyed the scene with a smile. Her thoughts went back to Anwir, and she hoped that he kept his promise of stopping his thieving.
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Old 08-21-2003, 12:07 PM   #141
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OOC Announcement: A new game has just come to town. Writers of the Mark, check out the opportunity and fun in Resettling the Lost Kingdom. The discussion thread is open for business.

Bêthberry the Rohan moderator, not Bethberry the Innkeeper. Ha
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Old 08-23-2003, 05:07 PM   #142
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Here is an updated list for all people who can game in Rohan. Please note that we now have two categories of gamers in Rohan, those who are game players and those who are game owners as well as players. This list will be added to the list in the first post of this thread and well as to the thread The Golden Hall, remodelled. The new rules will also be added there soon.

Gamers with full status as Game Owners and Game Players:


Adanedhel 4711
Anglachel 4315
Annunfuiniel 6496
Airerûthiel 4573
Arien 5520
Arvedui III 598
Auriel Haevasawen 2051
Aylwen Dreamsong 3938
Belin (Ibaimendi) 1321
Brinniel 3296
Cuthalion 3330
Daniel Telcontar 2975
Dark Shadow 5380
DayVampyre 7028
Deorlin 5212
doug*platypus 5476
dragoneyes 4574
Dwarin Thunderhammer 452
Earendil Halfelven 5268
Estel the Descender 1984
Envinyatar 5883
Galadel Vinorel 3964
Garen Lilorian 5106
Great Warg 3138
Gryphon Hall 2424
Ivy of the Woods 3230
Helkahothion 4764
Himaran 5731
Hirilaelin 6107
Horse-Maiden of the Shire 5542
Ithaeliel 2844
Kryssal 7005
Leighlei 1156
Lugbùrz 3733
Lyra Greenleaf 6073
Maikadilwen 1987
maikafanawen 5409
Manardariel 5211
Mattius4068
morai 2921
Nurumaiel 4911
onewhitetree 8
Orual 4756
Palando 6583
Ransom 4136
Sadbh 5241
Sharkû 3
Taralphiel 2723
Thalionyulma 1955
the real findorfin 473
theRuling Ring 4285
The White Lady 3754
VanimaEdhel 1864
Varda 3144

as well as all Gondorians

Gamers on a one-time only 'pass' to complete a game, who will return to The Shire upon completion of the current game:

Beruthiel 4876
elvenmaiden Earwen 5853
Meneltarmaciel 8259
Osse 8485

Gamers on 'probation' who could gain entry to Rohan as game players if they successfully complete the game they are currently in:

Carrun (RLK) 5606
Durelin (Brotherhood of the Last Alliance) 4652
TheLady Aerowen (RLK) 3670
Tinuviel of Denton (RLK) 7130

Rohan Game Players: Those who are game players in Rohan but who must first found a game in The Shire before earning Game Owner status in Rohan or merit consideration for waiver status by co-owning a game in Rohan with a Rohan Game Owner. (This latter waiver category is extremely rare).

Alaklondewen 1873
Sophia TTM 2643 (AHD, C&C)
TheXPhial 95 (RLK)


Gamers who can post at The White Horse Inn thread :

Anyone who can meet the minimum standards for gaming in The Shire

Full explanation of the rules will be up soon!

Bêthberry,
Moderator for Rohan

[ August 24, 2003: Message edited by: Bêthberry ]
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Old 08-24-2003, 05:31 PM   #143
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Sting

Castar bustled away from the face-painter with a piece of parchment some time after he went to the table, smiling merrily to himself and humming nothing in particular to himself. He had been forced to part with a few silver coins, but it was worth it to be able to show his father the translation.

He slowed and looked around for Windheneb. Windheneb was right where he had left him, chatting to a young jewelry-maker. He was smiling at her, holding one of the beaded necklaces she sold. When Windheneb saw Castar, he pardoned himself from the girl, taking the necklace with him.

"Do you think my sister will like this? Anaya gave it to me for free," Windheneb, said, excitedly.

"Anaya?" Castar looked at Windheneb.

"Oh...Anaya. The girl over there selling the jewelry," Windheneb said merrily as he moved on down the street. "Did you get your Elvish?"

"You remember all their names? And yes, I did, for your information. Aylwen showed me the way."

"And where is your little blossom of a friend?" Windheneb said, smiling at Castar teasingly, "And will I be invited to the wedding?"

"I am n-...well...erm...she's not my...gah!" Castar gave up on both trying to ward off Windheneb's teasing and attempting to keep stray strands of hair that he missed when pulling his hair back out of his face, "And do you want to know what the cloth says?"

"Sure...here, let me see," Winheneb took the paper. On the paper, the face-painter had written:

As the Ages pass and Mountains move,
One truth only shall remain eternal.
Love may fade or last, leaves fall or grow,
Yet this one truth shall be.
Fair kindred fall, eternal yet,
But lives not longer than this truth.
What remains, the wise may ask,
When all the Earth is gone?
Remember now the eternal truth,
That nothing, in fact, is eternal.


"It doesn't sound so nice translated," Windheneb said.

"My father will still love to see this, though," Castar said, smiling lovingly at the paper as he took it back and carefully stowed it in his pack.

The two walked back to their stands. They decided that they had enough of attempting to sell their wares for the day. Castar packed up what very little remained, most of which was broken. He would have to carry it to the Inn, as his horse was stabled for the night. Before Castar left, Windheneb came over again.

"Where will you sleep, friend?" Windheneb asked.

"I think I shall stay at the White Horse Inn," Castar said, "It is where I usually stay when I come here."

"Would you mind if I came with you for dinner at least?" Windheneb asked.

"Not in the least!" Castar said, joyous at the prospect of having company. They made their way over to the Inn.

They entered the Inn, and Castar looked around. The workers in the Inn seemed to be busy, even though the Inn was not nearly as crowded as it would be by the time full darkness fell. He spotted Aylwen bustling about, doing chores around the Inn.

"Aylwen," he called, blushing as she turned. She came over and hugged him, greeting him warmly, causing Castar to blush a deeper shade of purple.

"Oh, and hi, Windy!" Aylwen said, just as warmly to Windheneb. She turned back to Castar and inquired whether he would be staying in the Inn. Castar nodded, still a bit flushed, and Aylwen ran to check the registry to see what room would be available for Castar's use.

Aylwen smiled as she hurried past. Castar and Windheneb struggled to keep up while carrying Castar's things as they made their way up to the room.

"Do you need anything else?" Aylwen asked as she opened the door. Both men shook their heads "no". "Fine, then, I will let you boys be alone," Aylwen smiled as she shut the door.

"What do we do now?" Castar asked Windheneb. Windheneb just shrugged. The two sat on the bed, making light conversation, waiting to hear a bustle of patrons downstairs, in the hopes that they could later enjoy some merriment in the Inn that night.
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Old 08-27-2003, 09:06 AM   #144
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And Madi purred on, almost automatically, until finally he reached a last line.

" ... there you'll find no lover."

Whereupon he stopped, cleared his throat in a sonorous way more deeply than that he had yet used with either Bethberry or Ruthven, and bowed a short, curt closure to his recital, looking not a little smugly satisfied with himself.

"Well?" he said, when Ruthven failed to respond.

The Old One was still staring at him incredulously. His question seemed to surprise her.

"What?" she asked, shaking her head as if returning to the conversation. She had mutely been mouthing some of the lines Madi had recited, as if to herself, trying to recollect them.

"Well," he replied huffily this time, his hands circling the air as if he was trying to prompt something.

"Well, what?" Ruthven responded.

Madi pursed his lips together, setting his jaw so that it became even more pronounced.

"Waiting," he said. "Get going."

"Waiting and get going at the same time? Where?" she replied, with a laugh despite her own confusion. She really didn't understand what Madi was on about but she was beginning to see some humour in the situation.

"No where," retorted an exasperated Madi, who was missing master Jian rather much at this moment. He hummed for a bit and tapped his foot. He really liked Vinney and all, but the old girl really could be slow sometimes.

"Aren't you going to write what Madi spoke?" He was beginning to wonder if he had wasted his nice completely.

"Write! You're a funny one, Madi. Since when would the likes of me know how to write? Or read? I can sign my name, is all, and that's thanks to Bethberry and none others."

A penny dropped for Madi, or would have, if he had had a pocket for coin. Or any coin, come to think of it. He looked at Ruthven with a sudden awareness, tinged with sadness. He had at first believed he could find the nice again he had had with master Jian. But obviously he couldn't, at least not with Vinney even though he felt safe and warm with her. He bite his lower lip to keep it from trembling and his large, dark eyes looked sadly forlorn again, as if, saucer-like, they were ready to catch a falling tear.

"Can't write it?" he asked, wistfully.

Ruthven was almost going to tease Madi that she would not have had to write it out if he had not eaten the parchment in the first place, but then she looked at him and began to realize his real disappointment. Her fondness for him winning out over her sense of humour, she tried to find a way to reassure him that she had appreciated his performance.

"No, can't write," she admitted, with a twinge of bitter resignation in her voice. "But I thank you for telling me the verse. You've reminded me of it. You see, I've heard it before, long ago, I'm sure. It's an old one, a very old one. It's one Bethberry told me, long ago, when she first came to Edoras, but I had forgotten about it. And now you have given it back to me. I wonder how I came to have the parchment of it here."

"Berry knows it?" asked Madi, his eyes lighting up." Madi can give it back to Berry?"

"Yes, yes, I'm sure. As I recall, she could recount it with many a great laugh and glee, sort of knowingly, if you know what I mean. It seemed to have a hidden story for her. Beats me if I could ever suss it out though."

Here the old woman stopped, as if lost in her thoughts again. Her head began nodding time and her lips moved silently, as if repeating the verse to herself again. Madi began to wonder if all old people regularly talked to themselves, but then a sudden start from the Old One interrupted his thoughts.

"I think it goes with something else she told me," she muttered hesitantly, "something about 'shoreless seas and stars uncounted' Yes, yes, that was it. 'shoreless seas and stars uncounted ... and, and, an ever-present peril." Here Ruthven became frustrated that more words would not come.

Madi, however, was transfixed. He looked up at Ruthven. For a brief moment a pained looked passed over his face and he almost panicked, wondering if he would belch again. Then he straightened up. "Venny," he said. His hands extended once again as if he were addressing the world with bright lights upon him as he picked up the very words she had spoken, and filled them out.

But this time Ruthven was not swept up in nostalgic remembrance of a nonsense verse, for though clearly Madi knew the story she had vainly tried to recall, yet he knew far more about the peril than she had ever heard.

"it is dangerous to ask too many questions," he intoned, 'lest the gate should be shut and the keys be lost ....' " Her eyes widened as Madi continued, until finally she was driven to try to stop him.

"Hush! Hush! Oh, shush! How do you know such things?" she asked, brushing his lips lightly with her hand, and then resting it on his shoulder, with worry and amazement. Blinking, Madi looked up at her in surprise.

No one had ever intruded upon his words before and he didn't know how he could stop. He felt ill, truly sick even. He felt like he was holding something down that didn't agree with him; he almost retched and his cheeks bulged. And he couldn't understand what was wrong and why Ruthven had stopped him. He stood, wavering on his feet for several minutes, until eventually his stomach settled. Finally he swallowed the air in his mouth and began to speak again in his normal voice.

"Humpf," he retorted, impatiently, not in the least understanding what had disturbed Ruthven. "Now what?" This was definitely not like his days with master Jian, who had been pleased and calmly excited with everything Madi had read to him--well, everything but this one nasty tome--and who had died imploring Madi, in a weak, faltering voice, to take good care of his words. Madi half suspected that Venny thought his words were junk and wanted to sell them herself, but he tasted the air and could sense only real concern tinged with fear about the Old One. Then he felt a bit bad about first misjudging her.

"Madi, my lad," opined Ruthven, "I think I need to get you back to Bethberry, who might understand these things."

With those words, Ruthven picked up one handle of her cart, and not even waiting for Madi to take the other, she turned back down the allyway towards the White Horse, her pace now quickened and her face sombre. Madi nearly tumbled over his handle but he could tell the Old One was seriously bothered by something. He shoved his hands in his pocket, and scurried to catch up. He seriously hoped that Bethberry would be able to write what he spoke the way master Jian had learned to. Or that she could learn to at any rate. Maybe then Venny wouldn't be so worried about all this.

Rushing their pace and each lost in thought, neither Ruthven nor Madi saw the young woman come upon them.

[ September 03, 2003: Message edited by: Bêthberry ]
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Old 08-27-2003, 12:33 PM   #145
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"...As it is, now, with so many staff away at market, we have few enough on hand to do the work. There is much to do to prepare for dinner and to attend to the rooms and laundry. The Inn cannot spare you now."

Mia stared at Bethberry, blind to her sympathetic eyes, and deaf to her apologizing voice. Her first impulse was to hit Bethberry over the head with a large frying pan and run; her second to cry. She decided against both, hanging her head and blinking furiously. She wouldn´t cry, that would only make things worse.

“Yes, yes, ma´am I understand....” Her voice trailed off. What was she doing? Half of her was telling her to apologize and go back to work. Apologize? What have I done? The other half argued. Mia just stood there for a moment. Then she regained power of herself. Calm. A massacer with a pan wouldn´t do anybody any good, neither would a major argument with her boss. “I´ll just....go back to work then, I guess....” And she walked into the kitchens.

Making wheatbread was a boring business, and Mia had never liked it. But now, she was fine with whatever Froma wanted her to do. And the dough was actually rather good for agression purposes. Her fists crushed the soft dough as if she was trying to crush herself, for her stupidity. Why couldn´t I keep my big mouth closed? What if Misstress Bethberry thinks I don´t want to work at the Inn anymore. What if I loose my job? Father´ll beat the hell out of me, he´s done it before. And the kids, they´ll go hungry. The bakery doesn´t earn enough to feed five hungry mouths, not in these times. Oh Mia, you are such an oaf!

“Watch out with that bread, girl!” Froma called. Mia shot him a murderous look and formed the ripped, punched lump of dough into something that looked remotly like a loaf of bread. Ignoring Froma´s accusing glances, she shoved it into the oven, getting started on the next one.

The oven´s heat made her angry. Why didn´t Bethberry understand?! What did she think she was, the secret queen of Edoras, superior to all of them? Her Inn was probably the second-most-important place in Rohan, but did that make her so special? Maybe she was influencial, and wise, and whatever else people said. But Mia didn´t care about what Bethberry was, or what her Inn did. She cared about her siblings, and about the sadness in Fianna´s eyes.

[ August 29, 2003: Message edited by: Manardariel ]
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Old 08-27-2003, 01:08 PM   #146
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Sting

“Hello, M'Lady.” The words of greeting broke into Aiyana’s consciousness and she raised her head in surprise. Had someone just addressed her? “Might I interest you in something?” She needed a second glance before she could isolate the speaker form the crowd.

Any other day she would gladly have taken a closer look at the young - and good-looking – glassmaker’s produce. But not today. Like a ray of sunlight that peeked from behind storm clouds his friendly smile only made the darkness around her seem deeper, more threatening. Before the silence turned awkward Aiyana forced herself to act. Her tongue refused to form a single word so she helplessly shook her head and walked away.

‘Stupid, stupid, stupid!’ She gritted her teeth and silently scolded herself; ‘Have you already given up?’ But her anger wasn’t lasting, despair prevailed. ‘Yes, it’s over, all over…’ Aiyana trudged forward without watching, without seeing. Her feet took her along the familiar city streets; past the stalls, through crowds, around corners – hesitating not once. But her mind was elsewhere. People flowed past her, many familiar faces looked up and greeted her. Lairwyn was only one of them: she nearly bumped into Aiyana and a wide smile rose to her face as she recognised her friend.
“Aiyana!” she exclaimed, but Aiyana walked forward. Lairwyn stopped and turned to watch how her friend's back drew away from her. “Aiyana?”

‘Yesterday…’ the grave maiden thought and suddenly an unexpected, preoccupied smile lightened her expression. ‘Everything was so perfect!’ Even before her smile died away a tear drew its path down her dusty cheek. Yes, everything had been perfect, she had been happy. ‘Yesterday…’

* * * * * * *

Aiyana plunged through the door and ran across the hallway. ‘I’m late!’ she thought but then laughed over it. ‘So what? It was well worth it!’ Her dark blonde ponytail swung gaily from side to side as she scurried up the stairs two steps at a time – in most unladylike manner.

“Aiyana?” The maiden heard her mother’s voice from the room on her left. She slackened her pace and inhaled deeply, trying to settle her panting breath. “Yes, mother?” Aiyana replied and peeked in to the small but bright chamber. Light yellow curtains flapped in the soft evening breeze that flowed in from an open window.
“You are late from supper,” A middle-aged woman spoke and stood up, placing her embroidery on a nearby table; “…and from the party.” The woman’s face was grave but no trace of disapprobation was to be heard in her tone. Mother and daughter stood face to face, the other grey and calm, the other flushed and still gasping.

“I know. But I couldn’t leave earlier.” The younger woman tried to gain an earnest, professional tone, an attempt in which she would have succeeded – in any other circumstances. But today all was different. “I must go and see father at once! I have great news for him,” A wide smile broke to her face, making her dark grey eyes glimmer in the light of the westering sun. “Finally it happened! Windwith flew to me; from over hundred yards it came to me. No hesitation – Deor can prove it - but straight and neatly to my glove hand. Now that he’s manned I can start flying him and-” Even through her excitement Aiyana became aware that Fridya, her mother, wasn’t really listening.

“So that’s where your brother has been.” The older woman seemed to revive as Aiyana’s voice ceased to be heard. “Well, go get changed now and then visit your father. Ava didn’t stay to wait you as she knew you would be late and she didn’t want to miss the party. Erian picked her up and they would have taken Deor with them too but he was nowhere to be found. Where is he now then? If he indeed must follow you then I hope you look after him; I don’t like him being around those beasts…

“Mother, my birds are no paltry ‘beasts’!” In case Aiyana had had time she would most likely have gone into a detailed account on falcons’ superiority to any other animals. It was her mother’s luck that she was in hurry. “And Deor is fine, he just got left behind as we raced home from the mews.”

Fridya sighed and raised her hands as a sign of surrender. Aiyana rolled her eyes and turned to leave. “I hope Ava didn’t borrow the dress I was planning to wear?” she exclaimed from the door.

* * * * * * *

Aiyana dressed hastily in her lavender-blue silk gown and put on her soft, pointed slipper socks. ‘What about the hair?’ she pondered – but not for long. She untied the rough ponytail and swayed her head downwards and then back up. The wavy tresses settled down on their own under her shoulder blades. “That’ll have to do…” Aiyana spoke to her reflection as she wiped off a lock trailing over her eye and then headed back downstairs.

* * * * * * *

She knew where to look for her father: at this hour of the day Wildor Kestrel always sat in the study, putting the family’s accounts in order.

“Father? I have great news-” But to the girl’s surprise the grey-bearded man wasn’t sitting in front of his table but stood back towards the door. Hearing his daughter’s voice he turned around.

“Daughter, you look beautiful tonight.” The old man spoke but Aiyana didn’t pay any attention to his words. ‘What is wrong?’ The young woman frowned as she saw her father's strained face. But even as she was about to speak her thought aloud her father took a step towards her and extended his hand to her.

Behind him stood a tall man in dark uniform.
“Aiyana, we have a visitor; come and greet him…” Wildor took his daughter’s hand; “This is Sir Déoren, the captain of Erian’s company. And he has come here tonight with a request.”

Aiyana stared at the floor as she did a practised, yet not the most graceful curtsy she could pose. Whether the stranger noticed this or not was hard for her to tell but in secret she would that the man had indeed marked her slight arrogance. For before lowering her eyes she had seen the man’s pale blue gaze measuring her like she was some prize bull. From that first look onwards she took an instinctive dislike to him.

“So this is the flower of your house of whom we have spoken.” Sir Déoren greeted her with a barely visible nod. His voice was clear but cold as the mountain streams and involuntarily Aiyana shivered upon hearing it. ‘Why have they talked about me?’ She wondered, knowing already that whatever the answer might be she would hardly like it.

“Yana, I have news for you too. As I said, Sir Déoren came to me with a request and we have now discussed it…” Wildor spoke to his daughter but didn’t look at her. Then suddenly his wandering gaze halted and fixed on Aiyana. Never before had she seen such look in her father’s eyes. Was it sadness, remorse or relief that reflected from the mirrors of his soul Aiyana couldn’t tell – and her heart skipped a beat. 'Whatever comes you’ll handle it!' she told herself.

But the blow that came was overwhelming.
“Aiyana. On behalf of his son Déorwine Sir Déoren has asked me for your hand…” The sun sank beyond the horizon. ‘Last sunset!’ “…and I have given my consent and my word.” Darkness fell.


* * * * * * *

Reality hit Aiyana literally in the stomach. She had continued her aimless stroll even as her mind wandered on quite different paths; many bruises would remind her the next day of the dangers of such mindless wandering. But suddenly she walked straight to someone standing right in the middle of the street. Air escaped her, and with it a frightened scream of one who has just waken up from a nightmare.

During the next seconds things happened too fast for Aiyana’s drowsy mind. She saw the ‘obstacle’ to which she had ran into: a child, or so it seemed to her at first. The hooded figure sat on the ground, motionless like a stone in the posture to which Aiyana’s push had sent him flying.

“S-sorry…” she managed to falter. From under the veiling hood all she could see was a gaping mouth and a flash of wide open eyes staring at her in terror. “I didn’t mean to-”

Suddenly the small figure sprang up quicker than the eye could perceive. His mouth opened and closed couple of times but no voice came out of him. Then, before Aiyana could do a thing, he swung round and darted away.

“Wait-” Aiyana began but her shaky voice wouldn’t have stopped anyone. ‘I really scared him out of his mind! I must go after him…’ But before she could carry out this plan another voice spoke to her in a confident tone.

“Heavens, Aiyana! Your cry made me jump! And likely it’s startled Madi too. Now he’s gone, who knows where.” The young woman turned around, still, and now even more, confused. She had recognised Ruthven’s familiar voice but in her state she couldn’t give her an answer of any kind. The old woman was straining to see where the boy had gone.

“And what’s with this sleepwalking? It isn’t healthy to daydream while wandering around on Market Day you know.” The old woman turned back and eyed the falconer, her previous perplexity and slight annoyance giving way to concern. “Aiyana?”

“I’m…fine, Ruthven. But that boy… I didn’t mean to scare him. Where did he go, I must speak to him!”

“Yes, he’s a bit slow in some things and then too quick in others.” Aiyana’s brow furrowed at Ruthven’s words. ‘This is hardly the time for riddles.’ She thought but let it pass. Ruthven’s concern for the boy made her feel even worse. The old woman grabbed the handles of her wagon and put it in motion with one strong push. “He’s a strange little man, and strong, yet I worry. I hope he’s made for The Horse, and Bethberry. He-”

But Aiyana was gone too. She ran towards the White Horse Inn, resolved to find this ‘strange little man’ and explain and apologise her behavior.

Some way up the road she stumbled and fell on her knees. The stench of the gutters assailed her nose and she got up in no time, pushing aside a pair of hands too eager to help her. “Damned skirts!” she puffed and grasped the cloth with her free hand.

The panting girl reached the inn’s door without further incidents. Inside it was too crowded; she couldn’t tell if the little hooded fellow was there or not. But suddenly it didn’t matter.

"Aiyana? Good to see you!" The innkeeper’s voice was full of warmth and joy upon seeing a good friend. But it took a whole another tone when Aiyana fixed her gaze on her. “What’s wrong?” Bethberry’s worry broke the dam.

“All! Everything!” Aiyana cried and grabbed the back of a close-by chair to hold her balance. Her tears ran free.

[ September 04, 2003: Message edited by: Annunfuiniel ]
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Old 08-27-2003, 01:18 PM   #147
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Lachlan's cart finally rounded the corner to the street where the White Inn lay, and Talan jumped down, or more correctly, fell down with all his packages.

He piled them together and then turned towards the cart. "Thanks for the lift, mister, that was mighty kind of ye," he said with a little smile to Lachlan. He then turned to Iswyn and offered her a hand to help her out of the cart.

Iswyn looked at his extended hand for a few seconds, unsure of she should accept it. But finally she allowed Talan to help her down, and she also took her leave of Lachlan. Talan managed to get a hold of their shoppings and also have a firm grip of Iswyn's hand.

It was not as if he thought something would happen to her; after all, the White Inn lay just down the street. But he felt responsible for her, as if she was a sister that their father had told to take care of; and he had failed.

Therefore, he took a good hold of her hand, sent her a reassuring smile and then walked down the street towards the White Inn.
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Old 09-04-2003, 06:12 AM   #148
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Lachlan watched as the girl hesitantly moved out of the cart. He nodded to Talan and said 'I might be seeing ye around soon enough, with all the errands I have here! Good day to you!' and spurred on his horse.

Looking idly over his shoulder, he saw that he had collected quite a few of the things that were needed, and all that he had to get from the Markets. 'Hmm...that leaves the carpenters. Ah! Lowfel will enjoy some company, and Ill tell him of my courageous deeds!' he chuckled to himself, and headed for the other side of town.

Guiding his horse to the stables there, he hopped down and called out jovially through the workshop 'Lowfel! Where can a winemaker get a keg for his ale hm?'
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Old 09-09-2003, 12:42 PM   #149
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Bethberry had just hung a small bouquet of sweet smelling flowers above the bar, when she heard somebody counting in soft whispers. She climbed down and looked under a table, and there was Madi, hood up, knees drawn to his chest, quietly counting his apple pip collection.

“Aren’t you supposed to be with Ruthven?” Bethberry enquired.

Madi stopped counting. “Get off,” he sniffed, moodily. “Madi’s busy.”

“Come out of there,” Bethberry soothed. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

Reluctantly putting his pips away in his pocket, Madi shuffled from under the table. He stood before Bethberry, hooded head downcast. “Madi got knocked down,” he huffed. “By a girl with a rainbow.”

“Ah.” Bethberry smiled knowingly. “You must’ve met Aiyana.” She patted Madi’s head. “Perhaps we could find something in the kitchen to cheer you up?” she said. “Something tasty, maybe?”

The hood slowly lifted. Round eyes glinted in the shadows. Bethberry, it seemed to Madi, had a very good point. Something tasty from the kitchen would indeed help to dwindle his upset.

* * *

In the kitchen, Froma looked over at Madi sitting on a worktop and then to Bethberry standing beside him. He shook his head and carried on preparing vegetables on a chopping board.

“There’s nothing ready yet,” he told Bethberry. “Just raw vegetables or some fruit.” He looked up again, slightly irritated. “Does he have to wear that hood all the time, Beth? I like to look folk in the eye.”

“No, he doesn’t” Bethberry replied and she rounded on the little figure. “We’ve talked about this before, Madi,” she told him and pulled the hood down.

Madi shot her a look and pulled the hood back up. Bethberry pulled it back down again and grabbed Madi’s hands, gently holding them to his sides. When his brief struggling ceased, she ruffled his hair and wiped the residue of tears from his cheeks. Madi’s frown was so deep it almost pushed his tusk-like teeth into his eyes.

Froma emptied a sack-full of potatoes onto his worktable. “I heard you were different looking,” he said to Madi. “But that’s no reason to hide yourself.”
But Madi was staring at the potatoes, the cook’s words lost. His frown had turned to hungry eyes.
Froma couldn’t help but chuckle. “Where’s he from, Beth?”

Bethberry puffed her cheeks. “It’s a bit of a story, and not one I can pretend to understand fully,” she said, and ruffled Madi’s hair again. “You don’t do things straightforwardly do you, little one?”

Madi pointed at Froma’s chopping board. “Botatoes,” he said greedily.

Froma and Bethberry shared a look.

“If you mean you want a ‘Potato’,” Froma corrected, “they haven’t been cleaned or boiled yet.”

Madi nodded wide-eyed. “Botatoes. Yumyum!”

“Po-tatoes,” Froma reasserted. “P not B, Madi. P-O-tatoes.”

Madi shook his head adamantly “B-O-tatoes,” he shot back. “Botatoes for Madi please!”

“Potatoes!” Froma said sternly. “Say it properly and you can have some when they’re cooked!”

“Botatoes now!” Madi shouted, wondering what he had to do to get his feed. “Botatoes, Botatoes, Botatoes!” he continued in a rising pitch. Didn’t Froma understand he was upset and in need of cheering? “Botatoes!”

The strain of shouting eventually proved too much for Madi. He clutched his throat and fell down on his back, writhing dramatically. He stuck his tongue out to emphasise how severely his voice box hurt.

Bethberry looked to the ceiling in total wonder and sighed. "Madi, Stop it!" she scolded. Madi ceased squirming and slowly withdrew his tongue. Bethberry smiled apologetically to the cook. “Please, Froma," she said. "Let him have a potato.”

Madi raised a hand and extended his index and middle fingers. “Two,” he gasped. “Two Botatoes!”

In total bewilderment, Froma broke into an uncontrollable smile. He chucked a couple of dirt-covered spuds down to Madi. The little man caught them with deft precision and instantly launched into a throaty chuckle of triumph.

Just then the kitchen door opened and Ruthven stuck her head in. She saw the writhing figure on the floor, a potato in each hand, and rolled her eyes.

“He found his way home, I see,” she said dryly.

Bethberry nodded. “What happened today, Ruth? He was very upset, though you wouldn’t think so now.”

“Where to be begin!” Ruthven replied seriously. “Is there somewhere we can go, somewhere private?” she whispered. “I need to speak with you about our little man. The sooner the better.”

* * *

Alone in Bethberry’s private chambers, the White Horse landlady and Ruthven sipped mint tea in companionable silence. Madi, for better or worse, had been left under Froma’s supervision. Ruthven stood looking out the window while Bethberry sat at her dresser stool watching the old one. As streaming sunlight haloed her thin form, she seemed frail to Bethberry, older and more troubled than she had ever noticed before. Patiently the landlandy waited for Ruthven to gather her thoughts.

“I don’t know, Beth,” Ruthven finally said. “I’ve never seen nor heard anything like it. Not in all my years of wandering.”

“Yes, he is a little unique,” Bethberry replied, and placed her cup down on the dresser.

“More than you know, lass.” Ruthven sighed and turned from the window. “He’s incredible, Beth,” she said pointedly, and then tapped her head. “Up here, he just might be the cleverest person I know. But I doubt even he is aware of it.”

“You’re not making much sense,” Bethberry said softly. “I’m sensing something more than the incident with Aiyana happened today, yes?”

Ruthven chuckled. “I found out what our little man did in Minas Tirith. This Jian, whoever he was, wasn’t just Madi’s keeper, Beth. He was an employer.”

Bethberry leant forward, intrigued. “Madi worked for Master Jian?” She nodded thoughtfully. “It makes sense. Madi said he’d work for me in return for nice. He must’ve done the same at Minas Tirith.”

“Yes.” Ruthven agreed. “But the work he did there was very different. Jian was a compiler of written words, as far as I can gather. Madi would dictate a text, while his master wrote it down.”

Bethberry’s eyes widened with surprise. “Madi can read?”

Ruthven barked a single, incredulous laugh. “It’s much more than that, Beth. Madi has a gift with words, and it’s . . . well, like nothing I’ve experienced before.”

“What?” Bethberry asked, smiling at Ruthven’s open expression of wonder. “Tell me, old friend.”

“I wouldn’t know how to,” she replied. “Not in a way you would believe me.” Ruthven thought for a moment. “Do you have something you’ve written to hand? Anything will do.”

“I have a journal,” Bethberry said. “Why?”

“Let me have the last page you wrote, and bring the little man up.” Ruthven smiled. “You should see this for yourself.”

* * *

Some minutes later, Ruthven and Bethberry stood before Madi as he sat on Bethberry’s bed, happily chomping on his last ‘botato’.

“Madi,” said Ruthven. “Will you ‘speak’ for Bethberry?” The old woman held out the page from the landlady’s journal.

Instantly Madi stopped eating and smiled. “Yes,” he said, nodding eagerly. He stuffed the potato into his pocket, wiping his hands on his habit. “Give it here,” he urged and took the page from Ruthven.

Bethberry had to admit, the last thing expected was to see Madi eat the page, but then surprise seemed to be a common thing around this little creature. She looked at Ruthven questioningly.

“Wait,” Ruthven whispered. “You’ll not be disappointed.”

Madi jumped off the bed and moved to the open window. He breathed the warm, country air deeply and sighed satisfactorily.

“It never ceases to amaze me how life can still maintain the element of surprise, even after all these years,” Madi began in a voice definitely not his own. “Sandwiched between the aftermath of a glorious party, and the hustle of a market day, fate still found time to smuggle in a conundrum. Madi, he calls himself, and he seems the dearest of creatures; out of luck and in need of love, it appears. I have taken him in for the meantime. Though my feelings are mixed as to where my charity might lead.”

“Voice sound familiar?” Ruthven asked Bethberry, and chuckled at the landlady’s slack-jawed gawping.

“He must’ve read the page before he ate it!” she accused.

“Trust me, Beth, Madi can’t read, at least not in any way you or I would make sense of. Anyway, how do explain the voice?” Ruthven’s chuckling turned to open laughter. “That’s the best impression I’ve ever heard of you!”

Madi was looking rather pleased with himself. He stuck both thumbs up at Bethberry. “Madi will speak for Berry anytime,” he announced and crawled back up onto the landlady’s bed.

Bethberry looked at Madi in stunned silence for several moments. She then pulled Ruthven to one side. “Incredible,” she whispered. “How does he do it?”

“Beats me,” Ruthven admitted. “He just seems to absorb the words off the page. But that’s not all,” she looked over at Madi who, oblivious to their conversation, had rolled backwards on the bed and planted both feet firmly on the wall "He doesn’t forget,” continued Ruthven. “What he absorbs stays up there, in his head. At least it seems that way.”

“How do you mean?”

“Ask him a direct question about something he may have eaten, he doesn’t seem to know what your talking about. He has to hear something said in the right way, even accidentally, to jog his memory. But when something does trigger him, there’s no telling what’ll come out his mouth.”

“I wonder,” Bethberry said. “Madi could have a whole library swirling around in his head.”

“Or not,” Ruthven pointed out. “I suppose it depends on how long he was with this Master Jian before he died.” She pursed her lips seriously. “It’s a case of everything or nothing, Beth. But which is our little man?”

Bethberry saw the worry on her friend’s face. “What am I missing, Ruthven? What’s troubling you?”

The old woman sighed. “I remember something my Da used to tell me when I was a girl: the less you know the less trouble will find you. Too much information can be a dangerous thing, Beth.”

Bethberry frowned. “You think Madi’s in danger?” she asked.

Ruthven shrugged. “Ah, I don’t know. But if our little man holds half as many secrets in his head as those scholars at Minas Tirith, some folk might not like him running around spouting goodness knows what to anyone he meets. He could be an accident waiting to happen. He might spell trouble for those around him too.”

“What are you suggesting?” Bethberry said levelly. “Send him packing and turn my back? I won’t do it, Ruthven!”

“No,” Ruthven answered quickly. “That’s not what I meant, woman! It’s not his fault after all, though I don’t doubt he can care for himself well enough on the streets. I . . . I don’t know what I’m trying to say, Beth. It’s just worth bearing in mind, that’s all. And the fewer folk who know about his eating habits the better, I feel.”

Bethberry nodded and looked over at Madi. “I wish this Jian were still around to talk to,” she said. “I wonder what he thought of Madi, and where he found him . . .”

Madi suddenly made a strangling noise deep in his throat, taking both Bethberry and Ruthven by surprise. He rolled from the bed, smoothly to his feet, and paced the floor of Bethberry’s chambers. With his hands firmly clasped behind his back, he began speaking with a voice akin to one of old and wizened years.

“Where to begin on the subject of my mad little codex?” he chuckled, shaking his head. “Undoubtedly, he is the sole reason I have been able to continue my work these last two years, and for that I send out blessings to whichever fate decided to send him to me.”

“Two years,” Ruthven whispered. “That’s a lot of eating time, Beth.”

Bethberry nodded and silenced the old street merchant with a raised hand. Madi continued.

“I suppose the same could be said for him,” the eerie voice of Jian said. “When I found the poor thing he was bruised and starved, shunned and hounded by a society shamefully intolerant of his looks. Even the vagabonds spurned him. I like to think he also blesses the day I took him in. He certainly seems happy.”

Here, Madi moved towards Ruthven with a thoughtful frown and slipped the old woman’s clay pipe from her pouch, and helped himself to a small amount of weed. He packed the pipe and lit it. He then resumed his pacing, one hand held at the small of his back, the other holding the pipe to his mouth as he puffed furiously. He turned to address the two women.

“The name Madi is of course a pet name, and one born from familiarity. I have filled the poor little blighter’s head with so much knowledge since our friendship began he has become like a walking library of information. And along with his charmingly unusual ways, I like to think of him as sweetly mad. I began to refer to him as my ‘Mad Codex’ or ‘Madi’ for short. And it is this shorted name that has stuck to him, like glue, even among my fellow scholars.

“As to my dear little friend’s true name and origin . . . that remains a complete mystery, as much to him, as it is to me. He has no recollection of his time before living on the streets, of his parents, or any siblings. I have spent many long hours searching our records for some indication of what race he descends from, but to no avail. I have come to the conclusion that he is a one off, possibly the result of years of inter-breading between mountain races. I suspect Madi is far older than his appearance suggests. To most, including myself, he seems sometimes to be no more than a child. Be that the case, then no child should have to endure the torture he has suffered at the hands of ignorance. Yet, astoundingly, Madi manages to keep a high regard for men. He only wishes to be treated ‘nice’, as he puts it. His level of forgiveness and tolerance speaks of maturity and experience.”

Madi gave a couple of puffs on the pipe, looking ridiculously studious. “But I digress,” he said, knowingly raising an eyebrow. “For many years now I have worked by dim candle light in my study. My goal is to compile as many of the ancient scrolls and books around me into sturdily bound compendiums. There are several of us endeavouring to transcribe these volumes. Eventually our work will be passed to other scholars who will make further copies, lest the history and poetry, great stories and thoughts of the geniuses of this world be lost to the ravages of time’s decay. This is, to me, a labour of love. But as age creeps up on all men, the years have not been kind to my eyes. And in the dim light of my study it has become harder and harder to read the texts I am to copy.

“What is this to do with Madi? How did this funny little scamp cure my problem? Synaesthetics is the answer. And a strange one at that.” Madi climbed up on a simple wooden chair and sat back, crossing his legs. “I have dealt with certain individuals suffering from synaesthesia in the past. It is a curious condition where the senses are back to front and out of sequence. For instance, it may cause a person to see sound, taste words, or smell colours. Usually the effects of the condition are milder than one might imagine. Though not a total blessing, Synaesthesia is far from a curse. Madi, however, suffers from an extreme strain, which appears unique and quite something to behold.

“When I first took him in he spent the first few weeks sleeping in the corner of my study and watching me work. He rarely spoke and ate scarcely. It took patience to break down his defences and gain his trust. But before long I had him eating from the palm of my hand. He would run errands for me, or carry simple messages between scholars. We spoke of his time on the streets and he asked questions of my work.

“It was one devilishly dreary day, as I remember, when I had just given up trying transcribe a particularly arduous scroll; the weakness of my eyes had given me a terrible headache. My intention was too pass the scroll on to one of my better-sighted colleagues, so I gave it to Madi and asked him place it on a safe shelf. Now, instead of doing as I asked, Madi chose to execute a most surprising alternative. He ate it! Even down to the wooden rollers. He crunched and swallowed every last morsel of that scroll. And before I could admonish him, or in any way express my shock, Madi began speaking in a voice that was clearly not his own. And further more, his words were the beginning chapter of the consumed scroll. From start to finish he read the whole thing, seemingly having absorbed the words and stored them to memory. Hastily, I copied down the words he dictated. What’s more, I discovered I did it in half my usual time.

“The next day I fed Madi another scroll and copied down the words he spouted. I gave him poems in Elvish, stories written in dead languages, all of them he ate and dictated. I had found the solution to my problem, and praised Madi and cheered his arrival every day. The little one had changed my fortunes and I worked with renewed vigour. My colleagues are astounded at my find, and often listen to Madi, while I copy. He is a true treasure among us, and a source of much mirth.

“I do not know how long I have left in this life, but I am glad to be spending my twilight with this incorrigible companion. He has wormed his way into the stone-like hearts of us scholars. He is to me . . . not a son . . . more the grandchild I never had. And he is my friend.”

Madi yawned and moved back to the bed, leaving the smouldering pipe on the chair. He pulled his half-eaten potato from his pocket and gasped as he found it covered in apple pips. “Pips on Botato!” he shouted, panic stricken.

Ruthven moved forward and retrieved her pipe. She turned to Bethberry with a worried frown.

“I see your point,” Bethberry told her and moved over to Madi. “It’s all right,” she soothed. “How about we plant your pips outside. See if we can grow some trees, eh?”

Madi’s mouth fell open excitedly and he nodded. “Yes please, Berry.”

Madi jumped off the bed and took Bethberry’s hand. The landlady looked to Ruthven as she started for the door. “We keep this between us for now, Ruthven,” she said.

The old woman nodded dubiously. “I agree. But how long can you keep the little man away from someone’s books? It’ll only be a matter of time, Beth. Something like this won’t stay quiet for long. Besides, it sounds like he gained a little fame at Minas Tirith.”

Bethberry knew the street merchant spoke correctly. “It may prove to be a smaller deal than we’re making it,” She said. “But all the same I’ll keep him here for now. I need time to think.” She sighed. “Can I call on you if need be?”

Ruthven looked a little hurt. “You know you can, woman! You’ve always been able to. Besides, I like the little man’s company.”

“Thank you,” Bethberry said and opened the door and slipped out with Madi.

Alone in the landlady’s chambers, Ruthven chuckled as the sound of Madi’s excited shouts drifted back to her: “Botato trees!” he cried.

She knocked her pipe against the windowsill, cleaning it of weed ash. As she watched the little dark cloud fall the to the ground below, the mirth suddenly dropped from the old woman’s face. The thought of Madi in distress troubled her to the core. “I hope there’s nothing following you, Madi Codex,” she whispered. “I really do,” and she left the room.

[ September 17, 2003: Message edited by: Idgian ]
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Old 09-10-2003, 12:00 PM   #150
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"Lowfel! Where can a winemaker get a keg for his ale, hm?"

Lowfel started at the sudden call and almost lost hold of the chest he was moving. Grunting under the pressure of trying to get the chest back in good grip, he called out "I'm in the house Lachlan, come and help an old man out."

The younger man came to the carpenters aid quickly and soon the chest was in its place.

"Ah, thank you. Now you wanted a keg?" Lowfel dusted off his shirt while walking slowly out to the workshop adjacent to the stables.

"Yes," Lachlan replied, walking forward but looking back into the house. "What is all the stuff in there? Are you trying to break into the merchant business?" he asked jovially.

Lowfel chuckled and clapped the younger mans upper arm. "Nay, those items belong to my sister. She just came today and left me with all of that. As for your kegs, today was market day and I've been trying to add a bit on the house for my sister, so I've only got one left but it's not of the best quality. Not too good looking for selling purposes, not bad for storage though. I'll make you some better ones if you want to come back tomorrow. What say you?"
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Old 09-10-2003, 02:17 PM   #151
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Etheldreda’s long black hair flew out in the wind behind her. She loved being out in the wilds of Rohan, with nothing before her but the rolling green plains of the Riddermark waiting to be explored. “Bring me the horizon,” she whispered, her cobalt eyes staring away to the line where sky and fields met. Her horse Tycyn whinnied softly. She patted the bay stallion’s neck and spoke to him in Rohirric. Her father bred some of the finest horses in all of Rohan, and she had always loved being around the intelligent, loyal and patient creatures. It was only after her brother had ridden away to join the Rohirrim that she and Tycyn had become close. Now the horse was her best friend; she barely thought of her twin any more. It had been his choice to try his hand at being what he was not, and good luck to him.

She smiled at this thought. How could she criticise her own kin, when here she was on the path to a new life of her own? But then she realised he was not kin of hers; it was impossible. Both he and her parents were flaxen-haired, as most people of Rohan were. She knew the tale well enough by now – when she was small, someone had found her wandering in Edoras and had brought her to her family’s house. No-one knew how she had come to be there.

Tycyn trotted on for a short time, and it was only then that Etheldreda realised that she was nearly at the inn. As the horse’s hooves clicked on the cobbles of the courtyard, she dismounted lightly as a cat and led the horse to the stables.

She spotted one of the stable hands and walked over to him. "Excuse me," she said, her voice as clear as riverwater, "is there any room here for my horse? We have come a long way and he needs rest as much as I do."

"Of course," the young man replied. "Let me find a stable for him. Do either of you have a name?"

"He is Tycyn," she said, "and my name is Etheldreda." She rummaged around in the pocket of her trousers and dug out some silver, which she shoved into the stable hand's palm. "Care for him well," she said.

The young woman turned and walked across the courtyard and into the inn, hoping to find another road to wander here. Perhaps she could even stay awhile and earn some money to fund her next journey in the wilds. As she strode through the door, she tried to look confident, though inside she wanted to disappear among the crowds. Her unusual appearance attracted a few stares, but she thought nothing of it. She walked towards the bar, behind which the smiling innkeeper stood.

"What can I get you?"

[ September 12, 2003: Message edited by: Airerûthiel ]
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Old 09-10-2003, 09:52 PM   #152
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Leofan, after giving his lesson to Anwir, left the boy for a few moments to practise his newly found skills and exited the stable. Crossing the yard, he entered the inn and saw Aylwen speaking to some newcomers. Her words were warm and her smile friendly and encouraging. Leofan once again felt grateful for the wonderful thing that had happened to his family as he approached Aylwen. "May I intrude for a moment?" he asked.

"Of course," Aylwen said, turning to Leofan. "What would you like?"

"I would only like to know if Frodides and my daughter are back yet," Leofan replied. "If Frodides doesn't need her, I'd like to bring young Mærcwen to the stable."

"I feel fairly sure she did," Aylwen replied. "I seem to recall seeing her enter the inn. She probably went into the kitchen."

"Thank you, miss," he said, and, after giving a little bow to Aylwen and the newcomers, departed towards the kitchen. Frodides was indeed there, washing some glasses and singing to Mærcwen, who was sitting on the counter watching her mother's every move with sparkling eyes. She was softly clapping her hands together, and humming along with her mother, occasionally singing a few lines before she slipped back into simply humming again. "She looked so sweet from her two white feet to the sheen of her nut brown hair..." Leofan stood silently until the song was ended, then applauded, though not too loudly, and went to the counter. Mærcwen sprang into his arms energetically.

"Would it be all right with you if I took this sweet little girl to the stable with me? I have a young lad that I am teaching the way with horses. He's grooming right now, but I can't stay and keep him company; there's too much work to do. Such a beautiful young girl as Mærcwen would keep him good company."

"Yes, you may take her," said Frodides, "though I'll miss her cheery face around here. But this boy you talk of might prefer no company at all after a few minutes of this girl's chatter."

Mærcwen smiled sweetly but did not answer, yet Leofan knew that no one could grow tired of her singsong voice and merry, freckled face. Setting her down on the ground at taking her hand, he led her out of the kitchen. As he passed Aylwen and the newcomers once again, he took note that they had both come into the stable briefly to put their horses away. I must speak with them later and see if there are any special instructions they'd like to give me as to the care of their horses, he thought. And I must have them introduce me to their steeds. They look like they are both fine beasts.

When he entered the stable again, Anwir approached him and informed him that he had finished grooming Mihtig, and the boy also glanced curiously at Mærcwen. Leofan went to Mihtig's stall and looked the stallion over, then nodded in satisfaction. "Well done, lad," he said. "You have natural talent in the care of horses." He directed Anwir to the stall of another horse, a mare, who Leofan had seen to be calm and gentle who would do the lad no harm.

"And, Anwir, this is my daughter Mærcwen," Leofan added before he turned away. "She's here to keep you company, since I'll be unable to do so myself. I still have much work to do." He turned his attention to his daughter and said, "Mærcwen, stay near Anwir, and don't go near any horse save this mare here and Mihtig without asking my permission first. And make certain not to go near that horse, there." He gestured to the horse of one of the newcomers. Not the bay, but the other. The mount of the Elven-looking woman. "I do not think he is unfriendly, but he seems to be an energetic horse, and I've already spoken with you about those."

Mærcwen assented in her sweet voice, and then she turned to Anwir and began asking him questions, never giving him enough time to answer before she asked another. Then, when she had finished all her questions, unheeding that she had received no answers, for indeed she had prevented the boy from answering, she began to chatter on about Mihtig, sometimes remaining silent long enough for Anwir to agree with her about how wonderful the stallion once. Smiling fondly at the two, Leofan turned to his work.

[ September 11, 2003: Message edited by: Nurumaiel ]
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Old 09-12-2003, 10:31 AM   #153
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Simulntaneously, and coincidentally, yet another glorious head of hair and rebellious horse were on their way to the White Horse inn. The horse was indignant at having it s tail stolen to make up such a glorious head of hair, since Mythica had no real hair of her own to speak of. At one time her hair had been the pride of Edoras, but those days were long past.

Mythica sighed as she recalled her many years of being a beautiful questing orphan. It was so much more difficult to pull off now that she was no longer beautiful. That fact that she had a large family and no real quest had never seemed to matter as long as she had kept her youthful figure and smooth skin.

Looking back at the spells and elvish incantations she had tried over the years she was surprised that her looks had faded at all. One of those poems was bound to have made her immortally gorgeous. The horse snorted and flicked what was left of his tail in disgust. Mythica shook her wig in sympathy.

The sun was glinting off of her faded elven jeweled gown as she rode up to the inn. The stable was full of horses and all, Mythica's horse noticed, had their tails. Mythica knew that such spirited animals could only belong to other questing orphans.
"Finally," she thought, "some kindred spirits."

[ September 12, 2003: Message edited by: Mythica ]
 
Old 09-12-2003, 04:22 PM   #154
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Sting

Anwir smiled at Mærcwen and continued grooming the mare, who stood quietly during this intrusion into her privacy and chewed on some hay. Mærcwen chattered constantly until Anwir interrupted her with the question "Do you want to try grooming her? She's a very kind animal."

Mærcwen gave Anwir a big smile and nodded, saying "Oh, this horse is so beautiful! And I do love her so! Isn't she sweet? Where are you from? What are your parents like? Do you have any brothers or sisters, Anwir?"

The boy was about to answer when Mærcwen grabbed the brush and began stroking the mare's side, still bombarding him with questions. All Anwir could do was smile and nod as the girl fired questions at him faster than a galloping horse. He picked up a comb and began working a tangle out of the mare's mane, grunting when he finally got it out. Mærcwen watched him and said, "Wow, Anwir! You're really good with horses, just like my Papa said!"
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Old 09-12-2003, 04:38 PM   #155
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Windheneb and Castar heard voices coming from downstairs. It seemed as though the Inn was beginning to fill up. The two had been talking about the weather and various problems with business, trying to pass the time until it seemed as though the Inn was crowded enough to go downstairs to join the bustle. Hopefully the noise they now heard was the raucous merriment of Inn patrons and not just the staff preparing the Inn for customers.

"Shall we go down?" Windheneb asked, nodding towards the door. Castar shrugged, saying that it could not hurt.

The two made their way down the stairs. Castar saw Aylwen out of the corner of his eye and caught her arm as she was about to bustle by him.

"May we just grab any available seat?" he asked her quietly. She nodded, apologizing and saying she had to be moving along and that she could not really stay to chat. Castar nodded and bade her farewell. He and Windheneb then found an empty table in the corner. They caught a woman's eye and she came to get their drink orders.

"It is not full yet," Windheneb said, smiling at the girl and nodding to the room.

"It will be," the girl said hurriedly, looking around, "And it won't take too long."

Windheneb nodded, thanking the girl for taking the drink orders and smiling again. The girl smiled quickly, then ran off to place their orders.

"She is cute," Windheneb said. Castar just rolled his eyes. He was keeping an eye on Aylwen, himself. He watched her run around the Inn. She had so much to do, yet she managed to do it all. How could she be so efficient? Castar could never even dream of having that much control and yet being so calm and organized. Maybe she would have time later to talk with Castar...

Castar found himself blushing at the thought as their drinks came to the table.
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Old 09-12-2003, 08:02 PM   #156
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Afternoon in Edoras began to defiantly fade away into dusk, fighting for sunlight as evening drew nearer. The shoppers in at the market finished buying their last-minute needs and desires before bustling on home. Soon after, many shopkeepers packed up their things and found a place to stay the night and rest for their trek home the next day. The White Horse Inn became busier and more crowded in no time at all, keeping the staff on their feet with little or no time to spare.

Aylwen had been speaking to a traveler looking for a place to stay, and had hardly gotten out, "How may I help you?" before Leofan had come in asking about Frododides. Aylwen had kindly told him where his wife was, and had proceeded to show the newcomer a room, and brought the traveler downstairs for a drink and some food.

Aylwen had shown several more customers the way to rooms or empty tables, and had taken a few orders to Froma before she was stopped by Castar and Windy. Aylwen had almost continued by them in hectic haste, but Castar had gently grasped her arm to stop her. When Aylwen had taken care of his question, she had politely apologized for not having enough time to speak with them. She felt slightly guilty as Castar and Windy sat down, but she was quickly jostled from her thoughts as worked called for her again.

"Aylwen!" Someone called, though the Assisstant Innkeeper could not quite see or tell who. "Another customer!"

Aylwen walked back to the entryway desk and was met with the face of yet another stranger. The strange woman's hair was the same dark color as Aylwen's, and the woman looked content and yet falsely confident.

"And how may I help you tonight?" Aylwen asked in a friendly manner, checking to see how many rooms were left for the night. The inn was filling up fast, and Aylwen could scarcely hear the hustle and bustle that was always heard in the kitchen over the noise in the main hall of the White Horse.

"I'm looking for a place to stay..."

"Well you're in luck, aren't you? We've got rooms to spare, so just follow me and I'll show you a room if you please..." Aylwen replied cheerfully, waiting for a nod from the woman. Aylwen led the woman to a smaller room that had been freshly cleaned by Delia that morning, and invited the woman downstairs for refreshment and good company. The woman agreed and took one of the few remaining seats in the main hall.

Aylwen, noticing that no one new had entered the Inn and knowing that someone would come to her if they had a problem, went over to where Castar and Windheneb were contentedly sipping their drinks and flirting with Delia (though it was mostly Windy doing the flirting, of course). Aylwen walked over and sat down next to Castar, smiling happily at her little break from work as Assisstant Innkeeper.

"Crowded tonight! Everything is fine, I trust?" Aylwen greeted breathlessly, noticing Castar folding and unfolding a small piece of parchment. Curious as to what it was, Aylwen ventured to ask. "What's that, Castar?"

"Oh, it is the translation that I had wanted for the cloth! The face painter translated it for me!" Castar replied merrily, unfolding the paper again and quickly rereading it. "Would you like to see it?" Castar asked, and when Aylwen nodded eagerly he handed the paper to her.

"As the Ages pass and Mountains move,
One truth only shall remain eternal.
Love may fade or last, leaves fall or grow,
Yet this one truth shall be.
Fair kindred fall, eternal yet,
But lives not longer than this truth.
What remains, the wise may ask,
When all the Earth is gone?
Remember now the eternal truth,
That nothing, in fact, is eternal...
"

Aylwen read, intrigued and slightly puzzled at the same time.

"I think it would have been better if we had just left it untranslated. Left it a mystery..." Windy muttered at Aylwen's recital, and yet the flirt continued to wink and smile at Delia when the girl walked by. Castar was past the point of noticing or commenting on Windy's ways, but listened for what Aylwen had to say about it.

"I'm not quite sure I understand it completely, but I still think it sounds beautiful. And I think it is better than never knowing what it means at all," Aylwen conveyed her thoughts, handing the parchment back to Castar. Suddenly curious about something else, Aylwen asked, "How long will you be staying in Edoras, Castar? Windy?"

[ September 13, 2003: Message edited by: Aylwen Dreamsong ]

[ September 13, 2003: Message edited by: Aylwen Dreamsong ]
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Old 09-13-2003, 12:49 AM   #157
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"I'm in the house Lachlan, come and help an old man out."

Lachlan headed into the mans workshop, where he found him struggling with a hefty chest. Putting his arms under it, he helped lift it out of the way.

Inquiring after the kegs, Lachlan saw all the chests and various things scattered about. With a tilt of the head he asked "What is all the stuff in there? Are you trying to break into the merchant business?"

"Nay, those items belong to my sister. She just came today and left me with all of that. As for your kegs, today was market day and I've been trying to add a bit on the house for my sister, so I've only got one left but it's not of the best quality. Not too good looking for selling purposes, not bad for storage though. I'll make you some better ones if you want to come back tomorrow. What say you?"

'Ah, that'll be fine!' smiles Lachlan 'Im in need of fine and not so fine kegs now that I recall it all. Some are for the longer stroage y'see.' He followed Lowfel out back to his workshop, and inspected the kegs he had.

'Aye, these will do well friend' he said as he began hauling them. Within little time enough were loaded. Taking a breather on a bench and wiping his forhead he saw that more of these chests were yet to be dragged in.

'It seems my strength is needed in many places of late my friend. I have naught to do for the rest of the day, so I'll help ye with the rest of this stuff'

'Thankyou very much' smiled Lowfel 'I was wondering what stranger I would ask' he laughed.

'Say, with all this work for you, you'll be needing a little rest. And Im sure that your sister will too. There are plenty of spare seats at my family table tonight if you'd like? Father always enjoys seeing you? Let me return in kind eh?'
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Old 09-14-2003, 03:29 AM   #158
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Silmaril

Lowfel didn't have to think long.

"Well, I think I'll just take you up on that. I'm sure my sister would love to come as well. Home cooking is always better than Inn food, but don't let it out that I said that," the carpenter finished with a wink.

Lachlan laughed and clapped Lowfel on the shoulder. "I may just hold that over your head sometime. Lets get going, shall we?"

Lowfel smiled and led the way back into the house.

~~~

Lachlan waved as he took his load toward his own home. Lowfel waved back as the younger man called out, "Don't be too long, I'm sure supper is already brewing."

~~~

The lights in the White Horse Inn were bright and welcoming. It looked to be another good night, but Lowfel was just trying to find his sister. He didn't know which Inn she had gone to stay since she was supposed to go to the house tomorrow and tell him. He had already stopped at one that was luckily not too far away. Thinking that she wouldn't have traveled too far to get a room for her and the baby, Lowfel was hoping that she was staying at this Inn, otherwise he'd have to run all over Edoras.

Right as he was about to walk through the doors Shrae stepped through them herself with Reen in her arms.

"Lowfel!" she exclaimed. "I thought I was going to see you tomorrow."

He smiled and patted the wide-eyed Reen. "We got invited to dinner. Where were you going?"

"We, what? Oh, we were going for our evening walk. What do you mean we were invited to dinner? With whom?" Shrae moved to the side to let another person through the door and started to follow her brother as he walked down the street.

"The son of an Alemaster who I know helped me move some of your things so I can build easier and then invited us to eat with his family," Lowfel spoke easily as they walked.

"I hope his parents don't mind," Shrae was thinking of the extra food and places needed.

Lowfel chuckled. "Don't worry so, his mother a very generous woman and wouldn't be happy if we turned down her excellent cooking. It's a beautiful night out, no?"

A cool breeze sprang up and blew out Shrae's skirt from her feet. Reen twisted about in her arms, but just to see everything, not to escape.

"It's very different from the little village. Isn't this the way to your shop?" she looked around trying to get her bearings in the new city.

"It is one of the ways. The Alemaster isn't too far from the carpenter, see?"

Shrae nodded and the two siblings lasped into silence, simply enjoying the coolness of the night.

At length Lowfel broke the stillness. "Do you miss your old home?"

"Well of course I do, but I don't long to go back," Shrae responded immediately. "I don't want Reen to have to grow up with that kind of history. Besides, the only reason I didn't go with you in the first place was because Jesel couldn't bare to have me leave. Then Trein died and she followed... Th..the city will be good for both Reen and I."

Lowfel put his arm around her and squeezed her far shoulder. "I am glad you decided to come."

They smiled at each other and soon they were approaching a house that had a rather large barn-like building to one side. A young man in his early twenties was coming out to greet him with a younger girl sitting on his foot as he walked shrilling with laughter at the ride.

"It's not very dignified I know, but she insisted on coming along. You must be Lowfel's sister," he put out a hand to shake, "I'm Lachlan."

He was very handsome with his shaggy blond hair and fine tan. Shrae shook his hand with firmness while holding Reen with one arm. "My name is Shrae, and this is Reen."

"Lowfel," Lachlan admonished. "You didn't tell me there would be a charming baby coming. You know this means you three will have to stay extra long while Mother steals Reen for coddling. Ah, me, but he is cute," the young alemaster bent down and smiled at Reen who promptly stuck his head into Shrae's chest.

"He's just a little shy," Shrae said in explanation over Lowfel's and Lachlan's laughter.
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Old 09-14-2003, 04:00 AM   #159
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And so, with the late afternoon sun shining hotly, Bethberry and Madi had made their way out of the Inn and towards the vegetable garden at the back. Madi's gleeful shouts of "Botato trees! Botato trees!", however, were halted suddenly as who should appear unexpectedly from the back of the Inn but the very girl who had bowled him over near the Market, Aiyanna.

"Rainbow girl," hissed Madi, as he pulled furiously on Bethberry's hand, trying to drag her back towards the safety of the Inn. "Come away with Madi," he pleaded, especially when Aiyanna herself tried to approach Madi with profuse apologies.

"No, Madi, stop," chided the Landlady gently. "Aiyanna will not hurt us, at least, not intentionally. She has her own worries now. Come, listen to them, for she and I spoke earlier before I found you. I know why she ran into you at the Market this afternoon. She had no intention of pushing you over; she was terribly upset about some news at home and wasn't watching where she was going."

Madi glared at the girl. "Leave Berry alone," he growled, still holding furiously onto the Innkeeper's arm but now holding his ground.

"I, I, I'm sorry, little man," spoke up the girl, taken aback by the stubborn challenge in Madi's eyes, his entire face looking really quite menacing now, with his jaw pushed defiantly forward, teeth protruding from curled lips. Aiyanna even stepped back a pace or two.

"Perhaps, Bethberry, I should talk to you later."

"Yes, later," said Madi. "Berry's busy now."

Bethberry looked down at Madi with much surprise at the change which had come over him. She knelt beside him, picking up his other hand and holding both together, in hers.

"Madi, you and I will have our time for planting, I promise you. Right now let's listen to Aiyanna. She faces a frightening situation. She was running away from something she didn't like, from a situation where she thought she might be hurt. Can you understand that, Madi?"

Bethberry placed one hand on Madi's face, cupping his cheek and jaw in her hand, gently stroking it with her thumb. Madi did not move. He had never felt a hand on his face that gentle before, at least, not that he could remember. He didn't nod, but he didn't argue any more either. He let out a loud puff of air, more a snort than a breath.

"Come, let's the three of us go sit in the garden. There are benches and old stumps to sit upon. Tell me, Aiyanna, do you feel better about this arranged marriage now that you have had a few calm hours to sit quietly and think? No one will find you here if you do not wish."

"I can see it better in perspective, now, Bethberry. I have nothing more to say except I guess I can understand why my father wants this now. I never thought of it, you know? I just want to be a falconer."

"Perhaps that can still come to pass. It can be discussed as part of the arrangements, no?"

"I never thought about that."

Just at that moment, Wyrd flew down over the garden. He tried to pick at some of the apple pips which Madi had dropped, but Madi shooed the falcon up into the air. "Madi's pips," he shouted adamantly.

"Hey," said Aiyanna. "Let me take him away from those for you." She whistled slightly and nodded her head twice. Wyrd flew towards her outstretched hand. At a sign from Bethberry, the falcon spread his wings and circled up to roost on the lower roof of backroom kitchen. Aiyanna's face broke into a large, broad smile.

"Can I take him out to practice, Bethberry?" The Innkeeper nodded, gave Aiyanna a reassuring smile and quick hug, and the girl ran off, Wyrd following after her in the sky. Bethberry laughed.

"I'm not sure it's Wyrd who will be getting the practice, Madi," she chuckled. Then she turned back to the little man.

"Shall we find a good place to plant those pips, Madi?" With a bit of a curt sniff, he nodded yes.

They walked over to the east side of the garden, near Froma's heap of vegetable peelings. Madi bent low and tasted the earth. It was warm and soft; it had been well tended in the spring when the Inn's Landlady had had time for raking, hoeing, digging and seeding. Now it broke open easily with trowel and spade. Bethberry's and Madi's skin took on a sheen with a light sweat from the mild heat of the sun as they dug. At first, neither spoke as they developed a rhythm for digging a small hole, placing a pip or two carefully into it, and then mounding the earth lightly over it. Finally Bethberry said something.

"See, Aiyanna turned out all right in the end, didn't she?"

Madi frowned up at her. "This time lucky," he retorted.

Bethberry chuckled. "She saved your pips for you, didn't she? All she needed was someone to listen to her tell her fears and she was able to calm down. A hug for hug's sake."

Madi wrinkled his face as he looked up at her. He said nothing but busied himself with the digging.

"But what were you so scared about Madi? What made you so angry back there?"

Madi looked over at Berry, who was kneeling on the ground, her brown tunic covering her knees which were partially buried in the soft brown earth.

"Berry's not mad at Madi?" he asked.

"No, why should I be?" She smiled and then bent over the earth, placing more pips into the small holes Madi had just made and covering them over. A small, slight noise made her look up.

Madi moved hesitantly towards her. Then, swiftly, his arms outstretched. He caught hold of Bethberry around her shoulders and unexpectedly cradled his large head beside her neck on her left shoulder. Surprised, Bethberry let her trowel fall to the earth. She took up and cradled his shoulders and head softly with her arms. Just then, Ruthven's worried voice came back into her ears.

And as Madi hugged Bethberry, she noticed over his shoulder the row of small dirt mounds which marked the seed beds of his apple pip collection. And in her mind she saw a long row of apple trees, their blossoms shimmering in the same moonlight which had shone over Madi's arrival at The White Horse Inn. For some reason, the image made her ineluctably sad. She looked upon Madi with worry and tried to return his hug.

[ November 07, 2003: Message edited by: Bêthberry ]
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Old 09-14-2003, 01:24 PM   #160
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"I live here...well, in Edoras, anyway," Windheneb said, watching Delia pass and smiling at her. "What's her name anyway?" he asked, nodding at Delia.

"You do not even know her name?" Aylwen said, a hint of teasing in her voice. "She is Delia."

"Ah, what a beautiful name," Windheneb said, smiling a bit.

"You'd say it was a beautiful name if she turned out to be called Gantag," Castar pointed out. "And I will probably be returning home tomorrow. Unless there is some reason that I should stay, that is."

He looked at Aylwen and smiled a little, then blushed. Castar wondered if his parents could last another day without him. He did not have to go home, did he?

"No particular reason," Aylwen said, chuckling, "But you are fun to have around. Anyway, who will be here to protect me from Windy?"

Windheneb was making eye-signals with Delia from across the room. At the mention of his name, however, he turned around. "Huh? What? I didn't do it. I swear."

Castar snorted as he pushed a stray strand of hair out of his face. Windheneb looked at him questioningly. "We were speaking of your love for Delia...and all other women. I may stick around for another day, just to make sure you do not wind up taken by guards for flirting with the wrong girl."

"I would not flirt with the wrong girl," Windheneb said dejectedly, "I am an expert."

"Speaking of expert," Aylwen said, "I have to check to make sure I am not needed. I will be back shortly if not."

As Aylwen bustled off, Castar finished his ale. He called Delia over and asked her for a refill. Windheneb made a comment to Castar about pining over his recently-departed love, Aylwen. Castar glared at him but took the ale enthusiastically once it was brought to him.
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