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Old 01-11-2004, 07:49 PM   #281
Imladris
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Tolkien

Jarlyn

A man swaggered towards Edoras; his white linen shirt flapped in the breeze, shoulder length black hair tied with a leather thong glittered in the morning sun. Sloping eyebrows overshadowed a pair of eyes that were so black and cold they could have been mistaken for onyx stones. Golden rings bedecked the fingers of his right hand, while silver ones adorned the left. A silver chain hung from his neck, two leather pouches bumped against his leg.

Clomping the mud from his boots, he shoved the door open and stepped into the Inn. Raising an eyebrow, he surveyed the room with an eye that watched all like a falcon. The serving maids bustled busily in their swirling skirts, men drank and ate their breakfasts eagerly, a melody from a panpipe danced merrily throughout the room.

Selecting a table in the middle where he could have a good look at the doings of the Inn, he slumped into a chair and pushed a wisp of hair from his eyes. Heaving a sigh, he lifted his legs and rested them upon the table while he jingled a small bag of golden coins thoughtfully.

Catching a woman’s eye, he beckoned to her. As she came towards him, he said, “Hello, po --” he stopped and said hastily, “Greetings fair maiden. I would like a cup of hot water, if it is not too much trouble as well as a small glass of milk,” he added, a toothless smile appearing upon his face.

“Right away, sir,” she said as she hurried off.

The smile, like a whiff of smoke, instantly vanished. The brows furrowed into a slight frown as he untied the other leather bag. A rich aroma, exotic, escaped into the air. Jarlyn breathed deeply and a small smile played about his lips. Spreading a thin, brown stained cloth upon the rugged table, the man poured small, brown grains from the bag onto it until there was a small pile. Swiftly he brought the edges of the cloth together and tied it with a piece of twine. Holding the swaying package aloft, he tapped it slightly with a tanned finger: a mist of brown escaped and fell to the table. “Perfect,” he whispered.

By this time, the maid had returned and set the steaming mug before him with a glass of milk as well. “Thank you, miss,” he said, the thin smile returning. Dropping the bag into the cup, he stirred it with a wooden spoon until the water had turned into a lovely murky brown.

Pouring some milk into the mug, he watched as the white swirls formed, only to disappear as the spoon began to stir. He sniffed experimentally, then sipped. “Delicious, as always,” he muttered to himself as he licked his lips. “But why wouldn’t it be,” he thought to himself, “it’s the best coffee from --” his voice trailed off as another draught of coffee drowned the word.
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Old 01-13-2004, 10:13 AM   #282
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Announcement of a new game in Rohan

Writers of the Mark,

Please check out Orual's new game Defense of the Poros

Character profiles and first posts can be posted on the discussion thread.

Have fun!

Bêthberry

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 11:14 AM January 13, 2004: Message edited by: Bêthberry ]
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Old 01-13-2004, 05:53 PM   #283
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Sigrid

After having been stood up for dinner the night before by the highly charismatic and, she was discovering, unpredictable Ragnar, Sigrid went to bed depressed and uncertain. The next morning, however, she awoke refreshed and, after lying in bed for a few minutes with her dog Khajsa nestled against the backs of her knees, she decided that life was too short to get upset over things like broken dinner dates. She got up early with a song on her lips and, after a quick breakfast in the kitchen, gathered the inn's laundry and took it out back with two tubs and a washboard. She filled both tubs with water from the well, adding a bar of strong lye soap to one. The other, she left clear for rinsing.

Up to her elbows in soapsuds and laundry, she spoke to Khajsa, who lay on her belly in the grass nearby, chewing a stick. "You know," Sigrid said. "People sure do come and go around here." The dog wagged the tip of her tail politely. "It's hello, pleased to meet you, let's be friends, and boo! They're gone. You don't see them again." She was thinking about the events of the day before, the fire, and all of the people she had met, none of whom had been around - at least not that she had noticed - the next morning, with the exception of the innkeeper and her assistant.

"I suppose the carpenters are all working at the stables," she added on an afterthought. "But still. It will take some getting used to." She paused, a soggy pillowcase in her hand. "But what shall we do about Mr. Ragnar? That is, if he comes back. Some mud in his laundry, perhaps?" She laughed and the dog's tail thumped the ground agreeably in response. Sigrid had waited for Ragnar an extra hour before finally giving up and eating on her own. She never did see him return to the inn, so she supposed she should wait to see if perhaps he had been detained elsewhere before getting too angry with him. After all, she was the forgiving sort, but still the experience rankled in her memory. It was not often that she was asked to join a gentleman for dinner. She found it rather insulting for him simply not to show up.

She gave the pillowcase an extra hard scrub against the washboard, rinsed it well in the second tub, then carried it over to the clothesline that was strung between the back wall of the inn and the tree Khajsa had chased the cat into the day before. "There are other men, you know," she muttered, pinning the pillowcase to the clothesline to dry. Returning to the washtub, she started work on a sheet. "He's very good-looking, but, as mother always says, pretty is as pretty does."

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 6:55 PM January 13, 2004: Message edited by: Ealasaide ]
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Old 01-15-2004, 08:25 AM   #284
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Before long the patrons of the inn began filtering out from their rooms, and breakfasts were ordered and the noise level began to grow. The morning sun streamed through the windows, catching the hints of dust in the air as the rays fell in square, windowpane designs upon the floor. Aylwen was ready for the work to begin, ready to help in any way she could as the volunteers and workers started preparing for the day ahead. In a way Aylwen almost felt like it was her fault that the stable caught flame. Perhaps indirectly it was her fault, for she was in charge while Bethberry was away. But she also knew that it was hardly any matter now, so long as it could be repaired and no one was hurt.

Aylwen saw Talan speaking with Bethberry, and was glad to have him to help organize and take care of things. The Assistant Innkeeper also saw Madi scrambling about as she filled orders, running outside with breakfast at one point. Aylwen smiled as the little man ran off, taking his food with him and slamming the door. But Aylwen continued with her serving, and stopped for a black-haired, black-eyed man who requested some hot water and milk. Aylwen brought back the milk and water for the man, who thanked her as she left him to cater to other patrons of the Inn.

After they’d had breakfast, several of the men went out to get to work on the stables, or at least start planning for their supplies and the design. Aylwen thanked them as they exited the Inn and walked out to the pile of blackened wood that contained what was left of the former stables. Taren told Aylwen that he would be outside with the other men, giving his input as a carpenter and helping all he could. Aylwen hugged him and thanked him for coming to visit, and apologized for asking him to work while he was there.

For the first time all morning Aylwen caught sight of Castar, sitting in one of the seats in the corner of the common room. Aylwen smiled, not having seen Castar since the night before. She went over to his table, where he was stabbing his half-eaten breakfast with his knife and massaging his right temple. Aylwen sat down next to him and touched his shoulder. “Are you all right?” she asked as he looked up at her.

“Ahh, yes, it’s just a headache,” Castar replied as he stopped attacking his breakfast and pulled his hand away from his forehead. His voice was a bit gruff, and Aylwen wondered if he’d had enough sleep the night before. “I’m fine though, thank you. Ah,” Castar trailed off, and changed the subject. “Who was that man you were speaking to earlier? The one who left just a minute ago?”

“Oh, Taren?” Aylwen’s smile lifted, glad that Castar was all right and that he’d changed the subject. “Taren’s my older brother, he’s a carpenter. He was traveling in the south, on some errand for my father in Minas Tirith. Taren came to visit and offered to help rebuild the stables.” Aylwen noticed Castar grimacing. She frowned. “Are you sure you’re all right? Can I get you something?”
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Old 01-18-2004, 02:37 PM   #285
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Ragnar

Ragnar arrived back at the inn in late morning, tired, dusty, and thoroughly out of sorts. When he had left the inn the afternoon before, he had thought he was going to a meeting across town with one of his associates and would be back well before the dinner hour. Instead, he had ended up riding half the night, getting his head chewed off by his boss, and missing dinner completely. Not having slept at all, he was not only ravenous, but exhausted as well.

Once again leaving his horse at the blacksmith's shop, he walked back to the inn in a foul temper. He could see Olav across the way in the charred ruin of the stables, apparently working with the others at clearing the spot for rebuilding. The sight of him did nothing to improve Ragnar's spirits. In fact, it was largely Olav's fault that Ragnar had had the night that he did. Quitting to become a carpenter. Ragnar gritted his teeth. His cousin had about as much sense as the backend of a horse.

But, the sight of Olav also reminded Ragnar of Sigrid, the fetching little blonde with the dog who didn't like him. She probably didn't like him much either, he thought to himself, not after last night, anyway. Ladies, even laundresses, never appreciated being invited for dinner only to be left hanging when the gentleman didn't show up. He would have to think of a way to make it up to her. In the meantime, he intended to get something to eat.

Entering the common room, Ragnar paused at the door and looked around. Instantly, he noticed the newcomer sitting off to himself on the side of the room, sipping a cup of coffee. Black-haired and black-eyed, the fellow made a rather ostentatious show of wealth that instantly caught Ragnar's eye. Rings on every finger. Not one, but two very fat purses at his side. Ragnar's eyes narrowed slightly. The fellow would definitely bear watching. He moved to a table opposite the newcomer and sat down, flagging one of the serving girls as he did. But first things first. He ordered a huge breakfast.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 3:38 PM January 18, 2004: Message edited by: Ealasaide ]
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Old 01-18-2004, 06:28 PM   #286
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Silmaril

"Are you sure you’re all right? Can I get you something?" Aylwen asked, looking at Castar with concern. Castar looked at her for a second, feeling his head pound in time with his heartbeat.

"You are probably busy," he said, "I do not wish to trouble you, m'Lady."

Aylwen assured him that she was not, in fact too busy to get him a cup of tea. About five minutes later, she returned with the steaming mug. Castar thanked her, and rejoiced at the warmth between his hands. Aylwen turned to leave, but Castar called after her.

"Wait, Aylwen!" he said, flinching at his raised voice. She turned and looked at him expectantly. Castar opened his mouth to ask whether Aylwen would have any free time that day, but changed his words before he even formed them, "I was wondering if it would be possible for me to secure my room for longer? As I will be helping to rebuild the stable, I will need a place to stay."

"Of course," Aylwen said, "We would not put you out when you are performing such a great service as to neglect your other duties to help us build. Is that all you wanted to know?"

"Yes, Lady Aylwen," Castar said, flinching, this time not from the headache. Did she know what he had been about to say? Sometimes he swore that Aylwen's gender could read the minds of men as easily as they read poetry or prose in their native tongues. Aylwen looked at him once more, then bustled off to complete her other chores.

"Well, that went well," said a voice from behind him. Castar turned too quickly, and winced as the slightly diminishing throbbing gave a particularly hard pulse. Kalia stood behind Castar, looking slightly winded, but otherwise no worse for her long ride.

"Mistress," Castar said, standing, "Will you not sit down? I am sure you are tired from your long ride."

"Tinu did the galloping. I merely held on and guided her when need be," Kalia said, lightly sitting down and waving over one of the girls waiting on tables. Castar's new companion ordered a modest breakfast and some tea. "And do not worry," she said, as Castar opened his mouth, "I will pay. I stopped off at home before I came and Mother gave me some money."

"I can pay," Castar protested.

"No, no," Kalia said, waving away the offer, "If you are truly to be staying, as you say you are, you will need to keep all of your money to pay for the essentials. And do not worry, I untacked Tinu and put him in a stall. He was not too warm from the journey, but I put the blanket you had near him on him nonetheless. Your horse is in good condition."

"You did not have to do that," Castar said, "They have people to do that for you."

"I did not feel that there was a need to trouble them," Kalia said, looking at the breakfast happily as a girl put it on the table. She thanked the girl and began to eat. Castar noticed that she was no longer in her riding skirts.

"You changed clothing," he pointed out.

"Of course," she said, indicating to her new dress, a simple red one, "It would be improper to walk around in those skirts for too long. If I had need to wear them, I would do so."

"I did not take you for one to wear a typical lady's dress, Mistress, if it is not too bold to say so," Castar said to the girl.

"It is too bold," Kalia said, "But I do not mind. I may ride, but I am no shieldmaiden. My masculine skills, as they call them, extend merely to horsemanship. Do not worry, I have no ability to beat you in any physical sport, as Windheneb so often reminds me. Now, if you do not mind, I am starving."

Kalia began to eat her breakfast, and Castar sat, sipping his tea. He realized that he no longer had a headache. The room filled as more people awoke and the morning grew older.
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Old 01-18-2004, 07:46 PM   #287
Imladris
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Tolkien

Jarlyn

Jarlyn drained his coffee with a satisfied belch and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. With half closed eyes, he swept the room and noticed that one of the men was staring at him, his eyes lingering upon the rings that glinted upon his fingers. With a sneer, Jarlyn glared into the man’s eyes and then turned away with a shrug of the shoulders. Who cared what the man thought about the wealth he bore.

The Inn was a busy place: women bustled about, their cheeks crimson and their eyes merry, men guffawed over their shallow jokes, a Gondorian soldier stood about-- a Gondorian soldier! Deliberately turning his head, Jarlyn rose from his chair and sauntered, his arms swinging easily, out the door.

A murmured woman’s voice drifted from behind a corner and, following the voice, he soon saw a young woman washing clothes. Rainbow studded suds were lathered to her elbows and the washboard sung hollowly as she scrubbed a white sheet vigorously. “Pretty is as pretty does,” she commented to a collie that sat at her feet.

“ ‘Ello missy,” Jarlyn said, leaning upon the tub filled with clear water. There was a short pause where he bit his lips before he said, “An’ what might be your name.” He smiled, the tips of his teeth showing, while he maneuvered his hand so that his rings glittered brilliantly.

The woman glanced up at him and said, “Sigrid.”

“Jarlyn at your service,” he said, moving away from the tub as she rinsed the sheet clean. Turning to the pile of dirty laundry, she pulled out a white shirt and shook her head. Food stains were splashed upon the front and a particularly large red one adorned the front. With a sigh she plunged the shirt into the water and scrubbed vigorously upon the washboard.

There was silence as Jarlyn watched her for a time as she struggled with the shirt. He bit his lips and narrowed his eyes at her. With a grunt, he pushed her aside and took the shirt from her hands and, as he began scrubbing, he said pleasantly, “Let me help you with that. Your arms must be tired. So, are you from around here?”

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 8:49 PM January 18, 2004: Message edited by: Imladris ]
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Old 01-18-2004, 10:21 PM   #288
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Silmaril

Shrae felt bad about the Inn. Bethberry had been so accomodating to her circumstances and now her barn was basically gone. With all the smoke and debry she couldn't help very much since Reen was always with her. He would start to cough whenever they went near the barn; the smell was still very noxious around the site to a baby. She wanted to help, but didn't have any real skills beyond fine decorating.

It was the day after the fire and Shrae was sitting in her room waiting for Reen to wake up from his afternoon nap. He had been up late into the night crying over some ailment or another. He would wake up sporadically and that in turn kept Shrae awake most of the night. She was very tired, but it helped having the quite of Reen sleeping. He had gone right down for his midday nap.

She walked over to her desk and sat down again, trying to find something to do. She didn't want to leave the room in case Reen woke up; if he woke up cranky it would most likely be a fit all the rest of the day. Suddenly she took out a small piece of parchment she had taken from Lowfel's house the other day.

Bethberry, Lady of the White Horse Inn,

My name is Shrae and I came here a few days ago. I'm staying in your smallest room at your kindness. I of course know about the fire that occured and would like to offer my help free of charge. I do not have, however, very many skills, for which I am sorry. Also, I have my young boy which takes constant attention. Despite these deterrants I am very good at fine detailing skills with decoration and such. This is about all I can offer and if you'd like to see some work I've done I have been working on a sign for my brother the carpenter and you can see it at his shop anytime.

If this interests you or you can think of any other way I can help, please send me word.

Thankfully and respectively yours,

Shrae


Smiling she took a look at Reen still fast asleep. She crossed the room and quietly shut the door as she left. She hurried to the front room and found one of the helpers.

"Would you please see that Miss Bethberry get this?"

The girl nodded and Shrae smiled brightly at her. "Thank you very much!" and then she turned and started back to her room as quickly as she could. Coming back in the room she glanced at the crib where the baby still lay alseep.
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Old 01-21-2004, 04:27 PM   #289
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Sigrid

Sigrid's mouth dropped open in surprise as the newcomer, Jarlyn, pushed her aside from the washbasin and, plunging his beringed hands into the soapsuds, began scrubbing vigorously at the wine-stained shirt that had been giving her such problems. It took a moment for Sigrid to recover from her surprise, then, casting a nervous glance at the inn's backdoor, she stepped forward, wringing her hands.

"Oh, no, sir," she said urgently. "You mustn't do that! What would Miss Bethberry think if she were to look out the window and see me loafing while a guest washes the clothes? I should be out of a job!"

"Please?" she added softly, trying to pull the filthy garment out of his hands. "Please, I just got hired here. I can't lose my job."

For a moment, she was afraid that he was not going to step back and give up the shirt. He continued scrubbing, giving her a rather oily smile. Then, just as she was beginning to panic, he released it into her hands.

"There, you go, missy," he said pleasantly. "All clean."

She looked down and, to her surprise, saw that he had indeed gotten most of the soil out. Not knowing what else to do, Sigrid bobbed a grateful curtsy. "Many thanks, indeed, Mr. Jarlyn," she babbled. "I am in your debt. That was a nasty stain."

He gave her a courtly nod. "Now, in thanks, you may answer my question."

Question? echoed Sigrid mentally. Then she remembered. He had asked if she came from Edoras. She shook her head.

"Oh! Oh, no, sir," she answered, taking charge of the washboard again and giving the offending shirt a few good parting scrubs before taking over to the rinse basin. "I come from a sheep farm in the north. I only arrived in Edoras yesterday during the fire. I've not yet had a chance to explore the city."

When he did not respond immediately, she continued. "I'm sure my friend Iona in the kitchen or Miss Bethberry would be able to give you directions to anywhere should you need them."

"I'm sure they could," answered Jarlyn, his rings flashing in the bright sunlight. "I thank you, my dear. In the meantime, perhaps you could tell me a bit about the inn."

"Like what?" asked Sigrid. Really, in all honesty, she didn't know much about the inn either. Miss Bethberry would be the one to ask any questions of concerning the inn. Or Miss Aylwen, her assistant. Nonetheless, Sigrid resolved to try to answer what questions she could. After all, it was the least she do for Jarlyn in return for his helping her with that stubborn wine stain. She smiled at him.
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Old 01-22-2004, 06:07 PM   #290
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Leofan and Liornung

Maercwen and Frodides were still sleeping when Leofan crept from their little room. Bending down, he gently kissed Maercwen's forehead and then silently slipped out, determined to find where Liornung had spent the night. As he stepped outside a cold breeze brought the color swiftly to his cheeks, and his eyes widened at surprise when he saw the burnt wood of the stable. The memory of what had happened the day before came to him and he ground his teeth together.

"I wish you wouldn't do that," a soft voice said behind him. It was Liornung. His eyes had a very gentle look in them. "Our mother always did dislike it, but it was a terrible habit of yours." He paused, and then touched his brother's stiff back. "It never does seem as bad until the next day, does it? It takes such a long while to actually realize what's happened."

Leofan relaxed a bit and let loose a long sigh. "I feel very much to blame," he murmured. "I feel as though I could have kept the fire from starting if I had been in the stable... I feel as though I could have saved more of the horses." His head dropped low. "I saw two young men fighting... one of them had lost his horse. I feel responsible for that, too."

"You would," Liornung replied. "But you must realize you aren't, simply because you aren't." There was a silence, and then he added, "I'm going to ask Bethberry if we might put on a small dance tonight... Nothing much, just sitting by the fire singing and dancing and telling stories and having a good time... like we used to do at home. I want to see how many visitors I can attract."

The dark shadows left Leofan's face and smiled widely. "You think they'll come to see what we did at home?"

"Well, it's more enjoyable, isn't it? I mean, I could stand up on a table, sit them all down, bid them stay silent and play them some tunes then wait for their grateful applause, but I think they'd enjoy it more if they could join in. Besides, I have a feeling that your darling daughter could dance very sweetly if we could persuade her." His eyebrows raised a bit. "Perhaps... little Eruvalde? You know how fathers feel about that, I'm sure, and I think it would cheer him up immensely." He frowned. "Only it seems as though it would be difficult for the children to find partners... how many little boys are here that would actually dance?"

"My young lad who works in the stable might. But, here, Liornung, do you really intend to hold a dance?"

"No... not really. I just thought the idea might cheer you a bit... however, if it was considered a good idea, we might carry through. I know I'll play music tonight, at any rate. Who knows, you mightn't even need to ask. My fiddle and I carry the magic to bring lightness to the feet and brightness to the eye. They'll probably start dancing on their own accord." He unstrapped his fiddle from his back and gave a little bow. "And now, my dear brother, I shall play a tune for you."
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Old 01-25-2004, 07:57 PM   #291
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Jarlyn

Jarlyn’s eyes narrowed eyes at the smiling Sigrid. The babbling wench did not know anything. A thin, toothless smile appeared on his face and he said, “And if the Innkeeper went away or harm befell her, who would take care of this…fine…inn?”

Sigrid glanced up at him, her mouth open, brows furrowed. Flashing a broad grin at her, he said, “A rhetorical question of course, missy.” He drummed his fingers upon the wooden edge of the tub.

Laughing a little, Sigrid said, “Well, that would be Aylwen, the Assistant Inn-keeper. I don’t know where she is now,” she added with a backwards glance over her shoulder before she plunged a cumbersome sheet into the water and renewed her scrubbing.

“So there was a fire in the stable, eh?” he asked, remembering why Sigrid was here. He looked over her again: the petit broad was hardly the type to drop all to dowse a fire. “Do you know the rogue who did it?”

Sigrid shook her head, a wisp of blonde hair falling in her eyes, and, with a shrug of her shoulders said, “Not that I’ve heard leastways.”

With a sigh, he glanced towards the Inn, and then back to the dame. He considered asking her how this Aylwen lass looked, but he doubted she could even answer that question. “Well, lassie…Sigrid, I best be driftin’ off.” Pushing himself from the tub he sauntered back towards the inn. Pausing in front of the door, he unbound his hair, and, eyes downcast and arms folded across his chest, he began to wander around the common room. Narrowing his eyes, he saw that the bar was empty and wondered which one of the women in the common room was the Assistant Innkeeper or the Innkeeper.
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Old 01-26-2004, 01:54 PM   #292
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Hisimé

Hisimé woke with a start at the sound of a chair scraping across the floor close to him, his eyes wide and his fingers reaching for his belt. A second unpleasant surprise came when he realised his sword was not attached to his belt, and he sat up sharply, before taking a moment to realise where he was. His dark, dark blue eyes met those of a young woman who had just entered from outside, her sleeves rolled up past the elbows and her hands soft-looking, as if she had been washing. The apron she wore and the way her hair was tied up in a highly practical fashion led the Gondorian to suspect she worked her; but surely he would have noticed her before...

Still, you didn't exactly wait to take in the sights of the Inn now, did you? Hisimé pushed his fingers through his sandy blonde hair ruefully, stifling a yawn. After arriving yesterday and realising he wouldn't be able to help in any significant way at the time, the Gondorian soldier had taken the oppurtunity to have a little explore of Edoras. But, after getting caught up talking to a few of the gossipy old women after asking one of them for directions back to the Inn, (being as he was, at the time, thoroughly lost, and it was late afternoon), the gentlemanly young man had ended up helping her out and telling her all he knew of Gondor in the last few years - as she had explained in the course of her life story, her dear husband ("a lazier man there never was, may he rest in peace") had been a Gondorian, and they had lived there for many years. By the time he had disentangled himself from the conversations, regreting he could not stay but worried about being locked out of the 'Horse, Hisimé had managed to find he way back to the Inn and had sat down in front of the fire to have a quiet drink and a read...

So much for that. He must have fallen asleep almost immediately, as he didn't remember getting any further in the dog-eared, pocket-sized book, which now lay sprawled on the floor. Rising carefully, the soldier smoothed his somewhat wrinkled clothes, retrieved his book, sword and jacket from various positions around the chair, and once more looked around the room. Aylwen, he noted, was talking to a man on the other side of the room, so he instead approached the petite young woman with the rolled up sleeves.

Bobbing his head courteously he smiled slightly nervously. "Good morning - is it possible I could get some breakfast please?"
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Old 01-28-2004, 08:44 AM   #293
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Shield

The Innkeeper, trying to read through all the documentation from the Golden Hall in its florid style of order and authority, kept thinking about the comings and goings in the Great Hall.

Having observed the new girl, Sigrid, scrubbing the laundry, the Innkeeper had been satisfied the girl would do well, very well, as long as she avoided the too friendly attentions of the many male patrons of the Inn. The girl had sat long alone at table last night before she ate and Bethberry read a story into that which would bear remembering and then seemed to have attracted the attention of yet another stranger, this one somewhat unsavoury. Yet the girl had deported herself well and Bethberry was pleased.

And the plans for entertainment! They would have to be made! She would leave a note for Aywlen to allow the musicians leave to prepare something of great amusement.

In all, the Innkeeper was thankful that she could rely upon Aylwen to see to the daily running of the Inn and Talan to the building. He was a timid lad but she hoped that by giving him responsibility he would come out of his shyness a bit. Certainly he had done well so far, supervising the workmen on the stable.

But this nasty bit of interference from the Hall.... Bethberry shook her head. This was something new, officials nosing about pettily in citizens' own affairs. Clearly there were changes afoot in Meduseld and not for the best.

Then she turned to read a letter from the young lass, Shrae. Bethberry knew of the brother's work. He was well regarded in the small community of Edoras. She wrote a quick reply, accepting the offer of help, and rose to hand her note to Iona.

"Mrrrrooowww!"

Bethberry nearly jumped as she narrowly avoided stepping on a cat who had, unseen, decided to lay claim to the territory around her feet.

"Goldwine, you'd best take care to keep out of the way, for not all of your subjects are likely to make room for you," she laughed.

"Harumpf," snorted a voice on the other side of her desk. Bethberry turned to see a narrow-eyed, pouting Madi, his hands grasping her desk with white knuckles, glaring at her.

"Beasts don't talk so why are you talking to that creature?" he demanded.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 12:11 PM January 28, 2004: Message edited by: Bêthberry ]
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Old 01-31-2004, 05:54 AM   #294
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Ferethor entered the White Horse inn, surveying the place in a keen look under the pretense of finding a seat, as was his wont. As he seated himself, his weatherstained cloak rippled and revealed the gleam of silver and sable - the traditional livery of the guards of Minas Tirith.


"Hirifilen, we're here to talk." Ferethor warned as Hirifilen entered after him and made for the bar. Hirifilen cast an annoyed gaze at Ferethor. "who are you, that you would order me about thus? I know my duty." As if striken with a shaft, anger flashed through Ferethor. His eyes were kindled with fury, and his voice was hard. "Do, then, as you please!"


"Fool." Ferether said viciously. "You mar the Great house of Vonwe. You revel in the glory of your high linage, yet does little to earn the honor that is given you. Proud son of Anen, what honor have you earned for yourself that you'd treat your comrade with such scorn? You deal with arrogance to all. Hir, you lean on your youth as a clutch, an excuse to do as you wish."


Hirifilen retorted in anger, "At least I hunted the Wargs, while you just stood there and watched."


"I bided my time, until the snow melts and I could lead my band in the trek through the mountains with less danger. You may think it courage to refuse my order, but I see nothing but false bravado. Perhaps I did wrong in searching for you in the snow-peaked mountains with ever lessening hope day after day."


"You've ever been thus, stubborn and unyielding, ever quick to scorn and sullenness. Unless you heed to my words without your eyes veiled by arrogance, I'm finished with you. You can go back to the other soldiers and explain exactly what you've done."


Ferethor sheathed his elven knife with a metallic sound, and was gone in a whirl of his cloak.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 8:22 AM January 31, 2004: Message edited by: Eorl of Rohan ]
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Old 01-31-2004, 03:19 PM   #295
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Vinorel

A gentle breeze rushed down a winding street of Rohan that led to the White Horse Inn. Along this way walked a tall, cloaked figure clad in worn, brown and green traveling clothes, a long fastened to its side, and a bow and some arrows onto its back. The figure walked cautiously along the road, tryin to hide herself in the shadows, for she did not want to be noticed at the moment. She had been heading at first to the Halls of Edoras, where the King and Queen were expecting her, yet she was worn out from her venture to here from Lothlorien, so she decided to first go to get something to drink and eat, before journeying on. Weaving her way through the crowds in the marketplace, she finally reached the renown White Horse Inn, run by Bethberry.

Stepping into the inn, the woman felt a kind of sadness and despair in the air. Something had happened here. She saw some men in one of the corner of the room. They were talking quietly, but in a hurried way, and a stench of burn wood and fire could be smelt from their corner.

Wondering what had occurred before she came here the clad figure moving quicky and quietly to the bar counter. There she seated herself upon a small stool and ordered a mug of ale. As the bartender left to fill her order, the female elf pulled back her hood to reveal a fair face, with wavy, golden hair that fell down a little ways past her shoulders.

After recieveing her drink, the elf turned around on her stool so that she could sip her frothy drink, while still being able to peer around the room with her soft, light blue eyes that were filled with laughter, though also with a bit of a long hidden pain, searching for familiar faces and someone to talk to.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 10:54 AM February 03, 2004: Message edited by: Galadel Vinorel ]
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Old 02-02-2004, 09:44 AM   #296
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Sting

Talan stood by the window, and watched as the new girl and some unknown fellow argued about the laundry. He did not seem to threaten Sigrid, but he was not happy about it anyway, his fists slightly clenched.

It was his job to make sure nobody made trouble at the Horse, and that included patrons who could not keep their hands to themselves. Talan may not be the brightest, yet he knew his duty and he knew what he needed to know about fighting from his years on the streets.

And that guy, Jarlyn, did not seem too straight. His attitude might be friendly, but anyone talking to a serving maiden while she was doing the laundry, had the wrong intentions, no matter what they were.

Nothing happened really though and he could relax. After getting something to eat, he noticed that very same girl sitting eating alone, but it seemed that the innkeeper had control of that, so Talan merely yawned and left for his little room behind the kitchen, grabbing an apple when walking through.

As he sat in his room, eating the last few pieces of the apple he thought about the work on the new stable. It was going fine by all he could see, and he reckoned on Faran to let him know if it was not.

So throwing the remains of the apple out of the window he closed his eyes and fell asleep, comfortable about the thought that somebody trusted him with something important.
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Old 02-02-2004, 08:12 PM   #297
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Faran

The boy leaned upon his axe, wiping the sweat from his brow, and surveyed the log before him as he squinted his eyes in the bright sun. It was fresh from the forest, for gnarled branches, brown leaves hanging limply from their stems, protruded from the rough bark. The branches would have to be lopped off, the wood sanded and split into planks.

With a sigh, Faran straddled the wood and began to lop off the offending branches. The musty smell of aged wood escaped and drifted and spread through the air and mingled with the dusty smell of wood chips.

After the branches had been cut from the trunk of the tree, Faran gathered them in his arms and deposited them with the rest of the firewood. Brushing the chips from his hands, Faran peered about, his eyebrow raised, wondering where Idona was. The thought of girls reminded him of another girl: Sigrid -- along with the unpleasant thought of the two cousins who had been showering her with attention. Not that that was a bad thing, Faran grudgingly thought as he set out to look for her. It was just…odd that both of them did it at the same time and that that one didn’t really help with the Inn. Why, Sigrid worked harder than he had!

He found the girl washing clothes: bubbles floated around her head and her apron was splashed with water. Sauntering over to her and propping his elbows on her wooden tub, he said, “The building of the stable is going well, and I was wondering if you would like to learn how to chop and lop branches off the fresh logs, but I see you’re employed otherwise.” He sighed, his lips puckering in a small smile.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 9:13 PM February 02, 2004: Message edited by: Imladris ]
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Old 02-04-2004, 12:18 PM   #298
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Sting

Aylwen finished serving Castar his hot tea and left in time for someone to join him at his table. She left in time to catch the man from earlier – the one with who’d asked for milk and water – speaking with Sigrid as she went about her chores. He was a strange man, there was little doubt to that, but Aylwen trusted Talan if anything came up, and Aylwen trusted Sigrid to get Talan if she needed him. In any case, Aylwen saw the scraggly man leave Sigrid’s side. Besides, she wasn’t too worried with that and was more preoccupied with keeping the volunteers rebuilding the stables content with drinks and anything else they needed that she could provide.

Hisimé was awake, it seemed. Aylwen saw him ask for breakfast, and Aylwen watched as he was seated and served. Then Aylwen saw two men, dressed in the livery of Gondor, pass through the Inn. They had a heated conversation, then one of them left with an angry air about him. Aylwen watched in wonder, and looked to see where Talan was. When she did not see him anywhere near Aylwen shook it off and went on about her serving and work. Strange things were happening that day, it was obvious, and Aylwen was starting to wonder what it was all leading to.

On one of her trips from the common room to the kitchen, Aylwen picked up a note written by Bethberry, addressed to her. Aylwen read through it with dirty plates in her hands, and nodded with interest at the task. Bethberry asked Aylwen to set up something fun and entertaining with the musicians for that evening. The young woman sighed contentedly and left the dirty dishes in the kitchen. Aylwen left the kitchen and ran right into her brother, knocking long pieces of parchment out of his hands. The two fumbled around to pick all of them up, and then Taren sighed, sweat lining his forehead and brow.

“Aylwen, how far away from the Inn should the new stables be?” He asked, as if there might have been some tiff about it outside and Taren wanted Aylwen to settle it. Aylwen shrugged, not sure at all. Did it matter? Aylwen bit her lip as she came up with her answer, “Maybe the same distance away as the old one was?”

Taren rolled his eyes and turned away, exiting the Inn to get back to work without another word to Aylwen. The Assistant Innkeeper sighed and looked back over to see a new customer occupying one of the stools. Aylwen took the hooded stranger’s order and when she returned Aylwen saw that the customer was fair of face and though Aylwen had never seen an Elf in person before, it was not hard to tell. This surprised Aylwen, because there were few Elves in Rohan to the point that Aylwen had not seen on yet even in all the days of being the Assistant Innkeeper. She hadn’t even seen one when she lived in Gondor.

“Excuse me, miss,” Aylwen began, looking to the woman who was sipping her drink. “It’s not my place to pry, but what business brings you here to Edoras, and the White Horse? Not many of your kind come around here, I’ve noticed…”
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Old 02-04-2004, 09:01 PM   #299
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Silmaril

Vinorel looked over at the woman tending the bar. She smiled at her, and turned around on her chair to face her.

"You are right. Few of my kindred now make the journey to Rohan, though few still remain in Middle Earth anymore," replied the elf as a cloud of sorrow passed quickly over her face, "Yet, I still stay in this land. I am here on an important matter from Lady Galadriel of the Woodlen Realm of Lothlorien. The Queen is with child. She is to give birth soon, yet my Lady Galadriel was too busy to come herself to be her wetnurse, as requested by King Eomer to do so. So, I was sent in her stead. A great honor it is forme, one so young, to be allowed to help birth a Prince. I am very priveleged."

Vinorel smiled softly, thinking of the precious being that would soon be born into this world.

"May I ask you a question, miss?" Vinorel said in her soft voice, "Why are there so few people in this inn, in which I had heard before was always filled with talking and laughing?"
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Old 02-05-2004, 08:01 PM   #300
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Sting

Sigrid

"Well, that was bizarre," murmured Sigrid to herself as the stranger, Jarlyn, disappeared back into the inn. “I guess he must be fond of washing. It wasn‘t even his shirt.”

She shook her head and returned to her work. She had just gotten back into a rhythm with the washboard and the piles of laundry, when her friend of the day before, Faran, appeared around the corner of the building. He sauntered over to her and propped his elbows against the rim of the wooden tub.

“The building of the stable is going well, and I was wondering if you would like to learn how to chop and lop branches off the fresh logs, but I see you’re employed otherwise.” He sighed and gave her a small, cute smile.

Sigrid laughed and splashed him with water from the washtub. “Well, I do have a job to do!”

Faran jumped back, laughing. “Yeah, well, I thought you might like to do mine, too, if you get a break.”

“Oh, thanks!” Sigrid let her blue eyes twinkle at him. “After all, you did promise to teach me a bit of carpentry, didn’t you? Maybe when I get the washing done, I’ll come over and see what the carpenters are up to.” On an afterthought, she added, “I just had the strangest thing happen.”

“What’s that?” asked Faran, coming back into range of the washtub.

“That new fellow - I don’t know if you’ve seen him yet - the one with all the jewelry,” answered Sigrid. “Anyway, I was out here with the washing and suddenly he comes out the back door, says hello and starts washing this shirt for me. I made him stop, and he did, but then he asked me to tell him about the town and the inn. When I said I didn’t know anything, he beat a kind of hasty retreat. Off to see Miss Bêthberry, I guess.”

“I guess,” answered Faran, not seeming terribly concerned. He walked over to where Kajsa lay in the grass and, taking hold off one end of the stick she chewed, began a lively game of tug-of-war. The black and white dog growled, but her plumy tail wagged wildly. Playfully, Faran growled back .

Seeing that Faran didn’t seem to find anything strange in the behavior of the newcomer, Sigrid shrugged. Maybe it wasn’t such an odd thing for a new guest to want to know something about the area. She should probably get used to it. But to help with the washing? That was the part that she just couldn’t quite fathom. “It was kind of strange, though, wasn’t it?” she repeated.

“Maybe he was just trying to be helpful.” Faran managed to win the tug-of-war game with the dog and gave the stick a mighty throw across the open field. Kajsa took off after it like an arrow.

Sigrid smiled and, deciding to change the subject, nodded in the direction of the dog. “I think you have a friend for life.”

Faran grinned. “Well, they always say that animals are the best judges of character.”

“She doesn’t care for Ragnar at all. Yesterday, when I was feeling sick, he tried to help me but she wouldn’t let him touch me.” Remembering the subsequent chaos, she laughed. “But then the cat showed up...”

Faran’s grin widened. “I bet that was fun. Goldwine loves to taunt dogs. I think he’s either a daredevil or he’s got something of a death wish.”

“Well,” answered Sigrid. “You needed worry about Kajsa hurting him. She just likes to run. I don’t think she’d know what to do if she actually caught him.” She giggled at the mental picture. “Getting back to Ragnar for a second,” she added a moment later. “You haven’t seen him around the inn this morning, have you? He stood me up for dinner last night.”

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Old 02-06-2004, 02:39 PM   #301
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Eye

Finishing his breakfast at a leisurely pace, Hisimé looked around for the friendly Aylwen or for any serving girls. Seeing none of the latter and noticing that the Assistant Innkeeper was busy talking to someone else, he waited, slightly unsure. Eventually he rise and approached the two talking women, waiting politely until Aylwen, sensing the soldier, turned inquiringly. Nodding politely to both women, he did a double take for a second as he saw the second, who was just speaking. As she spoke, she brushed a strand of hair behind one ear, and the Gondorian realised he had been right - she was elven. Blinking and hoping it had not been obvious he was staring, he bid them both good morning with a polite nod. "Good morrow, ladies. Miss Dreamsong," he turned to the Assistant Innkeeper. "I offerered my services yesterday as a helper in rebuilding the stables. May I ask when it will begin, and if I can be of any help yet?"

Aylwen nodded. "I'm not sure what Talan's exact plans are - he went outside a few moments ago. He is in charge of the rebuilding. You know who he is? He-"

"Shy looking, fierce, dark eyes? Dark hair?" Hisime hazarded, hopefully.

Aylwen looked slight, then nodded. "Yes, I...yes."

Hisime nodded. "Thankyou, lady. And I bid you both good morning once more." Inclining his head at the elven woman - and trying not to stare at those ears - the soldier crossed to the door, leaving his cloak on a peg near the door; the day was quite warm outside, he did not think he would be needing it.
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Old 02-06-2004, 04:46 PM   #302
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Sting

Talan was fast asleep when somebody entered his room rather loudly, waking him in the process. It was Taren. "Sorry to wake ye up, but we got a bit of disagreement with the stables. Since you are the one doing it, you are the one deciding it." Talan took a deep breath, trying to keep his eyes open. "Alright, I'll be with ye in a sec." he said, slowly rising from his bed and then went to wash the sleep of his face before exiting his room and the kitchen.

He entered the common room and saw a hooded person by the bar, and being suspicious he drew close until he got the chance to see the stranger's face. When he was able, he quickly realised it was an Elf though, even from what limited knowledge he had of them. And a female as well, if he was not being totally wrong. Muttering some apologies to the lady and Aylwen as well, he quickly walked outside where the workers were having their disagreement.

He sighed, and then measured the length using his long paces. "How many times do I have to tell yer, them stables are gonna be exactly this far away from the inn. Now get some holes dug for these here poles, so it won't come crashing down on us all of a sudden."

He found the person that for some reason ran around with the plan over the new stables. Although Talan could barely read, he understood numbers fairly well and could make out the word "steps". So, 10 steps in this direction. Walking around he marked the places where the poles would have to be put deep into the ground. "Now Faran, you'll mark the place on the lumber, how far down the pole is gonna go into the hole. Else we'll get ourselves a roof as shrewd as a Dwarf and Elf walking along each other." He said.

The last sentence reminded him of the visitor in the inn and he took a quick look inside. She was still there, though, with the assistant innkeeper. Talan could not help but smile a bit and then looked down in the ground, before turning around and focusing on the construction.

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Old 02-12-2004, 12:30 PM   #303
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Hisime

Hisime came out of the Inn and looked around a little uncertainly for this man Talan who Aylwen had said he should speak to. Faces were something the soldier was especially good at remembering, not always a good thing with his line of work as he had found out before, but he called up the image he had of the man in his mind and found him in the yard outside the Inn, not far from the charred remains of the stables. As the soldier waited slightly unsure, the man looked staright past him into the Inn and a faraway look came into his eyes as he smiled slightly before turning his attention back to the scrolls unrolled in front of him.

Hisime snuck a look in through the window and saw the lady Aylwen was in Talan's line of vision. As the Gondorian watched, he saw the woman glance up and look out of the window briefly before she politely replied to something the elven woman had said, before disappearing from view of the window. Hisime smiled very slightly. That was certainly interesting - and very fine for Talan if it should work out. Still, it was no use musing on such things like an old busibody - Hisime straightened himself up slightly more and approached the man, giving a small cough so as not to come from nowhere. The man looked up and Hisime nodded politely, smiling slightly and shaking a lock of hair from his face behind his ear before he spoke.

"Would you be Talan, in charge of the stable rebuilding?"
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Old 02-12-2004, 03:41 PM   #304
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Wrapping up a subplot...

Bethberry’s mention of coffee triggered a cascade of pleasant memories. Azaziel had always associated the sharp, distinctive odor of the black liquid with the dry crackle of parchment and the soft sunlight that flowed into the small library. His father had always kept a large mug handy; especially during the long hours he spent imparting knowledge of his trade on his son. If he had done well on the arithmetic or had remembered a particularly important design feature, his father would give him a small sip. It was one of islands of peace in his otherwise stormy childhood. He could not even begin to guess how Bethberry could acquire the expensive coffee beans so far north. A pound of coffee cost a soldier a week’s pay in the towns near the garrisons along the Anduin. But, if you could buy coffee, at least you were still well enough to make the round trip.

“Certainly, if it does not trouble you too much,” replied the temporary diplomat. “It may take some time to complete the business at hand. The Counselor does have a certain list of…specifics…that he wishes us to discuss.”

Azaziel undid the clasp that secured his cloak around his neck and shoulders. The line of lead weights sown into the bottom edge bumped against each other and the chair as their owner draped the garment over the back of the chair. He had convinced his wife to make the proper adjustments after watching a fellow officer use a similar dueling cloak to great effect in a sparring match. Both occupants of the room stared at each other uncomfortably for a few seconds. His limited experience in negotiations with private citizens directed him to put most of his cards on the table. It helped to build at least a semblance of trust, even if conveniently omitted some details.

“My father was a siege engineer who served a number of nobles before ending up in the ruins of Osgiliath. He instructed me in the finer points of engineering and architecture since my childhood. I spent three terms of service in the ruined city first assisting in, and then directing the construction and placement of siege works. My commander transferred me to the embassy in Edoras as a military attaché. The ambassador requested that I do a favor on his behalf for a certain local leader.”

He paused for a moment to give the innkeeper time to digest the information. “The Counselor expressed concern because of the fire that lead to the unfortunate destruction of your stable. My sincere condolences for your loss, of course. I have seen firsthand the effects of a fire in a tight space, and it seems that he fears for the safety of the town. He did express a number of other minor issues, but most simply reflect his aesthetic preferences. Have you had any problems of a similar nature previously?”

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Old 02-14-2004, 10:29 AM   #305
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Castar

"What do we have here?" Kalia muttered over the top of her mug, looking behind Castar at someone sitting at the bar. "No...do not turn quickly."

Castar slowed his motion and slowly turned around. There was a cloaked woman sitting at the bar, looking around carefully at the other patrons. She appeared almost...Elvish? But no, there were not many Elf maidens in these parts.

"What would an Elf of her appearance be doing in these parts?" Kalia asked, echoing Castar's silent thoughts. She looked at the woman for a second, apparently pondering the question.

"She could not be of the Elvish kindred, you know," Castar said pointedly. "After all, your brother resembles their kind in some ways."

"Even so," Kalia said, "What would a woman of that physical demeanor be doing here on her own? If she is mortal, then she must be of high birth. But look at her demeanor. Even Windheneb is not quite like she is."

Castar nodded his agreement and looked once more at the Elf woman. Her eyes met his for a second, and he quickly turned away. Did she see his stare? He hoped not. That one brief second, however, confirmed their suspicion that she was, in fact, of the Fair Kindred. No mortal woman had eyes like that. Even beautiful Windheneb did not have that depth in his eyes. Castar looked at Kalia, who was still discreetly watching the woman, seeming to hope that this new enigma would suddenly reveal all truths to her. Suddenly, her eyes darted towards the door.

"He is here," she said quietly. "I suppose I should leave you then?"

"Who?" Castar said, turning towards the door. Windheneb was walking purposefully over to the table where Castar and Kalia sat.

"Good morning," Windheneb said, sitting down next to Kalia, who quickly rose. "And where are you going?"

"I should get back to our mother," Kalia said.

"Oh, you are allowed to give the woman some time without you twittering over her. She can still think for herself, you know," Windheneb said, patting the seat and inviting her to sit down again. She quietly did, and Castar noted that she surreptitiously began watching the Elf again.

"Why do you not just go ask her who she is?" Castar asked.

"Who?" Windheneb said.

"I do not wish to be rude," Kalia said simply, "I do hope she does not notice that I am watching her...if it is that obvious to you..."

"Who are you watching?" Windheneb asked.

"You are being discreet enough, m'Lady," Castar replied. "I only noticed because I was paying close attention to where you were looking."

"Where were you looking?" Windheneb asked Kalia. She nodded towards the Elf maiden. Windheneb followed her gaze, then gave a low whistle. "Is that an Elf?" Kalia nodded, and now it was Windheneb's turn to muse, "I wonder what such an Elf would be doing here."

"Are Elves really that rare, even in this large city?" Castar asked.

"We get the occasional lord or lady with their guards, and even more frequently messengers," Windheneb said, "But not often do they come into the Inn to dine. And even less frequently do the women venture into this place alone. It is not dangerous, but such a thing is not necessarily completely..."

"...Proper," Kalia finished after Windheneb trailed off. "We were commented on her before you arrived, Brother. What do you suppose such a thing could mean?"

"Probably not a thing," Windheneb said, "It could just be that the Lady wishes to have some time on her own. For all we know, she could have guards positioned right outside of the Inn, but did not wish to call attention to herself."

"Windheneb, the woman is an Elf," Kalia said quietly, "She calls attention to herself without guards."

"That is true," Windheneb said. He paused for a bit, "So, Castar, what are your plans for this beautiful day?"

"They will probably want the men to begin the building of the new barn as soon as possible," Castar said.

Windheneb nodded and expressed that he wished he could stay, but the family shop did need tending for at least part of the day. He promised he would try to stop by the Inn at some point to verify that Castar had all of the provisions he needed. Castar thanked Windheneb, then the siblings excused themselves, leaving Castar alone at the table. He moved around the table so that he was facing the bar. The Elf woman was still there.

A serving girl came around and asked if Castar would like anything else. He ordered more coffee and leaned back in the chair, enjoying what was left of the aging morning.
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Old 02-14-2004, 11:39 PM   #306
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Aylwen and Taren

"The Queen is with child. She is to give birth soon, yet my Lady Galadriel was too busy to come herself to be her wetnurse, as requested by King Eomer to do so. So, I was sent in her stead. A great honor it is forme, one so young, to be allowed to help birth a Prince. I am very priveleged. May I ask you a question, miss?" Vinorel asked in return, catching Aylwen off guard with the Elf's answer and quick questioning. But the Assistant Innkeeper nodded, and Vinorel softly continued her inquiry. "Why are there so few people in this inn, in which I had heard before was always filled with talking and laughing?"

As Vinorel trailed off, Aylwen sighed and looked out the window. Light was streaming through it, and dust could be seen floating on the air as the sounds of the builders echoed into the Inn. Aylwen turned back to Vinorel and smiled, weakly. "We had a little disaster yesterday. Our stables caught flame and burned to the ground. Horses were lost. The crowds that you speak of, they are probably volunteers now, outside helping to rebuild our stables. They are also having a fine time getting along and figuring out their plans, I've seen..." Aylwen trailed off as she noticed Hisimé politely waiting for her attention.

"Good morrow, ladies. Miss Dreamsong," he nodded to Aylwen, but the Assistant Innkeeper saw his eyes waver to the ears of Aylwen's companion. "I offerered my services yesterday as a helper in rebuilding the stables. May I ask when it will begin, and if I can be of any help yet?"

Nodding, Aylwen informed Hisimé that Talan was in charge of the operation and that he was outside. Hisimé thanked her and left the main hall, leaving his jacket on one of the hooks before going outside. Aylwen shook her head and looked back at Vinorel, smiling as their conversation continued. Castar and his seatmate, a woman Aylwen recognised but didn't quite know, were staring at the Elf, Aylwen noticed, as did anyone else who walked into or out of the inn through the main hall. They must not have ever seen an Elf, either, Aylwen thought. Vinorel asked for more ale, and Aylwen excused herself to fill the order. She also took one of the other maid's orders: Castar's coffee order.

When Aylwen got to Castar's table with his coffee, the woman was gone and Windheneb had come and gone with her. Aylwen sat next to Castar, setting down his drink and smiling. "Isn't it strange? I've never seen an Elf before in my life! She says she came to help with a birthing. Has Windy come by yet? Do you feel better?" Aylwen bombarded him with questions, anxious to get someone else's point of view. After the previous day and the fire, Aylwen figured that the only way to go was up. Maybe the Elven woman's visit was a sign of some sort, as silly as Aylwen felt to think such things.

---
Taren

Taren sighed as he shoveled into the ground for a lodging for the log poles, which would be used for the framing of the Inn. Some men had gone off for more wood and lumber, others were busying themselves by sawing and cutting the wood, and yet others were fruitlessly arguing with Talan about this measurement and that measurement. Taren recognised Hisimé from the night before when he'd seen the man at the Inn, and Taren, discouraged, hoped that the soldier would add sense and order to the task at hand.

Noontime was fast approaching, and Taren was disappointed to note that only two posts were up and standing securely, even with all the time the men had been outside. Miss Bethberry and Aylwen would not be pleased...disappointed... Taren thought, wiping his brow and looking despairingly up at the sun, nearly blinding in the deep blue sky. Taren's father was a carpenter, and Taren had learned all he could from him, but even that knowledge could not make all the men outside building a stable work together.

Then there was Talan, working as hard as he knew how to keep the men working, keep the logs rolling and the posts standing. He might not have realized it, but his leadership was helping. Taren helped a few men lift another post, and stand it into it's place. However slow or fast they were moving, they were helping and getting it all done.

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Old 02-16-2004, 11:59 PM   #307
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Silmaril Vinorel

The elf could fell the eyes of many upon her. They must rarely have elves come to Rohan indeed, thought Vinorel, to be so taken aback by my presence here.

She was once again alone. Yet, this time she sought out companionship. Vinorel had been alone for too long traveling on the road to Rohan, plus, she was not expected by the King and Queen till the evening, she could afford to spend some time relaxing and enjoying herself in this pleasent inn. Her eyes began to roam the inn as she sought out someone to speak with.

While searching, Vinorel saw the assistant innkeeper talking with a man at a table nearby. Hoping that she would not seem too bold, the lady made her way softly to the table. "Excuse me," the elf said to the man and woman, when she had reached their table, in her smooth voice, "I do hope that I am not intruding, yet I was wondering if I might join the two of you to sit and talk, if you would not mind." Vinorel stood above them, awaiting her answer, as the day moved on in the land of Rohan.
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Old 02-21-2004, 04:31 PM   #308
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Silmaril Castar with Aylwen

Aylwen hit Castar with questions, one seeming to come just as he answered the other. He tried to answer them without stumbling too much, but his insufficient answers escaped his lips before he could leash them. The two spoke for a long time, and Aylwen even seemed to neglect the now-bustling Inn. It was as thought there was a desire for contact that she fulfilled in her discussion. Finally, Castar managed to take advantage of a brief pause in the conversation to ask the Lady Aylwen what he had been meaning to ask.

"So, when shall we begin construction of the new Inn?"

"As soon as we may," Aylwen responded, looking around. "We are receiving remarkable support in our actions. Everyone desires to aid us in the restoration of the barn."

"Well, that is well, then," Castar said.

"And what of the girl you sat with this morning? Who was she?" Aylwen asked, changing the subject and leaning forward slightly.

"Who do y-oh, you are referring to Kalia? She is another sibling of Windheneb. Kalia took Tinu to my parents' farm to tell them that I will be staying through. She returned Tinu this morning, and I invited her to have breakfast. She left with Windheneb, as they needed to tend to the family store."

Aylwen nodded. She paused for a moment, then asked, "So you will stay for the whole rebuilding of the barn? Are you sure your parents will not need you?"

"They will survive," Castar said. He looked at the empty table. The serving girl had long ago cleared away all of the plates, utensils, and cups. Caster began to feign studying the wooden table, trying to conceal his worry. The fate of his parents during the long months where the barn would be reconstructed plagued him greatly. Both his mother and his father were growing older, and he could hardly see his father working the fields anymore. Castar had assured himself that one of the neighbors would aid. Kalia, after all, did not mention any qualms that they expressed while she stayed there overnight.

Aylwen obviously sensed the sudden tension. "I am sure you are right," she said quietly, "They will be fine." He smiled at her, and she smiled back. They would be fine, and Castar would live at this Inn for a while. And after the barn was built...well, who knows what then?
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Old 02-22-2004, 12:33 PM   #309
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To Harrow the Shadows

Dusk had dwindled into darkness and all about the Horse had gone to their repose. The Innkeeper was thankful that Aywlen had accepted her urging to seek rest, for Aylwen had worked tirelessly both in organizing the stable repairs with Talan and in running the Inn itself. There were so many strangers in town these days and so many hands working to rebuild the stable. In fact, Bethberry had been more than pleased; she had taken comfort in knowing that, should she be called away by these mysterious forces which were bringing darkness to Edoras, then she could leave The Horse in the capable, clever hands of the girl called Dreamsong. She was thankful, too, that Sigrid and Gerdwyn were proving to be dependable and adroit at their work. If she had to leave, she could at least have the reassurance of knowing that The Horse had reliable workers to run it.

Bethberry sat back in her chair, watching Goldwine pad silently around the Great Hall. A shadow on the floor brought her eyes to the window, where she saw Madi looking in at the cat with a decided scowl on his face. She half rose to call to him, but he quickly disappeared. She sat back in her chair, reflecting upon her conversation with Azaziel.

It was a strange intrusion into the affairs of citizens to question the rebuilding of the stables, but he had been satisfied with the general outline of the plans she had presented him with, as well as the several cups of coffee. Bethberry had noted his appraisal of the beverage and realized there was more to his questions than he laid on the table. Why, why was the Golden Hall less interested in how the fire had started and more in blocking plans to replace the stable? Accidents happened and fires happened and buildings were always being repaired and replaced. There were influences afoot which made the Innkeeper uncomfortable, decidedly uncomfortable. She thought back to mysterious affairs of The Princess and Valacirca in Gondor, to her work there, and wondered if the black affairs there were spreading to Rohan, to Edoras. If so, she would need to warn Aylwen, warn those she could trust in Meduseld.

She hurriedly left a note to Aylwen, advising the Assistant Innkeeper to continue as she had done with the stable plans and managing all the personnel, and explaining that she, Bethberry, was seeking some answers to these strange matters and would return upon gaining some satisfaction about them.

Bethberry rose and removed the keys to the White Horse from her belt, placing them upon the note to Aylwen. They would be in good hands.

With that, Bethberry wrapped her cloak around her and climbed out the window of her alcove, dropping silently and lightly to the ground and leaving the Horse locked for the night. The stories of the darkness told her by her father echoed in her head. She stood, took a deep breath, and walked away into the night as the songs of the lomelindi, the nightengales, echoed around the gated town.
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Old 02-23-2004, 12:16 PM   #310
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Mellon (cont. from "Snowed Inn")

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Night slipped by, and morning approached, but the Inn was still dark and quiet when the young blacksmith from Gondor rose, gathered a towel, a change of garments, and slipped out of the building. He went to the nearby river, washed himself and the clothing that he had slept in, dried and dressed in the clothing that he had brought, and hung the rest on nearby branches. Then he stood, silent and still, gazing northward, and waited and watched while the sun rose.

As the town began to stir, the young blacksmith watched the Inn, and when it became busy again, he approached it. His refined manner belied his rough hands. His neglected, shaggy hair was now combed back, held by a thin leather band; by the blacksmith's mien the headpeice might have been golden. He entered slowly, and looked for Bethberry; not seeing her, he quietly stepped out again, and waited, gazing ever northward.
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Old 02-23-2004, 03:02 PM   #311
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Talan turned around in his bed. A question kept pounding in him: had the last pole been nailed together with the horisontal beam? He could not remember if he had told any of the carpenters to do that, and he had not done it himself. He tried to push the matter out of his mind, but he knew that the pole was so tall that a powerful wind might make it bend and fall to the ground again, if it was not supported by the horisontal beam.

He had no wish to leave his warm bed but he knew that his sleep would be uneasy with this doubt. So in the end he stood up, wrapped a blanket around him and put on his wooden shoes. He walked through the silent inn, avoiding the tables and chairs whose position he knew well from walking there so many times. He yawned when he got outside, though his sleepiness was quickly gone, being chased away by the cold. He walked to the construction site and found the pole in question.

True enough, none had nailed it together with the rest of the wooden skeleton. With a sigh he walked to the shed where the workers stored their tools and opened, noticing that perhaps it should be locked during the night. Not that he believed any thieves roamed the streets near the inn, nor that any would be interested in stealing these items, but you never knew. He drew forth a hammer and some nails, and then walked back to the pole that needed a last hand.

He had not begun nailing the beams together though when a figure caught his sight. He could not recognise it though it came from the inn. He wondered if he should approach the person since he could not think of any reason why anybody would be awake at this hour. He then realised he was himself and before he could make up his mind, the person was gone. With a shrug Talan put in the last nail, placed the hammer in its place and went inside. Soon he was fast asleep with little memory of the night's events.
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Old 02-23-2004, 04:42 PM   #312
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Mellon/Amroth

Talan stirred in his dreams, his eyes darting from side to side beneath their lids. His lips moved a little, and he murmured slightly.

As he dreamt, a tall elf-lord faced him; regal, golden-haired, powerful, and perhaps a little frightening. Talan's lips tightened, and he stood taller, stiffening. You need fear no man, he thought to himself.

"A good morning to you, " Talan said.

The elf-lord nodded slightly. "The dawn promises to be bright; may your future be like it."

Talan thought about that for a moment, and then replied, "Thanks. You are a stranger in these parts."

"Nay, " replied the lord gently, "though few have met me. Tell me, where is Bethberry? I require her presence."

Talan's eyebrows went up, and he shrugged. "She should be up at dawn, " he said.

"Bring her to me when she has risen, " the elf-lord replied.

"Very well, " Talan answered, glad that Bethberry was a generally agreeable sort. He didn't really want to argue with this person. The elf-lord faded from view, and Talan struggled out of the dream and into the dawn.

Frowning, Talan rolled over and sat up. It was morning. He got up, dressed hurriedly, and went to find Bethberry. He could not find her. He knocked on the door to her room, and there was no answer. He went to find Aylwen.

"She has left me in charge, " Aylwen replied. "I do not know on what business she travels, but she has indeed departed."

Talan squared his shoulders; the elf-lord would be disappointed. Well, if he was angry, there was nothing Talan could have done. He went outside to find the tall, golden-haired elf-lord.

He found only the dark-haired, young Gondorian man of average build and looks that he had seen earlier that morning when he finished nailing the beam. The man seemed to be waiting for him. "Where is the Innkeeper?" he asked Talan.

Talan shrugged. "She is gone; on travel, they say. Did the elf-lord send you? Where is he?"

The young Gondorian man raised an eyebrow, but otherwise made no sign, holding Talan's gaze.

"Did he send you? Answer me, " Talan said impatiently.

The man frowned, his eyes hardening. "Your impertinence does your town little honor," he said, and after a moment he dismissed his displeasure. "It matters little. I must find a horse. In whose care was the Inn left during the Innkeeper's absence?"

Talan's jaw dropped. "Where is the elf-lord? Did you do something to him? And what do you need a horse for?"

Just then a little girl walked by, and smiled up at the darkhaired young man. "Mellon! You are awake! Are you feeling better?"

The ice vanished from the Gondorian's eyes, and a soft smile began as he bowed to her. "Thank you, little one. I am indeed."

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Old 02-26-2004, 06:47 PM   #313
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Afternoon had faded into night, and night had faded into a bright morning with no consequence, only indifference. Aylwen had stayed in the main hall the entire night. She'd taken the keys and was finishing papers at one of the tables the night before, and as the hours had worn on Aylwen gradually became more and more tired. Before long, Aylwen had fallen asleep at the table with a candle still burning and her coffee still steaming.

When she awoke the next morning, it was to the chatter of little birds outside and the recently risen sun streaming through the window into her eyes. Her coffee was cold and the candle had burned out silently, leaving beads and drizzles of wax on the table. Aylwen groaned and cleaned up the messes just as the maids and patrons began waking up and leaving their rooms. Talan was one of these workers, and he came down quite feverishly as he stopped only to ask Aylwen where Bethberry was.

"She has left me in charge. I do not know on what business she travels, but she has indeed departed-" Aylwen supplied, wondering about the urgent tone in Talan's voice. Aylwen was about to ask if she could do something in Bethberry's stead, but Talan was off and outside the second Aylwen took a pause for breath. Aylwen stopped before bothering to speak and sighed instead, getting back to work.

Things were indeed becoming quite strange around the inn, or so it seemed to Aylwen. A fire burned the stable to the ground, Bethberry had up and left with little prior warning if any, Talan was beginning to act strange, and all in all things were not normal around the White Horse.

The volunteers that had helped the day before to start rebuilding the stables started getting ready to continue their job. One man left to go find Talan, but Aylwen insisted that the builders go on without him, just in case he'd be gone for most of the day or if the man could not find Talan. Taren was hesitant, imagining the arguments and debates that would ensue without Talan to guide and lead, but dismissed this and went out to help build.
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Old 02-26-2004, 08:57 PM   #314
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Tolkien mellon/amroth

Ædegard walked into the inn and headed straight for the innkeeper at the bar. He didn't exactly want to be there, but he had made a promise. "Mellon will need a friend." Why me? was the question that kept playing through his mind. I'm just a wheelwright. Sure, Mellon was friendly enough during the snowball fight, but his illness and the strange things he had been saying had set Ædegard's teeth of age. Promises were to be kept, however, so he leaned on the bar, wondering what to think of everything.

"Good morrow, Aelwyn. Do you know if Mellon is awake? Does he remain ill? I-" he looked away and coughed, embarrassed "-I am asked to look after his wellbeing."

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Old 02-27-2004, 03:36 PM   #315
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"Good morrow, Aylwen. Do you know if Mellon is awake? Does he remain ill? I -- I am asked to look after his well-being," Aylwen looked up at the man before her, lifting a brow in confusion. Things were getting strange around the Inn, and they got stranger every time Aylwen stopped to point it out to herself. But the Assistant Innkeeper pushed these thoughts away for a moment and put her attention back on her inquirer.

"Excuse me? What are you talking about? Mellon?" Aylwen spoke for clarification, and the man rolled his eyes at her discreetly. Aylwen continued on anyway. "Please explain and maybe I will be able to help you find this...Mellon."

"There is a young, sickly blacksmith of Gondor upstairs. Bethberry said she was taking care of him!" the man exclaimed frantically, and Aylwen struggled not to smile at his tone. Then Aylwen calmly explained that Bethberry was out at the moment. The man rolled his eyes. "That's not the point. I just wanted to know where Mellon was and if he was still sick!"

Aylwen sighed and checked the listings of rooms for a Mellon. Sure enough Bethberry had left a little note about which room Mellon occupied. Aylwen led the man upstairs and to the room, using the keys Bethberry had given her earlier before she'd taken off. Unlocking then opening the bedroom door, Aylwen and the man looked in to find no sign of any occupant. Aylwen sighed and led the man back downstairs.

"Maybe Talan knows where Mellon is," Aylwen consoled to the man, who didn't really seem to care about Talan. Aylwen went to the front door and opened it to the fresh morning. "Yes, Talan knows everyone..."

Something else that came into view when Aylwen opened the door was Talan staring angrily at another man. The man who'd asked for Mellon gasped and whispered lightly, "Mellon!"

Yes, things have become thoroughly confusing here at the White Horse, Aylwen thought, and not for the first time.
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Old 02-27-2004, 04:17 PM   #316
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Thumbs up Madi

Flashbacks from the very beginning and until now, made Madi roll out of his bed. He breathed heavily, trying to sort his thoughts out. “You’re a queer one," he remembered Bethberry saying the very first time she had seen him. He had been sitting at her doorstep, waiting and trying to forget his past. He remembered how she had lowered her lantern and wiped the annoyed look out of her face. It had seemed to him that Bethberry wasn't at all very annoyed by having a little man at her doorstep, whose jaws were in a terrible order. The first time her blear-eyed look had scared him, but when she had stated that he was a ‘queer one’, he knew that she was perfectly normal and nothing to really be afraid of, and so she had said herself as well. After this, he had staid at the Inn, enjoying Bethberry and everyone else's company who had been either stopping by the Inn or lived there for a long period of time. He sighed when thinking of the Market day, when he had a very important errand to take care of; a bolt of blue satin cloth for Bethberry. Madi shrugged, not being able to think straight. Why were all these memories coming back? He didn’t mind, but something was at hand… something he couldn’t set his finger on.

Graciously he rose up, heading for the chair where his clothes lay neatly from the day before. He remembered going down to Berry’s, wanting to tell her about his plans. But being afraid of waking her up, he had left in a hurry not knowing that she was indeed awake.

He dressed, opened the bedroom window; to let some fresh air in, and headed for the door. With determination he left the room, eager to find Bethberry and let her know about what he had been planning for the last couple of weeks. As he thought about it, running down the staircases, suddenly a feeling of guilt swelled up in him. He took a firm hold of the banister, halfway stopping. What would she say? He thought at first. Seconds later, he realized that she couldn’t really say anything at all. It had nothing to do with Berry. No, she wouldn’t say anything, Madi thought, shaking his head.

As the end of the staircase drew near, the fear, of disappointing her grew even though as he had stated to himself before, was unnecessary. She would understand. She was kind. Yes, she didn’t think of him as ugly, as many did. No, she was different. With these encouraging thoughts in mind, he decided to tell her. It was about high time.

Sooner than expected, considering Madi's tendency of helplessness, he found the assistant Innkeeper Aylwen. He grinned at her, but her attention was turned elsewhere. Talan, one of the volunteers and the woman talked silently together and Madi could only just, by eavesdropping, catch the name 'Bethberry'. He opened his eyes wide open, but apparently, this didn't help at all. Having eyes widely open didn't exactly help for hearing. He bent down, as if picking something up from the floor, in order to get closer, but the conversation quickly ended. Talan walked away, as if going on some urgent mission. And so, a certain Ædegard came almost running towards the woman, just in front of Madi's nose. Was he being ignored? He felt anger suddenly creep up in him, a scary thought really; considering the fact that he had nothing to really be angry about. He calmed down, meanwhile waiting impatiently for the woman to turn to him. He realized soon enough though, that this kind of anonymity wouldn't be at any help and decided to go and get some food at the kitchen, before asking Aylwen where Berry was, since Berry obviously wasn't around just now.

****

Aylwen, who had been upstairs at the same time as Madi had eaten breakfast, came hurrying down the staircase.

"Ehm," Madi started, hoping to finally get Aylwen's attention. She turned at once, staring into the little man's eyes. With, what seemed like, an annoyed look she asked what she could do for him. "Ehm," he started. "I actually forgot," he said innocently. By the look of the assistant’s eyes, narrowing, he understood that today couldn't possibly be a very good day to tell something like this, something like he was about to. Still, it was Berry, not Aylwen.

"You forgot?" she asked, as if being intrigued by how people could forget and stand still, like Madi did now.

"Well actually, when you mention it, I didn't forget. It's right here," he said lowering his voice, pointing at his head. "I need to talk to Berry. It's urgent. Or at least I think it is," he said, finishing.

The woman shook her head.

"How can you shake your head?" Madi asked, eyes wide open, being just slightly annoyed by the speed of this conversation and how oddly it had developed. He didn't quite understand this. He frowned. "I'm a bit confused. I said it was urgent, and you shake your head?" he said, starting with a rather rough tune, but changing it in the middle of his question to something milder. She didn't answer at once, only looked into the air.

"She is gone for now, and left me in charge in the meantime," she said, hesitating.

This came as a shock to Madi. Only the firm grip he held of himself stopped him from fainting and falling down onto the floor. With his jaws open, he tried to digest this news. Gone? Berry,gone? He couldn't believe it. The feeling of responsibility to stay at the Inn however, and help in the best way he possibly could, struck him at the same time and by this he decided to let go of his so called 'plans' and stay until the bleary-eyed Bethberry returned, if she ever…

Last edited by Writer of The Mark; 02-27-2004 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 02-27-2004, 06:40 PM   #317
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Shield A new writer for Rohan

Writers of the Mark,

Please welcome Carlas, member # 5457, as a Game Player to Rohan. She has extensive experience gaming in The Shire and will be a definite asset to our games in Rohan.

Welcome, Carlas. Have fun not only in Rohan but in Rhûn also.

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Old 02-29-2004, 08:14 AM   #318
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The Rag Lady

Pushing her cart half-empty before her, Ruthven made her way around the back alleys of Edoras. She found one or two who had wares to exchange but more importantly she heard news about The Golden Hall as she shared a cuppa or two with her fellow citizens. Tongues always rattled more easily at home when at rest.

It was not good news, the presence of officious courtiers around Théoden and merchants from Gondor wishing to establish their own monopoly on trade between the two cities. This would be something Bethberry would indeed have to attend to, for it directly affected her supply of goods from Gondor, goods which made The White Horse an inn preferable to others in Edoras. Ah, yes, said the woman to herself, half aloud at the thought of her friend. I must see to Aylwen and Madi at the Horse. She picked up her cart and trundled off at a faster pace.

* * *

"Hola and good morning," she called to a frazzled-looking Aylwen as she entered the Inn.
Aylwen looked up from the pile of papers on the desk before her.

"Ruthven, if you are here to see Bethberry, you will be disappointed. She has disappeared, vanished, leaving us with little sense of what to do."

"Well, that shouldn't shake you so much. She's been gone before on her trade journeys to The White City. Come, lassie, let's share a cup of coffee and talk. She's not kidnapped nor lying ill or foresaken. "

The two withdrew to Bethberry's office, where Ruthven did her best to explain that Bethberry had some difficult trade to negotiate and wished to be away quickly to accomplish it. A smile and a sympathetic ear did wonders to calm Aylwen and give her some sense that difficulties were not insurmountable.

"Now,' said Ruthven, "I have a special message for Madi from Bethberry. Where shall I find him?"

Aywlen shrugged. "He's difficult to find. He keeps to his own purposes and more often finds you rather than the other way round. Why don't you go out back to the garden. I see him there often."

"I shall, "remarked the rag lady, who left the Assistant Innkeeper to attend to yet another annoyance.

* * *

Ruthven walked through the kitchen to the back and out towards the garden. There she saw Madi sitting on the ground, staring at small mounds of dirt.

"Madi, what are you doing?"

"Watching apple pips grow," he said, without looking at her.

"So it would appear," replied the older woman, who with a groan and slow movement carefully lowered herself down until she was sitting on the warm earth beside the little man. She watched quietly with him, waiting for him to speak.
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Old 03-01-2004, 11:53 AM   #319
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Talan was confused. Somewhere around here there was supposed to be an Elf, whom he was to bring Bethberry to. But Bethberry was not here. Instead he was with some man that could not help him. He took a deep breath, wondering what he should do.

When Aylwen got outside together with yet another stranger, Talan gave her a quick smile, realising that he had perhaps should not have ended their previous conversation this morning in such a manner. His mind had been filled with thoughts of what had passed that night, but they were slowly stopping with besieging his mind, allowing him to think a bit more clearly. He turned around to see how the building of the stables went; it seemed that the workers continued the work of raising the wooden skeleton and he guessed he was not needed right now.

Instead he turned his attention back at the two strangers and Aylwen, noticing something was odd in the atmosphere. He could not remember where but he believed he had seen the fellow before, the one that had come outside together with Aylwen. Perhaps he had been a customer before. Or perhaps his mind was playing tricks on him, he still felt a bit confused with the world and the image that his mind received from his eyes; it was slightly foggy.
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Old 03-02-2004, 07:26 AM   #320
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Mellon/ Amroth

The young blacksmith surveyed the group, and turned to Aylwen with a nod. "Greetings, madam; may your joy outshine the rising sun." He then looked at Ædegard, and the right corner of his mouth curled upward in a slight smile. "And a good morning to you, Ædegard. I rejoice to meet you again."

"Who is this fellow?" Talan muttered to Aylwen, who answered with a puzzled look.

Ædegard coughed. "Mellon-- how did ... how are you feeling?"

The smile broadened. "I am feeling well... Friend, " replied the blacksmith, and his eyes twinkled merrily. "And you? How are you feeling?"

Ædegard blushed. "I'm fine. Listen, Mellon. Do you remember where you are from? Have you remembered your name?"

"Ædegard, my Friend, I had not forgotten it; not today, not in many centuries. But it seems that many others have. I had often heard the memory of men was not like the memory of the elves. Nevertheless, Amroth I was, and Amroth I remain, whether men remember it or not." Despite his wry tone, he smiled. The young man did not trust him, but he liked Ædegard nonetheless. He wondered why.

Aylwen curtseyed, looking uncertainly from Ædegard to Mellon. "Good morning, Amroth... sir, " she said, hesitantly.

He returned his gaze to her. "Where is Bethberry? I desire to speak with her."

"She has departed, lord, " replied Aylwen, "and I am left in charge of the Inn."

"Bid her farewell for me; alas that I did not waken ere she departed. Nevertheless: I require a tireless mount; pray see to it, lady."

Aylwen's jaw dropped.

Talan protested. "Wait a minute. The Elf-Lord is tall and yellow-haired. I've seen him. This-- this upstart is not the elf-lord. He's up to something; he must be. He's just trying to steal a horse."
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