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Old 12-23-2009, 10:40 AM   #681
Nogrod
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"Ahh, well... that is news indeed." Lord Athanar was confused. He tried frantically to think over the sides of the matter as to whether it was good or bad news that Javan was Thornden's brother. But looking at Thornden's expression he couldn't help but to smile.

"You must fill me in with your stories one day Thornden... and about parents who leave their children." Athanar looked suddenly more serious. He was guessing the truth of the matter and wished to push the thoughts away. "One day."

With that he nodded to Thornden indicating he wished to further the discussion no more. Instead he turned to Saeryn and looked at her closely before opening his mouth.

"Lady Saeryn." He opened but was distracted by Wynflaed who turned into the table wishing everyone good morning.

"Oh, good morning my dear." Athanar answered and gave her a courteous kiss to the cheek as she had sat down beside him.

Turning back to look at Saeryn he smiled cautiously. "If you accept the offer lady Saeryn, I myself and my good lady Wynflaed here," he glanced quickly to his wife who nodded to him in assurance. "So we are ready to adopt you as our daughter to inherit this Mead Hall - or to let your child inherit it in due time."

Thornden and Degas dropped their jaws.
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Old 12-25-2009, 08:27 PM   #682
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The sight and smell of food had made Saeryn feel increasingly sick throughout the course of breakfast, although she ate nothing and said almost as little. It wasn’t until Athanar made his unexpected and shocking offer that she realized just how ill she actually was. Her mouth went perfectly dry and her stomach became uncomfortably warm. She swallowed with difficulty.

“I don’t know. I have to think. I can not. . .excuse me.” She stood up hastily with no attempt at politeness nor with any disguise of her immediate distress and ran off as quickly as she could with one hand clamped firmly over her mouth. It took more strength of will and stomach than she thought she possessed to reach the door in time.

Her body trembled with the effort of vomiting. Between her gasping efforts, her thoughts came in broken fragments. “Adopting me? The baby can be heir? This would solve. . .that problem. Adopting me? I’m married. It’s ridiculous. It will solve the problem.” Her shivering abated and she regained her composer. She went to the kitchen to drink some water and then walked back to the hall. Everyone at the table ceased speaking as she came near and turned to face her.

“Lord Athanar,” Saeryn said. “From what I understand of your offer, I am inclined to accept, but I should like to speak more in-depth of what it would mean before I agree entirely.
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Old 12-26-2009, 03:32 PM   #683
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Looking after Saeryn running away from the table lord Athanar felt pity and compassion. He glanced at her wife and smiled to her timidly. He remembered how bad a carriage could be. Aedre had been an especially hard one and he remembered the vomiting, the shakes, the moods...

But he was more than happy to see Saeryn return in an instant as it seemed everyone was waiting for her answer to the proposition and thus were not willing to converse on anything else.

“Lord Athanar,” Saeryn said as she came back. “From what I understand of your offer, I am inclined to accept, but I should like to speak more in-depth of what it would mean before I agree entirely."

Lord Athanar nodded and smiled gently to Saeryn. "Of course, that's understandable, and a justified call." He took his goblet and took a sip of the mead before continuing.

"Adopting you would mean the following..." He looked at her to the eye quite intensively before going forwards.

"Now let this stay between us here around this table... I do not think I will live here for the rest of my life. I'm appointed here by king Eomer's decree and I have a mission I'm going to accomplish. Where I will end up in my life is not in my hands. It is my king who decides these matters." He glanced at his wife and laid the goblet from his hand to the table.

"Also, my eldest daughter is happily married and I wish the same for Aedre. My daughters are not contesting any inheritance there might be here." He leaned back on his chair and laid his hands on the table. "My sons then you ask... they will need to show their qualities and earn their future themselves, like I have done. I do not wish to prepare the way for them as they need to earn their place themselves..." He glanced at Degas and Thornden and leaned forwards to pick the goblet.

He was cleraly thinking about how to put his next words as he raised the goblet and took a sip from it.

"Even if king Eomer doesn't reassign me after Mid-Emnet has been pacified under the king's rule we are twice your age lady Saeryn..." He turned his gaze into her. "And we are forty years older than your child... So if we live into the old age in here, then we will retain our eorlship over this Mead Hall until it is time for us to step aside... but I think that is not the most probable scenario." Here Athanar glanced at her wife once again.

"Who's the eorl of Scarburg is in the end something king Eomer decides, not something anyone here decides... But we can do our part insisting you or your child will be the inheritor of this place here - but the inheritance would not apply to any other belongings we might have in the future. Does that sound reasonable to you? What do you say Degas as her brother?"

Last edited by Nogrod; 12-26-2009 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 12-27-2009, 07:46 PM   #684
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Of all possible scenarios, this was not one Degas had envisioned. Yes, he had fast earned a respect and liking of the man he had so quickly disliked the day before. Yes, he found him to be a good conversationalist, and he trusted him to be a good and honest man, insomuch as any man can be good and honest at all times.

But to adopt his sister? To name her his heir? The child would inherit the title and estate he was conceived into, if not the eorldom. But that had never been the problem. The problem now, from Degas's point of view, was Athanar's sons.

Degas, as a younger son, had known the lands he lived on were not his to inherit. And when his parents died, he had resigned himself to no inheritance at all, as the papers had emerged - falsified though they must be - that left everything to Fenrir. Still, he had not contested this, as he had desire - he chuckled in his mind - to be a minstrel. A traveling, title-less minstrel. A singer at campfires, a lute-strummer earning his keep by spinning yarns and passing news from one place to another.

He had been raised to know his worth, of course, but the reality of his life... He and his sisters were far too pragmatic to deny the new reality of their brother as their lord. They would have nothing he did not wish them to have. They were his underlings, no longer his siblings.

Yet... somehow they did not rebel. Thinking back, Degas could only think he'd held his piece out of fear for his sisters. He thought himself a coward for this, and moved his thoughts quickly onward, aware the table was waiting for his comment.

Athanar's sons were young. It was not that they were younger than him physically, it was that they had not experienced life they way he had. Degas had been orphaned. He had traveled alone, taken up a craft. He had relied on his skills and his diplomacy, not his name, to earn any accolades allowed to him. He had taken up another craft after music: sailing. His callused hands showed it. He had taken to slathering his fingertips in ladies' salves before bed to soften the calluses that made his fingers fumble on the lute and harp. But the point was, he had lived on his own, without the crutch of a title or an inheritance. He had learned to confront life as a man, not as a son, not as a lordling.

And these boys, though they were his peers in the eyes of his elders, had not.

And he could not envision them, these boys that oozed entitlement from every pore, happily giving up wealth or status, no matter how insignificant and undeserved that wealth and status may be. Scarburg was no Edoras, no Aldburg, but it was a holding, and these boys, Degas believed, would not take kindly to their parents adopting a new heir, surpassing their claims to their parents' titles, possessions, and lands.

Degas decided on bluntness. "I believe that it is a fair arrangement that well suits all parties, however I worry that your sons will take umbrage over something they may feel they are entitled to being passed to my sister. I would dislike to learn later that my sister is the object of any resentment they or others may feel."
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Old 12-28-2009, 04:47 AM   #685
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"There are many reasons for resentment and it may be one is not able to avoid them all." lord Athanar said calmly looking at Degas. "It's a rare occasion when this kind of arrangement can be done with all the parties equally contented about it."

Degas nodded.

"And anyway... I don't see the future of Wulfric and Wilheard in here. They have been serving in the military in the west for the last one and half years and only got back from there a while before I was appointed here by the king. So we wished them to see this side of life for a while untill they will go and search for the continuation of their careers in the military." Lord Athanar paused like he was thinking. "Though I hope in a different place from the last one as it clearly hasn't been only for their good." He sighed and glanced at his wife. "Let's hope this will turn out a learning experience for them..."

He shrugged and shook his head slightly. "Well, what am I babbling here? We should start the proceedings so that the soldiers can take to their exercising and everyone gets to their duties," glancing at the gathered crowd in the Hall he continued now slightly amused: "It seems no one will do anything before we're done here... so let's see it done then."
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Old 12-28-2009, 11:21 AM   #686
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Erbrand

Where the marsh ends, a stream in flood had rolled a scattering of stones and trees uprooted. Here, where the rough wintery cold water course had made Erbrand leave the path of sturdy earth and come onto lofty ground above the stream (whose cold waterway he wanted to avoid), he saw a herd of deer perceive his presence and give flight. In that crisis, he had but one recourse—to sting them with hasty shots. Two arrows he let fly in rapid succession, one hitting his mark but not sinking deep enough and the other falling short. Erbrand frowned and hissed with frustration. The snares had been empty and his only hope of finding fresh pelts for work was in the hunt. With eager steps, he strode swiftly along the trail of blood issuing from the strong animal’s chest. With any luck, he would find the poor beast exhausted after its energy giving terror had abated.

The herd had instinctively moved out of the marsh for Erbrand had traveled across the marsh to find quarry. As he reached the rising ground that led out of the marsh he looked back at the Great Hall of Scarburg. Smoke was rising from the chimney in billowing stacks, poor Frodides had several more mouths to feed than she was used to.

The trail was becoming clearer now as Erbrand continued to pursue. He sensed the kill. Quickly, with nimble fingers, he fastened another arrow to his string. The ground was uneven and filled with boulders and annoying rocks to trip over. There it was! His long sought after prize, the noble stag lay dead on the ground. Erbrand let out a great shout of triumph and slowed his pace, but all was not well. His shout startled two figures whose grayish black coats matched that of the rocky terrain. Erbrand halted, his heart skipping a beat with anticipation. Wolves! The cries of the wounded stag doubtlessly drew them near. Erbrand had forgotten the wintery months drew the wolf packs down from the mountains and into the plains, these two were looking for an early start.

The cunning creatures hunched their backs and paced with black noses nearly to the ground. Erbrand first thought turned towards safety, but there were no trees and the marsh was too far behind him. Frozen in fear his next instinct was to run, but experience contested that instinct immediately. With reason again taking hold, Erbrand grasped his bowstring and taking deadly aim drew the bow back full circle. His hands aligned, the left hand felt the point, the right hand holding the string touched his cheek. The arrow whistled to the closest wolf and plunged deep within its chest. The beast yelped and fell dead with the impact. Courage at once led Erbrand with grinning complexion to hasten the other’s death just as quickly. Bird’s eye shot.

Skinned on the spot Erbrand retrieved the two wolf pelts, but left the stag that had already been bitten by the wolves’ cruel fangs. The pelts were of little use to him, being too rich in warmth to be plucked of their fur for his use, so he decided to sell them to some of the guards heading back to Edoras. Furs were a good way to bring some extra money when his leather work was not selling. Already in his stay in Edoras he had not been sell any of his products with trade not yet established between any of the neighboring Halls. It would be a poor life in Scarburg if trade was not established soon, already he was being overworked as a supplier of food, as a workman for the hall, and for his own trade, which required no small amount of his time.

When he arrived back at camp everyone was up and about. Erbrand brought the wolf pelts to his shed for safekeeping. When he returned Kara had brought out what food the kitchen could spare for the folk gathered round. Garstan, Stigend, Crabannan, Harreld Leof, and he were all a part of this lifestyle. Some of them, such as him, would be better off in bigger settlements where their craft would sell, but all of them were satisfied with their temporary lot in life with the hope that all would be better tomorrow.

Erbrand dipped his bowl into the kettle, scolding his fingers in the hot broth and contented himself with at least having something hot to eat. The dog that the fat man fed amused him slightly. What an amazingly loyal creature with no thought other than to serve his master. All that it asks is to be fed and treated with love, sometimes not even getting that and still it serves. He fished around in his bowl, drew out a chunk of meat and held it out. The dog turned and snatched the treat up in an instant only to find his head within both this strange man’s hands and being rubbed vigorously. The dog took a liking to this treatment of being fed and rubbed at the same time and placed himself at Erbrand’s feet. A man, bubbling with energy, jumped over Erbrand’s seat and landed next to the dog.

“Keeping up your appetite, heh dog, but you mustn’t bother strangers. What’s that you say? Oh! he’s a friend then is he.”

"Erbrand." He said grimly. Although the dog was amusing, Erbrand found this man to behave like a fool.

"Erbrand, my name is Hamrod. You talked to my friend last night I believe, Girth."

"You came with him from Edoras?"

"Not that I have a choice," Hamrod said and sat down looking quite glum. "All my duty is to do what I am told. If lord Athanar would listen to me more we would not be in this miserable little hole that you call a home." Hamrod picked up a handful of mud and rubbed it in his palms.

"Aye, not that Athanar would be any the wiser to listen to you." Girth said with a mouthful of bread.

Erbrand soon found out that both men were extremely simple folk, far simpler than he had imagined Athanar's peasants to be. Both looked as if they could do some mischief if given the chance and cracking a good joke at someone's character was not below their status.

"We'll be off for now, friend." Girth asked Erbrand. "My herd has not the proper sty to wallow around in and I think that this kitchen is the proper place to build one."

"Uhh!" Erbrand exclaimed. "Don't you think that you better ask your lord before starting."

"Pigsty is always kept next to kitchen." Hamrod said.

"Besides, we don't bother lord with that stuff we go straight to Coenrad--he's the man to see. But the sty must be built and you can't do that with your mouth. Come Hamrod, come Dog."

With that the two men ambled off. Erbrand let out a long sigh. Getting along with these newcomers is going to be harder than anticipated if all of them are soldiers and dimwitted peasants. Drinking what was left of his broth, Erbrand made for his shed and started working on his leather. It was well into the morning and he would soon be called to work on the hall.

Last edited by Groin Redbeard; 12-31-2009 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 12-28-2009, 02:16 PM   #687
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Javan's hearing

Lord Athanar gave the order to prepare the hall for the hearings. Breakfast was cleared, the tables born away to the edges of the room, and a seat was set for Wynflaed beside lord Athanar's chair. Thordnen and Coenred withdrew to bring together those that were needed, Javan, Lithor, Wulfric, and Wilheard. Once they were all assembled, they and many others of the Mead Hall, both old and new, Athanar called Javan forward.

Javan came in and walked forward to where Athanar and Wynflaed sat. He glanced towards Saeryn and then up at Thornden who stood to the side with Coenred standing beside him.

Javan came forward and stopped in front of Athanar. His mind harped back unwittingly to the only other instance he had stood before such a seat of judgment, in Eodwine's court. Then he had been guilty of burning down the stables. Now, he felt, he was less at fault, and his crime, if it could be called that, was much slighter. He looked Athanar straight in the eye.

Lord Athanar looked at the young boy and the sharp brown eyes that were nailed on him. Whether it was defiance or just trying to make a brave face he couldn't be sure, but he recognized something very familiar in Javan's presence. There was something in him that reminded Athanar of his own sons while they were younger.

Lord Athanar had looked Javan back with a stern face but suddenly it seemed like he relaxed. Leaning a little back in his chair he finally asked him. "So, you are Javan then?"

"Yes, sir," Javan answered.

"Tell me Javan, how old are you?"

"Twelve, sir, almost thirteen winters."

Athanar seemed to think for a moment before he made the next question: "What are you going to be Javan, when you grow up?"

Javan looked surprised, but he answered nevertheless. "I was sent to lord Eodwine to become a guard or some asset to his household. An eorlinga."

Lord Athanar raised his eyebrow and crossed his fingers nodding eventually. "Well, lord Eodwine must have told you what kind of man an eorling is so that you would serve him right and with honour?"

Javan looked somewhat crestfallen, for inside he felt his stomach sink slightly. He did not like to be reminded so shrewdly what Eodwine would have thought. "He did."

"How did he say an eorling should carry himself?" Athanar asked.

Javan pressed his lips together for a moment and glanced away. Then he looked again at Athanar, though less steadily than before. "By doing what was right and obedient, not acting rashly and without thought. . .thinking about others before myself." He tried to remember all that Eodwine had said that night, long ago, when they first came to Scarburg. "Mostly that I should think less of myself and more of others and act honorably in everything. I wasn't thinking of myself yesterday, in all honesty. I was defending Cnebba, not myself."

Athanar listened to Javan closely leaning forwards on his chair. When Javan fell quiet, he laid his arms on the elbow rests of the chair and straightened his back. "It is indeed a mark of an eorling to not think only of oneself but to do what is right. But even granting your words, do you think you have acted in a way that Eodwine would think honorable?"

Javan shook his head mutely.

"Now..." Lord Athanar leaned forwards again. "Do these kinds of things happen to you often, that you seem to end up in quarrels or brawls?" Lord Athanar studied Javan's expression very carefully.

Javan shrugged. "I haven't fought in more than a month, sir. Before that, yes, I guess so."

Lord Athanar's mouth widened into a smile that looked more compassionate than triumphant, but he drew it back almost as soon as it appeared. He glanced at Saeryn and then briefly at Thornden, getting the information he needed to make a fast assesment of the situation.

"Tell me then Javan, how did lord Eodwine manage to keep you away from trouble for a month? Was there a stick or a carrot... or both?"

"I don't know what you mean. After he swore to treat me like his son and I swore to act more nobly rather than a vagabond, I tried my hardest not to. I still fought, but I got better at not fighting quite so quick."

Lord Athanar rose from his chair and walked to face Javan. He laid his hands on the youngster’s shoulders and bent his back forwards to meet the boy’s eyes from almost a level height. Looking closely at Javan, studying every movement on his face he spoke now softer but no less firm.

“Well Javan. Back in time, in Helm’s Deep for instance, lads of your age were treated like eorlingas. Those were dark times. Happily we’re not there now and I don’t need to punish you accordingly, as an eorling.” He straightened his back and stood tall in front of Javan without letting his gaze or his hands off Javan. Javan understood, and trembled at his words, but continued to meet his eye.

“I don’t believe youngsters turn good by flogging them, Javan. I have been flogged by orders of Wormtongue when I was about your age… heh, several times indeed… in front of all people." He paused. Thornden and Lithor exchanged glances. Thornden clenched his jaw tightly, thinking that this was what Lithor had spoken of and now they would know what Athanar would do. Their lord continued. "But if I have become a decent man now, it is rather not because of that beating I thought unjust but disregarding the hate it planted inside me.” It looked like lord Athanar’s eyes were getting moist with memories, but he held his calm.

“So let me offer you a new deal. Let’s see how it will work.” Lord Athanar smiled now but Javan looked even more shaken and confused.

“Obedient, disciplined, patient… I think I have an idea on what you should be spending the next months with… to learn and to gain.” Lord Athanar looked mysteriously hilarious for a moment when searching the crowds with his eyes, like he was looking for someone special. Javan turned his head to look, too, though he knew not what he searched for. Finally, Athanar's face spread into an open smile, almost laughter.

This was a most odd spectacle to people looking at it from outside. Many a confused gaze was exchanged, especially between the original Scarburgians.

“Raban! Raban you old raven, there you are! Step forwards!”

There was movement in the crowds and an old grumpy man emerged from behind the backs of others much taller than him as he walked with a stoop leaning on his stick limping his other leg. Of the old Scarburgians only Lithor and Balvir recognised the gaffer.

“What is it now, my lord?” he wailed as he went. “Do you leave beating the brats to me once again?”

Javan glanced nervously at Lord Athanar, but the eorl only laughed and many of his household laughed as well. The laugh spread among some older Mead Hall people as well as the situation was comical indeed. The old man was a sight in himself and only a few had noticed him before as he had kept to himself the first evening; but also the way he seemed to make fun on Athanar and the lord not getting heated up with it kind of promised something even if the people were unsure of what it was.

“Now Javan, meet Raban. He may look odd and even sound odd…” He winked an eye to Javan clear enough for most other people to see as well: “And he actually is quite a personality…” he added smiling. But as Raban finally reached the two Athanar got more serious. “He’s a veteran of many wars; he lost his eye and ear in wars against Dunledings, his other leg he lost in Helm’s Deep… and he has served me well for as long as I remember.”

Javan looked at the old man with some repulsion. He took a deep, shivering breath and tried not to show how he felt looking at the scarred face before him.

“So you want to be an eorling Javan? For that you need a chainmail coat. Making that yourself requires patience and self-discipline and Raban here is the best if also the grumpiest mailcoat-maker I know… he thaught me to make them as well, but the one I used in the Pelennor Fields and ever since in times of duty, is made by him and envied by many, even of my superiors… and let me quarantee you that he takes care of the obedience part…” Athanar laughed out aloud with others of his houselold – and the laughter spread across the hall.

Suddenly Athanar waved his hand to indicate the fun was over. He looked at Javan carefully and laid his right hand back on Javan’s shoulder. “Let me assure you, Javan. It will not be easy. It will be tough indeed and you will shed many a tear. But you will learn not only obedience, discipline and patience, but if you get in terms with Raban you’ll learn so much more of what it is to be a soldier, of what it is to be an eorling… that I quarantee there is no better teacher that I know.”

“Watch it my lord…” Raban intervened. “If you encourage him to come too close to me I may tell him also stories about you when you were still wetting your pants!”

Athanar’s household and soldiers roared with laughter and Athanar followed them suite. Suddenly all of the Hall was laughing in an odd mixture of relief and confusion.

But Javan was not laughing. He was struck dumb with confusion. He looked at Raban and then at lord Athanar. He did not want to make chainmail, he had no desire to be a mail-smith, and he had no wish to be cooped up day after day with a crippled, half blind, half deaf old man. Athanar's joviality had dismissed the fear from Javan's mind, and as was his wont, he spoke without thought.

"I do not understand, my lord. Why am I to be punished in such a manner when I did not disobey and when I carried myself with a considerable amount of patience, bearing from your daughter insult and abuse before striking out? If either of us needs to know the meaning of patience and discipline-”

“Hold it right there young man!” Lord Athanar’s voice was loud and commanding and the smile had disappeared from his face. For a moment he gathered himself not to unleash his full frustration on the boy. What did he say… being obedient, not acting rashly and without thought… acting honourably in everything…and then punching a girl! Or now this! Where is the consistency of thought with these youngsters? Thornden should fill him in as I’m not going to argue with a boy in public.

He glanced at Thornden who looked apologetic and a little angry and impatient with his brother. Nodding to him lord Athanar turned back to Javan. “From both what you did yesterday and how you behave now it seems that so far you have not learned to not act rashly or without a thought, and you have not learned to be patient or honourable in what you do. And you can’t be an eorling before you learn that.” He studied Javan’s face carefully. “It is not so much a punishment but something for your own good, Javan… Your brother will explain it to you if you do not understand it now.”

Lord Athanar gazed over the public and then addressed it. “Javan will be supervised by master Raban the next months. Those of you who don’t know master Raban may ask of his qualities from those who do know him. I will just say this: in his prime he was one of the best soldiers this country has ever had but due to age and the multiple wounds he got mainly from helping his mates out from danger he’s now crippled and looks odd… But after not being able to serve his king as a soldier anymore he concentrated on the crafts and turned out a master in that trade as well. So even if we who are used to him may laugh not only with him but to him, please understand that we have earned our right to laugh by his consent as he is a jovial man behind the crab's armor, and he knows us. I will personally challenge every evil grin or scorn to this hero of Rohan I hear of. I hope that is understood, loud and clear?”

There was a sudden silence in the Hall that was broken by Raban himself.

“Come, Athanar, you make an old man weep from emotion in front of all that boasted chivalry. How dare you pull those easy tricks on an old man in public? Every man answers the call if they are just called for… if they are eorlinga.”

The old man studied Javan for a moment: "if they are eorlinga..." he continued as if to himself. Raban turned away and started to limp back to the crowd. Passing Thornden he turned to him and half-whispered “Your brother is a promising-looking fellow, but we have lots to do with him… not that it matters, anyway.”

Lowering his voice he added so that only Thornden could hear it: “Had lord Athanar given his boys to me, we would not be in the mess we are now...” Winking an eye to Thornden the gaffer went off through the crowd.

Javan was dismissed with a nod by lord Athanar. Thornden's face confirmed it to Javan and he backed away from the open.

The hall burst into a buzz of conversations.

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Old 12-28-2009, 10:46 PM   #688
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By the time Athanar had dismissed Javan, both Javan and his brother were feeling both discontented and frustrated, but for two entirely different reasons. Thornden grasped his hands behind his back and pressed his lips closed in attempt to cool his anger. How could his brother be so insanely daft at such a moment? The little fool. His eyes flashed a dangerous blue after Javan’s figure as it disappeared out the door.

As for Javan, he was frustrated because he felt that, once more, he had been misunderstood and unfairly treated.

“Make a coat of mail?” he said to himself as he stormed across the courtyard. That in itself was not so bad. It was the man that he was to be stuck with for the next six months, or however long it took. Had Athanar put him under Harreld, well, that would have been different! But Raban was a disfigured, old, decrepit man! Javan shuddered at the mental image of his face. “Make a coat of mail with him? Waste hours of my day on something I will grow out of almost immediately? I’d rather him’ve done something else and had it over with immediately.”
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Old 12-29-2009, 06:17 PM   #689
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Lithor's hearing

Lithor, Wulfric and Wilheard came forwards under the guidance of Hilderinc. The three stood side by side facing Lord Athanar. He glanced at his sons but then turned his eyes towards Lithor. The general stir ceased.

“Lithor, senior guard to lord Eodwine and the Scarburg Mead Hall. That is you?”

Lithor nodded.

“Well Lithor…” lord Athanar looked saddened but firm. He laid his eyes downwards for a moment before looking back at Lithor again.

“Were you a reckless child or a hot-headed youngster I would have the reasons and the heart to look at a lots of things through my fingers and only blame the tensions of the first night, free running emotions, maybe too much ale… whatever it would then be. But you are a veteran of the Pelennor Fields. You must have served as a soldier over twenty years at least.” He made a small pause.

“You should know better how a soldier acts Lithor, especially as a senior soldier who will be looked upon by the younger ones. So as you set the younger ones an example, I will have to make sure that example is disciplined. I do honour all my brothers in arms from the fields of glory but you leave me little choice here Lithor.”

The two looked at each other in the eye. Some people thought they caught a glimpse of a fleeting moment of mutual honour between the two as the battle of the Pelennor Fields was mentioned. They were one of the rare few present who had fought there on that day of sacrifice, blood and honour. That was a memory that would never fade and which united those who shared it.

Lord Athanar broke the silence. “Anyway Lithor, there is a graver issue to be settled than your behaviour here in public last night. There was an incident outside as well, and my sons…” Here he turned his head and nodded as to point them out to everyone who was not yet familiar with them and their relationship.

“Wulfric and Wilheard have told me you have also been planning a treason behind my back, not only mocking my authority into my face in here. And you know full well that is plotting against the king himself. And if that is true, it will be a much graver matter indeed.” Lord Athanar let his words hammer in before he let Lithor off the hook of silence.

“So what have you to say for yourself?”

“It is as your lordship says. My words were ill chosen, I have acted as I should not have. Therefore, for last night’s actions, as the soldier I am, I will accept the punishment of your disappointment.”

He paused for a moment, unsure of how to continue. Saying what he felt will prove dangerous amidst his accusers. His complexion was unchanging, but his thoughts were ever working out a plan of discourse. Lithor eyed Wulfric and Wilheard and then Athanar.

“However, my lord if I am cause for disappointment and trial because of ill words, instead of actions, then you will also have cause for disappointment in your sons for bringing this false accusation of treason forward.” Lithor lifted his hand towards the boys and glared at them.

“My lord, you know me as one you suspect of treachery because of last night, but is last night the only night that counts in my life?” Lithor spoke loud and fast when he saw a hint of annoyance in the listeners’ eyes. “Both your sons’ honor and quality are known to you, my lord. You have known them for all their lives so you can best judge how their actions truly were, but my lord you know me not. I have served faithfully for over thirty years and have fought in the War of the Ring and have helped quell the Dunlendings. I have been taught lessons that only my age of experience can bring. I am sorry that reverence for your lordships hall was not one of them. My accusers, however, are barely men. They are still intemperate in their youth and assume a false truth from a conversation they heard in pieces. Thornded, the good commander he is, came to comfort me after I left the hall and I never spoke of treason to him.”

Thornden took a small step forward, preparing to speak, but Lord Athanar waved him back. "We will hear your view of this, seneschal Thornden... but let us hear Wulfric and Wilheard first."

He glanced at his sons and some people caught signs of sorrow in his eyes, but that was only passing... He turned to Lithor once more before giving them a possibility to speak.

"I'm not questioning your past deeds Lithor... I'm questioning your behaviour yesterday. And I know my sons in good and bad..." He glanced at his sons again. "But even immature ears can hear correctly whilst veteran's tongue might fail. So let us hear what you have to say, Wulfric and Wilheard? Was there a talk of treason yesterday out there or not?"

As the question echoed in the air, Wulfric suddenly realised the weakness of their position. If Lithor and Thornden denied everything, would their father take his sons's word for it? Wulfric was not so stupid as to think his father would grossly favour his own kin to those he sought to get to his side. He gritted his teeth.

"Yes." He said in a clear voice. That sounded impressive, but in truth there was doubt nagging inside. He and Wilheard had quizzed one of the soldiers, Áforglaed, for what had happened in the hall while they had been away, but he would've felt more comfortable if he had been there himself.

"This soldier, Lithor, clearly tried to talk Commander Thornden into some kind of rebellion. He said..."

Wilheard, who had a better memory, cut in: "He said that if Lord Eodwine does not return Thornden 'must lead Scarburg to renew the seat to its rightful heir: Saeryn, and later her son.' He spoke many words implying that Thornden should keep friendly with you, my lord, so that the people who lived here under Lord Eodwine could plot behind your back and yet keep a friendly face."

Wulfric gritted his teeth again. Wilheard spoke right, but perhaps too straightforwardly - this would lead to another confrontation, and those should be resolved in privacy, not under the lord's watchful eye. "These words, combined from his earlier disrespect and lack of loyalty to you, my lord, led us to believe there indeed is some treasonous plot forming in this man's head."

Lord Athanar looked stupefied. He was stupefied.

One could have almost touched the silence in the hall as it wrapped everyone around it. It felt like people were not braving to even breathe.

Lord Athanar rose up and eyed his sons with a sharp gaze.

“Is that what you say Wulfric… Wilheard?”

The boys glanced at each other and then turned to face their father. “Yes”, they both said in unison. If possible, the Hall was even quieter it had been before.

Lord Athanar turned towards Thornden and Lithor. He felt like he was beaten from inside; for whichever party was right here, it would be at least a minor catastrophy for him. He didn’t let it show but retained his composure.

“What do you say Thornden?” He paused for a second, “What do you say Lithor?”

”Do not speak for me, master Thornden!” Lithor cried stepping forward when he saw Thornden about to explain. It would look bad for Thornden to speak first. “My lord,” he said turning to Athanar. “What treason is there in honest words that speak the truth? I encouraged Thornden to follow your lordship for the sake of unity. I encouraged him not to make my mistake. I encouraged him to fight for lady Saeryn and her son, the rightful heir of Scarburg.” Lithor declared this loudly so that the entire hall could hear him.

“My lord, you command Scarburg until lord Eodwine returns and you must help us rid the land of Tancred and his friends. The king’s decree stated no more than that. I would be a traitor indeed if I did not defend Eodwine and his heirs, to whom I swore allegiance.”

The words hung heavy over the hall. Lithor did not know if he had condemned himself or not.

Lord Athanar had been listening to Lithor in a calm and collected fashion despite the anguish the situation aroused in him, even nodding a few times when he started, but little by little he started looking more vexed. If Lithor had not paused there it was clear to all the onlookers that lord Athanar would have done that himself. Bad situation or not, but that was plain outrageous!

“Stop it right there!”

Lord Athanar was more than annoyed; he was torn between willing to end this tom foolery once and for all, but afraid of being too rude to the original dwellers of the Hall and thus making it even harder to reconcile matters.

He had to talk even if his thoughts were unfinished.

“Have you read the king’s decree Lithor? I showed it to you all yesterday evening but you didn’t care to read it now did you?” He drew breath to cool himself off. He knew he should not get really angry even if every word he spoke made him more so.

Suddenly Athanar raised his head and looked around. “Excuse me…” He scanned the Hall looking at the people gathered there. His mind was feverishly going through possibilities of how to address the issue Lithor had brought forwards once again. Were these people still believing in their former lord this heavily, that he could rise from the dead? What kind of god was he to them? He would have to cut that thinking off if that was the cause of all this… but how to do it without actually calling lord Eodwine a dead man?

“Now listen Lithor, and listen good.” He gazed around to bring home the point that he meant everyone should listen and not only Lithor.

“A Mead Hall is the king’s domain. The king exerts his rule via Mead Halls into the lands not straight under his nose. And to run these Halls he appoints eorls to represent him in these vicinities and we are personally liable to him to run them.”

He had talked to the overall public thus far, but now he turned to face Lithor again. “As an eorling serving in a Mead Hall of your king your allegiance is to the king, to Rohan, Lithor. Not to any individual eorl.” He paused just for a moment before continuing.

“And had you read the king’s decree you’d know better. The king’s decree didn’t say I will be here to perform a duty until lord Eodwine – bless him – is back, but that I’m the eorl of the Scarburg Mead Hall… Valar be praised if lord Eodwine comes back among the living, and it will be the task of the king to decide then what will follow… not you… or me, Lithor. And as the king who loved him decided this way, it’s not for you Lithor, or me, to question that decision. And if you continue questioning the king’s decree I will see it you will face the king himself under a charge of questioning his decrees… and the question of you being a traitor will look quite a different one from the perspective of king Eomer.”

“Enough of that...” he said after a few heavy breaths. “What do you have to say against the accusations raised by Wulfric and Wilheard, that they overheard you planning a treason?”

What a sickening sight. Indeed, it would be in Athanar’s favor if Lithor would not question anything, only obey. Lithor felt another great throb of pain in his side. It all became clear to Lithor in the twinkling of an eye. Athanar does not wish for Eodwine to return! Athanar intends to keep the earldom for himself and have Saeryn settle for second best. Why interrupt Lithor if he was mad? Athanar would have enough sense to let Lithor finish before he addressed the matter. There was truth in Lithor’s words. A lord would have addressed it calmly. To Lithor it felt as if all his traveling with his lord had been for naught: all the battles, the Great War, the sickness, the encouragement, and the excitement, the friendship— all for nothing.

“Wulfric, Wilheard, why do you lie?" He said, turning the trial back to its purpose. "You speak of hearing my words in the hall and then overhearing my conversation with Thornden. You were not there to hear my words to Athanar and of my conversation with Thornden you make it sound like a plot. You have left out his magnanimity to me and of our private talk about how to avoid future conflicts. Well chosen, twisted, words. Men can easily twist meanings when telling half the truth. There…was…no crime…last night.”

Lithor glanced at Thornden. The attention must not turn to him. Whatever the costs, Thornden must stay out of the debate while Wulfric and Wilheard were talking about treason. Keep your mouth shut. Don't say a word! Their attacks are on me, keep it that way.

Thornden stepped forward. No longer would his silence benefit Lithor or enlighten lord Athanar. He did not feel that he need hide anything, or be vague in any form whatsoever. He looked towards Lithor and met his eye briefly. Lithor shook his head, almost imperceptibly, but Thornden waved him quiet. “My lord, as Lithor said, they overheard us in the midst of a private conversation, and it would have been simple to misunderstand. I was merely discussing with Lithor what had occurred in this hall last night and I told him I would stand in his defense if the need arose. He asked me that I would not, for he did not wish you to think less of me. He honors the position you have given me, and does not want me to risk losing it for his sake. That is all.

“What he said concerning Saeryn’s child and lord Eodwine was exactly what any of us would wish to hear from a loyal man. Lithor is not treasonous, nor a troublemaker, nor a disobedient member of this household. He is merely a loyal man who wishes everything to happen in an orderly and appropriate manner, which I believe you to be, also. It just so happens that you two do not see eye to eye on just what is the orderly and appropriate thing to do. But I trust that nothing shall occur hastily, you will consider what is best for everyone involved, including Lithor, and in the end, everyone will feel that you have acted justly.”

Lord Athanar thought for a moment. What a waste of talent it was Thornden was here in the middle of nowhere… he could star in the courts of Edoras, as soon as he got his logic fixed. But that lighter thought aside, lord Athanar was on the verge of cancelling all he had said that morning. Now what is this? Was there no limit to the arrogance and self-righteousness of these people? Where did these people think they lived in; a kind of community of the poor where all negotiated the decisions together? Did they really think that if he showed consideration he could be milked into anything they wished? How had lord Eodwine managed to spoil them? Some discipline would be needed indeed!

But his wife’s desperate look brought him back to his senses. She knew him well enough to lay her hand on his arm. And he knew she was right. Glancing at her he nodded in assurance before rising up from his chair.

“So on what happened outside we have here words against words. And I must say I’m actually bent in believing in what my seneschal Thornden here reports on what happened…” He waited for the mild unrest that ensued to settle.

“One major factor here is that my sons reported yesterday that Thornden didn’t answer the call for treason they said Lithor here had suggested to him, and I have no reason to believe they would have a special liking to twist what they heard to save master Thornden from harm. So therefore I have no reason to believe Thornden was plotting something behind my back.” He gazed at the mostly satisfied crowds before turning to his sons.

“Now you two… am I wrong in thinking you acted hastily yesterday and tried to pull a brave face with what you got today?”

Wulfric and Wilheard looked uncomfortable but they didn’t confess on anything.

“Be as it may, I also think you acted in good faith, because of the beating of your sister and all the inhospitality we had been welcomed with thus far yesterday. In any other circumstances I would blame you mightily for attacking a veteran soldier, but now I must confess I’m not too sure about the blame as I sensed the general ill-will yesterday myself as well. So I would compare your case with the one with Javan… possibly feeling a righteous anger but overacting on it. And your punishment will be similar to Javan’s. I’ll come to that in a moment.”

He looked at his sons firmly and then glanced at his wife. She smiled to him encouraging him to go on with that tone.

“But then Lithor. What should I do with you? You clearly have a problem with authorities and that needs to be fixed. Haven’t your years with the military taught you anything? You’re not entitled to question the king’s rulings Lithor! Or to say they are one thing when you don't clearly know what they are! And you’re not entitled to question your eorl’s rulings!! You’re not entitled to question even your closest officer’s rulings!!!” Lord Athanar draw breath to calm down and then continued in a more composed manner.

“You are entitled to your view of things as everyone is. And you have the right to call your closest officer in private if you think something is wrong and needs fixing. Then it is the task of that officer to report your worries forwards if he thinks it a reasonable thing to do. But you never lecture to your immediate officer in public or try to tell him how he should do his job… not to talk of the higher officers, or your eorl… not to talk of the king himself!” Lord Athanar needed to breathe before he was able to settle down again.

“Let me tell you something Lithor… no, let me tell you all something.” With that Athanar raised his gaze to sweep over the hall.

“I have made a suggestion just here at the breakfast-table before these hearings begun – and we had a discussion over it last night my wife and I – and we have asked from lady Saeryn here,” at this point he glanced to lady Saeryn who still didn’t look like she was feeling too well. “that we could adopt her as our daughter to inherit this Mead Hall, or to have her child to inherit it.”

He was about to continue straight ahead but a rushed buzz emerged from all around the hall and he had to wait for a moment. But it didn’t seem the restlessness was going by.

“It’s not finished yet!” The hassle settled slowly and lord Athanar could continue.

“It is of course if she will accept the offer, and I’m not willing to press her on that looking at her condition. I’d be delighted to hear her answer right away, but it’s up to her.” He glanced at Saeryn and the wide open mouths in the audience. But then he remembered where he was going to and turned back to Lithor.

“So how should I read you Lithor? Either you think you understand things better than your eorl and are self-important enough not to only suggest it to your officer which is kind of within the limits, but you also feel the need of making it public in front of everyone, or then you use the hard issues as vehicles for a mutiny trying to capitalise on any possible resentments there could be using downright lies about the king's decree as your base.” There was suddenly a gloomy silence in the hall. “It was that close…” Athanar raised his left hand and put his thumb and index finger just an inch apart from each other: “… I didn’t decide to cancel my offer to lady Saeryn just because of your arrogance... or rebellion…”

Lithor made a gesture to speak but lord Athanar silenced him: “Hush, Lithor. You will now start learning your place. I will hear none of it.” He looked around, checking especially Thornden and Coenred.

“So Lithor… either you were both wrong and a fool or then you have bad intentions. I hope to believe the former and I can’t prove the latter… It’ll be no surprise I’m very disappointed with you even with the better case. So the verdict then…”

He took his time and people waited in silence. One could feel the tension in the air.

“On the issue of treason outside the hall yesterday I will order that you Lithor and my sons, Wulfric and Wilheard, will form a party of three to a few suitable missions we’ll face. I’m thinking of cutting any messengers from the local lord’s houses as we others visit them, or something like that. That should teach you three coming along. There I’m calling for obedience and top-execution from Wulfric and Wilheard and I’m waiting for results from you Lithor – and no brawls, that will be on your shoulders. But on the matter of un-soldiery, out-of-place behaviour…”

Athanar took a small pause before continuing as if to formulate what he was saying clear enough.

“I don’t believe in discarding one of his rank as good soldiers are always needed in places they do their best, and I just can’t think of an idea of a physical punishment with a veteran of the Pelennor… There are limits to disgrace, like flogging children.” Suddenly he stopped like if he remembered something.

“That doesn’t mean I’d not be ready to flog anyone of you soldiers if you’re caught in brawls around here! All that will end now! You are all soldiers of the Scarburg Mead Hall from now on and I will tolerate no factious attitudes… And that means also you from the king’s hall. As long as you serve here you serve under the Scarburg Mead Hall. I’m not going to look past any arrogance on your side either.”

Turning back to Lithor Athanar concluded his verdict. “So, you Lithor will be, on top of your normal status, the one in charge of general maintenance of the gear, leading with your example. When both Thornden and Coenred here testify you have been the model of a soldier for younger ones to look upon for a month or two, I will revisit that order and consider releasing you from these added duties. But if I hear a talk of treachery by you I'm quite ready to send you to be heard by the king himself, and trust me, the court in Eodras is not the gentlest one... The hearing is dismissed.”

He nodded to Lithor and his sons, and then to Coenred and Thornden. “You can take the soldiers to the drill.”

He was exhausted and needed a drink.
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:49 AM   #690
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Lithor & Erbrand

Indeed, one could hardly hope for a more fair hearing. Lithor thought to himself with a grin. It was obvious that this trial was no longer about treason—humiliation rather for questioning Athanar. The move to put the guards the Golden Hall under Athanar’s command was not only a sign of how far the new lord was willing to go to keep an iron grip on his rule, it was also blatant disrespect for King Eomer. Those guards were not Athanar’s, but King Eomer’s. What had Athanar been lecturing and scolding Lithor for? Words, words, just empty words.

However, the trial was not a total shamble. Quartermaster was not a bad job for an elderly soldier to have and Lithor was content with it. Thornden had been spared and for the most part Athanar’s sons had been spared, apart from being assigned job and a momentary scolding. Balvir and Matrim immediately came to join Lithor and offer their condolences. Let us be thankful, the misunderstanding was not worse. Quartermaster is not such a bad job really. At least the younger newcomers will not have to answer to him. Balvir was now his superior. Was it fair? It did not matter. Few things in this life are.

“Quit whining and accept it.” Lithor said his eyes fixed on Wulfric and Wulheard, lost in thought. “The one constellation is that I will be able to keep an eye on his sons.”

“Yes,” a familiar voice. Erbrand had been watching events unfold quietly from the background. “But don’t forget they will be watching you. Keep on your best behavior, greybeard. They might look for an excuse to report you to their father.”

“Truly, you speak wisely, Erbrand. I will consider what you say.” Lithor smiled comfortingly at his friend.

“Young knaves,” Erbrand said in a whisper, shooting a dark glare at the brothers. “Athanar did not even ask them to apologize to you for trying to strike you for a crime you did not commit. I say he even commended them for their ‘good intentions.’ Bah! It makes me sick the way my home is being run.”

“Hush, not so angry. Do not scold. A true man of character never scolds. Courteous words and brave deeds are the rule that he must live by.” Lithor smiled and slapped Erbrand on the back as if to knock the glum from his friends head. Erbrand chuckled a little after Lithor's laughter broke through.

"I expected you to fall in with my thinking. You are the man who is being wronged. Age changes people, I hope I can be as peaceful as you in old age."

"I thank you, but I am afraid that you are wrong: age does not change people. The only way that a man can be good when he is old is if he is not rotten to begin with. The only difference between me and you is that my joints are achier, brain thinks a littler slower, and the old ticker does not tick like it use to. I still dream the same dreams and feel the same sense of confusion that everyone else in Scarburg is feeling."

Both watched Athanar as he left the judgment table.

"I don't like to see things change, Lithor. Especially when it is for the worse."

"Whether it is for the worse, time will tell. I must be getting to the drill square soon. I might be accused of treason again I don't." He winked and raced off to join the other soldiers.

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Old 01-04-2010, 09:48 AM   #691
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Girth & Hamrod

The stakes fell with that familiar clattering. Hamrod stood standing with open mouth.
“We’re what?” He asked in disbelief.

“You heard me.” Girth responded crossly. He had just come back from the hall with news of where to build the pig sty. However, there would be no pig sty.

“The lord says we’re to go back with the soldier’s to keep his house in Edoras with other servants.” Girth seated himself falling squarely on his bottom and threw his hat in frustration. Hamrod looked as if he was going to cry.

“Now don’t start bawling! This was too good to be true anyways.”

“But I made the stakes for the fence and everything. I was even getting friendly with some of the locals; they are not such bad people.”

Hamrod moaned and sat down next to Girth in the mud. The dog noticed something was wrong and started to whine, placed one paw on Hamrod’s chest and tried to give him a wet kiss. Things were beginning to look better after the travesty of the night before. Now this news destroyed everything. Hamrod buried his face in Dog’s neck.

“Did he give a reason?”

“Something about a military expedition and not wanting ‘peasants’ to get hurt. From what I can tell, the lord does not want us getting in his way. Understandable, we are expendable after all. Lord can always find new help here.”

“But why bring us all that way? I was beginning to like it here. Why tell us now?”

“Cause, that’s why! Because he can!” said Girth angrily. Hamrod started crying now and held Dog tighter.

When Girth saw Hamrod crying he regretted speaking so bitterly. Hamrod might be a simpleton sometimes but he was the only man that Girth could call a friend.

“Don’t cry lad.” Girth said as he put his arm around the boys shoulder. “At least we are going back together. Athanar could have split us up, did you ever think of that?”

“No.” Hamrod wiped his nose and rubbed his eyes.

“Well then, we have something to be thankful for.”

The two pig farmers sat gazing up at the sky for a long while. Hamrod broke the silence.
“Do you think we’ll ever be free, Girth?”

“How mean you?”

“You know, it’s what our parents dreamed about, and their parents and their parents.” Hamrod’s eyes went misty. “Think about it Girth: no lord to order you around as if you were his cattle. Maybe even a place of your own.”

“Sounds all good in words, but a free life is harder than a servant’s life and that’s the truth.”
“Aye, but you’d be your own master and that’s worth everything. Oh promise me one thing Girth!”

“What’s that?”

“Before ten years is out, we pinch and save enough money to buy both our services from lord Athanar and if he refuses us, we run away.”

“What?” Girth yelled in surprise. “But where would go? How would we eat? We’ll be hunted you know. Athanar will cut out our bowels while we are still breathing.”

“Is life so dear with your lord that you would purchase it at the price of your freedom?”

The question rocked Girth for a moment. He paused to think before answering.

“No, I guess not.”

“Give me your word, Girth! In ten years time freedom will be ours.”

“I’m with you Hamrod. You have my word. And if Dog is still kicking we’ll take him with us!”

Dog barked and leapt back when he saw Girth laugh and through him a stick. Both friends stayed awake long after midnight discussing on how the money would be raised, where they would live, how they would live, and what the best escape route would be if Athanar refused them. Ten years later, Girth and Hamrod got their freedom; though, nobody knows whether Athanar consented or not. Eager with their new freedom or anxious to escape before anything was suspected, Girth and Hamrod disappeared from Edoras one night and were never heard of again. I suspect that they are probably still living, on the borders of a wood next to a smooth running river—Girth always said those were the best places for raising a pig.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Erbrand & Lithor

Nobody called him to work on the hall and Erbrand was glad of it. Athanar was probably still getting adjusted in his new home and would not be situated until the marrow. The hall was almost done. Stigend needed to be on hand of course to make sure things went properly and Erbrand had not seen him all day. Maybe Athanar is discussing with him on how he wants the hall built. Doesn’t matter, there was enough work of his own that needed finishing.

With his thoughts turning away from his work at the hall and back to his present task, Erbrand tossed another animal hide into the boiling cauldron and pushed it under with a pole. Grease splattered his grimy apron, but not enough to burn him badly. Another hide was tossed into a pit filled with water and pushed under the sludgy surface. More hides were hammered down with stakes to dry and stretch in the sun. The whole area stunk. People always complained about how badly he smelled, but he was just doing his job.

Erbrand did not mind the stink, he grew up with it. Dead things stink! It is the will of Eru, and tanners make good money. Erbrand did not mind the work: digging the pits, grinding the oak bark, smearing the hides with dung. All of this was not done in Scarburg itself, next to his hut; rather, down by the marsh where the ground was solid yet wet enough for the earth to yield water when a pit was dug.

Back in Aldeburg, Erbrand and his father would be laughed at for smelling so bad, but they were not scorned. There were many craftsmen in the city and all found someone to their liking. Tanners and leather craftsmen were well respected people and very rich. They were rich because they worked hard and their items were needed for every aspect of day to day life. Even though Erbrand and his father were rich, they did not show it. Father always said that flaunting wealth on comfortable living and extravagant clothes could ruin a man and destroy his respect from the other craftsmen. Erbrand could still remember those witty tavern songs about city life. Suddenly he began to sing:


“Father is the miller
as was his father of old,
and I shall be the miller
when my father’s flesh is cold

“I know the family business,
it’s been drummed into my head
How to cheat the wealthy customer,
and earn my daily bread


“Ohhhh the sky makes the water,
and the water makes the river,
and the river turns the mill wheel,
and the wheel goes on forever

“Every man’s a cheater,
and so every man is fed,
for we feed upon each other,
and seek our daily bread

“My father is a hard man, muscular and stout
He swings a heavy cudgel whenever he walks out

My grandfather was like him, a man of gain and sin
They find him in the mill pond with his skull bashed in

“Ohhhh the sky makes the water,
and the water makes the river,
and the river turns the mill wheel,
and the wheel goes on forever

“I used to wonder why the peasants hated us so strong,
they think we pick their pockets, and they’re not far wrong

Flour in the flour sack, vermin in the flour,
peasants waiting at the mill hour after hour

“They curse us as they stand in line,
enjoy their little talk
One by one my father grinds their flour,
and replaces all with chalk

“Ohhhh the sky makes the water,
and the water makes the river,
and the river turns the mill wheel,
and the wheel goes on forever

“When you think about the matter,
it’s as good as any sermon,
for the vermin feeds the miller,
and the miller feeds the vermin

“When I was only four years old,
still babyish and unsteady,
I tried to play with common folk,
they hated me already

“I am my father’s son,
my father serves the lord,
one day I’ll show them
hating me is a thing they can’t afford

“Ohhhh the sky makes the water,
and the water makes the river,
and the river turns the mill wheel,
and the wheel goes on forever

“There’s no use in looking back,
for here’s the truth I found:
it’s hunger, want, and wickedness,
these make the world go round

“For every man is a sinner
and he wants his neighbor’s grain,
the peasant moves the boundary stone
and steals the lord’s domain

“The miller steals the flower,
and the baker steals the bread,
we are hypocrites and liars
and we all get fed

“And half the world’s thieving
and the other half’s yearning,
there is no way to retrace our steps
the mill wheel keeps on turning

“For the sky makes the water,
and the water makes the river,
and the river turns the mill wheel,
and the wheel goes on forever

Work is work. I like bread in my belly and ale in my cup and I work harder than many to get it. I do mind the sneering of the soldier’s. Sometimes their tongues could scrape the hair off a hide. And I mind the women nattering on; saying that I fowl the waters. Egads! Do they think I can make leather without filth? Lime, cow dung, oak gall, urine, ash, tallow, and stale beer, these are the tools of my trade.

Erbrand noticed some ladies fetching water from the stream that flowed into the marsh. The women were upstream and there was no worry about Erbrand polluting anything other than swamp water; however, it did not take long for Erbrand to find out their opinions of his revolting work. They sniffed the air and covered their noses. He could hear them exchanging some remarks and one of them was laughing. Erbrand could not stand being scorned at and his work being so unappreciated. In a rage he threw down his pole and angrily marched to where they were gathering water. They were not alone—there was a man with them. The two women were Ginna and Frodides and the man was a soldier, apparently ordered to help the two ladies and not enjoying his job.

The soldier looked up, grimaced and gave a snort. “Phhew! I came for drinking water, but looks like you came for a bath. ” Erbrand felt his rage rekindled.

“And who in tarnation are you to scorn me?” Erbrand bellowed. “Would you warm your hands in leather gloves? Saddle or bridle your horse? Do you dance to the sound of the drum or lace the chords of your armor? What about the bellows that heats the forge? It’s leather! Stinking leather. Do you want good shoes or do you not? Shall I create padding for the lord’s chairs? I hunt and trap for animals and I feed Scarburg with their meat and give people tools that make it possible for them to do their jobs. Why then do you scorn me?”

The soldier simply stared at him. Frodides and Ginna were doing the same although they were a bit more surprised at the outburst. Erbrand let out a long breath before finishing in a calmer yet sill annoyed voice.

“Now, let me get on with my scraper and dung, you hold your nostrils and hold your tongues.” Erbrand turned to leave when a pebble hit him in the back.

“Hey, tanner, watch your tongue.”

“I’m not in the mood today, soldier.” Erbrand said with particular emphasized scorn on the word soldier.

“Name’s Scyrr. And looks like you need to be taught some manners for your betters.”

That was all the provocation Erbrand needed. He spun round and with a mighty yell ran at the Scyrr. The soldier, however, expected this struck a sidelong blow sending Erbrand spinning but not falling. Frodides and Ginna yelled at the two to stop. Blood was spilt, it was too late as Erbrand made apparent as he untied his leather apron and tossed it aside. There was a wild gleam in Erbrand’s eyes as he rushed again. He leaped, hoping to tackle Scyrr, but the swarthy soldier stepped aside. Scyrr laughed as Erbrand spat tufts of mossy grass from his mouth.

"Hope you learnt your lesson, tanner."

Another exclamation of rage escaped Erbrand’s lips. Again and again Erbrand was struck down until his nose was bleeding and his gums were cut. For the fifth time Erbrand arose, sagging, bleeding and weary. Scyrr had been unhurt, keeping Erbrand at bay with ease.
“Do you still wish to continue?” Scyrr asked, smiling.

Again Erbrand rushed at him in rage. Again the soldier stepped aside, tripping Erbrand.
“Enough! Stop this nonsense!” Frodides exclaimed.

The soldier regarded the woman and turned back to Erbrand giving him a kick on the calf. It was not hard, nor was it gentle, but it was enough to excite an anger that surpassed any that Erbrand had known up to that time. Such was the treatment one gave a disobedient dog.

“I’m done - for today”, Scyrr said.

Whether Scyrr said this to frighten Erbrand or whether he said it because it was true, Erbrand never found out. In a fight anger is as good as courage. With fingers extended like talons, Erbrand’s hands seized Scyrr’s left leg with an iron grip and twisted it. The soldier gave a howl and collapsed next to Erbrand (who lost no time in returning Scyrr’s punishment blow for blow). This time Ginna took up the chorus with Frodides.

“Stop it! Fools. Before somebody gets hurt badly!”

The cry was not heeded. A knife flashed in the sunlight, it was Scyrr’s.

"Get off my leg or I'll sting you with this!" the soldier growled.

Erbrand struck relentlessly and hard. Soon he found his fingers around Scyrr’s neck, pressing harder and tighter.

“I am not some dog you can kick. I am a man! I am a man!”

Soft small hands grasped his and beat his strong shoulders. Erbrand let go of Scyrr’s throat. Ginna and Frodides knelt beside the Scyrr. He was not moving.

“Fools!” Frodides cursed.

Ginna's face was pale when she tried to find his pulse. “If he's dead ... Erbrand, if he's dead, you will hang for this.”

Fear took hold were anger had once been. Erbrand fled back to the camp faster than any stag. He flung the door of his hut open and began digging. The fear had taken hold of his mind. Erbrand was digging for his saddle bag that he had brought with him all the way from Aldeburg. It contained all of his life’s wealth, modest for city life but wealthy for Scarburg. Tanners made good money. A heavy jingle met his ears as he shook the bag and a fleeting smile quickly passed his lips. Then he went for his bow, his arrows, cowl, hood, knife, hatchet—all the necessary items he needed and fled as fast as he could to the stables. Soldiers were everywhere meeting Erbrand’s gaze, turning to peer at his fear stricken face as he paced. They were leading their horses for the drills. Erbrand felt his heart sink there was no way he could hide his secret. Did they know? No, he had been too fast—Erbrand had always been fast. There was his horse, Traveler, the great beast bigger than the other horses: white, young, and eager for a trot. Thank goodness Leof the stable boy had not taken the horses out. Traveler would need the energy.

“Erbrand?” came a familiar voice. It was Lithor. The greybeard was leading his horse last in line. The soldier’s face showed concern.

“Is everything alright?” he asked again.

“Leave me quickly.” Erbrand said. His eyes were wide his mouth was open and releasing quick shaky breaths.

“Your face tells me to do the exact opposite. What happened to it” Lithor slung the reigns of his horse over a paddock and came closer.

“Don’t touch me! I said leave.”

“You are not well Erbrand.”

“I am damned!”

“What mean you by this? What fear prompts such speech?”

“You don’t understand.” Erbrand threw a blanket on Traveler’s back and reached for the saddle.

Lithor put up a hand and motioned for Erbrand to calm himself. “Erbrand, tell me…”

“I have killed Athanar’s guard!” Erbrand shrieked in desperation to get rid of Lithor.

Lithor stared wide eyed and open mouthed. The silence hung heavy in the air. Lithor frantically looked around to see if anyone was in ear shot—nobody was.

“How did this happen? When, where?” Lithor asked.

“I did not mean to hurt him so bad.” Erbrand sounded as if he was going to cry. The realization of his terrible deed rocked him. “I did not kill him, only hurt him. He was still breathing. You see we…I mean I was working and, well…it all happened so fast. He scorned, then I rebuked him, stones thrown, I swung. He kicked me like a dog. I got carried away and nearly choked him to death. I think I sprained his leg badly, maybe even broke it.” The tears now flowed, but Erbrand did not weep.

“I was wrong, Lithor. Athanar will not hesitate to flog or hang me.”

Erbrand crashed to the ground. Lithor kneeled and gently lifted Erbrand back up. The old man’s eyes were patient and friendly.

“It was a foolish act.” Lithor said. “I have seen you start fights for less. Yet, I have never seen you start a fight where both parties did not deserve a good beating.” Lithor calmly looked at Traveler and back at Erbrand.

“Where would you head? You can’t go back to your home of Aldeburg. That will be the first place that Athanar will search for you.”

“Then I must leave Rohan,” Erbrand was now composed. His voice was both somber and thoughtful. “Not to the south. Saeryn’s brother Degas has lands there and Athanar ask him to search for me. It will have to be to the north, out of Rohan where no one will search for me. Arnor.” The words escaped Erbrand’s lips as if the name was deserving of reverence.
“It will be a new land and culture to be sure, but getting there is the problem. I’ll probably be hunted down and killed long before I cross the Isen.”

“Have you thought about facing Athanar and accepting the consequences?” Lithor asked.
“There was a time I could do it,” Erbrand said thoughtfully, “when Eodwine ruled. I would not run if Saeryn or Thornden ruled, they are just, but I will not accept punishment from a tyrant. I will not be wronged again.”

“Again?” Lithor asked surprised.

“I spent two years in the gaols of Aldeburg for no other reason than the will of men such as Athanar: impatient and arrogant for their will to be carried out. I will not accept his judgment.” Erbrand was resolute in his speech and his eyes reflected hardness in his heart.

“Then, this is goodbye, my young friend.” Lithor voice was hopeful, but Erbrand felt like crying again.

“I will miss you, dear friend. You have taught me much and have been my closest mentor. Would it be that you could come with me.” Erbrand bowed his head in sorrow. “But I know you cannot: your duties lie here.”

There was nothing left to be said. They clasped each other in a hug of memories and quickly left. Lithor led his horse outside to the drilling grounds and Erbrand raced to the Great Hall—there were still goodbyes to be said. Erbrand dashed into the kitchen nobody was there but Kara. She noticed him and gave a surprised yelp when she saw his face. She hastened to him.
“Erbrand what happened to you?”

“Oh my love!” Erbrand said almost in joy. Kara was startled, he had never called her that before.

Erbrand quickly retold his story to her and of his intention to ride north.

“Oh Erbrand!” Kara said. “Can’t it wait? Can’t you stay to think it over?”

“If I stay, I die. I must flee. I have come to ask if you will come.” His eyes were hopeful and he held her hand when he said this. There was a short pause.

“Oh Erbrand.” Her voice was sad and tears welled up in her eyes. “You came to Scarburg of your own free will and are therefore free to leave at your will. I am bound to the house of Eodwine. I must stay and serve him and his lady.”

“I love you, Kara. You will never have to serve anyone again while you live with me. We will start a new life, a fresh life together.”

“I will not abandon Saeryn, especially when she has a child on the way.”

Kara was not looking at Erbrand anymore. Her eyes were focused in her lap. Erbrand could hear the drip of the tears hitting her dress. He could not say anything to refuter her. It was painful and against both their wills that they should be separated, but their destinies did not go down the same road. Erbrand grasped her in a longing embrace. Both sobbed—Erbrand had never sobbed in his life. The tears flowed in streams and the sobs rocked his body.

“I am weeping.” Erbrand cried. “I could not weep until now. ‘I love you more than life itself’ isn’t that what I said to you the night of Eodwine’s wedding.”

“Yes, yes.” Kara had not yet finished crying.

“Well now at last it’s true. I will stay and face Athanar’s judgment.”

“No!” Kara looked at him frightened. “You must not stay for my sake. What comfort would it be for me to see you beaten when your reason for staying is because of me? My comfort will be in the memories of us.” Again they embraced each other.

“One more day, one more day with you and I would be satisfied.”

“Yes my love, but I know what it would do,” Erbrand held her hands tightly. “Leave me wishing still for one more day, always one more day. There is something I need to give you before I go. Do you remember this? It is the ring that the hermit gave to us on Eodwine’s wedding night. He said I would need it. All I am, all I’ll be, everything in this world is in your eyes. When you smile I can feel all my passions unfolding. Kara, for the rest of my life I will cherish you. I have waited so long to say this to you—if you wonder if I love you this much,” Erbrand slipped the ring on Kara’s index finger, “I do.”

“Stop it!” Kara slapped him. She began crying again. “You are making this difficult. You must go.” Kara composed herself and looked Erbrand in the eye. Erbrand still had to finish his thought.

“Kara, if it is your wish that I should leave…”

“You know the reason why I wish it, Erbrand.”

“Then I shall go, but before I do hear me out. In my world before you I lived outside my emotions, not knowing where I was going until that day I found you. Oh! how you opened my life to a new paradise. Will all my heart until my dying day, I will cherish you and never marry.”

Erbrand kissed her and then tore himself away to her pleas of “I will never forget you. Go, go, quickly!” That parting was the hardest. Erbrand still felt the urge to stay, and would have if Kara had wished it. On his way out, he passed Harreld, Javan, Crabannan, Dan, and lady Saeryn. All these were his friends, but the last two he stopped to say goodbye to. They were confused and questioned him about it, but he did not stay to answer them. When Erbrand exited the hall, he saw Ginna and Frodides helping Scyld back they had just entered camp and people were coming to see what happened. Erbrand ran to the stables where he had left Traveler and his belongings. When he entered, Traveler was standing out of his stall with a blanket over his back and Erbrand’s belongings tightly wrapped in a bedroll that one could sling over one’s shoulder. Lithor was removing the saddle from his horse.

“Lithor, the soldier’s are still drilling outside. You’d better get to them, quick.” Erbrand rushed in and swung the bedroll with his belongings and saddle bag (which contained his money) across his chest.

“Unfortunately my horse has a limp and cannot ride.” Lithor responded in a cool unconcerned manner, paying no head to Erbrand’s urgentness. Erbrand grabbed his saddle and was about to throw it onTraveler when Lithor stopped him.

“If chase if given, you will need to ride light.”

There was a tone in Lithor’s voice that made Erbrand wonder. Then Lithor gave that familiar smile and Erbrand knew.

“You are coming with me.” Erbrand said with joy.

“I am too old to be a soldier, Athanar proved that for me. There is nothing to keep me here; I would be much happier with you in Arnor, my friend.” With that said Lithor sprang onto his horse with all the spryness of an elf.

“What of your horse’s limp?” Erbrand asked.

Lithor laughed and held up a small pebble. “I placed this in his hoof so I could bring my horse to the stables without being noticed. Now," Lithor grabbed the reigns and held them tightly. "We must ride hard all day and well into the night if we are to be safe from a chase. The soldiers will be still drilling so there will be some confusion if they are to give chase. After you good, Erbrand, let's ride! For the the north."

Erbrand mounted Traveler and both men sped out of the stables. As they left, Lithor paused for a moment to see the soldier’s in drill. Erbrand looked back and saw that Thornden was looking at Lithor. The old man looked sad, but only for a moment. Lithor drew himself up in the saddle and saluted his commander for the last time; then, he drew his sword and tossed it to the ground—Lithor would have no more use for it. With light hearts, the riders sped across the scar and into the open plain, heading north with all possible speed. Who can say what sudden impulse got into their hearts. What adventures that await them none can say, nor can it be said that they even lived to see their desired destination. My guess is that they did succeed in reaching the far north; though, I cannot say for certain, for I know nothing of their actions after their leaving of Scarburg. But theirs were souls that thrived on adventure and sought strength from each other and such men find ways when all paths seemed blocked. However, if they did make it to Arnor, I suspect that you will find them roaming about the shores of Midgewater, living contently among the Breelanders. Who knows, perhaps they might pay a call on onetime residence of Scarburg, Falco Boffin. Both will probably spend much time over the ale cup with him.

Of Scarburg and its inhabitants I can speak no more of. I suspect, however, that life continued much as it had before with its unexpected revelries and gaiety, troubles and predicaments. Those days will forever be a source of blissful memories for the two friends. For all who lived there, one can only hope that Lithor and Erbrand will be remembered. Their part in this tale is finished.

Last edited by piosenniel; 04-27-2010 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 01-06-2010, 04:43 PM   #692
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Saeryn felt relieved at the end of the hearings. She allowed herself to relax back into her chair as Athanar called the meeting to a close. The people were dismissed and she stood up. Now that her fear of Athanar’s judgements were proven hollow, the lingering nausea dissipated, and she felt well and strong again. She turned with a smile to Thornden, but the words were checked on her lips. He did not look pleased at all. He and Coenred were discussing something swiftly together and in a moment, Coenred turned and walked away. Thornden turned to Saeryn.

“We are going to go out to do the exercises now,” he said.

“Are you displeased with how things have turned out?” Saeryn asked.

“No, not exactly.” He turned his head and looked at Lithor, now speaking with Erbrand, Matrim, and Balvir. He considered again what had passed and then turned and glanced towards Wulfric and Wilheard. “No, I am not totally displeased. I was surprised to be accused of treason, but I am not displeased with how Athanar handled it. I still think Lithor is not completely as guilty as he imagines, but still. . .his punishment is not ridiculous, by any stretch of the imagination. It is almost as satisfying as Javan’s. To be quite honest with you, I am thinking of Javan.”

Saeryn nodded. She knew he had been beating about the bush somehow. She also knew exactly what he was talking about: that protest he had made to Athanar after Athanar had stated his decision. “You should not be angry with Javan. He is but a boy, and you can not take his words as seriously as you would a man’s. Athanar did not.”

“No, he didn’t, thank heaven. But Javan’s been let off a lot for just being a boy, and I think his words do need redressing. He will not be let off many more years with the excuse ‘he is just a boy’ and the sooner he learns that, the better.”

“You’re very hard on your brother.”

“I know your opinion on it, lady Saeryn,” Thornden said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and help Coenred prepare for the soldiers’ exercises.” He bowed and strode away. He went out first to seek for Javan. He knew where he would be and he found him in the stables, hauling water.

“Javan,” he said. Javan looked at him, still sullen, and unlatched one of the stall doors. “I need to talk to you.”

“I’m busy,” Javan answered and disappeared inside the stall. Thornden frowned.

“You’re already in enough trouble for speaking disrespectfully to Athanar without adding to your fault by answering so to me.” Javan reappeared, the bucket empty, and looked again at him. He pressed his lips together and didn’t say anything. “Would you have answered Eodwine so, if he had given you such an assignment?” Javan’s scowl deepened, and he didn’t answer. “It’s shameful, the way you refuse to take correction.”

“That sort of correction is ridiculous!” Javan finally burst out. “Thornden, she pushed me to it, and what does he do about her? Nothing! She gets off completely clean and I’m stuck making a piece of mail for months, cooped up with an old man!”

“That’s enough, Javan,” Thornden said quietly. “It could be infinitely worse, and you almost made it so, by answering him the way you did. I know you would not have spoken so to Eodwine. You knew better.”

Javan looked away. “Maybe I did.”

“I think you should apologize.”

“I don’t think I will apologize!” Javan said fiercely.

“And you will also apologize to the girl.”

“I will not!”

Thornden was in no mood for argument. Javan was acting childish in a way he had not since Eodwine was married. He knew well that Javan knew better and was merely being stubborn. To argue would be a waste of time and breath and would only harden the resolved will of his little brother. So instead of holding a debate with him, he took him by the arm and escorted him, despite his struggles, to a more private place, and there thrashed him well with his belt and told him quietly that he would apologize to both lord Athanar and his daughter, and if he had not by the time Thornden returned from the exercises, they would go through similar actions again. Javan nodded, to indicate that he understood, and Thornden nodded in return and left him.

The courtyard was busy again with soldiers saddling their horses, preparing to go out. Thornden led his own horse out and soon had him ready. Before ten minutes were passed, the entire company rode out of the courtyard together, towards the field behind the scar where the games had taken place three months ago.
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Old 01-06-2010, 06:14 PM   #693
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Javan was not angry anymore. He was a little cowed and perhaps a little afraid of lord Athanar, but he was not angry. He stayed where he was until he felt that he could present himself to Athanar and then he went out.

It was not difficult to find him. Athanar and Saeryn were speaking in the great hall, and Degas was sitting nearby. Javan approached to a respectful distance and then stopped and waited until he was noticed.

“When will you tell your sons and your daughter?” Saeryn was asking.

“One second,” Athanar said, holding up his hand. He looked at Javan. “Do you wish to speak with me?”

“If you please, m’lord,” Javan said, coming forward a few steps. He paused, looking awkward. He glanced at Degas and Saeryn and then back at Athanar. Saeryn looked closely at him, and noticed the very slight rim of red around his eyes. “I am sorry,” Javan said to Athanar. “For the way I behaved this morning before you.” The words stuck uncomfortably in his throat. He forced them out. “I should not have argued after you made your decision. I realize that it is fair and. . .and merciful. I ask your pardon.”
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Old 01-06-2010, 07:45 PM   #694
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Crabannan kicked at the dirt as he leaned against a wall outside the Hall. Lithor's trial had gone as well as might be expected, he reflected, especially he, Crabannan, had done very little to help the situation by jumping in like that. I should have kept my mouth shut. Always keep your mouth shut, he thought. Have I forgotten everything? He spat in the dirt and pulled his cloak tighter around him.

A few moments earlier, Javan had walked up the stone steps into the hall, slowly but doggedly, barely looking at Crabannan. The tall dark-haired man acknowledged Javan with a nod. It irked Crabannan to see a lad like Javan getting into trouble. He liked Javan and would have been likely to strike up a friendship with him, if he had not always felt some disapproval from Thornden. Maybe he sees what I see, thought Crabannan. Maybe he sees a boy who very easily turn into a vagrant, a mercenary, a scoundrel. Like me. He shook his long dark hair. Thinking again. I need something to do, quick.

He sat on the steps and produced his harp. It wouldn't be the first time that idleness had become restlessness, that restlessness had driven him to do something stupid. As he plucked the strings slowly, aimlessly, he ran over the past few years in his mind.

He enjoyed playing the harp for various squires and nobles in Rhovanion, but those positions invariably ended in brawls and knife fights. By the time he had been thrown out of every village in a 60 miles radius, a lord's son had taken a violent dislike to him and he decided to move on.

Of course, he had not meant to fall in with the bandits in Ithilien - but one thing led to another, as things tend to do. All told, though, it had been better than working as soldier for hire in Rhun. That had been an ugly year, which had culminated in a ugly showdown. Fun, but ugly.

Minas Tirith had been good to him until he started walking the streets at night with a cudgel. The way he saw it, the city was better off without the ne'er-do-wells and thugs that he was incapacitating. The owner of the tavern where he sat as house bard caught wind of it, though, and Crabannan was forced to fight his way out. The irony of course was that he, who could be considered simply another ruffian, had taken such a keen interest in justice. He had moved on quickly.

Then there had been the knife in the leg early that summer, before Scarburg - which, he thought, was hardly worth it, for the girl involved now seemed to him to have been not even particularly friendly, let alone attractive. But he took comfort in the fact that it would be several months before the other fellow would recover enough to spread his name about.

Crabannan shook his head again. That was as far back as he liked to remember. But which was worse? Forgetting or remembering?
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Old 01-09-2010, 07:06 PM   #695
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Morning drills!

The end of the early part of the morning could not have come more quickly as far as Coenred was concerned. He had recommended punishment for the soldier to the Lord Athanar the night before, and voiced his concerns on the matter -- namely the tone Lithor set for the rest of the soldiers, and how he might be quieted -- and he had hoped he would avoid being at the trial at all. Instead Athanar had asked him to be at both. Of course Coen had witnessed part of the scuffle between this Javan and the lord's daughter, but the Captain felt only concern and anger on behalf of Aedre. He had no reason to be there except to be another man to stare the boy down, which -- even with his anger -- he did not enjoy.

As soon as he was free, he again recruited Hilderinc's help to round up the men he had brought with him, and Thornden to round up the rest. Coen much preferred removing them from their barracks immediately to drills and work, and grumbled inwardly at the fact that they had managed to have some free time this morning thanks to the trials. Their heads were not going to be into this as they would be on a better day. All of the past day's events did not help: a brawl, the harm done to Lady Aedre, countless rumors, the feast...and then the two trials this morning which surely they were all aware of. Likely they already knew half of what was said at them.

Coenred waited for the men to gather in the open field on his chestnut courser. He was in full gear: mail and leather hauberk, his helm sitting in front of him on his saddle, a sword at his belt, and a spear in the ground by his side. He expected all the soldiers to arrive in full equipment as well. When Thornden arrived, he gave him what he considered a friendly nod. He realized he would have to speak to the young man, particularly because of how closely they would be working together, but Coen was determined to do so only after the morning drills. It was no good to make the men wait and watch their superiors talk. He was sure their minds were already in many places besides the field under their horses' hooves.

First Coen did a brief inspection of the soldiers, and noted at least one missing face: Lithor. Hopefully the Lord Athanar had kept him for some reason, and there was nothing new afoot that involved that man. Then he moved immediately into formation drills. There would be no divide between the men he had brought under his and Lord Athanar's command and those who had previously been under Thornden and Lord Eodwine's command, no matter how hard they tried to create one.

The formations were indeed sloppy -- the men were not used to working together. But they were all skilled horsemen, naturally, so the results at least were not disastrous. Each man kept control of his mount, even in the tight quarters with a number of men and horses out of place. Coen had been a part of much, much larger formations than the small group before him. But what else should he expect, out here in the Mid-emnet? It was a testament to the recent time of war that they had even this many soldiers to be garrisoned here.

After the formation drills, Coen prepared to move onto some other riding drills. He recruited the help of Hilderinc and a few others, and began setting up poles, some with simple sack dummies, others with small rings hanging from them. He mostly ignored Thornden, though only because he was not sure how to deal with him, much less how to have him be involved. As far as Coen was concerned, he was in command, and it would do no good having two men sharing that command if they meant to accomplish anything.

Last edited by Durelin; 01-20-2010 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 01-09-2010, 08:12 PM   #696
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Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Thornden knew what to expect as much, or as little, as Coenred himself. He respected the new leader, although he found it difficult to get to know him. He hoped that this morning would be an opportunity to learn more about him, but he was disappointed with the results thus far. True, he found out a great deal about his form of leadership. Coenred was efficient with his orders, speaking little and to the point. He watched in silence as the men went through their maneuvers. Thornden also noted Coenred making care that the old and the new Scarburgians did not separate into individual groups or bands. They were mixed and forced to work side by side, and in many cases together.

Thornden, however, did not learn how he himself was to interact with Coenred. He felt out of place, and it quickly occurred to him that Coenred didn’t really know what to do with him. This was not surprising, and Thornden was not offended. Instead of pushing for attention or for a position, he watched and waited. He did as asked, but no more, for Coenred saw that everything that needed doing was done, and Thornden felt no need to go out of his way to gain attention or special recommendation. He positioned his horse to the right and a little behind Coenred, and there he remained. He could learn a lot from observation.

What he saw in the men was not encouraging. It made him realize that he and Eodwine had both been slack with the men-at-arms. They had been so busy building the hall and just living that drills of any sort were completely abandoned. Although what had been done instead of exercises had been necessary and unavoidable, Thornden did feel embarrassed for his men.

However, when it came to riding and archery at once, the men from Scarburg did admirably. Almost every man hit his mark without fail, and those that missed, did not miss by far. The spear throwing went almost as well, and by the end of the exercises on horseback, Thornden felt a little easier with how things were progressing. Next would come the hand-to-hand combat. He wondered how Coenred would do this.
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Old 01-09-2010, 08:58 PM   #697
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Before the drills, Javan and the "lords"

“I should not have argued after you made your decision. I realize that it is fair and. . .and merciful. I ask your pardon.”

Lord Athanar was quite taken with the words of Javan. Actually he had to swallow and a keen eye might have caught a slight gleam of a tear on his eye. Javan seemingly didn't quite understand what was going on but slowly lord Athanar's face turned into a smile. And it was not a cold smile but one filled with relief if not even some warmth.

He waved his hand for Javan to come closer to him.

Javan looked at Degas and Saeryn quite confused. They didn't actually nod but he could read it from their eyes it was okay to go. He took the few steps unsteadily as what was to come only to feel lord Athanar's hands on his shoulders again - and suddenly he was staring him to his eyes.

Lord Athanar's grip on his shoulders was firm but not violent. Now there was clearly a tear in his eye and it took some time lord Athanar managed to say anything. He was too involved in his thoughts relating to his own sons, this boy here, the whole situation at the Mead Hall... It was like all the stress and tension had been given a relief and he tried to hold himself steady looking at that young lad in front of him.

"Now there young Javan..." Javan could feel lord Athanar's fingers were shaking a little on his his shoulders. "You don't know how happy I am to hear that son."

Lord Athanar felt the shakiness too and took his other other hand off from Javan's shoulder and gently stroke his hair a few times - still looking at him to the eyes. "Now know this Javan... There are people who are called eorlinga and who have never been brave enough to do what you have just done."

He let go of Javan and glanced at Saeryn before returning his gaze on Javan. "You have many things to learn for you to become a real eorling Javan, and there are blood, sweat and tears for you ahead to achieving the mastery of them, but you have already overcome one hurdle many others never make over with. Being able to admit you were wrong and to apologise, that requires character half of my soldiers don't have... yet... even if they are otherwise eorlinga, the best of men when it comes to fighting."

Lord Athanar leaned back on his chair but did not let his eyes off Javan. Suddenly he remembered Javan's words again and smiled now heartily. "Your pardon is granted young man. I will not bear a grudge on you for what you said during the hearing." Suddenly he leaned forwards towards Javan. "Actually what you did just now coming here with your apology... I will think more highly of you than before we started earlier the morning."

He leaned back and glanced at the siblings again.

"But Raban there..." he said then coming back to Javan. "He might look like a weirdo... and in a way he is one. But remember Javan, he's the most heroic eorlinga you probably have ever met... and that is counting lord Eodwine and me as well... and your brother... He has been in more battles than most of those still living and he has survived them... and not by laying low but by acting like a true eorlinga. So even if the age has quite gotten him there is more from him to learn for you, you could learn from anyone else around. Just look at how he does things, how he focuses on things that are important, what he tells you about being an eorlinga, and paying heed to what he teaches you..."

With the last one lord Athanar thought he could track a slight displeasure in Javan's eyes. But contrary to expectations lord Athanar smiled more freely than for hours now.

"Heh, making a chainmail is not to your liking son? Well just ask me whether I liked the idea when I was told to learn it when I was about your age! What a waste! I thought then. I would have wanted to learn swordplay and riding back then!" Suddenly he felt quiet, like falling into his memories.

Turning his eyes back to Javan he said now more softly. "I still have that first chanmail I did myself with me. I can show it to you one day if you wish. Like I said, I was about your age I made it under his supervision... I used it in the drills that time but I did outgrew of it to be sure. So was it a waste of time?" He looked at Javan like he was trying to see through his eyes to what Javan actually thought. Javan shook with the inspection.

"No. I learned a lot of about patience, of working with hands, or working with metals, of humility and pride, of being an eorlinga. And anyway, it is a treasure for me and I'm not sure if I should either leave it to my first grandson or bury it with Raban when he dies... or just treasure it myself. These are big things Javan. But whatever you think about it now, I'll promise you will treasure those times and the learning from Raban when you're older. And the first chainmail you do yourself will be an object of pride to you to follow you your whole life."

Suddenly he turned to Degas, smiling at him. "Have you being taught to learn to make a chainmail for yourself Degas?"

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Old 01-10-2010, 10:50 AM   #698
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Matrim and Balvir (before drill)

As Matrim followed Balvir to the kitchens he brooded over the past couple of days and in particular on his own behaviour. His soft grey eyes had watched the Momentary tension of the previous evening eased but not altogether fade. A good portion of this hall was in mourning and as he thought on the new Eorl he wonder if the man could see as well as he the confused feelings and frustrations such grief could bring. Unlike Athanar or even himself Eodwine had not been born into nobility, it had found him and as such he had not been raised with the knowledge or prepared for the weight that such responsibility and high expectation brought. He was a Farmer, then a soldier (or so he had heard in many a fireside tale) more content with hard graft and comradary than the more onerous tasks of eorldom. It had always seemed to Matrim that he struggled most with the class derision nobility deemed necessary, perhaps even yearning for that simpler life, but It was for these reasons that his people held such loyalty, he never look down on them and they loved and respected him for it. A trust earned not demanded! Matrim thought pensively.

Just then a horrible thought came to him, that perhaps it would have been better for Lord Athanar if Lord Eodwine had died. As the man who had publicly reprimanded Lithor and asserted his authority did not strike him as one who would abide such split loyalties much less the thought of living under the shadow of another. These first few days would be difficult for both old and new to these halls. But the politics of Rohan were not his concern, he was a Ranger and a lord of Ithilien he reminded himself and as such should be careful not to overstep his position as precarious as that had now become.

As if in affirmation to his thoughts a pain ran from his left eye to his jaw, reminding him of his own frustrations. Athanar’s man had a good right punch to him and whiles all who had heard what went on believed him to be honouring the good lady Searyn’s name it was not completely true. For with Eodwine’s illness had come a new set of problems for him and his company, the worst of which was the arrival in Edoras of King Elessar himself a complication that could not have been foreseen, he had made Balvir recite many times what the king had questioned him about and had been surprised when he was not summoned himself.

The arrival of the new eorl had brought with it news that he had been dreading, sent with one of King Eomers guards who had be attached to Athanar’s train. He looked down for what must have been the hundredth time at the fine lettering adoring the folded parchment in his left hand and read.

I King Elessar of Gondor
Hearby Exile Lady Ćđelhild unto Scarburgh
With agreement of King Eomer of Rohan
Until such time as Court can be called and Summons are sent.

Lord Matrim of Aren and Captain Balvir of Ithilien
Are hereby commanded to ensure that Lady Ćđelhild does not break with the terms of this decree.
They are also charged with the continued safety of the lady until her return to Gondor.

This had been fresh in his mind when Athanar’s man had made the unfortunate mistake of disrespecting the lady Searyn and her position, the man’s ignorance had hit hard at something deep within Matrim’s mind, doubts he had been loathed to give thought to.... What if his father fails? What if no proof could be found to disprove Cild’s ridiculous claims? What if Ćđelhild stripped only from land and title by her uncle’s misdeeds was found guilty? Would others like this soldier in their ignorance mock and sneer insults at a woman they did not truly know? And there it was he had snapped at the thought of knowing they would. Before he even knew what had happened he had assaulted the man. He looked down at his hands still clutching the parchment, even now he could not believe his own actions... diplomacy, disciple the principles he had been raised on forgotten with one thought....

“It doesn’t matter how much you look at it, it is not going to change.” Stirred from his thoughts Matrim looked up to see Balvir studying him, his brow creased with a hint of concern in his grey eyes. “I know” he sighed heavily now aware that he had stopped.

“How did Ćđelhild take the news?” Balvir asked, again throwing him off guard as with all the drama of the following night he had not yet had the opportunity to get the young woman alone.

“Is your head full of sawdust soldier?” Balvir scolded reading the look on Matrim’s face, “Where you somewhere else last night!” Matrim knew exactly to what Balvir was referring and he was under no illusions that Athanor would not have been apprised of their situation, the man would certainly have orders of his own and it would not do to have Ćđelhild hear her fate from any but her own Kin. “I will speak to her,” he promised.

“See that you do, my lord!” Balvir whispered with a grin and a slight nod of his head, which made Matrim laugh. Their relationship to those outside would have seemed strange, as a soldier Balvir out ranked him in both experience and wisdom, but as a Lord of Aren Balvir was expected to treat him with the respect that his nobility demanded. Matrim however always believed that respect should be earned regardless of class or circumstance and Balvir was only too happy to respect this wish and remind him of it whenever necessary. As his father’s second in command and his most loyal and trusted friend he already had Matrim’s trust and respect, however Balvir had always been more like an uncle to Matrim and as such they could be more at ease with one another and Matrim always welcomed the older man’s advice or opinions when given.

Still laughing Matrim folded the parchment and tucked it carefully inside his jacket and they both entered the breakfast hall, it was surprisingly empty and as they sat Matrim stopped Kara and enquired to the whereabouts of Miss Ćđel, the young serving girl quickly informed him that she was in the herb garden and that she had been keeping much to herself since the arrival of the new eorl. “Though I cannot imagine how with all the scraps everyone seems to be getting into!” she said sternly looking at the bruise on Matrim’s face. Matrim could see Balvir suppressing the urge to laugh as he no doubt knew as well as he that amongst those she was referring was the young Erkbrand, so instead he decided to change the subject entirely.

“It is fairly quiet in here this morning is it not miss Kara?” he said looking around at the empty tables. The young woman nodded then went on to tell them about the trials and the many of the soldier where already off getting ready for drill with the new commander. “Now shouldn’t you two be getting ready too?” she finish giving them both a confused look.

“Aye but we are Miss; one should never drill on an empty stomach.” Balvir informed her jovially and with that the young woman smiled and nodded her agreement before heading off to fetch their breakfast.

The two men looked at each other Matrim had forgotten about the drill but clearly Balvir had not, “What are you thinking?” he asked the older man. Balvir paused for as moment before answering, “I am thinking my lord that our swords where offered to Lord Edowine and not Lord Athanor or orders are clear Lady Ćđelhild is our charge...”

“But?” Matrim offered as the older man paused thoughtfully.

“But I think it would do no harm to get to know those who in essence will be the ladies keepers.” Matrim agreed and the two decided that while Matrim spoke with Lady Ćđelhild Balvir would attend Drills with the others. If Athanor asked for their swords they would be given under the proviso that it did not interfere with their own orders.

Kara soon returned with breakfast and the two men ate quickly before heading off to their respective tasks. Balvir to drill and Matrim to find Ćđelhild, as he walked to the herb garden Ćđelhild tended Matrim could not help but think he had drawn the short straw.
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:12 PM   #699
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Ćđelhild and Matrim

Ćđel looked up from the small patch of sorrel she had been tending to see Matrim coming up the rough dirt path to the little garden, it was nothing much to look at the moment but when finished it would be quiet adequate enough to supply both her needs and that of the kitchen staff. She had just been remembering Frodides excitement when she had first suggested the idea and although she had only thought to planting herbs the cook had plans of her own, she had never seen the woman so animated as she had become at the prospect of planting a few carrots and even some sweet peas, so much so that she could not help but agree. The actual work on the garden had been slow as the more important building works took priority. In fact it had been herself and the cook who had selected the plot a little away from the main kitchen and to the rear of the main building, but it had been Matrim and Balvir who had turned the soil when a break in their main chores allowed, often early in the morning or late at night and as Matrim now came up the path she smiled aware of just how used to his company she had become.

Matrim’s breath caught as Ćđelhild looked up her smile radiating her pale features in the midmorning light. The young woman’s smiles where rare but had came more often since the idea of the garden had become reality. It brought a great measure of joy to him to think that in some small way he had played part to her happiness and he found himself enjoying his visits to the garden more often. But not today, today his heart was heavy and as she waved for him to join her guilt tightened in his gut and he felt his mouth go uncharacteristically dry. For before him; smiling and happy was Miss Ćđel, the shy but capable healer of Scarburg, a persona the young woman had adopted and used to protect herself from the pain and grief of her past. Matrim knew that the decree in his pocket would change that, he knew that she would need the strength and power the nobility of her birth had given her to deal with the trials ahead. Not only in Gondor when the time came but here also. As Ćđel he feared Athanar would dismiss her as a simple annoyance that he had to put up with because his King ordered it so, but as Lady Ćđelhild of Gondor he would have no choice but to recognise her nobility and treat her accordingly, but still Matrim hope not too much of Ćđel would be lost as she pushed past both the pain and the shame to find the Lady of Gondor her father had raised her to be, a woman he had only witnessed briefly back in Edoras when they had first met.

As Matrim reached her Ćđel could see the pained expression on the young man face, a worry as he was usually annoyingly apt at keeping his emotions hidden when he wanted too. However before she could ask him what was wrong she noted the yellowish blue bruise on his left cheek, “oh, not you too?” she sighed raising her hand to inspect his cheek (the previous day she had treated cut and bruised faces, bruised knuckles and even the bleeding nose of a young girl) Matrim looked puzzled for a moment, then smiled relieving a tension that Ćđel had not noticed was there. “A soldier who needed a lesson in respect,” Matrim explained. “That was you!” Ćđel exclaimed, her concern look now turned to a frown. Matrim sighed; shaking his head, “I know I should not have resorted to violence and I will apologise for my actions but not the lesson, it did need learning.” Matrim did not wait for her to be satisfied with his reply instead he continued, “But My Lady it is Important that we speak at once, inside if we may.”

The use of title shook Ćđel as did the urgency in his voice, so nodding nervously she led the way to the quarters that had been set aside for the healer of Scarburg. “What is it? What is wrong?” she asked as soon as they were both inside. Matrim did not speak instead he reached into his jacket and took out a folded parchment which he then held out to her. Taking it from him she at once recognised the seal of the King of Gondor, her hands shook as she lifted the seal and unfolded the parchment to read. Almost at once her head spun and her legs gave way, Matrim caught her as she fell. “So it is public then!” she whispered uneasily, Matrim nodded knowing that she meant in Gondor. “So what would you have me do now?” she asked looking into his usually comforting grey eyes, but finding again that pained look as he answered, “I would have Lady Ćđelhild of Gondor introduce herself to Lord Athanar at once before he thinks we have something to hide.” Ćđel nodded having already surmised as much, but needing him to say it anyway to bolster her resolve. “Then I should change.” She said letting Matrim help her to her feet and looking down at her earth stained hands and clothes. “I shall just be outside.” Matrim assured her and with a nod he left her alone to go wash and change.

It took a while for her to scrub the dirt from her nails and comb out her hair, but after that she was soon dressed and ready to go. She wore the dress she wore to Edowine’s wedding, perhaps not what one would expect a lady of Gondor to wear but it was the best she had. Looking round the room she could not help but shed a tear, she had once promised Matrim and Balvir that when the time came she would be ready, but now it was before her she was not sure she was strong enough, but she had to try! With that thought Ćđelhild fought back the tears, wiped her eyes and opened the door to find Matrim waiting as he had promised, he offered her his arm which she gratefully accepted, then they both went to introduce themselves to the new Eorl.
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Old 01-12-2010, 05:30 PM   #700
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Athanar’s response was not what Javan had expected at all. He looked up at lord Athanar in surprise and a little wonder. Perhaps Thornden was right, after all.

“Your pardon is granted, young man. I will not bear a grudge on you for what you said during the hearing. Actually, what you said just now, coming here with your apology, I will think more highly of you then before we started earlier this morning.”

Javan remained silent and listened, his attention wrapped with expectation as Athanar told him of Raban, and then of his own experience with chain mail making. This man, so unlike lord Eodwine in some ways, was very much like him in others.

Saeryn, standing by and watching the exchange, had much the same thought. He was a good man, after all. Hard, yes, but good.

Athanar turned to Degas. “Have you been taught to make a chainmail for yourself, Degas?”

Degas shook his head. “No, that was nothing I had the opportunity to learn. My apprenticeships bent in other directions.”

Athanar nodded and turned back to Javan, who stood waiting for dismissal. “Go out and find Raban. You may as well get started directly.”

“Yes, sir,” Javan said, and turned to go. On his way out, he passed the healer, Ćđel and Matrim. He stepped aside and let them pass. Once outside, he paused. Crabannan sat just a few feet away, idly strumming his harp. Javan stood listening, wondering what he should do. Thornden told him to apologize to both Athanar and Aedre. But Athanar told him to find Raban. If he found Raban, he wouldn’t get a chance to apologize to Aedre until later, but if he went in search of Aedre now, Athanar might spot him not with Raban.

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Old 01-13-2010, 10:41 PM   #701
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Quin heaved a sigh of intense frustration. He turned from the target and clenched his hands. He had thrown a straight spear hundreds of times before. Why now, when there were dozens of people around, could he not do it right? As he passed the captain on his way to stand in rank, he shot him a furtive look. Coenred did not even glance his way. The second in command did look at him, however. Quin looked swiftly away and found his place behind the other soldiers who had already thrown their spears.

The young man did not have the presence of mind to compare himself with others. Perhaps it was wisdom not to compare, for one should not think only of how others do, but how well one does oneself, detached and alone. In such a case, however, it was discouraging. Quin only looked at himself, and he had done poorly, and that was all he knew. He did not realize that others as well were not performing up to their usual standards that day.

Their next object was to practice their abilities on horseback. Quin looked disappointed. His horse had lamed himself on the last stretch of rode the previous day. In order not to be left out completely, he offered his help to the captain and helped set up the obstacles for the horsemen. He stood by and watched as the soldiers put their horses through their paces, practiced their archery and casting the spear again. The men were finally warmed up, it seemed, for most did fairly well.

“We will do the hand-to-hand combats next,” he heard Coenred tell a man to his right. “I want to see how they do at close quarters.”

Quin swallowed nervously. His talent had never run in that direction. He did not like the idea of seeing his enemy die so close, and he had never liked the sword practices. It was different than practicing with the sword or spear. With those weapons, one had a target one threw at. If you hit the target, you did well, and no one was hurt. But while practicing with a sword, even with the blunted weapons they used, people got hurt. Not seriously, no, but the bruises could be gloriously nasty. It was not as though Quin feared pain, it was merely that he did not glory in it, like some young men, and even older men, did. He would much rather have stayed home and learned a craft, or an art, perhaps a form of instrument. But it was not to be.

The soldiers completed their rounds on horseback, and the horses trotted back towards the captain and waited for the next orders.
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Old 01-17-2010, 05:09 PM   #702
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Wilheard

"This is insufferable!" Wulfric shouted. He and his brother were on a ride again, and they had ridden for an hour without saying anything. Wulfric's face had been as dark as a storm cloud ever since the hearing, and now he had seemed to decide to let it all out. Fine, Wilheard shrugged. Let him rant if helped him. He too was annoyed at many things, but he thought his big brother was being overtly dramatic, as so often.

"Will, what have I done wrong? What have we done wrong? What have I done to deserve to be disinherited like some disgraceful vagrant?"

Wilheard could think of many witty replies, but for once he kept his mouth shut. He didn't truly understand why his father had done what he had, and he was angry for his brother too. But truth be told, it didn't really concern him. He was born the second son, and he had always known he would have to make his own life, earn his own place in the military and not inherit land or holdings. Undoubtedly, it was different from Wulfric's perspective.

"What is my crime, Will?" Wulfric's eyes were full of anguish, and Wilheard could feel his brother's pain. But there was nothing he could say to help him, he understood the situation even less than his brother did. Wulfric had always been the politician, the one who understood the twists and turns, the chances and ways of power. If he was at loss, Wilheard was even more so.

"I don't understand. I did everything they wanted me to! I worked hard to become a soldier, and I was the best in my class. No other son of an Eorlinga ever bested me in a fight.

I learned first how to take care of my horse, and as I grew older I was given the unofficial responsibility to look after you, my little brother. In my training, I was appointed to lead and tutor younger boys and show them what it is to be an Eorling soldier. I strived to be a good leader. I never failed Blackmane or Northwind, nor you, nor any of the lads.

I always did my duties. Maybe not always without grumbling, but I did them. I broke some rules too, that I know, but if somebody says I didn't suffer my punishments like a man, he is a liar and deserves to be flogged.

What is a man that doesn't make mistakes? Am I to suffer a lifetime shame because played pranks on the shepherd when I was but a boy? Am I deemed unworthy because I wooed the miller's or the innkeeper's daughter or because I drank on duty?

Or because yesterday I followed a traitor plotting against my lord and tried to make him talk?

Is this my fate? Has another man ever been so wronged in his life, or do I truly deserve all this from my father whom I always strived to obey and respect like a loyal son?"

Wulfric let out a wail and looked to the sky, as if challenging the gods to be his witness. Wilheard could see tears running down his face. It was not a usual sight, and it made Wilheard's heart burn with fury. His brother spoke true - he had always been an ideal Eorling warrior: the biggest, the brutest, the boldest and looking after his underlings with utmost care. He did not deserve this kind of humiliation or questioning his value, not to mention being substituted by a whining peasant girl and her unborn child. Their father must have gone cracked.

Indeed, the more he thought of that, the more it seemed like that. Athanar as Wilheard remembered him had been a gentle father, noble and distant, but definitely full of goodwill, unlike their mother who had had no patience for boyish whims or cheerfulness and who had often scolded them with harsh words. And Athanar had definitely been a lord to be proud of.

But who was this Athanar they had come back to from the military? He was noble, and gentle, but definitely cracked. His gentleness and turned to weakness - how often did Athanar's eyes glimmer with tears when he recalled something from the past, how meek punishments he executed on his subjects? And who in their right mind would disinherit their eldest son, especially if it was someone like Wulfric?

Wilheard thought maybe this would make Wulfric feel better, so he told his brother as much. Wulfric nodded fervently. "It must be the only explanation. It would also explain why he treated us today like he did." Wulfric's face grew dark on the thought of it, and he would have started another rant had Wilheard not been quicker. He was offended by their father's behaviour towards them too.

"First he publicly inherits us without bothering to tell us first. Apparently we are not worth that.

Then, he talks to us as if we were barely away from mother's breasts. He talks to us as if we are idiots, in front of all the people. Good that he didn't call us 'kiddies'!"

"Indeed", Wulfric growled in a low voice. "And then, on top of all that ridicule, he exerts on us a punishment that could be given to some ten-year olds! Go do a little chippadeedoo duty with uncle Lithor. And behave nicely, boys. No poking fingers in each other's noses!"

Despite everything, Wilheard had to laugh. He had always been the witty one out of the two, but Wulfric could have his way with words when he was angry.

"Although, we have to remember he gave the same punishment to Lithor, so he treats him like a baby too," Wulfric added.

"Well that's no surprise, they greybeard has proven himself to be senile. Have we given as bad an impression?" Wilheard asked.

"This is insufferable!" Wulfric replied, tearing his hair. "He must be out of his mind, there is no other logical explanation, is there? If he didn't seem so insane, I would go to him and demand to be punished like a man for whatever crimes he wishes to charge me of. I can't stand being treated like wayward child when I'm a grown-up man, fully aware of the consequences of my actions. I can understand not being so harsh on a man so old he is starting to sink back towards his childhood, but to a young man in his prime, never!"

For a while, there was silence. Wilheard was starting to feel angrier and angrier, and Wulfric was clearly thinking of something.

"Do you know what this means, Wilheard?" Wulfric asked in a shaky voice after a while.

Wilheard shook his head.

"If our esteemed father is truly somehow out of his mind, we must be extra vigilant. No one else should know about this. We should see to that everything seems as normal as possible. We shall act as if this kind of dishonourable treatment towards one's sons is normal. If we don't raise a question about it, maybe it will go unnoticed.

And we need to take the responsibility as his sons. If he flips totally, we need to get help for him. A healer or a... witch, as you would call them, I suppose. But we are the grown-up men of this family now. We need to take control, and take care."

Wulfric paused. It was sort of contradictory. He seemed as appalled at the idea of their father having some strange illness on his mind as Wilheard was, yet there was a spark in his eyes, something very familiar to Wilheard - it was the spark of determination and enthusiasm in face of a difficult challenge, Wulfric's spark of life.

Wilheard could feel the same. He had never been into politics or responsibilities, his dream had been being his brother Eorl Wulfric's right hand man and a war hero, tamer of the greatest of mearas and the swiftest of hawks, but this desolate place and the queer challenges it brought were something he recognised as an adventure. He spoke at length:

"And if his madness is of the terminal kind, it might be you inherit this place after all, at least for a while."

"Do not speak of that," said Wulfric, but the spark flashed in his eyes. "We shall go back now, and act according to the plan."

"But one more thing before we go," said Wilheard. He lowered his voice. "I think this place is cursed."
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Old 01-18-2010, 03:41 AM   #703
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Hilderinc

That was a start of the day! After the somewhat sleepy hour of trials, this has been something of a fresh awakening. Soldiers, barely a few dozens of them, riding through the plain, steam rising from their horses' backs. The men and animals getting to know each other, learning. Hilderinc paid close attention to those around him. Fighting alongside troops alien to you, you had to learn fast. If this had happened in the war, good coordination might have been difference between life and death. Even though these were peaceful times, Hilderinc still acted as if the enemy could cross Scar in every moment. Well, after all, they always could. And anyway, for Hilderinc, there have never been times when he would think that there was not a possibility of a new war. No peace was for certain and the world could always change.

The soldiers of Scarburg did not seem very well trained to him, but then, he had not expected much. Sufficient for a border-guard, much worse perhaps for an armed conflict. There were good soldiers among them, ones who seemed that they could become excellent if they got some proper training. Some of them were even worse than a few of the untalented - as Hilderinc knew them well - but properly trained warriors of Athanar's household. Well, perhaps now, with Coenred as their leader, there was an opportunity for them to improve their skills.

Coenred's next order was to dismount and fight on foot. Hilderinc smiled at noticing some of the younger soldiers' expressions. He knew what they were thinking: he could almost read their thoughts, they were all the same. "We are Eorlingas, why do we have to fight on foot? We have our horses." Have your mount slain in the middle of battlefield, Hilderinc thought to himself, and then we may talk about what is important. Also, these youngsters apparently have not been listening properly to the stories of the old about the Battle of Hornburg. It had been lucky for its defenders that even of the boys fighting there many had enough reason to have at least basic practice in hand-to-hand combat. What would all the wonderful riders do, driven into the stone fortress like rats, with no mount by their side? Oh, what a minor difference, and perhaps Helm's Deep would have had fallen on that terrible night, and there will be no dawn to come! But no, that did not happen, because there were men who knew how to fight on foot. And their current King and the King of Mundburg have shown their best there, too, didn't these youngsters ever hear?

Hilderinc has actually always been giving more importance to fight on foot than many of his companions. And as he dismounted, he decided that whomever he was to face now, he would give him the toughest lecturing.
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Old 01-27-2010, 12:51 AM   #704
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Iomhair

Many times since Lord Edowine fell ill did Iomhair consider packing up and moving on? With no Eorl the stories soon grew stale and Iomhair became restless, even more so as she came to realise that more was being spent on the building of the hall than was being brought back in to it. She had no intention of working for free, even if she was only recording those building works. It was curiosity that finally kept her in place, with no news of Lord Edowine’s recovery she knew it wouldn’t be long before the King of Rohan was forced to appoint another in his stead and appoint another he did! Not only was the man of a recognised noble line but he was completely different in character to that of his predecessor.

Iomhair’s interest was again piqued and the new Lord did not disappoint in her expectations, Asserting and exacting his authority from that first day. Her jaw had almost hit the floor as one of the halls soldiers answered back to a Lord of the Mark, but even this shock could not break the excited exhilaration she felt at the thought of witnessing unfolding events.

Already this morning she had scrolled the trials of both Lithor, the soldier from the night before and Javan, a young lad who had seemingly assaulted the new Lords youngest daughter. She had been careful to scribe word for word all that was said with no embellishments of her own, as her appointment by the previous Lord did not assure her appointment by this new lord. It had not been that difficult as the trials had held intently the attention of all those present, especially when Lord Athanar’s sons accused Thorden of playing part in listening to a plot of treason, then again as Lord Athanar announced his intentions of adopting the Lady Saeryn. This had made her look up and study the man intently, it was something definitely not expected and it had brought new thoughts to Iomhair’s mind. Looking at Athanar’s Eldest son, she had wondered how he had taken the news, if it upset him though he had been smart enough not to show it in public.

The trials were soon over and the hall dismissed, still not sure to whom she should defer she followed the crowds out, returning briefly to her room to lay the scrolls out and let the ink dry. Recalling that the Soldiers were going to drill she grabbed some charcoal and some fresh parchment then set out to capture spirit of those set with the task of protecting this meadhall.

She soon found a spot far enough that she would not be in the way but close enough that she could still make out the beads of sweat on each mans brow. Her hands moved quickly across the page as the men where put through their paces by the new commander.
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Old 01-28-2010, 03:44 PM   #705
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The kids

"That was soo groce!" Cnebba exclaimed and pulled a face.

But there was no immediate reaction from Garmund - and Leodthern stood quiet looking at the two boys.

They were outside the Hall after the hearings. Garmund had been looking downwards but now finally raised his head.

"I'm not sure Cnabba..." He eyed at her sister as well. "I'd like to learn to make a chainmail myself... Think how cool it would be!"

Cnebba was fully astounded. He had only thought of the limping figure of that cripple called Raban and Javan needing to spent hours in closed quarters with him, but now he recognised the coolness of what Garmund said... and he blushed (a thing he hated when it happened in front of Leodthern).

"But..." he started.

"I know what you mean Cneb, but he's a war hero, as lord Athanar said. And he's a master-craftsman! My dad always says you should learn from those who know their business and I'd bet a lot that this odd Raban knows things... even if he's a weirdo" With the last remark Garmund offered Cnebba a soothing smile and Cnebba took it laughing in releavment.

The doors opened and Javan got out. He would have looked a bit disoriented to any adult eye, as not quite knowing where to go, but the three kids surrounded him immediately.

"How was it?", "Was it cool?", "Were you afraid?", "What do you think of Raban?", "What do you think of lord Athanar?", "What is that Raban like?", "Will you make a chainmail?", "Is it cool?".
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Old 02-01-2010, 08:26 PM   #706
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Javan blinked and put his arms out to ward off the two boys and their flood of questions. “I don’t know – I haven’t – what are you – stop!” he shouted. The three questioners ceased their questioning. Javan drew a deep, deliberate breath. “I don’t know anything about Raban, I haven’t met him, except in there, and from what I saw…” he stopped and didn’t continue. “Yes, I like lord Athanar. (Better than Thornden, at present,)” he muttered under his breath, and then went on. “I will make chainmail, and no it isn’t cool!”

“Why not?” Garmund asked. His eyes studied Javan keenly, and Javan could see he didn’t approve of the contempt with which Javan seemed to consider his task.

“Because I don’t want to. I’d rather stay with you all and continue our practice with the horses and the archery. But I guess I don’t have much choice in the matter, do I?” He sighed. “I’m supposed to find Raban now and start my business.” He dug his hands into his pockets and started forward. The three children silently made way for him. He paused on the lowest step of the porch and turned again. “Do you all know where Aedre is?”
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Old 02-02-2010, 05:18 PM   #707
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The kids

“Do you all know where Aedre is?”

"They live in Eodwine's and Saeryn's room!" Leodthern yelled as if to be the smart one. But there weren't any cheers for that remark from the boys. Instead, Garmund stroke his little sister's hair lightly. "Yeah Leo, we know."

Finally Cnebba broke the silence. "Maybe we should ask someone, like Kara or Frodides, or mom?"

"Or some of them strangers if we find them. I'd not dare to go on knocking at their door just like that." Garmund added.

"We? You guys said, we?" Javan looked at the others clearly annoyed. "Now who says you're coming with me?"

"Well, you said you'd rather stay with us..." Cnebba began but shut his mouth with Javan's sharp glance.

"Be fair Javan. We could help you out with it." Garmund tried.

"We wouldn't laugh or anything..." Cnebba added just to receive a hard hit from Garmund's elbow to his side.

"I'd like to see Aedre." said Leodthern.
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Old 02-02-2010, 08:34 PM   #708
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Matrim, Ćđelhild and Athanar

Matrim could feel Ćđelhild's hand tense on his arm as they entered the hall, stealing a quick glance he was glad to see that the same tension did not show on her face. Lord Athanar did not at present sit in the main hall and Martrim was suddenly aware that he did not know who it was in this hall that relied to him messages of guests in his halls. As his gaze searched the hall for someone to take a message of their arrival to Lord Athanar, someone came forwards from behind the corner and faced them straight from just a few yards away.

It was lord Athanar himself.

He looked baffled for a moment but suddenly his face turned into a smile and he raised his hands to stress his own fault not recognizing them immediately.

"So you must be lady Aedelhild and master Matrim!" He looked at them both inquisitively but retained his smile. "I had totally forgotten about you with all this..." he looked apologetic and he clearly meant it.”... With all this mess... Anyway, please sit down, let's talk." He waved towards the main table.

Ćđelhild's tension lifted slightly as they followed Athanar to the table, she had expected a more cooled reception and that it was not so set her somewhat more at ease. A small smile of surprise touched her lips as Matrim held out her chair, it had been so long that she had almost forgotten such small protocols. Though she had only been in Rohan some short months, she had been gone from Gondor over a year and from court longer still, her uncle had seen to that. As quickly as her smile had appeared it was now gone, her face again a blank canvas with only her rich brown eyes betraying the pain she felt at her uncle’s memory. Sitting she looked across the table to see Athanar studying her curiously.

"May we assume lord Athanar that you have been made aware of our situation?" Matrim asked breaking the man’s attention from Lady Ćđelhild.

Lord Athanar turned his attention to Matrim and nodded. "Yes you may... although there are a lot of things I'd wish to know more of." He leaned back a little in his chair looking thoughtful.

"I was told about your presence here my lady, and that lord Matrim and a Gondorian officer would be here to protect you. Also I heard that even if the danger on your life isn't necessarily an acute one, there is a chance someone might be after you even this far away from Gondor." Lord Athanar had been looking at Aedelhild while speaking but now he turned to Matrim.

"King Eomer told me to honour any pact you'd have with lord Eodwine and that's how it shall be. But first I should know what kind of arrangements there are. Had lord Eodwine appointed some men of his guard as an extra-security or something? And how about your status? Is it generally known inside the Mead Hall or are you having a cover-story of some kind?"

Ćđelhild kept Athanar's gaze as best she could, but hearing again that her life may be in danger and knowing what her uncle was capable of made her shiver. She was glad that he then chose that moment to turn his attention to Matrim.

Matrim paused briefly, thinking how best to proceed. "As you will have noticed on your arrival the guards of Scarburg are far and few between, So it wasn't difficult for myself and captain Balvir to blend as swords for hire recruited by Lord Eodwine to protect this hall." he paused a moment to glean Athanar's reaction, then continued.

"As completion of the hall was Lord Eodwine's priority and many of his men were needed to help with its construction. I and Balvir with Eodwine's knowledge had and still have been using the morning hunt as an excuse to gain the lay of the land and to watch the road/s in and out of the Scar. Edowine saw that Ćđel as the lady is thus known here was included in tasks that would keep her in company at all times (He decided to keep to himself the numerous times she had escaped such company to tend the garden or prepare her tinctures alone.) and Master Thornden has always had his men keep an acceptable night watch. Though I have never been sure if he knew of our circumstance or not. As Steward to Lord Edowine I would assume that he did, but if he did he played his information very close to his chest." As he answered Matrim thought again about if their cover was still necessary.

By now all of Gondor would know of the king’s decree and that they where somewhere in Rohan. How much more time really would it buy them to keep up the pretence? He glanced at Ćđelhild; he knew that despite her earlier assurances that she was ready, she really wasn't. He also knew that even if she was not she would at least have to appear to be, she had to show Cild that she was not afraid. His mind made up he turned back to Athanar. "Lord Athanar the time for hiding and laying low has now passed by now all of Gondor knows the Lady Ćđelhild is in Rohan, She is not guilty of the crimes accounted her and therefore must no longer be shamed into hiding. Her accuser must see that she is not afraid of his Lies!"

Lord Athanar was nodding as he listened to Matrim and he had been just about to open his mouth when Matrim addressed him with the issue of them not laying in hiding any more. He was a bit surprised of the energetic way this young nobleman made his case after being such a composed converser just before. He looked at Matrim to the eye, like he was measuring the young man.

"Well, lord Matrim. I admire your straightness. And if that truly is your wish..." here he glanced at lady Aedelhild, "then you truly shall sit on my table with the other nobles already on the dinner today. And we shall declare your positions then so that everyone understands." He looked at Matrim and picked the spoon from the table reaching his hand so that the incoming sunlight reflected brightly from the backside of the spoon to the wall behind them.

"With that revelation you're calling any possible servants of that lord Cild straight here as that kind of things rarely stay hidden once revealed. There are people who come and go and one ear getting the story will turn into a mouth for another ear to listen..."

Suddenly he rolled the spoon around so that the hollow part of the spoon faced the sunlight greatly diminishing the reflected beam that was now in between them on the table.

"Maybe that's what we'd wish to do then?" He glanced at the two quizzically. "If we catch assassins will it help your plight?"

The fear Ćđelhild had been suppressing rose as she watched the spoon and listened to Athanar's words. She looked at Matrim hoping he would change his decision, but instead he was nodding his gaze fixed firmly on the now up turned spoon. Ćđelhild was shaking, did he really mean to use her as bait. Sense told her that catching an assassin would indeed help her plight but at that moment fear was winning out and she struggled to fight back the tears that now glistened in the corner of her eyes.

The slightest hint of a grin touched Matrim's lips, he liked how Athanar thought, and catching an assassin would surely prove that Cild had something to hide especially if they could get that assassin to talk. He looked up but was surprised to see concern etching Athanar's brow, realising at once that his concern was directed at Ćđelhild. Matrim turned and almost at once he began to doubt his decision, her eyes glistened and she was shaking, had he gone too far? Was he asking too much too soon? It has to be done he told himself, he would have to be her strength at least till she could find it in herself.

Placing his hands gently on her shoulders and ignoring the involuntary flinch that always came (Another scar of her uncle’s ill treatment) he bent giving her no choice but to look at him. "I am sorry Ćđelhild, but you know better than I what your uncle is capable of." His voice was calm but sympathetic, "if he means to find you he will, weather we remain hidden or not, at least this way we can tempt him into tying his own noose." Ćđelhild looked away and for a moment Matrim feared she would choose to remain hidden, but then she spoke “What if he doesn't?" she asked in a cracked whisper. "Then we hope and we pray that my father has time enough to find that which he searches for." seeing that his words did not comfort her he raised her chin so their eyes met, "I swear I am not going to let anything happen to you! You are not alone in this."

Matrim's words comforted her and fighting back the tears she nodded. "Ok" she whispered, then again to be heard with out straining, "ok I will do it, that is if Lord Athanar agrees, it is to his home Matrim that we bring these troubles?" letting go of her shoulders he nodded his agreement, then taking his seat they both turned to await Lord Athanar's reply.
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Old 02-03-2010, 05:00 AM   #709
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Training - Quin and Hilderinc

Upon Coenred's command, the soldiers divided as they stood: usually every man picked the one who stood the nearest, and they would fight, now one-on-one.

Hilderinc looked around himself. There was none of the old Scarburgians nearby, which was a pity, he would have liked to try his skill against one of them. He noticed one of the guards a bit further away, but that one was already engaging Áforglaed. On the other side there was only Fearghall and behind him young Quin.

"So will that be you, Hilderinc?" Fearghall turned to him, calm as usual. "Nice to have the pleasure in the beginning, might save me the trouble to fight anybody else if both of my arms are broken even before we start."

Hilderinc could not resist a smile. He knew that Fearghall was a good warrior, easily his match, but he was one of the few who would make such jokes in front of Hilderinc. After all, many of Athanar's men - all the young ones - had never taken part in any real battle, and so Hilderinc, apart from his reputation of being sort of an outsider, had also the reputation of a battle-hardened veteran. Different people drew different conclusions from that and some of the young ones might have refrained from joking about their battle skill if they truly found themselves lacking it. But Fearghall had always been calm and did not seem to let anything trouble him.

Hilderinc noticed, however, the stark contrast of Fearghall and young Quin next to him. The boy was certainly not shaking, but his nervousness was apparent. Hilderinc tried to recall when he had seen Quin fight hand-to-hand, but suddenly he realised that he probably had not really had the chance to see him fight before. Once again the images of all the young would-be Eorlingas flew through his mind. "Why do we have to fight on foot? We have our horses."

"Excuse me, Fearghall," Hilderinc said and passed around him. The soldier turned around, eyebrow raised.

"What's up, Hilderinc?"

"Next time, Fearghall," he muttered over his shoulder. He waved at another of Athanar's soldiers who stood opposite to Quin. "Go and join Fearghall," he said. "He is waiting for you."

Hilderinc stepped opposite to Quin, with unreadable expression in his face.

"Swords!" yelled Coenred in the back.

Hilderinc drew his blade and took a defensive stance.

Quin stared at Hilderinc, an expresion of loss on his face. He couldn't read the soldier's expression. He never could. Ever since Hilderinc's arrival in Athanar's guard, Quin had felt intimidated by his silent austerity. He had always avoided him, and now he had no choice but to face him and fight him. He gripped his sword hilt.

There was a tense pause between the two of them. Hilderinc did not make a move. Quin clenched his jaw and resolved himself, and then made the first stroke. Hilderinc turned it easily, but did not return a blow. Quin stepped to the right, and Hilderinc followed up by stepping to his right. They slowly circled. Quin wondered why Hilderinc wasn't fighting. Was he studying him? He tried again, attempting to get under his guard with two swift strokes. Hilderinc easily parried both.

"That isn't working," he said, echoing Quin's own thoughts. Suddenly, he leaped forward and lead a strike against Quin's unguarded side, however, the blow was led slowly and the young soldier managed to parry in time. Quin stepped back, a small smile crossing his lips of slim satisfaction, feeling he had accomplished something.

"That's the way you're doing -" Hilderinc breathed, following immediately with the same blow once again. This time, Quin had been even able to anticipate it. What's more, he had noticed that with such a strike, Hilderinc had left himself open to attack. He took advantage of the soldier's lowered guard and after blocking Hilderinc's blow, he turned his blade and brought it down towards his shoulder.

The older soldier managed to parry Quin's strike at the last moment and it was obvious that it took him a great effort. Quin's smile broadened, but Hilderinc's next words shattered his illusion of doing well.

"Don't be so happy. What I just did was the way you have attacked me in the beginning. As you see, with the way you are leading your strikes, you are leaving yourself open to attacks such as the one you just made against me. And in contrary to myself, I am not so sure if you'd have been able to parry them. So, as you see, I could have already hit you three times only because of your own openings."

Quin's smile faded. His eyes burned a little with resentment. Up until now, Hilderinc hadn't proved anything to him. He had barely fought with him. Did he really think Quin was that much below him? His blood rose a little at Hilderinc's condescending tone. "Then do it, don't just talk about it," he said, and re-engaged Hilderinc with real intent, striking towards his left arm.

Young hot blood, Hilderinc thought to himself as he swung his blade in the way of the opponent's strike. The swords rang with a furious clash.

"You are getting serious at least," Hilderinc said aloud. "But you need to think before you strike. I could anticipate your movements, and so parry them." He forced his enemy's sword away from himself.

"But in a big battle, there is no time to study your enemy. You need to learn this, and teach your body to do it by itself."

Suddenly with a swift move, he swung his sword free and attacked back against Quin's unguarded right side. Quin writhed and twisted back, trying to escape the blow and swinging his arm down in a futile attempt to block. He fell back, his side smarting with the blow, but he grit his teeth and did not complain. He took a deep breath and gripped at his sword hilt again. They'd only just begun. How much longer would it be? Hilderinc didn't wait for him to regain his breath. He advanced again, made three more swift strokes, and forced Quin back another step, with another stinging welt across his shoulder.

Quin switched his sword to his left hand and held up his right. "Stop. I'm sorry for my rash words. It is clear that you have the upper hand in this. Will you teach me?"

Hilderinc lowered his arm and watched Quin pensively for a few seconds.

"If you want to learn from me, that is as much as I can do," he said then. "If you truly want to. But it is a good decision to make, to improve oneself."

He fell silent once again for a while. "You can learn as much as you allow me to teach you," he added then.

"Continue!" the commander's voice came from somewhere behind. "We still have some time left to finish this. Nobody stand still, keep practicing!"

Hilderinc again assumed the attack position.

"For start, I will go easier on you, just watch my movements very closely, all right?"

Quin nodded, and prepared himself. He rolled his left shoulder, trying to dissipate the lingering pain from Hilderinc's last hit. This was why he hated hand to hand practice. He wouldn't voice his opinion, though, for the world. They would call him a coward and a weakling. Instead he would learn. He set to the task and watched Hilderinc.

The lesson lasted for what seemed to Quin a long time. Hilderinc permitted him to see a lot and understand what he was doing. He did not permit him to get within his guard even once, whereas he often made a touch somewhere on Quin's body.

Finally, they were called to a stop. Quin waited until Hilderinc had relaxed from his ready postion before he stood upright.

The older soldier nodded at him. "This should give you something for start. How much it gave you you must judge for yourself. There'd still be a long way to go if you wanted to become a good fighter, but you are open to learning, which is the most important thing."

Just as Hilderinc finished his sentence, Coenred's signal called them to get back to their horses. The first practice of the soldiers of Scarburg under the new command was ended.
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Old 02-04-2010, 02:30 PM   #710
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Athanar, Aedhel & Matrim

"Ok I will do it, that is if Lord Athanar agrees, it is to his home Matrim that we bring these troubles?"

Lord Athanar leaned forwards in his chair and faced Aedhel. "Don't think about it that way lady Aedelhild. My king has charged me to protect you, so it's he who has brought any troubles to me, if anyone. But he didn't give any specifics on how I should do it. So if you really think drawing your enemies here and catching them here will help your situation, I'm ready to try it." He studied Aedhel's face intently trying to find out whether she really was ready for the gamble. He could say she was nervous to the bone.

Straightening his back lord Athanar turned to Matrim. "You can trust my men. And for a short while still we will also have a company of king Eomer's guards with us as well... So if you think there will be an attempt on her life or liberty anyway, then it should happen rather sooner than later. When Eomer's guard are gone we've a lot fewer men to take extra-turns or prepare for any traps."

Turning back to the lady he halted for a moment looking at how she reacted to all this talk. "I can assure you mylady, that we have the best men in Rohan to guard you if you decide to go for it. But make your decision in peace, not under any pressure to be brave. It's your decision and yours only." Here he glanced at Matrim, but more with a co-conspirator's smile than anything else. "You can signal your decision by joining my table at any meal you feel you're ready for it. From that I know you have decided and will then call out for the Mead Hall about your status." He turned to Matrim nodding lightly.

Rising up from his chair he addressed Matrim. "So I'll be waiting for your decision. Is there anything else for now?"

Matrim looked back at lord Athanar and nodded approvingly. "No my lord, not at present."

Matrim offered his hand and lord Athanar took it. They shook hands firmly looking each other to the eye. Lord Athanar was pleased with the young nobleman and was wishing to see him at his table sooner than later.

When he turned to Aedhel the old reflex suddenly came forwards and she offered him her hand. Lord Athanar took the hand and kissed it cordially. He still held her hand in his own while straightening himself to face her.

"Trust me. I'm a soldier by heart and know the offence is oftentimes the best defence and an open denial is more worthy of a noble than hideous hiding..."

He let go of her hand and nodded to both of them. "Now, if you excuse me. I have a tons of things to sort out here... But I'll be waiting to see you at my table anytime."
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Old 02-04-2010, 05:54 PM   #711
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Javan glared. “I don’t need any of you to come with me,” he said. “I have to find Aedre for my own personal reasons, but you need to keep out of it!” The three looked at him, surprised by his vehemence.

“I said we could help,” Garmund began, but Javan interrupted him.

“You can’t help. I’m not doing anything that requires help.”

Leodthern looked at him solemnly, her excited nature somewhat dampened by his apparent displeasure by their well-meaning offer of company and assistance. “What is it you have to do?”

“None of your business.” He pushed past them and began to walk towards the kitchen. He decided that it may be a good idea to ask the ladies there as the boys had suggested. To his intense annoyance, the trio followed him. He stopped half way across the courtyard and turned again. “What are you doing?”

“I want to see Aedre,” Leodthern said.

“And we want to find out what you’re doing,” Garmund added. Cnebba nodded. Javan stood glowering, considering them and the situation. He wasn’t about to find Aedre and then apologize to her with an audience of Leodthern, Garmund, and Cnebba. He found it quite bad enough that he had to apologize at all, but to do before the entire child populace of the Mead Hall! It was preposterous. Even Thornden would agree with him, if circumstances so drove him that he wouldn’t have the chance to do it before his older brother’s return. So, Javan changed his plan of action, and instead of going to kitchen went off his course and began to seek for Raban.
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Old 02-07-2010, 06:32 AM   #712
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Ćđelhild and Matrim

Ćđelhild remained standing as she watched Lord Athanar leave, the manner in which he spoke reminded her greatly of her father and how his words of advice would sooth and linger even after he had gone. As she stood, she could see the fine lines of her father’s care worn face in her head and how the corners of his eyes would crease when he smiled. “Where’s my brave little Buttercup?” He would oft say to her when returning home from long campaigns and she could still recall how tightly she would hug him glad that he was home. As she thought on this memory Ćđelhild knew in her heart that her father would have advised her much the same as Athanar just had. Taking a deep breath and swallowing her fear she resolved to keep to the new path now set before her. She was after all Lord Arethil’s daughter and as such she should act accordingly, her father would have never cowered in the face of his enemies and neither should she.

Matrim too watched Athanar leave, His opinion of the man now greatly changed from the night before, whatever he had once thought of new lord of Scarburg was now replaced with a new found respect. Not only had the man shown great wisdom and the ability to take on the hard decisions when necessary, but he had also shown them the respect he expected in return. Of course it could have all been a good act, put on by a man skilled in the art of deception. But Matrim thought not, he had been studying the man as hard as he knew Lord Athanar had been measuring him and he was satisfied that they could trust his word.

Athanar seemed to have a soldier’s instinct much like his father, Captain Balvir and Lord Arethil (Ćđel’s father). All three were named hero’s in Gondor and Matrim counted himself lucky to have learned from them all, he only hoped that he could live up to their expectations, but if he could become at least half the man any one of them was he knew he would be a good man. But for now though his next task would be to inform Captain Balvir of their plans, he knew the old man would not be pleased with the risk they were taking, but he would come round. Balvir was no fool and Matrim knew he would understand the necessity even if he did not like the danger and the old man would know how best to protect Arethil’s Daughter.

“We should find Balvir.” He said turn back to Ćđelhild; the young woman agreed with a nod and allowed him to lead the way back out of the hall.
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Old 02-08-2010, 07:34 PM   #713
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Coenred was hardly impressed by the drills, but he was not really disappointed. He had not expected soldiers at this new Mead Hall. Not that they were wholly undisciplined men, but they were a little green around the edges -- at least a couple of his men were, as well, but they were accustomed to more discipline and greater expectations in Edoras. Scarburg didn't require soldiers like Edoras did, at least not in these times. Coen was thankful for that.

But the officer took pride in doing things properly, and he would treat all these men just as he would the King's guards had he been their captain. Enemies did not always come from the Black Lands, and order was the first thing required for a hall and an emnet to grow. Even if he did not venture to make these men into an elite guard, he was going to keep them busy -- too much time idle was not healthy for them or the settlement. Besides, laborers were certainly needed.

Though Coen rather wished he could take part in the drills, he had watched each man as closely as he could manage, which was fairly close considering their numbers. He observed Hilderinc sparring with the young Quin. He had hesitated to perform man-on-man drills, but since the others had gone well enough and the men were demonstrating discipline he had decided to risk it. Hilderinc was obviously acting a good deal as a teacher, and the young man did not let his pride anger him too much. Of course mostly the men Coen had brought to serve the Lord Athanar paired with each other, and the Scarburg men paired with each other, but some were forced to match up with a man they were unfamiliar with. A number of the exchanges among the men were heartening to witness, especially after all the conflict and worry that had filled the previous day.

The captain called for the sparring to end, and announced that the men could go rest. "Stable your horses and see to your equipment, and take a rest. You will be prepared for any duties I might assign this afternoon, but you will begin to receive your regular duties tomorrow." That had yet to be worked out, and depended some on the plans for the further construction of and around the Mead Hall. But there was upkeep in the barracks and the stables, and guard duties, and training with the horses...no man would be left idle.

Once the field was cleared and the horses being lead back to the stables and the equipment being carried back to the barracks, Coen held lightly the reins of his courser as he walked with it. But instead of heading back to the stables he guided his mount towards Thornden and greeted him with a nod. "They are good men," he said. And it was the truth -- he indeed had nothing bad yet to say of those that were present that morning, besides of course criticisms in form. "I look forward to working with them more."

Coen meant that to convey that he looked forward to working with Thornden, as well, even though he was not so sure he did. Not that he had any problem with the man, but he was not accustomed to such vague divisions of rank and responsibility. Even if he was not the type to enjoy superiority over others, he respected order and rank, and appreciated efficiency. And this man was rather young... Coen had to wonder if the former Lord Eodwine had been grooming this Thorden as a possible successor, should he not produce an heir. This man before him was perhaps in as odd a situation as the Lady Saeryn. So far he had seemed to handle it better, though.

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Old 02-10-2010, 10:28 AM   #714
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Thornden stood by and waited for all the other soldiers to lead their horses off before him. He admitted that he was half waiting for Coenred, to see if he wished to speak to him. Sure enough, as the others were slowly walking away, the captain came near him. Thornden turned towards him to meet him and Coenred nodded.

“They are good men,” he said. “I look forward to working with them more.”

Thornden smiled a little. “Yes, they are good men. I think you will find that as you work with them they will progress quite well. They know what to do, it just has been so long since they actually did it that they are rusty.” He took his horse’s rein and began walking him back towards the hall, inviting Coenred to walk beside him. They went several paces in silence.

“I guess you will be giving all the orders now, concerning the watches and all that,” Thornden said. “Will you change who watches when, or do you wish me to tell you what the plan has been thus far?”
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Old 02-14-2010, 03:58 PM   #715
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Coenred felt unease rise up from a controlled ball in the pit of his stomach at Thornden's question. That the young man began with "I guess you will be giving all the orders now," caught him off-guard and made him wary of where this conversation would lead. He greatly wished he was still in Edoras, or even back home, without this title of 'Captain.' And yet there was a part of him that wondered how the Lord Athanar would fare here without a man like him.

The last thing Coen wanted was another man filled with anger over politics or perceptions, but he was not about to let Thornden walk over him, much less would he lie to the man. He hoped that the way the drills were handled had demonstrated somewhat to the soldiers and Thornden how the tiny guard at Scarburg would be handled, and obviously it had on some level, or the young man would not have remarked on Coen 'giving all the orders.'

It did amuse Coen, though, how the young man finished his question. 'Concerning the watches'...of course, what else had they to worry about? But no, he would not just be giving the orders in regard to the watches.

"It serves no good for there to be two men giving orders, and I am the Captain of the Guard here. But I will be working with you, Master Thornden, particularly since you will continue administrative duties under the Lord Athanar. Whatever information you can give me about the men and the duties they are accustomed to is appreciated -- I doubt anyway that my vision of a functioning hall guard and your and the Lord Eodwine's vision differ much at all."

Coen added the last statement for good measure, and hopefully as a reminder that he and the Lord Athanar and the men they brought with them were all men of the Mark, subjects of the same king, and sharers of land and language. It seemed somewhat as if many had managed to forget this. If one more man made a remark that made the Lord Athanar out to be an invader or usurper, the Captain was prepared to send a man to Edoras on his Lord's behalf...

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Old 03-05-2010, 10:24 AM   #716
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Thornden paused in his stride and looked at Coenred. This man sounded almost as though he felt he were cornered. Thornden did not like misunderstandings. He had spent too long with Eodwine who always addressed things head on to beat about the bush. “I am not resentful of your position, Captain,” he said. “Nor do I envy you. I won’t try to take charge. However,” he shot a glance forward to the last of the soldiers returning back to the stables. They had fallen behind some way and could talk without being heard. “I have something to impart to you that affects the watches, which is why I mentioned it.” He stopped altogether and Coenred stopped beside him.

“You may have met the healer, Ćđel. She is not what she seems, and she is not safe. In the past, I have had the responsibility of seeing that was protected at all times, which made the setting of the watch very important, for I had to be careful that the entire guard did not realize who she was. It is a delicate matter, and I only tell you because you are now in charge of it. Lord Athanar will know of what I speak, for he will have been informed of it when he was asked to take Eodwine’s place. I will tell you what I can, if you ask it of me, but I do not know everything, and if you wish to know everything, you will have to ask him, or the Lady Ćđelhild.”

He looked at Coenred a moment and then started forward again, leading his horse. He waited for Coenred to speak, and at the same time hoped he had made the right choice in telling the new Captain about Ćđel. He had been ordered to keep it secret, but things had changed so much that he thought this course best. Coenred must know his duty in protecting her lest the protection be taken away.
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Old 03-20-2010, 01:28 PM   #717
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Scyrr

The day had already started quite badly. As if anything better could have been expected in Scyrr's opinion. This forsaken place, which he was forced to accept as his temporary home, or Valar forbid, as a place of longer stay, has this far done only its worst to show its quality and it was getting worse and worse. The barracks were small and soldiers were literally lying on top of each other. Scyrr remembered having to push away somebody's boot which was too close to his face in the morning. When he came outside, he realised that it was a disgusting cold morning with an unhealthy smell of wet air, no doubt coming from nearby marshes, which surely had to be full of midges. He also felt he had not had enough sleep, and his head felt a bit heavy - he'd maybe had a few drinks too much yesterday evening.

In any case, maybe if he had known which way the morning's events were going to unfold, he would not have decided to go down to the stream. Not that he was too happy to share this trip with the two women either. The old cow from the kitchen was not his favourite company, and even the pretty young blonde did not seem to respond very keenly to his, albeit not very complex, attempts for conversation.

But then the fool appeared with his stinking business - and Scyrr just could not ignore him. Maybe there was a bit of a wish to show himself in front of the young woman (and the old cow), but there was also the annoyance and the wish to just kick some of those fools responsible for his current situation - as he saw it - in other words, one of the builders of this thatched barn calling itself a Hall, one of these simpletons living in the middle of nowhere and looking at him, a soldier from Edoras, as if he was the stupid one. They surely could not even count up to ten. And when Erbrand dared to lecture him with his clever speech, Scyrr just had to teach him proper respect. What happened after that he somehow lost the track of - too late he had realised that things have gotten out of hand.

Blackness seemed to be appearing in front of Scyrr's eyes as he was half-dragged by Ginna and Frodides back to the Mead Hall. He was in a weird state, somehow only half-aware of what was happening. His breathing was still irregular and only when they have laid him down on an empty cart in front of one of the buildings, he started to properly acknowledge his surroundings.

He could see some people moving closer to him from across the courtyard, but the two women have disappeared somewhere, probably to bring help or to call some officer - maybe even Coen or Athanar. That thought made Scyrr's mind clear for a moment. Really they'd better bring somebody of authority - whatever it was that the plaguy stinking fool has done to me, he will pay for this, he thought.

Scyrr would not let himself think that it was in any way his fault that the fight had started. He was also convinced that the two women will see it similarly and prove that in their testimony, if needed - after all, it was Erbrand who had attacked first, not Scyrr.

He would not think about it much, however. A start of pain shot through him. Suddenly he felt sick in the stomach. Whether it was just another reaction of his body to the fight, some false projection of the pain or a late outcome of yesterday's drinking, Scyrr could not know. Again his sight seemed to darken at times. Where did all this terrible pain come from? He managed to concentrate so that his sight got cleared for a while and he looked down at his own body. It took some time to realise that it was his left leg which lay somehow strangely on the cart. Did... did the fool actually break my leg? Scyrr thought with horror. Did he make a cripple out of me?

If it is so, I am going to beat the living breath out of him!
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Old 03-20-2010, 06:38 PM   #718
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Maybe I did become too accustomed to the politics and maneuverings in court, Coenred thought, trying to re-assure himself that Thornden spoke the truth. He certainly seemed honest, but any man could be earnest in what he meant to or hoped he could feel about a situation, whether or not that was how he actually felt. Thornden was a young man with himself to look out for, at least, and apparently he felt a certain need to look after the Lady Saeryn, as well. Along with that brother of hers... At least the better of her protectors was heavily involved in Scarburg affairs.

Coen listened with interest and consternation to Thornden as he discussed an individual of the settlement. How could a small, rather backward emnet have such an apparent security concern? And more importantly, how could one woman be such? He supposed he should not be surprised, as to what sort of people might find a new home in this growing Scarburg. But while some said every town had their secrets, he knew that was an exaggeration. Men did not like to keep secrets, in his experience.

This was clearly an important matter to Thornden, and one he did not speak of lightly. It was perhaps another sign that this young man would be a good ally for now and maybe a friend later. "Thank you for informing me of this," Coen said, tucking the name away in his mind. He would not question Thornden here and now. He would speak to Lord Athanar first. "I will look into it further, and carry out appropriate measures according to Lord Athanar's discretion and your advice."

He continued after a moment, letting his guard down a bit, "I know we have not really finished any business here, and I wish to speak with you further on a number of things, but I have a couple concerns to attend to -- namely a couple of missing faces," he finished with a sour twist of his lips. "If you could, I would be interested in seeing a full roster and a list of duties for the guard here. And an inventory of the guardhouse, if you have it, though that can be done easily enough, as long as the men haven't disrupted everything in the move-in. I will make sure I have similar information for you, Master Thornden, on the new men."

Coen knew that this was coming a day late, and should have taken place before all the men were thrown in together for drills, and thrown into the guardhouse together...should have. But he knew that the politics of the move came before procedure. That was clear, and he saw the purpose behind it to a degree, whether he liked it or not. But at least it seemed that he and Thornden could at least separate themselves from the politics, even if they were not beyond it entirely, and would start really accomplishing things. Once something felt well and truly accomplished, Coen would feel a great deal better. Even the successful completion of the drills was soured by the fact that two particular men failed to be present...
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Old 03-21-2010, 10:53 AM   #719
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Balvir

Balvir was one of the last soldiers to leave the training field, his breathing was heavy but not laboured, he had found himself quite enjoying being on the other end of the command structure for a change. Off course the drills were leisurely compared to what he had been used too, but then that had been in a time of war were you learned quickly or you died. His hand drifted unconsciously to the sheath that housed his Ithilien long sword, the names etched on its blade burned in his memory and for a moment his blue eyes appeared to mist over. But an impatient nudge from his black warhorse knocked him instantly from those dark days to the present.

Glancing back he was pleased to see the new commander engaging Thornden in conversation, he had not failed to notice a distance between the two men; as if neither knew quite how to take the other. Though if any of the men had noticed they did not mark it, that at least was some consolation, it meant that they had some level of discipline a plus given the events of the previous day. Balvir had to admit that he had been slightly disappointed when first arriving on the training field, his memory of the horsemen of Rohan was entirely different to that which met him this morning and he had laughed at his own miss-preconceptions. These men were mostly new recruits; men that Ceon could mould into the soldiers he needed to patrol the scar with a scattering of veterans to help keep them in line and show them the ropes, a good bunch Balvir thought as he led his horse Thor back to the stable.

In the stables Balvir kept an open ear as he listened to the conversations of the men around him. Few remarked on the morning’s drills, most were discussing the hearings and the events that had surrounded them. Intent on keeping out of such conversations Balvir busied himself unsaddling Thor.

“Has anyone seen Scyrr this morning?” one man asked searching through those gathered in the stable.

“It’s not like him to miss drills!” he heard another reply as he filled Thor’s water bucket.
“That Lithor was missing too!” another voice put in dryly.

“What are you implying?” someone else retorted heatedly.

Not liking the change of mood Balvir attempted to change the subject, “The Northern reach can be quite treacherous after rain, whoever gets that watch should be careful up there.” He kept his voice nonchalant and did not look up as he closed Thor’s stall door. keeping the impression that he had been oblivious to the current conversation he looked up to see them all staring at him, know he hoped someone would take his lead and defuse this current tension before it got out of hand and landed all of them in trouble with the new commander.
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Old 03-23-2010, 08:55 AM   #720
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Wulfric

"So, once more," Wulfric said when they approached the Meadhall grounds. "Let's keep in touch with the men, participating in drills or guards wouldn't be a bad idea. That way they will learn to know us and we'll learn to know them. And we'd better start doing with this before father 'comes up' with something 'useful' for us to do. We need to take the initiative."

Wilheard nodded. Good, everything was clear now. "Any questions?" Wulfric ventured to check.

"Aedre," Wilheard said.
"What about her?"
"We need to protect her, right? If we can't be sure father can manage it?"
"There's mother," Wulfric shrugged.
"She's a woman, Wulf. She can't protect her from everything."
"Try telling that to her," Wulfric said darkly. "But I guess you're right. We should make sure the kid is alright."

"So shall we do that next?" Wilheard asked.
"If you wish," said Wulfric. He wasn't too concerned about his little sister, but Wilheard seemed to be. Wilheard had always been closer to their sister than he was, but it was small wonder given that Wilheard and Aedre had only a five years' difference in age compared to Wulfric and Aedre's nine years.

The brothers dismounted and led their horses onwards. "What's that?" Wilheard asked sharply and touched his brother's shoulder.
"What?" Wulfric asked, looking around.
"There. Scyrr. He's not alright." Wulfric's heart skipped a beat. One of his soldiers, hurt? That was intolerable. What was happening?

"Take the horses," Wulfric said and gave Northwind's reins to Wilheard. Without looking back, he strode to the soldier as fast as he could without losing his dignity.

"Scyrr!" he called from a few steps away. The soldier turned his eyes to him. Everything was not as it should be.

Wulfric assesed the situation quickly. The soldier looked slightly pale - except around his neck, where the skin was red - and there was an absent look at his eyes, and on top of that his leg was weirdly crooked. Broken or sprained or just hurt, it was impossible to say.

"What happened?" Wulfric demanded.
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