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Old 11-06-2006, 01:15 PM   #601
Folwren
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Thornden stood without understanding Eodwine for a moment, but then the eorl stepped aside and allowed Thornden to enter the room. He had hardly passed the door post when he stopped abruptly to stare. Eodwine’s words made sense instantly. ‘There is no such man as Rilef, except at grave need. . .’ There sat the twins, looking back at him quietly, two separate men who were not really separate.

Thornden didn’t know what to think, how to react, or what to say. His eyes left Lefun and Ritun and he glanced at Garstan, Garmund, and lastly at Falco. Their earlier disagreement over the stranger came back to him. He wondered if Falco had known there were two of them. Possibly. It was impossible to tell. He turned and looked then at Eodwine. He had accepted the twins, apparently, and now stood waiting for Thornden to either do the same or make some objection. Thornden decided to make no objection. The responsibility was not his to accept or refuse any man that Eodwine thought fit to be part of the inhabitants of the mead hall.

“Lefun, Ritun,” he said, turning and looking again at the twins. “Thornden, at your service.” He bowed slightly and when he lifted his head again, a small smile formed on his face. “When we met earlier, I had no idea there were two of you. Your disguise worked quite well to fool me.”
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Old 11-06-2006, 09:24 PM   #602
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The twins visibly relaxed when Thornden showed friendship to them. Soon, Eodwine, followed by Rilef (for they had decided that it would be wise for the twins to assume their disguise at first) and the others, filed out of the room and down the corridor, and into the mead hall proper.

"Friends! My household!" cried Eodwine, gathering to him the attention of all those in the room. "We have a new guest. Greet him!"

All in the room hailed the new guest. Lefun nodded mutely.

"But all is not as it seems," Eodwine said loudly. This got the renewed attention of those at the board, for many had been turning back to the serious business of supper. "For we have not one guest but two! Ritun?"

Before their eyes, Ritun unclasped his hidden hands from around Lefun's neck, and pulled the rough tunic off of his head, and so were revealed the twins. Those in the room gawked.

"Ritun and Lefun are my new friends as of today. Garstan, Garmund, Falco, Thornden and I have each met them and made friends with them. They have been living in the ruins not far from Edoras, for fear of harm that might come to them by those who fear twins who have the same pair of legs. I hope," and at this point the lightness left Eodwine's voice, and he became forceful in his tone, "that all here will be no harm but friends to Lefun and Ritun. Have I your word? Say "aye" if I do!"

All those in the hall gave their word, though Eodwine noticed it was with varying degrees of intention. He would watch carefully that the twins were respected. He brought them to the table where his food and drink had been sitting neglected, and called for food and drink to be brought for the twins.
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Old 11-07-2006, 05:17 AM   #603
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A man with two pairs of torsos... What kind of monster is that? Modtryth shrugged and pulled Cnebba closer to herself. "Mum, let me go", Cnebba protested and slipped from her arms. He looked at her tentatively. Then he grinned. "Mum, dad, did you see? Those twins are in the same body. Woah..." Modtryth did not make a reply, but pushed the boy to Stigend. "I'm going to help the cooks to serve the meal", she informed her husband. The cooks weren't in need of help, but she definitely needed time and a place to think about this.

She slipped into the kitchen. Frodides greeted her with a question: "Ah, Modtryth, did you see the man? Or the men, should I say?" Modtryth nodded. "Is there any thing can do to help you?" she asked before Frodides could continue on Lefun and Ritun. Frodides took a look at her. "I see you're in no mood for gossiping." The cook looked around. "Go and fetch one of the small ale barrels from the cellar then, I think we're going to need some more ale." "I will", Modtryth replied and hurried out of the kitchen.

In the dark cellar it was easier for her to arrange her thoughts. Mostly her feelings were contradictory. Two heads, two upper bodies, two pairs of arms but only one pair of legs... that's a monster. Yet Lord Eodwine says they're two men. Two men in the same body? Does not sound very natural either. Must keep Cnebba well away from him... them. She sighed. That would be impossible. Yet... what if they're just ordinary people who just happen to share the same body the same way some people are blind from their birth or some are tall and some are short. Or some have fair hair and blue eyes and some dark hair and brown eyes.

I, of all people, shouldn't scorn the twins
, Modtryth thought, for how can I ask for people taking me as I am though I look like a Dunleding if I can't take everyone as they are?

Modtryth chose one of the barrels and lifted it. Walking back to the kitchen, she tried to tell herself that if it didn't make a person any less human if she had a dunlending-like outlook, it didn't make a person any less human if he had a twin brother stuck in the some body either.

Last edited by Thinlómien; 11-08-2006 at 02:17 AM.
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Old 11-07-2006, 02:38 PM   #604
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"Daddy? You see that one... I mean... those two?" Cnebba asked his father ecxitedly after Modtryth had left. For a second Stigend was not able to answer for he himself looked at the twins with disbelief. Cnebba was clearly more than ready to go to have a closer look and Stigend had to take a firm grip from his son's shoulders.

"Okay, we all see them" he finally managed to answer. "We'll go to eat in our table. You see, they are taken to the lord's table and we should not trouble them now." Gently but firmly he guided Cnebba back to their regular places where Garstan, Garmund and Leothern were already about to set themselves.

When they reached the table Stigend looked at Garstan quizzically as if asking whether he knew about this thing. Garstan couldn't fully maintain his calm and he nodded to Stigend inconspicuously so that the children didn't notice it. They all settled down.

"You saw those? Boy, that's weird! You think they're nice?" Cnebba asked the other children with fervour. Garmund tried to avoid Cnebba's questioning eyes but Leothern seemed grim enough. Even Stigend noticed her mood.

"He knew it all the time, when they came back from that trip of theirs..." Leothern managed to utter at last, looking at his brother with an expression that could not be misinterpreted: he had betrayd her and badly.

It took a moment for Cnebba to come to full realisation of this. Yes, Lord Eodwine had mentioned Garmund's name among the ones who had already made friends with the twins. He felt a growing anger inside him even though they had been good friends again the last couple of days after the incident. He has lied to us! He hasn't told us!

Cnebba acted as fast as any 8-year old could. He winked to Leothern, and as if by a common consent they both made a run for it. Garstan and Stigend tried to catch them but they were too late. The men stood up and tried to see where the two children were heading just to realise that Garmund had also left the table.

They looked at each other not knowing what to do, sharing the sentiment of powerlesness in the situation. Suddenly Garstan nodded towards the Lord Eodwine's table. Stigend turned his head and saw it too.

Cnebba and Leothern had reached the lord's table and had come to stand behind Lefun and Ritun. Cnebba patted Lefun on the shoulder and Leother on Ritun. As the twins turned around to find out what was it, both of the children took a few steps backward instinctively, just to make sure.

"Sorry", Cnebba managed to mumble for the four eyes that were looking at them intently. "We just wished to say hi. I'm Cnebba and..."

"And I'm Leothern, the sister of Garmund" Leothern put in before Cnebba had time to make the introduction.

"We were just wondering..." Cnebba continued, drawing breath and trying to form his question. Leothern was the quicker. " Which one of you moves your legs?" Cnebba glanced at Leothern and continued with his own question: "Would you play with us tomorrow, hide'n'seek, orcs and knights, ball-games?"

Garmund had reached the table and stood beside the two inquisitors.

Last edited by Nogrod; 11-08-2006 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 11-08-2006, 05:01 AM   #605
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Eodwine looked across the table at Garreth and Harreld. The twins sat to Eodwine's right. While Harreld's eyes strayed to the twins like torchlight cutting through the fog now and then, Garreth plainly stared. Eodwine looked at the twins, who kept their eyes on their plates.

Ritun was always situated to the right and behind Lefun, so Ritun had to reach around his twin to get at his food and drink. It had to be inconvenient to say the least, but Ritun seemed to think nothing of it; after all, he knew nothing else, Eodwine supposed.

"Hmph!"

Eodwine looked. That had come from Garreth.

"Must be a curse."

"Garreth!" Harreld said sharply, but eyed the twins nonetheless as if he agreed.

"Leave off, you," Garreth said to his own twin, then got up of a sudden before his ale was done. "I'm finished for the night. Good even to you all." He left the table and stalked out of the hall. Harreld eyed the others around the table, then pulled Garreth's plate and ale cup over next to his own.

"I hope you don't believe that about a curse!" Eodwine said.

Harreld just glanced up quickly and kept his eyes on both plates and ale cups as he worked at his double helping.

Eodwine heard the stomping of little feet running behind him and stoppin behind the twins.

It was Cnebba and Leoðern. They introduced themselves in their childish way, and came out with the most innocent questions that any adult would have been too embarrassed to ask: "We were just wondering. Which one of you moves your legs?" "Would you play with us tomorrow, hide'n'seek, orcs and knights, ball-games?"

Both of the twins turned, grinning. As usual, it was Lefun who spoke. "First one gets it done. Our rhyme it is. But games? First work, then play if Pa says."

"We must decide what work you are to do," Eodwine said. Then he noticed Garmund come up. The boy looked protective of the twins, and not exactly friendly toward Cnebba and his own sister. He wondered what was up.

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 11-08-2006 at 10:20 PM.
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Old 11-10-2006, 08:45 AM   #606
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Cnebba was at it again. Garmund had seen that sly wink directed at his sister before they ran over to meet Lefun and Ritun. What did he mean by trying to play the hero for Lèoðern? Egging her on with her silly idea that Garmund meant to leave her out from knowing the twins? Her look had implied that she thought as much. Garmund would have brought them to meet the twins. He wanted them to be friends with everyone at the hall. But this one time, just this one time, he wanted to run the introduction. He wanted to a better friend to his sister than Cnebba. The way things were before.

Garmund was sure now that Cnebba was trying to make him look bad in front of his sister and in front of everyone else at the hall. That was no way for a friend to behave. And so he quietly followed them to the other table, feeling all the wrath of a thwarted 9-year-old.

"You ought to have waited, Cnebba," Garmund said through clenched teeth. "I'd have brought you over to say hello."

Lèoðern scrunched up her nose. "No you wouldn't. You're always too busy. And you didn't tell me before, like you should have."

"Yes I would. But I had to make sure my friends were alright first.

I stick with my friends and make sure they don't get hurt. Not like some people here." Garmund stared straight at Cnebba, defying him to answer the challenge.
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Old 11-14-2006, 03:38 PM   #607
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"You say you would have, but you didn't." Cnebba answered Garmund firmly, returning the defiant look Garmund had thrown at him. He had no intent to pull aside or let Garmund bully him although he was very aware that he would not have great chances against the older boy if it would get physical. He was quick and agile, but that was mainly good for running away from the bigger boys or ducking hits or thrown objects.

"We" Cnebba started, throwing a quick look at Lèoðern, "came here to make new friends, not to quarrel with them, like some people here". Cnebba tried to imitate Garmund's tone of voice with the last part of his sentence. Then he turned his back to Garmund and readressed Lefun and Ritun.

"So, would you play with us tomorrow?"

------

Garstan and Stigend saw immediately that things were not right even though they didn't hear any of the words that were said at lord Eodwine's table. The body language and the expressions told them enough. With a fast nod to each other they left their meals and took after the kids.
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Old 11-20-2006, 02:57 PM   #608
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Before Garstan and Stigend were halfway to their kids, Master Falco Boffin, former shirriff in the Shire, life saver of Eodwine of the Gap, and general ladies' hobbit in parts far to the north of Edoras, was standing beside Garmund, and looked evenly at Cnebba (they were about the same height).

"Young man, it was I as told Garmund to keep his secret. Now off with you and the little girl back to your supper and let these two men have some peace!"
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Old 11-21-2006, 12:56 PM   #609
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Cnebba looked at Lèoðern but turned his head away from her almost immediately, lowering his head. He didn't want anyone to see him now as he tried to hold back the tears that were already moistening the corners of his eyes. His blood was boiling with anger and at the same time he felt so deeply hurt inside that it almost made his stomach turn around. All the world was against him, again. And his mother had just disappeared and his father seemed to be on the side of the world against him... well, probably not as such, but not defending him either. And then this old hobbit. What was he in this? Why was he defending Garmund who had come in and insult him in the first place? Cnebba couldn't understand.

And soon he felt he just couldn't hold the frustration and anguish inside him. He raised his eyes to look at Falco, tears flowing now openly, and shouted with all the will-power of a broken 8-year old who is hardly being able to control his voice.

"This is unfair! You're so unfair!"

With that he ducked pass Falco and Garmund and towards the door. Stigend saw these last moments near enough to send a concerned look at the hobbit before calling at the people sitting in the direction Cnebba was heading. "Catch him!" he shouted, only to see a small figure slip through the tables and to hear the door slam. Darn child... and what next? Stigend tried to relax but that was hard. He felt a strong urge to go after his son. He knew Cnebba well enough. He could do anything in that kind of state of mind, and get himself into trouble. If just Modtryth was here, one of us could stay here to try to solve this and the other could try and find Cnebba before he messes things up more...

Stigend looked both unsecurely and questioningly towards Garstan who frowned to show he probably knew no more of this than he himself did. Slowly Stigend turned towards Lord Eodwine and nodded to him apologetically, laying a quick glance at Lefun and Ritun.

"I do apologise on behalf of my son, my Lord. Whatever it was that happened here." He bowed slowly and took a step back, deeply in his thoughts that went after his son.
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Old 11-22-2006, 10:53 AM   #610
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"Look what you've done now, Garmund." Lèoðern protested. "You've made Cnebba run away. Cruel, cruel Garmund." She tilted her head back to look at him and scolded. "You ought to say you're sorry."

"Sorry?" Garmund snapped back. "He's the one who should be sorry."

Garstan had had enough. His face reddened with embarrassment for the children's quarreling in front of the Eorl. "Garmund. Lèoðern. Stop. We will speak of this later. But you should both apologize to Lord Eodwine for your behavior. You should know better than to make a scene at supper."

"I'm sorry," Lèoðern said quickly, hanging her head. Garmund reddened and muttered an apology.

"Now go to our room." Garmund and Lèoðern walked away slowly, frowning at each other all the way.

"I apologize for my children's behavior, Lord." He bowed and turned to Stigend. "It would seem that our problem is worse than we thought."
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Old 11-23-2006, 08:18 AM   #611
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"Where do you wish me to put this barrell?" Modtryth asked Frodides. "Put it over there on the floor", the cook replied, organising the spices. "Is there anything else I could do?" Modtryth asked. "There's nothing you can do in the kitchen", Frodides replied and laid the pot containing rosemary on the table. She turned and looked Modtryth straight in the eye. "You could, however, go after your son. It seems he got rather angry at something, I saw him run out of the hall just a moment ago."

For a while Modtryth just stared at Frodides and then took a few steps and glanced quickly to the hall. Stigend was still in his place, looking from Garstan to Lord Eodwine. Garmund and Lèoðern were on their way out from the great hall.

"I didn't hear or see it all, but to me it seemed like the boys had some sort of quarrel", Frodides said. Modtryth nodded. "Thank you, Frodides, for informing me", she said speeding out of the kitchen to the yard.

Now where has that boy gone? she wondered.

----------

Cnebba ran. He didn't have any certain place in his mind when he ran from the hall. He just wanted to go away. The tears were blurring his vision, but the anger was giving him speed. He wanted to be alone for a while so that no one could see his tears.

When he had ran enough he sat down and wiped his tears to his sleeve. "I won't cry. I don't cry. Only girls and babies cry", he told to the little sprout facing him. "I'm not a girl or a baby", he assured the young tree, "I'm not." The tree didn't answer. Cnebba kicked it. "Stupid tree", he muttered. Even trees seemed not to agree with him. Even trees were against him. He felt the hot tears rising again, but he defied them. "I'm not a baby", he whispered.

But it was all still so unfair. Everyone was unfair. They were all against him. Garmund had insulted him. Lèoðern had backed away, not protesting to her brother. That hobbit, Falco, had requested Garmund to conspire against him. Lord Eodwine hadn't done anything to prevent this. Cnebba's dad hadn't said anything, maybe he was surely conspiring with Garmund and Falco. His mother hadn't done anything either. Even the twins themselves surely had been plotting against him somehow, he knew.

------

Modtryth found Cnebba sitting on a small rock, hugging his knees. She walked to him in silence and sat down beside him. He glanced at her (his face was wet and eyes red) but then he turned his gaze away and looked at the maltreated little tree. "Go away", he said. She didn't. She just sat there.

"Go away mum", Cnebba repeated. She made no reply. This time the boy looked at her. "Mum, I asked you to go away, didn't you hear me?" he said, this time rather faintly. "I did hear you, Cnebba, but I won't go away." She looked at her son. He seemed to be in the brink of tears. "I don't cry", Cnebba told her. When she made no reply again, he added, "only girls and babies cry."

Modtryth looked at him. Her face was serious. "Not only babies and girls cry, Cnebba. Boys cry too" she said, looking at Cnebba and making a little pause. He turned away. "Grown-up men and women cry too. I cry sometimes", she told her son. Cnebba looked at her. "Even your dad cries sometimes too. There's nothing to be ashamed of in crying, dear", she told him and gave him a warm smile.

------

That smile was just too much for Cnebba. He burst in tears again. He felt his mother put her arms around him gently and stroking his hair. "It's alright, dear", he heard her familiar voice say, "it's alright".

After a while he became aware that he was in his mother's arms like a little baby. He squirmed away from Modtryth and she let him go.

"What happened?", his mother asked. This time, unlike all the times he had broken something, there was no trace of inquisition in her eyes, only concern. He hesitated, and then replied: "I and Lèoðern went to say hello to the twins and asked them to play with us tomorrow. Then Garmund came and said we should have waited for him to introduce the twins. As if they were his private property, only because he was taken to the adventure, not I and Lèoðern." He crushed an ant with his shoe, but as his mother still loked at her with a question in her eyes, he continued, struggling to keep his tone even: "Then he insulted me and said that I'm a bad friend and then Falco came and rebuked me. He said that he had ordered Garmund to hide the twins form us and that I was making a fuss over stupid things and I should go back to sit."

-------

Modtryth thought about the mess for a moment. I can't form a proper picture of this before hearing other versions of what happened, she decided. She took Cnebba's hand, but he didn't want to hold her hand. "Will you come with me, Cnebba? We must speak with your dad. And with others too. I'm sure there are apologies that should be offered." Cnebba looked at her defiantly. She stood up. "If you wish Falco or Garmund to apologise to you, you must come with me. No one's coming here to apologise you anything, dear."

Cnebba looked at her. "Do we have to go just now?" She looked at him, pondering. "Please mum, not yet, but soon", he asked. "Very well then, dear, but we shouldn't be away for long." She sat down again. "Will you play a match of stone-éored with me, mum?" Cnebba asked after a while. "Definitely", Modtryth said and smiled, "but just one match, then we really should be going, otherwise your dad will get too worried."
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Old 11-23-2006, 08:32 PM   #612
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"I am sorry for my children's fighting, Lord." He bowed and turned to Stigend. "It would seem that our problem is worse than we thought."

"You are forgiven, of course," Eodwine said, smiling. "Children will fight." He turned to Falco with narrowed eyes. "And Hobbits will nose into other folks' business." Then he turned to Lefun and Ritun. "What would you in the matter of the young ones?"

Ritun spoke for both of them, as usual. "Earn my keep first." Lefun nodded. "We'd five make it in games. Why less? But weary we be this day."

Eodwine smiled. "There you have it, Garstan, until I can hit upon a good way for the Lefun and Ritun to earn their keep here, the children may take as much of the twins' time as these two can stand. Do I have the right of it, Lefun? Ritun?"

They nodded.

"Good! Now where is that minstrel of ours, the mighty Manawydd? Let's have some harping!"

The minstrel was found and he sat before the fire as the day waned. Ale kept coming around. The twins left the hall early in the evening. Harreld staggered out in search of his brother Garreth, but not until much time had passed, the sun just setting. Eodwine sat in his chair, silent, mulling. Those who looked his way so a furrowed and lowered brow and lips that twitched and bit and frowned, and an eye that cast about here and there, following Saeryn closely as she walked by from time to time.

Toward sunset Modtryth and Cnebba came to him, and he gave them his full attention. Once they had moved on, he resumed his mulling.

Falco once tried to make small talk with him but Eodwine dismissed him abruptly; Falco left him with raised brows, and pulled out his pipe and sat near Manawydd and the fire himself. None knew his thoughts, and Falco knew better than to try to badger them out of him until the Eorl was ready to speak his mind.

Eodwine was still mulling the words of the King about Sorn's old holdings, and the Queen about Saeryn. He knew what he needed to do and say, but did not relish the doing and saying. He remained in his seat long after Manawydd grew tired and lapsed into silence, and the hall emptied save those who changed their benches into beds. Eodwine was left undisturbed by all, and paid all the to-ings and fro-ings littlo heed.
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Old 11-30-2006, 01:14 PM   #613
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Thornden had paid little attention to the siblings’ quarrel. He had grown up with too many bothers and sisters himself to mind a few sharp words. He ate his meal with a good will, having ridden all afternoon and eating nothing since mid-day. He said nothing to any of his neighbors as he ate. His mind worked busily, thinking of everything that had happened that day.

When the meal was over and the board had been cleared, he sat still with his hands wrapped around a warm mug of tea while most of the others got up and moved about in different groups around the room. After a few minutes, he drew a deep break and looked up, as though awakening from a dream. He glanced around, lifted the mug to his lips and drained the rest of the lukewarm liquid and set the mug back on the table as he got up.

He looked around the people still gathered in the hall. Eodwine sat by the fire, apparently lost in deep thought. Off to one side, sitting face to face by the wall, sat Garstan and Stigend, talking with their heads bent close together. Thornden went towards them. He stopped a couple feet away and waited for a pause to come into their conversation and for them to notice him.

Only a few seconds passed before Garstan slowly lifted his hand and then turned and looked at Thornden. Thornden stepped forward. “May I join you? I would like to hear what you accomplished today. I was gone most of the day.”

“Certainly, Thornden, and welcome,” Garstan answered. “Pull up a chair. Stigend and I were only discussing the new member of the hall.”

“The twins, you mean,” Thornden said, half turning to reach behind himself for a chair. He swung it around and straddled it as he sat, placing his arms on the back. “There are two of them, you know. They are an interesting set, to be sure,” he went on, his eyebrows contracting for a moment. But then his face cleared again. “I think all will be well, though. Eodwine is a good judge of character. Besides that, Falco and your son Garmund were the first ones to find them and I have a feeling that if they were dangerous, it would have shown before now.”
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Old 11-30-2006, 06:42 PM   #614
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A faint smile curved on Garstan's face. "I met the twins afore they came to their meal and found them safe enough. That they should be as they are is wonderous, but I see no harm in them. And I place my trust in Lord Eodwine's judgment."

Garstan frowned as he came more to the point of his words with Stigend. "We were speaking more upon our children's fighting for their favor. We had known that not not all was as well as we had wished between Garmund and Cnebba." Stigend nodded his agreement. "And we had thought to put an end to the matter by setting their time for chores more alike. But there is more amiss than we had first thought."

"Cnebba ran off crying. That is not like him."

"Nor does Garmund show his anger as he did tonight or try to keep the reasons for his thoughts from his father." Garstan had spoken to his son in their room, but the boy had given little answer, instead sitting with his jaw set and face reddened even after Lèoðern had laughed and teased him to smile.

"I would not have the sons at war when their fathers are friends."
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Old 12-01-2006, 10:19 PM   #615
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“I would not have the sons at war when their fathers are friends.”

Thornden looked from Garstan to Stigend and back again. This certainly was a problem He considered it mutely a moment and then he opened his mouth slowly. “I…” he paused and then continued. “I am not a father and I know really very little about how to truly fix it. I think whether or not the fathers are friends, the sons who once were friends should not be enemies.”

“I don’t know if we can be absolutely certain that they were ever enemies,” Garstan said.

“Oh,” Thornden said. He blinked and drew a great breath. “I see.” He paused again, and then he spoke abruptly, “Garmund is jealous.”

Garstan sat forward almost eagerly. “What do you mean?”

“This morning. . .before I left, I was coming across the yard and I met up with Garmund and he was looking a might sour. . .” Thornden told the two fathers what had passed between the him and Garmund that morning, how Garmund had said that Cnebba had taken his sister’s attention away from him and that they were always playing together – without him.

“He said that now it is as though Cnebba were her brother and he was not. He asked me why it couldn’t be like it used to.”

“What did you tell him?” Garstan asked, his voice quiet.

“I didn’t get a chance to tell him anything. That’s when Falco walked by. When he heard what the problem was, instead of answering Garmund, he suggested we go on an adventure, and we did. I can’t say now that it was such a bright idea,” Thornden admitted somewhat shamefacedly. “Falco said something to the affect that it would make Lèodern and Cnebba jealous of us three. I am sorry I did not tell you at once. I thought it was a passing mood or fancy of his and that today’s adventure would drive the trouble out of his mind. I’ve got several siblings of my own and we always were able to hammer out our disagreements. When father had to step in, as you did this evening apparently, we usually were able to figure it out even faster, with his help. But Garmund seems more upset than that.”
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Old 12-02-2006, 03:59 PM   #616
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"Maybe it wasn't so bright idea, looking at our children here, but..." Stigend opened his mouth at last. He had been listening and thinking both about their children and about the wonder-twins, as he called them in his head. He looked at Thornden and then to Garstan and continued: "But maybe it was better in the end."

Garstan looked surprised and turned to face his friend, questionmarks flying from his eyes.

"Well, I've been thinking about this almost all the evening now. I mean after I saw that one...erm... those two". Stigend made a pause as if he was trying to find the right words.

"What I mean is. We, me and my family, have had it the rough way most of the time, just trying to get along in this life because of Modtryth's blood. But how tough it must have been for those two? And what would have awaited them if people from this Hall would not have been the ones to find them?" Stigend shook his head slowly, staring now downwards and fiddling with the button of his skirt. He looked somewhat distracted.

Garstan landed his hand on his shoulder. "I can see what you mean, Stigend."

Stigend raised his head and wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his skirt. "Sorry my friends. I tend to get a bit carried away with these things." He reached to the table and picked a jug of ale. "But the kitchen is getting ready, at least what comes to masonry. Now isn't it, master Garstan?" Stigend smiled and raised the pint after which he took a good draught from it.

"And I'll be needing a few steady hands on my site in day or two. The logs are soon hewn and we must start bringing the thing together. My friend Garstan has already given his word to accompany me with it. How about you master Thornden? Any interest in that kind of work?"
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Old 12-02-2006, 05:40 PM   #617
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Eodwine, Saeryn and Kara have a little talk

Eodwine overheard the conversation his almbudsman, stoneshaper, and carpenter were having, and was pleased by the turn it was taking. He smiled to himself, got up from his chair, and went into the kitchen. They noticed, but he waved and went on his way. He noticed Saeryn come into the hall from the opposite door just as he was leaving. He would have liked to talk to her by the fire, but he was already in the kitchen by the time he thought of that, and let it go.

It had been a full and strange day between revelations at Meduseld and the goings on at these ruins to the east of Edoras. Who knew? Ah well, Eodwine thought, life is certainly not dull.

He sat down in the kitchen, Kara his only company, and began a late night snack of toasted and salted black bread and a particularly dark brown ale. Kara was doing some final ordering, puttering about the place; it seemed as much hers as Frodides' now.

Having spoken with Eodwine, Kara now knew that her time off was secured, and as she put the cleaned and dried plates away and got out what would be needed in the morning - for Frodides had taught her that it was easiest to be prepared - she thought of where she would take Nain. Young Garmund’s tale of what he had seen at the old ruins had intrigued her, but there seemed little point in going to them when they had all already heard all there was to see a good few times. Still musing, she looked up as Saeryn came through the doorway.

"Good evening, Kara, Eodwine. The Hall seems mostly settled for the night. Is there anything else that needs doing before bed? I would have a word or two with you before then, Eodwine, though there is no rush."

Eodwine saw in Saeryn's eyes a seriousness, but one far less worrisome than in some of the many times she had come to him before.

She padded her way softly across the floor. She had very carefully lost her slippers quite some time ago and now calmly felt the cold of the floor against her toes and hoped she would step on nothing sharp. The kitchen lamps flickered invitingly and she poured herself a cup of relaxing tea with a smile to Kara and she sat quietly, brushing her skirts smooth, waiting for Eodwine to respond.

Eodwine watched Saeryn, wondering where this demure young woman had come from. She had grown quiet and perhaps a little distant of late, and he did not like it. But maybe he had been somewhat distant himself.

Seeing that this was serious, Kara made ready to leave. While she was as much a lover of gossip as the next person she had seen the hurt that the recent rumours had been causing Saeryn and felt that perhaps this ought to remain private.

"There is no rush. And Kara," Eodwine said, "you need not leave. When you are done, sit with us, if you will." He turned back to Saeryn. "What do you wish to speak of?"

"Not a what, but a he. Trystan." she stated bluntly, though politely. She watched Eodwine's eyebrows raise slightly. "Tell me what you think of him?"

Surprised but glad at the turn the conversation had taken, Kara followed Eodwine’s instructions and sat down. Trystan was a less volatile subject than the one she had thought was about to be discussed, and one she was interested in. His treatment at arrival had caused some distress, not least because of the odour that had clung to him for days after, and while she had heard Saeryn’s opinions on the matter, she had yet to hear Eodwine’s.

"A callow youth in need of training, he is; smart but unwise, and needs to learn wisdom. He has begun to learn it. I am surprised that he has chosen to stay here and learn it; but it is a good sign." Eodwine eyed Saeryn and allowed a wry smile. "Unless, of course, he has other reasons to stay, such as a fair maiden or two."

Saeryn smiled in return, though only briefly. "I understand your intent, Eodwine, but Trystan as a soldier? He may take orders for a time, but what will happen when he cannot any longer? It is not in his nature, I do not think, to serve for very long in such a role."

"Not in his nature, you say?" Eodwine could not suppress a grin. "His derring do and dash and romance means that he cannot be a soldier? Look at me, Saeryn. I am a lord and have been a soldier. What do you think I was like when I was his age? Take a guess."

At this Saeryn laughed gleefully, the image of Eodwine just out of boyhood coming to her. "Oh fine." she accepted with a full smile. "I suspect very much that you were much like Degas used to be, and the spitting image of our Trystan. But..."

Suddenly Saeryn's plan seemed to her less perfect than it had before. She could think of many things to say, but allowed none of them to be heard. Would Eodwine have this young man, already too wise in the ways of the world, become battle hardened and lose his impertinent grin? Would he ask Trystan to settle into such a calming role when he so obviously thrived in the center of a room's attention?

Saeryn saw chains, not unwelcome, but neither were they inviting. To bind a young man into soldiery was fine... for some. How could Saeryn make the suggestion she'd been thinking on without it seeming that she disapproved of her friend's decision?

Eodwine's heart skipped a beat the moment the smile came to Saeryn's face. That glow was one of the things that drew him to her despite twenty and more years' difference in age. It was not so easy here, now, with her, to take a dagger, as it were, and cut his thoughts and feelings about her in two as he had been able to do before Queen Lothiriel.

"But you still think that Trystan should not be made into a soldier." Saeryn nodded. "Has he said he does not want it?"

"Not in any way so that I could hear it, but what words are more important to character, Eodwine? The words one says or the words one keeps to one's self? This attribute of him... it makes me think... it makes me wonder, really..." Her thought spilled suddenly forth in her impatience to be done with them. Let what may come, come. "Eodwine, you have protection for your household already in terms of soldiery. With the menfolk in your service and who are friends to you, I cannot forsee an offense they could not counter, if not out of strength than out of love and loyalty.

"You have protection, if it comes to that, and you have cooks and those who help to clean. You have Léof for your stables, though I wonder, if with so many guests, he might find use for a young helper. No, not Trystan. He is too dramatic for horsework.

"You have builders and quilters and healers-in-training. You have a lady for your hall who minds the affairs of the household and guests in the position of housekeeper as well." She smiled slightly before letting it fade into worried seriousness. "Eodwine... please hear me.

"When my parents lived, they had no need for such thought... their news came from all sorts. Morning chats with sellers in the market, passing travellers, visiting nobles. My parents were well known and well liked. People spoke candidly to them. You are well liked by those who know you, but Eodwine, you have not been a lord for long. Word travels and words meet and words twine around each other until trouble arises. Most times talk amounts to nothing but more talk, but it is always good to know what people say and think."

"I know well enough what people say and think, for the gossip is rife around this town," said Eodwine with a touch of ire. "And who are my sources for the juiciest morsels? The queen herself, if you can believe it. I suppose, Saeryn you know what they say?" He eyed her briefly but looked away, embarrassed by the subject now that it was on the verge of being spoken in this, their very own kitchen. "They say that I dishonor you, Saeryn. And what's more, they are right. So I must know something from you, and 'tis good that Kara is here to witness my question and your answer. Is - Would - Do you - . Do you want me for your husband, or would you rather seek another?" There. It was out. Raw and poorly it was asked, he could feel it, and he could read nothing on her face other than a wide eyed look of amazement or horror, he could not tell which.

Suddenly desperate to leave, Kara fidgeted in her chair. Everything had become so serious so fast that she had not had time to make her excuses and go, and now she was stuck in the midst of a conversation that she was sure Saeryn at least did not want witnesses for. Perhaps she could still find a reason to leave, but it would be obvious why and, though she hated to admit it, she wanted to hear the answer.

Saeryn stifled a gasp. She had heard the rumors, yes both heard them and tried to ignore them and worried herself into not sleeping soundly over what was said of her, of Eodwine's honor, of Saeryn's upbringing and her parents. She'd heard slights upon her dead father, whispers of a mother who did not know how to raise a daughter properly. She'd been asked outright if it were true that she was with child. She had told Eodwine none of it and had borne it in silence, but she had forgotten that Eodwine would hear it just as well as she might. But from the queen! Saeryn's eyes grew wet with angry tears.

"Kara and Frodides and Medreth work for you and nobody speaks of them in such a way!" Saeryn finally exclaimed, furiously wiping her eyes before the tears could spill over. She knew what she said was foolish even before saying it; they were wonderful women, but none of them ladies.

Would she seek for another husband? She wanted no husband at all! It wasn't fair, that was all there was to it. If she stayed, the rumors would continue until and even after she married Eodwine.

"Eodwine..." she began. She stopped suddenly, shivering. What would Mother and Father say? Father would have given her the very same choice. It was no bad match to wed the Eorl of the lands, and to marry a man of such years was not unheard of. He would ask her to think and to think very hard, but he would not make the choice for her. My little Saery, you will do what you must. You will do what is right. She could hear him so clearly. She closed her eyes, trying to hold back the tears that still threatened. Her mother's voice... Little one, would you be content? Would you be happy? You must do what is right. There seemed no other way. No way to end this, but perhaps a way to escape the harsh words, the hard reality.

"Eodwine..." she began again, casting a quick glance to Kara who seemed both shocked and enraptured at the exchange before her. "Your wife." she ended simply.

Meeting Saeryn’s eyes Kara saw the turmoil in them. This wasn’t a good choice to the girl who was too speedily becoming a woman, it was simply the best of a lot of bad choices. She wanted to interrupt, to explain this to Eodwine in the hope that she could somehow dissuade him from putting poor Saeryn on the spot like this and was on the point of doing so when he suddenly demonstrated that even an Eorl could have moments of idiocy.

"My wife? She is dead. I no longer seek her. It was a passing fancy. Is that your worry? I-" Eodwine glanced at Kara who's eyes appeared to be about ready to pop out of their sockets with what appeared to be mounting frustration at him. "- ah -" Suddenly he understood. Eodwine, you fool. "You would wed me." He said it as if he were a law man in court, checking what he'd heard with the witness on the stand. "Saeryn, I will be old and a wretched man weak in his bones and sinews while you are yet hale. Are you sure?"

"No." she sniffed. "I am not. And in that lack of surety, I would not wed you. I just want this public viewing of my life to end and I know that it cannot."

She stood suddenly, smoothing her skirts, and quietly, gracefully, fled the kitchen leaving a dumbstruck Eodwine and a very confused Kara behind her.

Eodwine turned to Kara. "Well, at least she can stay here then." He sighed with relief, tinged with a sense of loss. Not to wife. Then he would father her as best he could. But she had not said that; she had said she was not sure, which was the most true thing he could have hoped. All the more reason to father her and end all such gossiping once and for all. He would relieve her of the confusion. He turned to Kara again. "You have been quieter than I thought you would be. I will tell you my mind in any case. I will foster her and not woo her. I'll make it clear to her and all here, and to the queen. What think you?"

“I have been quiet, lord, because this business is between you and Saeryn, or at least she would prefer it that way. But since you do wish for my thought I will give it. You are pushing her too hard and too fast and that, along with the difficulty of dealing with what many people are saying, is causing confusion and worry within her mind. She is still young, and this may be the most important decision she will ever have to make. It is possible though that, in future, she will wish to wed you, and be sure and happy about it. Lord, if there is a way that you can stop the rumours and take this pressure off Saeryn yet still leave the option open for her, I think that would be best for all.”

"Then I will demote her to head cleaning girl, and make you hostess. That is my thought." He sighed. "And maybe a bad one. I have let my own wishes get in the way of what is best, and I am sorry for it. I think we will all three of us do well to sleep on this and speak more of it later. Good night, Kara."

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Old 12-03-2006, 04:26 AM   #618
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Lys had once thought sitting in the quiet was agonising and avoided it at every cost. Lying in his bed for those many weeks made him ruminate on the shadows, the cold and the rain. But after a day as filled with excitement as this one, Lys was content to lean against a wall in the coutryard and let all his thoughts slip into place.

Thornden was now his guardian. Thornden was now his family. The thoughts were like a warm, comforting cloak that kept Lys from the frigid cold. He had hoped that Thornden would always care for him and take him in, but he had never hoped that he would be accepted so warmly.

Lys also took in the rest of the evening. Thornden had to speak with Lord Eodwine, and Lys had headed for the dining hall. When the announcement was made, Lys could only stare. He felt himself very rude, but could not help it.

Lys did not find himself afraid or Lefun and Ritun. He was curious. He could see in their faces no malice nor harm to another being. But Lys wondered how they had survived so long as they were. They both seemed so far removed from people, that they were even afraid? Lys could not tell that much from them. But he had an insatiable desire to talk to them. The children surged forward to talk to the twins, but Lys shrunk back, suddenly shy and not quite aware of what to say. Instead, he finished his meal and retreated outdoors into the cool air.

Staring up at the stars as they tracked above the thin wisps of clouds, Lys wondered what the Mead Hall would have in store for the new visitors. He wondered if, like himself, they would have to worry about finding a place amongst the inhabitants of the Hall. Colour came to his cheeks as he realised how selfish his thoughts were. 'They have had a terrible time, I should not compare myself to them! If I have ever had struggles, I do not remember them...'

The realisation sank in with a dull pain that Lys shrugged off. For now he was content knowing he had the beginning of a family, and perhaps the start of new friends in Javan and Léof. 'If all these memories are buried away, perhaps it would be better to simply build new ones' Lys thought to himself.
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Old 12-03-2006, 08:56 AM   #619
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Thornden smiled and drew back a moment after Stigend asked his question. His arms came off the back of the chair and his hands wrapped around the sides. “I haven’t done very much building, really,” Thornden said. “But I would be willing to put my mind and hands to it, if you’d be willing to try to teach me.”

His small smile was returned in full from Stigend. The carpenter was glad to hear that. Thornden then asked what all had been done that day, and the two men began to give a detailed account. Garstan had apparently finished most of the stonework. The ovens were completed and all that was left was to place a few more stones in the hearth, so that it extended some three to four feet from the fire place in a half circle.

“Ran out of daylight today, or I would have done it all,” Garstan said. “It won’t take very long at all.”

Stigend then explained what he had done. More work on the beams and other wood that would soon begin to be put in place. Thornden listened with interest and when Stigend had done, he asked another question.

“So, tomorrow, you say, you’ll be in need of a few steady hands?”

“In a day or two, anyway,” Stigend corrected.

“Good. Well, then, unless Eodwine has need for me elsewhere, I will be more than happy to help you.” He stood up as he spoke and moved the chair from beneath him. “Thank you very much for the account of today. I hope all turns out well with your children. I am going to make certain that my own two charges are getting ready to turn in and then I think I will do so myself. Goodnight.”

The two men said goodnight as well and Thornden turned and left the hall. He went slightly and quickly upstairs and opened his door softly to see if Javan had gone to bed. He had, and he was sound asleep, snoring softly as he lay on his back. Thornden left again at once and went back down stairs to Lys’ room. This bedroom was empty and the bed still made.

“He must still be outside!” Thornden said quietly to himself as he went back out. “I’ll look to see.” He did so accordingly and upon exiting the building saw Lys almost at once, seating with his back against the wall and his head tilted upwards. Thornden stopped and looked, somewhat surprised to see Lys sitting alone. He approached in a moment and knelt on one knee in front of him. He touched the boy’s hand and Lys looked down. “What are you doing out here?” Thornden asked. “I thought that by now, you’d be in bed, what with everything you’ve done today. Aren’t you worn out?”
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Old 12-03-2006, 02:48 PM   #620
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Thornden walked away, leaving Garstan and Stigend alone once more.

"We still have the matter of Garmund and Cnebba, Stigend. I do not like Garmund's jealousy and would have this settled. It has been hard on him, maybe, to live here after we had been wanderers for so long, but I had not thought it would be so. I do not think that he means to be angry with Cnebba. Neither do I think that Cnebba means to make Garmund angry with him."

Stigend added, "The worst of it is that they were friends at first. I was glad to see their friendship, all the more so because my family has found few friends before now. I too would see this ended."

Garstan cried, "Then let us have an end to it tonight! My headstrong boy will not tell me his mind, but he will tell Cnebba. And Cnebba should tell Garmund his answer. Maybe when they have spoken they will see the folly of this rivalry."

"And if they do not?"

Garstan frowned, not liking his answer. "Then I fear that our children must be kept apart for a time. Until they learn to miss each other's company and are able to behave well together again. Shall we gather the two of them and meet in our rooms?"
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Old 12-03-2006, 04:39 PM   #621
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"I do agree with you on this one. We should all talk this over, not just us two, but all of us, everyone... and tonight if possible. The sooner the better." Stigend said looking at his friend to the eye. Garstan nodded in return.

"Would you three come to our room upstairs? We have more space in there and if I recall it rightly you haven't visited our quarters as a family yet?" Stigend added, now already smiling a bit, an assuring look on his face.

"We will accept your invitation. We'll be there in a moment." Garstan replied and turned to leave.

"By the way. Let's also think of different solutions to our problem too? If we could give Garmund and Cnebba a challenge that would force them to trust and count on each other? That might make them friends again, even stronger friends as they were. I would be very happy to see that. But it might make it even harder for us to bring them back again if it goes wrong." Stigend called after Garstan who was already on his way.

Garstan stopped and turned to answer after a second of thought.

"I'll promise to think of a challenge. It sounds good indeed - if we just can come up with a good one... See you soon!" Garstan called Stigend and continued towards his quarters.

Slowly Stigend turned around too and started climbing the stairs wondering what Modtryth and Cnebba had been talking about meanwhile and what would be the mood in there as he would enter their room.
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Old 12-04-2006, 04:51 AM   #622
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Cnebba sat on the floor, playing with his favourite wooden horse made by his father. Modtryth sat on the bed, patching Cnebba's old trousers. Both were in deep thought.

"Mum?"
"Yes, Cnebba?"
"What's going to happen this evening?" He was trying to make his voice disinterested and indifferent.

Modtryth laid her work on the bed. "Once your dad comes, we must discuss." Cnebba turned around to face her, still holding the horse. "Me too?" "Yes, you too, Cnebba." She made a little pause before continuing. "And eventually, we three will discuss with Garstan, Garmund and Léodern." Cnebba made no reply, but turned his back to his mother again, and started playing again.

Modtryth sighed and took up the needle and the cloth.
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Old 12-04-2006, 06:17 AM   #623
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"Then I will demote her to head cleaning girl, and make you hostess. That is my thought." He sighed. "And maybe a bad one. I have let my own wishes get in the way of what is best, and I am sorry for it. I think we will all three of us do well to sleep on this and speak more of it later. Good night, Kara."

Shocked at Eodwine's words it took Kara a moment to realise he was leaving, but as his good night fell she jumped up from her seat and took his sleeve between her fingers to gain his attention and stop him. Of any talk that had gone by tonight this was the most startling to Kara and she was determined to put an end to it now.

"My lord, I agree that sleep would do us all well, but not if all it will do is encourage this latest thought. If you demote Saeryn now it would be as though you were punishing her for not wishing to marry you."

Eodwine's mouth opened in protest but Kara barely noticed, agitated as she now was, and she swept on.

"Even if that is not your meaning the gossips that speak of your every move will certainly make something of it, and Saeryn too will be hurt by such a decision. She has thoughts to leave, Eodwine, you know that. Treating her like a, a child will only encourage those thoughts. If she believes she isn't wanted here or that she is a burden to you she will not stay."

Kara paused a moment to let Eodwine absorb what she had said and to give herself a chance to calm down. She was aware that her words could be seen as insulting and she had no desire to offend the man who had given her work and a home and made her feel so welcome. Still, it was important he understood what would happen if he went through with something thought up in the heat of a moment.

Softer now, with humour in her voice, she continued.

"And as for making me hostess? I have no noble blood in me and would not have the first idea of what to do. I like my position well enough thank you, lord. In any case, Frodides would have your head if you took me away now when she has just got used to sharing her kitchen. She likes Saeryn but would not take kindly to training another girl up from scratch just when she's done hammering her wisdom into the last one."
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Old 12-04-2006, 11:14 AM   #624
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Eodwine listened to Kara's sudden outpouring of words with a mixture of shock and subdued delight. This girl had hidden a lot of spunk up until now. It was obvious that having spent so much time with Frodides had added some spice to the girl's delivery, and Eodwine liked that too. He liked most of all the common sense and earthy, homey wisdom coming from Kara. Now she was waiting, with some mild shock at her own forwardness, for his reaction. She seemed just a little frightened.

He smiled. "This is why I wanted you to stay and listen, for I do not wholly trust myself in matters touching the lady Saeryn. You speak sense. And a fine cook and ruler of the kitchen you'll make if and when Frodides decides to bequeath the title upon you. I will take your advice, Kara, and make no decisions in haste. You are right about Saeryn, I deem. We shall see how she acts on the morrow.

"I fear that the words of the Queen today, as well as those of the King, have tripped me up a bit, and I am as unsettled as a foal trying out his legs for the first time. A good night's sleep it is, then, and I want you to see yourself to bed in not too long a time either! And now, good night, and pleasant dreams!

"Unless there is anything else?"
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Old 12-04-2006, 11:45 AM   #625
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Blushing at the unexpected praise as well as in relief that she wasn't being sent packing for so boldly arguing with the Eorl Kara shook her head. The mention of the King and Queen had her curious but she could see the tiredness in Eodwine's eyes and was sure that her own reflected the same.

"No, lord. I'm glad that you will take the time to think this over but you are right, it is time to sleep, and I will do so just as soon as I've got this kitchen in order. Good night, and sleep well."

Eodwine smiled at her, his gaze sweeping over a room that no doubt to his eyes seemed sorted for the night already, but he made no comment. Nodding to her he left.

Truthfully there was little to do. The preparations for the morning had been done before Frodides left for the night, and Kara had finished her tidying up before sitting down for the intense conversation that had just gone by. She knew though that she needed to relax before she tried to go to bed or she would be up all night, and washing the table tops would do that nicely.

Gently she smoothed the cloth in circles, nodding and wishing a good night to those who wandered past or through the kitchen on their way home or to bed, until at last she felt calm enough to sleep. She blew out the few remaining lights and made her way upstairs.
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Old 12-04-2006, 04:09 PM   #626
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Twilight had long ago faded when Linduial returned to the tower room. A sleepy-eyed maid helped her unlace the silk dress and brushed out her dark hair, releasing it from its braid. A preoccupied wave from her mistress dismissed the girl, who left in relief to finally go to her rest.

Lin slipped into a soft linen shift, and wrapped a deep blue satin robe around her. It was an exotic thing, brought by her brothers from the far southeast beyond Harad, covered in elaborate embroidered panels that told a fantastic story of stylized dragons and a beautiful princess, but today she wrapped the silver sash tightly around her waist and stepped out onto the balcony without a second thought of the fierceness of the dragons or the ethereal beauty of the raven haired princess.

The cold sea breeze buffeted her face, clearing the last of her uncle’s delicate wine from her system and pulling her hair out behind her like a pennant. This high up she couldn’t feel the spray of the waves dashing against the cliffs beside the harbor mouth, but she could hear them, taste the salty brine like nectar in the back of her throat. Lin had always empathized with those last desperate kings of Atalantë; had understood the undeniable call the sea had for her ancestors, and sorrowed with them, felt their rebellion and their guilt, when the storytellers revealed the consequence of their hubris. It wasn’t fair! How could something so lovely and so loving as the ocean’s waters hold such danger for her people?

And today her uncle had offered her a dream almost as powerful.

Lin’s mind had not stopped racing the same circles since she’d left the dinner table, giving her family a distracted courtesy and practically fleeing back to the safe harbor of her room. One day. One day only to make a decision that would set the course of her life, for better or worse. She closed her eyes in the wind, letting it rush over her features until the laminar flow had soothed her battered nerves, stripped away her doubts and insecurities, and left her mind and soul bare before the raw power of the sea.

It was time, now that she was calm, to think over what Imrahil had suggested.

The evening had begun simply enough. She’d found her seat at table, the melancholy that was becoming habitual preventing her from wondering why she was seated at Imrahil’s right hand. It was not her usual place; she was but the youngest daughter of the Prince’s younger brother, and Imrahil had grown children of his own to share his table. Thinking back, she realized that the worried gaze her father had turned on her until she’d mechanically began eating had been followed by a significant glance at his brother, who’d nodded and turned to his niece. “Ah, little Linduial,” he’d said fondly, “we were so relieved to hear you had been rescued and were coming home to safety.”

“Thank you, my lord Uncle.” Lin’s response was adequate, but barely so, and Imrahil was not willing to let her wallow in what must have seemed to him a childish sulk.

“We were also glad to hear that justice was done, and we may now rest in peace about your safety,” he pushed, his formal tone indicating that an answer was required.

Lin remembered his surprised look at her vehement response, and realized that she herself had been startled by how much she cared. Nothing had seemed that important since her return home, but then, no one had asked her that question.

“Justice was not done,” she’d said, her voice low and firm. Her dark eyes flashed with the terror and misery of her capture, and her uncle had sat back, a thoughtful expression filling his eyes as he heard her out. “Men were killed, two before my eyes. An innocent servant of your daughter, my lord, and a man whose mind was little more than a child’s. How is his death justice, when he had no understanding of his crime? And—“ She realized how loud her voice had ridden, and flushed at the piteous looks wafting her way. Poor Lin, that’s what they were thinking. Poor little lady Lin, who was kidnapped. Pretty little thing, but…helpless without her brothers along. “—the man who rescued me,” she continued, barely above a whisper, “who risked his life in saving mine…he is a fugitive. How was justice served?”

Imrahil looked across at her with the same pity in his own eyes, and she tried to turn away from it, but his voice held her. “Oh, my dear,” he said, looking at this young creature who reminded him so deeply of his beloved sister, now long gone away to Minas Tirith and thence beyond, the first casualty of Denethor’s madness. “You are not little Lin anymore, are you?”

The love in the question demanded honesty of her, and she would not disappoint her uncle. “My lord, I have not been little Lin for many years. Not since the storm that crushed the city when I was fifteen. But this…” she waved her hand in a vague gesture, meant to indicate the events of the past few dark months. The prince seemed to understand, so she went on painfully. “This has shaken me more than I can bear, and I would give anything to be little Lin again, free to delight in presents and parties, in poetry and praise. But I’m not the same person that I was, and the days will not turn back. I am no child anymore, but I am without rudder or sail, and I know neither how nor where to set my course.”

“But you did before,” he stated gently, urging her carefully through the tricky shoals of her depression.

“Ah, uncle,” she sighed, with a little wistful smile. “Remember how when I was small, you and father both used to call me Little Bird?”

He laughed. “Of course I do. It was just after Lothiriel’s wedding. Farlen and I took you through the mews and the menagerie to see which sort you were. You tried to sing with them. Thank goodness your voice improved with age.”

“And lessons,” she laughed softly with him, “but I remember which birds were my favorite. The canary and the kestrel.”

He nodded. “An interesting pair, those two. Certainly couldn’t survive long together.”

“Well, up to now, Uncle, I’ve been the canary, content to enjoy my fine feathers and sing my glad song, safe within my gilded cage. I liked being spoiled and cosseted and petted, and rebelled against anything that might rattle my serenity. That’s why I went to Rohan in the first place, to escape some imagined plan that might force me to change my ways.”

She paused, and Imrahil murmured for her to continue. A server took her soup bowl and set down the fish course. She couldn’t remember having finished the soup but the bowl was most certainly dry. She took a dainty bite (ah, the seeming years since she’d enjoyed properly prepared swordfish) and washed it down with a sip of the crisp white wine before going on.

“Now I think I am more like the kestrel. I am impatient with the cage, anxious for the hunt. The song I wish to sing is wilder, harsher, freer. And father…”

Imrahil nodded in perfect understanding, earning him a grateful look from his niece. “Farlen and your brothers are the jesses.”

“They do not mean to be,” Lin rushed to explain. “They only love me and mean well, and I do not wish to seem ungrateful for their care…”

“Hush now,” he laughed at her. “I love them too, I understand.”

She smiled sheepishly at him. “They just want me to be happy, but they want me to be helpless little Lin again. They bring me presents, and try to protect and coddle me, and expect me to be like any other wellborn child, doing my embroidery and planning my wedding, and before you ask, yes I have a suitor, one of the Rohirrim, who I plan to entertain seriously, but neither he nor I are ready for marriage, and if you expect me to wed anytime soon yet give me choice in the matter, you will be disappointed.” He laughed and Lin laughed with him, pleased and surprised to find herself feeling somewhat alive again, finally able to ignore her father’s pointed glances. Finally, someone was asking her what she wished in her life, and didn’t care how farfetched the answer was. “But I am the kestrel, and they force me to play the canary, and as you said: the two cannot survive together. I am being pulled two ways and I fear being wrenched totally apart. And—“ she paused again, using a bite of fish as an excuse to order her words before she spoke. “—I cannot be helpless again. I have known total helplessness and total dependence, and they terrify me. I must confess I wish I were a boy. Were I but my father’s son rather than a daughter, I could go adventuring, travel the world and learn myself and what I am sufficient for. I would beg of you some impossible quest and swear you my fealty and—“

“All right,” Imrahil said, grinning as the courses were changed again.

“What?” Try as she might Lin couldn’t remember just what that third course had been. Imrahil’s offer had so floored her that she couldn’t even remember what the subtleties were, something she usually delighted in.

“I’ll take your measure, give you a quest of my choosing, and accept your fealty. That would free you from your father’s house, and give you the purpose you’re so desperate for, the quarry for your hunt, little hawk. But only if you’re sure that’s what you wish.”

“I-I don’t know. Truly, I meant it only as a passing fancy.”

“So you’re not interested?”

“No! I mean—yes, I’m interested. But I fear I may not have thoroughly considered the idea.”

“I’ll give you some time; a day, perhaps. If I think of the quest I’ll set you on before that time, I’ll even be so generous as to let you know. I haven’t anything in particular in mind anyway. My mind’s still focused on some appointments I have to make, and I must take your measure before knowing what task you are suited for. Meanwhile…” he smiled as he changed the subject. “Tell me about Rohan.”

The rest of the meal had been filled with conversation. Question after question about the country: its people, its politics, the economy, what opportunities for trade Lin saw. The questions became more and more complex and Imrahil’s features more and more self-satisfied as she answered, racking her mind and memories for details she might have missed, innuendoes in half-forgotten conversations that might give her a slight clue as to the true answers of his questions. At one point, she’d turned to him accusingly: “But, Uncle, you know all this. Your daughter’s the Queen of Rohan. Why are you asking me?”

“I don’t know all of it,” he pointed out reasonably. “And Lothiriel’s first loyalties are now to her husband, and not her father, which is right and proper. Besides,” and his eyes had twinkled wickedly. “I want to know if you know it.”

And then the brief meeting in Imrahil’s study after the meal, the unbelievable offer of a specific ‘quest’, a role, a career, a task beyond her wildest dreams. She hadn’t even noticed the amused look in his eyes as he’d looked at her dazed face. “Only one thing,” he’d warned. “If you decide this is what you want to do, I can’t wait until supper. I hold open court in midafternoon.”

“I know what time,” she’d answered breathlessly.

“You must decide by then, and present yourself to me in formal court. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

The question, Lin decided, wind making her eyes water as she stood on the balcony, was not whether she would like to take his offer, but whether she were capable of the job it would require of her. She sighed, going inside for a moment then reappearing on the balcony with a chair and a shawl. There would be no sleep this night.

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Old 12-04-2006, 08:26 PM   #627
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Garstan walked into his room. Garmund and Lèoðern were already there, staring at each other in stony silence, waiting to see who would look away first.

"Lèoðern. Garmund. Come. We're going to see Cnebba and his parents."

Lèoðern scrambled over to the door but Garmund hung back. "Do we have to?" he asked.

"Yes. I will not have the two of you fighting. You and he will settle this tonight. Come. Now."

Lèoðern skipped down the hall, holding Garstan's hand. Garmund loped behind them on unwilling feet.
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Old 12-05-2006, 05:02 AM   #628
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Lys started when he felt Thornden come near and gently take his hand.

"What are you doing out here? I thought that by now, you’d be in bed, what with everything you’ve done today. Aren’t you worn out?" Lys smiled widely and shook his head. "No, I am not yet tired. So much has happened, but my head just wants to sit and think about it all, and not sleep." The boy shifted and stood, still gently holding Thornden’s hand.

"I must say thank you, Thornden. I am very happy that you have decided to take care of me. I’m glad to suddenly have family. It is exciting, and wonderful, and comforting." Lys watched Thornden’s pleased expression, and returned it without hesitation.

Lys pressed his hands back to his knees, righting himself flat onto his feet. Taking a few exploring steps about the courtyard, he stared at his limp critically.

"Thornden, what use can I be of here?" Lys turned and looked at him suddenly, an appealing look in his eyes "I do not want to be useless. It is more than a small worry for me. I want...you to be proud of me..."

~*~

Thornden

"Thornden, what use can I be of here?" Lys turned and looked at him suddenly, an appealing look in his eyes "I do not want to be useless. It is more than a small worry for me. I want...you to be proud of me..."

“That shouldn’t be difficult,” Thornden said as lightly as he could, struggling with the impulse to be too serious. “I’m not a difficult fellow to please.” Lys didn’t smile. He was being serious. “We’ll find something that you can do successfully, Lys,” Thornden said as reassuringly as he could. “I promise you we will. And I will be proud of you. I already am. I picked you up half dead just a little while ago, a heap that barely resembled a human boy. And look at you now! Walking - and actually worrying about what work you can put your hands to! With such a want to work, you will go far, Lys, even if your body does remain weak in comparison with others, and even if your ankle never completely heals.

“Come,” he said after a small pause, “let’s go in.”

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Old 12-05-2006, 04:02 PM   #629
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With the quick pace set by Lèoðern's skipping, it took little time to reach Stigend's door. Garstan knocked while Garmund slowly came up behind, still not looking forward to meeting Cnebba again. He thought everyone - even his own father - was working against him, trying to make him seem less than Cnebba. Dragging him to see Cnebba did not make things seem better. Garmund was sure that the point of the trip was to make yet another offer to admit wrong against Cnebba. All this when Cnebba had started the trouble in the first place!

Stigend opened the door and clasped Garstan's hand. While the fathers exchanged greetings, Lèoðern looked around the room to spot Cnebba sitting on the floor. She ran over and joined him in a game with a wooden horse. Garmund scowled.

Garstan noticed the look on Garmund's face and the reason for it. "Lèoðern. We're not here to play. Come over here." She pouted and stood in front of Garstan, twisting around with her arms crossed. Cnebba rose and stood with his parents.

"Cnebba," Garstan began. "I remember when you first came here. You and Garmund were friends, even as your father and I are friends. But that has not been so of late, and I would have you be friends once again. And so I want to know what has gone ill between you. Garmund, I am told that you grudge Cnebba's spending time with Lèoðern. Is that so?"

Garmund flushed and blinked. He had not thought that his father had known that. Said that way, it made him sound small and spiteful. And wasn't quite what bothered Garmund. Cnebba and Lèoðern could play as much as they wanted so long as Cnebba wasn't trying to replace him.

"No. It isn't so," Garmund said irritably.

"What is it then?"

Garmund looked at Lèoðern, then at Cnebba. They would laugh at him if he told why he was angry.

And so Garmund's answer was, "Nothing. Can we go now?"

"No. Not until this is answered. But if you will not speak, perhaps Cnebba will."
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Old 12-07-2006, 04:04 PM   #630
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Suddenly they all seemed to be looking at Cnebba, waiting for him to say something. Cnebba was embarrassed. But even more than that he felt angered by Garmund's answer. Nothing! That's what you say!

Cnebba rose up and stared at Garmund with his deep brown eyes. "You say that nothing! First you get mad on just losing one game, then you sneak to an adventure without us and when you find wonders you try to hide them from us and scorn me for no reason! One friend you are! You're a bully like all those others I've known!"

"You liar!", Garmund called back.

Both Stigend and Garstan had to take hold of their sons.

"Are you being honest now, Cnebba?", Stigend asked his son, kneeling down to meet his eyes, still pressing his shoulder firmly. "What have we discussed about being truthful?"

Cnebba tried to avoid his father's eyes and felt the tears coming forwards again. He tried to get free from Stigend's grip but was held tight in his place. "Now answer me Cnebba!" Stigend said now with a notably stern tone in his voice. "Was the game you played today a fair one?"

Cnebba was shaking visibly as he almost whispered his answer, his head bowed down: "No." Stigend was just about to demand a louder answer when Modtryth broke in, laying her hand on Stigend's shoulder and looking at him in a way that held Stigend back.

"It may be that Cnebba has not been totally truthful in his answer, but I'm afraid he is not the only one hiding the truth here." Garstan said turning towards his son in turn. "Now I believe there were also things that were true in what Cnebba said, now was there?"

Garmund didn't answer. But Lèoðern did.

"He was rude to Cnebba when we were trying to ask those twins to play with us! And he tried to hide them from us all the time!"

Garmund looked like he could burst from anger at any moment.

"Maybe we women go out and have just a little walk outside, talking womens' stuff together." Modtryth said and looked questioningly at Garstan. After thinking about it for a second Garstan nodded his approval. "Come Lèoðern, we'll let the men have a talk without us for a while. We'll come back soon." The last sentence she directed to both of the fathers as well even though she was talking to Lèoðern.

There was a moment of thick silence in the room after Modtryth and Lèoðern left. The boys casted sulking glances at each other and the fathers looked more or less helpless.
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Old 12-08-2006, 05:40 AM   #631
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Modtryth and Lèoðern left the room, and Modtryth closed the door behind them. The little girl cast an expecting look at her. "Come, follow me", Modtryth told the girl and offered her hand. Lèoðern seemed to be in deep thought. However, she took Modtryth's hand and followed her. So unlike Cnebba, Modtryth thought.

They walked down the stairs, across the house to the yard. "Where are we going?" Lèoðern asked. Modtryth paused and looked at her. "We're going to see Snowstreak. I have no doubt Cnebba has presented her to you already, but I haven't seen her for a few days and I thought she wouldn't mind company, that dear old creature." That was actually a lie; she had last visited the old gentle mare on the morning. Lèoðern nodded and then she ran to the stables. Modtryth followed walking.

When she entered, she found Lèoðern already caressing Snowstreak, and teasing the horse with an apple. Where she had got it from, Modtryth had no idea. She stood there, near the door for a while, resting her mind in the homely sight.

Snowstreak noticed her and neighed at her. Modtryth came to the mare and patted her neck. Lèoðern gave the apple to the horse, and started stroking her head. "Is this women's talk?" Lèoðern asked after a while.

Modtryth stroked the horse's mane. "No", she replied after a while and cast a gentle look at the girl, "this is horses' talk."
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Old 12-09-2006, 08:48 PM   #632
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After Lèoðern left, Garmund said, "Do you see, father? My own sister sides against me and with him now." Garmund couldn't even bring himself to use Cnebba's name. "That's what he's been about all the time. Stealing my friends and my sister. Because he can't find friends on his own, sneak that he is."

"I'm not a sneak!" Cnebba cried.

"Yes you are. And Master Falco was right to tell me to not tell you about the twins. You'd just play sneaking tricks on them like you have on me."

Cnebba looked ready to cry again.

"Garmund! Be quiet!" Garstan ordered sharply. "I will not have this." He stopped, vexed at the depth of his son's anger and at the cruel words in which it showed itself.

"It seems that there is a plain choice. You must either stay away from each other for a time, or you must learn to be friends again." Garmund shot a look to his father. The second choice did not sound like one he would choose willingly, but he had a sinking feeling that it would be thrust upon him.

"I would rather that you became friends again. Stigend, you spoke of a challenge earlier to make out boys work together. What is your plan?"

Garmund felt his heart sinking to his toes. Working with Cnebba? Anything but that.

~*~

Lèoðern giggled. "Horses talk? I don't hear Snowstreak talking. Can you talk, Snowstreak?" The horse neighed again, and Lèoðern laughed.

"Snowstreak is talking."
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Old 12-11-2006, 12:28 PM   #633
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"I haven't come up with anything yet, I'm sorry. But let's see. Wasn't it that Marenil suggested the children going forwards with some studies?" Stigend answered, scratching his chin slowly, looking like he was on to something. "Shouldn't Lèoðern start as early as possible? Tomorrow maybe? But the lads then again... if they can't stand each other, they surely won't be able to study?" Stigend grinned mildly, looking at both of the boys.

Garstan was following his idea soon enough: "So if they can't take the classes with Lèoðern, then they must have something else to do..."

Stigend nodded approvingly. "Maybe they could be doing something that is both harder and less fun? I think lord Eodwine could have something that needs to be done... and if he hasn't, we might provide them with something"

"Like cleaning the yard or overhauling the tools?" Garstan grinned now openly.

"Like you say." Stigend smiled him back. Both boys were looking at their fathers with growing concern but simultaneoysly trying to hide their concern from the other.

"And as they would be falling back in studies, they should have to spend their evenings with them. Or what do you think?" Garstan added.

"Sure. It would be bad if Lèoðern would be the only one to learn reading or counting. It would be a shame indeed if they would have to ask her to read and count for them!" Stigend was almost chuckling now. Cnebba made an annoyed face at his father but he didn't seem to care the least, but continued. "And surely, if Lèoðern studies during the mornings, she should then hang with the twins in the evening as these boys are up studying. She shouldn't bother them, now should she?"

That was too much for both youngsters.

"They are my friends! You can't do that! Why Lèoðern?" Garmund exclaimed to Garstan.

"No! Why are you punishing only me? Why am I the only one who can't meet them?" Cnebba cried to his father.

The men looked at each other.

"Maybe we found the key just now?" Stigend said, holding his struggling son in his grip.

"It looks like we did." Garstan answered, trying to hold his son in place. "But I'm not sure if Lèoðern is an innocent enough to get a reward like that..."

"I see." Stigend replied and then thought for it a moment before making the suggestion. "So Lèoðern needs to come up with something to do by herself in the evenings when the boys study until she learns to appreciate both of them right... and untill the boys get together again they will be neither playing with her or the twins but making a lots of hard work and studying..."

"A bit tough, is it?" Garstan said, smiling openly.

"Yes." Stigend replied, shaking Cnebba from the shoulder. "You heard the rules son. Now it would be a fine end to this day if you would apologise Garmund before he goes to sleep."

Cnebba tried to twist himself free from his father's grip but failed. Garmund looked worriedly to his father as if being afraid that the same demand would be put on him too.
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Old 12-12-2006, 12:16 PM   #634
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"I think Garmund too should tell Cnebba that he is sorry. It would make working together tomorrow easier if some bad feelings were put aside before the night is ended."

Garmund hung his head to avoid his father's look. "I won't. It's not my fault."

"No?"

"No. Not unless Cnebba says he's sorry first."

"Me sorry?" cried Cnebba. "You're the one who's been mean. I won't."

Though unhappy with the boys' stubbornness, Garstan grinned to Stigend. "Well. It seems that you will need to learn to be friends again first. Maybe it is for the best. The words will mean more if they come after a hard lesson than if forced by your fathers."

Both boys twisted uneasily.

"Now, Stigend. Do you think we should send Cnebba and Garmund away from the hall for their new chores? If they stay here, we can't trust that they will keep to their jobs when there are so many other things to do."

"That is true," Stigend answered. "Garstan, do you remember when we were working earlier? There was a shepherd who came asking for help with the shearing, but there was no one who could be spared with the work here."

Garstan thought back for a moment. The day had been so filled with strange happenings that more ordinary happenings had nearly been forgotten. "Yes. I do now. Ordulf from just outside the town?" Stigend nodded, and Garstan's grin broadened. "It would be a fine thing for our boys to learn to shear sheep."

"So it would."

"Then it is settled. Tomorrow Garmund and Cnebba can go to the shearing, if Lord Eodwine has no other tasks for them."

"And maybe they can take extra chores here too."

"Yes. There is always more work to be done. And I will see to Lèoðern's evening tasks as well. Maybe she can learn needlecraft in the evenings when the boys are at their studies. Good night, Stigend."

"Good night."

Garmund frowned his deepest frown, angry at everyone. When he settled down to sleep for the night, it was without a word to his father or to anyone else.

Last edited by Celuien; 12-13-2006 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 12-14-2006, 08:33 PM   #635
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The Next Day: May 23, Fourth Age 15

Eodwine's dreams kept him in a fitful slumber all night long. He was walking on the main road in Edoras, and King Eomer and Queen Lothiriel passed him on horses, saying "Catch up!" "I can't! My feet are stuck in this mud!" he called back. Mud? He looked down, and sure enough he was knee deep in the stuff. Marenil walked right by him, on solid ground. Lefun and Ritun came by and stopped, offering a hand up. Eodwine reached for his hand, but Lefun and Ritun were suddenly Saeryn and Kara, and he recoiled from them. "Go your way! I'll struggle through!" Saeryn began weeping. "I won't be your broom handle, nor your shoes!" As they ran off on one pair of legs, Kara looked back reproachfully. Then he was in bed, his covers all mussed up. Falco was his nurse, trying to force a milky Hobbitish concoction down his throat. "Drink your Old Toby!" he said. Eodwine spit the white pipeweed out of his mouth. "Leave me be!" "Fine!" cried the Hobbit, "I'll go look for monsters instead!" He stomped from the room and slammed the door, the sound of which was suddenly Garreth's tankard slammed against the Mead Hall board. "More mead! More lasses! More more more!" There was Marenil at his shoulder. "You really need to make him pay for his food and drink, Eodwine." Then the Mead Hall melted away and they were at Sorn's old landholding, and Linduial was scolding him for not coming sooner. "But the mud held me up!" he insisted. "That's no excuse! With all of your servants you should have had the mud brought along with you!"

A cock crowed. Eodwine lifted his bleary eyes. His bed covers were indeed thoroughly mussed up. He struggled out of the knotty mess and went to the window. The sun was bright and he had to squint. Nasty sun. Who was that in the courtyard, horse already packed, ready to leave before breaking fast? Saeryn. What is she doing up so early, and where is she going?

Then he recalled: after he had left Kath in the kitchen, he had gone to Saeryn's room, his way lit by a single candle, and knocked on her door. She had come out in the corridor and they had spoken. Their words could not be heard farther than a few yards distant, but Eodwine's face was serious and he was calm as he spoke his peace. Saeryn did not meet his eyes, but listened, her eyes steadily staring at the floor a few paces away. Finally she sighed and nodded. They bid each other a good night's sleep, and Saeryn went into her room. Eodwine had gone to bed and quickly fell into his fitful slumber.

She was going to the Queen, to live under her tutelage for the time being. Though his intention was to be as a father to her, they had finally agreed that for the time being it would be best to stay with Lothiriel. She would be at peace and free from rumors; at least those of a certain variety.

"Saeryn!" he yelled. She looked over her shoulder once, to reveal a face not altogher happy. He waved from the window. She lifted her hand in a half-hearted gesture, then quickened her actions with the horse.

Eodwine sat on his bed glumly. All in all, things had not gone very well at all in regard to Saeryn, for he felt that he had forced her away by his ill-handled warrings of wants. He considered going back to bed, but decided to get up. He did so, but in an ill-humored mood.

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Old 12-15-2006, 11:02 AM   #636
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"Garmund. Wake up." Garstan rocked his son's shoulder, trying to stir him out of sleep. Garmund rolled in his blanket and rubbed his eyes. He opened them and seeing his father, quickly closed them again.

Garstan laughed and pulled the blanket away. "Out of bed! You wouldn't want to be late for work, would you?"

Garmund slowly sat up, swinging his legs around to the side. "Do I have to do this? I'd really rather stay and work with you." His voice was hopeful for a moment. If he could win his father's good graces again, maybe he could avoid going to shear sheep with Cnebba.

"I'm sure you would, but it's still time to be off to the sheep."

There was no way out. "What about breakfast? We have to have breakfast first."

Garstan had thought of that. "So you must. Here." He handed Garmund sweet rolls and milk. "You can eat that while you dress for the day. No time to lose! Hurry!"

Garstan left the room grinning, and as he closed the door, gave way to laughter. The boys would learn a lesson today.
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Old 12-17-2006, 06:16 PM   #637
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Javan woke only a little bit after first light. He rolled out of bed at once and as quietly as he could contrive, he slipped into his clothes and quietly exited the room. He hurried down the dim, silent corridor, down the stairs, and long that hall, and then out the side door. He went at once to the stables, knowing that there he would probably find Léof already up and at work.

As he entered the stables, though, he nearly ran into someone who he did not expect to see. He stepped back quickly. It was Saeryn, and she was leading her own horse out. Javan said nothing, but let her pass with only a look of wonder. Then he turned and went on to find Léof. He found him at work in the recently emptied stall.

“Good morning, Léof,” Javan said, looking in. “I thought I’d be the first one up and in here visiting you and the horses.”

----

Thornen woke sometime later. He yawned and rubbed his eyes and then sighed a little as he saw his brother’s empty bed. He must have slept like a log in order to have remained asleep while Javan got up and dressed. As he washed his face and arms quickly and pulled on his shirt, he wondered absently how long Javan had been up, and what he had done with himself.

In a few minutes, Thornden made his appearance in the hall. There were a few people up already. Garstan with Garmund were just passing through. Garmund seemed to be eating his breakfast on the run, with a roll in each hand. Thornden looked after the two with curiosity. Garstan had a strange look of trapped merriment in his face, and Garmund looked grumpy, more so than a boy might usually look just roused out of bed. In a moment, they had left and Thornden was left to wonder.

Eodwine also was there. He sat alone, at the edge of the long table, eating his breakfast. Thornden went quickly to the kitchen to get a plateful, and then came back out and approached the eorl. He studied Eodwine as he approached. The man did not look altogether refreshed after his full night’s sleep, and a strangely sad expression hung about his face. Thornden placed his plate down on the table opposite him.

“Good morning, my lord,” he said. “May I join you?”

Eodwine looked up. “Of course, Thornden! Please, sit down.” Thornden did so at once. For a few moments there was silence between the two of them.

“Eodwine,” Thornden said, breaking the silence at last. “Last night I introduced my brother to you. I have been thinking, or I did last night before going to sleep, about what he should do while he is here. I was wondering if it would be at all possible for him to work with Léof in the stables? I know that he loves horses and always has. I am not certain, though, of how well he handles them or anything. But I thought…I thought that since Léof is always there, almost, Javan would have the chance to learn a lot about horses by working with them personally, but would also have someone with him to make sure that he did nothing detrimental to the horses. Would that be possible – for him to help Léof? I am not sure that Léof needs help, you understand. And I am also not certain that you had nothing else you wanted Javan to do instead. That is why I speak with you before I suggest it to either Javan or Léof.”
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Old 12-17-2006, 06:50 PM   #638
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Thornden sat quietly a few moments, busying himself with both his fodder and his thoughts. Not that Thornden ate like a horse, except perhaps in quantity. Eodwine thought to himself that he could hardly expect to have a quiet breakfast alone, sitting in the mead hall. Pah! Mere selfishness mixed with self pity. Enough of that! If Saeryn needs to go rousting about like a vagabond instead of a lady of the court who knows better, that is her business and not yours. His mind growled nonetheless.

Thornden spoke up with his typical earnestness. Eodwine forced himself to keep irritation at bay, and not wish that the young man would come to his point - it would just be more grumpy self-pity - so he listened in silence.

Javan as Léofric's helper. Eodwine barely knew the boy. Thornden's brother he was. Which meant that he was just as earnest, or just as likely the flip side of that coin. Oldest brothers had a way of being responsible, and their young brothers tended not to be. But it would not be fair to base judgement on mere likelihood.

"If Léof will have him, then Javan may work with him. He shall be answerable to Léof for all that he does in the stables, and Léof will report to both you and me in a week's time as to Javan's fittedness to be ostler's helper. Does that suit your wish?"
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Old 12-18-2006, 04:27 PM   #639
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“’Morning,” answered Léof. He smiled briefly over at Javan before returning to mucking the stall. “You weren’t quite the first person here – you may have seen Saeryn on her way out – but I think you could claim to be the first one out here to visit.” Although Javan had only been here at the inn for a day, Léof thought he could easily get used to having him around – he didn’t typically mind, but most of his days were rather lacking in human company.

“So how did your meeting with the Lord Eodwine go?” asked Léof. “Have you found what you will be doing at the Hall?”
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Old 12-18-2006, 08:39 PM   #640
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“So how did your meeting with the Lord Eodwine go? Have you found out what you will be doing at the Hall?”

“No, I haven’t,” Javan answered, leaning slightly to rest his shoulder against the stall door. “I guess the meeting went well. As well as can be expected. He asked me what I wanted to do, and I told him.” Léof nodded but said nothing as he continued to fill the wheelbarrow beside him. “I liked him,” Javan said after a short pause. “He seemed nice.” He smiled a little as he recalled the conversation from the evening before. “He asked me what I would like to do and then when I had told him, he said he would consider it and this morning I am to learn what he decides for me. I’m so excited, Léof,” he went on eagerly, standing up straight again. “Do you suppose he’ll let me help you? I told him I’d love to work with the horses, and I really would like that above anything else, I think.” Javan really had little idea what other options there were, but he cared very little. “I wanted to come out right away and talk to you and visit the horses. If I can’t help you, perhaps there would still be extra time so I could ride some. I suppose you do exercise them? Occasionally?”

---

Thornden, inside the hall, was only now just receiving his answer from Eodwine.

"If Léof will have him, then Javan may work with him. He shall be answerable to Léof for all that he does in the stables, and Léof will report to both you and me in a week's time as to Javan's fittedness to be ostler's helper. Does that suit your wish?"

Thornden smiled, happy that Eodwine had been so willing. He had half expected for Eodwine having had some other idea for Javan's occupation. It would have been just fine, of course, if he had, but Javan would be happy to have a chance to work with the horses. Whether he would remain working in the stables would depend entirely on his ability and his behavior with the horses. Léof would be a good judge of that, too.

"Yes, my lord, thank you. It suits perfectly."

Last edited by Folwren; 12-18-2006 at 09:06 PM.
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