Redemption: The Reckoning

Pull out your pack and head on down to the Prancing Pony for some great Role Playing (try to stay in character)!

Postby SilverScribe » Mon Jan 23, 2006 9:49 pm

Scribbles hid her mild astonishment as Radesh strode into the stable yard bare minutes after she had left him in the Inn's steam room. His hair was still wet, but he was fully dressed and ready, giving her a confident grin as he ducked into the stables to finish preparing his horse for their departure. Han danced along beside the tall hillman, offering apologies, reasons and the occasional excuse for his lapse in calling him in better time. Radesh good naturedly accepted the hobbits abashed speech with good grace, then sent the lad scrambling on another errand.

When Han re-appeared and skipped past her into the stables, his hands laden with bread and cold meat, her stomach growled. She realized that mid-day had just came and went and silently chided herself for not thinking of providing something to eat for herself and the men. She tried to hail Han as he came rushing out again but to no avail, he was too quick. All she managed to catch was his assurance that he would be back before she could blink and then he was gone.

Scribbles barely had time to ponder the hobbit's peculiar behaviour before Han was back, his eyes dancing as he breathlessly offered up a large cloth containing a generous loaf of freshly baked rye bread, some cold chicken and half a modest round of soft, butter yellow cheese, its thick coat of reddish wax still intact.

Both her eyebrows shot up in grateful surprise and she chuckled as she took the cloth from the panting hobbit. As soon as his hands were free, Han dug into the pockets of his trousers, producing several small, firm apples. "They's from the last of the pickin's, but they're still sweet and haven't yet gone soft," he said as he offered them up. Scribbles held out the cloth and thanked Han warmly as he dropped the apples in with the rest of the food. "Well, I best be gettin' back to my chores," he quipped brightly. "Fair skies and smooth roads Scribe," he added, and with a cheery wave, disappeared speedily back into the cavernous stable. Scribbles called a thanks to his disappearing back, then laid the cloth down on the lid of a water barrel. Taking out her belt knife, she carved off a slice of both bread and the cheese, then wiped the blade clean on her sleeve and re-sheathed it.

She was just tucking in as Radesh strolled out of the stable a few minutes later, his mount's reins looped over one arm as he munched on a thick chunk of bread wrapped around some cold meat. He spied the laden cloth and smiled. "Ah good, I see the lad was quick. I thought we might as well have some lunch while we wait for the rakyi and the Corsair."

"And a good thought it was, thank you," she replied, motioning to the cloth. "I hope he didn't overcharge you," she added with a smile. "Help yourself to more if you like."

She glanced around the stable yard then looked up into the now fully cloudy skies. The sun was a pale spot of diffused brightness and due to the shorter days of early winter, was getting noticeably lower in the sky. Scribbles fretted inwardly at the delay and swore softly under her breath as she helped herself to an apple.

"Speaking of the rakyi and the Corsair, where in all that the Valar created are they?!"

.
User avatar
SilverScribe
Scribe, Wanderer, Warrior . . . Bard of Rhudaur and Herald of Manwe


 
Posts: 29669
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2002 10:17 pm
Location: In the wild . . .
Top

Postby SilverScribe » Tue Jan 24, 2006 8:59 pm

((OOC: Sorry for the addition, but the muse held out on me yesterday . . . today she decided to give me the other half of this post . . . silly cow . . . ))

IC:

Radesh gestured with the last bite of his bread and Scribbles turned to see the two other men hurrying across the stable yard from the front of the Inn, their packs slung across their shoulders and Khiran carrying his Bisen-to in one hand. Both men at least looked prepared for cold weather travel, sporting warm, western style cloaks and sturdy boots.

She nodded her approval as she reached into a vest pocket under her cloak, then held out the last of the small drawstring pouches on her cupped palm. "Your first half payment, Htiet," she said, gesturing towards the Easterling. Htiet took the purse from her hand, one eyebrow quirking upwards at the weight of it.

"Khiran, your mount is already saddled," she said with a smile, nodding her head at the roan gelding that stood quietly to one side. "Htiet, please get your mount saddled as quickly as you can, I want to make some decent miles before dark. There's a small valley just the other side of those foothills that will serve very well for tonight's camp, but the road will be wet and dangerous so I would prefer to travel it in daylight."

Htiet looked around the stable yard. "But where is your horse, Scribe?" he asked as he started towards the door. She joined him and pointed down the long row of stalls to the far back stall on the right. "He's at the end there, saddled, packed and ready to go," she answered. "We'll wait for you outside," she added as he entered the stall where his horse was quartered. She continued to the end stall, untied and led the tall warhorse back out into the stable yard.

She joined Radesh, who was leaning against the water barrel and munching on an apple, his attention focused across the yard where the Corsair was standing a couple of yards to one side of the saddled gelding. Khiran's pack was on the ground at his feet and he was leaning on his Bisen-to as he intently studied the animal before him.

"What's he waiting for?" she grunted as she tightened the cinch on her saddle. The warhorse blew out a gust of air then snuffled loudly, turning a sad look her way. She murmured a few soft words in Quenyan, then picked up one of the apples and fed it to him.

"Khiran!" she called. "You can admire him later, just get your pack lashed behind his saddle and your weapon stowed so we can get going."

.
User avatar
SilverScribe
Scribe, Wanderer, Warrior . . . Bard of Rhudaur and Herald of Manwe


 
Posts: 29669
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2002 10:17 pm
Location: In the wild . . .
Top

Postby Jiyadan » Thu Jan 26, 2006 9:29 pm

"Khiran!"

His head snapped around at his name, eyes coming to rest on the Scribe.

"You can admire him later, just get your pack lashed behind his saddle and your weapon stowed so we can get going."

With an uncertain nod, he turned back to the animal he had been sizing up and eased forward a little. The horse looked at him, quite unimpressed, and snorted. 'Right... pack... I can do this.' Lashing his things to the saddle was easy, almost intuitive. Though not exactly a trunk under a hammock, things always had to be stowed on ships so that they did not come loose during the rolls and swells. A land-bound animal should offer no problem.

A few items were shifted this way and that before the pack finally laid comfortably even and balanced, then the ties attached to the saddle were easy enough to work until he was certain that pack was going nowhere without concerted effort. The bisen-to offered a much more challenging puzzle due mostly to its length. The leather guard was tied over the blade of the weapon but it was still important to lash it to avoid anyone running into it from behind, or having it hit the ground as they rode.

He wasn't sure, but he thought he heard some snickering behind him during the process of trying to get the weapon tied down. Any way he went about it, it seemed it would either poke someone's eye out for sure or be squarely in the way of his leg while on the blasted animal. It was by sheer luck that he seemed at last to get the length of staff oriented so that nothing seemed to be in the way of anything else.

Now only the task of actually mounting the beast himself lay before him like a mythic challenge. He could feel himself begin to sweat in his new warm western clothing. All his time spent shivering in his inadequate Haradric garb had at least hardened him somewhat to the cold and it was almost unusual now to feel warm. But also, it gave a slightly different physic to the act of moving that he had not yet fully realized.

Khiran had seen plenty of horses and riders, so he had the basic idea of the result he was aiming for, but he had never actually seen it done. But then, how hard could it be, really? He grinned and took old of the reins, unlooping them from the hitch and walking around to the side of the horse.

He studied the saddle, deciding that the stirrup was not too different from the rigging he was used to climbing, one foot in and up you go, the rest should be a snap. He managed to get one foot up into the stirrup, then was forced to hop quickly along on one leg as the horse moved away even as the Corsair closed in, the end result looking much like a dog chasing it's tail for a few rounds until he managed to at last figure out that he was the one causing the horse to continue to move since it's head was being pulled along by the reins held firmly in Khiran's hand.

Much muffled cursing accompanied both that revelation and the moments leading up to it.

He gave more slack to the reins and decided to give another try, holding the stirrup steady with one hand and the saddle horn and reins with the other, he gave a few trial jumps which made the horse grunt and short but finally the Corsair was up and half-laying across the saddle.

With that, the mount decided 'play time' was over and began to wander out to find some nice grass to eat. Khiran was draped pitifully over the back of the saddle, struggling with getting the reins under control, though not really sure what he was going to do about his situation even if he did manage this.

This was a most unusual device for travel and he was utterly at a loss as to how to maneuver it for there was no rudder, sail or helm to take hold of, just two straps of thin leather and a head-strong beast that was making for the nearest patch of grass.
User avatar
Jiyadan
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 1663
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 12:17 am
Top

Postby The_Fool » Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:03 pm

Bouncing the pouch on his palm Htiet strode down the line of stalls to where Karma had been kept. The horse raised its head and snorted at him, flicking its dark ears as a fly buzzed past. The door stuck a little as he made to open it and the Easterling was forced to kick it with the side of his foot, dislodging a little of the straw that was strewn upon the ground. Karma turned her head to watch, blinking large equine eyes.

Htiet gave her a small nod of his head then, slipping the money pouch into his saddlebags, quietly began to tack his mount up. Karma chewed thoughtfully on a switch of hay as he worked, swishing her tail and passively allowing his prodding to lift her feet. After checking her hoofs were free of stones and muck Htiet took up the bridle, placing his thumb in the back of her mouth behind the teeth. She took the bit with a resigned snort of air, stamping a foot impatiently. Shaking his head and grinning a little Htiet fastened the last buckle and with a soft click of his tongue led the mare out into the courtyard. And there was Khiran.

It took a very large part of Htiet’s self-control to stop him from bursting out laughing right then and there. To see the Corsair try to negotiate his newly acquired mount was not only highly entertaining but also immensely pitiful. After a few attempts he seemed to discover the cause and effect of his actions and quickly set about remedying them. Only it seemed that as soon as he had overcome one problem the horse decided to help him find another. As the Corsair’s mount wandered off, carrying her rider like a sack of potatoes with her Htiet finally let himself go. With a sharp bark of laughter he tossed Karma’s reins over her head and swung up into the saddle, squeezing with his thighs to set the horse into a brisk trot.

Slowing to a walk as he pulled up alongside Khiran he grinned down at him, the white of his teeth bright. “Kai ko komat, don’t you know you’re supposed to be the one giving the directions?”

Khiran only gave a sharp huff of air and lifted his head, wriggling a little as he concentrated on climbing into the saddle. “Don’t you worry. Once I get there this horse will start walking in a straight line….I hope.”

Htiet tossed back his head and laughed, steadying Karma as the horse jigged sideways slightly, edgy at being so close to this bizarre partnership of man and horse. “Sar, once you get there. Sa kai hell man, you’re going to have to learn to mount properly. Come, I’ll show you.” Leaning forward the Easterling took hold of the roan’s reins near the bit, pulling it to a halt. “Now,” he grinned, “get off and we’ll start again.”
User avatar
The_Fool
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 3427
Joined: Thu May 15, 2003 11:25 pm
Top

Postby SilverScribe » Sat Jan 28, 2006 4:57 pm

Scribbles folded her arms and watched with amusement as Khiran fussed and fidgeted with his pack then tried over and over to find a way to stow the Bisen-to on his horse. The most logical way of course, was to run the pole under the stirrup at an angle, so that the longer length of the weapon rose up over the shoulder of the horse. A loop around the butt of the pole and through the stirrup itself, and another around the upper part of the pole then over the saddle horn would hold it in place. This position would put the leather wrapped blade above the rider's head and out of his field of vision, while ensuring that the butt of the pole didn't drag on the ground. After a few bad attempts, Khiran finally got the weapon stowed in pretty much the way she expected and she turned to wrap up what was left of the lunch Han had brought. There was a generous portion of the bread left, along with several of the cold chicken legs and a few apples. She tied the cloth loosely and looped it over her saddlehorn, then swung up into the saddle.

Radesh was still standing by his horses head, his face creased with a smile. He jerked his chin back towards Khiran and Scribbles turned to see what he was indicating.

" I've never seen a man mount a horse quite like that before," the hillman said quietly.

"Nor I," she answered, then paused. "He seems to be in need of some help . . ." she finally added, watching the animal turn round and round while Khiran hopped and cursed.

Radesh nodded, his face serious as he gathered his mounts reins and looked up at the Scribe. "You going to help him?"

She chuckled as Khiran literally threw himself across the saddle. "Nope. You?"

Radesh grinned as he swung effortlessly into his own saddle. "Nope. I think that boy's on his own this time."

Scribbles laughed softly, her eyes following the hapless Corsair as the roan gelding, probably put off by the antics of his sort-of rider cum passenger, began wandering off in search of some lunch of his own. At that point, Htiet appeared from the stable, leading his own mount. He too, watched the roan gelding and its burden, then laughed, mounted and went to Khiran's aid.

"I have a strong feeling that our little fish has never ridden a horse in his life," she remarked quietly to Radesh as they turned their mounts to follow the Easterling.

.
User avatar
SilverScribe
Scribe, Wanderer, Warrior . . . Bard of Rhudaur and Herald of Manwe


 
Posts: 29669
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2002 10:17 pm
Location: In the wild . . .
Top

Postby Jiyadan » Sat Feb 04, 2006 7:47 pm

“Sa kai hell man, you’re going to have to learn to mount properly. Come, I’ll show you. Now,” Htiet said with a grin, “get off and we’ll start again.”

Once again for Khiran, that proved easier said than done. He let himself slide off the saddle, his feet reaching for the ground, except the foot that had been in the stirrup got stuck and he couldn't stop his slide nor balance himself fast enough and a moment later found him flat on his back, the meekest of groans coming from his lips.

Htiet dismounted to grab the horse's reins and keep him from running off with Khrian's foot still in the stirrup, managing to help get it out with a bit of maneuvering. The Corsair, feeling not at all generous with the world anymore offered up a few colourful curses and struggled to his feet, shaking clumps of mud from his cloak and mentally cursing the western clothing that might be warm but was quite difficult in all other respects.

Khiran leveled a hot gaze at the horse as he took the reins back from Htiet who was still chuckling over the whole spectacle. "Now, watch," the Easterling said as he took hold of his own horse and mounted again, the movement smooth and as easy as walking to the man, no doubt. Khiran listened as he gave quick instructions on how to emulate this, nodding and feeling as foolish as a land-lubber on a ship in a storm.

He focused quite pointedly on doing exactly what Htiet told him, how to hold the reins and to turn the stirrup out and put his foot in from behind rather than tying to use it as a rung on a ladder. After a couple trial 'hops', he managed to get his leg over and sit down firmly in the seat. Khiran was more pleased with this final victory than the horse who shook his head and began walking his own way knowing full well he carried a rider who was as useless as a sack of onions.

Khiran cursed again as Htiet hollered after him to take control, show the horse he was the master and be firm. Right, be firm. He pulled back on the reins as Htiet told him but the horse continued to fight for its head, not wanting the burden on its back nor wanting to follow that burden's directions. They might as well have put a fish on the horse for all the good it did.

The roan at last came to a stop beside some last tuffs of grass that had not yet fled with the cold of winter and tore them up hungrily, ignoring for now the annoyance atop it. Khiran was just happy it was stopped. So long as it was occupied with lunch, Khiran turned back over his shoulder to watch the bemused Htiet trot up and further to where the Scribe and Hillman watched also. He sighed and wondered what insults in westron they would be whispering between themselves knowing he could not understand. He hoped he would be able to learn their language quickly if for no other reason than to not feel like things were said behind his back.
User avatar
Jiyadan
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 1663
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 12:17 am
Top

Postby SilverScribe » Fri Feb 17, 2006 7:11 pm

Scribbles and Radesh silently sat astride their horses, standing to one side as Htiet patiently coached Khiran. Though she was chafing to get moving, Scribbles watched with quiet amusement as the Corsair listened to and tried to put Htiet's instructions into practice. She nearly applauded as Khiran finally got himself mounted correctly, then blew out a breath in frustration as the roan gelding took the bit and wandered off, carrying the hapless Corsair with it in spite of the repeated instructions from Htiet to control the animal. The roan made a determined beeline for a stretch of dried grass off to one side of the road and began to graze. "Enough of this nonsense," she grated and put her heels to her warhorse.

Htiet had brought his mount to one side of the grazing roan and was trying to tell Khiran what was necessary to direct the horse. Scribbles rode up on the other side and without preamble, reached out and yanked the reins out of Khiran's hand. The roan's head came up with a snort and Scribbles quickly wound the slack around her fist, bringing the roan's head in close to her own horses shoulder and giving it no room to move.

"You must hold the rein tight to keep the bit out of the horse's teeth," she instructed Khiran in Haradraic. "This horse is bit reined, so if you want him to turn right, you shorten the right rein, if you want him to go left, you shorten the left rein. Do you understand?" When Khiran nodded, she unwrapped the reins and handed them to him. "Good, now don't let him take the bit." She watched carefully as Khiran kept the reins from slackening too much. The roan rolled its eyes and tried to toss its head, but the shortened rein would now not allow it.

"I don't have time for slow, gentle learning, you will have to learn to ride the hard way," she said, then reached out and with practiced ease, flicked the roan hard on the hindquarters with the end of her rein. The beast snorted and bolted for the road, with a shocked Khiran hanging on for dear life.

In an instant, her own well-trained mount turned and leaped after the fleeing roan gelding. Drawing alongside, the tall grey warhorse paced the roan and after a few wild moments, the roan settled and began to gallop smoothly alongside the Scribe's mount. She could hear the double tattoo of hoofbeats to her rear and knew that Radesh and Htiet had fallen neatly in behind them.

When it was time, she slowed the big grey and the roan slowed as well. By the time the sun was heading towards the treetops in the west, Khiran had managed to pick up the rudiments of controlling his somewhat headstrong beast, and they all fell into the standard cavalry rhythym of alternately cantering and walking the horses. During the first walking interval, she dropped back to where Htiet rode, took the cloth wrapped lunch from her saddle horn and handed it to him. "I don't know if you got time to eat back at the Inn," she said. "Han brought us a light lunch, I saved you a share. I'm sorry, but you'll have to eat on the road. There should be just enough for you and the ko komat there." Htiet nodded. She looked over at Radesh and motioned for him to join her in the lead, and they moved ahead of Khiran while Htiet moved up to ride beside the Corsair.

The terrain rose slowly as the road headed east into the outer low foothills of the Misty Mountains. The forest was substantial to either side of the road and though the leaves had fallen, there were thick stands of dark spruce and pine here and there that made it seem denser than it really was.

As the day waned, the wind picked up and carried with it a clear, icy edge. Scribbles glanced behind them at the lowering sun and sniffed the air. "We won't get snow tonight, but it's going to be cold," she remarked to Radesh.

Leaving so late in the day meant that they would not make the valley where Scribbles had planned to camp. Instead, when the sun began to dip below the line of trees behind them, she found a narrow game trail and led them off the road. They spent the night huddled around a fire protected from the worst of the wind by one of the stands of spruce. When dawn broke, they had already eaten a cold breakfast and were back on the road.

The day passed much as the afternoon before and they made good time. Their way began to rise even more noticably, which told Scribbles that the valley she sought was close. An hour or so after the sun had passed the mid-day mark, the road topped a rise and there, to the right of the road, was a lush, wide valley, open to the south but surrounded on the other three sides by heavily forested foothills. Though the grass and low scrub around the treeline was touched with yellow, there was still a hint of green and in spite of the lateness of the season, it still looked a pleasant, sheltered place.

Scribbles drew her horse to a halt, shaded her eyes with one hand and squinted down into the valley. Where normally there was only wild grasses dotted with wildflowers and clover, now there was a profusion of colour and if she was not mistaken, people.

Radesh stopped beside her, with Khiran and Htiet drawing up on her other side. The wind had picked up again and at the top of the rise, it seemed to pry at them with cold fingers and caused their cloaks to flap. "What is it, Scribe?" Radesh asked quietly. "Is this not the place you were looking for?"

Scribbles pushed her hood off and shook her head. "It is the right valley, but there has never been a settlement here . . ." she trailed off as she consciously extended her sharp eyesight and drew the distances closer.

"Well, it sure looks like a settlement to me," Radesh answered, "though an awfully small one."

Scribbles dropped her hand and sat back. "It is indeed, but not a permanent one." Radesh raised his eyebrows.

"What is it?" Htiet asked, leaning over his saddlehorn to look past Khiran, who was watching her closely.

She gestured towards the valley. "They are Shi'uri, or as the elves call them, the Wandering Folk," she answered. Khiran frowned and she repeated the phrase in Haradric, then again in Westron. She smiled gently at the Corsair. "You will have to learn more Westron, Khiran," she said softly. "Htiet speaks very little of your tongue and the hillman, none at all." Khiran smiled back, shyly. "True, but will the hillman learn our tongues in return?" he replied. "It's only fair."

She nodded. "Indeed, so it is. Perhaps tonight, around the fires, we will ask."

Radesh squinted down into the valley, then spoke up, drawing her attention back to the matter at hand. "So, do we avoid these Shi'uri or not?"

Scribbles nudged her horse towards the track that led to the valley floor. "We can't avoid them, they're camped next to the only water for miles. Hopefully, they will not be adverse to sharing access to it."

They started picking their way down the track as Scribbles began dredging her memory for past meetings with the gypsy folk. It would only be helpful if she could remember at least some of their customs.

.
User avatar
SilverScribe
Scribe, Wanderer, Warrior . . . Bard of Rhudaur and Herald of Manwe


 
Posts: 29669
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2002 10:17 pm
Location: In the wild . . .
Top

Postby Jiyadan » Thu Mar 09, 2006 12:51 pm

The ride had proved most uneventful for all but Khiran, who felt as if he had replaced one undesirable position for another. His legs were unused to the seat of a saddle and were becoming sorer as the day pressed on. He also had little luck in controlling the beast beneath him and was continually having to be rescued by Htiet who at one point took hold of his reins and simply lead him along for a while.

Soon his horse fell into line behind the others, following them rather than its rider's commands. That was just fine with Khiran.

When noon had just passed, the company came to a stop just at the top of a rise overlooking the fields below. While the others discussed... whatever it was they were discussing, Khiran's horse decided to have lunch and wandered off to the side of the road to graze. Khrian would have done something about it eventually had a word from the Scribe's lips immediately demanded his attention.

"Shi'uri?" He laughed as if having heard a good joke but did not explain himself.

When they began the descent down to where the sea of colour fluttered and sparkled, the Corsairs demeanor turned from sullen and beaten to one rather resembling a peacock about to spread its tail for a hen.

"We can't avoid them, they're camped next to the only water for miles. Hopefully, they will not be adverse to sharing access to it," the Scribe commented, and when Khiran had to repeat it for him in Haradric, he laughed again.

"Avoid them? Why ever would you wish to avoid them! This is the best news I've had since leaving Harad... apart from your company, of course," he quickly added.

His earlier dismay at the very idea that Shi'uri would be found anywhere outside of Harad, even more so that they would be so far north, was dispelled as the idea of being among them filled his thoughts.

The pretty women, the proud men, the food! Oh the food that had his stomach growling already and his eyes taking on a lusty glimmer for the spices and aromas that he was sure would be carrying on the air soon enough.

As they came closer, his horse sensed the increase in his excitement as well as the presence of other horses and pricked its ears up, giving a high whinny and pushing forward to match the Scribe's mount but not moving ahead. Khiran also was eager to be among people of his homeland, not the least of which was an eagerness to be among the pretty girls with their dark eyes and bright smiles and perfumes of amber and rose.
User avatar
Jiyadan
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 1663
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 12:17 am
Top

Postby The_Fool » Thu Mar 09, 2006 6:13 pm

Benito had been chasing a flock of chickens, whooping and shouting as he brandished a long peacock feather of his aunt's, one brought back from the heat and brilliance of the Shi’uri home country. His bright clothing, a flurry of orange, saffron and viridian, flapped at the edges, caught in the winds his movement was creating. Despite the chill in the air the child seemed to radiate heat, the skin of his bare hands the colour of ripe wheat.

“Benito, en la colina.” (Benito, on the hill) The voice of a second child came up loud and excited from before him, his friend’s small finger pointing upwards to indicate the source.

“¡Ai chido!” (Oh cool!) Benito exclaimed, coming to a halt beside his friend, a little out of breath. Around the two boys the rest of the colourful gang of Shi’uri children began to cluster to watch the passage of the horses down the hillside. “Gajos.” With a brilliant grin the boy dashed forward, excitement making him spark. The chickens, left to recover, clucked nervously, eyeing their former tormentors from a distance, beady eyes bright as glass buttons.

It was not long before the swarm of gypsy children had reached the travellers, their dark lithe forms leaping about the horses with little fear of the hoofs. A bright chorus of: “Hola gajos. Hola, hola. ¿Oye mujer, por qué tiene ti una espada? Eso gajo no puede cabalgar su caballo. (Hey woman, why do you have a sword? That gajo doesn’t know how to ride his horse) Hola, gajo. Hola.” ringing out from numerous small mouths.

Benito, bouncing sideways to avoid a swish from the tail of Scribe’s mount almost collided with Khiran’s horse. He beamed, wagging the peacock feather in a roguish fashion before placing both hands on the Corsair’s boot toe and tugging lightly. “Oye bato,” the impish grin flashed across his lips again, startlingly blue eyes bright, “¿por qué ti permita que su caballo sea el jefe?” (Why you let your horse be the boss?)

Htiet, quiet and observant until now snorted in amusement, catching enough of the words from the boy’s quick paced and unusual Haradic dialect to understand. His own mount tossed her head at a couple of the children as they danced under her nose but remained otherwise unflustered.

“Mi abuela es mejor que ti,”(my grandmother is better than you) another boy piped up. “Gajo, gajo. El se parece a un Haradrim…”(He looks like a Haradrim…) He began to sing in a high boyish voice, quickly joined by the rest of the pack. “Pero él cabalga como un asno.” (But he rides like a donkey) They scattered like leaves in a low wind, laughing, swirling about the horses.

“They certainly are….bright,” Htiet grunted in thickly accented Westron, scratching his beard as he watched the children warily. He was waiting for the moment one of them made to filch something from his pack. “What if maybe they take?”

“Oye gajo,” Benito piped up, “you insulting my family? Calling us thief eh? You watch it maybe. With your face es cardo borriquero.” (With your face as ugly as hell) The insult was in essence so adult it should never have come from a child’s mouth, but Benito, raised as he was, shot off the words as easily as another child may have lesser ones. The other gypsy children, gathered about their little leader, laughed at his brashness, waiting to see what the gajos would do or say in return.
User avatar
The_Fool
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 3427
Joined: Thu May 15, 2003 11:25 pm
Top

Postby SilverScribe » Sat Mar 11, 2006 9:20 pm

The tall warhorse snorted softly and tossed his head, but otherwise remained calm. Bred and trained for the noise and chaos of the battlefield, the darting figures of the gypsy children didn't bother him as much as it did the Corsair's mount who, with his one blind eye, began to toss and turn his head frantically as he sidestepped and nickered nervously.

One of the gypsy children was bolder than the rest, and more vocal, peppering the company with questions and even taunting, lighthearted insults. Scribbles smiled to herself, the children of the Wandering Folk were almost always spirited, seldom shy and always amusing.

She continued to lead her small company forward at a steady walk, the children swirling and darting among the horses without fear, their bright clothes and equally bright laughter a welcome change from the sullen men and staring women of the villages they had passed through between the Forsaken Inn and the Lucky Fortune. The boldest child accosted Khiran's boot . . . Scribbles stifled laughter at the boy's blunt, honest question and at the other comments about grandmothers riding better than Corsairs.

At Htiet's comment, the boldest boy's demeanor changed, from carefree to challenging. "With your face es cardo borriquero,” he cheekily replied to the Easterling.

Finally, Scribbles spoke up. "Ai, ai, poquito gallo, domesticado su lengua." * Benito's eyes went wide, then narrowed as the Scribe pulled her horse to a halt and dismounted, though they were still a small distance from the outermost tents.

She was intensely curious to know how a clan of Shi'uri had come to be so far north, but first things first. Stepping away from the tall warhorse, she went to one knee and gestured for the boy to approach, which he did, albeit warily. "Primero, llevo puesta una espada, porque soy un guerrero," * * she told him with a smile. "Mi nombre es SilverScribe," # she continued, then gestured towards the camp. "¿Ahora, puede usted tomarme a su líder de clan?" # #


* Ai, ai, little rooster, tame your tongue.
* * First, I carry a sword because I am a warrior.
# My name is SilverScribe.
# # Can you take me to your clan Leader?

.
User avatar
SilverScribe
Scribe, Wanderer, Warrior . . . Bard of Rhudaur and Herald of Manwe


 
Posts: 29669
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2002 10:17 pm
Location: In the wild . . .
Top

Postby The_Fool » Sun Mar 12, 2006 3:52 pm

Benito studied the woman before him, raising his eyebrows and blinking his eyes in dubious scepticism. The peacock feather nodded its blue and green head in a cool Western wind, iridescent on high. “Ti quiere ver Padre, gajo.”

“Sí,” Scribe answered, nodding her head slightly.

Benito gave a slight shrug of his shoulders then grinned, pointing at Khiran. “Oye gajo, your man, he is being tomado para una caminata otra vez.” (Taken for a walk again.)

The roan, having taken solace in the lull in unsettling activity had begun to wander off towards the clan’s herd, whinnying softly. With a roll of his eyes Htiet nudged Karma into a trot, gathering up the reins in one hand as he drew parallel to the Corsair and leaning over to snatch the reins from Khiran’s grip. Amused, the Shi’uri children broke into a peal of bright laughter, clapping their hands and stamping their feet. “Ai yi yi esta dabuten. Otra vez gajo, orta vez.” (it’s great. Again gajo, again.)

“Su Líder de Clan,” Scribe prompted again, bringing Benito’s attention back to her. The boy regarded her for a moment with his cornflower blue eyes, brushing a little of his sandy brown hair off his forehead. Finally he jerked his chin in the direction of the tents, flashing her his small white teeth.

“Vamos, gajo. You leave su caballos (your horses) away from the herd eh? Or Nino, he gets enojado, loco.” (angry, crazy) Turning on his heel the little gypsy boy strode off in the direction of his home, the rest of the children fanning out around the group, calling out to the camp as they walked. “¡Oye mi familia, tenemos a viajeros locos de gajo! ¡ Debemos tener cuidado!” (Hey my family, we have crazy gajo travellers. Better watch out!)

Their laughter rang out in the cooling evening breeze as the sun dipped to the hills. On the outskirts of the camp, a crowd of adult Shi’uri were gathering.
Last edited by The_Fool on Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
The_Fool
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 3427
Joined: Thu May 15, 2003 11:25 pm
Top

Postby Jiyadan » Tue Mar 21, 2006 12:50 pm

Khiran was grinning like a fool, excited to be in the Shi'uri camp. Though Shi'uri culture was quite distinct from that of Harad, it was still familiar to him and so he was feeling almost right at home as the children taunted from between the legs of the group's horses.

One was much more adult sounding than his years gave him credit for and he had to laugh especially hard at the lad's indignation at Htiet's comment. A few moments later, the Easterling was once again rescuing from his horse and so he decided this was as good a time as any to find the ground once again.

Sliding off with somewhat more grace than he had the first time, he hit the ground with a groan as he attempted to straighten his legs, aching from the ride and his inner thighs feeling as if they had been rubbed quite raw.

When he managed to get turned around to address the children who had told him he rode like a donkey, they had turned to other distractions and instead Khiran took hold of the reigns of his ornery horse and followed after the others.

"Are you sure you can handle him, ko komat?" Htiet prodded.

"So long as I am the one on the ground, I can!" he replied less than amused, but his attention stayed neither on the horse or the Easterling for long.

He noted several women of the clan looking their way, a few of which he would not be adverse to knowing better but such was the instict instilled in him that he would do nothing until given leave by his 'captain', or the Scribe in this case. Being so natural to him, it did not occur to him that it might not be such a natural inclination for the Scribe to think to grant such leave.
User avatar
Jiyadan
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 1663
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 12:17 am
Top

Postby SilverScribe » Sat Mar 25, 2006 6:13 pm

“Vamos, gajo. You leave su caballos (your horses) away from the herd eh? Or Nino, he gets enojado, loco.”

She nodded, struck by the unusual blueness of his eyes. In her long centuries, most of which had been spent travelling the length and breadth of Middle Earth, she had seen very few of the Shi'Uri that were not dark eyed. But it was more than his eye colour that fascinated her, it was the unusually adult swagger to both his speech and movements. She smiled to herself, he was every inch the cocky little rooster, a duminutive leader ruling over the other children with a confidence that they bravely tried to imitate.

As the child turned and started away, Scribbles signalled to the rest. Htiet had caught up to Khiran and both men had dismounted and were making their way back. Radesh dismounted and when Htiet and Khiran arrived, Scribbles spoke quickly, first in Westron then in Haradriac for Khiran.

"First, we will keep our mounts with us, not because I don't trust the Shi'Uri, but because it appears their horsemaster is particular about his herd, and we will respect that. Second, only one of us is expected to be spokesman, and that will be me. Unless you are asked a direct question by the clan leader, you will speak to no one, answer no one. And third, above all, do not acknowledge or respond to any insults or taunting. They will test our nerves and our tempers, do not let either get away from you."

When she was done, all nodded their understanding and she began to lead them in the direction the boy had taken. They walked slowly, leading their horses and not speaking, even though some of the people who were now gathering called out as they passed, responding in part to the children who were still gaily announcing their arrival. Scribbles ignored everything but the leading boy's bobbing peacock feather, her own steps exactly tracing his as he approached the camp of brightly coloured tents.

When he finally came to a halt and turned back to face them, she held up a hand and the small company stopped.

"Usted espera aquí, you wait here, I get our Padre," he said, then spun and disappeared between the outermost tents. More and more adults were beginning to gather, men as well as women. Scribbles glanced at Khiran, noticing the look on the man's face. She couldn't decide if he was homesick or lovestruck. Either way, it could mean trouble.

She spoke softly, just under her breath, but just loud enough for the Corsair to hear her. "You may look Corsair, but if you touch the clan may take the hand," she said in Haradraic. "So keep your eyes in your head and your hands hooked in your belt." He flushed, probably not realizing how transparent his face really was, and thinking she had simply read his mind. She sighed inwardly.

Radesh gave her a "what now" sort of look.

"Now, we wait," she said softly.

.
User avatar
SilverScribe
Scribe, Wanderer, Warrior . . . Bard of Rhudaur and Herald of Manwe


 
Posts: 29669
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2002 10:17 pm
Location: In the wild . . .
Top

Postby Frelga » Tue Apr 04, 2006 8:19 pm

"First, we will keep our mounts with us, not because I don't trust the Shi'Uri, but because it appears their horsemaster is particular about his herd, and we will respect that. Second, only one of us is expected to be spokesman, and that will be me. Unless you are asked a direct question by the clan leader, you will speak to no one, answer no one. And third, above all, do not acknowledge or respond to any insults or taunting. They will test our nerves and our tempers, do not let either get away from you."

The boy scampered off toward the tent. Radesh glanced at Scribe in a mute question. He had assumed that they would make their own camp, although it would have to be close to that of the gypsies if they were to have access to water.

"Now we wait," she told him.

"Are you expecting an invitation?" he asked with surprise and got a sharp look in reply. Ah yes, she ordered them to be quiet.

People were now gathering in bright clusters near the tents. And no wonder. Scribe alone was a curiosity enough, with that enormous sword that would make most men look ridiculous but that fit her like feathers fit a hawk. And the three men with her, so different in their looks yet alike in their very diversity that marked each an alien. None of them belonged here.

The other two watched the tents with happy anticipation, although Khiran's face flushed dark red at Scribe's reprimand. Radesh remained on guard, arms crossed on his chest under the grey cloak.

"Stop scowling," Scribe hissed at him. "They have no wish to invite trouble into their camp so don't look like you are about to make trouble."

"They are not fond of strangers," Radesh agreed softly but he threw back his cloak and let his hands fall at his sides.

Scribe raised an eyebrow at him. "They have good reasons."

"Perhaps." Radesh shrugged. He came upon a gypsy camp on the road the year before, asked for a night's rest and was turned away. It was true that he looked like the sort of trouble one would not wish to invite - lean and scruffy like a bear in the spring. But to hillman's mind that lack of hospitality was a greater crime than the thieving and swindling the locals blamed on the gypsies. He heard talk of baby-snatching, too, but he dismissed it. The Shi'uri all looked like a family and none looked anything like any other lowlanders.

"And some of them were kind," he added, not to be unfair. His face softened a little as he remembered the gypsy woman who brought him food.

Scribe gave him a sidelong look but he was silent and she didn't ask. She never asked.
User avatar
Frelga
GNU Terry Pratchett


 
Posts: 9275
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 12:05 pm
Top

Postby Jiyadan » Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:38 pm

"So keep your eyes in your head and your hands hooked in your belt."

Khiran's eyes widened for a moment, and then his face took on the most mournful expression to rival a scolded puppy dog. No touching? Not even talking!? He whimpered silently. He could have cried.

The space between them and the gypsies suddenly felt like an uncrossable gulch where dark eyed beauties beckoned from beyond. He could almost smell the scent of Harad on their skin and hair and hear the sweet voices that would have whispered in his ear had his 'shore leave' not just been denied.

One in particular was catching his eye, tall and slim with wild hair and a bright skirt. She even seemed to be returning his longing glances with a coy smile and a long gaze over her shoulder before she turned away, only to look back once again.

By the high seas, months without so much as a set of sweet lips to kiss and now he was to be denied the most succulent of sweets, and from Harad no less! It was more than a man should be asked to bear, down right cruel!

His admiration for the Scribe suffered slightly, though it dawned on him just how like His Lordship Jiyadan she really was. The former El Zikher was known for curbing the fun of the troops with women when on duty.

Khiran sighed deeply and skulked behind slightly so as not to be tormented with the sight of the women. He only hoped that now they would move on quickly before his loyalty to her was tested in the face of such temptations.
User avatar
Jiyadan
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 1663
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 12:17 am
Top

Postby The_Fool » Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:46 pm

They were far too familiar a scene for the former soldier. Clenching his jaw Htiet settled into an unconscious defensive position, crossing his arms across his chest as he leant back on one booted foot. The cool evening breeze tugged at his dark hair and cloak, ruffling the fur that lined the hood. It was icy, coming down from the mountain and stung his skin with invisible particles of snow. The Shi’uri, dressed much more warmly than he had ever seen them, gathered in a line before them, jostling and observing, calling out sharply. The arrogant and angry puffing of chests from the men. Warriors of his kind were never welcome; they brought too many painful memories. Ritsay, they brought about too many painful memories in him!

A low desert wind and the hiss of sand. His first patrol into enemy territory. An attempt to flex a little military muscle. To get under the skin of the Prince of Harad. An excuse to capture slaves, most easily taken from the nomad camps. Where the men were beaten and killed and the women, the most exotically beautiful in Harad, were stolen to be held under the slavers’ whip. It had been accepted. They were not missed. They were the fringes of Haradic society. In the eyes of the Eastron soldiers in any case. The wailing of the women had been terrible. Eerie and of a pitch to make the skin crawl. Htiet’s teeth ground together as he watched the men, his shoulders tense. They knew where he hailed from. Already he could see the hiss forming down the line.

It was in a flash of cloth and gold that the first male exploded. “Hoi Easterling! Scum! Slave Trader! A curse on your mother!”

“A curse on all your ancestors! On your daughters and your sons! You show your face here eh? I spit on you!” A flick of fingers under a raised chin, the dark, expressive eyes full of angry fire. “¡Asesino de madre! ¡Raper de hermana! ¡Destructor de familia!” (Mother killer. Sister raper. Family destroyer)

A sharp and collective breath from the gathered family came like the hiss of a snake to Htiet’s ears. The group seemed to move in on itself, women collecting their children a little closer. The pain of the War written in the older faces. The younger men, who would have been children when it happened, began to form a barrier, jostling and throwing insults at Htiet, some of them slipping sideways to mark his companions.

“Ai and what are you doing eh, Haradrim? With this piece of dung? Ti deshonra a su madre.”

“You didn’t learn better? When you lost the War? They are no good. Ellos le apuñalan en la espalda. ¡Chamuco!” (They stab you in the back. Devil!)

A solid looking gypsy came forward, his face dark with rage. He raised his chin, a cold little sneer on his lips. Intimidation radiated off him, off his tense shoulders and tight chest. The gold on his wrists and at his ears flashed in the dusk as he pushed himself into Htiet’s space. “Get out of my space eh? Or I’ll smack your ugly face. Coge.”

Htiet drew in a sharp breath, glaring down his nose at the Shi’uri. He was bristling all over, partly from shame. He had witnessed all of the violations he had been accused of. He had thought of them as acceptable. Every soldier in the army had. It was only after the years had passed and he had gained wisdom in years that he had begun to question that part of the Easterling Army. “Sa kai Shi’uri. Get out of my face.”
User avatar
The_Fool
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 3427
Joined: Thu May 15, 2003 11:25 pm
Top

Postby Jiyadan » Sat Apr 08, 2006 4:23 pm

In spite of the Scribe's explicit order, Khiran could not help but feel a twinge of defensiveness at the attacks on Htiet. Easterling he was, and Khiran knew well the insults were warranted. But knowing Htiet now, even if only briefly, made him want to come to the aid of the only friend he had in this strange land.

Without thinking, he put his hands between the two men that stood at odds and seemed a breath away from drawing weapons against each other.

"Brother of Harad, I am no traitor to our land yet I eat and drink with this man. If a man is judged by his company, then judge him the better for it, aye? Do you so soon forget your own El Zikher when your travel away from the motherland?"
User avatar
Jiyadan
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 1663
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 12:17 am
Top

Postby The_Fool » Sat Apr 08, 2006 4:54 pm

The gypsy turned his head slightly, narrowing his dark eyes. “Forget? Bato, we do not forget. Not how he never showed his face to help us. Maybe because he was not born from the dust and sand of the desert like we were eh? Maybe because he was too busy in the palace. We do not know. All we know is he was not there. And he let El Chamuco run us all down.”

Khiran blinked a few times and a look of confusion crossed his face. The Harad army had lost many men defending these people when they could, though Shi'uri never served in the army to return the favour. He remained silent, unable to formulate a reply to the accusation.

Those dark eyes were hardening, the set of the mouth dangerous, a warning. “You see? Even now eh? You do nothing. Soldados. Is hard for you but is harder for us.”

“Kai,” Htiet snapped suddenly, ready now to confront whatever this man threw at him. The rapid flow of unfamiliar Haradrim coming from the Shi’uri was beyond his ability to translate but he had caught enough of Khiran’s to know neither of them were standing on favourable ground. “You want to prove things? You prove them. Ko-rovin.”

The Shi’uri smiled. Just a fraction of a second before his fist connected with Htiet’s face.

It was like a kick from a mule, strong enough to send Htiet stumbling back a few steps before he regained his balance, almond-shaped eyes blazing. “Feel better Shi’uri?” he asked, spitting blood out onto the grass before wiping his mouth with the back of his gloved hand.

“Sí,” he replied, rubbing his broad knuckles with his hand. “Much better chilito.”

“Ai Alejo,” came the call from the gathered crowd, “you show him eh? Him and all his piss born people.”

“Once is enough, papa,” someone else joined in, using the informal form of masculine affection. “Anymore and it is like you are one of them.”

“Unless he hits you back. But maybe he does not have the cojones.” A ripple of laughter. “Ai Easterling, come on eh? You let him hit you like that? Or do you need permiso de mujer?”

Htiet tightened his fists. He wanted so much to strike the man before him and yet it seemed to him that such an action was beyond pointless. It would serve nothing. He may have been a soldier in the Eastron Army and he may have witnessed and done things he was no longer proud of but he would not allow himself to fall into that trap again. Not when he had so much more to lose. But for it to be implied that he needed a woman’s permission to make a decision? It was more insulting than anything else the Shi’uri could have thrown at him. And they probably knew it too. Smug sa kai sons of tsyakas. His clenched fists trembled, his entire frame tense with the effort to remain in place.
User avatar
The_Fool
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 3427
Joined: Thu May 15, 2003 11:25 pm
Top

Postby SilverScribe » Sun Apr 09, 2006 10:10 pm

.

Scribbles heard the dissent long before it broke out in understandable words. Her sharp peredhel hearing caught the rustle of clothing as women pulled their children close and men squared their shoulders, muscles bunching and tensing with slowly increasing unrest. She felt the growing pressure in the air, like the thick, cloying heat of a baking summer afternoon as thunderheads towered on the horizon, dark with promise of the violence to come. So it was as the Shi'uri gathered, the women's whispers sharp with tension and the men's low muttering thick with simmering bravado.

“Hoi Easterling! Scum! Slave Trader! A curse on your mother!” The first insult split the air like a lightening strike. More followed, each gypsy taking courage or heart from the one that went before. Scribbles followed the flow of the taunts as they turned into open insult, and her left hand dropped involuntarily, her wrist coming to rest across the hilt of the large broadsword at her hip as one large Shi'uri male stepped up to Htiet.

She tensed as Khiran stepped between the two bristling men, but still, she did not move to interfere. She had caught some of the other comments, comments from farther back in the crowds, comments not entirely complimentary to her stature nor the warrior like state of her carriage or armament. 'Ai, uno monstruo," . . . "mujer de guerra," . . . "guerrero falso."

She held herself still, her face a study in marble, unreadable. Only her eyes narrowed when Khiran stepped from his place to put himself between Htiet and the large Shi'uri, then spoke of the El Zikher of Harad. She was unsure if Khiran referred to Jiyadan, or Moujhadin, or if it even mattered. She followed their exchange, feeling the tension escalate, knowing that something or someone was about to step over an invisible line.

It was Htiet and the Shi'uri who had first insulted him. Scribbles closed her eyes briefly in frustration as the gypsy clipped the Easterling with a straight, hard jab that snapped Htiet's head back and pushed him back several steps. When they continued to trade taunts, her patience finally began to fray.

She knew the Shi'uri to be close-knit, and she knew of their old hatred for the East and its depradations on the peoples of Harad. But this was not Harad, nor was it the East, and they had courteously walked into their camp, not rode. They had come in on foot, empty handed, with no weapons drawn or agression of any kind being shown. And this is how they were repaid?

An inarticulate growl of anger sounded low in her throat and she finally broke her silent and unmoving stance. A few long strides took her to just behind the gypsy's shoulder. She reached out and tapped it and when the man turned, she said quietly, "Tan ahora usted tiene un gusto, eh?", * then delivered a lightening fast, solid upper cut that lifted the man off his feet by three inches and dropped him on his back, unconscious before he hit the ground.

She looked over to Htiet. "I know the full measure of your honour and your worth, and that is all that matters," she said softly in Eastron. "It is my place to deal with these people, and I will do so."

The silence was deafening as she spun and faced the rest of the assembly. "We come into this camp in good faith, on foot, with no weapon to hand and this is how you greet us?" she snapped. "You do not ask why we come, or who speaks for us, but simply attack like wild dogs?" She paused to glance at some of the men who had been most outspoken. "You are not in Harad, nor is this the East!" she shouted, then raked her hair back with one hand, exposing a gently pointed ear. "You do not own the grass where you have pitched your tents, this is the land of my people! We have travelled through and camped in this valley long before any of your great-great-great-grandfathers even drew breath to squall at the stars and this is how you give one of us greeting? By attacking one of my company?!"

She glared around the now silent circle of watchful faces. The gypsy on the ground moaned and shifted, then rolled to his side and tried to sit up. One of the younger Shi'uri started towards him, then stopped and turned a hesitant look towards the Scribe. She inclined her head slightly. " Siga adelante, ayude a su amigo," ** she said quietly, then turned her attention back to the gathered camp.

"Where has the courtesy of the Shi'uri gone?" she asked, her voice calm, even. "Where is your Clan Father? Will he not come forward?"


* So now you have a taste, eh?
** Go ahead, help your friend.


.
User avatar
SilverScribe
Scribe, Wanderer, Warrior . . . Bard of Rhudaur and Herald of Manwe


 
Posts: 29669
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2002 10:17 pm
Location: In the wild . . .
Top

Postby The_Fool » Thu Apr 13, 2006 3:36 am

“So maybe we are not so quick to welcome your Easterling,” one woman spoke up, raising one eyebrow as she set a hand on her hip, “but we did not say, I think, that our Padre was not coming.”

“Sí,” another gypsy chimed in. “And maybe it is the land of your people, Hada (elf). But our man Alejo, he has the right to fight if he wants to. Para defender su familia. (To defend his family) The Easterlings, they took his madre.”

“Cayate bato,” Alejo snapped as he prodded his jaw experimentally. “No es su negocio.” (It is not her business)

“Ai yi yi,” Silvio murmured his interruption as he pushed his way to the front of the crowd, dark eyes taking in the form of Alejo rising shakily from the grass. “Es malo. Oye amigo, you can see I hope eh? No little estrellas (stars) dancing for you?”

Alejo gave a grunt and waved him off. “Un momento, Pícaro. Y yo seré fino.” (I’ll be fine)

“Not so fine when Padre finds out what you do eh?” Silvio replied, rubbing his jaw as if testing the strength of his own. “Is his job. Now you make the gajos muy enojado. La mujer especialmente.” ( very angry. The woman especially) He raised his gaze, gifting the Scribe a slightly sheepish grin that held beneath it an element of roguish charm. Behind him the crowd of gypsies shifted, some smirking in mirth, eyes flicking between their Clan Father’s wayward nephew and the strangers.

“Oye Pícaro,” one of the women called out, “no más hasta que Padre llegue.” (no more until Padre arrives)

“Sí, or maybe she smacks you too eh?” The words were greeted with a sudden ripple of laughter, many of the women beginning to find amusement in the effortless way the Scribe had dealt out her own form of punishment. Perhaps it would have been better to let the two men fight it out, but the unexpected and abrupt end was not without its own feeling of comic satisfaction. At least as far as female opinion were concerned.

The Scribe, so far unfavourably answered, scowled. Seemingly undaunted Silvio came forward, both hands held up in a placating gesture. “Is only a moment, amiga. Our Padre, he is busy eh? Es muy problemas today.” He turned to Khiran and gave a quick grin. “Hola ese. ¿Que tal? And your amigo too eh? How goes it, soldado?”

Htiet, standing at Khiran’s side, gave a sardonic snort and proceeded to daub at his lip with his fingers. Although he would never admit it, he was greatly embarrassed by the Scribe’s actions. He had not required her to step in. He was a man. And he was more than capable of dealing with a threat to his personage. He had not fought back, certainly, but that had not meant he needed saving. From a woman no less. Gods, he had not been so ashamed of his stature in years. “Fortune, he is good enough Shi’uri.”

“Not quite,” came the dry reply from behind Silvio’s shoulder. “Sobrino, vuelva en la línea.” (Get back in line) The Shi’uri behind Silvio was a little shorter in stature, but there was an deep and unquestionable authority about him; strong, worn hands hooked into his belt, black hair swept back off his forehead, touched with grey at the temples. He took in Htiet’s current appearance, cast a glance at Alejo, on his feet now, and scowled. “Alejo!” The name was barked out. “El próximo tiempo ti mantiene los puños a ti mismo. O será ti que obtiene un cachetada. De mí.” (Next time you keep your fists to yourself. Or it will be you that gets a slap. From me.)

Alejo clicked his tongue against his teeth and said nothing, shrugging broad shoulders in an action that was certainly his form of repentment. Rhou Zalea, Clan Leader, gave a satisfied nod. He knew Alejo well enough to understand when the man was accepting reprimand for an action. Rubbing his bearded chin he turned to face the gajos, taking them all in one by one. His gaze lingered on Khiran, a spark of interest glimmering in the depths of his eyes. “Hola viajero. Muy lejos de la patria.” (Greetings traveller. A long way from the homeland)

Khiran cast a quick glance Scribe's way, as if in askance, then gave a brief nod in reply. The corner of Rhou's mouth twitched as he witnessed the subtle infrastructure of power in the group before him. “Come. Vamanos. I take you to my tent.” He spoke abruptly, gesturing with two fingers for them to follow. “You tell me what you need there eh? Away from my 'caballeros pequeños', my 'little gentlemen'. Idiotas. You call me Rhou. Esto es mi campo. Para ahora usted está bienvenido.” (This is my camp. For now you are welcome) Turning to the gathered Shi'uri he raised both hands and made brisk shooing motions with the backs of them. “¡Piérdase camotes! Cuándo las gallinas empiezan gritos por que ti tiene algo preocuparse. Haga hasta entonces no jaleo el gallo. ” (When the hens start crowing you have something to worry about. Until then don't hassle the rooster.)

And just like that the camp drifted back to its tasks, content to leave the gajos in the hands of their Padre and await his verdict. Htiet, tightening his scimitar to his belt, could not help but wonder if he had simply entered the eye of the storm.
Last edited by The_Fool on Thu Apr 13, 2006 9:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
The_Fool
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 3427
Joined: Thu May 15, 2003 11:25 pm
Top

Postby Jiyadan » Thu Apr 13, 2006 8:34 pm

A few more taunts or comments by way of 'explanation' were offered, Khiran glanced over at the Hillman in their party who alone among them had not received so much as a second glance let alone a harsh word. He was annoyed and yet it only made sense for Radesh alone among them raised no questions either in appearance or presence.

When another Shi'uri came forward, Khiran noticed a different posture about him. He seemed laid back and almost amused at his fellow who had at last managed to get to his feet.

He could not catch all the words that were spoken, a few too different from his own language, but most of it was easy to follow. Then, as suddenly as it had picked up, the animosity seemed to drift away on the breeze to be replaced with a ripple of laughter and pearl teeth shining. Even so, Khiran had not expected the casual greeting from the man who had come out.

"Hola ese. ¿Que tal? And your amigo too eh? How goes it, soldado?”

"Maybe we have been better," Khiran said with a quirky grin. "Aye, but I can think of a few things that would make tonight..." his words trailed off and his look went serious again as the Clan Elder approached, answering Htiet's comments before the other Shi'uri could.

He barked a sharp reprimand to the one apparently named Alejo who had hit Htiet, then offered his own greeting to Khiran. “Hola viajero. Muy lejos de la patria.”

He glanced at the Scribe, knowing he had already stepped beyond the boundaries she had set, but she offered no indication now that she did not wish him to reply, so he nodded as he turned back to the Elder and gave a respectful bow of his head, palms pressed together. "Aye, the both of us; yet here we are." Khiran did not believe in chance. Fate, however, was a different creature entirely.
User avatar
Jiyadan
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 1663
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 12:17 am
Top

Postby SilverScribe » Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:40 pm

OOC: As always, my undying gratitude to The_Fool for the "gyspy bits." ;)

She listened to the swirls of conversation with no expression of any kind, but kept her face impassive.

"The Easterlings, they took his madre.” 'But not this Easterling,' she thought acidly. "Now you make the gajos very angry. The woman especially." She nearly snorted with laughter. They had no idea, she was not very angry, only mildly annoyed. If she had been truly angry, the gypsy would have entered the Halls of Mandos, not the temporary dark of unconsciousness. "Oye Pícaro, no more until Padre arrives." 'If he ever does,' she fumed silently. " “Sí, or maybe she smacks you too eh?”

Scribbles frowned as yet another Shi'uri stepped forward however, this man finally offered something other than taunts or insults. She said nothing, but folded her arms over her chest and waited silently while the Shi'uri traded small talk with both Khiran and Htiet. A different voice sounded from behind the other gypsy and Scribbles stood straighter as the man came into view.

That he was the Clan Padre was unmistakable. She had met many clans and there was always that indefinable quality about the men who led them. She kept her face calm and her eyes fixed on the older man as he spoke to the gypsy that had struck Htiet. When he finally turned to her group, he noticed and spoke politely to Khiran. She knew that the Corsair's glance told the Clan Padre all he needed to know. Though his eyes lingered on her face for only a few moments, when he spoke, she knew that while he appeared to be speaking to the whole group, he knew who would speak for them.

When he had effectively dismissed the rest of the Shi'uri, he started away, making his way between the outer circles of tents towards the center of the camp. Scribbles quickly instructed the rest to tie the lead reins of their mounts to her warhorse's bridle, then spoke softly in Quenyan to the stallion. At the questioning look from Radesh, the corner of her mouth quirked up in a small, brief grin.

"He will not wander, but will wait for our return," she said softly, then raised a hand and beckoned the rest of her company forward, to follow the Clan Padre. She noted that true to their natures, some of the Shi'uri were still very curious, raking them with bold looks when they stopped to let them pass or pausing in their chores to watch as they walked past.

She noticed several of the young women pacing them, weaving in and out of the tent circles and whispering among themselves. She knew that they were likely drawn to the Corsair, and for his part, though Khiran was being discreet, he was taking the opportunity to return whatever smiles came his way. She said nothing, now that they had been welcomed by the clan Father, if the women wanted to tease and toy with Khiran, it was their business. She suspected that the Corsair might be finding his bed under the silk roof of a tent, and not the stars.

Htiet and Radesh followed closely, walking nearly level with her and barely a pace behind. They came to the large central circle and headed for the large tent directly across from them.

Rhou entered the tent, then held the flap, gesturing them to enter with his free hand. Scribbles bent her head and ducked into the incense-scented interior, moving towards the center of the space as the rest of her company entered behind. She turned to face Rhou as the last of them came in and he let the flap fall.

She placed one hand over her heart and bowed her head. "Señor Rhou, I thank you for the hospitality of your tent. I am called SilverScribe."

The Clan Leader inclined his head slightly, waving the tips of his fingers at the cushions upon the floor. "Sit. If you like to, hmm?" He waited as the company settled themselves, remaining standing until all seemed settled before sinking down onto a plump cushion and crossing his legs. For a moment he studied them all, dark eyes made all the deeper for the shadows in the tent. The walls breathed softly in and out, glowing with the last of the evening light. "So, you come to my camp SilverScribe. It is not like gajos. But you, I think, are not like most gajos."

She nodded. "Indeed Señor Rhou, I am not, for I am peredhel, half elven." She raked one hand through her hair, and allowed herself a faint smile. "I have camped often in this valley, it is surely wide enough for the Shi'uri and gajos alike." She indicated the three men with her. "There is plenty of pasture for our horses, and space for our own camp, but we would have to pass through part of your camp to reach fresh water. I have come to ask your leave to do so."

"Veo." (I see) He seemed to consider this a moment, looking over the Scribe's men before speaking. "Your hombres, they know, I hope, what is right? What is good for mi familia? Your Easterling," Htiet stiffened slightly, "he will find it hard. Hard to walk amongst Shi'uri. Sangre demasiado mala. (Too much bad blood). You see for yourself in Alejo. For him, walking through camp will be like.... andar sobre carbón y escorpión calientes apoya. (walking over hot coals and scorpion backs) Not easy. Y no agradable." (And not pleasant)

She glanced at Htiet, then looked back to Rhou. " Señor Htiet of the East will decide for himself if he will walk amongst the Shi'uri. Pienso que él no es ningún forastero a carbones calientes o escorpiones, eh? ( I think he is no stranger to hot coals or scorpions, eh?) She nodded at the other two men. "Will the others of my company also find it hard to pass? We do not ask for entry to the clan, but only for water that the Valar created for all men's use."

"They will not find it hard." Rhou settled back upon his cushion, "if I speak for them. And for you. But first, from you I need a promise. That you respect our ways. That is when I tell my people to respect yours." He gave a wry little grin then rubbed his bearded chin with one hand. "And your Easterling. Para ahora." (For now)

She inclined her head. "You have my word Señor Rhou," and here she glanced meaningfully at the rest of her company. "However, Señor Htiet is not my Easterling, but a free man. I ask that he be respected as one."

Rhou gave a sharp bark of amusement. "You are his 'el compañero en el camino', his capitán. He is, how do you say, under your care eh? So this is why I call him 'your'. Freeman sí, but still he has responsabilidades no? Travelling bajo su orden." (under your command)

“Sí,” she agreed quietly, "all three are in my employ. And as such, they are also under my protection, as your clan is under yours. Usted entiende mí, sí?" (You understand me, yes?)

"Por supuesto," (of course) Rhou agreed. "So, es bueno. Respetamos uno al otro. (We respect each other) We both use the water. Ahora, I think maybe, all this talk is thirsty work. Perhaps you, ai, y su hombres, would like some sweet tea? Antes usted va a establecer el campo." (Before you go to set up camp)

"Sweet tea would be most welcome," she agreed. "Gracias."

.

Edited to "deal" with the horses. ;)
Last edited by SilverScribe on Fri Apr 28, 2006 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
SilverScribe
Scribe, Wanderer, Warrior . . . Bard of Rhudaur and Herald of Manwe


 
Posts: 29669
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2002 10:17 pm
Location: In the wild . . .
Top

Postby Jiyadan » Sat Apr 15, 2006 3:24 pm

Ai! A crueler twist of fate there never was. Shi'uri women - with their kohl-lined eyes, fragrant hair and sweet laughter - and strict orders not to touch a one of them. He was somewhat inclined to take that as a more serious order than the one of not answering the initial taunts they received upon entering camp. The way she had said it smacked of painful retribution for ignoring that one.

Once again, he felt a whimper in his throat as two women came into the tent with the promised sweet tea. One was older, which wasn't at all a bad thing. Experience, after all. That was worth a lot. But the younger. Sweet A'imha, he could not have found a more pleasant sight unless she had been offering him cool water in the midst of the hottest desert.

So it was that fate once again decided to knock him upside the head and laugh in sadistic glee when the elder Rhou introduced the two women as his wife and daughter. A colourful image of him falling at the man's feet and begging - with much tears - for the ugliest woman in their camp just please give him something came to his mind.

His face, however, remained rather impassive though there was an obviously longing in his eyes though he did not let them linger long, feeling the burning gaze of a father on him. While this might have been his imagination, it was not something he was prepared to mess with in any way. Mostly because here he had no ship he could sail out on before dawn and wrath descended upon him.

Delightfully homesick was the general feeling that washed through him. It would have been more delightful and less homesick if he could have eased it with a coffee-skinned beauty, a jug of good wine and a quiet tent. A quick glance to the Scribe seemed to tell him that she would be the one who would gladly hand him over to Rhou should he actually attempt the afore mentioned situation. When he was handed the cup of tea, he looked up and gave the most sincere smile he could muster while trying to resist crying.

Khiran had never been more than a ship's journey from home. He had sailed on many ships but each brought him back to a home port with his own people. His only companion on the journey north had been that hawk that had seemed to mysteriously disappear once he had reached the bridge but for his dream that night; and now he was surrounded by people who had one point or another had been a bitter enemy to his people.

But to be in a Shi'uri camp was like stepping for a moment back into Harad. The sights and smells, even the words themselves all surrounded him with the familiarity of home and while greater men perhaps could have born it better, he was feeling the brunt of fate's cruelty all the more. Coming right down to it, he would have been happy enough to have had the company of a few of their men to speak and drink with. Or even the gentle arms of a woman who did nothing more than touch his arm with her finger tips. Oh, just to feel like he was home again. He let out a deep sigh as his soul longed for a moment of relief from the loneliness of this foreign land.

He cleared his throat slightly and looked to Rhou. "It has been a long time since I've been around my countrymen." It wasn't a question, nor exactly a statement. he was more testing the waters for just how he would be viewed by them.
User avatar
Jiyadan
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 1663
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 12:17 am
Top

Postby The_Fool » Sat Apr 15, 2006 8:59 pm

Htiet sat straight on his cushion, uncomfortable within the walls of the Shi’uri tent. It was not so much that the Clan Leader was making him feel unwelcome, more that he could not shake the nagging feeling of his own conscience that he had no right to be here. The Eastron army had done too much to these people to feel he warranted any form of kindness from them.

As the discussion between his employer and the Clan Leader came to a close he let out a soft puff of air from his nose, relaxing a little. Soon they would be free to make their own camp. The spontaneous offer of sweet tea, which could perhaps have disappointed him, instead made him forget for a moment how he felt. The Haradic sweet tea was similar in taste to the favoured mint of the Easterlings. After so many miles had been placed between Htiet and his homeland it had been long since he had tasted anything even remotely similar. Although Westron tea was fragrant, he thought it lacked the flavour of his own country and he had taken to refusing it whenever it was offered. Across from him Khiran grinned a little, apparently as pleased as he at the prospect of a hot drink.

Their wait was not lengthy. An elder woman entered first, her dark hair bound in a loose bun at the nape of her neck, strands kept away from her face with a coloured scarf. She was petite, with delicate hands, years having left fine lines about the corners of her mouth and eyes. She was attractive, even in her maturity, her skirts swaying as she gently lowered the pottery teapot onto a raised piece of metal grating which sat upon a low table. Her bracelets chimed and she turned to watch as the other woman entered. At her appearance all three men sat a little straighter.

She was as petite as the first woman, slender waist emphasised by the fringed scarf she had tied about her waist. Her large dark eyes gleamed in the dim light of the tent, a soft smile on her lips as she took in the guests. She held a number of mismatched glasses in her slender hands, her dark and thickly curled hair loose about her shoulders.

“My daughter and wife,” Rhou broke through his thoughts. “Erindira y Lina.”

“Hola,” Lina spoke up, a sudden flash of white teeth lighting her face. The Scribe returned her greeting before Rhou gestured to his guests. Obligingly Lina came forward, her skirts rustling as she went to each in turn, offering a glass. She tended to Scribe first, apparently quick enough of wit to know a superior when she saw one. She then proceeded to Radesh, moving across to Khiran as he abruptly spoke, addressing Rhou in Haradic.

"It has been a long time since I've been around my countrymen."

“So I see,” Rhou remarked, his rough amusement barely hidden as he observed the way Khiran stared at everything wide-eyed. Erindira began to pour tea into the Scribe’s cup, the pale yellow liquid letting off great wafts of fragrant steam.

Lina bent down, holding out a glass to the Corsair as the silken length of her hair slipped over her shoulder. Even from here Htiet could smell the perfume in those obsidian tresses.

“Ai, how unfortunate for you viajero,” she said to Khiran, pushing the glass gently into his hands when he did not take it. “Maybe we will have to let you stay for the evening’s dances hmmm?”

Khiran looked pleadingly over to the Scribe as if to beg with his eyes to let him stay and watch.

The Scribe raised an eyebrow at Khiran's puppy dog look, then turned to Rhou. “If Señor Rhou allows it, it would be an honour to accept a place at any Shi'uri fire,” she said.

Rhou leant back, a thoughtful frown forming on his brow as he considered what his daughter had just offered. It was the presence of Htiet that made it so difficult for Rhou. As Clan Leader he had to consider the feelings of the entire clan, and he knew many who would not want an Easterling present for something so sacred, something so close to their souls. They would of course, accept his decision, but that did not mean there would be peace. Htiet noted his hesitation and lifted his gaze heavenwards as if to beg his gods to lift him from the tent.

Lina clicked her tongue, a teasing smile on her lips as she turned to her father. “Ai padre, look how you put him in agony. Es bueno. Silvio and I, we will make sure he behaves. He may not be Shi’uri, but he is Haradrim. Oye, gajo,” she nudged Khiran and laughed, “promise good manners and make mi padre happy.”

Khiran would have sooner castrated himself that dared to express any base interest in a girl in the very face of her father. “Yes, yes of course! I swear, sir, not an ounce of trouble.”

An amused smile flickered across Rhou’s lips, his eyes softening as they rested on his daughter. “Aiii Lina mi niña. You are worse than su primo. (your cousin) Sí, if you like. Make sure our compatriota has the scent of the desert in his nose for an evening. He can watch the dances. And you, Scribe, if your men wish it.” His gaze flicked to Htiet then. “Oye Easterling, you too. If you respect that I cannot control the spirits of my people any better than the gods.”

Htiet’s face was impassive. “I think I will not be at the fire. It is no respect to me or the Shi’uri. I will watch my camp.” He inclined his head politely. “Thank you.”

Rhou raised both eyebrows. “Como usted desea.”(As you wish) He did not hide the admiration in his tone at the Easterling’s decision. Lina stopped before Htiet, bent and handed him the tea glass. Leaning a little closer she studied him intently. At this distance Htiet could see how beautiful her eyes truly were, framed by long dark lashes, her skin the colour of cinnamon. That desert perfume, so strange here in the chill of the West, tickled his nose.

“If you hide,” Lina said, her voice husky and low, for his ears alone, “make sure you hide because there is no other choice. Not because it is easy.” She straightened and slipped across to her father’s side, resting a hand on his shoulder as she kissed his forehead. “Gracias Padre.”

“De nada, preciosa,” Rhou replied, smiling at his daughter. “Once the gajos have set up camp, you and Silvio, you can bring them eh? To the fire.”

Erindira, pouring the tea into Htiet’s cup, raised an eyebrow at him. It occurred to Htiet that she knew Lina had spoken to him, words for his ears alone. Abruptly his discomfort rose. He did not want this attention. Once they left this tent he was going to stay away from all of these nomads. That way he could easily avoid trouble and excuses to cause trouble. With a mumbled ‘thank you’ he buried his nose in his tea glass and concentrated on drinking.
User avatar
The_Fool
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 3427
Joined: Thu May 15, 2003 11:25 pm
Top

Postby SilverScribe » Fri Apr 28, 2006 9:15 pm

.
(OOC: just a quick note that I edited my post of 13 April, simply because I forgot to "deal" with the horses before we trotted off into the camp . . . :oops: ))

IC:

Scribbles carefully took the sweet tea and thanked the women. Though she liked her coffee strong enough to strip the hide off an oliphaunt, tea was a different matter altogether. She loved tasting various teas, some with flavours as delicate as a butterfly wing and others with more robust character, each one different and unique. To her, tea was a luxury on the road, something she rarely carried with her when she travelled, since it inevitably ended up at the bottom of her pack, crushed into unsteepable, bitter powder. Coffee travelled better, no additional harm could come to something that was already crushed.

She accepted the offer of attending the evening fire that the younger woman, Lina, made but not without some trepidation. Trepidation that Rhou obviously shared, his gaze flickering automatically to Htiet as he confirmed Lina's quite generous invitation. However, it was obvious that Rhou could deny his beautiful daughter nothing.

“De nada, preciosa,” he told her with a smile. “Once the gajos have set up camp, you and Silvio, you can bring them eh? To the fire.”

When the tea was done, Scribbles set aside her glass and rose smoothly to her feet, sketching a bow to Rhou, Erindira and Lina. "Many thanks for the hospitality of your tent, Señor Rhou. We will take our leave now, I would like to get our camp set up before full dark sets in."

"Bien," Rhou replied, rising to his feet in turn and inclining his head in her direction. "Until later eh? There is nothing you need no? If not then we see you later. At the fire. Lina and Silvio will come for you, eh?"

Scribbles nodded as the other three men rose to follow her. "Gracias, Señor." She spoke to the women as well, thanking them for the tea, then led the way out into the late afternoon's well slanted sunlight. "This late in the season, it will get dark quickly," she said as they all paused outside the tent flap.

"We should get the horses," Htiet said quietly and Radesh nodded agreement.

"Aye," she agreed, pausing for only an instant to get her bearings. "They are this way."

They retraced the route that the young boy Benito had led them, but this time there was no taunting, no jeering. A few children ran alongside, laughing and peppering them with questions, but were soon called away by adults to attend to their evening chores. The adults for the most part either pretended disinterest, or watched them pass with little more than curiosity.

Scribbles breathed silent relief when they cleared the outermost tents and found their mounts exactly where they had left them. The tall warhorse nickered softly as they came into sight, then waited patiently until the men had untied the lead reins from his bridle. Scribbles began walking around the perimeter of the Shi'uri camp, heading for a slight indentation of the meadow into the surrounding forest that bordered the valley floor. The shallow 'u' would give them a bit of protection from wind as well as screen them somewhat from the rest of the camp. Their access to the river laid between the main camp and the outermost ring of tents, but Scribbles was not worried. She or Radesh could take the horses down to be watered once they were unsaddled, the Shi'uri would not bother them. She made a mental note to take all their waterskins as well and rinse and refill them with the icy clean, fast flowing river water.

They set up camp quickly, with no tents it was a matter of setting up a firepit, hauling armsfuls of deadfall from the thick woods that bordered the meadow and unsaddling and picketing their retrieved mounts. Scribbles began pulling out dried jerky and trail bread from her pack, then suddenly rose and went to where her saddle lay. She pulled the elven longbow free, quickly freed it from it's protective hide-wrappings and strung it. Taking up the quiver from her saddle, she turned for the trees.

"It is nearly dark and you hunt?" Htiet grunted as she passed him. "I see as well in the dark as in daylight, and I want fresh game," she answered. "I'm tired of jerky and trail bread."

When she returned with several plump grouse, the fire was well established and a comfortable circle had been made with their saddles, packs and gear. Scribbles stowed the bow and quiver, then busied herself with plucking and preparing the birds. When they were spitted and hung over the fire, she buried the dross in the woods then, as planned, took their horses down to the river to let them drink. However, once there, she swore softly, she had forgotten the waterskins.

.
User avatar
SilverScribe
Scribe, Wanderer, Warrior . . . Bard of Rhudaur and Herald of Manwe


 
Posts: 29669
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2002 10:17 pm
Location: In the wild . . .
Top

Postby The_Fool » Mon May 01, 2006 10:10 pm

Htiet had made himself busy. Doing something with his hands was giving him a chance to stop thinking. To stop thinking about Harad and the Shi’uri. About his past. He stayed silent, smiling softly at Khiran’s obvious enthusiasm but not sharing in it. Whatever the others did, he had no intention of going to the fire with them tonight. As he had told their Padre de Clan, it was better for everyone if he just stayed behind.

When Scribe returned with the game he had settled himself down on the ground, his back pressed against the solid mass of his saddle and feet to the fire as he ran an oily rag across his unsheathed scimitar. He was impressed at her catch, considering the autumn gloom that hung over the meadow, tingeing the shadows of trees and shrubs with a murky grey that seemed impenetrable in the deepest reaches. Beyond their own fire he could hear the sounds of the gypsy camp wafting on the breeze that carried in it the spices of their exotic meal. Dogs were barking, a sudden clamour that suggested feeding time. He turned his attention back to the blade in his hand, strong scarred hands methodically rubbing the oil into the metal.

One of the horses snorted, tossing its head before lowering it to tear at a clump of sweet grass. So far they were content to graze. Soon however, they would need to be taken to the river to drink. Htiet had been considering this as he folded the rag he had been using into a small square when Scribe stood and began to gather up their rope halters. Content to leave her to the task the Easterling returned the rag and bottle of oil to its place in his saddlebags and stood to stretch out the stiffness in his back. A soft grunt of satisfaction was all that marked the movement before he turned his gaze to the sky. Above the treetops the sun was sinking; the last of its rays lining the leafy canopy with molten orange. The grey clouds in the sky were burnished with the colour, as if the horizon had caught alight. Such heat in the colours and yet the earth itself was cold. Htiet let out a sigh, one punctuated by a small puff of pale condensation. The chill in the valley was already rising.

Casting a glance around their camp he noticed their water skins, grouped together in a jumbled pile. They had needed refilling, but he was certain it had yet to be done. Stepping over a saddle Htiet scooped them up, turning to his companions. “I’m going to the water.” He lifted the skins to demonstrate his intention then left, striding off across the grass. He skirted the camp as best he could, keeping one suspicious eye on the few Shi’uri who were still meandering about the outskirts. A couple of the women eyed him and whispered with heads together, though what they were saying Htiet had no way of knowing. If he had to place a guess he would have claimed they murmured curses upon both himself and his ancestors.

Closer to the river the scent of spices and incense lifted replaced with the clean clarity of running water. A few insects were chirping along the banks and further upstream a fish leapt high to flop back into the river with a crystalline clap. Scribe, he noticed with admiration, had already marked his approach. Karma, two seconds behind, lifted her head, water dripping from her velvety muzzle. She regarded him silently a moment then returned to drinking.

“I bought the water skins,” he said simply, letting his gaze return to the river as it wound its way past them. The water was turning charcoal with the setting sun, tinged here and there with flashes of that same brilliant orange that marked the clouds.

“Aye, my thanks,” she replied, reaching for them. "You had no trouble, coming through the tents?"

The two women’s whispering came to mind for a moment. “No,” he said after a moment’s pause as he allowed her to take some of the skins from him. “No trouble.” He rubbed the crescent shaped scar on his cheek absently. “No trouble, if I stay away.” He gave a wry snort and shook his distraction from him.

She bent to fill one of the skins. "It is an honourable thing you do, Htiet."

He shook his head, bending to fill one of his own. “No. Is not honourable. It is how we must be.” He turned his head a little, watching the Scribe from the corners of his dark, almond-shaped eyes. “We both know,” he continued, “what has been done. I know. Shi’uri know. So now we are this. We will never be friends.

She nodded, corking one skin and reaching for another. "Aye, but as it was with Radesh, you are not personally responsible for the actions of your people. The Shi'uri who struck you was wrong, he acted in anger, yet you did not."

Htiet smiled; a sad sort of smile that filled his face with an ethereal melancholy. “I am responsible.” He studied the water skin a moment then corked it. The sun glinted off his dark hands, the nicks and scarring on the backs of them.

She finished with the last skin, then rose and spoke a few soft words to her warhorse, bringing him away from the water and to her side. She flung the skins over his back, then glanced at Htiet. "Is that where you got the scars? In the war?" she asked.

“Sar,” he replied, sitting back on his heels. “Some. Some in the war. Some….” He drifted off and rubbed a thumb over the scar on his cheek. “Some are reminders. Of failure. Of what happens when you do not do what you are told.”

"Sometimes, failure is impossible to avoid," she said softly, thinking back to the long roster of her own mistakes. "To learn from it, builds wisdom."

For a while Htiet remained silent. He was considering her words, his mind turning over his past, shaking out the dust. He had learnt of course, from his failure, but he did not think he was wise. Perhaps that was the difference between the East and the West. To him failure was not an option. It should never have happened in the first place. Now that it had, he must shoulder the burden and be reminded every single day that if he had followed orders he would still be home. But he would have guilt of his own making in his heart. “I am not wise,” he said finally. “But I am honest.”

Scribbles let a faint smile quirk one corner of her mouth. "Honest is not a bad thing to be," she replied softly.

Htiet smiled up at her then, a soft flash of white teeth in the last of the dim light. “Being honest is dangerous. But it makes my jiha (soul) good.” He stood, handing her the last of the full water skins. “With what I have done, that is a good thing to have.”

She said nothing, but merely took the filled skin and tying it to another, draped it over her horse with the rest her eyes dark and shadowed. "We best get back, those birds will be near ready to eat," she said, then took her horse's lead rein.

Htiet cast one last glance at the river, an inky band now in the grey of the grass. Soft, pale clouds of steam came from between his lips, echoed by the snorted streams of air that came from the horses. In the foliage across the river, an owl gave its first hesitant hoot. Taking the lead rope of his own horse and Khiran’s so that they both had two horses each he followed his employer back towards the camp.

A ripple of laughter carried in the night air, merriment from the Shi’uri camp as they enjoyed their evening meal. It would be nice, Htiet thought, to be able to wash himself of sin for just one night. But that was not possible. He knew it, and so did the wandering desert folk. Ah well. He had his own fire. He had his own food. And for a while, some company in which to share it. He smiled at the Scribe’s back. It was pleasant not to be alone.
User avatar
The_Fool
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 3427
Joined: Thu May 15, 2003 11:25 pm
Top

Postby Frelga » Wed May 03, 2006 11:15 pm

Fire hissed and crackled in silence, enforced between the hillman and the Corsair by the difference of languages. Radesh looked up into the South-Western sky, where a brilliant star rose in the deep blue and a few of her smaller sisters came out to admire her.

The encounter with gypsies unsettled the hillman. He knew only too well why the sight of the soldier from the East was so provoking. In the Hills, as in the deserts, the path of their armies was a trail of death and devastation. Radesh stood up and turned away from the fire, suddenly unable to bear the fragrant smoke. Too many memories. Orchards burned down, ash blew at nightfall where white petals fell in the morning. Charred bodies - men, old women, children. The younger women were all missing, taken away for the pleasure of the foreign soldiers. He was there, with his handful of riders, come too late and too few to do anything but die had they been on time. Their tears fell unheeded into the manes of their horses.

What of Htiet, then? If the rakyi had not been in the Hills, he surely had been in the desert, raiding the Shi'uri camps. That was why he took the gypsy's blow. He knew he had earned it. And that was the man Radesh accepted as his travel companion. Whatever Htiet had done, the hillman now had a duty to him.

An exclamation from Khiran called Radesh's attention back to the roasting birds. The Corsair turned one of them on the spit to prevent it from burning to the crisp. The meat was almost ready.

The young sailor now turned in the same direction where Radesh stared unseeing a moment ago. There, the dusk glowed red over the gypsy fires. The breeze lifted up sparks and snatches of laughter.

Khiran spoke. The words were a gravelly jumble, but the tone carried such an eager admiration, his face was so wistful and boyish, that the hillman had no doubt of this meaning.

"The do have beautiful women, don't they," Radesh replied in Westron, his voice softened by a sweeter memory.

The Corsair nodded agreement. His next sentence rang with rueful regret and Radesh caught Scribe's name, even if the 'r' sounded like a bad head cold. The hillman bent down to move ashes to the edges of the fire, hiding his smile. "Aw, it's just as well. We had enough trouble for one day, didn't we?"

Khiran nodded and spoke again, his meaning entirely obscure to the hillman this time. Then the sailor caught himself in mid-word and stared at Radesh with a puzzled frown. His question was short and, Radesh thought, quite clear.

"Well no, I don't understand you. But I can guess, yes?" the hillman said, grinning at Khiran. "Ah, here they come."

Scribe's tall figure formed in the dusk. Htiet was barely visible; the horses were glossy, sighing shapes. Radesh walked out to meet Scribe and the Easterling and to collect the waterskins off the backs of the horses.
User avatar
Frelga
GNU Terry Pratchett


 
Posts: 9275
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 12:05 pm
Top

Postby SilverScribe » Thu May 04, 2006 9:26 pm

She headed back to camp, thoughtful, Htiet trailing behind her. There was much more to the Easterling than he seemed willing to admit . . . her thoughts drifted immediately to Matrim and from there, to Façade. At that point, she hauled herself up sharply. 'The past is written, you cannot change it,' she reminded herself harshly. 'Your task remains, it is in the future and its success or failure will be built on how you handle the present. Care for any mortal at your peril, Scribe, do not repeat past mistakes.'

She focused instead on the voices ahead, the Corsair and the hillman were talking, though she could tell neither one really understood what the other was saying. She bit her lip and scowled, hopefully the three men would be receptive to the idea of cross-teaching their respective languages. It could only benefit them all, and would reduce at least one risk on this errand, that of misunderstanding.

Radesh came forward from the fire and helped unload the waterskins, glancing occasionally at Htiet. Scribbles was too hungry to bother trying to interpret the looks, the smell of the roasting birds was making her stomach growl loudly. She thanked both Htiet and Radesh for their help, then went to her pack and pulled out her wooden trail plate, dried fruit and trail bread to complete the meal. Returning to the fire, she nodded at Khiran, who was turning the birds judiciously and looked as though he could inhale one without even thinking. Luckily, she had managed to flush a small flock that had just settled for the night, it was only a matter of quick bow work to bring down five birds. And they were plump from an entire fall of feeding in the harvested grain fields, so everyone would eat well.

"They smell just about right for eating, Khiran," she told him in Haradraic as she set out the fruit and bread. "Since you tended them, you chose first." Khiran grinned and wasted no time and Scribbles waved the other two men to the fire. She addressed both Htiet and Radesh in Westron. "Radesh, Htiet, choose yours as well." She cocked her head at Htiet and spoke in Eastron, "I am no cook and carry no spices, but it is meat and it is hot."

Radesh had brought some of the waterskins to the fireside. Soon, everyone had their food, she settled back against her saddle, stretched her long legs out and crossed them at the ankles, then tucked hungrily into her supper.

When the worst edges were off their hunger, she noticed the longing looks Khiran was occasionally sending towards the light and laughter that drifted from the various Shi'uri tents and campfires. "Señor Rhou promised someone would come for us," she said quietly, and Khiran quickly looked back to their fire. She had to chuckle as he sent her yet another of those wounded, puppy dog looks and sighed yet another of those deep, longing sighs. "Ai, Corsair, enough. You promised Señor Rhou there would be no trouble, I will hold you to your word. But that doesn't mean that you cannot have a good time. If the women invite you to dance, then you should dance."

She looked at Htiet. "The horses will not likely wander, but perhaps it would be wise to picket them anyway," she said in Eastron. " Just to be sure that their horsemaster can have no complaint, yes?"

.
User avatar
SilverScribe
Scribe, Wanderer, Warrior . . . Bard of Rhudaur and Herald of Manwe


 
Posts: 29669
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2002 10:17 pm
Location: In the wild . . .
Top

Postby Jiyadan » Sat May 06, 2006 10:51 pm

Khiran would have eaten those birds raw except for the promise of such perfectly roasted meat was too tantalizing. He turned them dutifully, dreaming of the skin melting in his mouth, the sweet flesh... Oh it was such brilliant torture!

He noticed the Hillman look towards the gypsy camp and his own gaze followed. It was as if he were able to transcend the distance between this desolate north and his beautiful Umbar home simply by gazing across the field. He spoke, to himself mostly since he knew the man could not understand him, his voice rich with homesickness.

"They are so full of life, full of... Have you ever been so far from home that even a piece of it you barely knew becomes the most familiar thing around you? The women who gave us tea, it was like being home with my mother and sister."

The Hillman spoke something, his voice soft. Perhaps he was thinking of his own family as they watched the gypsies who traveled everywhere with theirs.

He nodded slightly and sighed. "It is nice to hear the language of my people from their own lips again. The Scribe.. she speaks it. But it is not the same. I almost feel further from home because of it."

The man had turned and was tending the edges of the fire, speaking again in that barking language of the North. Damn but Khiran had forgotten his name already. He would have to remember to ask it when the others returned, though in truth he wondered that it would make any difference for the lack of anything to say to him.

"The women though," he continued to muse to himself, his grin growing as mischief churned in his mind. "They are not my sister though, yes? Aye, it has been a long time since I've enjoyed the attentions of a pretty thing. What about you? Have you a girl back home? Wife perhaps? Maybe they can find a woman for you for a night. Or... " he turned and gave a puzzled glance at the man. "Is it not women you admire?"

The Hillman grinned. Khiran decided he would sleep on his back on this journey. Another few words and Khiran turned to where the Hillman indicated the arrival of their companions. Khiran grinned then also. He turned the birds again, though felt they were probably done by this time, a thought confirmed a minute later by the Scribe who did not need to urge him twice to take one.

His stomach was growling though he could not complain. At least he had food at all! The weeks prior seemed to become a distant memory in the span of a few seconds as Khiran used his knife to cut a leg from the bird and took a bite of the steaming hot flesh.

After the first few bites, his stomach being filled and his senses appeased, his attention was drawn back to where, like a single grain of sand blown on the wind, his homeland sat glittering before him encapsuled in the tents and laughter of the gypsies.

"Rhou promised someone would come for us. Ai, Corsair, enough. You promised Señor Rhou there would be no trouble, I will hold you to your word. But that doesn't mean that you cannot have a good time. If the women invite you to dance, then you should dance."

Khiran stopped, the leg of bird half way to his mouth as his eyes widened in momentary shock. When he managed to find his tongue again, a broad grin spread across his face and he sat up a bit straighter. "Ai! Scribe! I will be as good as my word, I swear! You will have no complaints. Dance, yes. Yes! It has been too long since I've been among fellow countrymen and I am eager to hear the familiar sounds and words again. Not that you have not provided that! I mean... why, it's been a miracle to find you and Htiet and hear the words of my homeland again even so far North. But I have long-"

"I have no doubt," Scribbles interrupted him. "But you did not obey my instructions this afternoon, I can only hope you will be more . . . diligent, this evening. Dance, enjoy yourself, but do not offend the Shi'uri."

Khiran's face dropped slightly. "Htiet," he murmured, lowering his voice for the Scribe alone, "Maybe he did something bad hm? In Rhun. Lots of bad happened back then, everywhere. Not all from men's wills but from.. from... His." He did not like speaking of that dark history.

"Perhaps," she replied quietly. "But it is not for any of us to judge now, what is done, is done."

Khiran's brow furrowed in hoped-for understanding. "Aye. So why should they judge him? Maybe they have reason, maybe not. But.." he sighed a moment and glanced at the Easterling. "He spoke for me when I was alone. So I speak for him."

Scribbles regarded him silently for a few moments, then shrugged. "It is fortunate no further harm came of it."

Khiran took the rebuke without question then. He looked down at his bird, his appetite diminished.
User avatar
Jiyadan
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 1663
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 12:17 am
Top

Postby The_Fool » Mon May 08, 2006 11:56 pm

The flavour of the bird was surprisingly pleasant in its simplicity and Htiet found himself enjoying it despite the lack of herbs or spices he had scented on the night air. After too many days on dried trail rations it was a relief to have something with real substance to sink his teeth into. He ate without speaking, only nodding in answer to questions as he listened with half an ear to Khiran’s enthusiastic ramblings. It was pleasing to hear how much he looked forward to the dancing of his nomad compatriots, and Htiet heartily wished him a night to remember.

When he had finished his meal he sat back to watch the flames. Saffron and burnt orange merged, lapping at the wood as they sent showers of glowing red sparks down to the ashes below. It was so familiar, that fire. Some things never changed, no matter where on the earth you stood. Rubbing hands together Htiet gave a wry snort as he was reminded just how cold this particular section of the world was. Even this close to the fire he could feel the icy touch of the evening through his thick clothes.

After a time he pushed the bones of his meal into the fire and rose, stretching out his muscles. “I fix the horses now. Make sure they stay close.” He grinned at Khiran then, speaking in Haradic as he winked. “Ai and you ko komat, you make sure you have a time of it tonight. With your Shi’uri. Maybe you’ll get a dance with that pretty Lina. She seemed interested enough in you.”

Khiran looked up from his brooding, his eyes wide for a moment. “So you truly mean not to come?”

“You know I cannot,” Htiet gave a small shrug of his shoulders, rubbing his chin, slightly embarrassed that Khiran should mind. “It just asks for trouble. Trouble is not trouble when it is avoided.” He gave a crooked smile, hoping that Khiran would understand. He liked the Corsair; indeed, he would have liked to join the evenings’ festivities, if only for him.

Khiran stood, uncomfortable with the situation all of a sudden, his eyes straying to the gypsy camp, then he held his hand out to Htiet. The Easterling held out his own hand without hesitation, meaning to grasp the Corsair’s wrist in a bond of friendship and understanding. He gave a slow dip of his head, a movement that whispered of refined training, of years spent under a Ravsahiv’s patronage. Khiran took Htiet's wrist, pulling him into a hug and patting his back once, firmly, before releasing him. With a broad grin Htiet grasped his friend by both shoulders.

“I’ll see you in the morning ko komat. Have fun in your desert oasis.” He jerked his chin in the direction of the camp and laughed good-naturedly before turning away to tend the horses. The firelight illuminated his back for a few moments before the dusk swallowed him and only his footfalls on the chill earth could be heard.

He was still tending to the horses when the light tinkle of bells could be heard, a gentle ‘shhishhh’ like sand blown over stone. It followed a certain rhythm, the tread of light female feet, and was accompanied by the heavier steps of a male. The two Shi’uri were heard before the firelight revealed them, their voices on the wind as they made for the camp. The male was singing, a pleasant and teasing song, the woman laughing as she began to clap out a rhythm for him.

“Ciento, ciente tus pasos (I hear, I hear your steps)
Ciento, ciente tu voz (I hear, I hear your voice)
Ciento, ciente tus pasos (I hear, I hear your steps)
Ciento, ciente tu voz. (I hear, I hear your voice)
Las chiquitas son bonitas, (The little girls are pretty)
Son bonitas y bailan bien (They are pretty and dance well)
Por el mundo se les manda y conmigo (Throughout the world they are sent to me)
Las pasan bien!” (And they have a good time!)


“¡Ai ai, una vez más Pícaro!” (Once more, Rogue) Lina’s voice was filled with her delight, the sound of the bells on her anklet chiming in the night air. The firelight caught a flash of brilliant red in the dark, the swirl of her skirts. “Una vez más para los gajos.” (Once more for the gajos)

The two broke into the circle of firelight as Silvio flung his arms wide, beaming at them. An embroidered and fringed scarf was wrapped tight about his waist, a short bolero vest flung over his shirt. His warm, open expression invited immediate trust, dark eyes wide sparking with his joy. “¡Hola amigos! We have come! Ai, and not too soon eh? You are so quiet, like ratoncillos, little mice. Is the cold air perhaps. Has frozen your lips together. But soon we have you warm eh? Baile y vino. (Dance and wine) ¡Es muy bueno!”
User avatar
The_Fool
Ranger of the North

 
Posts: 3427
Joined: Thu May 15, 2003 11:25 pm
Top

PreviousNext

Return to Role Playing: The Prancing Pony (Middle-earth Only)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests