The Expected Party!!

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

Postby rowanberry » Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:21 am

After Kitty was gone, Gilmith looked at the party she had referred to. She wondered what kind of people they were; not common travellers in any case! There were three young women, one of whom was dressed in the usual style of jesters; two young men, both of whom had some strange kind of air around them, a young boy, and a hobbit. Maybe they were a group of travelling entertainers or something?

The group disassembled soon, when everybody headed for their rooms. It took her and Gwinhir somewhat longer to finish their supper.

She was more than a bit peeved about Kitty acting so familiar with Gwinhir, and now, he brother seemed to be falling for the adventuress, which she found disquieting. She definitely hoped that they would find some other caravan than whatever Kitty could suggest...

On their way back to their rooms, Gilmith noticed that there was a big dog - it couldn't be a wolf, could it? - sleeping outside one door at the other end of the corridor. Now, to whom might that belong?
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Postby ^Aramir^ » Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:08 pm

Fiona was a fool, Aramir found himself thinking as he watched her cross the room and openly address an attractive yet dangerous-looking woman, smiling brightly the whole way. She gestured energetically, pointed back at the table--Aramir caught the strange woman's eye as she peered over at them--and then headed up the stairs, calling back, "I hope to see you again, Kitty!" Fiona, Aramir realized, had just invited the woman called Kitty to join their party.

Definitely a fool, but he couldn't think poorly of her because of it. Naïve was the better word, really. Naïve and just plain friendly, and he couldn't really fault her for that one. It was clear she didn't know any better, wasn't aware of the sorts of people that one ran into in taverns, even ones so highly regarded as the Prancing Pony. She was liable to get into trouble if she extended a travel offer to every outwardly friendly-looking person she met.

Good thing I'm here, he thought, climbing to his feet as he bid his new companions a good night. He wondered when he'd gotten so protective (and so over-confident), but that didn't really matter now. Kitty was at another table now, this one occupied by two people of similar age--husband and wife, perhaps, or siblings? The girl at the table seemed anything but pleased to see Kitty, although the boy was obviously entranced by her charms, Aramir noticed with a grin. He settled himself against a wall and glanced around, taking note of the rest of the inn's guests with no more than passing interest. A few more travelling groups, some mercenaries, a couple of musicians, from the looks of them--Geli would inevitably find them, and he hoped he wouldn't be dragged into that affair!--and the likes. He probably would have passed over Kitty as well, beautiful though she was, but Fiona's interest in her had made the woman Aramir's new target. He'd find out just what this Kitty wanted before things went off the wrong way.

Not that he wasn't feeling up to a good scuffle, mind you.

And then the woman was on the move again, leaving the siblings Gilmith and Gwinhir, if Aramir had heard the names correctly. Bottle of wine in hand, she ducked out the back door. Aramir wasted no time in trailing after her, but wasn't in such a hurry that he didn't see another dark figure rise from his booth in the back and head out to the garden as well. Shoving his hair out of his eyes, Aramir smiled. Good. This kept things interesting. Leaning against the wall just inside the door, he closed his eyes and forced the clash of metal, the bartender's shouts to the kitchen, the conversations of the patrons, and even the crackle of the fire logs to recede, leaving only the two voices floating in from the garden.

“What is it?” Kitty's voice, in a no-nonsense tone. “Too close, friend. Next time you get no warning. And why must you insist on these shabby, smelly disguises?”

Aramir smirked. No-nonsense indeed.

“So have you heard anything?”

“Only that some bodies were found on the road, about three days' travel back. It looks like it was them all right.”

So she was the one... Dark eyes narrowed, Aramir fingered the wound on his shoulder, mostly because it was the only one he could easily reach, and recalled the unpleasant battle with the bandits. At least that left him sure of Ilarieth's innocence, not that he'd doubted her after she'd shot him in the back, strange a confirmation as that seemed.

“Well, excellent news.”

He heard the rustle of fabric, the clink of coins, and then, “I have a certain person who wants something....hard to get, needs someone good. If you’re staying longer, I’ll set up a meeting if you like.”

There was a pause, giving Aramir just enough time to consider what would happen if he tried to take this "job" himself, and then Kitty answered.

“If you can set it up for tomorrow night, I’ll be here, same time.”

That seemed to be the end of it. The conversation ceased, the man shuffled off into the darkness, and Aramir allowed the rest of the tavern sounds to flow back into his mind, shaking his head to get them all straightened out as they piled onto one another. He waited there long enough, he hoped, to remove any suspicion on Kitty's part, and then let himself through the door and out into the garden, making an obvious show of stretching his legs as though he'd just risen from his table and smirking to himself the entire time. If she was really "someone good" like the man had said, then she wouldn't be fooled by his antics, and that was all right. Until he found out for sure, though, he may as well act nonchalant.

It was cool outside, just cool enough that he was glad to have his ripped, patched, reripped and repatched cloak tossed over his shoulders. And of course, it didn't hurt that the garment concealed the sword at his side, not that he had any intention of hiding it from Kitty in the end. For now, though, he faced away from her and glanced up at the stars, visible despite the little lights of Bree. He'd let her decide whether or not he was worth noticing.
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Postby Lithtaur16 » Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:44 pm

“If you have no home and would like to travel with us, we go to see Tom Bombadil. He really is a character, if the stories are true… I don’t even know that he exists.”

Seldo wanted to call her fib at the end but it was just funny and he didn’t dare offend her if she called a cloudy day sunny right now. She promised another fairy tale to come true… at least that’s all he’d ever heard of him, but clearly Master Bombadil had to exist if she said she was to see him rather than to look for him like Seldo used to look for the giant lizard that was said (by his brothers) to live in their pond. It was no less wonderful to the boy than giant Eagles and Dire wolves.

“I dunno. It sounds like a good plan. Can I tell you in the morning?” he asked. Fiona agreed… and made him shake on it. Gosh it felt weird to for him to do that with someone easily… much wiser than he… and a woman. He liked it however—it was far less gross than how his relations made him seal a promise (a kiss on the cheek). Torture of tortures for a half-grown son even if it were his own mother asking! And Fiona was most certainly unlike those strange creatures that followed his older brothers around and kept them “too busy” to work.

The lady said her goodnights then, and Bril followed later, but Seldo watched and listened as she stopped by the hard-looking woman he’d glanced at before. He watched because he was pretty sure he didn’t like the outlander and he listened because Fiona seemed to be elaborating on what she had said to him earlier. But the boy only caught snatches of the conversation over the bustle of the inn, “… celebration in Gondor… extended period of freedom from war… taking the long way…”

The only piece of that which he couldn’t fathom at first was the second. It took him several minutes after the women had parted ways to remember the only war that had occurred within the memory of his family—when his grandparents’ parents’ parents had been but children themselves. Or something like that. In any case he did remember the story, as his father’s father had told it, but as a patchy sketch mostly and centered on the roles of the heros: Frodo, Samwise the Brave, King Elessar and many others. The boy should be forgiven his ignorance because he has only heard it once and even that was with some annoyance on the part of his father, who disliked drawn out tellings and had less use for ‘ancient history’ than for mathematics. He quickly made it clear that all that the boy needed to know was, “brave men fought and died so that you can help me put food on the table and money in the coffer, instead of getting skewered by one of those Eastern Barbarians!” Then came the inevitable, “Now get those [pick your vegetable] in the ground before I hide you myself!” And that was a good day for the farmer.

At least Seldo remembered that the king lived in Gondor and why that should suddenly become a very important place to him… it was not only months of walking as Fiona had said. It was South, far South, with a big, beautiful river running right through it. As far as Seldo was concerned Gondor would be perfect.

Only a handful of the travelers were left for his company when the boy decided to join the men at the table but he was happy to find Robin willing to tell him about the halfling’s journeys to Minas Tirith and abroad. Hearing about more current events didn’t help Seldo fill in the gaps time had made in his memory but it certainly made him more excited and interested. The hobbit retired to bed before Seldo could bother him for more though. Well… Robin was right, there was a long way to go yet and plenty of time to annoy people by asking a hundred questions...

The boy was not so tired that he would yield to sleep just yet, just tired enough that his caution slipped a little with help from a stoked curiosity. He was sitting by the fire again when Aramir rose and went outside but with the others beginning to look like retiring as well Seldo soon began to find the noise of the common room unnerving. Instead of going to sleep in one of the rooms, though, he thought to go pay Caloo and Narmo a visit. He knew it would be warm and quiet where they were and he could try to puzzle a few things out for explanations before they had a chance to plague him in his sleep. Like why some of Fiona’s words had made his stomach twist itself a full turn before being pushed to the side by the rest and their deal. The latter was a nearly settled thing really. He was pretty sure he wanted to follow the giant Eagle as he murmured a good night and quietly exited the inn, walking the short path around to the yet unlatched door of the stable. He ‘borrowed’ a carrot from the feed bin and cracked it in two when Caloo recognized the raggy boy and whickered softly. Seldo gave her half and stroked her nose, liking her bright eyes, until Narmo… patiently explained in a nearby stall that he wanted his very own personal carrot. Satisfied, he had no further objections to or interest in the boy and Seldo was allowed to sit quiet out of the draft in a stall that was being used to hold bales of straw and hay for convenience. The smell of horse and tack and the feed was comforting to the boy while he considered some very hard things.

“Not to worry, Seldo. We all have our secrets,” she had said. The firelight had colored the boys face or Fiona would have noticed a slight, uncomfortable blush go a deal paler. At that moment he had both wanted to ask what she could possibly hold as a secret and to say that she didn’t understand. It felt like those words made everything he wouldn’t and couldn’t explain to them, yet, a bad event… thing… choice? He was sure that what he had done was right, for him at least, and what else was there? He didn’t want to live with a bent back and hungry for food and learning all his waking days. He wasn’t breaking his mother’s heart doing this—she had said he wouldn’t—but what Fiona said still made it all feel wrong somehow… He wasn’t afraid of leaving and living like this was he? He knew how to take care of himself. That had been the only useful advice his father had ever given him, when he had several times asked for help with a nasty big lot of work that probably wasn’t right for his age, “Learn how to help yerself first…” Or was it just that he was tired and upset with having to leave out great chunks of details because they were still too close and he was afraid others would think he was a stupid, ungrateful child. His father and four oldest brothers were drunks when they weren’t happily employed with work or money issues. All had threatened to break his limbs at some point or another to make him work harder, and had almost succeeded twice, and none expected anything to come of him. They were also too stubborn and suspicious to consider allowing him to “surprise” them either even though the land was poorer every year. They kept faith in the ideal that you get from a job exactly what you put into it every time whether the soil be rich and black or bone-dry sand. How could one explain to another? A stranger might call it a lazy brat’s tale while a neighbor might say their lot is hard so some things are excusable. For some reason desertion wasn’t excusable.

It all threatened to make his head ache and he found himself abandoning the question and thinking about what he’d seen and heard of so far again. Events, conditions and people that his father and brothers would joke about at best and at worst reject as folly; they couldn’t possibly exist. Heros were important, often royal, figures in history and couldn’t exist in today’s world in the form of an average person. Anything they didn’t understand either was just there (worth as much as it was useful) or it didn’t exist. The sun, the stars… how plants became corn and oaks from the tiniest seeds… Bril, was an especially good example of that thing few could understand and so called Magic. There wasn’t a single story about his… condition that Seldo could remember. They’d never believe a word said about him by the boy.

As he thought on it some more he tried to take a different perspective and a question formed that seemed at once hilarious and stupid. How could one such as his father, a man four (or was it five?) generations removed from the sire, unknown to Seldo, who had perished on the walls of Minas Tirith beneath the shade of the Enemy’s darts, be so dumb and embittered to the very idea of magic and heros and monsters when he was clearly trying to be the hero in the story of their family and the farm? And also be so hateful because he was failing miserably, or so thought Seldo.
‘Dad… a hero… Really?’
He’d always seemed more like a tyrant…
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Postby ^Aramir^ » Thu Oct 30, 2008 2:26 pm

Post by Tygs and Sil



Kitty sipped her wine and watched with mild amusement as the man from Fiona’s group waltzed out, pretending very dramatically to stretch his legs. Kitty wondered why he bothered with this subterfuge for a minute, watching him as he nonchalantly looked at the sky. Then with a thought she got up and walked to the door momentarily, and opening it she realised that, with the clarity of the night, whispered voices would have travelled to the doorway, if someone had been standing there with the door open.

Kitty turned back and saw the man look quickly away. Smirking now, Kitty went back to the bench and sat down again, stretching her long legs out and leaning back, resting her arms along the back support of the bench.

The man was openly watching her now, face painted with a cocky smile.

“Perhaps you should take a seat and introduce yourself,” Kitty said in a voice that wasn’t to be refused; then she leaned forward, bringing her arms down to lean on her knees, a dagger suddenly clasped in her hand in such a way that the man could see it. “I don’t approve of eavesdropping,” Kitty said in a whisper loud enough for him to hear, but not the few others who were now out in the garden.

"Eavesdropping indeed," the man said, stepping closer and offering Kitty a florid bow. “I'm Aramir. Or Ar is fine.” Just as flamboyantly, he sat down on the bench, deliberately very close to Kitty.

Kitty smiled a sly smile like she was in on some joke and he smirked back as the farce grew, a joke that neither really knew anything about. Kitty turned slightly, crossed her legs, tipped her hips, and leaned her right arm against the bench back so that she was wholly facing Ar. She took a sip of her wine and refilled it from the bottle that was at her feet as he watched with apparent disinterest. The dagger had disappeared once more, as suddenly as it had appeared, but surely he knew it could be in her hands again within a blink of an eye; she was definitely well trained.

“Nice sword," Kitty said, smiling sweetly. "It doesn’t really need to be flashed about so poignantly, it’s flash enough to be noticed on its own.” She took another sip.

Again indignation presented itself as the best course, and Ar placed one hand on the hilt of his weapon as though he were its protective father, frowning slightly. "I wouldn't really call it flashy. In fact, I've always appreciated its ability to blend in over here." He gestured to the area at his side, underneath the folds of his rather disheveled cloak. "Actually," he continued, now smiling slyly again, "I'd say you're quite... sharp, for noticing it."

“I’m used to noticing those sorts of things; it’s what’s kept me alive so long,” Kitty said flatly. Aramir obviously noticed the change in her voice and knew she was finished playing, but still seemed to be enjoying it.

“Come now, you're hardly an old maid…..you make that statement like it’s a warning!”

Kitty scratched the side of her cheek with one finger, her eyebrow arched, as she laughed that same musical laughter that seemed so out of place. “And you’re not good on picking up on warnings, I take it?” Kitty regarded Ar a moment; he was so full of himself, so full of confidence and not bad looking either, but Kitty knew better than to be enticed by such things. She settled her gaze firmly on his face, then got to the point. “What do you want?”

He opened his hands in mock innocence. “Only to know a little more about a new travelling companion. You are thinking of travelling with Fiona?”

“Yes….thinking about it….do you check out every new travelling companion? Or just the female ones?” Kitty asked, back sipping from her glass again.

“Not at all, just the dangerous ones,” he said, his tone not lost at all on Kitty.

“Ah, I see,” she replied with a sly grin. “Look, if it makes you feel any better, I am not the type of person that looks for trouble. I try to keep my head down and I plan to travel without being noticed too much….hopefully. That’s why I am considering travelling with Fiona: your group is an eclectic mix, and I should be able to blend in.”

He indicated the bushes into which the other man had disappeared. “But you've already been noticed.”

Kitty laughed again. “No, I found him, not the other way around.” Not knowing how much Ar had actually heard of her conversation, Kitty didn’t intend to give anything away.

"Ah." He nodded as though that were explanation enough, though she could tell he was already considering ways to learn more. After a pause, though, he jumped to his feet, glanced at the sky as though guided by some heavenly portent, and nodded his head to Kitty.

"Well, I suppose I'll see you, then," he said vaguely, waving his hand in no particular direction or gesture as he walked off.

"Yes," she replied between sips of wine. "I suppose so."
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Postby Cock-Robin » Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:39 pm

Morning came quickly for Robin, and of course the first thing to come to his mind was that he was hungry. He washed up, glad to be at an in with a bed, and came out to the parlor. The innkeeper was there, ready for another day, and saw the hungry hobbit. "Breakfast?" he said.

"Of course." said Robin. Soon, the table was laid out for him, and he saw his friends begin filing in. He grinned. "I was going to call you. Honest."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Goldberry came out of the house to see Gwaeryn staring at the sky. "A penny for your thoughts, noble Eagle." she said. The Eagle snapped out of it and said "I've had a very strange dream, and memories have come back to me. I now know what I am."

"Care to tell me?" said the River-Daughter with a smile.

"Not yet. I'll wait until my friends come, then I'll tell all at the party. Farewell for the moment, fair River-Daughter." He spread his wings and flew off. It was a wrench for him to leave that place.

But, he was hungry, and needed to hunt for breakfast. the ponies at the stable were sacred, so he had to look elsewhere.

Later, his hunger satisfied, he circled above Bree, looking in on a friend. Any looking up would just see a dot up in the sky if they knew what to look for.
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Meneldor, Warrior Bard, and Brondgast, Mithril Knights

Gwaeryn and Robin, The Expected Party

Meneldor, Alatar and Pallando, Darkness Reigns: The Resistance


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Postby ~Fionavar~ » Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:58 am

Fionavar woke to the sun streaming through her window. The soft rays were tickling her toes and finally she opened her eyes. Bril was at the foot of the bed, his tail swishing back and forth was the culprit of the aforementioned tickling.

"What a way to wake up," she began with a wide yawn and a tendon popping stretch. "Hey, how did you get in here anyway?"

The wolf sat on his haunches and cocked his head sideways, his tongue lolling out of his mouth, laughter plainly written in his golden eyes. Bril jerked his head towards the window. It was open.

"I could have sworn that window was closed when I went to sleep. How did you manage to open it in your wolfish disguise?"

Bril's head hung low as he laid down and crossed his massive paws in front of him, resting his muzzle.

"Okay, have it your way." The wolf jumped up swiftly and circled around three times, then leapt on the bed. "Slow down there mister." Fionavar was startled and pulled the beddings up under her chin. Bril slowly morphed into human form.

"Good morning, m'Lady!!" He was all smiles.

"You must have found a coney nest this morning, you look like the cat that swallowed the canary," Fionavar chided lightly.

"Wrong again. I found the cat that swallowed the canary. Two course meal." He licked his lips and his canine's gleamed sharply. "Get out of bed lazyhead. Everyone is already at or had breakfast."

"Everyone?"

"Well, Robin anyway." Bril jumped off the bed and stood at the window with his back to the girl.

"Robin is not quite all of our little group, ya know. We don't know how many people will be traveling with us when we leave Bree."

"At the table last night, I think I counted only a few that would come, but I can't be for sure. Certainly less than who arrived here in this place." Bril seemed to be struggling for the right words and scratched absentmindedly at his ear.

"Fleas?" Fionavar tested his sense of humor.

"Fleece? What is fleece?" Bril deliberately misunderstood her.

Tossing a pillow at his head, "YOU!! OUT!! I will clean and prepare for the day and meet you downstairs." Bril jumped through the window, transforming as he went. The girl never quite got over the ability of her friend and he was getting faster at doing it. Somewhere in the back of her head a small voice was telling her to watch the transformation closely. It isn't as if I could ever do something like that, she mused. As she washed her face and body, then dressed, her thoughts turned over many scenarios where she and Bril loped through vast wheat fields as male and female wolves.

"What in Eru's name am I thinking," she said to the image in the mirror. Shaking her head fiercely, the random thoughts left her for now. Feeling much more herself and well rested, she skipped to the door and flung it open, only to trip over Bril and fall flat on her face. Before she could pick herself up the wolf had disappeared down the stairs and out the front door of the Inn. Her initial response was to be angry, but she decided she felt too good to be put off by such a small thing, besides no one saw her. She craned her neck in both directions and indeed no one was in the hallway.

At the laden table downstairs Robin was heaping all sorts of lovely breakfast items onto his plate. "Ah, I see I have caught you in time to eat with you, good morning, Robin." Fionavar smiled brightly at her friend.

"G'day Fiona. Actually this is my third helping, but please be seated and we can enjoy the fine food of the Pony." The last words were spoken around a mouth full of crusty bread that had been spread with strawberry jam and clotted cream. It looked so good the girl fixed one up for herself.

"Where is everyone? Did I get up too late to miss seeing them?"

Robin quickly swallowed, "I haven't seen anyone, well except a moment ago Bril shot out of here like his tail was on fire."

Fionavar laughed hard and loudly at that. "Good. It might very well BE on fire the next time I see him."

"I heard that," came the familiar voice from the window of the dining room. "I would like to see you try." Bril's voice was full of mischief and Fionavar was learning his moods enough to know he was just being wolfish in his way, even though he was back in human form.

"Get in here!!"

"Get in, get out. Make up your mind. Good morning Robin."

"G'day Bril. Have you eaten?"

"Yes, he has," Fionavar responded "and oh by the way Bril, did you think to check in on Caloo?"

Bril's head dropped and he looked anywhere but at Fionavar. "Uh, nope."

"What say that after breakfast, we check on Caloo and see about resupplying before we leave for Mr. Bombadils?" The girl had included all three with her question.

"After breakfast?" Robin asked, "you are already finished eating? You only had one scone." The unbelief was plain to hear in the tone of his voice.

Bril and Fionavar broke out laughing at Robins comments. "One scone is enough for now, you take your time and meet Bril and I in the stables."

Robin waved in agreement as the pair set off from the Inn. Again, while the strode side by side, the thoughts she had earlier returned. Glancing at Bril, she caught his eye and quickly looked away. Bril seemed to understand and carefully took her hand in his. When they arrived at the stables, her face was a warm reddish rose in color. Happy and content.
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Postby Lithtaur16 » Sun Nov 09, 2008 1:14 am

“Stupid whelp! I’ll tan your hide if these stalls aren’t cleaned before the sun’s high. Letting the horses stand in their own muck! Disgraceful! Now get yer sorry flanks out of there and get to work!”
The shadow of his father appeared before Seldo’s closed eyes when he started, still half asleep in the soft straw, and flipped over trying to pin that dreadful voice and decide if he was dreaming a bad dream. The sun wasn’t risen yet and the stable was a murky sort of dark, the air dewy and cool, when Seldo came to his senses and his eyes snapped open. The silhouette of a short, burly man stood before him, blocking his path of escape, and a confused panic stole the boy’s thoughts. Where was he? The farm? Horses? They couldn’t have found him…
He was on his feet in a heartbeat but position and speed were to the man’s advantage. He grabbed the boy’s left arm, as Seldo tried to scamper over the wall to the next stall, and started to toss him in the general direction of the pitch forks and muck buckets.
“Ach! Le’me go!” Seldo cried out, terrified and he kicked and scratched at the man trying to break the hard grip.
“I’m sick of having to push you to take care of these animals! I’ve **** near had enough… here now stop that! I ain’t hurt you yet! John!” The man called as he grabbed Seldo’s other arm and gave him a thorough shake. It didn’t do much to stop the boy’s twisting as the older boy, an eighteen-year-old carrying a dimmed lantern, stopped his early morning check to join the first two.
“Here Rail, what’s the ruckus? We’ve nearly got a full house to care for so if you don’t do your work you get beat or sacked. That was the dea… what! Here you little scamp how did you get in here!? These aren’t rooms but you’re still going to have to pay for it!” The anger in John’s voice was like a whip crack when he unhooded the lantern and looked closely at Seldo’s face. He had been sure he’d locked everything up alright last night. Unfortunately he had forgotten to check the stables thoroughly and had accidentally locked Seldo in! It was only a small comfort to the young boy that, by the lantern’s light, he could be sure these folks weren’t family. The man had short copperish hair that was starting to whiten and John’s crop was a dirty sort of yellow. Both had brownish-green eyes that were mostly green right now. Things were starting to make more sense but tears of fear and pain still stained the boy’s face and at first he couldn’t speak. The old man was ready to shake him again when he finally choked out an answer.
“I came in with that big group that just entered town. With Geli the Magnificient and all. I wasn’t meaning anything coming in here except to visit with Caloo and Narmo there and I fell asleep!”
“You’re sure struggling hard enough…” the old man spoke, dodging another kick.
“You ARE hurting me! I swear I ain’t any kind of thief!”
“You swear it boy?” The old man only squeezed Seldo’s wrists harder, until the boy finally stopped fighting, and looked him up and down with trained eyes. He’d had to deal with enough scum and actors that he didn’t have any sympathy for the boy’s looks right now (though he did have a thread of empathy for his thin frame). It was his job to care for and protect these creatures and their owner’s goods, however, and it would be John’s someday. They had to take it seriously. The sun was rising by now and added just enough to the dim light of the lantern for John’s younger eyes to better evaluate the boy.
“Here Flin, I think he’s telling the truth. I did see him come in with that party yesterday. At the stirrup of that horse there he just named as Narmo. (to Seldo) Funny you decide to sleep out here when there should have been a bed for you inside though…”
“I told you I came out to visit and I drowsed off. By the king I swear it!” It was Seldo’s turn to be angry and his face turned hard and stubborn with it. Flin wasn’t impressed with this show of bravado and Seldo, still dangling in midair, lost that staring contest quickly.
“Well we gotta ask anyway but if you belong then you ain’t got any reason to run off.” The man put Seldo down, solidly on his feet, and John threw him a wet rag to wipe the salt and straw dust from his face.
“Alright, so you’re not a thief. You’re just stupid I guess… speaking of the sort, John, go find that layabout Rail and I’ll see this whelp out.”
Seldo could guess by his tone and the way John strode out of the barn with a will that Rail was really in for it. As he rubbed the surprisingly light bruises on his arms, he hoped the boy was doing something… very important.
“So what do they call you boy?”
“Seldo.”
“Alright let’s go find your people.” Flin spoke as he took Seldo by the shoulder and started marching him towards the door. He muttered to himself with each step various complaints about rounding up runts and undependable help and ridiculous things about being busier than the barkeep sometimes… Seldo used all his strength to suddenly stop short and twist away, to the man’s great annoyance. He had an idea.
“Wait! Le’me help!”
“What’re you talking about, little no-account? Come on!”
Seldo dodged another grab by Flin and backed up towards the stalls. The morning breeze was chill and he shivered a little.
“Le’me help! I see I caused you trouble today, I’m sorry. I can clean the stalls.”
“Non…”
“I can do it quick and right and pick their feet clean too if you both will let me, meaning you and the horses, sir. I’m stronger than I look and if you wait on the other two they won’t be done til midday. Then I’ll take you to meet my party and you’ll see. They ain’t going anywhere today as far as I know.”
“You ain’t caused me that much trouble so you’re only bound to cause me more! John’ll be back soon enough even if he can’t find Rail.”
“I won’t and it’s better they get cleaned sooner than later isn’t it?”
“Ai, it is, but the work don’t balance if your party pays your tab, slimy little frog. And I have standards here!” The man was eyeing the boy’s ratty tunic and brigga. The softer side of his heart couldn’t help but notice the boy was getting cold in the draft.
“I don’t ask much of them and I ain’t going to without pulling my weight and working for it. I’m not asking them to pay for my tab, let me work for it instead.”
“That’s not bad for a pup… but it’s other people’s work and I imagine you don’t eat much either so it still doesn’t balance and I don’t go into debt to folks.” The old man was looking around with one eye. It was taking John far too much time to get back with or without Rail. The two were probably scrapping. It was enough to make Flin grind his couple of yellowing teeth together considering how good John usually was. ‘Still a stupid boy like the rest of them,’ he though and bent both eyes on Seldo.
“Alright, I TELL you what you can do. You muck out everyone by yourself the right way and clean the tack while I groom ‘em and work on some of this wood and you’re tab is settled. You get one of Rail’s sets of winter clothes too… he’s got four when he only needs three. I gave them to him as a part of his apprentice contract but if he doesn’t feel like holding up his end then he’s going to learn that there’re consequences for it. He’s got to learn his part so don’t you worry any ‘bout him. If you impress me you might get a little extra but you gotta go on to wherever you’re going after that because those two are under training contracts and I can’t let them go til I’m done with them or given up. There won’t be any positions open for a long time, understand?
“Yes”
“We have a deal?”
“Deal.” Seldo spoke with as serious a face as Flin and shook the old man’s hand.

* * * * * * * * *

A few hours later the stalls were clean, the horses were fed and groomed and Seldo was helping the younger of the two boys clean and polish the house tack while Flin and John were doing some general maintenance and repair on the older wood and equipment. Both of the stable boys were decidedly worse for the morning and Rail continuously eyed Seldo with his one good eye. Seldo didn’t speak to him and instead focused on knocking the rust out of an old bridle while he chewed on a small apple.
He had to swallow a mouthful quickly when Fiona and Bril entered the stables hand-in-hand but he was eventually able to choke out a good morning.
“Good morning to you miss and sir. Does that belong to you two?” Flin was wiping some tar off his hands but he tipped his head Seldo’s way. Fiona blushed and Seldo gave the old man a dirty look.
“I never said it were that way! I said I was traveling…”
“I know what you said… (to Fiona and Bril) please accept an old man’s apology for an odd joke. Is what the boy says true? Is he with your company?
“Yes it is, he’s been traveling with us for about a day now.”
“Can you please tell me what his name is then?”
“Seldo… but why? Has he been a trouble to you?” Fiona wore a somewhat worried look on her face and glanced at Seldo questioningly. She noticed that he was wearing much more… appropriate clothing—a linen undershirt and a set of worn brown wool pants and over shirt specifically. A little big right now but that just meant they would last longer. He still had no boots, because the boys hadn’t saved any in his size, but his feet were at least wrapped in strips of warm wool fabric and a rough pair of sandels now.
“Ah no, nothing like that. I found him fallen asleep in the straw early this morning and mistook him for my younger hand there. A misunderstanding was all and it’s good and sorted now. And he did a good job this morning doing some work for the horses and me. If I had the room to spare I’d hire him as a hand.” Hearing those words brought a sudden look of absolute humility to Rail’s tan face and the boy started to ardently scrub the saddle he was working on. A year Seldo’s elder, he had little understanding of all that his training contract entailed. But neither did he have to worry because Seldo’s dreams and ambitions laid a great distance from a field or a stable.
“Fiona, you asked me if I wanted to go all the way to Gondor with you and Bril and everyone. Can I still come with you?”
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Postby Tygarya » Wed Nov 12, 2008 2:20 am

Kitty watched the retreating back of Ar with a wary smirk. That one was definitely not all he seemed to be, there was definitely more there. Kitty couldn’t help but sense something military about him and that made her more than a little nervous, and her instincts had never failed her up till now.
Kitty finished her wine then stood stretching her back out with a feigned yawn for the good of the few other patrons enjoying the warm evening in the garden. Kitty turned and made for the door, but slipped behind the same bush the hooded man had earlier and vaulted over the fence into the small lane that lead down the side to the stables. She walked out of the lane and across the street to the other Inn and went inside.
This place was a lot seedier than the Prancing Pony, Kitty wondered briefly if Ar had stepped foot in here yet. She scanned the room and found who she was looking for, the same hooded man she had spoken to earlier. She knew he was watching as she walked to the bar and ordered a pitcher of Bree Brew. Once the Inn keep had placed the pitcher in front of her she gave him the correct money and walked to an empty table. She sat down and took out a piece of parchment and a stick of coal. She wrote quickly on it, slipped it under the pitcher of ale and then got up and walked out.
The hooded man made his way over to the table and sat down in front of the pitcher of ale and picking it up he made to pour the ale into his glass as he read the note Kitty had left.
It read simply; ‘Dawn now not dusk’
The man screwed the note up and also left the Inn.

The next morning at dawn Kitty was again sitting on the bench in the garden waiting when she heard a noise in the lane. She got up and again vaulted over the wall to land next to the man she had spoken to the night before.
“Why the change of time?” he asked
“Cause I need to be leaving later this morning, so if your client wants something done you had better get me to seeing him”
The man nodded and darted off down the street staying in the shadows and dawn made everything grey and indistinct. Kitty followed close behind.
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Postby Cock-Robin » Sat Nov 22, 2008 8:28 pm

Robin had finished breakfast and left the rest for a second breakfast later. He got up and stretched, and went out of the inn. He made his way out of the gate and waved. Sure enough, Gwaeryn was watching, and soon, he landed to speak with his friend.

"Where have you been, or do I need to ask?"

"I spent the night at Tom's, and told him and Goldberry that a party is coming." said Gwaeryn.

Robin laughed. "I thought that was where you'd go. I look forward to meeting them again. It's always good there."

"It'll be even better. I have something to tell all of you. I now know who I am, and what my purpose is."

"Of course, you're Gwaeryn the Eagle, and your purpose is to make sure there aren't too many horses in the world."

"More than that. I'll wait until we're there to tell all of you. I can tell you a little now. In the West that is forgotten, my name was Sorontel."

Robin looked at the Eagle. "Last-eagle, if I have my Elvish right. Why would that be good news?"

"I'll let that pass, since you don't know." said the Eagle. "It means more than any thought, and it awes me. I can't wait to get there, if I haven't cast it into verse by then, I'll tell the story there."

"Sounds good. We're slowly getting together and should be setting out for Tom's after a while. I don't know when yet."

"Gives you time for second breakfast, elevnses, and snacks in between, I see."
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Postby ^Aramir^ » Sat Nov 29, 2008 8:38 am

He had the dream again, the one that always left him lying awake, covered in a cold sweat, unable to sleep again no matter the hour. He was lucky this time, he thought as he finally crawled out of bed, tired of waiting for the screams in his head to fade away so that he could close his eyes without fear. Lucky because he'd been shaken out of sleep in the early morning, just as the sun was pushing its way out of the trees, rather than right past midnight. There was nothing worse than sitting in bed all night, watching the darkness because it was better than the images in his head, and then having to yawn his way through the rest of the day.

He fished through his bag until he found a water sac, splashed some of it onto a spare shirt, and wiped his face, hoping he might wash away the last vestiges of the dream, but knowing already that it wouldn't work. The scene played itself over and over in his head, vivid upon his eyelids every time he blinked, ringing in his ears like a badly-written song. He took a deep breath and poured more water over the rag. It felt cool against his sweaty skin, like a mother's hand brushing away his troubles.

A mother... He closed his eyes and pictured her face. She had never minded comforting her young son in the middle of the night; he wondered how many times he'd come to her bed, face painted with tears, and climbed in next to her; how many stories had she told him, how many distractions had she concocted to make him forget, make him smile? He smiled now, thinking of her.

He could be glad, at least, that it had happened here at the Pony, in his little private room, instead of out in some field where the whole rest of the company could hear him mutter and curse in his sleep until the horror finally threw him awake. Kellian had told him once that he talked in his sleep, more of a jest than anything, but all the teasing comment had done was make Aramir nervous every time he fell asleep in the company of others. Then again, he thought as he tossed on fresh clothing and crawled under his bed in search of his boots, lots of people had nightmares, didn't they?

He pushed the entire problem aside as he slugged down the stairs, eyeing the half-full common room and pinpointing a place to sit that was close enough to the crowd that he could drown out the last of his thoughts with mindless conversation, but far enough away that no one would take an interest in him. Sunlight streamed in the windows and streaked through the hair of every person in the inn, making them all look as though they'd just been initiated into some holy cult and were brimming over with blessedness. He smirked to think that he probably looked the same way.

The girl who brought him his breakfast was entirely too perky to be a normal person, but he smiled at her nevertheless, then considered how his hair must look and ran his hand through it a few times. Out of the corner of his eye he caught her glancing at him and giggling, but he didn't have enough energy to do anything about it, and for all he knew, she was laughing at his hair. He munched on some sort of warm pastry, too distracted by picking it to pieces to notice what it actually was, and finally left the table figuring he could eat later when his body actually remembered what to do with food.

The rest of the morning was divided between groggily preparing for the day's journey and groggily trying to convince himself to actually do something productive; with Fiona and the rest of the company heading off to see Tom Bombadil, it seemed like he would be on his own again, unless of course Ilarieth decided to come along with him; the muscles in his back spasmed just thinking about that. The girl had hardly said two words the entire way, slinking along at the rear of the group and glancing frequently at Geli, though it was difficult not to do that no matter who you were, Aramir noted with a grin, running a whetstone along the length of his blade as he recalled her question about his dancer's weapons. He'd almost been glad to see the jester there at breakfast yesterday--she brought back feelings he needed to have now and then, even if such awakenings were accompanied by a healthy dose of embarrassed blushing on his part. What the flamboyant girl was stirring in Ilarieth, though, Aramir had no idea. Perhaps he could work it out of her, if he flirted--er, tried, hard enough.

When he'd sharpened his sword to satisfaction, rubbing all the ridiculousness that those bandits had left clinging to the blade into the grass outside the Pony, he returned to his room, snatched up his things, dropped his room key on the end of the bar, and was headed somewhat surreptitiously for the stables out the back door when a sharp voice brought him spinning around to face an annoyed innkeeper across the room.

"Not planning on leaving without paying, are you?" the man asked, viciously rubbing at what must have been an Aramir-shaped spot on the counter.

Aramir seriously considered dashing through the nearest exit and hoping the innkeeper was as slow as he looked, but then he noticed how many pairs of narrowed eyes were turned his way, the eyes of those who had earlier been shining with that holy light. Demons now, Aramir supposed, forcing himself to look horrified.

"Oh, no!" he assured the man, wondering if he could make himself blush if he thought hard enough of Geli. "I'm so sorry! I completely forgot." He sauntered over to the counter, making a point of smiling charmingly at the serving girl as he passed her; she giggled again. If only she were in charge of the finances here, he thought. Why were innkeepers always men? "Been a while since I've stayed in an inn and all..."

"Well then?" the man demanded.

"Has anyone told you yet that the food here is amazing?" Aramir asked, blithely ignoring the man's unhappy tone. Stall for time, yes. Until... what? Usually he got kicked out of inns before their owners could realize that he still owed money. This was a new experience indeed. He glanced around, noting the patrons, the blazing hearth fire, the mugs and bowls, the candles... what could he do to cause a commotion? The obvious presented itself, of course...

"All the time, kid, and I don't let them walk out of here for free either."

Aramir frowned. "What?" Absentmindedly picking up a half-empty cup from the counter, he swirled the contents around and peered across the room towards the fire. "I compliment the food and you think I'm trying to get out of paying?"

The innkeeper stared him down a moment, then muttered, "Two gold, three silver. That covers your horse's stay as well."

Aramir silently cursed whoever had persuaded him to put Narmo in the stables instead of allowing the horse to wander off by himself like usual.

"That much, hmm?" He leaned one arm against the counter, tilted his head to the side, and considered the liquid still swirling about in the cup he was holding.

"That much, and don't try to tell me I'm overcharging you, either! I know what they charge at every inn from here to Fornost, and you're not gonna get off telling me they're cheaper, kid."

Aramir blanched and cast that plan aside. "I wasn't planning on it. Didn't I just say it'd been a while since I'd stayed anywhere? How would I know how much a room in Fornost costs?" How indeed... He set the mug back on the counter and turned to fingering the hilt of his sword; some of the leather wrap was coming loose; he'd have to secure it as soon as--

An idea flashed through his mind, and he suppressed a smirk before turning back to the innkeeper.

"Anyhow, enough of that. Two gold and three silver, was it?" He reached down for his pouch, knowing that it was full of cobwebs and little else, and--

"Ah, there you are," a voice said in his ear.

Every muscle in his body stiffened except for those in his arm, which moved his hand automatically to the hilt of his weapon. Not fast enough; there was already a hand there, holding the sword down in the sheath; he shifted his weight and scooted back a step, out of close-weapon range, drew a dagger, and finally got a good look at the source of the voice.

"Kitty?"

She smirked and he glared. "Don't do that!"

He noted again how out of place her light laughter seemed, coming from such a sly countenance. "I'm sorry, Aramir, but I just can't resist. You're so high-strung. Every time, same reaction..."

Every time? He dropped his stance and arched an eyebrow. What was she--?

"He's with me," the woman was telling the innkeeper. "Put his expenses on my tab, all right?" She smiled over the bar, but it was a no-questions-please look if Aramir ever saw one. This woman, he suspected, had talked her way out of plenty of room fees.

And now she was paying for his room. "Hey, I'm not--"

"--something wrong, Master Naregond? It was my turn to pay, wasn't it? After all, you paid last time."

He wanted to laugh, or maybe cry. In the course of three sentences she'd revealed his name to the innkeeper and everyone else withing hearing range. There was no getting out of this now--if he ran now, the man would realize something was wrong and likely label him a thief, a thief with a distinct scar on his face and a full name to accompany the pretty picture they'd draw of him. He'd have to wait until later on to find out Kitty's intentions.

"Actually I was going to protest the high-strung comment." He sheathed the dagger he was still holding and tried to look... well, not high-strung.

She smirked again.

"Thank you, miss, sir," the innkeeper said, accepting the money Kitty was offering him. He shot a glance at Aramir that clearly indicated he didn't believe a mite of what was going on here, but didn't say anything.

"Yes, thank you, Kitty," Aramir purred, turning to her so that only she could see the dark look in his eyes. Now what is it you want?
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Postby Cock-Robin » Sun Nov 30, 2008 8:37 pm

Robin and Gwaeryn were still in conversation outside the gates of Bree.

"So, after we see Old Tom, where next?" asked Gwaeryn.

"I'd say head on due south, down the Greenway." said Robin. "We need not be in a hurry. I'd like to see Fangorn Forest and see if Treebeard is still there."

"He's not the only one you'd see down there, if what I heard is right."

"And that is...?"

The last remaining Wizard has taken up residence in the forest. He's been as much of a moss-gatherer as Bombadil, and never did go west with Gandalf."

"One of the Istari is still around? And who might that be?"

"None other than Radagast the Brown. He never did take much of a part in the War, other than helping Gandalf escape Orthanc without knowing it. He was good friends with Gwaihir, and had sent him there at Gandalf's bidding, and of course, Saruman had him imprisoned there. Finally, he sent Gwaihir, Landroval and Meneldor and the others down to the battle in Mordor when the Ring was destroyed. I wanted to go, but I was little more than a fledgeling, and couldn't go.

Anyway, Radagast was more interested in the beasts and birds, and herb-lore, and never took a major part. He finally settled down in Fangorn after the War, and pretty much faded into obscurity. That's the way he wanted it. Like the Elves that remained, he has pretty much dwindled into a rustic folk of forest and dell, but likes it like that. He might be an interesting person to visit."

"Sounds like a good idea. Treebeard would be good friends with somebody like that. Well, second breakfast is waiting at the Pony. Maybe I'll scrape up some of the others. Then, we'll head out."
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Postby Frelga » Mon Dec 01, 2008 11:17 pm

The night before...

The dinner put Geli into benevolent mood. The party began to disperse, and the little jester sauntered back into the common room. There was sure to be some entertainment, especially if she was it.

Geli took in the usual assortment of travelers and revelers - merchants, farmhands, conspirators. She noticed in passing Aramir playing court to the party's latest prospect. That was vaguely disappointing - she had thought the sworddancer to be above such obvious flirtation.

At last, the jester espied something interesting. Seated in a dark corner over a humble bowl of stew was a young man. His only company was a small lire, unadorned but clearly beloved. His face was frozen into round-eyed terror, like a deer who hopes that if he doesn't move no one would notice him. Geli existed for the sake of being noticed, but she recognized the symptoms.

The jester betook her magnificence across the room and wished the youth a cheerful good evening. "That's a beautiful harp you have there," she told him, grinning.

The arrival shook Dust out of a stupor he had expected to last much longer, though he imagined it to be preparation. The room was filled with eager ears, a crowd not too rough and not too weary. They would appreciate a tune- but a perfect tune could not be drawn out of thin air. Or so Dust believed.

The young woman's approach was entirely out of place. She spoke kindly enough, but her words tore through Dust's concentration and left it in a pitiful shambles. He looked down at the lire as if he had never seen it before. His mind was empty.

"Uh-huh," he replied, and added a smile, belatedly.

"Uh-huh?" Geli repeated. "You are supposed to say 'Lire!' and then I could say, 'No, honest to goodness, it's a harp.' It is a lire, isn't it? You make your living with that?"

"It is a lire," somehow came out of Dust's mouth, and he felt a flash of hatred for the girl. He swallowed it down and tried to think quickly. Words dripped through his mind like molasses. "Is there a ballad you would like to hear?"

"Ooo, yes, please!" Geli turned into a statue of Rapt Attention, standing straight as a harp string, her eyes huge, eyelashes trembling with anticipation. She clasped her hands, making the silver bells on her cuffs jingle gently. "One of yours, if you don't mind. I can tell you are good."

There was a small tinkling of bells. The girl wore them around her wrists. Dust noticed now that her clothes were a little too colourful, too flimsy for a farmer's child. She was no rich man's daughter, either, and though he looked around he could find no company she might belong to. He wished dearly someone would claim her, even as somewhere deep inside he felt a tickle of delight grow. He ran a hand over the lire, gently, and bit his lip to keep himself from thanking her; instead he put on his best rehearsed mysterious smile. "Do you belong with the gypsies?" he asked nonchalantly. "If you can tell such things. I'm sure you haven't heard me play before. I would have remembered your face," he wasted the compliment.

Geli grinned wider. "Oh yes, I went around with the gypsies for a while. I don't have the knack with telling fortune, if that's what you mean. The only crystal ball I handle is this one." A small orb appeared in her hand and spun on the end of one finger. Light pooled inside it and spilled on the table in little rainbows. "It doesn't tell future, though. I can tell you are good because... well, I just can." She laced her fingers together, rolling the ball gently along the back of her hands, up and down. "You look thoughtful, and you don't boast, that's always a good sign. But hey, feel free to prove me right."

So he did, with Geli playing the enthusiastic audience until the rest of the patrons joined in. She allowed Dust to keep all the coin offered by the inn's patrons. Her only reward was the assurance that the lad was now firmly on the way to some magnificence of his own, entirely thanks to her encouragement. The lad's schooling would be best continued in Gondor, where the best of the the land's bard's would converge for the celebration. If he joined Fiona's party, she could start him off right by teaching him a few things of her own.

Having explained the plan to Dust in a few words, Geli glided out of the room in search of a warm place for well-deserved rest. The lad remained seated, looking slightly dazed, by the splendor of her magnificence, no doubt.

OOC: Dust provided by Rodia
The lire joke is stolen from Pratchett's Soul Music. I suppose Geli overheard it somewhere
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Postby Tygarya » Wed Dec 03, 2008 3:22 pm

It was about an hour later that Kitty returned to the Inn. With a sense of urgency she almost ran up the stairs to her room, threw her things into her satchel and walked back down the stairs to the bar with key in hand ready to pay up and get on the road.
As she stepped into the room she noticed Gwinhir and Gilmith eating the last of their breakfast. Kitty wandered over with her satchel slung over her shoulder. As chance would have it they were sitting at a table right next to Fiona, who also looked up at Kitty’s approach.
“Fiona, could I introduce Gwinhir and Gilmith to you, the people I spoke to you about that may be interested in travelling with you. I however will not be travelling with you at this time, but may meet up on the road later, one never knows”
As Fiona and Gilmith said greetings to each other, Kitty turned to leave. She was stopped by Gwinhir standing up.
“I thought to travel with you” Gwinhir said, not knowing what was coming over him. Gilmith stopped talking to Fiona and glowered at him. Kitty smiled down on Gilmith a moment then turned to Gwinhir.
“If indeed that is what you wish, then you had better be ready to go in 15 minutes, that is when I’m leaving”
Kitty winked at him and turned away, heading towards the bar as she spied Ar in an interesting conversation with the bar keep. Kitty grinned to herself...she loved these moments.
"Ah, there you are," a voice said in his ear.

Every muscle in his body stiffened except for those in his arm, which moved his hand automatically to the hilt of his weapon. Not fast enough; there was already a hand there, holding the sword down in the sheath; he shifted his weight and scooted back a step, out of close-weapon range, drew a dagger, and finally got a good look at the source of the voice.

"Kitty?"

She smirked and he glared. "Don't do that!"

He noted again how out of place her light laughter seemed, coming from such a sly countenance. "I'm sorry, Aramir, but I just can't resist. You're so high-strung. Every time, same reaction..."

Every time? He dropped his stance and arched an eyebrow. What was she--?

"He's with me," the woman was telling the innkeeper. "Put his expenses on my tab, all right?" She smiled over the bar, but it was a no-questions-please look if Aramir ever saw one. This woman, he suspected, had talked her way out of plenty of room fees.

And now she was paying for his room. "Hey, I'm not--"

"--something wrong, Master Naregond? It was my turn to pay, wasn't it? After all, you paid last time."

He wanted to laugh, or maybe cry. In the course of three sentences she'd revealed his name to the innkeeper and everyone else withing hearing range. There was no getting out of this now--if he ran now, the man would realize something was wrong and likely label him a thief, a thief with a distinct scar on his face and a full name to accompany the pretty picture they'd draw of him. He'd have to wait until later on to find out Kitty's intentions.

"Actually I was going to protest the high-strung comment." He sheathed the dagger he was still holding and tried to look... well, not high-strung.

She smirked again.

"Thank you, miss, sir," the innkeeper said, accepting the money Kitty was offering him. He shot a glance at Aramir that clearly indicated he didn't believe a mite of what was going on here, but didn't say anything.

"Yes, thank you, Kitty," Aramir purred, turning to her so that only she could see the dark look in his eyes. Now what is it you want?



Kitty just smiled and walked out the door that led to the stables, she spoke briefly to the stable boy and leant against the side of the stables door while the boy got her horse and saddled it.
“Why did you do that?” Ar asked more insistent this time as they were away from teh bar keeps hearing.
Kitty shrugged studying her finger nails “Why not? I’m sure you can find some way of paying me back later” She then looked up at him as he noticed the stable boy was now leading his own horse out of the stables.

Just then Kitty noticed over Ar’s shoulder Gwinhir race out of the door and run up to a stable boy indicating the coach. Kitty was having the most perfect day.

“I am not travelling with you” Ar interrupted Kitty’s thoughts, folding his arms.

“Oh I think you will, once you realise how profitable it will be for you” Kitty replied then brushed past him and walked up to Gwinhir, leading her horse.

“How on earth did you get Gilmith to pack so quickly?” Kitty said laughing.
Gwinhir grimaced. “It wasn’t easy, but she will be down shortly”

“Thats fine. Gwinhir meet Aramir.” Kitty indicated Ar who was still standing with his arms folded. “He will be travelling with us a ways”
When Ar didn’t reply Kitty knew that mentioning making money had definitely made him interested.
“Anyone else you want to include in this little party Aramir, before we set off?” Kitty asked with that smirk he hated so much.
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Postby laureanna » Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:18 pm

***very late last night***

When Ursula entered the inn, the common room was dark, lit only by the fireplace at the far end. She picked her way carefully through sleeping patrons, stools, tables, bottles, and the occasional unidentified dark spot on the hay-strewn floor. Despite her bulky frame and large pack, she moved quickly and silently.

A small child - no - it was a hobbit - sat nodding in the wing-backed chair to one side of the fireplace. She sat next to him, eased her back, and looked around. Odors wafted to her nose: venison stew, another deer recently killed and hanging in the larder, tobacco smoke, ale, people, hobbits, and - wolf? No, that must be a dog. Just then, a cat stalked in, caught sight of Ursula, spat, yowled, and ran off. The sound startled the hobbit, who found himself looking into a pair of large, dark brown eyes.

"Ho! Ursula! You startled me! When did you get here?"

“Hullo Nar. You look more like your grandfather every day,” Ursula grinned. “Just arrived. Lovely night to walk under the stars.”

Nar stretched, slumped off the chair, and scratched his curly head. “I suppose you’ll be wanting a room prepared?” he asked, half-heartedly.

“No, it’s almost dawn. I’ll just stay here in the Common Room. And I don’t need anything to eat, either.”

“Oh,” the hobbit said, with obvious relief. “Well, then, I’ll just be catching a few more winks. See you in the morning.” And with that, he crawled back into the chair and fell asleep.

Ursula sat back against the blackened hearthstones and mulled over the events of the previous day, eventually nodding off to sleep herself.
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Postby shaggydog » Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:38 am

Bril studied the boy closely. He had not given Seldo much thought since the lad had joined their ever growing group. His peripheral senses, though, had picked up enough about the boy to dismiss him as posing any sort of threat to either Fiona or Bril himself. Fiona seemed to approve of him, therefore Bril did not offer an opinion about Seldo continuing on with them. So far the lad had proved to be quiet and industrious; Bril was content that Fiona nodded her head in quick assent, throwing in a hearty handshake to seal the acceptance. Their ensuing brief conversation about the particulars of that day’s preparations went unheeded by Bril as once more that odd smell came to him on the light breeze. Unconsciously, his nostrils flared and swiveling his head about he confirmed what he had already sensed upon waking this morning. Somewhere in the Pony there was the distinct presence of bear!

Puzzled, Bril noted the ever stronger, pungent odor as he and Fiona returned to the main room of the inn. Upon entering the tap room, Fiona laid her hand upon his arm, asking, “Are you alright? You’re all tensed up.” She looked questioningly at him, adding, “I hope that’s OK, asking Seldo to come along with us. He seems a bit, well, in need of some friends.”

Fiona’s remarks barely registered with Bril as the hairs on his neck bristled. There, close to the huge hearth, he saw a large woman speaking in low tones with one of the hobbits. Well, she was female at least, but not altogether a woman. Bril struggled to put together what his eyes and his nose were telling him, as Fiona continued to look at him. “Bril. Bril! Are you listening to me?” She asked, her voice rising slightly as if she was speaking to one who might be a bit hard of hearing.

The exasperation in her tone was enough for Bril to finally return her gaze. “Oh . . . oh, yeah, that’s fine, Fi. Um, whatever you say. Yeah, he seems harmless enough.” His eyes then locked back on the figure across the room and Fiona followed his stare.

“What is it Bril?” She asked perplexedly. “What’s got you so spooked?”
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Postby Cock-Robin » Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:01 pm

Meanwhile, Robin had come back to the inn after conferring with his winged friend. It was time for second breakfast, and he was ready. He heard Bril and Fiona conferring. "What's scary?" he said. "You don't mean they won't have enough food for elevenses?"

"There's somebody new here." said Bril. "And she scares me. She smells of bear."

"I haven't seen any bears here. Gwaeryn would have told me if there was anything amiss. He usually doesn't miss a thing." said Robin. "He's got a wonderful secret that he's just bursting to tell when we get to Tom's. Something about a name he once had, and a purpose of his that he's discovered." He was digging into second breakfast with a relish. "But he's circling above us, looking for anything that would concern us, stray horses or dangers."

Fiona rolled her eyes. "Yes, we don't want perils like stray horses."

"Oh, he's looking for more than that." said the hobbit. "So I heard we're having more company going with us. Tom and Goldberry are ready for a party and are expecting us. Gwaeryn let them know, and stayed overnight there."
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Postby Aiwe » Mon Dec 08, 2008 6:04 pm

“Blue! You horrible beast!” Eosed shouted, swatting her gelding on the nose. The horse was a master of patience. He’d wait until Eosed was concentrating fully on something else before trying to bite. His latest attempt foiled, Blue tossed his head, flattened his ears, and went back to glaring at Eosed with his one blue eye. Others thought that eye was unusual and pretty, especially combined with his white face, black coat, and high white stockings. Eosed thought it contained the distilled evil of all Middle-earth. She knew he was a bit...tempermental when she'd bought him last week. Since then, she'd learned why such a well-built riding horse was going for so cheap. Oh well. Even horse swindlers get swindled now and then.

Grumbling under her breath, the small wiry woman turned back to her work. Blue had gotten a chip of rock stuck between his hoof and is shoe, and refused to go one step further, so it was up to Eosed to carefully extract the offending item with hoofpick and knife. “You know, Blue,” she said over her shoulder, gripping the hoof between her knees. “I think you did this on purpose. I don’t know how, but you did it. You somehow manage to get something stuck in your foot every five miles.”

It was loosely true. He'd gotten a perfect score yesterday--one rock in every hoof throughout the day. It wasn't as if the trail was even particularly rocky. Here, just outside Bree, thousands of years of farming meant that the earth was soft and smooth. The rocks were either too tiny to crowd the carrots, or too big for a team of oxen to shift.

Meanwhile, Blue started flapping his lip. It was an extraordinarily annoying habit. His lower lip went “wapwapwapwap,” splashing horse slobber hither and yon, for as long as Blue was bored. Blue had only three mental states as far as Eosed could tell: bored, mischevious, and homicidal. Bored was, therefore, preferable. But a bored Blue often turned into a mischevious Blue, who found ways to sneak up on people and bite any unprotected bits, or nonchalantly totally-accidentally step on someone’s foot, then lean. Eosed often thought that Blue had a lot of potential under all that simmering equine anger, but he couldn’t be bothered to tap it. She couldn’t even bribe him with sugar lumps. He’d just glare.

“There,” Eosed sighed, putting Blue’s hoof down and deftly getting out of the way before he could take aim for her foot. “All gone. You’re cured. Now move your lazy carcass.”

Blue shuffled forward, limping dramatically on the newly-cleaned foot.

“For cryin’ out loud…” Eosed muttered. It was impossible to tell when the gelding was honest and when he was crying wolf, so Eosed decided a break was in order, even though they'd only just gotten started an hour or two ago, at first light. She wasn't in much of a hurry, after all. She'd lost the guards back in the Weather Hills.

“Well, if you’re too lame to walk, you’re too lame to go looking for grass.” She hobbled him, then tied him to a tree by the side of the road. The hobble was there to keep him from running off once he’d figured out the knot in his leadrope. Blue glared as though personally offended, then went back to flapping his lip.

Above the trees, the sky was slowly bleeding through with color. Cerulean blue suffused the morning grey and white, making the whole landscape warm and brighten.

“Banny! Eater!” Eosed called. Banshee and Maneater, her lurcher dogs, lurched up from their nap in the dusty road. They followed closely as Eosed untacked Blue, arranging the saddle, packs, and various leather straps next to a boulder nearby, so that Blue couldn't stomp or chew on them. Blue entertained himself by defoliating the tree he was tied to.

She decided that now was as good a time as any to do some much-needed mending. Most of her clothes had not survived the mad dash from Hithaeglir intact, and the saddle she'd gotten to fit Blue was losing its stuffing in a few places. Maybe they'd take a half-holiday. The guards couldn't have followed her this far. They couldn't have.

Settling down with the saddle, a steel needle, and some deer sinew, dogs napping beside her, Eosed kept one eye on the nearby road. Maybe a caravan would pass through today. You got a lot of trade in these parts. Eosed reflected that a bit of company would be nice after her long lonely flight. She missed conversations. Conversations where the other member spoke, instaid of growling or whinnying.
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Postby Frelga » Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:11 pm

All right, so Geli could have paid for her room. But that would set a bad precedent. The Merry Brotherhood did not pay for room and board if they could possibly avoid it, one way or the other. Their presence alone was sufficient reward, and an inn considered itself blessed when a juggler or a singer kept the crowd calling for drinks as they watched and listened.

Accordingly, Geli had squiggled her way into the company of two kitchen girls. One was a wee hobbit-lass with huge brown eyes and a delightful way of gasping at Geli's tales. A sweet creature, but Geli focused most of her charm on the other girl, who boasted a nature as cheerful as the hobbit and a much larger house. Sure enough, the lass had to go home right in the middle of the breathtaking account. Geli was halfway across the tightrope, in the marble palace of a cruel Eastron Prince, high above a tiger pit. Bell simply couldn't leave without finding out how it turned out.

The jester had to repeat the tale from the start for Bell's family. She curled up to sleep with her new friend and her younger sister. Morning brought a mug of milk fresh from the cow. Refreshed, Geli set off with Bell to see how Bree getting on that fine morning.

Whistling a sailor song, Geli inspected the market, where her juggling earned her a crispy red apple. She wound up her tour at the stables, to make sure that Fiona's party did not slip away without her. As it turned out, they did not. Not yet.

The sworddancer seemed to be poised for a flight. Whether with the lady o'mystery or from her, remained to be seen. Geli ceased her whistling in the middle of the verse in which the unfortunate sailor lamented the loss of his shirt, his noggin', noggin' shirt that was all gone for beer and tobacco.

"Good morning, m'lady," the jester called cheerfully to the woman. "My lord," she bowed to the well-dressed young man who completed the group. "Morning, Aramir! Oh! Now I remember why I had that song stuck in my head all morning." She threw a conspiratorial glance at the strange young man, but forbore to explain the reference to Aramir's dashing but shirtless appearance at their first meeting.
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Postby Tygarya » Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:38 am

As Kitty watched in patient silence Gwinhir helped the coach driver and stable boy to strap the horse to his carriage. Kitty was leaning against the side of the Inn wall casually eating an apple that had appeared out of her satchel that was now strapped to her horse along with the saddle bags and blanket roll. Kitty was wearing her long black cloak and as she finished the apple she tossed the core to an idle dog that was lying in the morning sunshine. As it gobbled it down Kitty glanced briefly at Ar, he was sitting sullenly on the wood chopping log not far away, looking for all the world like he was trying to think up a good excuse to get himself out of the predicament he had gotten himself into. Kitty smiled to herself as she suddenly noticed a couple of young girls approaching. One was the jester from the night before. As the girl went passed Kitty she hailed out a greeting, to which Kitty arched an eyebrow but said nothing. She watched with interest as the girl sent out a remark obviously intended for Ar. Very interesting, Kitty thought briefly.
As the girl went inside Kitty noticed Ar’s discomfort.
“Your little young friend going to be travelling with us Aramir?” Kitty called out, causing the young girl to stop in her tracks, and Ar to look up at Kitty with a look that could kill, as the emphasis on ‘young’ got though to both of them.
Kitty laughed, pushed herself off the wall and as she stepped away she called out.
“if you want to come along with us Jester, you had better get yourself ready to go in.....”
Just then Gilmith burst out of the doorway Geli was standing in with the hobbit lass, pushing them backwards. A helper of the bar keep coming behind carrying a large chest that he put on the back of the carriage. Gilmith saying nothing stepped in the carriage and slammed the door shut.
Kitty laughed again and turned back to Geli.
“...as I was saying, we leave in two minutes”
With that Kitty swung up onto her horse and turned it to face the group. Gwinhir looked briefly at the carriage then jumped on onto the seat next to the driver.
Kitty looked from Geli to Aramir, who was walking his horse forward towards Geli as if he was about to say something.....
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Postby laureanna » Tue Dec 09, 2008 11:31 pm

Ursula awoke with a start and a stiff neck. She was still slumped next to the hearth, but the room was no longer dark and quiet. People moved about purposefully, shoving supplies into bags and wondering aloud what they were forgetting. Outside, horses whinnied and snorted. Two men staggered past with a large chest, for someone who obviously didn't believe in traveling light. A young woman with bells in odd places bounced in, followed by a girl with a look of worship in her eyes. There was a story there, clearly. Each time the door opened and closed, the motes and smoke danced in the sunbeams of early morning. It was definitely time for her to get up and to business.

She passed a small group conversing in hushed, anxious tones. Yummy odors of eggs, bacon and bread wafted past, along with - what was that? She thought she smelled wolf again. But it couldn't be. Not here. The occupants of the table glanced at her several times, then glanced self-consciously away.

Hefting her pack to her other hand, she walked to an empty table near the bar. Silently, she took one container after another out of a pack that seemed impossibly small for the task. Several patrons gathered around as she displayed her wares: honey in jars, honeycombs, honey-sesame candy, beeswax, dried blackberry leather, and fresh, musky-smelling mushrooms. This last item caught the attention all the hobbits in the room.

The innkeeper pursed his lips, slid two thirds of the items to his side of the table, and plopped down a small pile of silver pennies. They had carried on these transactions so often, there was little need for discussion. After the kitchen helpers removed the purchases, one of the women in the crowd shyly asked about the beeswax. Ursula explained in a perfunctory way some of its uses. She was not comfortable in crowds, but as a businesswoman, she needed to ply her wares. The woman chose several sheets of beeswax in trade for a spare camisole. The jingling jester eyed the candy with a winsome smile, perhaps hoping for a free sample.

After the trading, a tasty breakfast, purchase of hardtack, and return of her (emptied) honey jars, Ursula headed out the door. Her plan was to walk to Tom Bombadil's place, to see her old friend with the sweet tooth and the irrepressible urge to spout poetry. She'd sold all her honey at the inn, but there were several good hives that she knew about along the Withy Windle, and she was sure her stores would be replenished soon.
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Postby Cock-Robin » Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:53 am

One of the hobbits which was attracted by the smell of mushrooms was Robin. He came over while Ursula was showing her wares and purchased a sack of the hobbit delicacies. "Just what I need for elevenses." he said. He looked over to Fiona and said "Then we go off to see Old Tom. I can't wait to hear what Gwaeryn has to say to us. It sounds positively delightful."

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

Meanwhile, Gwaeryn was circling over Bree and espied the horse trader with her wayward horse. He wondered if she was ready to part with the troublesome beast, and he could easily take it off her hands. He circled down and landed nearby. The dogs barked and backed off from the large Eagle. "Honored greetings, milady." he said. "I am Gwaeryn, last of the Eagles, welcoming you to Bree."

Looking over to the horse, he said "Hello, delicious." The horse shied a bit. "I won't keep you from your mending. I saw your horse was causing you trouble. Maybe if it causes you too much, could you be persuaded to part with it for a hungry eagle?" he said, the glint of mischief in his bright eyes. Of course, he wouldnt' steal it, but one could always hope she was fed up with the wayward gelding.
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Postby shaggydog » Fri Dec 12, 2008 9:55 am

Fiona left them to gather her belongings from her room. Bril ignored her not-so-subtle hints that perhaps she could use some help in so doing, planting himself instead in the tap room. Silently he stared at the woman as she produced a variety of items that she proceeded to sell or barter to the inn patrons. The hobbit’s assurances that Gwaeryn would have informed them of any pending danger held no water with Bril. After all, how well could the eagle’s sense of smell function from high amongst the clouds? And it wasn’t so much the fact that he smelled bear that bothered Bril. The few encounters he had experienced with such beasts in the wilds had involved both animals giving each other a wide berth. What was much more troubling was the unfamiliar comingling of human and bear essence. Bril had never met up with any other beings such as his father and himself. The thought that this woman-bear might have in some way a similarly mixed-up ancestry was just beginning to take shape in Bril’s mind. As of yet, he held no prejudices either for or against such a creature; his instincts simply cautioned him to be on his guard.

Bril almost put a warning hand on Robin’s arm as the hobbit made to go see for himself what delicacies the woman had on offer. But the sight, and sound, of Fiona carrying, or more accurately, lugging several packs down the stairs, and her accompanying glare in his direction, forced Bril’s attention back to the pending start of the next leg of their journey. Hurrying over to Fiona, he hefted the packs to his shoulder, with an apologetic grin. “I’ll bet Caloo wouldn’t mind if you took over as pack animal.” He said daringly, prepared to dodge the elbow to the ribs he felt his remark was sure to inspire.

Fiona snorted. “Well, I know I’ve seen a great dog or two happy to carry about its master’s bundles. Maybe we should shop for some sort of harness for you before we leave Bree.” Instead of the elbow. she opted for a well placed smack to the back of his head, although she did have to stretch a bit to reach it and in consequence it was little more than a tap. Further recriminations were curtailed by Robin’s remark about elevenses and Tom as he came back with his purchase.

“Hmmm, I think I’ll go take a peek at what she’s got over there.” Fiona said, inquisitively craning her neck in an attempt to see through the various persons now gathered about the table whereupon the woman had set her wares. Walking towards them, she called back over her shoulder, “You can just take those along to the stable, Bril. I’m sure Seldo would be happy to help you get it all situated on Caloo. Unless, of course, you were open to that harness idea?” She added with a smirk.

Bril, however, had no intention of leaving Fiona alone with this unknown factor. His eyes never left her as she perused the goods, exchanging a pleasant word or two with the large, odd woman. Geli the magnificent was close by, also showing an interest in what was on display, as she and Fiona also spoke briefly.

Slipping a coin out of the pouch at her belt, Fiona completed her shopping and returned with a small packet in her hand.

“What’s that?” Bril asked suspiciously.

“You’ll see, nosy.” Fiona chided. “It’s a surprise – for later.”

Relieving Bril of one of the packs, and with a jerk of her head, Fiona indicated it was time. Bril followed her out the door, Robin and his newly acquired mushrooms in their wake.

Noting the comings and goings in the inn yard, Bril frowned in an effort to recall what Fiona had said earlier. Giving up quickly however, he asked her, “So, who exactly is coming with us? And where are we going again?”
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Postby ~Fionavar~ » Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:18 pm

As the trio passed out and into the morning light, Fionavar tossed the pack back to Bril. "I have to go and see a horse about a man. Be right back. Will you be a dear and have Seldo make sure everything gets secured on Caloo?" She winked at Bril and waved to Robin.

She really didn't have anything in particular to do, but wanted to say goodbye to a few people who were also drifting outdoors.

"Ho Geli!!" The young lady popped her head out the door and waved as Fionavar caught her eye. "I wanted to let you know what a pleasure it was meeting you. I don't think I shall ever meet anyone so .... so.... well, entertaining. I do hope that we will see each other after we leave Tom's house."

"Sure thing, Fiona." Geli pulled her hand from behind her back and there was that sphere again...lights popping brightly on and off. "I have your memory kept in a safe place." Geli's infectious smile split her face.

"You have my memory in THAT?" she pointed to the small globe looking rather abashed.

Laughing that trilling laugh, "of course not, I just thought you might like a parting gift."

"Oh, I could not accept any gift like that Geli." Fionavar misunderstood the gesture.

"Good because I wasn't planning on parting with it anyway. I thought more on the lines of this..." Geli backflipped her way into the street and then jingled her bells. "Fare you well Fionavar, we shall meet again." With that the young girl was off to her next adventure.

A bit breathless by Geli's antics, Fionavar noticed Aramir and Ilarieth next. She really didn't know what to say, but thought she should offer some sort of exit words. "Aramir," then she turned to the girl she had hardly spoken to, "Ilarieth. We part now. I would suggest you have someone check your backside and um, well...keep it clean. Hope to see you again."

Aramir looked a bit confused as if wondering why he was being spoken to and the girl looked at her feet. "Uh...well, bye."

That was good enough. Fionavar wondered, is it always so hard taking leave of people that you really barely know?. Last was Kitty. Kitty the intriguing lady that somehow Fionavar thought she should like to know more. But now would not be the time, as she was walking in front of a set of twins. It appeared they would travel together from Bree.

Coming up beside the lovely lady, Fionavar intruded on her train of thought. "Excuse me, Kitty. I just wanted to say goodbye and hope to meet up with you again someday." She smiled and Kitty smiled back. "I see you found some traveling companions, or maybe they found you?"

"One or the other, it really doesn't matter Fiona. You stay safe and I am sure we will meet again someday soon. More likely sooner than later." Kitty was looking at Aramir when she made the last statement. Fionavar followed her gaze and indeed, the man turned and faced the other direction. For some reason this was funny and both ladies laughed.

"Take care, yourself." With that, she turned and headed back towards the stables. She noticed the vendor, Ursula was exiting the inn and threw a wave in her direction. As she neared the stables she saw that Robin, Bril and Seldo were waiting with Caloo, who looked well for her stay in Bree. "Are we ready?" The trio nodded. "Then let us be off. Robin? Will Gwaeryn please lead the way?"

To Tom'.
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Postby Cock-Robin » Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:46 pm

After Gwaeryn was unsuccessful in gathering up a wayward horse, he flew off to see Robin and his friends heading off from Bree on the way to Tom's. He swooped down and said "On our way? I'll lead the way." He flew up again, but a lot lower, so they could see him.

"Now just a word of warning." said Robin. "On the borders of Tom's country are some barrows. We've got to leave them alone. I don't think even you need to be reminded of stories of the Barrow-Wights, some of whom are still there, long after the Dark Tower fell. It's just a few remnants left of the Darkness that is no more."

As they left the Road and ascended the hills on the borders, some of the barrows were there, looking like teeth of an ancient monster. "I do know the song if we get in trouble, but it's best we avoid it all the same." said the hobbit.

They passed the barrows quickly, keeping away from the doors. The green hills were rolling ahead of them. Robin decided to stop for a while, as he had some food for a good meal for them. Gwaeryn landed beside them.

There was a festive spirit among them as they were near to Tom's house and would be there by late afternoon.
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Postby LordImrahil » Wed Dec 17, 2008 7:13 pm

Taran's heart raced furiously as he fumbled with the saddle. After a few tries, he had it secured and ready. Pepper seemed a bit confused, but he went along with it good-naturedly. Pepper was a good horse, and Taran would need his help if he was going to catch up with that group everyone was talking about. Tom Bombadil! Do they really know how to find him?. He could remember a nursery rhyme about hopping three times back and forth over the Withywindle while singing a short rhyme to summon Tom, but he didn't think that would really work.

Over in the next stall, Salt was whinnying eagerly. "Sorry, sweetie, it's just me and Pepper today," Taran said as he led his horse out into the sunlight. Well, technically he's not mine. He quieted that inner voice before it could convince him to stop. Tara had all but given him Pepper anyways. He could still remember when her father had given her her first two horses, one white and one black. "I'll call them Salt and Pepper," she had laughed, "and they'll be best friends, like you and me." He would have preferred to ask her permission, but he didn't know where she was, and couldn't afford to wait for her. Besides, she might say "No!" He shushed the inner voice again. He'd be back in a few days anyway.

Taran spent the next few hours alternating between a trot and a walk, trying to move quickly without tiring Pepper. The West Road was long and empty, and Bree quickly disappeared behind the bends in the road. He began to have a few doubts about what he was doing, but his determination and excitement kept him moving. He needed to meet up with the group before nightfall. His bags contained only what he had taken from Archet; he had a bedroll and enough food a few meals, but no tent, and no knowledge of outdoor survival at all. The rest of his bags contained almost nothing other than a worn hammer and all of his books.

As noon approached, Taran began to grow worried that he had somehow missed them. The Old Forest was rapidly approaching on his left, and if he passed that, he would know he had gone too far. What if they left the path? He had read about people who could track someone for miles by examining the ground they had travelled on, but he wasn't convinced that was true, and even if it was he certainly couldn't do it. He began watching the south side of the road carefully, making sure he didn't miss anything. The terrain was beginning to get hilly, with scattered rocks sticking out of the ground like...The Barrow Downs Taran realised with a chill. As the hills got taller, Taran became more uneasy, and he almost missed seeing the group of people sitting on the north side of one of the hills, a good distance from the road. His heart leaped.

Dismounting, Taran led Pepper up the foothills in the direction that he thought he remembered. He was relieved when he pushed aside some loose foliage and saw them sitting about one hundred meters away. A boy, a young woman, a young man, and a hobbit. The stories had mentioned more, but Taran assumed they were out of sight. Or it could be the wrong group. All his doubts came rushing over him at once. Maybe they aren't really going to talk to some legendary creature. Maybe they are just some friends out for a walk. And even if they are why would a group of friends take in some random stranger who they don't even know? Paralysed by indecision, he was shocked to see an enormous eagle descend suddenly in the midst of the group. The eagle appeared to make a noise, and then everyone was looking in his direction. "Black Gate!" he swore softly.

Seeing no other option, he walked out into full view and towards the strangers. Nervously, he watched the young woman come towards him with the others gathering behind. She smiled cautiously as they approached speaking distance.

"Hello," she said, "my name is Fionavar. May I ask yours?"

He smiled back, hoping his nerves weren't showing. She was pretty, he noticed. "Taran. Taran Blacksworth. Um, I'm from Bree, and I heard you were going to see, um..." in light of the giant eagle watching him calmly only a few meters away, it didn't seem quite so ridiculous, "...Tom Bombadil?"

She was still smiling, "You heard correctly, Taran. Is that why you are here?"

"Uh, yes actually. I was wondering if I could maybe come with you? If you wouldn't mind."

"I think that would be okay. What does everyone think?" Fionavar turned to ask the others. The young man seemed distracted, while the boy simply stared expressionlessly at Taran.

The hobbit spoke up, "Aye, he seems like a good lad." The eagle gave a single nod.

Fionavar turned back, her smile now warm and welcoming, "It's settled then. Come on, Taran, we were just eating lunch. I hope you're hungry."

Much relieved, Taran pulled Pepper's reins and headed in to join the group.
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Postby Cock-Robin » Wed Dec 17, 2008 10:21 pm

"I told you somebody was following us." said Gwaeryn. "Although he didn't look like a bandit, or I would have chased him away."

"And probably had lunch yourself, you horse lover!" said Robin, laughing.

"The eagle can talk?? said Taran.

"Naturally." said the Eagle. "I am Gwaeryn, last of the great Eagles. Sorontel was my name in the West, Last-Eagle. I look forward to telling my story when we meet Old Tom."

"You've been there?" asked the newcomer.

"Yes, we're old friends. Sit down, we have plenty to spare." said Robin. He helped dish out what they had, and he had cooked up some mushrooms. He had the typical hobbit love of them.

After a while, all were fed and resting. Robin suddenly started. "Somebody is missing!"

"I hope they didn't try and mess around with the barrows." said Gwaeryn, worried.
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Meneldor, Alatar and Pallando, Darkness Reigns: The Resistance


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Postby laureanna » Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:01 pm

Ursula watched as the travelers straggled out into the morning light. They seemed to have formed into two groups. Neither invited her to join. No problem, really, as she preferred to travel alone. Her stride was too long for hobbits or even most humans to keep up with. And her progress was erratic - she punctuated miles of brisk walking with stops to forage for mushrooms, berries, herbs, and medicinal plants. And most important of all, she chased after bees who led her to their honey trees.

And besides, there were things about herself, well, things she'd rather keep to herself.

She spied the great eagle flying overhead, but blended in well enough with the late summer grass that he did not spot her. And of course, like most birds, the eagle had a poor sense of smell. Carefully edging downwind of the group on foot, she observed as they took on one more traveler. The group sat down to lunch together, a hobbit, a woman, three men (one of them very wolfish smelling) and two horses. Ursula took the opportunity to watch them, as she picked rowanberries.
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Postby shaggydog » Fri Dec 19, 2008 2:38 pm

Bril had gulped down his portion of the noonish repast, but his stomach informed him that the relatively light lunch and long ago breakfast of rabbit was not going to sustain him for the rest of the afternoon. He had been just on the brink of asking Gwaeryn if he had spied any likely looking cover for small game, when the newcomer had put in his appearance. Bril turned his head aside as Fiona welcomed the young man and, as was her in her generous nature, asked him to join their company. The frown creasing his brow would simply signal to her his continued discomfort with the addition of yet another traveler to the group. Bril did not wish Fiona to feel her decisions met with his disapproval. They didn’t, in fact; it was simply the unease he always felt when confronted with a stranger who might not be as understanding of things as Fi always was.

As further introductions were made and food passed about to those still eating, Bril rose and stretched casually, making his way over to Caloo as if in search of something within the packs which lay in the grass nearby. His hope was to slip away unobserved, in order to make a quick reconnoiter for prey. Once out of sight of his companions, he slipped into his wolvish self and trotted off in a circular route which would bring him up behind the hill. Breaking into a faster lope, he looped around, coming out above them. Several different scents filled his nostrils, and he eagerly cast about, when suddenly Bril felt the hair on his neck stiffen. There was that smell again!

Glancing off into the distance , Bril sniffed deeply. The bear woman! What was she doing, so close to their path, unannounced and hidden amongst the long autumn grass? Without further thought, Bril loped off in her direction, having no plan as to what he would do when he located her hiding place. An anxious, yet eager, urging was pushing him to discover what she was all about, who she was, and where she hailed from. His body quivered with excitement as he rushed headlong up one long slope. She was fairly close, he could smell it, and he slowed just enough to get a better bearing on her. With his senses focused on his quarry, he didn’t even register the strange, unnatural rock jutting out from the crest of the hill. Nor did he notice the gaping blackness of the hole that gave entry to the rock structure. Coming to a standstill three paces from it, his ears swiveled at the sound, a scraping, scrambling type of a sound. Before even he had turned his head to locate its source, a cold so bone chilling it made him gasp stole over his body. As the stench of decay filled his nostrils, he had time to let out one lone, sharp yelp of terror . . .
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Postby Cock-Robin » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:33 pm

Robin sprang to his feet at the sound of the yelp of terror. He now knew who was missing. "Bril?" he said. "BRIL???" he called out. The man-wolf had slunk away so silently even he hadn't noticed until he was missing. He drew his short sword Starfire, the mate of Sting. The blade was gleaming blue around the edges.

"He didn't! And I warned all here not to go near the Barrows. We need to find him, and quick. Though there is only one who can deal with them. Gwaeryn, go get Tom..."

There was a rush of wings. The Eagle had discerned what was needed and was already off. As he flew West, he called out the song:

Ho! Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo!
By water, wood and hill, by the reed and willow,
By fire, sun and moon, harken now and hear us!
Come, Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us!


He shortly landed near Tom's house. Tom was already outside. "Gwaeryn, I heard you call."

"One of my friends is caught by a Barrow-wight, Master." said the Eagle. "Please, Master Tom. climb on my back and I'll take you there."

"What? A Barrow-Wight? Naught worse than that? I will mend it quickly. I know the song for him!" Tom leaped upon the Eagle's back, and Gwaeryn took off, as Tom sang:

Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow,
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.
None have ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master,
His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.


Meanwhile, the hillside was now a flurry of activity. Fiona wanted to rush off, but Robin stopped her. "No, you'll only be caught yourself. Tom will be here soon."
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Come on, kiddies, pet the nice mechanical vampire reindeer. We won't bite...much...hahahahahooo!



Meneldor, Warrior Bard, and Brondgast, Mithril Knights

Gwaeryn and Robin, The Expected Party

Meneldor, Alatar and Pallando, Darkness Reigns: The Resistance


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Postby laureanna » Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:15 am

As Ursula continued to watch the travelers meet, eat, and rest, she wondered why they were venturing into Tyrn Gorthad. Didn't they know the reputation of this place? No one in their right mind ventured here. Why didn't they just take the Great Road west, then cut south into the Old Forest to get to Tom's House, if that was where they were headed?

Of course, she did not count herself among those who should avoid the barrow downs. Her sensitive nose, long experience and ... well ... special talents had protected her well enough as she gathered the odd plants that grew in this area. In fact, she enjoyed the solitude of these grassy hills, where cicadas never sang, and birds never flew overhead, and the only sound was the hiss and mutter of wind on grass and shrubs.

Her two burden baskets filled with berries, Ursula made her way to one of the barrows. Was this the one? She cocked her head. Yes, it was the one that did not have the deathly scent or insidious chill. Red, yellow and blue-violet primulas hidden in the long grass marked the opening to a cozy den well stocked with dried fruits, meats and fish. It was, in fact, the barrow that Old Tom cleaned out a hundred years ago, when he rescued the Ringbearer and his companions.

Ursula shrugged off her packs and baskets, rubbed her shoulders, ran her fingers through her spiky short hair, and sat down on a cool stone bench to rest. But instead of unearthly silence, she heard a loud yelp, followed by the commotion of hysterical voices, then singing. She poked her head out of the barrow to see what was up.
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