Shrouds of Varda Inn ~ Fornost in the 4th Age *Burned Down*

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

Postby erinhue » Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:21 pm

OOC: Really? LoL He don't know me very well do he?
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Postby PatriotBlade » Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:02 pm

OOC: LOL Nope! Oh! And I've given all the nessisary info for Tempest to post.

Ondine's uncle and aunt don't believe she ran away and testified that they didn't believe the handwriting of the farewell note to be hers. They also have established that their neice's safe return, or information leading to such, would be greatly rewarded.

So if Tempest discovers the door's unlocked without waking Ondine, she'll see the necklace with Ondine's family crest and finally fit the pieces together. What she does with them after that is up to her.

Name: Relationship:
Sir Fallon Torros / Gondorian Uncle
Lady Haline Torros / Gondorian Aunt
Madame Maurissa Torros / Gondorian Grandmother
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Postby shaggydog » Sat Jan 30, 2010 8:42 pm

OOC PatriotBlade I fully intend to be a thorn in everyone's side - you can't get rid of Estlemere so easily :D

The slight chill of morning had warmed to the sunshine of a summer day. Estelmere continued to whistle as he walked along the narrow, paved lane leading to his shop. Even in the relatively short time that had passed since his arrival in Fornost, the place had come more and more to look like a real city, and not just a wild outpost on the edge of an even wilder frontier. His carpentry shop was not far removed from the gates of the city, and all the lanes, alleys, and the one main road in this part of town were paved with great flag stones or cobbled with smaller rocks. On the further outskirts of the town, where new construction was taking place at a fast pace still, the roadways tended to be dirt, or mud, depending on the season and the weather. Estelmere was no stranger to those parts of the city, as his business took him frequently to those new constructions. But today, the task he had set himself could be completed in the snug shop he leased, which also doubled as his living quarters.

He reached the familiar door, painted a cheerful deep green, and noted it was off the latch. That was good. Finli had said he would be by early. In the midst of the strange goings on at the Shrouds, Estelmere had momentarily forgotten Finli’s promised visit. He was glad now that he had given the dwarf a second key to his shop. The carpenter’s trust might be given out warily, but he had no doubt that his trust in his closest friend would never be regretted. Pushing the door open, Estelmere stepped inside, pausing to allow his eyes to adjust from the brightness of outdoors.

“There you are! I thought maybe you had forgotten that I was dropping by today.” Finli did not sound aggrieved, only curious. Estelmere was a man of regular habits, and the dwarf was sure his friend would have some explanation for not being at the shop so early in the day.

Estelmere grinned. “I’m afraid to say I did forget, but with good reason.” He stepped into the shop and pulled up a stool, sitting beside his friend at a long workbench. “Here, let’s look at that design of yours, and I’ll tell you a tale that’s odd even for Fornost.” Unrolling the piece of parchment which the dwarf had brought with him, Estlemere regaled Finli with the details, or what little he knew of them, of what had occurred at the Shrouds. Finli, for his part, listened politely, but with a growing look of concern on his weather worn face. When his friend was finished with his story, the dwarf shook his head darkly.

“I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit. Such goings on – and right inside the city gate!” Finli drummed his fingers on the table pensively. “And to kill the poor girl, right there under everyone’s noses, what audacity. It makes one wonder . . . “ But Finli did not finish, opting instead for a deep “harrumph” into his rusty beard.

“And the girl who was being held against her will.” Estelmere mused. “I’m still not convinced she hasn’t jumped out of the pan into the fire. I wonder what’s really motivating those two. I never knew a bard I’d trust any further than I could spit.”

Finli looked thoughtful. “What did you say his name was again? The bard?”

“Erinhue. Or at least that’s what he claimed it was.” Estelmere replied skeptically. “Warrior bard of Belfalas, or some such nonsense.”

Finli frowned, scratched at his beard, then shook his head. “No. It’s not coming to me. But there’s something . . . tickling at the back of my mind . . . “

Estelmere smiled. “Well, it may be days in coming then, if it’s that far back.” He traced his finger along one aspect of the design outlined in ink on the parchment. “In the meanwhile, why don’t we see what we can accomplish with this. It’s beyond me why you don’t just build it yourself.”

Finli rolled his eyes. “You know Mirli. Only the best for our first born. And the best means you, my friend.” The dwarf clapped his hand on Estelmere’s shoulder.

“Yes, even if it’s only a cradle.” Estelmere chuckled.

“Oh, believe me. When it comes to a baby, especially a first baby, there’s no such thing as “just a” anything. You should hear how she and her mother go on about choosing the cloth for the nappies, for heaven’s sake!” Finli tried to sound exasperated, but yet, Estelmere could hear the pride in the dwarf’s voice.

“I suppose there’s nothing quite like a parent’s love for a child.” Estlemere agreed. “I wonder if that girl’s folks are missing her.” He added. “Wherever they are, they must be out of their minds with worry.”

Finli nodded. “Aye. You’re right there. Perhaps that bears looking into, you know?” He cocked his head to look at his friend. “Just to be sure. That’s she safe, with her new – friends.”
Last edited by shaggydog on Sun Jan 31, 2010 6:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby PatriotBlade » Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:05 pm

OOC:

Psst! Acording to the date Hue gave just a page over and my own research, it's actually mid June.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle-earth_calendar
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Postby shaggydog » Sun Jan 31, 2010 6:36 am

OOC Oh I was going on the very first post in the thread which said a late summer evening. Just like the girl who got offed was Brenae but then in a far later post she was referred to as being alive. We need a continuity person around here :rofl: But I have gone and edited. Thanks.
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Postby erinhue » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:53 am

If I were still moderator for The Pony I would be telling us that this puppy needs an OOC, ASAP :wink:
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Postby PatriotBlade » Sun Jan 31, 2010 9:19 am

I say we start one that will also be for our quest, since the creator of this inn really didn't care for an OOC thread. What will we call it?
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Postby erinhue » Sun Jan 31, 2010 10:30 am

Done and done :wink:
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Postby erinhue » Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:54 pm

My bad about the date. I should have looked to see what the context was already being used before I gave name to a date. :oops:
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Postby Tempest » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:04 pm

Still lugging all the packages from the dress shop, Tempest remembered when she was half-way up the stairs that she didn’t have a key to get into the room. Considering her options, she continued up until she got to the door. Pressing her ear to it, she could hear nothing within to suggest that the girl was awake and moving around. Well, she wasn’t about to jimmey the lock herself, so she raised her hand to knock softly, while at the same time, she turned the knob.

The door opened with her hand. It had been left unlocked.

A litany of angry phrases flitted through her mind about the foolishness of leaving one’s door unlocked when one had ALREADY been kidnapped ONCE before, but seeing the darkness of the room, and the soft breathing of the girl as she slept caused Tempest’s reprimand to die in her throat.

Placing the packages on the floor, Tempest saw that Keirule’s pack was next to the bed, and it was clear that it had been reopened. The letter was missing from it, and Tempest straightened herself and stared down at the sleeping figure, wondering what she had done with it, and whether or not she knew what it contained.

As she did so, she could not help but notice the medallion that the girl clasped in her hand. It was clearly a family crest---Tempest had seen too many not to recognize one when she saw it, but she leaned closer to make out the various figures. Her brow furrowed slightly as she observed the familiar symbols.

First, Gondor. Well, that alone complicated things. She did not much like Gondor, or its new-found King, though he had pardoned her and set her free to form her own destiny after the War of the Rings. Still, she bore him little allegiance, and she had no particular desire to traverse his lands, if she could avoid it.

But the other symbols on the crest, where had she seen them before….

She straightend up again suddenly as the answer came to her.

Torros. It was the family crest of Torros.

If this girl was who she thought she was, then this was more than a simple kidnapping. Tempest retrieved the key from on top of the dresser and locked the door behind her this time. She stood in the hallway for several minutes trying to decide what to do.

Well, Erinhue must be informed. Immediately, she decided.

She hurried downstairs again, nearly knocking one of the serving girls over in the process. Scanning the common room for the bard, she found him still making merry, and she made many apologies to those listening to him as she spirited him away.

His jovial mood became serious when he saw her face. ”What is it?”

”Do you know who she is?” Tempest asked pointedly.

”A girl in need of help,” he replied.

”Yes of course, but do you know who she is? Did she tell you her name?”

”What are you getting at?”

”Her family crest. She is of the house of Torros,” she stated with meaning.

Erinhue nearly spilled the full mug of ale he was still holding. ”Are you certain?”

”I don’t know how you managed to do it, but you just stumbled upon more than a simple case of kidnapping.”

”But Torros…how have we not heard of this before now? There must be people looking for her, gravely concerned for her recovery,” he asked in hushed tones.

”I don’t know. But that family….after the house of the Stewards, they are…”

”I know,” he said gravely. ”I know.”
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Postby erinhue » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:36 pm

Erinhue nearly choked on his ale when he heard the girl upstairs held the family crest of House Torros. Tempest was right. This was far more than a simple kidnapping. It was no wonder that they had not heard of this. The third most powerful family in Middle Earth was not about to announce to the world that it had misplaced a twig from the family tree.

As Tempest said there probably were many people out there searching for the girl. There were probably just as many out there that wanted to prevent her from being found. No, if that were the case, why all the trouble, why not just kill the girl and be done with it. From Keirule’s treatment, however ill, it was apparent that he did not want the girl dead, just…, just what?

Family intrigue and court politics were big reasons Erinhue had taken to a life on the road. There were ministers to handle the business of House Elitan and if people wanted a Lord to point to, there was always Beliran who shared the title with him upon the death of the man they both called father.

Dol Amroth, the home of his youth was a much smaller arena then the Court of King Elessar in Gondor’s White City. In Belfalas, the duties and stations of court and society were more clearly laid out and power divided among the families of the Five Major Houses. House Adrahil was the line of the Prince himself, the line of government. House Elitan was the Swan Knights, the captain and a majority of the members came from this line, the other houses had similar dedications. People knew what to expect and knew exactly where they stood in the larger society.

In Gondor it was a free for all with every noble set to carve out whatever power they could for themselves. The higher up the family the more subtle and the more vicious the infighting could become.

“Well, Tempest, m’love” Erinhue drawled, “Seems like exactly who this damsel in distress really is has become more than a little important. We need to know just what cards we’ve been dealt in this increasingly intriguing game. I think it is time we had a talk with our damsel. “
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Postby shaggydog » Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:49 pm

Brenae chewed on her lip, considering if she should ask Touron for a few minutes to step out and take a well deserved break. Not that he would see it like that. You would think it was the innkeeper who paid her small salary out of his own pocketbook. Still and all, it hadbeen a very busy morning, following a harrowing night. Touron couldn’t fault a girl for needing a few moments to herself.

She rubbed her shoulder where that odd woman had barged into her on the stairs. That had been a very close call, Brenae conceded. But she congratulated herself on her sharp hearing and quickness. As Tempest had come lumbering up the stairs, encumbered by her many bundles, Brenae had silently slipped out of the girl’s room and swiftly entered its neighbor, which she knew to have been vacated by its overnight occupants. Hearing the woman enter the other room, the serving girl had quietly returned to the hallway and listened at the far side of the half open door. Peeping around its edge, she saw the woman leaning over the bed, and the girl sleeping there. Brenae held her breath, but the woman made no move to harm the girl. In fact, she seemed quite taken with the same item which the serving girl herself had just moments before been admiring.

As quietly as she could, Brenae stepped carefully past the door. She had just set her foot on the top stair when she heard the woman exiting the room and the key turning in the lock. Not wanting to raise the woman’s suspicions, Brenae descended a few stairs, then turned as if she was, in fact, just going up. She had a respectful nod already prepared, but the woman was in such a hurry that she simply shoved past, almost knocking the girl off balance.

Now, back in the kitchen, Brenae mused; what importance would Estelmere attach to the things she had seen? There was a pouch brimming with coins. She had been sorely tempted to take just one, but she had resisted in the hopes the carpenter would be true to his word and pay her honestly. There had been a letter tucked under the girl’s sleeping head, which Brenae had deftly pulled out by its exposed corner. Being illiterate, she could not have made sense of its contents. But she was sharp enough to note the seal was the match of the medallion the girl grasped in her hand. Would Estelmere find any of this worth hearing about? Should she wait to see if any more crumbs of information came her way? Should she go now to his shop? What if he somehow discovered whatever it was he was trying to learn about this girl from someone else, and thus cheated her out of her reward?

Making up her mind, Brenae slipped out of the kitchen, whispering to Danae as she passed, “Tell Mr. Hardnose that I’m taking a break. I need a breath of air.” Before Danae could give her a scolding for her boldness, Brenae had hurried off.
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Postby Cock-Robin » Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:59 pm

A hobbit entered the inn, the look on his face was as if he had just lost his best friend.

Indeed, he had. A friend he had gone on long journeys and had many adventures few hobbits since Bilbo, Frodo , Samwise, Merry and Pippin had.
The words of farewell to his friend Gwaeryn, a Great Eagle, still rang in his ears.

"It is time."

"I thought so, my feathered friend." said Robin. "I've seen it coming. You've been looking Westward so often, and shedding many tears, I was surprised you didn't go sooner."

"It was for your sake that I didn't. But if I didn't go now, I'd burst. None of my kin are left, they've all gone away, and Middle-Earth isn't home to me anymore. The eyries don't welcome me..."

"I'll miss you, Gwaeryn. You've been a great friend to me and shown me many wonders."

"So have you, little hobbit Robin. I never thought I would become such close friends with any when I crossed your path, and it awakened me to my true calling. It's for you that I stayed. What will you do when I'm gone?"

"I'm sure I'll find something. Some friends, some new adventures. But I can't keep you prisoner here. You'd die of sadness and loneliness. Remember me, though. I won't forget you. Speak for me to Thorondor and the great ones."

"I will. And I won't forget you either. Maybe we will meet again on that last day." He reached down with a wing and gave an Eagle's embrace to the hobbit, and when he stood up again, Robin was holding a feather that Gwaeryn had plucked from his breast and given to him.

"Farewell wherever you fare, until your eyrie receives you at the journey's end." said Gwaeryn.

Robin saw that the Eagle was trying to be sad for his sake, but inside was quivering with happiness, that he was going to his long home on the eyries of Taniquetil.

May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks." replied the hobbit.

There was a rush of wings, and Robin watched the Eagle as he flew westward, dwindling in the distance to a dot. He would miss the high flights with him, the wind in his face, and the things the Eagle told him.


The memories were still fresh in his mind as he entered the inn. Fornost was a good place for news, and maybe he would find an adventure to ease his loneliness. He sat down on a table and called for ale, not bothering to take off his green weather-stained cloak. He had put the feather in his cap. If they could only see him in the Shire now. That is, if he ever went back to that life of boredom.

He barely noticed the man and the woman who looked like a warrior, he saw the glint of mail. He didn't intend to eavesdrop, he had other things on his mind, but as they went off to a corner, he couldnt' help but overhear.

He heard things like The House of Torros...damsel in distress... and snatches of other conversation. Not so quick! Would the Valar have set him right in this place, just in time to overhear this conversation, or were his sharp hobbit ears deceiving him?

His eyes were drawn to the couple. The lady wasn't one to mess around with, the flash of her eyes, the glint of mail, the sword peeking from her cloak.

The man had a jovial look to him, and carried a harp which he had taken with him to the corner. But was he more than just a traveling Bard? He wondered.

Just then, the woman he would soon know as Tempest, saw him. She overturned a table in her rush to him, quite nimble, and picked up the hobbit, pinning him to the wall.

"Who are you, little rat, and why were you listening?"

"I'm Robin, Robin Smallburrow, but my friends call me Cock-Robin. I just came in here for some ale, but couldn't help overhearing, you were so animated. I didn't mean to."

"What did you hear?"

"Should we be talking about it out here, Ma'am? We're drawing too much attention."

Erinhue came up and put a hand on Tempest's shoulder. "The hobbit has a good head on his shoulders. We need to continue the questioning elsewhere."

"He has a head that may be off his shoulders soon!" snarled Tempest. But Erinhue's words had wisdom, and they went off to a room where they wouldn't be disturbed or overheard...
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Postby erinhue » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:25 pm

As the man, woman and hobbit moved towards the stairs, Tempest grabbed Robin by the shoulder and hustled him along rather roughly.

“Now, now Tempest, m’love, there is absolutely no need to be impolite here.” Erinhue spoke cheerily as he strode towards and then up the stairs. “ I do understand,” he continued in the same tone, “ but you could be more at ease. If you will take a look at what adorns our friend’s cap you would know that we don’t have anything to fear from this one. The feathers of the Great Eagles do not fall carelessly and are not given lightly. If he has one, and he does, I would peg him more as friend then as foe.”

“You might be right, bard,” Tempest reluctantly admitted “but I will keep my guard up until this fellow answers for himself.” She released her grip on the hobbit’s shoulder but remained just half a step behind him.

Erinhue listened at the door to the girl’s room and deduced that Ondine was still asleep. That was good, she would need as much rest as she could get. The bard calculated that they could afford to remain at the Inn for perhaps one more day but it would be best to set out as quickly as was prudent.

As he stepped away from the door he noticed that the door to the next room was slightly ajar, as if someone had closed it in a hurry and did not wait to be certain that it really was closed. Good thing for us, Erinhue thought as he motioned Tempest and Robin inside.

“Now that we do not have an audience to over hear, it’s time that we talked.” Erinhue sat himself on the bed and motioned the others to the chair and stool also in the small room. Speaking out to what seemed to be empty air, the bard called out “ Ale, Agarak. Ale for talking and make sure that it’s cold.”

A brief tinkling sound preceeded the sudden materialization of three frothy mugs, the sweat on their metal hides bespoke of their temperature.

Erinhue made a pulling motion with his left hand and one of the mugs floated towards him. When it came near the bard plucked it out of the air and took a long taste of the contents.

“Excellent as usual, Agarak, my thanks”

Robin stared open mouthed at the two hovering tankards. Tempest rolled her eyes, copied the pulling motion and took her mug in hand.

Robin leaned in and looked up to see her eyes as he asked “Is he a wizard?”

Ale sputtered across the room as Tempest came close to choking on her gut response to the question.

“Wizard? Him?” Now Tempest did laugh. “ No he’s just a bard and this is all compliments of his thrice cursed harp.”

“Just a bard?” Erihnue responded to the overheard comment with a wounded tone. “Just a bard? Tempest darling, it really hurts to hear ya say that about me.”

Standing up to bow low in Robin’s direction, the bard spoke again throwing a taste of his talent into his voice.

“As you have so graciously told us your name, it is only polite that we tell you ours. I, sir, am The Warrior/Bard Erinhue of Belfalas. Not long ago I ran an establishment called The Lucky Fortune Inn with one of your kinsmen, a Herbert Took of the Shire, better known as Hobbituk. Grand fellow, perhaps you knew him. I would leave my lovely companion to give you her name herself but I suspect that she just might not, so I shall do so in her place.”

Again the bard bowed low, this time gesturing towards Tempest.

“Good sir Robin Smallburrow, it is my great pleasure to present this jewel of Rohan, this glorious shieldmaiden, this….”

“Tempest.” She cut Erinhue off. “If you must, you call me Tempest.” She cast a look at the bard that was something between a snarl and a smile but her expression hardened when she looked down at Robin.

“I asked you a question, hobbit,. I do not have my friend’s ‘polite’ disposition. I expect an answer, and I expect my answer now.”

Erinhue peered over the edge of his tankard and nodded. “ I really would try and give her an answer that she likes, Robin old boy. Tempest is not very good at patience, or compassion or understanding either for that matter.”

Tempest growled in his direction and Erinhue put on his very best expression of injured innocence..
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Postby Cock-Robin » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:49 pm

Robin finally did the pulling action himself and the mug of ale came to him. He took a drink of the ale before replying. He first listened warily at the door, then twitched aside his cloak and pulled out his short sword. He saw Tempest tense up, but he shook his head.

"I mean no hostile intention, Tempest." he said, and I will gladly answer your question. This is Claw, the brother of Sting which Bilbo then Frodo, hobbits of renown once wore. I came upon it in my travels, finding it in a corner of the trolls' cave where Sting was also found."

He looked at it, and as he feared, it was gleaming at the edges. "There are enemies about, maybe in this very inn. It gleams when enemies are near." He handed it hilt first to the Bard as a sign of good faith.

Looking up at Tempest, he said "As for your question, I heard you discussing things like 'damsel in distress,' "House of Torros,' 'House of the Stewards,' and about a girl that is up here. Is she next door?"

"I will ask the questions!" said Tempest.

"As you wish." said Robin. "I had no intention of eavesdropping, and may I say I couldn't help overhearing you. I have just come from losing a great friend of mine. The Eagle Gwaeryn, who had been my companion for a few years just departed to the West, and I miss him sorely. We have been on several adventures and travels, and just came back from a festival in Minas Anor, a commemoration of the downfall of Sauron and the rise of King Elessar."

He now knew the wisdom of Gwaeryn giving him the feather he now wore in his cap. It would mark him to those servants of the Light as a friend. "I have been looking for an adventure to ease my sorrow. And this sounds like an adventure I can't miss. I will not betray your secret, and will take it to my grave. I will keep it better than you have, if I may be as bold as to say it."

It was typical hobbit pertness.

"And Bard Erinhue, I have indeed heard of you, and was surprised you weren't at the festival."
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Postby erinhue » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:07 am

"Bard by trade, warrior by chance" Erinhue sighed in response to Robin's comment. "It was my plan to attend but the King had need of my services elsewhere."

The cheerful expression the bard usually wore faded from his features. He looked at Robin with heart felt sympathy.

"You speak of your friend departing for the West. I understand such loss. My wife, Aerin Clearstream, was one of the Eldar. We were very happy but she could no longer fight the call of the sea. She sailed into the West when the leaves turned last fall."

The bard's sea grey eyes glistened and he spoke no more for a time.
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Postby Claymore » Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:39 am

Areej sighed in relief when she sighted Fornost. She had hoped to reach the city last evening, but nightfall had caught her unawares and she had been forced to make camp on the roadside lest her horse break a leg in the dark. She patted the mare on her neck.
-Nearly there girl. A nice stable for you, a decent breakfast for me and hopefully also an opportunity to exercise my talents and earn some money.
Amira seemed to understand what she said and picked up her pace to a gentle trot. Soon they reached the gate and they were let in, though not without curious glances. She couldn't really blame the guards, she looked every inch the easterling . Even though she had left her homeland for almost three years now she still dressed as if she had just left her ancestral home. Appearances where just as much part of a show as performance was and she knew that many of those who listened to her for the first time, came as much to gawk at the exotic easterling girl as they came for the music. So she dressed the part, embroidering and modifying every piece of clothing she bought, and decorating Amira's tack with the arabesques and mosaics that had also adorned her home.
"Now where to find an Inn,"she muttered. Though flourishing more everyday Fornost was still a frontier city and she hoped the Inns where decent. She could defend herself easily but the hassle that went with it was something she would gladly pass. A sign caught her eye.
-'The Shrouds of Varda'. Hmmmh. Sounds respectable and looks respectable too. Shall we try our luck here, Amira?
Her mare snorted and struck one hoof on the ground.
-I will take that as a yes.

She dismounted and entered the stable, ringing the bell to call the stable-boy when she passed it. The answer was prompt though the lad looked like he had been napping in the straw. His eyes widened when he took in her exotic clothes, the decorated tack and the way Amira held her tail, so typical for easterling horses.
-Wha-what can I do for you Milady, ma'am?
Areej laughed, a soft and refined sound.
'Oh no need for such formality, lad,'she said affecting a slightly heavier accent than usual.' I am no lady, just a weary bard in search for a nice stable for my girl here, and a good breakfast for me.'
'Al-alright,' the boy said, clearly not completely convinced that she wasn't a lady. Areej smiled. It had not been truly her intention to convince the boy otherwise. She took her baggage and weapons from the saddle and slipped the stable-boy a few coins.
-Take good care of her.
The poor boy nodded, even more wide-eyed. The sum she had given was not extravagant but probably more than he usually received, and she could be sure that by noon the whole city would know there was a easterling bard at the Shrouds of Varda. Whether she was really just a bard or maybe a noble lady in disguise would be the subject of heavy debate. Areej smiled again. Just as she liked it.

She opened the door with her foot and stepped inside the Inn. This early it was fairly empty and quiet but the look the bartender gave her told her something was amiss. People's gazes usually first went to her lute and her clothes but the bartender first noted her bow and the sheathed nagi before looking at her face. Either the man had been a soldier, or there had been trouble lately.
'I don't want any trouble,','he said a bit gruffly.
'And I intend to give none,'Areej answered, smiling reassuringly. 'These,'she said, patting her weapons.'Are only for when I hit trouble on the road.'
'Just to make sure,'the man grumbled.'What can I do for you?'
-A late breakfast, and maybe the opportunity to sing tonight.
-A breakfast I can provide, but there is already a bard here. He went up the stairs just a few minutes ago.
- Oh?
This was unexpected. The presence of another bard did not trouble her, since her purse was still decently filled and she could always dance, but it did make her curious. Fornost was a far-flung place and despite the city's growing wealth she did not know of many bards coming here. The only reason why she was travelling north was because the rumor-mill had it that Guild Master Erinhue had been spotted going this way and she needed to talk to him. Two years ago, when she had still been fairly new to the barding business, she had hit a spot of trouble and though she might have handled it herself, Erinhue's intervention had prevented a lot of hassle. Afterwards he had asked her if she wanted to become a member of the guild but not yet knowing what it meant she had asked for time to think and she had not seen the Warrior-Bard since. Now she wanted to accept his offer. The Guild did not have a lot of power but being a member of the Barding Guild still gave a bit of sanctity she could use.
'Could you tell me the name of this bard,'she asked the bartender.
-Oh he said he was the Warrior-Bard Erinhue of Belfalas.
Bull's eye! she crowed in her mind.
She smiled at the bartender, thanked him for the information and paid for her breakfast. Then she seated herself at one of the tables, placed her weapons within reach and waited.
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Postby PatriotBlade » Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:32 am

Touron's wife, Mary, was tired of waiting around. Not a soul had called for a bath for that poor girl up stairs. It was an hour past lunchtime and no one had sent for the child something to eat either. Brenae was nowhere to be found, so the graying, pudgy woman took the task upon herself.

First, she carried up a tray with a light lunch to the room. The locked door was no problem, as she had grabed her husband's keys.

It didn't take long for the two women to hit it off, and the poor girl's eyes fairly danced at the thought of a bath.

Mary helped her, and once she was clean, dry, and dressed in new undies and a plain gray dress from Tempest's parcels, she set the girl down and started the tedious process of detangling her long, curly tresses.

Once clean and dry, one could see that her hair was not as dark as it had originally appeared. Instead it was a beautiful golden brown.

The women desided to leave it loose, and Mary finally left the child to eat in peace.

Once she was alone again, Ondine smiled and sighed. She felt human again.

She replaced her family crest medallion around her neck and tucked it into her bodice, then went for the letter.

It was not under the pillow.

She paniced for a moment. Maybe I just thought I put it under my pillow.

She began to meticulessly rearch the room, finally finding it by the coin purse on the side table. She sighed with relief and clutching to her chest, wandered over to the window. She opened the curtains wide and studied the letter closer in the light.

It was from her grandmother's desk, of that she was sure. She noticed that the seal had been carefully broken once, but artfully repaired.

She drew a deep breath, opened it without care, and began reading.

Her hands were trembling by the time she'd finished. Her dark brown eyes glazed over and the letter crumpled into her small fist as she let out a little cry of rage. Then she collapsed to the floor, sobbing over the the plan for her destruction.
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Postby shaggydog » Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:40 pm

Brenae perched on the very edge of the stool that Estelmere had pulled forward for her. She had the look of a frightened bird, ready to take flight at the slightest hint of danger. It had been very bold of her to come to the carpentry shop in plain view of all. No doubt tongues would wag and word would eventually reach Touron’s ears. And he was a stickler for keeping his staff in line – and their reputations intact. The risk was worth it though, she had decided. The smooth coin in her hand confirmed this, as well as the welcoming smile that the carpenter had bestowed on her when she had knocked at his door. Perhaps it would not be such a bad thing, if word went around that they were on . . . visiting terms.

The presence of the dwarf had not surprised her in any way. Finli and Estelmere were frequently in each other’s company and had spent any number of evenings at the Shrouds drinking, smoking their pipes, gambling with dice, even trying their voices at singing when they had tippled perhaps a bit too much ale. So she had given Finli a smile and a good day. Estelmere had indicated that she should proceed with her news, and she realized he had spoken to his friend already about this kidnapped girl. So she told what she had observed in the girl’s room, and waited for their reaction.

Finli pulled at his lower lip, then asked, “Could you draw this seal for us?”

“I’m no hand at drawing, as some are. But I think I could give you a good idea of it.” She replied.

Estelmere had shoved a piece of parchment laying on the table towards her, and placed a stick of hardened charcoal near it. She took up the charcoal, noticed that the parchment held designs for what looked like a cradle, then focused on her task. Biting the tip of her tongue, she concentrated on reproducing the design of the seal and medallion. With the last stroke, she was rewarded with a low whistle from the dwarf and a muted exclamation from the carpenter.

Looking up from the parchment, she saw the two exchanging glances, Estelmere nodding meaningfully. “The House of Torros.”

“Aye.” Finli replied. “I’ve carved it enough to know it in my sleep.”

“So . . . who is she? And what connection does she hold to that noble house?” Estelmere mused. “It’s a pity you had no chance to read the letter.” He said to Brenae. But at her crestfallen look, he quickly added, “No matter though. You did well. Very well indeed.” The serving girl bowed her head for a moment. She hadn’t told him that the main reason she had not tried to read it was that she could not have read it. The next moment, though, he had slipped the coin into her hand, saying, “Thank you Brenae. This information will help us try to determine how best to come to the aid of this girl, whoever she is.”

Brenae was not too impressed with that assertion. It was a puzzle to her why everyone was taking such an interest in the pitiful creature anyway. Her captor was gone – wasn’t that enough? To have both the bard and Estelmere buzzing about in such a dither over her – well – that’s just the way men were, she concluded philosophically. Let a girl give a squeak of fear over a mouse and they came running to show off and act like heroes.

Not wishing to go, but knowing Touron would be looking for her if she did not hurry back, Brenae stood, slipping the coin into her pocket. “Well, good day then, Estelmere, Finli. If I learn anything more, shall I come back?” Was there a faint wisp of hopefulness in her voice?

Estelmere set the girl’s heart beating faster when he clasped her two small hands in his own. “No, I don’t think that will be necessary. I really think we should get to the bottom of this, eh, Finli? I think we had best plan on returning to the inn, perhaps have another chat with this bard and his companion.” He looked to his friend who nodded in agreement.

“Aye. And perhaps it’s time someone spoke to the city guard about all this as well.” Finli replied.

Estelmere released Brenae’s hands, and placed a friendly hand on her arm. “You’d best be going, before Touron is out for your blood.” He smiled. “If that old scalawag gives you any grief, tell him to come speak to me about why you were here.”

Not sure that she really wanted Touron to know she wasn’t up to mischief, Brenae gave the carpenter a parting smile and left to return to her work.

Estelmere ran his finger over the outline that Brenae had scribed on the parchment. “Someone is playing for high stakes, it seems. If she is a member of this family, why hasn’t the hue and cry been raised?”

Finli pulled at his lip again, saying, “And if this girl, or her captor, or both, came into the money and letter by some nefarious means, then I would say they are baiting the wrong people. Torros is one of the most powerful families in all of Gondor. “

“And . . . “ Estelmere mused further, “If that bard and his warrior woman know any more about this than we do, what is their true intent?” He clapped the dwarf on the back. “Come on. We won’t find any more answers sitting here on our bottoms. I think we need to have a little talk with someone.”

Finli rose willingly. “Lead on. Whatever’s in your mind – I’m with you. Long as I’m home in time for supper.”
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Postby erinhue » Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:12 pm

Speaking of Aerin brought a mood of melancholia that did not sit well with the bard’s characteristically unflagging optimism. Aerin had gone across the sea and he could not have asked her to stay a single day longer, in spite of how much he loved her, because of how much he loved her. She was gone now, never to return and he had to continue on with life. Work was the best cure for this feeling. In his efforts to get the desired reaction from an audience, Erinhue knew he would loose the sudden tearing pain he now felt in his chest.

“I for one am satisfied that there is no harm in this one, in fact he might just be a welcomed help in our dawning adventure. We will need to get on the road soon, I don’t’know how much longer our friend will be safe here. I need to go and settle our accounts.”

He stood up, held out his hand and called out, “Agarak, to me.”

The obedient harp appeared in front of its bard. Erinhue took the dragonharp ,tucked it under his arm and walked out of the room. In the hallway he ran into a large middle aged woman who took him to task for not seeing to it that that poor girl had a absolution. When the bard returned a blank stare the woman fairly shouted at him, “ A bath, man I am talking about a bath. I wouldn’t expect a man to understand but I thought that companion of yours would have called for a bath for that girl.”

Erinhue tried to speak but the woman cut him off. “Tut, tut it has been taken care of already so you needn’t worry. I’ve combed her hair and got her cleaned up and dressed. I know she feels human again. Shame no one thought to do it sooner.” Clucking her tongue in mild disapproval the woman went down the stairs to the common room.

Aerin might have reacted in similar fashion. It was thoughtless of him not to order a tub for her. Not only would it clean the dirt of her trial it would help to sooth the bruises and strained muscles she must be suffering. More depressed now than he had been, Erinhue went down the stairs seeking the solace of the stage.
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Postby erinhue » Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:13 pm

Once back in the tap room Erinhue stroked his fingers gently over the stings of his harp and sang out his emotions in a series of ballads. The serving girls were weeping openly and many an eye glistened moistly before he was finished. The bard’s own emotions had flowed into his voice and out to touch the hearts of any and all that heard him. It left him feeling much better and ready for a change of pace.

“There once was a maiden from Bree
Who suffered strange marks on her knees…”

To the crowd’s delight Erinhue next launched into a stream of raunchy blush inducing limericks that soon had the patrons chuckling. The more they laughed the better he felt and the more effort he put into making the rhymes as suggestive and off color as he could. The crowd rewarded him with howls of laughter and ale that came faster than he could drink it.

As he sang he noticed a woman, hardly more than a girl, seated at a table, She was dressed as if she had spent more than a little time on the road. He also noticed that she did not react like the others, she seemed to be studying him. Erinhue continued with his lurid limericks but he also kept an eye on the girl. She had both weapon and instrument on the table before her. When she noticed him noticing her she smiled again and gestured for him to come to her table.
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Postby erinhue » Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:15 pm

Erinhue gave the last couple of limericks the very best of his very worst and left the audience gasping and calling for more. He took up the latest offered mug and went over to the table and sat down.

The girl introduced herself and began to talk about her travels. She soon came around to the fact that she had hoped to meet him and become a member of the Bards’ Guild. Erinhue listened to her, taking note of the quality of her voice. Yes he decided this one could most likely sing and very nicely at that.

As Areej spoke, Erinhue saw that Estelmere had returned and by the determined step of the dwarf that was with him, the man had finally decided to come to the source so to speak. As he watched him approach the inkling of an idea sprouted in his mind. The barman was pointing Estelmere in his direction when Erinhue looked at Areej and flashed one of his brightest smiles.

“Well darlin’ there’s no time like the present. You say ya want to join the Guild? I’m here, you’re here and we have us a lovely audience. Why don’t you get up and show me what you can do with them. Consider this your audition. What do you say to that?”

Areej looked at him as if she could not believe what he had said.. and then she looked at him as if she could not believe what he just said. She grabbed her instrument and went up to stand where Erinhue had stood and began to perform
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Postby erinhue » Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:15 pm

While Areej took the stage, Erinhue leaned back and signaled to the serving girl to bring a pitcher of ale and two more mugs. Estelmere and the dwarf were approaching as the girl moved away and Erinhue stood up to greet them.

“Hail and well met my friends” he said as they approached. He used his talents and training to charm the two men and put them off guard. “ I’ve ordered a pitcher of ale. Please sit down, I’ve been waiting for you. We have questions to ask each other and an interest in someone’s welfare in common I think. There isn’t much time so I think we should talk. Please, sit down and join me.”
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Postby PatriotBlade » Thu Feb 04, 2010 8:39 pm

Kierul had not gone far.

Ondine was more than his prize. If he did not regain her, and deliver her to Sir Fevrre very soon, he would have a price on his head.

He'd noticed one of the serving girls go for a walk, and so he waited for her to return.

He caught her easilly and she truely was frightened enough that it took very little coaxing to gain her co-operation.

Fearing the terrible things the large man threatened to do to her, Brenae sneeked him through the kitchen and the staff halls, and up the back stairs to the room he had let the night before.

The door was locked, but luckilly, he still had his key in his pocket when he'd fled.

He shoved the trembling servant girl ahead of him into the room.

Ondine was still kneeling on the floor, the letter clutched in her hand. She didn't look up when she heard the key in the lock, figuring it was Tempest, Erinhue, or Mary. Even when she heard more than one set of footsteps, she thought nothing of it, until one of the people gasped loudly.

Kierul had roughly shoved Brenae onto the bed and was headed straight for his former captive.

The only thing within Ondine's reach was the pitcher and wash basin. She grabbed the pitcher first and threw it at her attacker, screaming as she did so.

The water splashed across his face, but he never stopped and his swinging arm managed to knock the pitcher aside.

It shattered loudly on the floor.

Ondine screamed again and shifted into a crouch as she smashed the basin down before her.

It too shattered, but there were several dagger sized pieces which she scooped up to arm herself with.

She knew she didn't stand a chance against him, being still far too weak, but she hoped and prayed that she could make enough noise to summon help before it was too late.

She was angry and not willing to die easily.
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Postby Cock-Robin » Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:27 pm

"I shall be glad to go with you and prove myself true, especially to you, Tempest." said Robin, taking back his sword and putting it back into its sheath.

"That remains to be seen." replied Tempest.

The hobbit nodded and left with Erinhue. He sat in the common room with the mug of ale that Agarak had conjured for him. Real 1420, that was. He chuckled at the ribald limericks that he sang.

When Erinhue finished and a new one took the stage, he was lost in thought about his friend that had so recently departed.

His thoughts were interrupted by a crash and the sound of screaming upstairs. He jumped up, drawing Claw. The blade of Gondolin shone with a fierce light, indicating enemies were upon them.

He raced up the stairs, followed by another. The sounds were in the room opposite where he had had his interview with Tempest and Erinhue.

He rushed in, and saw a man with a girl facing him, holding shards of the basin and ewer.

"Halt, whoever you are, and unhand the maiden!" said Robin.

"This is none of your affair, little one." said the man.

"It is now." Apparently, he knew little of hobbits.
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Postby Claymore » Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:43 am

Erinhue did not see her or maybe did not recognize her when he came down again and headed for the stage. But then again she had met him only once and she had changed since then, her hair no longer short from her attempt at cross-dressing, her bearing a lot more confident. He seemed sad and that was reflected in the songs he sang. Later on he seemed to cheer up however and she felt her cheeks heat up at some of the limericks. Really she tought she had heard them all after having performed in a couple of inns in Pelargir but apparently she had been wrong. She did not stop listening however. Some of them could fit in her own repertoire with a few adaptations. She would have to ask the Master Bard's permission. So she listened attentively trying to figure out how to play them on her lute. He seemed to notice her sttention and she signaled she would like to speak to him. He sang a few more limericks, some of which made her feel like one could cook an egg on her cheeks and then joined her.

She told him of her travels and their purpose and he listened attentively. Suddenly he looked up and she followed his gaze. A man and a shorter person she now recognized as a dwarf had just entered the inn and were talking to the bartender. When she looked back at Erinhue she just intercepted the mischievous glint in the Warrior-bard's eyes before he smiled widely at her.
-Well darlin’ there’s no time like the present. You say ya want to join the Guild? I’m here, you’re here and we have us a lovely audience. Why don’t you get up and show me what you can do with them. Consider this your audition. What do you say to that?
She stared at him...hard. The Guild Master was up to something, she knew it down to her bones. It was rare for a bard to allow another bard to perform after having put so much effort into warming up the audience. It was a test but not only that. She knew she could trust Erinhue however. So she went to the stage and after tuning her lute started to sing.The inn's patrons where in a merry mood right now and she decided to sing one of her earlier creations, a song she written when she was twelve, much to her parents' mortification and her brother's merriment.

Yesterday my brother came home,
Starry-eyed and sighing.
He's touching his cheek with reverence,
And he has refused to shave.

He's asking about ribbons and flowers
And I don't know what to do.
Help me my brother is crazy.
Help me my brother is in love.

Yesterday my brother came home.
Spouting absolute gibberish.
He's talking a strange language
A language I don't understand

He's asking about ribbons and flowers
And I don't know what to do.
Help me my brother is crazy.
Help me my brother is in love.

Yesterday my brother came home
Holding on a flower.
He placed it reverently in a vase
And has not left it since........

The tune was deceptively simple and lighthearted, but anyone who paid attention, and she had no doubt the Guild Master was doing just that, would notice that her lute was not accompanying her, but was actually providing a low counter melody, representing her lovesick brother. She let all the comic frustrations she had feld at that time flow into the song, each couplet giving another example of her brother's strange behaviour. She could not help but to smile at the absurd feelings of her twelve-year-old self. She had been so frustrated and jealous. Asad was her brother, dammit, and why was he pining over that strange girl? Afterwards she had grown to love Fatinah but back then she had not understood and she had written the song to send a message. Luckily her brother had understood and he had told her afterwards that she would always be his favorite little sister.
Suddenly there was cry upstairs followed by the crash of pottery. One of the patrons, a hobbit if she had it right, was up and storming up the stairs before she could blink. Erinhue and the man he was talking with were not far behind, and after hesitating a bit Areej joined too. She had recognized the cry, she had heard often enough in the rougher parts of cities. It was the cry of a terrified young woman being forced into something she did not want. The Warrior-Bard and his companion looked like they could handle whatever ruffian coming their way, but the poor girl was probably scared out of her wits and they would need a woman's touch to calm her.
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Postby shaggydog » Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:50 pm

As they had made their way to the Shrouds, Finli had reiterated his idea that they should be heading instead for the city guard post, right inside the city gate.

Estelmere shook his head, though. “No, we’ll hold that for our last option. It may be all as that woman said, but she seemed pretty reluctant to amplify on why she and her friend were so concerned with this girl. I didn’t have much of a chance to speak with him though. Try to knock that thought you were trying to hatch earlier a bit farther forward in that brain of yours, and maybe this bard can convince us of their intentions.”

And so the two had entered the inn and, to their still skeptical surprise, been invited to sit and drink with the very man they were seeking. The conversation had barely begun, with an exotic looking girl singing a low key song for background noise, when a shrill scream rent the air. Estelmere and Finli both were on their feet in a trice, as was the bard. But all three were a split second behind a tiny person who flew up the stairs before them like an avenging demon. As his feet took the stairs three at a time, the carpenter’s brain had barely time to register that this tiny being was a hobbit, although where he had sprung from, heaven only knew! Almost falling over themselves, first the bard, then himself, and finally Finli, gained the top stair and ran for the door of the girl’s room. Once again, though, they were a half step behind another – this time it was the bard’s friend, who was already halfway through the door.

As Estelmere himself reached the doorway, there seemed hardly an inch left to move in the room, so full was it with panting, intense and grimly rigid bodies. He had to look over the bard’s shoulder to see what was going on. A big, ugly lout was almost toe to toe with the hobbit, who had a very wicked looking hobbit sized sword pointed at the man’s navel. The girl was on the floor, bravely brandishing a shard of what looked to be part of the broken décor of the room. Then Estelmere’s heart froze – Brenae was half-lying, half-sitting on the bed, her face a mask of terror.

He felt Finli’s cautionary hand on his sleeve. The dwarf had no doubt seen Brenae as well, though assuredly by looking around legs and waists and not over shoulders. Estelemere moved one foot slightly further into the room, but Finli tugged on his sleeve, harder this time. They both were armed, but only with daggers. There was no need to carry a sword about inside the walls of the city. Looking down, he caught Finli’s nod and looked in the direction indicated. The bard’s friend was well into the room, almost behind this hulking brute of a man, and her weapon was drawn as well, now imposing a barrier between him and the girl on the floor. The man himself stood stock still, although his lips were drawn back in a snarl.

With a surprising speed for one so big, a speed born of desperation no doubt, the man took one step backwards and went for the most vulnerable occupant of the room. His hands, big as hams, went around Brenae’s neck and he squeezed tightly.

“Step back, all of you. Back – or I’ll wring her neck, I will.”
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Postby erinhue » Fri Feb 05, 2010 3:27 pm

Awakened by his anger, the bard's sword, Clarion was screaming for blood. The sound of its hunger only heightened the bard's emotions. Enraged by the sight of Ondine cowering on the floor, and the terror in poor Brenae’s eyes, Erinhue roared " Not while I draw breath" and launched himself like a released arrow and dove straight for Kierul. He crashed headlong into the ruffian's chest. The momentum of his leap carried Erinhue, Kierul and Brenae toppling over and off the other side of the bed.
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Postby Tempest » Fri Feb 05, 2010 7:50 pm

There was barely enough room to draw her sword with all the people hurdling into Ondine's room, but somehow, Tempest managed it. Still, assessing the situation quickly, she shouldn't have bothered. The kidnapper was badly outnumbered and had no hope of an easy escape, which was being made more difficult by the fact that his captive was actually fighting back this time.

Though her temper often got the best of her in casual conversation, Tempest was no hot-head when it came to battle. Calculation is what kept one alive, and clear thinking.

Which is not what occurred when Erinhue hurled himself headlong at Kierul's chest, sending himself, his target, and the serving girl Brenae over the bed. "For Eru's sake, Erinhue!" she growled, jumping on top of the bed herself, which was in entire disarray, and staring down at the mass of bodies now rolling on the floor. The bard got a few well-aimed fists to Kierul's face, causing him to release his grip on Brenae, though the girl seemed too frightened to crawl away.

"Make yourself useful and drag her out of here!" Tempest snapped at Estelmere, who she had not failed to notice arrive behind her. "Unless you're somehow a part of this too!"

The man gave her a look, but responded quickly by scooping up the terrified serving girl and taking her out of the fray.

By this time, the bard had delivered some precise punches to Kierule's nose, which was bleeding so badly that it was obscuring his vision. Erinhue was able to disarm him quickly, throwing him up against the wall while Tempest and the hobbit pointed their weapons at him menacingly, should he decide to make another go for it.

"You are outnumbered, sir," Tempest said in a dangerous voice, as the struggle ceased, "And pretty much a fool for coming back here."

Glancing at Ondine, she nodded. "Are you all right?"
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Tempest
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Postby PatriotBlade » Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:25 pm

Tempest glanced at Ondine and nodded as the girl rose to her feet, her hand on the windowsill to steady herself. "Are you all right?"

Shaking from the wash of emotions, the Gondorian girl nodded, her doe eyes flashing and her long tresses swirling around her, giving her a wild appearence. She brandished her impromptu weapon and fixed her former captor with a searing look.

"Y-yes, Tempest. I am alright. I want to ask him something."

Everyone looked at her, surprised at her boldness.

She drew herself up to her full hight and strode forward with the poise and grace of her station.

Kierul seemed to shrink back from her approach.

Ondine stood on her tip toes to place the the point of the shard against his throat. "So, you got to play with me for months, until it was time to leave my dead, battered body in a ditch?! Or was that just your personal touch?"

"There was a change of plans!" he yelped, his eyes wide. "I-I was to deliver you back to Gondor by your birthday!"

Ondine's slight shoulders heaved and the shard, so near his jugular vein, began to shake. "The plans CHANGED!?!?" she shrieked. "Everything's just as simpleas that? 'There was a change of plans'!?"

His head bobbed franticly up and down. "Yes, yes!" he gasped.

Tempest smirked as she watched the former captor cower before his captive. "I strongly suggest that you start laying those plans out for us. I don't think our sweet little Ondine's gonna stay sweet much longer."

"Oh, yes, please!" the Gondorin girl hissed. "Tell us who's paying you more to keep me alive, than my grandmother is for killing me."

"S-Sir Fevrre!"

"That weaseling, pretentious, bottom-dweller!"

With that, the girl spun away from her former captor and stalked to the window, muttering curses fluently in Rohirim.
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