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 shaggydog » Thu Jan 21, 2010 7:58 am

OOC I am going with Tempest's take on it below and will assume it was an unnamed serving girl who was killed by Fir-Log's character

It was in fact Touron himself who came to Estelmere's table. The manager of the inn looked pale and drawn, with dark circles under the eyes indicating a lack of sleep. Knowing the innkeeper to be a man of fairly regular habits, Estelmere assumed that there had been either a professional or personal crisis to keep the man up all night. That, or he was ill. Touron did look a little green around the gills, truth be told.

" 'Morning, Touron." Estelmere greeted his friend of several years. "Anything amiss? You look as if you've seen a ghost."

The carpenter had spoken in jest, but his comment had an unexpected effect on his friend. "Ghost? Nay, no ghost - and I myself did not see the foul thing! But something . . . some creature of pure evil was here last night. At least, that was the form it took, before . . . before . . . " Touron's voice stumbled to a halt and he ran his hand through his thinning hair distractedly.

Estelmere looked at the innkeeper with growing concern. What on earth could have the man so rattled? And this talk of evil?

"Come, my friend!" Estelmere's voice registered his puzzlement. "What's happened? Who are you talking about?"

"I'm not sure if it was a who." Touron said, equally as puzzled. "Perhaps 'what' might be more to the point. He entered as a man, an odd one to be sure, and none too pleasant. But what happened . . . upstairs . . . " Again, Touron found it difficult to relate what he new, but what he could not wrap his mind around. The girl - dead! And the thing, gone! Thank the heavens it was gone! But - would it come back? Seeing the growing confusion on Estelmere's face, then glancing up at the sound of footsteps descending the stairs, Touron gestured. "There's one as may know more than I can tell. She was there, last night . . . when it happened. I'm sure the news is spreading all about the town as we speak. Perhaps that one can give you a clear telling of how . . . how the girl died." Touron gulped.

Estelmere swiveled about in his chair to see the woman whom the innkeeper had indicated. She too looked tired, but was obviously of a harder cast than the innkeeper. Her face was drawn in lines of resolve as well as fatigue. With a hand on Touron's shoulder, Estelmere rose and approached the woman as she reached the bottom step.

"Pardon. I don't usually accost women I don't know this early in the morning - but - Touron," he gestured to his friend, "has told me that something alarming has happened, last night, and that you know something of it. Can I persuade you to stop a moment and share what you know with me? Has someone really died?"
Last edited by shaggydog on Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Tempest » Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:48 am

***OOC--- I was assuming that it was another, unnamed serving girl.....***
Last edited by Tempest on Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby PatriotBlade » Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:20 am

When Erinhue returned from his quiet exchange at the door, Ondine looked at him thoughtfully.

"Who was that?"

"A friend. She'll most likely be traveling with us as soon as you're strong enough."

"How long do you think that will be?"

The bard grinned. "That, Darlin' wil depend on you."

The girl looked down at her mostly empty tray. "I've been thinking."

"Yes?"

"I've been trying to work out how long I was HIS captive."

The bard frowned as she continued.

"What day is it?"
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Postby erinhue » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:21 pm

“What day?” Erinhue stopped to consider. “It’s the twenty third day of Tuile the way the High Elves figure it. By the King’s Reckoning it is the fourteenth day of Viresse.” The bard noted the look of confused concern his response brought to the girls still pale face.

“I’d let it go if I were you.”, he advised. “It’s better for your recovery if you try and put all of that out of your mind. Whatever amount of time, it could not have been a pleasant spell. If your mind would put that past behind it, allow that to happen and focus on the here and now. All the better to completely break whatever hold those drugs might have had.”

The girl considered the logic and saw the sense in his advice.

Erinhue stood up and gathered up his dishes.

“I’ll leave yours with you in hopes that you might eat a little more. If we are going to get you home, I’d best go have a talk with my friend. If you feel up to it, get dressed and come downstairs and I will introduce the two of you properly.”

“Your friend,” she began, “do you think she will mind having me travel along with you?”

“Tempest? Mind? Why not at all.” Erinhue used his smile to reassure the girl. “I’ll just explain the situation and there won’t be a problem.” He winked at her as he let himself out the door.

Once alone in the hallway, the smile faded from Erinhue’s face. There was going to be a big problem because Tempest was not going to like this one little bit. Whatever she might have had in mind when she contacted him, Erinhue was positive it did not include escorting some innocent in distress back to an uncertain homecoming.

When he got down to the main taproom, Erinhue looked around for Tempest and saw that she was being engaged in conversation with of the patrons. Good he thought, that would give him some time to think up something that would charm his long time friend in to calmly going along. He laughed out loud at the very thought. Erinhue knew Tempest well enough to know that even if he talked her into this she was not going to go along calmly.
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Postby Tempest » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:58 pm

"Pardon. I don't usually accost women I don't know this early in the morning - but - Touron," he gestured to his friend, "has told me that something alarming has happened, last night, and that you know something of it. Can I persuade you to stop a moment and share what you know with me? Has someone really died?"

Estelmere's eager question, and fairly friendly demeanor had the direct opposite effect on the woman in front of him. Tempest immedietly crossed her arms across her chest and gave him a withering look.

"If this is your 'friend'" she finally gestured towards Touron, "Then you're probably from around here. A local, perhaps? I don't think I have much to tell you that you can't find out from the village gossips." She turned away, but he blocked her exit.

"Please. Touron says you'd know the real story."

"Well, then, it would depend on which 'unfortunate' incident you're talking about."

"There was more than one?"

"Look, I'll give you the broad picure: Two separate groups of unsavory characters entered this fine establishment last night and decided to stir things up for fun. One was a kidnapper, and the other was some sort of a...a...something. Still trying to figure that one out. Anyway, it managed to make short work of one of the serving girls before we were able to intervene."

"Make short work? You mean, she was killed?" the man asked.

"In a matter of speaking. Very vampire-like. Never really seen anything like it before."

Estelmere grimaced.

"Well, it scurried off somewhere, hopefully never to be seen again. I just wouldn't go out alone at night, if it can be avoided," Tempest ended with that helpful piece of advice.

Seeing Erinhue come down the stairs, she nodded and attempted to dislodge herself from the conversation, but Estelmere was too quick for her.

"And the kidnapper?"

She looked at him darkly and her eyes narrowed. "He's run off too. I don't suppose YOU know anything about that, do you? You certainly have a lively curiousity about these things."
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Postby shaggydog » Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:32 pm

Estelmere’s stood unbelieving in front of the woman, continuing to block her way, trying to take in her words. Fornost was still something of a “frontier town.” Yet still, death by vampire, or something close to it, was far, far out of the ordinary here. No wonder Touron seemed so alarmed – and bewildered. The woman was obviously unwilling to indulge in any sort of emotional orgy in the telling of what must have been a very gruesome situation. Her voice was curt and she hoarded her words like a miser’s gold. Speaking to her was about as pleasant as unthinkingly squatting on a nettle out on the trail. But she was correct in at least two respects – Estlemere was curious, and the news of what happened was sure to be all over the town by noon. The carpenter, however, was not about to miss the opportunity for more details. Especially details more from the horse’s mouth than from the rear part, which would be the embellished and skewed version he was sure to hear third and fourth hand on the streets.

“A kidnapper you say?” he asked, deflecting her question with more of his own. “And you’re certain the two were not in league with each other? We usually don’t run across such types, not right in the town, anyway. It’s odd they should both make an appearance on the same ill-fated night.” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully, the need for a shave, though, momentarily forgotten. He noted the woman’s garb, and the set of her shoulders as well as her face. She was clearly a traveler, one who looked well used to life on the road. Still . . . she was a woman. “I hope you don’t intend to venture back out on the road yourself any time soon – at least not until someone gets to the bottom of this death.”

Turning to look over his shoulder, he called to the innkeeper, who was just about to disappear into the kitchen, “Touron, were the authorities notified? Was any search made for either of these unsavory creatures?” Then to the woman, he added, “And who exactly was the kidnapper trying to kidnap? Not you, I’ll wager.” He considered adding a wink, but thought better of it.
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Postby Tempest » Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:45 pm

*****OOC----LOL, shaggydog---your post made me chuckle. Erinhue, please stop Tempest before she KILLS Estelmere! *****

Tempest raised her eyebrows and glared at the carpenter. "Thanks for the concern, pal," she said, moving her cloak aside so that he could see that she carried a sword, "But I think I'll be just fine. Now, if this interrogation is over, I'll be moving along. As should you, if you know what's best."

Turning to look over his shoulder, he called to the innkeeper, who was just about to disappear into the kitchen, “Touron, were the authorities notified? Was any search made for either of these unsavory creatures?” Then to the woman, he added, “And who exactly was the kidnapper trying to kidnap? Not you, I’ll wager.” He considered adding a wink, but thought better of it.

"No, I wasn't the one being kidnapped. If I was, there'd be more than one dead body in this inn last night. And I already made a search for both of these creatures. They've both left town, at least for the moment, but I'd contact the authorities anyway, just in case they decide to return."
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Postby PatriotBlade » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:39 pm

Ondine stared at her plate for a while after the bard had left. She had seen Erinhue's expression change when she mentioned her uncle, but she had no doubts of his loyalty. It was her grandmother she doubted. And she had to find out how long she'd been gone. The bard's reasoning was sound, but there was another reason she needed to know. Her 16th birthday was when she was supposed to inherit her father's title. She knew she'd been kidnapped shortly after her 15th birthday. She finally realised that she had been away for the better part of ten months, leaving her only about three months of travel time to get home. Time was short.

Setting aside her tray, she carefully slid out of the bed and stood on her own two feet. Kierule's shirt hung nearly to her knees. She knew her dress was in bad shape, so she slowly dug into HIS pack. Nothing of HIS would fit, even with a belt, so she looked again at her tattered, red, ridding dress, hoping to be able to salvage the skirt.

No. She could never wear any part of THAT dress again. She grabbed a pair of HIS pants and pulled them on, sinching the belt from her ridding dress as tight as she could.

Her fingers were shaking, but she was determined. She tucked the shirt into the pants, then grabbed his spare vest. Like the shirt, she was swimming in it, but it covered her clumsy waistline. Stepping into her shoes, she realised that she would have to roll up the pant legs if she were to walk without stumbling around like a drunkard.

Ondine looked at her reflection in the mirror. She didn't look as bad as she had earlier, but she still resembled an underfed refugee, more than a Gondorian Lady.

"Just as well," she thought. "It may make travel easier for Erinhue and his friend."

Just as she was about to leave the room, something trailing from one of her former captor's pockets caught her eye. She pulled on the silver chain until a thin, palm sized medallion slipped free.

The Gondorian girl didn't know whether to laugh or cry as she held her family's crest to her heart. HE'd taken it from her, along with anything else of value that she'd had with her, on the first night of her captivity. Using the dresser to steady herself, she stood back up, then slipped the chain over her head.

She shivered as the cool metal settled around her neck. After one last, lingering look, she tucked it under the collar of the shirt, then turned and carefuly started to make her way down stairs.

Her footing was wobbly and she leaned heavily on the railing for support and to hide the fact that her hands were shaking.

An hour after Erinhue had left her room, she finnally arrived at the bottom of the stars and faced the doorway to the taproom.

She was very self concious as she entered the commons. Not only was her clothing odd, but every bruise that lingered on exposed skin felt like a brand of shame to her.

She spotted the bard and his friend sitting at a table, talking animatedly.

Ondine nerviously bit her lower lip, wondering whether she should go and join them, or let them finish her conversation first.
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Postby erinhue » Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:18 am

Erinhue watched the conversation between Tempest and the inquisitive tavern patron with amusement. He could not hear them clearly but the body language and the situation told him how the conversation must be going. The scene lost its entertainment value when Erinhue saw Tempest push back her cloak, clearing her sword for drawing. The bard jumped up from the seat he had taken at a nearby table and hurried over.

“Ah there you are, I have been looking for you.” Erinhue came over and smacked Tempest’s shoulder in a comradely manner. “ Have you forgotten our agreement already?”

“No, I haven’t forgotten anything.” Tempest’s eyebrow twitched a betrayal of her curiosity that she knew Erinhue would recognize, but she followed along with his play, thankful for anything that would rescue her from the situation.

“You will excuse us but I am afraid I got to her first and I paid good gold to see that the true details of last night’s excitement were told only to me.” Erinhue turned on his most charming smile and introduced himself.

“I am The Warrior/Bard Erinhue of Belfalas and it is my intent to write up this incident.” Here his voice lowered forcing the man to lean in closer to hear. “It wouldn’t do to have the subject of my newest work blabbed all over town and countryside before I even had a chance to put rhyme to tune or tune to rhyme. I’m sure you understand.”

Without waiting for response, Erinhue used the hand on her shoulder to guide Tempest swiftly away from the man.

“He should thank you for that rescue.” Tempest said as she took a seat at the bard’s table. “I was beginning to think how a slit throat would put an end to his questions.”

“I sensed that” Erinhue laughed. He waved the serving girl over and ordered some bread cheese and tea for the girl. She had not eaten much of what he had brought up to the room and would need to eat more if she were going to go out on the road. He flirted with the serving girl and ordered a tankard of ale for himself.

“A bit early for that, don’t you think?” Tempest asked

“Is no such thing.” Erinhue replied and then sang out, “Beer for fighting, Wine for song, Ale for talking all night long.”

“And what is it you want to talk about?” Tempest asked with suspicion. She had known Erinhue for a very long time and she was determined not to be taken in and swayed by his charm.

“Now now, Tempest, m’love…”

“That’s it, bard.” Tempest snapped. “When you start out like that I know I am not going to like what comes next so drop the act and tell me what’s on your mind?

Erinhue turned up the wattage on his starbright grin.
“Well I was thinking….”

“Oh no.” Tempest groaned, “Don’t tell me, It’s that girl. Another damsel in distress and you aim to rescue her and you think I’m going to help you do it. Blast it Erinhue, I….”

She noticed that Erinhue was smiling and gazing at something behind her. Tempest turned around and groaned when she saw the pale young girl, dressed in clothes at least three sizes too big, standing there, rather shakily and staring in their direction.
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Postby shaggydog » Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:26 am

OOC Thanks for the rescue Hue. My palms were starting to sweat :D
Estelmere shrugged his shoulders at the bard’s explanation. Well, Erinue was welcome to the woman’s words, and company. Her casual, yet pointed, gesture of showing him that she carried a sword was well taken. Estelmere was always wary of women who packed a bigger weapon than he did. As the bard steered her away to another table, the carpenter resumed his own seat. Brenae had returned from the kitchen with his breakfast, and he meant to enjoy it while it was still hot. Even murder and kidnapping were no excuses for missing a meal.

The girl had turned to go, but Estelmere put out a gently restraining hand on her wrist. “Brenae,” he said in a low voice. “What happened here last night? Did you see whoever, or whatever, it was?”

The serving girl lowered her eyes and her face blanched. “Please, don’t ask me to speak of it.” Her voice quavered. “I didn’t see anything, just . . . when he came in. And I heard his song.” She shivered and wrapped her arms around herself. “It happened upstairs.” She said as her eyes rolled upwards involuntarily. “I still can hardly believe it. I didn’t sleep a wink last night. It . . . it could have been me. It could have been any one of us.” She buried her face in her hands.

Estelmere rubbed her arm reassuringly. “There now, lass. There now.” He nodded in Tempest’s direction. “It seems the . . . whatever it was, was tracked last night. No trace was found. Hopefully it’s gone for good.” He tried to make his voice sound encouraging, although he had his own doubts. Well, well – life in the north was far different than in Gondor. It had been for good reason that Fornost had been abandoned those long years ago. Wasn’t it, in fact, the excitement of the unknown that had drawn Estelmere to this wilderness several years ago? This morning was giving him its fill – although rubbing elbows with vampires would have been the last thing to occur to him when he had left Minas Tirith for his new home.

“Alright, I can see this has unsettled you, Brenae. I’m sorry for bringing the memory back afresh.” He let his hand drop and gave her a smile. “Touron should have given you the day off, the old dog. He’s not looking too well himself. But I suppose the day he forgets about the money to be made, or lost, will be the day he sees his own grave. Even then, I’ll wager he’ll have his wife serving ale at the funeral and making sure all settle up before they’re allowed to pay their respects”

The girl gave a short giggle at this. Estlemere winked, and said, “Go on. I’m sure he’ll be barking for you in a moment or two if you don’t hustle. Try to put it from your mind.”

Brenae’s lips began to curl into a small smile, but stopped midway, as she glanced up towards the stairs. Nodding in that direction, she said in a conspiratorial whisper, “There’s the girl – the girl that came in with the other one. The man that ran away. Touron said he was a kidnapper. She certainly was in a pitiful state when they came in last night.” The serving girl surveyed the newcomer critically, as women will do to each other. “Her color’s better, but she looks weak as a kitten! And look at those clothes!”

Estelmere followed Brenae’s gaze, even as he wondered about the inner workings of the female mind, and soul. Where a man might look and see what was clearly a girl in sore need of a protector, a woman would see only the bizarre outfit that dwarfed the slight frame of this supposed kidnapping victim. Wondering who the girl actually was, and why she should merit forceful abduction, he began to eat, keeping his eyes and ears open wide.
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Postby Tempest » Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:34 am

From the moment Erinhue started to speak, Tempest had known what he meant to do, and what he was asking her to do in return. And to exasperate her further, he had used that tone with her, that irritating, playful, so-called charming tone that he KNEW she hated.

At the same time, she wasn't exactly surprised by his leaping off into danger on account of a poor defenseless girl. All the girl had to do was whimper a few times and let her eyes fill with tears and she had the bard like a sparrow in a snare. Well, it was one thing to get dragged into this problem on his own, but now she had become entangeled herself, much to her chargrin.

She noticed that Erinhue was smiling and gazing at something behind her. Tempest turned around and groaned when she saw the pale young girl, dressed in clothes at least three sizes too big, standing there, rather shakily and staring in their direction.

The bard was on his feet before she could say anything, and said with genuine sympathy, "Come and sit with us. You're looking much better."

"You look ridiculous," Tempest interjected as Erinhue led the girl over to their table. "So much for trying not to make a scene. If people weren't talking before, they certainly are now."

The girl reddened slightly.

"Now, now, Tempest. Give her a break. You should have seen what she was wearing before," Erinhue said good-naturedly.

Tempest frowned, noting that a very interested Estelmere was watching them. "Well, she can't wear that. I'll have to go into the village and find some clothes for her," Tempest sighed.
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Postby PatriotBlade » Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:05 pm

Still chewing nerviously at her lower lip and glancing around the room with her large brown eyes, Ondine let Erinhue lead her over to his table.

"You look ridiculous," the woman said. "So much for trying not to make a scene. If people weren't talking before, they certainly are now."

Ondine blushed inspite of herself. She wanted to turn and walk back up stairs. She didn't want the attention either.

This woman put her in mind of her grandmother, the only person Ondine had ever been afraid of. Nothing was good enough for her; everything had to be perfect. It took a great effort for the girl not to cry. She had to savagely remind herself that she was three months shy of being a Gondorian Lady. She could no longer allow herself to cry like a child.

"Now, now, Tempest. Give her a break. You should have seen what she was wearing before," Erinhue said good-naturedly.

He sounded like he was grinning.

How could this be funny? she wanted to be offended, she wanted to get angry, but she couldn't muster the energy.

The other woman frowned and glanced across the room at a man who was watching them. "Well, she can't wear that. I'll have to go into the village and find some clothes for her." And she sighed as if it were a great burden.

"I- I'm sorry to be trouble. I- I just couldn't bear to put THAT dress on again."

"It's okay, Darlin'. We understand." the bard soothed, pushing a glass of wine and a plate of bread and cheese toward her.

She didn't think she could eat any more, but she hesitantly tried anyway then forced her fingers to be still long enough to sip at the wine.

"There's probably some money in Kier-," she swallowed hard, still unable to name her former captor. "HIS satchel. You should use it for anything to do with me. I guess he owes at leat that to me."
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Postby shaggydog » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:32 pm

Estelmere ate with a good appetite, but kept his attention focused on the table where the girl, the woman and the bard sat, eating and talking together. The woman seemed none too pleased with the added company. Perhaps she just despised mankind on general principle, Estelmere thought. He had certainly known a few like that. The girl spoke very softly and the carpenter was disappointed that he couldn’t make out what few words she had to say. She was none too clean and clearly underfed, but her face still carried a look about it – he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Her expression wavered between sadness and apology, like a dog with a hard master, never knowing whether a kind word or a blow was in the offing.

The room was beginning to fill. Word of last night’s happenings was probably spreading and bringing in the town gossips to gawp and make up wild rumors. The truth was bad enough in this case, Estelmere mused. Brenae hurried by again to wait on the newcomers. Estelmere motioned her over to his table as she was returning his way.

“Do me a favor.” He asked the serving girl. “Keep you ears open. If you hear anything of interest – from those three,” he nodded at Erinhue, Tempest and Ondine, “let me know. Especially the girl. OK?”

Brenae nodded obediently, looking at the three. “He’s been with her, you know. During the night, and then again this morning.” She gazed at Hue and seemed . . . what? Envious? “He sang as well, last night. You should have heard him – and the harp. It was lovely.”

“Yes, well, that makes it all the more interesting, doesn’t it?” Estelmere asked, rhetorically. “A warrior bard – strange combination. Most bar singers I’ve known are the first to hide under the table at any hint of trouble – or to run out the back door if they’re the cause of it. I wonder what’s got him so interested in this girl? And his . . . friend. What’s got her so ticked off at the whole wide world and everyone in it?”

Brenae shrugged, indicating her inability to understand such a woman as the traveler. “Yes, she’s an odd one, she is. She was asking after rangers last night. And then she challenged the one . . . the one that, changed . . . “ Brenae’s voice trailed off. “I have to get back to the customers. I’ll let you know what I hear, if anything.” With that she bustled off.

Only a few minutes later, she whispered in Estlemere’s ear in passing. “She said she had a lot of money – in a satchel or something, I didn’t quite hear.”

Estelmere’s eyes narrowed. More and more interesting . . .
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Postby Tempest » Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:43 pm

It occurred to Tempest, as she observed the girl more closely, that she was in need of more than just a new outfit. She seemed fragile, as if she were a delicate glass goblet that might break at any second, and she noted her hand trembling as she reached for the proffered glass of wine Erinhue pushed her way.

But it was only after the bard had kicked Tempest for a second time under the table (she had assumed the first time was simply an accident) that she began to realize that SHE was frightening the girl, further compounding the problem. She hadn't meant to do so, though she knew she had been rather gruff at first.

Still, she attempted to soften her demeanor a little as the girl said, "There's probably some money in Kier-," she swallowed hard, still unable to name her former captor. "HIS satchel. You should use it for anything to do with me. I guess he owes at least that to me."

"Of course he owes you that much! It's probably your money anyway," Tempest nodded. "I'll use a little of it to get you some new clothes, but the rest is yours to keep, and you can buy anything else you think you'll need in the village before you leave."

She looked at Erinhue and he tossed her the room key. "I put the satchel on the floor by the side table," he told her. "How long do you think you'll be?"

"Not long, but for heaven's sake, keep her out of sight until she's presentable again. We're already attracting more attention then we want." She turned to go, but then her eyes narrowed and she met the bard's gaze directly. "And don't go making plans without me. I haven't agreed to anything yet. Do I make myself clear?"

"Clear as crystal, my love," his twinkled back at her.

_______________________________________________________________________

Tempest emptied the satchel onto the bed and studied the items that tumbled out of it. Everything seemed pretty standard, except the sizable change purse and a sealed letter addressed to someone whom she did not know. Hmmmm...perhaps the girl would know something about that. Anyway, Tempest was pleasantly surprised to find the purse fairly brimming with gold---probably the money paid to the kidnapper for his prize. Well, if Erinhue was fool enough to get roped into helping this pitiful creature, at least they'd be able to prepare adequately for the trip.

She took a few gold pieces out and pocketed them to buy the new clothes, but put everything back into the satchel. Hearing footsteps outside the door, she drew her weapon and waited a moment before flinging it wide and glowering down at the surprised face of Estelmere, who had obviously followed her up the stairs, but was trying to pretend that he had a room on this particular floor.
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Postby erinhue » Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:57 pm

Erinhue watched as the tavern patron that had been talking to Tempest got up and climbed the stairs to the second floor. Laughing to himself, he shook his head and wished the man well. The stranger might want nothing more than to continue their conversation but he was going about it the totally wrong way. Tempest did not take kindly to being followed.

“Don’t mind her, darlin’” Erinhue said as he turned back to the girl. “Her bark is nearly as bad as her bite but don’t let her frighten you. She’s got a heart of gold in there somewhere, I’m sure of it. If you’re in half the trouble I think you might be, we just might could use her help along the way. She’ll bite your head off soon as spit on ya, but you can’t have better at your back in a fight, unless you count me so that gives you the very best of it.”

In an eyeblink, Agarak was at the center of the table. The dragonharp’s appearance was so sudden that it startled Ondine. She jumped back from the table nearly knocking her chair to the floor. She stood by the table with her mouth half open and one hand up at her throat. She looked frozen in that moment before flight.

“Please, Ondine, please sit, there is nothing to fear. It’s only my harp. I am a bard, remember?”

Ondine did not run but she did not resume her seat either. She tried to regain her composure but her voice trembled as she spoke.

“What?....I…um… I’ve never seen anything like it.” she stammered, never once taking her eyes off the apparition at the center of the table

“And you’re not likely to.” Erinhue chuckled.” There’s only one and that’s it. Agarak is a dragonharp, the only one of its kind in all Middle Earth.” Erinhue now turned his attention towards the harp as he made the introductions.

“Agarak, this is Ondine. She’s in a bit of trouble and I intend to help her through it.”

Light rippled beneath the dragonharp’s scales and its glowing red eyes rolled to focus on the still standing girl.

“It’s…it’s eyes moved” Ondine gasped.

“Agarak is just looking you over. Don’t worry if it decides it doesn’t want to be friendly. Agarak is not very friendly, unless it want’s to be. It really doesn’t like Tempest and sometimes I wonder if it even likes me all that much.”

Erinhue laughed again. “Say hello, old worm. I know you have better manners than that.”

A brief melody tinkled up from the untouched strings of the harp. The inner light once again rippled along its scaled form. The jeweled red eyes were focused on Ondine as if waiting for reaction.
"Where ever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzi

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Postby shaggydog » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:32 am

OOC OK I'm climbing out on a limb here, hoping Tempest will not kill me . . . :D

Estelmere stepped back quickly to put more distance between himself and the tip of the sword. “No need for that.” He said with a grin. “Curiosity may have killed the cat, but I don’t think my blood on your sword will serve any admirable purpose. I simply came up to see the site of last night’s attack. I thought that might be where you were headed.” He craned his neck a bit to see beyond Tempest into the room.

“You’re right. Sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong might very well result in its being cut off, along with the rest of your head.” She neither smiled nor moved, but remained in the doorway blocking his view.

“That sounds uncomfortable, as well as messy. I wouldn’t want the staff to have to deal with any more than they already have on their plates.” He shifted slightly as if he would move closer. “So . . . is this where the girl was killed?”

Tempest reached behind herself and pulled the door shut, without taking her eyes from Estelmere. “No, in fact.” She meant to leave it at that, but her own desire to know what the man was about prompted her to add, “What’s it to you, anyway? Are you such a ghoul that you have to gawk at the stained floorboards? Or perhaps you knew the poor wretch and you’ve come to weep over the place of her premature departure from this world?”

“Neither, actually.” Estelmere replied calmly. “I had thought a close inspection, with the light of day on our side, might reveal something which the shadows may have kept hidden. I daresay you made a thorough examination of the room before you tried to track this . . . thing. But still, a second look . . . “ He deliberately left the sentence unfinished, hoping to distract the woman with this vague questioning of her investigative skills.

“I see.” She replied, ostensibly considering his words. “And you thought that you would make a better job of it?”

Estelmere shrugged. “I hadn’t really thought anything. I just meant to . . . “

“You seem far too concerned in this matter, to my mind.” The woman said sharply. ‘What business is it of yours? Are you a member of the city guard? You certainly don’t look it!” This last comment she practically snorted out in derision.

“For that matter,” he replied, coloring slightly, “what business is it of yours? Or, more to the point, that girl – your friend seems to have taken quite a proprietary interest in her. You’re both strangers here. What concern is she of yours?”

He crossed his arms over his chest. Sword or no, he was determined to have some answers from this woman, and the bard as well, before he would see these two unknown travelers prey upon a girl who seemed already to have suffered some sort of abusive ordeal.
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Postby Tempest » Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:51 pm

Tempest did not like Estelmere's line of questioning. She could not believe that such a man could possibly be this interested in a tale of kidnapping or murder, no matter if he was a thrill seeker. No, rather, she suspected his nefarious motives revolved around thievery or simply, that he was part of the kidnapping plot himself.

“You seem far too concerned in this matter, to my mind,” she said sharply. "What business is it of yours? Are you a member of the city guard? You certainly don’t look it!” This last comment she practically snorted out in derision.

“For that matter,” he replied, coloring slightly, “what business is it of yours? Or, more to the point, that girl – your friend seems to have taken quite a proprietary interest in her. You’re both strangers here. What concern is she of yours?”

He crossed his arms over his chest, signifying that he had no intention of leaving. Tempest contemplated the exact angle with which she could stab him to do the maximum damage with the least amount of blood. But, then, she considered, there would be an inquiry into her actions (as there always was) and she didn't really relish the idea of sticking around this shabby little city any longer than she had to.

So, without dropping her gaze OR her sword, she replied in an even tone, "This became my business when my friend and I were threatened. But besides that fact, we live by a code of honor that I would find hard to describe to one such as yourself," she said, cursing herself inwardly for agreeing with Erinhue. Great, now she would be forced to assist this girl, but her own admission.

"The girl asked for help, and my friend intervened. I take offense at the implication that he was somehow interested in more than her well-being," Tempest growled.

"Well, the bar maid did say that he spent the night...." Estelmere continued, but Tempest interrupted him.

"Be very careful, sir, before you finish that sentence and attack my friend's character, or you and I are going to exchange more than just words."

"Hey, I'm not the one who drew my sword first," the man replied hotly. "The only evidence of violence I've seen in this inn thus far has come from you, and you alone."

"Are you making an accusation? Please, be my guest. Go check with the girl herself, if you're so concerned for her safety. I'm off to town to make sure she can be clothed appropriately for her journey home. And you've wasted enough of my time already!"
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Postby PatriotBlade » Mon Jan 25, 2010 4:41 pm

Growing up in Rohan and Gondor, she had heard of, but never seen enchanted items of legend. Inspite of herself, she was fasinated by the dragon shaped harp with jewels for eyes. She cocked her head to one side as she regarded Agarak. Slowly, as if she were confronting a wild horse, she raised her hand and stroked the golden scales.

"Hello, Sir Harp."

The red eye jewels glittered as if he'd blinked.

"It was you who made the music that helped me sort out my memories, wasn't it? Thank you, Agarak." She bit her lower lip again as she slowly sat back down.

A musical thrum, rather like a purr could be heard as she continued to stroke the harp's golen scales.
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Postby erinhue » Mon Jan 25, 2010 7:27 pm

"Well if that don't beat all."

Erinhue stared at his contented harp and listened to it purr as Ondine stroked its head with a finger.

"I have never seen Agarak take to anyone like that first thing. You, darlin', must be something very special. We shall have to take very good care of you."

The bard's next words were directed at the harp.

"I do hate to break this up, but if you are finished imitating a fat tabby cat we do have to finish paying for our stay. It's time to go to work."

A sound of protest came from the harpstrings as Agarak dutifully floated from the table to hover within its bard's grasp.

Erinhue winked at Ondine as he plucked the hovering harp from the air and went to stand near the bar. With a nod to the patrons that looked his way, Erinhue laid his hand flat against the strings of his harp and began to sing.
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Postby erinhue » Mon Jan 25, 2010 7:29 pm

In times that will not come again
There was a forest, Lorien
Clothed in morning glory mist
Its byways were by beauty kissed
A timeless wonder to behold
Was Lorien in days of old

Lothlorien, Lothlorien
We still your beauty sing
There never was a land more fair
Than Lorien in spring.

Throughout the age homage was paid
Although The Wood began to fade
And stories even now are told
Of when its leaves all turned to gold
For vibrant was its autumn hue
And every honor was its due

Lothlorien, Lothlorien
We still your beauty sing
There never was a land more fair
Than Lorien in spring.

The Golden Wood then was its name
A glory still despite the change
But now her beauty lies in tales
Who's picture painting words are pale
When held up to the Golden Light
Of Lorien before the Night.

Lothlorien, Lothlorien
We still your beauty sing
There never was a land more fair
Than Lorien in spring.
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Postby PatriotBlade » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:51 pm

Erinhue and Agarak's music was beautiful.

It had been a long time since music had been shared so freely around her.

Ondine's grandmother didn't like music, so she had learned quickly that singing was not tolerated in the large family home.

She closed her eyes and found herself humming the chorus softly. She smiled in spite of herself as she remembered singing with her mother.

It made her sad to think that her voice was probably not as toned as it once had been, what with the non usage followed by a lot of screaming, crying, and exposure to the elements.

The song ended and she clapped lightly along with the other patrons. The music had allowed her to relax, now exaustion was quickly setting in.

She took another sip of wine while waiting for the bard to come back to the table. "I feel suddenly tired. I'm going to go back up and lay down for a while."

Tempest had slipped in during the bard's performance and placed the room key on the table on her way out. So Onine picked it up and began making her way to the stairs.

Her steps were a little more steady than they had been on her way down, but Erinhue could tell she was being careful to hide as much of her weakened state as she could.

With a shake of his head he went back to performing.
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Postby shaggydog » Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:26 am

Estelmere swept a mocking half bow to Tempest as she brushed past him. “A thousand pardons, m’lady. It was never my intention to delay such a noble deed-doer.” He added to her fast retreating back, “The girl should count herself lucky to be so blessed with your aid . . . and company.”

He leaned a shoulder against the wall and contemplated the situation. Whatever was in the room beyond, it seemed safe enough for the moment. Whoever this girl was, she clearly needed aid from someone. This talk of a code of honor, though – were the bard and his prickly friend really on the up and up? Strange that the alleged kidnapper had just turned tail and ran. None of this made any sense. Perhaps the woman was right – perhaps he should try to speak to the girl directly. But would these two actually allow that?

The carpenter had just made up his mind to return to the common room and see what his chances were for a word alone with this girl, when he heard a light yet slow moving step ascending the stairs.
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Postby PatriotBlade » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:30 am

Ondine hesitated at the sight of the stranger from the taproom leaning against the doorjam of her room. Her large brown eyes cast about for an escape or weapon, though she knew she had not the strength to use either. She gripped the railing tighter, her knuckles turning white, and bit her lower lip a moment.

The girl's aura of wildness surprised the stranger and he wondered what she had been like before all she'd been through had left her so thin and weak. He also wondered about the supposed kidnapper. The man must have been formidable indeed, he thought.
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Postby shaggydog » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:31 am

Estelmere gave himself a congratulatory pat inwardly, although his face was fixed in a semblance of polite compassion. Here was the very opportunity he had hoped for! Now to see what he could discover about this girl and what value she held for whom. Her eyes spoke volumes, as did her fierce grip on the stair rail. Like a cornered animal, she looked ready to bolt at the first movement or loud word. A gentle touch was called for here.

Careful not to move towards her, Estlemere casually eased himself away from the door frame, saying as he did so, “Pardon me, mistress. You’ve caught me in the midst of a morning reverie.” He smiled in a friendly way. “I’ve been having a few words with one of your – companions.” The inflection on the last word made it almost a question. “She and her friend the bard seem to have quite taken you under their wing, so to speak.” Estelemere saw that his words were being met with an extreme degree of caution, the girl’s eyes full of wariness. “Forgive my curiosity, but I’ve heard what went on last night. At least, bits and pieces of what happened.” He let his voice drop to a softer tone. “Are you alright, mistress? Can I be of any service?” His hand moved forward slightly, palm open and up, in a timeless gesture of offering.
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Postby PatriotBlade » Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:25 pm

Ondine's eyes narrowed with suspicion. None of the things that had made her instantly trust Erinhue was present with this man.

“Forgive my curiosity, but I’ve heard what went on last night. At least, bits and pieces of what happened.” The stranger tried to soften the tones of his voice. “Are you alright, mistress? Can I be of any service?” His hand moved forward slightly, palm open and up, in a timeless gesture of offering.

For some strange reason this made her even more uneasy. He was between her and her door, the stairs at her back would make escape dangerous for her, and his extended hand put him closer to her than she liked, even though she noted that his body hadn't moved any nearer.

She bit her lip as she tried to think of an appropriate response. "I am better now, thank you for asking," she said finally, tucking an invisible strand of dirty blonde hair behind her ear. The movement inadvertantly revealed her bruised, rope-burned wrist. "I am being cared for now and hope to be home within a few weeks. Now if you would excuse me, Sir, I would like to go to my room and rest."
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Postby shaggydog » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:43 am

Estelmere had little choice but to move away from the door. But he used this one brief moment to essay some further conversation with the girl.

"Home must be a good ways distance then, mistress. I wish you well on your journey. Hopefully you do not misplace your trust. I'm sure these two strangers have your best interests at heart."
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Postby Tempest » Wed Jan 27, 2010 9:59 am

It did not take Tempest long to find a clothing shop, but she discovered quickly that she was somewhat at a loss when it came to choosing a dress. She stood perplexed before a row of them, silently cursing her ineptitude. What colors would be appropriate, what cut of cloth would work, and how thick a dress should she buy? She had so rarely worn a dress herself that she was on the verge of throwing up her hands, conceding defeat, and simply buying the girl an outfit more to Tempest’s taste, when she heard a polite cough behind her, and turned to find the shop clerk’s assistant smiling pleasantly.

Tempest explained her tenuous situation, and the assistant was more than happy to suggest a myriad of options. At the end of it all, Tempest left the shop with far more bundles than she had expected, as well as a vague feeling that she had been taken advantage of.

Coming back into the inn, she found Erinhue where she had left him, though he was merrily chatting it up with various other customers. The girl was no where to be seen, probably wisely escaping to her room to avoid making another scene. The dragonharp jangled a few warning notes announcing her arrival, causing Erinhue to turn with a star bright grin, which grew wider as he noted the number of packages she carried.

”Doing a little shopping? Looks like you cleaned out the dress maker,” he grinned.

”It was insufferable, and I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but I haven’t the faintest idea about women’s fashions. You probably would have done better than I,” she replied darkly. ”Where’s the girl?”

”Went back to her room to get some shut-eye. You best go up there and give her some proper clothes to wear.”

”I will. I can’t believe how heavy these packages are,” she complained. She lowered her voice as she turned to leave. ”Keep your eye out for that strange fellow who spoke to me earlier. I don’t trust his curiosity, no matter if he turns out to be harmless.”
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Postby PatriotBlade » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:02 pm

"Home must be a good ways distance then, mistress. I wish you well on your journey. Hopefully you do not misplace your trust. I'm sure these two strangers have your best interests at heart."

Ondine's hand was on the knob, having already unlocked the door.

She turned to regard the man. When she spoke it was in a softer, less guarded tone. "Thank you, Sir. And I believe they do, at least the bard does. His companion means me no harm, but would rather not have to tend to me, so I will gather my strength, get well, and stand on my own two feet as quickly as I can."

She had recognised something more than idle curiosity in his posture and speech so she continued, "I thank you for your concern. Have ever trusted someone so completely it would have hurt your soul not to? Wether or not it worked out in the end, but there was just something that made you believe them?"

When the man nodded hesitantly, she smiled. It wasn't a bright, cheerful smile, but rather the smile of one beyond her obviously few years.

"That is how I trust the Bard. He said he'd look after me and help me get home, and something bids be believe him, though my head bids me be more cautious."

She slipped into the room and closed the door. She started to lock it when she realised that Tempest wouldn't have the key anymore, so she listened until the stranger's footsteps faded down the stairs, then put the key on the dresser, leaving the door unlocked.

Ondine then noticed the pack. Tempest must have left it on the bed when she went looking for HIS money. She started to set it down when she noticed the large, sealed envelope, addressed to a lower ranking Gondorian senator. Odd, she thought. What was HE doing carrying around an envelope for that grasping, power hungry fool, with barely enough noble blood to merit a title? She determined to find out after she woke up. She was just to tired right now to think about it.

She set the pack down on the floor, stashed the envelope under the pillow, then started shedding the oversized clothes. She climbed out of them, all but the shirt, carefully folding them on top of the pack, then crawled into bed.

As she settled in, she fished out her family crest medallion and slipped it over her head. Her fingers lightly traced the name at the bottom. Torros. The next most influencial family in Gondor, after the house of the Steward. Torros. Her family.

She fell asleep with the medallion clasped face up in her hand.
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Postby shaggydog » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:19 pm

Estelmere had descended to the common room, mulling over the girl’s words. Trust, he agreed, was a concept on which it was sometimes hard to get a good grasp. As one gained in years, and experience, though, he had found his own trust was much more stingily given out. He wasn’t a cynic, just wary. This girl looked so young, so vulnerable. Was that perhaps part of the reason she came to be abducted in the first place?

Gaining the ground floor, he made his way over to the bar counter. Touron, busily engaged in drawing several pints of ale, looked up.

“I thought perhaps you had done a bunk.” The innkeeper said with a halfhearted smile. “Brenae’s in a dither that I would take the cost of your breakfast out of her wages.”

Estelemere grinned. “I wouldn’t put it past you, you old skin flint.” He leaned in closer, lowering his voice. “Spare me a moment. I want to ask you something, in private.” His eyes went to where the bard stood at the far end of the bar.

“One moment. Let me get these to Danae.” The innkeeper gestured to the server, handed over the mugs, then wiped his hands on his apron. “I need a smoke. Join me?”

Without waiting for an answer, Touron went through the door into the kitchen area. Estlemere followed, and the two men exited out the back door of the inn into the yard. A wooden bench backed snuggly against the inn wall. Touron took one end of the bench, which he had placed there for just this purpose, and pulled his pipe and a pouch out of a capacious pocket. Estelmere sat beside him and pulled out a soft square of well worn leather. Almost reverently, he unfolded it, extracting an ancient briarwood pipe, blackened and polished with age. Touron was already holding his own pouch of pipeweed out towards the carpenter. This surprised Estelmere, as the innkeep was usually not much inclined to such generous impulses. The events of last night must have really rattled the man, Estelmere concluded.

The two went through the multiple steps of packing, lighting and drawing in pleasurable silence. Once they were both puffing thoughtfully, Estelmere said, “So tell me about this kidnapper, and the girl. Did he drag her into your tap room in chains? Did she make no protest or plea for help?”

Touron hesitated, not wishing to paint himself in a bad light. The look on the girl’s face when that brute had first dragged her into the inn, her silent but eloquent plea for help – well, what was an innkeeper to do? There certainly were enough loonies about – ruffians, scalliwags, n-er-do-wells, and the occasional died in the wool criminal, that it wasn’t always easy to filter out those who were truly bent on doing mischief on a major scale. And the women! One could easily try to intervene in what looked like a domestic squabble, and end up getting a nice punch in the eye, dealt by the supposed “victim”, for your troubles. No, an innkeeper was a man of business, after all. And making sure customers were satisfied, and paid up, was his business. alleged damsels in distress or no.

“He was a rough-looking one, you can say that.” Touron began. “And the girl, well, she was pitiful.” He considered a moment. “Nothing like what she seems today. She were all wild and bedraggled. Looked like she spent the last month in the woods, sleeping under the trees, she did. He said she was crazed, you know. By the war and all.” Touron licked his lips nervously, not knowing how much to tell his friend. “She looked frightened. He was a big’ un, and fierce. I saw him feeding her something – more like shoving it down her gullet. Must have been a sleeping draught, she seemed to quiet down after that.”

Estelmere silently pondered how Touron had come to see this. Certainly the man had not force fed his captive in plain view of the inn’s patrons. But he neither questioned or criticized – he wanted information, not to judge the innkeeper’s actions.

“And then” Touron continued, “well, all hell broke loose, what with that other creature and the serving girl . . . “ He shuddered. “The kidnapper came barreling down the stairs, almost ran me over, said they needed some help, upstairs.” His hand trembled as he pulled his pipe from his mouth. “I went up . . . and I guess the thug ran off. Leastways that’s what they all said when I came back down.” Touron looked off across the yard, so peaceful and normal in the morning sun. “That’s all I know.” He finished, stuffing his pipe back into his mouth in a gesture of finality.

Estelmere puffed away at his own pipe. After a few minutes, he nodded thoughtfully, then slapped Touron on the back. “I must be off, my friend. A man must work if he wishes to eat. Speaking of which . . .” Taking a coin out of his pocket, he laid it in the innkeeper’s eager hand. “Tell Brenae she has nothing to worry about. I settle my debts.” He stood and stretched. “I live by a code of honor as well.”

Estlemere chuckled to himself at the puzzled look on Touron’s face. Turning he went back through the kitchen door. On his way across the room, he sidled up behind a very busy Brenae. “Here you go, my lass. Let me know what your pretty ears may hear.” Slipping another coin into her hand, he then made his way into the tap room. Tossing one last look at the bard, who still stood by the bar chatting to some of the other patrons, he left the inn, whistling.
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Postby PatriotBlade » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:34 pm

OOC: I asume that we'll soon be heading out into another thread.

Estelmere, if you'll come back, you'll get a chance to prove yourself to Tempest and Hue, for Keirule was not to be so easily run off. Before we leave the inn, he will make an attempt to regain Ondine to be delivered to his employer.
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