SB's Quest for Adventure

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

SB's Quest for Adventure

Postby SmaugsBane » Fri Jan 13, 2006 4:26 am

As all who would read, or take part in the telling of, this tale undoubtedly know, one of King Aragorn’s first orders was the rebuilding of the North-Kingdom of Arnor. Upon this order, many of his stouthearted subjects heeded the call once again. Not to take up sword and shield and helm in defense of Gondor, but to take up the hammer and the spade and the trowel to once again make great cities and towers and roads of the world of men.

Among these was a blacksmith called Gallan. Gallan the Smith had lost his right leg below the knee in the battle for his home city, Osgilliath, and now walks on an iron peg. But he had lost none of his strength nor his cunning for working metals into the tools that men use. Gallan was as stout in spirit and loyalty as he was physically, such that as soon as he was healed of his wounds and could travel, he gathered his noble-born wife, Corinne and two sons, Gallan the eldest and Tallan the younger, loaded his hammers, tongs, bellows, and anvil into a wagon to which he yoked his sturdy oxen, Ironhoof and Steelhorn, and made for the ruins of Fornost, where that capitol city was to be rebuilt.

In the years that followed, Fornost grew steadily. As the towers and battlements of Fornost’s castle and encircling wall were being built by stonemasons, carpenters and smithies, it came to be that all sorts of folk gathered to the place as well – merchants, innkeepers, horse-grooms, and the like built their establishments and homes within the new walls to form the beginnings of the city.

The road between Fornost and Bree, deserted for many years, was now a grand paved thoroughfare lined with farms and cottages. Nearly all traffic on that road was Men, as the Elves had all but vanished from the shores of Middle-earth, with more taking that final westward journey every day, and the Dwarves, though a few had lent their considerable expertise with stone to the re-building of the castle at Fornost, had retreated to their under-mountain lairs to root out the last vestiges of orc-filth and rebuild their own cities. Hobbits were still seen in that time, around ten years after Barad-dûr crumbled, but mostly the above-ground-dwelling folk from Bree-land. It seemed that the Shire folk were quite content within their own country and no longer had need to venture out.

For Gallan, there had been enough work in those ten years to build a thriving business, due partly his reputation for quality and fair dealing. So much so, in fact that he employed several smithies and apprentices to fill the orders, always approving any work himself before delivery to a customer.

Greatest among his apprentices was his eldest son, Gallan, whom he affectionately called “my son”. Gallan the son was eighteen years old and had shown interest in his father’s work since he was a toddler. He picked up the hammer at five. Being especially talented in the forging of arms and armour, he forged his first sword at the age of ten. Soon after, he began to show promise with all manner of swords, daggers, axes, mail and helms.

During the luncheon break on the day in which our tale begins, he had presented his father with a magnificent sword – made of an alloy that was light and strong; it would never rust and never break under any but the most extraordinary conditions. A sword such as this would hold its edge longer than any blade of ordinary iron and would not notch, even if its edge were struck dead-on with a dwarven axe. Its hilts were wrapped with black leather and the round pommel and cross bar were inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

Upon receiving the sword, Gallan the father declared, “My son, you have surpassed me. From this point you are no longer an apprentice, but a greater craftsman than I have ever been. Will you consent to stay on at our family’s forge and some day, when I am old and can longer lift a hammer, will carry on our family’s business?”

“I will,” said the son.

“And will you promise to teach our trade to your sons so that our craft may continue?”

“I will.”

“It seems,” his voice quavered, “that today my son has become a man. From this point on, you shall be our chief armourer. No knight or soldier will bear arms from our forge that does not meet with your standard.”

With that, Gallan the father called an end to the workday (which was unusual, for there was much work to be done) and invited all the smiths and apprentices to a celebration feast that evening. Messengers bearing invitations were sent to his best customers and friends. The innkeeper (whom Gallan had supplied with pots, pans, pewter flagons, and all other manner of metal work necessary to feed men and quench their thirst on credit until such time as his inn, The Plate and The Tankard, or the “P and T” to the locals, became prosperous enough to repay the debt) replied that he would be honored to hold the feast (free of charge of course) in his pavilion behind the inn. The smithy accepted, so on that warm evening, just after midsummer of the tenth year of King Aragorn’s reign, a feast was held in the new city of Fornost to commemorate the passing of the torch from father to son in the Smith family.

***
Gallant the Smith had also another son, Tallan, whom he called, “boy”. Tallan was taller and fairer than his brother and father. In his features, he took after his mother Corrine: Chestnut hair and eyes as blue glacier-ice, whereas the other men had jet black hair and eyes of the darkest brown. Tallan’s father and brother were not short, at least six feet tall, but Tallan was able to see over both men’s heads. Gallan the father and the son both had barrel chests, exceedingly broad shoulders, and giant arms covered with black hair and ending in extremely powerful hands with short fingers. In short, they both looked the part of the great metal workers they were. Tallan, on the other hand looked more like a noble of Dúnedain blood, again after his mother’s side. His shoulders and arms were well-muscled, from his own apprenticeship, but he was lean and lithe, and his strength wasn't so evident by the look of him as his father and brother.

Even though Tallan had apprenticed in his father’s shop for over three years, he never quite mastered the arts of metallurgy. In fact, when his father came to realize that Tallan would never be a metalsmith, his duties in the shop were relegated to fetch-work: deliveries, stoking fires, gathering wood and the like.

But Tallan had other talents. His mother taught him to read and write at a very young age, and he had a gift for language. Once the castle was nearly complete, its libraries and archives and galleries began to be filled with literature, history, and art sent up from Gondor. He had been allowed, owing to his father’s good reputation and his mother’s heritage to study in those libraries. He continued to study language with an old scribe there, who, after becoming quite fond of the exceedingly bright boy, took to calling Tallan “son” – as a cleric might. When he learned that the scribe knew the Black Speech, he became intensely curious, but the scribe refused to teach it to him. For two years the scribe refused, until one day, in the spring of he same year in which his brother’s coming-of-age feast was held, he convinced the scribe to teach him.

“Old father, many of the languages, Sindarin and Quenya and Adûnaic, are they not also useless in daily life? And yet have you not taught me that we must learn them and pass them on to the next generation, for they are as important to the history of the world as scrolls and books?”

“I have,” said the scribe tiredly, “Tallan, we have had this discussion before. The Black Speech of Mordor,” he hesitated, even in that golden age the name of that dark land still struck fear into the heart of the old man, who had lived in its shadow in Minas Tirith for over sixty years, “ The Black Speech is different. It is evil unto itself and to utter its words is to strike fear into the listener. Here, son, is history that would be better forgotten.”

“But sir, have you not taught me that the reason we learn history is so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past? Therefore, I would learn the accursed language only that the lessons of those evil times not be forgotten.”

The old scribe raised his eyebrows and turned to stare out the south-facing window, but took no notice of the comings and goings of the city streets below, “You would learn the Black Speech only to keep it to yourself,” he stroked his long white beard, “until such time as it be needed or until you taught it to another so that it is not forgotten?”

“Yes, old father.” Tallan could see now that he had made progress where his past arguments had fallen short, “The Speech will never pass my lips, unless I am called upon some future dark day when my country needs such knowledge, or until such time as I pass my knowledge to my own sons when they are ready.”

It worked, Tallan was very adept at persuasion. But that was not the first time he had used the skill. There was a retired Swan-Knight of Dol Amroth, a former captain under Prince Imrahil, who had settled to a quiet life on a small farm outside of the city. Tallan endeared himself to the captain as well. And the captain began to teach him to ride a horse and to wield a blade - though he was only twelve at the time. At first the captain argued that he was too young and that there was no need, as the world was now at peace.

"What if a new threat to peace attacks?" quipped the younger Tallan, "What then if you and others like you are too old or gone and cannot fight? Won't there be need for your excellent skills? Shouldn't you pass them on, even though hopefully they won't be needed? Musn't we not forget those that died to give us the peace we have now?"

The old Knight gaped. He might have been angry at the mention of his fallen comrades, but for some reason, the logic of the boy could not be refuted.

And so it was that whenever Tallan could steal away from the forge, he spent his early teen-age years either in the library with the scribe or with the old Knight in the fields of his horse farm.

***
Tallan, son of Gallan, sixteen year old scholar and swordsman, watched and listened to the luncheon-time exchange between his father and brother and decided to leave his home and his family to seek his own fortune.
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Postby SmaugsBane » Fri Jan 13, 2006 6:11 am

Now all of Tallan’s teachers had ingrained in him a sense of honor and duty. Therefore, he would ask for his father’s blessing before making his way. He deigned to bring up the subject at the celebration that evening.

The feast was magnificent. A pig was roasted on a spit and the old innkeeper tapped barrels of his finest ale and Laketown-made wine. The crowd was very large due to Gallan the Smith’s popularity amongst the citizens of Fornost. So large in fact, that it spilled out of the pavilion behind the P and T so that tables and chairs had to be set up around impromptu bonfires under the innumerable stars of the sultry summer night.

It was at one of these bonfires that Tallan finally found his father alone, without anyone patting him on the back and congratulating him for having such a fine son. He drew two fresh tankards of ale and strode to his father’s side.

“Do you remember when I first tried to make one of these?” Tallan handed the pewter mug to his father, holding it at eye level.

“Yes, it leaked, and its bottom was so uneven that when you set it upon a table it tottered when the table was bumped,” Gallan smiled at the memory.

“Father, I am glad that Gallan my brother has become a fine blacksmith. He is a testament your teaching. You should be proud,” Tallan continued to stare into the flames.

“At least one of you was able to learn from me. And yes I am proud,” he turned to face his son, having to tilt his head up slightly to look into the eyes of the taller boy. “of both of my sons.”

Tallan was abashed. He returned his father’s gaze.

“Do not look so surprised. If it seemed as though I favored the elder of my two sons, it was only because I was able to relate better to Gallan your brother,” he pulled up two nearby chairs. Both of them sat.

“Tallan,” he continued, “I said today of your brother the he has surpassed me. The truth is, you surpassed me years ago, when you were just a young boy in Osgilliath, when your mother taught you to read and write. To this day, I only have enough knowledge of those things to conduct my business. Your intellect and charm outstripped your brother and I both before you had seen ten summers. I have spoken to the scribe and to the old captain and both tell me that you are far beyond your years in all that they teach you,” at this Tallan’s eyes widened, “Oho! You didn’t think that I knew about that. Well I did. There was a reason that you were able to find the time away from the forge to learn from them. I allowed it. You may be cunning to others, but to me, who made you, you will always by but my son and I will always know you.”

The father held the son’s eyes, beckoning him to ask what he came to ask.

“Then father,” Tallan sat upright so that, once again, Gallan had to look up to meet his eyes, “you must know that I am come to ask your permission to leave this place – to go and seek my own fortune.”

“I had guessed that you might ask. And my answer is no – you are not yet of age.”

“But father,” Tallan stood, spilling his flagon which he had set down beside the chair’s leg, “you said yourself that I am beyond my years in all my studies. And I have enough gold saved to get me started, to buy a horse even.”

Gallan stood as well, “Yes, you have learned those lessons well, but not all of life’s lessons can be taught. The most important lessons are learnt by living." His voice became grave, "You will honor the tradition of my house, my father’s and his father’s house before him and apprentice at the forge until the age of eighteen. You may then go seek whatever fortune you will.”

Tallan watched as his father walked away back into the pavilion, where he heard yet another toast to Gallan his brother, Fornost’s new master swordsmith, and it was then that he disobeyed his father for the first time in his life. He would leave that night without his father’s blessing.

***
Later, when the revelers had all gone home and his mother and father and brother, all having tasted much ale and wine, were fast asleep, he dressed himself in his woolen tunic and leggings, pulled on his boots, and tucked a leather purse under his belt. In the sitting-room, he paused at the mantle, beneath which glowed the last embers of the night’s fire, and removed the sword and equally impressive mother-of-pearl inlaid scabbard that his brother had presented to his father. With one last sigh, (Oh how he wished that he had his father’s blessing.)he strode out into the pre-dawn.

His next destination was the blacksmith shop, where he found a hauberk, grieves, and vambraces of his brother’s make. They were not as ostentatious as the sword and scabbard, but they were of exceeding quality nonetheless. Lastly, he found a little knife that his father had forged and the thick black leather gloves he wore when he handled still-hot iron. For all of these things, he left an appropriate amount of gold.

He made his way then out of town and arrived at the captain’s farm. Quietly, he stole around to the stable and saddled the young bay stallion, whom he had named Celeg, or swift. Again he left gold, this time well more than the horse and saddle were worth, even with bloodlines relating him to the captain’s own renowned charger, on whom he rode at Pellenor.

As the eastern sky began to lighten with impending dawn, Tallan walked Celeg to the end of the captain’s hedge, mounted and galloped for Bree, where he planned only to stop for a meal and short rest. He was anxious to put miles between he and his father, in case he gave chase.

***
Meanwhile, Gallan his father stood with Corrine his mother at the door to their cottage and sighed, “We knew we could hold him only so long.”

“Farewell my son,” said Corinne, tears welling in her eyes as she stared into the rising sun, “return soon and often.”
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Postby Vanaladiel » Sat Jan 14, 2006 8:21 pm

As the morning sky lightened with the coming sunrise he opened his eyes. Soon he would be on the road again. Many days had passed since he had left. He didnt know why he felt the need to go but he had this unsettling feeling that he needed to move on. There was no one who held his heart nor did he have any family to speak of, so to him the traveling was a good thing.

Slowly Andelothian rolled up his bed wrap and tucked it in his pack. He stirred the coals from the fire the night before. Adding some sticks, he breathed it back to life so that he could fix his meager meal and heat up something to drink to warm his bones before he faced the road once more.

Standing looking to the sunrise he sipped his drink. He hadnt waited for it to be really hot but warm enough to take the nights chill off of him. His steel grey eyes taking in the valley that lay below where he stood. Finally after a few minutes he turned and poured the remaining liquid from his mug onto the fire. Quickly he dowsed the coals and buried them so that they would be snuffed out sufficiently. He moved over and grabbed his pack and slung it over his shoulder. He touched his sword with its scabbard at his hip. Something he had that had been given to him many years ago. A simple sword with a leather wrapped hilt. The crossbar and pummel of the same make as the sword itself, simple but useful. His bow, a simple wooden longbow, strapped with the quiver to the pack. Though his weapons were unremarkable it said nothing of his skills.

Though not thought of as being really tall at 6' 3" he wasnt short, his hair, shoulder length and dark blonde. His lean body taut and tanned from years in the outdoors. His hands calloused from years of hard work. It wasnt easy to tell but if one looked closely one could see a resemblance to the elves even though his ears were neither pointed nor his features quite so fair. He hid it well.

Slowly he made his way back to the road that he had been following for the last few days. As the sun came up the day warmed and the smell of the good earth was pleasant to his senses. He hummed to himself at times. Songs that he could barely remember but they seemed to comfort and help him pass the time.

About the time the sun reached her zenith he came upon a crossroad with a sign pointing to a town called Bree. He looked back over his shoulder and then left and right down the other directions from the crossroad. Shrugging and readjusting his pack on his shoulder he struck out for Bree. Maybe he could find some accommodations for the night that would be more to his liking but not too crowded. So on he headed into Bree.

The streets were not too crowded but were busy enough for a town of its size. Vendors selling meats and vegetables, clothiers and merchants selling wares of every kind aligned the main street. The shops werent fancy but were clean and bright. Horses and carts were moving about as people went about their business. No one seemed to notice the stranger in town or they didnt care.

Andelothian noticed a sign hanging and gently moving in the soothing breeze. It was the Prancing Pony Inn. The smells coming from that direction were a welcoming reminder that it might be time to get some real food in his belly. So he turned in and swung the door open.

Dark at first till his eyes could grow accustom to the dim lighting he stood there in the entry way.

"Come on in!" came a rough but friendly voice. "Dont just stand there, come on in!" As his eyes finally started to focus on the dim goings on he noticed a man with a towel tied around his middle who was ushering him to come on in.

"Thank you!" Andelothian replied as he stepped into the tap room. The old proprietor of the establishment waved him over to the bar. "I could use some good food!"

"Well then you have come to the right place. We have good food at the best price you will find in Bree!" He laughed a hearty belly laugh. "Anything else we can do for you friend?" He asked

"Well, yes! How much for a room for the night?"

"Well I tell you what, you enjoy your meal and then we will talk about that." He remarked with a smirk. "Sally, get some food for our friend here. Looks like he could use some of your home cooking."

Sally was a round woman, not tall but very happy and friendly. Andelothian sat at a table by the back wall out of the way. His pack next to him, he looked around the room. The furnishings werent grand but they suited their purpose. Several men sat around the room telling stories and drinking. Some were eating as if there were not going to be a tomorrow. While yet others played games of chance at some tables opposite the room from where he sat. Laughter and drink flowed easily in this place.

The proprieter came back with a drink and set it down in front of him. "Thank you, sir." Andelothian said.

"Anything else friend? And please call me by my name, its Barliman Butterbur. Been the owner and innkeeper for going on 50 years of better, I can never remember exactly how long I been here." He smiled and chuckled to himself.

"No but thank you, Mr. Butterbur."

Shortly Sally reappeared with a platter loaded with some stew, bread and cheeses with butter. "Here now love this aught to chase the hunger away! Now if ya be needin anythin else you just give ole Sally here a holler. Okay?" Her cheeks looked as if they were burned from the sun all red and rosy. Her smile was pleasant even though she had some teeth missing. She was friendly enough.

"I promise!" Andelothian responded with a smile in return. Then he settled in to enjoy the hot food. It seemed like it had been forever since he had a home cooked meal. The taste matched the smells he had been enjoying. Sally was a good cook. He just sat back and ate his fill and drank for a while enjoying the goings on in the inn.
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Postby Shadow_of_the_Past » Mon Jan 16, 2006 11:51 pm

Arë woke early that morning to the smell of The Prancing pony’s legendary cooking. She had been on the road incognito for 5 days now, running and hiding from what awaited her when she got home. As Arë got dressed she galnced in the mirror and again for the millionth time cursed the elvish features of her face, it didn’t help to stand out when you were trying to hide even if you were like Arë and had an uncanny ability for moving without being seen. She was not as tall as an elf but clearly has elvish blood with her waist length blonde hair and striking green eyes it was no wonder she was often mistaken for one. Arë didn’t know who she was, she had been left on the doorstep of the local bow makers in Fornost. It was there she was raised and it was there she acquired her uncanny skills in archery, riding and knife throwing. On her 16th birthday the poor couple who had raised her had told her it was time to pay them back for everything that they had done for her, they had made an arrangement with a man to allow him to marry Arë if he were to pay them for their troubles. Upon hearing her “parents” plan Arë retired to her room while they celebrated on a fine match. Arë had waited until they were sleeping then she took money, a longbow and quiver of arrows, a map, two throwing knives in a double scabbard and her horse, Abelard, and rode hard for Bree knowing that her parents would soon be on her trail. She had been staying at The Prancing Pony for two days because she didnt know what to do as she had never travelled before but now she feared that she would have to get moving soon or she would be found out and taken home. Arë orderd breakfast and sat down at a table in the corner.
Last edited by Shadow_of_the_Past on Wed Jan 18, 2006 5:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby SmaugsBane » Tue Jan 17, 2006 1:31 am

Tallan reached the gates of Bree just before suppertime on the second day out of Fornost. His night sleeping out-of-doors brought to bear several essentials that he lacked for travelling. Even thought he was hungry and tired, he decided to rectify these shortcomings prior to finding the local inn, The Prancing Pony, which he knew by reputation as many of the craftspeople of Fornost had traveled to that city by way of Bree.

Outside the city gate, Tallan dismounted and unwrapped his last bit of bread. As he munched it, he regarded its wrapping and added to his mental list that he would need a proper pack for carrying things. The food he took from his mother's larder had been beaten out of recognition in its waxed-parchment wrappings lashed to the saddle. As the crumbs dried his mouth, a water skin or bottle was also noted as a need - he had had to drink directly from streams and pools, sometimes having to stray from the road to find water for himself and Celeg. After choking the last dry bits of bread down, he removed his armour and lashed it to his saddle.

He walked his horse through the gate that was now kept open at all times, due to the new post-war peace, and immediately found a livery that would house and groom Celeg for the night. The teen gave the stableboy an extra gold piece to care for the armour and tack as well as to rub the charger down especially well.

Tallan then went about his shopping. He found what he needed easily enough: two blankets, a kit of cooking implements, a water skin, a tinderbox, a leather pack that could be slung over his back or used as a saddlebag, a moss green hooded travelling cloak, spare linen undershirt, a new grey linen tunic and supple brown leather riding-breeches, (his heavy woolen clothes were better suited for warding off hot sparks and bits of molten metal in the smithy than for travelling in the warm summer sun, though the tall boots gifted to him by the Captain at his last birthday had proved themselves marvelous for riding and even trekking), lastly, he purchased a plain but sturdy bow and a quiver of arrows. He was not a particularly skilled archer, having focussed on the sword in his lessons with the captain, but he hoped to be able to hunt while in the wilds, in order to add fresh meat to the food stores (mostly hard breads, dried fruit and dried beef) that he had purchased and stuffed into his new pack.

Believing that he was now sufficiently outfitted for the road, Tallan inquired of a passing stranger about the famous inn to which the stranger grunted and pointed up the street he was currently on. Tallan followed the pointer's direction and was brought nigh into the center of Bree where sat the Prancing Pony. He was greeted at the door by the proprietor himself, who after introductions and inquiries about meals and rooms, directed the young man into the common room with assurances that he would be comfortably accomodated.

Tallan found no open tables. Though the room was not crowded (it was still early in the evening) it appeared that none of the current patrons was looking for company. He found a seat at one of the larger tables where sat only one tall man who did not look up from his stew when Tallan the bench opposite. A rosy-cheeked woman with a warm toothless smile brought a plate of the same stew, bread and cheese as well as a tankard of the Pony's famous ale.

He regarded his tablemate (who hadn't so much as glanced at Tallan at all) for a moment then tucked eagerly into his meal for he only now realized that he was famished.
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Postby Shadow_of_the_Past » Tue Jan 17, 2006 2:42 am

That morning Arë walked through town looking for supplies for the journey. Even though she didn’t know where she was going she knew she had to go.

Arë bought a long grey and green mottled woollen travelling cloak that would serve as camouflage and to keep her warm it had a deep cowl that when pulled up over her head would hide her long blonde hair and pointed ears, it would also cast a shadow over her face and hide her bright green eyes and pale skin.

Arë also bought a saddle bag to house her few belongings, a water skin, travellers bread and a small selection of dried fruit, cheese and salted meat.

The last thing she bought was a sword, even though she had never trained with a one she thought it might be a useful thing to have when travelling alone. The sword looked plain. The blade was simple and straight, the hilt was leather wrapped around a steel tang and the crosspiece was a chunky piece of brass but it was well balanced and the blade was light but strong.

Upon returning to The Prancing Pony Arë found that her preferred table was taken as was every other one in the common room she would’ve retired except she was ravenously hungry. So she selected one of the longest tables with only two tall men preoccupied with shoveling down their stew down one end so she quietly slipped into a chair at the opposite end of the table, trying to avoid being herd or seen. She ordered a stew like the other two were eating (it smelt delicious) from the round rosy cheeked woman, then pulled out her map and began to study it.
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Postby Spirit_of_the_Willow » Tue Jan 17, 2006 9:36 am

Tasar stared blankly at the still blank page before her. After an hour of sitting in her usual corner of the Pony, there still was nothing there. Ordinarily the page would be covered with dark lines from her stick of graphite, the lines flowin together to depict whoever was currently in the inn. Of course, ordinarily she was not here at this hour in the morning, and ordinarily her mind was not so depressed as currently.

Even her usually sunny nature was hard put to remain cheerful in the face of the near ostracism she had suffered these past weeks. It hurt that people she had known her whole life were so quickly turned against her, merely because she was a young female, living alone, trying to make a living, and not born locally, the latter being the worst of the bunch.

She had always known that the Breefolk were resistant to anyone new moving in, but her foster-father, Gwaddyn's credit had always assured her of if not a warm, at least a cordial welcome. And she had always ignored the whispers about her origins. She was Gwaddyn's daughter, and that was all that had mattered.

Until he died. Then suddenly, when she was attempting to take over his job as carpenter, most of his customers started visiting other the carpenters in town rather than her, in spite of the fact that she was more than capable of handling the work, thanks to her father's tutelage.

She had hoped that it would be a temporary thing, that people would realize that her skill, while not yet equal to Gwaddyn's was at least equal to anyone else in town. But the weeks were dragging on, and rather than increasing, the number of customers decreased as people were influenced by their neighbors' opinions. It made it worse that most of her customers went to Sircyn, the man who had professed to love her, had sought to marry her.

"Can I get you some breakfast Tasar?" a concerned voice asked, and Tasar looked up and smiled. Cherry was such a sweetheart. The only friends Tasar had were the children in town. Cherry was very nearly not a child, and had only last week been allowed to begin waiting on the Inn rather than merely working in the kitchen.

"No, thank you Cherry, I had a little something before I came." A very little something. She was practicing stringent economies in her spending. She and Gwaddyn had saved quite a bit, and she wasn't in any danger of starving any time soon, but it would not last forever, and she had few options if she did not get any commissions soon.

"Are you sure Miss?" the girl knew well Tasar's worries, the only one in fact who knew how worried Tasar was. She had tried to present a confident face to the town, attempting to show them that she would not be chased out.

"Yes, thank you my dear, I shall be going in a moment. There are a couple projects I'm working on." She smiled, and willed Cherry to believe her. To some degree it was true. She was working on a few little things, boxes for strapping to saddles and stowing in carts. Things that travelers would buy, or things that were easy to carry. It was part of her most recent idea, or rather, an early idea but one that she had resisted up until now.

Apparently she convinced Cherry, for she nodded, and moved on to help another customer, though not without another worried glance over her shoulder. Tasar was left again to her melancholy thoughts.

If they did not want her here, why was she staying? Because this was the only home that she knew. She did not want to leave Gwaddyn's house, and all the memories which were engrained in the very wood. Everything she knew was here. But in addition to her cheerfulness, hers was a very practical nature, and she knew when she was beaten. Perhaps if she had accepted Sircyn, or if she were to stick it out for months she might be able to fight to regain some respect for herself. But she did not want to. She should not have to fight for the respect she felt was her due as Gwaddyn's daughter, even if she was merely a foundling.

So she was at last giving in. Soon the decision would be irrevocable.

Which was why, in spite of the unusual number of travellers passing through at this hour of the morning, each with a tale to tell, her parchment was still blank.

The oak door to the Inn opened (a door which Gwaddyn had made, along with the sign outside, gorgeously carved with a beautiful pony rearing back on its hind legs) and a young man entered, his face could only be described as beautiful, his dark hair curly and soft looking, all the young women of Bree were head over heels for him, including at one time Tasar herself. But the infatuation had faded so that when he had asked her to marry him, she had refused.

Unerringly his clear grey eyes sought her out, meeting her own blue eyes fringed with thick black lashes. They were her best feature, though she did not know it. She was quite without vanity, and considered herself considerably plain featured.

She nodded in Sircyn's direction, and he began to approach, for it was to meet him that she was at the Pony this morning. She refused to discuss the sale of Gwaddyn's home in his home. It was too painful as it was.

"Tasar," Sircyn's voice sounded oddly, but Tasar could not place what was unusual about it, he sounded happy to see her, as he always did, but there was a constrained quality about it this morning. "I'm so happy that you asked to see me. But why at the Pony? I would have thought you would prefer to discuss this in private, you always have before," he smiled at her, flashing his white teeth in a smile that still was able to make her heart flutter. But his words confused her. She had never discussed selling the shop before. With anyone, much less with Sircyn.

"I prefer the Pony at the moment," she responded quietly, and he reached out and took her hands in his, speaking earnestly, though still with that odd constraint in his voice.

"Of course, I understand that it is still filled with the memories of your father. You will want to spend as little time as possible there now. We will purchase a little house outside of town now. I know that you are fond of walking in the woods. We'll keep Gwaddyn's house as a shop, I'll work there and . . ."

Tasar pulled her hands out of his grasp, "What are you talking about?"

"When we are married I will work . . ."

"I already told you I would not marry you," she said, her brow furrowed in concern. How had she given him the idea that she had changed her mind?

"But the situation has changed . . ." he began, looking surprised. She was surprised herself, for beneath his surprise she thought she saw a flicker of relief.

"Not such that I could marry where I do not love," she said gently, then swallowed nervously, "I asked you to meet me here to see if you would be willing to purchase the shop and the house. I- I know that you are doing well, and I thought that a bigger shop would be helpful to you."

"You mean trade shops?" he asked, frowinging.

"No. I-" a deep breath, "I mean I'm leaving, and . . . I . . . trust you to give me a good price for the shop . . . and too, after how kind you have been to me, I thought you deserved the first opportunity to buy it . . . if you want."

"You could just marry me, and you wouldn't have to leave," he looked bewildered, and Tasar had the oddest urge to laugh. He could not believe that she would rather be forced to leave than marry him.

"No. I- . . . This is something I must do."

"If you insist on selling, I am glad that you came to me first. I shall certainly buy it from you, gladly." He offered a figure that was considerably too high for even the ideal location of her house, but she accepted it. It would help her to last for the distance to whereever she ended up going.

"Are you certain you won't marry me?" Sircyn asked as he stood up, "It would be the easier solution to your problems." Tasar's eyes widened in sudden realization. He was offering because he felt constrained to. He felt responsibility for her. That was all. She turned away to hide the sudden tears that stung her eyes.

"No. Thank you, but no." She did not watch him walk away, but as soon as he was gone, she buried her face in her hands, and cried.
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Postby SmaugsBane » Tue Jan 17, 2006 8:34 pm

Tallan's eyes ranged over the room throughout his meal, but did not take in the details - he was too deep in his reverie for that. By the time his stew was gone and his second tankard empty, he had decided that east would be his direction, but was presently thinking on whether or not to cross the ford at the River Bruinen and over the mountians (he figured that he would miss Rivendell, as it would be hidden from his eyes, being a man with no business in Imladris) or turn south, through Hollin and on to the many new villages and rebuilt towns along the ancient road.

Things happened in rapid succession that forestalled his decision. In fact he would not make that decision again until he stood at the crossing itself.

"Oi Bob, what are you doing coming indoors?!" It was the landlord, Butterbur and he was yelling in the direction of a small back door where now stood three very small persons: the boy from the stable where Celeg was stabled, and two hobbits. Tallan had had little contact with the little folk, and these were certainly stranger than he had ever seen. One, apparently the object of his master's ire, was old and befuddled looking and apparently had just been shovel a stable, from the look and smell of him. The second was just as old, but kindly looking, and wearing an apron. The second hobbit, Nob, had apparently been at work in the scullery, for he was wet head-to-toe.

"I saw them comin', sir, from the kitchen-window and I was goin' ta head 'em off before ol' Bob came in all stinkin' from the barn," Said Nob. "Warned you, 'e 'as, Bob 'bout comin' in 'ere all stinkin' when supper's on," he added to Bob with a wagging finger.

Barliman and the hobbits exchanged harsh murmurings and finally, the landlord motioned to Tallan.

"Hi, Mr. Tallan sir, join us in the kitchen, if you please."

The tall boy stood and followed the motley bunch through the swinging door to the kitchen. The kitchen was like a steam bath, with Sally's kettles aboil and Nob's hot dish-tub and the extra bodies.

"Sir my apologies," began Butterbur, "I sent the master hobbit here, to fetch your horse and things so that we could keep 'em close for you here, if you follow me."

"But," interupted Bob, " This 'un was a-hollerin' that 'e was ta watch the horse an' the saddle an' other stuff especial. 'Come on then,' says I, 'but you'll have ta stay in the barn.' But then he won't unhand yer stuff fer me ta put away, see, raised a big ruckus and scared the ponies."

"I am afraid that this may be my fault," said Tallan, "I took this boy's word that he would not let my things out of his sight, and apparently, being the honorable lad that he is, he has taken my charge literally." He turned to the boy, "Young master, would you please see to it that the special things I placed in your charge are stowed safely in my room here at the inn?" the boy nodded dumbly, "Then, when all is safe, your duty is fulfilled and you may run along to your mother and your supper."

The boy smiled and Tallan ruffled his thick brown hair.

"I'll get the room ready," said Barliman with a wink, " and let the brave squire see to his duties." he turned and gave Bob a boot in the pants, "You, back to barn! It's clean water and good oats for Mr. Tallan's horse!"

Bob scurried off with the boy in tow. Tallan exited the kitchen to see that a party of three had entered the common room. One of them, and older oafish fellow, barked out to Tallan, "Yes, I thought I heard your name, boy!"

Tallan froze, it was not his father's voice, but surely someone sent to bring him back. He turned slowly to see that it was Bryntar, fat old man of Rohirrim descent who had come to Fornost to ply his trade - money lending. As Gallan, his father did not like Bryntar nor his greedy business, Tallan sighed in relief that the party was not sent for him. The obese, balding man approached and clasped Tallan's hand between his own grubby palms.

"Folks," he said to the poor-looking couple he was with, "Here is the younger son of our esteemed Smith. For years I've been been trying to get him to invest with me. With the brisk business old Gallan's done, we could've made a vault full of gold together."

Tallan knew Bryntar's reputation for unfair dealings and underhanded lending practices - and like his father found the man to be dishonorable and greedy- but he bit his tongue and smiled a bit as Bryntar turned and spoke to him again, twisting his sausage-like fingers in his blonde beard, "Quite a party at the PandT your dad threw. Drank my fill and then some," his eyes widened a bit. "Say what's brought you to Bree, anyway?"

"Holiday, and you?" was all Tallan could manage to get in edgewise.

"After my bride. You see, I've made a pact with these fine folks to marry their daughter. But she up and ran away the night we made it. We're here to see if hide or hair of her has been seen in these parts. You haven't seen a pretty little green-eyed blonde, delicate-like, have you?"

Tallan shook his head, "I've only just arrived in town myself."

"Enough business. Care to join us for some supper?"

Again Tallan shook his head, "No thank you, I've already had my fill."

Sally then sat the three at the table that had previously been occupied by Tallan and the two strangers, of whom there was now no trace.

After asking about his accomodations, Tallan followed Nob to his room on the second floor. There he found his pack and his armour on a chair and table near a small fireplace, where a bright little blaze danced in the grate. He took off his boots and laid himself on the feather bed.

He began, as he lay, to think of the road ahead. East, he pictured the maps in the castle library, past the newly rebuilt Amon Sûl, the watchtower upon the famous hill of Weathertop, then on to the ford. He was asleep before he thought about which way he would turn then.
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Postby elfshadow » Wed Jan 18, 2006 7:53 pm

Saria slowly opened her eyes and awoke from her restless slumber just in time to watch the last rays of the golden evening sun slip away behind the damp wooden houses that lay across the street from her own house, through her open window. As she stretched her arms behind her, she thought of the dreary hours that lay before her. Saria was the night barmaid of the famous local inn, The Prancing Pony, and for hours had to deal with roudy customers and drunken men attempting to take advantage of her small stature and delicate appearance.

For all her looks, however, Saria was a fairly strong young girl of 16 who had been the night barmaid since the tender age of 13. She was not native to the village of Bree, but had grown up far away in Minas Tirith. When she was 13, however, her parents passed of a strange and unknown illness, and Saria was passed into the hands of her great-aunt far away in Bree. She had made the rough journey with only two companions, soldiers of Gondor who had agreed to take her along with them on their own quest to Bree. The soldiers had been good, kind men, but not used to having a 13-year-old girl as a traveling burden. Saria had had to learn much about the wilderness from her own intuition and her sharp observation skills.

But now all of that was in the past. Saria arose from her bed and found her slippers to protect her feet from the cold dirt floor that was all her poverty-stricken great-aunt could afford. She made her way across the small room she'd been given to an old wardrobe on the other side of the room, and put on one of the three dresses she owned. Saria then made her way to her aunt's small bedroom and whispered a soft goodbye.

Saria astepped outside into the cool night, looking up at the deep, velvety purple sky from which fell a light drizzle. She crossed the street quickly, though most of the people outside were scurrying indoors for the night. The Prancing Pony was only a few short blocks from Saria's small house, and she was there soon. Saria entered through the back door to the small back room and put on her apron, then prepared herself to step into the noisy bar.

As soon as she got to the bar, Saria was inundated with drink requests from the raucous patrons. She was used to the pressure, however, and always did her best to put on a cheerful smiling face, particularly in the presence of the almost ancient innkeeper, Barliman Butterbur. Some men made lewd comments about her pretty face and dark green eyes, but Saria simply laughed these off as she did every night, and did her best to keep the customers full of Butterbur's good ale.

Soon the steady line of patrons trailed off, and Saria was able to look around the bar and keep tabs on what the more quiet customers were doing. Immediately a crying girl in the corner caught Saria's eye. As she took a closer glance she recognized the beautiful, usually cheerful Tasar, a girl who, like Saria, had been born outside of Bree. Non-native residents were fairly uncommon around Bree, so such people generally knew of each other.

Looking around to see whether any customers needed immediate attention and seeing none, Saria left the bar and made for the corner in which Tasar sat. Though shy by nature, Saria always went out of her way to make sure no hurtful situation went uncared for.

"Tasar?" Saria said softly as she approached the table. "Are you all right?"
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Postby Vanaladiel » Thu Jan 19, 2006 1:55 am

As Ande ate his stew, another traveler came into the room and looked around. Finding no other places vacant to sit at he walked on over and sat across the table from Andelothian. Being a bit shy of people, Andelothian didnt act as if he noticed the stranger even though he took stock in what the man was wearing and how he carried himself. Soon another person, a young woman of elven linage, by her looks, took a seat at the end of their table. She settled in trying not to be noticed and buried her face into a map. Both were served by the round waitress as she busied herself with the many patrons of the Inn.

Several other patrons were about the room. A young woman sat at a table in the corner with what appeared to be a pad and pencils but she never seemed to move. A man came walking in and headed straight to her table. He reached out to touch her hand but she pulled it back. She didnt seem very happy with him or the conversation but as he turned and finally walked away she buried her face in her hands and Andelothian knew she was crying.

Suddenly there was a bit of a noise coming from the kitchen. Old Butterbur came in and called the man who sat across the table to come with him into the kitchen. Tallan was his name. He was a young man who seemed to have caused a bit of a ruckus with someone from the Inn's stable.Tallan left into the kitchen and soon Bitterbur was back into the main lobby. With his stomach full and feeling tired after the long walk, Ande shouldered his pack and moved to speak with the inn keeper.

"Excuse me, Mr. Butterbur," Andelothian spoke. "Do you still have any rooms for rent? At this time I only need one for the night."

"Yes sir we do." He replied as he headed over to the book he kept track of the room rents in. "Let's see here, I have one at the top of the stairs on the right. Will that do you?"

"That would be fine. I dont need much as I can shut out most noises easily." Ande smiled.

"Good then. Let me find Nob to help you with your things. NOB!!" he shouted.

"Oh that is all right, I dont have but the pack on my back and I can find the room if you will just point me in the proper direction."

'Well if'n you are sure. I can have Nob get you a lamp lit and all?" Butterbur pointed toward the kitchen but to the right of the door where a stairway was tucked in down a small hallway.

"No I think I have it alright." Ande turned and was headed in the direction that Butterbur had pointed for the stairs when he about ran into a pretty young woman who was carrying a tray from the kitchen.

"Excuse me." He said as he helped her to rebalance her tray.

"No, excuse me!" She smiled at him as he stood aside to let her through. Someone hollered out for her.

"Hey Saria, where is my food, wont you sit with me here tonight?" Several patrons smiled and laughed at his proposal to her. Then Andelothian shook his head and proceeded to the stairway and headed in search of his room.

Ande turned the key in the lock and the door easily swung open. The room was not big but was very adequate for his needs. A small table stood to the right of the door with a basin and large bowl with a towel and a soap bar. A large mirror was on the wall just above the table. Straight across from the door was a bed. Fresh linens and brown bed cover with a fluffed pillow lay upon it. The curtains on the one window were of a brown and rust color. A single candle stick was upon the nightstand next to the bed. Leaving the door open for the light in the hallway lamps, Ande walked across the room and slid a packet out of his pocket and using a flint stone and strike he was able to light the candle in just a few taps. He lowered his backpack off his shoulder and dropped it next to the foot of the bed. He went back over and closed his door shutting out the inn for the night.

Andelothian decided to wash his hands and face to get the grit and grime of the days travels off before retiring to the bed. After enjoying the brisk cool water upon his face he used the towel and then layed it back on the table next to the bowl. He then moved back across the room to his bed and his pack.

Opening his pack he pulled out something wrapped in a fine piece of expensive cloth. Carefully he unwrapped a book that nestled safely within and tenderly smelled the piece of fabric.

"Oh the memories!" he thought.

He opened the book and sitting on the edge of his bed he started to read. After reading to the end of the last of the written words, he picked up a pen he had wrapped with the book and started writing. He had been keeping his journal for sometime now. He couldnt remember when he first started writing things down, but since he had been on the road he had been keeping track of his days and anything of importance that had happened. Tonight he entered that he had made it to Bree and that he was unclear on what he was going to do next. When he finished he carefully wrapped the book and pen up again and settled them back into his pack. He then took his boots off and pulled off his breeches and his shirt hanging them on the foot of the bed and then blew out the candle. After settling into the bed he placed his hands behind his head and stared up at the ceiling and listen to the buzz from the Inn below. It wasnt long till he was breathing softly and dreaming of the his past.

Oh she was pretty. Her skin so clear and soft. Her eyes were the color of emeralds and her hair the color of the sun. Her dress caressed her body as she moved as it if kissed her skin. Her features were fair and her smile was like a breath of spring to a weary soul. How he loved her! His mother loved him but she was ill for so long. She did enjoy when they would sit outside and rest by the waterfall near their home. He would read to her and sing to her. The woods were so green and the air so fresh.....but then she died.

Andelothian tossed and turned as his dreams continued.

His father loved him he knew but he didnt ever show it. Never did he do well enough to earn the praise. Always trying to be noticed and do it right. His father was wrapped in the grief and couldnt do anything. They lost their home and no one came to visit anymore. Ande felt cut off from the world. He needed to be needed or at least to feel as if he was doing something worthwhile, so he packed up his things and started spending more and more time wandering away from home. It had been a year since he last was home. He finally just kept walking. His dad never seemed to notice that he came home so finally his feet just took to the road and that was that.
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Postby Shadow_of_the_Past » Thu Jan 19, 2006 3:57 am

Arë still had not decided her path when one of the tall young men seated at the other end of the table looked up from his stew. He looked around blankly before his eyes were drawn to Mr. Butterbur, the landlord, who was shouting across the room to a couple of hobbits and the stable boy. Then Butterbur called out to the man from across the room to come and join them in the kitchen, Arë now recognised the man as Tallan, one of the blacksmiths sons from Fornost. She had no fear of being recognised by him as they had never met. Tallan came from a respectable family while Arë came from a lowly bowmaker family.

Then other man at her table got up and glanced in her direction then left the common room via the stairs.

The common room door swung open and a party of three entered, Arë recognised them as her parents and Bryntar , the man she had been promised too. She froze, her eyes wide with fear. Her cloak had saved her from being instantly recognised but if Bryntar asked the landlord if he had seen her, Butterbur would have instantly pointed her out.

It was Tallan who saved Arë from being recognised, he came out of the kitchen and Bryntar, who had before had dealings with Tallan’s father, Gallan, instantly struck up a conversation with the young man. Arë seized her chance and slipped away to her room to quickly pack her belongings and ride hard to get as far away as possible before Bryntar could get on her trail.

Unfortunately for Arë the convosation didn’t last long and soon Bryntar got back to business. He asked Butterbur if he’d seen or served anyone by Arë’s description, the old mans eyes roamed the room in search of the fair young stranger who had been in and out of the inn for three days now. He turned to the man and the poor looking couple who had asked for the girl, "she must be in her room, if you wish to go up and see her she is in room no 15,just up the stairs, seventh door to your right." Then he turned away to see to the new customers flowing through the door.

Bryntar upon hearing that Arë was at the inn, turned to the girls parents, "yer need not continue any further, I can handle it from 'ere, 'ere is the gold for yer troubles" he said producing a larde bag of gold. The poor couples eyes lit up and they took the bag and hurried out of the inn just in case Bryntar changed his mind.

Bryntar came charging up the stairs like the king’s cavalry, making such a noise that the occupants of some of the rooms were sticking their heads out to see what all the commotion was about. The people who were in the hallway at the time were knocked over or pushed roughly to the side and were following him shouting at them to watch where their going. Bryntar came charging into Arë’s room and Arë gave and involuntary scream of surprise and fear.

“Ahhhh, I’ve found yer at last my sweet” Bryntar said while he lunged forward and seized Arë’s arm in a vice-like grip and Arë gave another involuntary scream.

A small crowd had gathered at the door to see what all the noise was about.

“It would do yer well not to be running off and making so much fuss all the time,” he continued in a dangerously low voice while pulling the struggling girl out of the room and into the hall.

People were shouting curses and insults at the man for disturbing their sleep or knocking them over. More and more people were gathering around the scene adding to the noise.

“Let me go! Don’t touch me!” Arë screamed and Bryntar chuckled “I paid yer folks, yer mine now and I can do what I like with yer.”

Arë fell to her knees upon hearing that she was to spend the better part of her life with Bryntar and there was nothing she could do about it. Bryntar laughed and pulled her upright, “yer better get used to it,” he whispered softly in her ear. Arë began to struggle furiously, digging her feet into the floor and sending her one free arm flailing around trying to find anything to hold. But she was no match for Bryntar. Bryntar led the way pulling Arë behind, holding her arm with an iron grip, Arë gave a moan of defeat but continued to struggle, she would not go down without a fight.
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Postby Vanaladiel » Thu Jan 19, 2006 11:42 pm

Andelothian was brought out of a sound sleep by a sudden disturbance in the hallway of the Inn. He heard shouting from the patrons of the Inn and then a door kicked in and a muffled scream from a woman. That was all it took for Ande to grab up his sword and head out into the hallway. turning he faced the crowd and noticed a big brute of a fellow dragging the young woman he had seen at his table earlier.

No one had the right to handle a woman or girl since she wasnt much over that in age. He stepped up behind the man and waited there till he backed into Andelothian.

"Wha?" the huge man stated as he found that he ran into something that wasnt willing to move. He turned to meet Andelothians gaze and sword.

"I dont think she wants to go with you!" He stated with a bit of an edge to it.

"It aint any of yer business fella! Go back to yer room!" he snapped at Andelothian.

"I cant do that. You made it my business when you attacked the lady at an Inn. We dont take kindly to people disturbing our sleep and brutilizing the patrons here." when he had said that many of the other patrons stepped forward and ushered their agreement with what he said.

"Be gone or I will take care of you next!" Bryntar stated half releasing the girls arm and turning to face Ande.

She pulled her arm loose and slipped into the crowd. Ande watched that she made her way to another room and slipped in quietly without anyone else seeing her.

"Okay I dont want to shed blood in this fine establishment. But I suggest you dont do things so roughly or so loudly and then you might not run into opposition like this." Ande stated as he yielded to the big guy.

"Now where she run off to now?" Bryntar snapped as he realized that she wasnt there any longer. "Why I aught to....." he said as he turned back to find that Andelothian was no longer standing there either. He had slipped away to his room to wait for the man to leave so that he could go and find the young woman and see if she needed some help. He continued to listen at his door as the man became loud again and then stormed out of the Inn vowing to come back and get her still.

Slipping over to his window, ande watched as the man stormed off down the road cursing and hollering about how he would get her since he had already paid for her.

Quietly Andelothian stepped out into the now quiet hallway and walked down to the room that he had seen her slip into. He rapped quietly at the door and then listened to someone moving about in the room.

"He's gone!" Ande spoke softly at the door. "Can I help you? I think he wont wait too long before he comes back and starts breaking down doors to find you." With that the door latch clicked and the door opened slightly.

A frightened face with tears still resting on her cheeks peered out at Andelothian with a look of true fear and helplessness.
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Postby Shadow_of_the_Past » Fri Jan 20, 2006 5:35 am

The young man who had been sitting next to Tallan at her table earlier in the evening came out of the crowd and stood straight in Bryntar’s path, obviously wanting the big man to bump into him. His plan succeeded, Bryntar whipped around and came face-to-face with the young mans sword.

“I don’t think she wants to go with you,” he said looking deep into Bryntar’s eyes with his level, steady gaze.

Arë was glad there was someone in this place who would help her, but would courage be enough? Bryntar was a big man – bigger than most others in fact. And despite his chubby appearance not all of his bulk was fat.

The man enraged Bryntar by accusing him of disturbing their sleep and attacking the patrons (all of which Bryntar was guilty of). There was a murmur of agreement running through the crowd and Bryntar looked furious!

"Be gone or I will take care of you next!" Bryntar raged, letting his grip on Arë’s arm loosen. Arë seized her chance and pulled her arm out of Bryntar’s grip and slipped into the crowd and into a room while he was distracted. She locked the door then slid to the floor letting her tears flow freely. Bryntar would rip the place apart brick by brick until he found her then he would probably punish her for running away. For the first time in her life Arë felt helpless, she herd Bryntar raging in the halway then herd his steps receding down the hall. She daren’t go out, it was probably a trap he was most likely waiting downstairs until she came down. There was a soft rapping at the door Arë scrambled up and ran to the door pushing all her weight against it to try keep whoever it was out.

“He gone” a familiar voice whispered at the door "Can I help you? I think he wont wait too long before he comes back and starts breaking down doors to find you." Ari now recognised him as the young man who saved her. With that she opened the door a crack.

Arë looked into the mans steel grey eyes and felt a great sense of trust wash through her. She opened the door fully and stepped to the side, gesturing for him to come inside. After he had seated himself on one of the two chairs around a small square table, Arë closed the door and went to join him. It was the man who spoke first, “My names’ Andelothian, Ande if you like,” he said in a gentle voice. “My names’ Arëindil, but just Arë will do” She replied wiping a tear from her cheek, “and thank you for doing what you did, Bryntar – The big bulky man you saved me from, is the man my adoptive parents married me off to, for a reasonable price too, he won’t give me up without a fight.”

“Well then Arë you must know that you cannot stay, you must leave here, and quickly,” Ande sounded concerned for her safety.

“Yes, I have packed already and I will leave as soon as possible,” Arë said trying to sound confident, but the man saw straight through her deceptive veil.

“Where are you going?” he asked eying her sceptically looking for another, more improved veil of deception.

“Anywhere, the further away from here the better” Arë replied no longer trying to fool anyone, sounding as nervous as she felt.

“Then come with me! I’m heading east, and you could use a sword if that oaf catches up with us and I would like to have some company on the road. We’ll leave before first light! What do you say?” Ande proposed, Arë shrugged, couldn’t fault his logic

“Ok, I will come as long as I am not a burden to you,” she said before opening the door a little and looking around, no sign of Bryntar. She nimbly ran to her room Grabbed her belongings, all housed in her saddle bag. She then fastened her sword and her double scabbard (containing her 2 throwing knives) to her belt and slung her bow and quiver over her shoulder.

Arë reached the room that Ande had told her was his and slipped soundlessly inside without looking up Ande spoke to her “I see you travel well armed, but just how well can you wield the weapons you carry?” Arë considered the question before answering. “I am most at home with a bow and throwing knives, I have not trained with a sword.” “Very well, I take it you have a horse?” he asked. Arë nodded, “Then we are all set, I suggest you get some rest, I will wake you half an hour before we leave.” Ande said crisply as he stood from his seat on the bed and seated himself in a chair next to the window, Arë guessed this was so he could see if Bryntar came back. As she lay down Arë again thanked the kind man again then she fell into a deep undisturbed sleep.
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Postby Spirit_of_the_Willow » Mon Jan 23, 2006 7:18 pm

"Tasar?" Saria said softly as she approached the table. "Are you all right?"

Startled, Tasar jerked her head up, and swiftly wiped her eyes, attempting to force a reassuring smile to her face. “Yes, yes I’m fine. Just-” she paused and fished in her pocket for a handkerchief, “Just crying over a little bit of foolishness.” She lowered her gaze from the younger girl’s searching, still worried expression. “You’d think that a proposal would make me happy,” she found herself confiding with uncommon candor. Usually she was one to keep her problems close, but she found that the prospect of leaving soon had loosened her tongue a little, “Isn’t that supposed to be the way it is? All women are supposed to be sent into transports of joy when they receive a proposal. And I have to start crying over it.” She let out a little laugh of self-mockery as she dabbed the rest of the moisture from her eyes.

“I thought you had refused Sircyn already,” Saria said, then blushed. Tasar couldn’t decide whether it was because she was one of the many girls in town infatuated with the handsome young man, or if she was embarrassed by admitting that Sircyn’s courtship had been a matter of town gossip. That fact did not surprise Tasar. She was certain that within hours the whole town would know that she had refused him again, and had instead boldly asked him to purchase her house.

“Yes,” she said softly, “But he asked again . . . when . . .” she took a deep breath. The town would know soon enough that she planned to leave. She might as well tell Saria. She did not know the girl well, being only two years younger, she was too old to have been among the children that Tasar had befriended with the tiny carvings she was fond of presenting to them. “. . . when I told him that I was leaving Bree,” she concluded.

“Leaving Bree?” Saria gasped, “Are things really that bad?” Then she covered her mouth on a gasp. “I’m sorry. I . . .”

“I know,” Tasar assured her gently, “You work in the busiest Inn in town, it’s not surprising that you should overhear all the rumors. But the truth is both that things are that bad, and they aren’t. I think I could make due . . . but I don’t want to. I shouldn’t have to.” She glanced down at her clasped hands, a little surprised at her own vehemence.

“But where will you go?”

A wry smile twisted Tasar’s lips, “I don’t know really. Anywhere.” Her smile grew and she met the other girl’s gaze, “I have the strange urge to wander for a bit, and the idea that I could make due traveling and selling my carvings as I go. Doing repair work in little villages, and fancy scroll-work at outlying estates of the larger cities. It will be something of an adventure I hope.” She hoped that it was not obvious that she was trying to convince herself more than she was sharing with Saria. There were moments when she dreamed of adventure. But right now all she wanted was Gwaddyn back, and a return of the blissful days of her childhood. However, that could never be. And she had better get used to that very quickly. “I should leave soon I think,” she murmured to herself. The rumors would soon be flying, and she had experienced too many stares when under Gwaddyn’s protection, and too many more since his death, she had no desire to face the pity, derision, and exultation from her various neighbors. “I wonder if it would be possible to leave tomorrow.”

Saria was aghast, “Tomorrow!? But wouldn’t you have a lot to do first?”

“Not so much,” Tasar said thoughtfully, “If I’m going to be traveling, I can only take what Breccia can carry. I’ll have to leave some of the larger tools, but I won’t be building any houses, so that should not be a problem. Later I might get a cart, but that would hardly be practical if I end up crossing the mountains.” As she spoke, Tasar began to like the idea more and more. She would leave as soon as she could get the money from Sircyn. She wished that she could do without it. But she would not abandon Gwaddyn’s house willy nilly, and the money would be a great aid until she got her feet. “You are right about one thing though, if I want to leave soon, I should not be sitting around here pitying myself. Thank you for your comfort Saria, I am sorry that we did not know each other better before this.”

Before the young waitress could respond, there was a large clamor upstairs, and both girls looked at each other curiously. They heard raised voices, and then an ominous stillness, before there was some rather violent cursing, followed by a very large individual storming down the stairs. He was a very nasty customer. Tasar was surprised she hadn’t noticed him coming in, he made such a racket, but she supposed she had been rather absorbed in her own affairs.

“How very odd,” she murmured, then turned to smile her thanks at Saria, before following the raucous man out. He was storming around, stopping various people on the road, rather violently. Someone ought to call the Sheriff on him, she thought indignantly. He had no right to treat Breefolk that way. Most likely he was drunk, and would be much better for a night spent in the own gaol. But she was not the person to call the Sheriff, as his wife was one of her most vociferous detractors, so instead, she donned her cloak, pulling up the hood against the chilly air, and started heading towards the house that had been her home for her entire life.

“Now I’ve got you,” a vicious voice said as a steel grip clamped around her arm, whirling her around. “Thought you could escape that easy eh? Well, I’ve paid for you, and have you I shall!”

“I beg your pardon?” Tasar said with icy disdain, looking up at the man, but her hood had fallen further forward, and she could not see him through it’s folds. “I think you are mistaken.” With her free hand, she pulled back the hood, revealing her honey brown hair, and blue eyes. Rather than releasing her as she expected, the big man’s gaze only turned more angry, if that was possible.

“Then you’re in league with ‘er,” he said, shaking her violently. “I saw you in the Inn when I were lookin’ fer her before.”

“I do not know of whom you speak,” she said, “And it is highly foolish of you to go about stopping strangers in the street, and accusing them of ridiculous crimes. Though I am not so sure it would be a crime. You are unknown around here, and Breefolk protect their own.” She ignored the fact that she was not considered among that number by most of the people in town. But she hoped that confidence would convince him of his wrong without any need of others’ intervention.

“Jus’ tell me where the wench has got to.”

“As I do not know I could hardly tell you. You would be better served to stop harassing me, and get on with your search. You’ll find nothing here. As she obviously has the good taste to want to escape from you, you would hardly expect her to be still so near the Inn. She is likely making good with the time you are spending here pestering townsfolk who have naught to do with her or you.”

“Why you little wench,” he began, shaking her again, but apparently some of Tasar’s words had penetrated, for he thrust her away from him, and stalked off, cursing angrily, and staring into the shadows. Tasar hoped that the girl was indeed already far away already, either that, or that she was hiding nearby. The honey haired young woman rubbed her bruised arm, and walked home.
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Postby Vanaladiel » Tue Jan 24, 2006 12:10 am

Sitting in the chair looking out into the night, Ande could hear Are's breathing become more rhythmic and knew that she was finally resting. Slowly he arose from the chair and moved across the room to the door. He slipped out and met with Nob in the hallway.

"Hey Nob!" Ande stated quietly so as not to wake any of the possibly sleeping guests.

"Yes sir?" came his reply.

"Do you have any horses for sale in the stable or know of anyone who would be willing to part with one. I need one for my travels and I need a sturdy and reliable steed."

"Yes sir, Mr. Butterbur keeps several for sale when people go through. He buys the ones they have and sells them fresh horses. He has a couple of really good ones right now." Nob smiled.

"Good! Can you arrange for me to pay for one of them this morning. I will be leaving before sun up and will be traveling with another who has a horse stabled here. Her name is Are, do you know the horse that is hers?"

"Yes sir I do. I shall have them ready for you when you call for them." Then Nob headed off down the hallway and down the stairs.

Ande turned back to the room and quietly went back in to load his bag and prepare for their early morning departure. He was about to settle back into the chair when a quiet knock came at the door. Quickly so as not to let disturb Are he opened it just a crack to find Nob standing there.

"Mr. Butterbur said that he can have some provisions ready for you if you like."

"That would get very good." Ande smiled. "Be sure they are provisions for two for about a week. I am not sure which way we are headed at this time but I dont want to be caught short on needed supplies."

"Very well sir!" Nob started to turn and then looked back up into Ande's eyes. "Is there anything special you will need or just dried fruits, bread and cheeses and things of that sort?"

"Nothing special, that will be fine." Ande smiled. "Thank you Nob, you are a good man, hobbit! Oh another thing, if a big man comes back into the Inn tonight can you make sure to delay him while we go out the back stairway to the stable?"

"Yes and thank you sir!" Nob blushed then headed off back downstairs.

"Thank you Nob!" Ande stated quietly as he closed the door again and moved back across the room. He picked up his pack and checked the supplies that he had and made a note of what he needed to stock up on first chance he would get. Then moving over to the chair he sat down and rested his head on his hand.

He bowed his head and nodded off to sleep for a brief time. Though he was resting he was very much aware of the sounds of the Inn. Ever wary of any noise that should mean a disturbance. After about an hour or so he raised his head and looked out the window again. This time he stood and stretched and move over to the sleeping Are.

"Are it is time for us to be about and gone before he comes back."

"Wha.... what time is it?" She asked sleepily as she reached up and rubbed her eyes with the back of her hands.

"It's not yet light out but it wont be long now. We need to be miles from here before he comes back, if we can be." Ande smiled. "Our horses are ready and our supplies are packed and waiting for us."

"Really? But when did you go and do that?"

"I didnt!" he smiled. "Nob took care of that for us. Just grab your pack and we can be off when you are ready but dont take long. I am going down to be sure that everything is ready as it should be and grab us something to eat on the road." Then he turned with his sword on his hip and shouldered his pack with his quiver and bow in hand and headed out the door.

"Hurry now!" and then he was gone.
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Postby Shadow_of_the_Past » Tue Jan 24, 2006 2:39 am

Arë got up and washed her face to rid any tiredness that still clung to her. She fastened her wool cloak around her neck and pulled the deep cowl up. she then fastened her sword and throwing knives to her bely and slung her bow and quiver over her shoulder.

She warely stepped out of the room and into the hall then she made her way down to the stables where Ande said he would meet her, leaving money for her stay on the counter as she passed.

When she reached the stables, Ande wasn't there yet so Arë moved to Abelard's stall and softly called the horse. He came trotting up to Arë and the two greeted each-other, then Arë saddled him, strapped her saddle bag to the saddle and then, bored, she decided to see if her aim was still good after days and days of not practicing. she picked up a bit of charcoal and drew a rough target on the back wall, opposite to the door. She then took her place as far as possible away possible from the target. Then in one fluid movement she took one of the knives from her scabbord and threw it at the target. TWOCK, The knife hit with amazing speed and hit the center of the target, pleased with herself Arë tried again and again in one fluid moment she threw the knife - just when Ande was walking through the door. The knife hit the middle of the target right next to the first one.

Ande was impressed he folded his arms and spokr to Arë, "I see you wern't exaggerating when you said you were at home with those knives, lets see what you can do with that bow, and be quick!" he added to make sure she would not forget what they were here for.

Due to intense training she had put herself through she could draw,aim and fire an arrow in the blink of an eye. So after quickly unslinging her bow that is what she did. When the arrow hit the center beside the two knives, Ande nodded in aproval. Arë went to the target and pulled out and shethed the knives and replaced the arrow in her quiver. "I would ask you to show me your skills," she said, "but now is neither the time nor place." "I couldn't agree more," Ande replied and with nothing else to talk about the both swung onto their horses and trotted out of the stable. " As I said before we will go east, that is all I have decided, we will ride hard until noon then we will slow down," Ande told her and Arë noddedn her head in understanding, then she nuged Abelard with her knee and he broke into a gallop.
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Postby SmaugsBane » Sat Feb 04, 2006 3:30 pm

The warm bed in the cozy little room at the Prancing Pony enfolded Tallan into deep slumber. His nights on the road were anything but restful and the full measure of his fatigue had not dawned on the young man until he lay down.

Once, early in the evening, he stirred when there was a disturbance somewhere outside his room. He sleepily dismissed it as drunken patrons cavorting in the halls and drifted back into dreamless slumber.

He woke the next morning refreshed. As he lay abed, the sounds and smells of the town's awakening drifted in upon the warm breeze from his open window. Somewhere in the distance a cock crowed, greeting the dawn. But it was the smell of bacon, which he imagined was frying beside some eggs in an iron pan in the kitchen below, which prised him from his bed.

The morning's warm wind foretold of the coming summer day's heat. Therefore, he eschewed his armour and cloak and dressed only in tunic, breeches, and boots. He gathered his armour, weapons, and pack and descended into the common room. The room was deserted, save for one table, where a few locals sat eating breakfast and talking in hushed tones, as if they feared waking the day.

The barmaid was a slight-framed girl no older than Tallan himself. Her obvious beauty shone through the tattered dress and tired expression. She contrasted sharply from the toothless old maid who had served him his supper the night before. There was warmth in her emerald eyes, to be sure, but also there was strength – a fire born of hardship.

“Oi, Saria,” called an ugly little man from the other table, risking full voice, “You’re even prettier by the light of day. See,” he elbowed a table-mate, “it ain’t just Barli’s ale that makes ‘er easy to look at. Ha!” He turned back to the maid, “Won’t you come sit on my lap and tell us what brings you out so early?”

She cast a wry smile that carried obvious meaning to the man, who immediately turned to his mates and resumed their quiet conversation. Even in the face of such debasement, the young woman carried herself with dignity.

“Can I get you something?” She was speaking to Tallan.

His face flushed as he broke from his reverie, “Breakfast?”

Only one word, he thought. For all his intelligence and education, all his study of language and all he could manage was one word to a attractive young lady – not a problem he had ever experienced in Fornost. He hadn’t realized it, but he had sat down, dropped his things and stared at Saria (for now he knew her name) since he entered the room.

“Of course,” she gave him a sweeter smile than the ugly man and disappeared into the kitchen. She was as used to Tallan’s response to her beauty as to the other’s rudeness.

His eyes were still on the still-swinging kitchen door when the inn’s proprietor entered and crossed the room to speak to him.

“Did you sleep well young Mister Tallan?” he said with a knowing glance toward the kitchen door.

“Very well, Mister Butterbur, thank you,” he turned to Barliman, “that girl, who is she?”

“Call me Barliman,” he said with a wink, “and that’d be Saria. Came to Bree three years ago. Parents died. Came to live with her great aunt. Been my night barmaid ever since.”

“Night?”

“Yep. Don’t usually see her in the morning. Said she had too much on her mind to sleep. So she’s helpin’ Sally out with the serving and such. Can’t get Sally outta the kitchen, though. Say’s she has a reputation…” Though Tallan was still looking at the innkeeper, he didn’t hear the rest about Sally’s cooking.

“I say, will you be staying another night, mister Tallan?” Butterbur raised his voice slightly to get the young man’s attention.

“No, thank you Barliman,” the spell was broken temporarily by the necessity to conduct business, “I must be moving on. Can you see that my Horse and gear are ready by the end of my breakfast?”

“Of course,” the barman didn’t fully mask his disappointment that Tallan was leaving, “Bob tells me you have plenty for the road, so you won’t be needing and provisions…” he trailed off calculating in his head, “one night’s lodging…supper… ale…breakfast…a barn stall…oats…”

As Saria reappeared, Tallan mindlessly shoved a handful of gold coins into Barliman’s thick fingers, ending the tally. The innkeeper bowed his thanks, took up Tallan’s things and disappeared to ready Celeg for departure.

Even though he was famished, Tallan ate slowly, trying to seem less rude than the others in the room and less dumb than he had when he was first greeted by Saria. But he could not eat forever, and soon the meal was gone. He stood as Saria returned to clear the plates and bid her a somewhat less stupid-sounding good-bye. To which she returned the sentiment with the same warm smile as before.

With a final glance at the girl’s slender figure as she walked away, Tallan turned and headed out into the inn’s courtyard. There he found Barliman and Celeg. The old innkeeper shook his hand and assured the young man that he was welcome at the Prancing Pony if he was ever back in the area. Tallan expressed thanks and exchanged good-byes with the good-natured barman, mounted and trotted out into the streets of Bree, heading East.

The streets were just as the men in the Pony’s common room: whispering, fearing to wake into the explosion of the summer’s day. The sun had not risen above the hill of Bree, into which Tallan could see many Hobbit dwellings were dug. (of which most had thin whisps of smoke issuing from their chimneys – remnants of the night’s fire and not breakfast-cooking - odd for hobbits, thought Tallan) In the shadows of one house a great hound stretched and yawned. Across the street, a purring cat slept curled upon a barrel beside the home’s kitchen-door. Neither cat nor hound had yet taken any notice of one another.

Tallan healed his horse to a canter. Soon he crested the Hill and began to descend towards the east gate of Bree.

Just outside the gate, Tallan dismounted and tipping up his waterskin, drank deeply. He then unbuckled his baldric and lashed his sword's scabbard to his saddle, seeing no immediate need for the blade. As he mounted and brought Celeg to a gallop, he thought about what sort of trouble he would likely encounter on the road. Surely no orcs or anything of the kind – even if there were any numbers of Sauron’s foul creatures still lurking, they were hiding in the deep places of Middle-earth. No, more likely, greed would be the enemy now. Men like Bryntar, or perhaps some sort of desperate thieves. Of that, he had little fear.

He raised his head a little to the steadily rising sun and smiled as he embarked into the unknown.
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Postby elfshadow » Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:27 pm

Saria smiled at Tasar as she walked out the door of The Prancing Pony. She wasn't sure why she was so wistful that Tasar was leaving the village of Bree, but she felt a deep yearning inside of her heart that was just starting to poke its way to the surface. Perhaps because, although Tasar and Saria didn't know each other very well, it was always comforting to have someone around who also was not native to the area, particularly in a small village like Bree. It was a small town, and almost all of the people who lived there had been born there. Most of the families around Bree had lived there for generations. They were relatively accepting of newcomers, but Saria had always felt somewhat distanced from the rest of the villagers.

Saria knew more about Tasar's situation than most people in the village did, simply because she worked at the Prancing Pony and was able to absorb more information, placing it all together to form a more complete story. With all that she know of Tasar, however, Saria simply had a hard time picturing the pretty girl leaving the stability of Bree to wander about the countryside. Saria only vaguely remembered her own travels across the untamed wilderness of Middle Earth, though it was only three years ago. Still, she could feel the cool breeze floating on the shores of small rippling streams, and the touch of forest undergrowth underneath her toes, and the slippery touch of climbing huge rocks.

Talking with Tasar had opened Saria's heart to the desire to leave Bree herself and return to the wilderness, a wandering life. She only wished she could. Saria's great aunt was elderly, and needed a caretaker just as Saria had needed someone to stay with when she had first been orphaned. There was no way she could abandon her great aunt now, and she needed the job at the Prancing Pony in order to support the two of them. She sighed. Perhaps in another life she would have been able to lead such an existence.

"Oi, Saria!" a good-natured shout broke into her reverie. It was jolly Barliman Butterbur. "Ya think yer a customer here or something? Get back to work!" he chuckled with a wink in her direction. Saria smiled. It was hard to stay angry with Butterbur for long. She picked up her spirits and headed back to the bar, where there was a huge mess of noisy, raucous customers, who were evidently gossiping about the nasty-looking man who had stormed out of the Inn just before Tasar had left.

The rest of the night went by fairly quickly. Most of the customers left the Inn fairly quickly because of some disturbance outside. Saria hoped that nothing was wrong, she thought she heard a female voice screaming, but wasn't quite sure. After awhile, the crowds died down, and Saria was left to watch the Inn largely alone, as she did most nights. Usually she slept a little bit when there were no customers, but tonight she couldn't have if she'd tried. She couldn't stop thinking about the conversation she'd had with Tasar, and the desire to leave Bree and wander around Middle Earth surviving day-to-day was becoming more and more intense.

The morning dawned warm and windy, and Saria was no more tired than she had been at the start of the evening. If anything, she was wide awake. Saria decided that it would be pointless for her to go home and try to sleep. She wouldn't be able to, and she might as well stay at the Inn and work overtime, at least she would get paid for staying awake. Saria asked the usual day barmaid if she could, and the woman readily agreed, since the Prancing Pony had more visitors now than usual.

Just after Saria had requested to be able to stay, a young man with rich brown hair and icy blue eyes, who looked a little older than herself, walked into the main room from upstairs. He had obviously been staying at the Inn, Saria wondered why she hadn't seen him before. He started to come over to the bar, just as another drunken customer started to hassle her. Saria just smiled at the offending customer and raised her eyebrow, then turned to the young man and served him his breakfast. He isn't very talkative, she thought to herself. She wondered where he was from, and thought to ask, but after eating his breakfast he simply left the inn.

After awhile Saria knew that she would have to go home. As much as she would have rather stayed at the Inn and be able to earn a few hour's meager wages, her great aunt's health was failing and needed care. Saria signed and motioned to the other barmaid that she was leaving, heading out the door. Once she got home, she was perplexed to find her great aunt sitting in the rocking chair in the front room, instead of lying in her bed as she normally was when Saria came home.

"Auntie, what are you doing awake?" Saria asked, rushing to her side. "You should be alseep!"

"I know, dear," her aunt replied with a smile. "But there's something I must say to you. I'm old, Saria. I've been old for years. The lines on my face are becoming even clearer as each day goes by, and the joints of my bones creak as I move. I'm ready. I'm ready to being my ascent into the beyond."

"Auntie, no!" Saria cried, shocked tears sliding down her cream-colored face.

"Saria, my dear, my time has come," her aunt replied calmly. "But I need to talk to you. Now I've only known you for three years, but I can tell already that the work of an inn-girl is no live for you. When you first came here at the age of thirteen years, your eyes would shine whenever you told me of your travels across Middle Earth from distant realms. You can't be happy here, Saria. I've saved up enough money to send you on your way. I trust that you'll know where to go once you step out the doors of the village."

With that, Saria's aunt closed her eyes and settled into her last weary sleep as Saria, holding her aunt's limp hand to her cheek, cried tears of silent pain.
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Postby Tempest » Mon Feb 13, 2006 1:19 pm

Kata had decided that life was not fair. She had determined this long before she became the cause of injustice herself and had bathed her hands in the blood of the innocent. After all, no one was really innocent, she told herself. Life had treated her meanly, and she had simply returned the favor.

That said, piracy was not what it used to be. Under the darkness Sauron had brought, her enterprise had flourished because such acts were encouraged and turned a blind eye to under the guise of expansionism and war. But nowadays, Gondor had a new king and she had quickly found that he and his officers frowned on her trade and her safe havens were becoming few and far between, even in her native Harad.

When an unfortunate incident occurred with a certain trading vessel from Dol Amroth, she had gone inland to lay low for awhile until the authorities stopped asking questions, hiding her ship in a well-concealed spot for later use. Luckily for her, she passed for a woman of Rohan in most places, though her skin was slightly darker and her hair, though fair, retained a hint of fire when exposed in a certain light.

Though King Aragorn had been successful in crushing Mordor, the criminal underworld was alive and thriving, even within Minas Tirith itself. Knowing this, Kata traveled north, looking for work and so had stumbled into the path of what even she acknowledged to be a remarkably nasty crime ring that trained and ran bands of thieves and assassins up and down various trade routes around Middle Earth. When it was recognized that she had specific “skills” necessary for their line of work, Kata had quickly risen within the ranks of the syndicate. However, she always kept herself somewhat aloof, on the fringes, for her heart lay in Harad and she longed to return to its hot shores. She longed for the smell of the sea and rock of the boat on blue waves. Inland, she was uneasy, unwilling to stay in one place for too long. Her travels had brought her ever north and westward as if pursued by a tireless enemy, and finally through the Misty Mountains, preying on those she met along the lonely roads.

Besides the sea, there was one thing in all the world that she loved. Or rather, one person: Zanki, her brother. The siblings were separated only by one year in age, but they were as different in appearance as if they had been born to different mothers. Zan bore more resemblance to his Haradrim kin, the same darker skin and eyes, though his hair was fairer, bleached partly by the long days under the burning sun. In personality and strength of will, however, sister and brother revealed their similarities.

They trusted no one but each other and made a formidable team. The syndicate had sent them to accompany a certain package to Fornost, and returning, they had set up camp along the Great Road that ran from Bree to the river Hoarwell. They were told to wait until a message was sent by courier, and then to bring the message and any other package that was sent with it back to their headquarters. With nothing better to do in the meantime, they set about amusing themselves with robbing traders and adventurers who found themselves traveling the Great Road unprotected.

And so it was that Tallan set his face toward the rising sun, not knowing that he headed toward two of the most ruthless members of the Scarlet Serpents, who watched with eager anticipation for hapless travelers as himself.
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Postby SmaugsBane » Wed Mar 08, 2006 5:15 pm

For two days and two nights, Tallan travelled avoiding the heat of the midday sun by resting in the shade of stands of trees of under the eaves of rock faces. He had made the best time in the early mornings and later in the evenings, when air was cooler and a little breeze rustled the green leaves and tall grass by the wayside. Traffic had been steady. There were many wains carrying farmers, merchants, and trades people to or from markets to seek their fortunes or ply their trades. There were also migrating families, searching for their place in the new freedom of Ellesar's rule.

As the sun neared its zenith on the third day out of Bree, the hill called Weathertop and its rebuilt watchtower, Amon Sûl, came into view. Tallan saw, as he approached, that a make-shift town had sprung up around the hill's base - tents and clapboard shacks, and here and there more permanent buildings of stone. He found a tent on the western outskirts where a man was roasting venison on a spit and selling platefulls with boiled potatoes and wine. The young smith tied Celeg under the shade of a young birch and entered the tent. There he learned as he ate and drank that many such gatherings were to be found at landmarks such as Weathertop, as well as at bridges, fords, and crossroads - anywhere that travellers were likely to stop and rest - and need to replenish. Enterprising souls had sought out such places to sell their goods or services to the many travelers that now filled the roadways.

He also learned that a new road, called the Hollin Road, now connected the Great East Road (which he was now on) to the Gap of Rohan. It ran from the ford of Bruinen, south along the western shoulders of the Misty Mountains, through the newly rebuilt Ost-in-Edhil, and met with the Old South Road just at the Gap. This, Tallan thought, would be his way. From there he would likely continue through the Gap and into Rohan.

When he was done with his meal and noon passed into a cooler afternoon with a few high clouds to protect them from the sun's unrelenting rays, Tallan walked his horse through the streets of the tent-town. He saw farmers with produce in baskets or on tables. There were several booths with everything from clothing to leather goods to breads and dried meats. One of the stone buildings appeared to be a blacksmith shop. It had a large chimney and was alive with the sound of hammers on metal. As he passed, a burly man, stripped to the waist except for a leather apron exited the building and poured a bucket of water over his sweating head. He shook the water out of his shoulder length brown hair and wiped his eyes. He and Tallan saw and recognized each other simultaneously.

"Hi, Tallan, is that you?" he bellowed in rich baritone, waving a thickly muscled, hairy arm.

"Aye, Grenmar Steelshank, it is," returned Tallan with a beaming smile. The young man swung his horse toward the blacksmith. He extended his hand, but the huge man laughed and hugged him tightly, drenching Tallan in water and sweat.

"That is how I greet old friends, boy." He held Tallan at arm's length, "But then you are no longer a boy are you?"

Grenmar was a few years' senior to Gallan, Tallan's brother and had been his father's apprentice, years ago when they made the journey from Osgiliath. He had come from another long-standing smithing family and his father had hoped that sending him to the north kingdom as an apprentice would end his mischevious ways. It did not. It had been Grenmar who taught Tallan most of the things he considered "fun" when he was a boy - practical jokes and the like. They spent many days looking for trouble when they should have been working at the forge. But when he came of age, Grenmar left Gallan's shop to find his own way - and apparently ended up here at Weathertop.

He showed Tallan to a small stable in the back of the shop, where he fed and watered Celeg. The big man's little house was a stone dwelling with a thatched roof beside the smithy. They sat in the shade of a small porch at the front of the house facing the street. There they talked, drank ale, laughed at tales of old exploits, and watched the comings and goings of the travelers and townsfolk.

It became apparent from the greetings and warm smiles and waves that Grenmar was very popular.

"I am sort of the unofficial mayor here, on account of the fact that I was one of the first to settle permanently."

He went on to describe that he began by helping to rebuild the watchtower itself, but soon realized that the road was busy enough with people needing horseshoes and tools that he could make a good living right there. It also helped that his reputation as a delinquent had not followed him from Fornost. Soon, he explained, it became necessary for those who settled to there permanently to band together against a new element that intermixed with the travelers, merchants, and farmers: cheats, theives, cutthroats, and bandits. It was his outgoing personality, he stated, that had elevated him to be the leader of that little band of folk. Tallan added silently that it also didn't hurt that he was an intimidating figure, not one that the average swindler or sneak-thief would wish to tangle with.

Grenmar offered Tallan lodging in his house, "Make yourself at home and stay as long as you wish."

"I appreciate the offer, but I'll only be staying for the night," replied Tallan.

"That's a shame. I'd have loved to sit longer with you and laugh over the old trouble we used to cause," he stood to go, "Well, in any case, there's a tub and fresh water for a bath and plenty of food and ale. Remember, if you decide to have a look around, you'll want to be on your guard. Pickpockets aren't the worst we got 'round here."

With that, the giant smith hugged Tallan again and disappeared into the smoky forge, where he employed four other smiths and a gaggle of apprentices.

Tallan took him up on his offers and bathed, washed his clothes and ate his supper as the sun began to set. While his clothes dried, he sat on the porch, wearing one of Grenmar's giant tunics, and watched the people go by. Every sort of person could be seen. There were Rohirrim and men of Gondor and Arnor, of course, but also others, some he did not recognize, and some who looked to be of far eastern or southern heritage - from Khand or Harad. King Aragorn had become great indeed to forgive men from those places and allow them passage into his kingdom. Tallan also saw a few people that he had seen in Bree who must be travelling in his same direction.

Soon his clothes were dry and he was able to redress. He left the armour, but strapped on his baldric and sword, heeding Grenmar's warning; then he checked on Celeg who was resting comfortably in the cozy but cool little stable, and set off into the little hamlet to explore as the sun disappeared in a glorious display of fire and torches were being lit to illuminate the still-crowded streets.
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Postby Spirit_of_the_Willow » Thu Mar 16, 2006 9:04 am

Tasar ran a hand over the lovingly carved post and lintel of the doorway through which she had passed nearly every day of her eighteen years. Would this be the last time she would pass through them? Of course not. She shook her head against these morose thoughts. She could not bring all her belongings, and could not bear to have them cast off, so she had filled the chest that Gwaddyn had built and carved specifically for her. Everything she now owned was either within that chest, or in the pack bags which now rested upon Breccia’s back.

Taking a deep breath, she glanced one last time around the beloved surroundings, uncharacteristically tidy, lacking the shavings of wood that had always been scattered about. The scent of different varieties of wood could not be banished with mere cleanliness however, and as the smell assailed her nostrils, tears filled her eyes. She really was leaving. Before thoughts of doubt could form in her mind, she turned, and crossed the threshold.

Breccia stood patiently before the door, eyeing her mistress with a little bit of reproach. From the weight on her back the old horse knew that they were leaving behind her cozy stall for a long journey, though she could not know how long, as even Tasar did not know. “Come on girl,” Tasar said gently, taking up the trailing reins. “Not far at first, we have to talk to Sircyn one last time first.”

Sircyn currently lived on the other side of town, wisely having set up his shop at some distance from Gwaddyn’s, to appeal to people’s laziness in order to draw them away from the more skilled carpenter.

A soft knock brought the dark haired young man to the door. “Tasar!” he said, “What are you doing here so early? Have you changed your mind?”

Tasar smiled ruefully. She would hardly be dressed as she was, or leading her horse if she had. “No. I’m leaving Sircyn.”

“If you still feel you must . . . But what are you doing here now?” He looked confused. He was wearing a leather apron, and curls of wood clung to his woolen leggings. His hair was touselled, and beads of sweat clung to his brow. There was no denying that he was a hard worker, and very skilled. Was she really certain that marrying him would be so terrible? No. Not terrible, but not right either.

“I mean that I’m leaving now . . . ” Even as she spoke, Tasar realized that it was a foolish thing to ask for the money now, to seek to leave so swiftly. He had just agreed to purchase the house yesterday, he could not have gathered the money yet. It took time to arrange these things. Her cheeks began to flush red. She would have continued, apologized for her foolishness and left, but he interrupted her.

“Come in, come in. It’s a little untidy. Please, come and sit down.” He took Breccia’s reins from her hands, tied the horse to a post, and led Tasar inside to a very comfortable chair. A comfortable well upholstered chair Tasar noticed in surprise. Of course he would have comfortable chairs, it was one way to show his skill, but the fabric which covered this chair was more fine than she was used to seeing in his house. His grey eyes scanned hers. “Dare I hope you have come to tell me you changed your mind, and you have decided to forget this foolishness?”

“No of course not,” she said, stung. She did not consider her plans foolishness. “Actually, I decided I would like to leave as soon as possible, and I came to see if you might possibly be able to take up residence immediately. I realize now of course that you would not have been able to gather the money for it yet, so I will . . .” she made to stand, but stopped as he spoke.

“I am sure I could. But . . . Are you sure about this? You can’t really mean to say that you want to leave now?” he was incredulous. “You’ve never been so impulsive before,” he said.

“I’ve never had need to be. Sircyn, I cannot stay here. People don’t want me here. And I cannot bear the talk that I know will start once people realize I am planning to leave. It’s bad enough already. I would much rather just leave and let them have it out after I am gone.” Tasar knew he would not really understand. He couldn’t. He had always belonged in Bree. He did not know what it was like to be shunned in the place where you had always lived, and felt was home.

He sighed, and lowered his gaze from hers. “Alright, if you must,” he stood, and crossed to a chest. It was well done, but his carvings lacked the luster and life that Gwaddyn had been able to call from the wood. Sircyn had skill, but he did not have artistry. From the chest he pulled a bag of gold. He did not pause to count it, but held it out to Tasar, refusing to meet her gaze. “That should be more than enough.”

Tasar looked at it with tumultuous feelings. He had more than the figure he had named last night in that bag, free and ready to hand. Tears stung her eyes, because he had never done that well before. She knew he had been successful since Gwaddyn’s death, but not that successful. The betrayal was now complete. She stifled the pride that would have her refuse the money, and took it, with a whispered “thank you.”

In a choked voice she continued, “I cannot take everything with me . . . I wondered . . . Could you please keep my chest for me. There are just a few personal things . . . A few of my drawings, some of Gwaddyn’s things . . . If you could just keep them somewhere out of the way until I can return for them . . .” she trailed off, her tears making it impossible to continue.

“Of course,” he responded shortly, still not really looking at her. She wondered if he would try again to persuade her to marry him. She wondered if she wanted him to. Would she accept if he did again? No. Even if she were accepted after marrying him, it would not erase the sense of betrayal she now felt.

“Thank you Sircyn. For everything. I wish you all the best. Farewell for now.” And Tasar turned, and walked nearly blindly from Sircyn’s house, the money held close, even though she had the weird fantasy that it would burn her. After stowing the gold in Breccia’s bags, Tasar took up the lead, and began to walk away, well aware that Sircyn was watching from the doorway. She did not, however, turn to look. It was time to go, and she would not look back.

Travel was fairly steady on the road, and she faded quickly into the crowd of others traveling, losing herself in their midst as the flow carried her along without conscious thought. In her mind was only an image of Gwaddyn, reliving the memory of his loving care for her. He had left Bree once. He had never told her where he had gone, but she knew from the whispers around town that he had learned the wood craft not from Bree but from wherever he had traveled in his time away. That was long ago, but she imagined that even now she was following the same path that he had taken. That brought more lightness to her heart, and she was able to summon the smile that she had promised Gwaddyn she would use to greet every day.
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Postby Tempest » Sat Mar 18, 2006 5:58 pm

“Kata, how much longer will we stay in this ever-green part of Middle Earth? I shiver here even in the sunlight,” Zan said lazily, pausing long enough to throw a piece of grass he had been fidgeting with into the small campfire. His sister was standing with her face toward the setting sun and he could not see her face, or he would not have asked such a question. She was in one of her moods again.

”As much as I prefer the scorching desert, I would rather be here than in a Gondorian jail,” she snapped. ”Or swinging from a Gondorian noose.”

”I think that’s all been forgotten by now. It’s been nearly two years.”

”Some things are not so easily forgotten.”

He was silent at that, seeing the way she stood, as if all the muscles in her back were tense. No, he thought to himself, and some wounds are not easily healed either.

He shook the dirt from his pants and got up and came to where she stood. He saw then that her eyes were closed, as if she were trying hard to catch the last warmth of the departing sun.

He sighed. ”I only think we should move on from here. People are suspicious of me, especially since my hair has returned to its natural color. They will remember a Haradrim walked among them if there should be any trouble reported.”

Kata opened her eyes and studied him for several moments. ”Yes, you certainly do not belong here. But we cannot leave until we have word from Fornost. Besides, there are plenty of Easterlings around to blame if trouble should start.”

Zan grunted in frustration. ”I tire of these orders! I tire of these assignments to nowhere! As do you. I see it in your face, in the way your eyes have darkened in the last few months. Is it not time to return to Harad? To reclaim what was ours and feel the warmth of the sea mist against our faces again?” He flopped himself back down on the earth without waiting for her reply.

The two were silent, one standing, the other sitting for several minutes until finally the woman stirred herself out of her reverie and turned a hard look back on her brother. ”After this, we’ll be done. You’re right: we have lingered in these lands too long. We both have grown weary of it.”

”What I’m weary of are these boring assignments. Not enough action,” Zan muttered.

”The world has changed. It will never be the same again, even if we return. That life is over. Surely you see that.”

”No, no I don’t see that. I haven’t grown as cynical as you.”

She smiled thinly. ”Nor as wise. You’d better get going if you’re going to get to Weathertop before dark. Pick up the items from the blacksmith there. You can’t miss the shop.”

”What name is it under?”

”Sasha. I told him I’d send you.”

”Why don’t you go yourself?”

”I thought you were bored,” she said dryly.

”Yes, and I can’t think of anything more boring than making small talk in a ramshackle town.”

”Fine. You can stay here and start dinner.”

He grimaced at that. ”I’d rather buy something hot from one of the vendors,” he said, picking himself up and whistling for his horse. ”Anything else we need?”

”No.”

”Then, I’ll see you tomorrow. Don’t do anything fun without me.” He winked at her and dug his heels into the horse’s side.

”And, Zan,” she called after him.

”What?”

”Don’t do anything foolish.”
Last edited by Tempest on Sat Mar 18, 2006 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Vanaladiel » Sat Mar 18, 2006 7:59 pm

Having ridden a hard trail for several hours, Ande and Arë stopped as the sun came up to fix something to eat and give the horses some rest. The two of them had started out following the road then turned off the road working their way north going around and avoiding the Midge marshes, through several valleys and down a meadow to a wide stream that ran for miles from the Weather Hills north of Weather Top. Before the sun rose they had put many miles behind them and had done everything they could to hide their direction of travel. They had wound their way off the road and out into the countryside so as to give anyone who might wish to follow them a harder time tracking.

As Ande stopped he looked to the southeast and then to the east as the sun crested over the hills into the valley where they were. The sky was clear, the sun came up in a blaze of glory. Golden rays splayed out in every direction touching the earth. There were few clouds and the view was breathtaking. The warmth of its rays were a relief from the cool damp of the long night.

Without talking Ande started gathering up twigs and sticks to make a small fire to heat something to drink and get something to eat. After getting the fire makings in order he dug through his bag and found his flint and striker and set to work on the fire. When he finally had a small fire taking off he looked to Arë.

"I hope I havent put you through too much with the trail I have taken you on." His steel grey eyes smiled. Though he looked like he was fairly young he was older then his looks betrayed. He had been through many things and more then he would ever talk about but they didnt seem to have dulled his zest for life nor harden him when it came to other people. He was in his element in the wild and out on a trail.

Arë had been busy with gathering grains for the horses as Ande had worked on getting the fire going. She walked over as he spoke to her and sat upon a large rock that was near the fire but she remained silent.

"I think we will continue on this way for another day or so before we cut back south to a settlement that I know about where we can check to see if anyone is looking for us." Ande spoke eyeing Arë to see if she had any thoughts on where she wished to go or what she wanted for herself. As she sat quiet, he dug into the bag again looking for the packages of cheese and meats that they could make a meal from as the water from his waterskin heated in the cup for a warm drink for Are.

Offering Arë the warmed drink, Ande said, "This should warm you up and refresh your spirits for the ride to come." After a few minutes he added, "You need not say anything to me till you are ready but I promise that I wont bite." She kind of blushed but remained silent in contemplation of the man who was leading her out into the wild and away from the main road.

This continued for a couple of days winding their way towards the Weather Hills then turning south to follow them to Weather Top.. With the nights being spent along the hills in little out croppings that protected them from any wind and the nights chill. They were able to have fires and not worry about any unwanted eyes seeing them. Arë seemed thankful for the stops at night and the fire for the warmth, though her sleep didnt seem to be all that restful to Ande.

Ande didnt sleep that night as he was thinking about how they would be making their way to the settlement by mid day and what would happen then.
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Postby Shadow_of_the_Past » Sun Mar 19, 2006 11:57 pm

Are remained silent for the three days while they were treveling, lost in her thoughts. She was more exhausted then she had ever been, not only because of their hard trekking through the wild but because her dreams were filled with disturbing thoughts and pictures, she would awaken from her fitful slumber feeling as if she had not slept at all. Are was thankful to have company on the journy and Ande was the nicest person she could have ever hoped to travel with, she was enternally grateful to him for helping her and felt she should give something in return but she had nothing that would be of value to him.

So they journeyed onward and turned south towards weathertop. On the fourth night since Bree, Are spoke,

"thank you for everything you've done for me," Ande looked up from his meal, surprised. Are grinned, "I do speak, you know, I’ve just been...preoccupied," he smiled back.

"if you dont mind me asking, who was that oaf of a man back at the inn?"
Are's smile faded, and she rolled her eyes," that was Bryntar, its a long story, but to make it short..." she paused collecting her thoughts before continuing, " my foster parents promised me to him, and I ran away, he followed, and paid my parents for me. So now he has spent money on me he wont give up." but then on a lighter note she added, "but Bryntar is in no way a tracker so he has no chance of finding me!" Are giggled she hadnt mentioned that by the size of him, Bryntar couldn’t ride a horse for very long before the horse would be exhausted.

They both fell silent and Are stared into the bright flames of the fire, small animals of the night crept around, just outside the ring of light cast by the small fire, leaves crunching underfoot. Are looked up at Ande, “so we’re going to Amon Sûl?” Ande looked up in surprise, Weathertop hadn’t been called that in a long time, not since the departure of the elves. He smiled, “yes, to Weathertop.”
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Postby Tobias_Red-tail » Fri Mar 24, 2006 2:47 am

“Miss, would you like to stop for the night?” Her driver turned around from his position in the front of the carriage. “It’s growing late, and Weathertop is only a short ride more away. We can rest there, if you please.”

The lady in question was reclined comfortably on a pile of cushions, which made an otherwise rough ride relatively more enjoyable. She did not even raise her head to look at him, only dismissed him with a casual wave of her hand, and returned to the book she was reading. As long as she made it to her destination in time for the appointment, it didn’t matter to her how many times he wanted to stop, or where. As soon as she thought of her appointment, subconsciously, her fingers moved to her side, where a small pouch lay nestled among the cushions, blending in perfectly at a glance, so well that no one would have noticed its presence. A touch was enough to reassure her that its contents were still fully intact, and her posture relaxed once again.

She couldn’t imagine the consequences if anything untoward were to happen to that pouch. Her mistress had trusted her with such an important assignment, and if she failed… Her entire world would crumble to pieces around her. The moment she had agreed to take this task on in order to prove herself, her mistress had warned her of the consequences of failing to carry it out. If she should be unsuccessful, death would already be too light a sentence, as a result of the repercussions of her act on the other parties involved… Such as her mistress. Her mistress was a prominent lady in the social circles of Fornost, a woman whom men of high standing wished to be seen in the company of, for her beauty and intelligence was enough to snare the imagination of nearly any man. Coupled with the fact she was the youngest daughter from a noble family, with wealth and numerous titles to her name, it was hardly surprising that she would have countless suitors calling on her every single day.

As a result, failing in her assignment was out of the question. To do so would be betraying all the trust her mistress had in her, and more importantly, she would be ruining her own future. And that was something she had no interest in doing any time soon, especially not now, when a chance to raise her status was within her reach.

Finally, drawing back the curtains of the small window by her side, she saw Weathertop come into view. It looked no different from any of the other small towns they had passed through and spent the night in so far. With a sigh, she let the fabric fall back into place. With every new town they passed, her desire to return back to the bustling city of Fornost grew ever stronger. She missed the capital, with its elegant buildings and gardens. Here, in the middle of the road, there was only the clang of metal on metal from the blacksmith’s shop, plain buildings that lacked in elegance, and noise. Yet despite its plain and boring appearance, she had to admit that even spending the night here was preferential to spending the night in the middle of nowhere.

By the time the carriage came to a halt, it was already dark. Gently pushing the door of her carriage open, she stepped out into the streets, her legs more than a little shaky after the ride. Light from the torches was absorbed in the darkness of her hair, and the flickering lights lent a warm glow to her face. Long lashed eyes blinked a few times to get used to different surroundings, as slim fingers held onto the side of the carriage for a form of support as she regained her balance. Her dress, of a pale blue shade of silk, fitted her form perfectly, and she held on to the long skirt with her other hand to hold it above the ground as she took a few steps down the street.

Her driver had since left his position, and went over to her, thinking to warn her of the dangers that lay ahead for a young woman with apparently no means to defend herself with at all, and to accompany her if she so wished, out of a worry that she would be hurt, and he would be answerable to her mistress, who had tasked him with getting her safely to her destination and back.

“Miss Sibeal… The streets here are not exactly safe for a young woman to walk alone, especially not one like you. If you wish to wander around, please allow me to follow you to ensure your safety.”

Her eyes took on a cool sheen to their usual warmth, and she shook her head.

“No, I hardly think that is necessary. I will be fine.”

Without waiting for his reply, she turned on her heel and walked down the street, her soft boots making absolutely no sound at all on the stones. Once again, her fingers wandered to the pouch by her side. As long as she had that beside her, there was nothing to worry about at all.
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Postby Vanaladiel » Fri Mar 24, 2006 1:43 pm

The night passed and as the morning light rose so did the clouds and the drizzle. They resumed their travels with only a light meal so they could be out of the mountains before mid day.

Soon the dirzzle became heavy rain and they both were drenched to the bone. The cold cut through them so that their hands ached and their minds could think of nothing more then to find a dry place to warm back up.

As they rounded a boulder the size of a small hill, the town that had sprung up at Weather Top came into view, Only a short trip down from the mountainous terrain was left between them and finding shelter.

It was just past midday when they trudged their horses onto the main road and sauntered into town. The streets were busy even though it was raining hard. People dashed across the street to other stores and tents. There were mostly pickle jars buildings at the end of town where they came in. Further down they could make out some buildings that looked to have been built for housing or businesses.

Turning to Arë, her hood drawn up tight and her wet hair sticking to her face in streams as the water ran off her. "I will find us a place for the horses and then we can find a place to stay." She nodded and they continued on down the road. Soon the blacksmiths barn came into view and they turned in.

Andelothian dropped off his horse and approached the man there working his iron. "Excuse me do you have room for a couple more horses?"

The man barely looked up from his chore and nodded. "Yup, I can handle a few more today."

"Thank you. And what price do you require for tending to the horses?" Ande untied his purse from his belt willing to settle the fee.

"Just tell me when you wish to be ready to leave and I will settle the cost, ..... but a few coins should get them settled in and fed." The mans hand black with the sweat and filth of his work was held out toward Ande. He quickly placed a couple of silver coins in the hand and the man hollered out towards the back of the stable area.

"Taylor... get in here and tend to these folks horses!" A scrawny lad about 12 came into the light and smiled at Ande and Arë. Ande walked over and held his hand out to her as she got off her horse and the young lad took the reins and led them off into dry stalls in the back.

"Now friend, could you point us in the direction of the nearest Inn?" Ande watched to the blacksmith.

"Its down on the right about three doors. Guard your money or you wont be able to get your horses back. The places around here can be kind of rough if you get my meaning." The Blacksmith stated without looking up from his iron and hammer.

"Thank you again." Ande stated as he turned back to Arë. "Come lady and I shall find you shelter and food." He placed his arm around her to place the idea of his protection as they walked along the muddy street to the Inn. As they left the shelter of the Blacksmiths stable the sounds of hammer meeting steel resumed and the sounds of laughter and loud chatter were grew louder. It wasnt hard to find the Inn as the place was the busiest in this type of weather. Ande pushed the door open and let Arë enter first. She stepped in and dropped the hood of her cloak and wiped the hairs sticking to her face to the side so she could see better.

A fire was burning in a small fireplace to the left of the room and Ande ushered Arë closer to it. "Come and warm yourself while I get us a couple of rooms." He then turned, dropping his own hood and moved into the inns foyer and asked a plump waitress that was dashing through the room to the kitchen where he might find the proprietor.

"That be him over at the corner table lad!" she pointed then disappeared out through a swinging door.

Ande moved over to the table where two men were arm wrestling and a crowd was laughing and cheering the competition on.

"Come on Tap you can do it. Put old Dobby in his place!" One man chided as he slopped his drink back to his face.

"Excuse me!" Ande spoke. "Can anyone tell me where I might find the proprietor of this establishment?"

"Right here lad!" A man slapped his shoulder as he turned from the display of might. A stout man with a head of curly hair, not much taller then the lad from the stables. His round face showed his relation to the hobbits in the area. "Now what can I do for you lad?"

"Well sir, I need to rent a couple of rooms for I and a traveling companion." Ande smiled to the man who was smiling as he glanced over to the woman warming herself at the fire. Arë had dropped off her cloak and was enjoying the warmth that the fire was putting off.

"Why lad she looks to be frozen and half drown." He turned his face to Ande, "Yes by all means let me get someone to show you to your rooms and perhaps the lady would like a hot bath to help her warm up a bit before something to eat?" Ande smiled, he liked this guy.

"Oh my name is,.... well it doesnt matter what my name is.." The man sputtered out. "Everyone in these here parts calls me Tubbs."

"Thank you Mr. Tubbs, I think she would like that very much."

"No no I mean they call me Tubbs, not Mr. Tubbs. So you can call me when you need anything." About that time the man had walked Ande back towards the kitchens swinging door and he pushed it in as he shouted into the kitchen. "Hey Sil where you at?? I got some customers here who need someone to show them to their rooms. Get with it!"

"Thank you Tubbs, can I pay you anything right now?" Ande asked but Tubbs waved him off and as a young woman came from the kitchen she smiled, her green eyes flashed as Tubbs told her to get them to two of the rooms in the back where it was quieter and to get the young woman a hot bath going immediately. Sil disappeared back into the kitchen.

Ande walked over and tapped Arë's shoulder. "They have rooms for us and they are going to get you a hot bath if you like before we eat... Is that alright with you?"

Arë's nodded and her face beamed her delight in the idea as together they walked back over towards the kitchen doors just as Sil returned. she guided them up the stairs and down the hallway. "I hopes these rooms are to your liken."

"I am sure they will be." Ande smiled.

"Ere you go. Now the lady will be in this room and you can be in the one next to er." The woman appeared to have hobbit blood as well from the short stature that she had but she wasnt plump like you would expect a hobbit to be. Her features were more just miniature to someone like Ande. But her grace wasnt lost on her size at all.

"Thank you, was it Sil?" Ande asked.

"Yes sir, and I will have the ladies bath ready in short order." She smiled at Arë

"Thank you." was all Arë thought to say as she opened her door to her room and saw the clean bed and the comfort of a dry room. Ande turned and went to his room as Sil left them to settle in.
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Postby Shadow_of_the_Past » Fri Mar 24, 2006 6:08 pm

The rain pounded on the roof as Are opened the door to the small but incredibly warm room. There was a comfortable looking bed in the corner, a nightstand next to it, a small washstand in the opposite corner and, the thing that Are was most pleased about, the small fireplace in the centre of the wall opposite to the bed. About 10 minutes later, Sil knocked on the door.

“Miss your bath is ready, if you’ll follow me,” Are got up and followed the short woman out of the room, she caught up with her and walked along the hallway beside her, “call me Are.”

They reached a small steamy washroom with a large tub filled almost to the brim with hot water. Sil turned to Are, “your friend asked to have some dry clothes brought up for you to wear while your wet ones dry,” Are smiled to herself, “he sure is thoughtful!” Sil nodded and left Are to bathe.

Are stripped of the wet clothes and stepped into the warm water, she shivered as she lowered herself into the steaming hot water letting it envelop her. The heat gradually ebbed away at the cold that still clung to her bones. She was unaware of the time that passed but she was woken from her trance like state by Sil entering the room with a towel and dry clothes.
Are dried off and put on the long two toned green dress with long flowing sleeves and gold trim. The dress fitted her figure perfectly, it was the nicest dress Are had ever worn (she never had anything nice where she came from, just work clothes.) She loosely pulled up her long hair and secured it with a clip letting loose bits fall over her face.

She followed Sil back to her room where she bid her goodnight taking Are’s wet clothes with her. Are went into her room to find a fire crackling merrily in the grate. She smiled to herself, she wasn’t used to being treated like this. She went into the hall and closed the door to her room behind her, she knocked on Ande’s door to see if he was dry and ready to eat.
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Postby Vanaladiel » Fri Mar 24, 2006 7:09 pm

When Ande opened the door to the room that Sil had shown him, he stepped into a neat tidy little room with nothing special to it but would more then suit his need. He opened his pack that he had brought in with him. He pulled his clothes out that were drenched as well. A frown creased his brow at the idea of changing into wet clothes because everything was already soaked. He hung his cloak over a chair and moved it near the fireplace that was on the opposite wall from the bed. He threw another log on the already burning fire. He pulled his wet shirt off over his head. He looked about the room but didnt want to sit on the bed with his soaked clothes. So he grabbed his cloak and wrapped it around himself as he went out of the room and down the hallway to the main tap room.

He stopped at the base of the stairs that led up to the rooms and motioned to Sil who was waiting on tables again.

"Yes sir?" She smiled as she came over to where he stood.

"Is there a place nearby where I can purchase some dry clothes for myself and my friend?" He smiled shyly.

"Well, yes sir there is a small shop just down the way." she pointed out the door and down the street back the way they had come.

"Thank you." He started to moved towards the door when she gently took hold of his arm.

"Sir we can send someone to get what you need. There is no need for you to go back out into that rain again. Stay and get warmed up, I will bring you a towel and send one of the boys out for any thing you need." She smiled and snapped her fingers, a young man came up to her. "See Tad here will fetch you what ya need. Wont you Tad?"

The boy simply nodded and then followed Ande up to his room where he wrote down what he needed and handed the young man some money. "If this isnt enough I can send more."

"No sir that should be more then enough." Then he turned and Ande could hear him run off down the hallway and then the clap of the door shutting in the taproom.

It wasnt ten minutes after that Sil turned up at the room with a towel and the bundle of new clothes. "Ere sir they even sent the change." She held out the coins in her hand.

"Please give them to Tad for me as I think he should get something for going out in this downpour." He smiled

"Thank ya sir, I shall do just that then." As she turned he stopped her.

"Wait a minute." He dropped the bundle and fumbled to open the string with his still cold fingers. Finally winning out the bundles laid open to show off some mens pants, a shirt, a simple but pretty dress and a couple of marked packages. "Here can you take these to my friend?" He handed her the dress and a small bundle that surely was some other things that his young traveling companion would need.

"Yes sir I will." and then she was gone out the door.

Ande turned back to the bundle on the bed and opened the smaller package. It held a pair of simple slippers for his feet. He had already kicked off his wet boots and was warming his toes with the fires warmth when Sil had come back. Now he pulled off his pants and slid on the new dry breaches and pulled the slippers of rabbit skin on his feet. The warmth was heaven. He then pulled out the new white shirt and slipped it over his head. Now he felt better. He sat down again by the fire and pulled out a book that he carried in his pouch on his belt. He started writing some things in it when a soft knock came at the door.

As he opened the door to his room there stood Arë looking much better, clean and dry. She smiled and he couldnt help but think of how pretty she looked at that moment. Then he remembered how she had looked in front of the fire after they had first arrived. Ole Tubbs called it right at the time, she had looked frozen and half drowned. But now she looked very splendid.

"Are you ready to get something to eat?" he asked

She smiled back, "Yes and thank you for the new dress. It's lovely!" He wasnt sure but he thought she kind of blushed and he liked it.

"Well then... let's get some food into our stomachs before we waste away." He held up his arm offering it to her so that he could take her to the dining room as the lady that he felt she was. She smiled and then placed her hand on his arm and together they went down the hallway looking fine in their new clothes.

Once there they looked about the room. there were people of every kind there. Men who were talking about the issues of the day. Couples seated together in quiet dinners. Others were laughing and drinking up just to be drinking. Ande spied a table in the corner where there had been men wrestling when they got there. It was now empty so he lead her to the table and got her seated. She smiled up at Ande as he lowered himself into the chair opposite her.

It wasnt but a moment later that another waitress came up to the table.

"So what do you two dears need tonight?"

"Well, what do you have on the menu to eat as my friend and I are ravenous." He looked to Arë as she nodded that she was hungry too.

"Well, we have stewed rabbit, with carrots and taters, some fresh warm bread with butter, but then if you would rather have something else I can see what the cook can fix for ya." She looked at both of them.

"No that would be fine, thank you." Ande answered "Just what you have sounds great, dont you think Arë?"

Arë Smiled and sighed.
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Postby Tempest » Tue Apr 18, 2006 5:31 pm

It was nearly dark when Weathertop finally came into view and by then, Zan had repented of his earlier remarks to his sister and was in a more somber mood. He watched as lights flickered in campfires and shops, small against the approaching night.

He found the blacksmith's shop easily enough, for it was obviously one of the more prosperous shops in the growing town, complete with a smartly painted sign that hung on brass hooks dimmed with soot from the forges. Zan stepped up to one of the apprentices and gave the name "Sasha." The man gave him a look marked with a slight frown and disappeared into the back. He returned a moment later with a burly man, obviously the proprietor of the place who also wore a slight frown on his face.

"Sasha, you say? It was a woman who dropped off the order," he said gruffly.

"My sister, and I know she told you I would pick it up." Zan replied curtly.

"Sister? Do you take me for a fool? She was not of Harad."

"Looks can be deceiving," Zan said with a mirthless smile. "I assure you, I am sent by her. We paid good money, and we will have what is ours." The threat was clear, and Grenmar's eyes narrowed considerably at it.

"You are not among friends here. You best be moving on," the blacksmith said in a low tone.

"I will be, once I get what I paid for."

There was a pause as each man summed up the other. Grenmar had been hoping for a quiet evening, and the dark-eyed man before him had no intention of leaving without the weapons he ordered. With a grunt, he threw the wrapped bundle to him. It was exactly this kind of riff-raff that he didn't want business from, for his scowl deepened when he considered what might crimes and blood might be shed with these weapons he himself forged.

"Don't come around here again. I don't do business with such as you," he spat, turning around and being enveloped once more in the smoke.

"It's been a pleasure," Zan said with a shrug, shouldering the bundle without looking in it. Next time, he would tell Kata to pick up her own packages. She passed for a safer character than he.

In a blackening mood, Zan packed the weapons on his horse and turned his attention to finding dinner. There were plently of merchants with small fires and hearty meals, and he needed only to choose. The savory meat and vegetables made his mouth water and it was not long until he sat on the grassy knoll finishing his supper and watching the people moving by.

One woman in particular caught his eye. She was young and obviously out of place. He was first noticed her when her carriage had ambled up and she had deposited herself quite serenely on the cobbled stones, sauntering around as if she was at complete ease.

Except for the way her hand drifted reassuringly to her side from time to time.

"Carrying something you're afraid to lose?" Zan said softly to himself with a smile. "Careful, love, there are ruffians afoot."

With that said, he brushed the crumbs from his lap and quietly, and unobtrusively began to follow her.
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Postby Tempest » Tue Apr 18, 2006 5:31 pm

Double post. :shock:
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