Crossroads

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Crossroads

Postby Kaya » Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:59 am

Hail and well met, wanderer of these boards.

A significant amount of time has passed since our (as in, Jaeniver’s and Kaya’s) muses were this active and bouncing around, begging for an opportunity to live through some more adventures in Middle-Earth.
It would be an act of cruelty to deny them such a wish. Therefore, you find here, under your very nose, the thread where we will let our muses loose.
Be very afraid. Or at least, consider yourselves warned. ;)

We wanted to keep it ‘light’ at first, and headed for the Lucky Fortune Inn in the Welcome forum. But after only a handful of posts our writings already had become quite lengthy and not without a plot in mind, either character- or action driven. Therefore, we thought it better to ‘move our business’ to a place where we could continue to do this freely, and leave the Lucky Fortune Inn to its original purpose.

We have copied our posts from the LFI-thread into this new place, and now will continue with our story. Due to the fact that this storyline did start in the Lucky Fortunate Inn, we’ll be borrowing this setting (hopefully this won’t pose a problem), until our characters decide it’s time to catch some air at last, and move on.

We’re both looking forward to reacquaint with our many muses, and hope that you, dear reader, will find our brainwaves not too scary / crazy and at least a bit entertaining. :)

We beg you to refrain from making comments in this thread, for we want to keep the flow of the story intact. If you really feel like you must tell us your thoughts on our story, please do so in our comments thread.

List of characters (at this point):
Jaeniver: Scélian, Rhowain, Helmund, Halthon.
Kaya: Bréhon, Berhelf, Kaya, Kos el-Qadah, Heldred, Elenya Elemirrë.

*~*~*

It was the sixth year of the Fourth Age - by the Stewards’ Reckoning - and a couple of days short of Yáviérë, the Harvest feast that had been celebrated since many a century within the former Realm of Gondor.
Since the claiming of the High Kingship by Elessar, the Two Kingdoms - Gondor and Arnor - had been reunited, and many a tradition had been brought across their borders with the travels of their inhabitants. The Harvest feast was just one of them.

The Lucky Fortune Inn, located at the eastern end of The Great East Road, was in high preparation of the feast, for many a traveller was expected to stay at the Inn during the forthcoming days, or use its facilities to rest and eat while passing through.
What added to the excitement was that word went around that King Elessar himself would be coming to the Northern Kingdom. For matters of business concerning Annúminas most importantly, since it was known he was refounding the city to its former glory. But it was anticipated that the King also would dwell the lands and maybe, if the stars would align in a fortunate way, that he would repose in this humble Inn.

It was evening now, practically night, and the owners and servants of the Inn had been labouring all day: buying ingredients to stock up, giving the upstairs rooms a thorough cleaning, and prodding the local brewer for the delivery of at least a dozen more barrels of ale. Merchants had started putting up camp in the surrounding area, hoping to find customers amongst the many locals and travellers. So far only a handful had arrived, yet many more were expected.

The crowd that was scattered across the main room of the Inn was of a mixed origin.
There were those who had dwelled these lands since long and those that been born in the White City. Amongst the latter there were even a few Gondorian knights, the white tree embroidered on their black capes with skill and pride. A couple of inhabitants from the Bree-land were present too; they were absorbed into a discussion over the various spices from the South of which a few travellers already had brought samples, and whether or not Haradrim merchants would expand their horizon this year towards these parts. It was still a topic of discussion too if this would be something to rejoice about, or not.
Halflings there were none present, or at least not yet. Dwarves hardly ever had come here so their absence went by unnoticed, and only two of the Elvenkind were present, seated together in the farthest booth, their backs straight and faces unreadable. There weren’t many of them left now, as most had left the shores of Middle-Earth and had returned to the Undying lands. But still, a faithful few had remained.
Unmentioned until now were those of Rohan. Word went around they only let their sense of duty lure them this far past their borders, and as such their visits to these regions were scarce. Keeping mostly to themselves, the mighty Horse lords were known to come and go as they saw fitted, for their nature was ever restless yet their minds focussed (apart from maybe when there was ale being served, but it was up to speculation if such was an old wife’s tale, or not), whether they were riding the plains of their homeland, or travelling far abroad.

It is in this setting, dear reader, that our tale begins...
Last edited by Kaya on Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:12 am, edited 11 times in total.
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Postby Scélian » Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:12 pm

Things hadn’t gone exactly as planned. Come to think of it, nothing in Scélian’s life had gone as planned. First there had been the old drunk her mother had sold her to that smelled of mold that had to pass for a husband. Then came the puppeteer who loved his whip more than his puppets. Not having the will or the patience to stick that out she had left his company one day at nightfall, leaving the city of Gondor. She had wandered through many towns and holdings renting herself for many an odd job. Far from any real town she had come across this nice enough inn. Its stables had been a very warm welcome from the pouring rain storm that darkened the land the past few days. She had been caught sleeping in the stables by the Innkeeper. Just the luck. He had had no intention to listen to her most honest pleads of innocence. Not even the batting of a lash or two or generous compliment about his large and oh so warm stables would make him budge. Instead he had offered her a deal. She would pitch in and in turn she would get a bed in the servants quarters. If she wouldn’t , she could leave. Rain or no rain. Hard man to bargain with. The rain was of a kind that soaked man, horse and hound to the bone. She knew when to count her losses. She took the deal.

That was how Scélian came to find herself in a stained yellow apron with a rag thrown over her shoulder, leaning lazily against the far end of the bar near one of the banked down fires. Heather, one of the inn’s workers, had done a thorough job clearing the inn of most clutter and had even prepared fresh dough for next morrow’s breakfast. She was a responsible one Scélian gathered. Little left for her to do but eye the few customers left around the room. Fine by her. She had a room for this night anyway. The customers came from all over Middle Earth she observed. She saw travellers with a dog or two, some more sedy looking keeping well to themselves. A couple of elves who, despite their travelling attire, looked well adorned with a couple of expensive looking broaches. Squinting a bit she could see the closing mechanism. A pin had to be bend to open the broach. The pin was small but not too small for her hands. If she could just... But no, might not be the greatest idea to try get your hands , however nimbly, on a customer’s belongings as a hired help. Shame. They did not look like they’d miss it. It would mean three meals a day and a warm bed for the next two weeks for her at least. With great difficulty she broke her gaze away from the golden and jewel encrusted ornament. Trying hard to look uninterested she met the cool blue eyes of the wearer. The fair haired elf matched her stare. Scélian frowned slightly. She never did like elves much. No one who thought they were better than her, especially because they we ages older than her. And this particular one looked like he had had tea with Eru himself judging by his haughty look. Scélian snorted disdainfully and broke away first, running one of her slender hands through her thick reddish brown curls.

“Would you mind?”one of the maids dumped a tray of freshly washed mugs on the counter. “Quit staring and make yourself useful. Use that rag instead of wearing it.” As the woman turned her back , not looking back twice Scélian poked out her tong at her back but whipped out the rug and starting drying off the brown and grey mugs while moving a bit closer to the fire as the door of the inn had opened, letting in a draft of cold night air.
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Postby Bréhon » Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:23 pm

It had been years. Or so it felt to the rider when he slowly dismounted his horse near the Lucky Fortune Inn. Before he turned his attention fully to his horse, his dark eyes glanced over the Inn, briefly but long enough to notice that not much had changed in his absence.

The main building and the stables lay in darkness, apart from the inside light shining through the windows and the sparsely hung candle lanterns throwing eerie shadows around the Inn’s perimeters, making it less likely to break your neck while moving around. The moon playing hide and seek behind clouds helped their cause a great deal as well.

Bréhon was relieved the Inn’s lights weren’t off yet. It was evidence of activity and since their hour to arrive was late, at least their chances to still find a place to rest were not yet destroyed before they had set foot inside.

Even though he was thirsty and beat, a rider’s horse held priority. The dark bay’s coat of fur was shiny with sweat while Bréhon, as was the rider’s name, was covered in dust. He patted his stallion’s neck and spoke soft words while he led the horse to the stable. Right before he entered he stopped and looked over his shoulder. Ignoring the woman who was already moving past him, he called out to his young companion.

“Berhelf!”

The young rider, who still was gazing at the Inn, startled and turned a wide eyed look at him. “Yes, Captain?”

Bréhon grumbled something unclear under his breath. The youth kept calling him Captain even though they were not on official business. Truth was, he had not been riding under the official banner of his homeland since a while.

His mission of now was a private one. A folly one too, perhaps. One does not easily find those who wish to stay hidden. In any case, private did not mean it had been a lonely journey. Of this, Berhelf was responsible.

“Hurry up, lad. I’m not becoming any younger here.”

“Obviously not,” Berhelf muttered while he lead his own horse, a dapple grey, closer. “Sorry,” Berhelf whispered next, his eyes cast to the ground, when he passed by Bréhon.

“We’re all tired, lad,” Bréhon said, following him in. “A good stew and brew will work miracles.”

“If they still serve us, and have still rooms available. I’d really like to sleep in a bed for once.”

Bréhon sighed. He knew Berhelf was tired, more than tired even, and that the longing for adventure that once had driven the boy to follow into Bréhon’s footsteps – literally – had since long deserted him. “We’ll find out soon enough,” Bréhon said. He about prayed there would still be rooms available, as it seemed a huge event was imminent. He ruffled Berhelf's blond mop and then they both set to unsaddling their horses.

“Shall I go inside and make sure they keep open a little longer, and arrange us rooms to sleep?” The woman had helped her horse to food and water and now was rubbing its coat dry. Her brown hair was tussled and her grey eyes, despite showing the signs of tiredness they all bore, were still alert.

“Yes. Sure.” Bréhon held out his hand. “I’ll finish that for you.”

She nodded in thanks, and handed him the cloth before she picked up her few belongings: a rucksack, a rolled up cloak and a quiver and bow. She glanced up at the rafters while she walked and turned out of sight once she was outside.

Berhelf and Bréhon finished soon after, quick and handy as they were in the business of caretaking when it came to horses. Both carrying their packs and weapons, they headed for the Inn’s door.

Many moons had passed since Bréhon had seen a little fortune. Maybe a visit to the Inn with its promising name could bring a change to that.

“You ready to step into a place laden with history?” Bréhon asked Berhelf jokingly right before he pushed the door open. The boy looked unsure now, but still he nodded. “Alright, let’s go then.”

They quickly moved inside and closed the door behind them, shutting out the cold.

Bréhon looked around, warily at first. It had been so long and there were memories attached to this Inn he was not sure of if he was ready to face them.

His eyes quickly found Kaya, who stood near the fire, warming her hands while talking to a woman with thick curls, wearing an apron. The woman, Bréhon guessed she was a servant to the place, shook her head with an uncertain expression, then pointed towards another woman who emerged from a back room at that moment.

Bréhon nudged Berhelf in front of him. They moved over to the women who, during the past weeks, had guided them through Eriador. He leaned in close to Kaya and asked in a hushed tone, “So, is it back to the stables for us, or are there still rooms to spare and food to share?” Raising his brows in question, he meanwhile glanced around at the other visitors to the Inn, and the ones who seemed to run the place.
Last edited by Bréhon on Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Scélian » Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:30 pm

Whilst wiping the mugs the maid had given her Scélian felt a chill run down her spine as the door of the inn opened. A woman, a ranger dressed in a dust covered cloak made a beeline for the counter, and for her. ‘They think I work here.’ That thought suddenly dawned on her. Scélian had stopped wiping the mugs and watched the ranger come near.

“Good evening. I wanted to ask if you still have some rooms available and something warm to eat? “

Scélian looked round to see if Heather was anywhere around. She wasn’t, or at least she couldn’t find her. Maybe another made knew. As she tried to pick her brain for the name of one of the sullen looking girls that she had seen mopping the floor and plucking the chickens for the stew earlier this would be so much easier. She hadn’t expected to need any of them tonight. “I... I will ask. I am not the right person to make such reservations.” Suddenly she caught sight of another apron coming out of the pantry. A young freckled girl with two loose braids carrying a large sack of wheat. “Ah there’s the person you need to talk to. Margeret...oh Margaret!”

”The name’s Ellie –“

She ignored the scowl and gave her a charming smile in return “Ellie, of course. Just slipped my mind. Be a doll and see to this lady. “

“But I have dough waiting in the kitchen..Heather surely...”

“Ah yes, of course but Heather is as you are obviously aware not available at the moment. She surely wouldn’t object to you taking responsibility and make sure the lady gets what she asks for.”

For a second time the door opened and a tall, evenly dusty looking rider strode in, followed by something less of a tall rider, more a helper boy and joined the ranger near the fire. “So, is it back to the stables for us, or are there still rooms to spare and food to share?” Alright, he was rather dusty and muddy but with a thorough rinsing he’d be as good as new and not looking all too shabby. The young one looked more like a peasant’s son if not for the small rider insignia on his cloak. A wash would not be all he needed. Scélian let out a small chuckle. “I wouldn’t advise it. If they catch you they’ll make you work for it.”

Ellie threw her a disapproving look “Of course we don’t let our guests work.”

“That’s what you say.” Scélian muttered under her breath. “While the lovely Ellie sees to your accommodation milady and gentlemen, please have a seat. Anywhere you like. I will see to something hardy to warm you right up.” And she threw a wink at the exhausted looking boy before she turned , remembering her way to the kitchen and leaving her mug wiping task behind, the rag thrown over her shoulder once again.
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Postby Bréhon » Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:36 pm

Hearing those words of rescue, Berhelf looked around the Inn with curiosity for the first time. The people, few in numbers as they were, didn’t look like a threat, and the Inn itself looked pleasant enough.

Bréhon laid a hand on his shoulder. “Everything alright?”

Berhelf nodded. “Sure. Where shall we sit?”

“Just pick a free boot and sit down, before you crash to the floor.” Turning Berhelf around by the shoulder Bréhon nudged him towards a couple of boots that were available. Berhelf shuffled to the closest one and sank onto one of the benches. He slid towards the wall when Bréhon indicated he’d sit next to him. Kaya, who had followed them, took a seat across of them.

Bréhon and Berhelf sat in silence - Berhelf with his head down and his hands on his lap, and the older rider quietly looking around. Kaya was digging in her rucksack and took out a pouch from which she retrieved various herbs she had picked underway. She held them up between her fingers and sniffed at them while eyeing them like they were precious stones.

It had been sheer luck they had walked into her, over a month ago now, when they had found themselves lost in the Hills of Evendim. She had agreed to guide them back towards civilization, weary of their appearance at first – he agreed Berhelf and he might pass for brigands on first glance – but still she had brought them safely past Lake Nenuial, across the River Brandywine, past the Hills of Scary until they met the river again and entered Buckland briefly before they continued to Bree, where they finally parted.

Bréhon and Berhelf had stayed at the Prancing Pony for only one night, and after restocking in the morning were all set to continue their journey. They had taken the Great East Road but had hardly left Bree-land behind them when they had encountered with their affable guide once again. She was standing still, her eyes on the sky ahead, her horse grazing close by.

“Leaving already?” she had asked.

“The journey is still long,” Bréhon had answered.

“What is your destination?”

“Home, eventually." The words had sounded meaningless even to his own ears. "But for now we’re heading towards the Misty Mountains.”

“I could accompany you,” she had offered, and it had taken him by surprise.

“That’s very kind of you, Miss, but there is a road leading there and despite how it might have looked like when we first met, we don’t have the habit of getting lost.” He had ended with a chuckle but then had caught sight of Berhelf's gloomy stare.

Bréhon was convinced that, would he have told they’d be heading home instead, the boy would have been ecstatic. But Bréhon wasn’t ready to return to Rohan, not yet. Not until there wasn’t a stone in Middle-earth left unturned. Bréhon also had understood during the previous days that the young rider adored the company of the ranger, who was easy on the eye and on most days likely more enjoyable company than Bréhon was. Bréhon had not made any progress after such a long time on the road, which was not what he had expected when he had set off many moons ago, and had to admit he could be grumpy at times over this. And Berhelf, he was only a child. A child of 14 that in their society was seen as a boy capable of defending his country, but from Bréhon’s experiences with him a child nonetheless. It was something he would never tell Berhelf though, and he made sure not to show him either. The boy would have been too offended and pouty for days on end. No one would benefit from that.
Truth was, at times Berhelf reminded him of his younger self. So Bréhon made a split second decision.

“On the other hand, if the lady wouldn’t mind keeping us company for a little longer, who are we to refuse such a gallant offer?” Berhelf's spirits had noticeably risen, hearing those words.

They hadn’t continued their journey right away, though. They had to wait for Kaya’s kestrel to return, first. Meanwhile she had picked some berries and herbs, and Bréhon had stalked around nervously, not happy with this delay so close to a road.

But they had set off eventually and now, days later, they were sitting here, in the Lucky Fortune Inn. Mead had been brought to them, and Bréhon could smell the cooking taking place in the kitchen from where they were sitting.
He glanced aside, to Berhelf, who was all but nodding. He wondered if maybe it had been enough.
There always came a time when one had to face his own limits, and when one had tried everything without result, it might be better to draw one's conclusions. Maybe this was such a time.
Who was to say that he was still alive, even? It was madness to continue like this.

“What would you say,” he started quietly, drawing both Kaya and Berhelf's attention even though he looked at the boy in particular, “if we headed home?”

At that point, plates with steamy food were placed before their noses. Bréhon smiled in appreciation at the woman who served them, by this missing the look of panic on Berhelf's face. By the time he looked back at Berhelf, the boy had composed himself again, and was focussed solely on his food.

Bréhon glanced at Kaya who, with a slight frown marring her brow, took up her cutlery. He mumbled an “enjoy” and dug into his food as well.

After two bites the ordeals of the past days were already pushed to the background. Meanwhile, the idea that their homelands would become their next destination became more than just a few words uttered in tiredness. And for the first time, it didn’t feel like he’d have given up easily, should they head out southwards tomorrow morning.
Last edited by Bréhon on Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Rhowaín » Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:54 pm

Rhowain’s sleep was deep and dreamless. Exhaustion filled every limb which were slowly going cold by the hard ground and the occasional rock bedded in his back. But at least here the ground was dry. Which was a first since weeks. It had been a tiring search through the woods to find a place where it was dry to set up camp and light a fire for the night without attracting any predators. The chosen spot was dry but the soil riddled with hard pointy rocks partly sticking out of the ground. It hardly made a comfortable bed but that wasn’t the point. Not the point at all.

Suddenly his sleep was disturbed by something sharp hitting him on the cheek. With one swift motion Rhowain pulled his knife and sat up, ready to strike at once. Instead he got hit again by the same sharp object, on his elbow this time. Bewildered and his eyes full of sleep he looked sideways to find a grinning Helthan looking back at him from across the fire as he continued to throw little sharp pebbles at Rhowain.

“Morning sunshine.”

“Watch where you’re throwing these rocks will you!”

“ That’s the whole point. I tried calling you three times but you were far away my friend. Had to result to more drastic measures. Was either the rocks or the horse droppings.”

“Glad you choice the rocks then.” Rhowain mumbled. It was bad enough he smelled of horse, wood and damp soil for three days now and the thought of adding manure to that fragrance was far from appealing. “Why did you wake me?”

“Your shift. You’ve been sleeping like a baby for a good 4 hours now. My turn. If I can ever block out mister Bigmouth over here.” Helthan stiffly got to his feet and drew his blanket a bit tighter around himself. In the process he prodded a loud snoring Halmund in the ribs who did not seem to notice. “Incredible how that man sleeps anywhere.”

Rhowain, reluctant to let go of the fuzzy state his brain was in rubbed his eyes. “4 hours? Felt closer to 4 seconds if you ask me. ”Slowly he scrambled to his feet so Helthan could take his place. “I feel for his wife.”Rhowain chuckled as he passed Halmund who was blissfully unaware of the switch. Helthan let out a short laugh “His wife? His whole village! I was afraid he’d wake whatever is out there in those woods and would lead them straight here.” Have a good watch whelp.”

With a long branch Rhowain was prodding the fire back to life, “Have a good sleep.” Watch usually was his favourite task. The silence and enough time to think without one of the older riders there to make fun of him. He often was the subject of their pranks as he was the whelp. The youngest. One hand held the prodding branch, the other loosely rested on his blade. The woods were restless lately. A howl rose from the shadow of the woods even drowning Halmud’s snoring. Too restless.

In an instant Rhowain had risen to his feet, the prodding branch tossed aside. His hand fingered the hilt of his blade, the cool steel felt reassuring but the sound had made the hairs rise on his arms. Sleep no longer clouded his mind. The sleep had made way for a state of alertness as he stared at the dark woods before him. That evening the three of them had made camp at the boarder of the woods. After a long day’s ride in pursuit of the target of their miniature quest. The leads they had gotten earlier in the week had disappeared , either by bad weather or by sheer cunningness of people they were set out to follow.

Another howl echoed between the tall trees. “Wolves?” Helthan said softly , eyes scanning the woodland boarders as he got up from the ground unsheathing his sword. Rhowain shook his head. “That’s no wolf. Unless it’s an incredible big one.” Halmund had woken up and walked a few steps towards the trees where the sound had come from. Branches snapped and a trotting sound like a low rumble was coming from the trees. The rumble was speeding up. Something was approaching them and was doing so fast. Halmund let out a yell from surprise as he spotting the first beast coming from the low vegetation. “Wargs! Impossible!”
It jumped for Halmund, mouth open, teeth gleaming with saliva, an impatient howl escaping its throat. But the rider did not stand helpless. He drove his sword forward and entered the tough hide of the foul beast’s shoulder. It yelped and jumped sideways, just as three others reached the clearing. “I thought they had all been pushed back during patrols earlier this year.” Rhowain breathed. “Guess they came back.” Helthan mumbled. A great black warg had begon to break away from the two others and tried approach Rhowain from the side who had been busy enough keeping an eye on those great teeth of the other two. “Whelp cover your left!” Halmund yelled who had just swung his sword of his warg again but missed. The warg saw his chance and leaped forward but the older rider had seen enough warg antics to be prepared. “Think you can outsmart me outgrown hound!”He roared as he swung his sword down on the warg’s neck, exposing its main artery to the cold air. The blood looked black in the moonlight as it covered its coarse pelt.

Rhowain however almost did get outsmarted by the black beast. It had run forward driving the young rider backwards with brutal force. His boot caught on one of the stones in the clearing and he fell back, the beast pinning him down with incredible force. Rhowain wrestled with all his might to get his knife out that hung strapped to his side. With beady eyes the Warg looked down on him, black tongue licking its muzzle, already anticipating the meal to come. Finally his fingers got a good enough grip on the hilt and Rhowain struck the beast in its right paw. With a howl it pulled its leg up. Rhowain tried to strike him again , this time in its side. But the Warg caught his arm before the blade could fully reach him and bit down. A cry was forced out of the rider as the razor sharp teeth went through his skin and muscles. He tried to manoeuvre his blade again but the Warg began to lock its jaws around arm. Another painful cry escaped his lips.

“Rhowain! Hang on!” Helthan screamed as he tried to finish one of the remaining two Wargs . His eyes darted back and forth between the brown spotted beast in front of him and his wounded friend. Not the best strategy getting distracted.

Halmund got hold of the horses after he had slain his Warg. “Get on the horse” he roared at Helthan “we must get out of here. Who knows how many more there are hidden in these woods. We cannot win this with just three of us. Helthan nodded silently and began to walk backwards towards his horse. Halmund lowered the reigns and got two throwing knives out of his pack and aimed them carefully at the black Warg’s back. Both knives hit home, just a bit left of the spine but close enough to make the Warg rear on its two hind legs. Rhowain only needed one chance and scrambled away from the Warg holding his arm close to his chest. A searing pain began to spread through his lower arm. “Can you ride?” Helthan asked as Rhowain ran towards them. “We’ll find out. Pull me up.” He panted. With one hand he reigned in his mount and all three horses jumped forwards galloping at full speed, leaving behind the clearing and the three Wargs. The Wargs did not seem to pursue. But neither of men were willing to find out. Rhowain wasn’t sure how much time has past since their hasty departure but it felt like hours. Their horses had slowed down to a trot. The pain in his arm had dulled to a warm throbbing pain and lay useless in his lap. He stared down at the hole in his sleeve and the dark colouring of his blood around it. He felt foolish for not keeping his guard up well enough. “Don’t worry about it lad. Could have happened to any of us.”Helthan mused quietly beside him as he moved his horse alongside his. Rhowain nodded, not willing to answer.

“Boys I think we may be in luck after all.” Halmund pointed at a shadow not far from the road. A building with soft light shining through its windows and smoke coming from the stone chimney. “Let’s get inside, have a few ales, something warm and see to that arm of yours.” The three men stirred their horses off the road and towards the inn
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Postby Kos-el-Qadah » Sun Sep 04, 2011 8:05 am

To experience cold was not a novelty to Kos el-Qadah. From whence he came the scorching heat of the sun went hand in hand with the chilly, sometimes freezing temperatures of night. Such was life in the desert of Far Harad. It had been the only life the Southron had known too. Until last Yule.

Going by the stories that his fellow tribesmen told around the campfires at night, they had been a lineage of desert-dwellers since eternity. Or at least as far back as their stories went. They spoke of month long journeys deep into the east, where the desert turned into a barren steppe at last; they had travelled far into the west as well, until their dusty feet had been washed by sloshing salty waves.

Kos el Qadah never had been on such adventures. There were times when his tribe had prolonged a stay to buy a supply of food and materials in a settlement they came across, but the call of being on the road always became too strong before too long. Still, the road they took seemed to go in circles – and not in its literal meaning.

Apparently, he was not the only one of his peers who had such thoughts. Against better advice of the tribe’s elders, a few of his fellow tribesmen had ventured north, presumably even further than the sands went. Kos el Qadah remembered their faces and their enthusiastic plans, like pioneers ready to discover new worlds. So far not one of them had returned, which was not to the elders’ surprise. This had caused for much discomfort concerning what lay up north, even though the occasional traveller their humble tribe encountered with had stories to share about lands afar that didn’t seem baleful at all.

An image of green lands, rivers and hills, sprinkled with mountains of white, and beautiful cities was one that seemed ever so enticing to the young Kos el-Qadah, who was a dreamer and a craftsman, skilled with the shaping of silverware and the blowing of glass. And so, he too, had begun to dream about a destination beyond the horizon of sand.

His dream of then was his reality of now.

Only aided by the occasional light of the moon, Kos el-Qadah hammered poles into the grassy soil near a river which, as he had learned from one of the others who had arrived and was setting up camp nearby, was named Mitheithel. He spun ropes and hung colourful pieces of canvas over them, creating a tent in which he gathered his belongings and then retreated. Still, the cold here, which was different than that of the South, was not something that could be defeated by merely hiding in a tent. It crept through everything, even through skin and into bones, until you felt nothing but misery and would think that warmth was a feeling you would never experience again.

Lighting a small fire right outside his tent, Kos heated water for tea, and while he hoped for the waft of the mint to brighten his spirits, he chewed on bread that was a few days too old. He thought about the long journey he already had behind him, and about the pleas of his mother and guttural huffs of his father that had preceded his departure.

He gazed outside, and noticed a trio of men on horses hurrying by. Their business was not his, however, and he gazed upwards at the stars. Between the clouds he looked for the ever-star, Najm Abadii, as he did every night. At home the sight of Borgil was a matter of course, but the farther north he had travelled, the more it had retreated from its usual spot at the nightly sky, until it was entirely hidden from view. Not even the stars he longer shared with his tribe, that now slept deep into the South. It was to him the most obvious proof that he was further from home than he ever could have imagined.

A feeling of loneliness suddenly took a hold of Kos el-Qadah, but he as quickly chased it away again. He closed the tent off by unwrapping a piece of canvas that hung above the entrance. It unwound until it reached the floor and separated him from the outside world.

Kos el-Qadah occupied himself with arranging his belongings, for he was enthusiastic by nature and knew that tomorrow would be a brighter day. He looked forward to the feast, of which he heard so much during his trip from Mithlond along the Great East Road, and hoped it a would match his expectations. He was sure he would be able to sell some of his silverware, for the people he had met on the road so far seemed intrigued by his appearance and his merchandise. He hoped that his glassblowing skills would attract at least a few spectators, too.

But for now, he lay down onto his thin mattress and dreamt, of sand turning a warm orange during sun down, Of the sweet delicacies dripping with honey he used to eat for dessert. Of his language, which colourful wording and melodic sounds he hadn’t heard since he had left the ship that had brought him from Umbar to Pelargir. Of the stinging sand that was swept across the desert in a biting wind, hurting what little skin of his face was visible between his turban. Causing his eyes to water...
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Postby Rhowaín » Sun Sep 04, 2011 9:44 am

Cramped up and in a quite a lot of pain Rhowain dismounted from his horse. The small yard in front of the inn was deserted, the only signs of life were the small lights and lit lanterns further afield. Tents had arisen. Big party tents but also quite a number of small canvas lodgings. He did not envy the people who had made camp earlier this week with all the rain and cold. The field had turned into a muddy affair. The field was not the only thing that was well soaked. His arm was pressed closely to his chest, his sleeve wet with blood.

“You okay?”Halmund mumbled as he took the reins from him. He nodded curtly, looking away from the tents in the distance. “Just get him inside and dry will you.”Halmund nodded and began to stable to three horses while Rhowain and Helthan made for the door of the Inn.

“Let get you patched up kid.” Helthan said with his usual hearty smile as he pushed open the doors. “You have been saying that far too often lately.” Rhowain threw him a sour look. “Almost starting to think you’re enjoying yourself. “ Helthan grinned and whacked the younger man on the back. “Always, always. What’s there not to like; the younger generation can’t keep their own hides safe and dry. Here, have a seat boy.” And he gently pushed Rhowain towards an empty bench at a round oak table. “I’ll get some supplied. “

Scélian had returned to her favourite spot at the counter , still ignoring the sighs and huffs from whatsherface and left the pile of mugs untouched. It was a peculiar company; The man, the boy and the lady. They looked like they had been sent to the pits and back, exhausted, filthy and demoralised. Dark circles showed under the eyes of the man which either meant great lack of sleep or great troubles. Or both. Suddenly a face popped into view. A tall red bearded fellow, no wait, a Rohirrim. The pin of a horse’s head shone fiercely on his soiled cloak. A man of status no doubt. The golden pin left a shine to Scélian’s eyes. “Good evening to you sir. You are a man far from home I reckon?” Helthan let out a rolling bark of a laugh. “Indeed so madam, indeed. No offence to your ...historic setting but I do miss my green hills. I have seen nothing but grey mountains for days on end.” Scélian’s laugh was like the chiming of silver bells. “When a man has gotten used to hills mountains may not impress him ...as long as they are rolling of course.”She threw him a sly wink.

Rhowain watched the little wench feed Helthan honey for his ears. Rolling hills to mountains. They hadn’t arrived for even ten minutes! “Speed it up a little Helthan , if you please. It ain’t your arm bleeding out all over the charming lady’s floor.” He sneered. Childish yes, but the pain was coming back with a vengeance in the warm room of the inn. Helthan returned with clean cloth, a bowl of water and three mugs of ale. “Hold your horses kid. Nothing wrong with being polite.” Rhowain’s eyes rolled upwards but stayed quite. “Just get on with it.” And he stretched out his arm and laid it carefully on a cloth on the table. Because of a great deal of swelling neither of the riders was able to remove his sleeve. “Where’s your bag? Where’s your knife?”Helthan was patting down his own bag but remained empty handed. “I must have dropped the small bag during the flight. But perhaps he has something useful on him.”He nudged his head in the direction of the trio who sat in silence at their meal. Helthan was already up and away.

“Excuse me, do you happen to have a knife of some sort which me and my companion could borrow and not mind it getting soiled? “

Two of the three faces looked up. The youngest he noticed remained very interested in his plate of stew. “I may have something that could work.” The man placed a small hunting knife on the edge of the table. “ Something in the man’s voice, in the man’s eyes or in the lines of his face did Helthan feel a shadow of familiarity. Thank you, Léod*.” As Helthan turned he felt a hand on his sleeve. “Wait. This may be useful for your friend.” The lady had risen from her seat and handed him a mall pouch. A strange mixture of smells escaped from it. “it will help if you soak them in water and apply the wet herbs directly.” He gave her a warm smile. “ Thank you my lady, from the whelp over there as well.” And he nodded in Rhowain’s direction with a grin. “I will return both to you shortly.”

* one of my people
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Postby Kaya » Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:40 pm

Kaya followed the retreating Rider with her eyes - she wondered now if she shouldn’t have offered to apply the herbs herself, but also thought it might have come over as overbearing. After all, the man had not asked for any further assistance apart from a mere knife, but even so the itch that always surfaced when it concerned practicing the craft of healing was present.
Wondering if leaning backwards - to see if the herbs were applied in the right manner - would make her interest too obvious, the conversation of her two companions distracted her to the events at her own table that very moment.

“What are they doing here?” Berhelf mumbled once the Rider was well out of ear shot and the bustle, that had ceased after the trio’s entrance, erupted once more as if nothing had happened.

Bréhon, still gazing at his countrymen, frowned. “They?”

“Those riders,” Berhelf clarified, rolling his eyes.

“Looking for food and shelter, which makes them not that different from us,” Bréhon shrugged. “And for some care too,” he added what was obvious.

“I meant here as in this far from home.” There was irritation in Berhelf’s voice now that did not went by unnoticed. Not even by Bréhon, who looked at the boy at last.

“What is wrong, lad?”

With a huff, Berhelf stopped torturing his food and dropped his spoon on the table. He rested his jaw on his hand. “Nothing.”

“Then finish your food before it's cold. And stop acting like a Stone-troll.”

What was visible of Berhelf’s ears underneath his flaxen hair turned red quickly. Embarrassed he glanced at Kaya. “Yes, Sir.” Berhelf picked his spoon back up to dig with it in his stew. Bréhon, shaking his head, turned his attention back to his own meal.

It was an odd pair, the man and the boy, and even more so Kaya had perceived them in that manner when she had first laid eyes upon them, in the desolate hills surrounding Lake Nenuial. Their appearance, horses’ attire and small details on their clothing had given their origin away before they had uttered a word, even though Kaya never had visited the land of Rohan. She hoped to do so, one day, and to travel even further, to the Pelennor fields, where the sorrow that forever would hang over her family as a mourning cloak had its origin.
What nonsense, that time would heal all wounds! The hurt might ease somewhat, yes, but for some wounds there would be no healing, no matter how much time would pass.

Bréhon had remained rather vague concerning the reason of their wandering in unknown areas so far from home, saying merely that he was looking for someone, adding that the trail seemed dead, sadly so. The boy’s reason to join him on this lucrative quest had sounded even more strange to the Ranger’s ears, even though she seemed to be the only one thinking so. Apparently it was not unusual for a child his age to roam around freely.
She had questioned him once, if he didn’t have a home that would be missing him, to which Berhelf had answered that no one missed him. Bréhon had informed her that the boy’s parents had died, and that he’d for sure find a home amongst the Riders, once he would set his mind to his training again instead of horsing about.
To Kaya, Berhelf’s mind didn’t seem to be set on anything remotely close of such a training; he reminded her of her youngest brother, with the mind of a child in a body that was changing only slowly, and the heart painfully torn between childhood and growing up.

“You are not a witch, are you?” Bréhon asked pensively, suddenly looking up at Kaya.

“A witch?” Kaya asked bewildered as she was abruptly pulled from her thoughts. “Why would you think I am a witch?”

“Because you seem to be able to tell what kind of treatment my countryman there needs without giving the wound a look.” Bréhon nudged with his head towards the other Rohirrim.

Kaya was taken aback for a moment. “I can assure you I am no witch, man of Rohan. I merely know my trade,” she finally answered, straightening her back. Her cheeks flushed a tinge of pink. “If you must know, I come from a family of fine herbalists. My grandmother, bless her soul, was one of the most famous herbalists and healers of the entire of Bree-land.” Never mind her grandmother had not been her forbear by blood and perhaps, in fact not all that unlikely even, had been a true witch.

“I meant no offence, dear Lady,” Bréhon said quickly. “I was merely being curious, is all.”

“Well, Sir, there is curiosity and then there is prejudice,” the Ranger continued without missing a beat. “Asking if all Rohirrim have such a close bond with their horse would be an act of friendly curiosity, while from that concluding that you must sleep with them, now that would be an example of blatant preconception. Furthermore-” she continued, noticing from the corner of her eye that Berhelf gawked at her, “is it true that you Riders braid each other’s hair while singing songs?”

Berhelf snorted, which he quickly muffled by turning it into a cough, and he turned toward the window to hide the smirk on his face.

Bréhon raised one brow and scratched his head, where his fingers found a days old braid that was coming loose. He quickly pulled his hand back and rested it on the table. “Uhm, why, yes... I mean, no. Definitely no,” he said. “Are you going to hold this against me?” he asked, after clearing his throat.

“Not at all,” Kaya said, smiling. “I was merely jesting. After all, the Wizards that once roamed these lands were great and powerful. Terrifying as well, and not all were fair, but great nonetheless. There is no harm done by comparing me to - at least I hope - the better of them.”

“Women,” Bréhon sighed, and he turned to Berhelf. “Stop laughing, you rascal.” But he ruffled Berhelf’s hair immediately, not able to hide his own grin any longer. “Eat up, laggard, it’s time for you to head to bed.”

Berhelf’s reaction came immediately. “What? Go to sleep already, now that I am in a place laden with history. I think not.”

“I thought you were tired, and looked forward to sleeping in a bed,” Bréhon retorted, in turn throwing Berhelf’s own words back at him.

“Yes. But that is besides the point, is it not?”

Bréhon turned towards the boy, resting one arm on the table and the other on the back of the bench. “Then what would be the point?” he inquired when Berhelf creased his brow in utter concentration and seemed to weigh his words for a fair amount of time. In clear amusement Bréhon awaited what would follow.

“The point is that I am no child and that there is no need for me to be sent to bed.” Almost pouting, the boy crossed his arms over his chest, unaware that he was underlining the exact opposite.

“Is that so?” Bréhon asked. To Berhelf’s confusion, he held out a hand. “Give me your knife.” The boy passed him the small knife he kept attached to his belt, and observed how Bréhon used it to scratch a line in the thin candle that stood on their table, not much lower than where the wax was already melting by the heat of the flickering flame. “There. That is your mark to go to bed.”

Berhelf contemplated to protest, but then seemed to think better of it. He merely shrugged and dug into his food once more, as they all did after this brief interlude.

“So, you will be heading South soon then? To the Gap of Rohan?” Kaya asked once they had all finished their meal. She sipped from her mead and finally felt the fire of the hearth dry her damp clothes.

“Aye. My mission seems futile, after all.” Bréhon pursed his lips and knotted his brow momentarily, his concentration deep, before he forced a smile on his face. “It is time for us to head back to the Riddermark, and now is a good time to return, before winter sets in. Aye, Berhelf, and then you can continue your training at last.”

Berhelf glanced aside only for a moment, but the knuckles of the fist that held his mug turned white as he groped the cup tighter. “Aye, at last,” he said without the enthusiasm one would expect a boy his age to show for a training he could talk so eagerly about, at other times, when the prospect was more of a distant event than a nearing reality.

Bréhon frowned and opened his mouth - Kaya was sure he would question that what seemed so obviously odd to her as well - when Berhelf eyed the candle and hastened to say: “My bed time is near.”

“It is,” Bréhon reacted confused. He stood and waited for Berhelf to slide over the bench towards him. “I’ll see you to the room they have prepared for us.”

“I can do that by myself,” Berhelf said, getting to his feet.

“I’ll need the key back so I can access the room when I go to sleep,” Bréhon explained.

“Oh.” Berhelf stiffled a yawn and picked up his pack and weapons. He leaned over to the ranger and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “Good night, my Lady.”

“Good night, my lad,” Kaya smiled.

“Upstairs with you, charmer.” Bréhon, his own gear swung over a shoulder, lay a hand on Berhelf’s neck and nudged him towards the counter with a sheepish grin plastered on his face. “I will be right back,” he said to Kaya.

The ranger watched the Rohirrim receive their key and retreat to the stairs. Again she sipped from her mead. Her attention was on the others in the Inn soon after. There was only a face or two that seemed vaguely familiar, but of the top of her head she couldn’t put a name to their bearers, or remember where she had seen them before.
She looked over her shoulder and observed the elves in the back. Engaged in a conversation they were, but it was hard to conclude if their talk was amicable, timid or unpleasant. The one that was facing the Inn, a female, suddenly looked into her direction and their eyes met; a shill ran through Kaya’s spine when she looked into the eyes that were dark and bright at the same time. Quickly she turned away, and the feeling of uneasiness deserted her immediately.

Eventually her eyes wandered to the trio of Rohirrim who had entered shortly after their own arrival.
They had treated the wounded man in their midst and now leaned on the counter, talking to one another in a tongue Bréhon and Berhelf spoke as well on occasion. Kaya sensed it was when there were matters to discuss not meant for foreign ears, and she guessed this now was the case as well.
For it was uncommon for Men of the Mark to venture far from their home purposeless, her curiosity concerning their true destination was stirred. There were Bréhon’s own explanations always had remained vague, she wondered if these Riders would own a looser tongue.

Nimble footed Kaya stood and walked over to the counter to order another pair of pints for herself and Bréhon. From the conversation she discerned words that sounded as forwegan and gefrignan, but their meaning was lost to her.

Waiting for her order to be taken, Kaya awaited an opportunity where the trio would fall silent, and then said, quite casually: “The north does seem to attract quite a few of the Horse Lords recently. Is it your first visit to these lands, my Lords?”
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Also writing Arunakhôr, Elenya Elemmirë, Bréhon, Berhelf, Heldred, Kos el-Qadah and Elengurth.

The Dúnedain of the North: The Drake Hunt

A Tale or Two

On a writing adventure with Jaeniver in Scriptorium: Crossroads

Proud member of the Class of '02

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.


Art by Lane Brown
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Postby Bréhon » Sun Oct 09, 2011 4:43 am

Berhelf leaped towards the bed that stood closest to the window and plopped down onto it. “Bless you, bless you,” he said, hugging the fluffy pillow and pulling the crisp sheets to his cheeks.

Placing his pack onto the other bed, Bréhon chuckled. “It’s certainly a nice change to damp soil and the chill of night.” Aided by the sparse light of the hallway he picked a tinderbox from his pack and lit the oil lamp on the bedside table. A warm glow was cast around. Then he closed the door, and sat down on the side of the bed while he looked around the room, taking it all in. “Right. I’m heading downstairs for another drink. I won’t be gone too long. Pretty tired myself,” said Bréhon at last. He yawned as if on cue.

“Fine,” Berhelf mumbled, lifting his head a little from the pillow. “What is it?”

Bréhon glanced at him. “Nothing,” he said quietly. “Nothing seems to have changed here over the years, is all,” he whispered, but more to himself. “It brings back a few memories.”

“What memories? When were you here before? You have never told me you were, before we were about to set foot into the Inn.”

Bréhon knotted his brow, and then shook his head with a broad smile. “The hour is too late to dig up the past, lad. Some other day, I might tell you about a few of the events I lived through in years before.” He tilted his head. “On the other hand, I might not, since you are quite capable to use them against me.” The added wink went by unnoticed by Berhelf.

“I would not,” Berhelf reacted affronted, sitting up on his bed. “What thought you have of me, to say such a thing!”

“I don’t know, lad. I think pretty highly of you, in fact, but...” Bréhon pursed his lips in thought, before he spoke again. “Berhelf, we have been travelling together for some time now. Long enough to put some trust in one another, I would think. Should there be something that troubles you, you would tell me, wouldn’t you?”

Berhelf stared at him. “I would,” he then said, and he shrugged.

“Good,” Bréhon nodded. “I can't help but having the feeling something is amiss, and I can’t place it. So I’m looking forward to hearing all about it in the morrow. Perhaps we can swap stories, even.”

“Perhaps,” Berhelf mumbled, suddenly very interested in a loose fringe of the blanket that lay folded on his bed.

Bréhon narrowed his eyes, and then shook his head. “I’m off then.” He got to his feet and walked to the door. “Aye, lad, catch,” Bréhon said before opening the door, and he threw something at Berhelf, who caught it swiftly.

“A key?”

“Spare key to the room.” Before Berhelf could start a complaint about the unnecessary - and to Berhelf without a doubt quite humiliating - escort since they had been given two keys, Bréhon pulled the door shut behind him and turned the lock from the outside. He chuckled when a few muttered curses reached him through the door. “She will never think me worthy now,” was the last of the soft muttered complaints, before they were replaced with the sounds of water splashing and the creaking of the floor boards.

She will never think me worthy now.

It was obvious to Bréhon that Berhelf was smitten with the Ranger, and he hoped the lad would not be too heart-broken when he finally would realize he stood no chance, what with his meagre fourteen springs. Still, it was not the Ranger’s image Berhelf’s words stirred to the surface of Bréhon’s mind, there where he had tried so hard to ignore some of the memories that came with this Inn.

Unwillingly Bréhon’s fingers found the jewel he wore close to his throat, underneath his tunic. It had been a strange item to get accustomed to at first, and not just because of its delicate outline but even so, if not even more so, for the meaning it held. It was an unlikely jewel for a Rohirrim, a Rider nonetheless, to wear. Made by elven hands while, in general, Rohirrim were suspicious of the firstborn.
He had worn it since a long time, and over time he had become used to the feel of it, until he hardly realized anymore that he wore it.

She will never think me worthy now. He remembered the discomfort that too often had overshadowed the love he had felt for Jaeniver, the elf who had given him the jewel; how he had felt unworthy of her love and her presence, and how their time together too often had been a time speckled with self-doubt and mistakes, as if he was trying to ruin it all before he became too comfortable, and one day would wake up realizing he would not be able to go on living without her by his side.
They had not been at each others’ side for many months now, almost a year even. Thus since long before Bréhon had set out onto his journey. He wondered, like so many times before, what had kept the elfess who had given him the symbol of her immortality from seeking contact with him. Though he knew that they hadn’t seen each other for such a time was his as much as her doing, for they both were loyal to their cause. Still, too long a time to still think of himself as a half of a whole, he concluded with a pang.

Motionless he stood for long minutes, allowing the confusion that came with his memories to settle into a more comfortable feel, while he heard in the room behind him Berhelf moving about, until at last the small strip of light that peeked underneath the door was dimmed.

Bréhon took off the necklace and, resting the trinket in one hand while his other held the chain, he looked at it. Fragile it seemed, just as its previous bearer. Beautiful as well - he remembered cascading dark hair and eyes that portrayed a feeling he had not seen before in a woman’s eyes whenever they were cast upon him. But even more so, he also saw a past that no longer seemed to be linked to his future. Not that he knew where his future lay, but to be honest, before he had met Jaeniver he never had given the future much thought anyway, and that never had been much of a problem to him.

His thought remained on Jaeniver and he wondered how she fared now, the elfess who once had stolen his heart. He wondered what had made her realize there was no hope for them after all, for that was the only possible explanation he saw, and while silently wishing her all the best, there was a certainty that slowly, somewhat hesitantly, came over Bréhon.

It told him that what once had been had evaporated due to too much time apart and too much distance between. Like a flame deprived from oxygen for too long, it had flickered in agony, and then it had perished.
He concluded that he was, once again, only part of himself, no longer divided, and even though there was regret over what could have been but now obviously wouldn’t, he sensed a strength finding its way to his core which he hadn’t felt in what seemed an eternity. Stripping his life from the doubts he was left with certainty, even though it was little: what today had brought him, the fact that he was alive.
And that he was going home.

Without Eoden, his countryman, friend and blood brother since years whom he had searched for since many months, and had hoped to find, one way or the other.
His leaving without an explanation had unsettled Bréhon, for it was unlike Eoden to do such a thing. He had looked in many areas of Middle-Earth already, had followed many trails that all led to dead ends, and he would search in every corner if that would be what it would take, but in the end he had to trust that Eoden would return on his own accord, when the time would be ready.
There was, after all, much to stay for, much to come home to, even if your house was empty as much as your bed was. Yes, that was all there was to it. Simple. But then, a simple life is what Bréhon preferred.

Again, he looked at the necklace. Was there hope still for the elf and him? Was she still thinking worthy of him? He listened carefully to his heart, to his head. One of them told him the dream had died.

He let the necklace slip into the breast pocket of his tunic with a heavy sigh, and at last retraced his steps down the hallway and back towards the stairs, hearing the merry voices, laughter and a soft voice singing, which all pulled him back downstairs like a heartily welcome after a long absence - unknowing that Berhelf, alone in the comfort of the bedroom, was laying awake and was gazing at the ceiling despite his tiredness, and struggled with his views on his own future.
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Postby Heldred » Sun Oct 09, 2011 6:54 am

Somewhere outside, in the dark

How could it be possible for the mere dripping of rain drops to be another form of torture? Heldred knew the answer to that question, though he wished he didn’t.

Pulling at the bonds that kept his wrists tied together on his back and against the rough bark of a tree, Heldred tried to move out of the drip of the water. Yet whatever position his restraints allowed him to take, the blasted rain still dripped on him. Thick, lazy drops that fell from the leaves above him, where they had gathered as a remnant of the pouring rain of earlier and now fell at their own convenience, they kept Heldred from the sleep he so dearly wanted to lose himself in and thus, he cursed them.

The blindfold covering his eyes and the musty gag in his mouth kept him from getting his bearings, and from finding out how the others were doing. At least his ears hadn’t been covered up as well, so he knew he was still in their company, and he knew of the threats that were made if they didn’t cooperate with their hostage takers – threats that unfortunately included him. Moreover, his state of being alive. The dried up blood on his neck and the crust covering the gash above it were enough proof to him that he meant nothing to their kidnappers, and that he was but an unlucky pawn who accidently had been caught up in their business.

If only he had been able to escape when he and his companions had been under attack, he would have been able to raise the alarm, then. His commander had ordered him so, immediately, when the attack had begun: flee, and call for aid.

Alas, the events had turned differently.

Two arrows had struck his horse in the chest, and the mare had thrown him off while crashing to the ground. Heldred had hit his shoulder hard as he hit the soil, and it was still stiff and sore, and black and blue without a doubt. But no bones had cracked, which made his shoulder the least of his worries.

It was unclear to him why they had been taken, and what their kidnappers wanted. Much of the important conversations must have taken place out of ear shot, because he had not become wiser on any of those subjects from what he had heard.

It was only whenever he heard footsteps approach that he knew something their kidnappers wanted was not granted to them, and then they used him in their favour, as leverage. How poorly for a young Rider to be used in such a way, with a knife held to his throat and the threat it would be cut if answers would not be given. Everything uttered in growls, close to his ear, while the foul breath of the man holding the knife brushed over the skin of his cheek, causing for shivers to run down his spine.

He silently had cursed those men, but he had not cried, and even without the gag he would not have begged for mercy either. He was too proud a lad to turn to such ways, and he would not bring shame to his family back home by acting a coward! He would have told his company they should not say more than they wanted because of him even, if he had been able to, for whatever those kidnappers were after he could never be as important. Amongst the mighty Riders he for now was but a shield-bearer, but one day he would be a famous Rider. If he would not taste defeat in the forthcoming days.

It had been hours since he last had been given this kind of attention, and he wished they would leave him alone now, would let them go at last with many apologies for mistaking them for someone else. Heldred would even be able to find it in his heart to forgive them, despite all that they had done. Despite his horse, whose bones now lay waiting for the crows to feast. It had been the second horse Heldred had lost since last winter. Cursed, he felt. Cursed, and scared.

But he would not yield, not as long as he was breathing and had a mind of his own. Not as long as he could pray for help to come their way. For sure someone must have noticed they were missing by now. His party consisted of too many important men to be allowed to disappear without at least a little tumult.

The thought of valiant warriors saddling their horses, tracking their steps, this very moment perhaps, encouraged Heldred. They could come breaking through the bushes any moment now, freeing them and bringing them back to civilized places.

Such thoughts even chased the horrible rain drops beyond what Heldred could sense. He could sleep now. Dream. Hope. Become a famous Rider.

One day.
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Postby Elenya Elemmirë » Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:13 am

Meanwhile, in Trollshaws...


“She is reading again.”

“She always does. It is my guess that in her pack she is carrying naught but books.”

“Very un-lady like that would be.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Most would carry a full wardrobe.”

“You have a valid point. Most would not ignore us, either. Especially not for a book.”

“It must be a romantic story. I once heard that Silvan warrior-elves of Mirkwood are the most popular characters for the female reader to swoon over.”

“Mirkwood? Seriously? How historically incorrect is that!”

“It is called fiction for a reason, brother.” A soft stereophonic chuckle followed.

Elenya turned a page, ignoring the not so hushed conversation of her identical looking companions who, whenever they went into provocative mode, talked about her as if she either was unable to hear a single word or was mentally incapable to grasp their intentions.

Feeling their grey eyes upon her and almost hearing their minds work on a new way to bait her for a reaction, she wondered how Arwen had ever survived growing up in their company, and how it was possible that two age-old Peredhil could find humour in such childlike behaviour. Then she remembered how life had been whenever her own brother was around.

A small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth with the memories, for in truth Caradil had been much like Elladan and Elrohir; on him the passing of centuries had not been cause enough for improvement in some areas either. The passing of events on the other hand, that eventually had scarred them all, for better or worse.

The conversation of the twins had subdued to a low murmur. That, now, had Elenya worried. Wearily she glanced at them from underneath her lashes. She could see their features clearly against the dark shadows of the underbrush that surrounded the clearing where they were seated. The small fire they had lighted to roast a rabbit had been put out again once it had served its purpose, but the trio still sat around its remainders as if it was a beacon of comfort in the world at night.

Over time she had learned that their current line of behaviour usually meant the warrior in them lacked action, as harsh as that conclusion sounded. Since for a fight they had not been sent out of Imladris on this errand by Celeborn, now days ago, Elenya hoped the festival they were to attend first at the very least would distract the twins a little.
Ignoring them long enough after a while usually left them bored with their own jokes, so she tried to concentrate fully on the words before her and hoped the twins would soon give up. The book that rested on her lap was not heavy enough to have the desired impact when thrown at their heads, after all.

The light of the moon and stars above along with her elven sight were sufficient for her to discern the black ink on the weathered parchment pages. A borrowed work it was she was beholding; for long it had stood in the library of Imladris, where it had gathered mainly dust over the years since it had been placed there as a gift by the one whom had scribbled down the words in a fluent and immaculate handwriting.

Sudden movement made her look up. It was Elladan who had stood, his bow in one hand and his quiver slung over his shoulder. She perked her ears and looked around, even though she was sure that nothing in their surroundings could have alarmed the Peredhil without her noticing so as well. Bending over, a few soft words Elladan exchanged with his brother, and then he took off with a swift tread. She followed the retreating figure with her eyes as he passed by their resting horses, until he was completely dissolved into their surroundings and the cover of night.

“He is merely restless,” Elrohir said as if he was able to read her thoughts. “You can rest if you wish, Milady. I will keep watch.”

His throwing knife he whirled around with nimble fingers. Five rotations clockwise, five counter clockwise, on and on. Inwardly the she-elf chuckled - apparently they both were restless. Subsequently she wondered if they had tossed in secret over who would be the one scouting, and who would keep the bookworm company in the meantime. “It is kind of you, but I am not tired,” she responded, quickly though not ungentle, and added in turn, “If you wish to sleep, please do so.”

His eyes shifting from her to the ashes of their camp fire, Elrohir merely nodded, and with a resolute move he put the knife back in the sheath that was attached to his belt. “It is as you wish, Milady,” he quietly responded, but laying himself down he did not.

There was silence between them for a while, though it was a quietness that distracted Elenya more than that it helped her concentrate on the story.

“Elenya Elemmirë,” he suddenly said, in a hushed voice. She looked up; he still was gazing at the ashes. “As always you talk little of yourself, for one who has lived long enough to fill each night with the telling of her own accounts, instead of reading those of others.”

She pursed her lips. “I do not think I would be able to tell you much you haven’t heard of many times before, nor would there be many events left your father would not have had you study at length.” She waited a beat, suppressing a smile. “Or did you not pay attention during your lectures as a young princeling?”

“I did,” Elrohir reacted, maybe a little too forceful. “I have studied all the great wars in detail. I know our lineage, and that of many other houses, by heart, reaching back until the days of Ingwë and Bëor, Haleth and Hador.” He then fell silent, taken aback by his own caustic reaction.

“There are not many personal accounts about Aman,” he continued after a brief silence. “My mother, Celebrian, returned to the blessed land long ago. My father now followed in her footsteps. Arwen has made her own choice, staying with Estel.” He looked up at last. “It is hard a decision to make, if you only have great knowledge and experience concerning one of the possible choices. But you, Milady, you have lived in both worlds. Please, if you would not tell me of your life here or there, share with me your reasons for staying in the lands that are now ruled by Mortal Men, over going back with the ships to the Undying Lands and be reunited with those-”

The rapid footsteps were soft, almost soundless, on the moss and fallen leaves, which left little possibility to who was approaching. Elrohir didn’t move, he didn’t even stir, so Elenya felt no need to grab for a weapon either.

“You walked to Imladris and back?” Elrohir asked as the dark silhouette emerged from the shadows.

“Ro-” The nervous tremble in Elladan’s voice, however subtle, caused for Elrohir to get to his feet immediately.

"Yrch?" The twins long-lasting feud and hatred of Orcs was legendary, even far outside the regions where they usually dwelt.

Elladan shook his head. “I heard voices. Angry voices speaking dark words,” he continued as he stepped next to his brother. Then he pointed into the darkness. “There was talk of prisoners, and murder.”

“How far?” Elrohir asked looking westwards, which was where Elladan had pointed towards.

“Half a league.”

Elenya rose to her feet. The brothers looked at her as if finally remembering she was there with them.

“We will return shortly,” Elladan said, while Elrohir fingered the hilt of his sword already.

“You assume much,” the she-elf replied, brushing past them. “I am coming with you.”
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Postby Jaeniver » Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:02 pm

Dawn had come swift and coloured the sky deep hues of purple and red. For weeks on end the lands of Gondor had been plagued by sharp winds and sweeping rain. The promise of a bright spring not yet to be seen. This morning at least started of dry.

The people of the White City had gone about their business, glad for a day’s respite from the wet. Washerwomen hung their sheets and clothes out to dry hoping the sun would eventually break through the heavy layer of clouds. Every now and again one would look up and mumble a short prayer for the warming rays to come. And even if the sun would not come out, the winds would blow it dry. Merchants strolled about with their carts, making a stop here and there praising their wares. With fleeting steps she passed these murky streets of the quarters in the lower city circle, making her way up, her crimson woollen cloak shielding her from the winds that ever seemed to blow through the white cracked stones of the city.

“Lady, my fair lady! Would you not try one of my fruits! They are sweet and ripe and will having you coming back for more to old Elias.”

She knew the toothless merchant and his fruits as she watched him waddle towards her on his crooked legs with a couple of his tangerines, more green than orange. He waived at his other customer to wait. Ripe he called them. Plucked too soon was the truth of it. No sweetness would linger after a bite of his apples of pears.

“I think not Elias. Not today. There is no time for breaking my fast with such sweets.”

A young woman with a bundle in her arms and little girl at her skirts had stopped at the cart as well. The little girl darted forward curious but hastily darted back when she caught sight of the lady’s ears. “Mom” she whispered breathlessly, “She has pointy ears! Is she ill? Did she not eat enough fruit?” Her mother coloured a bright red and pulled her girl closer to her. “No, she is not ill. The lady is an Elf, they don’t get ill. Very few are left in this world now.“ The little girl keep eyeing the elf with curiosity as the mother started to pull her daughter away from the cart. “I am sorry my lady. She has never seen an Elf before. I pray she did not give offense.” “Not at all. “ came the reply with a laugh as the Elf pulled the hood of her cloak up over her ears and dark curls. She ran one of her slender hands through the girls fair hair. “Don’t forget us little one. I pray there will always be some of us left for you to be curious about.”

“Lady Jaeniver.” She turned towards the soldier that approached, retrieving her hand from the girl’s golden head. He carried the tree of Gondor on his chest and a white short cloak whipped about his shoulders. A green leather handled knife hang from one hip, a one handed sword at the other, the scabbard precisely engraved with vines and signs of his own house. His iron breast plate polished to a bright sheen as was his helmet tucked underneath one arm. She had seen him before. A well stationed man, an experienced captain of one of the garrisons that manned the city. She had seen him when she had entered the city with the rest of the minor following that had come to pay their respects to the new king a few weeks past. Bergil Anborn, Bergil the Iron Knight. He was a stout and tall with jet black hair that fell to his shoulders as was familiar for the soldiers from Gondor. His face however was more unconventional. His right side was a maze of lines and scars reaching down to his lips. He had taken a blow to the head during the war. An orc’s iron mace she was told. He was lucky to have escaped with only his right side in splinters. Aragorn had offered the captain his retirement but he had refused.

“I was just on my way up ser. Are we still riding today?” Bergil Anborn nodded as he made a small bow before the Elfess. “We certainly are, but we will be going sooner than planned. Word has reached us of restless boarders to the east. His Grace does not want us to ride past nightfall. We will leave within the hour. Can you be ready by then?”
There was little choice but to be ready. As it was said so it was done. Within an hour outside one of the lesser gates of Minas Tirith a humble following had formed. Most were soldiers, Bergil Anborn included, four kings guards with their high topped helmets and long speers, some men of service and of course the nobles that had flocked to the city begging favours and audiences would follow the king Elessar wherever he went. Jaeniver had taken her place amongst her kin; two Elves from Imladris, one from Lorien and another from Mirkwood. The elves kept to themselves and stood a little bit apart from the rest of the gathering, their faces solemn and still as they watched the king say his goodbyes to his lady wife, queen Arwen. Few words passed between them. No words were necessary for a couple that had endured so much for so long. A rough hand cupped a fair cheek, a slender finger combed through wayward strands of brown hair, a swift brush of lips before parting. These were the words they spoke to one another. Private words of love and reassurance. With grace and resignation the lady Arwen stepped back to deliver her husband to the care of his guard. Briefly Jaeniver’s eyes met the queen’s. She had been there in Imladris during the lady’s struggles and watched her fight for the man she had chosen. Many a night heated discussions between father and daughter could be heard.

‘Even now it doesn’t get easier watching him leave’. The soft blue eyes seemed to say and she gave a slight nod and smile to Jaeniver. ‘Wish that it would my queen. Better to know they won’t return for certain than to wonder. Always wondering.’ Where are you? Are you well? Are you safe? Will you come back?

Lately, after many a month had passed, the wondering had slowly faded and the acceptance of not knowing settled somewhere in the pit of her stomach. There was no use dwelling on such questions no one would give the answer to. Better to stop asking the questions all together. No, it would not do to go down that road again. A brisk shake of her head pushed the ghosts of the past down. There would be no time to dwell on them for the procession train had started to move.
Last edited by Jaeniver on Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
On the road again with Kaya in Crossroads

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Ae ú-esteliach nad...estelio han. Estelio ammen.
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Postby Rhowaín » Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:17 pm

The hot spiced drink settled Rhowain’s stomach and mind alike. He glanced at thetightly bound cloth around his arm. A strange pungent smell rose from the softlinen cloth. Not entirely unpleasant but unfamiliar. He had been rather wearywhen Helthan had mixed the spices with the warm water. The spices formed somesort of paste. Rich and dark of colour, a strange shade of purple.

“Are you surewe ought to use this?” he’d had said softly to make sure the strange giver didnot overhear his doubts.

“Stop whining and start drinking. You will need the buzz by the look of things”

Helthan had mumbled as he ripped the sleeve of his friend’s tunic. The woundwas dark and deep. Raw edges around the wound had turned a wrong shade of red. Inflamed maybe. Warg teeth were far from hygienic and if the wound did not get treatedproperly it would fester. Either they would use the herb paste or they wouldlet things run its course and see whether the wound would heal or not.

“I rather not want to try those odds Rhowain,”

Helthan had muttered more seriousthan Rhowain had heard him in quite some time.

“I like to see you here still, thickheaded and with two arms.” One of the tankards was pushed towards him. Givingin, Rhowain took a long draught and tried not to wince as the poultice was puton his arm and bandaged.

“This follyhas lasted long enough.” Halmund frowned as he sniffed his drink and downed itin one go. “How much longer must we chase a goose we can neither see, smell nor hear. All tracks run cold as soon as we have found one.” He slammed the cupdown “You going to finish that lad?” Rhowain made no reply. He kept his eyes onthe strange trio; man, woman and child. They didn’t look like a family but then again what would he know of family. His family consisted of broad backed,bearded riders.

“I still think we ought to get back and let someone else try their hand at finding our mystery man. Why would we care, one more or less.”

Rhowain turned his head back to his two companion , both deep in drink and fullof complaints. He couldn’t blame them really. This weather did nothing to lifttheir spirit and having a bad humoured Halmund along for the ride was almost asbad as a troop of Wargs.

“We can’tgo back yet.” Rhowain sighed. “Wish that we could my friends, but lord Eomer Éadig would not welcome us back with open arms. Wemade a promise: For home and country, for duty and honour. For our brothers.” Helthanshifted uncomfortably on his seat and growled something incomprehensible in hisbeard. Rhowain was given no more time toponder on the rather bleak outlook of their miniature mission as the woman whohad given him the spices to sooth his pain had silently emerged at the bar.

“The north does seem to attract quite a few of the Horse Lords recently. Is it your firstvisit to these lands, my Lords?”

Halmund letout a rolling laughter like thunder. “Lords, milady, that’s not us. We are yourmere humble riders at your service.” He mimicked a bow and offer the lady hisseat at the bar. She declined gracefully.”I am able to stand just as well asyou good sir.” Halmund nodded “Of course my sweet lady. I do not doubt thestrength in your legs... “He let his eyes wander down a bit. “ ...but my dearold ma would scold from me from the grave if she would find out I did not offera lady a place to sit. So please, for my dear old mother, have a seat...”
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Re: Crossroads

Postby Kaya » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:23 am

Noting the Rider’s downward stare, Kaya raised an eyebrow, and even more so when she heard him say ‘...but my dear old ma would scold me from the grave if she would find out I did not offer a lady a place to sit. So please, for my dear old mother, have a seat...’

“It is kind of you,” Kaya said, all but rolling her eyes, “but I already have a place to sit.” She nudged her head in the direction of the booths behind them. “I was merely curious if your company has travelled all this far to attend the local festivities.”

“Festivities? My radiant lady, I fear we have been out of the civilised world for too long. We were not aware there was going to be a party here or I would have packed me good clothes.” The Rider named Halmund gestured to the stained cloth and worn leather. “Please, if you would be so kind and explain more about these... festivities.”

“Rest assured, there is no dress code concerning the harvest feast. There will be merchants from nearby and afar who will come to trade their goods. There will be music, singing, and food, too. Word goes this year there even will be fireworks. The area will be crowded. And to think that only five years ago, when we first held the festival in this area, it hardly drew a crowd!”

Indeed, it had only been those few years since the custom of celebrating the end of summer, harvesting all the fruits of their hard labour right before the arrival of the darker months, had come from the lands of Gondor to their area. Five years, and the otherwise aloof communities of the North once again would be trampled by strange folk they all would have regarded with suspicion, sometimes even hostility, before. She, too, had changed over the years. Would she have encountered Bréhon and Berhelf roaming the Evendim years earlier, looking like shaggy brigands as they had, she would have strung her bow before asking questions and had she not, she would have been regarded utterly foolish. Okay, fair, maybe observing them from a distance for over a day was still proof of a certain amount of suspicion, but when you would be outnumbered if the odds would turn against you, she concluded there was no dishonour in being cautious.
Caution, however, seemed a term this redheaded Rohirrim knew naught of.

“Oh, lovely! Always up for a party. And fireworks you say? I have seen too little in my life; actual fires now, I have seen, in fact many of them. Since you have such knowledge of this festive venue, would you care to educate us and show us the grounds when the party starts?” The younger one suddenly grabbed his friend by the elbow and whispered something in their native tongue. Halmund’s brow furrowed and he pulled away his arm. “Give it a rest, mate. A few days of leisure will do us good. I am sure even our Lord will attest to that.”

The maiden who was currently serving at that point showed up behind the bar and, mopping up some spilled ale from the worn top, she took Kaya’s order, her smile bravely masking the tiredness that came with a long day on her feet and the prospect that there would be many more of those to follow.
She was pouring dark ale in pewter tankards when Bréhon came walking down the stairs. He immediately beckoned the maiden after she had passed the ale to Kaya, and leaned forward at the far side of the bar, but the few words they exchanged got lost in the constant buzz. Absentmindedly, he patted his breast pocket, nodding at the response he received. The maiden passed him parchment, ink and quill, which she had quickly retrieved from a backroom, and then went back to her business while Bréhon manoeuvred through the gathered crowd.

“So would you, dear lady?”

Kaya turned back to the company at her side. “If I’m not otherwise occupied, I shall show you around should you need assistance. Though I’m sure it will all be straightforward.” From the corner of her eye, she noted that one of the tankards before her at that point was grabbed.

“I assume one of those would be mine?” Bréhon, who meanwhile had approached, inquired quietly. “Unless you’re that thirsty.” He lifted the tankard, smiling, before he nodded at the trio of Riders, saying a couple of words in their common tongue.

Not interested in listening to encrypted discussions concerning Rohan, Kaya made use of the opportunity. “Gentlemen,” she nodded in greeting. She turned around to move back to her booth, which is when she bumped into someone passing through who was far taller than she was. She need not look up to know it was the elf who had chilled her earlier with merely her gaze, and mumbled an apology over the spilled ale on the elf’s precious cloak.

“Be careful, little one,” the elf responded, and though her voice did not sound unpleasant it did not match the look in her eyes when Kaya finally did glance at her face. It was pale and flawless, similar to a marble statue covered with a layer of frost, and contrasted even more so against her hooded cloak that was of the deepest black. The one thing that marred the picture of perfection were the elf’s eyes, for they were dark and cold, and they seemed to look at the Ranger with that same interest as a spider looking down at a fly.

Quickly, Kaya took a step back to let the elf pass, and discovered she had been holding her breath only when she let out a ragged, relieved sigh, noting the creature had moved on without taking further notice of her, or taking offence to the stained fabric.

From behind her suddenly a hand reached over her shoulder. She startled, but before she could drop her half empty tankard it was taken from her, and replaced by a full one. “You look like you saw a ghost,” Bréhon chuckled.

A ghost? No, not a ghost. “Thank you,” Kaya shuddered, watching how the elf pulled the door open and walked outside. The Ranger quietly slid into the booth where she took her previously occupied spot.
She however could not get rid of the feeling that she was being watched, by eyes colder than icicles that bore holes into her back. She gripped the tankard tightly, her knuckles turning white, and took a few draughts while her gaze was drawn to the outside darkness where the shadowy silhouette of the elf wandered about, her cloak flapping behind her in the lashing wind, before she was swallowed by the night.


(Halmund's words were brought to you by Jaeniver.)
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Also writing Arunakhôr, Elenya Elemmirë, Bréhon, Berhelf, Heldred, Kos el-Qadah and Elengurth.

The Dúnedain of the North: The Drake Hunt

A Tale or Two

On a writing adventure with Jaeniver in Scriptorium: Crossroads

Proud member of the Class of '02

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.


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Re: Crossroads

Postby Rhowaín » Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:23 am

Slowly the patrons of the Inn left for their homes or tents in the nearby fields or retired to their rooms. The three riders lingered long after most had left. The few maids left to manage the inn prodded up the fires to keep them from dying. Warmth began to creep through the cracks of the walls and doors. It looked like they were planning to prolong their stay here because of these festivities. Halmund had seemed especially fond of the idea.

Rhowain pulled his injured arm tighter to his chest as he shifted on his seat. This would only drag out their search. A search he had expected not to take longer than a month at least. It had been twice that already. He pushed away his tankard, tired of the boisterous company that surrounded him. Tired of the rain and howling winds that harassed them every mile. He wanted very much to go home, home to his sister’s farm and make sure she was doing alright. It always pained him having to leave her there, unprotected and alone. She had assured him many a time she was as the weeds in the veggie patch. Indestructible. But to him she always looked like the frail girl with braids, covered in soot and feathers in her hair from chasing the chickens very much to the despair of their father.

“You cannot always be so torn brother.” She had whispered the night before he left for his briefing. “You made this choice. To serve and protect not just me but more.“

He had nodded unable to speak. He loved being part of something bigger, loved the call to arms. The thrill even perhaps. A sense of belonging when he was around his companions of the sword. But no matter it would forever break his heart leaving his sister at the door. Her pale blue eyes encouraging and strong, the hands holding the handle thin, callused and scratched.

“Snap out of it my friend.” Helthan nudged Rhowain gently in the ribs. “It does not do well to dwell on matters so far from where you are. Best focus on the task at hand.” Rhowain was not the only one who left loved ones behind. Helthan had a wife and four children. “Their faces are always new and unfamiliar when I come home.” He had sighed one time.

Chairs suddenly knocked back and fell to the stone floor with a loud crash followed by whirl of skirts, cloak and black hair. Glass shattered. All three riders jumped up alarmed by the sudden noise and motion. Pale hands jerked mahogany curls up from the floor, a hiss escaping pearl white teeth.

“I-I didn’t... The girl to whom the mahogany curls belonged whimpered. Her tray with empty tankards and glasses lay shattered around her. ” Let me go.”

“Go?” The word was barely a whisper but resounded through the hushed room as if it had been yelled out. The Innkeep hurried forward kneeling next to the young maid who still lay in quite a uncomfortable position on the floor.. “Please my lady, let her go. I am sure she did not mean any real harm to you your fairness.”

“Return it to me.” The lady whispered again. Two dark coals smouldering from underneath the black hood eyed the frail thing. “I don’t know what you mean. I didn’t take anything. I swear. I didn’t!” Pale hands jerked her up a little higher and she let out another whimper. Her hands clawing at the iron fist of the lady who had by now had half her upper body lifted in the air.

“Enough!” Rhowain drew steel with his good hand. The battered metal glimmed softly in the dim light of the hearths. “Where I come from every accused gets a fair trial.” The dark eyes turned to him eying him, weighing him. An uneasy feeling crept up his spine. Something was warning him he was picking a fight with the wrong kind of person. Rhowain gripped the hilt tighter, held his head a little higher and his feet sought the familiar defending stance. Slowly he returned the cold stare hoping it would be nearly as effective as the one he was receiving. “Search her.” He motioned the Innkeep. Hastily the man began to pad her down and empty each pocket of her tunic and apron muttering, all under careful scrutiny of the woman who had loosened her grip somewhat to accommodate the Innkeeper. Nothing of worth turned up. Some coins, strings of leather, bone comb. The coal eyes turned to slits “Liar!” You have it. I know you took it!”

Sounds of more steel drawn caught the lady momentarily off guard. Helthan and Halmund had carefully placed themselves at either side of their fellow rider. Back at their own booth even the stranger from their homeland had suddenly unhinged his sword. A fine one at that Rhowain did not fail to notice. The man’s face taut, ready for any sudden movement. A question flashed through Rhowain’s head. Who was this man?

“We don’t want any trouble my lady.”The Innkeep whispered. “But I will not have bloodshed under my roof nor false accusations. Please.” And with a trembling hand he pointed at the door.

She started to move towards the door but shot Rhowain one last look and hissed “All the steel in the world will not protect you in the end horseman. Your bones will shatter and break to feed to lands you once called home. Your flesh will rot and decay but you spirit will remain, trapped in a burning wreath of flame. “

As the remaining patrons breathlessly watched the lady disappear into the darkness , following her mirror’s image that had left the Inn not longer before. The patrons failed to notice the smile that crossed the frail maid’s lips as her hand carefully touched her boot. Not all however failed to catch the curling of lips. The Ranger’s brow furrowed as she watch the maid slip through one of the doors in the back.
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Re: Crossroads

Postby Bréhon » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:34 pm

They were of few words, those Rohirrim. Untrusty lot, Bréhon thought while he accompanied his ale back to his seat. Or maybe it was he, who had become too trustworthy of late?
It was after all not his style to roam unknown lands in the company of strangers whom might only be after slicing his throat during the night. But they were no longer strangers now, weren't they? Not even the ranger, who he had met not that long ago; he would not dare to say that he knew her, not at all, but there certainly was trust - maybe because she had not given him any reason not to.

He glanced at Kaya, whose focus was on her ale.

"Still thinking about your new friend?"

She raised her head, but didn't say anything.

"Don't dwell on it," Bréhon added. "Borders nor walls keep the freaks away."

"I guess not," Kaya shrugged, and she took a sip after which she repeated a hardly audible, "I guess not."

Bréhon thought about Berhelf then, who was so full of wit and a childlike innocense still - what was not to trust about him?

Hadn't Eoden, in fact, been one of the first to show him trust was valuable and mutual trust, even, to be gold. And Jae...

Then, the staring contest commenced. Eyes on ink and quill, eyes on ink and quill. Eyes...

"Are you expecting them to do the writing on their own accord?"

Bréhon looked up, confused. "What?"

Kaya chuckled at his flustered expression. "Your writing material. Are you waiting for them do the writing by themselves?"

"Ah. No, no, of course not." But still he quickly slipped back easily, without even being aware of it, into the staring of eye to ink and quill. Until he gathered all his courage, and set his shoulders. "Would you mind writing a few words down for me." He then hastened to say, "My handwriting is horrible, you see," while he added a boyish grin and an apologetic shrug into the mix.

"Of course. No problem." Kaya reached for the paper, and dipped the quill in the ink. Raising her eyebrows, she watched Bréhon lean forward, his brow almost touching his entwined fingers that rested on the table. "Bréhon ?" she asked after a few minutes of waiting in silence.

"What? Oh. I was thinking." Rubbing his chin, he then said, looking anywhere but at her. "I'm sorry."

"What for?" Kaya asked, confused.

"That's what I'd want you to write down, if you would be so kind: I'm sorry. I hope you are faring well, and found the happiness you so deeply deserve."

Uneasy, Kaya scrutinized him. "Are you sure you shouldn't better be writing this yourself?"

"Yes. I mean, no. No, please, you write it. I'm sorry. I hope you-" and then he fell silent, observing the ink be drawn in loopy characters on the parchment. His hand reached for his chest, where he felt the jewel underneath the fabric of his tunic, and his heartbeat pounding rapidly. "Bréhon," he whispered when the scratching on the partment had stopped.

The ranger obliged, added his name at the bottom, and pushed the parchment towards him. He turned it around and looked at the words with the concentration of one who stares at an unsolvable riddle. Then, with a couple of measured, brisk movements, he folded the paper in half, put it in an envelop, and handed it back to Kaya. Without looking at her, he said: "The Lady J-"

A crash of glass and words startled them both - startled the whole Inn, so it seemed. Brehon blinked when he looked at the origin of the commotion. Hadn't he seen that woman clad in black walk outside not long ago?

The situation escalated quickly and soon he saw he was not the only one who reached for his sword in an attempt to avoid blood being shed. And then, the woman left the Inn, with an aura of coiling anger in her wake.

Bréhon sheated his sword again, and relaxed a little until the envelope became his sole focus once more.

"The Lady Jaeniver," he continued with a nod at the envelope. "Rivendell." For he knew not where else to send it to. Even if she was not there now, chances were nowhere higher than in Rivendell that someone there knew of Jaeniver's whereabouts. The message, and her jewel, would get to the elf, in the end.

Kaya jotted down the words and with a furrowed brow she put the quill down at last. She rubbed a temple. "Well, if that was all, I'll go search for my room now. It has been quite a day."

Bréhon nodded. The parchment lay untouched on the table.

And there it remained, until he put it in his breastpocket at last in an Inn that had been deserted by the last patron long ago. It was quiet, dark and shadowy due to only a handful of candles and oil lamps still being lit.

He blew out the candle on the table before he stood, and nodded at the maid who was behind the bar busy cleaning the last of the tankards, before he ascended the stairs.

And the rain outside it wept on, in a last, feverish bout, to have dawn welcome the autumn sun after an absence too long, like one embraces a prodigal son.
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Bréhon
Rider of the Mark
 
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