Ooohhhh this one was just asking for his ears to be boxed! Her face turned red with growing anger as she snatched her hand back, and perhaps the only thing preventing her from tossing him out on his rear right then and there was his willingness to spend at their fine establishment.
She puffed up her cheeks and let out a huff before heading off to the kitchen, though she did inspect the coin to verify it was real. False coin oft accompanied feigned sincerity.
A few minutes later a stout lad, looking less like he worked in the kitchen and perhaps more like he worked mucking out the latrines, and with a look that could put his mother’s withering glare to shame but whatever scowl he wore hidden behind a thick but well-tended beard, dropped the pie at Thar’s table with all the grace and tenderness of a wounded badger.
The unspoken message that the daughters of the house would no longer be waiting on him were a sign of just how thin that ice was he was jumping on.Oct 14, 2021 at 8:45 am
Thar watched the kitchen boy retreat, then inspected the pie that had landed in front of him. The force of its fall had caved in the top crust and some of the filling had seeped out. He slumped, rested his chin on his balled fist and thought for a moment.
He concluded that yes, he had totally balled that up. And spent one of their sovereigns in the process. Perhaps money isn’t the universal language he thought it was. Then again, maybe it wasn’t all for naught…
He gave the pie a sniff.
It was good pie.
Very good pie.
He took up his eating knife with his free hand and began to cut, planning to eat the entirety of it before Bardhwyn returned and wondered if he, too, should take a bath.
Thar looked about, then swiftly sniffed an armpit and decided he could go a few more months.Oct 14, 2021 at 10:01 am
Murien paused as the small town came into view around the edge of the trees, contemplating whether to stop for the night or press along the road further. Elenir fell silent, waiting patiently and listening to the sounds of revelry in the distance. When Murien did not continue on, he finally said, “A warm meal and friendly company would be a welcome change to our journey.”
“As I am cold and distant, hm?” Murien said. Elenir knew he was teasing. Murien knew he was not.
“Then why do you hesitate?”
Murien did not want to say it, but the ‘friendly’ company was not a guarantee for them. Elenir was so much more… naïve? No, that wasn’t quite right. More innocent, perhaps. More trusting. Murien felt an obligation to preserve that precious view. But Elenir was right, a warm meal would be a welcome change, even if the company was not as obliging as his companion hoped for.
They began walking again and Elenir resumed his story, the one he had been telling for the last three days. It was reaching what seemed to be a climax; the heroine was hanging from the edge of a cliff, having caught hold after her rope broke (it was cut, but she didn’t yet know this). It seemed that she would soon reach the top to confront the villain who had secretly plagued her journey this whole time.
Elenir had a way with weaving the tale such that even if one knew what the likely outcome would be, the twists and surprises along the way were still a delight.
The heroine, having defeated the villain but not before his vengeful blow left her on the edge of life, was being taken to the only one who might have the skill to heal her. This enigmatic figure had not been seen for an age, however, and-
“We’re here,” Murien mumbled, and Elenir stopped his tale to be guided up the stairs and into the boisterous room.
They were quite the pair to see standing tall and seeming somewhat ethereal, though it was not just Elenir’s long, shining near-white hair done up in elaborate braids, nor both of their gently pointed ears that made them stand out among the others in the crowd, local or stranger. The right side of Elenir’s face, including his eye, was covered with a worn leather mask, and one hand rested on one of Murien’s arms for guidance.
Murien’s injuries were less obvious. The intricately constructed wood and metal hand was mostly hidden by the layers of sleeves of his garment, but he leaned heavily on his cane with the other hand. He looked around the room but it seemed that the only seating to be had was at the bar. That was less than ideal.
“There isn’t much room inside,” Murien said.
Elenir tipped his head slightly, considering their options, and finally said, “Perhaps we might order a meal and enjoy it beside the river outside.”
While they stood just inside the door, a young woman (well, everyone seems young when you’re immortal) who clearly was in charge of guests came by. She seemed polite enough not to make a fuss, but made it clear that not only was the place near bursting full, but that any sleeping accommodations would be shared with whoever else might be packed into the rooms for the night.
Murien frowned, but did not argue. The situation would not be remedied by arguing. “A full meal, then. Whatever you have in the kitchen that can be wrapped and carried. Meat, bread, any small pies,” he trailed off a little before quickly adding, “and a bottle of wine.”
“Sure, that’ll be a few minutes,” Jorda said. “You can rest at the bar while you wait, if you want.”
She didn’t want for an answer before heading off to the kitchen, and Elenir gave a small tug on Murien’s sleeve. “A rest would be nice.”
Murien guided Elenir to the bar and set their packs on the floor, but kept his bow and quiver on him.
“I thought you said there was no room,” Elenir murmured as he found his seat.
“I said there wasn’t much room,” Murien corrected.
“It seems as if there is enough for us.”
Murien’s frown deepened.
Elenir either didn’t notice or didn’t mind his companion’s sour mood and instead turned his attention to the rest of the room where someone was singing along with some music and, from the sound of it, a few people had gotten up to dance to the lively tune.
Murien stayed facing the bar.
Oct 15, 2021 at 3:20 pm
“Her honour might be intact but the joy of my evening is hanging by a thread.”Haldreth had scrambled up from the floor and was furiously wringing out his shirt and continued to mutter.
“A pleasure to make your acquaintance Elanor, and yours Diya. That,” and the young man pointed his chin towards the sodden rider, “is Haldreth and I am Rhowaín. I am an officer to the Marshal of the West-mark.”
“Newly promoted officer.”Haldreth cut in. “That is what we were celebrating this evening. The whelp’s promotion.”
“You sound jealous,” Elanor retorted as she toyed with the piece of soap.
“Hardly madam.”Haldreth said jovially, “I do not wish to be in the unfortunate position of a lap dog to the captains, generals and the Marshal. I much rather get my orders and be able to make fun of those above me should I wish. I know my place. It is right there with the common men.” And he slapped Rhowaín on the back “I wish him luck though. Now all of you ladies are more than welcome to join in with the celebrations that we seem to have left upstairs. There is an ale calling my name and probably some pie”.Oct 17, 2021 at 9:24 am
Juniper, having finished combing and plaiting her hair, picked up the fire poker and nudged one of the top logs to one side to open up a bed of coals underneath. She took a bundle of fresh herbs and placed them in the center, causing a thick, fragrant smoke to spill from the hearth.
Without turning her gaze from the fire, she said, “If you are returning upstairs, perhaps you might see to escorting Mr. Giles back to the common room as well. His wife is sure to be along for him eventually.”Oct 17, 2021 at 9:33 am
Jorda took the order from the two elves and headed to the kitchen, finally letting go of the inside of her cheek that she’d been biting until it almost bled. She’d seen Elves before, occasionally they’d come by the inn but it was still a rare sight. But these two were… something different.
She ran over to her sister and gave her shoulder an excited shake. “Janna, Janna!”
“What on earth!” the younger said, pulling herself free of her sister’s grip and trying not to spill the cider she was pouring.
“Holy saints and all the Valar, you have to go see who came in!”
“Even if it’s Erkan that’s no call to go-“
“No, you have to see them!” she insisted. “They’re so… I can’t… beautiful isn’t quite the right word. They’re just so…” she flailed with her arms as if that might convey what she couldn’t seem to express otherwise, and her sister just rolled her eyes.
“Fine, I’ll deliver the cider, then,” Janna relented. “Who am I looking for?”
“You’ll see them. I think they’ve sat at the bar.”
Janna left her unusually flustered sister in the kitchen and took the tray of ciders up. She had no idea how she’d know what she was looking for, until she saw them.
Their bearing was one of… nobility? Like stories of old kings that everyone just knew because of what it felt like being near them. They exuded a presence like nothing that should exist on this earth. It was at once like being humbled beyond measure and yet feeling more alive than she ever had.
She managed to pry her eyes away when the dark-haired one seemed to notice her staring and his frown deepened. She quickly delivered the ciders to the table – and my, she really hoped she had gotten the right table! – and then scurried back to the kitchen.
“Holy saints!” she breathed out.Oct 17, 2021 at 9:44 am
Invitations, responsibilities and expectations. It was all getting to be too much.
Bardhwyn hung up her bath brush, balanced the remains of her soap and the edge of her tub and looked about the steamy room. She and Thar were meant to be laying low and keeping to themselves, not joining celebrations and making new friends. The Riders were genuine in their invitation, and probably harmless. She could see, too, that Diya was listening and making efforts to understand, and as for the other woman this was just another night in the local bathhouse.
For Bardhwyn, this was dangerous.
Yanking another towel free from a nearby peg, she quickly spun about. She flung the large towel over head, holding each corner, so it fell like a drape along the outside of the tub. She slowly stood, the towel acting like a curtain, then artfully wrapped it around herself with all modesty intact. The second towel she draped casually over her right arm, covering the red, ugly burn of the traitor’s brand on her forearm.
“That’s right, Giles has a wife,” she commented, stepping carefully out of the bath. “Good to know someone cares.” She made towards her things, forcing the two Riders to part in her midst.
“Thank you for the invitation,” Bardhwyn collected up her clothes and boots.”I must regretfully decline.” She gave the younger Rider a celebratory pat on the back and without further word, she walked over the standing screen and pushed it to one side revealing the school teacher fast asleep on the floor, his trousers still about his ankles.
“My turn, Giles,” she announced, checking the folds and tucks of her towel-wrap. She hoisted the man onto his feet, and helped him onto a stool next to the fire. She tapped him lightly on the face.
“Time to wake up, Giles,” she said. “You don’t want your wife to see you in this state, do you?” Bardhwyn asked. “Though something tells me she’s seen worse,” she added under her breath. A brief flash of a smile on the elder woman’s face confirmed her suspicion.
Bardhwyn ducked behind the room screen and quickly dressed.
Coming to this Inn was beginning to feel like a serious mistake.Oct 17, 2021 at 11:58 am
“Yes I know, it is late. Rest would do us both good.” with a leather gloved hand Jaeniver patted the side of her mare’s neck as it whinnied softly and pulled at her reigns . She took in her surroundings and quickly weighed her options. She did not feel much for stopping at this little layaway but continuing on would not be wise. She had passed a Rohirrim encampment not too far back which hinted at possible unrest in the area. She had denied an escort at her previous engagement and she wondered if she had made a wrong decision in doing so. She knew of at least one rider who would berate her if he had known. “Go on.” She urged her mare forward and down the soft slope of the hill towards the brick building that bathed in warm light and had smoke coming from it’s chimney. At least there would be a fire and hot food by the looks of it.
The young stablehand had obligingly taken the reins so Jaeniver could dismount. His eyes widened slightly as he saw delicate pointed ears through the soft brown curls that framed her face. Maybe elves did not frequent this establishment much? To shield herself from too many prying eyes she donned the hood of her dark blue cloak. She smiled at the young boy and silently pressed a coin in his hand and made her way to the large door of the inn.
The common room was crowded with a variety of people. Locals coming to relax after a hard day’s work, travellers such as herself and no doubt those that fell into their own kind of category. She knew places like this all too well. She arrived at one end of the bar where the matron of the house filled up pint after pint and bellowing something over her shoulder aimed for whoever manned the stoves in the back. She signalled her over “Good evening madam. I came to enquire if you still have a room for the night.” The matron muttered something about rooms being full and quarters would have to be shared like she had told the previous gentlemen and she impatiently waved an arm in the direction down the large bar. She followed the matron’s indicated direction and was surprised to set eyes upon hair dark as ebony and cut short which had not necessarily been unusual and striking were it not for the pointed tips of his ears coming through the strands of hair. Her eyes widened slightly in surprise. She had not expected to lay eyes upon kin in a place such as this. Next to the elf with the dark short hair stood another, hair like spun silver and braided this time. With an amused smile he stood straight as an arrow watching some locals strike up a song and a woman joined in with a little jig. From his belt hang a tubular case and an ink horn. A scribe?
Just as Jaeniver puzzled over the instruments the silver haired elf turned his welcoming one eyed gaze in her direction and looked as if he had fully expected her to be standing there looking at him. She took in an inaudible sharp breath. It was not often and every day one saw an elf whose fairness had been tarnished though she was no stranger to such sights. The leather of the face mask was smooth and slightly dented indicating the many years of wear and was kept in place with delicate straps that stood out in stark contrast to his fair hair. His smile widened and he bent a little closer to his companion and said something that made him turn his head as well. Where his silver haired companion had looked gentle and welcoming the other met her gaze with a frown. She placed her right hand on her chest and bent her head in a silent and respectful greeting before her attention was claimed by the matron.
“Well, Do you accept those terms? Shared quarters or no quarters at all I’m afraid.” It was not ideal but as it was only for one night it was something she could get past. Jaeniver had faced less comfortable conditions. “As long as there is a mattress, a meal and breakfast included I have no objections. The matron agreed and they settled on a price accordingly. “Your food and drink will be brought out to you, You can take a seat over there, with him holding the wee lad.”Oct 20, 2021 at 8:45 am
Petitioner to the Council : 10 posts
Words coming out a bit too fast once more… She’d been in this country almost a year and still, she had made little progress. She was still struggling with the flow of the language. Now granted she hadn’t mingled much and until she left Dorwinion she’d had a translator and so didn’t make a lot of effort. Still…
Her name was provided. She heard it once from Elanor and once from the young man, Rider… the men’s names were given too; and they were a mouthful for her, but well…
She didn’t have the opportunity to ensure she’d understood properly – an invitation had been offered to join them, a party of sorts – before Elanor stood up and declined. There was a shift in the woman’s entire demeanour: not subtle. At least not to her; she couldn’t speak for the others. The woman was retreating… like a desert flower closing itself against the scorching heat of the day. Or rather like a sand snake remembering that though it is a predator to many animals, it can still be a prey too if it weren’t careful. She kept her features schooled but… that was intriguing.
When the two Rohirrim finally turned and hoisted the drunk teacher from the stool Elanor had moved to the door, Diya stood and got out of the bath. She’d not taken the “precaution” to have a towel close by.
“Ah! Bihaqi alsama.” She swore under her breath although she might as well have commented on the weather. She was… unhappy however. Hal… Haldr… Damn! The older Rohirrim’s antics had ensured her entire pack was soaked. She grabbed a towel and wrapped herself in it, imitating Elanor. Took a second smaller one to dry her hair.
She walked towards the newly freed stool, careful not to let her anklets jiggle, before sitting. She turned to the silver haired lady with a smile.
“Do you mind if I stay for a bit? It appears my clothes need drying.”
She proceeded to unfold the wet garments so they might dry by the fire.
Thankfully they weren’t as soaked as she feared. The bag had absorbed the brunt of it.Oct 20, 2021 at 9:16 am
A third of the pie remained, despite Thar’s best efforts to eat it all.
“Just as well,” he thought,
Number One can have it … maybe I should have left more…”
A twinge of anxiety quickly followed. He watched a stream of memories and outdated ideas swirl about in his mind, as if picked up by the melody of the music that suddenly struck up, his memories stomping along with the locals dancing on the far side of the room.
He’d not thought of Bardhwyn in that way for a good, long time, as the right hand and top lieutenant to one of Rhovannion’s most notorious ‘bandit kings’, Edmost Harlond. Nor had he, for a good, long time, assessed his actions and decisions in such a calculated way; the saving a piece of pie, and how big a piece – all to curry favour and demonstrate his loyalty, his subservience, his acknowledgement of her status and power over him.
With a finger, he pulled the pie closer to him and inspected it. It was damn, good pie. She’d appreciate the gesture, she’d thank him, she’d take it and eat it and not give the size of the piece a second thought. She’d see it for what it was, a kind gesture.
And it was, in truth. He had saved it for her, despite what he told himself. They’d both left rank and hierarchies behind a long time ago. It wasn’t discussed, it just happened. Thar knew they each, in their own way, struggled to put their time with Harlond behind them, however. To the extent they were allowed to, of course. As for the future, neither of them spoke much about it. They were partners and they were obliged to follow the course mapped out to them by their fates and their oaths.
A woman approached, picking her way carefully through the dancers. She stopped near his table, her blonde hair neatly bundled atop her head. She had clear but worried blue eyes, dimpled cheeks and was heavily pregnant. A toddler of barely two years squirmed on her hip as she perused the common room.
Thar looked about as well, expecting to see a guest return her gaze with a smile and a welcoming wave. No one responded to her and, oddly enough, the room seemed to grow louder with music and noisy conversation. The toddler began to squirm all the more.
“What say you, my lady?” Thar asked. “Can I be of assistance?”
The woman looked over to him, then turned, expecting someone to be behind her and the recipient of Thar’s address. She turned back to Thar, surprised.
“You speak to me?” she asked.
“Yes, madam,” Thar said, standing. “You seem in need of some help?”
The toddler wrestled himself free of his mother’s arms and landed deftly on his feet. The woman tried to stop him but her condition made it difficult; the boy made for his escape, dashing towards the dancers.
In two steps, Thar was behind the boy and lifted him up and onto his shoulder, the lad squealing with delight.
“Oh Wilfred, you naughty boy!” the woman cried, her pretty face now showing signs of weariness.
“Ah, madam, he is just young and full of energy,” Thar said, holding onto Wilfred as he pummelled his head. He pulled him off his shoulder, cradled him in one arm and proceeded to tickle him, resulting in further squeals.
“And, dare I say, you seem to have your hands full as it is,” Thar added. “Or soon will do, if you don’t mind me observing.” Thar stopped tickling and Wilfred cooed happily, while pulling earnestly on Thar’s beard.
“Yes, yes, I suppose so,” the woman replied, wistfully. “Perhaps you could help me…”, she paused and Thar was aware she was waiting for his name.
Which one was he using? He’d forgotten… then it came to him.
“Hoban, madam. My name is Hoban and I and my own good lady are trappers, here for the night. At your service, Mrs..?”
The mention of ‘his own good lady’ resulted in the expectant mother to relax visibly: her face softened and her eyes widened slightly. Thar noticed she even sighed slightly. Or perhaps it was due to the end of the raucous dance tune; the room erupted in applause and the musicians stood and bowed. Thar politely clapped.
“Mrs. Giles, Mr. Hoban. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I am looking for my husband, Mr. Giles. He should be here, somewhere. It’s getting late and I worry about him making his way home… in the dark…” She trailed off as she, once again, scanned the room. Wilfred, meanwhile, bored with Thar’s beard, had taken his thumb and was sucking it contentedly, snug in the crook of Thar’s arm.
A pregnant woman, with a toddler, in a drinking establishment, looking for her husband who, unsurprisingly, was nowhere to be seen. Thar bit his tongue and kept from saying the all-too-obvious. Instead he followed (for once) his better nature.
“Young Wilfred seems content here with me, Mrs. Giles. Allow me to watch him for you? I’ll be right here, and can call on Madge if I need any assistance myself?”
“Oh, you know Madge, do you?”
“Yes, quite well,” Thar said with a knowing smile.
“Oh, Mr. Hoban, thank you! I shall be no time at all. I just need to look over in the back of the room and… I’ll be right back,” she said hurriedly.
“In the back and under the tables, no doubt,” Thar thought to himself. He watched Mrs. Giles disappear into the crowd of the common room and he gently settled back onto the bench. Young Wilfred was now fast asleep.
Once seated, Thar saw them – Elves.
Three of them.
He bit back a curse and felt young Wil stir in the crook of his arm. Thar’s eyes narrowed but he remained relaxed in posture.
Elves. They were the most difficult to evade, and even more difficult to fight off. Bardhwyn was still wanted in Rivendell, the sons of Elrond having personally placed a bounty on her.
In turn the elves spoke with Madge, then Jordah. One was a she-elf, finely clothed, her cloak the colour of blue on a clear, dusky summer’s night and, from her stance, not in companionship with the other two who were taller, perhaps a male and female? It was always so damn difficult to tell with elves. And one, it seemed, wore a face mask, making it even more difficult.
The tables were filling up now and his was the only one left with room enough to share.
He took a slow, deep breath and regretted taking on the child. There would be no quick escape out the window, not for a while yet.
“Well, Wilfred,” he said quietly. “We may be in for a little adventure, or we may not. Time will tell.”Oct 20, 2021 at 9:21 am