From all across the lands of East Emnet the Eorlings of Clan Eowain were gathering upon their settlements for the celebrations of the season. It was mid spring and their beloved horses were giving birth, it was near time for the Foaling Feasts. A time when the Clans gathered from far and wide to meet, celebrate and feast. Thenred could hardly wait. Winter had been long and though he loved the wandering life of an Eowain, his heart galloped faster than his mare, Hwitmona, (which meant White Moon in the Common tongue) to meet upon family and friends and to partake upon all the festivities that came with the celebration of the Foaling Feast.
Thenred had just turned fifteen years of age during the long winter, a ripe age for a young man of Rohan, an age when he could be considered to now be a man. Thenred was a handsome young man, straw colored hair, icy-blue eyes and just the slightest shadow of facial stubble by which he proudly wore. For so long had he held the lanky and awkward form of a pre-teen. But after the past winter and into the spring time, Thenred began to fill out more, and he was eager to strut his stuff before many a beautiful lass and those of his peers.
Thenred rode with about fifty other’s of various ages and genders, those who could make the trek across the Mark to join others of their kind in Stowburg, the Clan’s home. It would be a grand time indeed, Thenred thought to himself for many a night and daydream. At the festival there would be much merry, contests of horsemanship and skill with weapons, bartering of crafts, the best foods ever prepared, ale, and of course, young women. There would be tales of old and new, tales of past heroic deeds, tragic love, as well as news of encounters with Orcs upon the lands of the Mark. These days seemed to grow dark, he had heard elders and Riders say. More and more Orcs dared to enter into the Mark, raid settlements. Even the Wildemen, grew braver in their raiding.
Thenred looked forward to telling his tale, of the time during the winter when he faced an Orc. It would surely catch the eye of any a lass, and impress those of his peers. For Thenred had become an apt rider, and he had some skill with a blade. Often times he rode with a patrol that helped to secure the wanders of his people.
Many people of the Clan Eowain were nomadic, they traveled throughout the East Mark with their herds, wrangled wild horse to breed with their own, living off the land, free and happy. There could always be danger of course. Oh yes. For out in the open they had but make-shift shelters, not the fortified walls of such a settlement as Stowburg, Edoras, or the rock walls of the fortress of the Hornburg. The people of Eowain preferred it that way of course. Their freedom, the oneness of their beloved Rohan.
It was one such time on a patrol ride that he and those he rode with came upon a vile raiding party of Orcs. The Orcs had been trailing them for some time, had even moved up ahead of their small caravan and had obviously planned to ambush them in the night. They were foiled though, and Thenred had his first encounter with battling the Orcs. It wasn’t much of a battle, but a skirmish, but to Thenred it was glorious and fulfilling as the blood that flowed through his veins was that of many a line of brave Riders who fought and defended their way of life upon the Mark.
“Thenred my son,” his father called out. “Wake up from your day dream before you wander from the Riddermark!”
Thenred smiled, his father often berated him of his day dreams, but he always did so with a smile.
“Aye Father, I am here. I only look forward to reaching Stowburg!” Thenred exclaimed.
His father laughed, “Thenred Son of Gleofeld, ever the day dreamer. It is good to have expectations my son, but you must waste your time only upon dreams. You must work hard, pay attention, reach out and grab life by the mane!” his father explained with such passion.
“Of course father, `tis a lesson you teach me often times. I do not forget. And I shall bring you great honor and pride this year, as I am now of age to partake upon the games!” Thenred grinned with the barest of constraints of his hearts desires.
“Aye my son, I have confidence that you shall do well. But keep in mind, you are still young, and have many more seasons to learn and grow and become a strong and honorable man. I know you seek to become a man so soon, it will come in time my son. Enjoy these days you have left, for while the life of a man of the Eowain is rewarding and free, it is a life spent of hard work to achieve all that I have worked to provide for you and our kin,” his father spoke with much more sincerity and authority.
“I know father,” Thenred replied with less giddiness in his voice, but never less the respect and desires he held for his father and to be a great man as his father.
For Thenred was Son of Gleofeld, and Gleofeld was indeed a great man. He was strong and wise, talented and knowledgeable and well respected within the Clan. Gleofeld was a Maegrad, a clan councilor of his people. He was but one of many of the Maegwitans throughout the Clan who assisted the Maegtheow, the Clan leader who resided in their Clan home of Stowburg. Gleofeld was not a rich man, he was not of noble blood. But he was a well respected craftsman, a Stedamaegister, or master horse breeder. For many, many years Gleofeld has roamed the East Mark with his herds and the herds of those who traveled with him. He over saw the breeding of horses which brought much wealth and respect to his peoples. A respect and wealth that he shared with all who did business with him and kept his company. For Gleofeld was not a greedy man, no. He did well for his family, and always did right by those he was with. It was Gleofeld who taught Thenred the finer points about horses, teaching him how to inspect and care for a good horse, to appreciate it for the being that it was, the loyal friend and companion it could be to a man of the Mark. Yes, Thenred’s knowledge of the horse was from his father, and it would serve him well all his life.
Thenred rode in the company of his father, and many other sons and fathers, and brothers and cousins and such of kin. Towards the back of the line were most of the females, their mothers, wives, sisters and such. The men rode behind, to the front and the sides, as well as scouts and patrols further ahead to protect them from any harm or evil doing. Thenred’s mother and sisters were back there. His beautiful mother, Simre, a Clathere, or clothier. She made very nice garments for both man, woman, child and horse. And his sisters too followed on the trek to Stowburg. His older sister Gleodor, who was to married this year, she favored their mother in look but favored her father skill. She was well on her way to becoming a respected and talented Mieremaegister, an expert on mares. And then there was Iwyn, the younger sister, still a child, but with such a skill with weaving. She so favored her father in appearance, but had her mothers skill in crafts.
“I do believe that our folk shall make good this year with our goods and our horses, father,” Thenred said with optimism.
Many times throughout the year peoples traded and sold their goods. But at the Foaling Feast is when the real marketing took place. Peoples from all around showed their finest goods and craftsmanship, and of course their finest steeds and mares for breeding and sale. This year was particular good to them, rightly so after a hard and long winter. Thenred’s mother had many a fine cloth to sell, mens ware, womens ware, garments for children, tapestries and horse clothes. All her long winters work. Gleofeld and his daughter Gleodor had their prized mares and stallions for sales, both young and prime, for breeding, sale or trade. Gleofeld was also a leather worker, and he made some of the finest saddles in the East Mark. Thenred too had taken up the working of leather, and though he was not such the skilled craftsman as his father, together they had worked on a good number of saddles to sell and trade for this year.
“I believe this so, my son,” Gleofeld answered his child. “We do have a good winters work to show for. I am sure we will have all we need to take back out into the Mark to begin another year.”
Father and son rode in silence for a time, taking in the scenery of the lush grasslands. Stowburg was but a day ahead. They would make camp before long and have a nice evenings rest before they rode on in to Stowburg.
“What do you think will happen of Gleodor and Iberg’s union, father?” Thenred asked of his sisters upcoming marriage.
“It is not up to me to speculate my son. It is their life and I shall honor their decision either way. Be it that Gleofeld takes to her husbands kin, or Iberg Son of Gamwiling chooses to part with his. We would be honored and blessed in any decision,” he answered.
“Will you be participating in any of the shows of skill father?” Thenred asked.
“I do not think so my son. For many years have I matched skill and wits with the best of them. Your father has seen many seasons, and my time is better served in discussion with our people, and in the business of our kin,” he answered. “When we of the Maegwitan have our own ways akin the games and challenges of our younger years my sons. One must always have their wits about them, their wisdom and their heart. Though the winner and looser is not as always as easy to determine as with the games and challenges of celebration, no. Our challenges and maneuvers have long term affects and can have consequences upon the whole of Eowain.”
“Well I shall leave such matters to you father, as you are the Maegrad and I am but your son and not so knowledgeable of such things. How ever, I can barely await to join in the games and challenges this year. Don’t you agree Hwitmona? he asked to his horse who neighed and huffed in a response.
Father and son laughed as they rode onward…