Mythgard RP!

Discussion in 'Roleplaying Anyone?' started by ramz711, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. ramz711

    ramz711 New Member

    I've been woefully neglectful of this thread, but that's going to change. I've a ton of logs to post, and they'll be going up over the next few days as I get them edited.
  2. ramz711

    ramz711 New Member

    Chapter 9: A Chilly Reception

    Maegdin stirs the fire in the grey light of early dawn. He tosses another few branches on the fire before heating a skillet and beginning to cook a rasher of bacon for an early breakfast.
    Minabel spots the group at a campsite at the top of the ridge. "Ah, you are exactly where that Ranger Saeradan said you would be."
    Trumodir comes up to the campfire after checking her horse and sees Mina there. "Greetings!"
    Bialver opens his eyes as fire begins to crackle, sniffs the bacon, then digs three honeycakes out of the backpack which has served him as a pillow. He tosses the honeycakes to Trumodir, then levers himself up and goes to see to Utsending, his mare.
    Trumodir smells the bacon and quickly backs away from the fire.

    Minabel turns to Trumodir. "Greetings, Trumodir. Well wishes to you all. I am sorry that I became separated from you two days ago. I was in bed and that Ranger Saeradan told me where to find you.”
    Arasthel lays curled up on her bedroll, but as the gentle sounds of the others moving reaches her ears, she wakes, sitting up while rubbing her eyes. "Morning, all." She murmurs sleepily.
    Adaldag moves over to the fire and joins the others. He nods to the returned Minabel and then looks over the food being prepared.
    Maegdin raises a hand in welcome as Mina rejoins them. 'I'm just glad you were willing to come with us and that you're well. You're just in time for a meal, and then we'll be off on the road again. I hope to make Trestlebridge before the day is out.' He turns the bacon and pulls out his plate as it finishes cooking.

    Arasthel reaches for her hat, now dry after the rain drenched it, and pulls it onto her head, tucking all hair up underneath it.
    Bialver comes back to the fire, and nods a welcome to Mina.
    Minabel looks at the bacon and her mouth waters. "This all looks so good. I must admit that I missed you all, even if it felt good to sleep in a real bed for a couple of days and to have a nice hot bath."
    Trumodir nods at Bialver in thanks for the honeycakes he provided, thankful that there is something to eat besides burnt flesh.
    Maegdin smiles. 'I hope you enjoyed it, because it may be some days before we find hot baths again.'
    Arasthel smiles at Mina. "Welcome back." She says quietly.
    Minabel looks over the group. Thank you all."
    Adaldag helps himself to some bacon whenever it's ready.
    Bialver digs three honeycakes out of his pack for himself, and moves out of the smoke of the fire.

    Maegdin tests the bacon with his fork, and nods. He pulls a couple pieces off for himself and gestures to the others for plates. 'Come now, quickly. I'd like to be on our way before the sun is fully up. We've a long road yet today.'
    Trumodir calls to the others from some distance away from the fire, "Yes, best hurry, the sun will not tarry!"
    Minabel takes a few slabs of bacon. "Um, bacon is my favorite food."
    Adaldag quickly eats his bacon and then moves over to his pile of armour so that he can assemble himself.
    Arasthel smiles at Maegdin and thanks him, reaching for a plate of food. She eats quickly, but saves a portion for Birdie, who was currently up in the air.

    Minabel gets up from the log where she was sitting and straightens her dress with her hands. She grabs her bow and walks over to Maegdin. "I am ready to go."
    Trumodir replies, "Me too"
    Bialver finishes up his honeycakes, dusts off his hands, and goes to saddle Utsending, who is cropping grass not far away
    Maegdin finishes quickly and packs his few things. He walks to a nearby spring to clean his cooking gear, as well as fetch water to douse the fire. His few preparations completed, he saddles his horse and waits for the others to ready themselves.
    Adaldag moves over to his horse as well, waiting for the others to move before he mounts it.
    Trumodir leaps onto Marr's back and whispers, "Well, faithful friend, let's see what this day has in store for us."
    Bialver checks Utsending's tack one last time, leads her to the spring to drink, and refills his water bottle before he mounts up
    Arasthel rises, packing up the last of her things and moving to her horse to tie her pack to the saddle.
    Minabel unties her horse from a nearby bush. "Come Rosalyn". Let us be off.

    Bialver knees her gently over to where the others are gathered.
    Maegdin nods to the others and climbs onto his horse. 'Well, if we're ready...' He turns towards the north and leads the way along the crest of the hills till they come to a break where they can return to the lowlands and the Greenway.
    Adaldag climbs atop his horse and follows Maegdin.
    Bialver rides carefully, always trying to find the softest surface for his horse's feet, but the day is long and hot, and horse and rider both begin to flag.
    Trumodir throws her head back, allowing her hair to stream behind her, exulting in the ride.
    Minabel taps Brianne gently on her flank and she begins to trot gracefully.

    The journey north passes uneventfully. Though the day is somewhat hot for the season of the year, it is not unpleasantly so. In the afternoon, a light breeze kicks up, and clouds begin to stream up out of the West. The company eats a frugal lunch in the shadow of a few trees to the east of the Greenway, and then they continue on their way at a trot.

    As the Sun touches the tops of the hills to the west, they come to a long defile leading up into the first of the North Downs. Matt turns in the saddle and smiles. 'We've made good time. Trestlebridge is right at the top of this....' He trails off as the breeze blows the scent of smoke down towards them. His face darkens and he kicks his horse to a gallop, charging on up the hill.
    Adaldag kicks his horse into a gallop as well and follows closely behind Maegdin.
    Arasthel also urges her horse forward at a quickened pace, and at the amount of smoke, frowns.
    Trumodir senses the cause of the smoke and her face darkens in anger

    Maegdin draws Randir to a halt as they crest the hill and Trestlebridge comes into view. Wisps of smoke curl from within the town, more than would be expected from simple hearth-fires. The guards at the gate look warily at the company as they come up the road, but the town's wall seems to secure still.
    As they reach the gate, Utsending becomes restive at the smell of smoke...and less pleasant things. She shies and sidles while Bialver talks to her softly.
    Adaldag rushes forward toward the guards. "What happened?" he asks. It's possible the guards would recognize him, as he is no stranger to Trestlebridge and has family here.
    Minabel wrinkles her nose. "What is that awful smell?" What besides the town burned?" She takes out a handkerchief from her corset and covers her nose.

    The guards relax noticeably as Adaldag comes up. 'Well, looks like Tenderlarch finally decided to send someone. I'm glad it's you, Ada. We've had a rough time of it the last week or so. We've been dealing with some Orc raids out of the Downs! Never heard of them around here before, but we started gettin' refugees from the farms up in Kingsfell last Sunday, and then on Hevensday, we started getting Orcs attackin' the far end o' the Trestlespan!'

    The man continues. 'Things came to a head two days ago on Starsday: that fool Hinton fell asleep at his post, and next thing we knew, half the town was on fire and a dozen Orcs were runnin' through the streets! We had a couple folks killed dead, even!' The guard shakes his head. 'Hinton's lucky the Cap'n only drummed him out of the Watch and clapped him in the stocks. If it were up to me, I'd 'ave hucked his sorry carcass off the Trestlespan.'

    Maegdin rides up next to Adaldag. His eyes widen with surprise at the mention of Orcs. 'Orcs, you say? Here in the North Downs? But how can that be?'
    Minabel turns to Maegdin. "What are orcs?"
    Trumodir interject, "They are vile servants of the Enemy! I hate them more than anything! Just let me at them!"
    Arasthel frowns more at their report, then looks warily at the others. "How did orcs come so close to Bree without anyone noticing?"
    Bialver leans over Utsending's neck. ''Shhhh, girl....shhh...'' he says soothingly.

    Minabel turns to Trumodir. "Do you suppose they know Sharkey?"
    Trumodir says, "Who is Sharkey?"
    Minabel wrinkles her nose again. "Sharkey is some thug who hires men to attack the local farmers. He sent men to kill my parents. I suspect that it is a false name. No one seems to know who Sharkey really is."
    Trumodir adds, "I don't care who they know or don't know, they don't deserve to live and if I have a chance, I'll make sure they don't!"

    Adaldag pales as the watcher tells his story, but he nods. "Hinton always was a rather dull fellow." He looks at Maegdin, then back to the guard. "These folks with me are all friends and won't cause any problems. We'll do what we can to help around town." He peers into the gate. "Do you know if my brothers made it out alright? Garet and Henrick?"

    The guard nods at Ada. 'Yes, your kin are fine. A bit spooked, like all the rest of us, but none the worse for wear.' He looks over the others behind Ada, and his face hardens when he sees the Ranger. 'We'll certainly welcome you and your friends, Ada, but his kind's not welcome here.' He points an accusing finger at Matt. 'Them Rangers wander all about, north, south, and east, but they never bothered to give us any warnin' that this trouble was brewing. He can either turn around, or pass through town if he must, but he'll find neither bread nor rest here.'

    Bialver mutters to Trumodir ''And they see more than you'd think, while they wander...''
    Trumodir mutters back, "Everyone must prove himself to strangers"
    Maegdin sighs, as if unsurprised at this. He looks at Ada and the others. 'I don't want to cause any trouble,' he says softly. 'If you'll let me pass through and over the bridge, that will be enough.'
    Adaldag frowns at the guard. "He's as much a friend as the others, and he'd give his life for this town if he had to. You judge too harshly. Don't let anger at these orcs drive away allies, especially good ones like him." He jerks his head at Maegdin.
    Arasthel watches the others speaking with the guards as a cry from Birdie is heard. Her falcon descends to land on her saddlebag.

    The guard opens his mouth to protest and takes a step toward Matt, but the Ranger raises his hand. 'No,' he says firmly. 'I'll not be a cause of argument between you and yours. I've spent many a night sleeping on the road before. One more won't kill me. Take your rest here tonight, and if you will, I'll meet you on the Greenway a half-hour's ride north of the bridge tomorrow.' He nods to the guards and makes his way through the town and over the bridge, ignoring the dark looks and muttered insults as he goes. Just before he rides up the causeway onto the bridge, a clod of dirt strikes him in the side of the head. He simply brushes it out of his hair and off his shoulder before continuing on his way and making camp within sight of the bridge's end.

    Bialver exchanges a glance with Trumodir
    Trumodir interjects, "no reason for me to stay in this town tonight. I'll go along with you to keep you company" She follows behind the Ranger, growling at the folk as she passes
    Bialver smiles. "Well spoken, Dughter of the Knurrebjorner"
    Trumodir calls behind her, "Bialver, aren't you coming?"
    Bialver leans foward and whispers in his mare's ear, then knees her into a trot through the town and crosses the bridge. He shrugs and says to Trumodir as he trots up to her "She doesn't like the smell of the town..."

    Adaldag frowns at the townspeople as he brings his horse to the stables. He quickly hands it off to the stablehand and takes off at a run toward where his family house was. He calls out to the others as he runs, "I'll join you all in the morning! I must visit my family!"
    Minabel looks after Maegdin and Trumodir. "I hope you do not mind if I look for an inn in town? Smell aside, it beats another night outdoors."
    Arasthel is also frowning as she nudges her horse onwards to the stables. Once there, she dismounts and moves Birdie to her shoulder as she unties her pack. "I suppose now we must find a place to sleep..."

    Maegdin finds a spot overlooking the bridge and the Greenway to make camp, and busies himself for a few moments preparing a fire before settling in for the night. He nods companionably to Trumodir and Bialver, but says nothing.
    Trumodir sees to her horse, whispering in its ear and stroking its soft muzzle, then draws near to the fire.
    Bialver settles himself by the fire, elbows on knees, chin on hands
    Trumodir settles herself with an arm under her head and gazes up at the night sky; she smiles as she reflects on how she can see the same stars as fill the night at home in the Vales.

    Maegdin pulls an apple from his pack and takes a bite before saying softly, 'You did not have to come with me. The townsfolk here would certainly welcome you, especially if Adaldag vouches for you.'
    Trumodir responds, "Tru is my name and true I am; I won't stay where one of my group isn't welcome".
    Bialver shrugs "Stuffy little room that smells like panic, and the soot of no clean fire? I'll sleep sounder out here." He grins at Trumodir and adds "And what'd we do should harm came to you, Ranger? Sulk back to Bree and try to face we-know-not-what on our own?"

    Maegdin looks between the two of them and smiles slightly. 'Thank you for your concern, but I can handle myself. I've spent many a night sleeping in the wilds. I'm older than I look.' He finishes his apple and tosses the core in the fire. 'I thank you, though. It is good to be accepted on my own merits for once.'
    Trumodir shakes her head and murmurs, "People ought to get to know someone before they judge him."
    Bialver gestures vaguely at the downs stretching away north, and the hills rising to the east "Unchancy lands, Ranger."

    Maegdin looks over at Trumodir as he pulls a piece of cram from his pouch. 'Trust for strangers is rare in these parts, and you must admit that I have something of a rascally look about me, do I not?' He looks over at Bialver. 'Not for me. I've walked these hills for many a year, and know them like the back of my hand.' He takes a bite of the bread and begins chewing.
    Trumodir rolls over, her eyes heavy, and murmurs a good-night to the others
    Bialver fills his pipe. "Best we stick to you, then. rascally or no""

    Maegdin nods to Bialver. After a long while, he finally swallows. 'Take your rest. I want to set off as soon as the others arrive tomorrow morning. We still have some miles to go.'
    Bialver lights his pipe with a splinter of wood from the edge of the fire, and puffs contentedly for a time. Eventually, he knocks the dottle out of his pipe, nods a "goodnight" to Matt, and stretches out by the fire.
    Maegdin continues to sit next to the fire throughout the night. Finally, in the wee hours, he lies down and take a few hours' rest.
  3. ramz711

    ramz711 New Member

    Chapter 10: Unexpected Company

    Maegdin awakes as the first faint light of dawn begins to lighten the east. He stokes the fire and gathers his things to make the departure easier.
    Bialver stirs at the sound of the fire beginning to crackle, and lumbers off to find water
    Trumodir opens her eyes at the faintest hint of dawn; she rolls over and sees Matt at the fire.
    Maegdin raises a hand in greeting to Trumodir as she wakes, but says nothing. He sits in silence and puffs on his pipe as he waits for day to break.
    Trumodir sits up, and taking a small packet from her bag, unwraps it and eats the honey cake it contained.

    Bialver finds a pool east of the Greenway from their night's camp – an un-looked-for good fortune. He peels away his armour and his clothes and jumps in with a whoop. He climbs out after a thorough ducking, shakes himself dry, and comes back to the fire with his mail over his arm.
    Maegdin raises an eyebrow at Bialver, but remains silent. His gaze shifts between the eastern hills, beginning to glow in the light of dawn, and the Road, both north and south.

    Miriaden strode through the hills with the silent step expected of her people, her head turning at the sound of voices in the distance. Hesitating for a moment with a squint, she listens for a moment before heading in that direction to investigate.
    Trumodir follows Matt's gaze, keeping her thoughts to herself
    Bialver rummages in his pack for a slightly battered honeycake, and goes off munching to see to his mare.

    Maegdin smiles slightly at Trumodir. 'We'll not leave till the others arrive. Though perhaps I should quench the fire...' He stands and does so before burying the ashes and sitting back down.
    Miriaden pauses a little distance away, giving a curious look to the group camped there. She heads their direction, a warm smile on her face. "Hello!" She calls out to them, lifting her hand in a wave.
    Trumodir calls out, “Hello stranger! Who be you?”
    Maegdin stands as he catches sight of the newcomer. He smiles broadly as he recognises the voice. 'Is that you, Annie?' he calls. 'This is an unexpected surprise, but certain not unwelcome!'
    Trumodir glances at Matt. "You know her?" she asks.

    Miriaden smiles at Tru and was about to answer, but at hearing Maegdin's voice, she smiles widely and looks at him. "Matt?" She walks towards him as though greeting a long lost relative.
    Minabel looks the stranger up and down. "Are you a Ranger too?" she asks the stranger.
    Maegdin walks over to Annie and embraces her as a brother would. 'I did not think to find you here, cousin,' he says with joy plain to see. 'What brings you here to the north?'

    Miriaden smiles warmly to him, lifting her arms to give him a brief embrace. "I had thought you remained near Bree. I returned to the North, scouting the rise of..." she glances to the group for warily for a moment, then says, "Orcs."
    Bialver looks up sharply at the word
    Minabel sighs and says under her breath, "Great, another of those 'Rangers.' Welcome," she says to Miriaden. "Did you say your name was "Anne?"
    Trumodir growls fiercely, her fingers flexing as though they were claws
    Maegdin notices the unspoken words and nods. 'Much the same has led us here,' he says. 'We found some troubling news which needs shared. Do you have any news from the rest of our kith and kin?'

    Minabel turns to Bialver, "Do you suppose all of those 'Rangers' are somehow related to each other? They all seem to be each other's 'cousin.'”
    Bialver shrugs "Gladsome it is to meet kin unexpected"
    Miriaden 's expression grows grim as she looks up to Maegdin. "Orcs and men from Angmar making their way through our lands." She says vaguely.

    Maegdin 's face sets hard at the news. 'Then we must make all haste that we can,' he says. He looks at Minabel. 'Where are Adaldag and Arasthel? Have they chosen to stay in Trestlebridge? We can't wait for them any longer.'
    Minabel looks at Maegdin. "I do not know. I did not see them at the inn when I came to the main room this morning. Perhaps they stayed for breakfast. I hear they are serving boar steak and eggs with bread and honey."

    Miriaden turns her attention to the other members of the group, adopting a warm smile again, her usual desire to put others at ease returning.
    Bialver looks her over curiously, but smiles and makes a slight bow.
    Minabel decides that she may like this Ranger, particularly since she seems to have good taste in shoes.
    Trumodir smiles broadly, glad to know that this is Matt's cousin, which is a good enough recommendation to her

    Miriaden looks from the group back to Maegdin. "And what of your task?"
    Maegdin sighs and turns away from Trestlebridge. 'We can't wait for them any longer. Let's be on our way. They know we head north. I'll have to trust that they can catch us up if they wish to follow.' He mounts Randir and looks down at Annie. 'Can you come with us, or are you headed back to Bree-land?'
    Minabel mounts Brianna and follows Maegdin.
    Bialver goes to saddle Utsending, who is grazing nearby.
    Trumodir calls Marr to her side and mounts her swiftly.

    Miriaden nods to him. "I was returning to our refuge, but I could join you, though I have no horse." She says, looking at all of them on their steeds.
    Maegdin nods. 'However, without a horse, you would delay us. Climb up behind me. Randir can bear us both, at least until we reach our journey's end.'
    Miriaden nods up to him, crossing to Randir. "Thank you, Matt." She reaches a hand up to him for aid mounting.
    Maegdin nods to the others. 'Let's be off, then.' With that, he rides down the hill to the Greenway and sets off to the north at a steady pace.

    The trip north passes uneventfully. By the early afternoon, the hills to the east have fallen away from the road and a long broad land slopes up to the east. As the sun goes down and the shadows lengthen, the company comes to a crossroads. A cart track leads off into the eastern highlands, while the remains of the Greenway continue north into a dim, misty vale. Matt pauses by the crossing and looks back at the others. He points to the east. 'That is our path, but first, there is someone I need to speak with. From the signs I've seen, he's encamped to the north.'

    Trumodir peers north and shudders slightly at the sight of dead trees
    Miriaden glances toward Fornost, then around at their surroundings out of habit.
    Minabel looks at Fornost and shudders. "Look at that field with dead trees. How sad? No good hunting grounds?"
    Bialver squints out over the downs, muttering to himself
    Maegdin looks at the others, noticing the worry. 'With luck, we won't have to head out onto the downs,' he says. 'Let's find my friend. We can camp with him tonight.' With that, he heads up into the hills to the northwest.

    Maegdin leads the company over the ridges for perhaps half an hour before coming upon a ruined wall atop a cliff looking down into the downs before Deadman's Dike. He dismounts and calls out a halloo. A man clad in brown and grey walks around the wall, visibly relaxing when he sees Matt and Annie. 'Ah, welcome, friends,' he says. 'Make yourselves at home.' He waves them towards his fire with a slight smile.
    Maegdin walks up and grasps the man's arm in greeting. 'Hello again, Mincham,' he says with a slight smile. 'It's been some time. I hope you're well, though I wish we could have met in better circumstances than this.' He gives a wary glance off to the north, now quickly falling into dusk.

    Trumodir dismounts and leads her horse near where another is grazing, presumably the horse of the ranger sitting by the fire
    Miriaden dismounts before Maegdin, turning to greet their host with a smile.
    Bialver looks around for shelter for his mare, but, finding none, turns her loose to graze.
    Minabel dismounts from Brianna and ties her to a tree. She takes an apple out from the pockets in her dress and gives it to her. "Sorry that there is no sweet grass here, my dearest steed." She moves over to the fire and sits down next to the Ranger there.

    Mincham scowls slightly at the north and nods. 'I've grown used to it, it seems. I'm surprised to see you with companions, though, Maegdin. There must be some reason for it, which you can speak of later.'
    Maegdin nods and settles himself by the fire. 'Indeed, we shall.' He looks around at the others. 'For now, though, I think I speak for all of us when I say that a fire and something warm to eat would suffice. We won't impose on your hospitality for long.'
    Miriaden goes to stand next to Mincham, giving him a wry smile at her swift return. She only left here this morning. She takes a place at the fire as well, pulling out a few rations.

    Bialver sits and shrugs off his pack, stretching out his legs before the fire
    Minabel pulls out some boar jerky from her pocket and nibbles at it; a look of discomfort of looking forward to a hard night spreading on her face.
    Trumodir looks over at the ranger Mincham. "Would you happen to have any cream or cheese?" she asks
    Minabel looks at Mincham as well. "That would be lovely" she says
    Bialver sighs and digs in his pack for a couple of honeycakes
    Miriaden takes a bite of her small loaf of bread, looking around the group with a curious expression. She gives an amused smile at the question, shaking her head slightly.

    Mincham nods and settles himself by the fire, turning the coneys he has cooking as he does so. 'I'm afraid that I haven't,' he says in response to Trumodir. 'It's rather difficult to get anything besides game here, and not even that is all fit to eat. I'm afraid all I have are these coneys and some skins to keep you warm tonight. The north wind can bite deep here.'
    Bialver silently passes half the honeycakes to Trumodir
    Trumodir turns to Bialver with a look of thanks in her eyes
    Minabel shivers and turns to Mincham. "How can you bear this desolation and wind?"
    Mincham shrugs. 'You just get used to it,' he says simply. 'There's nothing else for it.'

    Minabel inquires of Mincham. "Is it true that a great battle was fought here years ago and that a king defeated an evil sorcerer? My father used to tell me stories of the North Downs beyond Bree.”

    Miriaden frowns a little at Mina's question, taking a bite of her bread as she pushes her hood from her head.
    Mincham sits silently for a few moments, testing the coneys. As he pulls them from the fire and cuts them up, he says, 'Yes, there was, but I don't think we should speak of it now.' He begins to pass around the meat to any who would take it.
    Minabel looks surprised at Mincham's response. "Why ever not, it all sounds so romantic and exciting. All those knights fighting." The Ranger does not answer her.
    Maegdin accepts the dinner gladly, and eats in silence, for the most part. The company engages in small talk for some time as the night closes in, until some of the party begin to nod off.

    Miriaden gives Maegdin a silent, questioning look as she eats, but doesn't ask now.
    Trumodir scoots back a bit from the fire, as usual when other are eating "burned flesh", as she calls it.
    Bialver dusts the crumbs off his hands, arranges his pack as a pillow, lays his club and bow within reach, and falls asleep without taking off his chainmail.
    Once the others have finished eating, Trumodir inches back toward the fire and putting her arm under her head, lies down and falls asleep.
    Maegdin sits up for some time, glancing between the fire and the downs to the north. As the others fall asleep, he moves over next to Mincham and speaks quietly and with some urgency.
    Miriaden finishes eating and rises, walking towards the edge of the camp in her usual vigil over the fields.
  4. ramz711

    ramz711 New Member

    Chapter 11: The North Downs

    Maegdin walks back to the campfire from his vigil over the camp as the sky begins to lighten. He gently shakes Mincham awake and leaves him to begin preparing the food. Matt goes back to looking out over the northern fields. The mists and fogs lie thick there, shrouding the distant gates of Fornost from their view, and a low roof of clouds has rolled in from the West overnight.

    Trumodir gets up and stretches. "What will this day bring, I wonder?" she says to herself
    Bialver rolls over and grumbles, looking for a blanket to pull over his head
    Miriaden stood at the far edge of the camp, eyes trained on the fields of Fornost. Her hand rested on the hilt of her dagger out of habit as she kept vigil.
    Minabel turns over in her sleeping bag and pulls the covers up to her chin. "Must we get up now? It is so cold and the fire is so weak". When she receives no response, Minabel reluctantly gets out of her bag and begins rolling it up. She then looks for a stream to wash her face, neck, and hands.
    Trumodir strides up to Maegdin and asks, "Is that where we're headed today?" nodding toward the north.
    Maegdin nods in response to Trumodir. 'Yes. I'll explain over breakfast. Go get warm by the fire.' He pulls his hood up against the chill.

    Finding no stream and feeling very sticky and uncomfortable with the humidity of the low lying mists, Minabel goes over to the fire and begins warming her hands.
    Trumodir strides back to where Bialver is lying and gives him a swift kick. "Wake up!" she says loudly.
    Minabel looks across the Fields of Fornost and begins to shudder. "Is it my imagination or are there ghosts walking around out there?"
    Bialver blearily opens his eyes and looks at his kinswoman. "Why are you kicking me?" he asks
    Trumodir replies, "Because you're lazy".
    Bialver snorts "And who stayed up all night at the Landvættr's?”
    Minabel looks away from the Fields and back at the fire. "I do not like the look of that field. When can we leave here?"

    Miriaden finally pulls her eyes from the darkened field and strides over to Maegdin. "I was through there not long ago."
    Maegdin looks over his shoulder at the others by the campfire, and then speaks in a soft voice to Miriaden. <S>'And what did you see out there, cousin? Mincham fears that Orcs have come down from the north and taken the ruins.'
    Bialver grunts and stands up, digging in his pack for a honeycake and his waterskin
    Miriaden nods, murmuring back to Maegdin. <S> "Orcs have filled Fornost and are beginning a patrol of the road. They have camps now set up outside the ruins also."
    Bialver investigates a tub of water near the camp's only tent, and carefully scoops some onto his head

    Maegdin sighs and shakes his head. <S>'That is ill news, and we must needs bear it to Esteldín. At least we no longer need to take the journey north Mincham asked of us, and we can depart in haste once we have broken our fast.'
    Minabel sees that Bialver has found a tub of water. Once everyone has moved away from the area, she gets in the tub full clothed and begins to scrub her arms and legs.
    Miriaden turns to look to Maegdin, then over her shoulder at the others. <S> "What comes next for your companions?"

    Mincham busies himself with making a quick meal. He boils a pot of water and makes porridge for the group, along with toasting a few slices of bread. He hums to himself as he does so.
    Bialver sniffs at the scent of porridge in the air, and puts the honeycake back in his pack.
    Minabel gets out of the tub and walks over to Mincham. "Do you have any coney for that porridge? I can hunt some. I know how to skin and boil a brace of coneys".
    Bialver mutters to Trumodir "We'll save the Honunghleifr for time of need"
    Trumodir nods silently. She says, "I'm glad it's porridge and not bacon"
    Bialver asks Mincham "is there water nearby, Ranger? I fear our friend has spoiled your supply"

    Maegdin turns his eyes away from the north and looks back at his fellows. <S>'I do not know. I told you yesternight of the news we bear from the Barrow-downs. I know not what Halbarad shall ask of me, but I know that these who come with me will not wish to stay behind.' He smiles slightly. <S>'I knew not that such courage could be found in Bree, but they have not disappointed. I only hope our roads do not lead into darkness.' He looks her in the face. <S>'Will you come with us to Esteldîn, cousin, or is your errand too urgent to delay?'
    Miriaden smiles gently at Maegdin and nods. <S> "My dealings with Breefolk have oft surprised me also...and I will join you as you journey to Esteldin. I am to check in with Halbarad for my next task."

    Mincham looks up at Bialver's words. 'Hrm? What's that? There's a spring down the hill to the north that's clean enough. It's probably rather cold this morning, though.' He looks over and catches sight of Mina and sighs.
    Bialver 's eyes follow Mincham's pointing finger, and he sets off down the slope to the east
    Bialver turns back at Mincham's sigh, and picks up the tub of water
    Minabel blushes. "I did not mean to spoil your drinking water. I though it was a bath tub. You do have a pavilion with a tub near here, do you not?"
    Bialver rolls his eyes to Trumodir, and sets off down the hill
    Bialver returns some minutes later with the tub now full of fresh water, and sts it down by the tent.
    Bialver bows ironically to Mina, points to the tub, and mimes drinking.

    Trumodir sighs and says heavily, "I wish Matt would stop whispering to Annie and come tell us what the plans are for the day."
    Bialver shrugs, and goes back down the hill for his own ablutions
    Trumodir scratches herself thoughtfully
    Minabel frowns at Bialver's jest and turn to Mincham. "Where is your army?" and then turns to Maegdin "What are you two Rangers talking about and what kind of language is that anyway?"

    Maegdin nods. <S>'Very well, then. Let us eat and be on our way.' With that he returns to the others and settles himself near the fire. 'Here, cousin. I'll take over with that. Annie has something she needs to tell you. In private,' he adds, looking at the others.
    Miriaden follows Matt to the fire, her steps nearly silent. She nods to Mincham and smiles.
    Bialver looks hopefully at the boiling pot of porridge
    Maegdin takes the spoon and continues to stir the porridge as Mincham turns to Annie and walks off. Matt looks up at Mina. 'What do you mean, army? There's been no army in these parts since the days of the kings.' He ladles a little bit of the porridge into his bowl and tries it. 'Yep. It's ready. Hand over your eating gear, and I'll get you set.'

    Bialver hands over his wooden bowl with alacrity
    Miriaden heads off with Mincham to speak privately.
    Bialver digs around in his pack and pulls out a wooden spoon, carved with with what could be bee-skeps
    Trumodir pulls her horn spoon out of a pocket

    Maegdin ladles out porridge into bowls as they're handed to him, as well as passing out pieces of toasted bread. Finally, he sets aside bowls for Annie and Mincham, and then serves himself. He settles down to eat quickly, paying no heed to the others for a few moments.
    Trumodir stares hard at Matt, waiting for him to speak
    Bialver tastes his porridge and nods to the Ranger.
    Bialver scrapes his bowl clean with his spoon, and bows towards the pot where it sits by the fire. He mutters, "a blezanarorð to the grautr in time of need"

    Miriaden murmurs her conversation with Mincham in hushed tones in Sindarin. They both occasionally look over towards Fornost before continuing their discussion. Finally they return to the group, taking their bowls. Annie smiles warmly at Maegdin and says. "Thank you for dishing up for us. I am grateful." She eats quickly.
    Maegdin looks up and smiles slightly as Annie and Mincham return. He finishes his breakfast and then looks around at the others. 'Once you're ready, friends, we'll be heading off. We've no cause to go north, it seems, and I'm as happy as you to hear that news. We'll make our way east into the Kingsfell today.

    Trumodir looks up at the sky and nods. "The day isn't getting any younger, and I expect you're taking us a fair distance".
    Minabel sighs "Lead on, Rangers. It cannot get any worse than this no matter where we go."
    Bialver puts his gear away, shoulders his pack and his bow, and goes to saddle Utsending
    Maegdin nods to Trumodir. 'We do have a good way to ride today. Once you're all ready, we'll get on our way.' With that, he stands up and packs up his few things. He walks over and speaks softly with Mincham before going to stand next to his horse and wait for the others.
    Bialver returns to the fire, Utsending ambling after him.

    Miriaden shovels the last of her porridge into her mouth, looking slightly less than ladylike about it, but then she was never one for dainty manners. Setting her empty bowl aside, she rises and dusts off her trousers, giving Mina a little look at her comment before grabbing her pack and heading to Maegdin's horse.
    Trumodir whistles to Marr, who comes near at the sound

    Minabel looks sideways at Miriden and wonders how someone can be so unladylike.
    Bialver leans comfortably against the mare's side, waiting for the party to get itself organized before he mounts
    Minabel calls Brianna over and climbs daintily onto her back.
    Maegdin nods to the others as he sees that they are ready. He climbs up on Randir, and then offers a hand to Annie to climb up behind him again.
    Miriaden grabs Matt's hand, accepting his help as she climbs up behind him. She murmurs a thank you.
    Bialver mounts up and knees Utsending over to Trumodir and her steed.

    Maegdin bows his head in farewell to Mincham. 'Be well, cousin.' With that, he leads the company back to the Greenway and then turns east, riding up into the hills and away from the chill that shrouds the fields of Fornost.
    Minabel rides after Maegdin, happy to leave behind this dreary cold place.
    Bialver clucks to his horse and follows the Ranger

    * * * * * * *

    The day dawns clear and cold over the small camp beside the stream. Maegdin leans against a ruined wall and looks out east over the Kingsfell, then back to the others just beginning to stir beside the embers of the fire. He knocks the dottle out of his pipe and sets about dousing and burying the ashes.
    Miriaden walks through the tall grasses, having been out scouting the last couple of hours. Looking over the group, then to Maegdin, she walks to the fire and sits, pulling out her rations to eat.
    Trumodir wakens with a loud yawn, leaps up, and stretches herself
    Bialver yawns and stretches, his eyes half closed, not really interested in being awake yet.

    Trumodir wanders over to the fire. "Where are we?" she asks Miriaden
    Bialver cracks an eye open, curious to hear the answer to Trumodir's question
    Miriaden gives Tru an easy smile and looks around. "This area is called the Kingsfell. There isn't much out here, though some farmers still own land here."
    Trumodir muses, "it's a pleasant enough place"
    Bialver decides he's awake whether he likes it or not, and rolls to his feet. His eyes light up when he notices the stream.

    Maegdin stamps out the final coals with his boot and starts to spread the ashes. He looks over at Trumodir. 'Aside from the farmers, there are few other folk,' he says. 'We're almost at the end of our trek, though. You can look forward to sleeping inside and having a decent meal tonight.' He smiles slightly and finishes filling in the fire pit.
    Trumodir replies, "sleeping outside never bothers me"
    Bialver carefully lays aside his clothes where they'll stay dry, gives a shout and runs towards the water, launcing himself from the bank with a loud whoop
    Trumodir adds, "I do hope they have honey there"
    Miriaden wraps up the remaining provisions before taking a drink from her flagon of water. She nods and puts her things back into her pack. "I look forward to sleeping on a real bed again. And a mug of ale will sit nicely." She chuckles a little.

    Bialver swims accross the stream and back, then climbs out and shakes himseld vigorously
    Maegdin looks down the hill at Bialver's antics and shakes his head, a smile on his face. He looks to Trumodir and shrugs. 'Do you know, I've never thought to ask when I've been there. I suppose we'll find out tonight.' He settles down and pulls some biscuits and cured meat from his pouch. 'Eat quickly. I'd like to leave soon.'
    Bialver rolls himself dry in the grass, and begins to dress.
    Trumodir takes a swig from her waterskin and nibbles on a honeycake she had in her pocket
    Miriaden lifts a brow, trying to suppress her smile at Bialver's antics.

    Bialver gestures towards the stream. ''That's mountain water',' he says, 'but it's come a long way''
    Maegdin smiles and nods at Bialver, but says nothing, being too busy eating.
    Trumodir paces impatiently. "The sun is rising higher in the sky; I don't know how far this place is that you're taking us to, but we'd best get going"
    Bialver frowns. "Too clean for the witch-kingdom, nor the taste of Forochel's ice floes." He looks to the Ranger. "What's north of here?"
    Maegdin swallows a mouthful of water from his skin and stands up. 'There are high hills to the north,' he says. 'The ice-lands are on the further side, but the streams that flow from them are fresh and clean. The ones further west feed Lake Evendim and the Brandywine.' He walks over to where his horse is picketed and begins saddling him for the day's journey.

    Bialver whistles for him mare, who has been calmly cropping grass nearby, and whispers against her ears before he saddles and bridles her.
    Trumodir follows suit, whistling for her horse.
    Trumodir leaps onto her horse and gives a cry of exaltation, glad to be journeying to a new place today.
    Bialver shoulders his pack and bow, loads Utsending's saddlebags, and hoists himself into the saddle.
    Maegdin cinches the final strap and climbs on his horse. He gives Miriaden a hand up and then looks around at the others before nodding and leading them at a steady pace across the bridge and into the fells.
    Miriaden takes Maegdin's hand and climbs up behind him.

    Trumodir starts singing an old beorning song about the beautiful morning.
    Bialver joins Trumodirs song in a slightly off-key basso profundo

    Maegdin smiles as he rides along, hearing the Easterners' voices rise on the morning breeze. As the sun climbs up the sky ahead of them, the day begins to grow warm, though a steady breeze from the northern hills keeps the company comfortable. They pass a number of small farmsteads set well back from the trail, but they can neither see nor hear any other voices. Nor are there any lines of smoke visible from the chimneys. Maegdin scowls slightly as he notices this and quickens his pace.
    Bialver rides contentedly along, but his nose ocassionally wrinkles as at an odd smell, and he looks around like someone trying to decide what's bothering him.
    Trumodir rides along, enjoying the breeze, the plants, the trees, the whole atmosphere of the place. "I would like to get to know this place better" she thinks

    In the middle afternoon, the company comes to a crossroads out on the fields. A path cuts across theirs, running north and south along a long ridge before the land dips down into a long depression before the feet of the eastern hills. Maegdin checks his horse as he draws near and turns to face the others. 'We're very close to the end of our journey, friends. No more than an hour, and perhaps less. However, I must do you a discourtesy here. No one who is not of my kin may see the path to the place I lead you to with open eyes. I would trust you to close them of your own accord, but there are others who may take it ill. I must bind your eyes, I am afraid.' He pulls several long bands of linen from his pouch with an apologetic look on his face.

    Bialver shrugs and knees Utsending next to the Ranger's hose
    Miriaden nods in agreement to Maegdin, then adds, "It will not be long you will be without sight, but it is important. Thank you for understanding."
    Trumodir grunts with disappointment; she doesn't want to forego the lovely view before her.
    ''If you meant me a mischief, you'd have done it without coming so far as this.'' Bialver says, leaning in so the blindfold can be wound around him head.
    Trumodir adds, "I suppose we'll be going in single file so our horses can follow yours".
    Bialver strokes Utsending's neck, and leans forward to whisper into her ears
    Maegdin nods to Trumodir as he ties the cloth over Bialver's eyes.
    Trumodir lets drop her reins, knowing that Marr is a wise horse and will follow the others.

    Maegdin looks over his shoulder. 'Annie, could you tie the horses' reins to the saddlebow of the one in front? I trust the horses, but they may stray or spook.'
    Miriaden nods, sliding off of Maegdin's horse, taking the reins of each horse and securing it to the saddle of the one who would go before it. Eventually there was a train of horses, ready to go. She could be heard murmuring to each beast, smiling as she worked.

    Maegdin also climbs off of Randir's back, walking to each member of the company in turn to bind their eyes, speaking apologetically to each one as he does. When all is ready, he climbs in the saddle and leads the company in several circles, going this way and that until any sense of direction the others may have is gone. He then sets off towards the eastern hills.

    Maegdin raises a hand in a silent greeting to the watchers who step out of the trees, leveling bows at the company in silence. They nod and withdraw, while the train of horses continues on. A wall of stone spans a narrow defile in front of them, and more archers watch their approach with interest. Maegdin waves a greeting to them and speaks over his shoulder to the others. 'We are here, friends. Only a few more moments, and you can remove your blindfolds.'

    With that, he leads the company into the refuge of Esteldin, passing through the first courtyard and into the second, calling greetings to his fellows as he passes. Finally, he climbs down and walks to each of the company, removing their bindings as he goes.
    Miriaden continually looks over her shoulder to ensure all the horses remained attached and followed, and that the blindfolds remained in place. Finally she turned her eyes ahead to the hills, smiling as they enter their refuge. Once Maegdin stopped and dsmounted, she followed suit, waving and greeting a few of her kin nearby.
    Maegdin smiles to the others. 'Welcome, friends, to the camp of Esteldin. You are as safe here as you are in any place in the North. If you will come with me, we can see to our horses and then to ourselves. As I promised, warm fires, hot food, and a wall against the night.'

    Bialver looks around him, some buildings half-tumbledown, some in good repair, but the place has the air of a camp more than a town.
    Trumodir looks around and asks, "Where is the person in charge of the food?"
    Bialver mutters to his kinswoman ''Those grasslands might nurture many hives, but it's only wild honey I'd look for here.''
    Maegdin waves his arm towards a building on the far side of the courtyard. 'The butteries and kitchens are over there,' he says. 'I'll take you there as soon as we see to our horses. I'll leave you to settle in while I go let the captain know we've come.' He looks at Miriaden. 'Can you tell them what they need to know while I'm away?'
    Miriaden chuckles softly at Tru, grinning. "We will certainly lead you to the mess hall, fear not." She nods to Maegdin. "Certainly."

    Trumodir adds, "I don't see any grassy places for the horses. Is there food for them here?"
    Bialver looks around for anything like a stable, but fails to see one.
    Maegdin smiles. 'There are hay and oats aplenty for them. Come, follow me.' He takes Randir's reins and leads the company to the pickets for the horses, where they set about making their mounts comfortable for their stay.
    Bialver looks apologetically at Utsending as he tethers her.
    Trumodir sees to her horse without comment, but with a resigned look on her face.

    Maegdin finishes caring for his horse and then turns to Miriaden. 'Can you show them to the mess, cousin? I imagine that Halbarad is getting anxious to have me report in, and I'd like to not keep him waiting.'
    Miriaden nods to Maegdin as she follows and says to the others as she motions for them to come with her. "As you may have already guessed, there is no going in and out of the refuge as a matter of our safety." She heads towards a building, delicious aromas of cooking food drifting out the door.
    Trumodir follows eagerly, her stomach growling, for she has had only a small piece of honeycake to last her all day.
    Bialver sniffs the air, and gives Trumodir a grin
    Trumodir growls to anyone who will listen, "I'm as hungry as a bear!"
  5. ramz711

    ramz711 New Member

    Chapter 12: An Appointed Task

    Minabel watches the others at breakfast with a far off look in her eyes. She is distracted
    Bialver looks down at his porridge and mutters something about always having been good with animals
    Maegdin nods to the others. 'It is good that you have rested. I fear we may have another journey ahead of us today.' He gestures to their plates. 'Eat quickly. The captain wishes to speak with us as soon as may be.'
    Trumodir gives a big sigh – why must they rush through the first big breakfast they've had in a long time?
    Miriaden scrapes the last of her breakfast from her plate and picks up her coffee, drinking it as quickly as she can without burning her mouth.

    Bialver takes a couple of corn cakes and slips them into his pack, finishes his porridge, pats the goat. and stands up
    Trumodir looks over at Maegden. "Do I have time for another cup of goat milk?" she asks.
    Maegdin smiles over the rim of his mug. 'There is no need for such haste, friends. Halbarad said soon, not instantly. But don't dawdle.'
    Trumodir looks longingly at the milk. It has been so long since she has been anywhere where goat milk was available; in fact, she hasn't had any since she left her beloved flock of goats in the Vale.
    Bialver looks wistfully at the porridge pot, but contents himself with refilling his tankard

    Miriaden is no longer in such a rush and sets her coffee to the side after sipping, then pulls her quiver into her lap to begin inspecting each arrow one by one. "Did he say what sort of journey?" She asks quietly.
    Trumodir takes a last swig, gets up from the table, and strides outside. She takes a deep breath and cocks her ear, listening to the lovely song of a bird somewhere nearby.
    Bialver scrapes his plate clean and looks around for where to put it. he ocks his eyebrow at the Rangers
    Maegdin finishes up his plate of eggs and toast and sits nursing his ale while he waits for the others to finish their meals. He shakes his head at Miriaden. 'No. He did not. However, our tidings from Fornost have fillen him with further concern, that much is plain.'

    Trumodir comes back to where the others are still finishing up and says loudly, "I thought we had to get going! What's keeping you all?"
    Bialver , not receiving an answer about what to do with his plate, licks it clean, leaves it on the table, and follows his kinswoman outside
    Miriaden gives a slow, silent nod and looks back to her arrows, squinting as she inspects them before carefully placing them back in her quiver. "I am ready." She slings her quiver onto her back, adjusting the straps.
    Bialver comes back into the Mess, retrieves the goat, who he puts on his shoulder, and returns to the courtyard.
    Minabel wrinkles up her nose and looks at the stinky goat. "Where is lavender oil when you need it?"
    Bialver harrumphs. ''She's a very *clean* goat.

    Maegdin chuckles slightly at Mina and drains his mug. He stands and heads out, leaving his plate on the table. 'Come with me, if we are all ready.' He looks at Bialver with a slight smile. 'But best leave the goat outside of the library.'
    Bialver looks baffled ''But what does she read, if she can't go into the library?''
    Trumodir pats the goat affectionately and a bit wistfully, thinking of all the animals she left behind when her father sent her away from the Vales.
    Miriaden rises to her feet and nods, ready to go.
    Maegdin shakes his head and sighs, but leads the company through the camp to the library.

    Bialver exchanges a sympathetic glance with Trumodir, but puts the goat down and shoulders his pack and weapons and trails after the others towards the library.
    Maegdin leads the way into and through the library, until they come to the room where Halbarad waits for them. Shelves of worn codices and ancient scrolls surround the tall Man, who turns his weatherbeaten face to them as they enter. 'Welcome, friends old and new,' he says gravely. 'I am glad that you could come. We have much to discuss, and but a little time in which to do so.'
    Trumodir shuffles uncomfortably, somewhat intimidated by all the books.
    Miriaden follows Maegdin to the library with her usual light step, knowing the way, though out of habit, took up the rear. She shuts the door behind the group once everyone is inside, and leans against the back wall, her grey eyes settling on her Captain.
    Bialver 's gaze strays to the shelves, but he forces it back to the rangers

    Maegdin settles himself in a chair and leans forward, meeting Halbarad's glance. 'What is it you wished of us, captain?' he says quietly. 'We are all resolved to assist in whatever way we may.'
    Halbarad looks all five of them in the eye for a long while before speaking. 'The news you have brought from Fornost is worrisome,' he finally says. 'That such a host should have been able to pass down from the North undetected and take a position of strength threatens all who dwell round about. The peoples of the North Downs must be called together for a council to deal with this threat. There is much for you to do, and I am glad to know that you are willing.'

    Trumodir glances quizzically at each of the others, wondering what they are thinking and aware that she is not as eager to face evil as Maegden had made it sound.
    Miriaden nodded to Halbarad, looking awfully comfortable with the idea of heading into such things. Her hand lowered to rest on the hilt of her sword out of habit, her thumbnail picking at it absently.
    Bialver catches Trumodir's eye again, and smiles encouragingly

    Halbarad continues. 'The task I have set for you is not perilous, friends, so you need not fear. We must call the folk of these lands together, and I have it in mind to send you to Trestlebridge to summon Mayor Boskins or her guard-captain to this camp. Other messengers have already been sent to the Dwarves and to the Elves.'
    Miriaden nods silently as the Captain speaks, looking at the others before turning her eyes back to Halbarad. "When must we depart on this errand?"
    Trumodir ponders Halbarad's words, a bit suspicious of why he would need five people to simply carry a message to someone. She wonders what he may not be saying.
    Minabel asks Halbarad "What type of lady is this Boskins?"
    Bialver sighs. "Back to Trestlebridge, is it?", he asks. "What's the southern route, through the hills, like?"

    Halbarad glances at Trumodir and looks her in the eyes. He smiles slightly. 'Of course, this message could easily have been borne by one or two, but since your company recently passed through the town, the residents may be more well-disposed towards you.' He looks at Miriaden. 'I would have you leave as soon as you may. The road is long, as you know, and time is short.'
    Miriaden nods in response. "I will head to the mess hall the moment we finish here and get supplies." She murmurs, surprisingly a little shy when it comes to speaking with the Captain.
    Trumodir receives Halbarad's with a new respect; how did he know what she was thinking? She resolves to trust him a bit more.
    Maegdin nods as Halbarad speaks, but remains silent for now. The captain continues, turning to Minabel. 'I do not know. I knew her father somewhat, but we received word only shortly before you arrived that he had been slain in the recent attack on the town. I fear that she will not be inclined to listen to us.' He looks over at Bialver. 'The southern route is impassible. Those hills have been overrun with Orcs of late.'

    Minabel continues, "Are not the people of the North Downs farmers like the people of Bree? Perhaps then they will respond to a daughter of a respectable gentleman. I will speak with this Boskins.” She turns to the others. "You others are a little more shall we say "exotic" and might not be as well received. How does she feel about Rangers?"
    \Halbarad smiles slightly and nods to Minabel. 'Very well, then. It is my hope that you can convince her to come. We must all band together against this threat, or the tide will surely overwhelm us separately.'
    Trumodir looks sideways at Minabel; although she is somewhat offended, she must admit that what Mina said rings true.

    Bialver gives Trumodir a sly smile at the word "exotic". It looks almost as though he's fighting back a giggle.
    Miriaden looks to Mina. "I doubt she would receive us well, though one of her own Bree-folk may well be our best hope." She looks to the others, her brow furrowing, then nods to Mina again.
    Minabel says, "Of course, first I must make myself presentable. Is there a dress shop in Trestlebridge?"
    Trumodir offers, "I will gladly go with you to Trestlebridge, but you are right; Mina should do the talking."

    Maegdin bows his head to Halbarad. 'As you wish, sir. If we have your leave, we should go prepare for the journey.' The Captain nods his head. 'Go, then,' he says. 'Return swiftly to aid us.' He raises a hand in farewell.
    Bialver murmurs to his kinswoman "Perhaps we could stay here and eat this good food, so as not to upset anyone"
    Miriaden bows her head shyly to Halbarad and murmurs. "Navaer." She turns to leave.
    Minabel smooths her hair and dress and prepares to depart.

    Maegdin turns and leads the company back out of the library. He says nothing until they are back out under the open sky. There, he lets out a large sigh and runs his hands through his hair. 'Well, that went well. Oft, when the captain calls you, there is no good news.'
    Miriaden eyes Maegdin and mutters. "Do not speak too soon, mellon nin."
    Bialver 's face bursts into a bright smile as the little goat come prancing up to him. Then he sighs.
    Minabel holds her nose as she realizes that Bialver's goat has joined them.
    Bialver looks the goat in the eye, and says seriously "Alas, haðna, I must go, and you must stay. But I will return to see you again"
    Trumodir considers Bialver's whispered comment about staying in Esteldin while the others go to Trestlebridge and wonders if they would take it amiss. She, like Bialver, is enjoying the rest and food here.

    Bialver coughs "If our good Mina, so wise in diplomacy, thinks we might distress the good townsfolk with our uncouth appearance, perhaps it were best not to take such a risk?" He looks hopefully at the Rangers
    Maegdin looks over at Trumodir and Bialver, a look of surprise on his face. 'It is your choice as to whether you wish to come with us or to stay here until we return. However, I suspect that Minabel was referring to Annie and me. Were you not?' He turns to look at Mina.
    Bialver look sideways and Trumodir and mutters "Valskr"
    Miriaden also looks at Tru and Bialver in surprise. "Why would you stay? I is your choice, of course, but...I think the larger the group, the more urgency she may see."
    Trumodir squares her shoulders and looks Maegdin in the eye. I joined this group to do my part in fighting the evil that is spreading across our land and I will not back away now."

    Minabel turns to each of her companions in turn. "Well, the Beornings are rather uncouth and the Rangers are well-spoken but not very put together in their appearance, so I think you are all in need of makeovers. This is why I think I should lead the group, since I am the most presentable.”
    Maegdin smiles slightly at Mina's words, but says nothing.
    Miriaden 's brow lifts slightly at Mina's words and her gaze slides down to inspect her coat. She didn't look /that/ rustic....did she?

    Maegdin smiles slightly. 'I doubt the good folk of Breeland would listen to me and my kin even if we turned up in silks. Given that, I think it best to let actions speak for us.' He looks around. 'I would have all of you come, but I will go regardless.' He turns away and heads towards his horse to prepare for the journey ahead.
    Miriaden nods in agreement. "I will head to the mess hall and get some rations and supplies before we go. I do hope you all come along, but it is your decision."
    Trumodir follows a bit slowly, wishing she could stay with the animals here in Esteldin and wondering why her father sent her instead of her brother.
    Minabel thinks about what she will need to bring to convince Boskins to help them.
    Miriaden gives the others an encouraging smile, then heads off towards the mess hall.
    Bialver smiles wryly and murmurs to Trumodir "It was a good try"
  6. ramz711

    ramz711 New Member

    Chapter 13: A Call to Men

    The company from Esteldín has an uneventful journey back over the Kingsfell and down the Greenway. By the afternoon of the second day out, they have drawn near the north end of the Trestlespan. No enemies have they sighted on their road, but the guards at the bridgehead still eye them nervously as they crest the last hill and cover the last stretch of road. Mat rides forward, hand raised in friendship. 'Good evening, friends!' he calls. 'We need to speak with Mayor Boskins! There's an urgent matter that needs discussing.'
    The men scowl at the Ranger, and one of them says, 'You can tell it to us, and we'll let her know if it's worth her time. She's no time to deal with ruffianly folk out of the wild like you.'
    Miriaden held the rear of the group, her hood pulled up, though she had been though town often enough that the bridge guards would know her. She watches Matt and the guards for a moment before she turns to look around the hills.
    Bialver mutters to Trumodir ''We should have stayed back at the ranger landnám."
    Trumodir growls softly to herself, something about people not recognizing their betters.

    Maegdin shakes his head at the guards and sighs. 'I've no time to waste, and I was instructed to speak only to the Mayor. Come, now. Be reasonable. What could I possibly do in the midst of a whole town filled with folks who mislike the very sight of me? If it'll make you feel better, I'll leave my weapons with you.'
    The guard gives the Ranger a black look, and furrows his brow as if thinking. Finally, he nods and says, 'I guess that's fair enough. You'll leave your horses on the far end of the bridge, though. Not going to let you have an easy time of getting away if you do any mischief.' Mat rolls his eyes slightly, but nods. He climbs down off his horse and looks at the others. 'Best leave your gear with the good guardsman as well,' he says.
    Trumodir snorts, "I hope Marr gives him a good kick when she has the opportunity"
    Minabel is not sure that she trusts these strangers enough to leave her bow with them.

    Maegdin unslings his bow from his back before unbuckling his sword-belt. He hands them both to the guard, and then pulls a knife from his boot and passes it over. He waits for the others to do the same.
    Bialver looks around carefully, as though noting possible routes of escape. He nods once, and leave all his visible weapons with the guards
    Miriaden does not look happy with the idea of leaving her weapons, but she removes her bow and quiver from her back, then her weapons-belt, carrying them to the guard. Then her daggers from her boots.
    Trumodir reluctantly hands over her axe since she can't hide it; she mutters to Maegdin, "I hope this turns out all right"
    Bialver murmurs ''We shall see what kind of friðgjafl this Ranger is, after all."
    Minabel moves to take the dagger hidden in her corset, but then pulls back her hand. She hesitates again, and then pulls it out and hands it to the guard.

    Maegdin takes his horse by the reins once all the company have handed over their gear and leads them across the bridge and into the town proper. He passes the reins off to another guardsman on the far end of the bridge, and then walks calmly through town, ignoring the dark looks and mutterings from the townsfolk. He stops outside the Mayor's house, where the captain of the guard glowers at him. 'What's this, now?' he asks gruffly. 'What's *two* of you folk doing back here, along with these other outlandish folk? What in blazes are my guards doing?'
    Miriaden gives the guards a friendly smile as she passes by them, pretending their dark looks didn't exist.

    Maegdin raises his hands to Trotter, showing that he's unarmed. 'I need to speak to the Mayor, Captain. There's troubling news from the north that she needs to know about. Feel free to join us, if you wish, but I'll not speak about it out in the open.' The guardsman gives him a look which speaks volumes, but he nods curtly and opens the door. 'I'll be watching you,' he says. 'Mayor!' he calls. 'Got some folk come to speak to you. They say it's urgent.' He waves the company in, giving all of them scowls while they pass him.
    Trumodir looks darkly at Captain Trotter as she passes him
    Minabel smiles at Captain Trotter is she goes past him, but he does not seem to notice.
    Miriaden moves past Captain Trotter, giving him a polite smile as she heads inside.
    Bialver stumps stolidly up the stairs, giving the Captain a polite nod as he passes
    Trumodir becomes a bit anxious once she's in the house. She murmurs to Bialver, “It's way too small for all of us to fit comfortably. I wish I could be back outside, somewhere in the open spaces north of this awful town and away from all this smoke.”

    Maegdin makes his way into the front room of the house, where the new Mayor is seated in a chair near the fire, looking over papers. She looks up at the newcomers, and scowls when she sees two of them are Rangers. 'What do you want?' she says. 'I've naught to say to the likes of you.' Mat gives her a smile which he hopes is disarming. 'Mayor, I wouldn't trouble you if it wasn't urgent. I've troubling news that you and your captain need to hear.'
    Nellie Boskins gives him a look of slight surprise before motioning to him to get on with it. 'Some friends of mine brought word that Deadman's Dike has been taken by Orcs. We worry that they may soon make a move on this town and on other places to the south.' The mayor sighs heavily. 'Why am I not surprised?' she mutters. 'I'm sure that's not all you came to say; otherwise, you wouldn't have bothered me.'
    The Ranger shakes his head. 'No, it is not. We've come to ask you to come back with us. All the folks of the North Downs are being called to a council.' Captain Trotter takes a step towards the man, but Nellie raises a hand to stop him.

    Miriaden watches Mayor Boskins with a compassionate look. "It is important that all who call this land home have a say in how to approach this threat, Mayor. Please do not dismiss it, this is vital."
    'You must think I'm some kind of fool, Ranger,' she says bitterly. 'What other folk are there in these hills besides the farmers out east? And all of them have fled here or to Stoneheight. If you and your folk want to get me out of town so you can rob and murder me, you'll have to try harder than that.'
    Mat opens his mouth to speak, but the Mayor slams her hand on the table as she stands to her feet. 'You be quiet as well!' she shouts, pointing at the other Ranger. 'If you Rangers truly cared about the threats facing Trestlebridge, you would help us here with these Orcs. We would not have had to suffer as we have! I...we lost all those dear to us!'

    Trumodir stares hard at the mayor, biting her lip to keep from bursting out in a way that would undoubtedly hurt their cause. But if looks could kill, the mayor would surely be dead.
    Minabel comes forward. "You have not right to condemn the farmers with your stubbornness. These Rangers are here to help you and you turn them away. You condemn the farmers of the North Downs to slavery to orcs, or worse."
    Eskild creeps further under the window to hear better. He feels somewhat alarmed by the news of the strangers.
    Bialver gives Trumodir a steadying look, and looks around the room, his eyes lighting nowhere

    The Mayor rounds on Minabel. 'And what would you know, child?' she snaps. 'The farmers that yet live have come here, and it's my duty to keep them safe. I shall not come to this "Council", nor anything else. And I shall not be convinced otherwise! Now, if you have no other business, leave me to see to the defence of this town!' Mat attempts to say more, but Trotter grabs him by the shoulder. 'That's enough out of you. You heard the mayor: get out of here afore I toss the lot of you in the stocks for the night.' Mat pushes the man's hand off him and stalks back out the door, muttering to himself the while.

    Trumodir gives the mayor one last dark look, accompanied by a growl, and bumps into Trotter—on purpose—on her way out the door
    Bialver suddenly seems to loom over Trotter, giving the man a hard stare before he shoulders past him and out the door
    Minabel huffs off, "Foolish woman, and no sense of fashion either."
    Miriaden frowns at Trotter, then at the Mayor, but only shakes her head as she leaves with the others. "She is doing what she thinks is best for her people, even if she is doing the wrong thing." She murmurs to Minabel.
    Minabel turns to Trumodir. "The people of this town will regret the day they chose that woman when there shops burns down and they have no more clothes"

    Eskild runs out from his hiding spot in the bushes to block the group at the steps. He says, 'Hey! You guys! You're those queer folk everyone says bring trouble!'
    Maegdin pauses on his way down the steps as a young man steps out of the bushes. 'And what do you want?' he says bitterly. 'Come to gawk at the Rangers and heap more abuse on us?'
    Trumodir turns quickly toward the young man, startled at his sudden appearance.
    Bialver frowns at the newcomer, but holds his peace
    Minabel turns to see the young man. "Who are you?"

    Eskild says, 'I 'eard everything! Every word! That old bat Boskins en't never lift a finger to help no one. She just spends all day in that house yellin' and doin' nuthin. But I en't like her. I want to help! You say orcs will come and attack Trestlebridge, an' I believe you. I wanna help you fight them orcs!' He puts on his best brave and confident face.
    Trumodir lets out a deep breath—a sane person, here among all these mad folk! She gives the newcomer a big smile and shakes his hand—perhaps a bit too strongly.
    Minabel looks the young man over. "You look younger than my sister Amy. How old are you?"
    Eskild says, 'Seventeen. Turned it last month.'

    Maegdin raises an eyebrow. 'Is that so?' he says. He gives the fellow a look-over, and then sighs. 'Except we're not off to deal with them. I've got to tell a friend of mine about the Mayor's answer. Then? Who knows? But for now, we've a long ride ahead of us, and I'm afraid you can't come.'
    Miriaden looks over to the newcomer, brows furrowing in doubt.

    Eskild stands directly in front of Maegdin. "Whatever you be doin, it's better than sittin here and waitin for them orcs to kill us. I wanna help. I'll do anythin."
    Minabel's jaw drops. "Seventeen? We cannot bring babies on this trip. Come back in five years."
    Trumodir turns to Miri who is standing next to her and mutters, "This young'un should be rescued from this awful place; why not take him with us? He'll likely just get into trouble with the watch if he stays here."

    Bialver says "You? A mere bjarnhúnn?. What will you do on a long journey, in grave danger?"
    Eskild unsheathes his sword. "I got me a sword. Was pa's afore he got killed by orcs. He taught me to use it real good too."
    Trumodir turns and addresses Maegdin. "I'll take responsibility for this young'un if you'll have him. He needs to get out of this place, and there's fire in his heart that will stand him in good stead."
    Bialver begins to smile.

    Maegdin holds up a hand to cut off the others. 'No!' he says with some force. 'I will not bring one so young and untested with me. I am sorry, lad, but you need to stay here. If you want to make a difference, join the guard.' He turns and makes his way north through the town, expecting that the others will follow.
    Eskild scowls. "Guard won't do nuthin! They en't do nuthin last time orcs come, an' they won't do nuthin again!"
    Minabel adjusts her hair and goes after Maegdin. "Best to leave the child here".
    Trumodir stays where she is, calling to Maegdin, "I guess you'll be going with a smaller group than you're used to, sir. I'm taking my stand with this young'un.”
    Bialver breaks into a laugh. "Come", he calls after the Ranger, I dub this one a Röskr Bjarnhúnn. We two of the Vales will see to his safety. And when there is no safety, we will see he dies well."
    Trumodir smiles broadly at Bialver, "I knew I could count on you, cousin", she says gratefully.

    Maegdin turns back to look at Trumodir and Bialver. 'Very well, then. I need to speak to Halbarad, and in haste. I'll go by myself, if need be.' He turns away and continues walking towards the horses.
    Minabel calls to Trumodir. "Do not be a fool. That silly mayor has condemned the people of this town to death. If you stay, you will die with them."
    Maegdin rounds on Minabel. 'Will you be quiet?!' he snarls softly at her. 'Do you want to cause a panic?'
    Minabel pouts. "No one speaks to me that way. I am Minabel, daughter of Bram, gentleman farmer and his wife Mina."
    Miriaden looks at Eskild and shakes her head before following the others, getting her horse and her weapons.

    Eskild swells with even more confidence. "An' I know this land! I know this land better than all ya!"
    Trumodir retorts, "Who said anything about staying? Let's get out of here, Bialver, young'un...what did you say your name was?"
    Bialver lifts an eyebrow silently at Trumodir. "Do we follow?" he asks
    Eskild says, 'Eskild. Eskils Hartwick, ma'am.'
    Trumodir nods. Well, Eskild, Bialver and I need to retrieve our horses and weapons; come along with us and we'll see what happens. Do you have a horse?"
    Bialver rolls his eyes as the party's voices die off in the distance, and bows to his kinswoman and the stripling who makes such a brave show
    Eskild nods vigorously. "Yup! Best horse in all Trestlebridge! She can run all the way from Deadman's Dike and not a sweat!"
    Trumodir nods to Eskild. "then get your horse and meet us at the north end of the bridge."
    Bialver 's bow turns into a gesture towards the bridge "We will meet you on the other side in a quarter of an hour. Do you not fail us."
    Eskild nods excitedly before darting off to retrieve his horse.
    Bialver looks about for a tavern. but, not seeing one, ambles slowly towards the bridge

    Maegdin shakes his head and continues walking towards the bridge. He unties his horse's reins from the hitching post and walks across the bridge, grumbling the while. He keeps doing so as he collects his weapons, glowering at the guards the whole time. He mounts his horse and waits for Miriaden and Minabel to join him. He looks off to the north and east, then at the dark clouds moving in from the west. He shakes his head.
    Minabel whistles to Brianna and when she comes, swings up into her saddle. She then waits to follow Maegdin.
    Miriaden mounts her horse, nudging the beast up next to Maegdin as she looks around the hills. "We will work with what we have." She says softly to the other ranger, trying to be encouraging.

    Bialver pauses on the bridge, deep enough in its shade to be out of sight of the company, and waits.
    Eskild trots up to Bialver on his chestnut mare.
    Trumodir calls out to Maegdin, "You can't keep us from going to Esteldin, now can you? We'll meet you there and maybe you'll have come to your senses by then." She turns to Eskild and says, "Don't worry, this is just a short storm that will blow itself off soon."
    Maegdin sighs and nods at Miriaden. He sets off at a gallop along the Greenway, not looking back.
    Miriaden kicks her horse into a gallop and races through the deserted lands keeping pace with Maegdin.
    Minabel turns back and see that the Beornings and bringing the child and she shakes her head in disbelief.

    Bialver reaches out a casual hand and plucks Eskild off the ground by his collar. “We have taken responsibility for you, cub” he says, giving the young man a shake to emphasize the seriousness of what he says. “Do not shame our judgment.”
    Eskild studies the clouds. "I en't afraid of storms. I hunt in these lands often." He says, 'I won't let you down mister. I swear it on my pa's grave.'
    Bialver gives a low whistle to get Trumodir's attention, and tosses Eskild to her.… but gently
    Trumodir gives Eskild a big bear hug and says softly, "Glad we found you son, or you found us"
    Bialver whistles, and Utsending comes trotting up.
    Eskild is a bit disoriented at having just been thrown.

    Maegdin and the others have not ridden for more than half an hour when they see three other riders coming down the Greenway at a great pace. Maegdin checks his horse and waits for the others. As they draw nearer, it becomes plain that they are Rangers. Maegdin calls out to them when they come within shout, 'What news, cousins? Why the haste?'
    One of the others shouts back, 'Orcs! A warband has come down out of the hills. They must mean to burn the town to the ground, else they would not move in the sunlight. We must warn the folk of Trestlebridge.' Maegdin shakes his head. 'I doubt they will heed you. The Mayor just spurned Halbarad's summons. I fear they will think this some ruse.' He sighs. 'But, you are right. Let us return.'
    Minabel sighs. "You are not seriously thinking about going back to that town and trying to convince that impossible woman to come with us?"
    Miriaden frowns, her hand already moving to rest on the hilt of her sword. "We can't leave them to their own devices. They are ill-prepared for an orc attack. We protect these people whether they like it or not."
    Maegdin looks over at Mina as he turns his horse. 'No. We are going back and will defend the town or die in the attempt. You had best come with us; the Orcs will not let you live if they meet you on the road.' With that, he sets off for Trestlebridge again.

    Eskild easily pulls himself into the saddle and gathers his reins. "I never caught your names."
    Trumodir says, 'I'm Trumodir, daughter of Grimbeorn, and granddaughter of Beorn himself.”
    Bialver smiles "Bialver of the Hunnangsbjorner, at your service"
    Trumodir said this as the two beornings and Eskild were riding easily northward, in the general direction of Esteldin.
    Eskild grins broadly. "A pleasure to meet ya both."

    Bialver smiles. "And who are your people, Gallant Cub?"
    Eskild says, 'My pa was Egon, a loyal defender of Trestlebridge. But he been killed by orcs in the last attack.'
    Trumodir looks intently at a cloud of dust a way up the road and says, "I see a group riding toward us at great speed. Maybe Maegdin has changed his mind already."
    Bialver squints at the road. "Then let us wait, and not tire our horses to no purpose." He adds "But perhaps OFF the road, in case these are not our friends"
    Trumodir nods in agreement.
    Bialver looks at Eskild "You know this road. Find us cover"
    Eskild nods and steers his horse off the road and down a small slope hidden by trees.
    Bialver follows the youth, and guides Utsending out of sight amongst the trees
    Eskild says, 'They won't see us here. Not unless they look real hard.'

    Maegdin and the others ride back south along the Greenway at a great pace, their horses panting at the effort. In only a few minutes, their company has drawn near enough to the others for them to plainly see that they are the Rangers and Mina. They do not seem like they are intent on stopping before Trestlebridge.

    Trumodir says to the others, "Looks like they're in a big hurry. Guess we should follow after them. They might need some help.”
    Bialver nods "Just so, Kinswoman. Son of Egon, we ride for Trestlebridge; is there a quicker way?"
    Eskild nods. "Follow me. We'll join the road just north of the Trestlespan." Eskild guides his horse through memorized trails and staying away from the road.
    Bialver knees his horse into motion and follows

    Miriaden was already pulling out her bow as she watches the orcs' cloud of dust racing behind them. This was going to be close and they would not have much time to make ready before the orcs reached Trestlebridge.
    Eskild urges his horse into a gallop as the trees and ground even out and the Trestlespan starts to come into view.

    Maegdin and his company draw near the Trestlespan only a little behind the others. The guards, seeing two groups racing out of the north, grip their weapons and shout. When he comes close enough, Mat shouts, 'Not now, you blasted fools! Orcs are coming! Mount a defence! Get across the bridge!' He quickly dismounts and begins to lead them back into the town.

    Bialver stifles a whoop, but loosens his club from its binding to the saddle
    Trumodir could feel rage building inside her as she spurred Marr on. Just let her at those filthy orcs! They would regret their encounter—those that lived to tell about it!
    Bialver leans over and says evenly to Eskild "You know the town's weaknesses. Where will we three do the most good?"
    Miriaden races her trusty steed across the bridge, barely taking a moment to murmur instructions to her horse before grabbing anything and everything she could carry to create a barricade on the bridge.

    The guards look shocked for a moment, but then the dust of the Orcs' march further up the road catches the light of the setting sun. The men of Trestlebridge scramble into action. As they do, the westering Sun is eaten up by the dark clouds rolling out of the west, and a sudden twilight falls. Thunder echoes from under the cloud.
  7. ramz711

    ramz711 New Member

    Chapter 14: The Battle of the Trestlebridge

    The storm clouds continue to roll in from the West as the company from Esteldín make their way across the bridge. Maegdin walks close beside the Rangers new-come from the North, deep in conversation with Mallennor, their leader. As they come out the south end of the bridge, they catch sight of Captain Trotter and Mayor Boskins walking towards them, followed by several guards.
    Miriaden walked with her kinsman, listening to their quiet discussion, nodding as they give her some instructions. As the Trestlebridge Mayor and Captain approach, she stands a little straighter, but lets others do the talking.

    Maegdin pauses and lets the leaders of the town come up to him. The Mayor stops a few yards from him and glares. 'I thought I told you and yours to get gone. Instead, you show up with more of your rascally brood! Be gone and have done with you!' Mallennor takes a step forward, holding up his hands. 'Mayor, we have come to lend you aid in your defence. A whole warband of Orcs are descending on your town. Speak to your guards if you don't believe us. We have but little time to mount a defence.' The Mayor and the captain look over at the bridge guards. 'It's true, ma'am,' one of them says, fidgeting with his spear. 'We caught sight of a cloud of dust coming down behind this group, right before the clouds come up. Better safe than sorry, right?'
    Minabel scowls at Trotter. "How rude!"

    Eskild rushes forward. "If you won't believe them, then believe me! There are Orcs coming, more than ever before! You knew my father, and you know me! If we don't prepare to defend our homes, then there will be no Trestlebridge!"
    Bialver, listening to the argument, digs a couple of honeycakes out of his pack and gives one to his kinswoman.
    Trumodir looks approvingly at Eskild, more than ever glad that she stood up for him.

    Trotter and Boskins look at Eskild, then the guardsman, before speaking in quick whispers to each other. After a moment, the Mayor nods. 'Very well. I still don't trust a one of you Rangers, nor you other folk, but I'm not going to turn away help if an attack's coming.' She shakes her head at Eskild as Trotter begins shouting commands to his men. 'I thought you had more sense than to take up with Rangers, Hartwick,' she says. 'On your own head, though.' With that, she turns back and heads back to her house.

    Miriaden finally breaks in with a roll of her eyes. "We do not have time to argue about the validity of our report, we need to make preparations. Now." She didn't wait, but turned and headed off to find something to use as a barricade on the bridge.
    Eskild does the most intelligent thing in his life and holds his tongue despite looking like he's about to blow a cork.
    Bialver watches Eskild's face, and digs out another honeycake.
    Trumodir gives Eskild a sympathetic pat on the back and turns to help Miri find barricade material
    Minabel looks around for herbs. "We are going to need bandages and healing herbs for the wounded."

    Maegdin sighs heavily, but say nothing to the Mayor. Instead, he and the other Rangers head for an abandoned cart by the end of the bridge and begin pushing it up onto the span, eventually turning it on its side and blocking half the space. They talk amongst themselves as they rush back to find another.
    Bialver presses it into Esk's hand. ''You fight with the Bjorner, you eat like a Bjorner''
    Eskild turns to the Rangers. "The bridge oughter be our main defense. No one comes in or out but that way."
    Meanwhile, Trotter and his men are handing out bows and spears and taking places covering the end of the bridge. 'You, Ranger!' he shouts to Mat. 'You and your folk can wait on the bridge. I'll not risk any of my own folk without need.'

    Eskild reluctantly takes the honeycake and nibbles on it halfheartedly to appease Bialver.
    Bialver looks down into the deep, river-carved canyon below the bridge. ''Is there no passing this? Do no trails lead up on the town side?''
    Minabel adds "if you have any children under sixteen, you had better hide them in the towers by the bridge. I will go and collect the children."
    Trumodir notices some all-heal plants growing a short distance from the bridge and rushes to pick them; she takes them to Mina for the bandages she is preparing
    Eskild shakes his head. "Just a trail to the river down this side. Steep cliffs and a cold swim else."
    Bialver mutters ''If we could misguide their charge....''

    Maegdin and Mallennor look at each other and shake their heads. Mat calls back to the captain. 'Very well. It's not the worst we've faced!' He joins the rest of his kin in pushing another cart across the bridge to fully block the way.
    Miriaden dragged anything she could find to help secure the bridge, hammering nails into boards and fixing them to the overturned wagon, pointy sides out.
    Minabel returns with a trail of children and ushers them into the towers. "Stay there until someone comes for you."
    Trumodir looks around to make sure of Eskild and Bialver's whereabouts

    Eskild runs over to a nearby burnt out house and starts dragging remaining bits of timber to aid the defense.
    Miriaden runs to the others gathered behind the cart and unslings her bow. She strings her bow and nocks an arrow, taking a place at the south end of the bridge, getting ready for the Orcs.
    Bialver strings and tests his bow, and makes sure his arrows are in easy reach, then loosens his club in its baldric.
    Minabel tries to calm herself down. "Just breathe," she mutters to herself. "You have come a long way from when you first met this Ranger and you can do this."

    As the Rangers turn over the second cart, a flash of lightning splits the sky and a crash of thunder resounds. In the bare instant the further side of the bridge is revealed, those in the town can see at least two score Orcs massing at the far end of the bridge. As a heavy rain begins to lash down, the Orcs set up a dreadful bellowing and shouting. Some begin to move forward.

    Bialver catches his Kinswoman's eye as they move to either side of Eskild. ''Death', he cries. ''Bráðdauði to the vermin!''
    Eskild takes a deep breath and tries to look brave, though his hand shaking on the hilt of his sword reveals otherwise.
    Minabel shivers in terror and tries to remind herself why she is here.
    Maegdin and the other Rangers string their bows as they hear the Orcs begin their attack. They stand in a line facing the barricade, arrows nocked, ready to draw and release as soon as the first foes should appear. They appear calm and unconcerned.
    A determined look comes into Miriaden's features as she saw the Orcs, and while her heart thudded within her chest at seeing the throng, she was undaunted. She lifted her bow and drew back the arrow, ready to fire the moment they were in range.

    Bialver sees the half-eaten honeycake in Esk's hands and slaps him. ''EAT!'' he roars. ''you will fight longer, and kill more of these two-legged Valskr!''
    At the sight of the Orcs, Tru's rage builds and she forgets all else in her hatred of those foul beasts; she gives her axe a vicious swing in preparation and yells out: "Let them come—they'll be minus their heads when I'm done with them!"
    Bialver rolls his shoulders, catches Tru's eye, and roars out his defiance.
    Eskild shoves the rest of the honeycake in his mouth, nearly choking on it.
    Bialver grins and from somewhere produces a very small flask of very strong mead, which he passes to the stripling beside him. ''And drink'' he says.
    Eskild gulps down the mead coughing at the taste.

    The Orcs' shouting grows louder as they clamber on to the bridge. Suddenly, a deep voice rises above their din, shouting commands in Orkish. At that, a dozen Orcs swarm over the barricade, half with bows, the rest with hammers and scimitars gripped in their fists.
    Maegdin, Miriaden, and the other Rangers draw their bows as one and take aim as the Orcs charge towards them. Suddenly, Mallennor cries, 'Lacho calad!' The others reply, 'Drego morn!' and loose. Five bowstrings twang, and five Orcs fall dead, green-feathered arrows sticking in eyes and throats.

    Minabel takes aim at a particularly ugly Orc and releases her arrow. She misjudges the distance in the guttering torchlight on the bridge. Her arrow lands harmlessly in front of her target, who continues his advance.
    Trumodir trembles with pent-up energy, ready to spring at the first Orc who gets within range, and suddenly, there he is, spear in hand! Her axe sweeps out as her foe comes within range, parting the Orc's head from his shoulders. A gout of black blood spills from his neck as he crumbles to the floor of the bridge.
    Bialver roars ''THE VALES!'' and swings his club as an Orc with a nasty little hammer come within range. The Beorning's blow slams down onto the Orc's right arm. There is a wet crack, and the Orc drops his weapon, howling in pain.

    Miriaden nocks another arrow the moment her first leaves the string, and she draws back and fires again at the largest Orc in sight, taking aim for the neck. The arrow flies wide, burying itself harmlessly in the barricade.
    Maegdin nocks another arrow to the string and lets fire at one of the enemy archers. His shot slams home in the eye of an Orc taking aim at the company. He falls with a thud behind the barricade.
    Eskild draws his bow and fires an arrow at the farthest archer. The arrow drives into the shoulder of his foe. The Orc snarls, but has to waste time breaking off the haft before he can take aim again.

    The one hale enemy archer takes aim at the Rangers, but his shot goes wild as he watches his fellows fall to arrows. Meanwhile, the three other enemies pause in their assault, dismayed by the stiffness of the defense. The one Bialver attacked spits at him and claws at him with his good hand, but his nails skitter harmlessly off the Beorning's mail.

    As the Orcs waver, the Rangers cast aside their bows and sweep out their swords. Mallennor drives his blade into the back of the Orc attacking the Beorning, while Bregor charges the remaining swordsman with his shield. While the Orc stands stunned, Gaellant drives his sword into the Orc's neck.

    Minabel looks around at the remaining Orcs and picks a particularly small Orc to aim her arrow out. "Take that, you slimy runt," she yells and lets loose. The archer Eskild hit looks up at Mina's shout, just in time to take an arrow in the throat. He goes down, grasping at his neck and gurgling.
    Trumodir tingles from head to toe with the thrill of the battle; she surges toward an Orc -apparently the last in this wave without a bow. The stroke cuts across the Orc's bare chest, laying open a wide gash. The enemy cries out in pain, but growls and comes on again.
    Bialver, roaring with rage, makes a grab at the Orc charging at Trumodir, trying to get him by the collar. His fist closes on empty air as his enemy moves aside with a surprising agility. The Orc gives a harsh laugh and says something in a mocking tone as he turns his anger on Bialver.

    Miriaden curses under her breath as her arrow misses, but she quickly nocks another, aims, and fires at the Orc archer, aiming for his face. Her arrow strikes home, catching her opponent mid-yell. The shot drives into his open mouth and he falls with a sudden look of shock on his face.
    Maegdin puts aside his bow and picks up his shield. He draws his sword and charges the sole remaining Orc with a wordless yell, which makes the Orc looks over his shoulder at the Ranger. He has no time to react, though, before Maegdin's sword buries itself in his chest. The Ranger pulls out the blade and the Orc slumps to the ground, clutching feebly at the wound.

    As the final Orc falls, the Rangers let out a yell of triumph. At that sound, some of the guardsmen look cautiously in at the south end of the bridge. Seeing the dead enemies, they take up the shout. Suddenly, however, the great Orc voice is raised again in command, and another dozen Orcs clamber over the barricade.

    Eskild swallows hard as he nocks another arrow and aims for the nearest orc. The arrow slams into the shoulder of an axe-wielding Orc. The creature staggers and falls to a knee before rising again with a roar and charging the company.
    Bialver mutters ''Valskr!''

    The Orcs give a roar and charge the company. Fortunately, all of their arrows fly wide and the Ranger's shield-wall holds. The Beornings, however, are not so lucky. While Trumodir bats away a strike from a scimitar, one of the others lands a strike on Bialver, punching through a weakness in his mail and opening a cut along his arm, which begins to bleed profusely.
    As the Orcs slam against the Rangers' shield-wall, the Men throw them back, Mallennor striking down the Orc Eskild wounded while the others hamstring and then behead one of the others.

    Minabel focuses all of her energy on one particularly mean looking Orc and strings her bow. She lets her arrow fly, never removing her eyes from the Orc's forehead. Her arrow lands between the Orc's eyes, driving through its skull and into the barrier behind it. The Orc falls with a look of sudden surprise on its face.
    Trumodir searches for an Orc that looks distracted and sees an archer who is focusing on something away from her. She leaps up to where he is standing and gives a wild swing with her axe. The swing does in fact go wild, burying itself in a beam next to the Orc's head. He turns and snarls at her, drawing a wicked-looking dagger and slashing towards her.
    Bialver roars and swings at an Orc about to leap at the shield-wall, striking a solid blow on his enemy, throwing it to the ground and knocking the wind out of it.

    Miriaden swiftly pulls an arrow from her quiver and nocks it, drawing far back and releasing it, eyes fixed on one of the archers. The arrow buries itself in the Orc's heart and the foe collapses in a heap.
    Maegdin steps to the side to dodge a strike from an Orc's scimitar. As he does so, he bends down and drives his sword into the chest of the Orc Bialver stunned to the ground.

    Eskild flinches away from the Orc that attacked Trumodir. Without really thinking, he grabs an arrow and takes a stab at the Orc's head without bothering with his bow. The arrowhead pierces the Orc's cheek. It reels back, roaring with pain and raking at Eskild with its claws.

    While the melee goes on, the Orc archers fire. The arrows go wild, some even landing in the legs of their fellows, distracting them from their attack.
    As the other Rangers drive their foes back towards the barricade, Mallennor seizes his bow, takes aim, and puts an arrow through the ear of the Orc attacking Eskild. As he does so, both Gaellant and Bregor land blows on their foes, making the Orcs howl. A loud voice yells from behind the barricade, and the remaining Orcs look around, concern evident on their faces.

    Minabel takes aim at the Orc furthest from her and focuses all her energy on trying to hit him. She lets the arrow fly. It goes flying past the ear of one of the archers. As it flies over the barricade, a strangled scream comes to their ears, followed by some cruel laughter.
    Trumodir peers at the scrum of rangers and Orcs and picks out an Orc at the edge to vent her fury on. Trumodir's axe falls from above, gleaming in the torchlight. There is a sickening thud, and one of the Orcs falls with cloven head.
    Bialver, taking advantage of the Orcs’ distraction, lunges forward to grab one by the collar. One of the Orcs attacking the Rangers hears a bellowing roar and looks over just in time to see Bialver grab him the throat. The Beorning slams the Orc against one of the bridge supports before throwing it over the railing. The Orc gives a scream that is quickly swallowed by the thunder and rain.

    Miriaden nocks another arrow and looks at the enemies left. She takes aim at the largest archer and releases. Her arrow flies true and buries itself in the throat of her target. The Orc collapses clutching at its throat, black blood running from its mouth.
    Maegdin pulls his sword from the Orc he just killed and turns to the remaining melee fighter. He slams his shield into the side of the Orc before hamstringing it with a quick blow to the knee.
    Eskild pulls another arrow and aims it at one of the archers. The adrenaline of the battle has at least masked his fear. The arrow strikes the Orc with such force as it pierces its eye that it drives straight through its skull and continues over the barricade. A harsh laugh is suddenly cut off with a gurgle as the first Orc collapses back behind the barricade.

    As the remaining archer sees his fellows fall, he gives a yelp and shoots an arrow wildly before turning to leap back down over the barricade. The shot flies harmlessly off the bridge while the remaining fighter climbs to one knee. With a snarl, it slashes at Trumodir with its black scimitar. The blade finds purchase on her thigh and tears open an ugly gash. Trumodir gives a roar of pain and steps back to recover her focus

    The final archer never makes it over the barricade, as Mallenor's arrow buries itself in its back. It tumbles backwards and lands sprawling on this side of the barricade. Meanwhile, Gaellant relieves the final Orc of its head with a quick swipe of his sword while Bregor picks his bow back up. Some of the braver Trestlebridge guards come out onto the bridge, led by Trotter.
    Maegdin and the other Rangers lean heavily on their swords and bows during this lull, while the guards give the company an appreciative look as they see the carnage on the bridge.

    Miriaden quickly moves around to gather arrows during the lull, filling her own quiver and handing some arrows to each of the other archers.
    Bialver looks at his kinswoman with concern, and hands her the little flask that never leaves his belt unless it's being drunk from
    Trumodir pulls some unguent from a pocket and applies it to the gash with good effect; she looks about to see if anyone else needs to use some.

    Eskild feels through his quiver for the arrows he has left. Glancing behind and seeing Trotter and some of the other guard, he goes back to join them standing slightly behind Trotter. "For Trestlebridge. And everyone who died 'cause of the Orcs."
    Bialver crosses his arms and glares at the guards. 'Heed the son of Egon when he speaks,' he growls. 'While you hung back, townsmen, he leapt into the fray and did a man's work this day.' He leans over and whispers to Trumodir, 'Or a bear's.'
    Trumodir nods vigorously while taking a swig from the flask that Bialver had given her; she was feeling much better and ready to hew a few more heads from their owners.

    Trotter gives the boy an appreciative clap on the shoulder. Before he can respond to Bialver, though, the great voice is raised in command again, and all the remaining Orcs clamber over the barricade. As a dozen enemies leap into view, a couple of the guards bolt back to the end of the bridge. Trotter and one other stand firm, though their faces blench a bit.
    As five of the Orcs give a yell and charge the Men, a final enemy climbs over the barricade: a huge Orc, almost man-high, clad in black iron mail and wielding a two-handed mattock. He raises the weapon over his head and shouts a command in Orkish before leaping down and following his troops into the fray.

    Minabel gasps. She steadily takes an arrow from her quiver and nocks it. "Make this one count," she tells herself, and lets the arrow fly at the massive Orc. While the shot flies true, the warchief sees her aiming, and steps aside as the arrow leaves the string. He watches it fly past and land in the barricade before turning back to the company with a wicked laugh.
    Trumodir has her eye on the Orc nearest to her and lunges at it with her axe. The axe bites deep, hewing the arm from the Orc. As it stands there gaping, blood pouring from the stump, her backstroke removes its head. She gives a roar of mixed triumph and rage.
    Bialver charges forward to take a swing at the great orc, roaring a wordless challenge. The warchief meets Bialver's stroke with his own, catching the club on the haft of his axe. The Orc pushes the club away and snarls something at Bialver before spitting in his face.

    Miriaden nocks an arrow and takes aim at the warchief also, letting fly after taking careful aim. As the warchief winds up to take a swing at Bialver, Miriaden's arrow slams into his shoulder, finding a weak point in his armour. The Orc staggers for a moment before looking down at the arrow, grimacing, and yanking it back out with a bellow. He breaks it in one huge fist and throws it down before hefting his axe again.
    Maegdin lifts his bow as the Orcs come over the barricade. He takes a shot at one of the archers, but the shot flies wide. The Ranger curses to himself.
    Eskild sobers up quickly upon seeing the Orc warchief. He draws his bow and aims for one of the archers. His arrow falls just short of its target, burying itself in an archer's foot. The Orc gives a yell of pain before breaking off the arrow and pulling its foot off the shaft.

    The warchief shouts a command, and the archers fire a volley while he and his other fighters beat on the line of the Rangers and the Beornings. The chief's hammer slams into Bialver's stomach, knocking the wind from the man, even through the mail. Meanwhile, a volley of arrows lands throughout the company, one driving through the eye of the guardsman, another landing in Trotter's shoulder, while others pepper the Rangers in leg and shoulder. Maegdin and Bregor barely get their shields up in time to meet the melee fighters, but Gaellant is driven to the ground as two Orcs fall on him with their hammers. The Orcs give a yell of triumph and press their advantage.

    Trotter falls to his knee as the arrow strikes him, leaning on his spear and breathing heavily.
    Mallennor and Bregor both gives shouts of shock and anger as they see Gaellant borne down by the enemies. Mallennor looses an arrow at the archers, which flies wild, but Bregor sweeps out with his sword and bites deep into the chest of one of his foes, which falls in a heap. Meanwhile, Gaellant clambers to his knees as his fellows drive his foes away from him.

    Minabel spots a particularly arrogant looking melee Orc and decides that he is within range. She grabs an arrow from her quiver and hopes that this one lands true. Mina's arrow shoots over the shoulders of the Rangers before burying itself in the haft of the Orc's hammer as it lifts it to strike at the Men. The Orc looks surprised for a moment before continuing with the blow.
    Trumodir looks for the most vulnerable Orc, hoping to reduce the total number in the battle; she rushes forward, axe above her head. The Beorning's aim is true, as her axe buries itself in the chest of the very Orc Minabel had just shot at. He crumples to the ground.
    Bialver manages to roll to his knees and grabs at the legs of a passing Orc, hoping to trip it and bring it down within range of the club he has somehow found again. He trips the Orc, but the foe manages to just barely roll out of the path of his club.

    Miriaden nocks two arrows this time, aiming into the group of Orc archers. Lining up her shot, she really hopes both shots land well. The attempt is partially successful: while one arrow shoots wild, the other finds purchase in the chest of one of the archers, who falls dead.
    Maegdin takes a swipe at one of the foes in front of him, but the Orc parries the stroke aside and aims a blow at the Ranger.
    Eskild is enraged upon seeing Trotter fall even if not fatally. He draws his sword and rushes the nearest Orc slashing aggressively.

    The nearest Orc to Eskild is, in fact, the warchief. As the foe is intent on beating the Beornings into a pulp, the Breelander's charge catches it by surprise, and the young man lands a solid strike to its thigh, punching through the meat of the leg and opening a nasty gash. The Orc bellows with pain and turns to look at the Man who attacked him. He swings his hammer in an arc, catching Eskild square in the breadbasket. The man is thrown back a couple of feet, landing heavily on the ground, the wind knocked out of him.

    Meanwhile, the archers take aim and fire on the company. Several arrows fly wild, but one bites into Miriaden's arm and Minabel's thigh. Miriaden's wound begins to burn like fire, and a numbing pain starts to spread out from the wound. She lets out a cry as the arrow sinks into her arm. As soon as it begins to burn and go numb, she drops her bow, pulling out a sword with her good arm.
    Maegdin catches a hammer-blow on his shield, but the other Orc lands another blow on his shield, which cracks audibly as the Ranger is driven back a few paces.

    Trotter climbs unsteadily to his feet, eyes wide with terror as he watches the onslaught of the Orcs. He backs away slowly, fear plain in his face.
    As Maegdin is driven back, his fellows give a shout and press the attack. Mallennor looses a final arrow at the archers, which strikes true, sticking in the eye of an Orc. Meanwhile, Bregor and Naellant push back against the fighters, swiping an Orc's hand from its wrist in the process.

    Minabel takes aim at the closest enemy and silently prays to whoever is listening that her arrow finds its mark. As the Orc looks down at its bleeding stump, its shock is suddenly ended as Minabel's arrow slams into its throat.
    Trumodir summons up what force she has and lunges toward the Orc nearest to her, blindly swinging her axe with as much force as she can. The warchief bats Trumodir's strike away almost effortlessly, actually knocking the axe from her grip in the process.
    Bialver struggles to his feet, panting heavily. He draws a dagger with a carved beehive for a pommel, and slashes at the back of the great Orc's knee. The Beorning's strike drives home, piercing the sinews behind its knee. The warchief gives a roar of anger and pain as he falls to one knee, his leg no longer able to support his weight.

    Miriaden steps forward towards the nearest Orc, swinging her sword in an arc at his midsection in the hopes of cutting his belly. Her vision is beginning to cloud, but she doesn't stop trying! Even with her senses beginning to cloud from the poison of the Orc-arrow, Miriaden's stroke finds purchase, slashing open the armour of the single remaining fighter and opening a nasty gash across its chest. It remains standing, though.
    Miriaden looked satisfied as her blade found her mark, but her knees gave out beneath her as the Orc poison spread through her body. She blinked slowly and reached over to pull the poisoned arrow from her arm and drop it to the ground. She finally crumples to the ground, unconscious.
    Eskild somehow manages to stagger to his feet after spending several moments lying flat on his back unable to breathe. He can feel his entire body shaking, and his breathing is still labored. He takes his sword and goes to stap it in the war chief's foot. The strike fails to land, instead driving into the floorboards near the warchief's foot.

    The warchief leans on his hammer and pulls himself to his feet. He snarls and swipes at Eskild with his claws, but the Man is just out of his reach.
    The archers release another volley, several of which slam into the Rangers' shield. One, however, lands in Bregor's shoulder, which begins to burn with a blazing pain. Meanwhile, the remaining fighter gives a weak swipe with his hammer, which fails to connect with anyone.

    As Trotter continues to watch the fight, something seems to harden in him, and he gives himself a shake. With a shout of 'For Trestlebridge!' he charges up behind the Rangers and drives his spearhead through the chest of their foe, who collapses weakly.
    Bregor falls to his knees as the poison begins to burn in his veins. Meanwhile, Mallennor and Naellant draw their swords, give a shout of "Flame, light! Flee, night!' and charge the archers. Their foes are caught by surprise, and two of them fall to their blades.

    Minabel draws her arrow back to her cheek and takes careful aim at the warchief. As the Orc takes a step towards Eskild and reaches out with its claws to tear out the Man's throat, the arrow punches straight through his mail and buries itself to the fletching in the Orc's belly. It staggers back against the railing, a look of shock on his face before it pitches over the railing and into the cold stream far below. The archers give a yell as they see their leader and the rest of their fellows fall and turn to flee.

    Eskild closes his eyes expecting the worst and is surprised to see the remaining Orcs flee. Though he's still not feeling well enough to do anything besides stand there, a small wave of satisfaction spreads across his face.
    Trumodir feels herself gaining strength as she sees the Orcs being routed; she leaps into the fray, right into the middle of where the archers are turning to run.
    Trumodir's charge bears down one of the archers, giving Naellant an easy opening to relieve it of its head. Meanwhile, Maegdin draws a knife from his boot and throws it towards the Orc, smiling as it strikes home in the second archer. Mallennor drives his sword through the back of the last one. Finally, the bridge falls silent, save for the drumming of the rain and the rumble of the thunder.
  8. ramz711

    ramz711 New Member

    Chapter 18: Bleakrift

    Maegdin and Candaith sit near the fire in the predawn dark, speaking in low tones and making plans for the coming assault. From time to time, they pause and listen, hands straying to their sword-hilts, before they begin to speak again.
    Miriaden was crouched a little ways up the hill, keeping watch with a grim look on her face. She was in earshot of the group, though hidden among some shrubbery.
    Ortrun lies curled up on the ground, her staff clutched in her sleeping hand as her breath comes long and even. Harris was tied up on his perch a short distance away, remaining silent and occasionally letting out a soft chirp. The weight of what she had learned, of the foul creatures that were traversing her home, had hit her deeply. For now, though, sleep provided a welcome respite.

    Trumodir strolls back into camp looking pleased with herself; she had a good night hunting Orcs and Wargs with Bialver and Eskild, and their ranks have been thinned considerably
    Bialver grins at his companions, and a hundred yards from the campsite begins to move with exaggerated caution
    Eskild returns to camp with Trumodir and Bialver also carrying some small game to bring back to the rest of the group.
    Bialver creeps silently in behind Eskild, sure that the Rangers have heard him anyway.
    Maegdin speaks softly to Candaith. 'If we can draw them out, the task will be-' He pauses suddenly and leaps to his feet, clasping the hilt of his sword as he hears footsteps approaching. He cocks his head for a moment and then smiles, sitting back down by the fire. 'Welcome back, friends,' he says in a soft voice, so as not to wake Ortrun and Minabel.

    Eskild proudly holds up a few dead rabbits and birds to show Maegdin and Candaith.
    Bialver is carrying 4 very large and mangy warg trails. He looks at the sleeping form of Minabel and chuckles
    Miriaden 's hand went to her bow at the sound of footsteps, but in seeing the Beornings and Eskild she relaxed. Somewhat.
    Ortrun reflexively curls a little tighter, a line appearing between her eyebrows as the sound of footsteps begins to pervade. Her chest began to rise and fall slightly faster as she nears wakefulness.
    Candaith waves his hand at the fire. 'Take a seat,' he says. 'We have much to discuss, and to do. If you don't mind, could you cook a couple of those up for us?' He directs this last at Eskild.

    Miriaden returns to the camp, taking a spot near the fire, though she remains standing. She looked restless and anxious, eyes constantly searching the area around them.
    Eskild sits down by the fire and draws his hunting knife. "I don't mind at all." He proceeds to start skinning one of the rabbits.
    Bialver trades glances with Trumodir, and digs in his pack
    Bialver mutters and starts taking things out of his pack, clearly hunting for something
    Maegdin nods and smiles slightly as Eskild gets to work and as Miriaden rejoins them. 'Best wake up Ortrun and Mina,' he says. 'They'll need to know, even if they don't join us.'
    Trumodir gives Maegdin a piercing look. "Know what?" she asks.
    Maegdin gives Trumodir a questioning look. 'What we plan for today, of course,' he says. 'And you lot should also be told what we found at the summit of Weathertop.'

    Bialver pulls out a short coil of rope, a whetstone wrapped in an oily rag, a curiously carved box, some socks with a ripe odour that could kill a goblin at 20 paces, a battered flint-and-tin, and finally a couple of extremely battered honeycakes, which he hands to his kinswoman.
    Eskild sets down the first skinned rabbit and sets to work on a second.
    Miriaden 's jaw sets and she steps over to Ortrun, crouching to squeeze her shoulder to wake her. "Time to get up," she murmurs to the Eglan.
    Trumodir gives Bialver a look of disgust and hands the honeycakes back, pulling out some fresher ones from her own pack.
    Bialver shrugs and moves everything but one honey cake back into his pack

    Ortrun gasps, her entire body locking as Annie gripped her shoulder. She reflexively begins to bring her staff around, but relaxes when a semi-familiar face comes into view. She shakes her head briskly and sits up, muttering, “Morning,” in a voice thick with the residue of sleep.
    Maegdin covers his nose with his mouth as the odour from Bialver's pack hits him. 'Either get rid of those things or wash them,' he says in disgust. As he goes to wake Minabel, she rolls over and starts coughing from the stink. 'What is that horrid smell?' she says groggily, waving her hand in front of her face.
    Eskild buries his nose into his kerchief to guard against the smell but still makes a screwed up face in disgust. "That smells rotten" he mutters.
    Miriaden's nose twitches from the smell and she rises, taking a few steps back.
    Maegdin glances at Minabel with a look of pity. 'I think something crawled in Bialver's pack and died,' he says.
    Minabel sniffs primly and walks as far away from the Beorning as she can, sitting herself next to Miriaden as she begins combing her hair.

    Ortrun's face begins screwing tighter and tighter as she realizes belatedly that the cloying taste in her mouth was in fact a thick smell, and an unpleasant one at that. Pinpointing the location of said scent by the way everyone was leaning away, she unties Harris and pulls off his hood. She points at Bialver, clicks her tongue twice, then whistles sharply and drops her hand. Harris takes off with a loud, LOUD screech, beating his wings hard and fishing the offending sock out of Bialver’s things. The hawk, who luckily cannot smell very well, flies off with the object somewhere well out of eyesight.
    Bialver stares in outrage and the swiftly disappearing bird. "My SOCK!!!" he cries.
    Minabel gives a slight smile as the bird flies off with the offending sock, before saying 'I can simply make you another couple of pairs, had I the yarn.'

    Candaith shakes his head at the antics of the others and says, 'We found somewhat at the top of the hill which has given me great cause for concern. It is our suspicion that the lights I saw the other night were caused when Gandalf the Grey drove off some of the servants of the Enemy. Maegdin says that some of you know of them already, but I will not say their name here. However, their presence has made your errand to Rivendell more urgent. You must ride with all haste. However, I would still beg your help in ridding these hills of the Orcs, should you be willing to wait one day ere you depart.'

    Miriaden looks incredibly relieved at the demise of the sock, but quickly turns her attention back to their task at hand. "I will aid as best I can." She says to the other Ranger.
    Trumodir smiles at Candaith's request, happy at the thought of having more time to finish ridding the area of Orcs
    Bialver shrugs resignedly, and carefully lays the remaining sock on the very top of the pack, then ties it shut.
    Eskild hides a smile and tries to look unusually fascinated by the rabbit in his hands as he finishes skinning it. "I'd be happy to end the lives of some more miserable Orcs."
    Harris remains gone for approximately a minute, before a dark speck begins lazily circling down. Ortrun whistles slowly, holding out her arm, and the bird lights down, decidedly without the sock. His mistress feeds him a sizable piece of meat for his valiant deed.

    Miriaden frowns over to Bialver and narrows her eyes some. "This is hardly the time for antics." She says lowly, looking annoyed. "If you knew what was out there.." She presses her lips together and turns on her heel, heading back up the hill a little.
    Bialver mutters "that's a terrible thing to say to someone who's just lost a sock"
    Trumodir looks quizzically at Miri, and then at Mat and Candaith, wondering what they're all so concerned about; a few Orcs and Wargs don't seem to be worth the level of stress they're showing.

    Maegdin laughs at the others before growing serious. 'Then, if we are in agreement, we should eat and then leave soon. We should strike the Orcs while the sun is high. Here is what we propose: the lot of you hide near the entrance to their camp amid the rocks and underbrush while Candaith and I go in and rile the Orcs up. With luck, they'll give chase, and you can take them at unawares.
    Minabel shudders and sighs. 'I don't think I'll go,' she says. 'Our fight with the Orcs in Trestlebridge was dangerous enough, and I don't think I can stand seeing them again.'
    Ortrun smiles, taking a certain amount of satisfaction from the idea of purging such a number of those horrid beasts from her home. "I will do that," she agrees firmly, before casting a disdainful glance at Minabel.

    Miriaden leaned against the nearby tree, already stringing her bow.
    Candaith speaks up. 'The problem with these Orcs is that they are in an entrenched position, and that they are led by a warchief. They give him what little respect their kind can muster, which means that he must be strong and brutal indeed.' He nods at Minabel, clearly concerned for the girl being out in such dangerous country.
    Eskild starts roasting the rabbits over the fire while the rest of the group discusses the plan.
    Trumodir springs up and looks like she's about to dash off without the others to draw the Orcs out all by herself.
    Bialver nods at Tru and Esk before he turns to the rangers. "Just tell me if there's anything I'm NOT to kill" he says jauntily

    Eskild meets Bialver's glance. "Course I en't backing from a fight."
    Maegdin gestures to the others. 'Please, sit down,' he says. 'We need to eat first, and then we set out. On foot, we should arrive in late morning. If the weather holds, we'll have clear sun, which will discomfit the Orcs and serve to our advantage.'

    Miriaden set to work, soaking her arrowheads in oil and making sure her weapons were sharpened and ready. When satisfied, she returns silently to the fire, standing nearby.
    Ortrun takes a piece of coney once the creature had finished cooking. She tears away strips of the meat, chewing them with relish while attempting not to wolf the entire thing down. Harris squawks softly, and she reaches up a hand to absently stroke his plumage. He couldn’t eat any more; they still had work to do.
    Trumodir sits down again, a bit away from the others so she doesn't have to contemplate the carcasses of the poor rabbits they're eating.
    Eskild cuts off a strip of cooked coney and chews on it with relish.
    Bialver washes down his honeycake with water from a nearly-empty skin, which he then shakes, frowning thoughtfully.
    Ortrun finishes her hasty breakfast and levers herself to her feet, stretching out her back and legs.
    Miriaden takes a portion of the roasted coney and eats quickly. She shifts her weight to her other foot, then back again.

    The Rangers take some of the coney and eat in silence for a few moments. Finally, Candaith asks, 'Do any of you have questions about your part in our expedition?'
    Ortrun tilts her head. "We purge Orcs, and ensure we do not get captured or perish," she says, stating the obvious.
    Maegdin chuckes slightly as he finishes his meal. 'I suppose that is the task at hand,' he says, shaking his head. He stands and picks up his bow and shield. 'Then, let us tarry no longer.' He looks over at Minabel. 'Be careful while we are gone,' he says, concern evident in his voice.
    Bialver says "Ambush Orcs, kill Orcs, kill more Orcs? May we skin them?"
    Trumodir looks up. "That would take too long", she says
    Candaith gives Bialver a look as he stands up. 'Why would you want to?' he asks. He looks about as he picks up his bow and quiver. 'If you are ready to depart, then let us leave.'
    Bialver mutters something about socks, then grins at Tru and Esk and straps on his weapons.
    Miriaden frowns at the idea of skinning Orcs and just shook her head trying not to look sick. "Let's just go." She mutters.

    Ortrun twirls her staff once with a low hum, then slings it on her back and allows Harris to climb on her shoulder. "Let us depart."
    Eskild slides his knife back into its sheath and stands up stretching. "Ready."
    Trumodir leaps up again, hoping that there will be no further delay.
    Minabel looks around at the others as they prepare to leave. 'You be careful yourselves,' she says. 'I will do what I can to have food ready when you return.' Candaith nods and turns away, heading off to the north at a good pace.
    Bialver whistles softly and his mare trots up. He whispers to her and points to Mina, then starts off after the rangers

    Maegdin and Candaith lead the company north along the Weatherway for some miles before turning west and fording the stream the others crossed on their way to Weathertop. As they come up the slope, Candaith pauses and points to a path which leads north into a defile among the hills. 'That way lies Bleakrift, where the Orcs have made their camp,' he says as the others come around him.
    The day has dawned clear and bright, with only a few high thin clouds which do nothing to dim the sun's light. Maegdin looks up and smiles. 'Good fortune for us,' he says. 'The Orcs will wither under this sun, and under our arrows.'
    Miriaden had taken up the rear, head on a swivel as they made their way north. She smirks just a little, ready to rid the lands of this filth.

    Ortrun's eyes harden with a fierce excitement as they grow close. She had long been unable to take care of the creatures, avoiding them unless absolutely necessary, but now she could exact revenge. Harris picks up on her tenseness and poofs out his feathers, swelling to twice his size.
    Eskild gains a slight bounce to his step looking forward to the fight and somewhat oblivious to the real threat of the Orcs.
    Trumodir runs her thumb along the side of the edge of her axe, assuring herself of its sharpness. She hewed a number of heads from Orcs the day before and had hoped that her blade hadn't become too dull.
    Candaith nods in agreement with Maegdin. 'That they shall,' he says. He edges his way around the out-thrust cliff and looks up the defile. The way seems clear, though strewn with fallen boulders, stunted trees, and writhen bushes. 'Come with me, and go softly.'

    The company makes their way up the defile, though Bialver and Ortrun stumble on some loose stones, letting out muffled curses which Miriaden attempts to shush too loudly. Candaith whirls and gives them all a glare and holds up his hand to stop them. 'Very well,' he says. 'Since it seems you cannot move quietly, take up positions here among the stones and bushes. Maegdin and I will go forward and draw as many Orcs out as we can. Be ready for quick action when you hear us come.' With that, he gestures to Maegdin, who gives the others a sympathetic look, and sets off further along the path.
    Ortrun grumbles under her breath, shooting a dirty glance at Bialver as if the stones were completely his fault. Nonetheless, she squats down and lays her staff across her lap, remaining in a light 'ready' position.
    Eskild makes a sad disappointed puppy face after Maegdin and Candaith as he secretly hoped to be part of the ambush.
    Bialver looks carefully at the scrub and boulders, tracing out the paths a fleeing Orc might take. He crouches down carefully between two bushes and nocks his bow.
    Miriaden frowns and clamps her jaw shut, pulling her bow from her shoulder and sparking a small lantern to light, setting it next to her. Taking an arrow from her quiver, she takes up a sturdy position and is ready to light the arrow at the right moment.
    Trumodir crouches, completely still, and ready to pounce at the first sign of an Orc

    Suddenly, raucous noise breaks out perhaps 200 yards ahead of the company, though out of sight due to bends in the path. Sounds of stones clattering against wood, the racket of sword beaten against shield, and shouts of 'Gurth an Glamhoth!' and 'For Arnor!' are quickly drowned out by loud shouts in Orkish. The stamp of booted feet comes quickly down the path, with the shouts growing louder.

    Ortrun immediately clicks her tongue, pointing to a large rock. Harris reacts instantly, flying up to perch on top. She readies her staff, raising her free hand with her eyes locked on her faithful bird and lets out a sharp whistle, letting it draw out until the Orcs came into eyeshot.
    Bialver carefully looks at the hiding places of the others, then loosens his dagger in its sheath and his club from his belt, pick up his bow again, and grins fiercely
    Eskild nocks an arrow and waits excitedly for the Orcs to come within range.

    Maegdin and Candaith suddenly appear around the last turn of the path, running as fast as they can as they unsling their bows from their backs. Before they've gone fifty paces from the last turn, eight Orcs come into view, screaming and shouting as they chase the Rangers. When they draw level with the rest of the group, Candaith and Maegdin suddenly stop, turn, string their bows, and nock arrows in one swift motion. They give a glance to each other, smile wickedly, and loose in unison, crying 'Gurth an Glamhoth!'
    Miriaden tilts her bow, lighting the already nocked arrow before she lifts it to take aim. She waits until her kinsman come into view and fires at the largest Orc.
    Eskild looses an arrow at the nearest Orc firing in between the two rangers.
    Trumodir leaps from cover with her axe held over her head with both hands, the better to bring it down on the head of the nearest Orc. She lets out a terrifying roar as she rushes forward into the fray.
    Ortrun grins, and drops her arm, letting the note of her whistle rise and cut off. Harris launches himself from the rock like a feathery comet, attacking the Orc closest to Ortrun, diving and scratching and pecking at the beast’s face. She grips her staff with both hands, darting away from her hiding-place towards the Orc her bird was preoccupying.
    Bialver waits till an Orc is nearly past him, with another close behind, then swings forward, around, and back, trying to get both skulls

    The Orcs pause just for a moment as their prey suddenly turns and attacks. However, three of them fall with arrows in eye or throat. While Miriaden's arrow flies harmlessly past the ear of one of them, Trumodir's axe cleaves its head in two. Bialver's club brains one of his Orcs, but his fellow ducks just in time to avoid the return swing. With a screech, the hawk falls out of the sky like a bolt of lightning, clawing both eyes from an unlucky Orc. As the beast raises its hands to bat the bird away from its mangled face, Ortrun's staff whistles down on its neck. There is a wet snap, and the Orc crumples to the ground. Six of the Orcs have fallen in the space of an instant, and the remaining two stare in horror and wheel around, running screaming.
  9. ramz711

    ramz711 New Member

    Chapter 18, part 2

    Maegdin and Candaith gives laughs of triumph and charge eagerly after the retreating Orcs. Candaith glances over his shoulder. 'Come!' he cries. 'The game is afoot!'
    Miriaden nocks another arrow, taking aim at the nearest Orc fleeing, careful to not hit any of their company.
    Trumodir lets out a loud roar which causes all hearers to quail; her eyes are afire with blood lust and she trembles with eagerness for battle
    Harris arcs up, diving for another Orc with a frenzied scree after leaving the first Orc's face blinded and bloody.
    Bialver gives a great bellow and rushes off after the Rangers. Unfortunately, he stumbles over the body of one of the Orcs and cracks his head against a stone. He gives a loud groan and rolls on his back, holding his head.
    Eskild feels courage swell in his chest and races after the Orcs and draws another arrow, firing at one of the fleeing enemies.
    As Eskild and Miriaden loose their arrows, the Orcs manage to round the corner in the path, and the arrows bury themselves in the hillside. The hawk wings off after them, and the company can hear an Orc shouting and the hawk screeching as the two bat and swipe at each other. The Rangers and Trumodir quickly follow the Orcs up the path.

    Eskild quickly notices that his new bear dad isn't with the rest of the group and trips ungracefully over his own feet while looking over his shoulder. He spots the Beorning lying the ground and breaks from the group to check on him.
    Miriaden mutters a curse under her breath and hops down from her place on the rock, pausing for a moment by Bialver, looking to him, then Esk, then pursuing the other rangers, nocking an arrow while she moves.
    Eskild tries to pick up Bialver first like a backpack, then by dragging one arm, and grimly realizes that Beornings weigh a lot.

    Ortrun hares after the two Orcs, running in a bit of an arc to the side in order to avoid any more arrows the Rangers may try and shoot. She whistles loudly, trying to call Harris back to her while she brings her staff up to bear.
    As the pursuers round the bend, they see the path runs for perhaps a furlong with a few slight bends before it stops at a rough palisade thrown across the path. The two survivors have made it perhaps halfway, and their shouts and cries have alerted the rest of the camp. Another four archers stand in a gap in the palisade, stringing their short bows. From within the camp, more shouts can be heard, as well as yelled orders in Orkish.

    Miriaden finds a nook that offers a little more protection than the path and lifts her bow as she sees the Orc archers. She takes aim and fires at the one that is stringing his bow fastest.
    Ortrun skids to a stop as she sees the wall of new enemies, but her first and foremost concern is her bird. Her eyes dart around, wildly undecided whether she should keep running or retreat, before another cry from Harris causes her to keep running. “Harris!!” she yells, emitting another piercing whistle. She seems fiercely bent on reaching the two surviving Orcs.
    Maegdin and Candaith slow as they catch sight of the archers in the gate. They pause as they come within the range of their longbows, nock, aim, and fire, Candaith at the archers and Maegdin at the fleeing survivors.

    Maegdin and Miriaden's arrows both miss their marks, his flying wide and hers falling short. Candaith's, however, buries itself in the throat of one of the archers, who falls to the ground. As the arrows wing through the air, the Orcs take aim and fire. All three shots fall short. Harris gives a screech and wings back towards Ortrun.

    Eskild finally settles on rolling Bialver off into some tall grass where he hopefully won't be too obvious from the road.
    Trumodir puts on a burst of speed and runs past the rangers, intent on reaching the two fleeing Orcs before they get to the palisade
    Ortrun gasps in relief, immediately wheeling around and running for cover with Harris close in pursuit. She huddles behind a large rock, her bird fluttering down on her shoulder while the pair avoids any arrow fire.
    One of the arrows fired by the archers flies toward Trumodir, but her charge is so fierce that it strikes the ground 20 paces behind her.

    Eskild gives a final heave to roll Bialver onto his back. He then slips off his neckerchief and leaves it next to the Beorning. Satisfied with his handiwork, Eskild jogs back along the path to rejoin his comrades and possibly save them all from imminent death.
    Ortrun hazards a glance over the top of the rock, seeing one of the Orc archers go down with an arrow shaft in its throat. Taking that opening, she starts off in a low sprint to attack, hoping the beasts would be distracted by the Rangers and not her. Harris, needless to say, takes off from her shoulder and wheels around the other side, trying to distract attention from his mistress.
    Eskild slows momentarily in shock at strength of the Orcs before steeling himself and quickening his pace into an all out sprint to catch up with Ortrun and Trumodir.
    Candaith smiles grimly as his arrow fells the Orc, and he draws another from his quiver. He looses, and then curses as the shaft vanishes over through the gap in the palisade.

    Trumodir raises her battle axe in a mighty swing and arcs as wide as she can, attempting to fell both the fleeing Orcs at once. The two Orcs look over their shoulders just in time to see Trumodir swing her axe. They yelp and dive forwards, the axe swiping through empty air.
    As their foes finally come within range of their shortbows, the Orcs loose arrows. All of them fly wide or fall short, with one of the arrows actually piercing the back of the hand of one of the fleeing orcs.
    As the archers loose, four more Orcs come out of the camp, shouting and waving axes and swords. They charge forwards at the company.

    Miriaden nocks and fires another arrow at the archers as they loose, a grim look finding her features as even more Orcs pour forth from the camp. Her arrow, once again, falls short of its target, caught by a sudden gust of wind out of the north.
    Maegdin scowls as he sees the new foes swarm out of the camp. He draws his last arrow and takes aim at one of the Orcs Trumodir has tried to relieve of their heads. He releases his arrow, which flies true and buries itself in the back of one of the Orcs just climbing to their feet. He gurgles and tumbles back down the slope as the Ranger draws his sword and charges.
    Ortrun draws closer to the palisade, abruptly angling herself to run parallel to the wall. Seeing the four Orcs come charging out, she immediately lunges towards one of them, bringing her staff around like a bat. The staff slams into the face of the nearest Orc, which stumbles back, dropping his sword and clutching at his shattered nose. Black blood begins to pour down his face.

    Eskild draws his sword and stabs at the bloodied face of the Orc Ortrun just attacked. His sword drives into the Orc's mouth. The yells of pain cease as the blade emerges from the back of the Orc's head, as it slumps into a heap on the ground.
    Candaith quickly fires one last arrow before he casts aside his bow, draws his sword and dagger, and rushes forward to meet the enemies head-on. The arrow flies wide in his haste to join the fray. He scowls and rushes forward anyway, though.

    Trumodir rushes up to the last Orc who is desperately trying to reach the safety of the palisade and swings viciously at him. The axe falls from above like a bolt of thunder, cleaving the Orc's head in two.
    Seeing two of their fellows fall in quick succession, the Orcs give a roar of anger and press the attack. The archers loose arrows at Candaith, Maegdin, and Eskild, while the fighters charge Trumodir and Ortrun. The Beorning manages to parry one attack and dodge the other, but the third Orc's axe bites deep into Ortrun's bicep. Meanwhile, the Rangers and Eskild are all struck with arrows, the Breelander in the thigh and the Rangers in the shoulder.

    Maegdin and Eskild cry out as the arrows strike, but Candaith staggers as he is struck. He is slow to climb back to his feet, and seems to be having difficulty keeping his eyes focused. Eskild staggers for a few paces from the pain and struggles to even handle his sword. He falls back slightly still unused to the harsh realities of battle.

    Miriaden nocks an arrow and fires at one of the closer three orcs charging towards them. She releases and reaches back for another arrow the moment the first leaves the string. But, she misjudges the Orcs' speed, and her arrow arcs harmless past her target.
    Maegdin grimaces with pain and snaps the shaft off the arrow sticking in his shoulder. He raises his shield and aims a strike at the Orc who attacked Ortrun, trying to interpose himself between the enemy and his fellows. He stumbles slightly as he moves forward and his blow is easily parried by the Orc, who grins wickedly and spits something at him in Orkish.
    Ortrun grits her teeth, her entire arm stained red at this point. Freckles standing out stark against her pale skin, her breathing was coming light and shallow, until finally she breaks out of her shock when Maegdin leaps to protect her. With a cry borne from both anger and desperation, she hefts her staff with one hand, wheeling it like a club as she aims towards the Orc’s head. Maegdin barely ducks out of the way as the Eglan's staff-strike flies wild, nearly braining the Ranger instead of the Orc.

    Eskild gains some level of composure and rushes the nearest Orc, swinging his sword wildly. The youth's sudden rage surprises the Orcs, especially when his swing hews an Orc's arm off at the elbow.
    Candaith staggers a little, clutching at his arrow wound with one hand while moving forward, sword raised in his good hand. The Ranger aims a strike at the Orc Eskild just relieved of a hand. The Orc is plainly in shock, as it fails to raise its axe to block the blow, which pierces its chest. The Orc collapses, a bloody froth pouring from the wound. Candaith grins weakly.

    Trumodir quickly scans the scene to find the most likely victim. An Orc is leering at her as he runs toward her. She raises her battleaxe and gives out a bloodcurdling roar. The Orc's leer quickly disappears as he sees Trumodir rush towards him, bloodlust in her eyes. He barely manages to bat away her strikes as he backs towards the gate, terror plain on his face. It's obvious he didn't expect such resistance.
    The Orc-archers fire another volley into the fray, aiming at those who seem to be the real threats. However, Trumodir's charge seems to have discomfited them as well, as their arrows fly harmlessly past her, Eskild, and Candaith. Meanwhile, the Orc she was charging aims a blow at her, but she parries it effortlessly and comes on. Maegdin takes the last Orc's sword-strike on shield. Suddenly, a bellowing shout in Orkish cuts through the din as the Orc-chieftain finally joins the fray. Almost man-high, he charges out, pushing one of his archers out of the way as he raises his mace to attack the berserker.

    Miriaden nocked and drew back, about to fire on some random Orc, but as the Chieftain comes charging out, she adjusts her aim and fires at the Orc Chief. Her arrow slams home, but it barely seems to slow Uzorr. He gives a yell of pain as he yanks the arrow from his side and licks his blood from the arrowhead. He points at Miriaden and shouts, 'You'll pay for that, you little filth! I'll make your death slow!' With that, he changes course and aims for Miriaden.
    Maegdin gives an exasperated sigh as the war-chief shows himself. 'These things are never easy, are they?' he shouts to Candaith as he lashes out again at the Orc in front of him. His sword is met by the Orc's scimitar with a clang of metal. The two foes stand locked for a long moment, both pushing at the other, before the Orc aims a kick at the Ranger's groin. Maegdin yelps and jumps back, barely avoiding the iron-shod foot.

    Minabel pants as she runs towards the battle cries, crying out every few steps as the stones bruise her feet.
    Ortrun grips her staff a little tighter, anxiety written on her face after her first attempt had nearly killed Maegdin. When the chieftain runs out, she goes a considerable shade whiter, her arm still throbbing with waves of pain. Returning her attention to the Orc threatening her and the Ranger, she takes the opening from Maegdin to bring her staff in a vicious overhand stroke. The strike actually does connect with the Orc, though only with his foot. He gives a yelp of surprise and jumps back, clearly favoring his foot. He glares daggers at the woman.

    Eskild gives Candaith a quick glance before darting around to the back of the Orc. The sense of rage has dulled the pain in his body for the time being, and he goes to stab the Orc chieftain in the leg. Uzorr gives a sudden bellow of pain and stumbles as Eskild's sword cuts deep into the meat of his calf. He recovers and glares at the youth. 'I'm going to enjoy gutting you, you little pig!' He wheels around to face Eskild.
    Candaith reels for a moment and grasps at his head, his eyes swimming. He leans heavily on his sword and pants, unable to do anything more than remain upright.
    Trumodir is now behind the Orc captain and to one side. She rushes down the slope at him with great speed, roaring as she comes. As Uzorr turns towards Eskild and raises his mace for a blow, he catches sight of Trumodir charging. Before he has time to react, however, her axe falls down upon his helm, cleaving the black iron with a sparking CRACK before splitting his head like a melon and burying itself deep in his chest.
    The remaining Orcs cry out in shock as they watch the berserker drop their chieftain. The archers gibber and wail, throwing away their bows and running down the path, away from their camp. The two remaining fighters, though, seem to be made of sterner stuff. They roar with rage and strike out at Maegdin and Trumodir.
    Maegdin manages to get his shield up in time to meet the strike aimed at his head. He shoves the Orc back, who loses his footing and falls onto his arse. Trumodir, however, is not so lucky. She feels a sudden pain in her right arm, followed by a burning fire as the Orc gives a bloodthirsty yell.

    Miriaden grins in satisfaction as the chieftain perishes in a bloody mess. She nocks another arrow and takes aim at the Orc attacking Trumodir. The Orc has little chance to enjoy his bloodlust, as Miriaden's arrow drives straight into his eye and out the back of his head. He collapses, roughly dragging his blade out of Trumodir's arm as he falls.
    Maegdin is only vaguely aware of what's going on behind him, but he is keenly aware of the Orc lying on the ground before him. He smiles grimly and swings his sword down towards his foe. The sword falls on the Orc's neck as he attempts to stand up, and his head goes rolling down the hill after his fellows.
    Ortrun drops to her knees, clutching at her arm and letting out a low keen of pain as the adrenaline begins trickling out of her system. Harris flutters down next to her, beak and talons bloodied as he warbles softly. Ortrun takes one look at the decapitated Orc in front of her and rocks back and forth, biting her lip so hard she nearly draws blood as she takes deep, shaking breaths.
    Minabel arrives at the scene just then and sees the decapitated Orc. She lets out a shriek and backs away. Then she sees Ortrun and goes to her side. "Are you badly hurt? Was anyone else hurt?"

    Eskild is splattered in blood from the Orc chieftain, and it takes a moment to realize that there are still more Orcs. He draws his bow, wincing slightly from the pain of the arrow still embedded in his flesh, and nocks two arrows. He takes aim at one of the fleeing Orcs. Both of Eskild's arrows go wild. The Orcs look over their shoulders and pick up the pace.
    Candaith drops his sword as he sits down. He pulls a dagger from his boot and wipes it with a clean cloth. He grimaces and begins to cut his arrow-wound open so that he can work the arrowhead out.

    Miriaden nocks two arrows, taking aim at the fleeing Orcs. She murmurs a quick prayer that she can stop them from running for help. One of the Orcs stumbles and falls, lying still with a grey-feathered arrow sticking in his back. The other two continue to leg it. They are almost out of sight.
    Maegdin takes aim at the retreating Orcs, but then curses softly as his arrow falls short. He looks down and catches sight of what Candaith is doing. 'Wait, cousin!' he says. 'Let me. You'll open a vein with your digging.'

    Minabel looks around at all of her injured companions and begins to cry. After a few minutes, she goes off to look for herbs to make healing packs to apply to the group's injuries.
    Candaith grimaces and hands the knife to Maegdin, who quickly and deftly cuts the wound open and pulls the arrow out with a swift motion. He eyes the wound with concern. Candaith mutters, 'I have marigold and goatweed in my pouch. Bind them against it until we can return to camp.' The Ranger lays back on the ground, plainly exhausted.
    Eskild collapses on the ground and drops his bow beside him. An arrow is sticking out awkwardly from just below the armpit.
    Trumodir comes over to Eskild and looks at him with concern. "Can anyone help the boy with this arrow? I've got some herbs to pack the wound once the arrow's out"

    Maegdin works his wounded arm and grunts. He quickly wraps his wound in linen before attending to Candaith. He glances up as he chews the herbs to make a simple poultice. As he spits it into a bandage, he says, 'Miriaden, Minabel! Help them. I've my hands full here.'
    Ortrun manages to shoot a glare at Mina when she breaks out in tears, although it appears the woman is close herself. Her arm was soaked with blood, and she holds it tightly to her chest as she struggles to her feet. Leaning against her staff for support, she staggers over to Eskild. "Can help..." she manages through gritted teeth.
    Minabel begins boiling water in a little kettle she finds in a pack and puts the herbs she collected from around the camp into the water to boil. A few minutes later, the water is ready for the bandages to be soaked in it. Having soaked several bandages, she begins applying them to Candaith's wounds and Ortrun's.
    Eskild only manages to stare dumbly, his body completely engulfed in a tidal wave of exhaustion and pain. Even voices sound distant while the blood is still pounding in his ears.
    Candaith notices the fire and scowls. He half-sits up and says, 'Put that out! Fix us up enough so that we can move, and then we need to get back to my camp.' He lays back down as he says this last.

    Minabel tries to get Ortrun to sit down so she can bandage her.
    Maegdin finishes binding the slapdash poultice to Candaith's wound. 'Rest for now while we tend to the others,' he says.
    Miriaden curses under her breath as the Orcs vanish into the hills. She heads towards the others, frowning at the injuries. "We need to move. Those Orcs will return with friends and we cannot be here when that happens."

    Ortrun scowls tightly at Minabel, shrugging her arm away as she glances upwards at Trumodir. "Boy's...worse to...get arrow out..?" she asks.
    Maegdin walks over to Trumodir. 'Let me see your wound. I need to check for poison. All too often, the Orcs add little surprises to their blades.' He kicks the body of the Orc-chieftain as he does.
    Trumodir shrugs as she says, “The boy needs that arrow out of him”
    Minabel turns her mouth into a scowl and backs away from Ortrun. "Very well, where is the boy? I will attend to his injuries". She locates Eskild and begins swabbing his wound.
    Maegdin scowls at Trumodir. 'And I need to make sure you're not going to collapse on the way back. It will be trouble enough lugging Bialver back without you keeling over as well.'

    Minabel turns to Miriaden. "Do you have anything to remove this arrow? I do not have knowledge for that, only swabbing wounds and administering medicine."
    Miriaden kneels next to Mina, looking over the arrow and the wound. She nodded to Mina, then sighed. "Its barbed, which means we cannot pull it out without causing more damage. Damned Orcs..." She mutters. "We will have to push it through."
    Minabel pales. "You will have to pull it. I do not have the nerve to do it. I will hold him down."

    Ortrun grimaces up at Minabel and Annie. "Can help...pull..." she murmurs, holding up her good hand. "Or I...can hold 'im down. Either."
    Miriaden nods, gesturing to Esk's shoulders. "Hold him down, I will push it through. She looks at Esk with an apologetic look. "This is really going to hurt..." She grips the shaft of the arrow and breaks off the fletching. "I'm going to count to 3, then push." She lies. She only counts to 2 and then pushes hard, the arrow sliding around and along his ribs before the arrowhead comes out the other side where she can pull it through.
    Ortrun leans hard against Eskild, bracing one forearm on his shoulder near his injury.
    Eskild screams bloody murder from the pain and jerks instinctively before passing out.
    Minabel sees the arrow come out the other side of Eskild's body and faints. She comes to thirty seconds later and blushes from embarrassment.

    Maegdin shakes his head at Trumodir's intransigence, and grabs her arm, pulling the torn edges of her clothing away from the wound. He inspects it for a moment and sighs. 'It is poisoned. Let me see to it so that it doesn't spread.'
    Trumodir heaves a sigh of relief, thankful that the arrow is out
    Miriaden has done this so many times she lost count and is generally unaffected by this all. She tosses the arrow aside and reaches into her pack for bandages to press against the wound.
    Ortrun falls back from the boy, wincing at his screams before, mercifully, he falls into unconsciousness. She clenches her jaw and focuses tightly on Annie's ministrations.
    Maegdin makes up another quick poultice and binds it against the wound. 'Keep that there until we get back to camp and can treat it properly. This should help draw out some of the poison.' He stands and looks at the others. 'Are the rest of you ready to depart? We cannot linger here, or those Orcs will get their courage up and come back, probably with friends.'

    Miriaden wraps the bandages around Esk's wounds as best she can and reaches down to pull the unconscious lad upwards. Looking to Mina, she says, "Help me carry him."
    Ortrun levers herself to her feet, dragging her gaze dully to Maegdin. "Bialver," she says hoarsely. "We will need him. Annie and Minabel have...Eskild."
    Minabel shrieks. "Me, carry a grown man. Oh, alright. If someone else joins us, I can manage it."
    Maegdin sighs as he looks around. 'What a sorry lot we are,' he says wryly. He walks over and helps Candaith to his feet. 'You and Trumodir will have to support each other on the way back,' he says apologetically. 'It looks like I'll have to carry Bialver.' He pauses for a moment and rifles through Uzorr's belt-pouch and pockets, tucking a piece of parchment into his own pouch.
    Minabel struggles under the weight of Eskild. "Someone grab his legs. He is very heavy and I am not wearing the right shoes."

    Maegdin shakes his head at Minabel as the group sets off. 'You'll have to get yourself a proper pair of boots if you want to continue with us,' he says as he gives Trumodir and Candaith a hand as they head towards where they stowed Bialver. 'And you'll need to lose the dress. You'll stick out like a redbird in winter in that getup.'
    Miriaden shoots Mina a little glare. "Why are you in a dress and slippers, again?" She murmurs, unable to imagine tromping through the wilds in such a garment.
    Eskild starts to come to though he can't do much more than blink for the moment.
    Ortrun snarls at Minabel, but makes her way over to Eskild. Kneeling down, she places the lad's feet on either shoulder, and locks her staff across her shoulders and behind her neck. Threading her arms over her weapon to keep it steady, she pushes herself up and tries to ignore the new flood of warmth down her arm. "Let's...go..." she grunts.
    Miriaden supports as much of Esk's weight as she can, sparing Mina and Ort as much as possible. She breaks out in a sweat from the effort but will manage until they get back to camp.
    Trumodir trudges along, trying to hold Candaith up beside her. Although the wound is painful she grits her teeth and ignores it, just glad that the company came out on top of that encounter without any immediate deaths.

    Maegdin grunts with exertion as he slings Bialver's body over his shoulders. The Beorning stirs slightly and mutters something in Valish, but it's too quiet to make out. 'Oh, shut up, you great lump,' Maegdin grumbles. 'I can't believe you did this to yourself. And to me.' He follows after the rest of the company until they finally return to the camp just as the sun touches the western ridges. He collapses in exhaustion and lays down, panting.
    Miriaden gently sets Eskild down near the fire, checking his bandages with a frown. She was not much of a healer.
    Minabel sits down next to Eskild and begins to bathe her feet in a stream near the camp.
    Eskild is feeling slightly more conscious and aware of his surroundings, though he's still exhausted and finds that sleep comes rather easily.
    Ortrun helps set Eskild down, then promptly collapses from a combination of blood loss and exhaustion. Harris cries out and launches into the air, spiraling away from the members of the beleaguered camp.
  10. JJ48

    JJ48 Member

    This is very intriguing. Can new people join? Is previous RP experience required?
  11. ramz711

    ramz711 New Member

    Chapter 19: To the Forsaken Inn

    The morning after the battle in the Orc-camp dawns clear and bright. Most of the company are still rolled in their blankets, sleeping heavily from weariness. Maegdin sits bare-chested by the fire, working a needle and thread through the tear in his jerkin. His shoulder is bound with linen, and he moves stiffly. Candaith turns over in his sleep and groans.

    Bialver begins to stir, wondering what happened, and why his head feels like a battered pumpkin.
    Minabel reluctantly rolls out of her bed and walks over to Ortrun and proceeds to check her bandage. Satisfied that the wound looks clean and that there is no odor, she wraps it around in a sweet mixture of herbs and honey.
    Trumodir peers over at Bialver and seeing his eyes open, mutters "Doing alright, cousin? You had me right worried there"
    Maegdin looks up as the others begin to stir. He sets his shirt aside as Bialver wakes. He kneels down next to the man. 'Do you remember where we are, friend?' He nods to Trumodir. 'He's had us all worried.'
    Bialver's eyes slowly open. "Did the other guy look worse, after we were finished?" he whispers

    Candaith groans again and sits up. He smiles weakly at Bialver's jest. 'That he certainly did.' The Ranger is looking much better than yesterday as he climbs out of his bedroll and sets some water to boiling.
    Bialver pries his eyes fully open, wincing at the light. He sniffs the air and answers Maegdin. "Lone Lands? Near...a swamp? A marsh?"
    Minabel takes a few pieces of boar jerky out of her pack and begins to nibble at a corner, wrapping her blanket tightly around herself.
    Trumodir pulls a twisted root out of her pocket and begins making shavings of it with her knife. She turns to Bialver and says, "I'm making you a compress for that huge bump on your head."
    Bialver sniffs again "A....river? North-north-west?"
    Maegdin gives Bialver an odd look. 'The Midgewater Marshes are some miles to the west, but you're right enough.' He claps him on the shoulder and goes back to mending his clothes. 'Eat what you have,' he says. 'I don't think any us are in the mood for making breakfast, not after yesterday.'

    Minabel smashes a mosquito that has landed on her neck. "I would believe there is a slimy marsh near here. All of these nasty bugs!"
    Bialver tentatively reaches a hand up to his head, and gives a most un-beorning-like squeak of pain.
    Ortrun lay on her side, wounded arm draped awkwardly over her stomach. She had tossed and turned for a long while, lightheaded yet unable to slip fully into slumber. Finally, she had managed a fleeting rest, eyes screwed shut, although Minabel’s approach was enough to wake her. “Harris…” she croaked, looking around for her bird as lucidity began to trickle in.
    Bialver sits up, groaning, locates his pack, and begins digging in it. He pulls out a very clean, but sorely abused-looking pair of socks, which he lays ostentatiously aside. The next things out is a leaf-wrapped...pile of honeycake crumbs.
    Minabel looks towards Ortrun. "Are you looking for your bird? I think I smell him. Anyway, he left droppings all over Brianne's saddle."

    Candaith pulls some dried herbs from his pouch and crumbles them into his mug. After pouring boiling water on them, he sips at the brew, grimacing as he does. He chews on a piece of hard biscuit as he looks around at the others. 'I never properly thanked you for your help, friends. I know that you need to be on your way, but your aid has helped set my mind at ease.'
    Trumodir pulls out a whole honeycake from her pack and hands it quietly to Bialver
    Bialver chokes on his crumbs, trying not to let Mina see him laughing.
    Bialver mushes the crumbs together and re-wraps them, then accepts the whole honeycake from his kinswoman with a look of gratitude.

    Ortrun manages to nod to Minabel, rubbing her head and blinking a few times. “Aye…he’s safe? Good, good…don’t know what I would do without him.” She reaches for her satchel, pulling out some dried meat and nibbling on the corner, slowly looking at the others around the fire. “Annie…and Eskild…where are they?” Her eyes light on Bialver. “And you’re awake now…”
    Maegdin finishes his last stitch and puts away his needle and thread. He looks over at Ortrun as he slips his jerkin back on. 'She left at first light with him. He is hurt badly enough that we thought it good for him to get out of the wilderness as soon as possible. She's taken him to the Forsaken Inn, which is where we will be bound once you are ready to leave.'

    Bialver mutters ''I was hoping it was a bad dream.'' He clutches his head and squeaks again.
    Minabel smiles. "Finally, an inn. The first thing I am going to do is draw myself a nice hot bath."
    Trumodir turns to Ortrun and offers her some honeycake, having seen that her provisions were so poor.
    Ortrun takes the honeycake with a reluctant nod of thanks, peering at the strange food before taking a hesitant bite. A smile immediately spreads across her face as she makes short work of it.
    Bialver brightens "An inn? Do they have an oven?"
    Trumodir looks over at Maegdin. "Isn't it quite a distance to the inn?" she asks
    Bialver sniffs the air again and mutters to Trumodir "Sage… yarrow… grey devil-may-care…. If only there are bees, there'll be good herb-honey"

    Maegdin pulls a piece of hardtack from his pack and chews before answering. 'It's perhaps half a day's journey to the inn from here, but Miriaden and I both thought it best that we get at least one night of rest before we set out on the Road. Even if it is at such a place as the Forsaken Inn.' He shakes his head.
    Trumodir nods back to Bialver, adding "I'm not willing to look for honey with so many Orcs in the area."
    Bialver's shoulders slump.
    Candaith chuckles softly. 'Steer clear of the ale, if you know what's good for you. And don't look too closely at the stew, either.' He sips his tea and grimaces again. 'Still, four walls and most of a roof are better than being out here in the hills, especially for one with a wound like that boy had.'
    Minabel turns to Maegdin, "Why do they call it the Forsaken Inn? Does it not receive supplies from Bree? Do they not have decent fare? Is it not a respectable establishment?"
    Bialver mutters, mostly to himself "Maybe they have cider."
    Trumodir asks Candaith, "You sure you'll be all right with that wound?"

    Ortrun glances at Maegdin. "Forsaken Inn or not, it is better than sleeping out in the open. No doubt other Orcs heard the battle; they will want to retaliate." Her gaze sweeps across the ridgeline of the camp, arm tightening against her as if invoking the name of Orcs was enough to summon them directly to the fire.
    Minabel shudders at the mention of Orcs.
    Bialver leans over to his Kinswoman and whispers ''What did I miss?''
    Candaith nods at Trumodir. 'I've faced worse than this over the years. I'm already feeling mostly free of the poison. I expect one more day of rest should do it.'
    Trumodir murmurs to Bialver, "You were the lucky one, not being part of that fight"
    Bialver gives her an incredulous look
    Trumodir adds, "it was a close thing….” Her voice trails off

    Maegdin takes a drink from his waterskin. 'There seem to be as many opinions as to its name as there are people who've heard of it,' he says to Mina. 'Some say it's because it's the last inn east of Bree, some because Anlaf couldn't cook or brew if his life depended on it, and some because the place has an ill reputation.'
    Bialver nods soberly
    Minabel frowns. "An ill reputation?"
    Maegdin chuckles. 'The place is tumbledown, literally. Last I was there, shingles were falling off the roof of the common room and the beer could be used to cure leather. Don't worry, though. We'll not be there long.'
    Trumodir gives a quick glance over at Minabel.

    Bialver swallows his last bite of honeycake, flourishes his clean socks as he stuffs them back into his pack, clambers groaning to his feet, and whistles for Utsending.
    Ortrun gets to her feet, slowly shifting from one foot to the other to ease the cramps in her legs. Her gaze flits between everyone at the fire. "Who will I ride with?" she asks shortly before whistling for Harris.
    Bialver looks at the others ''Whose turn is it? I've lost track.''
    Trumodir looks over at the young woman and offers to have her ride with her on Marr
    Maegdin flings his cloak over his shoulders and climbs to his feet. He calls to Randir, and the horse canters over to the Ranger. Maegdin saddles the horse and straps the bags to the saddle before climbing on. He looks around. 'If we are ready, let us go. I look forward to a bed, even if it is one of Anlaf's.'
    Minabel turns to Ortrun and says, "I would let you ride with me, but Brianna's blanket matches my outfit, but not yours, so it would be kind of awkward. You understand."

    Trumodir calls for Marr, leaps onto her back, and helps Ortrun up behind her while giving Minabel an exasperated look.
    Candaith looks up at the others as they prepare to depart. 'Fare well, wherever your road takes you. Keep me informed of news, cousin.' He raises a hand in farewell.
    Ortrun gives Minabel an odd sort of distasteful look, before turning to Trumodir and clambering up on the horse. She loops her good hand around Trumodir's waist, glancing up to see Harris circling above them. "Ready," she calls.
    Maegdin nods at Candaith. 'Take care, cousin. Until we meet again.' With that, he turns his horse to the west and begins to lead the company over the hills and dales to the Forsaken Inn.

    * * * * * * *

    Maegdin makes his way into the common room of the Forsaken Inn, the rest of the company following him. The soft murmur of conversation from the few patrons pauses at the sight of so many travelers arriving at once. It picks up again as Maegdin makes his way over to Anlaf.
    Minabel looks up at the hole in the ceiling. "Are we really going to stay here? If she were not already dead, mother would die of shame to see me in a place like this."
    Greenstand is smoking by the fire as the party comes in. He watches them thoughtfully.
    Maegdin crosses his arms and gives Anlaf a look. The innkeep looks up at the man with a scowl. 'Oh, it's you again,' he says. 'That friend o' yours dropped that boy off a couple of hours ago. Then she said she wanted to "take a look around," whatever that means. Damn fool woman. Didn't even pay me. Said you'd handle it.'
    Ortrun smiles as she enters the inn, not unduly bothered by the hole in the roof or the stench of stale alcohol clinging to every beam. She levels her gaze on Minabel, saying curtly, "Be grateful you have a roof over your head, girl," before tramping up to the counter.

    Maegdin sighs and shakes his head. He counts out twenty copper pennies and stacks them on the counter. 'This should be enough for rooms and meals for seven for one night, as well as clean linen for bandages?' Anlaf sweeps the coins into a pocket of his apron and gives a non-committal grunt. 'Pick whatever room you like. I'll have the girl bring you round some food and drink.'
    Trumodir settles herself by one of the fireplaces and soon drifts into a mesmerized state, watching the flames dancing
    Minabel shoots Ortrun a sour look. "You call that a roof?"
    Bialver catches Grenstand looking at the group, and boldly crosses the room to slap a mug of cider down on the table before him
    Ortrun glances over the kegs lining the wall, narrowing her eyes slightly. It seems she was well-attuned to what drinks were half-reasonable versus dish-water, as she elects to order nothing and instead sits by the fire. She glances up to see Harris perching on the edge of the roof, and clicks her tongue lightly to the bird. He soars down to perch next to her, cawing softly.

    Greenstand is startled by Bialver, and realizes he's been staring. "Oh, I beg your pardon! I just noticed your group seems a little, ah, well-travelled. Have you by chance been to the ruins?"
    Bialver looks at the man's bright garb and pointed hat in some bewilderment. ''Ruins?'' he asks.
    Maegdin shakes his head at Anlaf's mood. 'Give me a cup of cider, Anlaf. I still don't trust your ale after last time.' Anlaf looks offended as he pours a glass. 'That was only that one batch! How was I supposed to know it had the mold on it? Besides, it cleaned your system right out, didn't it?'
    Greenstand continues, "I saw some odd lights from the direction of Weathertop and came out to investigate, but I hadn't expected there to be so many Orcs. Goblins! And so near to Bree! What is this world coming to?"
    Bialver nods vigorously. ''Orcs. Goblins. Cider you could clean your mail with. It's a hard life, on the road''
    Maegdin takes his glass with a scowl, not responding to the innkeep, who continues to grumble to himself. Matt walks off and goes to join the rest of his group. He raises an eyebrow at the stranger's words, but says nothing. He takes a sip of the cider and sputters, coughing.

    Minabel walks over to Anlaf, "One cider please. And do you have meat pie?"
    Greenstand says, "I'd say that I prefer the Prancing Pony, but the innkeeper might mistake that for an order of stew."
    Bialver glances at the Ranger. ''Is it better or worse than the ale?''
    Minabel looks over to Greenstand. "I also prefer the Prancing Pony. That is a civilized inn. There is no hole in Butterbur's establishment."
    Ortrun murmurs half to herself, "She does not want know what is in the meat pie..."
    Minabel hears Ortrun's mumur. "Maybe it is hawk!" she says rather loudly.
    Maegdin looks over at the stranger as Anlaf pours Mina a cup and yells to his daughter to get the guests some food. Matt shakes his head at Bialver. 'It's better, but that's not saying much.' He glances at the stranger. 'What makes you think we know anything about the ruins, friend? You'd be better off asking the Eglain about that. We're just passing through.'
    Greenstand turns to Minabel. "True, though I heard there was some sort of commotion there not long ago."

    Ortrun narrows her eyes at Minabel, pointedly pulling out a piece of meat and feeding it to Harris. "I did trade Anlaf a warg shank for some spare coin, once," she counters levelly.
    Trumodir looks languidly at Greenstand, wondering if he is also a seasoned traveler, although his clothes look too fine and clean.
    Greenstand answers Maegdin, "Just hopeful, I suppose. I haven't seen a lot of travelers through here, and even fewer that look like they may be able to handle Orcs."
    Minabel walks over to Anlaf again. "Forget about the meat pie. Just a loaf of bread and some cream please."
    Bialver leans over to Trumodir and gestures at the duded-up treasure-hunters. ''What kind of place *is* this?'' he mutters
    Greenstand frowns. "I wonder if the orcs had anything to do with the strange lights. <sigh> The knot just gets harder and harder to unravel."

    Ortrun remarks, "Careful with the bread, as well. They scrape the flour up from the floor if it spills."
    Greenstand begins to smoke.
    Minabel tries to keep from retching. "Is there anything in this place fit to eat?" she asks no one in particular.
    Maegdin gives the man an appraising look. 'Well, I can't speak to any lights, but Ortrun here might be able to tell you something about some of the ruins. If she's willing, that is.' He pulls out a pipe of his own and begins to smoke, stretching his legs out under the table.

    Anlaf continues to grumble. 'Dammit, girl!' he shouts. 'Where's their food?!' 'I'm coming, da!' she shouts back as she comes out of the larder with a stack of plates and bowls. She slams the tray down on the table among the company and brings over a suspicious-looking loaf of bread, a cheese that looks like it's been aged just a bit too long, and begins spooning out a watery stew with chunks of meat and vegetables boiled into non-description. 'Here,' she says. 'It's all we've got, so don't go asking for anything else.'

    Greenstand turns to Ortrun in curiosity, and starts speaking a little more excitedly. "You know of the ruins in these parts? What tales do you know?"
    Minabel takes another piece of boar jerky out of her pack lying next to her on the bench and proceeds to nibble at it.
    Bialver eyes the cheese suspiciously.
    Minabel waves the food in front of her away. "On second thought, I am not that hungry. I think this jerky should do it for me."
    Maegdin chuckles at Bialver as he pops his pipe in his mouth. 'I think the mold is supposed to be on it, but I've never been brave enough to try it,' he says around the stem as he cuts himself a piece of bread. He sniffs at the stew and shrugs. 'I've had worse.'

    Ortrun frowns up at the new arrival, quickly gauging his rather out-of-place attire and tone of voice. "Aye," she replies in a guarded tone. "I know of all the ruins around these parts. They are my livelihood. What interest do you have in them?" She twists around, casting an irritated glance at Minabel. "Show some manners, you are being very rude."
    Trumodir continues to eye Greenstand and suddenly asks, "Where are you from, anyway?"
    Greenstand turns back and forth between Ortrun and Trumodir, seemingly taken off guard by questions being turned back at him.
    Minabel shoots another bad look at Ortrun. "Rude. I am a respectable woman, and this food is not edible. It is not fit for one who advertises that he has rooms to let to provide such fare for his guests. I am reporting this establishment to the proper authorities."
    Greenstand stammers, first to one and then to the other, "Curiosity… Bree… helping a friend...."

    Ortrun snaps out, “You are acting like a petulant child. Sit down and be grateful, instead of whining and wringing your hands while others fight battles on your behalf.” She scowls, a good deal of her foul mood stemming from her injury, as she turns back to the man. “I do not want any foreigners looting my ruins. My people are hard-pressed as it is without you scholars coming through.”
    Trumodir turns toward Greenstand and asks, "What kind of help does your friend need?"
    Greenstand takes a long draw on his pipe, and steadies himself. "To answer your question first," he says turning towards Trumodir, "I come from the Bree-lands. Just outside Combe, to be precise."
    Minabel stammers. "I do not think you are being fair. I am here, am I not. You do not know how hard it has been for me to leave my home, most of my clothes, and my champion wolfhound Priscilla to come to this forsaken place and fight smelly Orcs."

    Greenstand turns to Ortrun and continues, "A friend of mine was concerned about strange lights from Weathertop, and I volunteered to investigate." He adds sheepishly, "I admit that part of my reason for wanting to see the ruins is that I have always been a bit fascinated with ancient lore, and wanted an excuse to come visit the ruins close-up."
    Bialver perks up at the word ''lore''
    Greenstand adds, "I assure you, my interest is in lore and in the answer to riddles, not in goods and plunder."
    Maegdin pushes away his mostly-empty stew bowl, looking a little green about the gills. 'Ortrun, be reasonable. The man clearly doesn't want to steal anything. What would be the harm in telling him a bit of what you know? Or sending him to the rest of your folk, if you're not willing.'

    Ortrun scoffs harshly at Mina. "You didn't even fight, you burst into tears. You should have stayed at home." To Greenstand, she taps a finger on the wooden floor before fishing out another piece of meat and feeding it to Harris. Her head swivels between Matt and the newcomer, before replying, "I need your word that you will not strip any artifacts. My people will look quite unfavorably on you if they discover any of our heirlooms in your keeping."
    Maegdin glares daggers at the back of Ortrun's head as she calls them "their" heirlooms, but says nothing, content to take sips of his cider. Very small sips.
    Greenstand bows clumsily. "I give you my word that I will loot no ruins." He pauses, then adds, "You wouldn't consider charcoal rubbings to be 'looting', would you?"
    Maegdin smiles over at the Breelander. 'Can't ask for better than that, can you, Ortrun? Now why don't you tell Mister.... you know, I don't think I caught your name, friend.'
    Greenstand grins. "Gilbert Greenstand, at your service. Though most folks just call me Greenstand."

    Ortrun frowns, rubbing absently at her arm before she replies tersely, "Very well. I suppose some rubbings cannot do any harm." She pauses, mulling over her next words before offering, "Go to Ost Guruth. Some of my kin are more learned in the tales. Seek out Frederic the Elder, he can guide you." As well as ensure that you are watched, she adds privately to herself.
    Trumodir asks, "Do you have much experience in traveling in the wild? There are plenty of evil things in these hills"
    Maegdin nods his head to Greenstand. 'Matt Westing, at your service.' He looks over at Ortrun. 'Oh, your folk are in Ost Guruth now? That's on our road, if I remember rightly. It's been a while since last I went hunting in these hills.'
    Minabel yawns and makes her way to her room, ready for a good night's sleep.
    Bialver nods off over his...ugh...cider

    Ortrun inclines her head to Matt in reply. "Aye, we are. It would be a fine place to resupply. My people will offer you a fine price, and our wares are quality." She frowns, peering in her satchel. "I prepared for a four-day journey, and my supplies are near-exhausted."
    Greenstand answers Trumodir, "I haven't traveled too far, but I've listened to quite a few tales of traveling, so I know some of what to expect. I do have a little experience protecting my farm from brigands and the like. Mainly I hit things with my staff and set them on fire."
    Greenstand adds under his breath, "Which, in hindsight, isn't the best strategy when the you're fighting brigands who are already inside your wooden barn...."
    Trumodir mutters, "Hmm, another staff wielder. Why do people put such trust in mere sticks?' thinking with relish of her own sturdy battle axe.
    Maegdin raises an eyebrow at Greenstand's... unorthodox methods. 'Well, then. I've a suggestion: why don't you come with us as far as Ost Guruth? We're heading over the Last Bridge, but as Ortrun says, we'll have need of supplies. And besides, it's safer in a group out here in the wild.'
    Trumodir nods in agreement, thinking the stranger would be easy prey if not in a group of experienced warriors like themselves.

    Greenstand thinks for a moment, then nods. "That would be rather wise. Getting killed on the road would be a rather significant setback in the investigation."
    Trumodir looks up quickly. "What investigation?" she asks."And what are you trying to help your friend with?"
    Ortrun nods, agreeing with the others. "It would be good to have you along," she offers, dipping her head ever-so-slightly. Harris screeches lightly, before flapping up and spiraling out of the inn.
    Trumodir adds, "But it's getting late, and we'll have many miles to talk once we leave this place."
    Maegdin nods in agreement with Trumodir. 'That's true. I'm rather tired after our trek today. Do you have a horse?' he asks Greenstand.

    Greenstand nods, "I do. I managed to save the poor beast, at least, when the rest of the farm went. Very well, I look forward to traveling with you folk and possibly even living another day!"
    Maegdin nods to Greenstand as he stands up from the table. 'Be ready to head out tomorrow morning. Early. We have many miles to go. I'm glad to have you with us.'
    Trumodir looks over at Bialver, who is slumped over in sleep. She gets up and shakes him harshly, saying, "Get up! This isn't your bed!"
    Bialver opens his eyes just enough to stumble off to what he hopes is his room
    Ortrun gets to her feet, dusting off the errant stalks of hay that clung to her clothes. "Well met, Greenstand," she replies with a trace more cordiality than she had offered the man before. "Well, I am going to retire for the evening." She bows her head and departs.
    Maegdin nods to Ortrun. He bends over and picks up his pack. 'I'm going to check in on Eskild, and then I'm for bed as well.' He raises his hand in farewell and makes his way back further into the inn.

    Greenstand looks up at the ceiling. "Hey, innkeeper, do you charge extra for rooms with a starry view?"
    Anlaf glares at the man. 'Oh, you're one of those, huh? Mind your tongue, joker, or you can sleep in the stables.'

    Greenstand asks innocently, "How's the roof on the stable?"
    Trumodir stretches and lets out a big yawn. "Time for sleep!" she says, and stumps off to find a bed.
    Anlaf looks over at him as he begins to clean up the dishes. 'Keep it up and you can find out for yourself,' he says. 'Damned jesters, thinking they're so damned funny. "Oh, what a nice view?" "I like to eat under the open air!" Bastards, all of you.' He grumbles as he cleans up.
  12. ramz711

    ramz711 New Member

    Chapter 20: The Lonesome Road

    Minabel stretches her arms and swings out of bed. Time to move on to a new dusty place.
    Trumodir stretches out her muscles. It's time for adventure!
    Maegdin makes his way up the stairs from his room, rubbing the small of his back and rolling his shoulders as he does. 'I swear, Anlaf stuffs the mattresses with potatoes,' he mutters as he sits down at a table. 'Anlaf! Could do with something to eat before we head out!' he calls.
    Anlaf shouts back, 'Just a minute! Or you can make yourself useful and get it yourself! Damned Rangers...' he trails off as he heads off to the kitchen.
    Trumodir rolls over on what is offered in place of a mattress and grumbles to herself as she stands up, looking around for her pack.
    Greenstand stifles a groan as he enters the room. 'I think next time I visit here, I may just try the stable.'
    Minabel puts on her dress and stuffs a tunic and pants into her pack. The Eglan girl assured her that she would be more comfortable in this dusty land wearing something different.
    Bialver slowly pries his eyes open, and stares up at the holes in the ceiling.

    Miriaden pushes open the door to the Forsaken Inn, her nose wrinkling a little at the smell. Some things never changed. Heading towards the hearth, she stops a waitress and orders a mug of coffee.
    Greenstand heads over to the fire for a pipe or three to start the day.
    Ortrun strides out, swinging her staff loosely in her hand before strapping it to her back. The barest of smirks crosses her face as she sees the discomfort written plainly on everyone’s faces. “I thought you folks were supposed to be accustomed to rough sleeping,” she comments, walking up to the dais and craning her neck to see out the hole in the roof.
    Greenstand replies, "I'm used to sleeping out-of-doors, but no one warned me about these beds!"
    Minabel wrinkles her nose as she enters the common room. Nothing like the smell of twenty dusty unwashed travelers in the morning.
    Bialver hears Trumodir stirring about, and calls out in Valish, "Are we in a desert, a swamp, or a bog?"
    Minabel sits at one of the empty tables far away from the others. "A cup of cider, a loaf of white bread and some cream and berries, please."
    Trumodir hollers back at Bialver, "can't you smell where we are?"
    Bialver sniffs deeply and replies "Someplace that needs cleaning?"

    Maegdin shakes his head at Anlaf's grumbling. He looks over at Ortrun and shakes his head. 'I expect a mattress to be more comfortable than the ground, not less so.' He turns to Trumodir. 'Any change with Eskild, or is he still sleeping?'
    Trumodir responds, "Still sleeping, poor boy, but sleep is oft the sign of healing." She adds, "at least he's no longer in such pain that sleep is impossible."
    Anlaf stomps back out of the kitchen with a large pot of (rather thin) gruel. He thumps it down on the table and gestures to the bowls already laid out. 'This is what we have. Take it or leave it.' He looks over at Miriaden. 'And we ain't got none of that coffee stuff. We've got tea, and beer.'
    Ortrun rolls her eyes at the steady stream of complaints. She thumps her staff twice on the wood, furrowing her brow when no response from above is forthcoming. She shoves alongside Annie, remarking sideways, "The beer is the safer bet. End of the day it tastes better, as well."
    Greenstand asks, "Do you have anything I could take to my horse?"

    Maegdin shakes his head and begins to spoon himself out a bowl of what can perhaps charitably be called porridge. He follows Anlaf's gaze to Annie. 'Ah, good, you're back. What news?'
    Miriaden frowns a little at Anlaf and quips, "Somebody got up on the wrong side of the bed? Tea will be fine." She says gently. She yawns a little and looks at Otrun with a little smile. "I wouldn't trust the beer here… makes you see things." She whispers to the Eglan with a teasing smile.
    Minabel looks at Greenstand and says, "Nothing here is fit for any living being. I would not give this bread to Brianna".
    Anlaf grunts at Annie and hangs a kettle over the hearth. He looks to Greenstand. 'What, hay's not good enough for him? Then he can go browsing for all I care.'
    Bialver decides that the path of least resistance is, if not advisable, at least the best available option, and pours himself half a mug of gruel, which he tops up with Anlaf's dreadful cider
    Greenstand sighs. "I never really appreciated just how good the fare at the Comb and Wattle Inn was until now."

    Miriaden looks over her shoulder before turning to face Matt. "The road itself should be clear enough, though there seems to be a few camps of the enemy forming amidst more of the ruins. We should avoid those, I think."
    Ortrun arches a single brow. "I had my first mug of Anlaf's beer when I was twelve summers. I can still see the relics I search for perfectly well." She receives her mug and throws half of it back before slamming it down on the counter.
    Minabel takes a sip of the cider and immediately begins to retch. She fights the urge to vomit and quietly spits out the mouthful of cider into her napkin.
    Bialver stirs the gruel and cider together with his knife, closes hid eyes and drains the mug
    Trumodir growls to herself, being affected by the bad mood of the others and pulling a honey cake from her pocket, she begins nibbling on it
    Bialver shudders and fixes himself another mug
    Minabel eyes Trumodir's honey cake longingly and then miserably begins to nibble at her stale bread.
    Bialver gesture toward the fire "You could toast that" he tells Minabel.
    Greenstand begins to seriously ponder heading out to the stable and trying out whether humans can digest hay.

    Maegdin nods at Annie. 'Then we'd best stick to the Road, then. I intended as much, unless our guide has other ideas?' He gestures to Ortrun with his spoon before taking a taste of his porridge. He pauses, swallows, then pushes the bowl away slightly before taking a piece of hardtack from his bag. He sets about chewing it.
    Miriaden gives Ortrun a little shrug and then waits for her to comment to Matt.
    Minabel looks at Bialver, "Do you think that would kill it? I think something is alive on this piece of bread?
    Bialver rolls his eyes and reminds his kinswoman, <V>"They don't like it when you kill and eat the waiters"
    Trumodir shoots back, <V>"but they richly deserve it here, although I wouldn't eat their flesh."
    Minabel impales her piece of bread on the end of her knife and roasts it on the fire near the table.
    Bialver fixes himself a third mug of cider and gruel, pours it down his throat, and stomps outside to see to Utstending

    Ortrun shakes her head brusquely. "The Road is there for a reason. Camps of half-orcs and red-furred Wargs roam these lands. I do not think we should risk another battle, especially with the boy wounded. We would seem easier prey." She tosses back the other half of her beer, and concludes, "The Road is the wisest choice."
    Greenstand settles into another pipe and returns his attention to his new companions. "How far is it to this destination of ours?"
    Maegdin nods to Ortrun as he finishes his piece of biscuit. He brushes crumbs off his hands, and stands up. 'Then we'd best be getting going. Finish your food, and get your horses ready. I'll go see to Eskild and getting him ready to travel.' With that, he heads back towards the rooms, leaving the others in the common room.
    Miriaden quickly finishes her tea and takes the now empty cup back to Anlaf with a little smile. She hadn't even unpacked anything from her return so she had nothing to gather.

    Trumodir starts for the door, saying to nobody in particular, "The air is more breathable outside"
    Bialver slings his pack over his shoulder and strolls out into the morning air. He takes a deep breath and whistles for his mare, who presently comes trotting up, looking better fed and rested than all the company put together
    Minabel follows the group outside and fetches Brianna from the stable
    Greenstand looks through the ceiling. "Well, the weather seems rather nice outside. I may as well stretch my legs before we head out."
    Trumodir comes back in to announce: "It's raining, better get our your hoods.”
    Miriaden heads towards the door, already hooded and she chuckles at Tru. "Way ahead of you."
    Trumodir smiles at Ortrun. She has been enjoying her company as they ride together, so she volunteers again to take her on Marr.

    Maegdin makes his way out of the inn, supporting Eskild as he goes. The boy is bundled against the wet and cold, and looks somewhat pale.
    Ortrun nods and strides over, clutching the back of the saddle and swinging up. Harris swoops down with a wet, flapping scree of discomfort, wobbling as he perches on his mistress's leg. Grimacing at the weather, Ortrun pulls what she can of her cloak over top him as a stream of water spills off.
    Maegdin scowls as Eskild as he mutters something. 'That's nonsense, and I won't hear it. You're riding with Bialver, and that's final. It's either that, or I strap you over your saddle like a sack. Your choice.'
    Greenstand frowns towards Maegdin and Eskild. "Will he be alright traveling in this weather?"
    Miriaden takes her still saddled horse from the stable boy and leads her trusty steed back to the others before she swings up into the saddle.
    Bialver winks at his kinswoman and greets Esk with a hearty "Hail, Hero! The wounds of an honorable battle make faint the hearts of maidens!" He asides to Trumodir, <V>’Whatever that means.’

    Maegdin chuckles slightly at Bialver's words, as Eskild first deflates slightly, but then puffs up with pride. The Ranger helps the Breelander over to Bialver's horse and then helps him up into the saddle. 'Keep a close eye on him, and let Annie or me know if he seems unwell.'
    Trumodir retorts, <V>"no maidens here, cousin!"
    Greenstand notices the condition of the stable as he collects his horse Elmer. "It's a lucky thing there weren't any horse thieves about like there were over at the Pony the other night!"
    Maegdin looks over at Ortrun, up behind Trumodir. 'You could ride Eskild's horse, if you like. Otherwise, we'll just have to tie his reins to one of our saddles.'
    Bialver nods, and arranges his cloak so it covers Esk's head and shoulders.

    Ortrun slides off Trumodir's horse, balancing Harris carefully on her arm as she walks over to Eskild's horse. Regarding the creature with extreme discomfort, she eventually clambers up and grips the reins, nudging it gently to pull up to the others.
    Bialver asks Trumodir, <V> "She can ride? But why has she no horse?"
    Maegdin nods as Ortrun climbs up on Eskild's horse. He calls over Randir and swings up into the saddle. 'Well, then. If we're all ready, let's be on our way. If we have fortune, we can make Ost Guruth before dark.' With that, he sets off down the Road at a canter.
    Miriaden nudges her horse onward and takes up the rear of the group.
    Minabel puts on her cloak and wraps it tightly around her body. She swings up on to her saddle and follows the others onto the road.
    Greenstand dumps the ashes out of his pipe, stows it in his hat, and sets off following the others.
    Bialver clucks to his mare, and she steps softly off, barely jogging the lad clinging tightly to Bialver's waist

    The day's journey passes uneventfully, apart from the rain. As the sun goes down behind Weathertop, the company finally comes to Ost Guruth, a ruined fortress which commands a wide view over the Road.
    Greenstand looks around at the walls of Ost Guruth. "Remarkable," he says to himself, "I had no idea there were places like this so near."
    Maegdin turns to Ortrun. 'I think it's best if you go ahead of us. I know your folk are less than trusting of outsiders.'
    Bialver sidles over to Greenspan and whispers "there's a wizard here. you know"
    Trumodir also stares open-mouthed at the size of the ruin. Turning to Greenstand she mutters, "I've never seen anything like this before." She adds, "There must have been a great number of people who lived here when it was first built"

    Ortrun’s face had grown more and more strained as they neared Ost Guruth, and at Matt’s words she positively winced. Sliding off her borrowed horse, she brings out Harris to rest on her shoulder as she pushes back her hood and strides in. Espying a white-haired figure in the center, she makes her way over and beckons the others.
    Greenstand turns to Bialver wide-eyed. "A true wizard? Or do you merely mean some conjurer of cheap tricks?"
    Minabel looks at the white-haired figure with suspicion
    Maegdin climbs off his horse as they pass the gates of the fortress. Leading Randir by the reins, he walks over to the elder. He bows his head in respectful greeting.
    Miriaden looks around the encampment, sliding off her own horse and leading it further in as she follows Ortrun.
    Bialver gazes intently at Greenspan, and says in a dramatic voice "A great, great wizard. The equal of any you have ever heard of"
    Trumodir keeps muttering, "and all of stone! And so huge!"
    Bialver continues impressively "He speaks the tongues of all beasts....and they tell to him the news of all lands"

    Ortrun dips her head respectfully to the white-haired man. “Elder Frederic,” she begins in a quick, humble tone. “I realize your beliefs about outsiders entering our home. Their errand is most dire, far beyond the threats we are accustomed to, and I have seen it with my own eyes. I have been guiding them through the lands, and now we are in need of supplies.”
    Bialver says "So woe betide you if you are not what you seem. All things are open to him!"
    Greenstand is overwhelmed at the thoughts of wizards and of great, stone fortresses as he follows the others. He automatically bows when brought to the elder, though his mind is elsewhere.
    Bialver watches Greenstand and snickers
    Trumodir gives her kinsman a look of disapproval

    Frideric gives the strangers an appraising glance before looking back to Ortrun. He nods. 'I trust your judgement, Ortrun. In fact, I cannot say that I am completely surprised to see strangers here. One has already come while you've been away, and he's told me of strange doings both east and west.' He looks to the others. 'You are welcome here. We'll spare what we have to give, and speed you on your way. Whichever of you is the leader here may wish to speak to this stranger. Radagast, he said his name was.'
    Maegdin bows his head gratefully to Frideric as the man speaks, but suddenly starts at the name. 'Radagast, you say? I hadn't heard he'd come west of the Mountains! Where is he?'
    Trumodir gasps - "Radagast!” she exclaims. “So he is here? I would like to speak with him"
    Ortrun frowns, the news of a second stranger causing her to twist and regard Maegdin with a suspicious glance. At his reaction to the name, her scowl deepens even further. "I would have words with you before we depart again," she hisses in a low voice.

    Bialver shrugs to Trumodir and sketches a pantomime of a pointy hat
    Trumodir turns to Maegdin."So you know him too? He it was who sent me to the Western lands"
    Greenstand stirs out of his ponderings at the exclamations. "Who is this Radagast?"
    Frideric takes in the reactions with an inscrutible expression. 'He says he's a wizard,' he says to Greenstand. 'He's up in the tower,' he says to the others, pointing over his shoulder as he does. 'I trust Ortrun to show you where you can find beds and food. Let us know what you have need of, and we'll give it, if we can spare it.'
    Miriaden smiles a little and chuckles. "Interesting..." She murmurs to herself.
    Maegdin looks at Trumodir. 'I know him by name and reputation, but no more. I'd like to get his counsel on our errand, though.' He turns back to Ortrun. 'Of course,' he says. 'Though I think right now a fire, a roof, and some hot food wouldn't go amiss.'
    Bialver rolls his eyes ecstatically at the mention of hot food

    Ortrun shifts her jaw around in dissatisfaction, but turns back to Frideric and bows her head. "As you wish, Elder. I was not able to receive any wares on this trip, so I hope one of the other hunters can take my place while I lead this… group." Offering a tight smile to Frideric once more, she heads off in a good clip to one of the half-ruined buildings. "This way," she calls back.
    Greenstand says, "I wonder if he's anything like Gandalf. I always loved listening to his tales whenever he'd pass through the Bree-lands."
    Maegdin follows Ortrun, glancing over at Eskild from time to time. Meanwhile, Frideric watches the strange company head off into the settlement.
    Bialver half supports and half carries Eskild, murmuring encouragement to him
    Miriaden follows Bialver and Eskild, keeping her eyes on the lad.
    Greenstand eagerly follows the others deeper into Ost Guruth. He asks Ortrun, "Who made these structures? The stonework is like to that around Bree, but I don't recognize the symbols carved into the stone."

    Ortrun leads the company into an open space, one of its more attractive features being a sturdy roof. Cots and bedrolls were scattered about, and a hearty fire crackled in the middle. Ortrun kept her head down as she walked to the back, motioning briefly at some beds in the corner. "We'll take these," she orders, then glances at Greenstand impassively. "I do not know."
    Maegdin lowers his hood and wrings out his cloak as the company finally comes under a roof.
    Bialver lowers Eskild down onto a bed in what looks like the corner best protected from drafts.
    Trumodir heads over to Eskild to look more closely at his wound and is happy to note that there is more color in his face than there was the day before.

    Bialver looks innocently at the floor and says brightly "The stars have seven points. How charming!"
    Maegdin glances over at Greenstand from where he is looking over Eskild. 'They were made by the Dúnedain, long ago.' He turns to Eskild. 'Thank you for speaking for us. Could you tell me where to find your healer? I want to have someone take a close look at Eskild to make sure he's healing properly, especially after being in the rain.'
    Trumodir turns to Ortrun and asks if she can heat some water for an herbal tea to give to Eskild
    Minabel walks around the ruins and finding the stables and seeing that there is already a horse tied up there, puts Brianna in a stall and walks back to the campfire where the others are gathered.
    Miriaden heads over towards a cot, pulling her packs and weapons from her person and setting them down to claim a bed. She heads to the fire, pulling her wet cloak and hood off, wringing them out.

    Bialver makes sure Eskild is comfortable, then comes out to take of Utsending’s tack and saddle, and gives her a good rubdown before he goes in search of food for himself
    Trumodir follows Miri's example and claims a lower bunk for herself
    Minabel lays down her sleeping bag next to the fire and puts her pack with the tunic and pants down at one end of the bag and lays down with her head on the pack. After a few minutes, she begins to drift off to sleep.
    Greenstand pulls a leaf of paper and piece of charcoal from his pack. "The star indicates Men of Westernesse, clearly enough. But I was talking of the emblem upon the arches above." He begins sketching the strange device.

    Ortrun nods, beckoning both Maegdin and Trumodir over to a woman making her rounds. "This is Strangsig, our healer," she introduces lightly, as the two women clasp each others' shoulders. "She will take care of Eskild." The blonde healer nods cordially enough, and points Trumodir to the corner. "Kettle's over there. I'll have a look at 'im if you wish. He looks rough."
    Maegdin nods to Ortrun. 'My thanks.' He turns to Strangsig. 'As well he should. He caught an orc-arrow in his side not three days ago. He's lucky to be alive.'
    Bialver peels off his mail, and spreads it out near the fire to dry. He takes a rucksack and, with a nod to the others, wanders out into the rain
    The weather-beaten lines in the healer's face seem to deepen as she glances towards Eskild. "Orc-arrow, you say?" she almost squawks. "Why did you fools go and tangle with orcs? Nasty brutes, they are, he's lucky to have made it." She glances at Matt's garb with a jaundiced eye before going over to kneel next to the boy.

    Maegdin takes the mistrustful look with a weary acceptance. 'I know that well. There was a group of them out in the Weather Hills. We put paid to them, though. They'll not be troubling any decent folk any more.'
    Ortrun narrows her eyes before walking over to a bedroll and sitting cross-legged, feeding a ruffled and grumpy Harris some chunks of fresh meat. Meanwhile, Strangsig pauses long enough in her healing to look up at Matt. "Well, that's right good of you, at least," she mutters. "Orcs are nobody's friends here. What you were doing in the Weather Hills is none of my business, but I reckon y'should take it up either with Frideric or that stranger in the tower. Lot of meddling fools, strangers are. It'll be good if you don't bring any injuries back here." She sniffs and begins mixing a poultice.
    Maegdin smiles slightly. 'I plan to go speak with your other visitor, just as soon as I've had a chance to sit, get warm, and have a pipe. You have my thanks for looking him over. We took care of him as well as we could, but this rain can't have done him any good.'

    Ortrun scoffs, pulling away the boy's shirt and feeling his skin before daubing some thick paste on. "You're right 'bout that. He's all clammy, poor child. Need to be careful he doesn't catch a chill, or that could well be the death of him. Keep him still and warm for a good few days." She gets up, going to rifle through a chest for a roll of bandages. She glances to Annie. "Throw some stones in that kettle, wouldcha? They'll heat right up, I'll put them on the bandage."
    Maegdin scowls slightly as he begins to pack his pipe. 'A few days, you say? I'm afraid we don't have that time to spare. If the weather clears, we need to set out again tomorrow.'

    The healer sits straight up, jutting out her chin and jabbing a finger towards Maegdin. "You want this boy to live, you'll do nothing of the sort! He will die if you drag him back on a horse 'r otherwise, mark my words. If you are in such a hurry, leave him here." She rips off a length of bandage with unnecessary force and begins tying it around Eskild's torso.
    Maegdin sighs as he lights his pipe. 'Let's leave that for tomorrow. For now, I want to go talk to Radagast. I'll be back to check on him soon. Thank you, again.' He turns and walks out of the sleeping area, puffing his pipe as he goes.
    Strangsig squints, but eventually waves a hand. "Not a problem. I don't like you folk, but I can't let a boy die. That's just not right." She points at Ortrun, and says, "Talk to that addle-minded girl if y'need anything. She knows the camp well, but tell your folk to let the boy rest."
  13. ramz711

    ramz711 New Member

    Interlude: An Exchange in Ost Guruth

    Maegdin sits comfortably on his bedroll, a half-eaten bowl of stew on the ground next to him and a pipe in his mouth. He sits quietly tending to his sword, occasionally taking a glance over at Eskild.
    Ortrun sat with her hands clasped in front of her, face tight with pain as the healer tended to her arm. Apparently, she trusted her own people's healing far over Minabel's attempts. She hisses a bit as Strangsig finished the bandage, the two exchanging quiet words otherwise. Occasionally both Eglain would glance to Matt, Ort with a surly expression especially.
    Bialver wanders in out of the cold, a loaf of coarse bread in one hand, and a hunk of cheese in the other. He glances at Esk, then the others, shrugs, and hunkers down near the fire to toast the bread
    Maegdin catches the Eglain out of the corner of his eye, but says nothing. He raises a hand in greeting to Bialver.
    Bialver asks "How's he doing, then?"

    Maegdin looks over at Bialver. He shrugs and says around his pipestem, 'He's sleeping, which is all for the best. I've not been able to take a closer look at him, because they glare daggers at me if I get close to him.' He gestures towards the Eglain women with his pipe.
    Bialver gives a half-smile. "Best trust their healing, then"
    The healer looks up, weather-beaten lines in her face appearing to sink even deeper when Bialver asks about the boy. "He's doing fine, if you all would let him rest for a week. See, his color is improving. You leave him be." She scowls, then turns back to Ortrun with an accusatory glare as if it was all the woman's fault. Ortrun half-scowls back, but seems to shrink a bit.
    Bialver raises his eyebrows at the healer's brusqueness. He mutters just audibly "'course, we could have let him rest right where he fell with that Orc arrow in him."
    Maegdin shakes his head and goes back to whetting his sword. 'I make no apologies. Our errand is urgent, and cannot wait. Would you have rather we left him in the wilderness, or at the Forsaken Inn?'

    The healer brandishes a pot of salve at him, the only thing that happened to be in hand. "Aye! It may be the custom of your people to allow kinsmen to die pursuing an 'errand', that is your business. But here, we look after our own." She jams the salve back in a chest and glances at Ortrun. "You're done. Talk some sense into your fool...companions." An eyebrow goes up in suspicion before the healer strides off. Ortrun sighs and buries her face in her hands.
    Bialver studies the ceiling
    Maegdin sighs and continues to tend to his blade. 'The boy is of age, and under no bond to go further than he will.'
    Bialver mentions quietly to the ceiling "and was mighty keen to come with us. 'stead o' staying home in Trestlebridge and cowering"

    The healer completely ignores Matt, the only sign of her indignance being a sharp snort and flared nostrils. Ortrun half-growls, then gets to her feet and grabs her staff, walking over to Matt. "You're certainly helping," she says curtly.
    Maegdin looks up, grey eyes betraying nothing of his thoughts. 'Beg pardon?'
    Bialver finishes his half of the loaf and looks around for Trumodir, who is nowhere in sight.
    Bialver slowly gets up and follows the Eglain over to Matt's bedroll, where she is currently standing, glaring down at the pretty-much unruffled Ranger.

    Ortrun sits down, laying her staff across her lap, face tight with anger. "You ask for a guide through the Lone-lands. I do that. What was /not/ part of the deal was involving /more/ of your people. This 'Radagast' here! Disturbing the peace, /my/ people! And now your obstinate words and treatment of the boy are only serving to ostracize me from my people. Do you know how much I've risked? What game are you playing at?"
    Bialver looks up at the name "Radagast" - a name well known to all Beornings. "Where is he, exactly?". he asks

    Maegdin answers Bialver first, waving a hand towards the tower. 'In there, I believe. I've yet to speak to him. But he is not one of "my people," as you say,' he says, looking back to Ortrun. 'He has no master or folk, save for the birds and beasts. And my errand is no game, child. Things move in the North and the East which threaten all lands and folks. Set against that, the life of any one of us, even one so young or with so much promise as Eskild there, is as naught. If a defence is not set, the Shadow will fall on us all.'
    Bialver mutters, "not to put to fine a point on the thing"

    Ortrun snarls and brings her staff around in a short burst, aiming to crack it none-too-gently on his thigh. "Then your people are cruel and selfish. Taking whatever you want, not caring about the lives who follow you or the people you disturb." She mutters a curse, scooting back a foot or so. "How bad could this so-called Shadow be? We've been left in peace for this long."
    Bialver straightens up, but doesn't look at the Eglan. He enunciates clearly "And if it's bad enough to blight all life east of the sea?"

    Maegdin takes the blow without comment, but then lays aside his pipe and sword and stands to his full height, head and shoulders taller than the woman. 'And why do you think your people have been able to dwell so long in peace?' he asks softly. A stern edge begins to creep into his voice. 'Who built the ruins in which you shelter? Who made the things which you gather and sell for your food? By whose swords and blood are these lands, and all the North, kept safe? Peace, you say? You would know it little but for our vigil. What safety would there be, if the Dúnedain had all departed, or gone into the grave? I have walked the lands between the Mountains and the Sea for more years than you know, child. I have seen things to chill the heart of the stoutest warrior. The blood I have spilt from my veins is writ in the scars I bear. I have buried far more than my share of kith and kin. And I would do it all again, and gladly, if it meant but one more day of peace and freedom for simple folk. Do not speak to me of sacrifice or of loss.'

    Bialver looks at Ortrun and shrugs with an I-tried-to-tell-you look on his face
    Ortrun falls silent for a moment, clearly unprepared for his answer. "Well," she finally says, voice controlled but no more pleased, "clearly your people's vigil was not entirely successful." She gestures, almost mockingly, to the ruins surrounding them. "Perhaps give some thought to how people /want/ to live, rather than what /you/ believe is right for everyone."

    Maegdin looks down at her, eyes hard as steel. 'And yet your people live in peace, though there are foes but a day's hard march from this place who would gladly lay your home in ruin and devour your folk, were you not ceaselessly defended. Folk may live as they will, so long as they do not serve the Enemy.' He settles himself back on his bedroll and takes up his sword, drawing the whetstone along the edge. 'Both you and Eskild may do as you will. We will continue our journey east, to the Hoarwell and beyond. Whether you come with us is your matter. I am no man's lord.'

    Ortrun grits her teeth, turning to leave. "Kindly do not disrespect my people any more. Our lives are difficult enough as it is. Your problems and beliefs are not wanted here." She whirls around, stalking towards the entrance with the sharp rap of wood on stone.
    Maegdin shakes his head as she walks away, but says nothing. The only sound is the soft scrape of the whetstone.
  14. ramz711

    ramz711 New Member

    Chapter 21: A Rough Awakening

    As the Eglain begin to stir on the second dawn since the company came to Ost Guruth, Maegdin sits thoughtfully on his bedroll, looking across the room at Eskild lying on his sickbed. The Ranger sighs and pulls out his pipe, lighting it with an ember from the fire.
    Bialver wanders in out of the dawning light, a sack over his shoulder and a tired smile on his face. He sits down by his kinswoman's bedroll and stretches out his legs
    Eskild moves slightly and takes in a sharp breath from the pain of his wound. The worst of a fever has passed, but he still feels weak and lethargic.
    Miriaden sat at the fire, her sword laying across her lap as she slowly and rhythmically sharpens the blade. Her eyes remain fixed on her blade. Occasionally her eyes lift to regard the rest of their company with a thoughtful look.
    Minabel opens her eyes and looks around at the others just beginning to stir from bed. As she slides out of her bedroll, she sees the neat bundle left next to her. She unwraps it and sees a tunic. With a sigh, she puts it on.
    Trumodir rolls over at the sound of her kinsman and opens her eyes, looking quizzically at his sack and hoping he might have found a beehive with honey in it.

    Bialver cuts his eyes sideways at the Breelander. "Not your colour?", he asks
    Minabel looks at Bialver. "At least it is red, and it has a certain style to it, although kind of plain in cut."
    Bialver turns away from Minabel's indignant glare and opens the sack to let Trumodir see the comb inside
    Trumodir looks up at Mina as well, and smiles broadly at the change of outfit. "NOW she's being more realistic" she murmurs.
    Ortrun had made herself scarce since the events of two nights ago, and the few times the Eglan was seen, she refused to meet their eyes and simply walked by, face tight with anger. Today, however, she stopped by the entrance to the healing building, leaning against the door and watching the group inside with slightly-less-angry expression. She didn't make any move to approach them yet.

    Maegdin catches sight of Eskild's movement and puts his pipe away. He walks quickly across the room to the lad's bed. 'How are you feeling?' he asks as he lays a hand on his forehead. 'You've had us worried the last few days.'
    Miriaden arches a brow as she overhears Mina's comments, murmuring something about how it isn't realistic enough. Her eyes follow Maegdin to Eskild's bedside, lowering her whetstone to watch the lad and Ranger.
    Trumodir follows Maegdin, a motherly look of concern on her face.
    Eskild turns his head slightly and slowly starts to take in the change of surroundings. "Like a tree fell on me. Where are we?"
    Bialver pulls Hallam the Bard aside, and seems to be quizzing him intently
    Trumodir calls back to the group, "Could someone put some water on the fire so I can make an infusion for the boy?"
    Minabel nibbles a little bread she had in her pack and walks over to the Eglan girl who sold her the tunic. "Do you have a looking glass on you?" The Eglan girl shakes her head no and looks at Eskild, clearly more concerned with his condition than the Breelander’s question.
    Bialver asks the Bard one more question, and trots off to the well for water

    Maegdin smiles slightly at Eskild. 'We're in Ost Guruth, round about halfway between Weathertop and the Last Bridge. You've been in and out of wakefulness the last couple of days. Let me take a look at that wound of yours.' He moves to begin pulling off the boy's tunic and undershirt.
    Bialver returns a short time later, with his waterskin full and dripping, and a leathern bucket of water sloshing by his side
    Miriaden pulls a kettle from her pack and hands it to Bialver to fill with the water. "Here..." She says to him. "Fill this and lets get it on the fire."
    Ortrun narrows her eyes as everyone clusters around the boy, fingers flexing around her quarterstaff. She glances at Harris, perched on her shoulder, and whistles softly. The bird takes off, gliding in a smooth line to land on one of the empty bunks, squawking softly as he peers at them all with a beady eye. Ortrun remains sullenly at the door, for now, simply watching.
    Bialver nods his thanks to the Ranger and fills the kettle, but leaves her to position it on the coals
    Miriaden crouches next to the fire, setting the kettle in its proper place in the fire. "Thank you." She murmurs up to him.
    Maegdin catches sight of Ortrun over by the doors. 'Could you go or send for the healer?' he calls. 'I'd like to have another set of eyes take a look at him, and she's been quite concerned over him these last couple days.'

    Eskild lets out a long breath. He doesn't try to fight Maegdin, though he can't offer much help either. The boy falls silent as he tries to discern reality from fevered delirium. The giant purple wolves definitely couldn't have been real.
    Trumodir goes to her pack to search for a small jar of unguent that she guards carefully. "This will help his wounds to heal", she says to Maegdin as she brings it back, "and the infusion will help him to feel more comfortable."
    Ortrun frowns, but gives him a single nod and walks over to Strangsig. Leaning in, the two women exchange a brief conversation, Ortrun appearing more and more irritated, before finally sighing and pointing towards Eskild. The healer eyes the Eglan once more with a jaundiced eye before walking over. "Let me see him!" she orders brusquely.
    Trumodir adds, "I am known as a healer among my people, and this unguent is often used on wounds."
    Bialver, hearing the sharpness in Trumodir's voice, comes over to stand behind her
    Maegdin carefully unwinds the bandages from Eskild's chest and removes the now-soiled linen pads which had lain against the wound. While the bleeding has stopped, the wound is still red and inflamed. Overall, it seems much improved from even a couple of days ago.
    Miriaden watches the kettle, and once it comes to a rolling boil, carefully pulls it from the campfire and brings it over to Tru. "For the tea…"

    Maegdin steps back and lets the healer have her way with the patient. 'Well, it seems like Radagast was true to his word. It's good to have a wizard about, especially one so skilled in herblore and leechcraft.'
    Trumodir looks at Miri thankfully and puts some leaves and other things into a small bowl, and pours the hot water over them. Then she positions the bowl so the aroma can waft up to Eskild's head and he can breath it in.
    Miriaden gets out of the way, standing back to let the healers do their work.
    Trumodir tells Maegdin "we often use this to relieve the stress that comes from the pains suffered in battle."
    The healer glances up to Maegdin, sniffing once to acknowledge his point. "Brown-robed fellow? Aye, he's a strange one, but knows a thing or two." Her fingers lightly probe around the wound, before she snaps at Ortrun, "Clean bandages in the chest over yonder, and some of that poultice. Get moving!" Ort grumbles but moves off obediently, fetching and bringing the supplies.

    Bialver watches the scene around Eskild for a moment, then goes to his pack and digs out a somewhat deflated purse, weighs it in his hands, and heads out the door in the direction of the few merchants doughty enough to trade here
    Minabel watches the scene developing around Eskild as she eats an apple. Clearly her services are not needed.
    Trumodir turns to the healer and says, "I'd be glad of the clean bandages but I'll be using this unguent and will not need your poultices"
    Eskild sneezes from the steam, though his attention is snapped back to his injury when the healer starts poking at it. Much as he hates all the fussing, he can't find the strength to repel them.

    Ortrun winces slightly, shaking her head at Trumodir from behind Strangsig's back as the squawky healer rounds on Trumodir. "Listen here, wild-lady! This boy's in this here camp, and he'll be tended to by a healer in this here camp. Which is me. You all brought him in a horrible state, so get! Let me do my work and save your unguents for when you're out and away from here."
    Miriaden 's lips twitched a little as she tried to suppress her smile. Healers were very territorial in every culture, it seemed.
    Maegdin looks over at Trumodir. 'Better to just let her have her way. She is right, after all.'
    Eskild winces from the sound of the healer's raised voice and moves a couple inches towards the other side of the bed.
    Trumodir growls deeply as her eyes narrow. "You touch him again and you won't like the result. I don't care where we are; he needs something you can't give him."

    Strangsig stands slowly and deliberately, placing her hands on her hips as she stares Trumodir down. "Get away from my patient, wild-lady. Funny thing, it's been /my/ healing which is fixing him, /not/ yours. If you have a problem, you take it up with Frideric. But shove that unguent down your throat and let me use my methods which have worked since you could barely walk." She sniffs again and takes the new bandages, a certain measure of anger in her movements now. "Damned foreigners..." she mutters under her breath.
    Trumodir growls more loudly as she puts her face right up to the healer's and says, slowly and clearly, "You have no idea how old I am, and you have no idea of the difference between your puny store of knowledge and mine. Back off before I get really angry!
    Maegdin speaks to Strangsig as she begins to tend to Eskild. 'How soon do you think it will be before we can set back out on the road?' He quickly steps between her and Trumodir as the latter grows angry. 'Trumodir, please! Peace! We are their guests.'

    Miriaden clears her throat gently and looks at Tru. "Tru, perhaps we should let the healer do her job in her own building. Save your healing agents for the wilds. We have a long journey ahead, yet."
    Trumodir retorts to Matt, "We can solve that by leaving! I can tend to Esk better in the wild than this woman can tend to him here!"
    Eskild winces as the pounding in his head only gets worse. "Stop...shouting..." His voice, however, is barely a hoarse whisper.
    Minabel wrinkles her nose at all this drama playing out around her.

    Strangsig had looked about ready to stab Trumodir through the eye with a needle, but at Matt and Annie's intervention, she backs down. Only a little, though. She moves around to Eskild, her husky voice unusually gentle as she tends to him. "Lie still now, boy, don't strain it. Still swollen, oh..." She glances up to Maegdin. "Depends. Being on a horse could tear his wound open again. If I stitch it, might last a little longer, but he'd be better walking. Look at how pale he is, his body's doing all it can to heal. Effort going into riding, traveling, or fighting could endanger his life. Weaken him."

    Trumodir says, through gritted teeth, "I warn you, you're pushing me too far! You won't like it if I get much angrier!"
    Maegdin takes a step closer to Trumodir and hisses at her under his breath. 'Calm yourself! You can take what care you wish when we set out once again, but while we are in this place, we have the duties of guests. They have given us no offence.'
    Trumodir hisses back, "if that woman pokes him one more time I'll give her a poke she won't forget!"
    Maegdin turns back to Strangsig. 'Then I suppose we can take a day or two of walking to give him further time to heal. I am sure our horses will be glad of the rest. Is there any way I could buy some of your unguent ere we go?
    Trumodir gives Maegdin a sharp look and growls again.
    Bialver strides through the door, and shouts to Trumodir "Cousin! good news!"
    Strangsig arches a brow at Maegdin, but gives him a polite-enough nod. "You could," she replies, slightly mollified. "I trust you have supplies of your own for stitches, should he need them? Since you all are so set on leaving. Not that I'll complain." She shoots a dirty look at Trumodir.

    Bialver, oblivious as always, bustles up to his kinswoman, babbling excitedly, half in Valish "Their bakstrofn here is not like that of the Landvættr and his húsfreyja, the water-spirit. But they will make us some honunghleifr!! Think of it! Out of the combs of skógarhunang I found in the night!!!"
    Miriaden stares at Bialver, furrowing her brows as she tries to understand what in Middle Earth he just said.
    Trumodir turns to Bialver with excitement in her eyes. His words seem to have distracted her from her confrontation with the healer.

    Maegdin sighs and looks down at Eskild for a time. He then glances over at Miriaden. <S>'Well, cousin, what think you? Can we spare one more day here while the boy heals? The Wizard seemed to think it best to move as soon as we could, but more haste, less speed, as they say. If we linger another day, the lad will be that much readier to ride.'
    Miriaden looked back to Maegdin and then to Eskild, lips pressing together before answering in a low voice. <S> "The boy needs to rest, but the more pressing need is to move. We could set out, though slowly. Cover some ground while letting him rest. Perhaps a waggon would be useful?"

    Trumodir goes over to Bialver to get a look at the honey he had found. "I'd like a bit of that to make more unguent for Eskild" she says.
    Bialver takes the other Beorning aside, talking and gesticulating excitedly. Is it possible that he has given the rangers a wink as he turns away?
    Bialver opens his bag and sits down, pulling out combs of wild honey and holding them up for Trumodir's inspection
    Eskild starts to sit up ignoring the burning pain in his side. His good arm is shaking from the effort of holding himself up.
    Trumodir smiles broadly as she smells the honey. "Ah! from local herbs! and good comb as well! These will be very useful!"

    Maegdin shakes his head at Miriaden's last suggestion. <S>'No. A waggon would only slow us down, especially after we cross the ford. As I imagine it would take two days of walking for him to be ready to ride, I think it better to stay one more night here. Perhaps Radagast can work his craft over him again. His wound is already far more healed than I would expect after less than a week.'
    Trumodir perks up her ears at the sound of Radagast's name. "That would be much more helpful than this woman's poultices!" she says.
    Miriaden nods a little to Maegdin, relenting easily enough. <S> "Alright. If anyone could help, he could. At least once we cross the river, we have the hope of elvish medicine as well. There must be one that can help him?"

    Strangsig shushes Eskild, gently guiding him back down. "Now, lad, just rest. I'm a-taking a good care of ya." She glares at Trumodir, offering a rather impolite gesture with one hand before turning her attention back to Eskild. She daubs a bit more poultice on, avoiding the still-open portion of the wound, before bandaging it tightly.
    Bialver drags his kinswoman to her feet "The býhúfr are quite close!! Come see! And we can visit Radagast of the fjölkyngisfólk on the way back!"
    Bialver nearly lifts her off her feet as he drags her out the door
    Trumodir follows her kinsman gladly; the further from that woman the better. She trusts that Radagast will take care of Eskild properly, and HE knows the healing properties of honey better than that woman who calls herself a healer.

    Maegdin smiles slightly. 'I don't think such drastic measures will be necessary,' he says to Miriaden. 'I think another night of rest will do him, and all of us, good. We can set out rested and well-fed early in the morning. In the meantime, we should do what we can to aid our hosts.'
    Miriaden nods to Maegdin. <S> "Shall I ask around to see how we might be able to do that, or is there something you already have in mind?"
    Maegdin shakes his head. 'Ask around,' he says in Westron. 'I'm sure there are things that always need doing. Are there not?' He turns to Ortrun and Strangsig as he says this last.

    Eskild reluctantly lies back down and without protest. "Radagast...what an odd name...who is he?"
    Miriaden nods once more, looking to Ortrun and Strangsig.
    Strangsig squints at Maegdin, but nods. "Aye, always lots to do. We all have our jobs. Ortrun here," she jabs a finger back at the woman, who bristles angrily, "was supposed to gather relics to sell. Now we may be short coin. I heal, Frideric oversees. We have hunters, cooks...there's never a shortage of jobs." She pauses, and asks, "Why you asking? Babbling away like that?"
    Eskild furrows his brow in concentration. "Heard you all talk mention him a few times is all."
    Maegdin lays a hand on Eskild's shoulder. 'He's a friend. That's all you need worry about now. You need your rest.' He looks up at Strangsig. 'Mayhap Annie and I could help your folk with the relics you've found thus far. We're both fairly knowledgeable about the old days; might be we could help you identify some of your finds so you could ask more for them.'
    Minabel adds, "if you need anyone to sew clothes for your people, I can do that. It is the least I can do to thank your people for this... um, outfit."
    Miriaden nods to Strangsig. "Yes, I'm sure we can help you with the relics."

    Strangsig snorts. "That's Ortrun's job, talk to her. Way her face has been screwed up like she's eaten a rotted bog-frog, good luck." She gazes at Mina with a tad more affection. "Well dearie, you could help me cut some fabric for bandages, or go talk to the ladies across camp."
    Minabel asks, "Do you have any silk? Silk bandages are the best."
    Maegdin gives Ortrun a look. 'Well? What say you? Can you stomach my helping you, or should I go see if I can bring in any game?
    Miriaden looks between Maegdin and Ortrun, not entirely sure what the source of the animosity was. She was unaware there had been any issues.
    Strangsig snorts. "Silk? You mean that wavy stuff that come out of spiders' bee-hinds? That type is sticky." Ortrun, meanwhile, side-eyes Matt. "S'pose so. Long as you don't go on another rant about old vow writ into your veins or 'your' people's heirlooms. Ours now." Harris screeches in affirmation.

    Eskild closes his eyes briefly silently cursing his injured condition.
    Miriaden sighs a little as she gives Ortrun a look. Turning to Maegdin, she murmurs quietly. "Perhaps I will go ask around to see how we might help."
    Maegdin glances at Miriaden. 'Maybe you should help her,' he says quietly. 'I think I'll go see if I can bring in some meat for the settlement. Or mayhap I could fletch arrows.'
    Miriaden gives Maegdin an understanding nod, then looks at Ortrun. "Why don't you show me what you have currently?"
    Ortrun glances at Annie, folding both hands over her staff and nodding slightly. "Fair enough. You two..." she wavers a finger between Matt and Annie, "Related? That means no rants from you, either. Still, could use the help. The ruins I found you at were the farthest afield I've had to go."

    Maegdin smiles slightly at Ortrun and Miriaden before looking down at Eskild. 'Don't feel too bad, lad,' he says. 'A wound like that doesn't heal in a day. Get your rest and you'll be better prepared to travel on the morrow.'
    Miriaden glanced to Maegdin before answering Ortrun. "We're cousins..." Close enough, anyways. "Do you have those relics with you, or here in Ost Guruth?" She asks Ortrun.
    Maegdin gives Eskild one last look as he heads out into the camp in search of a task to keep him busy. He whistles softly as he goes.
    Ortrun replies, "Some with me, but most in my corner of Ost Guruth. That's where I sort them until I sell. I live here."
    Miriaden nods, unsurprised. She gestures toward the doorway and smiles. "Come, let's go have a look at what you have found. I am very curious." She waits for Ortrun to come along and then will follow her to her little corner.

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