The Tolkien Forum

Welcome to our forum! Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox! Plus you won't see ads ;)

Something Rotten in the Riddermark

chrysophalax

Dragon of Note
Joined
Feb 12, 2002
Messages
1,948
Reaction score
4
Location
Prowling the Withered Heath
A tall Rohirrim strode confidently toward the stable. He had heard tell that one of the Mearas was in the city, a rumour to which he could hardly give credit. The Mearas were always allowed to roam free upon the open plains not... To his disbelieving eyes, there was indeed one of the magnificent animals standing before him, alongside a tall, well-dressed (one might say, overly so) man. He went to the horse's side, his well-trained eye sweeping over every line for any sign of injury or mis-use, before fixing the stranger with a steely gaze.

Haluin returned the look with a wide grin. "Greetings, man of Rohan. I am...Halfast and this..." he gestured toward the hay on which Hengist was perched, "is Hengist, of this fair city. We've come for the Festival, as have you, by the look of you." Haluin made his way past Taetho and pulled Hengist out of the hay. "Come, old man. Let us see what we can find for breakfast." Mumbling his agreement, Hengist pulled hay from his clothes and hair, then nodded to Eorache in passing. The man could be insufferable at times, so he was glad Haluin was hungry for once, giving them an excuse to leave quickly.

Hengist squinted in the bright sunlight, his head pounding. "Wipe that annoying grin of your face Haluin, before I..." Haluin help up a cautionary hand. !Ah, ah! Halfast, if you please! I know how your people act around Elvenkind. In any case, we need to find some food, then find where you go to enter the wrestling competition." The two had spoken earlier of the many contests that would be held over the course of the Festival and Haluin had expressed interest in the archery contest immediately. "I am not worthy to call myself one of the Eldar if I should lose." He said confidently and Hengist could only agree.
 
Last edited:

Daranavo

Hopeless Romantic
Joined
Jul 11, 2005
Messages
578
Reaction score
0
Location
Michigan
Several soldiers accompanied him as he approached the back entrance to the stable where Hengist was rumored to be. Daranavo’s outward sour demeanor spurred the eager men who wanted to see him put the outcast in his place. Perhaps even to stand witness and watch their Lieutenant boot him from the gate himself. As they walked, Daranavo unconsciously tightened and tugged on his gloves to ensure that they were fit snuggly upon his hands. Something he did often in times of stress or nervousness. In contrast however, Hengist had been on his mind more then once since he had left. He had been his friend and mentor for many years and it hurt Daranavo more then he would admit to see him go like he did. To jumble his thoughts further he contemplated the reason for his return. What would he say to him? Why did his old friend risk coming back? None of it made any sense to him and the closer he got to the stables, the more questions fluttered around in his mind.

The afternoon sun was bright but the wind felt cool upon the skin as it blew strongly through Edoras. The summer harvest celebration had always brought a crowd but this year the dusty streets swelled with them and barely no patch of grass was left that would suit a tent large enough for a man to sleep in comfortably. Several soldiers on horses trotted across Daranavo’s path and they waved to him as they passed by. The three Rohirrim soldiers that trailed along behind him snickered to one another as they grew anxious almost to the point that they might burst to the excitement. The stable was right in front of him and the Lieutenant spied the back end of one of the Mearas and the vagely familiar cloak of the very man that he was to duel against at the Festival. Though he could not remember the mans name offhand. Daranavo opened his mouth and was about to address him properly until he also saw Hengist and someone else next to him that he could not see very well due to the dark cloak that shrouded his face. He raised a brow as he came to a halt in the stable doorway. He brought a gloved hand to his mouth that suddenly went dry as he quickly fought to clear his mind of questions.

Upon seeing Daranavo, a smile began to grow upon the face of Hengist. However, a dark glare of a stare was all that was returned to him from his old friend as he looked to the mysterious man then back to Hengist once again. In a deep voice Daranavo boomed; “You should of stayed away Hengist, you are not welcome here!” His lower jaw jutted forward and his eyes pierced the dimly lit interior of the stables. The stranger that stood very close to them deftly and slightly shifted his weight to gain balance and the end of a staff suddenly revealed itself near the stranger's feet. The movement was all that was necessary to have the three soldiers behind Daranavo draw their swords quickly and hold them at their sides. Hengist also raised a brow not fooled by the show of arms and his gaze shifted over to Eorache then settled back upon Daranavo. “Well, I would of. half expected a much warmer welcome my old friend. Has…” “Leave us,” Daranavo barked rudely. His face twisted in anger as he looked over at the stranger. His sharp words even agitated the Mearas that lingered silently nearby and almost stepped forward to leave himself. however Anthrax only lifted his ears to listen further to the exchange. Sighs and grumbles came from the three men that stomped away not at all pleased that they would not be able to watch. Eorache almost spoke up in protest but he had heard of Daranavo and in any case had no wish to test his resolve in the here and now. The cloaked man turned and looked back toward Hengist. The aging soldier furled his brow and nodded vigorously at him as a sign that all would be well though a slight look of uncertainty did linger in his eyes. The stranger turned back to Daranavo and his keen, shadowed eyes looked him over carefully.
 
Last edited:

chrysophalax

Dragon of Note
Joined
Feb 12, 2002
Messages
1,948
Reaction score
4
Location
Prowling the Withered Heath
*Hengist, you never told me your countrymen were so...impolite to strangers." Haluin said as he stepped closer to the man who had addressed him so rudely. "Tell me, friend. Do servants dress like this in Edoras? If so, I haven't seen them and, I can assure you that I am no servant to be thus bidden by you or anyone else." He noted with pleasure that the man's right hand reflexively closed into a fist every time Haluin spoke and that he had to make an effort to relax it. As always, Haluin decided to test the boundaries.

"Before you apologise to me, just let me say that you owe an apology to Hengist as well, for it was he who invited to your fair city. We have long been comrades and it would do you naught but ill if you were to insult him in my presence. He glanced sideways at Hengist as he spoke and saw there the look he expected. It said, Don't push him too far, you fool. You may get more than you bargained for! Haluin merely grinned and moved ever so slightly to his left, between Hengist and the man. "Come, say whatever it is you came to say. I will not be going anywhere."
 

Daranavo

Hopeless Romantic
Joined
Jul 11, 2005
Messages
578
Reaction score
0
Location
Michigan
Daranavo’s gaze shifted sharply over to the cloaked stranger. His brow furled as he listened and he could hardly believe what he was hearing. With a broad gate he stepped forward and moved squarely to the man’s front and stopped. Like his demeanor and his movements, his words were sharp. “An apology? I know not who you are and by your words it is obvious that you do not know to whom you speak and with whom you travel. What you are is of no import to me and know that if anyone else had found you here that you along with Hengist would be surely BEATEN from the gates.” Daranavo paused and quickly shifted his narrowing eyes over to Hengist then back to the stranger warily. “Speak ill to me again and I shall show you that the confines of steel and stone will be even less accommodating then that of the stables,” he whispered in a snarled.

With that the Lieutenant shifted and almost shouldered the cloaked figure to the side as he stepped forward toward Hengist. “And you old man…” He said as he stepped right up to him and shook his head. With a jerk and quick movement he raised his hands and almost simultaneously, so did Hengist and the two embraced and laughed loudly.
 
Last edited:

chrysophalax

Dragon of Note
Joined
Feb 12, 2002
Messages
1,948
Reaction score
4
Location
Prowling the Withered Heath
Haluin watched as Hengist embraced the rude intruder heartily with a mixture of astonishment and distaste. "I'll leave you both to it then, shall I? I find have the most urgent desire to be anywhere but here." Before Hengist could say anything, Haluin had walked rapidly away from them and disappeared into the crowd.

Few people in Haluin's life were aware the elf had a violent temper, so successful was he at concealing it. Even his good friend Hengist had only seen brief flashes of it and had put it down to Haluin's strict dietary preferences. In truth, the elf had a serious problem. He was subject to homicidal rage, the sort that ends with far too many bodies and far too many lies having to be told. It was his temper that had had him barred from Lorien, after he had slain one of the Lady's favourite minstrels (all of them, in fact) for singing a satirical lay concerning himself, his penchant for a good bottle (read barrel) of wine and a travelling tinker's goat. Haluin had taken great exception to the goat and when he had been told politely by Lord Celeborn to take it all in good fun, he had smiled, asked to be excused and then gone to his flet to sharpen his sword. The ensuing rash of deaths was judged inexcusable and he had had to flee.

Thus it was that Haluin found himself stalking across town in an attempt to calm himself, for the tall Rohirrim had insulted him, had treated him as though he were a mere servant and his pride had been badly stung. Had the man not proved to be a friend's of Hengist's, his life would have been forfeit on the spot. Muttering Elvish imprecations, he suddenly came up against a large waggon emblazoned across the side of which read SIR ASTOUNDO'S ASTONISHING ASSORTMENT OF ASSOCIATES! He took a step back, then walked around it. He could hear voices inside. Quickly he glanced around, saw no one was watching, then came close to the waggon, listening intently. It seemed that two men, two friends by the sound of it, were discussing something important. Curious, Haluin pressed himself against the side of the waggon and cautiously lifted the canvas up to catch a glimpse of who might be inside.

What met his gaze caused him to gasp aloud. A giant! His shook his head, trying to clear it, it couldn't be! He had only ever seen one in all his life and that had been from a very safe distance long ago. He realised he was still holding the canvas open a slit and now a thickly bearded face with glaring dark eyes filled the opening. As quick as he was, the other was quicker and Haluin found his wrist being crushed in a vise-like grip. "Release me!" he hissed. "Make me!" a deep voice replied. Eru, what have I gotten myself into this time? thought Haluin as he felt, rather than saw, several men gather behind him.
 

Ghorim

A Dwarf
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Messages
346
Reaction score
0
Location
On the roam
For the first time in awhile, Jokim was thinking about tomorrow. Would he break East for the Iron Hills, or West for the Ered Luin? Would he take up blacksmithing again? Was he ready for a family of his own? Simply being able to ask himself those questions delighted the dwarf to no end. As part of Sir Astoundo’s show, he’d had security, but that security always came with manacles attached. Everything was regimented – much like it had been in the Ereborian army – from when he ate to where he wandered. Only unlike the army, this position afforded him no dignity or camaraderie. Well… perhaps Ollie was a comrade of sorts…

“Why’re you leaving?” asked Ollie as soon as Jokim made the mistake of looking at him again.

Asking that dratted question again! He should have figured. Conversations with Ollie – like many things in life, Jokim reminded himself – tended to travel in circles.

“I would not expect you to understand it,” said Jokim. “Not fully.”

“Tell me,” said the giant insistently.

Like a child… he knows how to get his way, thought Jokim in exasperation and amusement. He pondered the best way to relate his situation for a moment before responding.

“Well, Ollie… imagine that there were an entire people who were just like you. Big men and big women who all lived together in a forest somewhere.”

This idea seemed to enchant Ollie, and he leaned forward with moonstruck eyes as he listened.

“… But they weren’t all merely just the same height as you,” Jokim continued. “They shared a language with you, a history, traditions and values… things that no one shorter than a house could understand.”

Ollie nodded with enthusiasm.

“You grow up with them in that forest… live that way all your life… and then one day circumstances lure you away from your home. You are suddenly surrounded by all of these short people who live and think things differently. They look at you queerly. And the things you took for granted as shared back in your home – those ancient customs – to these people you are with now… well, it’s all nonsense to them, you see?”

Ollie nodded again, but didn’t seem to register the full weight of the dwarf’s words.

“Well,” said Jokim with a sigh, wondering if this explanation was worth the effort. “That is my predicament, in summary! Simply switch the heights around and I have just told you my story.”

Ollie paused, looking remarkably thoughtful as he scratched his chin.

“So… if you were so happy with your friends… why did you leave them?”

Jokim laughed bitterly. Ollie had deciphered the tale better than he had realized.

“That, my cloud-headed friend, would make for a full night’s tale, and I believe that…”

Suddenly a gasp came from directly over Jokim’s shoulder, at the entrance to the carriage. The dwarf’s gaze shot up and around to see a pair of eyes and a hand holding open the entrance flap. In a sudden, fluid motion, Jokim rose to his feet and grabbed the eavesdropper’s wrist in a crushing grip.

“Release me!” came a hiss from just beyond the flap.

“Make me!” replied Jokim, not without a cruel sense of satisfaction. Those were personal words he had just spoken to Ollie, hardly the sort that he’d want some passing stranger to overhear. His demeanor from but a few moments ago had changed dramatically, from relaxed and almost wistful to cold and intense. Ollie crawled toward the entrance, alarmed by this sudden shift in Jokim’s behavior.

“What’s happening?” the bewildered giant asked.

From outside the carriage, a sharp voice stilled everyone in an instant.

“Jokim! Release this man immediately!”

The dwarf poked his head out of the flap, maintaining his hold on the stranger’s wrist. Just marching up to the carriage was Sir Astoundo himself, flanked by three of the other performers.

“Not before I receive my satisfaction from him,” said Jokim, measuring every syllable. “He was listening into our conversation, just lurking about like some…” He searched his mind for a moment. “Some… Elf!” And he looked directly into the offender’s eyes as he spoke this last word. Jokim was surprised to see a mix of shock and amusement gazing back at him.

“Tut tut!” said Astoundo, stepping forward with a suave and pacifying air. “All a misunderstanding, I’m sure. Now for the Valar’s sake let him go, my good dwarf! He did not shear your beard or question your family’s honor, I assume? So why are you so eager to take him prisoner?”

“But you see…!” Jokim began but stopped short as Ollie encased the dwarf’s entire shoulder with one mammoth hand.

“Let him go,” said Ollie in a simple, plaintive voice. “He didn’t do anything.”

Jokim glanced back into the carriage to see Ollie giving a pleading gaze. With a grunt, the dwarf acquiesced and released his hold. The stranger rubbed his wrist indignantly, and Jokim startled as the fellow gave him a wily smirk.

“My apologies on behalf of my associate,” said Astoundo, stepping right up to the stranger like he was a familiar face. “He comes from a people known for their short temper.”

“I come from a people who do not enjoy being spied upon,” protested Jokim with controlled fury.

“Oh, do not worry on my behalf,” said the stranger coolly. “I’m quite familiar with his type.” And he gave Jokim another mocking look. Another!

“Ah, I see!” said Astoundo, trying to give Jokim a mollifying glance as he spoke. “And that surprises me to hear, for these exceptional and hardy folk are rare, especially in these parts. Which is precisely why I have Master Jokim and Master Ollie so carefully hidden from the rest of the fairgrounds. Ah! But I must introduce myself! Sir Astoundo, at your service.” He bowed deeply.

“And these other gentlemen behind me are members of my Astonishing Assortment of Associates. They may not appear as exotic as the two whom you’ve already met, but rest assured, they too are capable of such feats as to make the mind reel!”

Jokim watched the stranger closely as the fellow listened to Astoundo’s routine. He did not appear especially charmed, and seemed to be merely tolerating the speech until it was concluded. There was something peculiar about the fellow, though, that Jokim couldn’t place…

“At any rate,” continued Astoundo, “I hope you understand the need for secrecy in these matters… we like to keep a few surprises up our sleeves, as it were. So if you could keep what you have seen here to yourself…”

The stranger nodded.

“Excellent! Now, in recompense for your troubles, I’d invite you to join us after the performance this evening. I have the entire troupe booked at the Mortar and Pestle Inn for a celebration. This is our biggest performance yet, you see.”

“I’ll consider it,” said the stranger, aloof and non-committal.

Astoundo nodded. “Fine, fine. Then, unless Master Jokim here has any objections, you’re free to go!”

“I’ve but a few queries to make,” said Jokim, folding his arms across his broad chest. “Answer me these, stranger: what do you call yourself? Whence hail you? And how, exactly, are you familiar with ‘my type?’”

The dwarf eyed the fellow very closely as he made his responses.
 

chrysophalax

Dragon of Note
Joined
Feb 12, 2002
Messages
1,948
Reaction score
4
Location
Prowling the Withered Heath
Swift as arrow-flight, questions swarmed through Haluin's mind as he found himself facing, of all things, a dwarf in this part of the world. He could scarcely give credence to what he was seeing, but nevertheless, there it was, alive and glaring down at him from the back of the waggon. The fact that a giant was filling the remaining space behind the dwarf was of no moment to him any longer as he found himself unaccountably filled with pity for the two beings crammed in such confining quarters.

Carefully guarding his features lest his thoughts betray him, Haluin answered Astoundo cooly, thanking him, then turned to face the dwarf. "Greetings, son of Durin. Long and yet, not so long has it been since I have seen those of your race in the North. Indeed, we are neighbors of a kind, you and I, truth be told. I am an archer of no little skill and am here to compete by invitation of an old friend. Forgive my insatiable curiousity, but rest assured, I heard vague mutterings only. It was not my desire to intrude upon a private conversation." He bowed low before the dwarf, hoping he had not given himself away, for it seemed to him that the dwarf was sharp-eyed and most likely knew an elf when he saw one. Haluin found himself oddly drawn to him, as though they shared a bond of...displacement,of kinship, perhaps? It disturbed the elf, for rarely was he given to overt sentimentality, yet he knew beyond a doubt that the feeling existed.

I've been out in the sun too long. Why should I feel anything for this grizzled old stone-eater before me? His lips quirked with a tiny smile of irony. An old stone-eater that nearly crushed my wrist! A formidable foe indeed! Far better as a friend, says I. Shading his face once again with his hood, he smiled up at the dwarf before turning to clap Astoundo on the shoulder. "Aye, I will gladly join you this evening. May I offer you and yours a round of ale to show my good faith?" A roar of approval from Astoundo's men greeted his offer and he turned to see the dwarf still staring down at him, arms like small tree trunks crossing his chest. Haluin grinned. He loved a challenge.
 

Ghorim

A Dwarf
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Messages
346
Reaction score
0
Location
On the roam
The others cheered the stranger's cheap reward, but Jokim stood unmoved. Gradually their merriment and laughter died away, and their attention refocused on Jokim's stolid figure. Only then did the dwarf speak, his tone bone dry.

"And what do you call yourself, stranger?" he asked once again. "I am not fond of repeating myself - leastwise three times over - so out with it."

"Halfast," said the stranger, quick to correct his oversight, "at your service."

And he gave another bow, as smooth and polished as the last one.

"At yours and your family's," said Jokim, dispensing with the formality as he might bat aside an errant fly.

"Hullo, Halfast!" said Ollie brightly from just over the dwarf's shoulder.

The stranger smiled, seeming pleased by this sunny detour from Jokim's interrogation. The dwarf, meanwhile, glanced over his shoulder in some annoyance.

"Greetings... Master Ollie, was it?"

The giant nodded excitedly.

"Well! We're all introduced, then," said Halfast, looking ready to depart.

"You said we were neighbors, of a sort?" said Jokim quickly, as if Ollie had never cut in.

"In the North, aye," said Halfast.

The dwarf paused, running a hand through his beard as his bushy brow sloped downward. "You were correct."

"How so?"

"Long has it been since my people dwelt in those lands." There was an air of melancholy in Jokim's words, as if he had been carrying them in his heart for too long. His gaze seemed to lose its focus on Halfast, drifting off toward some vague distance where his memories lay. "And yet..." his eyes flashed suddenly back to life, "not so long, by the reckoning of some folk."

These words seemed to freeze Halfast for a moment.

Jokim finally uncrossed his arms. "I overlook your indiscretion." This was as close as he'd venture to forgiveness. "We shall drink tonight then, Halfast. But understand, my loyalty is not bought so easily as these others'." He gestured to the other performers.

Halfast nodded, and the dwarf crisply turned about, squeezing past Ollie as he marched back into the dark confines of the carriage.

Astoundo gave one last nod to Halfast. "Tonight, then!" And then he and the others left to continue work on the stage.

Only Ollie remained, smiling in all of his benign simplicity at the stranger called Halfast. All around them, cries of surprise and delight arose from the festival grounds, encasing Edoras in a strange and happy spell.
 

Turgon

Ghost-King of Gondolin
Joined
Mar 10, 2002
Messages
1,341
Reaction score
7
Location
Manchester, England.
Hengist released his old friend from his grip and gave him a weary smile. Daranavo had changed much since their last meeting, there was a light in his eyes that had not been there before, and a certain strangeness in his demeanour. The old man gave his friend a slap on the shoulder and then sat down on a bale of hay, looking up at the young warrior sadly.

'I am afraid my companion has taken your words to heart, Daranavo, he is a delicate sort.' Hengist had always held this belief, being somewhat blind to the faults of his friends. 'I only hope the damage is not lasting, but I think it will take more than a stoop of wine to fix him.'

The stern look in Daranavo's eyes brought forth a sigh from the old man, the rider too had taken this altercation badly. 'No doubt you are wondering what madness made me force entry into Edoras?' Hengist said finally.'Believe me, this is stems not from an old man's pride, nor his anger at being denied entrance to his home. Things are stirring on the borders of the Riddermark, something is amiss in the hearts of hillmen.' Hengist paused for a moment, running a gnarled hand across his brow. 'I must speak with the King, Deor must know that danger lies not far ahead.'

The old man unbuckled his swordbelt and threw it at Daranavo's feet. 'Take my blade, lay it at the King's feet if you must, and tell him Hengist offers himself for judgement. Dark things are stirring, I can feel it in my bones. You can call it old age if you wish, but my instincts are never wrong.'
 

chrysophalax

Dragon of Note
Joined
Feb 12, 2002
Messages
1,948
Reaction score
4
Location
Prowling the Withered Heath
Having escaped with only a slightly bruised hand and a lightly made promise, Haluin considered himself too lucky by half. I should not have underestimated that dwarf. Far too often have those of Durin's Folk proved our betters in bartering and if he is any indication, dwarvish cunning has not diminished over the last hundred or so years since I last had cause to cross one. I will have to be more vigilant!

With those cautionary thoughts to himself running in his head, Haluin decided, albeit reluctantly, to seek out Hengist once again. He fervently hoped that the rude Rohirrim would be nowhere in sight, otherwise Hengist could just possibly find himself one friend less. As he walked through the town, banners and notices began appearing here and there, announcing the contests, when and where they would be held and the names of the contestants. Haluin was pleased to see both his and Hengist's names and he wished the old man well. He himself had no doubt whatsoever that he would win his own contest easily.

The next few days promised to be exciting and Haluin could feel his blood singing in anticipation. Crowds of gaily adorned women, eager, bright-eyed children, even grizzled oldsters had the same look of cheerful enjoyment and it gladdened his heart. Hengist had told many stories of Rohan's past and much of it had been bloody. These people deserved a bit of happiness whenever it came their way, in Haluin's mind. He hoped their peace would last many generations under King Deor's rule, though only time would tell.
 

Miss Insanity

The Flame Goddess
Joined
May 12, 2007
Messages
82
Reaction score
0
Location
Underwater
Taetho looked to the forward end of the stable. He peered through the dust and saw the silhouette of a man walking in with a ridiculous swagger. Oh, not Eorache! Taetho looked for a way out. Eorache the 'valiant' was the most conceited fool in the whole town. A megalomaniac of vast proportions and a well known meddler. The last thing Taetho needed was Eorache hearing about his plans and locking him up in the Royal Stable.

Taetho backed up and felt the boards that made up the back wall of the stable. He lifted his leg and kicked with all his might. The board snapped and slipped out of it's place. He kicked again and brought down another board. One more and he could fit through! Eorache had paused for a moment to examine a carving in the boards that read Eorache The Witless.

SMASH! The last board was gone. Taetho backed up through the hole and ran as fast as he could down the path to his favourite hiding spot out behind the great hall's kitchens.
 

Turgon

Ghost-King of Gondolin
Joined
Mar 10, 2002
Messages
1,341
Reaction score
7
Location
Manchester, England.
Daranavo leant down and picked up the sword from where it lay at his feet. A small furrow had plowed itself into his brow, and his face looked sombre. 'The King will not see you Hengist, though he gives you leave to wander the city, under my honour. It sits ill with me that those who desire nothing more than to live in peace with our people, should be singled out so. And you my friend.' the younger warrior's countenance lightened a little. 'You have ever been counted amongst the doughtiest warriors of the Mark. Let any man say otherwise!'

'When did things get so complicated?' Daranavo said. 'It is well that you have given me your sword freely Hengist. For the King wishes it. As... as a token of good grace.'

Hengist waved a leathery hand in the direction of his friend. 'I expected as much, do not let it trouble your thoughts. Yet I must speak to the King!'

'I will do what I can old friend.' said Daranavo tugging at his gloves. 'Perhaps when the fair is over I could persuade him to speak with you. Keep your head down until then? It will do you no good to fret about it. Come! The wrestling tourney begins this evening and you should be putting all your thoughts into that. You are not getting any younger Hengist!' Daranavo let out a sharp laugh. 'And Prince Helm is going to take some beating! He could kill a boar with his bare hands that one!'

Hengist flashed the younger warrior a smile and got to his feet. 'Aye, it is high time I got myself moving. Be sure to lay some coin on me Daranavo! You can be sure I will do the same during your match tomorrow!' Daranavo nodded, and motioning to his soldiers, headed out into the streets. He stopped briefly in the doorway, turning his head to the grizzled old warrior. 'For what it is worth Hengist, I believe you.' And then he was gone.

Hengist slumped back down onto the bail of hay, his thoughts turning back to Haluin... no Halfast. Where had the elf gone? Hopefully not into the arms of mistress mischief. Placing his head in his hands, the old man gave in to the melancholy that was building up in his heart. His thought wandering backwards over the long years of his life.

SMASH! There was a loud crack from the back of the stables, jolting the old man back into the present with a start.

'By the wild kine of Araw!!' he yelled, as he toppled backwards off his perch.
 

chrysophalax

Dragon of Note
Joined
Feb 12, 2002
Messages
1,948
Reaction score
4
Location
Prowling the Withered Heath
As Haluin threaded his way through the densely crowded streets, it suddenly occurred to him that they had left Hengist's horse tied outside one of the mead-halls near the gate. Guiltly, he thought of the remainder of the venison, knowing his nose would probably find the horse long before his keen sight would. He shook off a vague feeling of nausea and set out for the gate, not wanting to waste anymore time dealing with what he knew would be a highly unpleasant, if not downright disgusting task.

Sure enough, a few minutes search brought him downwind of the unfortunate animal, driven nearly mad by swarms of flies and a few interested dogs who kept sniffing about his legs. Haluin untied the poor beast while trying to ignore the many indignant glares of both townspeople and the inn's owner. He ignored their remarks as he led the horse back toward the stables where he had left his friend, all the while imagining his winnings vanishing into a new set of saddle leathers for Hengist, as these, he felt certain were beyond saving.

A loud crack and the sound of racing hooves coming towards him caused Haluin to pull the horse roughly aside as the Mearas he had seen earlier raced past. Sudden concern for the old man made him hasten to the stables, only to find Hengist staring in his direction, swearing loudly. He smiled broadly. "And here I was, worried you had been attacked and left for dead. I see I need not have concerned myself!" Hengist gave him an ill-favoured glare, then wrinkled his nose. "By the...Haluin, what is that stench?" "That, my friend, is the delicate scent of a deer long past her prime, I'm afraid. I suggest we dispose of it forthwith." After much grumbling, the leathers, along with the rotten meat, were discarded behind the stables in the middens and Hengist had the promise of a new set from Haluin.

"It was my fault entirely. You were in no fit state to remember your name, much less your horse. On my head be it, in fact, come...let me buy you some ale and a good hardy loaf and some cheese. That should set you right." Hengist looked at the elf as if he had grown an extra head. "Are you mad? I have a match tonight, in case you have not noticed! Have you bet against me that you would fill my belly now so that I cannot move later on?" "Are men so frail that they cannot take nourishment before a contest? Very well, starve if you must. I sought only to make amends." With that, Haluin glanced reproachfully at Hengist, then set about counting his remaining coins. He still had to purchase a new bow for his own contest the following day.
 

YayGollum

Conscience of TTF
Joined
Dec 3, 2001
Messages
5,538
Reaction score
6
Location
Columbia, South Carolina, the United States of Nor
On the morning of the festival, Truor glared at the wall of his room. It was some time before noon, and his eyelids wouldn't stay closed any longer. He groaned then hopped off the bed. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, he wondered for a second where his friends Shadowflaps and Anthrax were. Glaring out of a window, he saw an abundance of activity. He growled at the thought of an overly crowded city but forgot about that when he realized how hungry he was and how likely the presence of interesting festival food was.

After trudging his way out to the stables, he clamped his hands over his ears when Anthrax started nattering excitedly about something. "You, too, Anthrax? Argh! I'll have enough of these townspeople!" Before he even got the reminder about Taetho, he stomped outside. Shadowflaps squawked an offhanded acknowledgement of his presence from the roof of the inn. Truor barely payed attention, since he became quickly occupied with dodging random humans. He kept to the outskirts of the activity and almost allowed himself to be drawn in by the smells of food before he remembered what he was supposed to be doing.

Horses and their humans were trotting about all over the place, and after speaking with only a few, he was directed to Taetho's hiding spot. Growling in Animalic at the horse ---> "Alright, let's go! I hear there's a race to win, and beating these Riders at their own game would be quite a story! You lost your last rider recently, right? You want a change of scenery, right? Anthrax told me about you. You just stick with me, and we'll get you out of here."
 

Miss Insanity

The Flame Goddess
Joined
May 12, 2007
Messages
82
Reaction score
0
Location
Underwater
Taetho had gone around the back of the Great Hall's kitchens. It was his favourite hiding spot because the cooks would often bring out little treats for the horses. Baked apples and sugar was Taetho's favourite, and he was sure they would be making a lot for the festival. He tried to forget about the the last few days. They'd been nothing but trouble. Despite his efforts, he hadn't managed to get any closer to escape. Even Eorache the Valiant had come to see him. Had message gotten around already that he was trying to leave?

The smell of baked apples filled Taetho's nostrils as he leaned over against the wall. A warm breeze brushed through his mane and down his spine. He dreamt of running through an orchard. Leaping for the fruit and taking it to the shores of a vast ocean to sit and eat with the sound of the sea in his ears and the smell of salt mixing in his head with the taste of the apples. That was what he wanted.

"Allright, let's go!". Taetho woke with a start and noticed the beorning standing over him. He quickly got up onto his hooves again and blinked wearily at the man. Wait... He'd spoken in Animalic, not human. "I hear there's a race to win," continued the beorning, "and beating these Riders at their own game would be quite a story! You lost your last rider recently, right? You want a change of scenery, right? Anthrax told me about you. You just stick with me, and we'll get you out of here."

Taetho was shocked. He didn't know what to say. This was his chance to leave. The one thing he truly desired was finally within his grasp... So why did he feel so unsure? He had said Anthrax. Anthrax... That was the name of the horse who-

"I will win you the race," said Taetho, "if you can tell me how to get to the ocean".
 

YayGollum

Conscience of TTF
Joined
Dec 3, 2001
Messages
5,538
Reaction score
6
Location
Columbia, South Carolina, the United States of Nor
Truor raised a nervous eyebrow but eked out an, "Uh, of course I can! But why would you want to go there? I've been there and only found a bunch of, uh, nothing! Yeah, but there are great places on the coast! I prefer the mountains, but, if you want the ocean, I know an eagle that heads that way sometimes." He approached respectfully and ended up with a grudgingly agreeing with a few of the tales of praise he'd heard about such horses. "Hmph! I guess Anthrax was just a good argument! Well, come on. Are you ready? You probably know more about these races than I do. I don't even use a saddle!"

Eorache the Valiant had, of course, gotten up early and completed two of his usual sword practice sessions. He stayed in the mostly abandoned common room to watch the festival-goers through a window, pleased at the thought of his part in protecting them. Shrugging at the sight of yet another peddler's wagon being mobbed, he trotted back to the stables. Rogane twitched. "Ah, such energy! Save it for the race, Rogane."
 

Turgon

Ghost-King of Gondolin
Joined
Mar 10, 2002
Messages
1,341
Reaction score
7
Location
Manchester, England.
Hengist and Haluin spent the rest of the day in relative quiet. The events in the stable had been forgotten, or at least put aside for a time. The two friends wandered the city, the old man showing the elf the various places that had in some way played an important part in his life. Then, as evening fell, they made their way to the market place, where now a huge throng of people had gathered. A ring of chalk had been marked off in the centre of the square and it was around this that the various vendors and minstrels, ladies and gentlemen, vagabonds and veterans now took their ease.

There were many familiar faces in the crowd, most of them friendly, and as Hengist approached the circle he received many a slap on the back and many words of encouragement. 'Give that sour-faced Kjartan a good slap for me Hengist!' and 'Throw that crooked good for nothing right out of the Mark!' The old man payed little head to them. Kjartan he could see on the opposite side of the ring, stripped down to his chest and ready to compete. Several other competetors stood nearby, faces bruised in defeat or shining in victory. Yet it was the sight of the tall, burly youth with the golden hair and ruddy cheeks that set his heart to pounding. Prince Helm, grandson of the king, he a grown into a man since Hengist had last set eyes on him. And what a man! He over-topped the old warrior by a full head and was almost as broad. There then was the real competition.

'My Lord,' said Hengist as he neared the prince, pointedly ignoring Kjartan. 'How you have grown!'

The old man was unsure how the prince would treat him, being as he was so out of favour with the King, and it was no secret that the prince had little time for those with hillman blood. He need not have worried. Helm was a big man in heart as well as body. 'Hengist my friend!' The young prince shouted as the grizzled warrior drew near, his voice raised so that all would hear. 'You are welcome back to the Riddermark! The King is lucky to have you back in these troubling times.'

So Helm had noticed something was rotten in the Riddermark too, that was a relief to Hengist. 'Indeed,' he said as he bowed his head before the prince. 'And I am ever at the service of my King. When is your bout my lord?'

'My bout is over Hengist, and my opponent gone to recover from the strain of it.' The massive youth smiled at him and grasped his arm in greeting. 'Blink and you would have missed it! But you and Kjartan are next up. So ready yourself, and show these people how a veteran fights!'

Hengist smiled, and let his troubles melt from his mind. The Riddermark was in good hands, Helm would be a mighty king when the time came, he was sure of it. In this youth seemed to be something of the strength of Eorl himself. It would be an honour to come up against him in the ring, win or lose. Walking around the ring, Hengist stripped off his jerkin and undershirt and handed them to Haluin, smiling wickedly at the hooded elf as he rolled back his shoulders and let out a whoop of joy. 'Are you ready for the Haluin?' he grinned. 'This is where Kjartan pays for his insults! Have you ever seen a grown man cry?'
 

chrysophalax

Dragon of Note
Joined
Feb 12, 2002
Messages
1,948
Reaction score
4
Location
Prowling the Withered Heath
Haluin's smile mirrored that of Hengist as the old man boasted of his wrestling prowess. His boasting was well-founded, his skill legendary among the Rohirrim and Haluin was glad he would finally be able to witness one of his bouts first hand. The fact that he had bet heavily with a couple of Astoundo's men on Hengist made his own anticipation all the more keen. It was good to the the fire return to his friend's eyes as he made his way to the stone circle in which the two would compete. In Haluin's opinion, it had been overlong since he had seen such a predatory look on Hengist's face and he began to feel a modicum of pity for this Kjartan, whoever he was.

As he waited for the match to begin, Haluin reflected on the exchange between his friend and young Helm. The young prince certainly looked capable, the sort of natural-born leader many a land would eagerly fight for as heir to their throne. Tall, strong, personable, an obvious judge of character and generous of heart, the elf wondered then why the king did not seem to share his gifted son's abilities. Where was the king? After all, was this not an important time in the life of his kingdom, a time for all to share in? Why had he not been among them at the festival's opening? The absence of the king struck a discordant cord with Haluin and he resolved to ask Haluin about it after his triumph, for there was no doubt in the elf's mind that Hengist would be victorious once more.
 

YayGollum

Conscience of TTF
Joined
Dec 3, 2001
Messages
5,538
Reaction score
6
Location
Columbia, South Carolina, the United States of Nor
A large as well as brightly colored wagon with the words, "Trahald's Itinerant Armoury And Apothecary And Toyshop" announced on it trundled along, stuck in a long line of other merchants and their wares. A hulk of a human drove the wagon, simply staring straight ahead, looking for a good spot to set up camp. A bandana-laden head poked out from behind a curtain every now and then, looking eager. Inside, a dark-skinned man wearing typically outrageous corsair of Umbar type garb whispered with a sickeningly innocent looking Dwarf with what many might assume to be a clown's uniform, although it was merely out of place in anything but the snootiest of Dwarvish tea parties. "Boffin, if you were a better haggler, I could be out there, earning your food!"

The Dwarf frowned sadly but wondered at why his boss thought that he wasn't a good haggler. Customers always walked away happy when he sold things after the first price was suggested. His boss continued to rant, though, "And I can't leave Tolir here to watch you, either. Even you are too smart for him!" The Dwarf nodded sheepishly and grinned to himself. Although he wasn't sneaky by most standards, he had taken advantage of the large human's suggestibility several times before. "I'll just have to scope the place out tonight, then. I love these festivals! So many targets in one place!"

While his boss poked his head outside again and directed Tolir to a suitable spot, Boffin pulled the back curtain aside and, after allowing a guilty feeling from knowing that Trahald planned on stealing from so many happy people, he shrugged and started talking in Sindarin to the pony tied to the back of the wagon. Tolir secured the wagon and mounts, then stomped around, opening chests and arranging weapons and armour for viewing. Trahald opened a window on one side of the wagon to set up his mini-apothecary, but when he heard Boffin, he scowled and barked, "Boffin! None of that elvish nonsense! Go set up your toys! And I've got some snacks to set out soon. They are for customers only! Buy something, and you can have one!"

Boffin patted his pony, scowled a bit, but happily rushed off to display his toys, some of which even had a bit of magic in them. He grinned as he found a block of wood and a knife to whittle with. He held his stomach with a pained expression when he saw the little snacks that Trahald was arranging. His boss, besides knowing a bit about pick-pocketry and brewing up a good potion or poison or two, had been trained as a gourmet chef. Customers dove at the food, Trahald charmed and cheated many, Boffin mostly played with his toys but sold several, Tolir bustled around inside the wagon to fetch things but was able to sit and talk to a few who were particularly interested in his armoury business.

______________________________________________________________

Eorache the Valiant strode from the stables with a look that suggested forced optimism. With little to do until his contest, he gave in to the idea that watching the others could be educational. After sweeping by who he could and locking someone's gaze while offering an apologetic, "Pardon me," he acquired a partial view of the ring. He studied the opponents and concluded with zero bias that he could beat either of them, based on the few times that he had been disarmed and forced to wrestle with trolls. He shook his head to clear it of such unpleasant memories and looked around at the crowd, allowing a grin to grow on his face only due to their enthusiasm.

_____________________________________________________________

Truor wondered what he should be doing with Taetho, since the horse didn't seem disposed towards staying in any stable, and such an animal would be difficult to keep hidden, at least for the short time before the race. He was drawn to a wagon selling all kinds of stuff, but only stayed to grab a free bite of food and grin at the corsair attempting to direct his attention elsewhere. Wandering towards one of the nicer looking stables and attempting to figure how much it'd cost to put Taetho in there for a while, he could see over the crowd well enough to discern some wrestling. "Eh. Boring. Beornings wrestle all the time. Any of my brothers could beat these guys!" Towards Taetho, "Ah, it's just not for me."
 

Ghorim

A Dwarf
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Messages
346
Reaction score
0
Location
On the roam
Jokim marched straight for the back corner of the carriage, concealed in the dark just outside the strips of light that shot in through the barred windows. He could already feel it coming on, the pressure gradually mounting on his skull. It always began slowly. The dwarf imagined his head on a metalworker’s press, with each beat of his heart bringing a turn of the crank. He no longer felt himself solidly planted on the dusty floorboards below, but lurching unevenly into a heavy fog. Jokim pressed a gloved hand against the wall to keep himself steady, but could already sense his knees starting to buckle.

By now, Ollie had turned his massive form away from the outside world and lowered the carriage flap. He saw Jokim doubling over, suddenly looking crippled and helpless in the corner.

“Jokim?” he said softly, fearing for his companion’s health.

“Not another word,” uttered Jokim in a hollow gasp, as if the words had been torn from his lungs. The dwarf had now slumped to his knees, sweat oozing trails along the soft lines of his face as the skin flushed red. His hands were fast becoming unreliable, weakening and trembling like an invalid’s.

Ollie placed one of his dirty paws over his mouth instinctively. The giant always feared the worst when the ill spirits took over Jokim’s body. That was the only way Ollie could conceive of the monstrous headaches, those unwelcome guests that had long ago become too familiar to the dwarf. They were never far away. Often enough he could sense them dully, like a storm gathering at the back of his skull. But he never knew when the clouds would burst and the thunder quake his entire form to the ground. Usually they came after bouts of heavy activity, but even then they were unreliable. And sometimes they struck seemingly without reason.

With an awkward, staggering turn, Jokim fell upon the pile of straw that usually cushioned Ollie’s body. He was dimly aware of the giant’s aroma invading his nostrils, but it was perhaps the least offensive sensation he had to deal with at the moment. Jokim shut his eyes tight and began to make his stand against the deadly press. With great effort, he stabilized his ragged breathing, drawing his lungs full and exhaling in even time. Images of the Grey Mountains shot through his head, as he imagined the endless expanse of the Northland’s rocky spine, free from any crowding or pressure. In his mind, Jokim was alone, floating through the mountain mist. He breathed the cool, wet air that surrounded him in a gentle cocoon. The throbbing pain lay far outside of him now, dropping over the far horizon like the setting sun.

All the while, Ollie hunched over Jokim, cautiously leaning in and trying to read the dwarf’s condition from his facial expression alone. The dwarf's features began hardened and strained, the brows knit and quivering and the jaw clenched like a vice. But by degrees Jokim’s face relaxed, the lines that creased his forehead faded and his mouth drifted open. After a few minutes, his breathing deepened, and deepened some more, to the point where Ollie felt compelled to lean in even closer.

“Jokim?” he asked, trying to soften his mighty rumble of a voice to a mere whisper.

There came a silence... and then a snore. The giant leaned back and breathed a sigh of relief. Ollie thought for a moment, and then took up a flowing blue sheet from the floor. He used it to cover himself up on the colder nights of the year. As tenderly as his oversized hands could manage, he used the sheet to dab some of the lingering sweat off of Jokim’s forehead, and then covered the dwarf with it.

Quietly, ever so quietly, Ollie crawled to the opposite corner of the carriage. He sat facing Jokim and took up the watch, resting his chin in his right hand.

---

Jokim’s sleep was dull and dreamless. The vision of his childhood home soon departed, and in its place a void dark and deep came to envelop him. A loud knock on one of the carriage windows jostled him awake.

“Wha...? By Durin! Some... quiet!” The sounds tumbled out of Jokim’s mouth thoughtlessly as he sat up, perceiving himself entangled in Ollie’s bedsheet. His gaze stumbled to the opposite window, toward the source of the offending noise.

There, framed by the vertical window bars, hovered the gaunt face of Domo, the troupe’s contortionist. He had seen perhaps thirty winters, but still had that sly, childlike air about his manner. “An over-stretched imp,” Jokim had once called him. Indeed, Domo had a history of troublemaking. He hailed from a distant village out in the East, not so far from the Lonely Mountain, in fact. However, his sordid antics with the village chieftain’s wife had earned him a summary banishment to what – the villagers assumed – were the harsh and inhospitable lands of the West.

Domo had gotten along well enough with Astoundo, however, joining the Associates shortly before Jokim arrived with the group. His natural ability to twist his reedy figure into a variety of different forms earned him a permanent spot in the traveling stage show. He still spoke with that peculiar Eastern dialect, wielding his Westron as a child might handle a wooden sword: recklessly.

“No point hiding these two, the way they snore,” he said, before making a crude imitation of the noises that the giant and the dwarf made in slumber. “Piggy! Piggy!”

Ollie had nodded off during his vigil, and even Domo’s knocking hadn’t stirred him, as his head continued to bob about like a cork at sea.

Jokim rubbed his temples with a sour expression. He could still feel the lingering sting of his headache, and Domo here wasn’t doing him any favors.

“We’ve little else to do, ” grumbled Jokim, “reined up in here like a pair of Rohirric mounts.”

“Little Khoozd needs to wake up less grumpy,” said Domo. “I bring to you news this evening.”

Domo was the only Man Jokim knew of who had picked up more than a word or two of Khuzdul. It must have stemmed from Domo’s village being so close to the Eastern Clans of the dwarves, who were evidently less secretive with their tongue. Out of curiosity, Jokim had tried carrying on a conversation in Khuzdul with Domo on at least a couple of occasions. But the fellow mangled the grammar structure so badly that it made his Westron sound eloquent. Mostly, Domo knew the naughty words, and could always conjugate them perfectly.

“News, eh?” Jokim stood, checking as he did to make sure that his hood hadn’t slipped off of his head while he slept. “Half a moment... it’s evening already?”

“Aye, much so!” said Domo, letting one of his pale and lanky arms dangle through one of the gaps in the window’s barring. “Khoozd sleeps like one of his Seven Fathers, eh?”

Jokim gave an amused grimace, but spared Domo a retort. Instead, he corrected the man’s pronunciation. “Khuzd, not Khoozd.”

Khuzd,” repeated Domo with surprising obedience. Evidently he didn’t want Jokim to think that he couldn’t grasp the dwarvish tongue.

“What news, then?” asked Jokim briskly, reaching over to nudge Ollie awake so he could hear the message, too.

“Ah,” Domo nodded, his eyes sparking as he remembered his purpose. “Astoundo says we perform in the late of night.”

“Why the delay?” asked Jokim, assuming his familiar stance with his arms crossed over his chest.

“Rohirrics are having wild wrestling contest,” said Domo with a shrug. “Every of our comrades has coin riding upon it.”

“Wrestling,” Jokim repeated.

That word brought with it sudden flashes of memory and meaning in the dwarf’s head. He saw himself a century younger, on the slopes of Erebor with the other foolish dreamers of the Grey Legion. Under moon and stars they would tangle in savage acts of camaraderie, slamming each other down into the dirt and stones, grappling for supremacy, each combatant trying to prove to the others – and to himself – that he was a worthy opponent. Jokim burst into a smile, unconscious of the expression as it lit up his face.

“When shall this contest take place?”

“Few minutes,” said Domo, turning about to glance in the direction of the improvised wrestling ring. The crowd surrounding the center of the square had grown far too thick to see if the festivities had commenced, however.

“Mmm...” Jokim stroked his beard. “And where has Astoundo got to?”

“He says he will spread words about our performance.”

“I fancy a peak at this contest, Domo,” said Jokim, with a strange air of solemnity. “You would not alert our employer were I to slip out to watch?”

“And what if’s I told?” Domo pressed his face tighter against the bars, looking ghoulish and predatory in the light of dusk.

“Then I would twist that overgrown body of yours into a position that not even you could get out of,” said Jokim with a grim smirk.

“Mmm...” Domo didn’t have to consider long. “Not a word from me.” He retreated from the window swiftly.

Jokim glanced at Ollie, who had listened to the whole exchange attentively after being roused. The dwarf started to make for the carriage flap, but reconsidered, pausing before the giant.

“You need not nurse me, Ollie,” he said.

“Are you...?” Ollie began.

“Fine, perfectly fine,” cut in Jokim. “Well capable of handling my own health.”

Ollie fell silent, feeling chastised. As Jokim began to make his exit, Ollie suddenly glanced up as if inspired.

“Did you have good dreams?”

Jokim paused, halfway out the flap. His head popped back into the carriage. “I do not dream, Ollie.”

He ducked out swiftly, leaving the giant to his own devices.
 
Last edited:

Thread suggestions

Top