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  #151  
Old 01-25-2012, 02:16 PM
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Zella Zella is offline
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I'm glad you're posting updates again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenburne View Post
“Hold joy nearer than grief, and enemies than companions. Or so the saying is.”
I quite like that.
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That is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to; 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.
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  #152  
Old 01-29-2012, 03:25 PM
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Lord Denath’s name meant “Denna-man” in the Old Tongue, and he looked like a subject of Denaton as he dismounted from the flashy carriage. Sporting a black coat with long tails, wide folded cuffs, and an abundance of silver braid, he was rather difficult not to notice.

Arran stood beside Anlaida at a window above the courtyard. Decorum required neither of them to greet Lord Denath or his daughter, and, for once, Anlaida seemed to lack her usual overenthusiasm for propriety.

“Now that’s a man who wears his wealth,” Arran said, being careful not to lean past the curtains. Decorum might not require his presence, but it did require that he refrain from open spying.

“Not well,” said Anlaida shortly. Her fingers played with the curtain ropes, braiding and unbraiding their tassles.

At the carriage door a white slipper appeared just beneath the light silk hems of a gown. A girl stepped down, with tow-colored hair slumping to her shoulders in what had once been ringlets.

“She won’t even look at him,” Anlaida sighed.

“You mean Soldor?”

“Who else?” Unconsciously Anlaida twisted the curtain ropes.

“She’s looking at him now,” said Arran. He leaned forward slightly. “No, never mind. That’s her father’s coattail she’s looking at. Surprised if she’s not half blind with all the silver braid tacked onto it.”

Anlaida snorted.

“That’s a lady.”

Her nostrils flared. “Are you insulting me?”

“Me?” he said. “I would never insult you. Never.”

She frowned.

“Ever.”

“I’m not in a ladylike mood at the moment,” she said. “And I don’t remember you being this badly behaved when we were children.”

“That’s because you remember all the good things about me,” Arran said. “The nice things. Like how I—”

In the courtyard below them, a pale-faced Linnerill nodded respectfully to Soldor, but did not look at him. And Lord Denath took his daughter’s arm and gestured toward the door, which Soldor opened for them. Bryn stood at his side, saying something to his two guests.

“Never mind,” said Anlaida finally. “You were a terrible, evil child. I lived in eternal fear of you.”

“Wounded.” Arran clutched at his heart. “Utterly wounded.”

They traded insults for several minutes before Anlaida noticed that Lord Denath and his daughter had vacated the courtyard. “They’re gone,” she said.

“Oh.”

She shook her head. “Were you distracting me on purpose?”

“I would never distract you from brooding,” Arran said. “Ever.”

She swatted at him, but the lines of her face were straight and sober. “I can hardly imagine what Ronag does without you to torment him.”

Arran shrugged. “Picks on the neighbors, I guess. If you want to spy anymore, I noticed a good spot at the top of the stairs.”
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Poet and sculptor, do the work,
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  #153  
Old 01-29-2012, 04:08 PM
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Zella Zella is offline
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I enjoy seeing the two of them interact.
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That is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to; 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.
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  #154  
Old 01-29-2012, 09:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zella View Post
I enjoy seeing the two of them interact.
So do I.

Thanks, Glen, for summing up the plot so far. I caught up on the updates and am looking forward to more, now. ^_^ Thanks for sharing your story with us!
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  #155  
Old 01-30-2012, 08:56 AM
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Linnerill said nothing at supper, which did not reflect on her so badly as might have been expected: her father did more talking than all the others combined. Lord Denath, it seemed, enjoyed the sound of his own voice.

Anlaida found her appreciation for Kalon growing. Obnoxious as he might be, her uncle was no bore. Of course, she preferred a bore to a murderer, but Kalon was at least better company.

After supper Arran wandered out to the dog kennels. Anlaida envied him the privilege, but at least Soldor, in the interest of conducting business discussions with Lord Denath, shut himself into the library with Denath and Linnerill. She spent the evening in Bryn’s and Mostaras’s private sitting room, leaning back among the cushions and enjoying the warmth and pinewood smell of the fire. Bryn joked with her, and Mostaras talked about Iredail, the latest news from Retaine and Thessalim, and (at last, to Anlaida) about the customs current in the Midlands, from dress to furniture.

After several minutes of this, Bryn rose and slipped out of the room. About ten minutes later he returned with Arran, whose brown trousers were covered with tawny dog hairs. Bryn pulled out a small table, opened a drawer in it, pulled out two sets of pegs, and began inserting them into the appropriate slots on the tabletop, which was marked in a grid that Anlaida found confusing.

“It’s a game of strategy,” Bryn told her. “Popular in the White Lands, I’m told.”

“The swamps beyond the Southern Downs?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said. “This one was made for my father by a trader, a good craftsman. He was from lands even farther south, or so he said; but he had been raised in the White Lands and knew their ways.”

“He’s teaching me,” Arran said. “Because he knows he’ll win.” Smiling, he pulled a chair over to the table and plopped into it.

Bryn sat down across from him and began a detailed explanation of the rules of the game. Anlaida turned back to Mostaras, and they began comparing Northland cookery with Iredail’s, only to be interrupted by a “No! The peg only goes forward!” from the game table.

Anlaida knew nothing about the rules of Bryn’s game, but since five of Arran’s pegs were lying flat on Bryn’s side of the board, it seemed that Bryn was getting the better of her brother. She watched as Bryn proceeded to capture three more pegs and add them to the pile.

“Do you ever play?” she said, looking at her sister.

“Play?” Mostaras asked, laughing. “I can’t hold out five minutes. Arran might be losing, but I’d have lost already by this time. The Lord of Palladrim knew this game when he visited here, but he’s been playing for twenty years and was still beaten. Bryn loves this game, but everyone’s afraid to play with him. Including me.”

Anlaida smiled. Bryn captured two pegs, then six, one, and three. Arran leaned back in his chair and shook his head.

“Play again?” Bryn asked.

“So I move straight with the red pegs,” Arran said. “Diagonally with the black pegs. I can’t move the white pegs until a red peg and a black peg reach the other side of the board. And you can jump any number of my pieces diagonally if there’s a peg hole on the opposite side.”

“You’ll get it soon,” Bryn said.

“Sure,” said Arran.

They reset the board and began again. This time the game lasted fourteen minutes longer than previously, although Bryn remained the victor.

The two continued playing for several more rounds. Arran never won, but Anlaida thought that he was catching up. In any case, both seemed engrossed in the game. Mostaras at last gave a suggestion, not entirely gentle, that they go to bed.

“Just one more round,” Bryn said.

She shook her head at him, but smiled. “I’ll wait for you, then.”

Together they stepped into the hall. Lord Denath’s voice echoed from the library on second floor.

“They must have finished,” Mostaras said, listening. “Or we’d not hear them. The door is thick.”

“All the more reason to hurry to bed,” Anlaida murmured.

“Charity, sister!” said Mostaras, but her eyes gleamed. She embraced Anlaida. “Sleep well.”

Anlaida hurried to the east wing, eager for the sanctity of her bedchamber. Instead, as she rounded the corner, she saw beneath the torchlights a white-clad form walking slowly. Linnerill.

“Have you lost your way?” she said.

“I’m afraid—yes.” The thin young woman laughed nervously. “The halls, you know—the way they wind—“

Personally, Anlaida saw nothing confusing about the layout of Creggan Bronn. The design was simple, rather like that of Jadoth Rock. But the castle in Salenna might be different. “Your home isn’t like?”

“Father had it rebuilt,” said Linnerill. “Stone is cold, he says. Uncomfortable. It’s a lovely place, really—all oak and ash.”

“No fortifications?” Anlaida asked, staring.

“There’s a wall about it.” She played with the embroidery on her sleeve. “Enough to keep out bandits. Father says that bandits are our only real enemies. Other people are reasonable.”

“Your rooms are on the floor below this,” Anlaida said. “Just down the stairs.”

“I remember now,” she said. “I’m sorry—I—that is—”

“I’ll show you,” Anlaida said.

“Father and the Baron were talking.” She looked down. “And I was tired—I suppose I should have waited. I’m—terrible at finding my way.”

Anlaida shrugged. “Come on.” She led Linnerill through the hall, around two corners, and down a flight of stairs. “Your room is in that hall, on the right.”

“The second door?” Linnerill asked.

“Aye.” Anlaida hesitated, and then forced a smile. “May you sleep well.”

“And you.” Linnerill turned away.

Anlaida hurried back up the steps.
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Poet and sculptor, do the work,
Nor let the modish painter shirk
What his great forefathers did.
Bring the soul of man to God,
Make him fill the cradles right.
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  #156  
Old 01-30-2012, 01:51 PM
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Zella Zella is offline
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I hope there isn't more to Linnerill's wondering than she claims.
__________________

That is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to; 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.
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  #157  
Old 02-05-2012, 09:14 PM
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Glenburne Glenburne is offline
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The next day Linnerill seemed to have learned the way to and from her guest chamber, but she reportedly became lost when attempting to join her father and betrothed in the library. Mostaras was the one who found the girl wandering on the fourth floor and set her straight.

Arran drew her a rough sketch of the castle, but that only seemed to confuse her more. “How do I tell which way is north again?” she kept asking, until Arran gave up.

“The girl’s worse than a wallflower,” Anlaida grumbled to Arran on their way to supper that evening. “She’s an absolute idiot.”

Arran shrugged. “Have you talked much with her—woman-to-woman talks, you know?”

Anlaida set a hand on her him and frowned at him. “What below the stars are you talking about?”

“It’s like I told you,” Arran said. “Push them together. He’ll learn.”

“Lord Denath is always with them!” she said. “Soldor talks with him and ignores her.”

“Either that, or Denath demands all his attention.” Arran stepped onto the landing.

“But we have to separate them somehow,” she said.

“Quiet, we’re almost in the great hall,” he muttured.

Anlaida lowered her voice. “But couldn’t you distract Denath—get him to go on a horseback ride so that the two beloved can spend time together—or something?”

“Ride with Denath?” Arran moaned. “I don’t have a death wish.”

“Of course you don’t,” Anlaida said. “Soldor does.”

Arran sighed and stepped into the hall. With Anlaida at his heels, he strode toward the family dais. Bryn and Mostaras, of course, were there, as was Linnerill, but Soldor and Lord Denath had not yet arrived. Mostaras, it seemed, had attempted conversation with the pale girl, but Linnerill was huddled over her empty plate. She glanced up when they entered, stretched her lips in what passed for a smile, and looked down again.

“What about a ride tomorrow?” Bryn asked Arran, unfolding his silverware from a napkin of blue linen.

“About that—” Arran began, glancing at Anlaida, when Denath’s voice boomed from the entrance to the great hall. “What if we invited Lord Denath?”

“Denath?” Bryn said. “I—did you actually say—that is, I had thought he would want to chaperone his daughter—”

Arran noticed the faintest hint of a glare in Linnerill’s eyes.

“Of course, we should leave the choice up to him,” Bryn said, quickly regaining his composure. “The countryside of Iredail is—unique in all of Axelarre—certainly he would love to see it—“

Just then Denath stumped up the steps of the dais. “And who makes these decisions,” he bellowed to Soldor behind him. “The Council, the Council, all reactionary fools who don’t know the difference between sound business and a sound sleep!” He snorted aloud and plopped into the seat next to his daughter.

“Have you thought of going on a ride this week, Lord Denath?” Bryn said. “Arran and I would enjoy your company, and it would leave your daughter and her betrothed an opportunity to acquaint themselves.”

Soldor’s hand landed stiffly on the back of his seat, and held it.

“Have to chaperone those two,” Denath began, but Mostaras interrupted sweetly.

“They could go out into the gardens—they’d be within sight, but their talk would be private.” She smiled. “It’s a lovely place. Many of the flowers—”

“Certainly, certainly,” Denath snapped. “Of course I’d enjoy a ride. So long as you’ve decent horses. In coming here I had not expected—”

“The horses are well-bred, of course,” Bryn said. “A horseman such as yourself will enjoy them.”

“Of course,” muttered Denath. He then launched into a tirade against the Axelarrain Council of Lords as the cook brought in a heavy platter of meat.

After the meal Arran found Bryn and offered the best explanation he could. “Anlaida wanted my help,” he said at last. “And since pushing them together was initially my suggestion, I didn’t feel that I could say no.”

“It’s at least an honest dishonest plan,” Bryn said. “I only hope that Soldor will one day thank you for it. I fear,” he added, “that day will not be tomorrow.”
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Poet and sculptor, do the work,
Nor let the modish painter shirk
What his great forefathers did.
Bring the soul of man to God,
Make him fill the cradles right.

Last edited by Glenburne; 02-05-2012 at 11:03 PM.
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  #158  
Old 02-05-2012, 10:54 PM
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Zella Zella is offline
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I don't think this ride will be much fun.
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That is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to; 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.
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  #159  
Old 02-15-2012, 09:41 PM
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Lossėndil Lossėndil is offline
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I was going to post some intelligent, interesting comment, telling you that I've caught up. But my suitemate just gave this tree-goblin cry of anguish, which sounded more like a cave-goblin who discovered a bush.

Forgive me, I still can't stop laughing, and my sides hurt.
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  #160  
Old 02-15-2012, 11:56 PM
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Oh, Lossy-tree.
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Anlaida stood at the window, where, hidden by a curtain, she watched Soldor and Linnerill standing in the garden beside the rose bushes. Linnerill was talking, moving her hands as she spoke. Soldor stood still, arms crossed, sober.

“Come on,” she muttered. “Be quiet, and delicate, and annoy him.”

Linnerill suddenly raised her arms and dropped them at her sides. Her voice rose, but Anlaida could not distinguish one word from another.

She had not expected them to converse. Now Soldor spoke; she knew him well enough that, although she was too high to see his face clearly, he was intent on whatever Linnerill had said.

A skirt rustled behind her—Mostaras. Her sister placed an arm around her and peered around the curtain.

“They’re talking,” Mostaras said.

Anlaida nodded.

“For how long?”

“Since I’ve watched.” Anlaida stepped back from the curtain. “About half an hour, I should think.”

Mostaras stepped nearer the curtain and pulled it back only enough to glance into the garden. “Hmm.” She allowed the curtain to drop, and turned to Anlaida. “It’s something I had not expected.”

Anlaida nodded grimly. “When are you expecting Bryn and Arran?”

“Soon.” Mostaras straightened. “I had best see to the noon meal: Bryn, at the very least, will be hungry.”

“Soldor probably will,” Anlaida said, following Mostaras across the floor. “Talking tires him, I think. Arran—his appetite comes and goes.”

“But he’s only seventeen?” Mostaras asked, nudging the door open.

“Food is scanty among the barbarians, I think,” Anlaida said. “Or at least more scanty than in the Baron’s castle.”

“I worry for him.” Mostaras crossed the hall and paused at the head of the stairs.

“Because of his time with them?”

Mostaras smiled and began to descend the steps. “No,” she said. “I cannot understand his wanting to live with them, but I at least understand his reasons. No—it’s—”

Below them, they heard a faint groaning as the door to the castle opened. “The men are back.” Mostaras doubled her pace as she hurried downward.

“Arran?” Anlaida asked.

“The man who wants Soldor dead may find Arran an easier target.”

“But he’s not the baron.” Anlaida hurried to keep up with her sister. They reached the bottom of the steps.

“He’s Second Heir,” Mostaras said, rounding the corner and reaching yet another staircase. “To take the barony, both will need to die.”

Anlaida shivered. “Kalon, do you think?”

“I do not know.” Mostaras descended the stairs and reached the landing on the second floor. Lord Denath’s voice boomed in the entryway directly below them. “Ready, sister?”

“Always,” Anlaida said.

They stepped down into the entryway in time to catch Arran rolling his eyes. Standing to the side, where Denath could not see him directly, he looked utterly bored.

Mostaras gently interrupted the Salennain lord. “Dinner should be ready soon, gentlemen. If you would like to freshen up after your ride, we will meet you at the table.”

Arran nodded politely to Denath and escaped up the stairs. Bryn excused himself politely. Mostaras slipped off to the kitchens; and Anlaida hurried to the garden.

She found Soldor and Linnerill sitting quietly on a bench, Linnerill staring at the roses while Soldor played with the buttons on his shirt. “Dinner will be soon,” she said. “We’ll wait for the enjoyment of your company.”

Soldor looked at her and raised an eyebrow, but Anlaida turned away and hurried inside. There she met Arran, who was coming down the central stair.

“I guess they enjoyed their talk, then?” he said.
She shrugged. “Did you enjoy your ride?”

“Of course,” he said, tugging his belt straight. “Bryn and I learned things—that the Council of Lords is evil, and stupid, and backward. And that Lord Denath knows everything.”

“Particularly about fashion?” Anlaida asked.

Arran’s dark eyes flickered over her, but he only said. “Yes. Particularly about fashion. Bright colors are the style for men, now. Isn’t it unfortunate that I don’t have any?”
__________________
My literature blog, FirstFire

Poet and sculptor, do the work,
Nor let the modish painter shirk
What his great forefathers did.
Bring the soul of man to God,
Make him fill the cradles right.
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