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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 5th, 2017, 3:57 am 
Dunedain Ranger of Arnor
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With the match called, the stewards discussed the rules violations on both sides, but did not want to disqualify both teams. They looked to Valacar for a decision. The king asked Eldacar,

”I am biased, for I do not wish to suffer loss of any of the shieldmaidens. I think my son would agree with me?”

He looked over to Eldacar who nodded in agreement. Valacar went on,

”I will disqualify two of the four remaining Pelargirians for use of excessive force. These are friendly games, and the Rhovanions were only holding their own and have suffered injuries for it. Match to Rhovanion!”

Calimir sighed, knowing he was out some money, but he had a proxy bet on the shieldmaidens to limit his losses. To see a couple of them wounded was well worth it.

Two of the Pelargirian team still allowed to compete in other events. A mercenary woman, and a big Haradian who measured his blows. But now all eyes were on the shieldmaiden Helda. A team of healers went out to retrieve her from the field as the next two teams were getting ready to take the field. Ithilien vs Anfalas were up, and Michas looked at his fellow team from Minas Ithil. The men of Anfalas looked scruffy but bold. Hopefully this fight would be better mannered than the last one.

Aldamir gave hard applause for the Ithilien team, for he was the newly named Lord of Minas Ithil. He turned to see if Amarwen was supporting Ithilien, but was caught with his gaze lingering on the neckline of her gown. When he met her eyes, he blushed. He said,

”Know that I would really like to see you at the feast m’lady.”

He turned away, and Therald leaned to his daughter and said,

”You made a good choice of a dress Ami.”


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 5th, 2017, 4:54 am 
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Amarwen's disappearance earlier in the morning aside, Therald thought that the day could not have gone better. Prince Aldamir was clearly quite taken with his daughter, which boded well should the King approve the match. Though, it had to be said, Amarwen was not a study of a young woman well pleased. Fortunately, Prince Aldamir was somewhat preoccupied with getting himself to the cutter's tents where the fallen Shieldmaiden was to be conveyed. He did not notice Amarwen's brief flash of dismay but Calimir, well he had for the man sidled up to him to murmur in his ear.

"I thank the stars I was given a son to raise and not a daughter," Calimir observed.

Therald straightened his shoulders and strove to moderate his tone, "Not a day passes that I am not grateful that Amarwen was given to Alenna and I."

"Of course, of course,"
Calimir said, waving a hand brusquely, "Any father fit for the title would say as much."

Would he, Therald wondered, for he was hard pressed to recall a time he had heard his friend praise his own son. Halvarin was a studious, serious, hard working boy who showed a great deal of promise as a Navigator. He knew, for a fact, that Halvarin would likely sell his own soul for his father's praise. He strove time and again to prove himself worthy and yet did Calimir see this? Did he nurture the lad or was he too busy advancing his own cause? Therald pressed out a heavy breath at the direction of his thoughts and resolved to say nothing. This was neither the time nor place to get into how to parent one's child.

"And so, will you attend the feast?"

"Of course,"
Therald answered Calimir, "I'd be a fool not to."

Though, he'd not counted on having to dance on this journey. Hopefully, Aldamir would keep his daughter upon the floor and he would not have to step in.

"You know your daughter better than I," Calimir said and Therald nodded for he suspected he knew Calimir's son better than the man, "But she does not seem to be overly enthused with the current state of affairs."

Of course, Therald knew the man was correct but he could scarcely admit it, "My daughter maintains a seemly composure befitting her lineage. Would you have a daughter of Hyardemacil fawn?"

"No! Perish the thought,"
Calimir exclaimed, "But consider: there are other heirs available. Young men perhaps better suited to your daughter's...position. As a father, as any father who wishes to see their only child securely settled, it is worth considering."

And with that Calimir moved off. Therald's temper was at a low boil as he watched his friend move onto the next knot of people. Was he in truth little more than the mouthpiece of the Master of Ships now? Had he sunk so low as to dance on Castamir's strings. Washing a hand over his face he turned to where Amarwen was standing on her own, frowning down at her shoes.

"We are going to the feast tonight and you will dance with Aldamir. Have you another gown of a like as this one?"

"I did not wear this for-"

"Have you?"


Amarwen pressed out an unhappy sigh and shied away from his question to nod.

"Then that is what you shall wear."

"Adda-"

"No more,"
Therald said, putting his foot down.

Amarwen searched his face, her grey eyes troubled, but he could not afford to relent now. When she understood this, Amarwen lowered her eyes to the floor again.

"Yes, Adda," she said, her voice soft with hurt.

It cut at him and so he tucked softly a strand of her long black hair behind her ear. Her face bounced up again, hope that he had changed his mind. That hope died as he leaned forward to kiss his daughter's brow.

"Some day, dearheart, you will understand."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Where is she? Where is my fine Shieldmaiden?"

Aldamir pressed through the cutter's tent in search of Helda and he found her prone on a stretcher, her helm removed. Helda picked her head up, rolled her eyes at him, and pressed a finger over her lips bidding him to silence.

And so, Aldamir bypassed Helda who was still playing dead, to where Vidnavi sat being stitched up, "Here she is!

Helda grumbled at being supplanted but Vidnavi grinned, her delight evident at his praise.

"A marvellous showing," Aldamir continued, taking in Rhinnin and Vilna nearby, 'You have done yourselves and Rhovanion proud."

"We won on a technicality,"
Rhinnin observed, nonplussed and Helda's head bounced up again.

"A technicality of my making!"

"You're very noisy for an unconscious woman,"
Aldamir observed and Helda gave up the game to sit and then swing her legs over the side of the cot.

"It's a wonder, your Highness, a full recovery!" and with that Helda stood, wavering a little before she steadied herself.

"And so swiftly too," Aldamir observed and pressed forward to push the tall Shieldmaiden back to the cot.

Helda complied, not always a certain thing, and then he began to feel her scalp.

"Enjoying that, are you?" she remarked, winking at him.

Aldamir ignored that and said, "That is a sizeable lump"

"Has to be something in there to damage,"
Rhinnin observed and Helda joined Vilna and Vidnavi to grin at this.

"Nevertheless, I want you checked before you leave the tent," he declared and the grin fell from Helda's face, "I mean it, too. I'll check."

Helda sighed at this and Aldamir withdrew his hands from her scalp to step back, "In any case, take your leave as you see fit tonight."

"Don't you want us at the feast?"
Vilna asked and Aldamir shook his head.

Of all the things he hoped for tonight, the looming presence of four Shieldmaidens as he wooed one Amarwen of Edhellond was not one of the things.

"Go, celebrate your victory," he said and with that was off to make his preparations for the evening ahead.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 7th, 2017, 12:11 am 
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Almara made her way back to the tents of her mercenary tream.

“A good showing, Almara,” the man in the corner stated. “Though the silver goes to you!” He walked to the others who had delt the blows to the shieldmaidens and dropped coims in their hands. A good sum of coins. His eyes turned back to Almara. “You landed good blows but none drew blood. Your fight was impressive but not worth the silver.”

“I’m getting paid to fight, and fighting is what I came here to do,” Almara stated simply. “Beaides, you want to place well in these games, right? We will need enough good fighters left in the end to do that. We can’t all be disqualified.”

“Too true,” the man said, eyeing her up and down. “On that note... rest and recover. You will have to fight back to back woth no breaks since we are short on fighters now.”

Almara nodded and took her leave.



Elsewhere, Rie-Zunic approached the king. He paused at the king’s guards to give his rank, name and business. “Tell him I have news to report,” Rie-Zunic told the guards.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 9th, 2017, 1:46 am 
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The guard came to Valacar and told of Rie-Zunic having news, and so he waved him up to the royal seats. The one behind Valacar and Eldacar was cleared for Rie-Zunic to sit in. He could then easily tell what he wanted. But he had to be careful, for Calimir was still nearby, and Lord Therald and Lady Amarwen were seated close as well. Amarwen turned and watched as Rie-Zunic sat down behind the king and prince, but then turned to watch the next match between Ithilien and Anfalas. It was much tamer than the one with the Rhovanions and Pelargirin mercenaries, and it was nearly a draw but for a last moment strike by Ithilien. When it was over, there were greetings and congratulations between the fighters, and they slowly walked off the field.


Vilmaith had avoided the rest after their match. There was something about the woman she opposed. Something that seemed familiar to her. Considering walking over to the Pelargirian’s tent to see her, the thought better of it knowing her presence would likely spark trouble. It was then Vilmaith remembered. She saw her with a man on the side of the road when Eldacar was touring East Osgiliath! The Inn had burned down, and she was at the inn earlier! Vilmaith was sure of it! She would keep sharp eyes out for both her and the man she saw that day.

She went to see how Helda and Vidnavi fared. They would be off to get ready for the archery tournament, and she hoped Helda would be well enough to compete. When she approached the tent, Aldamir, the son of Eldacar emerged. Vilmaith curtsied as best she could as he passed, and she entered the tent.

”How are the wounded? Vidnavi, your arm took quite a blow, and Helda, that had to hurt!”

“She is walking it off.”
Vilna said as she dropped her damaged armour. She looked at a rib that was turning dark with a bruise then said, ” She can’t be seeing double during the Archery competition. I wonder if Amarwen of Edhellond will indeed compete? She was quite skilled with your bow Vidnavi.”

“Well she is free to use it. I wasn’t going to compete in archery, and can’t now that I have lost some range in my arm.”
Vidnavi said as she flexed her arm and looked at the wound.

Rhinnin stretched her muscles and said, ”I hope she does, but fear it was only a momentary dream of a high-born aristocratic woman.”

Helda sat up and blinked. She said, ”Maybe I can let arrow go in the direction of the Pelargirians by accident?”

The five laughed, but knew that there were more in this tournament who would want to see them injured if not killed. They had to keep their senses sharp.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 9th, 2017, 2:56 am 
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Amarwen of Edhellond. What did he know of her aside that she, like him, had descended from the great Hyardemacil? She was an enigma to Aldamir. A bewitching one, truth be told. He wondered what her interests might be. Thus far, on both encounters with Amarwen, she had skilfully steered their conversation away from herself. It might have been all well and good for his father to have married his mother as complete strangers, but that was not what Aldamir hoped for himself. He had glimpsed flashes of her wit but her manners were impeccable. A dense shield behind which she hid the true turnings of her mind. As his thoughts bent this way and that as to how he might discover more, the woman he was contemplating slid through the press ahead of him.

Aldamir's eyes widened and he peered after her, frowning as he followed Amarwen's progress. The emerald silk of her dress hugged her shoulders. Her black hair floated in her wake, shining under the sun. He fingered the golden ribbon that had once bound those midnight tresses. The ribbon she had bestowed upon him as a favour. Scanning the crowd to see if others followed, Aldamir noted that Amarwen seemed without an escort. Curious indeed until he recalled her absence that morning. Lord Therald had not explained where she had taken herself off to now that he thought on it and a slow smile creased his face. So, Lady Amarwen had a rebellious streak...slipping away from supervision. To do what? Still smiling, Aldamir set off after her careful to keep himself far enough behind. Even so, she halted more than once to look back. Lady Amarwen was up to something most assuredly and he could not wait to discover what that mischief might be.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


"Finally" Helda declared, rolling her eyes under the bandage that was still wrapped around her head. She turned to Rhinnin and shoved out a hand, "I win."

Amarwen watched the woman grumble as she handed over coins to Helda and wondered at what the wager might have been. Before she could ask, another Shieldmaiden she'd not seen before came forward to shove a bow at her. The woman's arm was bandaged.

"You'll have better fortune with this than I," the Shieldmaiden declared and then, "She kicks ever so slightly to the left."

"You going to compete like that?"
Helda asked as she pocketed the coins.

Amarwen frowned, "Like what?"

At this Rhinnin, Helda and Vilna exchanged a long glance whilst the owner of the bow fished out a length of hide from her pouch, "Turn around." Amarwen complied and started as her hair was seized, not unkindly but not gently, and pulled back, "Better."

As Vidnavi bound the noblewoman's hair back, Helda espied Aldamir lurking in the crowd and offered him a wide grin. When she turned back, Amarwen was already in position. She was, clearly, the only aristocrat competing. The only woman too. Surrounded as she was by men, Amarwen made for an incongruous sight. It was almost amusing until Aldamir saw her lift the bow and draw, testing the string.

Ahead the five shieldmaidens exchanged wagers with each other and called out encouragement or derision according to who they had backed. The first round was inconclusive, a gust of afternoon wind wreaking havoc. The second, though, confirmed that Amarwen knew what she was doing. She looked back to the Shieldmaidens and offered them a victorious smile as she advanced. This, then, was the Prince's first discovery about Amarwen of Edhellond. She was a skilled archer and possessed of a wide competitive streak. He settled in observe further.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 9th, 2017, 8:28 pm 
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Vilmaith was not there to see Amarwen shoot earlier, so Vilna, Vidnavi, Helda, and Rhinnin all collected a sum from her on the first round as Amarwen advanced to the next round. It was now time for Vilmaith and Rhinnin to compete in their first round. Meanwhile Vilna and Vidnavi looked about in vain hope that the two young and handsome guards they had met at he inn would appear. Vidnavi was sure she saw the names Gethan and Garran on the roster. They both held hope that they would match in the doubles melee which was not scheduled until later in the afternoon.

But now, wagers were set and with the northerly occasionally gusting, the match ended in a draw between Vilmaith and a soldier from Ithilien named Michas. They had a shoot out, and for three rounds they matched each other, splitting the other's arrow. When Vilmaith's shot went wide of the centre, Michas' shot went wide the other way by an equal distance. It wasn't until after Vilmaith hit dead centre that she made a slight gasp when Michas was letting his arrow go. The distraction caused him to slightly miss dead centre, and the steward ruled Vilmaith the winner. Michas looked at Vilmaith who shrugged with a slight smile as she blinked her eyes. He stepped up to her and said,

"I will remember this when I meet you again."

Michas still had a chance, for those who came in second in their rounds could return to the finals by winning their secondary rounds. It was a hard way to get there, but the seconds were grateful to have a second chance.

The next round had Vilna and Helda competing with others from around Gondor.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 10th, 2017, 11:51 pm 
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Rie-Zunic took his seat behind the king, but seeing Calimir near he held his tongue. He beckoned to the guard once more and bid him to bring an ink and pen. Surely, he thought, one would be near, given the tournament.

As good fortune would have it, there was a scribe keeping record of events who lent one.

Rie-Zunic wrote a simple message. "The Pelargirin mercenaries are being paid silver to injure or incapacitate the shieldmaidens."

The last fight had made it clear. The mercenaries were not shy of being disqualified. They were after blood money, and it needed to be stopped before someone ended up dead.

With a subtle motion, Rie-Zunic passed the paper to the king.


Elsewhere, Almara was readying herself for the Pelargirin entry into the archery. She was a skilled archery, but her training betrayed her. She grew up shooting g at moving targets... And by some twisted irony this made her far less efficient in hitting a stationary one.

Practice made perfect. That's what she told herself. So, practice she did, until the names were called to take their shots in competition.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 14th, 2017, 11:17 pm 
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Amarwen alternated between stretching up on her toes for a better vantage at those qualifying after her and pacing about. That she was so animated was, in itself, revelatory to Aldamir. She'd been so very carefully composed in all their dealings but now he saw...well, he saw passion and a keenness to her. Helda bent down to murmur something that, judging from the grin on the woman's face, all but certainly improper, ribald and likely downright crude. Amarwen did not recoil, look shocked or outraged. Rather she answered the Rhovanion with a wide, fulsome smile of her own. He'd never seen her smile like that before and it was as bright as the sun overhead.

Aldamir slapped a hand over his chest and shook his head. Damn it, but he thought that the longer he stood there watching Amarwen of Edhellond the more likely he was to turn himself into a besotted fool. And that would making wooing her all but impossible. He needed to gather his wits and clear his head. If she turned and saw him now, all would be lost and so Aldamir faded away into the crowd once more.

"You would not," Amarwen laughed, wiping tears of mirth from her lower lashes as Helda rolled her shoulders.

Vidnavi bent around Helda to send the Gondorian aristocrat a warning, "There is little Helda would not do, my Lady. Tempting her or trusting to her better judgement is not the wisest course save in battle itself."

"Duly noted,"
Amarwen acknowledged, still smiling but Vidnavi shook her head at ger.

"I am not jesting."

"You're up,"
Helda declared before Vidnavi could spoil all of her sport, and with a hand between Amarwen's shoulder blades, gave the noblewoman her gentlest encouragement to take her position.

It really was her gentlest and yet Amarwen was propelled forwards a good handful of steps before she regained her footing. She shot Held a look of protest, which Helda shrugged off. An accident only, of course, no ill will. Amarwen shook her head and set about taking up her position and once Helda was confident the woman had brushed it off, shot a raucous grin to her companions.

For this round the targets had been moved back. Amarwen was at the rope with a soldier named Michas and the woman from Pelargir that Helda had been following. The soldier was the sort of fellow that was so focused that he didn't seem to notice the black haired noblewoman standing a few positions down from him. He only had eyes for the target ahead. The competitors were instructed next to lift their bows and set their position and once that was done, all were cleared to take their first shot.

Michas landed his just on the outer edge of the inner circle. There were a good number who landed in the second ring. Amarwen was closer to the centre, but not quite dead on. Impossible to say if she was deliberately pulling her aim to keep her performance not quite at the top or not. If so, Helda approved for it did not do to declare your hand too early in such contests. Enough to make it through, not enough to draw a target on your back.

In the end, only those who managed to land a shot in the inner most circle proceed and sure enough, there were three: Amarwen, Michas and the woman from Pelargir.

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Last edited by Elora Starsong on December 15th, 2017, 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 15th, 2017, 9:30 pm 
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Almara was about ready to notch her next arrow when the call went out. It was time. She wasn't sure she was ready, but so long g as she made it through to the next round it would keep her current "superiors" happy with her. At the moment, that was what was most important.

Almara took a deep breath and stepped up to the shooting area. She watched three others shoot first, then it came to her. She glanced over at the shieldmaidens. They seemed to have a noblewoman shooting for them. They also seemed to have a member that seemed quite interested in her. Almara shrugged it off for the time being and took aim.

Her first shot was... Poor. She almost cringed. It pulled too far to the right. She took a deep breath and adjusted her aim. Her second shot was nearly centered. Probably a little bit of luck with that shot, but welcomed luck.

The rest of her shots were decent. Nothing to brag about, but sufficient as the judges announced her advancement to the next round. She nodded, silently encouraging herself. If she could do decent in archery, most the other competitions ought to be easier yet.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 22nd, 2017, 9:06 am 
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Michas’ first shot in the final was wide, and Amara’s first shot was little closer. Amarwen managed to lend her first shot just right of the center, and took the round. Aldamir was close by, carefully observing the woman that was slated to become his wife compete and win. He didn’t waste any time getting down to meet Amarwen as she came off the field the archery champion. As the son of the prince, it was he who would present the award.

The finalist were brought onto the field, and Michas quickly excused himself and left the field. Amara and Amarwen stood before the royal balcony, and Aldamir walked out and gave Almara the 2nd place award, and said,

”M’lady, you are invited and welcome to attend the royal dinner and ball this night. It will be our blessing to have one with such skills to attend. Congratulations on your great skill in archery!”

Prince Aldamir then stepped to Amarwen.

”For your acute skills with the bow, which appears Rhovanion in origin, I award you the 1st prize for the single archery skills. I will be honoured to accompany you to the feast this night.”

Lady Amarwen curtsied slightly and smiled. She was happy she had won the archery event. She wasn’t sure what her father thought of it.

Valacar leaned to his son, and said,

”The Lady Amarwen is quite a dynamic woman. Good Gondorian blood in her. Her marrying my grandson will bring much good to all of Gondor. I am glad this has been arranged.”

Valacar looked over at Therald and gave him a nod. Eldacar looked down where Aldamir and Amarwen were talking and sighed. He wasn’t so sure that Gondor would be so welcoming of them in the coming years.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 22nd, 2017, 7:06 pm 
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"You bestow upon me a great honour, your Grace," Amarwen carefully replied, her voice kept steady and her curtsy smooth.

When she rose again, Aldamir was smiling at her widely and so Amarwen tried to muster a suitable response. She had, after all, just won the archery and Prince Aldamir was to escort her to the feast that night. Never mind that she had slipped away from her father. She could see him in the royal stand but it was difficult to gauge his reaction. He didn't look displeased or disappointed at all, as well he might have been given her disobedience. As Aldamir took her hand in his own grip, handling her fingers as though they were made of glass, and lifted their hands high, Amarwen's attention shifted from her father to Prince Eldacar. The crown heir looked troubled...misgivings...and at that an idea turned over in Amarwen's mind.

The ceremony ended, Prince Aldamir released Amarwen's hand and took his leave, his duties calling him away...but not before she caught him looking back over his shoulder at her. Amarwen turned to the woman that had claimed the second place and found her already preparing to go.

"You shot well," Amarwen said as she turned away and the woman paused, "Am I mistaken in thinking you are more accustomed to a moving target?"

At the question, likely too bold Amarwen thought in retrospect, the other woman's brows rose.

"Forgive me if I have given offence," Amarwen pressed and then offered a rueful smile, "My name is Amarwen."

"I know who you are,"
the other woman replied and then briefly closed her eyes, "Almara. My name...and you are not mistaken."

Almara seemed restless, her eyes shifting about as if looking for someone or something.

"I do not mean to keep you Almara...You have done well to adjust from a moving to a still target so swiftly today. Perhaps we might speak further, tonight?"

"Perhaps,"
Almara replied and then, with a brief nod of her head, took her leave.

Amarwen followed in her steps, pausing at the rails where Shieldmaidens lounged against the timbers. Once there, Amarwen handed the bow she had used back to its keeper.

"My thanks, Vidnavi," she said and then, "As it was your bow, would you like the claim the prize?"

Helda laughed so hard at that she snorted and slapped one thigh, "Can you imagine Aldamir's face? Vidnavi in a dress?!"

Rhinnin pealed with laughter at that and even Vidnavi smiled at little as she unstrung the bow, "Dress? I'd go in my best armour."

Helda was still chortling, cheeks flushed and eyes shining with merriment as she extended a hand to pat Amarwen on the arm, "No, you keep your prize...and who knows, perhaps the sight of a dashing prince on your arm will be enough to sour this marriage contract of yours."

Amarwen's smiled faltered at that but she kept her peace, nodded and took her leave before the Shieldmaidens noticed. She pulled the hide tie from her hair to free it again before she gained the royal stand but needn't of taken the effort for already her father was skipping down the steps to intercept her.

"Oh, well done, sweetling," he declared, grandly embracing her and tucking her hand under his arm, "Well done indeed."

"Where are we going, Adda?"
Amarwen asked as her father led them away from the royal stand.

"There is much to do before tonight. You must prepare and I must write to your mother."

"Prepare?"
Amarwen asked, for all she need do was change gown and comb her hair - hardly tasks requiring the rest of the afternoon.

Her father squeezed her hand to him, clearly excited, "The King has given his assent, Ami! It is done, short of the declarations and that may come as soon as tonight!"

Amarwen's stomach twisted as it dropped. Betrothed, tonight? As her father beamed beside her, it was all Amarwen could do to stop herself from howling. She felt hollow and empty, and then increasingly foolish for being so shocked. Had not her mother and father said this was to be? If she really wanted to put an end to it, she should have run straight to Pelargir and-

"I want you to know that your mother and I, we are so very proud of you," her father added and the emotion in his voice made her want to weep.

Back at the royal pavilion, Eldacar observed his youngest son bask in his happiness and debated what the best course was. The match between Aladamir and Edhellond's heir was a sound one. In fact, it was excellent. Aldamir was clearly firmly in favour of it, given the way he seemed to watch Lady Amarwen's every move. As for Amarwen, she was bright, well educated and hailed from a family of unquestionable loyalty and standing. Valacar approved of it, assent given directly to Lord Therald. And yet, perhaps it would be best to hold off announcing it. With Calimir circling, Eldacar could hear what the man would make of the announcement: a futile bid to lend legitimacy to their corrupted line. Or worse, that a young maiden of untainted noble descent is dragged into their taint.

Such unkind rumours were inevitable. People had always talked and always would...but he'd rather the announcements were made at a time when there were not so many reminders of Rhovanion about. As his thoughts ran, his attention fell on a knot of Shieldmaidens keeping themselves amused. Helda and Rhinnin were pointing at two men and laughing as the men in question hastened away. Waiting for the paired melee.

His decision made, Eldacar beckoned his son away from the knot of noble maidens trying to convince him to reconsider his evening plans. Aldamir smiled kindly, flattered and charmed relentlessly in their midst, but the speed with which he heeded his father's call suggested that for once his youngest son was eager to get away from their attentions.

"Thank you," he breathed and shook his head, "I don't know what's gotten into them!"

Eldacar could guess, for he had more experience with young women than his son did. However, he said nothing of that, and pressed on with the matter at hand, "The King has given his assent to Lord Therald."

Aldamir's reaction was a mix. His son seemed excited and perturbed all at once.

"So soon?" he asked.

"I thought you agreeable to the match."

"Oh, I am!"
Aldamir said in a rush, earnest, "Very much so! It's just-"

Eldacar canted his head to one said as his son scuffed the boards of the stand with his boots.

Aldamir pressed out a breath, "I...I had hoped that I might, we might...I wanted it to be our idea...not..."

With a sigh, Aldamir glanced over to his grandfather and then hung his head again. It was impossible not to smile at the idealism and romanticism. As his younger son, Aldamir had not had to shoulder the grim practicalities of rule as his elder brother had. As he had, himself.

"Very well, son, I will speak to your grandfather. We will not announce it tonight...but do not tarry overly long, Aldamir, for announced it must be."

"Yes Father, of course, and thank you!"
Aldamir perked up immediately as he offered Eldacar a grin that was still slightly boyish.

The sort of grin that had been on his face when Lady Amarwen had caught him peering at her which prompted Eldacar to offer further counsel, "And have a care in how you go about courting her. This young woman is not merely a comely maid that your eye has settled upon."

"Well, she is that, Father,"
Aldamir's grin widened and then sobered as he took in his father's stern mien, "I shall do her no dishonour nor disservice."

"See that you do not, Aldamir,"
Eldacar replied and them, with a nod, dismissed his son who drifted away, thoughtful now.

Down by the rails, Helda pulled off the bandage that had been set around her head.

"Is that wise," Vilna asked.

"Likely not," Helda replied and she bunched the soft bandage up, "But I leave wisdom to others, as well you know."

Rhinnin smiled, "Have to have something in there to fall out in any case."

Helda listened to the chuckling about her, eyes on the woman from Pelargir. She looked like she was preparing for the paired melee, which is what had prompted Helda to remove her bandage. It would only slip into her eyes during the match. Her attention wandered to the others of Pelargir. They'd been fighting back to back...tired, carrying all sorts of minor injuries. And they could no longer surprise them for they had already revealed their hand earlier in the day. The sort of smile that unfurled on Helda's face was the kind that made any regular sparring companion swallow thickly. She was going to enjoy herself this afternoon.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 23rd, 2017, 10:42 pm 
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Almara was quite surprised, to be honest, when Micha pulled wide with his shot. Her own shot covered over her surprise with a pleased expression. She had hoped to finish in the finals, but better yet she had placed! Perhaps now she could use this accomplishment to gain the trust of those whom hired her to fight.

Almara smiled and politely bowed as she was presented with the trophy. She spoke nothing in return, however.

After the ceremony she was about to leave, when Amarwen spoke. The conversation was brief but she seemed like a pleasant young women. Now, however, Almara was faced with an even worse test.... She had a royal dinner and ball to attend. She sighed and knew she couldn't pull a no show. It would be looked down upon, and her "superiors" would no doubt expect her to go.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 26th, 2017, 11:42 pm 
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The horse sports came next and the joust showed off the horsemanship of the Rhovanion calvary, but it was the heavier Gondorian knights that were more accurate with their lances. Vilmaith scored a victory by knocking a man off his horse, but was later eliminated when she was knocked to the ground in the semi final. Needing to shake off the webs before the horse archery event, she took a walk over to the well. Dumping a pail of water over her head, she splashed more on her face and proceeded to stretch to work out the stiffness of the impact and fall. There was still a little time before the horse archery even started, and she would be ready.

In the royal seats, Lady Firien tired of the tournament, and she whispered to her husband Eldacar,

”I must go and prepare for the banquet. There is much to do, and I want it to be a memorable event.”

Eldacar gave her a nod before she stood up. Stepping behind her husband and the king, she stepped past Rie-Zunic sitting behind them. She gave him a nod and asked as she paused,

”Will we see you at the banquet tonight sir? You are welcome to come.”

Firien knew he had to be familiar with the troubles that were brewing in the south, and she knew that should rebellion come, things would go ill for her husband and children. She wanted good people around them, and her senses watched for any sign of treachery. She thought Rie-Zunic served King Valacar well, and would have his eyes and ears open to the various conversations that freely flow at banquets. She did not wait for his answer as she turned to leave the stands with her handmaiden.

Outside, she waited for her carriage to arrive to take her to the palace. Calimir and two of his guild officers came walking up. He bowed to Lady Farien, and she gave him a slight curtsy. He said,

”Lady Farien, it is well seeing you. Are the games not to your liking?”

“They are something I attend as a formality. I saw you leave early, and seemed to have a leaning toward the paid ringers of Pelargir. Are the games not to your liking?”


Farien replied. Calimir smiled and looked off to the Dome of the Stars where Lady Farien’s eyes were looking. He said,

”I am sorry you had gotten caught up in all this so early. Your father should not have agreed to your betrothal to Eldacar.”

“My father was a practical man Calimir. He would not have allowed me to marry below my class.”


Lady Farien said as her coach rolled up.

”I am sure I will see you and your comrades at the banquet tonight.”

She said as they stared off. Calimir gave her a bow and watched it disappear down the road. He then said to his comrades,

”Come, I owe some money to the King, Prince, and Lord Therald for the poor showing of the Pelagirians.”

They made their way into their seats in the royal box to finish watching the tournament.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 28th, 2017, 12:51 am 
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Rie-Zunic gave a polite bow of the head to Lady Firien as she spoke in passing. He would be at the banquet, eyes and ears open. His duty was to be ever vigilant in these troubled times.

He was glad for the good showing off his kinsmen and brothers in arms in jousting, though he was glad he had not been selected to compete. He never was as good on horseback as he was on his own two feet.

After the Lady took her leave, Rie-Zunic also took his leave. Having delivered his message to the king of the guildsman paying their mercenaries extra to injure the shieldmaidens. Now he had preparations to make. It seemed he had not avoided the horseback competition all together. One of their riders from the jousting, though he pulled through with a victory, had been injured badly. They would need a replacement Archer in the mounted archery.

Across the camp, Almara prepared for the same event. Having placed second in the previous archery challenge, she seemed to have gained the favor of the pelagirian leadership.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 28th, 2017, 4:43 am 
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Therald observed his daughter from the seat he occupied in the carriage. Amarwen sat across from him and she was withdrawn, silent. He knew his only child better than the back of his own hand. What men did with swords Amarwen could do with words, but it was her silences that you had to watch. Drawing her out was difficult, for the more she was pressed the further she would pull away.

For the banquet, Amarwen had gathered her hair so that it cascaded in a smooth fall of silken night. The pale skin of her long neck and shoulders glowed. She looked beautiful in her gown of ruby velvet but it was her eyes that Therald studied. They were trained on the view from the carriage window, Osgiliath’s slowly passing streets reflected in their clear, grey depths. Every so often Amarwen would blink, long and thick lashes of ink sweeping down and back again.

In time, he hoped, she would come to see how right they were. Once Halvarin finished his studies and set about his work as a navigator, he would spend little time ashore in Pelargir or Edhellond or anywhere else. He knew that was coming for it was what navigators and captains did. They had one mistress before all else – the sea – and that was no fate he wished his daughter to endure.

Thus they made the journey in silence. Therald rubbed at his temples as the carriage slowed to a halt. They had arrived at the banquet hall.

Amarwen said quietly, ”Mother has striven to keep Edhellond in the shallows when it comes to matters of court.”

“Yes,”
he agreed, ”Edhellond is not a military port. It has few defences to call upon beyond trade and diplomacy.”

“Then I do not understand this decision to bind Edhellond through marriage to a prince of the realm at a time when tensions swirl through the court, Adda. If those tensions spill over, Edhellond will be thrust into the heart of the peril.”

“Tensions run high at present and likely will do so until Eldacar comes to the throne, but for Edhellond to be imperilled…well the madness of civil war would need to come to Gondor and I do not think that will come to pass.”

“Do you not?”

“No,”
he said with a firm shake of his head, ”I do not.”

Amarwen sat back with a defeated sigh, unconvinced.

”I know this seems hard. Even unfair. But it is not the looming catastrophe it seems. Your mother and I would not do this if we did not think it was the best thing for you and Edhellond both.”

And with that, he knocked on the cabin window for the door to be opened.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Lady Farien adjusted her youngest son’s jacket a final time, ”And remember, Aldamir, Amarwen is a great deal younger than you. This may well be frightening to her, overwhelming.”

“I understand, mother,”
Aldamir sighed, impatient now, but of course he could not know any such thing.

”If she is to come to you, my son, it must be freely. Anything less and she will only come to view the marriage as a cage and you her jailor.”

Aldamir gently pushed her hands aside and straightened, his chest expanding. From that, Farien knew that Lord Therald and his daughter must have arrived.

She turned about as Therald strode through the door, his customary genial smile in place. His daughter, following behind, a vision to behold. A young aristocrat of her breeding and appearance, Farien felt a moment’s sympathy for the young woman. Perhaps, in a way, it was just as well that arrangements had been so swiftly reached upon. Provided Aldamir was patient and remained true to his course, Amarwen would be spared the endless bickering over her future that would otherwise await her.

”Go gently, my son,” she advised and he nodded, scarcely paying her any attention at all now.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


”My lady Amarwen,” Aldamir said as she curtsied before him, ”I am so pleased you are here.”

“As are we both,”
Lord Therald replied, for Amarwen was silent as she rose to her feet again.

Go gently, his mother said but really, what he most longed for was a frank and private discussion with the woman that was to be his wife. The sooner, the better. Amarwen’s hands were clasped before her and her eyes were demurely lowered. Such a stark contrast to the lively, vivacious woman he had espied at the archery.

”Lord Therald, might I steal a moment of your daughter’s time,” he asked, at which Amarwen’s wide grey eyes bounced up to him.

”Of course,” Therald agreed, plucking up one of Amarwen’s hands and placing it upon Aldamir’s outstretched arm.

That done, he led her swiftly out of the banquet hall and into the cooler, quieter gardens beyond. The moon was full and it threw luminous light over the garden and Osgiliath as a whole. It was a resplendent sight to behold even with Amarwen at his side.

”How bright the moon is tonight,” he observed, releasing Amarwen’s hand now that they had gone far enough.

”As bright as the steel of Gondor’s swords,” she replied, her answer surprising him such that he turned from his study of the sky to the woman that had uttered it. But then, Amarwen had never fawned nor flattered as other maidens might. She did not blush, nor bat her lashes, nor wind her lovely hair around her fingers.

”A curious statement,” he said and Amarwen looked levelly back at him for a moment.

”If you say so,” she replied and then, ”Your highness.”

“You need not address me so.”

“I fear that I very much must.”

“I promise you, Amarwen of Edhellond, you have nothing to fear from me,”
he answered and then tilted his head, ”And you do not appear so very afraid, my lady.”

Amarwen arched a brow, ”Know me so well, do you?”

”You are an enigma to me. A betwitching mystery that I would know more of, if you would but allow it.”

“Why bother,”
she inquired, ”We are to be wed in any course.”

Aldamir’s brows rose. He had wanted a frank discussion but he had not anticipated just how readily Amarwen would provide it. She sounded…sad to him and he was reminded of his mother’s words. He had no desire to be her jailor.

“I have as little desire to wed a stranger as you,” Aldamir said, ”When we wed, it will be because we desire it and not because it is required of us.”

Amarwen considered him at length, her wide eyes searching his face, ”Truly?”

There was such hope in that question that Aldamir stepped forward and took her hands into his own.

”Truly,” he affirmed and lifted her hands to his mouth to kiss.

Something extraordinary occurred then for under the moon, Amarwen smiled at him for the first time. She reached up onto her toes to press her lips to his cheek, her soft warmth pressing into him.

”Thank you!” she breathed, her breath tickling as she drew back and his cheek tingling with the memory of her lips, ”I shall not forget this!”

Tempting as it was to pull her to him, Aldamir refrained from doing so. Instead, he inclined his head and released her hands.

”Nor shall I, my lady,” he answered and with another warm smile that made his heart skip a beat, Amarwen hurried back to the banquet hall.

Aldamir lingered, watching the bright light of the hall wash over Amarwen as she made for it. The ruby hue of her gown glowed and her silhouette was impossible to ignore as she all but joyfully skipped back across the threshold. Patience, his mother counselled and patient he would be. But it would be far from easy.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 29th, 2017, 8:53 pm 
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"You can't be serious!" Almara protested, hands on her hips as she gazed across the room.

"You asked," came Rie-Zunic's voice from across the other side of the room. "Do you want my help, or not?"

Almara looked at the outfit Rie-Zunic had chosen for her. She had never attended any kind of royal function . Rie-Zunic, however, was quite accustomed to them. Ironically, it would no doubt be Almara that enjoyed it the most. Rie-Zunic never fancied large crowds or bustling ballrooms.

Rie-Zunic walked up to Almara and held out the dress. She looked it over as if she was scrutinizing a horse that she was about to purchase. Then, with a glint in her eyes her lips curled into a smile.

"You know..." Almara said, looking at Rie-Zunic with a playful glimmer. "If I had a handsome man to accompany me, I would be much more inclined to wear such attire."

Rie-Zunic sighed, a longing shone out his eyes and he handed her the dress. Slowly, he placed a hand on her cheek. "But..." He spoke slowly. "As you have already informed me... You can not be the mistress to a married man." Rie-Zunic pulled his hand away and it looked as though a tear were about to escape his eye as he turned from Almara.

"Rie..." She called after him as his hand gripped the door knob to the room.

He paused only momentarily. "Don't make it any harder than it already is, please. Besides, you are going as one of the Pelargirin mercenaries. We can not be seen socializing on such a scale." With that conclusion Rie-Zunic left the room.

Almara stood motionless for some time before she whispered. "Rie, I'm so sorry... I didn't know you still cared so deeply."

Almara halted her tears, for a women of her breeding did not cry. She was no noblewoman, nor was she anything special. She was an orphan, a stray, but most of all... A survivor. Survivors avoided one thing more than anything else, signs of weakness.


Later at the palace, as the high-toned fancy-to-do started, as Rie-Zunic would call it, he looked to the entrance to see the lady Amarwen enter and greet the young prince. Then, a moment after the two had taken their leave of the busy room, Rie-Zunic saw Almara enter.

His heart nearly dropped when he saw her. Her form was well displayed in the black dress. The dress itself was laced with golden threads and embroidered with a stunning pattern. The low cut front was quite too low for Almara's liking, he knew it would be. She didn't seem to like the slit up the right side of the dress skirt either. All this, however, was not what made his heart drop, though her beauty hit him with many memories. It was one memory in particular that glued his eyes to her and made his palms sweat. Her hair. It was curled and done up in a fancy arrangement. He hadn't seen it like that since...

"Excuse me!" A voice interrupted Rie-Zunic's thoughts. "As a soldier of Gondor, would you be kind enough to cover the front entrance?" The man speaking was the same rank as Rie-Zunic, so it was not an order. Rie-Zunic knew the man, however and knew his reasons would be justified. "I'm afraid my second guard had a family emergency," he explained. "His wife is having a child and it's a month early. I gave him leave last minute."

"O-of course," Rie-Zunic responded hesitantly. By the time he looked back Almara had already disappeared into the crowd. He looked back at the man. "I will go at once."

"Thank you, sir!" The man replied. "I will send someone to relieve you as soon as able."

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