Pay No Attention to That Man Hiding in the Horse Stall
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Goodness, but there sure has been a lot of snow falling this week. Simply piling up out there over a foot deep now. And not going anywhere. But Valar be praised, it is NOT snowing today. In fact, the sky has dawned a brilliant, clear blue with narry a sign of cloud. Rejoice! Except, it's bloody cold out there.
The morning is yet early and the sun is barely up somewhere in the east, beyound Bree Hill and the distant mountains. Just past feeding time in the stables as Acelen is an early riser, sun or not. So all through the barn there are contented, munching ponies eating their fresh hay and their grain rashions. And one horse.
Out of sight, Rhifaroth has just sat up from the bedding in Elfaron's stall. He's not really awake yet, but Acelen's puttering about disturbed him. That and the usual sarcastic comment that Codger usually has for the Dunadan.
Elfaron ignores all, his nose burried blissfully in his feed.
It's been two days? Maybe less, Keldean isn't entirely sure. All he knows is that he wants to find Cordelia and after waiting for what seemed an eternity up in the attic for her, he took matters into his own hands. Not the wisest decision when one is battling an illness, but his judgement isn't stellar under healthful conditions, let alone unhealthy.
She wasn't in the kitchen or the common room. A sporadic search elsewhere also turned up nothing. Keldean had poked his head out the back door to see if she was outside, but the cold winter air felt so good on his hot skin that he quickly convinced himself to check the stable as well.
The teen -looks- unwell. His hair is damp and sticking to his neck, his skin has a red flush to it that's too wide-spread to be from the exposure to the cold. He didn't think to grab his coat. He steps into the stable, looking around slowly. "Cordelia?"
[Frarin(#31050)] "Looking for your partner in gossip?" comes a deep, rumbling voice from behind Keldean. Through the door just after the youth steps Frarin the Dwarf, without his usual cloak as if he had come quickly from indoors. Indeed, with the dryness in his tone and the unhappy shadows across his face, it might be fair to say that, having spotted Keldean, he had followed the teen to the stables. His tunic looks hastily buttoned and even his long beard is unbraided, flowing free down his chest.
He shuts the door behind him with an unhappy frown and points a finger at Keldean. "I've been looking for you, lad. Where've you been, hm? Not seen you for at least two days."
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Hearing -that- name here, the man called Seeker turns his head and then carefully gets to this feet to see who has come, and whether or not Cordelia is actually here. But all he sees as the man peers carefully from the stall is the youth Keldean just entered, and a stout dwarf coming up behind.
Hearing then Frarin's familiar voice, the Dunadan eases back with a hand on Elfaron's dappled hide, staying out of sight but listening quietly.
Keldean jumps at Frarin's voice behind him, startled. He turns to look at the dwarf, "I've been sick.. She said she would get me some hot tea, but.." He shakes his head, not completely remembering what she said to him before he fell asleep earlier in the morning. Or maybe it was last night? The cold air finally catches up to him and he shivers as his body temperature plummets. "Have you seen her?"
[Frarin(#31050)] "No, I haven't," the dwarf replies in a short, clipped tone, his irritation now becoming more apparent. He regards Keldean for a moment with a furrowed brow and then waves the youth away from the draftiness of the door, towards a short bench up against one wall. "Been sick, have you?" The words sound concerned, but the look that Frarin gives him is far for pitying. "Well, you deserve it right enough, don't you? Mayhap if you'd stayed out of the cold and minded your own business, not gone around shooting your mouth off, you wouldn't be in such a state."
Keldean finally begins to sense the dwarf's mood and shrinks away as Frarin herds him away from the door. He had hoped for some sympathy, or at the least expected a bit of understanding. The anger is a surprise. "Why are you so mad at me? I haven't said anything lately.." He sits down on the bench, crossing his arms over his chest to fight back the chill.
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Not having shown himself, the man in the stall with the grey stallion scrubs a hand through his now oily hair, scratching his itchy scalp. Seeker frowns, wondering how on earth he is going to ever get washed up in this weather without access to hot bathes at the Pony. Several bits of straw are picked out of the man's black hair and then it is finger combed as neatly as he can manage.
Still listening to the two out in the barn aisle, Seeker moves to tidy up his things he has laid out in the corner of the stall so Elfaron won't step on his bow, etc. The man picks up his sword belt and begins to buckle it on, quiet in his movements.
Elfaron's ears flick back to listen to Rhifaroth's movements, but other than turning his head once to look down the barn aisle, the horse continues to be more interested in his feed.
[Frarin(#31050)] "Well no, you've been sick, haven't you?" Frarin grumbles dryly. "Almost a blessing, what with the way you run your mouth when you're healthy." But he is not entirely without heart, it seems, for he begins unbuttoning his green tunic, a thick, long-sleeved white shirt beneath. "By the Maker, Keldean, would you get some proper winter clothing? Get Nob to give you an advance, else you'll have no reason to spend your money in the future."
He tosses the heavy tunic to the teen as he retrieves a metal pail and upturns it to make a seat. "Now," he says with irritation, coming down to business as he seats himself. "Who have you been talking to? And what about? Don't you dare try to pull the wool over my eyes, lad, you've got some answering to do." Keldean takes the thick shirt gratefully, pulling it on quickly with shivering hands. It's too big for him, but a welcome warmth all the same. A more apt question from the dwarf would be to ask who he -hasn't- been talking to. Keldean's brown eyes shift around nervously at Frarin's demanding questions. "Well.. I.. talk to Cordelia a lot. I told her about the elves. We were trying to figure out why they're here in Bree. She thought maybe they were after the treasure?" His chills begin to lessen as the extra layer of cloth warms him. "I might have mentioned something to Aaron about the elves too. Cordelia wants to go see them."
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] There is a stirring in one of the stalls just down the aisle a little further from where the two are speaking. Elfaron finally moves over to his stall door and puts his head over it, ears pricked towards Frarin and Keldean. The horse looks hopeful for treats or scratching.
[Frarin(#31050)] This time Keldean's nervousness fails to awake any semblance of sympathy within Frarin. Quite the opposite, in fact. His lips press together angrily and he leans back, throwing up his hands dramatically. "Oh Durin, Keldean! After the treasure? Can't you keep your bloody mouth shut, just once? Elves are not treasure hunters, fool boy. They give a great deal less care to such gossip than do you or that nosy Cordelia. I swear, you and she were made for each, be sure not to send me a wedding invitation, will you?" There is no effort at all to disguise the irritated sarcasm.
Standing suddenly with his building temper, Frarin looms (by about a foot and a half, as it were) over the seated Keldean and stabs a finger at the youth. "You and she are just alike, lad. When will you learn that too much gossip hurts people? Those elves wouldn't bother with such a pair of busybodies any day. And that treasure is none of your business, anymore than knowing about it in the first place was."
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Talk of Cordelia wishing to meet with the elves stops the Dunadan in his motions to ready himself for the day. Rhifaroth raises a black brow and then he smiles to himself at the thought. He of course says nothing to interrupt such an entertaining dialog.
The teen likely couldn't look more miserable if he tried. His auburn curls are a tangled mat from two days in bed and there's a faint sheen of sweat as his fever begins to spike once more. "I didn't say anything about you! And.. I'm not as bad as some! Aaron started blaming Cordelia for the murder the other day and I've heard a lot of people talking about that Seeker."
Why is Frarin suddenly so angry? Maybe he overheard Kel when he was talking about wanting to see Seeker and Aaron get a beating the other night? "Did.. someone say that I said something?" He dares to ask in a timid voice, trying to figure out where he drastically went wrong over the last week or so.
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] A dialog which grows more interesting by the moment. The suggestion by Frarin that Keldean and Cordelia are a perfect match for matrimony and the man stops cold. Oih, he wants some ale and hot breakfast, alas.
Mention of his own handle quiets Rhifaroth and he pauses to listen once more ere he bends to pick up his quiver of arrows.
[Frarin(#31050)] "Do you say something?" Frarin repeats with a look of disbelief, hands upon his hips. "What /haven't/ you said, lad? I don't care if you haven't said anything about me, you've been talking just the same and it's going to hurt someone." His brows come together with a deep frown. "Cordelia? A murderer? Oh for pity's sake, Keldean, we're talking about a dead dwarf. That woman prefers her mouth to her hand when it comes to destroying a person. As do /you/."
The accusing finger stabs the air again and Frarin grumbles. "Heard a lot of people talking about that Seeker, have you? And I suppose that disincludes you from all guilt? Not every stranger that comes into town has some spectacular story behind him, lad. Leave the poor man alone. And, for Durin's sake," he growls this, "stop up that mouth of yours from carrying on about this bloody treasure."
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Nobody is paying the horse any attention and Elfaron is spoiled by Cordelia. So the horse turns about in his stall and puts his nose out to sniff at Rhifaroth as the man dones his quiver and picks up his bow from the straw to check it for dampness.
The man's boots are still off, set neatly on his pack, and still quite wet from all the snow these past days. He is not eager to put them on - but a mindful glance to Elfaron's steel shod hooves and Rhifaroth sets the bow aside to put on his wet boots.
A glance up as Frarin mentions him also.
The teen is practically cringing as Frarin continues to lay into him, "I didn't say anything else about the treasure.." Keldean frows as he trails off, then amends.. "Well, mostly. Aaron didn't believe me that it was true but.. uhh.. " He swallows. "I won't mention it again, I promise! And I kept my other promise, right? About the bruises? I didn't tell anyone that he did it, and Cordelia asked a lot." He clings to the one shred of honesty he can stand behind.
[Frarin(#31050)] "Well, at least Aaron has some sense," grumbles Frarin, his temper beginning to abate. With a unhappy grunt, he returns to his upturned pail and sits, arms resting on his knees as his hands clasp. "Aye, you better promise. I've told no one that you hit me--" well, almost no one "--and you'd better be grateful for that, else you'd have more than me after your neck."
"No more gossiping about this treasure of ours, understand? Not even with Cordelia, especially not with her. Tell her if she's so damn curious she should ask me herself. But /you/ keep buttoned up, and don't think I won't know if you do decide to open your mouth. Your curiosity gets the best of you and for you it's all just interesting and exciting, but when certain people hear certain things, it's not fun anymore, you got that?"
"Yeah.. I got it." Keldean mutters in a glum tone. It's one of his favorite topics of late. The dwarf is cruel. He pulls his feet up onto the bench, huddling in the chill stable. After a moment of silence he grumbles, "What -were- you talking to the elves about?" Curiosity will kill the Keldean one of these days.
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] The man called Seeker locally by some, pushes Elfaron's nose away. He shifts where he stands in the stall and listens carefully. Keldean struck Frarin?
His boots now on, straw removed from his hair, his long sword and quiver settled upon his person, Rhifaroth squats down next to his pack to see if there is anything at all left in there that might possibly be edible.
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Ah well, no joy for the horse. No treats, no scratching. The grey moves about in his stall, restless, and finally puts his head back over the stall door to peer longingly at the two in the stable aisle.
[Frarin(#31050)] Frarin stands again, not angrily this time at least, but as if thoroughly exasperated. "Keldean," he says, rubbing a hand above his brows as he turns away from the persistant youth. "Keldean, lad, when are you going to learn? It's none of your business and that's how it is sometimes. You don't get to know everything you want to. One day all of this will come back to haunt you, this gossip, that tongue of yours."
With a look of long suffering, the dwarf looks to the heavens as if that might provide some answer to all. When it fails to do so, he drops his gaze and it lands at long last upon the longing gaze of Elfaron. Grunting at Keldean, Frarin starts towards the horse, holding out a flat palm, but he looks back to the teen. "It's not something you have any right to know about, but I suppose you'll go blabbing about it and creating theories out of thin air about how the elves are somehow responsible for Norli's death or some such nonsense?"
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Oh, what a happy horse - somebody is coming over to pet him. And this short person's smell is quite familiar as a friendly thing. Or at least a known scent that has never harmed him.
Arching out his magnificent neck and lowering his white head, long wavy strands of black mane cascades down between Elfaron's brown eyes. Black tipped ears swival foreward with interest and a velvety soft, grey nose wuffles at Frarin's palm, hoping for sweets.
"Well.. that doesn't really make sense. I mean, they said they wanted to help find the murderer, and then they were talking about trade and stuff." Keldean is completely unphased now. The anger has passed from Frarin and all is better. "At first I thought maybe it was some kind of alliance between them and the dwarves, but, the treasure idea seemed more plausible." He wipes some sweat from his brow, too tired to get up and follow the dwarf. "Have they found anything? With the murder?"
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] The sound of Frarin's deep rumble coming over towards the stall makes Rhifaroth very carefully stand up from his pack. The barest of sound as his booted feet shift in the straw and the man stands with his back almost touching the wall.
If the man's careful movement draws the Dwarf's attention, Frarin will find Seeker looking towards him but saying nothing.
[Frarin(#31050)] "Well, at least /that/ theory fell through," Frarin mutters to himself dryly, absently running a rough hand over the stallion's soft nose. He leaves off Elfaron for a moment, going down several stalls to where his own pony Barim is housed and a bag of very gnarled apples hang from a post. Barim gives a snort to his master, but Frarin pauses to give the pony a fond pat only before returning to Elfaron.
"More plausible. Will you listen to yourself, lad?" the dwarf grumbles, digging out one of the apples and offering to the stallion. "Neither is plausible. I've told you the elves are not treasure hunters and there is more than one dwarf who is not pleased with my accepting the help of elves in this matter. And no, they have not. I have met them only once since Combe."
He falls silent, patting Elfaron's velvety nose again and looking up at the beast, for he stands quite a bit taller than the dwarf. But as his gaze lifts, it falls upon the shadow of Seeker, pressed up against the far wall of the stall. Frarin's mouth falls open and his eyes widen, but the only difference that Keldean might notice is an intake of breath. Then the merchant is turning with a sudden frown. "Keldean," he says, rather quickly, "so you promise to keep your mouth shut on all matters concerning the dwarves?"
Keldean is hardly that observant in his current unhealthy state. He hasn't shifted from his spot on the bench, still huddled into a ball. "Okay okay, they don't care about the treasure.." Frarin's question has him hesitating for a moment, then he quickly nods in agreement. "Yes, I promise!" Perhaps a little too eager, but there might be something juicy to learn here. Who knows how well a promise will hold through his fever-impaired judgement? [Cordelia(#1394)] The stable door gets pulled open slowly, as if there is snow impeding its progress and in walks Cordelia--just in time to hear words of 'treasure.' If she were a horse, her ears would be pricked forward. But she's not, so she just startles a bit to see so many people gathered in the stables, and smiles shyly.
[Frarin(#31050)] "I don't want to be humoured, lad," Frarin growls, coming again before Keldean and seating himself upon the upturned pail for a third time. "This is a serious matter. And I know who to come to if--" He cuts off abruptly at the sound of the stable door opening and begins to rise in surprise from his makeshift seat, but catching sight of Cordelia, he simply gives a disgruntled look and sits down again. "Oh," he sighs, frowning. "Look who it is."
Keldean is sure if Frarin is going to lecture him more or possibly share more information. The latter is worth suffering the former if it proves true. "I won't say anything, really!" He says eagerly even as Frarin is cutting off at Cordelia's arrival. The draft from the door opening sends an involuntary shudder through the sick teen. Of all the bad timing for her to show up!
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Frarin's brief and startled gaze was met with calm grey eyes, Seeker's hood down and his face plain to see but for the dimness of the stall. The man makes no move but seems relaxed, just standing there as though quite unconcerned. A bit of straw still clinging to his cloak. The man's eyes follow the dwarf as Frarin quickly leaves the stall door and disapears from his sight.
Elfaron though is not happy to loose Frarin's attention. The stallion arches his neck and blows a snort loudly, then bobs his head with annoyance. He wants out.
[Cordelia(#1394)] Still sleepy, Cordelia stifles a yawn, which also serves to hide the irritation that crosses her face when the conversation stops at her entrance. "Morning." Then, more irritated, "Keldean, dammit, do you really want to /die/? What are you doing out of bed? What are you doing out here, even?"
Cordelia is a woman of medium build who looks to be not yet 20. Pale skin is set off by very straight long black hair. Narrow dark brown eyes are set at just the slightest hint of an angle in her small face.
A cotton blouse of forest green peeks out from beneath a tightly laced bodice and dark brown skirt. On her shoulders is a hooded cloak of thick grey wool, clasped at the neck with a bronze brooch. Her feet are shod in knee-high leather riding boots. Finally, on her waist she wears a multicolored woven leather belt, from which hangs a pouch and a long dagger, but both are usually hidden by the cloak.
[Frarin(#31050)] Frarin sends a look towards Keldean when the youth reasserts his silence, a look that might well burn that fever out of the sickened teen. "Looking for you," the dwarf answers tersely on Keldean's behalf, standing and kicking his pail aside in case Cordelia sweeps in to have a look at Keldean herself. He crosses his arms over his chest, glancing again at Elfaron as the horse raises a fuss, but not moving in that direction. Right.. the former, more lectures on everything he's done wrong. Maybe Cordelia is a welcome rescue after all.
The look Frarin turns on him erases any eagerness from the teen's face and Keldean appears rather cowed. He only nods in agreement when Frarin explains the reason that brought the teen to the stable. He really should be in bed. He's still feverish and is huddled into a ball on the bench, wrapped in a heavy tunic that Frarin gave him.
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Cordelia's all too familiar voice coming into the stable perks up Seeker's interest from the stall he's still in. The man turns his head to listen more carefully so as to place her position. He will certainly wish to know if she comes close to the stall he's in.
The sound of a kicked pale makes the grey stallion throw up his head and put his ears back, backing into his stall. Large horse haunches come uncomfortably close to pinning the Dunadan against the wall and Rhifaroth makes an effort not to smack Elfaron's butt and to refrain from muttering. But the man leans on the horse and makes the stallion shift to give him room.
[Cordelia(#1394)] "Wait.." the young woman says, pushing her hood back off her head and shaking the snow off her cloak. She turns narrowed eyes on Keldean. "You came down /here/? Looking for me? Keldean..." she sighs, crossing the stables toward the teenager. Intent as she is on the teen, though, she does spare a glance to the stallion when he dances about nervously--though she still can't see into the stall. "Ah.." Smiling, she reaches into a fold of her apron--there's an oatcake bundled up, which she pulls out.
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] There is the sound of a horse moving about in his stall, and the stallion circles around inside it before he comes back to the stall door. Ears flicking back and forth between the man who pushed his haunches off balance, and the sound of a familiar woman's voice wars for the animal's attention for a moment. But only for a moment. Cordelia is the treat bringer!
Elfaron puts out his lightly cresty neck and arches it handsomely, nose pushing back and forward eagerly, ears now pricked towards the woman. He nickers softly, blowing, trying to gain Cordelia's attention in the hopes of treats - or a ride!
[Cordelia(#1394)] Keldean can apparently go to his feverish death for the moment, as Cordelia drops all attention on her "patient" and instead walks toward the stallion, cooing at him and holding out the oatcake. "Aren't you up early, beauty," she chirps. She is dangerously close to spotting that nasty straw-covered Dunadan in the stallion's stall.
[Frarin(#31050)] "Cordelia," says Frarin gruffly as he takes a step towards the woman, uncrossing his arms and pointing at her as she starts for Elfaron's stall. "I've been talking to Keldean here about his gossiping and I wanted a word with you too." But aside from that step towards her, Frarin moves no closer to the stall, as if willing her to look back towards him. "You said you didn't mean any harm in agreeing with Keldean before and that's all very well and good, but you two are back to gossiping again. I told you two to stay out of dwarven affairs already."
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Shit. Seeker doesn't really want Cordelia to know he's been sleeping here in Elfaron's stall some nights, watching out for her! The man hears the woman's approach and moves quickly to duck down against the near stall's wall, close to the stable aisle but out of sight from someone greeting the horse at the door. Underneath the feed trough he scoots and sits, trying to think of something fast should Cordelia enter into the stall.
Alas, having moved so fast, his small pack and his bow are left in the stall. The long bow is propped up in the corner, in plain sight should the woman look past the horse.
Keldean opens his mouth to begin trying to explain how he ended up out here, but Frarin starts in on the gossipping lecture again and he simply sighs, laying his head weakly against the wall. At least the dwarf's ire is directed elsewhere for the moment.
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Ooooh! Happy stallion! Elfaron's posturing to gain the woman's attention is handsome to behold - unless you are a dwarf trying to kindly distract said woman. The grey puts out his nose to wuffle at Cordy, trying to locate that oat cake he scents, ears way attentive to her. Soft lips find the treat and the horse brushes her fingers, gobbling it up eagerly. He's almost like a great big, dappled grey dog sucking up so. The horse certainly didn't act this way before Cordelia was around.
[Cordelia(#1394)] The dwarf does gain Cordelia's attention, but only for a second. Then horse lips are tickling her fingertips and she turns back to Elfaron with a happy smile, almost child-like. One hand reaches out to pet the horse, the young woman stepping forward, still cooing and chirping quietly--a sound that stops abruptly as she steps close enough to see past the animal and into the stable itself. She stares, then catches herself.
"What of it, Master Frarin? Gossip?" she asked almost absent minded. She's staring at the bow and pack there. "I mean, what are you saying we did now?"
[Frarin(#31050)] The abrupt end of Cordelia's soft attentions to Elfaron does not go unnoticed by Frarin, whose lips press together in an intense frown, especially when she only absently answers him. What to do, what to do. "You ought to know very well," he grumbles gruffly, standing stalk still as if unsure how to react to Cordelia's sudden interest in something behind the stallion. But the dwarf cannot see into the back of the stall himself now, who knows what her eyes have locked so intently upon.
"And if you and this lad don't learn to keep your tongues behind your teeth, it's going to cause just as much trouble as the last time. Leave off what isn't your concern, that's what I mean."
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Very carefully, Rhifaroth has moved to put his legs underneath the feed and water troughs as though he had been sleeping under there to stay out of reach of Elfaron's hooves. His hands quickly strip the arrow quiver from his back and props it by his head, laying back and listening. The man tries to be very careful not to make any noise doing this to redirect Cordelia's attention.
But, just then, Seeker notices that he left his bow standing against the wall - in plain sight of the stall door! And his pack.
"I think.. I'm going to go back to bed now.." Keldean says in a quiet voice, slowly standing up. He shrugs off the tunic and drops it on the bench. He's been feeling worse as the minutes dragged on, but the excursion has rapidly sucked away any energy he had left and he's starting to really feel ill. He isn't even paying much attention to the others now, and starts moving for the door, dreading the colder air outside but wanting to get back to the warmth of the blankets on his bed.
The way he's moving, a lethargy to his pace, suggests that it's more than a ruse to avoid further chastisement from the dwarf.
[Cordelia(#1394)] Rhifaron is probably safe in his hiding spot. Cordelia doesn't think to look there, but backs up from the horse and his stall, eyes starting to scan the rest of the stables. A brief glance is given up to the loft area where Keldean tried to hide that day, but as she can't get up there without engendering suspicion, she contents herself to lean against the stall door near Elfaron's arms folded across her chest. If the bowman left his bow and pack here, he'll be back for it at some point. No need to go searchign for him, though funny that he should leave it here. She maintains her silence on that point.
Instead, Cordelia focuses her full attention on Frarin. "I have no idea what you mean at all," she retorts. "Keldean and I talk about many things all the time, and you have apparently decided that whatever subject we happy to fancy at the moment is idle and dangerous gossip. Just because..."
Her words trail off. "Keldean!" she says in some alarm. "Don't go out like that!"
[Frarin(#31050)] Alas, if Frarin's temper had been on the downhill but moments ago, it's swiftly rising again. His fists clench tightly at his side, mustache bristling, deep frown hollowing dark shadow under eye and around mouth. "Don't start making assumptions about me, woman," he growls, clearly riled and growing more irritated by the minute. "I don't give a damn what you yammer on about most of the time, except when it concerns myself and my people. And you and Keldean keeping coming up with outlandish theories about a treasure that is none of your business, then the wrong people are going to start getting ideas and your peaceful little town won't be so peaceful anymore. So leave off it!"
He does not shout, though his voice is raised and he speaks rapidly with irritation. Cordelia's exclamation momentarily distracts Frarin, who glances behind to where Keldean is making for the doors. Ah, opportunity! "Oh for Durin's sake," the dwarf grumbles, anger seeming to wane as he looks back at Cordelia. "Will you /please/ take him back up to his room and get him some hot tea like he said you would? This is ridiculous, him wandering around with a bloody fever while you're feeding a horse."
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Alas, Elfaron is not longer getting scratches or treats. The horse slobbers bits of chewed oatcake, then ducks his head in to sniff about the straw beneath incase he dropped tidbits. The horse turns his head and sniffs at Rhifaroth's boots, but Rhif tries to nudge the horse's nose away.
Keldean cringes again as Frarin raises his voice, his sensitivity heightened by his unhealthy state. He looks back, stopping with his hand pressed against the wall by the stable door. Tea! That's right! That's what started all of this. He gives Cordelia a hopeful look when the dwarf makes that remark.
[Cordelia(#1394)] Oh, Cordelia's temper is raised, the woman just as hotheaded as any dwarf--maybe worse. "I /brought/ him hot tea!" she snaps back. No yelling on her part, but her voice is like ice. "It's upstairs by his bed. And then I spent the next 30 minutes looking all over creation for him. If he's that sick, /how/ did he make it down here all this way?" She glares at the dwarf then at Keldean. "Get upstairs and now!" Then back to Frarin, "And who are you to tell what I should and shouldn't talk about? It's not like I'm going around saying things to strangers. It's just me and Kel who are talking. I know when to keep my mouth shut and I don't see any harm in Keldean and I talking in private." The last word emphasized.
[Cordelia(#1394)] Horse and horse treat--and hidden Dunadans--are forgotten for the moment.
[Frarin(#31050)] "Oh just you and Kel talking," Frarin repeats angrily, tipping his head from side to side. "Just you and Kel talking, then how come I managed to hear about it, mm? Fine fine, just you and Kel talking, but if you're talking in the /bloody/ common room at lunch hour, then it's not exactly /private/, is it! Don't see any harm, do you? Did you not see any harm in announcing to the entirety of the Prancing Pony that I was a murderer? Did you not see even an ounce of harm in that? Expect life to go just as prettily as it always has for said accused murderer?"
Keldean is given another glance, but Frarin doesn't move to help him, so wrapped up in his temper is he. Indeed, his next comment seems almost...lame, given the fierceness behind it. "And his tea won't be so hot /anymore/, will it? By the Maker, Cordelia, however he got down here, do you expect him to get back up in that state?"
And how that hope crumbles away when she glares at him. Keldean definitely doesn't have the energy to hold his own in this ongoing argument. He pulls the door open, teeth chattering as the icy air hits him. Nausea is beginning to twist his stomach but the thought of throwing up in front of either of them is horrifying enough for the teen to resist the urge.
He steps out into the yard, teeth clenched against the cold air, his pale flesh riddled with goosebumps as the wind cuts through the thin clothes he's wearing. He had looked far better when Frarin first found him, but his time out of bed went on for too long. He feels the nausea spike again and only manages to stagger out of sight, wretching into the thick, clean snow.
[Cordelia(#1394)] "I'll have you know it was the kitchen and only the two of us were there at the time!" Selective memory is so useful. But then Cordelia's face burns a little as she thinks about it. She watches Keldean stumble out into the cold. "He's a grown boy and I'm not his nursemaid. He got himself downstairs he can get upstairs or at least indoors." She folds her arms stubbornly across the chest. "Just because you're eager to get rid of me. I told Master Acelen I'd muck out stables and that's what I'm going to do." She seems set in that and starts to gather the equipment she needs.
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Elfaron's nose getting a kick causes the horse to raise his head suddenly. The stallion mulls around in his stall, going over to sniff at the pack and long bow left in the corner. Which Rhifaroth had thus far been keeping the horse from messing with. NOW the grey seems interested in chewing on the wood of the bow.
[Brandebras(#25187)] Perhaps it is the sound of raised voices that has drawn another person toward the stables today. Perhaps young Brandebras Bywater is merely on some errand ... Whatever the case, he rounds the corner - and stops dead, homely features twisting in a grimace. "Ugh," he murmurs, then steels his nerves and steps toward the miserable Keldean. "Hullo - are you feeling ill?" State the obvious. He rummages in his pocket and pulls out a crumpled handkerchief, which is offered to the poor youth as he wonders, "Did you eat something bad?"
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Although the staw underneath the water trough is wet, the Dunadan has been getting little enough sleep of late - and stretched out under there it's awfully comfortable in the straw. If only he didn't need to be somewhere, it would be so tempting to just doze a while longer.
But, drat that damn horse. Now Elfaron has moved over to mess with his pack, and is much too interested in his long bow. The animal has knocked it over into the straw and might step on it.
From where he lays, hearing Cordelia's voice speaking of mucking, it is now Seeker's turn to roll his eyes. This day is definitely not going as planned. So, for the moment, he just lays there and closes his eyes. Nothing else to do about it now, but wait.
Keldean isn't in any condition to answer Bywater right away, but when he can finally breath regularly again he lifts a shaky hand to take the handkerchief and wipes his mouth. The teen looks wretched, hunched over with a color to his skin to rival the whiteness of the snow. "Sick.." He mumbles, reaching for a handful of clean snow to wash the taste of vomit from his mouth, spitting it out after doing so. And for the moment? He feels much better.
[Brandebras(#25187)] Brandebras nods at Keldean's response, and hangs back a little. "You don't look too good. Maybe you should go up to the Healers House." He hesitates, fidgeting from foot to foot, then blurts out, "Do you think it's .. uh, catching?" His eyes widen at the thought of Plague in Bree (though the observant might notice his head is still cocked to catch any more shouting from the stables).
[Frarin(#31050)] Frarin seems fairly shaking with anger now and he glares daggers at Cordelia, prodding a finger at her. "And you're a grown woman and ought to know better! Bloody...ridiculous woman!" he growls, grappling with his words in his frustration. The sound of Keldean's sickness drifts back into the stables and Frarin pauses for a moment, but it is not long before the kindly voice of a concerned hobbits comes through the doors as well. Well, there's a relief.
"What makes you think I want you gone, eh?" Frarin retorts angrily, though he does not ask wary as if he really wants an answer. "And muck out? Master Acelen's already been out to feed them, can't you see that?" he says, waving at the happily munching away ponies. "Now stop being so damn nosy!"
[Cordelia(#1394)] A cold eye stares at that finger prodding her, Cordelia's face set in hard, angry lines. Still, she keeps her temper, looking as if she is almost literally going to bite her tongue. A huff, and she steps to one side, away from Frarin, moving to lead Elfaron out of his stall so she can clean it--not a word said to the dwarf. She secures the horse, having not yet noticed any stray Dunadan lurking in the stalal.
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] The young grey stallion was waiting at the stall door and all but pushed Cordelia right back out as soon as the stall door opened. Elfaron dances out, all eager to get out, tail lifted. He reall is a magnificent animal. Steel shod hooves ring out in the stable aisle as the animal moves and then stills, being tied out of the way.
Keldean straightens, looking very much like a plague-bearer with the way he's moving. "I don't know.." He isn't in much of a position to assess his own bout of sickness "Thanks.." The teen says weakly, handing the hankerchief back to the hobbit. Now that his body has recovered from the nausea his shivering has begun again. "I'm going back inside." He explains to Bywater, and starts for the door of the inn. Cordelia did have a point.. he got himself down here. He's learning a valuable lesson right now.
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] A frown, but Rhifaroth makes no motion to move. He lays where he is, arms up behind his head in a most comfortable position, and closes his eyes. He's going to need to saddle that horse and take him in order to make it out to Archet and back before dark anyway.
[Brandebras(#25187)] Brandebras, listening eagerly for the few shouted words that drift his way, is too slow to fend off Keldean's attempt to return the handerchief. He stares at it in horror, holding the suspected Plague Object at arm's length. "Do- do you need any help?" he stammers, surreptitiously dropping the hanky as he does. Well, in for a penny, in for a pound.
He's too miserable to want to be around people right now, "No.." The teen intends to do little more than drag himself back to his bed and sleep. The shame is that Keldean is missing out on a very intriguing discussion (argument?) in the stable, but whatever bug he's caught is too brutal to ignore. He makes it to the door of the Pony and disappears inside.
[Frarin(#31050)] With a great huff of air the ends of Frarin's mustache blow outward as he glares. But then he turning on his heel, a rough hand snatching up his discarded tunic and he is stomping for the door, a string of mutters following him. "By Durin, what a stubborn woman. By Erebor, what nerve! By the Maker himself, she'll be the death of someone with that bloody tongue a'wagging!"
Through the door he goes, Seeker abandoned to handle himself with all possible distractions attempted and failed. Well...all? Through the still open door drifts Frarin's stiff, wooden greeting. "Good morning, Master Bywater!" Ah, but which Master Bywater exactly?
[Brandebras(#25187)] Brandebras sighs with relief as Keldean makes it back inside without help, his rosy cheeks reddening a little more - shame? They redden a little further when Frarin addresses him. "Oh! G- good morning to you too, Mister," he stammers out, offering the dwarf a little bob.
He leaves the dropped handkerchief where it is, beside that unpleasant little puddle in the snow, and though he /tries/ not to look at it his gaze keeps drifting that way.
Cordelia turns briefly toward the door as Frarin blows a lot of hot air and stamps out, and her expression is certainly self-satisfied. Another pause as she tilts her head to listen to the conversation just outside the door, then she picks up the manure rake and fetches the cart, heading to Elfaron's stall. Rake is put to stall floor--the woman's attention more directed at the door than the floor--until said rake might bump up against something other than manure. She turns to look.
[Frarin(#31050)] Frarin offers the rosy-cheeked young Brandebras a small bow, gaze following the hobbit's to a sad little puddle of gunk and a discarded handkerchief. "Did, eh, Keldean make it up to his room alright?" the dwarf asks politely, though from his distracted tone of voice, he seems to be listening instead towards the stables behind.
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Cordelia's manure fork has bumped up against Seeker's boots - boots still wet from the night before - which are closest to the stall door. She honestly startles the man who was getting a bit too comfortable waiting for all these folk to go away. He sits up, startled, and bumps his head rather firmly with an audible KNOCK against the bottom of the feed trough!
A sour grimace as he moves a hand to rub at his sore head, "Hey!" A blurry eyed focus and then he frowns, "What are you doing, woman?" He sounds annoyed. And there is straw in his hair and on his clothes.
Over in the far corner Seeker's long bow lays partly in horse poo. His pack is intact, but there is an interesting shaped good sized item tucked in behind it that is wrapped carefully in oiled canvas to protect it - whatever it is. The man's long sword is girt at his left hip, and he was rolled up in his cloak. Now he's glaring at her.
[Brandebras(#25187)] Brandebras tears his gaze away from The Evidence, and draws breath to answer Frarin. "He went back inside, he said he didn't need help. He really didn't look very well." He grimaces and reaches inside his pocket for his handkerchief, only to find his hand come back empty. He hesitates, looking down at his snow-dusted toes, then bursts out suddenly, "Do you think it's a plague?" He sounds terrified. "Or ..." he glances at that tell-tale puddle again, and his eyes widen, "wh- what if he was poisoned?" At that latter suggestion he sounds almost hopeful.
[Cordelia(#1394)] "I'm mucking out the stalls, like I offered Acelen!" Cordelia answers, her mouth open in shock and she spots the man. "What are /you/ doing? Do you always sleep in horse crap?"
Wyr is IC
ï¿½From this man's shoulders falls a greenish-hued grey hooded cloak that shows much wear and repair. A quiver with long arrows is thrown over his back with a traveling pack. A long sword resides just below his left hip and a long bow if often carried in his left hand.
ï¿½Standing about 6'4", this man is fairly broad in chest and shoulders though otherwise lean and fit. Windblown black hair appears recently trimmed. Eyes a silvery grey have faint creases around them from much squinting into distances. Across his cheekbones and down the sides of this man's throat are thin, faded blue-black line and dot tattoos that resemble writing. A relatively new scar angles across the right side of his face, just skipping the eye.
ï¿½An off-white linen shirt with long sleeves clothes him with a studded leather jerkin. Leather archer's bracers bind each of his wrists and covers the back of his hands, but leaves his calloused fingers free. Plain brown pants are tucked into dark brown leather boots that show signs of travel. All of his clothes are stained and show a good deal of wear.
[Rhifaroth(#27282)] Seeker gives Cordelia a dirty look, then scoots out from under the troughs to get to his feet. Alas, it was damp under there and his cloak is a bit wet down the back. The tall man bends to pick up his quiver and done it, gaze slipping over the woman and the stall, "I was not sleeping in horse crap. Straw."
A hand moves to dust straw from his clothes and then skims through his oily black hair, plucking out bits with annoyance. Grey eyes glance back to the young woman, "Sorry. You startled me. I'll get out of your way, Cordelia."
With that, the rumpled, soiled man moves over to pick up his pack and buckle it on. Then his hands reach for the other strangely shaped thing to throw it over his back as well. Is that a lute?
[Frarin(#31050)] The ruddiness of his ever so recent temper quickly drains from Frarin's face at Brandebras' unexpected questions. "What?" he says, brow furrowing as he draws a breath to steady himself, glancing again at the unpleasant little puddle. "The plague? No. No, of course not. He's got a fever, that's all, Master Hobbit. Like as not from running around outside all day spreading gossip. And I doubt there's anyone would go to the trouble of trying to poison a wretch like him."
He bows stiffly to Brandebras. "Now I need to be going. Good morning." And with a grunt and a last glance behind, Frarin departs the inn-yard without another word.
[Brandebras(#25187)] "Uh," mumbles Brandebras, "good-" The words trail off as by that time Frarin stomps away, and he watches the dwarf's retreating back with a scowl forming on his round face. "Why's he so sure?" he wonders aloud. "Wasn't there that story about him ..." He falls silent again, this time steeling himself for another glance at the nasty little puddle.
[Cordelia(#1394)] "Horse kicked your bow into horse crap," Cordelia notes dryly as she starts raking said crap out. "But yeah. You were sleeping in straw. Under a horse trough. Guess it's comfy..." There's some humor in that and also a note of empathy. She moves out of the bowman's way, ever watching him as she does so, so that the odd-shaped bundle catches her eye. Head tilted, she asks, "What's that?" So much for Frarin's lecture about minding your own business.
[Rhifaroth(#27282)]ï¿½ï¿½He noticed about the bow and the horse crap. But at least it's not broken or obviously chewed on. Once he has everything else gathered up, the tattooed and scarred man bends to retrieve his long bow. He uses his cloak to wipe it off - adding another stain to the thin cloth, "Yeah, I should have kept it closer."
ï¿½A glance for the woman, careful not to turn his back on her but otherwise seemingly relaxed, the Dunadan glances back at the package she mentioned, "It's my lute. If you recall, the first time we met, I was playing it." Not that the rest of that occation is good for the woman to recall.
ï¿½With a bit of a smile, Seeker moves to leave the stall, "Enjoy."
[Brandebras(#25187)] Alas, Brandebras does not find the answer to his question in the snow. He rubs a hand across his worried face, then speaks his thoughts aloud. "I'd better speak to Torebras. And Mister Nob. And the Healing House. Just in case ..." A new destination in mind, he trots off, the snow crunching beneath his toes.
[Cordelia(#1394)] For some reason Cordelia goes a bit pale at the Dunadan's words. "Lute," she says, her voice choking for a second. "Right." She ignores his possibly sarcastic farewell and starts raking energetically, though she sneaks a glance behind her to check out what the man is doing.
[Rhifaroth(#27282)]ï¿½Alas, there is no hiding the fact that the man has gone for Elfaron's saddle and bridle. Seeker gives the horse a hasty brushing over the back and girth area, then is saddling with practiced movements. He would very much not have Cordelia see him about to depart, but... much time has been lost already.
ï¿½Within a few moments, the task is done and the archer is leading the grey stallion out of the stables and into the snowy morning light.
Cordelia whistles a merry tune as she cleans the stables, finishing Elfaron's and moving on to the others rapidly. Now and then she glances up to watch Seeker's preparations, but she doesn't seem to pay him any special notice. Except perhaps for the lute he is carrying, but then not much could be made of that, afterall.