[Thari(#31038)] The inn has well awoken by now on this holiday morning. Voices are heard indistinctly elsewhere and the floorboards creak upstairs as
people walk over them. The Yule log waits in the courtyard the smell of breakfast's porridge is especially enticing as a few holiday currents have been added.
The back door opens, and in comes Thari. She passes an exasperated glance over the hallway while pulling off her hood. She shuts the door quietly
[Frarin] The door leading in from the inn-yard opens only shortly after the back door and admits a second dwarf to the passageway. This one is Frarin though, and he wears no cloak, though as he comes in from the cold he rubs warmth back into his arms. Notably also, his war hammer is absent from his belt. He
comes into the corridor muttering, knocking bits of stone and straw from his boots before setting foot on the worn floorboards. But before even he has paused to close the door behind him, the silver merchant glances up, apparently checking the passage for signs of others.
His look is dark and displeased as it comes up, but it brightens somewhat at the sight of Thari. The door is yanked shut with annoyance, then Frarin is
limping quickly towards the healer. "Thari!" he rumbles, his tone relieved, even if he does not smile. He is careful not to speak loudly and thus the greeting is more a loud whisper.
[Thari(#31038)] Thari is walking down the hall toward the palour door and does not glance back when the back door is opened. It is Frarin's voice that calls
her attention. She turns at once with her own relieved smile. "Frarin! I've been looking for you. You were out there? I didn't see you!" Her voice is quiet as well.
[Frarin] "I've been looking for you as well," Frarin answers, coming towards her. He does not even glance around him for unwanted observers - the
passage being fairly straightforward in terms of hiding places, after all - before he extends his arms to Thari. "By the Maker, I've been so worried about
what that Thane of yours had to say. And what he might've heard from that scamp Keldean,
the one who was listening to us. I've been out all bloody morning looking for that lad, hoping he might at least show himself for Yule!"
And with an effort to curb the frustration in his words, Frarin adds with a humourless half-smile. "Merry Yule, as it were."
[Thari(#31038)] Thari's smile turns brilliant and she steps to him, her arms gone about him, her head tucked against his shoulder. "I haven't really
spoken with him. He had me ordered, rather stupidly, straight to the healers and then I was off to bathe. Did you really pay damages to that hobbit family,
love?" She tightens her hold on him.
Nob enters into the back of the hallway, near the stairs, from the outside innyard.
Nob has arrived.
Torebras walks down the narrow passageway from the foyer.
Torebras has arrived.
Keldean enters into the back of the hallway, near the stairs, from the outside innyard.
Keldean has arrived.
[Frarin(#31050)] "Aye, I did," Frarin says darkly, embracing the healer as if he might lose her if he lets go - which, considering recent circumstances, he might very well believe. But even finding Thari does not seem to curb his clearly awoken temper much. "Eight gold florins, they wouldn't take a penny less. Structural damage this, repairs in the snow that. Insisted on a new door, of course." His tone grows more irritated with each word, but he finally heaves a heavy sigh and loosens his grip on Thari so as to allow him to look at her face.
"I was happy to though," he assures her, giving a small smile at last. "The hobbits at least don't seem to suspect the reason for our pursuit. It's that lad I want to get my hands on. And your Thane, for one." That seems to remind him of something, for the merchant's expression darkens once more. "I am sorry, Thari, but I mean to have words with Braldor. I would have been perfectly content to stay on and see that the hobbits were properly repaid, but your Thane was the more senior dwarf and certainly did not know enough of the particulars to have a greater right to seeking that lad than we did. He suspects ill of us, Thari, and I will not have that."
Keldean can't avoid his work forever unless he wants to end up out on the street in the dead of winter. (Which he doesn't.) He's been trying to hide from the dwarves while he figures out what to do, but the truth is he really doesn't have any idea on that count. His outlandish theories are lacking in any concrete evidence, and he doubts anyone would believe him. Where does that leave Keldean? Back where he started.
The teen is hauling wood, a regular task for him that's starting to earn him some muscle finally. It's also a task that does little to occupy the mind. His thoughts are miles away while he kicks the door open and carries a heavy log in, his shirt sticking to his back from sweat, auburn curls damp and lifeless.
[Thari(#31038)] "Of course I wouldn't mind if you had words with Braldor. I've done it often enough myself. I don't think you ought to have paid for that house when you--" The door is kicked open and Thari jumps back, away from Frarin quick as a shot. The shorter dwarf stands some distance away from the taller, holding out a small purse toward him but staring wide-eyed at Keldean.
[Torebras(#25187)] A moment more and a small, rotund figure stands huffing in the doorway that Keldean has so conveniently left open, conscientiously wiping his furry feet on the mat and flicking a speck of mud away from his silver-grey woollen overcoat. "My, it's a," huff, "cold morning out there," remarks Torebras Bywater to noone and everyone. His gaze is still fixed on his own person.
[Frarin(#31050)] Thari jumps away from Frarin in an instant and, though the silver merchant does not at first see Keldean, he does hear the opening of a door behind him and instinct bids him moves away from Thari just as quickly. Turning, for a moment he stares open-mouthed at the youth, clearly shocked at have the long-sought teen appear so suddenly, and without noticing them either, it would appear. But then his sense seem to return to him and Frarin grunts and takes a hasty step towards Keldean.
His boot makes only a single thump upon the floorboards, however, before Mayor Torebras is following Keldean into the passage. Frarin comes to a halt again, one hand frozen mid-air to point at Keldean. And there he stands for the expanse of several seconds, though it seems ages longer. Then, he quietly clears his throat and drops his hand, forcing a welcoming smile to the hobbit mayor of Bree. But his dark eyes flick to Keldean.
Keldean looks no less surprised to see the dwarves standing there. His own brown eyes open in shock, taking in what seems to be some sort of money exchange. Why would they be exchanging money? Several conclusions pop in his mind that coincide solidly with the ideas he's been mulling over since the escapade at the hill. The boy dumps the log on the floor and turns about sharply, bolting for the door he just came in through. Where did the hobbit come from?! Keldean tries to nimbly avoid crashing into Bywater, but unless Torebras is fast it seems that the teen is more than willing to trample over him in his sudden desire to flee out the back door.
Thari tucks the purse back into belt as the hobbit huffs in. "Good Yule to you," the shorter dwarf says absent-mindedly, still watching Keldean. But then the lad starts to bolt again! Thari pays no heed at all to the safety of the Mayor while leaping suddenly at Keldean, reaching out to try to grab the back of his shirt. "No! Stay!"
[Torebras(#25187)] Torebras is still inspecting his overcoat - alas, that lovely pale grey really does show the mud - and completely misses Frarin's smile. Not so Keldean's charge: the hobbit windmills his arms to keep from falling, effectively blocking the doorway (unless, of course, Keldean is a born hurdler). "Will you WATCH where you're going, young man!" he raps out sharply as disaster approaches.
Thari's lunge is the last straw. Torebras takes a sudden step backward his reaching foot, finding naught but mud, slides ...
[Frarin(#31050)] Frarin's gaze is wary as he watches Keldean suddenly register the prescene of the dwarves, but like Thari, the silver merchant attempts some semblence of civility an instant before the youth bolts. "Mayor By--" Frarin manages to say with a forced calmness, but then Keldean is running again! As the lad turns to high-tail it back out the door, Frarin completes his greeting with urgency "--WATER!"
As if charging into battle, the silver merchant leaps after Thari, boots pounding the worn floorboards now without any regard to civility. And his battlecry rumbles down the narrow passage. "Keldeean! Hold! Come back!"
[Nob(#16122)] A pair of bright eyes appear in the doorway behind Torebras, widen enormously, and Lek dodges to one side, just avoiding the Mayorial Fall.
Stay?? Not on his life! He's seen Frarin spar in the yard and is quite convinced of what that heavy hammer can do. And Thari's axe? Well, his imagination has had too much time to think about that also. "Leave me alone!" He yells in a high, tense voice. He suddenly finds the hobbit in his way and Thari is hot on his heals. Kel tries to push past the windmilling Torebras, but doesn't have enough momentum and stops rather abruptly as he collides with the fellow. When the hobbit steps back, Kel makes a desperate sprint in anticipation of a clear escape. As it happens, Bywater slips as he moves and the teen trips over him, spilling to the ground next to the hobbit.
[Thari(#31038)] Thari misses Keldean's shirt in the lunge, hand sweeping through air. "Damn!" The shorter dwarf takes one step forward, boot stepping on the edge of the door, and then suddenly presses to the side, against the wall to give Frarin room as he goes thundering down the hallway.
[Torebras(#25187)] 'Water' is something that Mayor Bywater could do with right now. Without warning, Torebras finds himself lying in the mud, bruised and battered, his finery ruined and his dignity in tatters.
For a moment there is silence, save for a whimper. Then, with a groan, Torebras manages to pull one furry foot free from underneath Keldean and sits up. He summons up breath for a tirade. "That is /quite/ enough! Just what is going on here? This is a /civilized/ town!" Outrage quivers in every half-squeaked syllable. His eyes grow round as saucers as he stares at Frarin charging toward him like a bull in a hayfield.
[Nob(#16122)] Lek darts in to help Torebras up, only to look up himself from where he crouches in the mud, and see his teacher thundering down on him. With a muffled squeak, the boy throws himself sideways.
[Frarin(#31050)] The Mayor of Bree is not the only one to suffer from the mud, it seems. Surely the floorboards have more traction than the snow of the previous pursuit? Yes indeed, but the mud outside of the back entrance to the Pony does not. Frarin's limp is barely noticeable as he barrels down the corridor, hobbit, pupil and fellow dwarf all ignored as the silver merchant concentrates on catching the slippery Keldean. "Stay! We just want to talk, lad!"
And fortune at last, for Keldean trips over the unfortunate Torebras and Frarin closes the gap between him and his quarry quickly. He slows his charge to a quick jog as the bodies pile in the doorway, but still arrives in time to clamp a hand down on Keldean's collar. If he had any intention of hauling the youth to his feet, however, Frarin is sorely disappointed, for into play comes that dastardly mud. Hardly a breath passes after the merchant has a hold of Keldean when suddenly his boot shoots out from under him. The dwarf soon joins Torebras and Lek in the muck (fortunately avoiding landing on either), though he manages to keep his grasp of Keldean.
[Thari(#31038)] "Frarin!" Thari cries as the other dwarf goes down, then, oddly enough, the still-standing dwarf starts to laugh. Deep chuckles escape from Thari, despite obvious attempts to quiet them. The dwarven healer's lips are pressed into a line, eyes dancing, as careful steps are picked toward the mass of bodies. One strong hand reaches down to try to clamp on Keldean's arm while the other hand reaches out to offer the mayor help up.
Keldean is equally covered in mud now and spitting some out as it dribbles down his face. Frarin's iron grip twists onto his collar and the boy tries rather unsuccessfully to pull free, barely able to find purchase on the slippery, muddy doorstep. "Let go! I haven't done anything, I don't want to talk!" He protests and bunches himself to try and lunge away but Thari's hand locks around his wrist and he's rather suddenly restricted in his mobility.
[Torebras(#25187)] Torebras draws in his breath Frarin barrels on, only to let out a long sigh as the Dwarf avoids landing on him. His eyes are still wide, and he ducks away from Thari's arm, reaching instead toward Lek. Almost plaintively, he echoes his earlier request, "Will someone /please/ tell me the meaning of this?" He does try to sound forceful, but the last word comes out as a squeak.
[Nob(#16122)] Lek, who has managed somehow to not get fallen on by anyone at all, jumps to his feet, mud smeared down one side of his face and clothes, and holds out his hand to Torebras again, bracing himself for the mayor's weight. "Was it a chase?" he asks eagerly, his bright brown eyes flickering from Keldean to Frarin to Thari and back again.
[Frarin(#31050)] Mud slathers Frarin's entire right side as the dwarf goes down, even rubbing into the bottom of his long beard. As Thari takes a hold of Keldean, the silver merchant releases the youth, grateful for the use of both hands to get himself out of this mess. "By the Maker," he curses in a grumble, attempting to bring himself to his knee and half-way succeeding, if by way of covering the remainder of his trousers in muck.
"Was it a chase?" Frarin repeats, glancing up at Lek with lifted brows and a half-smile, still struggling to come unsteadily to his feet. "Nay, lad, I was merely out for a morning jog, can't you see?" His beard still wagging in the mud, Frarin brings his feet beneath him and manages to stand by first unfolding to a right angle, then carefully straightening. Still slightly unsteady, Frarin wags a muddy finger at Keldean. "I don't care if you don't want to talk, lad. You've got some answering to do." Poor Torebras recieves an exasperated scowl from Frarin. "Just want to talk to the lad, Mayor, but he keeps running off. Caused enough mayhem already."
[Thari(#31038)] "Th-the mud," gasps Thari in low laughter, "Matches your beard, Frarin!" The healer pulls on Keldean's arm to try to lift the lad to his feet.
Keldean tries to twist his arm free of Thari's grip, his jaw clenched as he jerks against the unyeilding hold the dwarf has on him. He has mud all over his chest and face, and swipes his free arm up to wipe the sloppy dirt away from his eyes. Something one of the dwarves says catches his attention. The mayor?? "I'm not the one that caused any mayhem!" He argues, glaring at Frarin accusingly. "You're going to drag me off into the woods and butcher me! Just like you killed that other dwarf!" He looks over at the bedraggled hobbit, expecting the -mayor- of all people to jump to his defense.
[Torebras(#25187)] Mud. There's plenty of it around, this cold and frosty Yule morning. The back entrance to the Pony is a scene of chaos, with a muddy dwarf, a mud-coated hobbit, a mud-coated human youth ... oh, and add in another couple of folk for good measure. Lek is holding Torebras' arm, while Thari has charge of the struggling Keldean. Frarin merely has his (very muddy) beard.
Torebras heaves himself up with Lek's help, staring forlornly at his silver-grey overcoat all splattered with thick, oozy mud. "My, what a mess!" he murmurs, before recollecting himself. "Thank you, young man." He gives Lek a grateful nod.
Then his brown eyes turn to Frarin. "If you want to talk to someone, Master Dwarf, I do believe it is customary just to ask, rather than to charge at them like a raging bull." His voice is mild enough, but a frown is beginning to settle on his round face as his gaze shifts to the man-handled (um, dwarf-handled?) Kellan. "What's that? Speak up, young man, there's nothing to hide. You're among friends here." He gestures to the pair of Dwarves looking anything but friendly.
[Nob(#16122)] "He killed somebody?" Lek's eyes grow even wider and his mouth drops open. He drops Torebras' arm, ignoring the mayor's thanks. "W... was it someone bad?" he asks after a moment of utter silence.
[Cordelia(#1394)] It may be Yule, but Cordelia is working, peeling carrots and potatoes in the kitchen, if the bits of peel stuck on her apron are any clue. Still, the commotion is apparently loud enough to draw her away from her work...not that it takes much to normally draw her away from vegetables. "What in the world is going on out here!?" she asks as she steps into the passage.
[Frarin(#31050)] Despite what might be considered a serious situation, the utter ridiculousness of it does not fail to strike Frarin either. Thari's stifled laughter draws a grin from the silver merchant as he tries vainly to rub his beard off of his trouser leg - which really is quite useless, given that his trousers have more mud to their name than the beard. And to add to the comic image, his mouth falls open as Keldean suddenly spouts out his accusations.
"Drag you off to the woods and /butcher/ you?" Frarin sputters, grin fading into a look of a disbelief. "/Butcher/ you? Lad, what sort of tales have you heard about dwarves? I have no intentions whatsoever of killing /anyone/ in Bree." The youth's second exclamation, however, draws a darker look from Frarin, who frowns very suddenly. "Killed that other dwarf? Listen lad, you'd do well to keep your mouth closed on matters you do not know anything of. Where are these outrageous claims of yours coming from, mm?"
The silver merchant gives Torebras another exasperated look, shoulders slumping over-dramatically. "No, I did not kill anyone," he directs at Lek with an attempt at a smile. Then, to the mayor, "With all due respect, Mayor, I would not be chasing him if he had not /run/ in the first place." Cordelia, for the moment, is completely ignored, just another distraction in a passageway quickly growing in noise volume.
[Thari(#31038)] Thari's eyes narrow at Keldean as mirth utterly fades, and the strong hand tightens on the lad's wrist. "You had /best/," the dwarf growls while giving him a little shake for emphasis, "stop thinking and saying that." All others are entirely ignored while Thari's iron-hard and iron-sharp focus is solely on Keldean.
[Cordelia(#1394)] "Killed 'im?" Cordelia blurts out, the young woman unable to keep her silence as she overhears the conversation. "Was it a blood feud or something?" she continues, eyes growing wide in fear as she peeks around the crowded hallway to try to get a look at the accused Frarin. "Dwarf against dwarf?"
Keldean isn't about to lay out all his evidence so Frarin can simply deny it all. He winces as Thari tightens a grip that was already cutting off circulation to his hand. The dark look that both dwarves level on him cause the boy to quail, his face paling. Now they really -are- going to kill him.
"Then what were you talking about up on the hill?" Kel asks, stubbornly defensive as he draws courage from Lek and Cordelia believing him. The dwarves can't do anything to him in front of the mayor, right? They can't!
[Nob(#16122)] "Oh." Lek's voice wavers between disappointment and relief. He looks at the Mayor, then at the two dwarves, then back again his thin freckled face uncertain. "Are you /sure/?" he asks, almost wistfully.
[Torebras(#25187)] Alas, Keldean's unknowing shield will soon protect him no longer.
Torebras uses the arm that Lek has released to brush vainly at the seat of his silver-grey overcoat. Unfortunately all he achieves is a mud-sticky hand. "Young man, I do hope you haven't been eavesdropping," he tells Keldean severely, before relenting of his disapproval and reaching out to try to give the lad's arm a friendly pat. (His hand's muddy already, after all.) "Now, you tell Master Frarin here whatever it is he was wanting to know, and then be on your way. There's really no need for melodrama." His gaze darts from the eager Cordelia to the equally eager Lek, and he shakes his head as though pitying those who are so suggestible.
Then he clears his throat. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I really need to return to my smial. Good day to you all." With a tip of his (miraculously still clean) hat he turns round and exits the Pony, his mud-plastered rear clearly visible as he climbs the hill. A nice hot bath definitely calls.
[Frarin(#31050)] Well then. Cordelia's fearful comment draws Frarin's attention to the woman at last and he scowls. All of his usual polite composure seems to be quickly slipping away as Keldean's outlandish claim seems to be gaining believers. "No, it was not a blood feud," Frarin growls at Cordelia, then apparently realising how that might sound, adds, "It was no feud because I did not kill him! Or anyone!" The silver merchant's voice is gradually growing louder in frustration and his fists clench at his side. Lek recieves only a scolding raised brow in answer to his hopeful question.
Little brown specks of mud litter the polished passage floor as Frarin stumps in from the muddy outside, coming towards Thari and Keldean. But at Torebras' words, Frarin at last gives a relieved look. "/Thank you/, Mayor," says the silver merchant, clearly still reining in his frustration, but grateful to the hobbit's good sensibility nonetheless. Frarin glances to Lek and Cordelia, then wags a finger at Keldean.
"Well then, lad, speak up. What do you /think/ you heard, mm?"
[Thari(#31038)] Cordelia now captures Thari's attention. The shorter (and cleaner) dwarf cranes head to look at the woman. "No dwarf killed Norli!" declares Thari, frustrated and exasperated. The grip on Keldean's wrist lessens just a little, to be less painfully cruel. There is a kind nod toward Torebras, but soon Thari only looks at Keldean as Frarin questions him.
[Nob(#16122)] Lek's face falls, but then he shrugs philsophically. Can't have everything after all. And the next instant he is his usual bouncy self again, edging in farther to the hallway where he can listen with avid eagerness to Keldean's story. "Who's Norli?" he interjects.
Keldean gapes in disbelief as the mayor -leaves-! He feels his stomach twist into knots as Frarin closes in on him, an expression of fright on his face. "You were talking about hiding things from the healers! You don't want them to know how you got hurt in the fight with Norli." That must be the dwarf that was killed, "That's why that other dwarf was arguing with you in the inn, too! You're trying to hide it all so no one finds out. You want everyone here to trust you but you're always whispering secretly to -him-." He jerks his head towards Thari, "and anytime a person walks in you act all nervous and suspicious!" He says more than he meant, but he's scared and having a hard time keeping his facts straight.
[Cordelia(#1394)] "How do you know that? How do you /know/ a dwarf didn't kill one of your own?" Cordelia says defensively, hands on her hips. "Just because it's a horrible and dishonorable thing to do doesn't mean that it can't happen! And there!" She nods then points to Keldean as the youth speaks. "One of your own behaving suspiciously, and you refuse to even look the facts in the face!"
[Frarin(#31050)] Frarin's face falls as Keldean spills all, except, that is, for his brows, which lift a full inch in disbelief and stitch together. "So you /were/ eavesdropping, hm? Now you admit it, do you?" The silver merchant glowers at Cordelia as she fuels the youth's story and he growls at her. "Do not speak of what you do not know, lass. If you wish to make an accusation, then speak it plainly! This lad knows no better, but you ought at least to have some bloody sense!"
Looking back to Keldean, Frarin makes an attempt to rein in his temper with several quick breaths. "I was never in a fight with Norli. My hip, hm? It was broken over four months ago by a creature you cannot even imagine in your worst dreams. What am I hiding from the healers? The fact that my hip has not repaired properly and that my left leg is now shorter than my right, if you must know. And as for whispering. Lad, if there is one thing that you have yet to learn about dwarves, it is that /we do not readily share all with strangers/." The last words are spoken through clenched teeth.
[Thari(#31038)] Thari's eyes go from one speaker to another, widening in something like alarm. This dwarf released Keldean's arm entirely now. "Frarin was with me when Norli died," the healer says abruptly, almost defensively, and takes a step away from the lad.
[Nob(#16122)] "Who's Norli?" Lek persists. "If you didn't kill him, who did?" The boy peers around the hall, as if the Murderer might be found there! That very minute! But there is no one but themselves. Bits of gossip overheard begin to filter through his memory, and he adds, with the certainty aped from someone much older than himself, "I bet he just slipped and hit his head!"
"You're in league with him! You two have been whispering and passing money and as soon as you thought I heard something on the hill you tried to chase me down. If it was something so simple as an old injury, you wouldn't have made such a big deal about it! I'm not stupid. I know what I saw." He's on dangerous ground, but there's an appreciative glance towards Cordelia. He's glad he at least has her support. "Why were you arguing with that other dwarf you called 'my lord'? And then you were fighting with him the next day. You're admitting that you won't say what's really going on.""
Cordelia lifts her chin, sniffing loudly as the dwarves scold her. She nods to Keldean, her jaw set in a stubborn line. "He's right. You folks are the ones acting suspicious. Going around and whispering and giving out coin. Looking for secrets. As if /we/ would know what happened to one of your kind. As if /we/ might have something to do with something so..so...horrible!" She finishes angrily, but her voice is almost breaking from sudden tears that she's holding back.
[Aaron(#24624)] Walking into the back of the altar with a quick stride is Aaron. Mud caked on his boots leaves footprints behind him. On his back he carries a pouch full of rotted foods. Pausing to look at the group assembled, he smiles, stops, then sets the pouch down and stands silently, watching the conversation.
[Frarin(#31050)] "Norli was a dwarf of our company who was killed several months ago," Frarin patiently explains to the ever-eager Lek, lowering his voice and betraying at last a suggestion of beseiged weariness. "And he /was/ killed, by someone here in Bree, like as not." Alas, the barrage of accusations against him continues and Frarin heaves a great huff of frustration.
"Yes!" he cries, throwing up his hands. "Yes, that is exactly what I'm admitting! Because you have no right to know my business or the business of my fellows. My arguments with others are my own and my own alone. And I fought with no dwarf, I was practising, lad. Learn the difference." Another scowl is thrown at Cordelia, in light of which Aaron's entrance goes almost entirely unnoticed by the silver merchant. "Bree is not so peachy as you might wish to think, lass. Now if either of you want to make an accusation, then do it and be done. But this guessing at what you cannot guess is ridiculous. If you believe me a murderer because I refuse to disclose my affairs, then you build you belief upon a lack of evidence rather than tangible credibility!"
[Thari(#31038)] "Frarin paid for the repair of that house I fell through the other day," Thari says in a thin, overly-calm tone. "I was offering him money for recompense, because I was the one who fell through it, not him." The healer speaks only to Keldean. Dark brows draw together. "Are you possibly talking about /my/ argument with the Thane? That, too, is private business."
A pointing hand shoots out toward Cordelia. "You! You need to calm yourself down. I've heard slapping a human woman will bring her to sensibility and I'm not above trying it!"
[Nob(#16122)] Agog, Lek watches Frarin shout. There is a hint of admiration in the slight boy's expression, and he jumps in eagerly. "Yeah, an' I /watched/ 'em! You never seen a hammer heavy as that one! I ... I bet... I bet it's bigger 'n even a... a... troll!"
[Cordelia(#1394)] A fiery angry fills Cordelia's eyes, and she sniffs away the tears that were threatening to fall. "You will /not/ so much as lay a hand upon me," she says, her voice a sudden icy constrast to her eyes. "If Keldean says your companion's behavior has been suspicious, then I believe him. He doesn't lie." Still, she continues on, the threat of being slapped perhaps making her more reasonable. "Still, I've got no proof that that dwarf over there is your murderer. But you can't blame us. It's been months, with whisperings and sniffing around. How are /we/ supposed to feel? We live here. This is our home," she says, including herself in that by some twisted logic. "And we're supposed to go around looking with suspicion at each other?"
Keldean would be trying to escape if Thari didn't have strong dwarven fingers locked around his wrist. He tries to draw back from the healer's glare but only bumps into the wall. "No. Frarin was arguing with another dwarf in the common room, here in the inn. It was by the hearth and he was angry and kept saying 'my lord' and looked like he was ready to .. " Kel catches himself before he says 'murder someone'. That won't help his situation any. "Ready to chew on rocks." Was it Frarin that day? He's fairly sure. The dwarves all look the same with those beards hiding their faces.
[Aaron(#24624)] Aaron, quite startled by this conversation and fearing that it may come to blows, approaches the crowd and shouts, "Do you realize what commotion you are causing? Enough! Now, I don't know what kind of argument this is, but if you all don't reach a peaceful agreement..." reaching into his cloak, Aaron feels the metal...the metal he hoped he would never have to use...the metal object that always rested in the folds of his cloak.
[Frarin(#31050)] Frarin glares suddenly at Cordelia as the woman's tears disappear and are replaced by an unexpected hardness. "Can we not?" he growls back. "You use the collective 'us' very lightly, lass, for someone who has been here less time than we dwarves. Bree is our home right now as well, and just because we look funny and speak funny doesn't mean we don't appreciate just exactly what this town has experienced of late. So kindly keep you tongue behind you teeth."
And with a great breath, Frarin reiterrates to Keldean, "My arguments are my own, lad! If I were arguing about a murder, do you think I would be fool enough to do it in the bloody /common room/?" Finally though there are calm words spoken in the midst of the heated debate and Frarin looks to Aaron, almost surprised to see the man standing there. Dark eyes flick to where Aaron's hand reaches into his cloak and Frarin's eyes narrow. "There is no agreement to be reached, sir. My comrade and I merely seek to dispell several ridiculous rumours."
[Nob(#16122)] "Yeah!" says Lek, abruptly ranging himself on the side of the dwarven merchant. "He never killed nobody, he's learning me t'read!" He glares up at the older boy, hands on hips, a So There! attitude sticking his chin out defiantly.
[Cordelia(#1394)] "My mother grew up here," Cordelia answers, her pride getting the best of her so that she bursts out a bit out of place in the discussion. "I have as much right to be here as anyone else."
[Thari(#31038)] "We don't go poking around in your business and I'll thank you if you don't go poking around in ours," Thari says in a growled reply to Cordelia. The shorter dwarf falls silent, however, at Aaron's shout. Slowly a hand is shifted to the side of the belt, and Thari flicks a glance toward Frarin's eyes.
Ah! It was Frarin. Well, at least he was right about that bit. The dwarf again comes down on him about his own business being private and the youth clamps his teeth shut with a stubborn set to his jaw. Keldean won't admit that the dwarf may have a point on that account. Aaron startles him, and he looks over sharply as the man bellows. "What business is so private that you won't share it? People only get that defensive about something when it's -bad-."
[Aaron(#24624)] Aaron does not withdrawl his hand. "Yes! I would very much like to know what could cause two children and a lass to begin shouting like all hell was breaking loose with two of our dwarvish friends from the Lonely Mountain! What cause have you all to be making such a racket that a few of our patrons have threatened to get out their clubs?"
[Nob(#16122)] "I wasn't shouting!" Lek says indignantly. "And I ain't a child, neither!" He stretches himself up as far as he can go. "I'm grown up!"
[Thari(#31038)] "There is a dwarven treasure in Bree!" Thari blurts out all at once, still looking at Frarin while saying this. Grey eyes then go up to Aaron. "We don't like talking about it. It is hidden in Bree while we are wintering here and will be gone with us. A treasure of such great worth and beauty," there is a small, nervous half-smile here, "is not something we discuss with outsiders."
[Frarin(#31050)] "I am a patron as much as any other," Frarin answers angrily, glancing at Thari. His own belt is noticeably devoid of its war hammer. "And when two of the inn's employees begin making outrageous accusations against me, I have a right to defend myself, sir!" He is no longer shouting, though his rumbling voice is harsh and still frustrated.
"And I shall say to you exactly what I have said to these two. That my business is my own and none others'. And if the desire for privacy makes one automatically guilty of murder, then you have a lot of accusing to do--" But then Frarin breaks off. His mouth falls open as Thari bursts out suddenly. For a moment, he can do no more than goggle at her.
Keldean looks over at Thari, his jaw dropping open in shock. Dwarven treasure?! Here in Bree?? He wants to readily believe it so badly, but he can't help but wonder if this is some sudden attempt to cover up the argument at hand. The teen is struck silent, going through the different theories in his head and seeing how a hidden treasure stacks up against what he's learned. Slowly, with more reluctance he says, "That doesn't explain why you would hide your injury from our healers.. " He looks back at Frarin, but his face seems willing to accept this as an alternative to murder if there's an explanation. At least for the moment.
[Cordelia(#1394)] "Treasure...." Cordelia doesn't say the word--she silently mouths it. For her, at least, all thought of arresting the alleged murderer--or fueling the arrest of someone other than herself for the murder she committed--is dropped. Still, that doesn't show on her face, which carefully holds the look of indignation and hurt at this whole discussion. "Why," she asks, "would you take a treasure through Bree?"
[Thari(#31038)] "We weren't /planning/ on having the treasure come to Bree!" Thari says indignantly, hands on fist. "We were heading home when we came to Bree to save you! You are welcome, by the way! No need to throw all of these big feasts and jewels at us!"
[Aaron(#24624)] Aaron, overwhelmed by it all, shouts, "Here's an idea! If you all can't be nice to each other, then leave each other alone!" his eyes blaze as the hilt of a dagger perhaps becomes only slightly visible from the folds of his cloak. "Guests should be treated as guests, got that? You kids have no place to harrass these dwarves! They are much older than you!"
Cordelia folds her arms across her chest at Aaron's shout and quietly withdraws into a dark corner in this passageway. Still there and listenig, but her mouth shut for the moment. Clearly, though, her expression begs the question, "saved us from what?"
[Braldor(#30149)] From the short passage leading into the Pony comes another dwarf, yet his entrance isn't heard for obvious reasons: the loud shouting of Breefolk and dwarves alike. This dwarf is now known to some Breefolk, and is no more an stranger to many townsfolk: Thane Bundazanul has traded extensively in the market, selling wares, buying things, and when a buy or sell wasn't possible... well, there's always a trade! As the richly clad dwarf stands at the door, he watches calmly the scene going before him not drawing attention, yet, to himself.
[Frarin(#31050)] Frarin manages to close his mouth with some semblence of dignity, but he sensibly leaves the explaining up the Thari. He becomes unnaturally quiet, sticking his hands on his hips as he looks to the healer dwarf. But he does manage to halfway convey an expression of resigned agreement, as if finally pressed into admitting his so carefully guarded personal business.
With a weary glare towards Keldean, however, Frarin does add, "And I was hiding my injury from Bree's healers out of pride, lad. Does that satisfy you? To know that I might limp the rest of my life, so you not think that something to keep quiet?"
Keldean furrows his brow as he processes all of this information, absently rubbing his wrist where a bit of bruising is beginning to discolor his skin. He looks away from Frarin as the dwarf lays on the guilt trip, perhaps beginning to feel a trace ashamed about some of his behavior. His brown eyes wander around, trying to avoid everyone's gazes now as his shyness floods in to replace the excitement of earlier. When he sees the thane standing at the end of the hall, quietly watching, the boy sucks in a breath audibly. Wasn't that the one that was trying to lure him in the other night?
[Aaron(#24624)] "Do you all here me? As guests, they are treated as such! And to my guests, I say...remember we want peace! Please try harder to not disrupt it! Now, if anyone disagrees with what I said, perhaps you will listen to this!" And now, Aaron produces the Dagger, more like a long kitchen knife, and holds it up.
[Thari(#31038)] "/Thank/ you," Thari says with a short bow toward Aaron. The healer looks toward Frarin again as the argument suddenly seems to die. A half-step away from Aaron, and another glance is taken-- Braldor! Thari's grey eyes widen as they alight on the Thane.
[Braldor(#30149)] "I think that will not be needed, kind sir", comes the Thane's voice from the door, where he still stands. "Weapons have a nasty habit of making things difficult when drawn, lad... I advise you kindly to sheathe that, and I'll make sure these two", he says, with a glance at Thari and Frarin, "behave from now on". Braldor's eyes flash, an anyone who knows him knows he means what he says... specially about drawn weapons being a bad way for solving arguments. To Keldean a quick glance is cast, and a nod is given, but his eyes return to Aaron and his knife.
[Aaron(#24624)] Knowing the Thane, Aaron nods. "My apologies, kind sir," he says respectfully, sheathing the weapon and hiding it in his cloak. "It was meant to serve more as a warning to my own kinsmen, on whose behalf I apologize to you and yours."
[Tamhill(#32501)] Someone who is woefully, totally unaware of what is going on, but perhaps might have heard the shouting, comes into the hallway. A youth, a human boy child of perhaps 9 or 10 winters comes skipping into the corridor and skids to a sudden halt at the sight of so many folk.
Pale eyes of an indeterminate coloring slip from one to another, taking in the details like a dry sponge eagerly sucking up water!
[Frarin(#31050)] At last the youth has been left speechless and Frarin follows suit, only nodding gratefully to Aaron. But then, ah yes, /then/ Thari takes notice of Braldor. Frarin turns to see what exactly has caused the healer's eyes to widen so and as he spots the Thane, he gives a annoyed sigh. One hand goes to wearily knead his brow as he refuses to look at Braldor.
That is, until the Thane speaks. At his reference to Thari and Frarin, however, the silver merchant's gaze comes sharply up. A glare, the likes of which contains SO much that is not said, is shot without a moment's pause, but amazingly, Frarin says nothing.
Three dwarves, plus Aaron who is decidedly not on his side. Aaron doesn't really seem to be on anyone's side. Keldean is starting to feel sick to his stomach as the man draws the dagger. There's no way to get out of this hallway. Aaron is on one side and Braldor the other. The boy keeps himself pressed against the wall, too nervous now to continue with his questioning and accusations. He watches the exchanges in silence, and as soon as the man puts the dagger away the teen makes a rush for the door, attempting to slip past Aaron so that he can escape.
"Behave!" Thari says in an enraged, strangled voice. "Behave indeed! Braldor, lad, if you keep saying things like that I swear I'll really be taking offense! You're as bad as the Breefolk!"
Thari's eyes are still wide and on Braldor, thus missing Keldean's bid for freedom.
[Aaron(#24624)] Aaron watches Keldean's escape, then slips out quietly behind him. His work here is done.
[Braldor(#30149)] "I will take side with whoever I see has reason, Thari", Braldor growls, and his dark eyes kindle with an inner light. "And you have better remember who ye are, and who /I/ am too", he adds, as his cheeks (the small part that can be seen deue to his great beard and moustache) turn red. "We are guests in Bree, and guests should not give any aggravation to their host, who has been so kind as to tend their hospitality during the winter... and we shall not speak of debts or thanks among friends, for 'tis not the way of our people!", he adds, his voice going up, and his flashing eyes going from Thari to Frarin, and then back to the dwarven healer. A finger is pointed now at Thari, as the Thane adds, "And ye better remember that, and stop all this nonsense".
A wary glance is thrown to Keldean... and he's not there! Frantically, Braldor's finger goes to the fleeing youth, "Stop him!"
[Tamhill(#32501)]As Keldean -and- Aaron move to depart rather suddenly, Tamhill pushes himself up against the hallway wall in order to NOT be in the way. The lad continues to watch and listen, big eyed and wondering what this is all about. The scamp says nothing, curious.
He knew that Braldor was going to want to question him as well and was relieved when Aaron lets him by he races outside (wary of the slippery mud this time). Keldean pauses in the middle of the yard outside, frantically trying to decide where to go, where to hide. It would help if he knew more people but he doesn't. Well.. he does know Acelen, so he rushes into the stable. It's a good place to hide and he figures it's better than running aimlessly through the streets and attracting more attention. Of course, the drying mud all over his clothes is crackling and falling free as he moves, leaving a rather conspicuous trail for those that know how to track such things.
[Frarin(#31050)] A great breath is sucked in through Frarin's barely opened mouth. His eyes narrow. His jaw tightens. His face goes bright red. And beneath the initial disbelief in the silver merchant's face as he stares at Braldor, there is a barely - and only VERY barely - contained anger. He does not shout, but rather growls. "Then you take sides when you have seen no reason, my /lord/," Frarin says harshly, almost whispering as he glowers at the Thane. "You propose to come into an argument and take sides when you know none of the particulars. I remember very well who you are, /Thane/, and it is not your place to dictate the affairs of those justly defending themselves from outlandish accusations. We do forget the hospitality here, my /lord/, as you would know if you knew all that has transpired here."
Keldean's rush for freedom goes almost unacknowledged by Frarin this time, for he glares still at the Thane, hands clenched at his side.
"Have you no loyalty to clan and family, Braldor?" Thari asks, addressing the Thane in a rather more familiar tone than that which Frarin uses. "You come in to the middle of an argument and don't have a bit of reasonable doubt that I might possibly be in the right here? Might need your defense? You could be a friend to me, you know!" Thari's deep voice sounds aggrieved, and this shorter dwarf makes no move toward chasing after Keldean either.
[Braldor(#30149)] "I have seen and heard /enough", comes the Thane's reply, and even he does not rush after Keldean. "I hoped that we could have a talk between ourselves after this silliness was over. And I shall not explain myself to ye, Thari, at least not in here. There are some things that must be discussed, indeed, between us who belong to Bundazanul", he adds. He turns to Frarin then, and says, "Peace, Silver Smith! I shall not take wrong of your words, for this is not the place and time to talk about this and other things. Ye belong to Barazin, so I have no authority over ye. Still, I /am/ Thane Bundazanul, a father to my clan as much as Dain Nain's son is a father to us all... and I bid ye remember that. And chasing Breefolk young ones and shouting at Breefolk at the Pony hardly makes a good defense of not respecting our hosts".
Cordelia still leans quietly against a wall in a dark corner of the passageway, arms crossed over her chest. She's listening closely.
[Frarin] "I respect our hosts very well indeed," Frarin retorts, though he does seem to have calmed considerably, for his voice is much more level now. "I am quite fond of Bree and would never deliberately offend any here, lord. My chase after that lad was as much for Thari's sake as my own, as you well know," he says, quieting at the last bit. "And when we caught him up just a short time ago, I discovered that he thought me responsible for Norli's death because I refused to discuss certain of my affairs. If that is not good reason for defending my honour, then I know not what is."
Keldean moves through the door at the far east end of the downstairs hallway, on the south side, and heads into the courtyard which lies beyond.
Keldean has left.
Cordelia starts to follow Keldean, but pauses to speak to Frarin and Thari. "My apologies. It seems I was mistaken. There are rumors and whisperings, and it goes to all of our heads."
[Thari(#31038)] "Braldor, are you listening to yourself?" Thari says in a tight voice, hands balled into fists. "'Catch that boy!' you shout at us in one moment, and in the next, ye say, 'Why are ye chasing after Breefolk younglings?'" I'd wager if that lad were still here you'd be chasing after him yourself!" This dwarf looks at Frarin, looks over at Cordelia, then says, "If you have something to say to me, Braldor, why don't we go into a more private room and hold a discussion?"
[Braldor(#30149)] "As ye wish, Thari", the Thane says, and he turns on his heels and goes back inside the Pony. To Frarin's words no reply is given... yet.
[Tamhill(#32501)] The lad, Tamhill, has been watching and listening, but also he's edged back towards the doorway he came in through. In a moment, the boy has slipped out ... to go where, who knows?
Tamhill moves through the door at the far east end of the downstairs hallway, on the south side, and heads into the courtyard which lies beyond.
Tamhill has left.
Braldor has disconnected.
[Frarin] Frarin glances at Cordelia as she appears again and he gives a sharp nod and a grunt, but no further acknowledgement. He watches Braldor disappear back into the Pony, then mutters, "I need something to drink." The dark look remains on his face as he disappears out the back door, leaving Thari and Braldor to their talk and apparently off in search of finding a drink somewhere other than the Pony. Oh well. Merry Yule.
Cordelia sort of slinks along the wall, giving the two remaining dwarfs a wide-eyed stare of fear. Then she turns and rushes out, following the direction that Keldean took.