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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

"And so, will you attend the feast?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I did not wear this for-"

"Have you?"


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

"Then that is what you shall wear."

"Adda-"

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

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

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

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

"Some day, dearheart, you will understand."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

"A technicality of my making!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Almara nodded and took her leave.



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


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

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

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

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

Amarwen frowned, "Like what?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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