A Difficult Decision

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A Difficult Decision

Post by Conleth on Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:28 am

With the mistreatment of the women that they had brought back, many in the city cried for war on that much alone. When news of a possible marriage had made it to the general public the outcry was even worse. The people wanted the Northmen gone from their city and wiped off the face of middle-earth. However Elessar still wanted peace. He felt that another war which pitted man against man was a failure. That the elves and others who had not believed in them were right. He had watched Gulbrandt and Laenaya just like everyone else had. He was not oblivious to the divide between them. Laenaya saw the young Northman as uncouth and disgusting. He didn’t however know what Gulbrandt thought. So to help everyone come to understand him and he them he sent his only son Eldarion to speak to him.

Gulbrandt had taken to watching the young soldiers being put through their paces on the practice grounds. Eldarion found him and stepped up to him. The young northman did not turn to face him he just continued to watch the young men who sparred in the sawdust pits.

“Gulbrandt I am…” “I know who you are lordling, what do you want?” Gulbrandt said rudely though he did not look at Eldarion. A flash of anger came and went upon Eldarion’s face but he managed to keep it all in check, for now. He was angry that Laenaya had been picked out to be married to this..this ruffian but there was nothing for it now. He could help or he could stand by and watch it all happen. “My sister finds you...uncouth, unbecoming and rude Northman. If you want to gain her favour, better for you if you do, than perhaps you could listen and mark what I teach you, yes?” He said snappishly. The Northman gave Eldarion an angry sidelong glance.

Gulbrandt had always tried to be what his father had wanted. A strong, fighting man to take up his mantle when he was killed in battle. There were chiefs of other clans who could kill him easily he knew. Chiefs that would when and if his father died. Without his father war would be inevitable as most of the clan chiefs lived for war and cruelty. Gulbrandt was also alot like his mother. Interested in the ways of nature and of understanding it. Those interests would serve him if he became chief but he needed to secure that position in ways that transcended combat. Marrying a descendent of the Dunedain King would cull all rivals and elevate the Northmen into a real nation instead of just a region in middle-earth. “Then speak your teachings Eldarion and I will listen,” he said finally in a growl.

The razor actually felt...good he thought. Eldarion looked on as Tepis, an elderly man who had served the royal family for years drew a sharp razor across Gulbrandt’s face. He was submerged in warm water to his chest and another, younger servant tried to wash off all the caked grime that was not easy to get off. His clothes and furs were taken also and the servant held them away from themselves as they left the room to figure out what to do with them.

Later...

Eldarion showed Gulbrandt who sat at a small table how to use the different eating utensils before him. He taught him their names, what they were for but the lesson was a long, arduous one that almost brought the two men to blows more than once. In the end Gulbrandt was able to cut his meat with the knife and fork and to use his napkin instead of his arm or clothes. Eldarion knew his sister would be sat across from him again and knew what proper table manners meant to her. He had argued with his father for hours about how wrong all of it was but in the end Elessar had told him that though there was pressure on Laenaya to do what she could she would not be commanded to marry.

The last lessons had to do with how to address the queen and king. How to bow and how to say thank you when someone did something for him, even to a servant. The final lesson was the hardest though, to view Laenaya as an equal but even Eldarion began to see Gulbrandt's side of things when he began to speak about fighting, hunting and protecting their strongholds. It was true some women fought and we're just as skilled at war as men were but not many. The Northmen coveted their women, protected them and fed them but they did not lol at them as equal of rank. Gulbrandt or his father could give her a title which might invoke a rank but it might not translate down to actually being treated differently. Eldarion argued though to bridge the gap an allowance needed to be made and Gulbrandt reluctantly agreed. Rank was usually associate by prowess and cunning amongst their women Gulbrandt lectured. Challenges were common and a man might find a different woman in his bed then the one that was there the night before. It wasn't often now though he explained. The man did have the last day in such matters so mostly people who had been happily coupled remained with one another. He understood the difference with this marriage though. There would be no challenges and no changes. Even if he did not love Laenaya he'd be expected to treat her with respect and kindness or The King would march against him anyway just to take her back.

The day after there was another feast and Gulbrandt was clean, cleanly shaven and his leathers and furs laundered. He smelled of herbal soap and was teased and jeered at severely by his brethren about it all. He took their jests though he had had to punch one man in the nose. Eldarion made sure once more that Laenaya sat across from Gulbrandt and Gulbrandt remained standing, the only Northman who did, until all the women were seated.



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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by XslvrstarX on Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:53 am

For those next few days Laenaya kept mostly to herself. She had spoken to her parents and told them of her decision. It had been the hardest for Nauriel. She hated to think of her daughter married to one of these...ruffians and she hated to think that she was giving up her own happiness for the sake of others. She had held out high hopes for her eldest daughter. She had dreamt that she would marry a young Gondorian lord and continue to live in Minas Tirith, where she would be happy and raise a family of her own. But now she would marry this Northman for the sake of peace alone and be taken away from her to live in the cold, harsh North, where she would live amongst these rude men who wouldn’t treat her daughter with the respect she truly deserved. Nauriel hadn’t cried in front of Laenaya, but she had shed many tears for her that night.

Laenaya hadn’t seen or spoken to her husband to be since agreeing to marry him. She tried to tell herself that she would get used to things and would find some happiness somehow, but as she thought about the Northmen again things still seemed extremely bleak. There was to be another dinner with them that night and she remained unaware of what her brother had been up to with Gulbrandt. She dressed for dinner in an elegant blue dress. She left her hair down and it curled slightly at the ends. She was clean and smelled of the floral soap she always used. She walked down to dinner with her sisters and cousin. She moved to her seat and was aware of someone across from her, but she didn’t recognize him. As she took her seat and looked across from her she was surprised to realize it was Gulbrandt. She hadn’t recognized him. He was clean and his beard nicely trimmed and cleaned. Even the dirt under his fingernails was gone. He was in his same clothes, but they too were cleaned. She looked completely shocked. He looked slightly uncomfortable as he sat down and put his napkin in his lap, but it meant so much to her that he was trying to tame some of his wilder ways for her.

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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by Conleth on Tue Aug 02, 2016 12:40 pm

He weathered the snickers and the name-calling well. He had heard worse being Hakon’s son and he actually thought Laenaya was beautiful. More so than most of the other women. Baign was not going to be happy though. She had been promised to Gulbrandt. When he returned with a wife there would be trouble he was certain. As he looked at Laenaya though, the way her hair was styled and her new dress, all thoughts of Baign left him. He fumbled a bit with the spoon. The soup...he thought that was what they called it required that you hold the spoon just so and gingerly bring the...whatever it was to your mouth. He had to concentrate on that but the cutting and the fork were actually easy. He had forgotten about the napkin a few times but most of the time he had used it. He also drank more civilized as well, taking sips instead of gulping it all down. He watched Eldarion and copied him as much as he could.

Eldarion did not speak to Laenaya, part of him felt as if he had betrayed her. He was unhappy about what was happening, so much so he had argued with his father off and on for two days. Gulbrandt had never given anyone a compliment but Eldarion had told him to do it. Women liked that sort of thing he had explained so he decided to try it. “Uh, Laenaya...your breasts are pleasing to look at,” he said plainly. Eldarion choked on his soup and her sisters alternated between covering their mouths and blushing to choking back chuckles of their own and complete outrage. The reactions not being what he expected Gulbrandt frowned and looked confused he did like her breasts. “Uh, was that not a good com-pliment Eldarion?” he asked. Eldarion only winced and shook his head.

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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by XslvrstarX on Tue Aug 02, 2016 12:56 pm

Laenaya continued to glance at Gulbrandt during the meal. She could see the snickers and hear the whispers from his peers as he tried to be more civilized. She wanted to speak up and tell the others to stop it because at least he was trying, but she knew that wasn’t her place. She ate her soup in small sips, dipping the spoon gently into the broth and moving it backward to scoop up just enough broth and vegetables before carefully bringing it up to her mouth. She did not lean over her bowl and sat tall, but not rigid in her seat. Glancing over at her brother she could tell that this was of his doing.

The silence between them was awkward, but she wasn’t sure what to say to him yet. She was somewhat relieved when he looked at her and then began to speak. What he said, however, was not all what she was expecting and she felt her face flush as her sisters and cousin tried desperately not to giggle. She looked sharply at them and they all became quiet. She knew Gulbrandt was trying and he seemed to honestly believe that was an appropriate compliment. She looked at him and lowered her voice so the others wouldn’t overhear.

“When paying a woman a compliment you should comment on her dress, or her smile, or her eyes, or her dancing ability. But...thank you.”

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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by Conleth on Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:12 pm

Her words seemed to confuse him further. Complementing on what was obvious? Why did people do that? Gulbrandt wasn’t certain but it seemed everything these Gondorians did was based on what was obvious. It thought, distantly that maybe it had to do with this thing called ‘manners’ but he wasn’t certain about that either. “Well...I do think your hair is very...shiny,” he said hoping that that was something more closer to what they expected. “It makes me want to touch it,” he added but he wanted to do the same to her breasts. Gulbrandt had seen women naked many times but he had never been with one himself. He had many opportunities but when it came to the actual act he could not seem to do it. The other men thought that he was odd for that but along with everything else he was different than most and so the constant flood of insults and jokes at his expense were nothing new to him.

“Maybe she’ll teach you how to wear a skirt next!” Someone had said though he couldn’t tell who. That comment made him angry though and he frowned again then looked around. “Laenaya...could we….could we speak? Alone, now? Eldarion can uh...can be uh...chaprone?” He tried to say only just learning the word from Eldarion.

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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by XslvrstarX on Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:27 pm

Laenaya was beginning to become truly disheartened and the comment from one of the others did not help matters. Part of her was beginning to wish she had never agreed to this, but she knew deep in her heart that this was what was best for everyone. She no longer felt hungry and wanted to leave. It was then that Gulbrandt spoke to her and asked to speak to her alone, but with Eldarion as a chaperone. She glanced over at her parents who had heard his request and they nodded. She agreed and stood and walked with Gulbrandt and her brother out of the noisy dining hall. It was a nice day out so they walked outside to the gardens, which was Laenaya’s favorite places.

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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by Conleth on Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:59 pm

Places such as gardens were not common in the North unless they were isolated plants kept inside. The cold weather killed most green things and one of the reasons trade was so important to them. Eldarion stepped lightly behind them. He remained several paces back and looked as if he wished to be any place but there right now. He had agreed however so he would go the distance but he didn’t have to like it!

“I do not know how your customs are Laenaya but I do wish to learn,” he said plainly. His voice was always flat and expressionless. Northmen were often without expression. Expressions and excessive movements and gestures cost exergy and in the cold energy was important. “I know it is a custom for you to marry a man that you love. My people sometimes do this as well but often it comes down to merit and mutual advantage. I know you do not love me nor I you but...but perhaps we can at least come to understand one another. And through this understanding, more will come in time?” Gulbrandt said. “Many men from my hold would fight over you possibly even to death. Your beauty will be spoken of and songs sung for you,” he added as they walked and he hoped she understood that that was a compliment, one of the strongest he knew of. He clasped his hands behind his back. His fur-lined cloak of dark brown looked worn as it trailed behind him.

“What does the daughter of a King such as Elessar Telcontar enjoy?” he asked.

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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by XslvrstarX on Tue Aug 02, 2016 2:10 pm

Laenaya could sense her brother’s discomfort, but she would rather he be there than her father. There was silence again between them for a while as they walked. They were both uncomfortable, but at least they weren’t alone in that. When Gulbrandt finally began to speak she looked over at him. He spoke honestly and plainly, something that actually reminded her of her father in a way. She quite appreciated it and in a strange way it gave her some comfort, though she didn’t quite know why. She knew he was right, however. They did not have to love one another, but they could learn to understand one another and perhaps respect one another. When he spoke about her beauty and about songs being written about her she blushed, but this time it was a good blush. A little smile tugged at the corner of her cheeks at the thought of it. Songs had been written about her mother after the end of the war, but she had never dreamed that someone would want to write songs about her.

“I enjoy reading, riding my horse, gardening, although I understand that won’t be an option, and archery. I was taught by my mother, who learned from her mother, who, in my opinion, is the best archer in Middle Earth.”

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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by Conleth on Tue Aug 02, 2016 2:43 pm

His eyebrows drew up as he listened. Did she think they were ignorant savages? They had books and horses among other things. He decided not to be insulted. It would not due to call her down when they were only trying to better understand one another. “We have books and horses and arrows Laenaya,” he said a bit more defensively than he wished right then. “And honestly, my mother is an herbalist, your knowledge of plants would be helpful in the North,” he continued more evenly. “And unlike Gondor, our women fight alongside the men sometimes if it is their choice. And I have given you alot of thought lately. I think having you represent us in trading, if you wanted to I mean,” he said hastily, “would be a good way to bring trust back between our peoples. “As my people get to know you and you having ties with Gondor and Rohan, the chance for violence would be greatly reduced,” Gulbrandt explained. He was silent for a long while after that. He wanted to ask her about marriage and what was all involved. Eldarion had said some things but he forgot alot of it. He gently took hold of her hand then turned to face her. His hands were warm...very warm in this climate. He was used to the cold afterall.

“I wish to do things in your custom Laenaya. In this I will serve as an ambassador to you and Gondor,” he said and he sighed and looked down. He wasn’t sure how to ask the question, it sounded silly in his ears. Finally he looked up into her eyes. “Laenaya Telcontar of Gondor, will you take my hand in marriage and serve by my side for the good of both of our peoples?” He asked in the most flowery tone that he could manage. He knew what his father would say to this. He’d scoff and just tell him to bed her and get it done with. Part of him wanted that...with her. She was very beautiful but without this...understanding? Commitment? He wasn’t sure which, it wouldn’t mean as much as he wanted it all to.

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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by XslvrstarX on Tue Aug 02, 2016 3:40 pm

Laenaya blinked a little at Gulbrandt’s strong reaction. Clearly he had misunderstood her. They were going to need to work on improving their communication. She listened silently as he continued, not wishing to interrupt him. He seemed calmer after a moment and she was surprised to learn that he had been thinking about her a lot lately. Of course she had been thinking about him as well and she agreed that a marriage between them would lessen the likelihood of any violence between their peoples. He then became silent for a while and she sensed he was thinking so she did not speak. She stopped to look at one of her favorite flowers. It was in full bloom and gave off a pleasant scent. She then felt him take hold of one of her hands and turn to face her. She was surprised that he actually asked her for her hand in marriage when she had already agreed to it. However, it became clear to her that he felt it was customary still to do so and she appreciated the gesture. She looked at him for a long moment. Her decision had already been made, but she still thought about what it would mean. Leaving her home and her family to travel to a place she had never been to and live with people whose customs were foreign to her. It would mean a far harder life than she had lived up until now and many sacrifices on her part. But then she thought about her mother and her grandmother and the sacrifices they had made in their lives. They were her heroes and she had tried to emulate them in every way possible. She had not thought she would ever have an adventure of her own, but it appeared that this would be her adventure and her chance to leave a mark for the better on the world.

“Yes.”

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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by Conleth on Tue Aug 02, 2016 4:40 pm

He tried to stifle it but the relief and happiness at hearing that word filtered out onto his face. He let out a long breath as if he honestly thought that she’d say no. But he also knew that her answer was not one really meant for him. Her face spoke volumes and he found that it did bother him. He risked putting a hand on her shoulder. And gave a sidelong glance toward Eldarion who looked to object but just folded his arms in front of his chest and looked on. His face went serious just then.

“I have heard this ceremony involves a celebration...I...do not know how to dance,” he whispered. It would please me greatly if you would teach this to me,” he added and then let go of her and stepped back.

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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by XslvrstarX on Tue Aug 02, 2016 4:49 pm

Laenaya breathed out as well. It was done. For better or worse it was done. She could see from Gulbrandt's expression that he was both relieved and somewhat bothered by her response. She decided, however, not to say anything more. She watched as he moved a hand up and placed it on her shoulder. She glanced over at her brother and could see he was not happy about this. She looked back at Gulbrandt though when he asked her to teach him to dance. She had never taught anyone to dance before, but knew how.

"I can do that, yes."

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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by Conleth on Tue Aug 02, 2016 5:23 pm

He smiled at her agreeing to his request then took her hand again to continue their walk. “I have heard stories about the Queen and her prowess with the bow. Also of your father and your Grandfather with the sword. You have a very famous family Laenaya. I look forward to seeing your own prowess with the bow. My own abilities are not so grand maybe. I am good at striking quickly with two smaller swords and at stealth and tracking,” he said with a shrug and looked down. She would see him as feeling embarrassed about talking about himself and seemed to want to know about her. However she saw her mother out of the corner of her eye as she exited the hall and she didn’t look pleased. Gulbrandt was surprised when Laenaya let go of his hand and shifted half a step away from him. He looked back and saw why and nodded.

“It was, uh, favorable to speak with you Laenaya, perhaps you will agree to it again soon,” he said knowing she’d have to go soon.

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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by XslvrstarX on Tue Aug 02, 2016 5:51 pm

Laenaya was a little uncomfortable when he took her hand, but she allowed it and slowly she began to relax as they walked. She could hear her brother close behind them and knew he was probably angry. She listened as he spoke about her family. She was not surprised that he knew so much about them. Her family had grown and become quite prosperous. They also had royal ties to Gondor, Rohan, and Mirkwood. She wanted to know more about him, but he seemed embarrassed about talking about himself and so she didn't ask him any questions yet. It was then that a movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention and she looked over to see her mother standing there and not looking pleased. She immediately pulled her hand away and Gulbrandt quickly noticed her as well.

"Yes, I would like that," she replied. "Good night Gulbrandt."

She then walked with her brother over to where her mother was. She looked at her.

"It's done..."

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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by Conleth on Tue Aug 02, 2016 6:21 pm

It took the better part of the night for Elessar to settle Nauriel. She went from anger to weeping to anger again as he held her and spoke in calming, soothing tones. He had tried reassuring her but that had started the cycle over again so he kept silent for the most part. He made love to her which drew her away from that. She finally drifted off out of exhaustion which allowed him in turn to get some sleep as well. He wanted to say they were not losing a daughter but gaining a son but considering the distance and who the Northmen were he felt as if they were losing a daughter, and part of his heart would go with her. He would make this wedding a grand affair or Nauriel would. Her not able to have more children did bother him at times and this was precisely the reason why. He’d never speak those words though to anyone and he truly loved Nauriel regardless of that.

The next day the...engagement was announced officially. Gulbrandt had demanded that they have the marriage, not many understood the meaning of that word, and ceremony in Minas Tirith. Hakon had little choice to relent and he and a few men went to hunt boars for the upcoming feast. Gulbrandt had gone to look for Laenaya so that he could give her an artifact that had been handed down from the women in his family for generations. He found her doing needlepoint with her sisters and cousin though it was clear that he had intruded upon something. He didn’t seem to care though and he stood his ground though the older woman that looked at him harshly huffed as she continued her work.

“Laenaya...I looked all over for you. I wanted to give you my bride gift to you before the wedding,” he said and he was slightly out of breath. He reached under his cloak and from his belt he pulled out what looked like another belt or girdle but nothing like she had ever seen before. It was a belt of mithril set with rubies, emeralds and diamonds. "It is an ancient belt that was saved from the downfall of Numenor. It is called The Belt of Queen Beruthial,” he told her. (When wearing it she will be able to see in the dark and also be unseen though not invisible in darkness. If the bearer is female and true of heart she will be able to form a telepathic link with the animal of her choosing which she will be able to communicate with over long distances. Because it only works for a special kind of female, none had kept it save for its beauty as an heirloom. This belt is an actual treasure of Middle-Earth and priceless)

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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by XslvrstarX on Tue Aug 02, 2016 6:34 pm

The announcement of the engagement made things very official and broke the hearts of all of Laenaya's former suitors who were outraged at the mere fact that she was marrying this Northman. They firmly believed she had been forced into the marriage, though none would say that to her father's face. Everything began to happen quickly for the ceremony. A dress was being quickly made for her and the kitchens were preparing for the large feast, which would include wild boars caught by the Northmen. This was the first wedding to be held in Minas Tirith since before Elessar and Nauriel's ascent of the throne and everyone was running around to make sure that things were done right.

After her dress fitting, Laenaya went to meet her sisters and cousin. This was their afternoon ritual and she was sad to think that soon she wouldn't be able to do such things with them. She truly loved her sisters and thought of her cousin as a fourth sister. She wasn't sure she would be able to bond with any of the Northwomen, but would try for Gulbrandt's sake. She heard footsteps behind her and looked over to see Gulbrandt approaching. Her sister's and cousin were not happy with the intrusion, but Laenaya greeted her fiancée politely. She put down her needlepoint when he announced he had a gift for her and when he pulled out the belt and handed to it to her she actually gasped. She knew the name immediately. She had read about it in books and knew it's significance and rumored powers. She was truly shocked that he would give this to her. She actually tried to give it back.

"Gulbrandt...this is too much...this belongs to your people..." He would be able to see that it wasn't that she didn't like it, but she was overwhelmed by it.

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Re: A Difficult Decision

Post by Conleth on Tue Aug 02, 2016 6:53 pm

ooc;new thread

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