Grimbeorn gives a side-long glance, a shrug, and nod to the others. Even grown as he is, he is still his father's son and will always be in his presence. Gwaithlim unfazed by the peculiarities of the mortals smirks inwardly and follows at the rear to keep a keen on the others, almost studying them.
"Father of my friend, fair fortune to you in your wanderings," Arbogast says "though I judge that you need not my blessing."
"Your blessing, hardly," Beorn replies. "What I need from you lot is your company!" Casting a sidelong glance at his son, he asks "Did you not tell them? I told you to tell them!"
Grimbeorn's rolling eyes speak volumes. "Understand, father, that you're hardly famed for bringing companions along on your mysterious jaunts. What's more, these are folk accustomed to knowing why they're heading into the dangers over the edge of the wild."
The older man harrumphs. "I don't deal in 'why's. 'What's, yes. A 'how' from time to time. 'Why' is a crooked letter, and a question not lightly asked, or answered."
He turns and makes for the rough-cut stairs leading down to the base of the Carrock. "I could find others to go with me," he calls back, "but if all the strays and wanderers of Middle-Earth, I'd have you with me if you're willing."
When the elder Beorning had left the chamber, Esgalwen looked to her friend, "So, congratulations are in order."
To which Grimbeorn quickly dismissed, "There is no need. It was an eventuality that has come to pass. To congratulate me on this day would be no different then congratulating the river for moving down its length to the far horizon."
The Dúnadan laughed pleasantly and she took Grimbeorn by his arm, "Well, it is not everyday that I bear witness to a man's coronation as king."
"KING!" said Grimbeorn with a guffaw. "Do not make me out to be one of those high men of your lands of Gondor, m'lady! I am merely a simple chieftain of the people I love and live amongst."
Arbogast laughed as well, "Aye - he is no king for I hear they do not smell so badly!" To which the new Bear gave a great scowl.
"No, he is no king, but he is my Chief and Liege-lord and always shall I be at his beckon," said Hathcyn, not sure if he was enjoying the jests being made at such time.
Getting the hint, Esgalwen changed the subject, "And with said ascension to Master of the Hall, I can only presume that we will see you less, my friend?"
With a thoughtful sigh, Grimbeorn gave a nod. And so did the celebration turn into a time of sharing tales of past deeds both great and sad. Each of the members of the Company of the Helm wondered at what would come now... Not sure if I am reading the above correctly, but Beorn is going up the mountain by himself, right? We are not accompanying him, are we?
If not, then my post above stays with Esgalwen making chit chat with her friends. If we are, then I will need to delete the above and give you something new.
The Fall had colored Rhosgobel in bright oranges, reds, and yellows, as well as brown. The winds blew colder, and leaves rattled and shivered, but it was a happy time for the settlement. The years planting garnered much and Radagast's many beehives were thick with honey. The herds had been fruitful, too, and there were many sheep to shear, and the winter would not be lean of meat.
Rhosgobel celebrated and the men and women of the town gathered in autumnal colors and wore costumes of varied kinds, as the feasts began. The celebration would last for a full week, at the end of Blooting which would lead into the Yulemath, as it was called in the Vale (and as far as Bree in the West) but Gondorians knew it as November.
Esgalwen enjoyed the gathering and the peace that came with folks being happy and celebrating their achievements - though they be simple and fleeting. The Dúnadan woman dressed in a raiment of brown and gold and adorned her hair with Fall flowers and leaves. Always fetching to the eye, Esgalwen garnered many affectionate looks from those men within Rhosgobel that had yet to court or take wives. She allowed herself to dance their jigs and caroles, taking a partner at need, until she was winded, and her laughter rang.
The days of the festival passed.
The women gathered during the day in sewing groups, while wool was carded and combed, then loomed. At the same time, the men gathered in contests of strength and agility, and Esgalwen delighted in both. She sat with the women and shared stories of her mother and grandmother, and the many pieces that they had sewn, along with the more advanced tools available in Minas Tirith for these tasks. The women of Rhosgobel marveled at her words and some shared a look with the other that surely Esgalwen exaggerated.
With the men's games, the Ranger mostly watched, though she did take part in contests of archery. But it was evident to her that the contests were for the men and though they enjoyed her presence, her participation was meagerly accepted. And so Esgalwen would sit in the round of watchers and enjoy the wrestling, archery, and axe work. She would study the tactics of these men, to learn new techniques for herself, but to also understand them in combat. Esgalwen did not fear that the folk of Rhosgobel would ever be her enemy, but the commonalities of the tribes of the Vale were clear and combat styles were shared.
The last day of the celebration saw the roasting of a great sow and many plates of food were prepared. Sweets there were, too, as well as hardy cups of honey-mead. It was the perfect ending to the week of activities before the quiet of winter fell over the land. Esgalwen entered the hall. The acrid smell of smoke filled the chamber, as well as the earthy smell of people, for it was filled with many celebrants. She moved to where a large keg was tapped and filled her cup with mead. Once done, she moved to find a place on a bench where she could hear a group of musicians play a bawdy song. The mead had a quick effect and soon Esgalwen was laughing along with others at the two bards' tale.
"Yea, over there," said a voice nearby. "She is sitting in the front."
Esgalwen heard the voice but paid it no mind, for there were several women within the hall and she did not know that she was the subject. Moments later, a tall Elf was before her causing Esgalwen to choke a bit on the mead she swallowed. The Elf was tall and unique of eyes, and she had ornaments of gold that adorned her clothing. There were colors painted on her skin and the Ranger was at a loss for words.
"Hello," came a slur. "You are Esgalwen, of the Company of the Helm?"
"I am," answered the Dúnadan – still wondering how an Elf could be in Rhosgobel and no gossip of it had passed through the people. "Forgive me, but who are you and why do you seek me."
A relaxed and happy smile parted the She-elf's face, and the eyes were a bit dreamy. Esgalwen wondered at the possibility of an Elf being drunk on mead, for rumors spoke that those people seldom were affected by alcohol. She must have enjoyed a good sum, thought the Ranger.
"I am Luindîs and I have come seeking a story... well... your story. The story of Duskwater and her rescue, told by someone that was there... not weaved words in taverns and halls along the road. I want the story of the freeing of Duskwater from one who was there. I want the story from you."
Esgalwen eyed the Elf warily for a moment and said, "You are welcome to my story, though I know not why it is of interest to the Silvan folk, for that is what I presume you are, yes?"
Luindîs did not answer Esgalwen's question but took a seat next to her, "I have traveled far, and I would dearly love for you to recount this tale from beginning to end. Once your tale is told, I will reveal my interest and then you may judge whether your tale has been given its value."
Again, Esgalwen looked at her in wonder, but nodded. "Come, let us find a quieter place here and we can talk. You can know all that I have seen."
The two females moved from the bards' stage and made their way to the far side of the hall where the light of the fire was dim, and the raucous laughter was less heard. Esgalwen lit a small beeswax candle that sat upon the table and stared across at the Elf's strangely colored eyes.
"T'was this Spring past that my friend, Arbogast of the Black Tarn, who some call the Fire-watcher, approached me and my other companions, along with the Brown Wizard. They spoke of a parliament that would soon occur within Mirkwood – a terrible gathering of spiders.
"Arbogast proposed an idea that mayhaps, the soul of Duskwater – one of the River Maidens – might be bargained for if an appropriate offering could be made. Radagast hinted that her soul was trapped... trapped by Tyulqin the Weaver. Together the two made the case that if a fitting treasure could be found – ideally a gem of great worth – the spiders would allow us to speak within their parliament and perhaps we could barter for her release.
"It was a horrific idea, of course, but after long debate, we decided to make this perilous journey. And so, with the warmth of Spring just starting to melt the snows in the northern vale, we started our journey to the old city of the Éothéod..."
Esgalwen told her tale, and it spanned the evening, but Luindîs was ever enthralled. She asked few questions but always urged the Ranger to continue. The hall was quiet, save for the sound of the sleeping, by the time the Dúnadan had finished, and weariness hung on her own brow.
"Now I ask you, Luindîs... why does my tale interest you so?"
Even though the request was genuine as was the response, the way of politic, as is everywhere, no man can sit atop and lead if the previous one is about -- neither the captains nor the people heed his will. It is a solemn moment for Grimbeorn as his father leaves too soon, before he has wed and then sired an heir to carry on the family name and stand with his people. His folk are hearty and hale but they know when their time has come.