The excitement bubbled from Esgalwen. She was truly a different person then what the three men remembered when she had left those few years back.
She enthusiastically listened to Grimbeorn speak of the Carrok and the House of Beorn, and how things had developed beyond the cruel winter. Little was said regarding the battle of Stoneyford, as the presence of Toft-men might create some animus within the crowds. Still, the woman read through Grimbeorn' subtle words and created the picture that was intended.
Even Hathcyn's stories of his farm and the Dwarf Road was of great interest to Esgalwen and she listened quietly, absorbing the details that were pertinent. The men could tell that her questions guided answers that might be of value to the North and Dale. Arbogast's vague, or basic contributions implied that there was something that he did not wish to discuss - a heartache, or worse - and the Gondorian did not pry. It was evident to all three men that her skills as a statesman were honed well, and that she used them masterfully.
With the Fire-watcher's question, Esgalwen smiled in answer. "Things are well to the North! Dale is growing quickly in commerce and strength and has become again a jewel of the north. Relations with the Dwarves is good and Rorin has been a boon in my ability to grow the alliance between the Kings of Dale and Erebor.
"King Bard had taken a woman of Rhovanion, Una, to be his wife - but you all know this - and their son, Prince Bain turns six this year. There will be celebrations at the end of the year, but then the city will prepare for the new spring and the Council of the North, as called by the King.
"I am here for that - to help drum up support and attendance from the clans of the Vale. King Bard sees that the union of the Vale and the alliance of Elves, Dwarves and Men are essential to our prosperity."
Esgalwen realized she had been talking too much and sounding like the statesman she now was, instead of a friend seeing boon companions. She paused with a smile and then changed tack.
"Arbogast... how fares Lindwine? Is she here? Are the children?" The Fire-watcher could see the earnest look on her face, as she spoke of his wife and kids. He remembered Esgalwen's fears of never having such things. In her current place, maybe she would be right. She continued, "And what of you Prince Bear? Is there a fetching, young lady that has wrestled your heart to her own? Please don't tell me you are here at the fair to offer yourself up to one of the many young ladies-in-waiting."
Arbogast hangs back behind the two Beornings, letting his broad and unfeigned smile speak his feelings for him. Nor does he rush to interrupt as Esgalwen leads the companions toward the fields. There will be time enough for the tale of his recent days, and he has no wish to mar a moment of joyous reunion.
The strength of the giant Beorning took her breath as he embraced her in a hug, but she would have it no other way. Esgalwen beamed with a smile even as she struggled to take in air.
At last he lowered her to her feet and his eyes twinkled under the great mop of hair atop his head and the beard that filled his smile.
"I am well," she said and placed a hand against his cheek. "The shadow that hung on me has dispersed. The thoughts of my friends from Ithilien, of Orophin, and the terror of the cave have not left me, but I am no longer a slave to the dread."
She looked to them all, "There is so much to tell and I want to hear all about each of you. Come! Let us away to the fields to watch the events and we shall catch up."
Barely before she finished her sentence, Grimbeorn had rushed over and engulfed her in a bear hug. It was a moment or two before he put her down. He'd not been so relieved to see his friend nor ashamed at his outburst (for him) of emotion. "You look well.. well, well. It has been some time since your light has shined so."
With day three of the games starting with the dawn, Grimbeorn was becoming anxious. As a chieftain of one of the clans, his presence was necessary but there were more important things to be done. It had been good to have this time relaxing and enjoying the efforts of the competitors, but he felt it was time to get back home and see to the tasks at hand.
When he and Hathcyn met once more with Arbogast, the Fire-watcher, too, seemed that there had been enough idle time. Amaleoda had let him know that she would be returning to the Tarn in two days and Arbogast wanted to pack up his family and go with her, but she had told him no.
"After the games, you are to make your plans for travel and be in Dale with the Spring."
She had given him his instructions, but the Spring of next years was a long time away. He shook his head in frustration. It was then that Grimbeorn and Hathcyn had arrived and they persuaded the Wood-man to join them along the lists to watch the archers. So far, the Carrock had made a good showing and Grimbeorn beamed with pride. The other events were looking to favor the men of the Toft and Rhosgobel.
Arbogast kissed his daughters and wife and told them to go enjoy the fairway - he and his friends were going to head to the Field of Heroes. Lindwine smiled at her husband and told him to remember that too much beer under the sun caused for terrible headaches. Arbogast laughed and promised that he would not do anything in excess.
And so they went their way.
The men walked along and chatted of the game results thus far and how the presence of the Toft was causing more tension then anticipated. There was nothing to do about it, save as leaders, to quell the protests as they arose.
"It would seem that nothing can separate you - whether it be battle of fun," a voice came from nearby, directed at the trio.
Arbogast turned to look and a beautiful smile caught his gaze - dark hair, softened by days under the sun, adorned the face. Her clothes were traveled, but they were not those she had worn when he had met her and through their perilous journeys. No - she looked rested and... clean. The immediate recognition made the Fire-watcher's face bloom into his own wide smile and he called her name...
There she stood among the fair-goers that passed by. She was dressed in light and dark shades of blue that reflected the colors of Dale and the mountain. Upon her cloak was pinned an interesting broach made by skilled hands - it was that of a star which cast its breadth across a mountain peak. At her hip hung her sword, Nimronyn, though its hilt and pommel had also seen the labors of a craftsman. Arbogast could see that peace was in her face and she no longer carried the hopelessness that once burdened her so.
"Hello my friends," she said. "It is truly wonderful to see you all!"