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Questions all round

Tags: Haruven,  Gloin,  Isobel,  Oriana

Short Summary: Dwarf, Elf and Men - or more correctly Women - meet in the Fiery Flagon. Much of interest remains unsaid
Date (real-life): 2014-01-07
Scene Location: Esgaroth: Fiery Flagon
Date (in-game): November 3060
Time of Day: Evening
Weather: Windy

Fiery Flagon

The Fiery Flagon has long been a nexus for gossip and comradary in Esgaroth. The room is still scattered with evenly placed tables, each piece of furniture well smoothed and ready to provide a comfortable seat and a place for a mug to the inn's patrons. Against one wall, a large brick fireplace stands proudly, a number of iron tools and an extra pile of wood huddled on the hearth. To the side of the fireplace there is a large window with thick glass which looks out onto Bowman Street, the words "The Fiery Flagon" painted in common across the pane so they might be read from the road.

The bar occupies another wall of the room, standing as a stout guard before the neat rows of bottles, glasses, boxes and kegs. It is perhaps this piece of heavy, dark wood that shows the most evidence of a recent fire. The base of the bar still shows the scorchmarks from the flames, although the entire bar has been polished so much that it will neither chip nor flake ever again. Carved deeply into the center of the bar is the tavern's sigil: a mug overflowing with flame.

Behind the bar a doorway vanishes into a kitchen area, whee rumour has it a small courtyard can be found.

Obvious exits:
 Up the stairwell leads to Sleeping Quarters.
 Swinging Doors leads to Center of Bowman Street.
 Back Door leads to The Market Square.


Dale-Lands Time and Weather Service

Real Time: Tue Jan 07 15:02:40 2014 MST

Dale-Lands Time:
Hevensday, nighttime on a clear autumn's night, November 17 of 3060


Haruven was here, as far as he's likely concerned, yesterday... ish... or the day before. Or... spring? Whatever, close enough! Perhaps unsurprisingly, his work on the Amon Thranduil side always seems to take longer and move slower than when the diplomat is among the humans of Esgaroth, but once again, like an attractive, slightly condescending unlucky coin, he is back! Parked, as always, with a stack of letters and a bottle of wine, occupying a table near the fire. Unoccupied chairs suggest that it could be possible to join him, but thus far none seem to have taken up the silent offer.

The elderly Dwarf with the white hood would seem an unlikely table companion. Indeed, as he stomps in through the swinging door, gifting the company with a blast of icy air, the thick brows above his blue eyes are knotted together in a frown. He pauses to look about himself, muttering into his beard ... and then he catches sight of Haruven. The frown only deepens.

However, after a pause (while his white hood is set on a peg with exaggerated care) he makes his ponderous approach to that fireside table. "Master Elf." His tone is gruff, but surely that jerky incline of the head is intended to be polite? One can only hope. "Bitter weather we're having of late." What, he's actually trying to make small-talk? He must be really desperate ...

Haruven glances up from his letter, when the dwarf mentions bitter weather. "Is it?" he asks politely, which could be interpreted either as 'I am making small talk but have been indoors a while' or 'Wow it must be a drag to actually be bothered by the cold.' Probably a little of each going on there! But regardless his tone is respectful, and he folds the letter and sets it down, making a gracious gesture at one of the table's empty seats. "Come and warm yourself by the fire, Gloin son of Groin, and avail yourself of the hospitality of my table."

From the narrowing of Gloin's eyes, he's pretty certain that polite response was intended as /some/ sort of insult; he just can't figure out what. But then comes that invitation. After another of those uncomfortable pauses, the Dwarf manages gruffly, "A kind offer, Master Haruven. Elvish hospitality is," he coughs into his beard (but then, as he's said, it /is/ cold outside), "renowned."

So renowned, in fact, that he nods at one of the barmaids who brings over a mug of foaming ale without comment. One he'd ordered already, one assumes.

Gloin sits slowly down, taking a breath and then letting it out again as he fumbles for words that are something other than a veiled insult. Eventually he settles on, "What brings you from Mir- from the Woodland Realm?"

[Isobel(#23796)] And what, one might wonder, does it mean that Isobel Taurdain turns up for the second time in nearly as many days in the Flagon? Is she desperate to escape the idyllic domesticity of being a mother and a wife? Or perhaps it's simply that Brue Jr takes after his father, and makes the best fish stew in town. Either way, there she is, resolutely struggling with the heavy door. In the half gloom inside, the red of her cheeks from the cold can still be discerned - and she, squinting suddenly, appears to have caught sight of Haruven. Or the company he keeps.

[Haruven(#15070)] "On me, of course -- whatever my guest desires," Haru informs the barmaid that Gloin's money is no good here, giving the dwarf carte blanche to figure out how much of the Elvenking's money can be used in one sitting at an Esgaroth pub. "The same honorable service as ever does," the Elf then answers the question posed to him, returning his attention to Gloin, and shortly thereafter to the wine, because, priorities. "By both trade and avocation I seek to celebrate and improve the relations between the free people of Rhovanion." A glance up, one brow slightly lifted. "In particular... it has been bitter weather of late. The Greenwood is not blind to its effects upon our friends and neighbors." And speaking of! There's Isobel! One hand lifts to her, in a gesture equal parts greeting and invitation.

In fact, Gloin is put in a quandry: which is more important, old slights or free beer? The latter, it seems, wins out, for after a moment he raises his tankard and salutes the Elf with the simple toast, "Your health."

A slow, careful drink is taken (it wouldn't do to get foam on that white beard, now, would it? Besides, a connoisseur savours the flavour) and then the elderly Dwarf enquires, gruff and bemused, "What effects would those be?" He shifts in his seat, then adds, "I would welcome news of the road west. It may be my path- that is-"

His efforts not to let anything approaching actual information pass his weathered lips are aided by Haruven's wave - surely it's only natural that Gloin should turn and survey Isobel with a piercing glance.

[Isobel(#23796)] So her eyes do not deceive her after all - Isobel smiles genially and promptly makes her way over there. A dwarf may make short work of a crowd, but so can a determined noblewoman, apparently. "Master Haruven! I thought you had abandoned us for your own fair home, never to return," she declares, and more quietly adds, "But how glad I am to be wrong, for once."

The words stand alone for a moment, before Isobel turns her attention to Haruven's companion. "My apologies for intruding upon your conversation, Master Dwarf. I am Isobel Taurdain." As if that should clear things up. She speaks a little more politely, a little more carefully, with this unknown element than she previously did with the quicksilver Haruven. And so it is with a more cautious smile she adds, "I would stand you both a pint or a glass, if I might join you for a little while. Sitting alone when more interesting company is to be had.. well, that saddens me."

[Haruven(#15070)] "The road west?" That seems to come as some surprise, which registers on Haru's features as a slightly raised brow and a hint of wariness as he sits back, pewter chalice cradled in ringed fingers. Even at just a hint that it 'may be' Gloin's path west, the Elf's interest and caution both seem piqued. "The shadows there grow long in the day, Master Dwarf, and longer yet when wicked things find courage in the night. It is not a path to be traveled lightly, and yet you are no stranger to this fact. What then, I wonder, compels you? What business do you have in the west?"

WHAT INDEED? He may never know, because here comes Isobel, totes busting up the conversation with her hospitality and flattery! Haruven doesn't seem to mind, and gestures her to a free chair. "Join us, my lady, by all means -- my hospitality extends to you as well. I have business with which to dull your ears, but I insist it wait for the time being." Both brows lift, and he sips wine. "I only hope the company is as interesting as you have imagined."

The door opens and closes quickly. Through it emerges Oriana - this easily seen because her hood is pulled back instantly. The first few steps the Karath takes are to the bar, where a cup of warm spiced wine is ordered. While waiting, fingers drum on the counter idely.

The Dwarf actually rises to his feet, a little stiffly, and inclines his head in a bow. "Gloin, son of Groin at your service," he declares to Isobel. Such courtesy! Clearly he's been briefed in the way to address human females - and the fact that it neatly prevents him from answering Haruven's question is just a by-the-by.

The new blast of cold air sets him frowning, and then the offender is identified; Gloin sends another of those stiff bows in Oriana's direction. Yes, he's the very model of civility to non-Elves tonight.

[Isobel(#23796)] And Isobel gravely returns the bow with a shallow curtsy - are dwarven and human customs the same on this point, one might wonder? And to think, not a twitch of her mouth when Gloin, son of Groin, introduces himself. One might also wonder if her husband could have managed the same feat...

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Master Gloin." One of Isobel's brows lifts, and she glances at the elf - "But how shall we determine whose hospitality we will rely on, if we both insist on offering it? Perhaps we ought to flip a coin." She pulls out the indicated chair and takes a seat, archly adding, "Or perhaps we shall make a game of it, and leave the one lingering longest with the bill."

Haruven eyes Gloin sidelong over another sip of wine, either utterly mesmerized by the true and utter gloriousness of DAT BEARD, or filing away mental notes about questions left unanswered. Either way, he keeps his opinions to himself and the matter of the Road West is not pressed further. As for Isobel, the elf looks amused. "Surely you would not put me in the ungraceful position of offering hospitality to some," A gesture at Gloin, "at my table, but not all?" A gesture to herself. "Perish the thought," he shakes his head, small golden ornaments woven into his hair catching the firelight as he does so. "Truly, I cannot countenance that a lady with a heart so kind as yours would however inadvertently bring me such woe, and so I shall comfortably assume that I am lingering longest... with the bill. How fare your husband, and child?" Someone else comes in, after that -- Oriana's familiar face! Spotting her, Haru catches the attention of a passing bar maid, and murmurs instructions for her to tell Oriana to come over. He probably also orders more wine, since there's only one bottle out and it's already half gone and that won't do.

The glass of warmed spiced wine is put before her, and Oriana drops a few coins into the barkeeps hands. The bar maid comes over to the Karath in time for her to see Groin stand and bow. There is a quick nod to the bar maid and then a returned bow to the dwarf, with a warm smile. Looking over the table she moves in their direction with her typical regal poise and smoothness. "Greetings." Says the woman. "I hope you are all well." Sipping from her wine then the glass is brought down and peered into with a frown, as if something were off about it.

Gloin settles himself in his chair again, and covers any distaste at the interplay between human and elf - clearly old friends - with another long pull at his mug of ale. He does let slip a disgruntled-sounding sigh when Haruven's flowery speech goes on .. and on .. and on .. but hastily turns it into a cough. His own contribution to the conversation? Precisely nothing. That golden opportunity to interrogate the Elf about the state of the road west without mentioning anything about - what exactly is he trying to avoid mentioning? - has slipped through his fingers!

Oriana's arrival is greeted with barely disguised relief (at least there's one other person here who doesn't talk like an elf). "The Dwarves fare well, as I trust do the House of Karath?" The bushy brows rise a little as though in question - probably Gloin's merely speculating what manner of displeasure might be found in Oriana's cup. A slug? A spider?

[Isobel(#23796)] More good news just keep pouring in - Isobel positively beams when Oriana joins them, and it distracts her, at first, from Haruven's question. "Dear lady, how are you? Faring well?" Well, a question may be answered by a question, of course. The Taurdain seems on the verge of saying more but breaks off to let Gloin speak instead.

She returns her attention to Haruven instead. "They fare well enough. Dara is crawling now," Isobel informs him, not without a note of pride. "And she does have more hair. And she knows what her feet and hands are for now." The fraction of a second, and with a glint in her eyes she adds, "Brev hasn't quite figured out those things yet, but he will eventually, I'm sure."

Haruven reaches into one of his voluminous sleeves as Oriana approaches to join the unusual gathering, and withdraws a folded letter, sealed with wax. Spidery writing on the outside seems to indicate the addressee; it looks like the secretive curves of Tengwar rather than the solid, sturdy writing of common speech. The transfer of this document seems to be why he called her over, as he remarks, "Words for you, my lady, from those who remember you fondly in Celebannon. As always, they convey to you their friendship and affection -- some would like for you to visit once more, and if you find this to be compatible with your interests, I would be honored to discuss it with you another time." Another sip of wine and he can't seem to resist (did he even try to resist?) jabbing Gloin in the interest of polite exposition, "The lady Oriana is a fond friend of the Elves, and has come far in her scholarship of the Sindarin language." Even Haru can't keep needling dwarves when there are tiny babies to discuss though, and the mention of Isobel's Dara brings him a warm, fond, sad smile. "Ai, children are a blessing," he replies, "These days are precious, when all potential has yet to resolve itself into the permanency of the present and past."

"Karath is always well." Replies Oriana to Gloin with a wide grin. Then looking to Haru as the elf tugs at her sleeve she steps closer to him and takes the ltter within her delicate fingers. "Ah! Word at last! It warms my heart greatly to hear from such old friends, I'd adore a visit one day. Yes, we must sit down and discuss this further when time allows. I'll make a point of freeing my time, which sadly, as of late, has been kept up by far to many details." Grinning to the elf eyes then move to Isobel. Yes, happy words of children is always a blessing, but also there is a hint of sadness in her eyes of it. Maybe it's the story of a proud mother - an experience she does not get to live. "I'm so very glad to hear the little one is doing well. Children really are a blessing." Lifting her glass to take a sip it's then that the Karath realizes why it's been held at bay. "I'll rejoin you all in a few minutes time, seems there is something in my drink. I dare not guess what creepy crawly creature this is, but simply refresh my goblet with new wine. Please pardon me a moment." And with a kind smile to them, and a swift turn on her heels the woman is back off to the bar to fetch a better drink.

The elderly Dwarf's eyes narrow as he witnesses the exchange of a secret missive. What dastardly plots might be contained within? To Haruven's explanation he says stiffly, "I see. Perhaps I should ask House Karath for news, then." His expression is somewhat sour.

The Elf's final words elicit a shake of the head. "Children are equal parts pride and worry," he addresses Elf and Elf-friend alike. "The rashness of youth knows no bounds. Still, a father finds strength in his offspring." His gaze loses his sharpness then; he seems to be lost in private musings and scarcely acknowledges Oriana's abrupt exit.

He drains down his own tankard without further ado and then announces, "Forgive me, I believe you said you had matters of business to discuss? I have affairs to deal with regarding my own kin; you need delay your concerns no longer." He rises then, and bows awkwardly to Haruven. "I thank you for your hospitality, Master Elf, and hope to return the favour." To Isobel he offers simply, "A pleasure to meet you, Lady." Then he's stepping ponderously away to reclaim his cloak.

"But.." The protest is very faint, and almost immediately contained. Isobel summons up a smile instead and a plain, "Likewise, Master Gloin," in return. "Ach, well, there goes that opportunity," she confides to Haruven quietly. "For now."

[Haruven(#15070)] "Opportunity will come again." Of this, Haruven seems certain, taking the liberty of refilling Isobel's wine as though in consolation. The Elf casts a thoughtful, slightly wary look at the door and muses, "I do wonder what has the dwarf asking after the Road West. A strange subject for any night, and even stranger for the cusp of winter. Something compelling, I expect." He doesn't seem overjoyed about that, but after a long, thoughtful look at the door, he breaks the gaze to return his attention to Isobel. "It is a particular joy to me, to hear your family prospers. How has the rest of Esgaroth fared through the summer and autumn?"

Isobel looks sharply at her elven companion at those first words even as she absently nods her thanks for the refill. "West, you say... strange indeed, yes." But though she sounds puzzled and frowns, she leaves it at that for now. Not that the frown goes away - on the contrary. The noblewoman sighs and the fingers of one hand curl around her glass while the others rub her forehead for a moment.

"Poorly, Master Haruven, poorly." She glances about them quickly - the tavern is so raucous that there is hardly any need for her to adopt a murmur, but she does so anyway. "I do not know yet if word has been widely spread, but I have had news from our farms, at least, of a very poor harvest. The weather has not been favourable this year, and I fear that if the winter becomes rough.." She trails off, worry haunting her eyes.

[Haruven(#15070)] The news of a poor harvest seems not at all surprising to Haruven, who nods. "We felt in the spring that it might be," he replies, without explanation as to either why the Elves didn't say anything, or how exactly they know these things. "And anticipating this has been no small part of the efforts which have kept me under the trees and not upon the water. We are a harmonious people, but we are deeply varied, and priorities... differ." His eyes drop to pouring more wine -- how does so much of it vanish so quickly, one decorous sip at a time?! Elf magic. "It is the opinion of the Duinedhrim that a prosperous Esgaroth is most advantageous for the interests of the Elvenking, and we have had our sway. Such supplies as can be spared, we have permission to bring to you on our rafts." He looks up, pouring ceasing. "It will aid, but likely not sustain. And if supplies should cause turmoil among the Men in ways which inconvenience trade unrelated to the harvest, then the Elves will tire of this quickly and there will be little I can do."

Isobel's eyes widen dramatically; then quickly she looks down, blinking rapidly. A few moments later she is done with her intent scrutiny of the absorbing grain of the table, and she's able to gaze upon the elf once more. Well, at least no less able than usual.

"Thank you, truly, for all your efforts on our behalf. I imagine it was no easy task, and--" Isobel stops and clears her throat. The noblewoman is even able to summon up a somewhat embarrassed smile, though her gray eyes still look a touch misty. "What I am trying to convey," she says, gesturing for emphasis, "is simply that no one benefits if Lake-town, the hub of the north, starves. And that I am very grateful, more than I can say, that we have the aid of fair King Thranduil's people, whatever their motives may be. Any food given to us here, means less food we siphon away from the other parts of the country, who may need it more." Her brow furrows and she shoots a troubled look at Haruven. "After all, with the bounty of Long Lake, even in winter, we may be able to fend off the risk of a famine for longer than our neighbours below the waterfall can. And Londaroth and Iach Celduin have not the wealth that Lake-town does."

[Haruven(#15070)] "I am widely believed to be unbecomingly sympathetic to and interested in the dreary world of Men," Haruven notes, with a touch of dryness which perhaps hints at what he's been hearing from the various, mysterious factions of secretive elves in their Woodland Realm over the last few months. "But I would not see you starve, lady, nor your kin. If there is to be hope for the dark future, it lies with your people. What I ask from you in return is perhaps no simple task -- to keep the King's generosity from becoming..." The diplomat pauses a moment, searching for the right word perhaps. "...Politicized. As much as can be hoped for."

"Only I am not one of those who would starve, not really," Isobel observes, before taking a moment or two to ponder his last words. She cocks her head to the side. "I'm afraid I do not have the pleasure of understanding you. You mean it should not be used to do what, exactly?"

[Haruven(#15070)] "Hardship brings out great nobility in Men, but at other times, great greed and disorder," Haruven explains. "We will bring you supplies to make your winter easier, Lady. But once they arrive, they are out of our control. Some may try to take more than their share, by force or cunning. Some may believe in desperation they have received less than others. Some may try to take the portions of others to sell at profit... Some might slander the noble house of Taurdain itself, claiming you have received from us vast, secret stores which you choose not to share while the other Houses and common people suffer by with but tokens of the supplies. Do you see? It is my hope that chaos will not spring forth from good intentions."

"Ah." Only one word, but rather unhappy for all that. "Yes, I see what you mean. My people does have a.. a certain tendency to-" She stops herself again, pressing her lips together tightly, before settling for: "I fully understand the reason for your concern." The noblewoman toys with the glass she has yet to take a single sip from - scandalous! "We will do our best," Isobel promises solemnly, "to lead the people not only in word, but in deed. If we set a good example for them to model themselves after, if we hide nothing and remain open about our intentions, then I believe it will all turn out well."

Haruven drains the last of his wine -- now there are two empty bottles, none gone to waste! The Elf seems satisfied with Isobel's answer, as though this is what he had hoped to hear. His demeanor suggests that some quality of her speech is the desired 'payment' for this transaction he's wrangled out of the Elvenking's store houses, and Haru smiles. "Dedication and honor," he notes as he rises smoothly from his chair. "I expected no less, and my trust is not misplaced. I must take my leave of you, Lady Isobel, with great regret -- but should you have need of me, you may send word to the embassy. And in the meantime, I wish peace and good fortune for you and your family, at all times, in all things." Another hint of a smile, and then he's off and away, leaving Isobel alone with the fire and her thoughts! 

Date added: 2014-01-08 02:17:30    Hits: 125
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