A CLASH OF CULTURES
Somewhere in Southern Gondor
Night of April 6, 3020
Adibe portrayed by Eowyn
Ceolwulf portrayed by Angmar
Ceolwulf: As ordered by The Captain, different
members of the outlaw band took turns guarding the captives. After
Ceolwulf had first guarded Debanni, The Captain then took her
into his keeping for the night and assigned Ceolwulf to guard
Debanni's mother, Adibe. At a different location from where Algund
and Debanni and Vardamir and Atar were camped, Ceolwulf began
to make camp for the night in a sheltered glade.
Ceolwulf: He inserted a stick under the lid of a pot hanging on a chain from an iron bar suspended over the fire and smelled the savory aroma of the stew. He looked towards the tent and called, "Lady, the meal has been prepared and it is time now to sup." He heard the sound of weeping inside the tent, and his brow wrinkled in a scowl. "My cooking is not that bad, and surely you must be hungry."
Ceolwulf: At last the flap of the tent opened, and a stately lady, her eyes red and swollen with tears, stepped out out of the tent and walked towards him. Picking up a plate and a ladle, he poured some stew out for her in a tin bowl and handed it to her after she had seated herself upon a log near the campfire.
Ceolwulf: "There is a spoon upon a cloth to your right," he told her, "and a wine flask near at hand."
Ceolwulf: He walked away from the fire and went to a pack near a tree and after he had taken out a loaf of bread and two spoons, he walked back to her and tore off a chunk of the bread and handed it to her. Feeling sorry for the woman, he said, "Do not look so sad, lady, all will be well and your family shall be restored to you."
Adibe: Adibe took the piece of bread from the tall Rohir's hands, and looked upon him with fear and distrust. Her heart was sorely distressed for here she was, in the wild with strange and savage men of the West, her daughter and son taken from her. She dared not speak to the strange man, and averts her eyes from him, looking upon her food and attempting to eat.
Ceolwulf: He ladled out some soup for himself and dipped the bread in it and sat down on a log. Looking over to the frightened woman, he felt disconcerted. "My lady, won't you speak to me?"
Adibe: Slowly she brought a spoonful of soup up to her mouth, and tried to eat, though she really did not feel like it. Holding the bowl in her hands, she looked to the man and fearfully asked..
Adibe: "What of my son and daughter? What has befallen them? Are they safe?"
Ceolwulf: Slowly he ate the bread, embarrassed, wishing that he had never asked Vardamir to be with him on this kidnapping. He gulped and then replies, "They are well." He wondered if they actually were.
Adibe: "I pray that you speak the truth then," she said quietly, her eyes once again drifting back down to her lap. She sighed heavily and then looked back up at Ceolwulf. "When shall we be returned to Lord Ashtum?"
Ceolwulf: He coughed nervously. "In three days..." and thought, "If all the ransom money is there, and if not, who knows?"
Adibe: Adibe nodded in affirmation, and allowed herself to feel a sense of grim relief. Though her husband cared nothing for her, at least he would pay to get his only son, the heir of his house, back, as well as his daughter, who would bring a nice brideprice from any potential suitors. But as for her, he cared little.
Adibe: After all, was she not going to be replaced soon, and her position be threatened as first wife? True, folk would think ill of her husband if he just abandoned her to the wicked men of the West, and perhaps that would be the only reason why he would take any overly strenuous effort to get her back. Probably if she was the only one who had been kidnapped, he would merely say that she had been slain by the outlaws, and thus abandon her and leave her at their mercy.
Ceolwulf: After soon losing interest in his food, Ceolwulf put the plate down on the ground beside him. "I should talk to this woman," he thought, "and perhaps learn about the ways of these people."
Ceolwulf: "My lady, why do the women of your people wear veils upon their faces?"
Adibe: Adibe looked up to the pale skinned man, and wondered why he would ask such a strange question. Why it was the custom in many of the lands to the South and East for the women to wear veils, and even sometimes the men whilst traveling long distances (so as to keep the burning winds of sand from stinging the face), though most times women wore veils for another reason entirely.
Adibe: "You do not know...?" she asked softly. "But I suppose the women of your land do not wear veils, save perhaps a thing I have heard some married women wear, called a 'headrail.'"
Ceolwulf: "Nay, lady, I do not know," Ceolwulf looked at her, genuinely interested in the customs. "Perhaps you could tell me why the women to the South and East cover their faces. Such beauty should be beheld by all and not covered by veils of secrecy."
Adibe: Adibe took a deep breath. Perhaps this was not the thing to discuss with a brigand. Indeed. "Well," she began, looking down at her food, "the young maidens do not, but when a maid gets to be a certain age, when she is older, she takes the veil upon her head and face, so as the men will not..." she hesitated, "...think ill thoughts of her."
Ceolwulf: Puzzled, Ceolwulf replied, "Why should any think ill thoughts of beauty when it is seen? I do not understand, my lady, but perhaps that is because this custom is not the way of my own people."
Adibe: "Well, that is the problem with beauty when it is seen, you see; the thoughts of men turn to ones of lascivious nature, and they become as the wild beasts, like the large cats of the deep South, and can no longer control their desires."
Ceolwulf: Embarrassed, Ceolwulf felt the warm flush of color as it covered his face. To dissipate his chagrin, he rose to his feet and looked at her. "My lady," he stammered, "do you think all men are beasts?"
Adibe: "Nay, not all men are beasts - but mayhaps, I daresay, they are much weaker than women in some regards, and therefore, we must protect ourselves, and protect them in doing thus."
Adibe: A sense of great unease washed over her, and she felt she was saying too much to this strange man, this heathen from the West, and she looked down once again, fearing greatly.
Ceolwulf: "Then, lady," he says wryly, "perhaps all men should thank you for your great concern in protecting them, but I should say rather that it depends upon the man himself. You have nothing to fear from me. Have I turned into some monster, a ravening fiend, since you were asked to remove your veil?"
Adibe: "Nay," she said quietly, feeling quite uncomfortable. This man was a heathen and would no doubt be worse than the worst of her own people, but she dared not call him thus or imply that he was thus for fear of her own life and the lives of her son and daughter.
Adibe: "We do not always wear the veil," she added, "not in the house of our husband nor our kin; then we are free to dress as we please, if our menfolk allow it."
Ceolwulf: "Lady," he said as he stood across the fire from her, "I do not understand this custom, and why it is so necessary that all should be protected from each other. Perhaps if such need of protection does exist, both man and maid should be veiled at all times to protect their virtue."
Adibe: Does this strange man mock her? Her brow furrowed slightly, and she idly swirled the soup around with her spoon. "It is the way of my people, at least in northern Harad, eastwards, near the border of Khand."
Adibe: True, it was the way in that northern part of the Southronlands, but down south, way down south, she had heard that the folk lived in great forests and dressed in shameful fashion, or not at all.
Ceolwulf: "In my land, both maid and matron walk about freely with faces uncovered. Some among the maids even take up shield and sword and ride with the riders proudly with no shame at face uncovered and open to the gaze of all."
Adibe: "In the Northeast, the valor of the women is fierce, tis said," she stated, wishing to distract the man from talking about the veils of the people in her area of the world. She shuddered to think of how utterly wicked a folk they were to the West; lusts left unbridled with little if any methods to restrain the passions of the flesh.
Ceolwulf: He stood there and looked at the woman, perplexed, dumbfounded, at such differences in the customs. "My lady, the hour grows late. If you are tired, go sleep in the tent. Do not think of escape. My comrades encircle the perimeter of the camp, and should you try foolishly to run away, you will soon be caught and brought back."
Adibe: Through the dusky flickering glow of the campfire, Ceolwulf could see Adibe nod in affirmation, her heart filled with calm, solemn resignation. Moving her half-eaten food to the ground beside the log upon which she sat, she rose to her feet, and walked slowly to the tent.
Adibe: Her heart was weary with worry about the fates of her family and her at the hands of these cruel and heartless men, and the exhaustion carried over to her body, and all her limbs felt heavy laden with great, overwhelming despair. Would the brigands be faithful in returning them, when the ransom was paid? Or would they try some treachery, devilry of the West?
Adibe: She prayed this would not be the case, though it mattered little for her, for her situation would change little when she was returned to her proud overbearing husband. Sighing heavily, she collapsed into the blankets laid aside for her to sleep upon, and waited for the dark unknowingness to claim her mind.
Ceolwulf: Ceolwulf watched as she walked away. "How could a piece of cloth offer protection?" he wondered. "Indeed, they must be barbarous in the countries to the South."
Ceolwulf: "Barbarous, and perhaps stupid... stupid to put up false barriers that could easily be ripped away upon impulse. Perhaps masked grímhelms," he thought, "the Southrons could cover the faces of their women with that. Indeed, full sets of mail might be the best protection of all when such fear as this exists."
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