Morning of March 11, 3020

(Written by Wraith)
March 11th dawns bright and clear in Dor-en-Ernil and the warm sun gives promise of the approaching spring, though the air is still chilly. Ceolwulf and Vardamir have been led by one of the outlaws to the road that goes to a nearby village, Alfirin, one of several villages in the vast holdings of Lord Ashtûm.

The horses of Ceolwulf and Vardamir are sorely in need of new shoes and the two men are looking for a blacksmith. While there, they hope to learn something more about Lord Ashtûm, possibly make friends among the villagers and enlist their aid, since the villagers are all native Gondorians.

As a young boy, Candon, passes by, Ceolwulf hails him and says, "We are travelers and our horses need to be reshod. Dwells there a blacksmith in this village, lad?"

Candon portrayed by Eowyn
Vardamir portrayed by Hobbitness
Narrator, Ceolwulf and The Blacksmith portrayed by Wraith

Candon: *Candon hears the man's cry, and walks over the dirt road to the two strangers, looking up at them.* Aye, there is a blacksmith here in Alfirin, up yonder *he points westward* over there. I shall take you to him if you wish!
Ceolwulf: Thank you, lad, we would be obliged if you do.
Vardamir: Thank you, lad! If you do, I shall give you this flute I have carved out of a woodland branch. It is roughly made, but its music is sweet! *Vardamir grins at the boy as he holds out the flute*
Candon: *The boy, a lad of about eleven, looks up at Vardamir with bright eyes, and then to the flute* Oh! Thank you! *he says excitedly as he takes the whistle* I will take you there, double quick!
Vardamir: *claps the boy on the shoulder, laughing*
Candon: Follow me! *he calls to them, waving his arm in beckoning, and runs on ahead*
Vardamir: Well! He is a fast one. Let us be off! *he takes his horse's reins*
Narrator: *Candon leads them to the blacksmith shop, where the blacksmith is in between shoeing horses. First, Ceolwulf and Vardamir unbridle their horses and put halters on them. Then the blacksmith takes the horses by the ropes, ties one in a stall and then the other to a pole, The blacksmith looks them up and down* Travelers, I see, and you wish for both horses to be shod, or just one?
Narrator: Both *Ceolwulf says and walks over to the side of the shop and leans against the wall.*
Vardamir: *As Ceolwulf deals with the blacksmith, Vardamir crouches down to Candon's level and gestures to the small whistle* Do you know how to play this?
The Blacksmith: *Then he goes to his work shelf and picks up a set of tongs. Then, walking over to the horse, he turns his back to it, and picks up the horse's hoof, holding the leg between his knees*
Candon: *Candon grins at Vardamir proudly and says* Aye, I know how to play and I know a few tunes, but perhaps you could teach me another?
Vardamir: I'd be delighted to! *he says sincerely, happy to find someone else who is interested in music*
The Blacksmith: *Then he snips off the bent down points of the nail on the outside of the horse's hoof, the metal shavings falling to the floor of the shop. Then, spreading the tongs, he grasps the shoe by one side and wrenches it free. Then he turns to the other and does the same. He tosses the spent shoe to a pile at the side of the shop*
Vardamir: *Vardamir takes the whistle and plays an ethereal, haunting tune. The notes seem to come from the distant past, imbue the air with their magic, and hang there, reluctant to fade*
The Blacksmith: *Before he shoes the horse, he first takes a hoof pick and cleans the inside of the hoof. He trims the hooves, then tosses the cut parings to the side where a scrawny brown dog crawls out from under a table, grabs the hoof parts and runs snarling away with them.
The Blacksmith: *The blacksmith then measures the size of the horse's hoof and goes back to the shelf and takes a shoe to the correct measurement and a handful of horseshoe nails which he puts in his apron.*
Vardamir: *Vardamir is a little misty eyed as his skillful fingers leave the flute. He hands it back to the boy* Now, see how much you can remember
Candon: *The boy listened wide-eyed to the tune that Vardamir played, and then when he is finished, Candon replies with a bit of uncertainty and self doubt* I shall try my best! *he takes the flute back from Vardamir and tries to play the tune from memory.*
The Blacksmith: *He goes back and picks up the horse's foreleg and holds it between his knees. He puts the shoe on the horse's hoof, holding it there with one hand. He takes out some nails and puts them in his mouth and tacks each nail into the shoe. When he is finished, he crimps over the edges of the nails on the outside of the hoof.*
Vardamir: *Vardamir listens intently as the boy plays. His face lights up when Candon gets the tune right. The boy falters in the middle, and Vardamir stops him* Good, good! Now, it goes like this...
Vardamir: *He hums the rest of the tune, demonstrating the fingering on an imaginary flute*
The Blacksmith: *He does the other three hooves in the same fashion and then trades it with the other horse from the stall. He ties the new horse a to pole, and turns his attention to the shoes.*
The Blacksmith: *Soon he is finished* There, done. That will be three brass coins for each horse
Candon: *The boy studies Vardamir intently as he demonstrates upon his imaginary flute.* Ah, I see. Let me try again *Candon begins to play once more upon the real flute.*
Vardamir: Yes, that's it, lad! Very good!
Narrator: *Ceolwulf takes out his coin pouch and extracts the right number of coins. Resentment flashes in his eyes as he looks at the design on the coins - a symbol of the Great Eye and an inscription dedicated to Him along with the denomination of coin written upon its face.*
Ceolwulf: Here is your pay, smith *he says, handing him the coins* It looks like you have done a good job
Narrator: *The blacksmith takes the halters off the horses and replaces that with their bridles. He then leads them to Ceolwulf and Vardamir.*
Ceolwulf: Let us go, Vardamir, and look about the village
Vardamir: *Vardamir rises to take the reins of his horse* Ah, good. Yes, let us see this place
Candon: Oh? *intercedes Candon* You wish to look about the village? I could show you around, for I have lived here all my life.
Ceolwulf: That would be good of you, lad. We have never seen this country before. We are knights looking for employ in the service of some lord *he looks at Vardamir, hoping he will go along*
Vardamir: *Vardamir does not like to lie, but what else can they do? He nods, confirming Ceolwulf's words* Give us a tour, lad. Show us all the sights *he smiles*
Candon: Well, Lord Ashtum is the lord in this area, but tis quite a ways to Tarnost. I could take you to my grandfather; he is the elder in this village, and perhaps he could help you on that regard.
Candon: *Candon is not too eager to encourage these two men to go to Lord Ashtum, for he is one of the bad men who took over the land of his people.*
Vardamir: *Vardamir looks to Ceolwulf; this seems like a good opportunity.*
Ceolwulf: Aye, lad, we would like to meet your grandfather *he says as they lead their horses outside of the blacksmith's shop* Take us to him
Candon: He does not live far; the village is quite small. *Candon grins, and motions for them to follow him as he walks ahead upon the main thoroughfare leading through Alfirin.*
Narrator: *The village street is little more than a dirt path. Chickens scratch the dirt on either side, looking for a crumb of food. The streets are noisy with the sounds of children playing, a dog barking somewhere off in the distance. As they walk, they see a hog lying in a wallow that it has rooted out in the earth, moist from a recent rain.*
Narrator: *A girl walks past them, herding a flock of geese to the village market day. Soon, a man driving a herd of sheep goes by and they must move to the side out of his way.*
Narrator: *People in the village make most of their goods themselves but there are a few tradesmen who sell things that are not otherwise easily obtained, such as boots and shoes, metalwork such as pewter cups and plates, a mill on the nearby stream grinds grain in harvest season, but there is very little commerce in a place this small.*
Narrator: *The day everyone looks forward to in this village is the monthly market day when people come from miles around to sell and trade everything from horses and sheep, hens and geese, piglets, cows, and goods of all kinds.*

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