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Poking the Savage



It had been a long night.  A long, painful night that left me exhaustedly asleep wedged between Seaxa and Hilda in a small bed in the house of Layfled who is apparently the healer for Aldburg.  As I walked home, I felt my muscles ach from exhaustion as I veered down the flower-lined path to the little home sitting near one of the many streams of Aldburg.  Opening the door, a cascade of light flooded into the otherwise dark room of Gerta’s house.  I stepped in, blinking my eyes several times to adjust them to the dimness of the room.  Shutting the door behind me, my eyes landed on the massive man sitting at the table.  He had a wineskin flopped empty on the table and another on his lap of which he drank from.  His boots flopped on their side on the table, causing a small pile of dust and dirt to build up.  Light filtered through the uneven boards of the eaves and under the door as I walked in further. 

Stopping in the middle of the room, I looked at Garsig before grunting, “No manners.  Gerta would be angry at you."

He snorted, "Probably, but she's not here." Then his eyes narrowed on me with the rest of his features obscured in the dimness. "Unig, what do you want?"  I felt the faint sting as he used the word Unig.  I am not a Unig.  Well, in many ways I am.  For those who know my tongue know the word means lonely.  Garsig knows the word bothers me even though I try not to express my distaste towards it, so he continues to refer to me as it.  I preferred Blóstma rather than Unig.  Although I still do not understand how difficult it is for the Eorling to just to say Blodau

My eyes followed along his features for a moment as I noted his relaxed posture and broad frame.  I hated how much he caused a soft fluttering in my stomach.  I hated everything about him so much I felt a vague sense of attraction.  Instead of allowing my eyes to linger on the man, I quickly spun around to make my way to the fireplace.  The room stood dark and I wanted to fix that.  Speaking up, I grunted out to the man, "Nothing.  Nothing from you."  Bending down, I searched with my hands for wood and carefully stacking them in the pit of darkness inside the stones of the fireplace, "It dark in here.”

"I like it dark," he said as I heard the creaking of the chair announcing his own movement, "It hides the bad things, the shadows. Things people don't want to see but they know they're there."

I chuckled softly, “Things like you?”  Standing up, I reached towards the mantle to run my fingers along the wood.  I could not quite see what I was doing (everything is so high up or so tall in the world of the Eorling.  It annoys me).   

“Just like me.  I've done things that no one wants to hear about, but they are safer for it. Everyone wants the ham but no one wants to gut the pig,” he responded as my fingers found what they were looking for.  I knelt down and struck the flint in my hands until the sparked flames into the fireplace.  Then, without speaking, I moved towards the nearest window and pushed the shutters open to flood the room with an immediate bright beam of sunlight.  The light blinded me for a moment.

A growled response escaped his lips, "Shut that."

Seeing his annoyance rise sparked a smirk to grow on my lips.  Quickly, I made my way to another window as I retorted, not addressing to his command, “No, only Eorling are safer.  Many, many other people are less safe because of savage like you.”  Opening another shutter to a window in the room, more sunlight drowned the dimness and brightening the air.

I glanced back to him to see his hand slapping onto his thigh as he barked out a laugh, “Only because we were not let to finish the job. Then your folk would know better to ever step foot into the Gap again. I am Eorling, I fight for my kin. I care not if yours are less safe, it suits me just fine,” he drinks again and licks his lips.  “You defend them yet you are here.”

For a brief second, I felt the urge to slap him, but instead I controlled myself and lifted my chin, “I only ever protect Caru-lûth.  I no protect any other Lûth.  Me being here, protect Caru-lûth."  Then I stepped closer to him as I leaned closer to stare directly into his… somewhat pretty… green eyes, “You are only here because you family is weak.  If my family, any of us handle our own problem.  We are not so weak we call in criminal to fight our battle."  Then a smile spread across my face, "Unlike you, we no need savage to protect us."

"Your kind fights each other more than ours,” he glared.  “You’re even more savage to each other.  I've worked with a few, yes.  They turned to help us because they hated their neighbours even more.  Cowards and turncloaks they were, I never trusted them but they were useful for a time."  His scowl deepened and he took a long drink which caused the meadskin to visibly deflate.  Then he belched sending the disgusting scent into my face as I pulled back, "The Grimbaldings are my blood, I protect them and fight for their honour. They are only weak because my grandsire made peace with the damned Wusfrealings.  I am only called criminal by those too weak to stomach the nature of war.  And you need no savage because you're all savages.  You expect Gerta to wield a sword on her own?  She has showed you nothing but kindness since Hroda dumped you here."

Hroda’s name sent a sting through me as I rolled my eyes.  Spinning around, I made my way to the final window to swing the shutters open.  Between the fireplaces and the other opened windows, this one sent less of a contrasting light into the room and only instead added a little more glow, “In my home, we are no coward.  We know war.  We respect war.  Not savage.  Not criminal.  We strong."  Then I turned to look back at him, "I care for Gerta.  No, she no fight.  I would believe she more strong than you.  What will you do when you no purpose to Gerta?  When she done with you?  When she throw you away?"  I then shrug, "I doubt woman actually care for you.  You are just tool.  A tool that will loose need."

The chair slammed forward with a cracking sound as Garsig drew his feet from the table.  Tossing his mead skin away, he bared his teeth at me in a cruel smile, "You fight to protect your own but you're not savages, you respect war. What the do you think I was doing? Fighting to protect the farms being raided, people getting killed to protect their stock from bandits and Dunlending raiders. Unlike others, I took the fight to them, made them pay for their crimes." He leaned forward, his elbows on his thighs as he glared through a tangle of hair, "Because tell me, Unig, how was it to be a slave. To be owned like a cow."

I stiffened slightly, but then shook my head and grunted, "Better than Eorling slaves."  I retorted and allowed my eyes to scan over him slowly, “Of course, you know all we do to Eorling.  You make us pay for what we do.  Everything we do."  My eyes drifted back to his face.  His hair, dark in colour much alike to mine, covered his face.  I noted the darkness unlike the Eorling very light hair.  It made me wonder.  A man who is so Eorling had such dark hair?  I had not seen a single dark haired pure Eorling at any point of time since I came to Rohan.  Therefore, I turned to face him fully and smiled ever so sweetly as I asked, "I do have question.  Why is your hair dark?  All Eorling hair is light.  Look like straw.  We call forgoil for that.  But you.  You not forgoil.  Why is hair dark?"

"Hroda disgraced us by allowing himself to be captured, he should have died fighting," Garsig spit as his large hands clenching.  "No doubt he suffered enough for his cowardice."  He stared back at me now that he sat eye level to me since he sat up.  I have never seen a man as tall as Garsig is.  Standing, he forces me to tilt my head drastically just to look up to him, but sitting at full height, he sits almost equal to how I stand.  Perhaps a bit lower, but fairly close.  He stood above even Seaxa who, before Garsig, was the tallest man I had met.  But unlike Seaxa, Garsig made me want to tear his jaw from his skull.  "You don't know better than to ask that, so I'll let you keep your teeth in your head,” he snarled as his knuckles turned white.  “It is nothing, just a distant relative, likely of Stoningland. As tall as I am."

A little smile spread across my features as I saw his stiffening from the question.  Stoningland?  I knew very little of that place.  Seaxa mentioned it once or twice when referring to old ruins around town.  Otherwise, I know next to nothing of the place, but gauging by his reaction, I did not entirely believe his claim.  "Relative?  From..."  I stepped closer, "Why do that make you so tense?  If I guess, I think it is something you dislike more than... Stoningland.  Tell me about distant relative."

Suddenly Garsig flew from his chair as it collided with the wall behind him.  Stalking nearer, he muttered under his breath, "I'm the son of Leofrith, that's what matters. I am an Eorling, I've bled for Rohan and killed more of her enemies than years you've been alive."  He hovered over me causing a trickle of intimidation to stir in the depths of my stomach, "I suggest you never mention it again."

Intimidation immediately sparked into defiance as I merely leaned closer and forced a smile across my face, "I would say you not pure Eorling at all."  The turn of tables in insulting made me feel a surge of adrenaline as I now took control of the scene. 

Well, I took control only for a few moments.  Garsig stared at me as his eyes gleamed.  I could see the hatred growing inside him.  It made me feel powerful.  His voice was very strained as he said slowly, "Shut your mouth,"

Tilting my head, I continued to say with a mock innocence, "Or what?  You can nothing.  Gerta be angry if you hurt me."  Then I stepped forward, resting my hand on his chest.  I felt his muscles beneath my palm.  Tense, but strong.  A smirk filled my face, "So you hate being mix blood?"

"Mixed with Stoningland, wench," he spat.

The pounding of my heart in my ears drowned out the soft whisper of the knocks on the door behind us.  Instead, I murmured now to Garsig, “Why so angry if mix with Stoningland?  I wonder... is it not Stoningland?  Is it... my people you have?" 

Almost instantaneously following my question, his hand shot out to grab my throat.  Squeezing his fingers, he dug into my pulse as I felt the sudden blockage in my breathing.  I squirmed, trying to dig my fingers into his hand and pry it away as he squeezed and hissed, "Don't you ever say that again."

My legs began to swing out in attempts to kick him wherever I could.  Perhaps his crotch.  Perhaps his knees.  I did not quite fully think through where I kicked, just merely trying to kick to distract him.  I felt all the power and confidence in me die as panic flooded my system.  I could not breathe.  I could not think.  In that moment, I wanted to run, but I could not move.  My legs swung and hit his thighs, but it seemed not even to affect the massive man holding onto my throat.  Instead, he leaned forward, his dark eyes shifting from rage to excitement as he now took control of the situation, stripping the authority from me with his pure strength.  Against my lips, he breathed out, "I have your life, it's so easy.  Just have to squeeze."

Feeling my face grew hot as I tried to breath.  I dug my fingernails into his hand and rasped out in a struggled out the singular name, "Ger-ta."   

He grinned, snorting out, “One day you won't have her to protect you.  Then, I'll have you."  His face was still against mine at that moment as he softly licked my lips.  Then he released my throat, shoving me backwards.   

Air filled my body as I fell to the ground.  One hand caught me as it spread over the wooden floor and kept me sitting upright as my other held onto the soreness of my throat.  Gasping for air, I sat there with a wave of nausea filling my senses.  The sound of knocking finally reached me as I heard a woman’s voice call out through the door, "Blodau?"   I knew that voice.  Oh, thank you Hilda.

"Keep that mouth of yours shut, Unig," Garsig grunted as he swept up his meadskin and finished the last of the honey wine.  “As you said before, I'm a savage and a criminal, don't push your luck."

"Savage, criminal, and no smart,” I panted out with a hoarse voice, “Only have strength to win argument.  Not smart."  I then struggled to my feet, still feeling dizzy as I made my way to the door. 

Swinging open the door to prevent Garsig from having the last word, I saw the bright face of the young Eorling woman standing before me as she grinned.  "Blodau!" she exclaimed, "I was beginning to worry you weren't home."

Opening my mouth, a small cough slipped out.  I looked behind me to see Garsig.  The pang of helplessness shot through me before I stammered, “I-I here.  Sorry.  We...  We talk."

Hilda raises an eyebrow, "Talking?"  She asked and followed my gaze to Garsig, “I didn't know he could talk without using his fists.”

 “What are you doing here, Wusfrealing?”  Garsig grunted out to Hilda, “I thought Gerta made it clear you're not welcome.”

I grunted at Garsig, ”Shut up.”  Then instantly I began to push Hilda backwards out of the doorway as I whispered, “I need talk to you.”  Ironically, I did need to talk to her.  Not about Garsig, but about another problem I came across.  But not a problem I could ever say in front of Garsig.

Hilda smiled, "Of course, Blodau.  Anything to save you from savage company."