1774: Brego’s Mistress – Chapter Five

Title: Brego’s Mistress
Author: hannah.jpg
Media: Books
Topic: Lord of the Rings
Genre: Drama and Romance
URL: Chapter Five
Critiqued by Angie

Howdy, patrons!

Brego’s Mistress, leggo!

Chapter Five

Léofe was not entirely sure that she had any nerves left at all. Everything in her that kept her sane – her nerves, her quick wit, her experience – had taken leave of her completely as soon as the prince wrapped his arms around her.

“It is a simple motion,” he was saying, though she was only half listening. The warm breath on her ear was far more interesting.

“Is it,” she murmured.–

…I have no idea what either of these people are talking about. This could be about anything from archery to a bad interpretation of a porno.

“Yes. Pull the cord back so that you are nearly touching your ear – steady on! Keep the handle from moving; your shot will be more accurate that way.”

…yeah, it’s definitely a bad interpretation of a porno. Huzzah!

Léofe obediently pulled back the rubber, aiming the stone towards where the prince had directed her.

“Let go!”

She started at his suddenly loud voice and dropped the rubber.

The, uh…the rubber stone?

Is the stone rubber?

Did I miss something?

The stone skittered across the grass only a few yards in front of them, and she blushed. How embarrassing! The action had caused some interest for Brego, who trotted over from the feed trough and sniffed the stone with a suitable measure of disdain.

Don’t be disrespectful, Brego. Your father paid good money for that stone that is for some reason made out of rubber.

“Bad luck,” Léofe said quickly. “I will be sure to practice more.”

As you all know, dropping a rubber stone so your horse can sniff it is ten years bad luck.

?????

“Good! I am gratified to hear that you are so devoted to learning the art of the slingshot.” the prince’s white teeth shone in a wide smile, and she blushed again.

Ohh, it’s a slingshot. Haha.

Wait, but I still don’t get it. Isn’t rubber stone the stuff you put on the ground to fill up and cover dirt?

He was standing awfully still, Léofe thought, with his eyes fastened on her. Probably she was imagining the tenderness in his eyes. Her mind had been taking some audacious liberties since the prince had rode in only a quarter-hour earlier.

“Anyway,” she said. “Should your men not have returned from their patrol by now? We need to begin shortly if you are to depart by sundown.”

I’m still fucked over by the fact that I’m expected to believe a prince is the one on patrol. The goddamn prince.

The prince seemed to jolt from a stupor. “Yes, they should,” he said, voice stern. “I will search them out presently.”

Which means…massive wall of text!

It was to be the day that Brego began his war training. It would require all hands available – the prince and Léofe had already discussed this, both being experienced with such a task. Gerdhelm was already heaving pots and pans from their kitchen, for himself and Léofe to make plenty of noise, and Erkenbrand and Allred would be taking a break from their regular patrolling to act as attackers. The prince had only had a few token rides with Brego, and today was to be the real test. Either Brego would take to the commotion, keeping his head and obeying his master, or he would act out insanely and the prince would have to find a new horse. But that was so unlikely it was hardly worth considering.

If you didn’t bother reading that, it was just repeating stuff we already knew. But I’m avoiding saying the word just in case a certain Department decides to crash the party.

Léofe knew that Brego was going to make a wonderful war stallion. Horses had personalities, and one who had lived around them could always know which horse was best suited for which lifestyle.

I fucking love War Horse! God, what a great movie that is—wait.

We’re still in Brego’s Mistress. *long, dramatic sigh*

For all of Brego’s lazy affection for both her and the prince, fire ran in his blood.

War training was a dangerous game, not least of all for Erkenbrand and Allred, who would be closest to Brego’s hooves as they alternated between riding and attacking on foot.

I’m gonna use Brego to trample my enemies, that’s basically what I’m trying to say.

Léofe had never trained in that manner before, and as her mother had died and her father been lamed under horses’ hooves, she felt rather apprehensive. What if the prince was thrown? A lump lodged itself in her throat, and to calm herself she scratched Brego’s neck as they waited for the prince and his men to return.

I’m pretty sure Theodred knows what he’s doing. I doubt he’s gonna be thrown off the war horse.

Except for the fact that he’s just a patrol guy.

Who also happens to be a prince.

A heavy, gilded saddle was thrown over Brego’s back, startling Léofe into taking a step back. The prince grinned at her from the other side of the stallion. “You are spoiling him,” he said.

“Yes, I am. If this is to go disastrously, I would prefer that he have a recent and happy memory to recall.”

Well, this fic hasn’t made any sense up to this point, why start now I guess.

“There will be no disaster,” the prince told her. “Erk, Al and I have done this several times before. And I know you have the sense to get yourself gone if Brego charges you.”

Run for it! My best friend is going to try to kill me!

Because reasons!

*screams*

–“Of course,” she snapped. “But there is always an off chance that something horrific might happen.”–

What? Isn’t that…that’s what we’re….

*headdesk* *headdesk*

For shit’s sake!

The prince had come around to her side of Brego, tightening straps. He paused in his work, and reached out to gently lift Léofe’s chin. “Worry not, my dear,” he said quietly. “I will keep you safe.”

I do not worry for myself! I worry for you! she wanted to shout. But she could not – the lump in her throat had swollen at his words.

Yeah, well I’m choking on this awful manuscript. There’s this thing in the air making me want to suffocate myself with fanfiction. Or maybe the radiator’s broken, I don’t know. Either way, cheesy line is cheesy.

His dear? He considered her to be dear? She followed the prince and Brego into the corral, taking her place on the fence with her bells and pans in a haze. My dear, he had said. Perhaps he harbored affection towards her!

Bwah?! Theodred likes Léofe? What?! I just…this wasn’t ever even hinted at! I, well, I’m certainly shocked.

That would be impossible, Léofe told herself bitterly, watching uneasily as Erkenbrand toted a long oaken staff towards where Brego was waiting with the prince on his back. The prince could never love her.

“Half-penny that Erkenbrand gets kicked in the chest.”

Léofe turned to see Allred’s smiling face. “I will take it,” she said, grinning back.

Really? You’ll settle for a half penny? Thanks Allred. That’ll get me three quarters of a lima bean. Your sacrifice is greatly appreciated!

“And another half that Brego will falter when I call for him.”

“Deal!”

Already Erkenbrand was trying to push Brego to the left, while the prince was commanding him to go right. The stallion was snorting and prancing backwards, giving the prince a difficult seat.

Ehh, I don’t know. I’d assume that if anything Brego would treat the prince with the tiniest bit of respect. I mean, horses don’t exactly have moral compasses, but come on. Really? We’re settling for slapstick in a Lord of the Rings fic?

The sun had disappeared behind a blanket of clouds, and to her apprehension a trickle of rain began to fall. Bema! What luck.

It would be a long two days.

That line…oh my god. I recently read Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs. It was okay, but the only thing that really annoyed me was the whole ‘uh oh! Here we go again!’ esque TV sitcom way out. ‘It would be a long two days’ is really one of the laziest transition sentences I’ve ever seen in writing.

And that’s saying something.

.

.

“And that was when she threw dung in my face!”

…I don’t know why the dots were used as a time skip here. That’s never been established in this fic, why start now?

Also, poop jokes! Poop jokes!

Gerdhelm’s loud bellowing laugh at his own story was matched only by Erkenbrand’s gusty tones. Allred and the prince laughed far more politely, and Léofe merely sat without saying a word. She had begged stories about her dead mama from her father often before – especially when she was younger, but listening to Gerdhelm’s garbled account of their courtship now only made her melancholy.

Poor Gerdhelm. He’s just unable to make a funny story funny. It’s not his fault, not really. It’s probably just bad writing. The poor man.

They all sat around an open fire, enjoying a meal of hearty oatmeal hot cakes and cured sausage.

Something tells me Hannah isn’t well versed in the correct usage of commas.

The training had gone well (in Léofe’s opinion, which she considered highly), but the hours of shouting and running had made them ravenous.

It only figures that Léofe has the mindset that her opinion is better than yours. Scarlet, anyone?

“Obviously she did not think so ill of you,” the prince’s mild tone brought Léofe back to the conversation. How was it she had developed such an ear for his voice? It seemed entirely implausible to her, though she had such little experience in matters of the heart. It was all so odd.

Goodness gracious, this plot point about romance is even more forced and awkward than the one in The Girl. At least The Girl only has a year age gap. How far apart are Theodred and Léofe? That’s what I thought.

“It was the final time that she resisted my suit,” Gerdelm said with a smile. “We married only about a month later. And Léofe was born the next spring.”

Aw, that’s sweet. A little awkward, maybe, but sweet. Bless his soul.

Also, it’s Gerdhelm.

Four grinning faces turned to her, and Léofe blushed in the attention. “It is not so unusual,” she said haughtily. “And I do not see why you should leer at me, it is not as if I had any say in the matter.”

Gerdhelm rolled his eyes as Erkenbrand guffawed again.

I mean, she’s right. It’s kinda a dickish thing to say, but she’s right. Give her credit for not being entirely stupid.

The prince smiling benignly at her, and she groaned inwardly as she realized what she had said. If he had admired her before, her tasteless commentary was certainly not helping her cause.

Well, if that’s the case, maybe I should be more sarcastic and snobbish. Might ward off people like Theodred.

That said, I would end up being friends with people like Léofe. And no one wants that.

“I would not dare leer at such an expert gambler,” Allred cut in with a smile. “I shall beware placing bets with this miss in the future!”

Her papa sent her a questioning look, and Léofe quickly turned her gaze from him. He had forbidden her from gambling years ago after she had embarrassed her uncle at a Midsummer’s celebration.

Or…Gerdhelm.

I’m running out of jokes. Pray to God this chapter ends soon.

“Perhaps your loss was your own fault,” the prince said lazily. “You should know not to bet against a woman when her horse is the subject matter.”

Yes! *slams fists on desk repeatedly* Wait, what did you say?

At this Erkenbrand laughed even louder, and the tension disappeared as Gerdhelm stood to take empty plates. Léofe stood as well, taking over for her father so that he would not have to walk back to the house.

Credit where it’s due, this fic was much more interesting two seconds ago when we were talking about childbirth. I thought we were finally getting back to business.

“Thank you, goosey,” he murmured to her after passing over the dinnerware, and he sat back down heavily. The training was wearing him out, she thought suddenly. Her papa was not used to using his bad leg so much, and she decided to speak to him about sitting out tomorrow.

This fic just keeps on forcing and forcing plot points and plot points. Stick to one thing and roll with it.

“Léofe!”

She turned back to the fire. “You might find your bed now. Dawn comes early,” Gerdhelm said, pulling out his pipe.

“Yes, Papa.”

Oh boy. It’s time for some angsty Léofe time! Because god knows we need more of that!

Their voices faded into the distance as she walked slowly back to the house. Sent to bed like a child! She blushed to imagine what the prince might think of her now. That she was far too young for his interests, she supposed. Though there was a certain amount of truth to that, she thought dully. She did not know exactly how old the prince was, but he did have wrinkles around his eyes.

Her infatuation with him was becoming hard to bear, she decided as she slipped into bed after cleaning the dishes. It was high time that she forgot him, like the childish obsession it was.

How did I know? How did I also know it was a lead into more fascination with the prince? Just fuck him already. Jesus Christ.

.

.

Léofe was awake with the dawn, and dressed hurriedly to get to the yard as soon as possible. From the way the men had been talking about their intentions the night before, they would have been up and about for hours already.

Yes, the talk about the intentions that we didn’t know about nor hear about nor care about. It’s all coming back to me now.

Also, the dots!!!

But the three snoozing forms in the great room, compounded by the snoring from her father’s curtained bed, proved her wrong. She pursed her lips in annoyance, and searched out old bread from the crock before creeping out the front door to tend to her chores.

…I guess Theodred had a sleepover now. Why do I get the feeling that Hannah is basically just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks?

Still, she could not help but wonder which of the forms had been her prince, and whether he snored. This was likely her only chance to find out. But she curbed her impulse and drew up water from the well with a frustration that fuelled her strength.

…hey, maybe it’s because Hannah’s just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Spoiler alert: Nothing is sticking. Stop trying.

The sun had risen and was already warm when she finished with her chores, and the late sleepers finally left the house. Léofe paused in watering their sparse garden, and watched as the prince and Erkenbrand shared a joke. Her heart seemed to tug her in his direction, and she firmly squashed her thoughts.

“Time to go, goosey,” Gerdhelm had followed the men out. “We have a hard day ahead of us.”

Wow! Gerdhelm is actually going to help Léofe today and not be a selfish pompous lazy bastard like he always is? Character arcs, people! Character arcs!

Léofe acquiesced, climbing the steps and handing the pail of water towards him. “Stay behind today, Papa, I beg of you. No stallion is worth your health. I shall take your place today.”

Her papa seemed to hesitate for only a moment before he accepted the pail. “Thank you,” he said gruffly. “I appreciate your hard work, Léofe. You have lifted many a burden from my shoulders.”

…of course there’s no character arcs! Hell, at least Gerdhelm…tried? Although to be fair, he agreed to not do it pretty quickly. He’s still the pompous douchebag we’ve all grown to love.

I can’t believe I ever felt sorry for him.

Startled that he called her by her name, Léofe felt a rush of emotion and leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek. “Do not be late with luncheon!” she teased, and ran to the stables to fetch the bells.

Don’t be late for the luncheon that was never mentioned! I’m going to go get the bells that, likewise, were never mentioned!

Brego was learning fast, and already could stand his ground against the twin attacks of Erkenbrand and Allred. He was also quite adept at following the prince’s orders, which saved the attackers’ necks as the fire of fighting began to take hold of Brego.

Quite a lot of progress in twelve hours. I smell a fresh helping of bullshit.

Poop jokes!

Léofe watched her dear stallion

Skip!

and called out his name.

Basically Hannah just used thirty words to describe Léofe whistling to get Brego’s attention.

Brego became more agitated, and when she whistled again he reared. She was surprised to see the prince glaring at her once he regained control. What wrong had she committed?

Remember when that trend was a thing? No? Okay.

He had asked her to help with the training, after all, and if Brego could not obey his master’s command over her own, he was hardly fit for war. Though it did give Léofe a small sense of satisfaction. The prince spurred Brego, and he trotted over to her, and Léofe reached out her hand to scratch Brego’s nose as they stopped at the fence where she was sitting.

“Badly done,” the prince said, his eyes dark as he looked down at her. “Very badly done.”

Oh, fuck off. You’ve known Brego for a year, Léofe’s known him for two thirds of her life. What do you know about ‘very badly done’? Go fuck yourself in the ass, Theodred, you absolute fuckface!

Go die!

Her face heated. “My sincerest pardon,” she replied, her chin held high and disdain dripping into every word. “I was under the obviously mistaken impression that I was here to – what were your words? To make noise as to acquaint Brego with the clamor of battle.”

His nostrils flared ever so slightly, and Léofe looked coolly back at him. “You are in the right,” the prince finally said. “I apologize for losing my temper.”

*stifles a laugh* That was losing your temper?

She could have laughed. That was losing his temper?

Exactly! I know this is supposed to be funny, but I’m pointing fingers at Hannah anyway. Make Theodred more believable, for shit’s sake.

Also include his death by the end of the fic.

Please.

“I am afraid my anger is because you startled me as well as Brego. I did not expect you to whistle so…shrilly.”

“Next time I shall be gentle as a spring rain,” she said. “But it seems to me – although I have no expertise in this area – that you might need to work with Brego a bit more, sire.” The prince was amused by her winning smile, and nodded to her before turning Brego back into the middle of the corral.

Badly done indeed, Léofe thought to herself crossly. For all her promises of reform, her heart still beat out of control whenever the prince looked at her.

He paused, and then turned to face her once more. “Would it be too much, Léofe, if I asked you to call me by my given name? So few people do, it would be, I think – a mark of the friendship we share regarding Brego.”

But what about the sexual implications of everything? Don’t lie to me and say this is all for Brego.

Because if it is, it’s bullshit. And if it isn’t, it’s…bullshit.

Huh.

Regarding Brego. Of course, that was all their friendship was. “Very well,” she said. “It seems that you are taking liberties with my name already. It seems to fit to return the favor.” But even her comment lacked its usual verve. Why must it hurt so?

He was smiling widely at her. “Whistle as shrilly as you would like, Léofe. After all, we are here for Brego’s sake.”

“For Brego’s sake. I shall do as you wish…Théodred.”

And with that pointless bit of pointlessness, we have slogged through another chapter of Brego’s Mistress. And uh….

This is gonna be a long year.

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7 Comments on “1774: Brego’s Mistress – Chapter Five”

  1. AdmiralSakai says:

    A heavy, gilded saddle was thrown over Brego’s back, startling Léofe into taking a step back. The prince grinned at her from the other side of the stallion. “You are spoiling him,” he said.

    “Yes, I am. If this is to go disastrously, I would prefer that he have a recent and happy memory to recall.”

    Yeah, like the memory of… having something uncomfortable on his back.

  2. AdmiralSakai says:

    “Half-penny that Erkenbrand gets kicked in the chest.”

    Léofe turned to see Allred’s smiling face. “I will take it,” she said, grinning back.

    Haw haw haw! Betcha one of your men’s gonna get seriously injured today!

  3. AdmiralSakai says:

    “Of course,” she snapped. “But there is always an off chance that something horrific might happen.”

    We are reading Brego’s Mistress. Something horrific is already happening.

  4. TacoMagic says:

    Brego’s Mistress, leggo!

    Damn, now I want waffles.

  5. To answer your earlier questions, in chapter 2 of this fic I believe, Sauron is a member of the Maiar, who was corrupted by Melkor, who is basically the devil. Gandalf and the other wizards of Middle Earth are also Maiar, who came to Middle Earth to guide its inhabitants. Sméagol is, or was, a Stoor, an early type of Hobbit. Obviously, by the time the story occurs, he has long been corrupted by the One Ring, and as such, I’m uncertain whether he still qualifies as one, or if he’s some unique being unto himself.


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