Return to Bree

Adapted from ### Chat Log: RP 01/25 00:38 AM ### Edited for length and revised only to create a narrative.

 

A brilliant sun covered Bree in its glow, easing the cold bite of winter.
A brilliant sun covered Bree in its glow, easing the cold bite of winter.

A brilliant sun covered Bree in its glow, easing the cold bite of winter.

Emmelina Lilybrook stalked across the square with her hands shoved down into the pockets of her pants. She had stopped in on Anya that morning before work to find her abed and looking terrible. She didn’t stay long; Anya couldn’t sit up very well and after a time, the conversation just went no where. Lina had tried to get details about the journey Anya had just returned from, and as far as she could tell, it was a disaster. But Anya could not really remember much and so the tale was distorted and confusing. Arguments between Elf and Man, evil Dwarves attacking her around every corner, and dismembered hands kept getting repeated and after a while Lina told her to lie down and stop talking. Anya willingly obliged and once satisfied that she wasn’t going to go anywhere, Lina left for work.

All day she thought of Anya and her disjointed thoughts. She tried to picture Anya’s face before and after the trip. The more she dwelt on it as she scrubbed the linens on the washboard, she more troubled she felt. Something was clearly not right.

But what could she do about it? She was no healer and knew of no healers that would work for as cheaply as she could afford. Perhaps that fancy Elf she lived with could fix her, but she didn’t know where she was. Her bed had been hastily made and long cold. Lina didn’t know what she could do.

So after work, she went to the Pony to forget about it.

At the top of the stair, two men stood about as far apart as could be. One, a good looking man who clearly spent time to look neat and well groomed, and the other the grave-digger with the ugly face. As she set foot to climb the steps, she considered perhaps he wasn’t ugly, daresay, but it sure was hard to tell with those hideous scars and that scary opalescent eye. Ducking low, she made to pass through without disturbing their conversation when a noise in the square caught her attention. She turned to see what it was when her foot slipped off the edge of the step. Arms flailing, she stumbled.

The grave-digger shot out an arm to steady her.. “Woah, now! The steps look better from up here, I promise.”

Lina blinked rapidly as she was steadied. “Shi—” she exclaimed, stopping the swear just in time. “Look out for that one, eh?” she joked once she had regained her balance. “Sorry about that.”

Morty smiled as he lowered his arm. “No trouble, love. Just watch those feet of yours, aye? Seem to want to get away from you.”

As he returned his attention to the pretty man, Lina nodded and muttered to herself, “Ya think I’s the one knocked me head, an’ not Anya.” She reached for the door to the Pony.

Overhearing, Morty swiveled his head around. “Say what, now?”

The other man, Forthogar, furrowed his brows before arching one, having no Middle-earthly clue what anyone was talking about. He stood by patiently as Lina looked back over her shoulder at them. “Eh?”

“What’s that you just said, about someone hitting her head?”

As Forthogar rubbed his forehead, Lina turned to look between him and Morty. “Uh, jus’ me friend. Some trip she went on, silly girl. Came back right knockered from hittin’ her head hard. She can barely keep ta’er feet.”

“Your friend called Anyatka, by any chance?”

Nodding slowly, Lina said, “Yeah…ya know ‘er, right? Yer the one she sent me ta find tha’ day.”

Very still, Morty answers, “Aye, I do. Is she all right?”

Lina shoved her hands into her pockets and shrugged. Her bobbed hair swept back and forth as she shook her head. “Nah, don’t think so, t’be honest. An’ her housemate is away, so she’s just spending most o’the day sleepin’.” Though she speaks lightly, concern clearly shadows her face. She frowns as if tasting something bitter. “Can’t even draw,” she adds.

Morty frowned. “That’s no good at all. Where is she?”

She shrugged again. “Her housemate’s,” she offered unhelpfully.

“Aye, lass. How do I get there?”

“Ah. Um. House number’s 3 Fountain over in Glaston.” She then proceeds to give poor and vague directions.

“Aye, I know the area. Thank you.”

Lina nodded and turned to head inside. Hand on the door handle, she paused and turned to ask, her rough Bree accent slipping some, “You going to go visit her?”

“Aye, probably.” He turned back to Forthogar.

Emmelina stared at his back for a moment. “Just make sure it’s for the right reasons, if you would.” Then she slipped inside without waiting for an answer.

***

After finishing with Forthogar, Morty quickly and easily found the home where Anya lived with her Elf friend. Upon trying the doorknob and finding it unlocked, he frowned but slipped inside. The interior of the home was very Elvish: cool stone floors and walls, thin delicate looking furniture, and books and maps left out everywhere. He found her in the first right-hand bedroom off the main hall and quietly set down his lantern and shovel.

There was just a lump in the bed; Anya’s blankets covered her completely as if to muffle her from the entire world. At the slightest noise of the shovel’s head hitting the cool stone floor, she stirred. A soft groan emerged from the blankets.

“Who’s there?” Her voice was hoarse and strained.

Morty sank down into the chair near her bed, swinging one ankle over his opposite knee. He cracked the book open on his shin. “Oh, just a ghost.”

Anyatka’s tangled auburn hair appeared from beneath the covers. Her grey eyes peered out at him, squinted and pained. “Morty?”

He smiled. “Heard you bumped your head.”

She sighs. “You could say that.” She sat up slowly, propping herself up on her elbows. A sleeping gown of finer make than anything she usually wore covered her shoulders. It was probably Eruviel’s. At least she managed to change out of her travel gear. “Where did you hear that from?”

“That scrappy young lass who delivered your letter to me was muttering about you.”

Somehow, she managed a smile. “Emmelina? She mutters about near everything.” Her eyes close and she sank back down to her back. “Forgive me.”

Arching his eyebrows, he asked, “Whatever for?”

Anya pressed her fingers against her eyelids massaging them. “For not offering you a cup of tea.”

He let out a dry laugh. “I’m fine, love.”

Carefully, slowly, Anyatka rolled to her side so she could look at him. “You can help yourself to anything you’d like,” she said tucking her hand between the pillow and her cheek. “There’s some cider in the pantry or a small keg of ale, I think.”

“Eh, I came here to say hello, not to snack.” After a pause, he added, “Just glad to see you haven’t expired.”

“Not yet, though that’s not saying I tried hard to! Dwarves can be very mean.”

“Dwarves knocked you on your head?”

Anya shook her head, winced, and moaned softly. “No,” she whispered.

“It’s all right. Shouldn’t make that pretty head think too hard with it all broken-like.”

He offered to get her something and hummed as he shuffled around in the pantry for a mug and some cider. She was able to drink some and to quip, “What do you get when you take a young Elf and two cranky Men into the Lone-lands?” (Answer: one giant headache and the urge to vomit on a regular basis.) Reassured that she was still alive, if not kicking, Morty started to excuse himself.

“I hope Eruviel will return soon,” Anya said as she slid back down into the covers. “It’s hard to get around. Thank you for stopping by. I wasn’t expecting anyone to.” Her eyes close slowly.

He smiled. “Anytime, love. Just rest up, aye? Don’t rush out of bed to be brave or heroic.” He lifted his shovel and lantern.

At the noise of him picking up his things, she opened her eyes looking confused. “Morty?”

He looked over at her. “Hm?”

Anya blinked repeatedly, her eyes having issues focusing. “You’re here?”

Confusion on his face, he answers, “…Aye? I haven’t left yet.”

Anya smiled. Her face lit up as if she just recognized he was there. “It’s nice of you to come by.” Her eyes closed gently and her breathing slowed. “So tired,” she breathed.

His brow knits. “Oh, this ain’t good…” He breathes out a sigh. “Esthyr, forgive me,” he murmurs. Dropping the shovel, he strides over to the bed.

“Stay with me, love. Don’t go all foggy-eyed on me now, you hear?”

And the grave-digger spent the night in the Elf’s home, keeping vigil over his drifting friend.

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