Letters of Marque: Confidence

Clouds gathered darkly over the White City. Fewer and fewer folk went about daily business, yet the city still lived, somber and watchful. Eshe Thanat stood on the wall of the Player’s Tier and gazed down at the levels below.

“You are keeping something from them,” Halvel said sternly as she stepped up behind her. “What is it?”

Eris did not turn to look at the lady. “I told them everything they asked for,” she replied.

Behind her, Halvel surely pressed her lips together in a disapproving frown. Eris smiled despite herself.

Halvel broke the silence first. “You need to be frank with me! Anything you can tell them may save lives.”

Turning, Eris stepped down from the wall and leaned back against it. “Whose lives? The men and women who claim freedom in these lands? Or my people, who, to them, are only murderers, rapists, and thieves?”

Flushing indignantly, Halvel held her ground.

“They did not realize the impact of their words on you. Surely they did not realize that you are-”

“My lady, I am not stupid, and neither are they. So what excuse do they have for labeling my brothers and sisters as such even as they wait for me to deliver the fruits of my spy work for them?”

Halvel turned her head away. For the moment she was silenced.

“They’ll find a way if they really want to kill those men and women.” Eris nodded, quiet serious. “Folk like that…they always do. Perhaps we should leave before you make a choice you will sleep with for the rest of your life, my lady.”

“N, no. They said-” Halvel paled and shook her dark hair. “We cannot leave.”

Eris looked up at the dark sky. How she missed the stars.

“You are right in that, my lady. We cannot.”

~~~***~~~

The thick night wrapped Eris in a cloak of concealment as she made her way to the spring that she knew went deep into the rock of the mountain to find its source. That source forked and fed an underground stream that fed an underground river that joined the Anduin someways south of Osgiliath. From the second spring, its waters flowed down, down to the great sea.

Eris cupped a shell in her hand, smooth and spiraled and willing to hold the secrets she whispered into its opening. It glowed in the dark, just a swell of light that vanished before it could be noticed as anything other than a distant candle or a flash of lightning. Down, down the shell sank until it struck the bottom of the spring and the message flowed into the lifestream of the land and down, down on its journey to Pelagrir.

Eris turned from the spring and looked up at the sky. For some time she stared at the shadows passing overhead, and then she hurried away from the spring with the seashell resting in its waters.

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