Overdone: Failure

I am no leader. Everywhere I look is my failure to protect the ones I love. It is only by pure luck that Eruviel is safe. But the others I love. I have failed them.

Anyatka taken.

Abiorn injured.

What kind of older brother am I?

Ninim dead.

The child abandoned.

As I stand here now, it seems as all the choices I have made in life have led to sorrow.

What am I doing?

Why am I pretending I can lead these people? It is clear that I cannot. I never asked to be a leader. All I wanted was my sister safe and whole and alone in her own mind. The urge to lose myself in the woods and let my hair grow wild again is strong. To run until I pass out on a soft bed of pine needles or stalk a deer through the trees. Simpler things. Easy things. Things that allow me to forget.

Now she is gone. I can only hope Esthyr and Hallem return with good news. But that man’s power… how can little Esthyr’s wards stand up to the power Parmanen wields?

That man.

That evil son of a bitch.

I never liked him. He smiled too much and preened and cooed over my family far too easily. And he never took anything save a meal. Never called in a favor. Never demanded better prices. I know what he wanted now for all those years when he sat at our table and broke bread with us and charmed my sister with his tales of adventure and Beren and Luthien and Túrin son of Húrin and his sister Lalaith and Idril Celebrindal and the rise and fall of the Elves in Beleriand. Of the rise and fall of Númenor. Of the beauty of Lake Nenuial and the northern capital of Arnor, Annúminas, in its full and domineering glory.

And then his tales of the present day. The ruins left as the only remnants of the past glories. How he and his band of merry adventurers would explore and record their findings in order to preserve the great history of the lands. How they needed someone with a strong hand not with a sword, but with a pen to help with the process.

Anya’s basic training in drawing and painting had served her well as a woman of status. But she had never been allowed to nurture it and let it grow and once I realized how far her talent had come once she had the freedom to find her muse in Bree, I understood how much she was controlled. Held back. Devalued. Bookie saw that. He fed her desire to create. To contribute. To be worthy of something. He exploited that in her because he needed her.

And now he has her.

I cannot lose myself this time. I cannot disappear into the wilds. My sister needs me. My brother needs me.

This time, I will not fail.

Advertisements

Overdone: Plans

Over the past two days, we have scouted the island in order to plan for our quest to obtain the Dragon for my sister. According to Threz, the leader of the band of tomb robbers is Lômiphel and her influence stretches all the way to the Baranduin. How this woman took control of the various bands of men and women throughout the region, I can hardly imagine. Their activities make the believe there is a bigger plot at bay.

The men take turns patrolling the shoreline to ascertain the movements of the robbers. It seems as though they stay relatively clear of the Eavespires and I cannot say I blame them. Several visual contacts of Gauredain have been reported and as the wolf-men could probably watch us without revealing their positions, I can only assume they are making their presence known.

Bayn has found us at the Eavespires camp  and has generously gathered and confirmed valuable information. He reports approximately three dozen men and women occupy the island at any one time. No shipments out are occurring and very few shipments in have been seen in the past two days. The robbers appear to be well fortified within the remains of the old estate and he believes he has identified Lômiphel as a tall woman with raven black hair worn in a braid to her waist and sharp, angled features.

After several discussions with all involved, I believe that a combination of tactics would be best. Threz will contact and arrange a meeting with Lômiphel on the far eastern shores of the island. Concurrently, Hallem will lead a second team to cause a distraction that will lead the robbers away from the estate. Our best bet is to set fire to the brush on the eastern shore near their camp. After setting the blaze, that team will enter the estate from the back, semi-flooded stairwell on the western side of the estate to search for the Dragon. With any luck, we can find the statue and be out of there before the tomb robbers are able to control the blaze.

If luck failed to find us… there is always our blades…

Overdone: Instincts

From High King's Crossing

The shield was dirty and it made Abiorn’s face look dirty. Dirty streaks crossed his features as he touched his cheek and then his chin. Was this his face? What happened in those ruins?

He looked down and turned over his hands. The bruises that ran across his palms from wrist to ring finger attested that yes, he was the one who had caught the club of the hulking tomb robber. His hands turned into burly claws and he was the one that ripped out the man’s throat with his teeth. His eyes in the mirrored surface of the shield were his eyes. Those were his shoulders, though, yes, in the time he spent since leaving Dale, they were broader. Stronger. Work around the cabin had made them so. His hair was a wild frame around his face; he rarely spent much time on it anyway.

He touched his lips and could still taste the robber’s blood on his tongue. No matter how many times he rinsed his mouth out, he could not remove the taste. But that did not bother him quite as much as the simple fact that he had liked it.

He had liked the raw power rippling through his muscles as he stood on his hind legs and easily overpowered the lumbering robber. He had liked watching the body fall as an enemy vanquished. He had liked the fear he saw in the eyes of the humans around him, friend and foe alike.

It felt strong. It felt powerful. It felt right.

The boy touched his lips again and ran his tongue over his front teeth as he bared them in a snarl.

Abiorn the Bear. Not the weak, crippled boy that he lived as all his life.

Yes, that felt right.

~~~***~~~

Every instinct in my body tells me to look at her as I used to before we left for the dark road to Dale. Even as we slept side by side beneath the changing moon, I only saw her as a companion of the woods. A companion in arms. A fellow marksman and tracker and a systir. Never did I see her as I do now each time I close my eyes. Each time I look at her and see her smiling up at me with sparkles in her hair. Each time I simply want to dive into her and lose myself.

How many times has my pain been removed by her touch?

How many times has she saved my life and I saved hers?

Yet, she is an Eldar. Men and Eldar cannot find happiness in such a union. Our fates lead us down different paths and despite how she is becoming my journey, I know I am just a detour in hers.

From High King's Crossing

~~~***~~~

Anya’s lips curled into a smile as Morty’s hands roamed over her bare skin. She arched into the gentle weight of him as he hovered above her and she looked up into his warm brown eyes and kissed him.

“Only you,” he murmured into her ear as the moonlight bathed them in its gentle glow. “Only you, my Anya.”

Somewhere in the far corners of her pleasure-logged mind, a bell went off. A silver tinkling like the sound of the little bell she left on Morty’s mantle grew louder and louder until she could no longer hear the heavy breath of her lover. She could only hear the ringing of the bell.

Anya pushed against Morty’s chest and looked up into his face. Clear of scars. Soft brown eyes. Not Morty.

Her heart stopped to coil into a tight pain and then it raced ahead in panic and fear.

Not Morty.

“Anya…” His voice was worried and still laden with desire as he leaned in to kiss her temple. Her forehead. His lips were warm and she felt his heart thudding against her breast.

Not Morty.

She pushed harder against him and tried to sit up. He gripped her shoulders and tried to catch her eye.

“Anya, what is it, love?”

Not Morty.

Every fiber in her body screamed for release from him in both senses of the word. She arched against him to push him away and when he did not move, she hit him. His rough grave-digger’s hands easily pinned her wrists to the mattress.

Not Morty.

“No! Release me! Let me go!”

Then he laughed and it was cruel. His perfect face faded and she was left naked on a cold stone floor. Blue flames surrounded her in her nightmare and she saw Faethril on the other side.

We could make it so, you know. Mend his pain and make him yours.

“Never… I will never give in to you!”

You don’t want him all to yourself? Just you and he to make babies and eat supper together every night?

“That’s not us. That’s not Morty.”

But are you sure it isn’t you? We can make it so.

“It would not be right. I know it in my heart it would not be true to who he is or who I am!”

Oh, but little dear… who are you? What colour is your hair?

“I know who I am. I feel it in my gut, I am me! I will never be you!”

And I feel it in my soul that I will have you. Call it… a premonition. My instincts tell me that you will join me if it means having him. In time, you will see.

Overdone: Whispers in the Dark

You hate him.

Anya sat up in bed. Her room was dark and not a sound whispered in the night. Eruviel was not there in the chair where she spent her vigil. Morty was not there staring at her with one eye his soft, warm brown and the other glittering opaquely in the moonlight. No sound of her brothers snoring softly in the other room.

You hate him. If you admit it, it will make this much easier.

Inside. The voice was inside her head and though she had never heard it before, she knew who it was.

Oh, how she wished it was his voice instead, but since that day by the Little Staddlemere, Aeron had not reappeared. Maybe it had been a dream, a secret wish of her heart that the one who knew her best would return to be her guide. Anric’s anger. Eirikr’s pain. Abiorn’s isolation. Eruviel’s heartbreak.

“No wonder she came back,” Anya whispered to the dark.

I’m right here, darling. You really should not speak of one as if she was not in the room.Anya's Room

“I have nothing to say to you. Leave me!”

If I leave, who will you have? Your brothers are too selfish. Men think only of themselves.

“You do not know what you are speaking of. My brothers are brave and true. Eirikr went back to Dale to save his wife. Abiorn will find his way. Leave them alone!”

Eirikr’s selfish drive killed his wife in the dark eves of Mirkwood. He pushed her too far. He did not see.

“Shut up! You know nothing!”

And then he fled like a coward to the woods, hiding from his pain and leaving it with you to bear.

“I do not blame him! He-”

Oh, but you do. You hate him for abandoning you. Like your love.

“Morty will never abandon me. Women leave him, not the other way around.”

I speak of the man with the hair like yours. Such a lovely colour. But you will look so lovely with raven-feathers instead of fire.

“Anric did not abandon me. I hurt him. I don’t blame him.”

Anric’s first thought was to run from you. Leave you to your misery. Instead of facing his adversary, he left you, the prize. He abandoned you, treated you as worthless.

“He did that to give me time. Space. To figure out what I wanted.”

He left you. He gave you no choice. And now he wants to bed you. Taste your body like it were merely some succulent bird and then toss aside the bones. He does not love you. He will not love you if he has to share your heart with another.

“Anric knows that I love him and Morty both.”

Foolish girl. He is the cause of all your pain. I would not be here if it were not for him.

“Anric?”

The grave-digger. The most selfish of them all.

“Morty is kind. Loving. You just do not like that he can beat you!”

He knows a few wards, yes. He is not of your world and thus has a certain power…but you will not be with him soon. You shall be alone and I will take you. And then, I will destroy him.

“Why? Why won’t you just go where you belong? They have done nothing!”

He left me. You hate him. He has left you, too.

“Who has left you? Who?”

He left me for his war and as I feared, he never came home.

“Aeron?”

I will find him. I will bring him back.

“Faethril, you have to let him go!”

I will bring him back and I will have the power to protect us both.

“Please, Aeron never wanted this. He is waiting for you, you just have to be patience.”

I wanted a family. I wanted happiness. I wanted my husband.

“Patience…”

Patience is for the weak. I will have him. But I will have you now.

Pain. Like a fist around her heart poking at all the raw spots Faethril had opened up with her words. The pain made Anya fall back, cry out, rip at the cotton chemise she wore. The silence mocked her; there was no one there. No one to come save her. No one to love her ever again.

Tears streamed as the pain only grew and spread from her chest throughout her body. “Fight it!” she thought. “You are stronger than she! Fight!”

Burning, like the flesh around her wrist when Faethril had tried to take her the first time in Ost Guruth. Only then, Anric was there and Eruviel. They fought for her. They destroyed the bracelet and freed her from Faethril’s grasp. There was no one to stop the burning now and it wrapped itself around her heart and flowed through her like poison in her veins.

“Fight…”

She thought of Anric. Her brothers. Morty. She thought of her father who could not love anything but power. No, they were not like him, they were not like Faethril. They loved her. She could feel it.

Like a spear to her heart, the pain shot through her and then it dissipated and she was in her bed and Eruviel held her in a panic and Abiorn was pulling at her hands and Eirikr stood stoic at her feet. The sounds of the world had returned; a wolf called in the distance and both Sally Stitches and Oli peered at her through the dark of the far corner.

She was not alone. Her family would never leave her side, she knew that in her heart, and if they ever strayed they would be back again. As she reassured them it was only a nightmare, she was relieved they would be leaving within the week. It wasn’t fair to them to worry over her so.

Life isn’t fair…unless you make it fair…

She ignored the voice as she hugged Abiorn’s shoulders – much broader since his arrival in Bree – and leaned against Eruviel’s body. She was safe. She was protected.

She had their love.

Smoldering Fire: Kindling

((Exposition added; all other taken from RP chat logs edited for conventions and tense))

The streets of Bree always seemed to dirty to Eirikr. Tonight, they stank of the late summer evening and the presence of a growing number of Bree’s paltry residents. Each passing day brought more foreigners to the city; while he felt the anonymity of being a part of an increasing minority population, he also felt each Barding meant an increased chance of discovery.

Perhaps it was silly being so paranoid. The chances his father would have recovered from the loss of Sten and so many of his guard so quickly seemed unlikely, but Eirikr never discounted the resourcefulness of the man. He knew that one day, a shadow of Kolrson Tenorbekk would find his way to Bree and there would be a knife at his back.

For now, he merely sought the refuge of a crowded room without his siblings on top of him. He loved them both dearly, but years of living with just Ninim spoiled him of the joys of living in close proximity to his brother and sister. Even back home in Dale, they each had their own sections of the estate and rarely had to encounter each other unless they willed it. Since selling the large family home he had bought in Bree for Ninim, the three siblings dwelt in the small fisherman’s cabin in Durrow-on-Dunwash. It was a good, sturdy home, but he had never imagined Anya would be claiming the single bedroom leaving Abiorn and he to share the small front room with the tables and cabinets.

At least the floors are laid and set, he thought to himself as he pulled open the heavy door to the Prancing Pony.ScreenShot00352

The wave of heat hit his face as he stepped inside. He frowned. It was crowded; moreso than he was comfortable with. The weeks lost in the Far Chetwood still clung to him and people packed into the front room of the Pony immediately caused him to tense. Without meeting anyone’s eye, he made his way to the bar and ordered a drink. Butterbur served him with his general jovial small talk and then set to other business leaving Eirikr to scan the room for a familiar face.

He saw her walk in.

With a man that was not her ‘husband’.

He grunted and let a short woman pass by before crossing the hearth to her.

“Eruviel.”

She was speaking of searching and swordsmanship and it all made his stomach leap and twist into knots. He had to remind himself that she could handle her own better than most Men he knew.

He waited patiently for her to finish speaking with the man and finally turn to greet him. After she explained it was her neighbor and exchanging pleasantries and noting she looked a bit strained, he offered to buy her a drink.

She nodded, smiling at him. “I don’t need one, but I am getting one,” she chuckled. “Just a moment.”

Eirikr nodded and remained awkwardly standing as she stepped to the bar to order herself a drink. He remembered the drink in his hand and took a long swig to steady his nerves. The din of the inn filled his head and he couldn’t think clearly. Why was it a good idea to come here again? he thought.

Eruviel talked briefly with Barliman and, trading her coin for a pint of cold cider, she walked back over, tapping her mug against Eirikr’s. “Care to find a seat?”

He looked down at the clinking mugs in surprise having been lost in his own thoughts. “Certainly.” He looked around before adding, “Perhaps in a far corner somewhere,” in a mumble.

Eruviel glanced around the room, nodding. “Perhaps the fire down the hall is unoccupied?”

He nodded, grateful. “Wouldn’t hurt to look,” he said without emotion, outwardly at least.

Eruviel arched a brow at him but shrugged slightly and began making her way towards the steps. She skipped faintly at seeing the vacant room. “Ah, good!” Eirikr danced around her to hold the chair for her to sit in and she arched her brow at him but nodded as she sat. “Thank you, Eirikr.”

Eirikr nodded back and settled in the chair across from her. He took another drink before saying. “I wanted to thank you. For helping us.”

Eruviel smiled at him over the rim of her mug. “I told you before, you do not need to thank me. I was more than happy to help. I need to come over soon to see it.”

He nodded. “It looks wonderful. Like the Dwarves themselves set the stone.” The corner of his mouth twitched.

Eruviel chuckled. “I do not think we did /that/ magnificent of a job laying tile, but I am sure it looks very good.”

Grinning, he asked, “So what have you been up to, Eruviel? Between laying tile and…whatever else it is you do?”

Eruviel licked a bit of cider from her lips, relaxing back into her chair. “I have been hunting mostly, taking smaller commissions, and telling tales to a little friend of mine who is keen on writing a book.”

His eyes fell her her pink tongue as she licked her lips. Looking up quickly, he raised a thick brow. “A book? About…you?”

The Elf scrunched up her face in a smile, shaking her head. “My tales are just to educate and inspire her. She is a younger elf who had never ventured far from Rivendell. Though, I think I tell her too many tales of adventures. She’s gone off to explore local ruins.”

Eirikr’s eyes traveled over her face and down to her boots before they returned to her eyes. “Does she know how to defend herself? I avoid ruins when I can… too many bandits trying to get rich as quickly as possible with the least amount of work as possible.”

She looked back over to him as his eyes reached her face again. “I tried to teach her how to use a bow, but her skills are elementary. She has a close friend who travels with her.”

Eirikr nodded slowly. “She know how to protect herself?” he asked, making casual assumptions about the pronoun.

Eruviel smiled, nodding. “She does.” Taking a sip of her cider, she inclined her head towards him. “But what of you? We have not gotten a chance to speak much. How are you doing, Eirikr?”

He looked down into his mug as he swirled the amber contents. “I’m doing. Not much else to be done,” he said rather cryptically.

Eruviel studied him for a moment. “Your tone makes me wonder if there is a condition to that,” she said with a sad smile. “What would it be if there /was/ something to be done?”

He was beginning to dislike how she could see through him. Only Ninim had ever been able to do that, and it made him feel open and exposed. Vulnerable. He pressed his lips together into a thin line. “I guess if I knew, I’d do it.”

Eruviel nodded slowly looking to the fire as she took a drink. “Well, when you find out, let me know.”

He chuckled without much mirth. “I will.” He mulled over his thoughts for a moment as he stared into the fire, his mug gripped between both hands as he leaned his elbows on his knees.

She frowned slightly as she watched him. “What is on your mind, Eirikr?” she asked quietly after a moment of hesitation. “I would have you laugh like you did the other day.”

Eirikr looked up at her, startled. His eyes flicked over her face before a small grin curled his lip. “It was good to laugh again.” He sat back in the chair and drummed his fingers on the arm. “I suppose you will just have to do something to make me laugh.”

Eruviel smirked, though not unkindly as she crossed her right leg over her knee. “That would entail me either making a fool of myself or making a delightedly oblivious comment, both which are common enough, but I would hate to make a bigger fool of myself and not be funny.”

He grinned and held out a hand. “Well, my systir, however shall I laugh?”

Eruviel leaned forward, her mouth twisted to one side as she looked to his hand. “I have not the slightest idea where to begin, gwador.” She then chuckled, reaching out to tap her fingers on his palm. “Has Abbi cursed much lately?”

Eirikr grunted a laugh. “Every day as much as he can get away with. Foolish boy thinks it makes him sound like an adult, I’m sure.”

She grinned, shaking her head. “He grew quite sullen after I had him insult me. I had hoped that would curb it, but my example or a proper retort was poor to begin with.”

He laughed fully. “Well, you tried. I think he’s trying to prove a point now, but Bard knows I don’t know what it is.”

Her face lit with a smile at his laugh, nodding before she narrowed her eyes in a playful glare. “Then I /should/ stop by. I will have to gather up my wits, wherever they’ve gone off to, and see if I can find out.”

Eirikr grinned. “Your wits are perfectly fine, Eru.”

She snickered, shaking her head. “They have dulled some as my blade has gotten sharper, I fear. But I think more time with you and Abbi will remedy that. That boy must keep you on your toes.”

Eirikr let out a frustrated noise of disgruntlement. “You have no idea. He’s mother’s wits and father’s tenacity. And, well, I’m not sure where he gets his sense of humour from. Have you seen the spiders that are found in the Chetwood? The little ones that glow?”

Eruviel nodded. “I have. It is rather lovely, though most wild things that glow are best admired from a distance.”

He nodded. “I agree. Abbi doesn’t understand that. He thinks they belong in Anyatka’s paint pots.” He smiled ruefully.

Eruviel sputtered mid-drink. “Oh please, please tell me she plans to paint soon.”

He pursed his lips. “She’s found some of them. Made me kill them all. I didn’t realize she had such issues with spiders. They’re nothing here compared to…” he shivered slightly as he recalled Mirkwood. “But he keeps catching them. Just you wait, she’ll find some when you’re around.”

Eruviel nodded, a gleam in her eyes as she smiled. “I look forward to it.” She stopped suddenly and quirked a brow. “They are not poisonous, are they?”

Eirikr shook his head. “Not that I’ve noticed. Though, they are small. Perhaps too small yet to bite.”

She nodded, quickly concealing a mischievous smile. “Let us hope we do not find out if they are.”

Eirikr nodded, smiling. “I agree.” He regarded her fondly for a moment and then cleared his throat. Taking another drink, he turned his gaze back to the fire.

Eruviel sipped her cider thoughtfully, arching a brow at him as he cleared his throat. “You are not becoming ill, are you?”

Eirikr shook his head. “No, I do not think so. Just…thirsty.” How lame.

Eruviel nodded. “Good. That was the third time you’ve cleared your throat tonight. Don’t worry me like that,” she smirked, reaching out to kick his foot. “Men are hopeless when they get sick, and before you know it Abbi and Anya will be ill as well and I’ll have to tend all three of you.”

He arched a brow. “You wouldn’t need to take care of all of us. I’m sure I’d recover before any illness set into them.”

Eruviel continued to smirk. “Of course you would. Though, if they do ever fall ill, I call taking care of Abbi.”

It was Eirikr’s turn to smirk. “He’s funny when he’s feeling well, but when he catches the slightest cold, he milks it for all it’s worth. It’s quite miserable being around him actually.”

She chuckled. “What is Anya like when she falls ill?”

Eirikr thought about it for a moment before answering. “She’s much better than Abiorn. She tries to keep it to herself as much as possible, but will certainly try to find comfort in your pity if she’s able.” He swirled the ale at the bottom of his mug. “Or at least she was like that. When we were littler.”

Eruviel nodded, smiling softly as she looked to the fire. “I can see her being like that still. Since it would be unfair of me, I will not retract my earlier claim to care for Abbi if he falls ill,” she said with a playful wink. Lifting her mug and finding it empty she set it down on the floor beside her chair.

Eirikr followed her action with his steady gaze. “Do you need another?” he asked rather quickly.

She caught his look and smiled slightly, shaking her head as she stretched out her arms in a rather cat-like motion. “I do not, but you can cover my drink the next time. I am too full and warm to enjoy another as I should,” she chuckled, leaning against one arm of her chair.

He nodded. “As you wish. Do you wish for me to walk you home?”

She rolled her shoulders as she sat forward in her chair. “If you have no other business in town and would like to. I would be glad for the company.”

He nodded again. “I just came to get away from…” he blushed beneath his tan, “…well, it gets crowded in our little cabin.”

She nodded in understanding. “I would think so. We should see about expanding it so you and Abbi can have your own rooms without stealing Anya’s.”

Eirikr smiled as he set his mug down and stood. He offered her his hand. “Shall we, then, my lady?”

Eruviel laughed merrily and, taking his hand, rose to her feet in one smooth, graceful motion. “Why yes, let’s, my good sir.”

Eirikr returned her laugh with a smile. He tucked her hand into the crook of his arm and led her toward the back exit to escort her home.

Welcome Home

The light was on.

A lantern hung in the window of the little cabin on Ruby Lake and laughter could be heard all the way out by the lane. The man paused at the gate with his bow slung over his shoulder. His hair and beard made him appear wild; bits of the far Chetwood clung to him everywhere and he pulled his fingers through his the tangled net on his head. His eyes were weary and wary as he looked upon the small dwelling. ScreenShot00347There was guilt in the way he drug his feet as he approached the door. He raised a fist to knock and then remembered who the house belonged to. He carved a smile into the weathered bark that was his skin and took a deep breath. The latch lifted easily and he pushed the door open.

Inside, a woman and a teenage boy sat facing the fire burning low on the hearth. Smoking nuts sat in a pile between them and as he watched, the boy took one and tossed it into the fire. It popped loudly and the woman batted at his arm.

“Abbi, stop! I want to eat those!” she exclaimed with a laugh.

The boy laughed and tossed a handful into the flames. “They’ll be extra crunchy for you.”

The woman threw a handful the boy. He ducked, laughing, and leaped up and away from her. As he grinned, he spotted the man in the doorway and his eyes lit up.

“Eirikr!”

The boy called Abbi limped over to the man and hugged him. “Brother, it is good to see you!”

The elder brother looked down at his younger and his creaking smile splintered. The boy glistened with sweat and a rash covered the skin exposed by his loosened tunic. Eirikr placed a hand on his forehead before he could protest.

“Abbi, you have a fever. You should be resting.”

The boy smiled. “No, no. I’m fine, brother. Just happy to see you. You look like hell.”

The woman stood and turned to face the reunion. She scolded Abbi gently, “Watch your words, Abiorn.” Eirikr stared at his sister in disbelief. Every time he saw her, it seemed like there was something new. Tonight, the quiet joy he had felt from her was only slightly dampered by his sudden appearance. He hadn’t been sure what to expect. Tears and anger? Embraces and jubilation? He had years of experience dealing with both from her. He did not know how to take a cool and responsible Anya. He looked at his brother for a lead.

Abiorn waved off the gentle reprimand and shuffled to the hearth. “Let me make some tea, Eirik.” He looped his hand beneath the handle of the tea kettle and set it on the rack to heat.

“Thank you,” the man said from just inside the door.

The cabin never felt so small. Anya simply stood, staring, while Abiorn placed three cups on the table with hands swollen at the knuckles. He fumbled and the noise from the clay cup hitting a saucer split the silence otherwise punctuated only by the popping of the fire.

“Didn’t chip,” Abiorn assured himself as he tried to measure out tea leaves.

“Here, Abbi.” Their sister walked over to take the jar of leaves and the spoon. She placed the leaves in the teapot and then replaced it on the shelf. Each movement seemed deliberate. Measured. Eirikr’s chest tightened the more he watched his sister treat him with such wariness. He couldn’t blame her. He had lost track of the days while he traveled the Chetwood and the northern mountain range surrounding Nen Harn. He ate what he shot or fished from the waters. If his bow or hook found nothing, he chewed pine bark or found what he could in the way of greens and mushrooms. He didn’t mind roughing it and he had done it many times before.

The look his sister gave him now, however, made him pause. It was if she thought he might spring at them at any moment. As if he was a stranger.

“I’m sorry it was such a long time,” he said to break the silence between them. “I…lost my way near Trestlebridge. Orcs nearly surround the place. I had to circle around to avoid…”

Anya nodded without looking at him. He felt his stomach drop and he took an involuntary step backwards. His hand reached for the door.

“We were just eating these nuts Anya got from the market,” Abbi interjected. “They’re from down south. Come on, Eirik. Sit down and try some.” He hurried over to the stack and picked up a fistful and shoved them in his mouth. “They’re good!”

Eirikr nodded and moved to sit where Abbi indicated. He watched his sister’s rigid back as she fetched the kettle and made the tea. Her grey eyes shone as he caught a glimpse when she brought him a cup, but she turned away before he could ascertain why.

When the pile of nuts was depleted and the flames of the fire replaced by the soft glow of smoldering embers, Anya excused herself for bed. She hugged Abiorn tightly and then gave Eirikr a little pat on the shoulder. She passed into the sole bedroom and as the brothers watched her form disappear behind the door, Eirikr let out a heavy sigh.

“You were gone a long time, Eirik. Near three weeks, I’d reckon. Hell, she probably didn’t think you were ever coming back.”

“Abbi, your language. You’re still a gentleman.”

“Like you, brother?” Abiorn leaned back in his chair and propped his feet up on one Anya had abandoned. “Sorry. Didn’t mean it like that. But I’d like to think I left all that rubbish behind in Dale.”

Eirikr didn’t answer right away. His thoughts drifted north to the woods and the banks of the lake. When Eruviel found him there, he was more wounded beast than man. His pain made him deaf to her concern and imploring. He had hurt her. And he had hurt Abiorn and Anyatka. He did not look at his brother, but he knew the young lad’s eyes were on him. They always were on him, even when he wasn’t here to be seen.

In the quiet that fell between them, he thought he heard a distant howl. “We left a lot of things, Abbi. But we shouldn’t forget who we are.” He rubbed the thick beard covering his chin. “I need a trim.”

His brother grinned and nodded. “Aye. You do, or you’ll scare the neighbors. They’re pretty decent folk, far as I can tell.”

“Think they’d appreciate if we got that tile out of the yard?”

“Yeah, I think so. Eruviel came by the other day and offered to help. We didn’t know when you’d be coming home.”

Eruviel. He owed her so much. He owed all of them for disappearing for so long. He looked over to his brother and together their heads turned to the closed bedroom door.

“She’ll come ‘round, Eirik. She’s been lots better recently and seein’ you back’s probably just a shock, you know?”

He nodded and offered him a meek smile. The muscles around his mouth protested and his cheeks felt unusually hot. Abiorn grinned in return and punched him in the shoulder.

“Just don’t go runnin’ off for so long again, okay? Then she won’t act like she’s seen a ghost or something next time you come back.”

The smile eased and he managed a quiet laugh.

“All right, Abbi. I won’t.”

Layers

Abiorn awoke sitting up with the screams of his sister-in-law ringing in his ears. The corners of the floor tiles that arrived by Dwarven wagon poked into his back as he stared up at the late July sun.

It sat high as it neared its zeniSun in Homesteadsth; he touched the bridge of his nose and felt the heat. He would peel again if he didn’t put something on it. He would probably peel anyway. The journey from Dale to Bree exposed him to more elements than he had faced in the fifteen years he spent in Dale. He shed layers of his face and neck twice. Eruviel found plants along the banks of the Anduin that eased the itch and once they settled down in Bree, a healer named Cwendlwyn visited and gave him an entire shelf of pots and bottles. The round one to ease the ache, the green muck helps with the itching. The vial of blue to ease the pain. Anya painted labels on them to make sure he kept them straight.

He rubbed his eyes and pushed himself away from the stack of tile. His fishing pole lay beneath his legs and he picked it up to find the line snapped. There goes dinner, he thought dryly. Perhaps he would venture into the small market today and buy some food for a decent meal. Anya was home sporadically and she was the cook of the family. Even Eirikr could cook the meat he brought home, but Abiorn’s involvement in meals back home involved consuming them, not preparing them.

Gazing into the tranquil water of Ruby Lake, he thought of his brother. Eirikr had never been gone for more than two or three days. He would bring game and Anya would work in the garden the healer, Cwen, planted when she stayed with them for a few days. Cwen made Abiorn laugh when her wry comments made Anya blush or flee to make tea. She even made Eirikr smile when he came home, but it never reached his eyes and he never stayed. He missed the sound of their voices, especially in the evening. Now, with the sun and the lapping waves, it wasn’t too bad. But in the evening, Eirikr’s absence stretched between the remaining siblings like a chasm neither wished to leap across. It separated them; he knew Anya wanted to know more about their journey from Dale than he was willing to tell her. It wasn’t his pain to share, though, and what he told her only scratched the surface: Ninim died in childbirth beneath the dark canopy of the Mirkwood. A woodsman found them and his family volunteered to take in the baby. And with each passing mile, he knew he was leaving his brother behind in the dark forest with his dead wife.

Abiorn rubbed his chin and rounded the corner of the house. His sister was coming down the lane, smiling and humming to herself.

“Anyatka! Where were you?” Abiorn rushed forward to greet her.

She ducked the wayward point of his fishing pole and hugged him carefully. “I was visiting a friend. Did you have a good morning?” She tweaked the end of his nose and he winced. “It looks like you need a thick layer of cream, bróðir. Did you not feel yourself starting to burn?”

His hand shot up to rub his nose. “No. I fell asleep by the lake. What about you, sis? You’re all…soft looking.” He winkles his nose. “And you smell like roses.”

Blushing, Anya laughed and brushed past him to go into the house. He followed her inside and leaned the pole against the wall. Several fishing flies lay on the table with some loose feathers and line. Anya dropped her bag with a thunk and fingered a bright blue feather. “Has he been home?”

Abiorn dipped his head to hide his disappointment. “No. Those are mine. Eirik gave them to me. I tried to copy this one, see?” He pointed at a mess of brown speckled feathers and line. “Though, I can’t tie it. The feathers keep falling and I can’t hold onto it. It’s too small.”

Anya picked up the unfinished fly. The feather fell away and left the naked hook and nettle-hemp line in her grasp. Abiorn flushed and reached out to take it from her.

“Eirik can help me when he gets back,” he said as he started tucking away the bits and pieces. “I’ll clean this up.”

“He will come back, you know.” Anya stopped him with a gentle hand on his arm. When he looked at her, he saw something changed about her eyes. The pain from her separation from Anricwulf seemed to have dissolved leaving behind a calm, confident woman. Abiorn secretly missed the neurotic and anxious mess she usually was. It provided a nice distraction from the dreams.

“Why do you think he’s been gone so long this time? Doesn’t he get lonely out there?”

Shrugging, Anya began gathering items to make some lunch. “I think he needs it right now, Abbi. He will be all right. He just needs time. Besides, Eruviel went looking for him, and I think he has a certain fondness for her. He will listen and he will return. When he’s ready.”

“The tiles for the floor came. He’s supposed to teach me how to lay them.”

Anya’s brow arched over her grey eye. For only a moment, Abiorn swore they turned blue.

“Since when does Eirikr know how to lay tile floors?”

He shrugged. “He built his house in Esgaroth.”

“I guess so.”

Abiorn watched her begin to cut thin slices of cheese. “Can I help?”

She looked at him without raising her head. “All right.”

She stepped back and he took her place at the cutting board. With a look of intense concentration, he cut a jagged slice. His second slice was not much better, but Anya smiled and patted his shoulder. “Try pushing down, not carving. It’s not a chicken, you know.”

“It’s just going to be all chewed up anyway, right?” he grunted as he cut a third piece. “How much of this do you want?”

“As much as you are willing to slice, my brother. You never know, he might come home and be starving.”

To Dale: Epilogue

The Last Huntress of The Dreadward Tribunal

The miles that passed underfoot were but numb echoes in Eruviel’s limbs. She could still feel Ninim’s blood on her hands with every arrow she loosed, and see the life fade from the young woman’s eyes whenever her own closed.

It had gone all wrong. Try as they had, Ninim had perished as Eruviel cradled the screaming newborn against her chest. In the moments before Abiorn had taken his little nephew from her she had stared down in horror at the beautiful child, fearful that he might die as well.
Never, she had thought, never will I have children. She would not . . . could not. Not now.

Every night when they made camp her eyes would follow Eirikr as he’d take his leave to stand watch. The memory of his harrowing cry kept her from sleeping when he was gone, and she stood more alert when he would…

View original post 287 more words

To Dale: In the End

ScreenShot00341

They crept out of Esgaroth beneath a new moon. Only the stars lit the way as they traveled north through the Lonely Mountain where a Dwarf Eirikr knew from childhood housed them for two nights. Then down to the borders of the realm of the Wood-elves where Eruviel’s pointy ears helped convince the scouts to let them pass unharmed. The paths through the Mirkwood were slow and tedious. Several times, they almost abandoned the wagon, but it made traveling so much easier on both Abiorn and Ninim. They backtracked. They waited while Eirikr or Eruviel scouted. They made their way through the shadows and fog with a constant vigilance. If their heightened state wasn’t for the spiders and the wargs, then the knowledge that Kolrson Tenorbekk still lived plagued them all.

Eirikr kept a close eye on Abiorn. The boy joked about his lack of handiness – figuratively and literally – when it came to life on the road. His hands found wielding anything larger than a small knife difficult and his crooked legs kept him from ever being graceful. One night, he spilled their entire supper onto the leaves when his grip weakened his hold on the cast iron pan. The boy nearly cried as he scooped up the bits of potato and carrots with his bent fingers. It took both Eruviel and Ninim to calm him with reassurances and shoulder pats and hugs. He then got angry and did his best impression of stomping away to brood at the edge of their makeshift camp. Eirikr took him some food they salvaged and sat next to him in silence as they ate.

Ninim seemed to be holding her own. She rode in the wagon when she grew tired and walked when she would. Soon, though, her ankles started to swell and she became tired much more quickly. She began to rapidly consume their water supply and Eirikr had to push them a little harder to make up the time they had planned to travel. Still, she smiled as they forged their way through the dark wood, never complaining, never stumbling on their path.

Until one day, as they were finally reaching the end of the darkness, she did.

All at once, her legs seemed to give out beneath her and she fell on hand and knee, panting. Her face twisted into a grimace of pain as Eirikr rushed to kneel beside her.

Quickly, Eruviel and Abbi threw up a camp and Eirikr carried his wife to the bed they made. Abbi fumbled with the flint and tinder as Eruviel rushed to examine Ninim to her best ability. Ninim looked up at them with fear and determination. It was time.

The labor was long. Eirikr and Abbi stood as tense sentinels as Eruviel played midwife as best she could. When it lasted past eight hours, Eirikr took her place beside his wife so she could rest, though she went to take his place as guard instead. After twelve hours, Eruviel came back to them and checked on her progress. The Elf shook her head before she could stop herself. Eirikr’s heart stopped in his chest. He felt a terror and it stole his powers of speech.

Fifteen hours. Eighteen.

At the twentieth hour, a long, tortured scream rent the near silence of the Mirkwood followed by the cry of a baby. The sound of sobbing bounced off the trees and died before it could travel far. A man’s cries overpowered the baby’s and lasted throughout the night.

* * *

“Eirikr, I am so sorry, gwador. If only I-”

“Eruviel, stop now. It is not your fault.”

“But if only-”

“Eruviel!”

“Eirik, what about the baby?”

“I do not know. I do not know anything, brother. I do not know.”

“There are ways to sustain a child without its mother’s milk. I have heard of it before. Once we are out of this cursed forest, we can hunt and boil broth for him.”

“We cannot take a baby through Moria, can we? Eruviel, tell him we can’t take him into Moria. He won’t survive!”

“Abiorn, please. One thing at a time.”

“Well, tell him!”

“Abbi, quiet.”

“You want him to die, don’t you? Because it might be his. But he might be yours, too, Eirik! And even if he isn’t, how could you just let him die?”

“Shut your mouth, Abiorn! I do not know!”

“Wait. Silence, both of you. Do you hear it?”

“Eru?”

“There, again. In the trees to the north. Someone’s coming.”

“Eirikr? What-”

“Silence! Quick, behind me!”

“The baby!”

* * *

The bear emerged from the shadows to stare at the three travelers. His deep brown eyes traveled to the babe swaddled in the arms of the youngest and then to the still form of what had to be its mother. He sniffed the air. Familiar scents were scattered by blood and tears and pain. But there was life, there, too. And hope, but it was quickly fading. He sniffed again and lumbered forward, his large head lowered docilely as his eyes took in the rest of the rough camp.

The man tensed. He raised his hand toward his back but when he found nothing there, he looked around sharply. His eyes landed on the bow just as the bear reached it. Instead of passing over it or destroying it with its powerful jaws, the bear nudged it with its nose. The man gaped as he nudged it again. Go on, take it, he almost said. I won’t hurt you.

The man approached slowly and picked up the bow. The bear tilted its massive head and regarded him with curiosity. Then it lumbered on toward the boy holding the child.

The Elf let out a shout and pulled boy and baby behind her. Pausing, the bear tilted his head again and waited for the boy to peek around her. Slowly, he stepped out and looked into the bear’s eyes. Nodding, he told the others to break camp. They resisted. The man said some angry words, but eventually, they packed a rugged and beat-up wagon. They lovingly wrapped the body of the woman in a sheet and placed her in the back. Yes, she must be treated properly. He could help see to that.

The bear led the boy holding the baby to a secret trail. The wagon and horses could find the road and the bear grumbled lowly until they left the canopy of the Mirkwood. His pace quickened as they reached a small cottage with smoke rising from the chimney. A woman came out followed by a girl and a boy. They helped the travelers; they fed them and gave them a soft bed to sleep in. The bear wandered off into a grove of thick trees and then came back a man.

The baby was left with the woman and her children and her Man that was more than a man. It did not have to suffer the dark mazes of Moria and the boy promised to come back and visit one day. The man could barely look at the baby. He had buried his wife beneath the old Oak Tree last night and had no more tears to water her grave. He carved a headstone from a branch throughout the night and in the morning, “Ninim, wife of Eirikr In death shall I live” sat above the mound of earth. The Man that was more than a man clapped him on the shoulder and said supportive and encouraging words, but he did not think the man heard them. His grief weighed upon him like iron chains.

They were heading back to Bree-land, the three travelers. They could not take the baby, and when it was time to say goodbye. only the boy and Elf kissed the child’s head and bade him farewell. The man kept his eyes on the western horizon and as the sun rose behind him, he led his party away, fleeing from the light.

Back to Bree.

Ludo in Lotro

Lotro RP Played by...

Ludo is a band that I would probably follow around the country in a van. Well, was as they are no longer a band, but they should be. They were so absolutely wonderful and their music still is.

After a chit chat and channel spam of Ludo songs, I decided that an official blog post dedicated to their songs and how my characters would love them was in order. So, here we are: Ludo in Lotro, which can be found here on Audiosplitter.

Anyatka

“The Horror of Our Love” – Anya gets a bit obsessive. While she’s not gone off the deep end yet, the potential it totally there. Is it murder if he’s already dead?

Ultimately, “The Horror of Our Love” is about the all consuming love that turns one into a insatiable monster. Anya can definitely be a monster when it comes to Morty.

“Please” – She wants something special with Morty, something that’s just between the two of them. Each love is special, and once she accepts that, she may find contentment and happiness. “Please save this for me; I’ll come back to you, love, I promise you. Please save this for me and until I return, my love will burn…”

Cwendlwyn

“Too Tired to Wink” – Having been through a lot, Cwen often feels rather zombie-ish. She pushes through and tries to remember that there is always a light at the edge of the Mirkwood.  “Look at all the stars, we’ve come so far even if we don’t know where we are it’s gotta be somewhere great…or am I just too tired to wink?”

“Such as it Ends” –  “Love, such as it ends, breaking the hearts that wouldn’t bend…

Emmelina

“Whipped Cream” – What can I say. Lina likes sex. She likes things that are good and whipped cream are good. She likes fun. “I really want it…”

“All the Stars in Texas” – She’s a bit of a bad girl when she needs to be. She’s a bit of a good girl when she needs to be. She does what she wants. “All the stars in Texas ain’t got nothin’ on your eyes when you say let’s hit ’em one more time…”

Eirikr

“Anything for You” – Eirikr defined himself by his love for his wife. Ninim was his world. “I’ve gotten drunk and shot the breeze with kings of far off lands; they showed me wealth as far as I could see. But their kingdoms seemed all shrivelly and they cried with jealousy when I leaned in and told them about you.”

“Drunken Lament” – “Now you’re gone and I’m lost, in the swells I am tossed – bobbing and choking and losing the fight in the fog. You said, “Forever.” Tell me, why can’t you stay?”

Abiorn

“Battle Cry” – Poor Abbi. Truth be told, he doesn’t even have a bio yet. I  mean, he has the background his siblings have given him, but a purpose and motivation of his own? No. Which is why I feel “Battle Cry” is appropriate. “We are young and we will never die. We won’t give up; this is our battle cry! We will defeat the other guy!”

Aeron

“Topeka” – Aeron is like a whole person. He’s a white knight that isn’t trying to be a white knight. He just really is that nice of a guy. A thousand years between birth and death as a Man gives a certain type of insight. “Topeka” is about finding a truth, a belief. A self.

“I’ll Never be Lonely Again” – While he will not be reunited with his love until the end of Time, he deals.

60 Posts

In honor of “Silver Bells,” my 60th post, (and really just because I want to share my creation), here is a Divine Doll portrait of my entire entourage as it stands right now:

Callee, Cwendlwyn, Neilia, Anyatka, Eirikr, Abiorn, and Emmelina
Callee, Cwendlwyn, Neilia, Anyatka, Eirikr, Abiorn, and Emmelina

I found the site on the Free Folk forum and spent a…long time playing with it! Click on the image to doll yourself up!

Silver Bells

((Writing prompt: Describe some objects that are important to your character(s), and explain why they’re important.))

Nen Harn, but good enough since we can’t go to Dale.

The wind blew tiny ripples across the surface of Long Lake. Anyatka sat at the very edge of land and water; the waves just touched the tip of her boots with each rising ebb. Paying no mind to the mud sinking into her dark green, silk dress, she rested her chin on her knees as the tears slowly streamed from her blackened eye.

She made no sound, so the soft schluff-thud of Abiorn’s gait warned her of his approach. The little boy wrapped a cloak around his older sister’s shoulders before he sat down without a word and curled up against her. Anya’s arm encircled his thin shoulders and her tears dampened his dark hair.

They sat on the shore for a long time, never minding the chill of the Yule evening, until another sound of footsteps came from behind them. Abbi tensed and turned quickly to see who approached, but the slow, dragging steps told Anya it was neither their mother nor father.

Eirikr stood behind them chewing a wad of some plant. The scent of mint and lavender floated on the breeze only for a brief moment before a gust from the lake swept it away. He gazed out over the lake. Large chunks of ice floated like ferries across the surface. All three children longed to know what it would be like to board such a vessel and sail away from the shore and find a new place where their hearts could rest in quiet. Around them, the silence of winter waited for one of them to speak.

Instead, Eirikr unclasped his cloak and draped it over the shoulders of his younger siblings. Already at the age of sixteen, the boy had the bearing of a man and a seriousness about him that he wore like a mantle. He walked around them and dropped into a crouch.

He held out his hand to reveal two bells like those found on the winter harnesses. Made of thin, polished silver, they gleamed in the fading sunlight. They tinkled dully in the crisp air as he placed one in Anyatka’s hand and one in Abion’s. The child looked up at his brother with questioning eyes. Anya looked down at the bell until Eirkir finally spoke.

“I am sorry, my sister. My brother. I am sorry I was not there.”

Anya’s tears fell more rapidly as she examined the bell. Lightly it rested on her palm and even as she sat still, the rise and fall of her breath caused its silver to ring.

“What is this?” she asked with a hoarse voice.

Eirikr leaned in closer and Anya could smell the mint of the leaves he chewed and the lavender on his clothes that revealed he had been with Ninim. More and more often he vanished from the hall to spend hours in her company and only coming home far after dark. When her father’s wrath turned upon her, he had not been there to catch his arm and deflect his rage.

Now, his refined hand reached out and brushed back the hair from his sister’s brow. The old scar above her hairline had faded, but it was the bruise around her eye that drew his gaze. She flinched from the pain as he touched the puffing skin but she did not look away from his face.

“My absence, Anya. If I had been here, I could have stopped him. I am sorry.”

Anya swallowed her tears and glanced down at Abbi. Only a child of six and so frail. Physicians had ordered his gentle treatment due to his soft bones, but the boy felt what his sister felt. He cried when Anya cried. She would sing lullabies and nursery rhymes when he was younger, but he was growing older. The little lambs did not soothe the same way they used to. The daisies did not hide away the shadows.

“You can take the blows, but you cannot stop him. No one can stop him, Eirikr.”

“No, you are mistaken, my sister. One day, I will stop him. I promise you.” He closed his hand over hers, wrapping her fingers around the bell. “Until then, keep this bell. I had an Elvish tinker make them for you and Abbi.”

“What is it for?” She looked down at Abbi and saw the boy’s wide eyes drinking in Eirikr’s words.

“Keep it with you always. When you are scared, ring it and I will come. I will protect you.”

Abbi took the ribbon the bell hung from and shook it carefully. “You promise?” he asked.

Nodding, Eirikr added, “If I cannot, the spirits of the woods and mountains will come and protect you.”

“Spirits?”

“Aye. Spirits.” Eirikr ruffled the boy’s hair. “All around us, Abbi. The Elves speak of the Valar. Do you remember the stories of the spirits of Iluvatar that created the world with their song?”

Abbi nodded.

“They gave us things here to protect us. To watch over us. I have felt those things in the woods beyond the mountain; the very stones of the mountain pulse with life. It’s in the water. The ice.”

Though Abbi held on to every word, Anya stared at her brother with narrow eyes. She had heard the tales of the Elvish religions. Bookie loved to share the story of the fall of the Two Trees by Ungoliant and Melkor – their last blossom and fruit giving the moon and the sun. How Varda raised the Sickle in the north as a sign to the newly woken Elves to give them hope in the darkness. How with the song of Ainur, Iluvatar made the physical world and each Valar raised their voice to add their own creations to the melody. Her father brushed them aside as silly fairy tales made up by the prancing Elves. Eirikr had never before spoken of them as if he believed in them. Were his words genuine or a mere apology for growing up and moving on with his life?

“Their song, Abbi, it’s in all things still. It is in this bell.” He picked up the silver orb and shook it gently. “In the night, when the dark things come, shake it and I will come. Its song will fill the place with light and you shall be safe.”

“Mine, too, brother? Will it keep the dark spirits away from me, too?” Anya met Eirikr’s eyes and she saw a fire there burning behind his gaze. It startled her; she did not know he was capable of such passion.

“Anya, I will protect you,” he said lowly, his hand tightening around hers.

“I swear it.”

To Dale: The Colours of Fall

Entering Rivendell

He hadn’t been prepared for its beauty.

Eruviel led the way down the narrow path leading into the valley of Lord Elrond with Eirikr following on Kvígr close behind. Normally rather stoic to begin with, he found no words as she led them over the soft paths toward the stable. There was no hesitation in his steed’s stride as they crossed an ancient bridge made from a fallen tree. It knew the very land beneath its hooves seemed sacred.

Eruviel took him over graceful bridges spanning rushing waters to the Last Homely House where he hesitated on the threshold, questioning his worth. The Last Homely HouseInside, the vast hall rendered him speechless. In the library where he saw more tomes than he thought could exist in the world, Lord Elrond greeted him by name, to which he reacted like a nervous schoolboy afraid of reprimand. He had a vague notion that the Lord of the valley and Eruviel had been exchanging silent and amused thoughts about him as he stood there wishing to be gone already, but unable to get the desire to go.

After his introduction to Lord Elrond, Eruviel introduced him to an Elvish meal and as they ate, he brought up something that had been in his mind since she let it drop on their way from the stables.

“So, you said you were fifteen hundred years old?”

The question had caught Eruviel off guard, but she recovered quickly and with an openness that he found unsettling. She was not like most Elves he knew from his work on his father’s trade routes. They were tolerant, even welcoming, but never so revealing or open about their pasts. Or that they had loved…Men.

He looked out over the vale from the balcony of his room and licked his lips. Eruviel had said her first kiss had been to a Ranger. And she had been married to a captain of Gondor. Rubbing his chin, he pondered why he kept pondering this fact.

In RivendellHis room overlooked the falls behind the majestic building. He could feel the gentle spray even as he leaned on the rail and took a deep, cleansing breath. A peace fell over him that he hadn’t known since leaving Dale in pursuit of his sister and he closed his eyes for a moment, just breathing.

He let his train of thought flow without interruption. It drifted over mountain and forest and dipped low over the waters of Long Lake, through the streets of Esgaroth and into the tiny front room of a low stone house. Ninim sat there, knitting. Her kind face shone despite the man sitting across from her who was not her husband. She remained composed as the man drank ale from Eirikr’s flagon. She rose and refilled the drink at the man’s request. She excused herself and went to bed, securing the door behind her with a chair beneath the knob and lifting the pillow to ensure the knife still lay hidden.

Yes. Ninim could play the game; she would take care of herself the best she could. He did not give her enough credit, he realized as the falls drowned out all other sounds and forced him to focus on things with a fresh eye. Nevertheless, she needed him and he needed her.

“I am coming, Nin,” he whispered to the wind.

The stab of worry seemed to ease and his thoughts drifted north, to Dale. Yes. Ninim and then Abiorn. Once his wife was secured, they would be free to retrieve his little brother. Something told him the move would be unexpected. If somehow Sven escaped and sent word to his father, Eirikr knew the man would assume they would flee immediately. A smile tested the muscles of his face; Kolrson would send men out to search and leave himself vulnerable. Eruviel and he would then have an advantage.

Eruviel.

The Elf baffled him. She seemed more Man than Elf and had an uncanny knack of loving and accepting that had first put him on edge. No one would just welcome some stray woman into their home and expect nothing in return. When he showed up with the coinpurse, he had fully expected a demand of compensation from her, but none came. Then, after his injury, she allowed him shelter to recover. Again, asking nothing.

Now, she accompanied him to Dale. But why? She called Anya sister and her love for the woman clearly explained an investment in the outcome of the journey. But why so insistent in accompanying him? Hadn’t she mentioned her own reasons…

There. A piece that he had missed. What personal interest did Eruviel have in Dale? She had never been there, in her fifteen hundred years. What was there now that had her so interested in facing the cold of the Misties and the shadows of Mirkwood?

He must find out.

Exhaustion fell even as he came to the conclusion of his thoughts. His hair was slightly damp from the mists and he turned to find his first good night’s sleep since he learned Anya left Dale. Leaving Dale. Going. Leaving Bree. Going.

His journey would find its end in one or the other.

Imladris

 

Letters to Nowhere: Upswing

mailicon

My dearest brother,

There was a light dusting of snow the other day, though none of it stuck around for more than a moment. I thought about the Mountain and how the sun would gleam from its peak all year round. How it reflected in the surface of the lake. I try to forget those things, but often they sneak into my thoughts when I least expect it.

I do miss home. You. Little Abbi. But I am not so alone any more. I am making friends. Me! Can you picture it, Eirikr: little Anya sitting in a tavern surrounded with jolly, sociable folk drinking ale! The thought of it would have been preposterous a year ago. But, not any more. I have met many interesting people and all seem to wish to live life to the farthest extent of their abilities. And everyone is so kind here. It makes me wonder what is so wrong with our family that we could never have such freedom.

There is Falros, so boisterous and funny. He used to fight brigands in the Bree-lands and now spends his days merry-making. Father would have thrown him out on his rear the moment he walked through the door. I like him, though. He has a kind heart — kind enough to assist me after a night of rather poor choices when it came to drink.

Next, there is Miss Teiblanc, an Elf like few I have met before. She reminds me a little of the daughter of Lord Haeron. You remember, the one with the silvery hair that could not stop smiling at you that evening at banquet? Father had said she was young and foolish for her kind. I think Miss Teiblanc is young for an Elf and I do not think that is a bad thing at all. She still feels connected to us here and I do not see her looking down at me as I have felt most of her kind do.

Another Elf-maiden, Eruviel, has offered me refuge in the form of her spare bedroom. I cannot believe my fortune! Living with an Elf! Abbi would be so jealous. He always said he wanted to live among the Elves and learn their secret to the undying life. Though, I always wondered if that was because of his fortunes. I worry about him, Eirik. Promise me you will take care of him even though you are busy with your new life with Ninim.

And then there is Mr. Morty Mossfoot. He is the town grave-digger and suffers greatly, though I do not think I have an inkling of all of the burdens he bears. You would probably not like him very much. Father would probably gut him. Come to think on it, so would Mother. He says he is not ashamed of the way folk warn me of him, but I cannot help to think how isolating it is. You see, he’s a bit of a “lady’s man” as one woman said. He flits about from lady to lass, appearing to never settle, though he said he was betrothed before it was discovered he had an illegitimate daughter. My, how I re-read this and find it quite the terrible account of his character. I do not feel as though this is the person -I- know. I see how he loves his daughter. How he took the time to help me find housing before I met Eruviel. How he allowed me to drag him into the Chetwood to find a lost pet. How he looks when he thinks no one can see.

Perhaps you will frown and say that is not what a Tenorbrook does in society. I can hear Father’s voice in my head: “A Tenorbrook does not consort with grave-diggers and mercenaries! A Tenorbrook does not spend her time in town taverns and cavorting about a forest at midnight! A Tenorbrook does not find herself alone with a man!”

But am I a Tenorbrook any more?

I have my doubts that I will be welcome in our parents’ home. Once this would have terrified me. What have I if not the shelter and benefits of our father’s “love”? How can I possibly survive without his benevolence? How could a stupid girl like me be able to live in the world without him?

But enough of that. You know who our father is and what he is like. I do not have to tell you.

Now that I do not have to pay for a room, I might consider trying to find someone traveling East to bring these letters to you. I want you to know that I am okay. It is the least I can do after what I have done.

All my love,

Your little Anyatka

ads
Bree

Letters to Nowhere

My dear brother,

I write this in my journal. The one you made for me last summer for my twenty-second birthday. I still remember the face Father made when I opened your package. I know that you will always love me no matter what I do.

So I hope that you understand why I left, though I doubt now that I will ever be able to see if you do. I am lucky to be sitting here by this poor excuse of a lake looking north to the walls of a town sitting on a sloping hill. It is nothing like Dale, here, Eiri. I do wish you could see it. I wish you were here beside me.

Then I would not have to regret never saying good-bye.

Bree-town from Halecatch Lake
Bree-town from Halecatch Lake

I know I cannot send this to you. The roads we traveled grew increasingly dangerous. Just yesterday, my caravan was attacked and now I am alone. I do not know what happened to Bookie. I ran so fast, Eiri. I never knew I could run so fast.

I want to come home. I want to see you and Mother and even Father again. Abbi and Thyrna. I miss you all.

I send you my love. Across all the vast stretches of country between us, I send you my love with all of my heart.

Wish me luck, big brother. I can’t put off going into town any more. I’m out of food and days are growing colder.

Love,

Anyatka