What the Letters Say

What the Letters Say

Dear Rheb,

In ten day’s time, I will come with a few traders and goodsmen from Durrow and the nearby lands. I will sell for a few; we shall have summer vegetables, breads and dried meats, and some clothing, and I had Callee, my Hobbit friend, brew my favorite honeymead for you.

I believe it best if only the women come to do the trading. If there are Men-men, and not Orc-men, that should be fine, but I hope to establish create a good relationship before the others discover you have orcs. I want to protect you and your people from those who will not understand.

I hope you are well. We miss you.

With love,

Kwen

~~~***~~~

To the Keeper of the House of Medicine of Dol Amroth:

How are you, Nestor? I do hope life has settled for you and no further mischief has overcome the city. You know my propensity for disliking Dol Amroth, but I do love the people there and hope they have found happiness during the summer months.

I am writing to request the list of herbs accompanying this letter. I have a patient here in Bree who would benefit from their properties. If you have any insight into how to brew them in a way that would most benefit someone having nightmares, I would greatly appreciate your wisdom.

Wishing you and your city good health and happy days,

Cwendlwyn Tain of Bree
Field medic of the Wayfarers

~~~***~~~

Dear Callee,

I have spoken with Oendir and the eleventh it is. If you could arrive on the ninth for final preparations, I believe we will be able to solidify all plans in time.

Neilia looks forward to seeing you. Do you think the larkspur back by the lilies would survive the trip? I wish my garden here was more established. I am hoping Oen will agree to me keeping the property and continuing with my plant nursery. I do not see why he would be opposed to it.

All my love, darling,

Cwen

~~~***~~~

Dear Kupsa,

Damn, I hope you can read common. Have your dad read this to you if you can’t. ORENDIR <— have him read it!

I just wanted to say hi and ask how everyone was up there. Is it really still ice even though it is summer? Bree is all right. There’s lots of flowers and honey to be had and everything tastes fresh. You should come visit with your brother and sister sometime. I think you folks would love it, especially Kipina. How is she, by the way?

Vahan is doing great. I know he’s just the runt, but down here, he’s really something special. My brother Eirikr is training him and he’s pretty good most of the time. He gets along really well with our other dog, Bear, but not so much with my sister’s cats. But no one really gets along with them.

Maybe this year we can come visit you again. I think Vahan misses the snow.

Write back! (if you can)

Your friend,

Abiorn of Dale

~~~***~~~

Dear cats that belong to my sister:

STAY OFF MY BED.

I know you can read this, you blasted lynx.

~~~***~~~

Dear Father,

The relic is still guarded well by a sorcerer of some power. My own is not strong enough to dispel the wards placed over it.

I am biding my time and getting to know the people, as you said. There is one who is incredibly suspicious of me; I recall his face from the Ranger’s keep. It is hard to forget.

I do not feel as though he is a normal grave-digger. The girl disappeared for several days after he did; he returned with a sword of some magnificence, but otherwise appears unchanged. How would you like for me to proceed with him?

I will travel to the ruins as before. North, this time.

Your daughter

~~~***~~~

Your excellency,

It is with great pleasure that I congratulate you on the engagement of your son Dunstan to the daughter of Magan. He is a fine man. My only regret, of course, is that it is not my daughter! The foolish girl does not deserve so fine a young man.

Regarding the shipment, it is on schedule to arrive in two weeks. Your influence with the Captain of the Guard will be most beneficial to its safety. Again, I cannot thank you for your assistance in this matter in any other way than my support for your illustrious position. May your court remain true to justice and continue to measure the men of Dale with its wisdom and mercy.

Kolrson, son of Sote

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To Dale: Confrontation, Part 2

((A combination of exposition and chat logs edited for tense))

“Abiorn!”

Eirikr did not even try for subtlety as he led Eruviel up the stone staircase to the second floor. His low voice boomed throughout the hall as he called for his brother.

“Abiorn!”

A strained, thin voice came from the west wing. Eirikr took the stairs two at a time as his brother called back, “Eirikr? Eirikr, it is okay. Go away! I-I do not want to go with you, all right, brother?”

Eririkr paused on the landing and listened carefully. He held up a hand to Eruviel as she opened her mouth to speak. In the unsettling quiet that fell, Eirikr heard the faint melody of a bell. The sound was not heavy and threatening like the bell his father used to summon his guard. A haunting plea sounded in the gentle rustling of the metal.

Tinkle tink tink

Quick as a jackrabbit, Eirikr bounded up the stairs and rushed to the closed door at the end of the hall.

Abion had taken over his brother’s space when he moved to Esgaroth with his wife. The parlor was small, but spacious and opened to a larger bedroom with soaring windows. The heavy drapes concealed the pale blue sky reflecting off the waters of Long Lake. The boy lived in a world of darkness to hide him from prying eyes. His weak muscles and bent limbs could be concealed with loose fitting garb and a pleasant smile, but his shuffling gait could not.

Now, as Eirikr stared with eyes burning with low rage, Abiorn sat in the stuffed chair, a dagger point just drawing blood from his neck. In his hand he clutched the tiny silver bell with trembling fingers, but the practiced calm of his face was betrayed only by his terrified eyes.

Eruviel looked past Eirikr to the boy, her eyes wide as glanced from him to the stairs, and back.

Eiriikr ‘s fingers flexed around his bow. His eyes leveled with his father’s as he demanded, “Let him go. He’s a child.”

Kolrson shook his head. “You bested four guards, hm? The fact you made it back at all astounds me. Gregor was right. I did not give you enough credit. But I will not allow you to take this son from me as well.”

Eiriikr kept his gaze steady, though the veins of his forearm showed from his restraint. “You would rather see him dead then free?” Behind him, Eruviel gripped the hilt of her sword as she glared at the man, waiting, listening.

He raised the hand resting on the back of Abiorn’s chair. “I do not give away anything for free, son. You should know that by now. If you and your sister insist on freedom, a price must be paid.”

Eiriikr shook his head, his red hair grown long from the journey. “This is madness. You would kill your own son or daughter just to have your own way!” He motioned subtly with his free hand for Eruviel to move in closer. She stepped forward, giving him the faintest of nods.

Kolrson noticed the movement and grabbed Abiorn by his auburn curls. “Don’t come any closer, She-elf! What are you really, Eirikr, bringing one of those with you for protection?”

Eiriikr kept his eyes on Kolrson and raise a hand at his hip to Eruviel. “I thought you liked Elves, Father.”

He sneered, “I like their gold, boy.”

Eruviel smirked. “I can leave, gwador, if you think it best.”

Eiriikr managed a tight smile. “I prefer you watching my back, systir mine.” He rolled his shoulder. “How fast is your draw lately, systir?”

Eruviel’s fingers tightened around her bow. “My draw is far faster than yours, brother,” she snickered, her eyes still locked on Kolrson.

Eiriikr raised a brow. “Oh, you believe so? I recall you complimenting me on my skills several times on the path here.”

Kolrson tensed as he watched the exchange. With wide eyes, Abiorn looked up at his father and then at the two across the room. His hand tightened around the bell in a fist. Tinkle tink tink Finally, the man sneered, marring his already severe features. He barked out with impatience, “Stop chattering! What is wrong with you?!”

Eiriikr laughed mirthlessly. “What is wrong, Father?” The word ‘father’ dripped off his tongue like poison. “Not the center of attention?”

Eruviel ‘s shoulders relaxed as a wry smile curved up her mouth. “Do not make me eat my words. I would hate to have to let you win.”

Eiriikr grinned. His white teeth glistened in the firelight. “He can’t dodge two, I don’t think. Not a soft old man like him.”

Eruviel nodded once. “We will not know unless we try.”

Abiorn sank lower in the chair only to be stopped by the fist in his hair. He looked on at Eirikr in terror. He wouldn’t shoot…would he?

Eiriikr nodded, still grinning. He motioned a countdown with his fingers. Three…two…one…

As Kolrson watched the obvious countdown, his eyes grew wide. As Eirikr counted down to one, he attempted to duck behind the chair. Eruviel whisked out an arrow, and anticipating the cruel man’s flight, knocked and fired without hesitation. The man screamed as Eruviel’s arrow penetrated his calf. However, it was a feint! As Eruviel shot, Eirikr charged and tackled Abiorn right in the chair. The entire seat moved back, checking into Kolrson and knocking him over. The force of the chair crashing into him knocked him to his side and he lost hold of the dagger tipped with Abiorn’s blood. Eruviel lept forward and snatched up the dagger before it could be recovered.

Abiorn let out a shout that was abruptly cut off by the force of his brother’s full weight. As he toppled backward, his frail arms and legs flailed about and tried to catch the landing that never came. Eirikr rolled away from the pile-up, dragging his brother with him. He shielded his brother with his body as he looked over toward the chair and fallen man. “Eruviel!” he called out, motioning for her to take hold of Kolrson before he could manage to recover.

Eruviel ran over to grapple Kolrson at Eirikr’s command, dropping her weapons to the side. Bleeding profusely from the arrow in his leg, Kolrson attempted to manipulate Eruviel to the ground. As he rolled her over, his momentum carried him back on to his back where she suddenly had the advantage. He cursed and grabbed for his dagger.

Eiriikr looked down at Abiorn. The boy was fighting back tears and clutching his arm. “Are there any other guards? We faced four downstairs.” Abiorn shook his head yes. “Where are they?”

Eruviel grabbed his reaching hand as she pulled her other arm back to throw a punch. Her fist connected squarely and he sputtered as blood spurted from his nose. He howled in anger and threw his weight toward her to knock her off balance.

Abiorn answered softly, “He probably sent the back guards after you. Most are on leave until the evening. Wh-what are you doing here, Eirikr?”

Eiriikr shook his head. “We are leaving, brother. Your arm?” He frowned down at him and touched his arm gently.

Abiorn shook his head in dismissal. “It is nothing. Sore.”

Eruviel’s eyes widened in surprise as the man threw her. She tumbled over and attempted to scramble back to get a hold on him. Kolrson pushed her away and tried to crawl on his hands and knees, leaving a trail of blood on the floor toward the door. She fell back but rolled, grabbing at the man’s foot to pull him back as she braced her feet to right herself. He kicked weakly as his leg was latched onto by the Elf, shouting out in pain.

Eiriikr nodded and looked over to the two struggling. He grinned at Abiorn as he helped him sit up. “Should I help her?”

Abiorn looked alarmed for a moment and then relaxed into a grin. “You might just get in the way.”

Eruviel dodged Kolrson’s kick and grabbed his free foot with her other hand. Quickly rising to her feet she pulled, hoping to drag the man further back into the room. He flailed his legs, but the injury was too much. Bending at the waist, he grabbed at her hands, but his rather rotund belly got in the way.

Eiriikr grinned back at his brother and strode over to Eruviel and Kolrson. He grabbed the man by the front of his robes and lifted him with one heave so he can punch him in the face. Kolrson used the opportunity to punch Eirikr in the gut. He crashed back to the floor and kicked out at Eruviel again hoping the inertia of his fall would assist him in gaining his freedom. Eruviel batted away the kick and grabbed for one of his feet as she attempted to draw her sword with her free hand.

Eiriikr doubled over and gasped for breath. He drew his sword as he struggled to catch his breath. His father growled as he was denied and grabbed at the Elf’s sword. Stepping forward, Eirikr lowered the sword to Kolrson’s throat.

The older man stilled and looked up at his son from his back. “You wouldn’t kill your own flesh and blood, would you, son?” he sneered.

Eruviel’s hand grabbed her sword and she froze, still holding on to Kolrson. “You filth,” she growled. “You are one to talk.”

Kolrson kicked out at Eruviel just for spite. “I’ve not killed one of my own,” he said before stilling as the cold metal of Eirikr’s sword touched his skin. “So, what now, boy?”

Eiriikr growled, “You may not have killed any of us, but the damage you set upon us is proof enough: you don’t deserve life, old man.” He went in for the kill, but a sound of alarm from Abiorn stayed his hand. He glanced back, the sword tip wavering.

Seeing the moment of weakness in his son, Kolrson reached up to grab the sword from his hand. Eruviel swiftly drew her blade as Eirikr looked behind them, but Eiriikr turned around in time to see him grab at the sword. He took a step back as he pulled away, and Kolrson reached out to trip him.

Eruviel thrusted her blade down, hoping to parry Korlson’s movement, stabbing him in the arm in the process. He laid back and clutched his wound, glaring at the two.

Eiriikr redirected his sword to point at Kolrson again. To Abiorn, he said, “Abbi. Go. We will follow.”

The boy nodded and edged around the room for the door. Once he reached it, he slid out reluctantly.

Eruviel glanced back to the door. “Should I stay or follow him, brother?” she asked quietly.

Eiriikr shrugged. “He said the only guard is in the front now. We shall thus exit the back.” He walked around his father slowly and nodded for Eruviel to leave. “Take Abiorn to Ninim. I will raid my father’s safe and then we shall leave. A small restitution for the suffering his actions have caused, I think.”

Eruviel shot a withering glance at the wounded Kolrson and nodded curtly as she turned for the door. “I will see him safely there. Don’t be long, Eirikr.”

Eiriikr nodded, his eyes on his father. As Eruviel left, he said simply. “Don’t send anyone after us. They will die, or end up like the men you’ve hired downstairs. Don’t try to find us, as we are better off without you. Sten is dead. You could be, too. Be thankful I am nothing like you, Father.”

Still clutching his arm as it bled, Kolrson glared up at his son. “You won’t have a single night of peace. I heard Sten gave your wife a present, didn’t he?”

At those words, Eirikr stopped in his tracks and turned. He grabbed his father by the robes and slammed his fist into his face. Without a word, he followed Eruviel out, heading for the safe and leaving his father dazed and bleeding on the floor.

 

To Dale: Confrontation, Part 1

((edited from chat logs for tense and exposition. all fight action based on a d20 roll with an AC of 10))

 

Eirikr stood staring at the house. The rain fell around him and dampened his light auburn hair to a deep rust. The yard was quiet; no one was out in the rain. He walked up the worn path slowly as if willing the moment he has to enter the house to pass him by. Behind him and unbeknown to him, Eruviel walked up the path, remaining hidden as she observed her surroundings before setting her sights on the large home ahead.

As he approached the stone entryway, a man emergesd from a side entrance. From beneath his heavy hood, he gaped at Eirikr before rushing forward. “Master Tenorbekk! You have returned. Your father will be…forgive me, sir, but where is Miss Tenorbekk?”

Eirikr raised his hands to hush the old man. “Pyotr, please. I am not here with good news. I am here for Abiorn.” He looked up at the house, blinking through the water clinging to his lashes. “We are leaving this place, Pyotr. It might be best if you gathered everyone in the servant’s wing.”

Pyotr gaped some more and nodded vigorously. “But, sir, your father will not let you take your brother. You surely know-”

Eirikr cut him off with a shake of his head. “I know, Pyotr. Get everyone, especially the women and children, into the servants’ wing. Now.” Without another glance at the servant, he looked up to the house and strode for the door.

From the shadowy lane, Eruviel risked a glance over the stone wall. Seeing Eirikr walk inside, she ducked and retreated down the path to circle around the house to find a better place to hide and to hopefully listen.

Mumbling to himself, the old servant hurried back into the house via the side door.

 

Eirikr closed the door softly behind him. He looked down at the old floorboards in the entryway and stepped carefully. The house was clearly being prepared for a feast. Tables and chairs were out of place as apparently they were recently abandoned. The clutter led to the main hall. Kolrson Tenorbekk stood in the middle of it all, bellowing about lazy layabouts and whippings.

Eirikr could not help but smirk when he saw his father out of sorts. He stepped into the room with his hand loosely on the sword at his side. “Good day, Father. I see you are well.”

Kolrson whirled to face his son. He glowered a moment as he searched for the shadow he expected to be clinging to Eirikr’s sleeve. “Where is your sister?” he asked finally.

Eirikr shrugged. “She didn’t want to come back. I don’t blame her.”

Kolrson’s eyes narrowed as he strode forward angrily. “Do not play games with me, boy. I sent you after your sister and you were supposed to bring her back.”

Eirikr stood his ground and looked down at his father. The son stood a good three inches taller than the man. “I chose not to. We like it where she is. I think Abiorn will like it, too.”

Shaking his head, Kolrson glowered in disbelief. “Never. Abiorn knows his place. You might be a grown man, Eirikr, but I will still teach you yours.” Turning, he reached into his pocket and withdrew a large silver bell. Its sound pealed through the grand hall and rushing footsteps followed. Two men arrived through the door and stared stupidly at Eirikr and Kolrson, their hands on the grips of their swords. “What is it, sir?” asked one.

Eirikr shifted into a slightly defensive stance but did not draw his weapon. “Hello, Karl. Tjorn.” The guards looked uncertainly between the two men.

Kolrson smirked. “Now, now, Eirikr. See how foolish it was to come here alone? Do you actually think just sauntering in here was going to work? It is a shame you didn’t declare yourself properly so the guards knew who you were. Accidents do happen, though.”

Eirikr narrowed his eyes. “What, Father? You can’t face me yourself?”

Just around the corner in the entryway, Eruviel silently glided over to stand near the front door.

Kolrson mounted a platform that appeared to be set up for a performance. “Why waste the energy. Karl? Tjorn. Show my son what happens when I become disappointed. And then send word to Sten in Lake-town. Tell him to slit that bitch’s throat.”

Eirikr grinned openly. “Sten is dead, Father. Ninim is safe from the likes of you. Your goons cannot touch her any more.”

Turning, Kolrson stared at his son. “You lie. You would not be here if that were true. Only a fool would do such a thing.”

Eirikr drew his sword. “Or someone who loves his brother. You’ve never understood that, Father. I don’t expect you to now.”

Red-faced, Kolrson gave the order. “Just kill him!” The two guards advanced with grins. One said to the other, “I always wanted to gut him, didn’t you, Karl?” In response, Karl said, “Nah, I never really cared one way or the other. But I don’t mind it now.”

Eruviel opened and slammed the front door shut, promptly kicking over the wooden chair with a loud crash.

Eirikr spun around at the noise, ducking. His back turned to the guards, they charged forward throwing caution to the wind. Eirikr whirled around in time to parry one blow only to be tackled by the other man. Karl slammed Eirikr backward into the large pillar supporting the vaulted ceiling and punched him in the gut.

Eruviel ran into the room, taking everything in before taking a swing at the man who punched Eirikr. “Sorry I’m late.”

Eirikr wheezed as the breath is knocked out of him twice. He crumpled down and fell to his knees as the man took Eruviel’s blow without any attempt at defense. Karl flew backward from the force of the blow. Tjorn swung his sword toward her as he tried to hide his surprise.

Eruviel dipped into a bow in the same motion as her punch. “You must be Kolrson.” She then turned to the armed man and drew her sword.

Eirikr looked up at Eruviel with a glare that fell somewhere between thankfulness and annoyance.

Kolrson slammed his hand down on the table in front of him. “Who are you? Get out of my house! Guards!”

Eruviel drew out her dagger as she attacked Tjorn. “Do not worry, gwador. You will be buying me dinner on the trip home, though.”

Eirikr pulled himself up on the pillar. “Eruviel, I thought you were staying with Ninim!” he gasped.

Tjorn parried and counterattacked with skill. He was no cheap mercenary, but a trained guard bought from the Dalish army. “Watch your head, now, pretty lady,” he taunted as he swung toward her thigh. Meanwhile, Karl, recovered from the blow, walked around her to seek an opening.

Eruviel continued to fight Tjorn, hardly giving him time to block her blows. “She is safe! Hence my coin-purse being empty.”

Eirikr kicked out his foot to trip Karl. As the man landed, Eirikr grabbed at his sword fallen beside him and raised it to strike. Too late, the man caught his wrist and caught him in a grapple. They rolled over each other and Eirikr gritted his teeth as he released the sword to slam his fist down into Karl’s face. “You did what?”

Tjorn, a man with an athletic build beneath his armour, kept up with Eruviel surprisingly well. He was unable to press an advantage as he was in full defense mode. On the floor, Karl’s head swam as Eirikr punched him again and again. Two more guards appeared in the doorway looking bewildered.

Practically screeching, Kolrson pointed at the fight and ordered, “Kill them! Kill them both! Make yourselves useful for once and kill them!”

Eruviel glanced over to Kolrson as she pressed Tjorn harder, changing her footwork. “Now is not the best time for details, Eirikr.” She moved to trip Tjorn, hoping for a chance to draw her bow.

As Eirikr looked up to see the guards, Karl’s right hand worked at the wrist sheath beneath his sleeve. In one blind, but swift motion, he jabbed it the arm pinning him down. With a yell, Eirikr dropped his sword and grabbed his bicep.

The new guards bore spears and hesitated only a moment before charging toward the fray. Kolrson took the opportunity to run for the stairway leading to the upper wings.

Tjorn, thrown off by Eruviel’s fancy footwork, fell into her trick and tripped to the stone floor. His sword stayed firmly in his grasp and he swung it at her even as he fell. Eruviel leapt away from Tjorn and cast her dagger across the room to one of the charging guards. The dagger missed the far guard by a hair. He and his partner paused to exchange glances and started to approach with more caution. From the ground, Tjorn reached out for Eruviel’s legs to trip her in turn. She attempted to shift her footing, thrusting her sword down towards his outstretched arm. The guards scowl as the Elf’s strike nearly severs the man’s arm off.

Eirikr threw himself forward as Karl tried to toss him off. He ripped the dagger from his arm and slammed his fist into the guard’s face once again. The man’s eyes rolled back as he lost consciousness.

Eirikr regained his feet with his sword in his hand. He shot a glance at Eruviel. “Though this might now be the time, I do wonder who it is who is with her.”

Tjorn, being rather torn, rolled on the ground clutching his bleeding arm. Eruviel picked up the bleeding man’s sword, and turned to face the men armed with spears. “The young lad, Hari? Him, the waitress I befriended, and a soldier both Hari and Ninim approved of are taking turns watching her. No one knows where she is, and I bought up all the rooms on the top floor so she should not be found out.”

Across the room, the guard stare at Eruviel in wonder. They exchange looks.

Eirikr gave her a shake of his head and advanced with her. “You never cease to amaze me, systir.”

Eruviel snickered. “It is difficult to protect two people in separate places.” She then narrowed her eyes at the guards. “Are you going to stand down, or do want to trade me a sword for your spear before we start this?” she asked matter-of-factly.

The guards looked less seasoned than the other two. One gulped. “Um, perhaps…Mister Tenorbekk don’t pay us t’ face no Elf.”

Eirikr smirked and looked over to watch Eruviel’s response. Shel nodded to the two. “A little coin is not worth your lives. If you fight me I cannot guarantee that you will not end up like him,” she gestured of her shoulder, “or worse.”

They exchanged glances again. “By golly, Jossr, let’s get out of here. I ain’t int’rested in killin’ no She-Elf t’night.”

Eirikr stated, “You aren’t interested in losing a limb or dying tonight, you mean. Now stand aside so we can find my brother.”

Eruviel gave the guards an almost motherly smile. “I had hoped not.” She then nodded in agreement with Eirikr.

The guards backed up, though Jossr seemed less inclined to stand down. “I dunna think we should let you inta th’ house, Mister Tenorbekk. So why dunna you jes’ walk away. Save ev’ryone tha trouble.”

Eirikr shook his head no. “I am here for my brother. You will stand aside, or you will face us. Make a choice.”

Jossr stopped and shook his head. “I can’t let you in, sir.” He lowered the spear in a defensive grip in front of the door.

Eruviel adjusted her grip on the two swords, shifting her stance as she looked to the other guard. “Is this really what you want?”

The guard looked at his companion but was clearly not the leader. “Jossr?” Jossr glared over at him.

Eirikr rolled his shoulder and sheathed his sword. “So be it,” he said as he drew his bow and an arrow from his back. Eruviel nodded and followed suit. Bringing her bow up a blade mounted on the outer curve of the bow was made apparent.

The hesitant one saw the bows and backed up. “No, this isn’t worth it. Mister Tenorbekk can just take his coin back!” The man quickly retreated out of the door. Jossr watched him flee and turned back to the two archers, wide-eyed. “Uhhhhh…”

Eirikr nocked the arrow and pointed it at the man. “Come on, Jossr. Come and get us.”

Eruviel remained silent, her bow drawn as she kept her steady gaze on Jossr.

The last standing guard shook his head. “I will take my chances from over here.” He crouched with the spear at the ready and prepared to dodge the arrows.

Eirikr shrugged before he rolled his shoulder again. He raisedthe bow and loosed an arrow. Eruviel held for a breath, waiting for the guard to dodge before loosing her own arrow.

He could not move in time. The arrows penetrated his armour at the junction between breastplate and shoulder guard. “Aarsahsfhgggrrr!” Jossr screamed, but remains on his feet. “Come at me like a real man!” he challenged.

Eirikr watchedthe blood course down the man’s arm. Ignoring the taunt, he nocked another arrow. “Two more for you, Jossr?”

Jossr, driven by adrenaline, dodged. The arrow sank into the wall behind him.

Eruviel nocked another arrow and took aim. “Your friend had the right idea, young one.”

Jossr grinned and shook his head. “I don’t abandon my duty.”

Eruviel glared at Jossr. “We do not have time for this.” Loosing her arrow she leapt forward, gripping her bow with her left hand as she drew her sword mid-stride.

Jossr manages to dodge the arrow only to fall to one knee from pain. Eirikr drew his sword as well. Eruviel batted Jossr’s spear to the side and drove her blade towards him, intent on stopping a hairs breadth from his neck.

The man froze so that the blade barely brushed the skin of his neck. He did not even have time to raise his spear.

Eruviel narrowed her eyes as she held steady. “I suggest you drop it.”

He dropped it with a clatter and sank back to his haunches. Eirikr came up to him and smashed the hilt of his sword into his skull, knocking him out.

Eruviel rotated her jaw around to one side, looking at the guard before moving to retrieve her dagger from where it had stuck in the wall. “Shall we?”

Eirikr nodded. “We shall.” He led them out of the hall deeper into the house and up to the second floor.

 

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

 

To Dale: The Exchange

Eirikr adjusted the pack on his back as he walked up the path leading from the field of the northern most farm. The path wound its way in front of a couple Hobbit houses built into the hill and ended at a small stone ruin. Until Cwendlwyn had written that they could meet there, he had been ignorant of the spot’s existence. He stood at the edge of the cliff overlooking the whole of Bree-town and sighed. Overlook, EirikrThe second floor of the Pony seemed far below and the air was clearer. Easier to breathe.

He didn’t want to resort to the plan that had been formulating in his mind from the moment he calmed down enough to focus on such a thing. He would not let Eruviel find out and he certainly could not let Anya ever know, though he suspected that she already had an idea of what might happen once Eirikr stepped into Dale.

He wished he could just bypass Dale all together, but he knew he could never be that close and not step in to take Abiorn with him. Anya, and he felt Ninim, and probably Eruviel, too, would want to take the boy from that home.

Boy. Abiorn would be fifteen now. Eirikr pictured his brother in his mind: frail, crooked limbs, darker features than either older sibling, and laughing. Abbi had quickly learned subterfuge and avoidance to protect himself and therefore, he was often able to smile.

A sound behind him made him turn. The dark-haired woman approached slowly with a girl of about seven at her side. Eirikr frowned, but Cwendlwyn made a gesture to the girl and spoke some soft words. The little one nodded and sat down at the crest of the hill with her back to him.

Cwendlwyn briefly ruffled the girl’s hair and then approached. Though Eirikr had only met her twice in the form of a patient, she had agreed to provide him with means for his backup plan. For some reason, he trusted her not to divulge the secret to anyone including his sister. He observed her in the faded light of the overcast afternoon. Her long, dark hair was pulled back in a neat and severe knot and her face looked a bit worn, though not thin. Her eyes–he saw something there that hinted at a kindred spirit. She knew a pain deep in her bones caused by the very reason she was alive. She had not hesitated when he inquired about sedatives and lethal dosages on her second visit to check on his injury earlier in the week.

“I have what you are seeking, Eirikr,” she said lowly as she drew near. She stopped less than a foot away from him. They could have been lovers meeting in secret. In fact, she took his arm and drew him away from the edge and deeper into the shadow cast by the stone walls of the crumbling tower. “I am sure this tincture will work for the pain that has been plaguing you your entire life.”

“Thank you,” he said in an equally low voice. He drew a coinpouch from his belt and handed it to her. “It should all be there.”

Shaking her head, she assured him, “I am certain it is fine. It is funny, isn’t it?” She looked up at the clouds. “Such a cute little white flower can hold such devastating power. I do implore you to only use this as a last resort, however. There are other ways of treating your problem.”

He nodded. “I intend for this to be unnecessary. But–“

She raised her hand to stop him. “I know. You will do whatever is necessary. I understand, Eirikr. Believe me, I do. I only ask you to consider one thing.”

He looked over at the girl who sat reading. A lookout, he surmised. Cwendlwyn might have had the appearance of a kind though serious healer, but clearly she had dealt with being the antithesis of her profession before. She held out her hand as if to offer a handshake. He took hers in his own and palmed the vial she held. Before he could pull away, she clasped his hand in both of hers, the glass, warmed by her hold, pressing into his skin.

“Consider what you have: your sister, your wife, your brother, and fifty years of life before you. Your shoulder has healed much better than I would have predicted. And I know you are frustrated with the loss of control, but you are working hard to regain that, and I believe it will return. Eirikr,” she nearly whispered as she stepped even closer, “Remember that even if he dies, you will have to live. And that, my friend, is the hardest part.”

His breath caught in his throat. She released him and stepped back, her brilliant green eyes piercing into his as he nodded silently.

“Safe travels, Eirikr son of Kolrson of Dale,” she bid him as she curtsied to him. It was a graceful, practiced movement of respect that he suddenly felt he didn’t deserve. “I will see you again.”

Again he could only nod as he gripped the hellebore tincture in his fist. He watched as with a gentle touch on her daughter’s shoulder, Cwen led the girl down the path holding her hand and singing.

Aim

Anya peeked out the window overlooking the cliff above the small pond behind the house. She raised her hand to shield her eyes from the glare and smudged the smoky pane with vermillion. Swearing silently, she turned back to the table and grabbed her rainbow rag to wipe away the paint. Rubbing in small circles, she cleaned away the soot accumulated from a winter of constantly burning fires. Once one pane was clean, she couldn’t leave the rest and polished each glass until she could see through it clearly.

Peering through the panes, she turned her head from side to side to see if Eirikr was fishing off the cliff. He wasn’t. Anya huffed, fogging the glass slightly, and turned quickly on her heel to see if he was out front.

As soon as she opened the door, she heard the twang of a bowstring. Eirikr stood over near the fire pit aiming at several bales of straw he propped up on the low stone wall. The outline of a boar was painted in the side of the midmost bale and she wondered when he got into her paints as she descended the stairs.

The arrow had sunk into the bale  far to the left of the target. It landed among several other shafts jutting out of the hay. Eirikr grunted and drew another arrow from the quiver on his back. His left hand raised the bow as he nocked the arrow, drew, and took aim in one nearly seamless motion. Before relaxing the three fingers that held the string, he hesitated. Anya saw the bow waver slightly and flinched as Eirikr loosed another arrow far left of its mark. He swore loudly.

“Eirik?” She tried to not to startle him, but he jerked around with a flushed face.

“Anya. I didn’t know you were there.”

Lowering her eyes because she didn’t want to appear to stare, Anya clasped her hands in front of her. “I was looking for you. I was wondering if you had spoken with Eruviel. To see if you knew if she was coming home tonight.”

He turned to retrieve his arrows as he answered. “No, I haven’t, but I would assume she is coming home. Why would she not?”

Anya raised her eyes to watch her brother yank each arrow from the hay and shove it back into his quiver. The muscles of his shoulders flexed beneath the thin cotton shirt he wore. He did not seem to feel the chill clinging to the afternoon. The last arrow he pulled out, he kept in his hand as he retreated to his firing spot. He took a deep breath and Anya could tell he was trying to calm himself. In another skilled, graceful movement, he loosed the arrow. Once again, it missed its mark.

“You’re pulling to the left.”

“You think I don’t know that?” he snapped at her. He shot another arrow and shouted out in frustration.

Wincing, Anya stepped forward and placed a hand on Eirikr’s shoulder. “Eiri, please,” she said softly, “be patient. You can relearn and adjust. Your aim will return, I know it will.”

His dark grey eyes fell on her and she took a step back in alarm. Cold fire burned deeply in each orb as he glared down at her.

“Anya. I don’t have the time to be patient. Ninim needs me now and every second I delay is a second she has to spend under Sven’s watch. I won’t let our father do this to her, to me. It is time he is stopped.”

A frown creased her forehead and she replied lowly, “Eirikr, what do you mean?” Her own grey eyes searched his eyes for meaning and her blood froze at what she saw behind her brother’s steely gaze.

“I will stop him, Anyatka. And he will leave us alone for good. I promise you, or I will die trying.”

Without waiting for a reply, he turned back to his target and took aim.

Backyard Views

Prompted Pasts

ScreenShot00132

Prompt: Write a brief scene illustrating an important moment in your character’s past (before you started playing them).

Danick tugged Cwen’s arm as he barreled through the woods. Faster, he urged. Faster. The sound of the attack on the watchtower grew faint but still he did not slow. His hood covered his bright yellow hair and allowed him to move through the shadows of the fading light. It also prevented her from reading his expression as he led them north, away from the Adorn River, away from their homeland that was besought on all sides by the Dunlendings.

Only when Cwen could run no more, falling and gasping on the rough lichen beneath her, did he stop. He disappeared only a moment and then picked her up and carried her to a small copse where a ring of oak trees formed a clearing. He sank to his knees and held her, rocking back and forth.

“You will run,” he said into her hair. “Promise me.”

“Danick -” she protested, “I have no where to run to.”

“You will run,” he repeated into her hair. His lips pressed against her dark tresses and then he tilted her chin up to look at him.

“Where can I go? Danick, let me go back and help – ”

“Go north,” Danick said calmly. “The watchtower is lost. With their armies in our lands, you will be able to sneak through. Stay aground. Stay smart. Cwendlwyn, you’re so smart – you can do this. Make it to the North, where this won’t exist. There is peace in the north.”

“Your men,” she said as she buried her face in his chest. “Your friends.”

“They die protecting what they hold sacred, Cwen. Wenfried’s mother and Biroan’s wife. Halulm’s sister.” Danick held her face in his hands. As the baying of the wolves grew louder, he closed his eyes. “I could not protect Thira, but Bema help me, I will protect you.” He looked at her intently. “Cwen. They’re coming. Run.”

She wanted to scream; the sound rose in her and caught in her throat, forcing tears from her eyes and her hands to grope for his strength. He took her in his arms and poured all his hopes into her. Their lips parted for the first and last time only when Danick let out a harsh cry. She tasted blood.

He looked at her, fear tainting his serene blue eyes for the first time.

“Run.”

He fell to his knees and Cwen saw the arrow in his back. Crying out, she reached for it and was nearly buzzed by another black arrow. It only narrowly missed.

“RUN!”

Danick drew his sword and staggered to his feet. He turned to face their foe and never looked back.

She ran.

** ** ** ** **

Jameson Sicklefoose stood over Emmelina Lilybrook with a triumphant grin on his face.

“Told ye I could steal Old Man Palater’s pocketwatch ‘n he wouldn’t e’en know.”

“So what?” asked Lina. “He wouldn’t even know it’s missing.”

“Well, then, little Emma. Let’s see what ye can do.”

She expected him to point out the tavern door and order her to rob the next fool to stumble through, but instead he grabbed her by the neck and drug her forward. His lips crushed hers and his whiskery face scratched her pale skin. He smelled of pipeweed and whiskey. Such manly smells for a nineteen year old boy.

When he pulled away, Lina could barely keep her feet. Her head spun and she gasped for breath.

“Ye serious ‘bout this, Cherry? Ye really want inta our little family?”

“Yeah,” Lina reassured him. “I want in. I need th’ money.”

Jameson growled against her lips. “Ye’ll git yer money. After ye earn it first.”

The eyes of the barn cats reflected like mirrors. A horned owl flew by to perch in the branches of the Kissing Tree. Exhausted, spent, Jameson pet Lina’s brown hair, disheveled and loose from the long braid down her back.

“Welcome ta th’family, Emma. I’ll take care o’ya now.”

** ** ** ** **

Frigga Tenorbekk stood in the large window overlooking the garden. She fanned herself, refusing to shed a single layer despite the July heat. She stood watch over the ladies cleaning for the evening – watching to make sure they did not sneak anything for themselves, to be sure.

“Your guest tonight was rather unusual, Kolrson,” she said to her husband as he strode into the room. “Wherever did you find him?”
“Came into the store,” the husband answered. He barked several orders to the servants clearing away the remains of the evening. “He travels and tells fantastic stories. If no contacts could be made, I figured at least the children would be entertained tonight.”

“How pleasant of you to think of them, dear. But their entertainment is not our priority.”

Kolrson grunted.

Sitting on the floor in the pantry sneaking the meal she was denied at dinner (”Proper ladies do not eat their food. You do not wish to be considered fat nor greedy.”), Anya paused as she heard her parents’ conversation shift to their evening guest. Anya had found the man to be absolutely fascinating. She often dreamed of the world beyond Dale and the shadow of Erebor. The man who called himself Bookie told great tales that evening of Golden Woods and spider infested forests. He claimed to know many more stories from both east and west, north and south.

“Luckily, he will serve as a great connection to the trade in Rhun. Hopefully, he won’t get any fool notion to head West again. There’s little profit there now. The woods have grown dangerous.”

Her mother scoffed. “I suppose we shall be seeing more of the man, then?”

There was a pause where Anya could picture her father nodding.

“Fair enough. Perhaps we can arrange for he and Ludwig to meet. Their stories would keep guests entertained for an entire evening. It would be like hiring a professional minstrel without the racket of the singing and playing.”

“And the expense of paying,” Kolrson stated with a gruff laugh.

Footsteps approached the pantry. Anya froze, a small tomato raised to her lips. The door swung open on silent hinges and her mother stood above her in shock.

“Anya! What are you doing?”

Without thinking, Anya bolted past her mother, knocking her aside. Her little ten year old feet thundered through the halls as she ran for the boys’ wing.

“Get back here!” roared her father. She could feel the floor tremble beneath his strides. She mounted the stairs and took them two at a time. Glancing back, her father was right behind her. He grabbed her just as she ducked a breath too late. Kolrson threw his daughter backwards down the stone steps. She tumbled and rolled, managing to sustain mainly bruises until her forehead connected with the edge of the bottom step. Bright lights clouded her vision.

“Creeping about like a sneak-thief!” her father bellowed. “Stealing from your own family! The food we serve you at dinner is not enough to satisfy the fat cow?”

“Kolrson, really! Just beat her and get it over with.” Frigga came out of the kitchen and surveyed the scene before her with distaste. Looking up, she saw her eldest son at the top of the stairs leading to the west wing. “Eirikr! Back to your rooms, now!”

Eirikr stood with clenched fists staring down at the dazed form of his sister. The anger seethed in his eyes.

“Immediately, young man!”

“No!”

Eirikr’s little twelve year old body rushed down the steps and knelt beside Anya. “Isn’t being thrown down the stairs enough? She’s bleeding! Someone get help!” The boy took his own shirt and pressed it against the wound. “Gregor, go get a surgeon!”

As the servant ran for the door, Eirikr was lifted from the floor and raised to stare into his father’s eyes.

“You’ll pay for that, boy. She fell, you hear me? She’s always tripping over her skirts, the lass. And if you want to have any skin left on your back, you’ll disappear until I come for you with my whip.” Kolrson released the boy and he fell to his knees. “Now get.”

Ignoring the order, Eirikr dropped back over Anya, pressing his bloodied shirt to her head again. He sensed it and tried to relax to absorb the impact of the kick. His body tumbled over and over. His breath was knocked out from him and his head tilted back as his father grabbed a fist full of his hair.

“Now. Get.”

Eirikr slowly climbed to his feet. Before he could take a step, his mother grabbed him and drug him up the stairs into the west wing where the boys’ rooms were located. She pushed him into the room and locked the door with her key. Abiorn huddled in the corner with his nanny, the toddler’s face streaked with tears.

Below, Eirikr heard the surgeon arrive and the false concern in his parents’ voices as they explained the ‘accident.’ He could feel the sting of his father’s lash with each lie. Powerless to stop it, he bowed his head and cried.

The Dark Days of Dale

Dale
image from the one wiki to rule them all at http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Dale

Eirikr stood in his family’s parlour with his hands clasped behind his back. He tried not to look around at the familiar surroundings as he waited for his father. Even if he and Ninim had not married four years before, he would have preferred never to return to that house. The memories of his childhood cried out to him in these halls and he’d prefer to leave them silenced in his past.

Quick, stuttering footsteps traveled down the hall. A boy just in his teens appeared in the doorway and his face lit up with surprise.

“Eirikr!” Abiorn rushed to his older brother and wrapped him in a hug. The young lad held on for a long moment and Eirikr did not release him until he eased his grip first. “It is so good to see you, brother. How’s Ninim?”

“She is well,” Eirikr replied stepping back to take a good look at him. His younger brother stood half a head taller than the last time he saw him and looked well enough. He watched closely as Abiorn stepped back and ran a slender and gnarled hand through his auburn hair. “How have you been, my lad? Well, I hope?”

Abiorn nodded. “Yes. As well as can be expected. Though after she left, Father-”

Eirikr held up his hand and shook his head. “Not here, Abbi. I will find you before I return to Lake-town, I promise.”

Abiorn nodded again, frowning. He turned at the sound of footsteps down the hall and quickly retreated from the room before Eirikr could even say farewell.

Kolrson Tenorbekk appeared in the doorway. He frowned after Abiorn before turning his head to gaze at his eldest son. Kolrson was a tall man that wore new money like a laurel around his shoulders. His attire, even so late in the evening that visitors were not expected, was crisp, clean, and expensive. As he strode into the room, a definitive chill followed him. He closed the door tightly behind him and turned to Eirikr with a frown.

“You must go after her.”

The hairs on Eirikr’s neck bristled. Four years away and nothing had changed.

“Well met, Father. I see that you are well. Yes, Ninim is doing just fine. She’s enjoying life in the south living on the lake, though she misses the bustle of Dale markets.” Eirikr spoke lowly, his voice steady despite the anger behind his sarcasm.

Kolrson narrowed his eyes and stalked over to the sidebar to pour himself a drink from a pewter pitcher. “Eirikr, if I had time to dispense with such pleasantries, I would not have summoned you with such urgency.”

“Summoned?” His fists clenched at his side. “Sending a team of your brutes to drag me out of my bed and toss me into the back of a wagon is not a summoning. I am your son. I would have come without the use of such force.”

The man raised a trimmed eyebrow at his son and his lips pressed together in a disapproving frown. His fingers twitched around his goblet. Eirikr tensed – an old habit.

“Regardless, you must go after her. You agree that man stole her from her family and led her on a wild goose chase into the West.” His father raised the goblet to his lips. “She must be found.”

“I’m surprised you haven’t sent any of your men to find her.” He crossed his arms over his broad chest. “Are you afraid it will get out and the betrothal will fall through?”

Kolrson scowled, swirling the drink around for a moment before tipping it back. “It already has fallen through. One cannot hide the disappearance of a family member for this long, not without raising unfavorable suspicion.” He grimaced. “Already some say she was kidnapped. Some claim she stole our fortune and ran off to marry the old man. In any case, Eirikr, she must be dealt with.” The man’s eyes gleamed in the firelight.

It was Eirikr’s turn to narrow his eyes.

“What do you intend to do with her?”

Kolrson raised his brow as if insulted by the question. “Why, take her back into her loving home and tend to any damage inflicted by her little adventure.”

Growling, Eirikr raised an arm to point at his father. “You will not hurt her, old man.” His deep voice rumbled the unspoken threat.

“Oh? Shall I send Sten and his men to fetch her?” Kolrson gazed down into his goblet, nonchalant.

A chill ran down Eirikr’s spine. His voice trembled beneath its touch. “You wouldn’t dare send that beast after your own daughter.”

“It’s in her best interests, you know, Eirikr. To protect her from herself.”

“You’d allow that man to touch your daughter? How could you?” Eirikr’s entire being was strung to its limits. His fists clenched and unclenched at his sides as he glared at his father with pure hatred.

“Why, if you will not go, who else can I depend on?” Kolrson set the goblet upside-down on the sidebar and slid a hand into his vest pocket. “I am only looking out for her best interests, Eirikr.” He smiled, even white teeth gleaming.

“Your only interests are your own,” Eirikr snapped. Through clenched teeth, he snarled, “How soon will the team be ready?”

“You will go alone. Faster. You are good on the trail, you will find your way.”

“Does anyone know where they were heading?”

“Aye. Far to the West. Eriador, I believe.”

Eirikr blinked, stunned. “Eriador? So far west?” His thoughts roamed to Ninim and his work in Lake-town. “A journey like that would take at least ten months. And that is not including the time it would take to find her.”

“It must be done, Eirikr.”

“I cannot go.”

Kolrson laid a heavy stare on his son. “You have already run away from your family obligations, Eirikr. Abiorn will die, and if he survives to take control of the business, he will make a poor merchant. He is too soft.” A silence stretched between them only to be broken by the angry breaths of the son. “You owe me this, Eirikr. Bring her back.”