la douleur exquise

Oh, but who?
Oh, but who?    stolen from Word Porn

 

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Reunited, Reprimanded, and Revealed

Dear Miss Anya,

I have received notice from an Elf named Eruviel that you have lost a lynx. I have been inquiring about Bree for a few days and am relieved to finally find its owner.

Please send post regarding arrangements to meet so we can return the poor thing to you. I wish to warn you that when my Biramore and I found him, he was injured rather badly. He has mended well, but bears scarring on his flank.

I look for your message in eagerness,

Cwendlwyn Tain

Anya blinked as she reread the letter. The woman was due to arrive that afternoon and her heart raced excitedly as she skipped around the house making scones and muffins. Oli! At last! Some good news for a change.

Eruviel hunted that day, so she had no one to share in her nervous energy. Once her baking was done, she had little to occupy her as she waited for their arrival. She paced the front room for thirty minutes pausing only to stare out the window for extended periods of time. Finally, two strangers appeared around the corner. A large black lynx followed them closely behind.

Anya burst from the house and rushed to the end of the footpath that cut through the yard. From a distance, the woman raised her hand in greeting.

“Miss Anya?” she called out in a clear, confident voice.

Anya returned the wave enthusiastically. “Miss Tain?”

The couple drew close and Anya was able to examine them. The woman led slightly; the man trailed behind a bit as he looked around and over his shoulder frequently. She wore well fitting robes of lavender and tan and a wide-brimmed sunhat with a large plume in the band. Anya could see locks of dark hair escaping from beneath the hat. Her eyes were a piercing green that belied the gentle set of her smile. This woman had seen things that would probably set Anya’s head spinning.

The man was handsome and bore himself like a soldier. The shirt he wore fit well and as he turned to look back at the lynx, she could see the well-defined muscle moving beneath the fabric. His face was kind and his eyes clearly protective of the woman as she walked before him.

From behind the man, the lynx suddenly shot forward. It moved so quickly it could have been a fleeting shadow. It leapt at Anya, rebounded off her chest, and bounced around her as she laughed.

“Oli!” She knelt to the feline’s level and he nuzzled up to her cheek. “I missed you, too,” she whispered to him.

The woman paused on the road before the lane and curtsied gracefully. “Miss Anya, it is a pleasure to finally meet you.”

Anya rose and curtsey-bowed to her. She felt so awkward in the presence of the older woman and a faint blush crossed her cheeks. Cwen laughed lightly and crossed to take both of her hands. “Eruviel mentioned you are recovering from an injury. How are you?”

“Oh, I am well,” Anya answered. “Thank you for your concern. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to find me.” She gestured to the house. “Will you please come in for tea?”

Cwen smiled down at her and waved the man over. “Of course, thank you. This is Biramore.”

Biramore bowed his head in greeting and offered her a kind smile. “Pleasure, Miss Anya.”

Anya curtsied to Biramore even as she led them into the house. Oli wove around her as they climbed the steps to the front door and she led them inside.

*     *     *

Lina frowned down at the pile of linens from the Pony. She chewed her lip for a moment as the steam from the hot water cauldrons rose around her causing her naturally wild hair to frizz even more crazily about her face. She patted it down to no avail. Sighing, she picked up an armful of bedsheets and dropped it into the vat of grey water at her feet.

Aunt Millie fluttered over to her on tiptoes. Lina tried to suppress her frown. She had managed to get out from under the woman’s roof, but she couldn’t get away from her at work.

“I stopped by the boardin’ ‘ouse,” Aunt Millie said in her high nasally voice. Anya often wondered if she spoke like that on purpose because it sounded so affected. “The proprietress said ye ‘ave not been t’ bed in several days, Emmelina.” Her aunt stood with her hands on her hips and frowned at her.

Taking up the broadest washing-beetle she could see, Lina began to stir the linens. She tried not to picture herself taking the tool to the side of her aunt’s head. “Aye?” she responded simply without looking up from the steaming water.

“Aye. Care t’explain, darlin’?” She could feel the evil eye penetrating the back of her skull.

“Nothin’ t’explain, Auntie.”

“Emmelina Lilybrook, yer parents sent ye ‘ere t’protect ye!” The ignominy in her voice threatened to shove Lina head first into the hot water as if that alone could cleanse her of the shame of being such an immoral child. “Jus’ ‘oo are ye cavortin’ about with? Hm? Some crafty, sweet talkin’ young lad promisin’ ye th’world when he finds buried treasure in th’Downs?”

Nearly growling, Lina bites out, “Aunt Millie, leave off, will ye? Ain’t fallin’ fer some fool adventurer who’ll get speared a’fore he walks out the gates o’Bree.”

“I won’t ‘ave it, Emmelina!” Her aunt’s voice rose to a shrill pitch that could have summoned the bats from the Old Forest to descend upon her wayward niece. “Ye git yerself back to tha’ boardin’ house an’ get yer head on straight!”

Lina looked up at her aunt through slitted eyes. “My head’s just fine,” she said lowly. “An’ I think I’m makin’ ends meet on me own, without ye or Ma or Da. I think I’m doin’ just fine.” She raised the bat to emphasize her words. “Where I spend me nights is my business.”

The older woman stared open mouthed at Lina. Without another word, Lina turned back to the washing tub and continued to stir the dirty sheets of Bree.

*     *     *

Bree-town

Cwendlwyn stood at the window of the Pony and stared out over the square. Biramore lay stretched on the bed behind her whistling a light tune and sharpening her dagger.

“You’re thinking,” he said between even strokes across the whetstone.

“Hm.” Cwen did not turn from the scene before her: Bree-landers bustling about with baskets from the market, gathering around the latest minstrel playing near the fountain, or standing about in groups chatting about their day. She thought her memories would haunt her; she had steeled herself for the feelings of loss the town should have invoked.

However, though she found the town much unchanged, she did not dread stepping out of her door as she once did. She did not find herself looking over her shoulder for a madman to attack her or poison her mind. It felt much more like a town settled into a rhythm of subtle adaptation.

“What is it, love?” Biramore prodded gently. “Do you wish to go leave for Buckland tonight? It might be dangerous on the road, but certainly nothing more dangerous than we can handle.”

Cwen shook her head. “No. It isn’t that.” She turned to look at him with an uncertain smile. “I cannot quite put my finger on it,” she admitted and went to sit next to him.

“You’re doing well,” he encouraged her only half-teasing. “No breakdowns, no crying.” He returned her smile and tucked a strand of her long dark hair behind her ear. “Better than the last time we spent any amount of time in Bree, huh?”

She nodded.

“But, you have a feeling, though. I see it.” Bira ducked his head to capture her gaze. “Is it that woman? Anya?”

Shrugging, she said, “I’m not sure. She was very kind, was she not? But…yes. Perhaps there is something about her-” She sighed, frustrated she was unable to put a finger on what was tugging at the back of her mind.

Biramore leaned forward, tipping her chin up with a gentle finger. “It’s no worry of ours, love,” he reminded her. “We’ve done our part and will retreat to the quiet of the Shire tomorrow. I promise.” Leaning in, he kissed her.

Cwen smiled at him as he sat back. “It’s no worry,” she agrees. “Promise.”

Cold Fire

A sharp, stabbing, cramping pain. Wetness. Down her thighs. Pooled beneath her. Her hand touched the wetness and pulled back stained red. The pain blinded her as the blood streamed from her belly and she screamed.

Lina sat up in bed, her chest heaving as the dream still clung to her. The darkened room was chill in the night. The nocturnal creatures stirred outside and inside only the deep, even breaths of Falros accompanied the sound of her own. He stirred, murmuring in his sleep and reaching for the spot where her warmth had been moments before. She reached down and let his hand find hers. He stilled.

Her breathing in the night air left puffs of smoky vapor hanging like ghosts. The embers were dying on the hearth glowing a dull orange in the dark. She looked back down at Falros and sighed, her eyes traveling over his brutish profile simply drinking him in. She leaned down to kiss him gently and then slid out from beneath the covers and padded over to the fire.Cold Fire

She quickly banked the fading embers to make it easier in the morning and then stood up to gaze at nothing with her arms wrapped around her naked torso for warmth. The phantom pain still lingered and her hands moved to press low on her belly. Her eyes shut tight against the tears that threatened to spill and she took a deep, shuddering breath.

Only a moment. She would allow herself only a moment to remember the past and then she slid back into the warm present of Falros’s arms.

Poem: in the morning

-in the morning-

will ye throw me away
when the Sun rises o’er
the treetops of Bree
and sheds its weary light
on our twisted forms?

will ye toss me away
on the cold winter breeze,
that same brutal wind
that hurried me to Combe
and into your arms?

will ye ask me to stay,
pulling blankets around,
curled up against you
can i find a place here
(please don’t set me free)?

will ye throw me away
in the morning, my dear,
after shadows flee
and passions are spent
and all that you’re left
with is me?

Poor, poor Moose. He didn't want to see that.
Poor, poor Moose. He didn’t want to see that.

Character Questionnaire

Character Questionnaire 1

Headshots

This questionnaire is found in Gotham Writers’ Workshop’s Writing Fiction.

• What is your character’s name? Does the character have a nickname?

Anyatka: Anyatka Tenorbekk, or Tenorbrook. Most people call her Anya and only those she is most intimate with will she allow to call her Anyatka.

Cwendlwyn: Cwendlwyn Tain, once Cwendlwyn Resselin when married to Anidore. She introduces herself as Cwen (pronounced K-when)

Emmelina: Emmelina Lilybrook, mainly known as Lina. The only one who attempts to use her full name is Falros, though he usually cannot get much farther than “Emmmm…”

Eiriikr: Eirikr Tenorbekk, or Tenorbrook. Anya calls him Eiri, his wife calls him Ricky, but each only in private.

• What is your character’s hair color? Eye color?

Anyatka: Medium-long auburn colored hair with soft grey eyes.

Cwendlwyn: Dark brown, almost black hair and brilliant green eyes.

Emmelina: Short mousy brown hair, kept bobbed and a bit wild. Her eyes transition between grey and greenish-grey.

Eiriikr: Neatly trimmed auburn hair and dark grey eyes.

• What kind of distinguishing facial features does your character have?

Anyatka: Anya has a rather large nose and lips. Her nose and cheeks are dotted with freckles. She has a small scar just above her hairline but her hair usually covers it. Other than that, she thinks she’s rather nondiscript.

Cwendlwyn: Cwen has a rough scar on her left cheek. Her eyes are probably her most distinguishable feature as they are a striking green

Emmelina: Lina has some freckles, and is fairly attractive. Her main attraction isn’t her face, however.

Eiriikr: Eirik has wide, friendly eyes and a roguish grin of even white teeth.

• Does your character have a birthmark? Where is it? What about scars? How did he get them?

Anyatka: Anyatka has a scar along her hairline that is the result of a beating from her father when she was seven.

Cwendlwyn: The scar on her left cheek is the result of a falling beam in a burning stable. She was trying to save her Rohirric steed, Bean.

Emmelina: Lina has a birthmark on her right shoulder the shape of an egg.

Eiriikr: Eirikr’s back is covered in the scars of many lashings. Standing out are two particularly wide scars: one crosses from his left shoulder to his right hip and the other from just below his left armpit to the other side. He rarely appears without a shirt because of this.

• Who are your character’s friends and family? Who does she surround herself with? Who are the people your character is closest to? Who does he wish he were closest to?

Anyatka: Anya is the middle child of three. Her elder brother is Eirikr and her younger is Abiorn. She likes people though is terribly shy. She is a bit of a push over. She is becoming very close with Eruviel, her Elvish housemate and spends a lot of time with Morducai Mossfoot. She wishes she was closer to Morty, but at the same time is afraid to get too close because of her conflicting feelings toward him. She has a quietly tumultuous relationship with her parents, who she assumes have disowned her since she left Dale.

Cwendlwyn: Cwen’s beau is Biramore and together they raise her daughter Neilia with the assistance of the Hobbit folk in their neighborhood. Callee is practically part of the family since she’s helped raise Neilia since she was a babe and Cwen was still married to Anidore. Cwen prefers to keep the company of Hobbits over Men for the most part. Her parents are both dead and she has little ties to her homeland in the Westemnet.

Emmelina: Lina is close to no one, though she is starting to let Anya get to her.

Eiriikr: Eirikr is the oldest child of a wealthy Dale merchant family. He is fiercely protective of his two younger siblings and wife.

• Where was your character born? Where has she lived since then? Where does she call home?

Anyatka: Anya was born and raised in Dale. She currently lives with Eruviel in the Bree-land neighborhood of Glaston.

Cwendlwyn: Born in the Eastemnet, Cwen spent the first several years of her life there. When she was around seven, her father took her to the Westemnet village of Riverwide where she grew up. After spending a good portion of her late twenties in Bree and traveling Middle-earth, she settled down in Buckland with her beau, Biramore.

Emmelina: Lina grew up in a small village in Bree-land. She moved to Bree-town two years ago and lives in a boarding house for young women located in Beggar’s Alley.

Eiriikr: Born in Dale, Eirikr took the first opportunity to move to the recovering Lake-town after coming of age. His wife, Ninim accompanied him.

• Where does your character go when he’s angry?

Anyatka: Anya rarely gets angry, but if she’s upset or in a foul mood, she will go seek water: a lake, river, stream, or even a rain barrel.

Cwendlwyn: Cwen will go to her garden whenever she’s upset and work on her crops. When she’s really angry, she will go for long walks north along the Brandywine.

Emmelina: Lina tends to drown her emotions in liquor. She won’t hesitate to go to the Pony and make a scene to forget about her problems.

Eiriikr: Eirikr finds solace high in the mountains. Usually, he just swallows his anger and eventually lets it go.

• What is her biggest fear? Who has she told this to? Who would she never tell this to? Why?

Anyatka: Anya is terribly afraid of being alone. She has never told anyone, though Eirikr could probably take a good guess. She would never admit it to her parents because she does not believe they truly care about her and her fear mainly stems from their habit of forgetting about her.

Cwendlwyn: Cwen is afraid of losing her family. Above all, she is afraid of doing something that would somehow damage Neilia so she has trouble trusting herself to make good decisions as a mother and will often defer that sort of thing to Biramore or Callee. She trusts Biramore alone with this information, though if asked, she probably would eventually speak of it.

Emmelina: Lina is afraid no one will ever want her again after the miscarriage. She has told no one and will probably never tell anyone. She doesn’t yet trust anyone enough to share her past.

Eiriikr: Eirikr has a fear of failure instilled in him by his father. Ninim, his wife, knows, and he might discuss it with Aldoon if ever they calmed down enough when together to talk about serious things. This is unlikely to occur, however.

• Does she have a secret?

Anyatka: She does, though she’s not even consciously aware of it herself.

Cwendlwyn: Cwendlwyn’s journey back home to Rohan included tracking down and murdering her father that led the Dunlendings to destroy their hometown. This experience was the end of a haunting, disturbed part of her life, but it opened up a whole new dimension of guilt for her.

Emmelina: Lina had a miscarriage two years ago at age fifteen. It is why she was sent to Bree.

Eiriikr: He desires nothing more than to see the death of his father for all the abuse he endured.

• What makes your character laugh out loud?

Anyatka: She’s rather ticklish. Falros cracks(ed) her up on a regular basis.

Cwendlwyn: Hobbits tend to amuse Cwen. She finds them endearing. Also, a cool summer breeze on her face as it blows her hair back.

Emmelina: Lina’s humour is rather raunchy for a seventeen year old girl. She finds men who find themselves rather self-important hysterical.

Eiriikr: Eirik has a good humour that has helped to keep him sane, so he’s always up for a good laugh.

• When has your character been in love? Had a broken heart?

Anyatka: Anya may or may not be in love with Morducai Mossfoot. Regardless, she knows she cannot have him all to herself, so she settles for his friendship at present. Before the Incident of the Necklace, she had been steeling herself for the inevitable broken heart, but since then, she’s just happy to see him. See anyone, really.

Cwendlwyn: Cwen’s first love was a lie. She was crushed, but recovered, especially when Legbadhon skewered Tyne in Trestlebridge. Her marriage to Anidore Resselin was intense, but short lived and they parted on mutual terms. She loves Biramore, but it is not the soul absorbing love she had with Anidore or the innocent adoration with Tyne.

Emmelina: Lina was hopelessly in love with Jameson Sicklefoose. She was destroyed when he left her and figuratively died when she lost his child.

Eiriikr: Eirikr is completely devoted to his wife, Ninim.

• What is in your character’s refrigerator right now? On her bedroom floor? On her nightstand? In her garbage can?

Anyatka: Anya’s pantry contains whatever Eruviel buys for them. Luckily, the Elf doesn’t mind meat. Her floor is pristine though her nightstand is piled with pages covered in drawings, pencils, and now an assortment of paints and brushes.

Cwendlwyn: Cwen’s pantry is stocked like the best Hobbit pantries are: meats and cheese and wine and veggies and fruits galore. Her garbage is mainly compost or food scraps as she cooks all the time. Her nightstand is clean with perhaps a book or two and glass of water, but her floor will often be scattered with clothes.

Emmelina: Lina doesn’t own a pantry or stove. Her bedroom floor is clear because there isn’t much to throw down there to begin with.

Eiriikr: Eirikr doesn’t mess with the pantry unless it’s bringing home game and fish. He and Ninim keep a clean and orderly house – Eirikr might be a little OCD when it comes to it.

• Look at your character’s feet. Describe what you see there. Does he wear dress shoes, gym shoes, or none at all? Is he in socks that are ratty and full of holes? Or is he wearing a pair of blue and gold slippers knitted by his grandmother?

Anyatka: Anya wears comfortable leather boots most of the time. She owns one pair of slippers that she wears with a dress she ‘borrowed’ from Eruviel.

Cwendlwyn: Cwen wears well worn leather shoes or sandals in the summer.

Emmelina: Lina wears whatever she can scrounge or afford at the time.

Eiriikr: Eirikr wears fine leather hunting boots most of the time.

• When your character thinks of her childhood kitchen, what smell does she associate with it? Sauerkraut? Oatmeal cookies? Paint? Why is that smell so resonant for her?

Anyatka: Anya most distinctly recalls the smell of the cooking fire. She often helped prepare the meals served for the people her parents were trying to impress.

Cwendlwyn: She smells apple pie. Her mother used to make it every week as a special treat.

Emmelina: Pine. Lina smells the pine soap her mother used to keep everything disgustingly spotless.

Eiriikr: He remembers the smell of pot roasts that he associates with the feasts his family would host for local important people and visiting clients. The smell of roast in the morning would let the entire household know to expect a feast that night.

• Your character is doing intense spring cleaning. What is easy for her to throw out? What is difficult for her to part with? Why?

Anyatka: Anyatka owns 2 outfits, a walking stick, a writing journal, and her drawing supplies. She has nothing to throw out, though she would find it difficult to just toss any of her completed drawings.

Cwendlwyn: Cwen hordes a bit. Helps her fit right in with the Hobbits. She would find it difficult to part with anything to do with her past, no matter how painful the memory associated with it. Hence the three rings she wears on a chain around her neck: her marriage band from Anidore, Arodionn Vallanor’s family crest, and a gift from the Elf Elodir.

Emmelina: Lina doesn’t possess a lot, just clothes, really. She has no trouble getting rid of those to suit her mood or needs.

Eiriikr: Eirikr has a collection of fishing lures he values greatly and never any of them away. He hand made each one, taught by his grandfather during the summer holidays his family took to Lake-town. They are a memory of the calmer, more peaceful times for him in his childhood. He has no attachment to clothes or furniture.

• It’s Saturday at noon. What is your character doing? Give details. If he’s eating breakfast, what exactly does he eat? If she’s stretching out in her backyard to sun, what kind of blanket or towel does she lie on?

Anyatka: Anya would probably be drawing near the Staddlemere or Halecatch or perhaps moping about waiting for the sun to go down so she could accidentally run into Morty. However, with her concussion, she would be stuck around her homestead.

Cwendlwyn: Cwen would be cooking, gardening, or brewing.

Emmelina: Unfortunately, Lina would still be at work on Saturday at noon. She volunteers for the extra day’s pay.

Eiriikr: Eirikr would be spending time with Ninim, doting on her to his best ability. A lot of the time, this means going to the weekend market to window shop.

• What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?

Anyatka: Anya will never forget the day Eirikr pretty much saved Abbi’s life. Her younger brother had broken a vase meant as a gift to a visiting merchant. The cool porcelain had slipped from his crippled six-year-old hands. Their father beat him until Eirikr, then sixteen, intervened by launching himself at the red-faced man. Kolrson turned the lash on Eirikr and beat him unconscious. Anya nursed her older brother back to health.

Cwendlwyn: Cwen remembers the night they arrived in Riverwide. She had lost her mother and now her father took her to some foreign town to start new without even returning to their old home. It was the start of a whole new life for her, one that turned out to be not at all what it seemed.

Emmelina: Though only two years ago and not quite still a child, Lina remembers the night she woke to find herself covered in blood as she lost her child.

Eiriikr: Eirikr remembers when he made his first kill out hunting when he was about eight. It was the first moment in his life he felt worthy and capable of taking control of things.

• Your character is getting ready for a night out. Where is she going? What does she wear? Who will she be with?

Anyatka: Wearing mainly simple robes, Anya would most likely spend the night out at the Pony at present. She would hope to be joined by Eruviel, Morty, or -at least in the past- Falros, and any other people she would happen to meet.

Cwendlwyn: Cwen dresses elegantly in long flowing gowns. She enjoys feasts (especially Hobbit parties) and concerts.

Emmelina: Party at the Pony! Or anywhere there’s booze! And men! Or women! People!

Eiriikr: Eirikr would enjoy a small gathering of friends at the local tavern. He would wear clothes that fit; he’s not particularly interested in style but dresses for comfort and utility.

Return to Bree

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Your friend called Anyatka, by any chance?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Aye, lass. How do I get there?”

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

“Aye, I know the area. Thank you.”

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

He smiled. “Heard you bumped your head.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Dwarves knocked you on your head?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

He looked over at her. “Hm?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Letter Never Sent (Thanks, Emmelina)

She crumples the parchment, ink drips falling onto the tabletop. Again, she writes...
She crumples the parchment. Ink drops fall from the tip of the quill. Again, she writes…

A sheepish looking young woman ambles up to Morty as he stands somewhere obvious in Bree. 

“Ya Morty Mossfoot? Ye fit the description she gave me.” She hands him a folded letter sealed with a generic tab of wax. “My apologies I forgot to find ya sooner. Lady bid me give this t’ya.” Without waiting for a reply, she turns and slinks away, hands shoved into the pockets of her tight britches.

It reads:

Dear Morty,

Dear Mr. Mossfoot,

Dear Mr. Morty Mossfoot,

I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to you for escorting me through the Chetwood last night. I do hope I did not do anything to further embarrass myself, though I do not doubt that I have sullied our friendship by my foolish actions. I hope you forgive me for dragging you out there.

It seems I have caught a chill from my stupidity as I was informed by a woman named Laerlin that a night’s drinking should not cause a fever, though I did not realize I had one until Miss Teiblanc brought it up. (I know what you are going to say about Elves.) Did I have my cloak about me? I seem to have misplaced it. Luckily, Miss Laerlin was kind enough to offer her medicinal services and brewed me a strong tea. Miss Teiblanc was willing to cover the expense. I do not like living on charity, Morty. Though I learned Mr. Falros is not much better off than me. He mentioned being cleaned out when he was away for an extended period of time. Can you imagine – fighting brigands all your life and then coming home to find you are a victim of them? It seems terribly unfair.

I cannot seem to write a letter that is not at least two pages long, so before I get off on another topic,  I will sign and see if a roommate could take this to the post.  I’m not sure I have it in me to take it myself.

Regards,

Anyatka