When The Time Comes

Prologue to Vengeance, Overdone (The Evendim Plot)

The Last Huntress of The Dreadward Tribunal

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Slipping past the patrons in the common room Eruviel slid out the open door before it could close. There he is. She saw the top of the man’s red hair disappear down the street heading towards the West Gate. Skipping the steps, Eruviel leapt off the porch and ran across the cobbled square after him. “Anric!

When she’d caught up to him, Anricwulf was murmuring angrily to himself as he prepared his mount’s saddlebags.

“What has gotten into you?” she demanded coming to a quick halt by the man and reaching a hand out to him.

Anricwulf knocked her hand away. “If you’ve come to lecture me I won’t hear it. I should be lecturing you — standing by as that creature makes a mockery of the natural order.”

Eruviel batted his hand back. “And what, you were just going to kill her because the damned…

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Ludo in Lotro

Lotro RP Played by...

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

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

Anyatka

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

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

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

Cwendlwyn

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

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

Emmelina

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

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

Eirikr

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

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

Abiorn

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

Aeron

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

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

To Dale: Waiting for the Dawn

ERUVIEL

Eruviel’s first post in the series:

 

The Last Huntress of The Dreadward Tribunal

“Behind you!” a muffled voice cried out. Whirling around, Eruviel narrowly missed the blade that whistled past her head. Her armour weighed her down, and her joints felt sluggish as she struck down the faceless Barding criminal. Who are these men? her mind wondered as she worked to keep herself from panicking.

Eirikr fought the swarm of faceless men who had attacked them as they had passed through the grand, stone city gates of . . . was this Dale? Glancing behind her, Eruviel let out a horrified cry as she saw Eirikr stumble forward with a spear stuck in his back. “Why will my feet not move?” her mind screamed. She had to help him! Anya would never forgive her. . . nor could she forgive herself.

Hardly fifteen feet beyond her reach an older man who could have only been her companions father, Kolrson, emerged from the clouds…

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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.

Fornost: Free (part 2)

Jarn-olog Warrior says, ”Ow.”

Scrapes and Bruises

Anya paused only to wipe the blood from her face. Her entire body ached from the perpetual tension stretching her senses beyond all limits. Aeron kept a regular mantra reminding her to breathe and move. He took over instinctually whenever an enemy came too close wielding her staff with a cold efficiency that surprised her.

“I thought you were a swordsman,” she thought.

When you grow up bashing your friends with sticks, you pick up a thing or two. 

“Fair enough,” she told him, her mind refocusing on a small pale slave rushing toward her with fists raised. The staff whirled around her body in a figure eight propelled by both hands and she thrust suddenly connecting with its head with a loud crack. Her right wrist twisted as it served as the pivot for the weapon, her left steadying the pole’s impact. “You’re right-handed.”

And you are left.

“Does it make it awkward?”

No. You’re not fighting me. Just keep relaxed and let me work, Anya. Find a blade.

She looked around and saw a jagged orc scimitar lying a few feet from its fallen owner. Sprinting, she rushed for it. A large lieutenant spotted her and began thundering over to intercept. Behind it, Torlach severed the head of his adversary, the blood spray from his sword flecking across his face. As he turned, he caught the movement of the rushing orc and yelled, “Anya!” as he started for her.

Hold and relax. Let it flow.

She tried.

As the lieutenant charged, she sank low to take up the sword in her right hand. She turned quickly and sank into a crouch balanced evenly on the balls of her feet. Her sword she held poised at the ready. Her fingers flexed around the staff and she focused on the gigantic orc. Instinct – or Aeron – took over. She parried the orc’s reckless attack with the staff and as it was knocked from her grasp, she released it, throwing the orc off balance and creating an opening. Aeron did not hesitate: the blade slashed deeply across its leg and then its back. Its cry echoed off the outer walls of Barad Narthan and filled the sky. The crows answered.

Torlach ground to a halt as the lieutenant fell, the last of the small band blocking entrance to the tower. True to form, he merely stared at her for a moment before turning to look for the Elf.

Panting slightly from the fight, Eruviel came up to them and looked up at the tower. They exchanged glances and walked through the double doors three abreast.

***     ***     ***     ***     ***

Bound

The ground was littered with bones. The three gazed at the courtyard in silence for several minutes before Anya said, “We cannot let these monsters hold my brothers.”

Torlach answered, “We go on, then.”

Eruviel glanced to Anya and nodded solemnly. She shivered.

Anya returned her nod. “Shall we?” She stepped forward.

FreedomShades rose randomly around them as they passed. They called out to the living in thin voices with outstretched hands. “I am free…” Anya felt her blood freeze as one rose within inches of her. Its bluish hand grasped at her arm as it hissed, “At lassst…” She felt a jolt in her heart: Aeron gasped.

My shield-brothers. What is this curse? Faethril surely did not cause this.

“No,” she thought as they moved deeper into the courtyard. “I do not think she could have caused this. And why were you not bound here?”

Faethril’s spell bound me to the heirloom, and I did not die here. 

“When the necklace broke, why weren’t you released? Why did you bind to me?”

Perhaps the sorcery here holds me to these lands. We must end it, Anya. We must give them rest, even if it is for a short respite. 

“We will, Aeron. I promise.” She followed along behind Torlach and Eruviel as they wove their way closer to the the highest tower overlooking the keep. “You will find rest.”

Another voice. Hissing in her mind. Give it back…he needssss it…he musssst have it…

“Aeron?!”

Fae. I have sensed her for some time now. She is getting stronger.

“When we put an end to this, will she be released, too?”

No. She was not a soldier here. She would not be bound by whatever foul wraith holds the souls of my brothers in arms.

“So it will not end here.”

No. It will not. My instinct tells me to begin where it began: Rhudaur. While I and my brothers chose to attempt peace, Angmar had its hold on the lands. Faethril could easily have fallen beneath the influence of that dark sorcery if it meant a chance at saving me. Where did you find her bracelet?

“Just south of a land they called the Circle of Blood.”

Circle of Blood. Fitting. You must go, there, Anya, to be rid of her. I-I don’t know if she can be saved.

“We will do everything we can, Aeron. She needs you. You need her.” Her throat tightened as she thought of Canderas, wounded and resting back at camp. He had found his way to them after falling from a cliff near Trestlebridge, his Rohirric steed bearing him with the utmost speed. He found them in the lower tiers of Fornost, directed by Nillariel who stayed behind at the Free People’s camp to assist the wounded there. Only after they returned for the evening did he show signs of a leg injury and allow Nillariel to cleanse the abrasions from his fall. Anya had insisted they let him sleep and recover so they left him early in the morning near the campfires. The sight of him limping caused her so much concern, all irritation at his unexplained disappearance vanished. “We will reunite you.”

Anya, you are more important now. You focus on you. Your family here. They love you.

She looked ahead at Eruviel and Torlach as they cut through another group of orcs. Her family. She needed to say something to them, anything, to express how grateful she was to have them by her side, but the words seemed small as they protected her with their lives. Elf and Man worked exceedingly well together as they learned each other’s styles and started to play to each other’s strengths. Eruviel looked over her shoulder at her to check to see if she was whole. Torlach flung the blood from his blade with a flick of his wrists.

Anya walked forward and looked at them with gratitude. Together, her family crossed into a yard surrounded by a circular wall and looked upon an idol to the Enemy. Without a word, Torlach approached it and rent it with a single blow of his sword. As it collapsed around his feet, a deep, jagged voice rang out behind them and the doors to the yard slammed shut.They burn

“It seems you have taken down one of my brethren. Do you think to goad me into battle with your meagre show of strength? It is true, however, that you are trespassing on Angmar. For that, I think we will have a bit of fun. Boys, get them!”

The looming Orc leaped down from the wall leading a large group of his comrades. Anya, Eruviel, and Torlach steeled themselves and raised their weapons as one.

***     ***     ***     ***     ***

Good-bye, my Brodhir ((edited from chat log))

Wargs ReignedWargs reigned in Minas Erain. Aeron looked on the highest tower of the keep and mourned for his past.

As he gazed through Anya’s eyes, he said, “Here. Minas Erain. So different now.”

“I am sure,” said Torlach. “Let us cleanse it.”

They fought their way up each level until they reached the summit. There, three golden braziers sat dormant and the foul spirit clad in armour greeted them with scorn.

As they stood before Remmenaeg, Eruviel glanced to Anya. “Aeron . . are you two doing alright?”

Anya nodded curtly. “We kill it, I am free.”

Torlach twirled his bastard sword and said, “Stay back, then.”

Anya looked over at Eruviel. “She has something to tell you by the way. But that is for later.”

Eruviel smiled slightly, readying an arrow.

They charged.Fell Spirits

Cleansing LightAnya fell to the ground as she lit the last brazier, flooding the balcony with light. When the armour of Remmenaeg finally fell to the stone tiles, Eruviel rushed over to Anyatka. “Oselle . . . Anyatka?!”

Torlach said, “Is this done, then?” He raised his brows slightly, lowering his blooded blade. He still stomped the wraith’s helmet, leaving it useless, before stepping over and remaining silent.

Eruviel shook her head, unsure. They carried her unconscious form back down the long road to the Free People’s camp and laid her down gently on the dead grass. Her body seemed to shimmer like the air on a hot summer’s day. As she lay prone, a spirit rose from her: the image of a man in his late twenties with dark hair and blue eyes.

Eruviel watched the spectre, her chest still heaving from the last battle. “You are Aeron?”

The form nodded. “Yes, I am.” He looked down at Anya and frowned. “I am free, but I fear her journey is not over.”You are Aeron?

Torlach rolled his eyes, leaning on his sword like a staff. “Of course it isn’t.”

Eruviel frowned slightly but after a moment her eyes widened. “You mean the bracelet?”

Aeron nodded. “Faethril is still there. I could feel her, towards the end. She is not herself. While I accept my fate and existed with Anya the best I could, I wished her no harm. My presence calmed her. Fae – ” he sighed, a gust of chill wind flowing through the camp. “Fae would kill her if it meant rejoining me. She does not understand, not in her present state. She must be stopped.”

Torlach sighed, rubbing his forehead with a sweaty palm. “And how are we to do this, pray tell? I see no instruction book.” He is obviously annoyed, and fairly eager to leave Fornost.

Eruviel swallowed but noded to Aeron. “I see.” She glanced at Torlach before turning back to the spirit. “Heruamin?”

Tilting his head, he observed Torlach. “Yes. The spirits will rise again. But you are safe at present.” He turned to address them both. “Anya spoke of my homeland. How it has grown wild and corrupt. How she found the bracelet near what they call the Circle of Blood.”

Eruviel brushed a small wave of stray strands of hair out of her eyes. “Yes, she mentioned it.”

Torlach ‘hmph’ed, frowning. He wiped both black and red blood from his blade, before sheathing it over his back. He listened silently, committing detail to memory.

Aeron continued, “You must go there. Cleanse the land, release the spirits held by the corruption, just as you did here. The purge will set Fae free, or destroy her.” Pain flashed across his face for a moment. “Either way, Anya will be free of her.”

Eruviel studied the shimmering face for a moment. “Is there any guarantee that Anyatka will survive being rid of Fae?”

Aeron’s ruggedly handsome face turned to Anya. He knelt behind her and moved his hand as if to brush the hair from her face. The strands moved slightly as if a breath of wind stirred them. “No. I cannot guarantee anything except Faethril will be gone. I pray that her hold on Anya is not strong enough to take her with her when she’s vanquished. But I cannot promise.”

Eruviel ‘s eyes darkened but she bobbed her head, knowing that part was out of her hands. “We . . .” she glanced to Torlach, “will see it done, Astalder. You have my eternal thanks. I — I know Anya and I will miss you once you depart.”

A small smile formed on his lips. “I will miss you as well.” He stood and walked to stand before her. “She loves you very much, though she’s bad at saying it. Piss poor, precisely.”

Eruviel bowed deeply before Aeron, a warm smile lighting her face. “It is enough to hear it from you, my friend.”Take care of her, sister.

He grinned and tapped his temple. “I know more of what she should tell you, but I will let her work on that. Ask her about her night before we left, why don’t you? When she didn’t come home?” He chuckled and moved as if to embrace Eruviel. He stopped himself and bowed deeply to her instead. “Take care of her, sister.”

Torlach watched quietly, near expressionless, hands clasped behind his back. He nodded to Aeron, as a form of respect.

Eruviel shifted, her smile melting into a grin. “I will remember. I would embrace you as I once did my brothers. But I will simply pray that Iluvitar shine brightly upon you as you go to join him, toron.”

He nodded and looked over to Torlach. “You, sir. She does not know why you protect her, but I am grateful that you do. See her through to the end?”

Torlach nodded again. “I will.” He went silent, not figuring anything else needs saying.

After emerging from a bedroll, Canderas yawned after seemingly oversleeping and hobbled on a seemingly better leg but still hindered. He  looked to his companions and raised a brow…he looked to Anya with dire concern and looked to Torlach and Eruviel to see what is going on.

Aeron turned to Canderas and started to laugh. The sound echoed off the stone walls of the makeshift keep. “And you,” the spirit said. “Ladies first.”

Eruviel nearly choked on a laugh.

Canderas raised a brow. ” So this is what I get for oversleeping.”

Torlach did not laugh, his limited sense of humour not finding the jest.

Canderas looked to Aeron and the others with slight astonishment. He looked upon Anya’s prone form not knowing how to react.

Anya stirred, moaning. She blinked several times as she rolled to her back. Aeron moved to kneel beside her and said softly, “It is over.”

She blinked up at him again and gasped. “You.”

He noded. “Fae is still inside you. But your friends will take care of you now.”

Canderas placed one hand on his sword hilt uncomfortable with all of this and very uneasy being injured.

Eruviel watched Anya and Aeron as her smile quickly faded into a once-more serious expression.

Anya nodded. “You’re going?”

He mirrored it. “I will see you again, someday,” he said hopefully. “Take care of yourself, Little Anya. And not just because you bear my wife.” He stood and gazed down at her as he slowly started to fade. “Good-bye. Systir.”

AeronAnyatka struggled to sit up and said, “Good-bye, brodhir!” She watched the spectre dissipate and then closed her eyes.

Canderas watched as the conversation came to a close. He looked to Anya with concern and bewilderment.

Eruviel lowered her head in respect as the man’s spirit vanished. Glancing to the two men she knelt beside Anyatka. “Oselle?” she asked softly.

Anya threw her arms around Eruviel and started to cry. “Why am I so sad that he’s gone?”

Torlach turned and moved to lean on a wall, closing his eyes slowly. He seemed to relax slightly, fairly tired from the fighting.

Canderas looked to Anya sadly as she began to release her tears. He eased his grip off his sword hilt and looked to Eruviel and Anya with confusion as he was sleeping through the events.

Eruviel froze for a second as Anya began to cry before wrapping her arms around the young woman. “I will miss him as well, oselle. But he is free now. You should rejoice for him.” She gently caressed Anya’s head as she glanced over to Canderas.

Anya cried for a few moments more before pulling back and nodding. As she did, she said, “Are you hurt? And Torlach?” She looked over at Torlach. He shook his head to Anyatka, only having a few cuts and bruises. She looked back to Eruviel.

Eruviel smiled softly. “I am mostly unscathed. Nothing that will not heal. You are not injured, are you Anya?”

Canderas took a step toward Anya and then stoped himself…he then stopped and looked amongst the ruins of Fornost and the folk of the Free People’s Camp. “So everyone is alright then? All is well with the spirits?”

Anyatka swallowed and shook her head. “I am all right.” She turned to look at Canderas and noted his bewilderment. She held out her hand and beckoned him over.

Canderas struggled to sit down next to Anya and took a long breath when he sat beside her. ” That will be an interesting story for around a Campfire.” Canderas looked to Anya with feigned joking as his masked emotion was clearly that of concern.

Anyatka chuckled and took his hand. “Yes. It will be.” She squeezed his hand and asked, “How are you? Is your leg healing properly?” 

Canderas nodded to Anya as he looked her over. He made note of her freckled cheeks and met her eyes. He assessed if she was well. He grasped her hand comfortably in his as he looked relieved when she seemed well.

Anya was indeed well, but exhausted and disoriented without Aeron’s calm presence. She looked between her companions, a grateful appreciation for each on her face. She threaded her fingers through his and looked to the others. “Shall we rest a night and then head back to Trestlebridge? I would see how Eirikr is doing.” 

Eruviel looked back over her shoulder to Torlach. Studying him for a moment, she tilted her head towards him respectfully before looking back to Anya.

Canderas looked to Anya and shrugs..” Either would do…I feel well rested.”

Anyatka smiled to him. “You’ve been asleep most of the day, dear.”

Canderas shrugged. “Falling hundreds of feet into river, then being dragged in the current is quite a beating.” In fact, he  looked exhausted yet still from his journey to Fornost that involved him being separated and weary half of the way.

Eruviel furrows her brow at Canderas. “It is incredible you survived, heruamin.”

Anya leaned over against Canderas and closed her eyes. “I am so glad that you are okay,” she said and nodded in agreement with Eruviel.

Canderas nodded to Eruviel. “I am glad we are all here before each other alive and well…I would not have it any other way.” He looked to Torlach and firmly grasped Anya’s hand in his own. “Tis good to be with friendly company.”

Eruviel said, “Indeed it is, though our journey is not yet complete.”

Canderas nodded. “Where does our road take us next then?”

Anyatka looked at Eruviel without surprise. “I had a feeling it was not. Aeron was released, but Fae?”

Eruviel shook her head solemnly. “We will need to journey to the Blood Circle and cleanse the land to free Anya of Fae . . . though she — Faethril will most likely put up a fight.”

Canderas said, “Well let us be done with it then! And rid of her!” He grinned a bit looking between them all and shrugged. “We mustn’t let this spirit linger any longer within our friend.”

Eruviel’s eyes flickered sadly. “Aeron could not promise that you would survive, oselle,” she said quietly to Anya. “On this last leg you will need to be stronger than ever.”

Anya closed her eyes and turned her face into Canderas’s sleeve. She sighed heavily and nodded. “But we should not put this one off, should we? Fae is no Aeron. I-I can’t control her.” She looked out at her. “She remained hidden because Aeron kept her in check.”

Eruviel sighed heavily, raising her head to meet Anya’s gaze. “I agree. We should not tarry.”

“Then tomorrow, I say we leave to return to Trestlebridge, gather Eiri, and make it back to Bree. We take a week to re-provision and…” she looked at the others to see if they had any objections.

Eruviel nodded. “We should not delay longer than that, though. And I insist you not be left alone. Fae would willingly kill you, oselle.” She then looked to Canderas and added, “I hope you intend to come with. One of us will need to be present, ready to restrain Anya if necessary if indeed Faethril become violent.”

Canderas said, “I will be there indeed. I will not slow ye down despite my leg either… my steed will carry me most the way.”

Eruviel bowed her head, looking relieved. “I am grateful to you. Hopefully there is a healer in Bree that can speed the healing process.”

Canderas nodded.

Anyatka looked up from Canderas’s shoulder. “Is Cwen still in town?” she asked quietly.

Eruviel skewed her mouth. “I hope so.” She then chuckled lightly. “If not I will make haste to fetch her!”

Anyatka chuckled as well. “She lives in the Shire, right? About a day’s ride away?”

Eruviel nodded. “She does.”

Anyatka yawned. “Then if she’s left, we should find her. To look over all of you.” She smiled sleepily at them each in turn.

Canderas smiled and nodded in agreement to Anya. He looked to the Guards to take note of their progress so near to Fornost.

Eruviel nodded in agreement, wincing slightly as she shifted her sitting position.

Anyatka frowned. “You are hurt worse than you let on, systir.”

Eruviel smiled slightly to Anya. “Am I not always discreet about my wounds? But honestly. It is nothing that can’t wait for the lady Cwen.”

Canderas stood as his leg began to tighten from being on the ground. He slid his fingers from Anya’s and he walked around to stretch. He sighed.

Anyatka nodded and released Can reluctantly. “We should to bed soon.” She watched him stretch with a smile.

Eruviel rose slowly and carefully. “I will return in a moment. I must speak with one of the fighters here, then we should indeed get some much needed rest.”

Anyatka nodded and climbed to her feet herself. She wandered over by the fire and to sit on a bedroll.

Canderas grabbed Anya before she managed to sit.

Anyatka paused and looked at Canderas. “What is it, dyrr?”

Canderas kissed her gently on the lips before offering her a pleased smile and expression. “Rest well m’lady. I am glad ye’ are well. And will try not to fall into any rivers on the way to the Red Pools in the Lone-Lands.”

Anyatka chuckled softly and nodded saying quietly, “Lay near me?”

Canderas answered, “Aye, I will remain with ye this night, and any other you choose to have me at your side when the road and wilds do not demand otherwise. For I have grown quite fond of being there. “

Eruviel whistled for her horse and rummaged through her saddle bag, retrieving a small package wrapped in a large leaf. She pulled out a wafer of lembas and broke it into four pieces as she carried it over to Anya and Canderas. “Ignore my presence, but here, this will tide you both over till we return home.” She handed each of them a piece, smiling slightly at their exchange.

Canderas smiled widely in thanks as he was familiar with lembas. He took a bite and rubbed his already growling belly. Anya looked down at the way-bread and blinked in surprise. “Eruviel,” she said only as she took it. 

Eruviel offered the third piece out to Torlach. He ambled over and sat down slowly by the fire. He watched each of them silently, chewing idly on the stem of his unlit pipe. To Eruviel, he raised a hand, politely declining.

Canderas said, “Don’t suppose they will share that creature on the spit there.”  He chuckled and looked around to the folk of the Free Peoples camp, grinning widely to the Took by the tent.

Anyatka pointed at his lembas. “You shouldn’t need to eat anything else of you have the Elvish way-bread,” she said before taking a bite of her own.

Canderas nodded rubbing his belly feeling somehow cheated of a juicy meal from the bite of lembas that indeed made him full.

Eruviel nodded to Torlach and gave the third piece to the hobbit attending the camp. Laughing quietly at Canderas she said, “Rest well, mellyn.” She bowed and walked over to the corner where the walls meet and sat, leaning back with a small sigh.

Anyatka curtsied to Eruviel before settling down on the bedroll at last. She looked up at Canderas with a smile. He  sat next to her and wrapped his arms around her in a comfortable manner as to help ease her to sleep.

Torlach glanced at the two on the bedroll, raising a brow, before politely looking the other way.

Anyatka leaned against him and closed her eyes. She soon eased into a deep sleep.

Click here for Eruviel’s account of the end of their journey to Fornost.

As the Shadows Shift

Emmelina stood in the doorway chewing a piece of straw. She eyed the Elf that stood over Anya and gently tried to wake her. Anya stirred beneath the twisted covers and Eruviel spoke softly.

“My friend, someone is here to see you.”

Lina snorted. She would have dumped the girl to the floor ages ago.

Finally, Anya groaned.

“Really, Anya, whatever has gotten into you?” Eruviel sighed and lifted the cup of water from the small table next to the bed. She held it out to the Woman as she sat up holding her head.

“Dunno,” Anya muttered under her breath. She reached for the water without opening her eyes and Eruviel obliged by placing it in her hand. “I dunno anything any more.”

“Well, by the Valar, what started this in the first place? You spoke of Men last night, though none of it made much sense.” Eruviel frowned down on her friend and shook her head at the mess Anya was: her only robes wrinkled and stained, hair a tangle, face blotchy from her night of drink.

“I did.” Anya stared for along moment at the satchel discarded on the floor. Lina’s eyes followed her gaze and immediately went to retrieve it.

“What’s in here, Anya?” Without waiting for an answer, she unbuckled the clasp and dumped the contents on the foot of her bed.

Pencils and charcoals fell to the spread in a cloud of fine black dust. Her sketchbook and a smaller journal came out along with some pieces of loose paper and a stuffed bunny. A small silver bell tinkled as it rolled to the floor. A crumpled ball of paper landed on top and Lina picked it up. She smoothed the page out on the bed and snorted. “Thought so.”

“Lina, what are you doing here?” Anya croaked rubbing her forehead.

The tall girl shrugged. “Thought I’d stop by ‘fore heading to work. See how you was doin’.” She pointed down at the picture: half the face of a man, one eye heavily scarred with five streaks down the left side of his face, foppish hat, roguish grin. “This that fella you had me chasin’ for all over town, eh?”

Eruviel looked carefully at the drawing. “Hm. You drew this last night at the Pony, Anya. Could you explain?”

Lina shot Anya a quick glance through her lashes. Anya had come home late an evening before, tipsy and giddy. Lina had taken a run at her for being out by herself, but Anya had just waved her hand and brushed it off before turning in for the night. The next day, she looked a bit worse for wear and had spent the morning composing the letter. She begged Lina to deliver it and when she had forgotten, got very upset. Lina had begrudgingly sought after the man at Anya’s insistence and gave him the note. Upon returning to their room that evening, Lina asked who he was. In fact, she had persisted until Anya had angrily stalked out despite looking tragically pale and unsteady.

She was surprised then when Anya nodded slowly, her eyes closed. “I think I need to talk to someone about it,” she admitted in a voice so soft, Lina could barely hear it at the foot of the bed.

Eruviel put a comforting hand on Anya’s arm. “Please do, my friend. I think it will help.”

And Lina listened as Anya began spilling the tale of her yesterday.

The picture is of Morty Mossfoot, Bree’s grave-digger. I met him one day outside the Pony when I was standing by the Postbox, lost in my own thoughts. He was polite and charming despite my blatant inability to look away from the terrible scarring of his face. He probably thought my permanent shade was strawberry red, I was so embarrassed.

Morty was kind to me; after running into him at the Market, he had a dress made in the likeness of the one he found me admiring. I was so flattered, but also amazed that after only two or three encounters, he was willing to procure such an item for me. He called it a welcoming gift. And it wasn’t the last thing he did for me as I tried to start my new life here.

He helped me get the room at the boarding house where I met you, Lina. And he talked up my drawings until I had the courage to show them to someone who was interested in buying. I feel like he’s this amazing person who showed me a second chance at life. I needed that, so desperately. Almost as desperately as I feel I need him now.

Which is foolish of me. Entirely and utterly foolish. He has no interest in me other than the conquest: another woman to dote upon until she’s done with him. He never lied to me about what he did. Who he, and all of Bree, thought he was. So, I tried to just see him. Not think too much on our time spent together or the talk of people. See him as kind company for my loneliness. Soon, the loneliness fell away, only he didn’t. And then – I saw him. And I couldn’t stop seeing.

It’s stupid. It’s childish. He probably just reminds me of Bookie, the man who brought me to the Bree-lands. I trusted him too much, just like I am trusting Morty. I have reason not to trust Morty. As I said, he’s never hidden from me, and I guess that is refreshing after a life of hiding in Dale. But I’m trusting him too much, and his honesty stabs at me. Then I just rub salt in the wounds.

Yesterday, I saw him outside the Pony. He got the letter and tea I sent; he often looks so unwell. Once inside, he confronted me about Falros. Falros! I had written to him about our journey – let him know that Falros was going so that he’d know I’d have protection that he could trust. But he warned me of him. He said, “This may sound like a real riot coming from me, but…be careful around him.” Be careful! As if Falros would have any interest in me! Virgin or no, I doubt Falros sees me as having anything worth stealing!

This upset me. That he would question things that way. And so what if he did?! So what if Falros wanted me…it might as well have gone to him! None of them can be trusted — they have no interests beside their own.

And then, as if I wanted to really drive home the self-inflicted pain…I asked about Orchil. She’s a sad woman who I suspected Morty had an affair with. Has an affair with. I don’t really know, to be honest, but I asked. And he told me plainly: yes. They had been together and to this day things seem unresolved.

How can I let that hurt me? How can I let something so foolish drive a knife into my heart and just…bleed?

Lina pressed her lips together and stared at Anya as she told her story. She tried to suppress a snort or two. She could remember those days, when love and lust mingled in one confusing throng of agony. It surprised her that the older woman seemed so distraught over such matters, though if she was honest with herself, she had been like that once. She looked at the young woman and felt pity for her – briefly. She didn’t have time for that any more.

“It’ll pass, Any,” she said. “They’re all the same, anyway, in th’end. They only think with their passions and can’t be bothered until they don’t have a choice.” She snorted. “And even then, some can’t be accounted for.”

Eruviel gave Lina a hard look. She refilled Anya’s cup with a pitcher from the stand. “Anya, things are not as bad as they seem, my dear. They will work their way out in the end. But I would like to tell you what happened last night at the Pony…”

Some men started taking a go at the cause of your troubles…

Anyatka waves her hand dismissively and picks up her mug for another long drink. She doesn’t raise her head from her hand.

Teiblanc raises a brow in Anya’s direction and crosses her arms. “Hmm is something the matter miss Anya?”

Rhetyn leans to Eruviel. “I think your friend could use a strong drink.”

Anyatka shrugs and takes another drink only to turn the mug upside down, A thin stream lands on the table. “Bard’s bloody bow,” she mutters and turns to go get more.

Eruviel looks to Rhetyn, “Unfortunately she already has one . . . but may need another.”

Marnal grins, “No, you’re not so bad. Watch out for the sad woman behind you.”

Anyatka nearly bumps into Nill. She turns to avoid her and scratches her head. Dragging her feet, she goes for another ale.

Teiblanc frowns in concern as she rises and raises a hand in a questioning manner but is unable to say anything.

Rhetyn chuckles. “So it seems.” He watches Anyatka drag herself across the room and shrugs. “My money is on man problems.”

Teiblanc says, ‘What happened to make her this way?’

Marnal turns to Rhetyn, “Are you starting a betting pool?”

Eruviel shrugs sadly, but gives Rhetyn a half-hearted smile. “Part of me hopes not, but you may be right, good sir.”

You spoke of a man who was lost…

Anyatka flops to the side and stretches out on the bench. “Didn’t come. Was brought. Stupid man. Stupid stupid MEN!” She reaches up to pull the mug down to her.

Anyatka looks blearily from Eruviel to Rhetyn. “What was I talkin’ about?”

Eruviel slowly reaches across the table and draws Anatka’s mug away from her. “You were talking about how terrible men are . . .”

Anyatka points emphatically. “Not men. Bookie. Bookie the Bastard!” She laughs at her lame insult and slaps her knee.

Rhetyn says, ‘And how you were dragged here from your home.’ Rhetyn shrugs back to Eruviel.

Anyatka turns to Rhet. “He lied. A lot.” She reaches for her mug and looks confused. “He told me he could protect us and look how that turned out!”

Eruviel frowns, “Anya, who lied to you?”

Anyatka shakes her head at Rhet. “No, ’cause I ran.” She swivels to Eruviel. “Bookie lied. He fed me lies for years and now I’m here and he’s not.” She spots Eruviel with two mugs and reaches for one.

Rhetyn says, ‘And you are just now upset about it?’

Eruviel hands over her own mug that’s half full with a light wine.

Anyatka shakes her head. “What’dya mean just now? Happened two weeks ago!”

Rhetyn says, ‘Exactly my point. This is a bit of a delayed reaction, isn’t it? Two weeks ago and you’re just now drinking about it? I thought you were a Dalish woman!’

Eruviel shakes her head sharply at Rhetyn, knowing that it’s been a sore subject for Anyatka.

Anyatka shakes her head and gestures to Rhet with her mug. “No. No. He’s dead, for all I know. He’s gone. Or he’s fine, and just not come looking. Whatever. I’m here now. I’m here.” She takes a drink. “But MEN!”

And seemed rather displeased with their gender as a whole…

Anyatka raises a hand to wave dismissively and leans over to take another drink. “Bard’s arrow can take men and send them to the moon.”

And then Falros showed up and, well…

Eruviel frowns, seeing Falros approaching.

Falros blinks at Eruviel and gestures with a pint, “Don’ gimme tha’ look! I ain’t even make fun o’ ye yet!”

Nillariel sets down the lute, walking over to the loud commotion.

Rhetyn grins and raises his mug in greeting to Falros.

Anyatka moans against the tabletop and reaches for the mug Eruviel handed her. She sits up to drink and makes a face. “This isn’t ale!” Hashtag faceplant.

Eruviel discreetly pours Anya’s ale out onto the floor beneath the table.

Rhetyn says, ‘She’s having man problems.’

Falros groans, "Shite.. I ain't want any part o' this!"
Falros groans, “Shite.. I ain’t want any part o’ this!”

Renaron shakes his head slightly at the waste of perfectly decent ale.

Nillariel thinks for a moment, “L-like… race of man problems?”

Falros groans, “Shite.. I ain’t want any part o’ this!”

Anyatka sits up and leaps to her feet. She climbs up onto the bench, hands out. “No! No!” Nothing to see here…

Eruviel reaches up to Anyatka, “Dear, you should sit back down . . .” Eruviel reaches out to steady Anyatka.

Falros stares up at Anyatka, then Eruviel, and suddenly starts laughing.

Nillariel blinks, “Uhm…”

Eruviel glares at Falros.

Falros says, ‘Poor lass gots ‘er hands full.’

Anyatka darts forward toward Falros. “He didn’t say nuthin’ about you!” she exclaims. She tries to get down the other side without a hashtag faceplant.

Falros backs up, lest he get spewed upon! Carefully holding his mugs up, he watches Anya, “.. wha’?”

Eruviel nearly falls forward as Anyatka moves across the table. “Now, Anya, you really should sit back down.”

Renaron bends a bit to look around the post where he leans, watching curiously to see whatever might happen.

Anyatka lands, barely, arms out to catch her shaky balance. “Whoa,” she says.

Rhetyn chuckles and gets up, downing the last of his drink. He makes his way to the bar, shaking his head.

Nillariel looks over, “Uh… I think you s-should run.” She smirks at Falros, “Hell hath n-no fury like a woman scorned.”

Falros blinks at Nillariel, “Uh.. she ain’t me girl… an’ I ain’t -think- I pissed ‘er off…” He glances up as if trying to recall what he’s done in the last day or two.

Eruviel puts her arms out, ready to catch the inebriated Anyatka should she fall.

Anyatka shakes her head at Nill’s comment. “No, no, no. He’s good.” She points at Falros. “He’s not a man.” She meant ‘bad man’ but, eh.

Falros says, ‘Wha’!’

Rhetyn passes over payment for his own, plus Anyatka and Eruviel’s drinks, then turns to leave, chuckling.

Falros scoffs and grumbles defensively, “I be as manly as they get, thank ye very much.”

Nillariel glances over, “You… t-tripped into a barfight.”

Eruviel looks to Falros apologetically. “She’s gotten worse and worse since she came inside earlier. Please forgive her.”

Falros says, ‘… Ye stay outta this!’ He looks to Eruviel, “Aren’t ye Elves s’posed t’ be.. I dunno.. carin’ er somethin’? How’d ye let ‘er get this loaded?”

Anyatka waves at Nillariel and Falros. “No, no, no fightin’.” She plunks back down on the bench. “Whoa.” Looking up at Falros, she holds out her hands in welcome. “Falros! My friend!”

Renaron settles again to lean against his post, now that things seem boring. Or settled. Maybe both.

Eruviel shoots him a dark look. “I tried Falros. She drank faster than I could stop her.”

Falros looks left, then right. “.. this a trap?”

Eruviel rolls her eyes and heaves a heavy sigh.

Nillariel glances over, “W-well, it sin’t a good one i-if it is. You could m-make a bolt for the door, bust a window open…”

Eruviel turns to Anyatka. “You. Stay.”

Falros nods to Nillariel, “Good thinkin’.”

Anyatka pushes up from the bench and walk-stumbles over to him. She pats him hard on the chest. “No, no. Friend.” She reaches up and pets his bald head.

Nillariel looks to the elf over her shoulder, then looks back to the plastered woman.

"I would like to tell you what happened last night at the Pony…"
“I would like to tell you what happened last night at the Pony…”

Eruviel says, “Barliman, a cold towel please.”

Falros freezes. He’s been spotted! Holding his mugs at a safe distance away from Anya, he stared, mouth hanging open. “Uhhhh…”

Nillariel thinks Anya turned him off by touching the top of his head.

Eruviel takes Anyatka’s arm, “Here, lets go back to the table.” She draws Anya back to sit on the bench.

Anyatka stumbles backward, hand still reaching to pat his head.

Nillariel walks over, “You alright? K-kind of froze up there.”

Falros mumbles toward Nillariel, “If I close me eyes, she won’t be able t’ see me, aye?”

And finally, a man gave you a bunny…

Grygg reaches into his right pocket and pulls out a small, beanbag bunny, then sets it on the table in front of Anyatka, “For you, if you wish.”

Falros says, ‘… th’ dreaded bunny.’

Forthogar just blinks, not grasping the situation in the slightest, but truth be told, he’s not trying very hard.

Falros says, ‘Wha’ were th’ bunny’s name again?’

Eruviel looks at the beanbag bunny, fearing for its life.

Grygg tells Falros, “Each person names their own.”

Anyatka blinks at the bunny for a moment. “I don’t want your blasted bunny!” she says and starts to bawl.

Falros eyes the bunny for a moment, then looks back to Grygg, “Ye got anythin’ other ‘n bunnies?… like.. a stuffed troll? Aye! I’d take a stuffed troll.’

Grygg reaches into his left pocket, bringing out three small beanbag balls, “Just this.” Grygg juggles a bit.

Falros says, ‘…. tha’ ain’t very excitin’.’

Anyatka hiccups and pokes the bunny in the nose.

Grygg stops juggling and re-pockets the beanbags. “I do not really come equipped for full entertainment, these days.”

Lina held up the bunny and made it hop. Hop. Hop. Anya stared at it blearily, tears clinging to her lower lashes. After a moment more of watching the hopping, she lowered her face to her hands and said, “I can never go back there again.”

Rolling her eyes, Lina sat on the edge of the bed and asked, “Why not? You think they never saw a mess before? Shucks, it sounds like those men knew exactly what your problem was. Sure they saw it before.”

Anya shook her head, moaning, “But I drew that! Right there? And it’s so much more than just Morty.” Her hands dropped and she stared at them with pleading eyes. “Really.”

Lina looked at her dubiously. “Uh-huh,” she said and handed her the bunny. “Ya keep tellin’ yerself that, honey.”

Letters to Nowhere

My dear brother,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Anyatka

Remembering Loxwyn

Loxwyn slowly squats down into the water.

“Come to me, and bring your ale;
the beauty see, she flushes pale;
the waters they sparkle, the stars shine so bright;
who could have known blood flows that night?”

Loxwyn turns and looks at him, her eyes shining with a light few have seen before and lived.

“Fly, fly away, the night is born;
fall beneath a woman’s scorn…
fly away fly away home…
living life in living tomb…”

She stares at Vallon, her head tilted to the side at an awkward angle, like a doll whose neck was snapped when it was discarded.