The Inn of the Prancing Pony had been more quiet than usual. No music echoed down the halls from the common room. There were no pairs of couples and conspirators filling the corners of the rooms, nor brawls or drunken dwarves. Eruviel had seen three regulars sitting on their own when she had entered the front door, but for the first time in a long time she sat by the fireplace past the first hall alone and in silence.
Her entire day had been quiet, aside from a slight ventured she had undertook with a young Ranger who had come to town and sought her out to identify a few Angmarim cloaks, swords, and emblems he had gathered after his own unfortunate encounter. He had taken her and another of her kin who had fought in Angmar to the spot where he had fought the small band, him having killed five out of the six. The place had been cleaned out of the bodies. But it was not the Angmarim being this far south that bothered her. She had earned a name for herself in the north, killing servants of the enemy. Was it the young Ranger himself that bothered her? She had intended to pay him for his trouble, and to help him get on his feet since he was new to Bree-land, but he had then insisted that she owed him for giving him her services.
You’re getting soft! She chastised herself, leaning her head against her hand as she gazed into the warm fire. A whole gold . . . . What in the name of the Valar were you thinking? It would not happen again.
Minutes passed, the only sounds being the crackling of the burning wood, and the sound of her heart beating in her ears. Rising slowly she pulled her new long, blue and gold cloak off from the back of her chair, fastening it around her neck as she glided like a specter down the second hall towards the back door.
You know it is not the Ranger, yaaraer. Yes, it was in times like these that she did indeed feel ancient. Calling her horse away from his grain, she mounted the sturdy Angmar steed, looping her bow over her left arm and head. She had trained the mount so well that he began the ride home without her prompting. There was a reason she had taken the time to visit the blacksmith to have her armour seen to, and her weapons inspected — though those were handed straight back to her as if she thought it to be a joke for the bow and two swords to be in less-than-perfect condition. In two days time she would make the journey north with a small band of friends and acquaintances to Fornost.
Fornost. The name hung over her like a shadow — haunted her thoughts the closer the trip came to fruition. She had been nearly everywhere in Eriador during her relatively long life, but not to Fornost. She could not bear to take the trip and face the wasteland that had claimed Rainion’s life. She had skirted around the realm, through the North Downs into Angmar, and even to the west in to Forochel. But to Fornost she would not go . . . until now. Now she waited to accompany a friend — a sister among the race of men who had her own ghosts. Quite literally. Eruviel had been eager to go, and out of her love for her oselle — her sister Anyatka, she would walk through the Fields and into the ruins to whatever end.
Voronwen nickered at her and Eruviel emerged from her thoughts to see that they had already reached the gates to the homesteads. Nodding her head respectfully to the night watch she spurred her horse forward. Rounding the two short bends to her house that sat on a small, lone hill Eruviel sighed, glad to be home. She had done her best to keep the place a sanctuary — full of good food and both stillness and merriment, depending on the occasion. Dismounting the steed, she removed his tack, letting him wander on his own to graze. The door was still unlocked and she ducked through the entrance, taking note that Anya had not yet returned home from going on a fishing trip with the gentleman Canderas.
Setting the saddle down to the side and kicking her boots off without ceremony, she walked across the living space into her room. How she coveted her room. The elven decor was warm-toned, the bookshelf full of books and scrolls containing long histories, and stories of great renown. Unclasping her cloak she tossed it onto her bed and undressed before breaking off and eating a small corner of the elven way-bread she kept hidden in her dresser. It had been a gift, and it was her one food store that she would not share.
She felt cold . . . like she had back then, and it concerned her. Lighting a fire in her small fireplace, Eruviel curled up on her soft elven bed beneath the cloak, painfully aware of the silence and emptiness around her.
“Amin sinta thaliolle e dagor,” she muttered in prayer. I know your strength in battle, Orome. I do not wish to fear. Great Huntsman, steady my hand and my undeserving heart.
The chill that had set upon her began to dissipate . . . possibly from renewed hope, or maybe just from the fire. “Yes,” she whispered to herself, rolling onto her other side and draping a toned but slender, pale arm over the edge of the mattress. “For my oselle I will gladly face Fornost.”