Imladris rested in the sun of morning like a peaceful Island along the East Road. She had left her room in the predawn hours and sat on a rock off the path to the Last Homely House to rest, and to listen. Now standing on the wide front porch Eruviel pulled her gauntlets on as she heard Eirikr emerge from the doors behind her.
“Aaye, mellon. I trust you slept well?” she asked as he walked up beside her, squinting in the sunlight.
He nodded silently, his eyes falling on the rushing waters. “Yes. Very well. I have not slept like that in years.”
A contented smile spread across her face as she took a deep breath of the sweet morning air. “It is good that we stopped here. I doubt we shall sleep half that well for the rest of our journey.”
Eirikr grunted in agreement. “How soon are you wishing to move on? And which path shall we take when facing the Mountains?”
Eruviel skewed her mouth slightly, the light in her eyes dimming as she looked up at the high, distant peaks. “The desire for haste tells me to go over the mountains, but we would have no safe house to shelter at by that road. There is a caravan of dwarves that intend to pass through Moria. That is the road I suggest we take.” Looking over at him she added, “But this is your journey. If you desire to take the high road than that shall be our course.”
“Moria is a better choice,” Eirikr said, shaking his head. “The passes over the mountains are not passes any more, by all I’ve heard. I went through on my way here.” He paused for a moment and then added, “I wonder how Anya got through.”
“I thought they had gone around . . . but I cannot seem to recall how she got though at the moment,” said Eruviel. Her shoulders relaxed, glad that he decided against the mountain paths.
“I can’t imagine her beneath the stones,” Eirikr said, nodding.
Eruviel smirked at the man, her mind thinking of Anyatka who, for the time being, lived at the homesteads in the mountains of Ered Luin. “She does much better under the open sky, does she not.”
Eirikr looked over at her. “Don’t you?”
Smiling thoughtfully, she turned her gaze back out towards the autumn-crowned valley. “I do indeed.”
Eirikr rubbed his beard and said thoughtfully, “You have been here often, haven’t you? You like it here very much.”
Eruviel chuckled slightly, nodding her head. “I have. I enjoy all the elf havens, though I have not been to Lorien since before the Battle of Fornost. The only one I have not seen was Mirkwood back when it was still Green.”
Eirikr bobbed his head slowly as he shifted his cloak around his shoulders. “Thranduil rules there still. His people are kind enough.”
Eruviel glances to the host as she shifts her sword belt over her hips. “I have not met him, though I wonder if our paths will take us through a different road?” She felt silly, asking about Mirkwood. She liked knowing where she was going.
Eirikr shruged. “If we intend to pass through the Mirkwood, the safest routes are along the Elvish paths.”
Eruviel shoot Eirikr an apologetic look. “I fear I will be no good when it comes to directions once we pass out of Lorien.”
Eirikr smirked, a pleased light passing through his eyes. “Good. Then I’m not a complete waste on the journey to Dale.” He looked over to her with a lazy grin. “I can’t stand being useless.”
“You are far from useless,” she responded, arching a brow her companion. “I would still be in Bree if you were not going back to Dale. And two bows are better than one.”
The edge of Eirikr’s mouth twitched at her comment. “Indeed, you would be in Bree if I were not going back to Dale. In fact, you should be in Bree now. While I agree that two bows are better than one, Eruviel, it does weigh on my mind that you mentioned another reason for accompanying me to Dale.” His eyes remain on the scenery as he adds in a light tone, “What is it?”
Eruviel pursed her lips in a moment of thought before replying. “My first reason is to keep you alive. I can only imagine at how devastated Anyatka would be if you should perish. Also, the simple matter of you being my friend is reason enough.” She skewed her mouth before adding, “And I am looking for someone. A favor for a friend back in Bree.”
Eirikr looked over at her and gave her a hard look. “Who is this person? Dale is a large city — how do you expect to find this person? We won’t be hanging about in the local taverns, you know.”
“Several years back a Watcher of Dale named Hallem was murdered,” she said after a long moment of thought. “A friend of his asked me to see if I could find out who did it. It is most likely a lost cause, but I hope to scrap something up for him . . . anything, really.”
Eirikr frowned as his brows knit low over his dark grey eyes. “You’re going to investigate a murder? What do you know? Dale isn’t like Bree…it’s a merchant’s town, not a seedy backwater trading depot.”
Eruviel took a step down the ramp, glancing back up at Eirikr. “The wealthy have their own crime just as much as the poor.” And they can be less honest about it, she thought grimly. “But as I said, I expect to find nothing, but hope merely for a whisper of something to put my friend’s mind at ease with his loss. Apparently the man had a son that went missing not long after the incident.” She shrugged, looking down the road. “But first we need to retrieve Ninim and Abi.”
Eiriikr grunted and started after her. “You suspect it was someone of the merchant class that committed the crime?”
Eruviel rolled her shoulders. “I hope not. If it was, I fear that could make the situation an even greater problem. A man held in such high esteem as I heard Watcher Hallem was, does not simply get murdered for no reason. I would wish him a more noble death, at least.”
Eiriikr hummed as they headed for the stables. “It would make the issue more difficult indeed. Everything is more difficult when money is involved.”
Eruviel glanced over as she falls in step beside him. “I definitely prefer villages and the wilds to cities. To be killed over money . . . .” she mutters quietly, not bothering to finish her sentence. The thought of being killed over the power of money left a sour taste in her mouth.
Falling silent, Eruviel smiled slightly, seeing their horses saddled and waiting for them. The ride today would be harder than the last leg of the journey, but now she felt assured that they were more prepared, for now.