To Dale: An Understanding

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“If I ever forget myself and travel too fast let me know,” Eruviel said matter-of-factly as they ran up the last incline. The day had begun to fade as she led Eirikr through a narrow ravine to a hidden camp site jutting out from a near cliff side.

Eirikr shook his head. “I am fine.”

Eruviel smirked at Eirikr as they slowed to a walk. “Of course, though I doubt you would tell me you were not unless the moment was dire.” A twinge of gilt  stung her as she glanced at the man. He had kept up with her all day, and it had been rather impressive. His shooting had gotten better throughout the day as well, but she knew better than to mention it. Her intent to encourage seemed to always get skewed somewhere between her speaking and the recipient hearing. No, it would be wiser to say nothing at all.

Eirikr rolled his eyes much like his younger sister would. “What sort of man would I be to not be able to keep up, hm?” He gazed out over the cliff side and took in the view. Trees of eternal autumn crowned the ridge around them, and from the perch one could make out the length of the Bruinen south towards Eregion

Eruviel shrugged off her pack, chuckling as she began to rummage through it’s contents. “Now I see where Anyatka gets that look.” She remembered the look of the elf at their last stop who had given her a letter from Anyatka. The memory of the exhausted, addle-brained bird made her laugh a little harder. The poor creature.

Eiriikr arched a brow, though not willing to take his eyes from the scenery. “What look?”

Pulling out a leaf-wrapped package she offered a corner of lembas to him. It was the last parcel of way-bread given to her by Peloras, and was just enough to see them through Moria. “That eye roll. It came quite naturally,” she quipped. Pointing down the gorge into the evening haze she added, “That will be our path tomorrow.”

“Anya and I are alike in many ways,” said Eirikr as he looked down at the waters flowing between the hills. “But still very different.” Accepting the lembas he added, “That leads into Eregion?”

“I can see it,” she nods thoughtfully. Breaking off a piece of the way-bread for herself she continued, “It does. The trail leading up the mountain is long, but there is a Free-People’s camp just over the border. We should not run into too much trouble till past Gwingris.”

Eirikr frowned as the shadow of a thought passed over him. “There was much movement in the lands when I passed through. The Elf I hired to lead me preferred to move at night.”

Eruviel ‘s eyes narrowed as her gaze stretched out into the south. “I share the sentiment. I hope for us to arrive at Gwingris at midday so that we can rest before it grows dark.”

“You sent messages ahead there, as well?” asked Eirikr as he stretched his shoulder, kneading the muscle.

Eruviel nodded, smiling as she flexed her right hand. She hoped the hours of writing would be worth it. “I wrote a great many messages.”

Eirikr shoot her a look. “Did you receive any back? About the person you seek for your friend?”

Eruviel shook her head, keeping her face calm. This? Again? “I did not send any messages regarding him. I know no one in Dale, though perhaps a dwarf or two. The caravan that we will travel with through Moria might know something, though.” She offered Eirikr a half-hearted smile. “I can only hope.”

The Barding turned towards her and crossed his arms. “What do you plan to do if you find this person? Simply take the information back to your friend?”

Eruviel studied him seriously, clasping her hands behind her back. “My friend merely wants to know who it is, and if the criminal still lives. Now, if I meet the man face-to-face . . . that is another matter that hinges on many factors. Why . . . why do you ask, Eirikr?”

Eirikr looked back out over the gorge. “No reason, really. The likelihood of you finding this person is small, anyway.”

Eruviel observed him for a minute before finally looking away, not entirely satisfied with his answer. He must be nervous. Attempting to cover his anxiety with other thoughts . . . I hope. “If I am able to find any information I will consider it a success.”

“You do keep repeating that,” sighed Eirikr. His eyes darted at her out of the corner of his eye. “Is there something else on your mind, my friend?”

Eruviel did her best to keep down a chuckle as she lowered herself to sit on the soft grass. “Merely that you seem exceptionally curious about a small matter that should be the least of your worries,” she said kindly.

Eirikr stared down at her. “Eruviel, I plan on slipping in and slipping out. This is no pleasurable visit to Esgaroth, I assure you. I see our troubles greatest there as Ninim will be under guard. I hope to sneak Abbi out . . . unless . . . .” he trailed off and looked back out over the valley.

Eruviel frowned up at him, narrowing her eyes. The strength it took to keep back the tide of harsh words surprised her. Had she missed making her intentions clear? “I am well aware of the challenge ahead of us,” she said sternly. “I plan to do everything in my power to ensure that we succeed. If you ever thought that I hope to dally and distract from our purpose, I pray that you put it from your mind once and for all.”

Eirikr sighed, obviously exasperated. “Then how do you intend to succeed in helping your friend?”

Pulling out her water flask, Eruviel focused on uncorking the top. “I plan to ask the merchants we are to travel with. If we run into any Bardings on the road I hope to be as lovely and congenial,” and convincingly innocent, she thought, “as an Eldar lady can be to get whatever information they have out of them.” Taking a drink she arches a brow up to Eirikr. “You doubt me,” she said simply.

Eirikr scratched at his beard. “I do not doubt you. Just the compatibility of your intents with mine.”

Eruviel leaned back and folded her hands behind her head, not bothering to hide that his words bothered her. “Finding that man is the least of my concerns. We are going to save your wife and sneak out your brother. Once we are past Lorien you are in charge of this . . . expedition. I even packed a dress, just in case,” she added, her revived humor creeping back into her voice. “A female Noldor in armour could be disconcerting.”

Eirikr looked at her for a long moment as he sucked on his lower lip. “A merchant’s dress?” he said, finally speaking, “It won’t be like the streets of Bree. You’ll need a fine gown to fit in.”

Eruviel looked up at him with a faint smile before fixing her eyes on the emerging stars. “I did my research. Besides, I always bring my best.” Her thoughts lingered on the silk dress folded and wrapped carefully in the lovely blue and gold cloak that had hung idly in her room for several months.

Eirikr stared at her for a moment then turned away, shaking his head and chuckling. “Fair enough, my lady.”

 

((Edited for tense and exposition from chat logs taken 4/30/2014))

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