Month: August 2014

A Tribute: Daughter of Twilight

 

Eruviel remembers.

“Artis? Tindomiel! Hurry, little light, or you are going to miss it.” Istuion stood atop the grand, polished stone steps leading up from the lush summer garden. His tall, regal form stood like a beacon, silhouetted by the golden sunlight descending far beyond the wide balcony.

“I never miss it, Ada,” the little elf child known as Artis huffed indignantly. Scampering down the path, the white sand was hardly disturbed by her flight, though her long, dark mahogany hair flew in disarray behind her. The strings of garden lights twinkled on behind her, urging her little legs to run faster at the prospect of missing her favorite time of day. “Ada, I am — ooph!” she cried as she stumbled up the last step.

The Noldor lord laughed at her, the rare sound echoing off the stone arches as he stooped down, catching her before she fell. “Ah, take care. You are not that late, daughter.” Scooping her up into his arms he walked out onto the balcony. “There we are,” he chuckled, setting her down to sit on the railing. The balcony lined the fifty foot high cliff on the western edge of the haven, and though she knew he did not like her sitting on the edge, he still let her sit there for some reason unknown to her.

“Thank you, Ada!” she chimed, beaming a bright smile up at him as he sat beside her. She liked it when he laughed. It was a warm, rich tone that filled her with a joy her young mind could not quite grasp. But she would, she told herself. She did not know why he hardly ever did so unless around her or Nana, but as soon as she could figure out what she did that caused it, she was determined to do it more. Dangling her feet into the seemingly vast space, she let her legs swing freely in the hopes of feeling the mist rising from the waterfall twenty yards to their left.

Her glistening emerald eyes widened as the sun disappeared over the horizon. The light did not fade, however. The swirling streams of clouds lit up in golds, pinks and purples, the soft rays of warm light dancing against the darkening sapphire sky. Above the northern edge of the horizon the first star emerged, twinkling in greeting.

“There!” Artis pointed, her face illuminated with delight. “Ada, do you — Ada!” she grumbled, jutting out her jaw as if to incriminate Istuion as she caught him watching her instead of the twilight.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he chuckled warmly. “Where is it?” Putting an arm around her as she leaned to far forward for comfort, he looked to where she pointed. “I see it.”

Artis giggled, scooting closer to sit against him, wrapping her little arms around his as they watched the stars emerge, one after the other. “Ada?’

“Yes, daughter?”

“Are you a king?”

The elf lord’s shoulders shook with a laugh. “No, little light, I am only a lord. There are no more Eldar kings, though if my kin and Gondolin had survived you would be wearing a circlet and not a braid around that little head of yours.”

Artis hummed in thought, leaning her head against his side. “Ranion said he would make me one.”

“Oh? Maybe I should help him in this. A crown might keep you in your studies and not out getting your feet muddy in the vineyards.”

Artis’s brow furrowed slightly. “But I like riding horses and climbing trees. Milloth even told me he would teach me how to shoot a bow.”

Istuion grew quiet for a moment, and in the stillness Artis did not have the courage to look up into his stern, ageless face. “We will see about that,” he said quietly, giving her a soft squeeze. “But for now let your mother teach you history and dancing. Young elf princesses have no need to shoot a bow.”

Artis nodded dutifully, thinking it best not to tell him about the sword hidden under her mattress, crafted for her by Ranion. Looking up to study her father’s face she wondered if he already knew.

The dark of night enveloped them as the last glimmer of twilight disappeared into the west. Light from the garden and the veil of stars cast a misty aura around them, Artis caught a sad glint in Istuion’s eyes as he lifted her up and set her on her feet beside him. “Ada? What is it?”

The Noldor lord looked down at her for a long moment, holding her small hand in his. “I was just thinking that I have to leave for several months. I will miss watching the twilight with you.”

Stepping with him as they moved in the direction of the tallest stone home Artis shook her head violently. “You are going to Im-mdris and Lo . . . Lorien?” she asked, struggling with the pronunciations.

“I am, I’m afraid,” he replied, giving her hand a squeeze. “I have friends to visit and buisness to discuss with the other lords.”

“Then I’m going too!” she exclaimed, skipping.

“Oh no, you are not.”

“Yes I am,” she insisted, her innocent tone leaving no room for refusal.

“No, you are not.”

“Mhm!”

“And how is that?”

Artis did not miss a beat. “Because Ranion and Milloth are going, and mother wants to go too, and you promised that you would take me some day. Why not now?”

Istuion looked down at her in surprise, having forgotten his promise and that his sons told her everything. He opened his mouth to respond, but Artis jumped in once more.

“Besides,” she said sweetly, “If I go, then we won’t miss twilight.”

Lifting her up Istuion set her on his hip as he continued on towards the house. Through the second story bay window they could see his wife reading, curled up on a small couch as she always did. “Well, I suppose I could let you come . . . . We cannot miss an evening together, now, can we?”

Artis shook her head, wrapping her arms around his neck as he carried her. “Nope. Not ever.”

 

(In honor of my father’s birthday, Saturday, August 30th. Having passed away this spring, I wanted to write this in his memory. He always encouraged me to pursue my passions, and though fiction was not his forte, he was always proud of me and supported me in my every endeavor.)

Dreadward : To The Journey

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“This place is absolutely beautiful!”

The young elf maid’s exclamation snapped Eruviel out of her thoughts. Turning from the window she smiled, watching Bellethiell wander around the common room once — twice — still wide-eyed at the strangely fitting collection of elven, human, and dwarvish furniture. For a moment she almost apologized for the odd collection, wondering if the young elf cared that the floor was not fit with ceramic floral patterns, framed with sheer drapes, and outfitted with exclusively elven crafted woodwork.

“Thank you,” she said with a soft, proud smile as she walked further into the room. “I admit most of it was here before. I’ve just painted the walls and rearranged and added a few new items.” Arylieth’s first novel, Lothlorien arrows from the trip to Dale, Father’s bow . . . .

Bellethiell glanced over to her, her eyes gleaming from what Eruviel assumed to be overwhelming joy. “This is better than I could have ever imagined!” Her pale blue skirts swished as she spun once, stopping only to clasp her hands in front of her. “I’m so blessed that you asked me to be a part of this kinship.”

I think I might have adopted yet another sibbling, Eruviel thought with a soft chuckle as she walked up the few short steps to the feasting tables. It made her heart just a little lighter. “It is about time this place had some life in it.” Humming thoughtfully she browsed over the selection of wine bottles on a low shelf before choosing one out.

“Where did it all come from?” asked Belle in an almost reverent tone as she followed Eruviel.

“It is from everywhere. Gondor, Rohan, The Lonely Mountain, among other places.” Pouring two glasses of the rich, crimson liquid she handed one glass to Belle. “The Dreadward traveled through most of the realms in Eriador, hunting evil like blood-hounds.”

Sipping her wine, Belle’s eyes wandered around the room with a thoughtful air. “How long has the kinship existed? How . . . how did it begin?”

“Oh . . . at least twelve years. I am not sure exactly how long it existed before me. The Dreadward were all eager young men — and dwarves — when I joined their ranks. The man, Lord Myrthrost began it. He was the founder, joined by the dwarf Rhunki, Gondorian Captain Adrovorn, my brother Milloth, and a number of others. He was a good leader,” Eruviel ended quietly, the trophies and tokens bringing back one memory after another.

Bellethiell paused, lowering her glass. “Are any of them still in the kin?”

Eruviel glanced down at her cup, a shadow falling over her emerald eyes. “Adrovorn and Milloth perished in the south. As far as I know the rest perished with them.” She took a sip of her wine and chuckled softly, adding, “Though, I thought I had seen Myrthrost’s ghost the other day.”

“I-I’m sorry, Eru,” Belle sighed. “How long were you with them?”

“No need to apologize, Belle.” Eruviel then twisted her mouth to one side in thought. “I joined them about twelve years ago. We traveled and fought together for eight years before they went south to Gondor.”

“I am sure they were all well fought men,” Belle muttered softly. The shadow over her face faded, and Eruviel could not help but smirk, certain that her young friend was envisioning herself fighting with the long-departed troop.

“They were,” Eruviel nodded firmly, her smile warming. “You would have like them. Though serious with matters of battle and death, they were a merry troop. Some of the most fierceom and loyal men I ever had the pleasure of knowing.”

Bellethiell paused for a few seconds before finally allowing herself a small smile, “I’ve known few men like that, but the two I knew, well . . . I hope for many more companions like them.”

Eruviel arched a brow curiously at her. “Who were they, if I may ask?”

Bellethiell’s smile warmed. “They were friends of my father’s, well fought men, who taught me much in my days as a small child. Lord Allier and Soromith the metalsmith. They were like family to me before they too perished under the blade of the orcs. I was still very young and have never met any men like them since.”

Then I have some introducing to do. “You are fortunate to have had such noble men as your teachers.”

“True men of kindness and compassion they were.” Bellethiell’s eyes grew distant, gazing out a side window as she clutched her goblet to her chest. “Soromith taught me almost everything I know.”

Eruviel touched her elbow after a moment, bringing the young elf back to the present with an understanding smile. “It is rare to find truly honorable men, but amidst the scoundrels, you may see there are more good men than our race takes into account.” Her thoughts wandered to Threz and his brood of mercenaries, the hunter from the Mark she had met up in the wilds of Nen Harn, and Cwen who had left for Gondor just days earlier with a few others. No daydreaming of far-away places, she told herself. You are on holiday from the fight. You have people to care for; people to find . . . .

Bellethiell laughed brightly, gesturing out with an up-turned palm. “It is why I moved to Bree. I had heard that through the weeds of all the questionable men, there were several with true goodness here. I have many acquaintances but I’ve yet to find a friend, at least, until I found you.” The elf maid’s smile stretched from one ear to the other. “In such times of trouble I am glad to have found a kinship such as this.”

Eruviel could not help but give a merry laugh, raising her glass. “Kinship’s are well and good, but they are a framework, not the heart nor foundation. I am glad to have found a friend.”

“To the framework and the journey,” Bellethiell toasted, her eyes squinting happily as she raised her goblet.

Eruviel’s eyes twinkled from a genuine smile as she clinked her glass against Belle’s. “To the heart, and the road.”

 

(All dialogue taken from in-game RP and edited for tense and exposition.)

 

You Can Stay . . . .

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Morning broke through the wisps of clouds that floated over the hills surrounding the Bree-land homesteads. As the sun rose so did mists from the small lake below. Eruviel took no notice of the veil that shrouded the small valley till it had completely enveloped her.

What am I doing here?

Hours before she had left Anya to the mercy of the newly returned Eirikr. She had been tempted to stay and be a moral support for the young woman but, from the stern look Eirikr had given her, she knew it would be best to let them hash things out on their own. Then she had wandered. The streets of Durrow were surprisingly empty but, unlike the Glaston neighborhood, light shone from most of the windows and it was not uncommon to hear laughter drifting from them.

What am I doing here?

Rays of sunshine warmed her rain-washed hair as Eruviel sat atop the stone wall. She could not recall exactly when she had arrived at her destination, or what had brought her there in the first place. The forgotten kin-house of the Dreadward Tribunal looked back at her, its dark, stained windows matching her tired yet thoughtful gaze.

Hoping down from her perch she slowly made her way up the well worn path. The grass needed cut; the trees and bushes trimmed. The spare key, hidden in a hollowed out stone in the wall, bore only a touch of rust. The lock did not complain as it was turned, but the creak of the hinges echoed through the dark house as she pushed open the heavy door.

Dust glittered in the golden rays of sun that streamed through the window panes. Dust was everywhere, carpeting the floor and coating the sheets that draped over neglected furniture. Standing on the aged red rug in the center of the hall Eruviel felt a pang of guilt in her gut at having forgotten the place.

Where have you been?

Away.

For so long?

They are all gone. She walked across the length of the room, the resonating thud of her footsteps only adding the the feeling of emptiness.

You’re not.

I know . . . .

Dust flew up in small puffs as she strode to a window. Struggling with the latch, she swung the panes open. A morning wind rushed through the portal, forcing her to turn her head away, the house sucking in the deep breath of fresh air.

You can use me.

But the Dreadward is gone. Others deal judgement in their stead.

You’re not gone. And you are not alone . . . .

What am I doing here?

Use me.

How?

Rhuniki’s forge . . . .

Bellethiell and Risalra . . . . Eruviel threw open a second window, then another.

Myrthrost’s library . . . .

Eruviel chuckled, pulling a sheet off a Gondorian styled chair.  Arylieth would be beside herself.

Milloth’s paintings . . . .

I could hire Anyatka to restore them . . . .

Adrovorn’s empty weapon case . . . .

Arath — Eruviel stopped, and sighed, and shook her head. I’m sure Threz and Eirikr could use the storage space.

Use me.

I could . . . .

You can stay . . . .

I suppose I can . . . . I have a few hours.

That’s all I ask.

You look terrible.

The crisp summer breeze began to sweep dust out the windows, adding light to the hall. Welcome back.

(I was wanting to try something different, so I took a Cwen approach to this blog. http://cwendlwyn.wordpress.com )

Similar Paths

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The Pony had been more busy this week than the last month combined. Eruviel leaned against the barrels in the corner by the bar, observing the other customers as she pretended to mind her own business. She had come with the hopes of finding Anya. As she exchanged nods across the room with Threz she wondered where her oselle had gone off to. She’s most likely with Morty . . . . Eruviel let out a sigh and took a sip of her cider.

Threz stood with two — no, now three other men whom she presumed were a part of his guild. She could not help but chuckle at seeing the way the mercenary carried himself as he talked business. A short ways behind him stood the Justice, Arion. He stood like a massive Gondorian pillar, arms crossed over his broad chest as he endured the questions of a younger man. Another table away the healer Laerlin sat slumped, pushing her food idly across her half-empty plate. Still further back two elf lords occupied a shadowed corner, quietly discussing their dislike for dwarves.

Eruviel’s attention had just moved on when the front door of the Pony swung open. The young elf maiden she had met a week prior jogged in, clad head to toe in in gleaming heavy armour. A brilliant smile lit her face when she saw Eruviel and she practically pranced across the room to stand beside her, the elves chain mail ringing with every step.

I cant remember ever being that enthusiastic. “Mae govannen, Bellethiell,” said Eruviel, doing her best to keep back a snicker. “You look like you are ready for a fight.”

The elves golden locks bounced as she nodded her head. “Suilad! And I am!” she chimed as she set her small shield down. Her eyes grew wide all of a sudden and she held up a hand. “Oh! Forgive me. Don’t go anywhere!” And with that she ran through the room to a vendor in the back. Half of the customers gave her queer looks and the others ignored her, but Eruviel just leaned back once more, hiding her chuckle behind the rim of her mug.

The elf maid returned quickly enough, this time walking, a happy smile lighting her face. “Shall we sit somewhere and talk?”

Eruviel nodded and set her empty mug on the bar. “What do you drink?”

Bellethiell licked her lips, taking a moment to consider her options. “I will have a hard cider please. Thank you for the offer.

Eruviel ‘s mouth twitched with a smile and she nodded to the innkeeper. “Make that two, Barliman.” Taking the mugs she handed one over to Belle. “How have you been since we last spoke?” she asked, moving to look for a place to sit. She had thought of her several times. Their conversation had intrigued her, to say the least and she half expected for Belle to have sought her out sooner.

“I have been well, thank you!” Belle followed her to an open table and sat down. Taking a drink she brought her head up in a quick motion. “Do you like hunting?”

Eruviel blinked, surprised by the elf’s frankness. Pausing mid-drink a merry laugh shook her. “Hunting is my profession, and some what of a passion.”

Bellethiell turned a bright red with embarrassment. “I’m so sorry,” she muttered. “In our last conversation I never asked what it was you did.” Belle then put her head down, almost as if she feared that she’d offended Eruviel.

Eruviel ‘s laughter continued at seeing her friend flush. It was a rich laugh. A healing laugh. “No need to look so ashamed, arwenamin. I did not ask you either.” She raised her mug in a slight toast. “Having said that, what is it that you do?”

“I am an armorer,” Belle replied excitedly. “I realized that when you have to fight, you should know how to equip yourself properly. True lady’s work.” She chuckled, shaking her head. “So many have doubted my skill simply because of my gender.”

Eruviel noded slowly, offering an understanding smile. “The concept of the ‘female warrior’ is still relatively new. Though wh–” she never finished, and even the words on her tongue vanished when she was interrupted.

Bellethiell did not seem to hear her, but leaned forward, a near-pleading look on her face. “Since hunting is your profession, could you teach me?”

“I could, but are you sure you want me as a teacher? You have not seen me on a hunt or in a fight. Surely you know other talented hunters, having lived here longer than I. There are scores of fighters flocking around Bree these days.”

Bellethiell smiled. “I have heard stories, and I trust my contacts here. They were quite insistent that we meet. I would love to learn whatever you are willing to teach.” The look on Bellethiel’s face remained hopeful.

Eruviel arched a brow at the elf maid, her eyes quickly glancing around the room. “And what have you heard about me?” she asked, leaning forward to rest her elbows on the table.

The elf maid seemed pleased by the question. “They told me we had similar paths. Though I knew you were not an armourer, they hinted of a profession similar to mine. A lady who can fight. One does not simply find that everyday. They said you had much experience in life. Experience intrigues me.”

Eruviel ‘s shoulders relaxed at the lack of specifics. “No, one does not,” she said more quietly, her face sobering some as she studied the young elf. She wondered what was in her past that made them similar. Much of her comings and goings was not public knowledge, but what was . . . “I will teach you,” she nods, “but I do have questions for you.”

“Please!” she said with exuberance. “Ask me anything.”

Eruviel snickered at her enthusiasm. “Why do you want to learn to hunt? You can already make armour. I can only assume you know how to use that shield you carry around.”

“I am a good fighter. I am not good at sneaking.” She stopped, the gleam in her eyes faded, and Eruviel saw a moment of . . . was it doubt? “My aim from a distance is less than proficient and maybe, if my fight included a bow . . . I could’ve protected my family better. But — but there is no time like the present to learn.”

Similar paths . . . . “Indeed,” Eruviel nodded.  She considered several other queries, but decided against it. Another time. A better time. “My other question was wondering if you had looked into the guilds and kinships before seeking me out.”

Bellethiell shook her head. “I saw no reason to. I take the idea of kinship very seriously. After loosing those I loved, I never thought I would be a part of something like that again. And then you came along.”

Eruviel did her best to hold back a small smile, though it was rather sympathetic. “I understand, my friend. I am the last of my kinship. Though the Dreadward are long gone, I do not see why we cannot give the name new meaning.” Two elf maids, when Mirthrost and Adrovorn had been loathe to let in one.

Bellethiell looked around her, glancing at the minstrel, the patrons, then down at her empty glass of cider. “I fear I have professed too heavy a burden on you. Let us stay light. Let us be merry. Let us hunt!” She pounded her fist on the table with her empty goblet, and wiped her mouth with her sleeve, bearing a brilliant smile.

Eruviel pushed her mug aside. And that answers my third question. “My life is nothing but burdens, and I gladly bear them.” As she rose to her feet she felt a twist of excitement at the thought of a hunt. She could bring some of her kill to Abbi and Anya. Abbi never complained of her cooking and fresh game might do him good. How long had it been since she’d run barefoot through the wilds and hunted for the enjoyment of it? She could not recall. Nor could she recall the last time she had a good run in a thunderstorm. Looking up at Bellethiel she saw the same anticipation she felt on the elf maids face. Like a mother picking a child up by his collar, Eruviel moved her fears, worries, and grief aside. She was tired of her soul drowning in sorrow and loss. She was tired of not enjoying the little things in life. She wanted to dance and laugh and fight without the fear that had burrowed into her heart. Giving Belle a smile and confident nod she fixed her bow across her back. “If you are ready, let us be off.”

(All dialogue taken from in-game RP and edited for tense and exposition.)

Empty-handed

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The rabbit was the fattest she had seen in months. Turning the spit over the fireplace, Eruviel slowly basted the meat, the excess hissing as it dripped onto the hot coals. The savory smell filled her house and mixed with the sweet summer breeze that floated in from the open windows.

It was quiet now. Quiet and empty. Eruviel refused to admit that it was lonely. Not yet. Arathier was gone. Anya had moved in with Eirikr and Abi, and now Eirikr . . . . Eruviel pulled out a knife and checked the meat, nodding in satisfaction at seeing it done. Fitting her hand into a thick mitt she picked up the meat, impaled by an iron spoke and cooked to a golden brown, and easily slid the still sizzling game off the spoke into a wooden dish. Try as she might, nothing she cooked or cut could silence Eirikr’s voice in her head as her mind replayed the events from the day before.

The waves kissing the shore . . . . I can’t . . . . I pushed her too hard . . . . She’s gone . . . . IT’S HIS FAULT!

Eruviel stabbed the paring knife into the cutting board, the blade piercing through the bottom of the slab and into the table. She gripped — no — clung to the handle as she hung her head, not seeing the fixings neatly diced beneath her gaze. He didn’t listen . . . he wouldn’t. And now he’s gone. He turned his back and left. They all leave. I promised . . . .

Standing straight she frowned as she jerked the knife out in a sharp motion, setting it to the side. Brushing a few stray strands of hair out of her face with a frustrated swipe she surveyed the food she had prepared. Eruviel had gathered herbs in the forest as she had made her way back. Those that would be of no use to Abiorn would be good for cooking. Her smallest saddle bag bulged with fresh berries and she had prepared a colorful salad from the vegetables in her neighbor’s garden. Eruviel had watered the little plot for a week in the woman’s absence and she felt no guilt at the small harvest.

“I’m a fool,” she muttered harshly as she secured the lid on the jar of cold milk. Why would she think that he would listen to her? She hadn’t listened when she had hit a similar low . . . and she was almost to that point again. “Oh, gwador,” she whispered sadly, wrapping the rotisserie rabbit in butcher paper. As much as she wanted to go back out and find the tortured man she knew there was nothing for it. He needed the space, and the quiet. The last thing he needed was a silly elf’s council.

Filling two large baskets with her bounty, Eruviel stepped into her black leather boots and headed out the door. She squinted for a moment as her eyes adjusted to the mid-morning sun. Shifting her hold on the wicker handles she then started down the lane. Eruviel hoped she was early enough to catch whoever it was who planned on making dinner at the Tenorbrook residence. Anya and Abi were expecting her to bring Eirikr home. It was not what she had hoped, but Eruviel refused to show up empty-handed.