“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.)