Month: September 2014

What One Can

The past days had flown by in a blur. Eruviel had missed the riot that had ensued when the gates to Bree had been closed on account of the plague. She was not sure if she was glad she had or not, but the blood on the street made her core feel cold. Glad that Anya and the boys were safe away from town she had rolled up her sleeves and gotten to work.

Wandering the alleys made her wish she had become a healer instead of a hunter, and two days before was spent tactfully relieving headaches and taking fevers till her body shivered with chills, her bones ached and her head spun. Part of her hoped that the more frequent use of her gift would make it stronger, while a small corner of her fevered mind thanked the Valar that she was and elf. Crawling up onto a roof she had slept hard all the next day, the warmth of a chimney to her back and a fresh breeze to ward off the stench of death that crept through the streets. As night fell she finally woke, and she sat back to watch the sunset through the haze, feeling mostly revived and more determined than ever to do more.

All citizens are to remain within Bree, help the sick, and tend to themselves for the greater good of the town,” had been the Mayor’s decree, and it was repeated over and over. She was not sure how the laws of citizenship worked, but she intended to help the sick. She had never spent time in a prison other than those of the enemies, but in her mind the reward far outweighed the risk. After spending her small purse on a trinket for Anya she watched the change of the guard from the same roof. Once . . . twice . . . then on the third change she saw it. A gap. Having ran into an old friend she drug him along with her and at the change of the fourth guard they’d snuck past and scaled the cliff to one side of town.

How incredibly good the forest seemed; the sight, the smell, the open space. But she had little time. The next few hours were spent digging through the undergrowth and riding through the fields to different areas, combing the land for roots, herbs and the few flowers she knew to hold healing properties. The sun rising as she filled her small bag she quickly washed up at Mira’s cabin and slipped back into town.

The smell had gotten worse. Closing the door of the Pony behind her, Eruviel looked around the common room, hoping to find one of the healers who often frequented the Inn. But none were there. Not even Threz was in the small crowd pretending to enjoy the terrible ale. Adjusting the strap of her satchel over her shoulder she shot a glance and polite nod to the Justice as she made her way to the bar.

As she ordered herself a mug the door of the inn opened behind her. Glancing back a small wave of relief swept through her. Laerlin stepped inside and walked over to stand beside her, ordering her own mug of ale.

A string of laughter and off-colored comments rose from a near table. Laerlin shot a quick, strange glance at the bit of conversation to their left, Eruviel hesitating her greeting to look past in the table’s direction. Eyebrows raised, Laerlin looked straight back at the counter, a bewildered look twisting her features.

Chuckling softly, Eruviel took her cup from Barliman and nodded to the healer. “I beg your pardon, Laerlin, but are you free for a moment?”

Taking her drink from the innkeeper, Laerlin turned to look at Eruviel. “Oh, hello again. It has been a while. Yes, how can I help you?”

“I probably should say my greetings more often,” Eruviel nodded with a polite smile, “but I was wondering, with the recent events, how are the healers faring?”

Laerlin wrinkled her nose. “Busy,” she admitted. “Miss Dagnawyn is pushing as much preventative mixtures as she can to any who will take them, as fast as she can make them. I’ve been treating symptoms as I see them. Master Daretwin more recently took a journey to Beggar’s Alley– I regret I could not join him.” She sighed heavily. “I warrant Nillariel, Aniwise, and other jail healers are also helping as they can. And that covers only what I know of healer’s movements recently.”

Eruviel nodded slowly, glancing towards Arion as he departed the room. Good. Taking the small satchel from her shoulder she extended it out to Laerlin. “It is not much, but I want to do what I can as well, and offer my services.”

Laerlin looked at her in faint surprise. She slowly took the satchel and peered inside at the contents. Closing it once more with a glimmer of surprise on her face her grip tightened faintly on the bag. “This is a wonderful collection. How much do you wish for it?”

Eruviel tucked her now free hand into her pocket, pursing her lips as she shook her head. “It is not for sale. You are gifted at healing, and my . . . talents can be put to good use aiding in those efforts.”

Laerlin smiled at her. “Knowing which herbs are valuable and which are not, and being able to find them is a wonderful talent,” she said earnestly. “Thank you for this gift.”

Eruviel nodded, giving a small, amused smile. “There will be more, as long as there is a need. And if you need anything from more of that,” she gestured to the bag, “to an extra set of hands, seeing as I doubt I will get ill, please let me know.”

“It is not like your kind to fall ill, from what I understand. It would indeed be something terrible if you did,” she murmured. “Did you want the satchel back? I can put these into my own.”

Eruviel shook her head. “I can get it back when I get more. On that note,” she said, lowing her voice a bit more, “Is there a certain type that is best suited to combating this illness? I am afraid that is a collection of herbs and not all might be useful.”

Laerlin shook her head slightly. “I have seen different symptoms, many of them cold-like, others worse, such as these nasty looking rashes, to put it simply. If you were to collect but one plant from the wild, though, I would say yarrow would be most useful. If you are out in the Shire, ginger– the whole plant, roots as well.”

Eruviel nodded as she made a mental note of them. “Very well. I hope to get out again tonight or tomorrow. If you think of anything else leave a note with the tanner. He will know where to find me.”

Laerlin switched her mug to her other hand, glancing across the room to where her husband was being interrogated by an exceptionally cheery hobbit. “There are certainly a dozen different herbs that could be useful, but I would say concentrating on searching for one would be most useful, and if you find something like clover and sage and so on while looking, then collect it, but . . . well, yarrow may be most useful if this continues to get worse.”

Eruviel chuckled and took a sip of her ale. It was disgusting. Giving the mug a distasteful frown she set it back on the counter. “You will have them, my friend.”

“Thank you, Eruviel. I should join Darramir, but I appreciate this,” she said with a kind smile, lifting the satchel. “Stay safe.” Giving Eruviel one last nod Laerlin hurried across the room to rescue her man.

Glancing to the two of them Eruviel swallowed and headed back outside. Patting the small statue of a ship in her pocket she strode down the steps, squaring her shoulders against the death and the dark.

 

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“Tell Me.”

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Jumping up to grab hold of the gable of the roof, Risalra pulled herself up onto the old tile with a practiced ease. Ducking behind a chimney she peeked out to watch one of the town Watchers ride past. Not that she was doing anything illegal, per-say, but she didn’t have time to get stopped. As soon as he disappeared around the corner she jumped up and ran down the valley of the roof and faulted across the short expanse of an alley to the next house.

Finding her way easily over the maze of Bree rooftops she finally clambered down a tree into an old, hidden courtyard. Honestly, she had considered ditching the afternoon lessons. But she needed to get stronger. Her skill with a sword was elementary and she had every reason to work hard to get better. Leaning against the trunk of the tree she crossed her arms over her chest, entertaining the thought of running her newly forged blade through her instructors heart.

Don’t loose your head Ris, she chastised herself. There are two sides to every story . . . . She chuckled dryly as the Elf clad in formfitting, black leather armour dropped down from the roof across the courtyard to the ground, landing with ease. But maybe I won’t give her a chance to tell her side. . . . A second individual, a young woman in her early twenties with a wolf pelt draped over her shoulders, stopped on the roof the Elf had come from and sat on the edge, watching.

“Good to see you showed up, Ris,” came the first’s flowing voice, soft brown hair tumbling out of her black hood as she pulled it back.

“Eruviel,” Ris grumbled in greeting, her grip tightening on her hilt. “Course I’d show up. This was my bloody idea, wasn’t it?”

Eruviel nodded and tossed her cloak aside. “Why don’t we start with a review then,” she said, not looking up at her human pupil.

Look at me, dammit, Ris fumed, drawing her sword. “That works for me,” she responded curtly. The Elf’s eyes did not rise till Ris had begun going through her paces. Pouring her anger into her practice, Ris got done with her practiced stances so quickly that Eruviel made her run through them again. Then she did them backwards, and after that was taught a whole new set of moves, this time with two blades instead of one.

Panting for breath, Ris was nearing the end of the new steps when her toe caught on a tuft of grass. Crying out in frustration she stabbed her dagger in the ground and stopped to catch her breath. The strange woman still sat on the edge of the roof, watching as her feet swung freely in the open space below. Looking up to Eruviel, Risalra could see the elf’s face was hard as a mask. Though not insincere, layers of minor emotions shielded something else. Ris felt her anger swell.

“That was well done, Ris. You — you look tired. We can be done for the day if you like,” said Eruviel, giving Ris a sad smile.

That was about all Ris could stand. Snatching up her dagger she turned on Eruviel. “Tell me,” she growled, her blue eyes flashing dangerously. “You need to tell me why.”

Her emerald eyes taking Ris’s posture and approach, Eruviel took a step back, a hand moving to the long dagger at her hip. “Please, Ris,” she responded quietly, her voice catching. “Not . . . not right now.” Risalra could see that she clung to her mask desperately, and it fueled her desire to tear it to shreds.

“You elf witch!” she cried, parrying Eruviel’s block and thrusting forward with her longsword. “You broke my brother’s heart!” Swinging wildly, Ris lost it, her vision blurring as she put all of her practice to use. Just one drop, was all. She just wanted to see her bleed.

Retreating one step at a time, Eruviel easily blocked and parried Risalra’s attack. “Ris . . . Ris! Please!”

Her sword was knocked out of her hand and in a flash the elf huntress had her wrist in a vice-grip. “Why?! How could you — ” Risalra’s words caught in her throat as she finally looked Eruviel in the face. The elf’s jem-like eyes glistened with tears, filled with misery. “E-Eruviel. Please. Please tell me why,” she asked quietly, drawing her arm back as the elf released it.

“I couldn’t Ris. I couldn’t give him everything.”

Risalra’s brow furrowed. “What do you mean? He’d give you everything!”

“And he deserves everything in return!” Eruviel shouted, turning away. “My love never lessened, but I loved him as a friend and brother. It was not the kind of love that one gives to another when they intend to bind their lives together. ” Turning back Ris could have been knocked off her feet at seeing tears coursing down Eruviel’s cheeks. “I — am sorry, Ris. I could not give him children. He told me we didn’t need to have any, but you know Rath. I cannot go off to fight wars he cannot go to when he is old and childless. I cannot keep bringing death to his door, endangering both our lives. Even more, I am not willing to give it up for him. He needs some one who can give him everything in return. Someone who can give him a full life.”

Risalra swallowed, her eyes narrowing. “Did you tell him that?”

Eruviel nodded ‘yes’.

“And he argued back, didn’t he.”

“He did.”

“And you still ended things.” Risalra gave Eruviel half a second to nod ‘yes’ before slamming her fist into the Eldar’s face.

The elf didn’t even try to stop her, stumbling a step back from the force of the punch. A small smile curved up her lips as a stream of blood trickled out the corner of her mouth. “For Rath?”

“No,” Ris huffed, shaking out her hand. “For me.”

Eruviel wiped the blood off on her sleeve, nodding. “See you next week?”

Risalra retrieved her weapons and shoved them back into their sheaths as she walked away. “Sure.”

 

Thursday

A black mist crept along the floor, swirling up in soft, claw-like puffs as she ran down the corridor. The back hall of the Pony never seemed so long, but a dry laugh echoed out from behind her, urging her legs to run faster.

“That’s great that you’re sorry . . .”

Bounding off the wall to keep from crashing as she turned the corner the room changed. A wall blocked off her retreat and the way was now lined with cold, crudely cut stone. Orange light danced across the walls. Only the mist remained. Was this the dungeons of Carn Dum? Stepping forward it filled her with dread and a familiarity she’d rather deny. Where had she just come from? Why was she here again? She had escaped, hadn’t she?

“You made me believe . . .”

Her breath caught in her throat. Some unseen force sucked the air out of her lungs, but as she slumped against the wall a scream echoed from up ahead. I know that scream, she thought as a feeling of panic gripped her. Pushing off from the wall she stumbled forward into a run. Ninim? Anya? The scream filled her ears and each time it sounded it changed. By the Valar, who was it?! Eirikr? Torrin?

Before she knew it she was running from cell to cell, sparing only glances for the dead within as she searched frantically for the voice. The dry, emotionless laugh sounded again and as she skidded to a stop, so did her heart. Why were her feet wet? As soon as she looked down she regretted it. Instead of mist, blood swirled around her ankles, covering the floor. The harsh smell of iron assaulted her. Covering her mouth with her hand she suddenly wrenched it back, staring at her hands in horror. They too were covered in blood, and it was not her own. Bile rose in her throat.

Then she heard it. Not a scream or a laugh, but the quiet, desperate struggle of one wounded, gasping for breath to survive. It was from the cell beside her but when she turned it was too dark to make out the features of the person slumped against the far wall. Pushing open the cell door she stepped in. I need to help them, she thought frantically, I must get them out of here.

She stumbled back, but the cell door had closed behind her. Arathier’s mouth curled in a sneer, his hands hanging limp at his side. His mask floated just out of reach and arrows protruded from his chest. Blue eyes turned up to look at her, filled with sorrow and rage and confusion. 

“Why?”

 

Eruviel shot upright, gasping for breath as she tore the sheets off of her that had wound around her neck. Coughing, she retreated to the head of the bed, pulling her knees to her chest as she struggled to control her violent shaking.

Minutes passed, and the sound of birds in the tree outside her window gently brought her back to her senses. The sun was fully up, and a late morning breeze filtered in through the windows she had left cracked open.

“Blasted bed,” she grumbled, swinging her legs over the side. His side. Her eyes misting over she rose to her feet, fighting off the blanket that still looped around her waist. They were over, and looking back over her shoulder at the ornate piece of furniture, it seemed more like a cage. Hastily throwing on her customary trousers and a shirt she studied the bed through narrowed eyes as she pulled on her stockings and boots. It had to go. Opening the front door and the rest of the windows to air out the house Eruviel rolled up her sleeves and began tearing off the soft silk lining of the bed’s canopy.

Collecting the sheets and blankets she rolled them into one massive ball and threw them off the porch into the yard. Angrily wiping a tear that coursed down her cheek she marched back inside and tackled the mattress. It was wide and awkward. Stumbling once or twice she finally managed to drag it through the house. Cutting a hole in the side of the taunt cloth to use she grasped the seams and struggled to squeeze it out of the door. Finally getting it out she heard her weapon stand fall over with a crash. Leaving the mattress leaning against the nearest statue she made her way back to the bedroom.

The rich, red wooden frame of the canopy bed never seemed intimidating before, but now the heavy wooden furniture looked back at her as if to say, “What did you expect?” Making her way down to the cellar Eruviel returned with a handful of tools. But it was no use. Try as she might the bolts at the corners of the posts would not turn.

“Please, please just work,” she begged as she fought with the tools one more time. Her efforts amounting to nothing she tossed the tools to the side, standing in the middle of the room feeling helpless.

“Hello? Lady Eruviel, how –” Bellethiell’s merry greeting stopped short as she saw the mess in the common room. Stepping past the scattered weapons and over the fallen maps and candle stand she poked her head into the bedroom, her golden hair swishing about her troubled face. “What in Arda . . . .”

Eruviel turned to look at her young friend, tears welling in her emerald eyes as she was unable to conceal how miserable she felt. “I-I can’t get it,” she managed.

Giving her a long, look, Belle nodded once. Not speaking a word she took up the tools and fought with the bolts, having no better luck at loosening them. The two Eldar stood side-by-side, hands on their hips, staring at the bed.

“Do you have an axe?”

“Yup.”

“Where at?”

“Downstairs to the left.”

Eruviel didn’t move till she hear Belle coming back up from the cellar. Stepping inside the frame, she positioned herself in the middle of the open rectangle.

“Should you break it or I?”

“You break it. I’ll hold it.”

Belle nodded and moved to the first corner of the bed, axe gripped comfortably in her hands. “This is a terrible idea.”

Eruviel lifted her hands up to brace against the wooden canopy roof. “I know. Just do it.”

The four supports broke easily as Bellethiell chopped through one, then another. The top dropped, and though Eruviel caught it the weight sent sharp pangs down her still-healing arm. Gritting her teeth she carried the top out, grateful that Belle let her do it on her own till she came to the door. One on either end they hefted the top of the canopy outside, then returned for the bottom frame, breaking off the post before dragging the rest out to join the growing pile.

Then it was over. Taking a deep breath Eruviel offered Belle a grateful smile as she stepped to go back inside but the young elf maiden snagged her left arm. “Let’s go.”

“What?” she asked looking back at her friend. Seeing the determined look in her eye Eruviel tried to pull away, shaking her head. “I’m fine, Belle, really. ”

No. You can’t pull that with me. Get your bow, and let’s go. We can clean up the mess when we get back.”

Searching her face for a moment Eruviel finally nodded in consent. Snatching up her bow and quiver from inside she shut the door and padded down the steps, drying her tear-stained cheeks. “You’re right. Let’s go.”

 

Intent to Kill

My brothers would kill me if they knew, Eruviel thought grimly as her gloved hand rested at the strange sword hanging at her hip. Her usual weapons absent, she had retrieved Rainion’s sword from the Barrow Downs after she’s returned from Othrikar with Threz. Bits of moss still clung to the fine details on the crossguard but the metal of the blade still gleamed like it had all those years ago. The rune-master had given her an odd look as she had him bind small runes to either side of the pommel, but she would not take any chances. She was sure that it was the ancient blade that made her feel strange, but the wound on her upper arm did not help. Looking up she nodded, her face pale as she moved to greet the sell-sword that walked up into her yard. “Good evening Joan. I . . . I really appreciate this.”

Joannee removed her helmet, a frown creasing her brow. “What’s wrong?”

Eruviel ran her tongue along the inside of her cheek as she looked down at the sword. How in Arda do I explain this? “A . . . friend of mine, Arathier, has been unfortunate enough to be taken over by a wight. This is all rather . . . strange, I know, but I intend to convince it that I will kill it by killing Rath. I can do it, but I needed to have my back covered and to have him taken to the infirmary after. I can pay you, of course.”

“Well, are we allowed to injure him, or no?” the woman asked as she drew her crossbow.

Eruviel ‘s eyes widened and she quickly shook her head, holding out a hand. “Oh no. I-I do not want him injured more than nessicary. I just need him to not get away. My hope is to bind the wight to this blade.” She pats the weapon at her hip. Since her and Rath had agreed on this solution she had been reading up on anatomy as a refresher. To be honest, she had lucked out, the wight having been too tired from fighting back Rath to hear her through it’s host. She was very good at killing, so she felt confident she could strike and not kill.

Joannee put her helmet back on and raised the visor. “If either your life or mine is at risk, I will not hesitate.” She paused for a moment before adding, “Wait, did you say Arathier?”

The knot that already sat in her gut twisted. You have got to be kidding me. How does she — Her thoughs were interrupted as the Eldar, Bellethiell walked up the path, armoured to the teeth like Joan, her shield strung on her arm. Nodding a bow to her with a small sigh of relief she looked back to Joan. “I did. He and I are . . well we were.” She shook her head as she beckoned Belle to join them. “The relationship can be difficult to explain.”

Bellethiell offered a bow as she stepped over, her eyes darting between the two of them, “I am here for whatever you need my lady.”

“What do you mean?” asked Joan with a raised brow, looking at the new elf, “Another mercenary?”

Eruviel blinked, looking to Belle with a chuckle. “Oh no, she is not competition for you. Joannee, this is Bellethiell, an armorer by trade.”

Joannee slid her visor down. “Good. I would not want someone interfering.” She drew the string back on her bow and loaded a bolt.

Bellethiell stumbled back a bit. She tried a short bow to Joannee before stuttering, “Just — just here to help is all. Eruviel, how can I assist you in this . . . endeavor?”

Eruviel ‘s stern expression cracked a little more and she nodded down the lane. “We will be going to a house in the next neighborhood. Joanne is watching my back. I need you to make sure the wight does not . . . spirit him away before I can get a good shot at him.”

Bellethiell nodded quickly and made her way down the hill, readying her weapons. Watching her move ahead Eruviel almost felt bad at seeing her young friend’s hands shake. Who else could she have asked? Nilla was gone, and Threz was still healing from the battle. She didn’t have the heart to ask Eirikr, and asking Anyatka was simply out of the question.

“Shall we?” Eruviel asked with a nod to Joan. “And no killing him. I’d prefer any injury done to be by me,” she added with a smirk and a jab of her finger.

Joannee answered by aiming the crossbow to make sure it was sighted. She then lowered it.

Steppping forward, Eruviel shoot Joan a look. I mean it. She’d just turned around when Belle’s tremoring voice called out from below. “E-eru-uviel?”

Glancing back to Joan she jogged down to the gate. “What is it, Belle?” She was mere yards away when she saw him, and she skidded to a stop.

Arathier towered over Belle as the young Eldar blocked the path, his eyes black a night. “Move Elf! Only one of your kind will die tonight.”

Eruviel could hear Joan stop behind her, and she knew the woman had her crossbow aimed at Arathier’s chest.

Bellethiell turned over her left shoulder, her eyes glistening with fear. She drew up her left arm and pointed to Arathier.

Eruviel ‘s eyes narrowed at the man as she drew her sword, pointing almost too calmly to Belle with her free hand as she approached. “Block the road, dear friend.” A cold chill went up her sword arm.

Arathier glared at Eruviel and sneered as he took a step towards her. “Elf you will not stop me! This mortal will be mine.”

Joannee coughed a bit as she placed the stock of the crossbow into her shoulder. “Keep talking like that, and we’ll see who stops you.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Eruviel saw Belle take another small step back at her post, drawing her hand to the small blade at her waist. She was in good company. Sliding one foot back, she leveled the ancient blade at him even as an unnatural urge to kill set into her. Is this why Milloth warned me away from this thing? “Then you should have run instead of coming after me, you fool. You have made my job easier. I was serious, what I said the other night,” she says darkly.

Arathier looked around. “What will you do elf, kill your human?” He gave her a evil smirk as he saw the anger flash in her eyes before motioning out to the three of them. “You have not brought these two to kill him. . . you are so weak!”

Joannee walked down the pathway, crossbow still raised. “Look at me. Do you honestly think I will not kill you? I am here to protect her, not you.”

“Aye!” Belle shouted in response, nodding confidently up to Joannee before turning her gaze back to the possessed man. Her hand clasped her blade tighter.

Eruviel could hear the blood rushing in her ears. The wound on her bicep began to throb, and she began to suddenly feel off balance. You have to . . . You have to go now! “You should not underestimate me,” she shouted, furious as she lunged forward, the blade aimed at his abdomen.

Arathier dodged out of the way at the last minute, grabbing her wrist as she sliced into the air where he had been. “Elf, I have been alive for far longer than you could imagine. I cannot be killed.”

“Everyone can be killed,” she spat. With a sharp yank she turned her trapped arm counter-clockwise to break his grip as she kicked at his stomach. Breaking free she danced back a pace, ready again to attack.

Bellethiell strode a step forward in a readied position to attack. Joannee’s breath began to slow as she prepared to take a shot.

Arathier stumbled back, glaring at her. “Would you kill him, Elf?” He snickered wickedly but his body suddenly went rigid, his fists clenching as a bright blue pushed away the black in his eyes. “E-Eru. . . you have to do it,” he managed.

Her eyes misting over at the sight of Arathier fighting back the wight, Eruviel nodded curtly, and she lunged forward again before the wight could regain full control.

Arathier’s eyes widened as the blade pierced him, his body shuddering as his shirt began to soak with blood. He looked at her in the eyes, his own turning from black, to blue, then back again as he slowly looked down at the blade, sputtering for breath.

Eruviel drove the ancient steel into him, her armored hand grasping the blade only a few inches from the tip so as not to run him through. “Now I have you,” she growled as her shoulders tensed under some unseen effort. Somewhere behind her she heard Bellethiell gasp, but she pushed it all out of her mind as she held the sword point into him. Through the blade, she could feel the wight thrashing in panic and she began to draw it out as she had done with nightmares and sickness in the past. It has to work . . . . Curse it all, it will work!

Arathier shuddered as the wight passed through him and began to bind itself to the sword. A shout rose from his throat as it desperately tried to reattach itself to Arathier’s body but could not regain the lost ground.

Almost. Just a little longer, Eruviel told herself as the runes on the sword faintly glowed, sealing the twisted soul to the elven blade. Eruviel’s arms began to shake as her green eyes paled, her hands clinging to the sword as it took on a sickening black aura.

Arathier closed his eyes for a moment as he regained full control of his body. He shuddered as he took a deep breath, looking from the sword to Eruviel. Joannee straightened, lowering the crossbow. She slid the visor for her helmet up, watching what was going on with a confused expression.

Then it was done. Eruviel drug her feet as she stepped back, pulling the sword from him. Her hands wet with hot blood, she held the sword out to the side. Her head spun and the chill that had run up her arm before now filled her. “Take — take him to the infirmary, Joan. If you please,” she rasped.

“That is a far, far distance to travel with a stomach wound. Are you sure?”

Arathier shook his head. “T-Take me home. I h-have everything that is needed to heal t-this.” His eyes slowly began to close.

Eruviel looked up to Arathier, her eyes still pale as she took another step back. A need for more blood trickled into her mind, almost like a small voice. “Call for a healer to see to him. Home remedies will not be enough for that wound.”

Arathier grit his teeth and looked down at the sword before turning his stern gaze on her. “Y-You must put the sword back . . . .”

Joannee took hold of his arm as he began to sway, “Right . . . I have no idea where you live, so you’ll need to stay awake.”

Eruviel ‘s hand gripped the hilt tighter, but after a long pause she nodded. I cannot keep it. I must ki — NO. Orome steel me, I must put it back. Where no one can find it. “I might be a while,” she managed as her mouth went dry. Her head rolled more than turned as she looked back to Belle. “Arwenamin, i-if you’d come with me . . . ?”

Bellethiell nodded, her usually merry face hardened and resolute. “Of course my friend, shall I go get the horses?”

Eruviel nodded, turning slowly to walk down the road. “If you would.”

 

(( RP taken from in-game and edited for tense and detail.))

An Afternoon Shave

The midday sun beat down upon the homestead without mercy but a cool breeze had sprung up durring Eruviel’s walk and it was a welcome company at her back. Her hands tucked under the straps of her pack she trudged up the steps of Arathier’s house. Raising her hand she hesitated, remembering being chided for knocking the day before. Squaring her jaw, Eruviel lifted her chin and knocked anyways. She really needed to get over this whole feeling reluctant business.

“Its open, just open the bolt on your side!” Arathier called out from within.

Good, he’s in control, she thought with a small nod. Quickly unlocking the bolt on the outside she opened the door wide and left it to let in the breeze. Rath stood across the room, his shirt off, wiping the gleam of perspiration from his skin with a towel. The hollowness that had shadowed his face the night before had vanished and the light in his eyes chased away her doubt that he might be loosing the battle. “By the Valar, it’s warm in here,” she muttered, tugging at the collar of her shirt. “Forgive me for knocking. I –” She stopped and twisted her mouth to the side. For Orome’s sake, now I’m apologizing?!  Walking the the windows she began to open one after the other, the house filling with the cool, sweet wind.

Arathier smiled and leaned against the table. “Its nice to see you too Eruviel,” he chuckled. He tensed for a moment before scrambling to clean up the area he had been using to work out. “I am glad you came by.”

Eruviel took the bag from her back, nodding as a small smile escaped the corner of her mouth. “I told you I would,” she said simply. Looking to him her eyes wandered unbidden to his chest and she looked quickly to her bag, pulling out another parcel of food and fresh water. “I was thinking you might like that scruff cleaned off of your face,” she said with a roll of her shoulders. Tucking a stray strand of hair behind her pointed ear her eyes widened, the gesture reminding her . . . One thing at a time, Eru. You’re already being ridiculous. Handle one thing at a time. Color rose to her cheeks and she busied herself with unwrapping the meal she’d brought.

His eyes locked on her, Arathier smirked and nodded. “Sure, why not? Even I have a limit to how thick my beard should be.” Walking over he put his hand on hers, giving it an affectionate squeeze as he smiled down at her.

Eruviel looked up at him, her expression softening a bit as she saw it was all him. Not even a shadow of the wight lingered. “Bring up a chair, then,” she said as she took her hand back and pulled a small kit out from her bag. “Do you just want a trim or do you want a shave?”

“You can do whatever you like with it,” Arathier said with a roll of his shoulders. “I would prefer a trim but if you want. . . I don’t mind shaving it off.” He moved to grab a chair and slid it over to the table next to her, sitting down.

Eruviel unrolled the kit, pulling out a thin pair of scissors and a comb. Glancing at him out of the corner of her eye she smiled slightly. “I have never seen you without your beard . . . but if you prefer to keep it, I will just trim it for you.”

“Shave it all off,” he laughed, sitting back in the chair. “Eru, after yesterday. . . I know I–” He sighed and looked up at her. “I love you, ok? In my stupid reasoning I thought I knew what was best, and I realize now I was wrong. . .” He gave a heavy sigh and looked to the floor. “I’m just . . . I’m going crazy in here,” he muttered.

Fetching a towel she draped it across his chest and around his broad shoulders. “I know,” she responded quietly, beginning to mix shaving cream in a small cup. “I am meeting with an acquaintance later today. I am going to see if they can come and try, and I have another friend who is doing some research for me. ” Taking up the scissors she began to shorten his beard. “In the meantime I brought you a few books, and a new notebook in the event that you’ve filled up your old one.”

Arathier nodded, leaning his head to one side as she worked. “Thanks Eru. . .” His voice trailed off. Glancing up at her he gave her a curious smile before fixing his gaze on the ceiling. “Eru. . . Have you ever danced before?”

It took all her willpower not to bark a laugh. Did he really not know? But . . . of course he didn’t. To be honest she hadn’t danced since before the Dale trip, and she missed it. Giving him a curious look she brushed the stray hairs from his face. “I used to dance all the time, as a matter of fact,” she responded quietly, whipping the cream into a thick foam. It looked almost edible, and she chuckled, thinking Abbi might have attacked her with it were he here. “Purse your lips a moment.” Scooping up the shaving cream with a brush she began to lather his face. “Why do you ask?”

“Just a thought.” He pursed his lips for her, giving her another curious glance. “How about . . . if we get this wight out of me, we dance.” He smiled softly and closed his eyes. “Yes . . . that would be nice.”

Taking up the razor from the kit she began to carefully shave one side of his face, her hand steady and confident. “I didn’t know you danced,” she commented, a small smile curving up her mouth.

“I don’t,” he chuckled, “so it will be funnier for you.” He opened his eyes and looked in hers. “I just . . . I want to do all the things I never took the time to do with you. I want to go swimming more often, dance. . . make you dinner, and tell you how lucky I am to have you.”

Eruviel gently took his chin between her thumb and fore-finger and turned his head to the side as the tips of her ears turned pink. “Hold still,” she mumbled, adding a bit more lather, her eyes focused on her task as she began shaving the other side of his face. You really can’t let me be angry, can you? The night before he had burned it all; the masks and hoods and the list of names . . . . It had taken a long struggle to be at peace with the deaths of the mortals that she surrounded herself with, but she had not quite come to terms with being left by the Dreadward, and Androvorn, and Milloth, all saying it was for her safety. It was a bitter seed she had not quite rooted out and the internal conflict it caused might have been what made her the most angry. “I need time,” she said quietly. “You make me feel terrible for still being angry, but I need a little time to sort things out in my head.”

“Don’t feel terrible, you’re doing the right thing,” he said with an understanding smile. The smile waivered for a moment. “Do I still have your love?” he asked in a low voice.

Silent for a moment she tilted his chin up and began to shave beneath it, wiping the razor clean on the towel every now and then. She finally nodded in response. Standing back she looked over his face, checking for any spots she might have missed. She would not lie about that.

A weight seem to lift from his shoulders and he nodded once before running a hand over his cheeks. “W-Wow. . . I haven’t been clean shaven since I was . . . eighteen?” He smirked as he wiped a bit of shaving cream off on his trousers. “It feels weird.”

Eruviel ‘s smile brightened some and she pointed the razor at him. “I still have to shave off your mustache. Hold still just one more second.”

Nodding, he held still as she worked and closed his eyes again. “Eruviel, thank you,” he said quietly as he relaxed into the chair.

Cleaning the razor off she surveyed his face with a rather proud expression. Not a single nick. “What are you thanking me for?” she asked as she dampened a cloth, wiped the last flecks of shaving cream off of his jaw and removed the now dirty towel from his shoulders, taking care not to spill more bits of hair onto the floor.

Arathier smiled and planted a small kiss on her cheek before she could turn away. “For everything,” he said simply, giving her a long look.

Eruviel met his gaze. Her ears turning pink again she nodded and proceeded to fold the towels and put them in her bag to wash later. Setting the few books, Rangers log, and new notebook to the side she looked up to him. “Is . . . is it painful?”

Arathier nodded slowly. “Yes. . . but there are worse things.” He was still looking at her. “I never wanted this to happen, Eru. . . I never did,” he said, his voice full of regret as he walked towards her.

“It is not your fault. You had no idea it was Mornenion who had broken into the house when you went out to face him, and it was not your fault for anything they did to you . . . including this,” she said, gesturing with an idle hand.

Arathier looked down at her, his brow furrowed and eyes filled with a dozen thoughts. “I love you, truly I do. Till death.”

Eruviel watched him for a moment before smiling sadly back at him. Reaching a delicate hand up she cupped one side of his face, brushing her thumb over where his beard had been. “It suits you,” she said quietly. Pulling her hand away after a moment she looked out the open window to the lengthening shadows of evening. “I will try to have someone here tomorrow or the next day,” she said quietly. “Is there anything else I can bring you?”

Arathier shook his head. “No, all I need is you here.” He walked away to stand by the fireplace. “I guess I will see you later then, love.”

Eruviel let out a sigh as she slung her bag over her shoulder. Closing the windows she double checked to make sure he had everything. You can’t keep doing this, she told herself. Pivoting, Eruviel walked back across the room. Placing a hand on his arm and rising up on her toes she pecked a kiss on his cheek before going back to the door. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Closing and bolting the door behind her she leaned back against it, scrubbing her hands over her face. She wasn’t sure what she wanted aside from a quiet and a calmed spirit. Go home? Go to the Tenorbekk’s? Go for a walk? Padding down the steps she shoved her hands into her pockets as she strode out to the road. Yes, a walk sounded like a good place to start.

Introductions: The Road

“Pack . . . dagger . . . noteboooo –” Arylieth’s voice trailed off from her checklist as she turned in a circle. Scuttling over to her small desk in the corner she dropped a pile of papers on the chair and rifled through a stack of books. Her stomach sank. Where on earth was it?

The notebook wasn’t anywhere in the house. Picking up her skirts she ran outside, her long black hair billowing behind her as she padded down the front steps into the yard. She found a pencil by the gate but not her notebook.

“By the Valar,” she groaned, slapping a hand to her forehead. Glancing up at the sun she yipped and hurried back inside. “Curse it all, I’m gonna be late!”

Throwing her pack over her shoulders she snatched up her saddlebags packed with food and blankets from the common room. It had to still be at the Archives, she assured herself as she locked the door behind her. Gliding down the road towards the stables she suddenly scooped up her skirts and leapt into a sprint.

“A map! I cannot forget a map!”

__ __ __ __ __

“Are you sure you won’t stay?”

The young, rugged woodsman looked up at her as he stuffed his last shirt into his bag. “The whole family is going. You know father’s talked about going south for years.”

Huffing a stray hair out of her eyes Amiraen pushed off from where she leaned against the wall of the cabin. “Forgive me if I prefer forests of trees to those of stone.”

The man narrowed his eyes at her as he righted himself, fitting the strap of his bag over his shoulder and across his chest. “Gondor isn’t all that bad, sister. It would be a new adventure and you might even find someone.”

Amiraen scoffed, waving an idle hand at him. “I will find my own road, thank you. And I will not let father tie me down to some stuffy merchant’s son. If I end up in Gondor some day it will be my own choice.”

Her brother picked up his bow and walked over to her, tousling her hair like she was a child. “What am I going to do with you,” he sighed. She hated when he did that, but she knew she would miss it every day after he left. “Here, take this then,” he said, handing her the weapon.

“But — but you will need this!” she stammered, carefully holding the bow in both hands.

“You goose. If the war reaches us then I have my swords, and Gondor is full of fighting men. You are the best archer in the family. It’s only fair that you take it.”

Nodding, she clutched the weapon to her chest as she walked with him to the door. “Safe travels then. I will write when I figure out where I end up.”

“Love you,” he chuckled, planting a kiss on her forehead. “Take care of yourself Ami.”

Mira, you oaf,” she corrected with a smirk, giving her brother a playful shove as he turned to walk away. “Love you too.” She would see them again, she reassured herself. Life was funny like that. Securing the cabin she fixed the prized bow on her back, watching him confidently stride away.

He waved back at the turn in the road, and then he was gone. In the silence the Black Woods came alive as raindrops began to patter down through the evergreen canopy.  Binding her soft curls in a low pony-tail a smile curved up Amiraen’s face as it was kissed with each cool drop of water. A crisp wind whispered down through the branches of cedar and pine and, turning north, she let it sweep her away.

__ __ __ __ __

Risalra strolled down the path, a staff crossing over her shoulders and she rested both hands up on either end. Her first day away from the forge in two weeks, she nearly skipped down the path with joy. Nodding in greeting to the constable she turned down the left fork in the road, heading for Chetwood.

“Today could not get more perfect,” she hummed, stretching both hands up into the air, still holding on to the staff.

“Why can I not hit it!” sounded a man’s voice from up the hill, a quieter stream of curses following.

Looking up, Ris stopped as she saw a man facing down a tree, dagger in one hand as the other rubbed his shoulder. Smirking, she raised a hand to cup around her mouth and shouted up, “I think it’s already dead!”

The man jumped and quickly looked at her, startled. He smirked slightly to hide his embarrassment. “I um. . . yeah. . . my arm is not fully healed,” he sighed. “Just practicing.”

Glancing down the road to the woods Risalra turned to look back up at the man. “Maybe you should let it heal a little longer before getting mad at it for not doing your bidding.”

“I guess I am just eager to get better. I can’t help anyone if I’m injured.”

“You won’t do anyone much good if you’re a dead hero,” she replied frankly, watching him pick up up his daggers. He was tall and built. And with ideals like that he was the kind of man she might have pick-pocketed just to get close to without fearing repercussions. But she’d given up being a petty thief so she promptly put the thought from her mind. Shrugging, she offered a slight wave as she turned to be on her way.

“I am no hero miss,” he said as he walked down the hill to the road. “I never want to be. I just believe every child should grow up innocent.”

Risalra stopped and looked back at him, dumbfounded, unable to decide if she should stay or continue on. “That is a noble sentiment. Too bad there are more children in the slums than you can handle.” What a fool.

The man shrugged his broad shoulders and Ris locked her gaze on his face. “Why is that a reason to give up?” he asked softly. Looking to her with a small smile he added, “My name is Ranthier, by the way.”

Arching a brow she studied him, but did not respond to the question. “I’m Ris. A pleasure to meet you, I suppose.”

“Well Ris, if you would excuse me I have work to do. Will . . . will I see you around?”

Bema save me, Risalra smirked. Rolling her shoulders she turned and walked away. “It’s a small world, so I suppose you will. See you around, Knight Ranthier,” she called over her shoulder, her eyes twinkling as she felt rather proud of her quip. He did not respond, but as they walked in opposite directions she could have sworn he’d called her a smart ass.

Arylieth, Eruviel, Amiraen, Risalra

Arylieth, Eruviel, Amiraen, Risalra

Smoldering Fire: Kindling

“As you wish . . . .”

in a world there lived a Woman

((Exposition added; all other taken from RP chat logs edited for conventions and tense))

The streets of Bree always seemed to dirty to Eirikr. Tonight, they stank of the late summer evening and the presence of a growing number of Bree’s paltry residents. Each passing day brought more foreigners to the city; while he felt the anonymity of being a part of an increasing minority population, he also felt each Barding meant an increased chance of discovery.

Perhaps it was silly being so paranoid. The chances his father would have recovered from the loss of Sten and so many of his guard so quickly seemed unlikely, but Eirikr never discounted the resourcefulness of the man. He knew that one day, a shadow of Kolrson Tenorbekk would find his way to Bree and there would be a knife at his back.

For now, he merely sought the refuge of a crowded…

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Summer Days: Mud and Slander part 2

Eruviel twisted her mouth to one side in thought. Crouching down beside him she switched three of the smaller tiles around. “Maybe . . . no, no,” she corrected herself with a shake of her head, putting the tiles back where he had had them. “This is better.”

Eirikr chuckled and rubbed his beard. “You think so? Anya’s the one in our family that’s got the eye for that sort of thing.”

Eruviel struggled to keep back a smile. “Well, to be honest I put them back because I didn’t want to tell you I thought it looked better the other way . . . . This arrangement is not bad, though,” she added hastily.

Eirikr raised both brows. “Er…really?” He waved his hands towards the tiles. “Well, show me again, then . . . I guess . . . .”

Eruviel nodded and reached forward to switch the tiles around, moving four this time. “There. What . . . do you think?” she asked, sitting back, looking from him, to the tiles and back.

Eirikr pursed his lips together and looked up for Abiorn’s opinion. “Abbi!” he called when he saw the boy had snuck off.

Reluctantly, Abiorn poked his head out of Anya’s room. “Uh, yes?”

Eirikr motioned at the tiles. “Do you like this pattern?” he asked.

Eruviel rose to her feet, snickering as she stepped to lean against the wall, giving the boy room.

Abiorn padded out of the room begrudgingly and looked at the pattern. “Sure. It’s great. Worth its weight in mithril.”

Eirikr rolled his eyes and pointed to a bucket sitting in the corner. “Go fill that a quarter of the way with water. Just a quarter! Too much and you’ll ruin the mix.”

Eruviel’s brow creased slightly as she looked down at Eirikr. “Are you sure you like this arrangement better?”

Abiorn rolled his eyes and did as he was told.

Eirikr nodded and rubbed his eyes. “Yes. It’s fine.” He walked over to where another bucket sat full of thick, powdery mix. He rolled his shoulder and the edge of a scar poked up from beneath his collar.

Eruviel averted her eyes at the sight of the scar, looking for the bag of tools she had left the previous day. “Do you have the tools for spreading the mud?”

Eirikr nodded and pushed to his feet. “They’re over here.” He went to the fireplace and pulled out two trowels. “I figured Abbi could spread some. That doesn’t require a steady ha-hello, there, Abbi.” He smiled at his brother as he returned with the water.

Abiorn struggled a bit with the bucket but grinned. “‘ello.”

Eruviel shot Eirikr an amused glance before stepping towards the bucket of powder. “Shall I mix it then?”

Eirikr arched a brow at her. “Do you know how?”

Eruviel bit the corner of her mouth and shrugged. “I can make an educated guess.” She reached out a hand towards the bucket Abbi hefted, and the boy eagerly surrendered it to her. “How much do I need?”

Eirikr looked to her, straight-faced, and responded, “Enough to create a thick, smooth paste. It can’t be too thin, or the tiles won’t set right.”

Eruviel nodded, easily bearing the bucket’s weight as she carried it over to the table. “I think I can manage that,” she replied with a smile. Taking up a scoop she looked around. “Is there a thick stick or spoon I can use to stir it with?”

Eirikr nodded and tossed her a stick. Abiorn ducked even though he was quite safe from the path of trajectory, and Eruviel snatched it out of the air, nodding in approval at the throw. Stick in one hand she stirred in one scoop at a time, taking care to mix each in completely before adding another.

Eirikr grinned and tousled Abiorn’s head as he moved for the door. “I’ll go get more tiles.”

Abiorn ducked away from his brother’s hand and shuffled over to Eruviel. “Hey, there,” he said as he watched her mix the mud. “That looks delicious.”

Eruviel held onto the edge of the bucket with her free hand, the muscles in her right arm strained as she stirred the quickly thickening mix. “Would you care for a taste?” she asked with a chuckle, lifting the stick out of the mud.

Laughing, Abiorn stuck his finger into the paste. “Mmmm!” he said as he raised it to his lips. At the last moment he darted his hand forward and dabbed it on her nose.

Eruviel let out a small cry in surprise, laughing as she ducked back too late. “Why you . . . !” She quickly dipped her finger in the mud, splotching a bit on his cheek.

Abiorn laughed and dug his hand into the bucket. He flung a fistful at Eruviel as he backed away quickly. Eruviel stepped back as the mud sailed through the air, and raised an arm to protect her face. The mud splattered over the front of her white summer shirt, and looking down with a gasp she leapt forward with a grin, taking a clump of mud from her neck and smearing it over the side of Abbi’s face.

Abiorn shouted between fits of laughter. “I give in! I give in!” He caught her wrist and wiped the mud from his face. “Mm mmm. Good stuff.”

The door swung open and Eirikr stopped short at the sight of them bedaubed with mud. “Wha-?”

Laughing, Eruviel stepped back from Abbi, her cheeks flushing pink. Looking down at the soaked and stained front of her shirt she gracefully moved back over to the bucket, beginning to stir again with a failed attempt at an innocent smile pasted onto her face. “It is almost done,” she hummed.

Eiriikr glared at Abiorn. “Uh huh.” He set the tiles down and then shoved the trowel at his brother. “Scrape that off your face and start in the corner, will you?” he said, shaking his head with a sigh.

Abiorn grinned and took the trowel.

Eruviel wiped another glob of mud off of her and flicked it into the tub with a soft plop. Satisfied with the mix she scraped off the stick she handed it to Eirikr. “You shouldn’t have to get dirty, gwador,” she said, her sweet tone coating her smirk as she placed a delicate, muddy hand on his arm. “I’ll help Abbi scrape.” Turning, she carried the heavy bucket over to the boy.

Eiriikr looked at the hand print on his arm for a moment before laughing. “Fair enough.” He tossed her the other trowel even as she turned her back to him.

Setting the bucket down she glimpsed the trowel heading for her head out of the corner of her eye. Smoothly leaning back, she caught it just in time, not a bit of concern on her face. Scooping out a bit of mud she started opposite the corner from Abbi, the bucket between them.

“Don’t hesitate to lay it on thick,” said Eirikr, a grin spreading across his face. He waited for them to put a layer down before moving forward to start setting the tile.

Eruviel moved out of his way, wiping a slight gleam of perspiration from her forehead with her forearm. As he set the last tile she quickly leaned forward, using the back of her trowel to tap down the corner of a tile that tilted just a smidgen out of place.

Abiorn grinned. “Keep an eye on him, Eru,” he quipped with a chuckle as he laid more mud in front of the fireplace.

“Abbi, stop being such a smart-ass,” Eirikr muttered as he edged the hearth with tiny alternating triangles of tile.

“I wonder where he get’s it from,” Eruviel mused with a smirk, careful not to kneel in her work as she spread a fresh, even layer of mud.

Eirikr blinked several times. “Not from me. I mean . . .” he shot a glance at Eruviel. “He gets it from me?” He looked over at his brother curiously.

Abiorn continued to spread the mud carefully despite his seeming disinterest and lack of concern for the project. He bit his lip as he carefully rounded the corner with the trowel.

Eruviel smiled, shooting him an amused look out of the corner of her eye. “Don’t pretend to look so bewildered,” she teased, scooting back as she spread out another section of mud.

Eirikr contemplated her comment for a moment. “I don’t cuss like a sailor, though. He didn’t get that from me,” he responded in a low voice.

“You know I can hear both of you,” Abiorn muttered

Eruviel leaned forward to tap down one tile, then another. “I was not forgetting you, gwador,” she chuckled. “And I curse too, just in small doses when in appropriate company . . . mostly when I am alone.”

Abiorn snorted. “It’s no fun when you’re alone.” He shoved the bucket down the floor with his foot and scooted along after it.

Eirikr sighed and carefully placed more tile. “Really, Abbi. Listen to the Elf.”

Eruviel rolled her eyes, biting back the temptation to mimic his words like Abbi had earlier. “Besides, there are better things to be said than curses,” she noted with a small smile, her elven accent seeping into her inflection.

Abiorn licked his lips as he finished another section. “Like what?” Eirikr glanced at Eruviel to hear her response as he continued to lay tiles.

Eruviel softly bit the inside of her cheek as she scratched away a bit of dried mud from under her eye. “Well, shoot me an insult, Abbi,” she said matter-of-factly. Eirikr chuckled.

Abiorn pursed his full lips and says, “Well, now that you’re asking me to . . .” A beat passed before he said, “How about ‘you’re a shite-eating grub grabber’?”

Eruviel’s pointed ears flushed red as she glanced to Eirikr. Leaning forward to look around the older man she narrowed her eyes dangerously at Abbi. “The wrong response would be, ‘Keep your damn mouth shut, you flat-eared gate bird.'” Her face then melted into a controlled calm, her green eyes only narrowed slightly as they gleamed. “Or I could say, “I have not time for your petulance. And if that is the best insult you have then go find yourself an orc.” She sat back quickly and returned to spreading mud, frustrated that her initial final response had fled her. No good at all.

Eirikr burst into laughter. Sitting back on his heels, he laughed until he had to wipe the tears from his eyes. “Bema bless us, I’ve missed you, Eruviel.”

Abiorn looked absolutely shocked. “You . . . I. . .” he hummed and lets the mud slide from the trowel to the floor.

Eruviel chuckled softly, her cheeks and ears turning a shade darker. “It was not a very good example,” she muttered, wiping the mud from her left hand onto the side of her already ruined shirt.

Abiorn shook his head. “No, no . . . it was a good example . . .and um . . . yeah.” He leaned over and spread the mud that fell from the trowel rather distractedly.

Eirikr continued to chuckle. “Let’s finish this section and then we’ll call it a day’s work. We can finish tomorrow, Abbi.” He shook his head and laughed again.

Eruviel spread out the last bit on her side, then gently tapped down tiles to secure and level them as Eirikr laid them out. “I can help tomorrow too, if you would like the extra set of hands.”

Eirikr looked at Eruviel with a grateful expression. “I’d like that. And Abbi can continue his argument that speaking like an uneducated street rat is a good idea.” Abiorn glared at Eirikr and scraped the trowel off into the bucket.

Eruviel scraped the mud off of her own trowel and retrieved a spare linen from the cupboard. “Dampen the cloth and cover the bucket. It should keep the mud good over night.” She then nodded, her smile a bit brighter after hearing Eirikr laugh. It had been a long time since she’d heard that sound. Far too long. “I will be here in the morning then. Thank you for letting me help out.”

Eirikr held out his hands. “Thank you for helping.” He gave Abiorn a pointed look as the boy dipped the cloth in the left over water. “We both appreciate it very much.”

Eruviel hesitated only a moment before giving the man a hug. “Of course! I am always happy to help with anything.” She turned her head, giving Abbi a grin and sisterly wink.

Abiorn nodded in agreement, though he still looked a bit sullen. “Yeah. Thanks for coming by Eruviel.”

“See you tomorrow, Eru. Thanks again,” said Eirikr as he moved out of her path.

Eruviel beamed a smile up at him. “Have a good night, brothers. Give Anyatka my love!”

Eirikr nodded. “We will.” Opening the door for her he clasped her gently on the shoulder as she passed by.

Eruviel set her opposite hand atop of his for a moment as she walked out, nodding up to him. “It is good to hear you laugh again,” she commented quietly, nodding before moving onto the porch.

Eirikr followed her outside as Abbi began to clean off the trowels. “It is good to have something to laugh about. I think for a long time I forgot how,” he admitted.

Eruviel rubbed her hands together, dried pieces of mud flaking off. “I am glad you remembered. It suits you better,” she said with a soft chuckle. Looking up at his face the question in his eyes made her remember what she had forgotten all day; what she had been trying to forget for weeks. And his contrite smile told her she would have to, no, need to remember. She knew she couldn’t hide it. She couldn’t with Anya, and she couldn’t with him.

“How are you holding up?”

 

(RP taken from chat logs, edited for grammar, tense, and detail)

Summer Days: The Tenorbekk’s part 1

Eruviel strolled down the lane, whistling an adventurous elven tune. Strangely enough, she had looked forward to today. Not to the hot, high summer sun reflecting off the lake, but to the small home just around the bend in the road.  Stopping at the gate to the Tenorbekk residence her mouth curved up in a smile.

Abiorn and Eirikr lifted tiles into matching stacks. The younger dropped a tile and cursed. Eirikr, much to his credit and Eruviel’s amusement, reprimanded him for his language, but picked up the broken tile without concern. Eru had never seen Eirikr shirtless before. His lean, toned physique was a testament to his excellent shape, already proven by the long trip to Dale. Aside from the elder’s loose cotton pants and leather boots there was nothing else aside from the raised white scars that laced his muscled back. Her left hand moved to her abdomen for a moment, the sight of his old injuries making her aware if her own scars, and feeling oddly more at home.

“Good afternoon you two!” she called, walking down the path to the house. “I hope I showed up in time to be of use.”

Abiorn turned quickly at the sound of her voice, a huge grin spreading across his face. “Always, Eru!” He slugged Eirikr in the shoulder and pointed. “Brother, look.”

Eirikr glanced over his shoulder and set the tile he was moving on the stack. “Eruviel.” He turned to her and wiped his brow with the back of his arm. “How are you, systir?”

“I am well, thank you! You both look . . . well, worse for wear,” she chuckled, letting her satchel slide off her shoulder, catching it with one hand. “What is on the agenda today gwador?”

Eirikr rubbed his beard. “Ah, we’re fine. Anya’s not here, though, if you’re looking for her. She keeps running off on us.” Abiorn nodded in agreement.

Abbi pointed at the stack. “We’re finally laying the tile.”

Eruviel smirked slightly at the mental image of Anya laying tile and covered in mud. “She’s never been one for hard labor, I imagine.” Nodding to Abbi her smile widened. “Good! I had hoped as much. Let me change and I’ll be out to help.”

Eirikr gestured toward the house. “You know the way?” he asked just to confirm. His muscles moved beneath his skin as he raises his arm toward the door. “Let me know if you need anything.”

Eruviel’s eyes flicked to the edges of his scars before following his arm to the door, nodding as she gave him smile. “I know the way, thank you. I shall be right out.”

Abiorn scratched his arm as he piped up, “Will you bring out some cups?” Eirikr shot him an annoyed look.

Eruviel nodded, sending a smile over her shoulder. “Of course!”

Looking back as she moved to close the front door of the house she paused for a moment to watch the boys. “What? I’m thirsty . . . .” Abiorn shrugged away from Eirikr’s playful swipe and hobbled away. “Hey, ya bully,” he scolded.

Concealed inside Eruviel quickly changed shirts. Using the mirror in Anya’s room she laced up the bodice and frowned. The poor thing was going to get ruined, she knew it. Sighing she tugged at the cap of the thin, sleeveless shirt, the cloth doing nothing to hide the fresh, four-inch scar stretching over her shoulder. It could not be helped. Better to dirty this shirt than wilt in her others from the afternoon heat. Draping her other shirt over the foot of Eirikr’s bed she retrieved three cups from the cupboard. Walking back out the door, the three cups carefully clutched in one hand she fixed her collar with the other hand and closed the door behind her with her foot. “Here you are, Ab –”

Abiorn laughed, his head locked between Eirikr’s arm and torso, punching his older brother, who doesn’t seem phased in the slightest, in the gut. Seeing Eru, Eirikr released the younger boy who hurried to take a cup. “Thank ye kindly!” He snatched it from her hand and took off towards the back.

“Take the others, you dolt!” Eirikr reminded him. Abbi hobbled back to take the other two and quickly disappeared.

Eirikr sighed and rubbed his stomach. “Sorry ’bout that.” As his fingers scratched his abdomen, he blushed slightly beneath his dark tan. “Er, I should go . . . beg your pardon.” He started to move around her, headed for the house.

Eruviel laughed, shaking her head. “Your are fine, Eirikr. No need to make yourself uncomfortable on my account.” She then turned to survey the pile of tiles as she set a hand on her hip.

Eirikr grimaced. “You’re not one of the boys, Eru. I should, um . . . I’ll be right back.” He trotted up the stairs and the door closed behind him just as Abbi returned with the cups full of water.

“Where’s Eirik going?”

Eruviel smirked after the retreating man. “What is the phrase . . . he is being a girl? I’ve seen more than my fair share of shirtless men.” She then turned back to Abbi with a kind smile. “What progress has been made?”

Abiorn shrugged. “Um, not much. We cleared out the front room, though that wasn’t hard. The stuff’s under a tarp around back. Then, uh, he made me clean the floor.” The boy wrinkled his nose in disgust. “That’s about it, I think.”

Eruviel nodded, taking two of the cups so the boy could drink, setting them on the edge of the porch. “Well, should I call you ‘boss’ before he returns and have you put me to work? I do not mind getting my hands dirty.”

Abiorn grinned over his cup. “Sure! We’re sortin’ the tiles so Eirik can make a pattern or somethin’. Pretty boring, really.”

Eruviel wrinkled her nose in a smile, tugging the left shoulder of her shirt self-consciously. “Does he have a method to his madness?” she asked, looking over the tiles.

Eirikr reemerged just as Abbi opened his mouth to speak, a loose, blue, homespun shirt tucked into his trousers. “Back, back.”

Abbi snapped it shut again. “Ask him,” he muttered.

Eruviel swallowed a laugh and turned, the corners of her mouth twitching as she glanced over his shirt. “I hear you are organizing tiles. Put me to work, gwador,” she said with a curt to-business nod.

Eirikr shrugged. “We’re just sorting them. Not really organizing yet. I want to know how much there are of each so we don’t run out for a pattern.” He looked down at the piles before him in an assortment of earthy browns and greens.

Abbi rolled his eyes and took another drink from his cup.

Eruviel arched a brow at him. “Sorting but not organizing . . . ” she hummed. “Well, should we?” she asked with a nod to the stacks. Stepping around to the back of the unsorted stacks she flapped her loose collar once, giving the hot sun a disapproving look.

Abiorn groaned and set the cup down to get back to work. Eirikr began picking up tiles and putting them in their proper places. “I think I know what I want to do with the floor. I just need to know if we have enough of the green.” The stack was low, just two layers left to sort through.

Eruviel started in, setting tiles carefully down with  their matches. “What pattern are you going for?” she asked, giving her hands a brisk dusting on her pant legs before taking up another tile.

Eirikr shrugged. “Sort of at an angle to the room . . . alternating tiles with the green mixed in.” Behind him, Abiorn mouthed his words with him.

Eruviel choked on a laugh, quickly looking away from Abbi. “T-That sounds like a lovely design,” she managed.

Eiriikr nodded as he took the last tile. “I hope so. Once we start, we can’t really stop.” He stood back and stared at the stacks for a moment. “Abbi, come here.”

Abbi trudged over to stand beside him. “Huh?”

Eirikr pointed to a small stack. “Take some of those inside. The little ones. Let’s lay a section of the pattern out first before we start mixing the mud that will hold them in place.”

Abiorn did as he was told as Eirikr stooped to take an armful of some others. “Eruviel,” he said, “do you mind taking those by you?” He then turned to follow Abiorn inside.

Eruviel shook her head, stooping over to pick up the stack of tile. “I don’t mind at all,” she responded, following after him.

“Set them there, Abbi. Gently,” Eirikr ordered. He sets his own down near where he told Abiorn to lay his. Eruviel stepped over, her arms filled as she waited for direction.

Eirikr glanced up at Eruviel. “Oh, sorry, Eru. Just here, if you would.” He stood up and backed out of her way quickly.

Eruviel stepped out of the way of his retreat. “No harm done.” She carefully set the stack down with only the softest huff and rose back up. Backing  away she stood beside Eirikr, brushing a stray strand of hair out of her eyes as she looked over the plain, scrubbed floor.

Glancing at her, Eirikr stooped to arrange the tiles in the pattern he desired. Meanwhile, Abbi slipped into Anya’s bedroom and out of sight, no doubt in attempt to avoid more work. “What do you think of that?” Eirikr asked her, sitting back on his heels.

(RP taken from chat logs, edited for grammar, tense, and detail)