The Trouble With Little Gifts

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“Abbi is . . . I dunno. He’s just ridiculous, really. He doesn’t know what to do with all this freedom.” Anyatka chuckled softly. “I guess I didn’t either, when I first came to Bree.”

Eruviel hummed thoughtfully as she leaned back against the fencepost, her legs extended, ankles crossed as she and Anya sat in the cool grass on the side of the road. It had been by chance she had ran into the young woman who had been hobbling away from the Tenorbekk home, and it had resulted in over an hour of much needed, light-hearted conversation. “Then I suppose we should find what he likes most and encourage him to channel his energy into something constructive.”

“He likes putting spiders in my paint pots,” she griped with a frown.

Eruviel barked a laugh. “I wonder if it makes your paint glow.”

Anyatka’s scowl suddenly turned into wide-eyed excitement. “That’s a brilliant idea!”

Eruviel ‘s brows arched but her surprised expression quickly changed into a grin. “It is? Oh! Why Anya that is a marvelous idea!”

“But . . . they are still spiders.” Anya added, making a face.

Eruviel licked her lips at a thought, glancing over her shoulder. “Yes they are . . . and you have a young man who gathers them just for fun living with you. Abbi catches and kills them, you take the useful parts and do what you do best.”

“I guess if he does the hard work. But . . .” she shivered, “spiders.”

Eruviel chuckled and raised her chin. “The sacrifices of an artist, my dear oselle,” she chimed sweetly.

Anyatka sighed in response. “I guess so.” She then smiled at a thought. “You know, I still don’t think of myself as an artist. I just draw stuff sometimes.”

Eruviel shook her head. “And you draw them exceptionally well. Drawing, painting, you are truly gifted Anya. And you just keep getting better.”

Anyatka smiled sheepishly. “Thanks, Eru.” She appeared genuinely embarrassed, nearly to the point of being uncomfortable. Quickly, she changed the subject. “So, were you coming to visit?”

She had forgotten. Pursing her lips, Eruviel smiled and nodded. “I was. One of my neighbors owns a relic shop in Bree and I figured I would get you something little to help you look forward to the trip.” That was mostly true. The gift would have been given either way, but when she had stayed over at Anya’s the night she had broken things off with Arathier, Anyatka’s eyes had flashed blue — just once, just for a moment. Eruviel had not forgotten what that had used to mean. If Anya was dreaming of Aeron, it was possible . . . ever so slightly possible that Faethril still clung to the young woman. Eruviel had to know . . . for all their sakes, Anya’s most of all.

It’s just a little test. No harm should be done if her eyes just flash blue once or twice.

Anyatka raised a curious brow but attempted to appear less eager to see what the gift was than she actually let on. “Oh?”

Keeping a watchful eye on her, Eruviel reached into her right pocket and pulled out a tiny statue, hardly three inches high. The white marble in her outstretched palm appeared to be a symbol of Arnor; a delicate ship, sails unfurled with a star atop the mast.

“Oh, it’s so pretty!” Anyatka smiled warmly. Her eyes flashed as she reached for it.

There it is. Hesitating for only the faintest moment, taking note of Anya’s eyes she handed the statue over. “I hoped it might be encouraging, something to help you look forward to the trip to Evendim, whenever it occurs.”

Then it happened. As Anyatka sat back, the statue in hand, her eyes rolled back. She let out a whimper as she fell to her side and then her eyes flew open, shining a brilliant, unearthly blue. A scream clawed up the young woman’s throat and she began to thrash as her fingers clenched around the little boat.

Panic gripping her, Eruviel dove forward, pulling Anyakta into her lap. Attempting to hold her down with one arm, she grabbed at Anya’s hand, trying to pry the woman’s fingers off from the statue. But it was to no avail. Anyatka’s fingers had locked around the little boat as her scream pitched into a high keen. Pain. It cried out pain.

In desperation, Eruviel held the still thrashing woman to her as she clamped her palm over Anya’s forehead. Dammit, NO! Oselle! Pouring her will into the effort, Eruviel mentally fought the waves of pain and stress in the young woman, clenching her teeth as she drew what she could hold onto up her arm in exchange for the little calm she could dig up. Anyatka jerked in spams for several strained moments before she arched sharply and released her hold on the ship. As she settled down in a heap, her eyes faded back to a soft grey, though hazy and disoriented.

Eruviel yanked the small marble statue from her hand and cast it away to clatter down the lane as tears began to rim her eyes. You stupid fool! You should have know! Still holding Anya in her lap she braced her friend’s head with a hand, searching her face. “A-Anyatka? Oselle, can you hear me?”

Anyatka gazed up at Eruviel with a dazed expression. “Hmm . . .”

Eruviel sucked in a ragged breath as hot tears cascaded down her cheeks. “By the Valar, Anya. I-I’m so . . . . Are you alright?”

Anyatka’s brow creased in confusion. “Wha . . . Eruviel?”

Eruviel sat upright, her free hand over her mouth as she struggled to compose herself and process what had happened. Nothing. Her thoughts were so flooded with guilt and the lingering pain that she had absorbed that no answers came to her. Anyatka remained laying in her lap as her senses returned to her. The world was blurry and dark.

Getting a hold of her breathing Eruviel glances back to the cast off relic. “Oselle, I am so sorry. No more trinkets, no more trinkets. I didn’t mean . . .” Her voice trailed of as she saw a new discomfort crease Anyatka’s brow. Quickly looking her over she then reached for the hand that had clung to the statue. The flesh of her palm was hot to the touch and reddened. With as much care as she could manage Eruviel put her own ice cold hand into Anya’s, hoping to offer some relief.

“I’m a fool,” she muttered miserably.

“Why’s that?” Anyatka murmured and sighed.

Eruviel choked on a sob as she managed a smile. “Because I did not realize . . . because I let you get hurt.” She had promised had she not? The Void find her, but she felt like she kept breaking her promises. Releasing Anya’s hand she tucked her arms under the woman, shifting her as she bore her weight. “Here, let me take you home.”

“Sokay,” Anyatka mumbled with a nod.

Blinking rapidly, her eyes still misting with tears, Eruviel grunted softly as she rose to her feet, Anya in her arms. Making a mental note to retrieve the ship later, she began to walk them carefully down the hill towards the Tenorbekk home. Maybe it was the adreniline that coursed through her veins, or the pain and panic that fogged her mind, but the young woman felt ligher than Eruviel had expected; hardly a burden to bear.

Hurrying faster down the lane as she became confident of her footing, Eruviel rushed Anya home. Skipping steps as she ascended to the front porch of the cottage Eruviel turned sideways to kick at the wooden door. “Eirikr!”

( Dialogue taken from in-game RP, and edited for tense and exposition.)

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