What had she been thinking? She should have been back home, hidden in the dark of her house, not standing in the common room of The Pony between the Mercenary and the Horselord as they challenged the others ideals. By the looks they kept giving her she should have joined in on the conversation, but she remained silent, focusing on their words to combat her slipping composure.
For nearly two days after she had received Daran’s final letter Eruviel had stayed locked away, not caring for food or drink. Then Exio had broken in, opened all the windows, drug her out of the corner, and forced her to eat something. She had come into Bree to ease his mind, promising to find a quiet spot to enjoy the sunshine, but of course that did not happen. Everyone wanted to speak with her, it seemed. She had done well at first, but each conversation grew too personal, and her enigmatic smile more distant and strained. Raigar had let it drop when she did not explain herself, and Eruviel felt certain he would not press her, but Threz, she feared, might not be so easily appeased.
I need to get out of here, she thought frantically as the two men finally came to an understanding. If it was Anya here I could let down my guard, but not here. . . not in front of them . . . .
“I would like to speak privately with Eruviel, if I may,” said Threz.
Raigar bowed his head. “Of course. I’ll leave you two to your privacy. Have a good night, my friends.” He stepped away and pulled his hood back up over his head.
Nodding after the man, Eruviel left their spot by the fire to follow Threz down the hall and out the back of the Inn. “What is it my friend?” she asked, rubbing the bridge of her nose. She felt weary.
Threz leaned against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest. “Eru, you ok? I’ve never seen you with such a lost look on your face as I saw before you entered the Pony.”
By the Valar. Eruviel’s shoulders sunk a bit as she shook her head, glancing around. “I’m — No, I’m not all right,” she admitted quietly. It would do no good to lie to the man, and he deserved better than her half-assed excuses.”Though I’ve never been so bad at hiding it before.”
Threz pushed off from the wall and moved to put a hand on her shoulder. “That makes two of us I think.”
A deep breath. Eruviel’s expression wavered and she put her hand on his for a moment before stepping back half a pace. “None of that,” she managed to quip, “if you don’t want me to loose what little calm I have left,” she says, managing a smile. “And what about you?” she asked in attempt to divert the attention away from her.
“I came to ask for advice but,” Threz paused as his brow creased with concern, “I don’t think now is the best time to be asking you more deep questions about my own problems.”
Eruviel shook her head, a half-hearted smile curving up her mouth even as her brows knit together. “No, now is fine, Threz. More than fine. What is it that needs advice?”
Threz hesitated, still looking at her with concern. “Forming attachments.”
Eruviel’s breath caught in her throat, the corners of her mouth quivering. “And you want advice on whether you should . . . or should not form them?”
Threz nodded. “After all, When you can’t protect them . . . is it really a good idea?”
Eruviel ‘s lower lip trembled. So many lives. She felt her knees go weak and she moved to lean against the wall, shoving her hands in her pockets to try and steady herself. She saw their faces in her mind. Hundreds of years of people whom she respected and who respected her. And they were all dead. Would she do it over? Daran. “Y-yes,” she managed, moisture clouding her eyes. Leaning forward she quickly covered her mouth with a shaking hand, as the tears began to pour down her cheeks. “I-It’s wo-orth it,” she gasped between silent sobs.
Threz stepped forward and grabbed her arm. “Eru?”
Eruviel’s tears only increased as he took her arm. Shaking, she turned her face away from him even as she leaned her head against his shoulder, her hand still muffling the sound of her crying.
Unsure of what to do, Threz held her close. “Go ahead Eru. You’ve supported me and others so many times. It’s ok, let go.”
Eruviel shook her head in protest as she continued to weep, her face pressed against the shoulder of his breastplate, not phased by the armor. How long had she known Daran . . . a hundred an twenty years? So long in one of the worst places in Arda . . . and never would she take a minute of it back. Then she thought of Eirikr . . . and Abbi, and Exio, and Threz, and she cried even more at the thought of loosing them. You’ve gone soft, she rebuked herself. Several minutes passed before her sobs slowly quieted. Righting herself, she hid her reddened face behind her hands. “By the Valar, I-I’m s-sorry, Threz,” she sputtered as she wiped her tear stained cheeks with her sleeve.
Threz gripped her by the shoulders and looked her in the eye. “I never had an older sister Eru. But if I did, I think it would be ok for her cry once in a moon.” Giving her a long look he removed his hands and stepped back. “By the way. Did you mean it? About forming attachments?”
Eruviel ‘s ears turned pink and she nodded, choking on a small laugh as another sob gripped her chest. “I did. They will hurt at times, and can be confusing and happen in the worst of places, but every bit of it is worth it.”
Threz’s face twisted a little as emotions that echoed her own flickered across his face. “I . . . mark your words.” One half of his face curved up in a smile. “Will you be ok?”
Eruviel nodded, and chuckled as she reached out and wiped the lingering tears from his breastplate. This time you’re to blame, she thought, a hint of amusement showing on her face. “I think so. I have to head out of town for a few days, but . . . Thank you, Threz.” She looked up, giving him a meaningful smile. “Is this all about who I think it is?”
Threz dropped his head. “Yes . . . it is.”
Eruviel wiped a hand over her eyes, the first real smile in days spreading across her face. “Why do you hang your head?”
Threz looked up. “All things considered . . . I’m afraid.”
Eruviel nodded, sniffed and wiped at her eyes with her sleeve again. Damned tears won’t stop. “I would be concerned if you weren’t. But what about it causes you to fear, if you do not mind me asking?”
Threz made an ‘I don’t know’ gesture with his arms. “Many things. Danger to her, uncertainty. But mostly I’m afraid of myself.”
Eruviel smiled kindly. “That you’ll mess it up, that you’re not good enough, or that you’ll push her away?”
Threz sighed. “Number one, number two, and that I’m too dangerous to be around.”
Eruviel snickered softly. “Well stop it. One is always possible in anything, but know that these things are two way streets. Two: I don’t want to ever hear you say that because it is not true. She is strong and capable and smart. I don’t know her too well, but I think she can discern that one for herself. She stuck around, didn’t she?”
Threz looked abashed. “Uh . . . she doesn’t know me as well as I know myself?”
Eruviel shrugged, smiling at him. “You may be surprised.”
Threz sighed and his shoulders slumped. “Maybe.” He glanced up. “Stay safe on your journey, ok? And remember that your friends are here for you. You were there for us.”
Eruviel nodded, giving his arm an encouraging squeeze before she stepped away. “You have my word,” she replied, turning to look back at him even as she walked. “No heroics from me this trip. Though if I did, I would need a younger brother to put me in my place once I got back.”
“Let me fit into one new roll at a time,” he chuckled. “I’m uncomfortable enough as it is.”
Eruviel grinned back at him, nodding as she untied the reigns of her horse. “All in due time, I suppose.” Swinging into her saddle she gave him a grateful look, her eyes red-rimmed, and bowed her head. “Thank you again. Have a good night Threz. I’ll see you in a few days.”
(All dialogue taken from in-game RP and edited for tense and exposition.)