Bittersweet: Homesick

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A sweet, sea breeze at her back, Eruviel ascended the long stair leading up from the docks. Each step as light as the last, she did not go so fast as to put those she passed to shame, nor did she go so slow as to make people wonder if she was being patronizing.

By the Valar, she loved the smell of the sea. Before her trip back to Annúngilon two years prior, she could not remember the length of time that has passed without feeling the sand beneath her feet, or wind combing through her hair. With no offence to Gondor, Forlindon’s beaches were her favorite.

But, no matter how refreshing the sea was and how beautiful the city looked, she could not wait to leave. The cool wind was tainted by the oppressive discontent and disunity the city. How people could live in such wealth, untouched by war just miles away, yet be so greedy and ungrateful she could hardly fathom. As much as she wanted to help the people here and help the goodness she saw find strong footholds, by Orome she could not wait to leave.

Stopping at the same fruit vendor she visited every day, Eruviel made small talk with the portly man. He complimented her on her dress, and she complimented him for being observant. A good heartened laugh was shared with the customers lined up behind her, and she felt dozens of pairs of eyes watch her as she glided off.

A ripe mango in her free hand, she slowed to observe the evening crowd ebb and flow up through the market. It made her think of the sea, and the cliff she hadn’t visited for several days. But the days passed more swiftly now, with little time for leisure. There was so much to do, so many people to speak with, and so many mysteries to solve. To be honest, parts of her did enjoy the intrigue, but it wasn’t worth it.

She wanted to get her hands dirty doing honest work. She wanted to hunt, and run as fast and as far a she could through the woods without the fear that one of her company could be trapped by the coils of a corrupt city. She wanted to get covered with mud, and bathe in hidden pools. And how much was it to ask to wear something or not wear something, not because everyone she didn’t know expected it, but because it pleased her to do so? She wanted to fight and kill and protect because it was the right thing to do. No uncountable layers of lies and bribes at every turn. All she wanted to worry about was whether she would meet her quota of deer and boar for the butcher, what silly little fibs the Warbler would print that day, and about the happiness of those she loved.

A soft, weary sigh escaped her, and she looked down to the wooden box under her left arm as her thoughts finally settled. It was worn. The wood needed refinished, and a new handled needed to be made for it. There were obvious signs of neglect upon the case, and inside all of the lining needed to be stripped out and replaced. But it was sturdy, and made to last. Burn it all. Taking a bite of her fruit, she suddenly turned the corner to take the longer route back. The Illumin were on the top of her list at the moment, and there was no better time to start working than the present.

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