Month: September 2015

It Feels

It feels so strange, this caring. Sure, I cared a little, but I’ve found myself doing so more now than before. It is dangerous. I cannot give in. Not too much. Not to the wrong people. Surviving was easier when I only cared about me, but I am not surviving now. I am living.

~ ~ ~

It’s been so quiet and lonely since they’ve gone. I never knew that was what I was before, and now there is no going back. I should visit the temple more, and the Warf, but there are new reasons to fear the alley’s. So I will read my books, and be here for when the Lady needs me.

Shake it off, silly. Go clean something.

~ ~ ~

How some people can separate themselves from certain situations, I will never understand. I never could, though, could I? I will be strong for him, and for them. Because I should be. Because I want to be. I will give everything, because they have given me more than I ever hoped to have. 

And now suddenly I smell the funeral pyre beneath a red Angmarim sky. I close my eyes and I see the cold rain hitting the empty road and the empty shell of what I was. I am not afraid. I do not fear. I am petrified.

Beneath These Mountains

The way into Moria had been as peaceful as she’d hoped. Having spoken with the leader of the caravan, Eruviel quietly made her way over to Eirikr. Standing near the edge of the platform with his arms folded across his chest, he stared out across the chasm. “What do you see?”

The man looked over at her and smiled. “Rock. A lot of rock. How are you?”

Eruviel chuffed a quiet chuckle, and looked out to the great cavern. “I am well. These caves always make me feel a tad squeamish, but it is nothing I can’t ignore. How are you?” This cold realm better have had only one Balrog.

Eirikr shrugged and turned to face her. “I am well enough as any man can be stuck beneath these mountains. But a few days’ travel and we will see the sky again.”

Smiling up at him, she nodded. “Very true. The word I hear is that the road ahead of us is clear.”

Eirikr nodded, but his expression remained neutral at the news. “We will travel with speed, then. What are your thoughts for our return journey?”

Her keen gaze flicked over his face before turning towards the small encampment behind them. “If it is a peaceful journey through, I would recommend returning back this way. There is safety in numbers. We can still inquire after the pass once we reach our destination.”

“I hope all is well with the Beornings. The path ahead may be clear, but perhaps because so many have left the mines to push east into Lothlorien and the Wood.”

Eruviel nodded in agreement. “As do I. We don’t have to make any decision about our return till we choose to return, though. I do not wish to make any premature decisions that could cause us future trouble.”

Eirikr gave her a quick look. “Do you wish to linger there?”

“I did not mean to imply that,” Eruviel responded as she arched a brow, “though it is beautiful there. I merely did not wish to assume that we would depart any sooner or later than you desire to.”

“I am eager to return to Durrow. Anyatka and Abiorn alone in that tiny cabin…” His voice trailed off and a look of realization struck him. “Oh, my…”

Eruviel snickered, and gave her braid a thoughtful tug. “It is character building. I am sure the house will be in one piece, and the dogs a little less trained than how you left them.”

Eirikr shook his head. “And I am bringing an infant back to that… Eruviel… there will be no where to put a cradle!”

Eruviel set a hand on her hip, and looked out to the cavern as she thought. The old house is rented out. And he should not have to… “With your consent he can stay at my place till there is room. If you’re up for the work, we could round up Gaelyn, and Mor, and some of the others and get your cabin remodeled before the weather changes.”

“I do not know… isn’t the point of my bringing him home for me to be with him?”

Eruviel mirrored his slow nod. “Then you can stay at my place with him till your cabin is done.”

Eirikr looked at her and then swiftly away. “I would hate to impose on you like that.”

She waved a hand dismissively. “You would not be imposing at all. I will probably be away most nights anyways, and this time of year I usually rest in my hammock.”

Eirikr nodded slowly. “All right. If you insist we will not bother you.” He raked a hand through his hair. “I will probably appreciate your insight into raising a child. I have… no idea what I am going to do.”

Eruviel’s mouth twitched as she fought back a smile, and thanked Orome for the times she babysat for a day or two over the past several hundred years. “I will do my best. Good thing you are a runner, because he will keep you on your toes. He was toddling when I saw him a few months ago.”

Eirikr fell quiet for a moment. “He is. What else was he doing? And what else is he doing now?”

Eruviel twisted her mouth to one side as she gently tugged at her braid again. “He was energetic… and he liked to pull on my braid and ears. But what is he doing now? I’d think he would be eating soft foods now, and he could be starting to form words. He should have most of his teeth by now… Oh, heavens…. Give it a few more months and you could try potty training him.”

The man rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands.

Watching him, Eruviel felt a soft twist in her chest, and she rested a hand on his arm. “I’ll be there for whatever you need… and we can make Anya and Abbi change his diapers. You missed the ‘up every two hours’ stage. He should sleep straight through most nights. I can watch him for you most days if you need to go hunt or have time to yourself.”

Eirikr looked at her and smiled wearily. “Thank you. I am sure you did not expect to become a nanny when you decided to take a liking to my sister.”

She laughed softly, and shook her head. “No, I did not. And while I try to plan for the unexpected, I never could have imagined a more delightful outcome.”

He smiled as he looked down at her with a soft expression. That smile. It nearly took the air right out of her lungs. It was the most wonderful smile that quite possibly made her knees feel a little weak. Eruviel met his gaze with a similar softness for a moment before the tips of her ears turned pink, and she diverted her eyes. “Besides, now I can try and beat you in getting him to address me first. ‘Roovie’ is… possibly easier to say than ‘Daddy’ or ‘Ada’.”

Eirikr nodded. “Challenge accepted. ‘Ada’ is far easier than ‘Roovie.'”

Eruviel smirked, and glanced back at him. “Probably, but that does not mean I cannot try.”

Giving her one last look, Eirikr turned. “I am going to turn in. Good night, Eruviel.

Offering him a small smile and a nod, Eruviel clasped her hands behind her back. “Good night, Eirikr. Rest well.”

~ ~ ~

Thank you to Eirikr’s player, Cwendlwyn, for the RP and plot!

All conversation has been taken from chat logs, and edited for tense and exposition.

Once More on the Road

ScreenShot00363

The evening sky glimmered as the sun disappeared behind the mountains. They were a days’ ride from Tharbad; Eruviel’s friends had made good on their end and now all that was between them and their destination was Moria and the Golden Wood. Sparks sprung up to join the night sky as logs from the campfire cracked and fell in the heat.

“From the few messages I received, not much has changed in Moria since we last went through except for a few more open passages. Let us pray it stays that way.”

Eirikr nodded. “Do you think it is best to return that way?”

Eruviel’s eyes searched the heavens for a moment before returning to him. “To be honest, I am not sure. I think that decision should be left for after we go through. The High Pass has been clear, and should be in fair weather this time of year, but the Beorings would know more of it. Both ways have been safer as of late, but are not without their dangers.”

Eirikr nodded again. “They would know,” he repeated.

Falling silent, she studied him for a minute. “How are you doing?”

“Fine,” said Eirikr shortly. “Just fine. And yourself?”

A corner of her mouth curved up ever so slightly. She knew better. She could see it, and sense it, but she would not press him. “I am well. Infinitely better, now that we are out here.”

“Agreed.”

She watched him for a moment longer before turning her gaze back out. “I assume we will get an early start tomorrow?”

“Certainly,” responded Eirikr with a nod. “It’s refreshing out here. Both of us can be early risers, and we might as well make as good time as possible.”

Eruviel smiled, and sat forward to fasten the top flap of her satchel. “I can take first watch if you would like. Of the two of us I am probably more willing to rise early, so you should rest.”

Eirikr gave her a look. “Are you certain?”

That look. She took but a heartbeat to correct an unguarded expression before turning her smile on him. “I am. I will wake you in a few hours.”

Eirikr nodded and stood to fetch his bedroll. “Thank you.”

“Of course. You’re welcome.” Rising to her feet, she pulled out a new, freshly waxed string to replace the one already on her bow.

Settling down, Eirikr stretched out on his back. With his hands beneath his head, he studied the sky, snug in his bedroll.

She only glanced to him once or twice as she collected a few things. Rope for a small trap, and the notebook containing the unsealed letter Saffron had entrusted to her back in Dol Amroth. Adjusting the cord that has taken the place of her hair clip, she gave him a small smile before turning to head for a boulder at the edge of their encampment. “Rest well, Eirikr.”

“Thank you, Eruviel. Remember, wake me in a few hours.”

“‘I will.” Setting her things down on the stone, she waited a short time, listening till his steady breaths had slowed and she thought him asleep. Never leaving sight light of their camp, she set a trap on the trail just below where the horses were tied. Though the ride had not been a hard one, she rubbed the sleepy animals down and set an apple out for both of them.

Gathering enough wood to keep a low glow to their fire, Eruviel made sure the man was covered to ward of the growing chill before finally settling down on the boulder. So close to Tharbad she did fear any brigand or orc attack. It never hurt to be cautious, though, so she nocked an arrow against her bowstring.

Letting out her hair she forgot about the notebook resting on her knee as her bright gaze moved up above them, her ears keeping watch. Yes, she would wake him in a few hours… well, several would be closer to the truth. Unless he woke on his own, she would leave him to his slumber till before dawn. He needed the sleep more than she did. She could sleep tomorrow night. For right now all the rest she needed could be found right here in the fresh night air, being near him, and being beneath a glistening sky of stars that shone down to fill her eyes, unhindered by city walls and city lights.

We are on our way, little one. We won’t keep you waiting much longer.

~ ~ ~

Thank you to Eirikr’s player, Cwendlwyn, for the RP and plot!

All conversation has been taken from chat logs, and edited for tense and exposition.

Lotus: Quiet Partings

It was a wonderfully gloomy day. She never care much about the weather so long as it wasn’t cold or snowing. 

It has been in passing on her walk that took her past the graveyard that Inaris had heard about the grave digger. No one would come to tell her, of course, and why would they? Of all the flowers of his garden, she had been there the shortest time and had been the easiest to be uprooted. While she hadn’t really expected him to, a small part of her was disappointed that he would never show up at the gate to her yard.

The hills of the Downs loomed ever closer as she strolled along the path. It was convenient that she had decided on wearing dark clothes that day. Inaris wore nothing fancy, and she did not bother to do up the top buttons of her shirt. She owed him nothing, and she doubted if he would would have cared.

To be honest, if he had been there, Inaris would have thanked him. By now her heart had mended, so any sadness she felt was purely selfish. She wanted one more casual conversation, and one more chance to playfully flick the rim of his cap before walking away. She’d have liked to listen to him talking about flowers, and to tell him that roses weren’t really her favorite. She would have liked to have told him her real name, for he wouldn’t have divulged her secret. He would have forgotten it, then carried it to his grave.

Before her hovered the entrance to the forgotten land he’d often looked to. Hesitating for but a moment, she continued on. Yes, it was probably dangerous, and knowing that did more to encourage her forward. There was a little fear, but as in many cases, she did not show it. The sorcerers had helped with that, and the more she pondered it, the less she worried. Wights were just wisps of malice and mist, and she had no desire to trespass in their ancient tombs.

She wasn’t sure if they had brought him here, but she doubted that they would have laid him to rest in the Bree-land graveyard. This place seemed fitting, for the little of his past that she knew. But he was dead, and free of this place. She wouldn’t blame him if he was glad to be gone. A couple hundred… or was it a thousand, years of digging graves for foreigners and friends would take it’s toll on anyone.

Going no further, she put a hand on a crumbling marker as she gazed south to the mounds and spires. For his sake she hoped he was really gone. There could be little joy for the lingering dead, and he had remained long enough. Maybe she should have asked, but would he have told her? And if he had, would he have cared enough to tell her the truth?

Shaking her head, Inaris pulled out the soft grey rose Kennick had fashioned for her, and a pale pink water lilly from her pond. Setting them atop the marker she gave the fading hills one more thoughtful look, and walked away, leaving the Barrow Downs behind.

Monday Means Good Luck

Thirty-four years ago…

He was going to kill them. Pouring rain blinded his one good eye, and his knuckles bled from each time he’d caught himself from sliding down the rocky slopes of the god-forsaken wasteland. By Bema, as soon as he survived the oncoming night and got back, he would string each and every one of them up over the span of the bridge.

Traitorous bastards. He had seen it coming, of course. Five month before, when he had allowed the six brigands to join his band, he knew. They pulled their weight and abided by the laws, but it was the subtle things that had set them apart and put a target on Ildric’s back. How many of his own men had followed their lead? He did not doubt that no small number of them resented him for one thing or another, and hearing of his supposed death Ildric could assume that many of them would follow the brigands simply because they were stronger.

By now the night had turned black, and only the occasional lightning strike gave him light to see where he was going. There was no shelter, and he knew there were no homesteads or villages within fifty miles. He knew which way was south, though, so he drug himself up to the top of a hill to avoid the inevitable flooding, and moved forward.

Any concept of time was lost as the storm continued to rage on around him. Ildric’s head throbbed with a terrible pain, and it was only the prospect of vengeance that kept him warm. They will hang. They will hang, served as the beating drums that kept his feet moving. More time passed, and he shook his head as the rhythm came to life, growing louder with each heavy step. He stopped… and the beat continued to sound. And it turned into two sets of drums, then three, then seven. A flash of lightening illuminated the hill he stood on, and the seven orcs that had stopped mere yards away.

“Look at this, lads! We go’ ourselves supper!”

Never pray to Bema. Got it. Ildric pulled out his boot knife, and waited.

“‘e’s as big as us!” growled an exceptionally gnarly beast who had began to flank him. “Maybe we can pit ‘im against some of the others fer sport before we divy ‘im up.”

A chorus of snarls and guttural laughs sounded around him in agreement. One of the shorter orcs who appeared to be in charge paced closer to Ildric. “What do you have to say to that, human?”

Lightning flashed, and Ildric spat at the creature. “What are you waiting for? Talk is worthless!” He flipped the knife in his hand and lept forward to strike at the orc who had left himself wide open.

Another light flashed, but came from behind him, and it wasn’t lightening. It was fire. The light blinded the orc he rushed, giving him the second he needed to send the screeching beast’s body rolling down the hill. More explosions of light, and screaming orcs. Holding up a hand to shield his good eye from the wind and rain, Ildric looked back in time to see the flare of a long cloak, and a blazing sword disappear into the last orc.

What the —

“Are you all right?”

A female? “Yeah. I’m all right. Where the hell did you come from?”

A horse appeared by the hooded figure; a trick Ildric decided instantly that he should master. “The North.”

“Where are you going?”

“To Tharbad.”

Ildric grunted. “Bloody coincidence.”

The figure hopped up onto her horse, and Ildric caught sight of pointed ears as she adjusted her hood. “Need a ride?”

Not bothering to answer, Ildric grasped the hand she offered to him, and swung up to sit behind her. He’d have to apologize to Bema after this.

“What’s your name?”

“For now, just Ravi will do.” She wheeled her horse around, and the animal moved into a sure-footed canter. “Yours?”

“For now, Vrax will do.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yesterday…

“Do you understand me, boy?”

The lad could not summon enough courage to look up at the towering man. He just stared down at the first of six long nooses that hung over the ruined bridge that spanned the Greyflood. He nodded.

Ildric lifted a hand, and his lieutenant waiting on the southern platform began to approach. “You will be taken to be branded, to remind you of your crime and what will happen if you commit another offense. Do you understand me?” he asked again.

The lad swallowed hard, and finally looked up at him. “Yes, sir. I understand.” He then dipped his head to follow after the lieutenant.

“Vrax!”

Ildric sighed, and rolled his eyes. He should never have let the man become his bloody secretary. “What, Reed?”

“The party from the west came in. You got a letter from the witch.”

Ildric’s brows rose, and he pivoted to face the man. “Oh? Well, where is it.”

Reed blinked and looked about as sheepish as a sixty year old man could. “Ehh… I-It’s um… in y-your tent, sir.”

Strong hands clasped behind his back, Ildric gave the man an annoyed look. “Idiot. Ran out here empty handed? You’re getting too old.”

“Don’t need to tell me that,” Reed huffed, scratching at the back of his greying head of hair. A rumble of thunder sounded in the distance. “Damn. Looks like there’ll be rain.”

Ildric’s lips curled in a smirk as he gazed past the ruined tops of buildings. “Nah. You know better than that, Reed. Remember? A storm on Monday means good luck.”

Bittersweet: Quiet in a Library

DA Library 1

Godric dipped his head to the man. “My name is Godric, acting Commander of the Wayfarers’ Guild. We believe you may be in danger, and we have come to protect you.”

Eruviel glanced around as Godric began speaking with the portly scholar. Taking note of the walkway opposite of where the man sat, she motioned to Fey that she would make her way over there. Offering the man her most charming and reassuring smile, she turned to silently head down the hall.

A few girls, dressed in the robes of scholars, lingered on the opposite balcony near Eruviel. They peered curiously over to where Cabrion and the others stood.

Wary of onlookers, Eruviel inspected around the opposite corner before approaching the group of girls. “Good evening ladies,” she said with a pleasant tone and smile. “I am sorry if we are disturbing your studying.”

The girls all looked taken aback by Eruviel, but not too much. One shook her head, and smiled. “No, we’re done for the night.”

She could just make out Godric sighing and speaking with the scholar Cabrion. “I was not aware that only nobles were considered good enough targets for assassins.”

If she could hear him at this distance, others closer to the man could as well. Eruviel inclined her head to the small group. “Forgive my friends. It is nothing to be alarmed about, I assure you. They just do not know how to be quiet in a library. But please, do not let me keep you.”

The girl nodded to Eruviel. “Right. Thank you.” They all give her polite nods and smiles before trailing back down one of the halls.

Returning a smile, she turned to continue her watch, but kept an eye on the girls as they went.

Godric’s voice softly echoed out around the high pillars.  “An organization whose only interest is money. Someone paid them to kill you, and so they are going to attempt to do so. I am not going to let you die. You are coming with us whether you like it or not.”

She had never seen oliphants, but she was sure her company was just as loud as one. Walking back into sight of her friends, she made a low tsk. A few of them looked her way, and she signed for them to keep their voices down.

Then she heard it; the soft whisper of a bowstring being drawn. Taking her bow from her back, she dodge out of sight and nocked an arrow. Across on the far left near the grand staircase she could make out a hooded figure hidden behind a bench, aiming his bow at Cabrion. Without hesitating she loosed her arrow at the assassin.

A scream echoed through the hall as a young woman witnessed Eruviel’s arrow stick into the shoulder of the armed, hooded figure. The man stood quickly, and darted down the stairs. Sprinting after him, Eruviel rounded a corner, flew down the steps, and hopped a banister over to the next flight. 

Slowing to a stop by the woman who had screamed, Eruviel quickly looked her over for injury. “Madam, are you unhurt?”

The shaken woman nodded stiffly. “I… Yes,” she choked out. “I-I need to get my students out of here.”

Eruviel offered her an apologetic smile. “I am sorry to have frightened you. Please, get your students out and inform whoever is in charge here. The man who fled is very dangerous.” Giving the woman one last nod and a smile, she took off once more after the wounded man.

It was an easy path to follow. Turning down a long corridor, a gradually increasing blood trail led the way. Whoever the man was had quite a wound. Eruviel hurried down the hall, frowning at the the ground. Don’t be dead. Don’t be dead.

The trail led her to the end of the hall and up a few steps. Holding onto caution, she skipped up the steps and stopped as she caught sight of the man slumped down on the floor against a wall. A dark hood covered his features. Her arrow looked to have embedded deeply into the soft flesh just under his shoulder, and there was quite a lot of blood. From his raspy breaths, she could tell that he was still conscious. Kneeling down by the man, Eruviel pressed one hand by the wound in attempt to stop the bleeding. Her other hand searched him for weapons. “If you’d not been hiding so well, I could have shot you somewhere less important,” she muttered.

The man sputtered something that was half a cough and half a laugh. “It’s… about time… someone saw me.”

Having heard them follow after, Eirikr and Godric slowed to stand behind her. Godric looked to the man on the ground and Eirikr turned to survey the area around them. “Is he the only one you saw?” Godric asked.

Eruviel nodded to Godric, and reached her free hand under the man’s hood to press against his forehead. It hurt. It was always worse on this end, and while not as bad as the last couple times, the pain pouring into her shoulder from the man was, to be put mildly, unpleasant. Moisture filled the corners of her eyes, but Eruviel just inclined her head to the man. “Do you think you could be moved to get you to a healer?”

Godric knelt down by them and awaited the man’s response to Eruviel’s question.

As Eruviel reached beneath the hood, the familiar features of Húnir came into the light. His features seem to ease some with Eruviel’s touch, but he still looked incredibly worn. “How should I know…? I am no healer.”

Godric grumbled lowly. “He has a point.”

Cwendlwyn’s voice could be heard, calling softly from the hall. “Eirik!”

Eruviel nodded, but did not seem too pleased about all of the blood loss. But Cwen was here now. She could do something for him. “Who hired you to kill that man?”

Cwendlwyn quickly came into view of the scene. “Oh, Bema help me….” She waved her hands to clear the way. “Out of the way, out of the way,” she murmured as she stepped forward.

Húnir’s gaze turned towards Cwen and Meluion as they approached. “My owners… You already must have known.”

Godric stood back up and moved away as instructed. Eruviel shifted to the side so as to be out of Cwendlwyn’s way, but still kept her hand on Húnir’s forehead.

“Forget his head! Keep applying pressure to the wound,” ordered Cwen as she began digging through her pack.

Eruviel nodded, and quickly reached over with her already bloodied hand to press against the wound. Unsure, her other hand slowly drew away.

Húnir just grunted. His chin dipped to his chest as he tried to take deep, unsteady breaths.

Cwendlwyn’s normally severe brow softened just a smudge as she cut away the shirt to reveal the wound. “Don’t force it. I’ve fixed worse,” she said before setting to her work.

~ ~ ~ *** ~ ~ ~

Only another hour passed before Eruviel returned to the Colagar Estate with the rest of her guild. Húnir had been carried back by Eirikr and Feygil, and Cwendlwyn was sitting up to tend and keep watch over the unconscious man. Learning that no others were to be sent after Cabrion that night, the Elf slipped away to the confines of her quarters.

It was cool in the room, and a sea breeze wafted in the open windows. Washing the last of the dried blood from her hands, she traded her clothes for a thin summer robe, and sunk down to lean against a wall. She was used to taking the headaches, weariness and stress of her friends, but this was different. Not quite as bad as the lingering emotions that had plagued her after the previous year’s journey, nor the girl by the lake, or even Hallem’s legs, this pain seemed somehow more harsh. Not just because she was not also wounded, so her body did not fight off the pain that faded all too slowly, but because it had been caused by her in the first place.

Pulling the clip out to loosen her braid, she lay down to drink in the cold from the stone floors. It’s about time someone saw me. Some of it was probably the pain talking, but she felt guilty for having wounded him so. He needed a chance to break from the leash that bound him to Neldor and the organization that held him captive. And, unlike so many in this city, she hoped he would see that chance, and take it.

Letting out a sigh, Eruviel shifted on her side and closed her eyes. It would be gone in a few hours, and she would be right as rain. She would check on the others, and Húnir, then probably make her way to the library to see if any help could be offered in return for the mess that was made. Only a few more hours and a whole other day would begin.

((Minor editing has been done for tense and exposition.

A few things were lost between saving in-game chat logs, but I think I remembered it all correctly.

Thank you to Atanamir for GMing, and playing as Húnir and Cabrion!)