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Find Him

“Curse you! Get off me! Get –” 

One last attempt to pull loose saw Ildric finally crawl free from beneath his dieing horse. The light dimming in its brown eyes, the fallen animal struggled for one more gasping breath as the man fought his way to his feet. He did not pay the horse that had failed him so close to his destination any mind. Cursing under his breath, the man held his broken arm against his chest and scrambled up  the hill towards the distant pillar of black smoke.

He was not a lithe man. Tall and thickly built, Ildric was made for short furious bursts of speed. But he ignored the burn of his lungs and blood in his mouth. Several hours ahead of the others, he would run himself to death as he had his horse if only to see. 

He had to see. They couldn’t be….

His broken arm and left leg cried for him to slow, but it was in vain.

Three more hills…. Two more hills…. One.

The once sprawling farm now was nothing but scorched earth. Flames still engulfed the black remains of barns, fences and a little farmhouse. The smell of death permeated the grey haze. Half burned bodies of farm animals were scattered about, and what remained of the few farm hands could be seen in the nearest field.

Hate boiled, coursing through his limbs. He would find him. And once he did….

Brushing embers from his shirt, Ildric half ran, half stumbled down the hill and into the yard. The silence roared in his ears, the distant popping of coals and crackle of fire like deafening explosions. He did not notice the burns on his hands as he shoved the smoldering gate out of his way. 

“Hello?” he called, what breath he had catching in his throat.

“Anyone!” he begged, pleaded, even though he knew no one would answer.

Heart pounding furiously, Ildric smashed the charred door of the house open with his shoulder… and he froze. A single body laid in the remains, the small floral print of the dress still faintly distinguishable.

The pain hit him all at once, and his heart made a sick twist in his chest. Dropping to his knees in the ash and coals covering her door, Ildric curled over, clawed at the ground and screamed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

“You have everything?”

Vrax pulled the last strap over the wagon canvas and tossed the extra length over the top to Eruviel. “Enough. Can’t wait around for the rest.”

“I’ll see that it gets down to you once it arrives.” Eruviel secured the rope in a taunt knot.

There was silence between them. A minute of unspoken apologies and assurances as Vrax waved to the wagon drivers behind him, and Eruviel handed up the reigns as the man stepped into the drivers seat.

“Drive safe. I’ll send word when I learn more.”

Vrax caught the Elf’s wrist and frowned down at her. “As much as I want him dead, you living is more important.”

“I promised to find him. We tried to do things my way and we see how well that worked out.”

“Dammit. Just say it,” he huffed with a low growl.

Eruviel’s stern expression gave way to a faint smile. “I’ll be careful. Take care, old man.”

Vrax managed an uncommonly weak smirk. “See you in the spring, Witch.” Releasing her, he snapped the reigns to start his wagon forward.

Innocent Heart: Journal Entries 

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Song

Orange
My wild heart
Sustaining and bursting
With summer’s desire.

~

Over rocks and sand
I roam and run
Searching through sea foam
For what might become
An answer for searching souls
And questions carefully forgotten
If I find you then maybe
Just maybe

~

Delicate parchment of
Facts and fables
Trusting cold fingers to
Find and understand.
Lost in the sea of
Faded leather and ink
Bleed out more questions that
Feed endless searching
Candlelight flickers in
Frigid drafts that warm my cheeks
Whispering reminders of sun

~

Sharp and bright
This steel in midday heat 
Parry and slash 
To be faster 
Better 
Bending but not 
Breaking like waves 
Rippling like sails 
Warm against my skin
Focus
Attack
Parry and slash
Faster
Practice for them
For me
For what may never be
Arm held steady
Spinning in the dance
Plucking fiddle strings
That snap and yield to your
Attack and slash
Parry and thrust
Faster
Faster
Focus

Bittersweet: Lex Talionis

angmarminasdeloth

“Watch your step, Artis.”

Eruviel stopped short, halted by Milloth’s quick whisper. The stone tile in front of her gave off a faint, sorcerous shimmer. “Why are we here?” she asked in a hushed tone as she skipped two tiles ahead to be safe, and crowded up beside him.

Milloth’s golden hair cascaded over his grin as he motioned for her to be quiet. The heavy, scraping steps of an orc guard echoed from two corridors down, grew louder, than faded away. “Borrowing something.”

“You mean stealing.”

Milloth motioned for her to follow, and the two Elves glided down to the end of the dark hall with hardly a rustle of their cloaks. “I mean taking preventative measures.”

The elleth frowned up at her brother. “What are we stealing?”

His fingers twitching, Milloth did not respond for a moment. Resting a hand on her shoulder, he pointed through the wide door to a winding stairwell leading up.  “Four flights will take you up two floors. There is a large study, and you should find a little black box somewhere.”

Eruviel seethed. “What, with all the other little black boxes?”

“There is only one.”

“This is a terrible plan.”

“Then why did you come along?”

Huffing a harsh, quiet breath, Eruviel moved towards the stair only to have her wrist caught by Milloth. Looking back to the Elf, he placed a little pouch in her hand. “What is that?”

“For the student resting on a bench to the right of the door — Oh, and be careful of the holding cell one floor up. I couldn’t tell if anyone was there.”

Eruviel gave her brother an incredulous look.

Milloth released her and nodded briskly for her to go on. “Be quick. I will be here. I promise.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Eruviel turned down a dark corridor as she headed back to the front hall, knowing, in spite of her frustration, that Eirikr was right. Her hand ached from gripping the sword hilt too hard, and no amount of shaking her head could expel the fog gathering in her mind as she walked briskly to return to the group near the entrance of the Tower.

Stone. Iron. Orc. Incense. Blood. It was the blood she could smell most. Her fingers shifted on the leather-bound grip. The Elf could feel it, the haze creeping in on the edges of her mind and vision, making her irritable, and impatient. Then there was the hunger….

Darkness trickled into the hall like water from up ahead. If she could end it now, if she could just get one shot, then they could regroup. They could walk out of the gates, and go home, and never have to come back.

Air rushed past her as the dim light shining from behind her disappeared. Rainion’s words springing easily across her tongue, flame sprung to life along her well oiled blade, and she moved to run when a wave of darkness slammed into her. Trapping her arms, the black tendrils whipped about, and for a moment Mornenion’s face appeared, grinning wickedly as he closed in on her…. But then the face vanished. As quickly as it appeared the mass of shadow dropped her and withdrew, retreating down the corridor in the direction she meant to go.

Eruviel landed on her feet. If it had come from the hall be hind…. Shouts from ahead interrupted her thoughts. Leaping into a run, she did not falter as the shadow of an orc stepped into her path. A thrill ran up her arm from the sword and she ran faster, colliding with the beast, sword piercing between plating and ripping out as the Elf did not stop. She could feel it, the cold, hateful soul of a being, twisted from birth, flowing into the bright elven steel.

More.

In the long hall before her, Eruviel’s eyes flicked quickly over the faces of her friends, hunting as the small group reacted to black tendrils yanking Phrazanu off of his feet and dragging him away. Locking on her quarry, she flew forward over the smooth stone tile. Putting her full body into the swing, she half spun with the slash, severing the dark arms.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Mornenion watch from his cover of darkness at the far end of the hall as the Elf paced back and forth. She was faster than she had been minutes before, and certainly more volatile. Like an animal caged by reason and expectation she prowled, searching the shadows, not for the sorcerer, but for him.

No, he had planned to kill the brothers and Bree woman as soon as Eruviel had led them up the stairs. She was closest to those two, the bear and the archer, and making her watch them die would have been delicious. But at the last minute the man had stopped her and somehow convinced her to turn back. Mornenion cursed the Barding. To be honest it surprised him, her relenting to the insistence of the Human.

And there was Minuziel. Lovely, troublesome Min. He had expected some sort of plotting from her, but not like this. She belonged to him, as well as her bastard child, and he would never allow her to leave. Mornenion’s fists clenched, a fresh surge of unbidden anger rising in him as his wife clung to the arm of that horrible boy.

They are mine!

Casting out a hand, a wave of darkness surged across the hall, tossing some, and whipping about others. Poke them, prod them, then let their bones clatter to the floor in piles of their own dust. The swell of sick delight at Eruviel slamming into the wall was swiftly obliterated as he saw Minuziel standing calm and untouched by his attack.

Looming forward, behind the newly arrived second party — What timing — Mornenion focused hard and gathered more shadow from further into the tower. “If you wish to leave, she stays.”

The call of the Bree woman was lost to his ears as Minuziel spoke up.”You may as well come out. No use in acting dark and shadowy when they know who you are.”

Mornenion glared at her for a moment, mulling over the idea. He was using more energy than he had intended… But she was right. He could come out, strike in the middle of their ranks…. The sound of bone rung in his memory again, and Mornenion looked down as the Barding archer drew his sword and…. Was he really pointing a sword at him?

The sorcerer’s laughter rung against the stone walls. “What are you going to do with that?”

The angry, bearded man did not falter. “Poke things that should die.”

Eruviel was ushered further behind her friends, the bear-boy following close to her as the Bree woman pushed herself to her feet and walked over. “Hey, ass, I asked you a question!” she barked at the shadow.

Mornenion sighed. Some people. He manifested the outline of his figure to appear in the center of the room has he turned his attention from the Barding to the Bree woman. A tendril of shadow flicked out lashing the woman hard across the face. She managed to get her arms up in time, and took the full force of the strike, which flung her back to the floor with a thud and sharp gasp.

“Come out, coward!”

Mornenion’s focus snapped to the silver-haired Elf just as the Barding charged at him. Landing in a run, the sorcerer drove his shoulder in to the bearded man’s chest, intent on rushing past. The Barding grunted on impact, but grabbed at his attacker to take him down with him.

The bear-boy roared loudly and thundered toward the sorcerer and his brother, only slightly hindered by his nasty wound. Mornenion staggered a bit as the Barding grabbed for him, but shrugged off his hands and flung a wave of shadow at at the charging animal. It barreled into the bear-boy, shoving him out of the way with a yip in pain just as a sharp kick dropped the sorcerer to his knees.

Out of the corner of his vision Eruviel rushed at him. I’ll finish this once and for all. I swear, I’ll kill all of them as you drown in your own blood. Mornenion lashed out a hand as the Elf drew near, shadow tossing her aside like a doll and reaching desperately for her mind as he turned back to drive —

Amidst a shout, a fist slammed into the side of his face. Mornenion staggered from the force, emitting an angered cry as he fell back. It had been years since he had been struck, and it never felt quite as painfully disagreeable as this. He felt his shadow lift off the white-haired man — then tasted blood as the Barding’s foot caught him in the mouth. Snarling, he grabbed at the bearded man’s ankle… and nothing happened. The Barding should have been collapsing in a heap of dust and hunter garb, but instead he struggled against Mornenion’s grip, very much alive. Somewhere beyond the weight of anger and blood, desperation finally crept in as his shadows were swept away, leaving the great room measurably brighter than before.

Releasing the man, Mornenion scrambled to his feet, panic gripping him as he turned to flee. No sorcery! None! Never had it left him. Was it the Elves? The Barding? Min? Perhaps it was the other sorcerer, or the Council…. Betrayed, betrayed, they all have betrayed you. A little more power and I’ll show them all. They will cower and writhe and I will take everyth — The Bree woman’s hands appeared from the side, causing him to stumble, when suddenly a bitterly cold shock plunged through his spine.

A tormented cry of pain erupted from his throat, filling the room  as a red-coated sword drove out of his chest. Mornenion knew what death felt like. It had not been pleasant, but there were worse things. With a little help it had been easy enough to escape from the first time, but this…. He was paralyzed by cold steel sapping the warmth from his blood. He tried to rebel against it, and pull himself away, but that only increased his agony. Every fiber of him felt as if it were tearing apart.

Gasping, grasping for air, for power, for anything, true darkness crept into his vision as he was forcefully ripped from the spells that held his spirit in place. He felt the weight of a body against his back, the warmth of a forehead against his shoulder. In one last effort to escape his fate he grabbed for the Elf who held the despicable weapon that devoured his essence from the inside – out. Nails caught flesh, then feeling was lost, and as the steel was pulled away, the last he ever saw was the prized cage that had been his body slumping over to exhale it’s final breath.

(Second half derived from in-game RP log, and edited for tense, composition, and Mornenion’s point of view. Thank you to Atanamir, Cwendlwyn, Valthier, Raenarcam, Hallem, and Feygil for all the help and for coming along for the ride!)

Innocent Heart: Backlash

Feira leaned against the front door of her and Torrin’s little home, and let out a heavy breath. She had wanted to run home right away to tell Torrin the good news, but after leaving the lower quarter of the city and the ruffians who, she was assured, would never bother her again, the young woman had better ideas.

It was an incredibly exhausting. As mean as she was, Auntie also was not always the brightest. Sneaking into her father and Aunt Raewiel’s flat after the two had left for work that morning, Feira had taken back the money her Aunt had hidden in the safe place Feira had always used. Her brother had reminded her that the money, technically, belonged to him. Then she had taken the money Torrin had saved, and every penny from her own savings. Her bones rattling beneath her skin, Feira had told herself she would make the appointment on time and give the lender his money as well as a piece of her mind. She would do it for her and Torrin. She would do it for her mother. If the man with the crooked nose said she looked like her, then Feira had decided that she should start acting more like her.

Hair tied back in the hopes of attracting less attention, Feira found and followed the man from her nightmares down to where the streets were lined with filth, and where the buildings had been rather hastily mashed together. Through the scent of waste and kitchen fires and pedestrians who needed baths oh so badly she could smell it. However impossibly faint, she could smell the opium in the air and wafting off the man leading the way through the crowds. It made her sick, and angry, and she clutched the old satchel ever tighter to her chest.

Waiting in the mouth of the alley seemed to take forever. She did not know where she was, only how she had gotten there. The man with the crooked nose spoke little, only murmuring about the Blood’s Way to the young man with the scared knuckles. Trying not to look like a deer that had been cornered, she found herself wishing she was elbow deep in laundry, in the library talking books and poetry with Lord Claur, or better yet, far out into the bay snuggled against Lhain on his little boat….. But those were the best of places, and anywhere would have been better than here.

She had just realized that she had forgotten to breathe when the rough looking young man returned. Rather angrily, he told the man with the crooked nose that the debt was of no interest to the boss, and that her money was no good there. She must have indeed looked like a frightened deer for the older man, appearing somehow relieved, stepped between her and the younger man and told her to go. What was done was done, and she would never see them again.

Feira did not need to be told twice. Shrinking away, she hurried down the street, feeling as if there were eyes everywhere that were watching her. Not stopping till she reached the brighter streets above, Feira found a corner away from the early afternoon sun and cried. It was not long until the girl wiped her eyes, and stood, then leaned weakly against the shadowed wall and cried some more. She did not understand. Not any of it. But, she would not question such turn of fortunes. Perhaps it had been Torrin, or Emeleth… or even Lady Cirieldis. Yes, Ciri could do anything.

Clinging to the brand new saddle with one arm, Feira rummaged through her apron pockets in the dark for her house key. She would tell Torrin, and eat something — that was what she had forgotten to do all day… Then sleep. By Emeleth, she felt as if she could sleep for days. Setting the saddle on an inside chair, Feira closed the door behind her.

“Where is it?”

A sickening chill ran from her head to her toes. “What are you doing here?” she asked, turning to face her Aunt Raewiel.

“That does not answer my question,” replied the large woman as she advanced a pace.

Just one shout. One shout and the guards will take her away… Hopefully forever. Feira drew a deep breath and lifted her chin defiantly. “I have no idea what you are talking about.”

In a flash Raewiel stode over and grabbed a fist full of soft golden hair to keep Feira from escaping. “You lieing little bitch! I know it was you!”

Feira yelped in pain and shot a small fist out to catch the awful woman in the gut. “Let me go! I do not have anything of yours!” Then she smelled it. Oh no —

Raewiel grunted from the punch, then slapped her across the face. “You stole it! Where is the money? Only you know about that hiding spot! I want every penny back!”

Feira saw stars. “I-I don’t ha-ave it! I swear.”

“What do you mean you don’t have it,” Raewiel hissed, shaking her by her hair .

Grabbing desperately for Aunt Raewiel’s hand, Feira grit her teeth as the corners of her vision blurred with tears. “I mean it’s gone.” She grinned, possibly the most wicked grin she had ever given in her life. “I gave it away. All of it.”

Raewiel blinked, staggered by the loss of that much coin. Then she snarled and struck Feira again. “You thief! You worthless whore. You’ll pay for that! That was mine!”

Fighing back in vain, Feira gasped for breaths, trying to swallow the sudden rush of panic that gripped her chest as another slap made the room spin. “I-It was n-not y-y-yours! The lo-oan was under Torrin-n’s n-name!”

Growling, Raewiel wound back to strike another blow when a flash of steel could be seen, pressing against the large woman’s neck.

“Hit her again, and it will be the last thing you ever do,” Torrin snarled in the dark.

Raewiel’s grip on Feira loosened as the sharpened edge tapped against her fat throat, drawing blood. “… You wouldn’t dare.”

“I would,” Torrin responded without hesitation, his voice trembling in anger. “Only I wouldn’t kill you. I’d leave you for the justice Lord’s guards.”

Even in the dark of the room Feira could see Raewiel pale. The woman opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted as Torrin continued, moving so as to force the woman towards the door.

“Get out of my house. If I ever see you again I will kill you. If you ever raise a hand against her again I will kill you. Is that understood?”

“Yes…”

Torrin motioned to the door. Raewiel opened it and stepped out. “I did not hear you.”

Raewiel put a hand to her throat, glaring back at the young man. “Yes. I understand.”

Torrin slammed the door shut, and locked it. Tossing his dagger to the side he turned to catch Feira up in a tight, protective hug as she began sobbing against his chest. “I’m so sorry, Faerie,” he murmured, petting her head. “I should have been here earlier.”

All Feira could do was shake her head.

“Let me see. Let me see your face.”

Feira let him lead her over to the light of the hearth, clinging to his arm. “I-I’m glad you came h-home,” she sputtered between sobs.

“What happened? Did you pay it?” he asked as he gently checked her cheeks.

Sniffling, Feira shook her head and wiped at her eyes. “They turned me away. Said the debt was marked off.”

Torrin frowned down at her. “People like that do not just mark off a debt, Feira. Especially them…. What did they do to you?”

Feira shook her head quickly, eyes growing wide. “Nothing! The thug that came out to tell me looked righ peeved, too. Told me my money was no good and that I’d never see them again.”

Torrin clearly did not like it, but nodded reluctantly. “What happened to the money?”

Feira put the cool back of her hand against her right cheek. “Took out what Raewiel owed us from the past then gave the rest to the temple… Oh,” she added, motioning to the forgotten saddle, “and I bought you a birthday present. Your money is in the saddle bag.”

Smiling, Torrin looked touched, and kissed the top of her head. “You’re the greatest, Faerie. Now go rest. I’ll bring you supper… And what say you and me go out after our shifts? My treat.”

Nodding, Feira turned to go, but quickly pivoted, hugging her brother tightly. Just one more. Feira didn’t know how to properly thank him, but this seemed the closest she could get.

Innocent Heart: Waiting

Dear Lhainan,

I suppose this letter shall not be added to the stack of ones unsent. It is strange that now that I’ve decided to send one, holding little hope of it reaching you, words seem to escape me. 

Things are quiet at the estate, and I suppose that is a good thing. The Lord and Lady’s anniversary is today. I feel so bad for her, having to spend it with him gone. Gifts and kind words are no match at filling the empty space left by his absence .

Rumours have started to circulate that the war is over, though I scarcely dare to hope. Even worse, I hate to think of the cost as the city awaits the return of the knights with bated breath. It’s become frustrating, the waiting and the weight of knowing nothing can be done about it. 

Borgil shines bright tonight. I never told you, but I look up at it often. It’s a pretty star. While it is a romantic notion that it might hold such powers as you say, I am comforted by it none the less. To be honest, a part of me wishes for it to be true, if only for you.

Please be safe. I hope that by the time this reaches you the sea is ours, and any sails spotted are friendly ones. I should thank you for being able to stay  long enough this time for a proper ‘goodbye’. It has made missing you a little easier.

Praying that you only see fair winds, I remain yours,

Feira

Her letter sealed and sent out with a ship that sailed that morning, Feira went about her day as she always did. The flowers in the house were replaced with Mredothyn’s favorites, and she had taken it upon herself to see that the Lady’s breakfast was extra special. 

She lingered for a moment, duster dangling from her wrist by it’s leather cord, to gaze out an east-facing window. The shadow that had lingered beyond the far mountain peaks had dissipated and she wondered how much longer they would have to wait for them to come home.

Two In The Morning

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Tap, tap.

Witch!” sounded Ildric’s lazy attempt at a whisper.

Tap, tap, tap….

Eruviel!”

The Elf’s eyes flew open and she shushed the window, feeling a bit of relief at seeing the door to her room closed and latched as she went to open the window. “Keep it down, old man” she whispered, far more carefully than he had. “What do you want?”

Ildric poked his head inside and looked around. “Why’ve you not invited me in before? This is a nice place — Is that really what you wear to bed?”

Eruviel rolled her eyes and cinched the satin belt of her robe tighter around her waist, just to be safe. “That’s none of your business. Why are you here in the middle of the night?”

“The boys have everything packed up. We’re ’bout to head out.”

“It’s freezing, and two in the morning!” she chided in a hushed tone.

“So? You said you wanted to see us off whenever we left.”

Eruviel leveled him with an even look. “I was having a good dream.”

Ildric’s lips curled in an impish smirk as he leaned against the ledge. “I didn’t think Elves dream. Was it a good memory… or perhaps a daydream?”

Failing at fixing him with a withering glare, Eruviel pushed him out of her window. “Get out you old thief. I’ll be right there.”

“Aww, not gonna climb out your window for –” His teasing whisper was cut off as she quickly and quietly closed the window on him.

The puppy had remained asleep, and Eruviel doubted anything aside from Eboric trying to pick him up would wake the canine after the romp he’d had earlier in the evening. Putting a fresh log in her small fireplace and tucking her new quilt under her arm, Eruviel tip-toed silently out of her room, careful to let as little light and cold into the front room as possible before she could close the bedroom door. Careful to not kick a stranded toy behind the couch, Eruviel slipped by the slumbering Eirikr and Eboric. It took all her willpower to not fix the blanket over the sleeping man’s shoulder, but she decided against it, not wanting to wake him on her way out. She would fix it when she got back, she told herself. Plucking up her boots Eruviel swiftly unlocked the front door and silently slipped out into the night.

The change in temperature nearly took her breath away. Ildric stood by the front gate, arms crossed over his chest and leaning against a post, and she waited till she reached him to fit her feet into her boots.

Cor, Witch, if you were human you’d catch your death o’ cold,” he muttered, snatching the blanket out from under her arm and throwing it around her shoulders.

“I think death from cold would be the least of my worries,” she retorted as she let the long skirt of her robe conceal her tall boots. “And I wonder who’s fault it is for me being out at such an hour.”

Ildric adjusted his own wraps as they exited the yard and started down the street. “Late nights never bothered you before.”

Eruviel chuffed, sending out a breath of white clouds from her lips. “I suppose I am getting soft.”

“Bull,” Ildric grunted. “You’re just saving up all your meanness.”

“I? I am not mean.”

The man grinned wickedly in the dark. “And what if I punched your pretty, red-headed sister or stabbed your human?”

“It’s not in your nature to do such a thing,” she responded sternly.

“Not without cause, no,” said Ildric, grinning as the source of the chill in the air changed. The two exchanged looks as they passed a street lamp, and Ildric suddenly chuckled and tossed an arm over her shoulder. “I missed that.”

His gesture broke the unexpected tension his question had caused, and Eruviel smirked as she shrugged off his arm. “Missed what?”

“That look of death in your eyes. I’m glad you got it back.”

Eruviel chuckled, and pulled the blanket more snugly around her. “I didn’t know I had lost it.”

“Aye. When I saw you three years ago, though….”

One corner of her mouth curling up in a smile, Eruviel nudged him with her elbow. “Is the mighty Vrax getting sentimental?”

“Damned old age,” he muttered bitterly. “Does terrible things to a man.” He nodded down the road. “It’s been nice to relax, but I need to get back into my usual frame of mind. Things are well with the camp, but matters on the outside are getting rougher, specially on the outskirts of the Riddermark.”

“You’ll have no trouble with that,” said Eruviel with an encouraging nod.

Ildric nodded curtly, the mask of command slowly finding it’s place over his features. “Good thing about going back is the weather will get better as we go south. None of this blasted damp and cold.”

“You will raid along the way, I presume?”

“You bet your ass we will. The boys are itching for action, and so am I. Plenty of orc camps and brigand lairs along the way. We have an empty wagon for loot, too. Plenty of goodies for the lads and others.”

Humming thoughtfully, Eruviel looked up as they continued along the way. “The group made it safely back then, I take it?”

“Only lost three, and just two had injuries still healing when they got in a few nights back.”

“Not like that would keep them from killing orcs,” Eruviel replied, chuckling.

Ildric echoed her chuckle as he nodded in agreement. “Not at all… Has anyone in the tribe written you lately?” he then hesitantly asked.

Eruviel’s brows rose and she looked to him. “From Aughaire? No, not lately. Why?”

“They were wondering… with the war in the south heating up and all, if you were thinking of coming back to fight.”

The Elf fell silent for a moment, green eyes fixed on the road before she shook her head. “I have thought of it, but I have no intention of going back to Angmar. Not unless the Wayfarers are called north. After…” She shook her head again, and frowned at the night. “No. I have people I need to be here for, and my responsibility to them comes first.”

Seemingly satisfied with her answer, Ildric nodded and swiped a hand across his cold nose. “Good… But enough of that. Met your sister earlier.”

“Oh? You met Anya?”

“Sure did. Nice as you said she was, but you never told me she was a looker.”

Laughing, Eruviel shot the man a glare. “She’s beautiful, but that is hardly something you should care about. Hands off you brigand. She’s already being courted.”

“Lucky kid… What if he stops courting her?” he prodded, leaning in, clearly fishing for a reaction.

No.”

Tears and Sympathy

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Having been less eager to see an afternoon meeting end than his peers, Peldirion strode under stone arches, not caring to admire the architecture. It was just stone, after all. Stone that may soon break under the enemy’s hand. Consumed by the records he needed to search for in the archives, the unmistakable sound of a woman weeping reached his ear.

Peldirion hesitated at the sound, but continued on. Such a terrible sound, and one that drained his patience rather than fueling his sympathy as he knew it should. Several paces away he stopped. Sighing heavily as he was struck by his conscience, the man turned and marched reluctantly up the steps in search of the weeper, prepared to promptly depart if the woman had a poor excuse for wasting precious water.

Huddled in a corner, sitting beside a large, empty canvas sack, the woman’s face was hidden in her hands. In her grey tunic she was actually rather difficult to spot against the sooty stone, and Peldirion nearly missed her. To her credit, she was crying rather quietly, but the marble corridors had a strange way of carrying sound.

Halting to tower over her (though it was not his intent to do so), Peldirion’s brows drew together in a frown as he recognized her cowl. “Cold stone offers little comfort, Sister,” he said quietly. While as stern as ever, his voice was not unkind.

Feira hiccuped in surprise, and immediately swiped at her face. “Oh! …h-hello!” she said with forced cheer, smiling through her obvious tears and stopped up nose. “How do you do, Captain?”

Peldirion peered down at her, his dark eyes narrowed. “I am as well as one can be… though I am not so sure you can claim as much. What has a Sister of Emeleth in tears and hiding in a corner?” he asked, careful to not let his voice project too much. Had the woman been a complete stranger he could make sure she wasn’t injured and depart, but unfortunately he knew the young woman, and more unfortunately he felt a little bad for her. Reaching a hand beneath his breastplate Peldirion drew out a handkerchief and tossed it down to her.

Feira’s fine, slender fingers took up the kerchief and she dabbed at her eyes and delicately blew her nose before rising. “Oh, I… it’s nothing. I succumbed for a moment to a bout of self-indulgence, that’s all.”

Peldirion grunted as if a dry chuckle might have nearly escaped him. “Miss Feira, I hardly call a bout of tears self-indulgence. Are you… sure it is nothing?” He fixed his dark gaze on her and arched a brow, clearly not convinced.

Feira finally met Peldirion’s eyes for a long moment, clearly struggling over whether to share her burden or keep it to herself. Her pretty face wracked with guilt, her eyes begged for understanding.

Women, he thought rather grudgingly. Peldirion sighed, not quite in defeat, and glanced behind him. “Why don’t we remove outselves from this echo chamber, hmm?” he asked, the glint in his eyes and tone of his voice far warmer than his still-stern expression as he offered her his arm. He really was trying.

“…s-surely you haven’t the time…”

“Only till I am called to keep the enemy back from breaching the walls, dear lady,” he responded mildly. Or if you refuse my offer again. The sound of crying was like nails on slate.

Feira considered Peldirion for a moment, then stooped to collect her bag and stepped towards him. She did not take his arm, and instead folded the great sack over her arm. “…where do you suggest?”

Letting his arm fall to his side, Peldirion motioned further up. “Few soldiers man the wall on this level, and Minas Tirith is fond of putting benches just about anywhere,” he commented cooly. Clasping his hands behind his back he began to ascend the remaining steps.

Finding the landing unoccupied, and a bench equally so, he waited till she sat before taking a seat on the opposite end. Feira looked out over the landscape; what little could be seen in the struggling light. “It is so changed…” she murmured quietly, her brow creased.

Peldirion nodded slowly. “The consequences of war. When was the last time you saw it?”

The young woman blanched, realizing now that she had spoken aloud. “I… I was here three years ago,” she replied haltingly.

The man cast a sidelong glance at her. “Three years can be a long time. You said before you were originally from here, yes?”

“…yes.”

Peldirion adjusted the collar of his cloak as he observed the view with a neutral air. “Was it the changes that brought tears to your eyes?”

Feira pressed her lips together, her eyes on the stone below their feet. “No. That… will never change.”

He did not look to her as if to afford her some bit of privacy. By the Valar, don’t start crying again. “What will?”

The young woman let out a long breath. “There’s someone I wronged. I saw him today and… asked his forgiveness. He wouldn’t.” She lowered her chin. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this. I… there’s no one here I can talk to.”

Lucky me. Peldirion sat quiet for a moment before slowly nodding once. “I take it becoming a Sister means a great deal of sacrifice and acquired humility,” he said in a practical tone. “If you have asked for forgiveness, then you have done your part. Being unable to forgive is not your burden to bear.”

Feira released a soft, tight laugh. “…you are very wise. That is just what Sister Arcanis said. And she is easily three times your age.” Despite her attempted humor, he sensed that her wound ran deep.

Peldirion turned his gaze to her, and studied her quietly. It was strange to him. Even in armour one could figure out what kind of man wore it, but her drab robe and cowl made attempting to assess her a frustrating feat. “Learning from one’s mistakes is part of wisdom, as is the pain along the way. I do not know what you did to this man, and it’s not really my buisness to pry it from you, but in my experience you can either learn from it and move on, or dwell on it and allow it to define you.”

Stifling tears, she nodded. “Oh,” she said thickly, “I should be so very wise by now.” She smiled, pained, out over the scorched fields of Pelennor.

Peldirion grunted. You’ll be an ass if she cries now and you walk away. “How old are you, Miss Feira?”

Feira blinked, caught off guard. “…twenty?”

“Then you have seven more years of misery till you are as wise as I.” He fell quiet for a moment before continuing. He had his own bitterness, some that he quite happily held on to. What could this poor, weepy thing have done? Refused marriage or ruined a family arrangement? Gods, he was glad he was a man. “I’m not very good at encouragement. Some things cannot be atoned for, but I cannot see you asking for forgiveness and not mean it. You have taken responsibility for your side of whatever the matter was and that is all that can be asked for.”

Feira’s lips quirked in amusement at Peldirion’s first words. She sobered and nodded slowly. “My mind knows your words to be true. …my heart on the other hand.” She takes a deep breath. “If it were anyone else, anyone else, I think I might… let go the forgiving once I have asked for it. But… there has been no one I esteem more in my life.”

Peldirion gave her a thoughtful look. “Have you ever thought that those you hold in high esteem may be flawed persons like everyone else?”

Her brows quirked. “Well… yes, of course everyone has a flaw or two.” She seemed to be speaking in general, however.

Peldirion’s expression turns exceptionally serious, and he forced back all the memories of times he’d apologized for things that were never his fault. “Then perhaps this man needs time before realizing he should be the one asking for your forgiveness.”

The woman watched him for a long moment, as if wishing to argue. But slowly, she considered his words. He remained silent, letting his words carry their own weight (though his dark look and low voice probably helped).

Feira’s brow eased after a time. “May I ask you something?”

“You may.”

“Why do you always look so severe?” she asked with a small smile.

Peldirion’s eyes narrow as they might if he had smiled. It was not a question he had expected, but it not surprise him. “For many reasons, Miss Feira. Time has seen me become the armour I wear, and only in the company of a few does the thought of not donning it occur to me.”

Feira’s smile blossomed further. She turned her eyes out upon the Pelennor again. “Ah, but your actions belie your frown, Captain. You are a gentle heart.”

I’ll be damned if I am, he thought rather defiantly. Just a few weak spots. Peldirion considered her for a moment before looking out to roofs of the lower circle that peeked over the railing. “Tell my secret and I will see to it that your mentor makes your training miserable.”

The young woman released a bubbling giggle, but it is quickly stifled.

Peldirion’s mouth twitched at her giggle, and he slowly rose to his feet. “If you do not wish for an escort back to the Houses I should be on my way.” So much female emotion. He was probably allergic.

“I can find my way. …thank you, Captain.”

Stepping back, he offered her a gentlemanly bow. “It was the least I could do, Sister. Do try and enjoy the rest of your day.”

 

(Thank you to Feygil for RPing as ‘Feira’ (Lalaith)! Post taken from in-game RP, and has been edited for tense and exposition.)

Have Words With Thee

This pen offers a meager existence. How dare these silly creatures keep me in a corral with such inferior beasts. How the mistress can endure keeping the simple minded mare, I will never understand. Every day she eats the same hay, and every day she comments on its flavor as if it is a new revelation. Pathetic. 

I only hate the grey one a little less, but somehow he is south “on buisness” with the stranger’s steed. I will be sure to have words with the mistress upon her return.

~~~ *** ~~~

Ooh, it’s supper time. Things are better here than I’d expected. The strong one isn’t bad company, and we’re getting excellent exercise. Only the head human and the lad who brought us rides us. The human missing teeth gives me odd looks, but it is of no consequence. She will come in her own time, and then we shall be off to battle and glorious deeds!

~~~***~~~

The humans are late with my bread. I accept their offerings, of course, for I should not be ungrateful, but my elf serves better loaves. And now she’s off again, and not only am I left here, but the new neighbors are so loud. Dog One, and Dog Two are curious creatures, but I am not so easily amused. I caught the pretty human’s lynx eyeing me the other day. I should be wary of that one.

I’ll give her a piece of my… What if she comes home with a pet! Filthy things, they… What if it’s a dog, or – No! She wouldn’t bring home a swan! … would she? Now I’m going fret, and I’ll molt, and my lovely feathers will be ruined, and I’ll never see her again!

Lotus: Garden Therapy

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The small trowel made a terrible scraping sound as it dug into the hard earth. Unlike the grassy lawn around her, Inaris plunged the tool into the impossibly rocky patch, carving out a hole more by sheer will than anything else.

Ultimately, I suppose it’s your choice. Inaris winced as her nuckles scraped against the stones, but that only spurred her on.

I’m not doing it for her sake, Jade. I’m doing it for yours. I can’t in good conscience contribute to pain between the two of you . . . she’s also got power over you. Jade dug out one last lump of earth. Tossing it into the borrowed wheelbarrow, she stood to observe her work. What a joke. There had never been anything between the two women. Two — no, three short conversations in the past four months. Power over you. It reminded her of everything she had left; reminded her of everything she had fought for. Had she just wandered in a pitifully small circle?

Cadi,” she spat under her breath to the darkness that shrouded her lawn. Not slowing her pace, Inaris lined the hole, and fit a massive bowl she had purchased into the bottom. Then came rocks, and gravel. Her efforts only illuminated by starlight trickling down through the branches that hid her little cottage from the rest of the homestead, Jade took great care to make as little a mess as possible.

She looked out of place, kneeling in the dirt and pouring bucket after bucket water into the small pond. Her hands would be scraped and sore at work the next day, but she didn’t care. It was just trading one pain for another.

Looking the pond over for a minute, Inaris frowned. Not at the pond; that looked rather lovely. No, she frowned because she couldn’t shake it. She hated her. She hated her heartless gaze. She hated that she didn’t have the balls to confront Inaris herself, and instead sent him like a little messenger to threaten her job and have him say it was for her own good.

Inaris scoffed, and stooped to pick up the second to last bucket. Bitch, please.

Back home it would have been a snake in a coin purse, or poison in a kiss. If she had approached her, Inaris knew it would have been fine. But not this way. She hadn’t expected it. Not from him. This way nearly hurt as bad as last time. And she’d still given him the paper. Three people now knew her hideaway. Now, more than ever the thought of him, and the way he looked at her set her skin on fire. She didn’t care about his others, but she was at a loss to why she felt the foreign bitterness of jealousy. She didn’t mind sharing. She minded being discarded again.

Inaris sighed, and wiped at her brow with the back of her hand. Several fireflies had already begun to gather around the reeds she set into one side of the pond. No, it was what it was, and Jade was sure that after a few days she’d come out of her fog and understand that he only meant to do right by the situation. The gravedigger would do what he thought best, the Mistress would steal what little happiness she could from others, and Inaris would continue grabbing hold of her new life. If tomorrow morning the boss wanted a reaction, she’d get nothing but the same old Jade. She chuckled, hoping that the Mistress did expect something, just to spite her.

A new thought tugged a wry smile up her mouth. She had said — well he had said she had said that he, ‘can’t go to bed with you anymore‘. Inaris suddenly barked a laugh. “The old hag has no imagination.”

Her anger slowly subsided as plant by plant, she fitted water lilies and several small pads into the minuscule pond. She almost wished she liked roses better. Roses were easier to plant, and easier to acquire . . . . The poor water lilies deserved to be liked more, too, but Inaris couldn’t bring herself to. Though sufficient, they weren’t lotus flowers. Their petals weren’t as soft, nor stems as strong, nor scent as rich and intoxicating, but for now they would do.

SIFrp: Whispers and Chance

Decided to switch my SIFrp game night blogs over to my other site. And poor Marisily finally started getting good rolls!

The Worlds of S.G.Hansen

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Marisily’s lids fluttered open, not as heavy as they had been in the past, well, months. Sitting up did not make her head spin, and standing did not send sharp stabs of pain shooting through her legs. Two days in the upper cells were not ideal, but there were no sounds of torture, nor the lingering stench of death. Never, ever would she complain after her days in the dark below. She now had a bed, and food, and the haunting echo of Captain Garen’s heavy, injured shuffle only sounded in her dreams.

The echo of hushed whispers of prison guards trickled down from the far end of the hall. Mors was not in his seat, but Larklan remained at his post before her cell doors. Pulling a scratchy blanket around her weak, aching shoulders, Marisily made her way to the bars in attempt to better hear.

“Vermithor?”

“Are you…

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