Abiorn

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!)

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Bittersweet: Writing Home

candles

Dearest Anyatka,

We arrived safely in Dol Amroth a few days ago. Imloth Melui was a success, though rather grim the whole while we were there. Being in the city, I find it is just as bright as when we were here earlier in the year.

While I have not heard specifically what we are to do here, I believe it has to do with the growing discontent among the citizens, and a sudden growth in numbers of unscrupulous sorts. We will be safe, of course, so try not to worry too much. So far the days have been good, and lighthearted.

I wish I had more to write about, but all I can think of at the moment is the swimming spot I found, the few trees that offer an escape from the gleaming stone towers, and the good ale that was shared tonight. You have my word that I will keep you updated on our comings and goings.

Give Abiorn my love. If you could leave a loaf of bread on the porch of my house once a week I would be grateful. Poor Henry was upset with me enough for having moved. Take care of yourself, dear oselle, and be safe.

All my love,

Eruviel

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dear Abiorn,

As Anya might have told you, our company has made it safely to Dol Amroth. We had a bit of excitement in Imloth Melui, part of which was a massive explosion Feygil accidentally caused that flattened an enemy camp (and knocked us flat on our asses as well).

The past few days being here have not been terribly exciting, though. You would like the ale here. Well, I think you would like a lot of things here. The people in the city have been very welcoming to me (though I suspect a part of it has to do with me being an Elf). Eirikr has spent much of his time out in the trees (as to be expected). I myself have found a wonderful cliff jutting out over the sea several miles up the coast that offers a clean dive out into the water. If Anya asks, it’s a rock, but it’s actually only about seventy feet high.

I am sure we will run into more intrigue and trouble as the days roll past. Take care of yourself, gwador, and take care of Anya. If you see Moon Moon at all, tell him we made it safely, and that I say hello.

Till next time,

Love, Eruviel

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Wrapped in a soft, summer robe, and her wet hair coiled up in a towel that sat upon her head, Eruviel folded the last letter. Waiting a minute for the wax to melt, she carefully sealed the first message, and then the second. The last of her company had returned safely from the tavern, and, too awake to rest, she’d set into the writing she should have done days before.

Sitting on the floor in her empty room on a mound of pillows, she leaned both elbows on the low table that was once again covered with maps. She hadn’t had that much fun drinking in a long time. And, thanks to Tolan, she knew to keep well away from the bards dressed in pink.

Shaking her head, Eruviel tried to refocus on the maps before her. She hadn’t had all that much to drink, but her cheeks were still warm. Her mind drifted, and the edge of the region turned into the strong bend of his arm. The southern district of Tharbad slowly transformed into a trim, red beard, and the sketch of Nin-in-Eilph suddenly became limpid, dark grey eyes….

Letting out a despairing groan, Eruviel leaned her toweled head back. She didn’t mind him drunk; not at all, really, but she had had no clue that Atanamir, or anyone for that matter, had thought anything of them. A part of her didn’t care, but right then, for some silly reason, her head still swimming with him and half a dozen off-colored responses, she did. I must escort my lady to bed! Hugging a large pillow, Eruviel flopped over, as much as an Elf might, to lay on the floor. The flush in her cheeks turning a darker shade of pink, and she prayed that Tolan and Atanamir had been too drunk, and too enthralled by their conversation about pineapples to have overheard.

Letters: Drawing to a Close

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Dearest Sister,

Forgive me for not writing you in a while. I hope this letter reaches you before we return, for I do believe our time here is drawing to a close.

An unnatural storm had set in on the region, but thankfully has finally abated. Our company and all of those in the city had to take shelter in the Great Lodge. Though the warmth was welcome, I do not think I have ever had cabin fever so badly. A few of us set out one afternoon to track down a hunter that had been lost, and I can honestly say I have never been so cold in my entire life.

There is much to write, but it would be so much better to tell you in person. You will have more sketches of Forochel as well, but those will come with my return. I am well, and Abbi is also. The chief, Panja whom we were send here to aid is beginning to recover. Time will tell if the sacrifices made to see him healed are worth it.

Take care of yourself, Anyatka.  I warn you, Abbi is a little taller, a little louder, and a little more ‘bear’ than he was before. I think you’ll be proud of him (and I won’t cut his hair just so you can have something to fuss over). His presence here has been invaluable to me.

Till we see each other again, and with all my love,

Eruviel

 

~~~***~~~

Dear Eirikr,

I realize how long it’s been since my last update, and I apologize. I do hope this letter reaches you before we return home.

Abiorn and I are well, as is the majority of our company. We have suffered a great loss with the passing of one of our number, as well as several setbacks, but at last we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Our company has been able to help the chief we came up here to aid, but time will tell if our efforts turn out to be fruitful.

I am happy to report that the wolf pups we took in have found a new home. Master Dorsett and myself saw them off. While I am glad that they are safe and happy, the parting was bittersweet. I can only blame myself for getting so attached to Hano, but I know he is far better off here than he ever would be in Bree.

There is so much more I would like to tell you, but it will have to wait till we all come home. Give Bear a treat for me, and Grey a polite nod (I do not know if he’s the ‘pat-on-the-head’ or hugging sort).

Be well.

Till then, I remain yours,

Eruviel

~~~***~~~

Threz,

Dear friend,

Thank you for your letter. I apologize for not telling you of my departure for the north when it happened, but time was short and I could not find you.

I am sorry that this has been a struggle for you. Though I would prefer to have this discussion in person I fear my return may come too late.

First of all, I must say that I am glad to hear that Lan is behind bars. Nothing I have ever seen him do has been selfless and in the good interest of others. His words are twisted, and while he may have called you ‘friend’, such a term can unfortunately be used lightly. You have a good heart, Threz, and while your emotions are clouding your decisions, I believe you are able to discern the true nature of this man. More than that, I think you already know.

Secondly, you say that he has done all those things for you. Keep in mind that the enemy feeds, clothes, and entertains his men as well. One good deed does not cover a well of wrongs, especially if the one who commits them is unrepentant.

I understand the struggle you are facing. It is a difficult decision and I will not try to lessen the gravity of it. Lan is a hard man, and knows well the road he walks.  Do not let your guilt and feelings keep you back from doing the right things. Hard decisions are part of being a leader and you will have to make more of them in the future.

Remember this: When you go home, will you sleep with the knowledge that you’ve put a cruel man behind bars and saved other’s lives, or will you lay in bed, glad that Lan is alive as another farmhouse burns to the ground, a family within? Taking lives is never a choice one should make lightly, but a decision that should be made with a clear head and right heart.

I hope to see you soon. When I get back I’ll buy you a cider and we can speak more of it.

Till then, take care of yourself.

Sincerely,

Eruviel

Letters: Miss You

Dearest sister,

Thank you so much for your reply! Hearing from you has been the highlight of my week. I am glad to read that you are well. Be assured that I will see that Abbi writes again.

It is good to hear of home. I’d think Little Staddlemere would be lovely this time of year; frozen over and wreathed with glistening snow. I hope the village is as cozy and safe in its wintery bliss as I imagine it to be. I do not mind Eirikr being at my place. The quiet is probably nice. I assume it is far away enough to satisfy his wandering feet, and close enough that he is not far from home and you.

The mental image of little Bear wreaking havoc in the market is hilarious. At least he did not destroy the house. I’m sure there are enough cats around to keep him in line (for the most part). Speaking of pups, this is my current new little friend. Háno and his brother Kemp (yes, named after Hallem), were rescued by a group of us after their pack had been killed. Do not worry. I am not brining back a retinue of new pets to add to the zoo. Between your house and mine I daresay we could have one. I am hoping either another wolf pack or a Lossoth hunter will take in the rascals. I will miss Háno, though. He has decided his new bed is atop of my legs, and while still wild, is relatively well mannered.

What else is new?! I competed against a Larsi gentleman at chopping wood the other night, and won. Apparently he was so impressed by my ability to do chores that he gifted me with a token of favor. With the troubles concerning the chief’s marriage the token could come in handy, but I hope it’s use will not be necessary . . . mostly because I am a terrible pack-rat and would like to keep it as a keepsake.

Things in the spirit world have not changed much, but I am still equally delighted and concerned by it. We witnessed the most beautiful thing earlier this past week. A spirit of higher standing had fallen in love with a human woman in Suri-kyla. I do not know how long they have been lovers, but he was granted the freedom to leave the spirit world to join his beloved. It was almost like a birthing, but with no blood; only explosions of light, warmth, and the simmering radiance of the night sky seeming to dance about us as the spirit left his world behind. The look they shared as they touched hands for the first time, though seemed somehow more brilliant and meaningful than all the light and power in the past minutes.

The two drawings are lacking, but I hope they suffice. I miss you greatly, Anyatka. Be well, sleep in, and spoil yourself while we are away. I have asked Eirikr to give you a hug so be sure to collect one from him. I hope to see you soon as well.

With all my love,

Eruviel

Háno

Forochel2.1

 

 

 – – – – – *** – – – – –

Dear Eirikr,

Thank you for your letter. While I detect a frown in your words, know your gloom only made me smile. I do not do so because I like your gloom, but because I feel you would worry even if there were no danger. I am honored by the confidence you put in me, but am not sure if I should double my efforts in being careful, or simply never tell you of whatever peril I encounter. Seeing as I cannot find it in myself to lie to you, I will merely report on the good in an attempt to relieve your worry. The not so good will only be told in person once Abbi and I have safely returned.

Abiorn has been causing a little mischief, but no harm has been done. Indeed, if he were acting innocently I would be more concerned. He has made several friends in our time here. Though his joints still bother him, he has done well (as always) under Cwendlwyns care. His spirits seem more bright and alive than ever. He might have grown an inch or so as well, but I cannot be certain.

Concerning the dragon, do not give up hope. I am sure we will find a way. I apologize for not consulting you before, but if anyone can help us it would be Atanamir. He is the dark, exceptionally melancholy gentleman who is so pretty he might be mistaken for a girl ( though you did not hear that from me). I know not yet if he has had time to look into our situation, but I pray to have some progress to report once I come home.

As for other updates, a few things have transpired since my last letter. Apparently my wood-chopping skills were impressive enough to earn me a token of favor with the Lossoth. My Larsi has been coming along nicely, though I am nowhere near as fluent as I would hope to be. The other evening we all took a much needed respite at a hot springs. I could have remained there for hours, and am thoroughly convinced that more places should have such a place for relaxation.

The only other major news is that there are two wolf cubs in our company for the time being. Feygil, Atanamir, a gentleman by the name of Dorsett, and myself went out in search for a pack of wolves. To our distress we discovered that the pack had been slain by a Gauradan hunter. Spiriting the two surviving cubs back with us (who have been named Háno and Kemp), we hope to find them a new home. They are hardly a foot tall, and white as the snow. Háno has taken a liking to me, and I admit I have grown far more attached to him than I really should. The drawing (art not being a great talent of mine) is what I woke up to this morning. He is so adorable, I could melt, even after he decided the other morning that latching onto my ear was a good way to wake me to play. I am now sporting a neat set of bite marks on the tip of one ear, and sleep entirely hidden beneath my covers. I doubt the layers of fur will suffice as a shield for long. I will have both Háno and his brother in my hut tonight, and have decided to take them on a good long walk before bed in hopes of tiring them out.

Give Anyatka a hug for me, and Bear a treat. If Henry should show up give him my greetings as well. I hope the house has been suitable. Do know you need not stay only in the cold of the cellar, and can take your reading upstairs, if you wish.  I mi I do not know how much longer we will be here, but I miss your company, and when we get back hope to see you well and rested.

Till then, I remain yours,

Eruviel

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Letters: Where to Begin

Dear Nate,

Thank you for your letter. I admit that I was surprised to receive it, but nonetheless delighted.

In spite of the cold and ever present danger of Forochel, I am well and whole. Indeed, I feel safer than I have in a long time due to the company I keep. It is beautiful here, and wild, and there is always something new for my old eyes. I have hunted large, long-toothed cats, stood nose to nose with a massive wolf that was as tall as a man, and spent an hour in another persons body. It is a long story, but I promise to give you all the details upon my return.

Though I would tell you not to worry for me, I thank you for caring enough to do so. I’m am glad to hear you still continue to pursue healing. I hope things with Auroera are going more smoothly. Be well, my friend.

Till we meet again, safe paths to you.

Sincerely,
Eruviel

—– —– —–

Dearest Sister,

Before I start in, the first sketch is where I am writing to you. How are you? How is home, and Eirikr, and Durrow? I do hope Bear has healed up since the spider incident.

Where do I begin? So much has happened since I last wrote. I daresay a novel or two could be written in recounting tales from the past weeks.  Due to a little trouble in the spirit world one evening, our party was cast back into our realm . . . reawakening in the wrong bodies. A young woman by the name of Faethril was in my body, and Abiorn found himself in the body of a young gentleman who goes by Sage. I myself awoke inside Abbi’s body. I do not think I can properly express everything that I felt, with our little brother as the vessel for my soul.

I have tasted mortality, the ache in his bones, and the overwhelming fire of wanting to turn into a bear (which, I should note, I did not). But, worst of all was that I — he apparently had to relieve himself and I had to hold it the whole time before being able to be put back in my own skin. Never, have I ever been more grateful to be a female! The only side-effects are that occasionally I get the urge to shout at inconvenient times, and certain things stir my anger more than they ever have before. It has given me a whole new appreciation for Abiorn.

In preparation for the impending wedding (though the young chief Panja has yet to decide on a bride), Cwendlwyn, Master Arrowheart, and myself went out to collect snowdrops (one which has been pressed and is with my sketches to you), and to hunt large, saber-toothed cats known as Kalpa-kita. Five pelts were needed, for it is customary for brides to wear dresses made from the animal’s white fur. That was the first day since our arrival that I had seen trees. How I miss them!

I will not take my time here for granted, and hope to find more remote corners to sketch down for you. I wish I could draw for you the giant wolf I saw in the spirit world, the thousands of pools I wrote of before, and the glistening ice palace of the spirit Prince named Pretty. I am sure Abbi will regale you with more of our adventures.

Take care of yourself, Anya.

With all my love,

Eruviel

Forochel1.2

Surikyla1.2

Surikyla2

—– —– —–

Dear Eirikr,

I hope this letter finds you well and enjoying your winter respite. The most recent snow storm abated a few days ago and we find ourselves as busy as ever. We spend a great deal of time in the spirit world, and though I cannot say all of the experiences have been pleasant, we have met a great many kind spirits and have had more than our fair share of adventures.

Not long after my last letter we were in the other world, attempting to calm a lost spirit who was unaware that she had perished in our world, when two wolves came upon us. The lady Faethril seemed to know who they were and spoke with the smaller female, but the male circled the rest of us. He finally stopped before me, his nose hardly an inch from my own. I feel like a fool for, instead of greeting him, all I could do was stare back at his piercing gaze in wonder. His name is Valkoinen, and he is as tall as Kvgir. I wish you could have seen him. He is by far the most magnificent creature I have ever beheld. Looking back, perhaps it was appropriate that I found myself speechless. Such a moment would have been easily ruined by words.

A dark creature has been following us. We do not know what, but those who know of it seemed gripped with fear by it’s presence. The hate in it’s white eyes is unrivaled, and it has attacked our party more than once. One night it attacked and there was no escape. Thrown back into our world we awoke, but in the wrong bodies. Abiorn found himself in the body of a young gentleman who goes by Sage, and I was in Abbi’s. While it was a worthwhile experience, I mean no disrespect your gender when I say I am infinitely relieved to be back in my own skin. The lingering side-effects are that occasionally I feel less restraint in being frank with others (which actually came in handy the other day), and certain topics stir my anger more than ever before. I have seen things through Abbi’s eyes, and it has given me a new appreciation for him.

Even as events turn and we find ourselves in dangerous situations, we are all well and in some ways more whole. I forgot to mention before, but I took the liberty of speak with Atanamir about our research. I hope this does not meet your disapproval, but he is the most knowledgeable resource we have in that field of study. He said that he would be glad to aid us in finding a solution.

Give Anyatka a hug for me. There should be a treat in my pantry for Bear, and if you happen upon Grey give him my greetings. He does not strike me as the hugging type.

Till then, I remain yours,

Eruviel

Letters: Musings and Misadventures

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Dearest Sister,

The first sketch is from where I sit writing to you. I doubt the cold and harshness of Forochel would suit you, but how I wish you could see this beautiful land shrouded in snow and ice.

Hallem and I went ice climbing the other morning, and as he accused me of being naturally gifted (which I assured him I was not), my thoughts immediately went to you. As talented as you were a year ago, it amazes me to see how you’ve grown as an artist. I think only your keen eye and steady hand could properly make the frozen beauty of this place come to life on canvas.

Speaking of a year ago, I woke this morning and realized that this time last year you had moved into my spare room. We already had this conversation, but I just want to thank you for being in my life. When we get back you and I should have a day out. Whatever you want to do.

How are you? How is home? I hope you and Eirikr are getting along all right. Be safe and stay warm, and I will write again soon.

With all my love,

Eruviel

– – – ~*~ – – –

Dearest Sister,

Today might have been the longest day I have had in a while. After returning home today I did not even make it to the Lodge. I’m tired and beat in every way. This will sound odd coming from an Eldar, but all I want right now is a hug and a hot bath.

Abbi stayed behind with a few of the others today to speak with the young woman who is intended to wed Panja, the young chieftain that we came up here to aid. Myself, Cwen, and several others departed for the spirit world with the intentions of calming a wind spirit that hindered our continued exploration of the realm. The talk of Cwendlwyn’s story-telling at yule did no justice to her gifts of speech. The tale she read to appease the disgruntled entity brought several of us to tears.

Moving on, we came to a vast waste and traversed over a good portion of it till we came upon a most curious place. I will not lie and say that the thousands of little glass pools dotting the landscape were not a breathtaking sight, but I also will never peer into one again. Nearly all of us did so, the Master Dorsett excluded, and the spell of some vision gripped all of us. A few were amusing; Cwen thinking she was a lusty cat and Atanamir thinking he was a mammoth, but Oendir’s and my own were not so. If it had not been for a jolly spirit named Karhulaulu I fear I would have been lost to despair and a fruitless search for something I had lost. A brilliant, shining spirit in the form an an elf appeared and freed us from our individual curses. Oh, but he was a sight to behold. The spell is gone, but not the aching memory of having lost something of utmost importance or the feeling of being utterly, eternally alone. Now that I think about it, after I rest I should find Abbi and the others. I wish you were here. Your company always has a way of boosting my spirits.

Returning safely to Sûri-kylä, most of us promptly departed again along with Panja and a tall, golden-eyed hunter named Taja. A great ice drake had been attacking caravans and when we found it we hoped to reason with it. As our fortunes dictated, the monstrous animal attacked us and we did our best to subdue it. Atanamir was nearly eaten,Taja, Sage, and the Eldar Kemendin all suffered injuries, and Panja and I are battered and bruised, but it was poor Hallem who had been hurt worst; the beast having collapsed on his legs. Sage, who spoke to a spirit who appeared to him, assured us that we could release the animal, and we reluctantly did so. Do not tell worry. We made it back to the village safely, and I and everyone here are in good hands.

On a happier note, I forgot to tell you that several days ago Abiorn, Hallem and I got to help harness puppies who will grow to be sled dogs. I do not think I have seen anything so adorable in my whole life as that tumbling, yipping mound of puppies. We all got to harness a pup; Abbi’s being eager to take to his harness, mine being sweet tempered and willing, and Hallem’s pudgy charge not cooperating at all. Puppies might be one of the best creatures in the world.

Aside from the impending wedding, I cannot think of much else to report on at the moment. I will try to send your letter with Eirikr’s next week, along with a few more sketches of Forochel. I miss you, and pray that you are well, oselle. Enjoy the peace and quiet and the lesser cold that is winter in Bree-land. I have a feeling Abbi may be more boisterous than ever upon our return. Greet our brother for me and take care of yourself.

With all my love,

Eruviel

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Letters: Warmth in Spite the Cold

It was quiet, and peaceful. A serene smile stole over her face as Eruviel burrowed beneath a pile of blankets, nesting in the pocket of blessed warmth. The cold did not bother her, but the heat and cocoon of furs just added to the overwhelming sense of delightful calm that enveloped her. It was a rare thing to be surprised by something completely alien to all she knew, and Forochel was it. The excitement of being there and for the ice climbing planned in the morning traveled through her limbs like electricity. She wanted to go now! She wanted to run barefoot through the snow and drink in the colors that danced over the night sky. It was wonderful, being on such a trip with Abbiorn. She’d had the hope that they could have their own adventure some day, and The Wayfarer’s trip to Forochel had been it. It was perfect. Almost.

Tossing a rejected wad of stationary into her pack to be discarded later, Eruviel took up a fresh piece of parchment and began to write.

Dear Eirikr,

We arrived in Sûri-kylä today, well and whole. The cold had long since gotten to a few of our number, but there was no harm done. The long road had been full of new sights for my eyes, and thankfully uneventful. We have all been furnished with ice huts, and though I miss the comforts of home, there is nothing quite like curling up in a bed of furs in a small hut with the whistle of the cold, winter wind sounding outside.

Abbi’s unbridled excitement nearly dwarfed the wild beauty of this harsh, cold land. He is always wide-eyed, listening and bounding around exploring. Some times I think he is more bear-like as a human, for all I can picture is him as a cub, lolloping about and tumbling everywhere new. I thank you again for allowing him to come with us. I have never seen him so alive. He has been behaving, and fortunately, so far, only I have fallen victim to his somewhat inappropriate teasing.

Today seemed like a week in new sights and experiences. Though frozen and cold, the people we have met thus far have seemed lively and warm. In spite of the cold life here endures and somehow seems deserved and hard-won. All of us were taken in to the spirit realm this evening and it was . . . it was one of the most breathtaking and liberating feelings. With the rush of everything I hope we get to do so again so I may more properly describe the sensation of lifting out of one’s body and being borne upon the wind, soaring up into the twilight sky.

I do not wish to bore you with my ramblings on all that is wonderful and new here, so I will desist for now. With the best lie I can muster I assure you that I have kept my word and am not enjoying the start of our stay here. We are safe, Abbi and I. Cwen did most definitely come with us, and I hope that that knowledge puts your worries to rest. Be well, hir vuin. Enjoy the peace and quiet while you can. Give Anyatka my love, and I will write again in a week or so.

Till then, I remain yours,

Eruviel

Smoldering Fire: Kindling

“As you wish . . . .”

in a world there lived a Woman

((Exposition added; all other taken from RP chat logs edited for conventions and tense))

The streets of Bree always seemed to dirty to Eirikr. Tonight, they stank of the late summer evening and the presence of a growing number of Bree’s paltry residents. Each passing day brought more foreigners to the city; while he felt the anonymity of being a part of an increasing minority population, he also felt each Barding meant an increased chance of discovery.

Perhaps it was silly being so paranoid. The chances his father would have recovered from the loss of Sten and so many of his guard so quickly seemed unlikely, but Eirikr never discounted the resourcefulness of the man. He knew that one day, a shadow of Kolrson Tenorbekk would find his way to Bree and there would be a knife at his back.

For now, he merely sought the refuge of a crowded…

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Summer Days: Mud and Slander part 2

Eruviel twisted her mouth to one side in thought. Crouching down beside him she switched three of the smaller tiles around. “Maybe . . . no, no,” she corrected herself with a shake of her head, putting the tiles back where he had had them. “This is better.”

Eirikr chuckled and rubbed his beard. “You think so? Anya’s the one in our family that’s got the eye for that sort of thing.”

Eruviel struggled to keep back a smile. “Well, to be honest I put them back because I didn’t want to tell you I thought it looked better the other way . . . . This arrangement is not bad, though,” she added hastily.

Eirikr raised both brows. “Er…really?” He waved his hands towards the tiles. “Well, show me again, then . . . I guess . . . .”

Eruviel nodded and reached forward to switch the tiles around, moving four this time. “There. What . . . do you think?” she asked, sitting back, looking from him, to the tiles and back.

Eirikr pursed his lips together and looked up for Abiorn’s opinion. “Abbi!” he called when he saw the boy had snuck off.

Reluctantly, Abiorn poked his head out of Anya’s room. “Uh, yes?”

Eirikr motioned at the tiles. “Do you like this pattern?” he asked.

Eruviel rose to her feet, snickering as she stepped to lean against the wall, giving the boy room.

Abiorn padded out of the room begrudgingly and looked at the pattern. “Sure. It’s great. Worth its weight in mithril.”

Eirikr rolled his eyes and pointed to a bucket sitting in the corner. “Go fill that a quarter of the way with water. Just a quarter! Too much and you’ll ruin the mix.”

Eruviel’s brow creased slightly as she looked down at Eirikr. “Are you sure you like this arrangement better?”

Abiorn rolled his eyes and did as he was told.

Eirikr nodded and rubbed his eyes. “Yes. It’s fine.” He walked over to where another bucket sat full of thick, powdery mix. He rolled his shoulder and the edge of a scar poked up from beneath his collar.

Eruviel averted her eyes at the sight of the scar, looking for the bag of tools she had left the previous day. “Do you have the tools for spreading the mud?”

Eirikr nodded and pushed to his feet. “They’re over here.” He went to the fireplace and pulled out two trowels. “I figured Abbi could spread some. That doesn’t require a steady ha-hello, there, Abbi.” He smiled at his brother as he returned with the water.

Abiorn struggled a bit with the bucket but grinned. “‘ello.”

Eruviel shot Eirikr an amused glance before stepping towards the bucket of powder. “Shall I mix it then?”

Eirikr arched a brow at her. “Do you know how?”

Eruviel bit the corner of her mouth and shrugged. “I can make an educated guess.” She reached out a hand towards the bucket Abbi hefted, and the boy eagerly surrendered it to her. “How much do I need?”

Eirikr looked to her, straight-faced, and responded, “Enough to create a thick, smooth paste. It can’t be too thin, or the tiles won’t set right.”

Eruviel nodded, easily bearing the bucket’s weight as she carried it over to the table. “I think I can manage that,” she replied with a smile. Taking up a scoop she looked around. “Is there a thick stick or spoon I can use to stir it with?”

Eirikr nodded and tossed her a stick. Abiorn ducked even though he was quite safe from the path of trajectory, and Eruviel snatched it out of the air, nodding in approval at the throw. Stick in one hand she stirred in one scoop at a time, taking care to mix each in completely before adding another.

Eirikr grinned and tousled Abiorn’s head as he moved for the door. “I’ll go get more tiles.”

Abiorn ducked away from his brother’s hand and shuffled over to Eruviel. “Hey, there,” he said as he watched her mix the mud. “That looks delicious.”

Eruviel held onto the edge of the bucket with her free hand, the muscles in her right arm strained as she stirred the quickly thickening mix. “Would you care for a taste?” she asked with a chuckle, lifting the stick out of the mud.

Laughing, Abiorn stuck his finger into the paste. “Mmmm!” he said as he raised it to his lips. At the last moment he darted his hand forward and dabbed it on her nose.

Eruviel let out a small cry in surprise, laughing as she ducked back too late. “Why you . . . !” She quickly dipped her finger in the mud, splotching a bit on his cheek.

Abiorn laughed and dug his hand into the bucket. He flung a fistful at Eruviel as he backed away quickly. Eruviel stepped back as the mud sailed through the air, and raised an arm to protect her face. The mud splattered over the front of her white summer shirt, and looking down with a gasp she leapt forward with a grin, taking a clump of mud from her neck and smearing it over the side of Abbi’s face.

Abiorn shouted between fits of laughter. “I give in! I give in!” He caught her wrist and wiped the mud from his face. “Mm mmm. Good stuff.”

The door swung open and Eirikr stopped short at the sight of them bedaubed with mud. “Wha-?”

Laughing, Eruviel stepped back from Abbi, her cheeks flushing pink. Looking down at the soaked and stained front of her shirt she gracefully moved back over to the bucket, beginning to stir again with a failed attempt at an innocent smile pasted onto her face. “It is almost done,” she hummed.

Eiriikr glared at Abiorn. “Uh huh.” He set the tiles down and then shoved the trowel at his brother. “Scrape that off your face and start in the corner, will you?” he said, shaking his head with a sigh.

Abiorn grinned and took the trowel.

Eruviel wiped another glob of mud off of her and flicked it into the tub with a soft plop. Satisfied with the mix she scraped off the stick she handed it to Eirikr. “You shouldn’t have to get dirty, gwador,” she said, her sweet tone coating her smirk as she placed a delicate, muddy hand on his arm. “I’ll help Abbi scrape.” Turning, she carried the heavy bucket over to the boy.

Eiriikr looked at the hand print on his arm for a moment before laughing. “Fair enough.” He tossed her the other trowel even as she turned her back to him.

Setting the bucket down she glimpsed the trowel heading for her head out of the corner of her eye. Smoothly leaning back, she caught it just in time, not a bit of concern on her face. Scooping out a bit of mud she started opposite the corner from Abbi, the bucket between them.

“Don’t hesitate to lay it on thick,” said Eirikr, a grin spreading across his face. He waited for them to put a layer down before moving forward to start setting the tile.

Eruviel moved out of his way, wiping a slight gleam of perspiration from her forehead with her forearm. As he set the last tile she quickly leaned forward, using the back of her trowel to tap down the corner of a tile that tilted just a smidgen out of place.

Abiorn grinned. “Keep an eye on him, Eru,” he quipped with a chuckle as he laid more mud in front of the fireplace.

“Abbi, stop being such a smart-ass,” Eirikr muttered as he edged the hearth with tiny alternating triangles of tile.

“I wonder where he get’s it from,” Eruviel mused with a smirk, careful not to kneel in her work as she spread a fresh, even layer of mud.

Eirikr blinked several times. “Not from me. I mean . . .” he shot a glance at Eruviel. “He gets it from me?” He looked over at his brother curiously.

Abiorn continued to spread the mud carefully despite his seeming disinterest and lack of concern for the project. He bit his lip as he carefully rounded the corner with the trowel.

Eruviel smiled, shooting him an amused look out of the corner of her eye. “Don’t pretend to look so bewildered,” she teased, scooting back as she spread out another section of mud.

Eirikr contemplated her comment for a moment. “I don’t cuss like a sailor, though. He didn’t get that from me,” he responded in a low voice.

“You know I can hear both of you,” Abiorn muttered

Eruviel leaned forward to tap down one tile, then another. “I was not forgetting you, gwador,” she chuckled. “And I curse too, just in small doses when in appropriate company . . . mostly when I am alone.”

Abiorn snorted. “It’s no fun when you’re alone.” He shoved the bucket down the floor with his foot and scooted along after it.

Eirikr sighed and carefully placed more tile. “Really, Abbi. Listen to the Elf.”

Eruviel rolled her eyes, biting back the temptation to mimic his words like Abbi had earlier. “Besides, there are better things to be said than curses,” she noted with a small smile, her elven accent seeping into her inflection.

Abiorn licked his lips as he finished another section. “Like what?” Eirikr glanced at Eruviel to hear her response as he continued to lay tiles.

Eruviel softly bit the inside of her cheek as she scratched away a bit of dried mud from under her eye. “Well, shoot me an insult, Abbi,” she said matter-of-factly. Eirikr chuckled.

Abiorn pursed his full lips and says, “Well, now that you’re asking me to . . .” A beat passed before he said, “How about ‘you’re a shite-eating grub grabber’?”

Eruviel’s pointed ears flushed red as she glanced to Eirikr. Leaning forward to look around the older man she narrowed her eyes dangerously at Abbi. “The wrong response would be, ‘Keep your damn mouth shut, you flat-eared gate bird.'” Her face then melted into a controlled calm, her green eyes only narrowed slightly as they gleamed. “Or I could say, “I have not time for your petulance. And if that is the best insult you have then go find yourself an orc.” She sat back quickly and returned to spreading mud, frustrated that her initial final response had fled her. No good at all.

Eirikr burst into laughter. Sitting back on his heels, he laughed until he had to wipe the tears from his eyes. “Bema bless us, I’ve missed you, Eruviel.”

Abiorn looked absolutely shocked. “You . . . I. . .” he hummed and lets the mud slide from the trowel to the floor.

Eruviel chuckled softly, her cheeks and ears turning a shade darker. “It was not a very good example,” she muttered, wiping the mud from her left hand onto the side of her already ruined shirt.

Abiorn shook his head. “No, no . . . it was a good example . . .and um . . . yeah.” He leaned over and spread the mud that fell from the trowel rather distractedly.

Eirikr continued to chuckle. “Let’s finish this section and then we’ll call it a day’s work. We can finish tomorrow, Abbi.” He shook his head and laughed again.

Eruviel spread out the last bit on her side, then gently tapped down tiles to secure and level them as Eirikr laid them out. “I can help tomorrow too, if you would like the extra set of hands.”

Eirikr looked at Eruviel with a grateful expression. “I’d like that. And Abbi can continue his argument that speaking like an uneducated street rat is a good idea.” Abiorn glared at Eirikr and scraped the trowel off into the bucket.

Eruviel scraped the mud off of her own trowel and retrieved a spare linen from the cupboard. “Dampen the cloth and cover the bucket. It should keep the mud good over night.” She then nodded, her smile a bit brighter after hearing Eirikr laugh. It had been a long time since she’d heard that sound. Far too long. “I will be here in the morning then. Thank you for letting me help out.”

Eirikr held out his hands. “Thank you for helping.” He gave Abiorn a pointed look as the boy dipped the cloth in the left over water. “We both appreciate it very much.”

Eruviel hesitated only a moment before giving the man a hug. “Of course! I am always happy to help with anything.” She turned her head, giving Abbi a grin and sisterly wink.

Abiorn nodded in agreement, though he still looked a bit sullen. “Yeah. Thanks for coming by Eruviel.”

“See you tomorrow, Eru. Thanks again,” said Eirikr as he moved out of her path.

Eruviel beamed a smile up at him. “Have a good night, brothers. Give Anyatka my love!”

Eirikr nodded. “We will.” Opening the door for her he clasped her gently on the shoulder as she passed by.

Eruviel set her opposite hand atop of his for a moment as she walked out, nodding up to him. “It is good to hear you laugh again,” she commented quietly, nodding before moving onto the porch.

Eirikr followed her outside as Abbi began to clean off the trowels. “It is good to have something to laugh about. I think for a long time I forgot how,” he admitted.

Eruviel rubbed her hands together, dried pieces of mud flaking off. “I am glad you remembered. It suits you better,” she said with a soft chuckle. Looking up at his face the question in his eyes made her remember what she had forgotten all day; what she had been trying to forget for weeks. And his contrite smile told her she would have to, no, need to remember. She knew she couldn’t hide it. She couldn’t with Anya, and she couldn’t with him.

“How are you holding up?”

 

(RP taken from chat logs, edited for grammar, tense, and detail)

Summer Days: The Tenorbekk’s part 1

Eruviel strolled down the lane, whistling an adventurous elven tune. Strangely enough, she had looked forward to today. Not to the hot, high summer sun reflecting off the lake, but to the small home just around the bend in the road.  Stopping at the gate to the Tenorbekk residence her mouth curved up in a smile.

Abiorn and Eirikr lifted tiles into matching stacks. The younger dropped a tile and cursed. Eirikr, much to his credit and Eruviel’s amusement, reprimanded him for his language, but picked up the broken tile without concern. Eru had never seen Eirikr shirtless before. His lean, toned physique was a testament to his excellent shape, already proven by the long trip to Dale. Aside from the elder’s loose cotton pants and leather boots there was nothing else aside from the raised white scars that laced his muscled back. Her left hand moved to her abdomen for a moment, the sight of his old injuries making her aware if her own scars, and feeling oddly more at home.

“Good afternoon you two!” she called, walking down the path to the house. “I hope I showed up in time to be of use.”

Abiorn turned quickly at the sound of her voice, a huge grin spreading across his face. “Always, Eru!” He slugged Eirikr in the shoulder and pointed. “Brother, look.”

Eirikr glanced over his shoulder and set the tile he was moving on the stack. “Eruviel.” He turned to her and wiped his brow with the back of his arm. “How are you, systir?”

“I am well, thank you! You both look . . . well, worse for wear,” she chuckled, letting her satchel slide off her shoulder, catching it with one hand. “What is on the agenda today gwador?”

Eirikr rubbed his beard. “Ah, we’re fine. Anya’s not here, though, if you’re looking for her. She keeps running off on us.” Abiorn nodded in agreement.

Abbi pointed at the stack. “We’re finally laying the tile.”

Eruviel smirked slightly at the mental image of Anya laying tile and covered in mud. “She’s never been one for hard labor, I imagine.” Nodding to Abbi her smile widened. “Good! I had hoped as much. Let me change and I’ll be out to help.”

Eirikr gestured toward the house. “You know the way?” he asked just to confirm. His muscles moved beneath his skin as he raises his arm toward the door. “Let me know if you need anything.”

Eruviel’s eyes flicked to the edges of his scars before following his arm to the door, nodding as she gave him smile. “I know the way, thank you. I shall be right out.”

Abiorn scratched his arm as he piped up, “Will you bring out some cups?” Eirikr shot him an annoyed look.

Eruviel nodded, sending a smile over her shoulder. “Of course!”

Looking back as she moved to close the front door of the house she paused for a moment to watch the boys. “What? I’m thirsty . . . .” Abiorn shrugged away from Eirikr’s playful swipe and hobbled away. “Hey, ya bully,” he scolded.

Concealed inside Eruviel quickly changed shirts. Using the mirror in Anya’s room she laced up the bodice and frowned. The poor thing was going to get ruined, she knew it. Sighing she tugged at the cap of the thin, sleeveless shirt, the cloth doing nothing to hide the fresh, four-inch scar stretching over her shoulder. It could not be helped. Better to dirty this shirt than wilt in her others from the afternoon heat. Draping her other shirt over the foot of Eirikr’s bed she retrieved three cups from the cupboard. Walking back out the door, the three cups carefully clutched in one hand she fixed her collar with the other hand and closed the door behind her with her foot. “Here you are, Ab –”

Abiorn laughed, his head locked between Eirikr’s arm and torso, punching his older brother, who doesn’t seem phased in the slightest, in the gut. Seeing Eru, Eirikr released the younger boy who hurried to take a cup. “Thank ye kindly!” He snatched it from her hand and took off towards the back.

“Take the others, you dolt!” Eirikr reminded him. Abbi hobbled back to take the other two and quickly disappeared.

Eirikr sighed and rubbed his stomach. “Sorry ’bout that.” As his fingers scratched his abdomen, he blushed slightly beneath his dark tan. “Er, I should go . . . beg your pardon.” He started to move around her, headed for the house.

Eruviel laughed, shaking her head. “Your are fine, Eirikr. No need to make yourself uncomfortable on my account.” She then turned to survey the pile of tiles as she set a hand on her hip.

Eirikr grimaced. “You’re not one of the boys, Eru. I should, um . . . I’ll be right back.” He trotted up the stairs and the door closed behind him just as Abbi returned with the cups full of water.

“Where’s Eirik going?”

Eruviel smirked after the retreating man. “What is the phrase . . . he is being a girl? I’ve seen more than my fair share of shirtless men.” She then turned back to Abbi with a kind smile. “What progress has been made?”

Abiorn shrugged. “Um, not much. We cleared out the front room, though that wasn’t hard. The stuff’s under a tarp around back. Then, uh, he made me clean the floor.” The boy wrinkled his nose in disgust. “That’s about it, I think.”

Eruviel nodded, taking two of the cups so the boy could drink, setting them on the edge of the porch. “Well, should I call you ‘boss’ before he returns and have you put me to work? I do not mind getting my hands dirty.”

Abiorn grinned over his cup. “Sure! We’re sortin’ the tiles so Eirik can make a pattern or somethin’. Pretty boring, really.”

Eruviel wrinkled her nose in a smile, tugging the left shoulder of her shirt self-consciously. “Does he have a method to his madness?” she asked, looking over the tiles.

Eirikr reemerged just as Abbi opened his mouth to speak, a loose, blue, homespun shirt tucked into his trousers. “Back, back.”

Abbi snapped it shut again. “Ask him,” he muttered.

Eruviel swallowed a laugh and turned, the corners of her mouth twitching as she glanced over his shirt. “I hear you are organizing tiles. Put me to work, gwador,” she said with a curt to-business nod.

Eirikr shrugged. “We’re just sorting them. Not really organizing yet. I want to know how much there are of each so we don’t run out for a pattern.” He looked down at the piles before him in an assortment of earthy browns and greens.

Abbi rolled his eyes and took another drink from his cup.

Eruviel arched a brow at him. “Sorting but not organizing . . . ” she hummed. “Well, should we?” she asked with a nod to the stacks. Stepping around to the back of the unsorted stacks she flapped her loose collar once, giving the hot sun a disapproving look.

Abiorn groaned and set the cup down to get back to work. Eirikr began picking up tiles and putting them in their proper places. “I think I know what I want to do with the floor. I just need to know if we have enough of the green.” The stack was low, just two layers left to sort through.

Eruviel started in, setting tiles carefully down with  their matches. “What pattern are you going for?” she asked, giving her hands a brisk dusting on her pant legs before taking up another tile.

Eirikr shrugged. “Sort of at an angle to the room . . . alternating tiles with the green mixed in.” Behind him, Abiorn mouthed his words with him.

Eruviel choked on a laugh, quickly looking away from Abbi. “T-That sounds like a lovely design,” she managed.

Eiriikr nodded as he took the last tile. “I hope so. Once we start, we can’t really stop.” He stood back and stared at the stacks for a moment. “Abbi, come here.”

Abbi trudged over to stand beside him. “Huh?”

Eirikr pointed to a small stack. “Take some of those inside. The little ones. Let’s lay a section of the pattern out first before we start mixing the mud that will hold them in place.”

Abiorn did as he was told as Eirikr stooped to take an armful of some others. “Eruviel,” he said, “do you mind taking those by you?” He then turned to follow Abiorn inside.

Eruviel shook her head, stooping over to pick up the stack of tile. “I don’t mind at all,” she responded, following after him.

“Set them there, Abbi. Gently,” Eirikr ordered. He sets his own down near where he told Abiorn to lay his. Eruviel stepped over, her arms filled as she waited for direction.

Eirikr glanced up at Eruviel. “Oh, sorry, Eru. Just here, if you would.” He stood up and backed out of her way quickly.

Eruviel stepped out of the way of his retreat. “No harm done.” She carefully set the stack down with only the softest huff and rose back up. Backing  away she stood beside Eirikr, brushing a stray strand of hair out of her eyes as she looked over the plain, scrubbed floor.

Glancing at her, Eirikr stooped to arrange the tiles in the pattern he desired. Meanwhile, Abbi slipped into Anya’s bedroom and out of sight, no doubt in attempt to avoid more work. “What do you think of that?” Eirikr asked her, sitting back on his heels.

(RP taken from chat logs, edited for grammar, tense, and detail)