Ahiga

Epilogue: Ahiga

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Heat from the ovens below his attic room seeped through the cracks between the aged floorboards. Even at such an early hour, before the first twinkling of dawn brushed against the dark did only the Watch and a handful of yawning tradesmen wander the cobbled streets. His few things shoved into a weatherproofed pack, and borrowed linens left folded on the foot of the straw mattress, Ahiga quietly stepped out into the cold dark.

The warmth that had sunk into him from the stark living quarters was slowly pulled from his skin and clothing as he walked. Thin lips twisting, he welcomed the uncomfortable bite of the chilly air. Ahiga did not look to the trinket shop of the crazed woman, nor did he look to the quiet garden that, in the past months, he had found himself frequenting, if only in vain hope.

What was hope, but futility? He told himself he felt nothing. That feeling was weakness. He had not come to Bree-land to live in a warm attic and deliver mail for the witless flocks of Eriador. But his weeks of not caring turned into months of loneliness as he felt a fresh bitterness blossom deep in his chest. He had let himself get ensnared by the dark smile and verdant gaze that saw right through his pitiful charade only to wake up alone.

Swiping his mess of black hair back out of his eyes, Ahiga paid no heed to the few familiar faces he passed on his way to the South Gate. The revenge he had waited for so long had crumbled into aimless anger not long after the morning he had woken up alone. He had been so close, and he knew, he KNEW that the Elf had known he was there. Waiting for her in the dark with a poisoned blade and her name as a curse upon his lips, the Elf had stopped at the top of the path leading to the cabin beside the lake. She had stood there in silence, gazing down to the home of people who loved her, and her silent presence waiting patiently for Ahiga to do what he’d meant to overwhelmed him.

He hated her, hated her so much because he had to hate someone. And he had let her go. It would have meant nothing, taking her life then, and the next day she was gone — gone with purpose, just like the rest. He was empty, and aimless, and every child’s laugh, every whisper of a garden snake in the fields, and sweet summer rain fed into the anger that burned deep within his bones.

Ahiga did not stop as he reached the edge of the woods. He did not look to the trees where Leuca often lingered, or the gates of Durrow in the distance. He was going someplace, far away from Angmar, and Bree, and feelings he wanted to forget. The young man did not know where, nor did he think on it. For the time being, moving forward was all he truly needed.

Anecdotes: Everything We Love

It had been a morning packed with deliveries for twitterpated lovers and husbands that had forgotten. Ahiga’s hidden purse was twice as fat as usual. As much as he hated being at the beck and call for people who couldn’t just deliver worthless parcels and drivel themselves, he would not complain about the extra coin he raked in on these silly little holidays.

Sitting on a stone banister, the young man shoved his hair out of his eyes and took a bite of the steaming potato that was his lunch. He watched the Bree-landers below scurry to and fro with more haste than usual, buying overpriced candies, gaudy jewelry, and every passably limp flower in sight. It seemed foolish to him. A waste of resources on a day fabricated to boost the egos of the insignificant and lie about emotions that were good for nothing. 

Scoffing, he hopped down from his perch and shoved a hand into his pocket. Their happy chatter was beginning to piss him off. He’d go… to the garden. Yes, the garden. And even if he wasn’t there, at least Ahiga’d get some damned peace and quiet.

—–

By the time he reached the top of the fourth flight of stairs, Peldirion had a newfound respect for the servants. Careful not to jostle the tea, he bore the tray arrayed with steaming plates of flat cakes, fruit, eggs and Valar knew what else was hidden beneath the silver dome (though it smelled suspiciously of toast and bacon).

Then there was the envelope. His surprise that he’d worked on for two months. That alone tempted him to leave the food and sprint down the private hall to wake her. But the tall, proud man walked calmly and with purpose, dismissing the attending servant before he quietly slipped into the suite.

The grand room was still, the only light coming from the hearth that added to a pale, pre-dawn glow from the windows. Resting the aromatic tray on the bench at the foot of the bed he walked around to her side. 

How soundly she slept. A part of him pulled away, not wishing to disturb his slumbering wife. Lalaith. Everything he loved, good that he did not deserve, yet there she was. Peldirion swallowed hard, the swelling of adoration in his chest not fading as he brushed back a soft curl of black hair and stopped to kiss her cheek. 

“Rise and shine, my love.”

In Our Darkness 

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He felt somewhat robbed, leaving behind the little Elven home for the faintly glowing paths of Durrow. The satisfying feeling of leaving behind a houses warmth for the cold shadows kept at bay by lamplight was denied him as long, purposeful strides brought him closer to the homestead gate. Did they miss it, too? Did they even know?

Resigned to endure the dull, ethereal way, his thoughts waited with bated breath. Beyond the homestead the night would be colder and darker. Better for brooding and planning for the time when his enemy would once again make the mistake of letting himself be found.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The dull glow of the dieing fire cast  an orange hue on the wooden wall beside the wide, thin straw and feather filled mattresses that lay on the floor. It was calm here. Warm. He liked the warm. The attic room that served as home was clean, empty aside from the bed, a small table decorated by a fat tallow candle and his weapons, a chair that held his few folded clothes, and several old chairs against the far wall that had been stacked for storage and forgotten.

The hour was late. A quiet sigh deflated his chest as he shoved his hair out of his eyes. With care to not wake the slumbering man beside him, he slipped out from beneath the arm draped over his chest and stood, taking a moment to peer out the small attic window. It was time, and only darkness would allow for such an errand.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The salt breeze rushed along the beach, tossing the shawl draped around her shoulders till it billowed out like a sail. A dull light grew around her as the mute grey pushed back the last remnants of a starless night. She would be expected to be back soon, but she lingered as long as she could, sitting alone atop the time-worn boulder where it had begun.

Part of her had begged the darkness to stay. The weight in her gut that made her feel sick whenever she thought of what she should do — what she needed to do — seemed less in the shroud of night. Things were easier when you did not see. Then again, how many times had knowing eyes seen her and pitied or scoffed at her in her ignorance? That was even worse.

Instead of sitting anticipating the array of colors that was sure to follow… that she found herself doubting, she rested her golden head atop her knees. Absorbing the murky glow that swelled into a thick morning fog, she wished the night would linger a while longer.