Amiraen

Moments: 100th post

“Everything’s put away. I’ll start on the molds in the morning,” called Ris as she hung up her thick leather apron and shook out her short, strawberry blonde hair.

“That’s fine! Thanks for the good work,” responded the forge master, glancing up from his bench.

Raising one hand in a small wave the young woman unbuttoned the collar of her coveralls with the other. “Good night, then!”

Slipping out the shop door she took a deep breath of the frigid air, the smell of Bree only partially ruining the moment. Swinging her satchel of tools over her shoulder, Risala strolled past the guards at the South Gate and set off for home.

The thought brought a euphoric smile tingling up from her toes and stretching up the pink corners of her mouth. Home. She not only had one, but a reason to be there.

– – – *** – – –

A month and a half. Mira kept telling herself that it wasn’t that long, but the first night with Rath gone felt like an eternity. She could wait that long. Not much else could be done.

Leaning against the door frame she watched Thamon’s small body rise and fall with steady breaths. For not having a drop of his parent’s blood in his veins Mira was amazed at how similar to the Ranger he was. He was beautiful, the little boy, in all his vitality and willfulness. Even after  being brought to the relative safety of Bree-land, the spark of a new fight lit in his eyes every morning.

The dark Eryn Vorn wolf that curled up next to her son blinked his yellow eyes open to look to her. The small knot of trepidation that had begun to wind in her gut loosened. A moment passed between them. Then the animal closed his eyes and Mira closed the door. Yes, she could wait a month and a half. She’d wait as long as it would take.

– – – *** – – –

The last rays of the Gondorian sunset shimmered and reached across the horizon where the sky embraced the sea. Tossing her soft, blonde waves of hair over her shoulder, Feira’s face inched closer to the ivory pages of her book, squeezing as many words as she could into the last few moments of light. A final burst of pale gold shot across the sky before the sun winked away, and the girl snapped the volume shut with a triumphant flourish. Chapter complete.

The winter had been a mild one. In spite if the brisk wind that washed up the sea cliffs Feira pranced ahead, barefoot and balanced atop a low stone fence that ran along one side of the road. Novel secured in one hand and slippers swinging in the other, the young woman danced ahead to a song only she could hear.

Lalaith’s most recent letter had been sent. There was nothing new to report, but Feira’d thought it would be nice to send one anyways. Two more weeks till visiting day.  In spite of occasionally seeing Lalaith, and her brother suddenly being more interested in her life, an ounce of loneliness trickled through Feira like an sip of bitterly cold water.

Tugging at the empty locket that hung around her neck Feira looked out to the sea. He had disappeared. Stood her up. The few, wonderful days of Lhainan’s company only made the ache of being left worse. He would have shipped out by now. Maybe she’d never know why he hadn’t shown.

Frowning, she shook her golden mane and pranced forward atop her perch with determination. There was no good in wondering. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Humming the secret, celestial tune, Feira turned her eyes to the heavens as she made her way home. Careful to not miss one, she looked to each star in turn, just in case.

– – – *** – – –

The wind did not drive as fiercely up here. Finding a handhold in the ice Eruviel pulled herself up over the cliff’s edge. The thrill of the climb faded as she fixed the thick of her cloak beneath her and turned her emerald gaze out. The night was darker, being so far north, but the frozen realm glittered as a swath of color danced across the obsidian sky.

The freezing air pricked at her lungs as the Eldar took in a deep breath. The sensation was fleeting and she did not mind. The silvery chime of a delighted chuckled spilled out of her. Hugging her arms across her chest Eruviel plopped back to lay in the tuffs of snow blanketing her perilous perch.

Oh, but it was good to be back in her own body! She meant no disrespect to Abiorn, or males in general, but she very much liked her body without the hint of scruff and extra parts between the legs.

The green and violet hues shifted and changed above her. It was mesmerizing. She reached for the notebook in her pocket to make out a sketch for Anya, but stopped. She reached a second time for it but stopped again, even though she’d gotten so far as to have the notebook in her hands.

Eirikr’s letter could wait. Every word she wrote him felt burdened; the beauty lost in the black and white of her parchment. If only he were here to watch with her. She didn’t need any words spoken, nor small touches, though she would not protest the latter. No, she only wanted his company, and the quiet understanding that might have been shared between them, looking out over the crystal wonderland that was Forochel.

Fitting the book back into her pocket Eruviel stood on the precipice and let down her hair. She allowed the bitter, rising wind to wash over her as the silken swirls of lights swam and danced to a distant tune she could just make out. This land was beautiful. While missing an audience of two, the moment seemed perfect. And it stretched on and up, as infinite as the vastness above her.

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“Tell Me.”

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Jumping up to grab hold of the gable of the roof, Risalra pulled herself up onto the old tile with a practiced ease. Ducking behind a chimney she peeked out to watch one of the town Watchers ride past. Not that she was doing anything illegal, per-say, but she didn’t have time to get stopped. As soon as he disappeared around the corner she jumped up and ran down the valley of the roof and faulted across the short expanse of an alley to the next house.

Finding her way easily over the maze of Bree rooftops she finally clambered down a tree into an old, hidden courtyard. Honestly, she had considered ditching the afternoon lessons. But she needed to get stronger. Her skill with a sword was elementary and she had every reason to work hard to get better. Leaning against the trunk of the tree she crossed her arms over her chest, entertaining the thought of running her newly forged blade through her instructors heart.

Don’t loose your head Ris, she chastised herself. There are two sides to every story . . . . She chuckled dryly as the Elf clad in formfitting, black leather armour dropped down from the roof across the courtyard to the ground, landing with ease. But maybe I won’t give her a chance to tell her side. . . . A second individual, a young woman in her early twenties with a wolf pelt draped over her shoulders, stopped on the roof the Elf had come from and sat on the edge, watching.

“Good to see you showed up, Ris,” came the first’s flowing voice, soft brown hair tumbling out of her black hood as she pulled it back.

“Eruviel,” Ris grumbled in greeting, her grip tightening on her hilt. “Course I’d show up. This was my bloody idea, wasn’t it?”

Eruviel nodded and tossed her cloak aside. “Why don’t we start with a review then,” she said, not looking up at her human pupil.

Look at me, dammit, Ris fumed, drawing her sword. “That works for me,” she responded curtly. The Elf’s eyes did not rise till Ris had begun going through her paces. Pouring her anger into her practice, Ris got done with her practiced stances so quickly that Eruviel made her run through them again. Then she did them backwards, and after that was taught a whole new set of moves, this time with two blades instead of one.

Panting for breath, Ris was nearing the end of the new steps when her toe caught on a tuft of grass. Crying out in frustration she stabbed her dagger in the ground and stopped to catch her breath. The strange woman still sat on the edge of the roof, watching as her feet swung freely in the open space below. Looking up to Eruviel, Risalra could see the elf’s face was hard as a mask. Though not insincere, layers of minor emotions shielded something else. Ris felt her anger swell.

“That was well done, Ris. You — you look tired. We can be done for the day if you like,” said Eruviel, giving Ris a sad smile.

That was about all Ris could stand. Snatching up her dagger she turned on Eruviel. “Tell me,” she growled, her blue eyes flashing dangerously. “You need to tell me why.”

Her emerald eyes taking Ris’s posture and approach, Eruviel took a step back, a hand moving to the long dagger at her hip. “Please, Ris,” she responded quietly, her voice catching. “Not . . . not right now.” Risalra could see that she clung to her mask desperately, and it fueled her desire to tear it to shreds.

“You elf witch!” she cried, parrying Eruviel’s block and thrusting forward with her longsword. “You broke my brother’s heart!” Swinging wildly, Ris lost it, her vision blurring as she put all of her practice to use. Just one drop, was all. She just wanted to see her bleed.

Retreating one step at a time, Eruviel easily blocked and parried Risalra’s attack. “Ris . . . Ris! Please!”

Her sword was knocked out of her hand and in a flash the elf huntress had her wrist in a vice-grip. “Why?! How could you — ” Risalra’s words caught in her throat as she finally looked Eruviel in the face. The elf’s jem-like eyes glistened with tears, filled with misery. “E-Eruviel. Please. Please tell me why,” she asked quietly, drawing her arm back as the elf released it.

“I couldn’t Ris. I couldn’t give him everything.”

Risalra’s brow furrowed. “What do you mean? He’d give you everything!”

“And he deserves everything in return!” Eruviel shouted, turning away. “My love never lessened, but I loved him as a friend and brother. It was not the kind of love that one gives to another when they intend to bind their lives together. ” Turning back Ris could have been knocked off her feet at seeing tears coursing down Eruviel’s cheeks. “I — am sorry, Ris. I could not give him children. He told me we didn’t need to have any, but you know Rath. I cannot go off to fight wars he cannot go to when he is old and childless. I cannot keep bringing death to his door, endangering both our lives. Even more, I am not willing to give it up for him. He needs some one who can give him everything in return. Someone who can give him a full life.”

Risalra swallowed, her eyes narrowing. “Did you tell him that?”

Eruviel nodded ‘yes’.

“And he argued back, didn’t he.”

“He did.”

“And you still ended things.” Risalra gave Eruviel half a second to nod ‘yes’ before slamming her fist into the Eldar’s face.

The elf didn’t even try to stop her, stumbling a step back from the force of the punch. A small smile curved up her lips as a stream of blood trickled out the corner of her mouth. “For Rath?”

“No,” Ris huffed, shaking out her hand. “For me.”

Eruviel wiped the blood off on her sleeve, nodding. “See you next week?”

Risalra retrieved her weapons and shoved them back into their sheaths as she walked away. “Sure.”

 

Introductions: The Road

“Pack . . . dagger . . . noteboooo –” Arylieth’s voice trailed off from her checklist as she turned in a circle. Scuttling over to her small desk in the corner she dropped a pile of papers on the chair and rifled through a stack of books. Her stomach sank. Where on earth was it?

The notebook wasn’t anywhere in the house. Picking up her skirts she ran outside, her long black hair billowing behind her as she padded down the front steps into the yard. She found a pencil by the gate but not her notebook.

“By the Valar,” she groaned, slapping a hand to her forehead. Glancing up at the sun she yipped and hurried back inside. “Curse it all, I’m gonna be late!”

Throwing her pack over her shoulders she snatched up her saddlebags packed with food and blankets from the common room. It had to still be at the Archives, she assured herself as she locked the door behind her. Gliding down the road towards the stables she suddenly scooped up her skirts and leapt into a sprint.

“A map! I cannot forget a map!”

__ __ __ __ __

“Are you sure you won’t stay?”

The young, rugged woodsman looked up at her as he stuffed his last shirt into his bag. “The whole family is going. You know father’s talked about going south for years.”

Huffing a stray hair out of her eyes Amiraen pushed off from where she leaned against the wall of the cabin. “Forgive me if I prefer forests of trees to those of stone.”

The man narrowed his eyes at her as he righted himself, fitting the strap of his bag over his shoulder and across his chest. “Gondor isn’t all that bad, sister. It would be a new adventure and you might even find someone.”

Amiraen scoffed, waving an idle hand at him. “I will find my own road, thank you. And I will not let father tie me down to some stuffy merchant’s son. If I end up in Gondor some day it will be my own choice.”

Her brother picked up his bow and walked over to her, tousling her hair like she was a child. “What am I going to do with you,” he sighed. She hated when he did that, but she knew she would miss it every day after he left. “Here, take this then,” he said, handing her the weapon.

“But — but you will need this!” she stammered, carefully holding the bow in both hands.

“You goose. If the war reaches us then I have my swords, and Gondor is full of fighting men. You are the best archer in the family. It’s only fair that you take it.”

Nodding, she clutched the weapon to her chest as she walked with him to the door. “Safe travels then. I will write when I figure out where I end up.”

“Love you,” he chuckled, planting a kiss on her forehead. “Take care of yourself Ami.”

Mira, you oaf,” she corrected with a smirk, giving her brother a playful shove as he turned to walk away. “Love you too.” She would see them again, she reassured herself. Life was funny like that. Securing the cabin she fixed the prized bow on her back, watching him confidently stride away.

He waved back at the turn in the road, and then he was gone. In the silence the Black Woods came alive as raindrops began to patter down through the evergreen canopy.  Binding her soft curls in a low pony-tail a smile curved up Amiraen’s face as it was kissed with each cool drop of water. A crisp wind whispered down through the branches of cedar and pine and, turning north, she let it sweep her away.

__ __ __ __ __

Risalra strolled down the path, a staff crossing over her shoulders and she rested both hands up on either end. Her first day away from the forge in two weeks, she nearly skipped down the path with joy. Nodding in greeting to the constable she turned down the left fork in the road, heading for Chetwood.

“Today could not get more perfect,” she hummed, stretching both hands up into the air, still holding on to the staff.

“Why can I not hit it!” sounded a man’s voice from up the hill, a quieter stream of curses following.

Looking up, Ris stopped as she saw a man facing down a tree, dagger in one hand as the other rubbed his shoulder. Smirking, she raised a hand to cup around her mouth and shouted up, “I think it’s already dead!”

The man jumped and quickly looked at her, startled. He smirked slightly to hide his embarrassment. “I um. . . yeah. . . my arm is not fully healed,” he sighed. “Just practicing.”

Glancing down the road to the woods Risalra turned to look back up at the man. “Maybe you should let it heal a little longer before getting mad at it for not doing your bidding.”

“I guess I am just eager to get better. I can’t help anyone if I’m injured.”

“You won’t do anyone much good if you’re a dead hero,” she replied frankly, watching him pick up up his daggers. He was tall and built. And with ideals like that he was the kind of man she might have pick-pocketed just to get close to without fearing repercussions. But she’d given up being a petty thief so she promptly put the thought from her mind. Shrugging, she offered a slight wave as she turned to be on her way.

“I am no hero miss,” he said as he walked down the hill to the road. “I never want to be. I just believe every child should grow up innocent.”

Risalra stopped and looked back at him, dumbfounded, unable to decide if she should stay or continue on. “That is a noble sentiment. Too bad there are more children in the slums than you can handle.” What a fool.

The man shrugged his broad shoulders and Ris locked her gaze on his face. “Why is that a reason to give up?” he asked softly. Looking to her with a small smile he added, “My name is Ranthier, by the way.”

Arching a brow she studied him, but did not respond to the question. “I’m Ris. A pleasure to meet you, I suppose.”

“Well Ris, if you would excuse me I have work to do. Will . . . will I see you around?”

Bema save me, Risalra smirked. Rolling her shoulders she turned and walked away. “It’s a small world, so I suppose you will. See you around, Knight Ranthier,” she called over her shoulder, her eyes twinkling as she felt rather proud of her quip. He did not respond, but as they walked in opposite directions she could have sworn he’d called her a smart ass.

Arylieth, Eruviel, Amiraen, Risalra

Arylieth, Eruviel, Amiraen, Risalra