Feira

Bring May

Real-Image-Arabic-Kaftan-2015-Newest-Design-Moroccan-Kaftan-Court-Train-Appliqued-Abaya-In-Dubai-Special

The clerk sighed again, giving Inaris an impatient look.

“He’ll be here,” she repeated curtly. By the gods, it was not like the clerk had anything else to do all day. Inaris fidgeted with the red silk of her inner sleeve, looking down at the soft lace and skirt as blue as the sea of Rhun. The longer she waited, the more she wondered. Wondering was dangerous, she knew, and it was worse when she began to doubt what she wanted.

Drewett sprinted into the room, a piece of grass in his hair. “I’m ‘ere! I’m ‘ere!” He coughed a little and upset a few chairs as he staggered toward the stage.

The world exploded around her. The light streaming through the grimy windows grew brighter, and the scent of jasmine lingering on her skin and the little white vanilla flowers in her hair filled the air around her.  What do you really want? Inaris could not hide her grin as he filled her vision, and bit back a laugh. “What kept you?” I bet it was that bloody goat.

Drewett grinned back at her, looking at the somewhat worried clerk with a slightly embarrassed expression. “Goat got outta ‘er paddock. Reckon she’s jealous. I’m ‘ere now though!”

Inaris laughed now, a burst of warmth blooming in her chest. “I should have guessed she’d be the one to throw a fit.” She brushed at the sleeve of his best jacket as she gravitated to him. “Don’t you look sharp!”

Drewett shoved his hair back and smoothed down his mustache. He gave a little chuckle. “Y’ look beautiful, by the way. Ain’ never seen a woman looked as beautiful as you…” He looked at her, utterly lost in thought.

The clerk cleared his throat noisily.

Arching a brow at Drew, Inaris smirked before quickly looking to the clerk. “Seems we’re both here now.”

Drewett didn’t seem to notice the clerk, completely absorbed in looking at Jade.

The clerk shuffled his notes. “I… Ah… do you have any witnesses?”

Inaris’s mouth quirked, and she blinked out of the warm spell Drew’s gaze held her under. “Oh… uh…” She looked to Drew. She knew she forgot something. She had meant to ask Dorsett, but when it came down to it, she didn’t have the heart to. He said he was past grief. She didn’t believe him.

Drewett blinked and then shrugged. “Ted’s lookin’ after the farm…” he muttered, scratching at his beard.

The clerk sighed and, looking between the two of them, bellowed out, “Oy! Gwinnie! Ed! Get in here!” After a few awkward minutes passed a hobbit lass in green skirt and a sallow-skinned man in a high collar make their way in and plopped down in seats at the front.

Inaris looked around Drew to grin gratefully at the halfling.

Drewett grinned as well, looking a little embarrassed by the whole affair. The Hobbit, Gwinnie apparently, clapped her hands together. “Oh weddings are so lovely!” she declared to the man beside her who just nodded a little irritably.

The clerk cleared his throat. “Well! Now that’s sorted. My friends, we are gathered together here in the sight of the gods to join together this Man and this Woman in holy matrimony; which is an honorable estate, instituted of the gods in the west, and into which estate these two persons present come now to be joined.”

Inaris reached over to slip her hand into Drew’s, and lightly brushed her hip against his. How perfectly it fit.

The clerk looked over at the two witnesses gathered from the office and flipped over a few of his notes before continuing, “I require and charge you both, as you would answer in full binding before the gods, that if either of you know any impediment, why you may not be lawfully joined together in Matrimony, that you confess it.”

Drewett squeezed Jade’s hand, he didn’t appear to have looked once at the clerk since the man had begun officiating.

Her slender fingers curled over the edge of his palm, and it surprised her at the amount of effort it took to keep her eyes on the clerk.

The clerk looked over at Drewett. “Will you have this Woman to be your wife, in the estate of Matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor, and keep her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others, keep only to her, so long as you both live?”

Drewett coughed, aware suddenly that he’d being addressed. He looked over at the clerk and then at Jade. “Wha’? Oh aye!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

candles

 “What are you still doing up?”

Feira looked up from where she laid on the floor of her little bedroom. The map of the world from Cirieldis lay flat before her, and beside it a fat candle and several books, each one sprawled open and marked with a bookmark decorated with a flower saved from her first nosegay. “I couldn’t sleep.”

“Again?” Torrin left her door open and his stockinged feet padded softly across the hardwood floor. “What are you looking at?”

“A map of the world,” Feira responded, pulling her loose, golden waves back as she sat up.

Torrin crossed his feet and sat down beside her. By Emeleth, but he looked tired. “Going on a trip?”

Feira snuggled up beside him. “The Lady Ciri offered to send me on a trip. I can go anywhere?”

“Why would she do that?”

Feira rolled her eyes. “Because she is nice? The Lady can do as she pleases.”

Torrin reached over the map to pick up a book that showed a painted drawing of Dale, the Lonely Mountain’s silhouette dwarfing the towers of men. “And you are going to take her up on her offer?”

“Of course I am! How many maids do you know that ever leave this city and it’s bay, let alone Gondor? I may never have a chance like this ever again.”

Torrin grinned, and let her take the book from his hands. “Do you know where you want to go?”

“I want to go everywhere. I have been practicing my Haradic diligently, so somewhere in Haradwaith is definitely on my list. Dale too, it being so dreadfully far away. Also Forochel. Did you know the Lady is from there? I have never seen snow. I bet it’s deliciously cold.”

“How are you going to choose?” asked Torrin with a laugh, suddenly looking uncommonly relieved. “You said you had a list?”

Feira leaned forward to scoop up her stack of books, adjusting the short sleeve of her night dress. “Oh, yes! There were one of the Dwarven kingdoms, but I do not know a lick of KhuzdulI had Edoras on my list, but it is too close, and I do not think there is much to do in Rohan besides drink mead, ride horses, look at horses, and talk about horses.”

“Hey, now! That sounds like a good way to spend every day,” said Torrin, feigning offense.

Feira grinned and waved a hand at him. “I was also thinking of the Grey Havens or Lothlorien, but it is all Elves there, and I hear they are all planning on gradually leaving. I imagine it is all a bit depressing in spite of the scenery. I closed my eyes and put my finger on Dorwinion and Khand, but those probably are not the best of places for a young woman to visit right now.”

Torrin rumbled a chuckle, and kissed the side of her head. “Well, wherever you go, I am sure it will be the best of options. I am glad you’re going, though I’ll miss my little Faerie.”

“Just you wait,” she chimed, beaming a smile a bright as the May sun. “I will be a young woman when I come back. But before I forget!  Will you have time to walk me down to the docks tomorrow?”

Torrin sighed, and rolled his eyes. “Leaving him a letter?”

Feira stuck her tongue out at Torrin as he moved to rise to his feet. “Of course! I can’t just up and disappear on him.”

“Like he does to you?”

Feira scowled, and snagged a pillow from behind her to toss at him. “That’s low.”

Torrin grunted, and caught the pillow, stealing it away with him as he headed for the bedroom door. “That’s the truth! Anyways, get some sleep! You can scold me on our way to the docks tomorrow.”

“You’re the best!” Feira called after him with a roll of her eyes as she laid back down to study her map, propping her chin up on her hands.

“I know. Now get some sleep!” the young man called back as he closed the door behind him. “Love you.”

Bossy. Love you, too.”

(Thank you to Raenarcam for playing Drewett! Jade’s portion was taken from in-game RP and edited for tense and composition.)

Advertisements

Anecdotes: Safe

Feira ducked into the churning crowds in the Court of the Fount. Clutching her basket close, she cast a frightened look over her shoulder.

She had seen them as she was finishing her errands for the estate. What do they want?! She knew what they wanted. They had most likely let her spot them on purpose. Then she would tell Torrin, and their message would have been sent for them. Pay up, or else.

Fastening a kerchief over her golden head of hair as many of the female shopkeepers did, Feira skirted around a cluster of sailors, then around the other way past a gaggle of ladies who had come to indulge in the festivities. She spotted them on the far side of the great court, the young dockworker from the market, and the man with the crooked nose. She let out a breath in relief to see that they had lost her.

Careful not to rush or shove past the festival-goers, Feira wove through the throng, heading straight for the tall gates and hedges where she knew she would be safe.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

An excited thrill coursed through Jade as she began gathering the few things in her room at the Mantle that she owned. Yes, in truth she would miss it, but the pleasant ache that lingered in her muscles told her it would not be much.

The door to her room slammed shut behind her. The smell of potent men’s cologne, cloves, and burnt flesh assaulted her nose. Jade did not trust her initial expression, and so continued folding her silk night robe, back still turned to the dark, wiry man who waited five, six… paces away.

“Running away again?”

His voice turned her stomach. “Taking a holiday,” she responded, tone aloof and cold as she felt her walls easily slip back up into place. Perhaps too easily. “We both know it would be worse if I tried to.”

The man’s chuckle crawled over her skin. A dart of heat brushed past her cheek, and burned a small hole in the wall. “It took me a while to find you. I like the haircut.”

Jade fit the robe into her satchel, and kept her hand concealed as she found the weapon hidden within. “You always did prefer fair-faced little boys.”

A strong hand slipped around her neck, and the trickle of electricity meant to shock her as a warning just flowed in to dissipate in her throat. “They were right,” he said after a minute. “How fascinating. And your pulse is as steady as ever. Whenever Talagol is able to travel and find this little hole in the world we should catch up.” A bony finger brushed at the brand behind her ear as if to remind her, then pulled away. “Don’t go far, dear Inaris. I will see you in a few months.”

The door opened and closed quietly behind her. Drawing a shaky breath, Jade waited, listening to the sound of footsteps fade. There was silence, then her heart leapt into a race within her chest as she slowly peeled her fingers away from the hilt of her dagger.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Warmth drained out of the gash in her side and her neck. Her arm screamed in pain as she fought blindly, attempting to dodge the punches that forced her body to suck in the stagnate water she was trapped beneath. Something tore at her leg. Panic rose as her lungs burned, and screams went unheard as the weight of the orc clawing at her breastplate pressed her further into the muck.

Darkness, just like before. No hands to pull her up. No hands to drag her to safety, or help her find her feet. Only the desperate will to live as, once again, the cruel claws of orcs forced her back into the suffocating black.

Eruviel shot upright in her bedroll, gasping in the fresh air that flowed through her tent, and pressed a palm against the throbbing wound on her thigh. Choking on a silent sob she lay back, weight on her good leg as she faced the unused bed beside hers that was littered with rocks. Lifting silent thanks that there was no one there in the dark to see her, she groped above her head till her hands found her broken bow. She clutched the last remnants of her brother to her chest. The Elf curled up, closed her eyes and pushed back the sudden wave of loneliness.

She willed warmth into her limbs, and passed beyond the ruined walls of Ost Guruth. Back she went in her mind, north and west till strong arms held her safely after infinitely worse days, and the words of Fionwe and Milloth mixed and melded together.

Look around you, look around you, dear little sister. Look around you and find strength. I am here. It is never so dark when you see the faces of those you love. It is never so dark when you create your own light.

Innocent Heart: Ghosts

 

“Faerie, look at me.”

Feira didn’t respond as she scrubbed the already clean counter-top.

Torrin sighed heavily and rubbed at his eyes. “Feira… Feira, please. It’s well past midnight. What in Emeleth’s name is going on?”

She shook her head and took up a towel to dry the lacquered wood.

“… Did someone stop by?”

Feira nodded.

Frowning, Torrin stepped forward in a swift motion, meaning to stop her furious working but froze as she shrunk away from his hand like a frightened animal. “What’s wrong?”

Turning her tear-stained face towards him, she brushed a hand at her flushed cheeks, and her brother could make out the beginnings of shadows under her eyes. “A man stopped by,” she said quietly. “He said that they would come collecting in two months.” Feira looked up at him. “Tell me the truth, Torrin.”

The young man’s chest deflated. “Shit.”

Feira’s small hands balled into fists. “T-That’s and un-understatement,” she muttered, voice breaking up from fear and anger. “What did you do?”

Torrin groaned in frustration. “Our lovely aunt has apparently borrowed money in my name.”

Feira blinked, staring at him with wide eyes.

“I’ve already tried to talk to the lender. They don’t care that it wasn’t really me. It’s in my name, and they want the money repaid. I didn’t –”

“You weren’t going to tell me, were you?” she asked accusingly, interrupting him.

Torrin shook his head.

“How much is owed?”

Her brother hesitated. A minute passed before he drew out a notice from his pocket and handed it over.

Feira’s eyes grew wide as she read the figure, and her hands gripped the paper. “So much?”

Torrin’s face turned pale as he fixed his gaze on his socked feet.

“… Do you know who it was that came by?”

His eyebrows drew together in a dark frown. “He didn’t… Did you recognize him?”

“Some faces are hard to forget.”

“Gods, Faerie… You poor thing. I’m so — I didn’t think. I didn’t think.” Looking pained, he reached for her again, slowly this time. “What one was it?”

She pulled away, this time out of fear of her own reaction than from being touched. But he kept his arm outstretched, and she relented, finally allowing him to pull her into a protective embrace. “The one with the broken nose,” she muttered timorously.

Torrin’s arms around her tightened, and she wondered if it was to hold her tighter, or from anger. “If you see him… any of them again you tell me. They so much as threaten you I’ll –”

“You won’t do either of us any good if you’re thrown in jail or killed,” she muttered, sniffing as moisture welled in her eyes. “We are safe here. We won’t have to worry if they try to cause trouble on the Lord’s property.”

Several minutes passed before Torrin again spoke. “I don’t want you out at night.”

“But –”

NO. You will be on the estate before sunset,” he ordered sternly, gripping her arms and forcing her to look at him. “You tell me if you’re being followed, or even if you think you’re being watched.”He hugged her again. “I’ll… I’ll make this go away, Faerie. I promise. I just need to pay them back and they’ll forget about us.”

Feira wiped her tears on the front of his shirt, breathing in his smell of soap, hay, horses, and mulled cider in attempt to banish the scent of burnt syrup that clung to the inside of her nostrils. “I think… I think he thought I was mother for a minute.”

Torrin sighed, and finally released her. “Promise me you won’t try to help.”

“Tor –”

Promise.”

She swallowed, a knot forming in her throat, and nodded. “I promise.”

Anecdotes: What We’ve Done

lotrobarge

Twenty-three men. A hundred and four had joined him at Minas Tirith, and now twenty-three was all that remained of the 6th, excluding Peldirion. By now they had gone to set up camp, but he remained, an unmoving remnant before the fresh graves that had joined the pillar standing in memory of his brother and friends.

You are in good company.

He had put the halberd back in it’s resting place, and only memory told him that the stained silk ribbon tied at it’s neck had once been emerald green. The elf had been right. He had fought harder with it in his hands, and more than once the long weapon had saved his life. Now he returned it, one of the many burdens he had bore now lifted.

It had begun with Halethon, then with Lalaith, and now the last ten years and past two months came slowly crashing down on him. She had made it so much more difficult to keep it all in. Little by little his Arien had pieced him back together. Every soft touch and tender word was salve to an open wound, and suddenly he could grieve. It hurt far worse than Peldirion had ever anticipated, the ache tearing through his chest as the miles between them grew. Hot tears poured down his face in the dark, and he did not move as Ferris stopped several paces behind him.

“He’ll take care of them.”

Peldirion slowly nodded. Yes, they were in far better hands now.

“S-Sir?”

He did not respond.

“Camp has been set up, Sir.”

Still, the young man got nothing but silence.

“I… W-Would — Should I bring your effects here for you?”

It wasn’t the same. Not without Halethon, but he kept telling himself that the boy would learn, and Halethon would return. “No,” he said, his low voice unwaivering, not bothering to wipe his eyes. “Bring food for you and I to my tent. We have work that needs done.”

Hands clasped firmly behind his back, the Captain pivoted on his heel and marched away, mounds of fresh earth marking the graves watching him as he walked away.

Six more months. Only six more months….

 

lotrojasminegarden

She’d left first, shaking bits of spring grass from her short hair that was in desperate need of a trim. Strolling around the block had proven to be just enough time for Jade’s companion to depart, and she pocketed the little pouch of silver as she slipped back into the dimly-lit garden. Ignoring the patch of disturbed grass in a shadowy corner, Jade strolled over to the side where the stone wall was coated with vines boasting of little white flowers.

It smelled better than she had remembered. Stretching out on the low stone wall, Jade cushioned her hands beneath her head, and let the sweet smell of vanilla roll over her. It was funny, people and what they would do. Had it really been a year? He’d prevented her from falling, propelling her towards a silly supper party where she’d found ghosts, and trouble, and somehow her heart. They had shared a small smile at the funeral, and perhaps that was all that was really needed.

Utterly ridiculous.

Smirking, she pulled the thin gold chain she wore up and over her head. Carefully extracting the ring from it’s hold, she slipped the gold band onto her finger and studied it on her hand in the lamp-light. How difficult the farmer made things. How strange, how much she like it. Work had began to loose it’s luster because of him. Her regular customers became unsatisfying, and instead of indulging in the occasional tryst, she had to tell them one by one (with a foreign sense of relief and girlish anticipation), that things had to end.

Sighing, Jade sat up and carefully uprooted a small sprout of the sweet-smelling vine to take with her. She’d be staying at the Mantle tonight. She didn’t want to be, but told herself to enjoy it while it lasted.

 

cr_Box_153_2__39637.1406589167.1000.1000

Fletch lounged on the bed, head resting on his paws as he watched Eruviel put away her things. Aside from the travel pack and old quiver full of new arrows she’d bought from a vendor she didn’t know, the room felt strange. Everything was tidied and in it’s proper place. The bed was made, downy pillows neatly piled at the head of the bed, her weapons hung from pegs on the wall aside from her bow that lay unstrung on the bench by the foot-board, and a fistful of flowers and grass (courtesy of Eboric) filled the little vase sitting on her mantle.

Removing the blue agate pendant from where it hung around her neck, she carefully laid it to rest in the crystal box on her nightstand. Raenarcam and Kemendin both insisting anything of sentiment be left behind, she gladly replaced nearly all of her gear, and remembering the memory she had witnessed, Eruviel replaced the rest as well, just to be safe. Bow from Milloth, swords from Rainion, bracers from Raen, daggers from Myrthrost, shirt from Esgaroth….

Her door locked just in case Eboric woke and decided to try and wander into her room, she sat on the rug in her skin, Fletch hopping down to stretch out beside her. Raen had cut her hair. All the lovely silver strands. Eruviel was not willing to make such a sacrifice. With care she wove her long, soft waves up into a tight bun that would be out of sight and out of mind.

“You be good, all right? No running about Durrow causing trouble while I’m away,” she muttered softly, scratching the growing pup behind his ears.

Fletch made a soft grumble in understanding. Licking her hand, he rolled over onto his side to beg for more pets.

 

lotroDAnight

“Good evening… May I help you?” Having only just gotten home after putting in extra hours, Feira looked out into the waning evening light at the man who stood on the stoop.

His face paled for a moment, looking at her as if he was seeing a ghost. A minute passed before the middle-aged man cleared his throat. “You’ve grown up. I didn’t — That is… Is Torrin home?” He fidgeted, trying hard not to look anxious. The edges of his eyes looked blood-shot, and something about him, perhaps the smell of burnt, syrupy smoke that lingered about him or the strangely familiar crook of the bridge of his nose, made her feel uneasy.

Sorry, Faerie. Been a long day. If anyone comes by asking for me, I’m not home.

“I — I’m sorry, sir, but he is not,” she replied, careful not to move to block his view as he peered past her into the small house. “I can tell him you called though, mister….”

The man swallowed, and Feira resisted squirming under his gaze as he eyed her. “Just tell him a friend stopped by, and that we’ll come collecting in two months.”

Feira nodded, the stiffness that gripped her joints aiding her in not closing the door too fast. She waited, clinging to the door handle as she listened to the man’s retreating footsteps. Then she remembered to breathe. Sinking down in the corner behind the door, Feira pressed a trembling hand to her mouth to keep back the rising panic. Amber eyes lifted from the dark floor to the ceiling beneath where her brother slept.

What have you done?

Innocent Heart: Guilty

“Hold on! I’m coming. I’m coming,” Feira insisted, pattering down the steps to the main level.

“How long have you been home?” asked Torrin from the kitchen. “You usually have started supper by now.”

Smoothing out her skirts, Feira quickly checked the laces on her corset and pulled her long hair over her shoulders. Just in case. “Sorry! Sorry. You know me. I got distracted reading.”

The man chuckled as he fed several logs to the fire. “You and your –” Torrin stopped as he turned, and stared at her for a second.

“Fei? Are you all right?”

Try not ta look too guilty!

Feira stood a little straighter, silently cursing her cheeks as she felt them flush a shade pinker. “I-I’m fine! Really! Why would you ask?” she inquired as she forced herself to retrieve a pan from a low cupboard.

Her brother watched her, his brows knitting together. “You look flushed. It’s been ages since you’ve been sick. Do you have a fever?”

Swallowing hard, Feira kept her amber eyes locked on her working hands. “It’s nothing to worry about, Torrin. Just… the night air, or something.”

Huffing, he strode across the small cooking space and pressed a hand to her forehead before she could protest. “Oi! You feel too warm! Tell me the truth, Faerie,” insisted Torrin. “When did this start?”

“It’s — I’m fine, honest!” As much truth as possible. You’re a terrible fibber. “Started a little before noon, I think. Went out for a walk and just felt… out of breath.”

Torrin frowned, his features strained with concern, and he kept on feeling her face as if doing so would make the heat go away. “And here I am expecting you to have supper ready after you’ve worked hard all day.”

Feira managed a timid smile. “I-I haven’t done all that much, really. I can still ma –”

“No!” Torrin exclaimed, pulling her into a protective hug. “I’ll make supper tonight. Gods! You are warm. Poor Faerie. You run upstairs and rest.”

“Are you sure?” she asked, giving him a guilty look.

“I insist! Oh, don’t — don’t give me that look. You deserve a rest,” he said with a curt nod. “I’ll bring food up to you when it’s ready.

Giving him an apologetic smile, Feira accepted a kiss on the forehead. “Thanks, Tor. Don’t make anything too fancy, okay?”

He shooed her off and she obeyed, heading back for the stairs. Glancing back she couldn’t help but feel bad as he turned to roll up his sleeves and face the kitchen. “Oh, I’m sure there is a way to make water boil….”

Anecdotes: Where We Go

“I can carry that stack in too, if you’d like.”

Feira looked over to the petite maid from where she hung a sheet on a line. “I would. Thank you, Mariah! These go with the first load to be pressed. The ones on the bottom are to be put in the first three guest rooms.”

The brunette nodded and accepted the stack atop the basket of clean laundry she already carried. “Sure thing. You headed out after this?”

“For a few hours. The rest of the morning chores are done.”

“Don’t read too hard!”

Feira waved after her and hefted a large sheet heavy with water up onto the next line. Laundry was always best on days like these. Warm sun and cool breeze amplified the scent of flowers from the garden and the billowing white sheets that surrounded her. Two more sheets to hang and she would trade it for a couch tucked away in a quiet corner of the library.

A gust of wind caught the next sheet she hung, and Feira grinned, her bare feet curling in the grass. The sheets turned into sails and her mind began to wander. The grass turned into wooden planks of a deck, the billowing linens turned into an armada, and a whistled tune was taken up….

Her eyes snapped open. She knew that tune. Warmth rose to her cheeks and, taking up the last sheet, she back up to an open spot on the line behind her, whistling harmony as the first whistler drew closer. She hung the wide, white cloth and the voice fell silent. Feira followed suit. Footsteps drew near and she skipped into the shadow of a sheet partially to play and hide, and partially because it was all she could think to do as her heart began to race from anticipation.

The heavy footfalls stopped opposite of her sheet and a head appeared to peer at her. His sun-bleached hair longer than she remembered, Lhainan’s sea green eyes caught her and he grinned.

“Hiya, Blondie.”

  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She was warm. Deliciously warm. Inaris drew in a deep breath, not bothering to open her eyes, and smiled as she remembered.

How long had she lain there? Ten minutes? Thirty? Maybe an eternity… Yes, she could spend eternity like this. Life was not supposed to be like this. She wasn’t supposed to be okay with it, but she couldn’t help herself.

It hadn’t been like this before. It hadn’t been so easy. Was it supposed to be easy? Something ingrained deep inside of her told her she should slip out from under the covers and leave. That she should open her eyes and see it all as lies.

Hate was as simple as breathing. She enjoyed it, the hate and anger and control that fueled half of her work days. It had gotten her safely this far from the inland sea, and suddenly she had no need for that hate nor the indifference that came with it. Her walls were tall and cold and hard as iron… and he walked right through them.

Maybe she hated that most. That she suddenly did not have to. That everything beyond this point was an entirely different world than she’d ever thought for herself. That here in this moment she was more safe than she’d ever felt in her life. To the Pit with it all. Let them come for her now. Let them waste their time. And if they found her? Well, she wouldn’t want to be them.

Adjusting the ring on her finger she nestled close against his chest and beckoned sleep back to her. She was warm, and she was safe, and for the first time she believed it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“I thought you were going to the Blue Theater.”

Peldirion looked over his shoulder to Halethon. “I mean to to. I walked by.”

The young soldier crossed his arms over his chest as he watched his superior rise to find a towel to wipe the sweat from his face and chest. “You spend too much time here.” He motioned to the empty training hall.

“I like the exercise,” said Peldirion gruffly. “Just because my off hand is out of commission does not mean I should sit idle.”

“Yes, but you should actually relax once in a while. Ask one of those ladies to the theater or supper or… I don’t know, go for a walk in the gardens.”

“I don’t need to walk in the gardens.”

Halethon chuffed a breath and went to retrieve Peldirion’s effects. “Because you smell like one?”

Peldirion cast him a glare.”It is lavender. Supposed to help the pain. I think the healer is just screwing with me.”

Tunic and light armour in hand, Halethon did not move as he leveled a look at the Captain.

What?”

“You’re not sleeping again, are you?”

Peldirion’s dark eyes did not meet Halethon’s.

“My lord?”

“It is not a problem. Same as before.”

The young man pursed his lips and offered Peldirion the tunic. “Have you tried –“

“You know nothing helps,” interrupted Peldirion, snatching the tunic from Halethon’s hand.

“I could find you company….”

Peldirion paused before pulling the cloth over his head. “No. It did not make enough of a difference last time.”

“I don’t like it, Peldirion.”

“You don’t have to. I will try and sleep when this is all over.” Peldirion frowned and took his armour. “Get my weapons.”

Halethon’s brows drew together and he inclined his head, deciding it best not to challenge the man’s dark look. “Yes, sir.”

Innocent Heart: Haunting Hours

 

Emerging from a cloud of mist, Feira meandered down the flowering street lined with vendors. It was spring… or possibly summer? That hardly mattered, though. The warm day was accompanied by a cool sea breeze and soft tufts of clouds floated by overhead. Her freshly washed locks glowed in the sunlight, and her light, prancing steps encouraged the thin, flowy layers of her new pale, seafoam green dress to swim about her. Come to think of it, she couldn’t recall exactly how she had gotten the dress that had adorned a mannequin in a shop window for months, but that was just another detail that flittered away as quickly as it came.

Shop owners waved to her as she passed through the crowd. Small talk was made with other maids who had the day off, and all commented on how fetching she looked without her grey apron and what a lovely day it was to see the war finally end. A brand new book with gilded lettering on the cover gave an accomplished weight to the basket hanging from her arm. Cheeses for Lalaith made their way into her basket, followed by the Lady Mredothyn’s favorite fruits and the best flowers in the city for Lady Ciri’s room. Torrin could tease her for spending so frivolously all he wanted, but some days were happy enough that there was nothing wrong with sparing no expense.

Lalaith had written that she’d be back on the morrow. It was all Feira could do to keep from asking for another day off so she could rent a horse to go and meet the young woman on the way. The war was over, and everyone was coming home. Everything was going to be right again. The Lord would be home soon, and the young woman was sure that it would not be long before the estate was overflowing with babies and dinner parties.

Weaving a path through the happy throngs, Feira made her way towards the docks. It surprised her how quickly she got there, for she turned the first corner and the buildings opened up to present a breathtaking, awe inspiring view of the massive harbor. Blue and white sails filled the air. The shouts of sailors and soldiers mingled with hundred of gulls gliding overhead, and the laughter of the citizens who filled every nook and cranny of the walkways.

“’bout time ya got here!” called a familiar voice from behind. Her heart leaping in her chest, Feira spun around.

Her heart stopped.

Taller and fitter than ever from months at sea, Lhainan stood just out of arm’s reach, his captivating gaze fixed over her shoulder.

“A little waiting never hurt you,” responded a young woman’s voice, and Lalaith, dressed in one of her old silk gowns brushed past Feira to take the sailor’s offered arm. No habit in sight, her friend’s glistening blue-black hair tumbled down her back.”You get me anything?” she purred.

“Course I did,” Lhain replied, a coy smile curling his lips as he bend down to whisper into Lalaith’s ear.

What was this? Shocked, words caught in Feira’s throat when a second woman approached. “And what about me?” asked the lithe, olive skinned beauty that stole up to coil around the sailor’s other side.

Eyes gleaming, Lhainan laughed. “I’d never forget about you, beautiful.” Unable to move, Feira watched in horror as he reached out and, with little effort, ripped the gold locket from where it hung around her neck. Draping the arm around the young southern woman he let the delicate heart and chain tumble over the woman’s shoulder to disappear beneath her low neckline. The trio laughed and turned to vanish down the docks, suggestions about a long boat ride getting lost in the haze that filled Feira’s head.

The brilliant sun above her dimmed, though no one seemed to notice. A grey form rose up from where the southern woman, Lhain and Lalaith had disappeared, and as the world closed in around her Aunt Raewiel glared down at Feira with a wicked, triumphant sneer.

This wasn’t real. It wasn’t! Valar… Emeleth… But no, no one could hear her. Nobody would. Trapped and with nowhere to run, the flowers in her basket withered, the fruits shrunk and turned sour, and the pages of her book crumpled into ash. She couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t speak, and the only movement Feira could manage was the trembling that slowly took over her limbs.

Wake up….

Wake up….

Innocent Heart: Letters and Longing

To the Master, Lord Colagar.

Dear Sir,

I pray this letter finds you in good health and spirits. The estate is well cared for and being kept spotless in your absence. Dol Amroth is a great deal quieter since the departure of the Knights. While I know little of the troubles occurring in darker corners of our city, the most boisterous of the rabble-rousers I usually overhear while on errands have fallen silent.

As for your Lady, I assure you she is well looked after. There is no question as to how greatly she misses you. Much effort is being put forward to keep her spirits up, and will continually be given until you return safely to her.

Sincerely, your humble servant,

Feira

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dear Sir Hathlafel,

Greetings! I hope this letter finds you in better spirits than when we last spoke.

How is Minas Tirith? I would badger you with questions, but I am sure you are busy with a great many important things like winning the war, and all. I hope the time you spent there is not terribly marred by your purpose.

I saw your daughter a couple weeks back. Would that I had seen her more recently and I could give you a more accurate report. She seemed troubled, but in spite of whatever the matter was about her smile seemed, for the most part, as bright as ever.

Do take care of yourself and return to us in one piece. The letter enclosed with this one is to Lalaith. I was unsure of how to get it to her. If you could deliver it to her I would be grateful.

Sincerely, and with highest regards,

Feira

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dearest Lalith,

How are you? I miss you ever so much. You arrived safely, I hope.

How are the Houses of Healing? Are they treating you well? Do you like it there? They are so fortunate to have you there. You really are the best. I can’t begin to imagine all the things you get to see, and how much good you will have the opportunity to do.

What is Minas Tirith like? Has it changed much since you were last there? Do you recognize anyone? I hope you are getting along well.

Has any fighting started yet? You must promise me to be safe if it has or when it does. No running off and being reckless. You can be brave back at some safe place. I do not want to think about you not coming home.

Take care of yourself, my dear friend. I hope this is all over soon so you can come back.

Emeleth bless you and keep you.

Your friend,

Feira

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She sat there for a time, staring at a fresh, blank page. Her first draft of her last letter was far too short so Feira set it aside. The second draft rambled on for several pages and those were discarded as well.

Starting into her third draft Feira jumped some time later, having realized she had gotten lost in a rather scandalous daydream. Blushing furiously, the young woman gathered up all three drafts and safely deposited them into the fire where the flames consumed all of her delicately penned words. A letter from her would never reach him anyways.

Days Have Passed

ScreenShot00113

(Thought I would clean out the drafts that had sat forgotten for the past year and a half.)

The last gleam of sunlight disappeared over the hills as Eruviel’s eyes fluttered open. For several minutes she stared up at the star-lit sky framed by tree branches and ruined elvish architecture, wishing she could fade back into her sleep-like trance. There would be no true rest till she had all three human back safely in Bree.

Reluctantly rising to her feet she stretched up, observing Eirikr sleeping a few feet away. He slept hard, and a small pang of guilt stung her as she picked up her boots and silently padded away. Best that he gets as much rest as possible, she thought as she nodded in greeting to the few hunters and fighters milling around the camp. She knew his mind was far to the east, and they still had a long way to go.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She never stayed up this late. Till the night she’d gone out two weeks back Feira had always been early to bed and early to rise. But now the night was at it’s coldest, and she leaned against the side of a bench on the look-out, feet dangling over the ledge as she watched the horizon.

Why did she even care to watch? She had never been lonely, but then again she might have always been and never knew it. Don’t waste your time, Torrin had said. Nothing good can come from sailors. Maybe he was right. She didn’t know him really. For all Feira knew he was good at hiding his real nature and had shown up amidst the laundry lines just to mess with her… but did it matter much? She had no idea what she was getting herself into, but there was nothing to do about it now.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Having returned cold to her core, Abiorn had not left her side. Long since recovered from the search for the lost hunter, Eruviel sat wrapped in furs, her back against a pillar near one of the fires. Abbi slept leaning on her left arm, and Huor had nested in her lap. Both of them radiated delicious heat that made the bitter hours of tracking through the storm nothing but an unpleasant memory.

Smiling softly to each in turn, the elf turned her attention back to the letter she now knew by heart. The thumb of her free hand traced over the scratched out words as if doing so would make the mark blacking them out disappear. She would never tell, but she allowed herself to hope as the faintest remnants of words brought a warmth to her cheeks that the wolf and her young human brother could not offer. It won’t be long. Help Panja, help Taja, Huor, survive, then home.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Eruviel let out a quiet sigh. “People do funny things when they think they are helping others. Sometimes the reasons are good, and sometimes they are not, but we always need someone to come after us. I’m sure Morty knows you will go after him.”

Hallem shook his head. “He wouldn’t want us to.”

“Because he wants to be left to his fate, or because he doesn’t want you to get hurt?”

“Both, probably.”

“Then I am sure he knows you will come for him anyways.”

Hallem looked to her. “Why does that m-matter?”

Eruviel smiled sadly. “Does it not matter to you?”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A soft thud of the outer door leading in from the corridor summoned Peldirion out of his thoughts. Sitting up from where he leaned took more effort than it should have, and an exasperated sigh poured out of him as he heard the outer door open and close again.

“Boys,” he said in a tired, no-nonsense tone.

The sound of cautious footsteps stopped. Then, obediently, they slowly turned, and two boys in their late teens entered Peldirion’s dark study. Both saluted quickly, and the shorter of the two nervously stepped forward.

“Y-Yes, Sir?”

The Trouble with Boys

staring_out_window

“Faerie?”

“…Fei?”

“Feira!”

Wha — Torrin!” Feira jumped from where she sat by her bedroom window, and nearly fell from her seat. “Can’t you knock?”

“I did,” her brother replied with a smirk as he leaned in the doorway. “You got a little…”

Feira’s eyes grew wide. “A little what?”

“A little mark from the sill on your face.”

“Ha ha.” She made a face at him as she scrubbed at the indent on her cheek. “Is supper ready?”

“It will be as soon as you stop pining and moping, and change out of that ridiculousness.” He motioned to the blue silk skirt from her ball gown that she wore over her work dress, topped off by a baggy knit sweater.

“I-I’m not pining,” she muttered as pink rushed to her cheeks.

“Uh-huh… And I’m not judging. He gone again?”

Feira tossed her sweater aside, and focused on the skirt.

“Feira….”

“Been for a while.”

Torrin scowled. “Wanna know what I think?”

“No.” Feira wiggled around as she pulled the cloth of the gown’s skirt up over her head.

“You should find yourself another boy.”

“I don’t want another boy,” came her muffled response from beneath layers of cloth.

“You all right in there?”

Her struggling stopped for a moment. “I’m fine.”

“Really, Fei. The city is full of young lads who drool when you walk by.”

“No they don’t. Nobody drools at maids.”

“Yeah-huh, they do. Problem is your nose is always stuck in a book, or your head’s up in some cloud thinkin’ of that blasted sailor.”

She started struggling again within the confines of the skirt. “You’d like him if you met him.”

“No I wouldn’t,” he retorted. Sighing, Torrin walked into the plain room and move to assist the struggling girl. “Nothing good can come from a sailor. Besides, I haven’t met him. I don’t like some sea fairing highwayman calling on my baby sister and taking her who knows where.”

“Heavens, Tor. He’s on a naval ship.”

“And that makes it better?”

Giving a despairing sigh, Feira let him help her as she finally found the hidden button that had snagged on her apron. “I’m not a baby, Torrin.”

He grunted in disapproval. “I know. You’re a young woman now. And that is suppose to make me feel better?”

“I don’t — I don’t need you to protect me.” She didn’t sound as convincing as she’d hoped to.

“You keep tellin’ yourself that… Heeeere we go,” he said as he pulled the skirt up and away. “Smart or no, you’re too pretty to be walking about without an escort.”

Feira chuffed out a soft chuckle, and tossed the skirt and her apron onto her bed. “Only ladies have escorts. You’re my brother. You’re biased.”

“Damn straight. I call it as I see it.” He crossed his arms over his chest and gave her his sternest look. “And then I catch you attacking bales of hay and trees with pointy sticks? I’d rather you learn to run faster than anyone else instead of learning how to fight –”

Before he could get the last word out Feira had flung her arms around his torso, and destroyed any chance he had of seeming dour.

“Woah, Faerie, what’s this for?”

Feira’s hug tightened. “F-For caring.”

Torrin’s wavering frown instantly melted into a warm smile, and he hugged her back. “I’ll keep bugging you about the sailor. Find a honest, wealthy, hard working young man who treats you like the world. Then I’ll be content.”

Releasing him, Feira poked him in the stomach. “Whatever, Dad.”

Torrin snorted, and tugged playfully at her ponytail. “Your face is leaking.”

“Oh, shut it,” she retorted, pushing him away and heading out to the room to go downstairs as she wiped at her eyes.

“Shut it? Shut it?! Ooph! I’ve been shot!” he cried, grasping at his chest.

Feira snickered and padded down the narrow stairs. “I smell burning!”

“What? No you don’t. I took all the food off the hearth.”

“Oooh… Is that smoke?”

“Don’t say that!” Torrin shouted, darting after her. “I haven’t burned anything all week!”

“You made it all the way to Tuesday!” she shouted back, squealing as he chased her into the kitchen.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Marlowe-Fireplace

Inaris gazed out her front window into the dark as the light from Drewett’s lantern disappeared down the road. “Good for you, Jade. Now you’ve gone and done it.”

Brushing her knuckles over a smooth cheek his scratchy beard had kissed she sighed, then promptly abandoned the window to began tugging furiously at the strings of her cossetted vest. “Bloody hell,” she grumbled.

It had been a year since he‘d left, revealing everything to be lies. A year since she wasn’t rich enough, or not well bred, or good enough. And it had been a year since she turned her back on him and left the Mark to end up in this backwater little town. She was going to be free. She was going to traipse around the realm and do whatever she damned pleased. She’d be with who she wanted and never tie herself down….

Think y’might be properly th’most amazin’ woman I ever met.

All of the tiredness that crept up on her earlier in the night had vanished, and she cast every ounce of clothing aside except for her long, thin blouse that she now unbuttoned well below her breasts. Tossing her swooping bangs out of her eyes in a futile, irritated gesture, she lit a fire in the hearth and tromped back into her little bedroom. Being cold fueled her frustration at herself, and the shivering that set upon her she gladly accepted as punishment… before promptly wrapping herself up in an over-sized blanket and returned to the front room to plop down before the hearth.

He said he loved her. Did he really? She’d been told that before, more times than she cared to remember, and not all of it from the one man she’d thought had spoken the truth. What was love, but a bunch of lies bound in copper, and silver, and hungry smiles?

But this one was different. How, by all the gods, he had slipped in past her walls and made her suddenly consider being (of all things) an honest woman was well beyond her. He wasn’t like the last one… aside from the broad shoulders which she didn’t mind one bit. No, he didn’t have a long, golden mane, or eyes like the blue sky over the inland sea. Most would find him unremarkable… And for some reason she didn’t want to sell him anything. She wanted to give. The glint in his green eyes, the curve of his bearded smile, and the feel of his hand brushing against hers made her feel that terrible awful warmth inside, beyond the desire to make him smile more, that she had only known once.

Damned Farmer, singing sad songs to his goats, conning ale, not believing in dragons, and looking at her like she wasn’t just a conquest. Sometime we’ll build a castle or sommat, that’ll show ’em.

He said he loved her. How could he? A part of her told her that suddenly worrying was ridiculous, and a part of her said he’d say about the same. As guiltless as she’d always been concerning her past, she felt that she could be ill at the prospect of telling him. He would ask, eventually, about her brand, and tattoo, and where she was really from. He would want to know why she kept her hair short, and hated her father, and if she’d ever taken a life.

Inaris bundled the blanket up tighter around her, and flopped over to lay on the rug on the floor in a puddle of self-pity. She had told him her name. The gods be damned. She had said she loved him too. Did she really? Did she love the way he cursed, and didn’t believe in ghosts, and couldn’t read to save his life? Yes, somewhere deep down, she knew did.