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Bittersweet: Story Time

nolofinwe_by_ralphdamiani-d5km73h

It had been one of the best days so far that Spring. There were no Orcs, no wights, no landslides. Instead of taking Eboric to the nursery like she was supposed to, Eruviel and the little boy made a day of it. Having made a game out of chores, then played Hunter and Dragons amongst the hanging sheets, the Elf and child had tired themselves out and retired to lie down on the couch after an exceptionally large lunch. Dragon hats on their heads and a sweet, warm breeze wafting through the open windows, Eboric snuggled against Eruviel, his head pillowed on her right arm.

“Roo! Turn!”

“All right, all right,” said Eruviel with a chuckle, turning the next page in the book full of painted illustrations to one of an Elf dancing in the woods. “Now, the mighty Sun peered down at the Mouse King and said, “No, good king, I am not the greatest. You should talk to the Cloud for he can hide me from the world,”” she rumbled, drawing giggles from the little boy.

“Roo!” Eboric exclaimed, pointing excitedly to the picture of the Elf.

“No, silly, that is not me.”

“Yes, Roo,” he insisted, stabbing at the picture with his finger.

Eruviel smiled, and moved one of the dragon wings from his hat away from her mouth. “Very well. Yes, that is Roo.”

Pleased, Eboric reached both of his hands up to the book to search for the next picture. “More!”

“Bossy. So, the Mouse King turned to the mighty Cloud and said, “Great Cloud, none are mightier than you. Will you marry my daughter?”

“Cloud?” Eboric paused on a picture and drew his fingers across a the clouds that adorned the top of the page.

“Yes, very good! But the Cloud smiled sadly down at the Mouse King. “No, oh king. There is one mightier than I. The Wind will huff, and puff, and blow me where he wills.””

Eboric squealed a happy laugh as Eruviel puffed several breaths against his cheek.

“Here. This page,” she said, turning to a picture of an elaborate courtroom. “That is a king.”

“Mouse,” the little boy said with a grin, waving his hand at the colorful likeness of an old Numenorean king.

“You know that is not a mouse, silly. The Mouse King went to speak to the Wind, but it swirled about, ruffling his grey fur. “Good king, I am honored, but there is yet one greater than I. No matter how I blow the mighty Mountain will not be moved. Perhaps he will marry your daughter.”

Eboric had settled down again, resting his head back on her shoulder as he slowly turned the pages of the old book she held aloft. Fletch rolled over where he lounged between Eruviel’s feet, resting his head on her ankle, and Pin made a happy little chirp in his sleep as he napped in the basket-nest set up by the front window.

“Now,” said Eruviel, her voice softening to a low, flowing murmur as Eboric fought back against increasingly heavy eyelids. “The Mouse King looked down to the sturdy mountain he stood upon. “Oh, great Mountain, I only want what is best for my daughter. Will you not marry her? For you are the mightiest of all beings.” Mountain rumbled with a gentle laugh, glancing beyond to the Sun, Cloud, and Wind that watched and waited. “Good Mouse King, you flatter me, but go back to your home. Allow your daughter to marry a mouse, for as strong as I am, the smallest mouse can riddle me with holes.” Moved by the words of –”

“Daa.”

Eruviel looked to Eboric, and let him flip back to the previous page. The little boy shoved back the dragon hat from his eyes and grabbed at a painted picture of Fingolfin facing down Morgoth. “That? That, little Ric, is –”

“Daa,” Eboric said again. Craning his head back, he turned big, questioning eyes upon her.

She could not say no to that look. “That is right, dear one,” she said, kissing Eboric’s brow. “That is your Ada.”

Beaming a sleepy smile, Eboric pulled the book to him as he nestled closer against her side. “More?”

Smiling softly, Eruviel removed Eirikr’s dragon hat from her head, and tilted the book so that the boy could better look at the picture and warrior whom she would now forever see with auburn hair.

“Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a hunter….”

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Lotus: Property

lotus

A strange weight fell from her shoulders as Inaris stepped onto the small, concealed property. She was glad she didn’t stay at the Mantle when she didn’t need to. She was glad she didn’t need to tonight.

Stretching her arms up over her head for a moment, Inaris began unlacing the front of her bodice as she walked up the path towards her small cottage. Summer had seen her lawn grow wild, but it had a certain charm to it. Yes, it felt more like a meadow than an unkempt yard. To be honest, the yard was very well kept. No stray limbs lay tangled in the grass, and no stray stones waited for their chance to assault a bare foot.

By the Valar, she was proud of her little piece of the world. Something pure and perfect that no one could touch. Well, two others could touch it, but one would never come, and the other was too kind of a soul to harm anything. The clean, thatched roof gleamed in the moonlight, the remaining stack of floorboards sat neatly behind the house, and her small pond flourished with waterlily’s that perfumed the air. Everything had it’s place, and it was her’s.

The near street lamp’s light not strong enough to make it past the full apple tree that grew near the edge of her fence, Inaris smiled as the only other light shone from above. Leaving her dress and slippers on the front stoop, she padded over to the pond, and stepped in to join the dozens of white and pink blossoms. It was just big enough for her to lay down in, and a short laughed escaped her. If this was what her channeled anger produced, perhaps she’d have to get angry more often.

While she loved hot, dry weather, Inaris relished the cold water as it swirled around her warm skin. Laying her head back to rest on a smooth stone, she let out a sigh. Cold. It reminded her of who was back at the Mantle. Frowning, she shifted her slender legs around the stems of the flowers. It could not be helped. It was confusing, but then again, it wasn’t. She had been going to teasingly call him a ‘Prince’ before everything happened. And suddenly he was. There were a lot of ‘was’s’, and now there weren’t. Perhaps someday she’d understand, and thank him, but in the end she didn’t think it mattered.

Inaris.”

She tasted the word as it slipped out from between her lips. The word and her whispered tone made her think of a cool summer breeze leaving the Sea at dawn to caress chiffon curtains hanging over wide, arched windows. It felt better to say now than it had even a few months ago. She used to love her name. She missed it, and she was learning to love it again. It wasn’t the nickname of a barmaid and lady of the night, or an oddly fitting nickname like ‘Jade’. What was it she had told the man named ‘Drew’?

Yes, it’s a rock. Not precious enough to be valuable, but pretty enough to be put to use. 

Maybe she’d tell Dorsett her name. Somehow the fairly pleasant man had gleaned information she’d not spoken of in two years. Inaris laughed again. He probably had no idea. Yes, if she were to tell anyone, it would be Dorsett. It would be nice for someone to know.

Looking up to the starry sky for a moment, Inaris closed her eyes. They wouldn’t find her here. Thousands of miles from the border of Rhûn, she still feared the day a Keeper and her dear Wainrider would walk up the road, but there was no way missing property would bring them so far. But they didn’t own her anymore. They would ask for ‘Inaris’, and a young woman with long, ice-blonde hair, and they wouldn’t find her.

Sliding a bit further down into the water, Inaris let the smell of men, and heat of the Mantle wash off of her. No pretending to be somebody’s someone; no pretending to care, or not care (which was often no pretense), nor need to change faces for each customer who wanted something.

The trees wrapped protective arms over the property, then followed the tall grass. Then came the stone, and the flowers, and finally the water that gently served as a sanctuary from the game of her daily life. Reigning in her thoughts from men and haunted houses, Inaris dozed off, keeping her mind to places she’d not yet gone, and on the small, concealed property that was her escape.

Bittersweet: Buisness Letters

Pouring herself a glass of cold wine and snuffing out the few candles, the Elf silently padded into the mess that was her bedroom. It would take time, adjusting to a house less than half the size of her last. While it was all the same furniture (except for her massive map table that she loathed leaving behind), the new house felt homier. The need for space in areas gave Eruviel the opportunity to add on the hidden pantry, cold storage, and secret wash room. It gave her the chance to get creative, and make the little corner at the edge of the woods her own.

Digging a small lap writing desk from a crate, she smiled a little, and dusted off the top. She had gotten rid of so much stuff. It was good stuff, and useful, but it made her realize just how much more of the past thousand years she had left. More wide awake than ever, she laid out on the mattress that still lacked it’s frame, and set up her inkwell.

So much to do, so little time.

~ ~ ~

Master Thomin,

Greetings!

It was good to see you at the Burns wedding. Frank told me about the early harvest you will be taking south, and I have need to ask a favor. At the port there will be Voronwen, along with a friend’s steed by the name of Kvigr. Ask for them under my name, and take them with you to Vrax in Tharbad. Understand that I expect them to be well looked after, and kept in shape in preparation for travel.

Give Beatrice my greetings when you see her, and may the road be kind to you.

Na lu e-govaned vin,

Eruviel

~ ~ ~

Moridac,

It has been several turns since I last heard from you and the brothers. Sorkha has not written of any recent dances with the captains of the hills, but she did mention that their numbers have increased substantially since my visit last year. While I am bound to my company, please write to update me on new movements, and if any need arises.

The Hunter guide your spears, and may the sun soon shine upon your lands.

Respectfully,

Artis

~ ~ ~

To the Steward of Annúngilon,

Dear sir,

I was glad to hear of the year’s bounty, and the success on renovating the northern wing. Even more so, I congratulate you on the newest addition to your family. I hope future months grant me the time to visit, and pay my respects in person.

With this letter are the renewed contracts you asked for, and a few new ones I picked up along the way. If you would be so kind, I was wondering if you could find the time to send the third crate from Milloth’s storage to my new address.

Give Maeria my greetings, and kiss the twins for me as well.

The Valar keep you, and may peace ever fill your days.

Eruraviel Artistuion

~ ~ ~

Ildric,

Thomin has informed me of the company’s schedule. Seeing as he will be making his way to you, I have asked that he bring my steed, and that of a friend’s to you. I will be needing to pick them up from you in about a month and a half, and will update you when the time approaches as to the days I and my companion will be arriving. Keep a swift skiff at the camp on the Greyflood for us, and till we arrive please care for our horses with the mind that we will be riding hard east from Tharbad.

Yes, you will be compensated for your troubles, and yes, I am fully aware that a tongue-lashing will be awaiting me. Give the lads my greeting.

Till then,

Ravi