Morty

Lotus: Quiet Partings

It was a wonderfully gloomy day. She never care much about the weather so long as it wasn’t cold or snowing. 

It has been in passing on her walk that took her past the graveyard that Inaris had heard about the grave digger. No one would come to tell her, of course, and why would they? Of all the flowers of his garden, she had been there the shortest time and had been the easiest to be uprooted. While she hadn’t really expected him to, a small part of her was disappointed that he would never show up at the gate to her yard.

The hills of the Downs loomed ever closer as she strolled along the path. It was convenient that she had decided on wearing dark clothes that day. Inaris wore nothing fancy, and she did not bother to do up the top buttons of her shirt. She owed him nothing, and she doubted if he would would have cared.

To be honest, if he had been there, Inaris would have thanked him. By now her heart had mended, so any sadness she felt was purely selfish. She wanted one more casual conversation, and one more chance to playfully flick the rim of his cap before walking away. She’d have liked to listen to him talking about flowers, and to tell him that roses weren’t really her favorite. She would have liked to have told him her real name, for he wouldn’t have divulged her secret. He would have forgotten it, then carried it to his grave.

Before her hovered the entrance to the forgotten land he’d often looked to. Hesitating for but a moment, she continued on. Yes, it was probably dangerous, and knowing that did more to encourage her forward. There was a little fear, but as in many cases, she did not show it. The sorcerers had helped with that, and the more she pondered it, the less she worried. Wights were just wisps of malice and mist, and she had no desire to trespass in their ancient tombs.

She wasn’t sure if they had brought him here, but she doubted that they would have laid him to rest in the Bree-land graveyard. This place seemed fitting, for the little of his past that she knew. But he was dead, and free of this place. She wouldn’t blame him if he was glad to be gone. A couple hundred… or was it a thousand, years of digging graves for foreigners and friends would take it’s toll on anyone.

Going no further, she put a hand on a crumbling marker as she gazed south to the mounds and spires. For his sake she hoped he was really gone. There could be little joy for the lingering dead, and he had remained long enough. Maybe she should have asked, but would he have told her? And if he had, would he have cared enough to tell her the truth?

Shaking her head, Inaris pulled out the soft grey rose Kennick had fashioned for her, and a pale pink water lilly from her pond. Setting them atop the marker she gave the fading hills one more thoughtful look, and walked away, leaving the Barrow Downs behind.

Lotus: Property

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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.

Lotus: Garden Therapy

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The small trowel made a terrible scraping sound as it dug into the hard earth. Unlike the grassy lawn around her, Inaris plunged the tool into the impossibly rocky patch, carving out a hole more by sheer will than anything else.

Ultimately, I suppose it’s your choice. Inaris winced as her nuckles scraped against the stones, but that only spurred her on.

I’m not doing it for her sake, Jade. I’m doing it for yours. I can’t in good conscience contribute to pain between the two of you . . . she’s also got power over you. Jade dug out one last lump of earth. Tossing it into the borrowed wheelbarrow, she stood to observe her work. What a joke. There had never been anything between the two women. Two — no, three short conversations in the past four months. Power over you. It reminded her of everything she had left; reminded her of everything she had fought for. Had she just wandered in a pitifully small circle?

Cadi,” she spat under her breath to the darkness that shrouded her lawn. Not slowing her pace, Inaris lined the hole, and fit a massive bowl she had purchased into the bottom. Then came rocks, and gravel. Her efforts only illuminated by starlight trickling down through the branches that hid her little cottage from the rest of the homestead, Jade took great care to make as little a mess as possible.

She looked out of place, kneeling in the dirt and pouring bucket after bucket water into the small pond. Her hands would be scraped and sore at work the next day, but she didn’t care. It was just trading one pain for another.

Looking the pond over for a minute, Inaris frowned. Not at the pond; that looked rather lovely. No, she frowned because she couldn’t shake it. She hated her. She hated her heartless gaze. She hated that she didn’t have the balls to confront Inaris herself, and instead sent him like a little messenger to threaten her job and have him say it was for her own good.

Inaris scoffed, and stooped to pick up the second to last bucket. Bitch, please.

Back home it would have been a snake in a coin purse, or poison in a kiss. If she had approached her, Inaris knew it would have been fine. But not this way. She hadn’t expected it. Not from him. This way nearly hurt as bad as last time. And she’d still given him the paper. Three people now knew her hideaway. Now, more than ever the thought of him, and the way he looked at her set her skin on fire. She didn’t care about his others, but she was at a loss to why she felt the foreign bitterness of jealousy. She didn’t mind sharing. She minded being discarded again.

Inaris sighed, and wiped at her brow with the back of her hand. Several fireflies had already begun to gather around the reeds she set into one side of the pond. No, it was what it was, and Jade was sure that after a few days she’d come out of her fog and understand that he only meant to do right by the situation. The gravedigger would do what he thought best, the Mistress would steal what little happiness she could from others, and Inaris would continue grabbing hold of her new life. If tomorrow morning the boss wanted a reaction, she’d get nothing but the same old Jade. She chuckled, hoping that the Mistress did expect something, just to spite her.

A new thought tugged a wry smile up her mouth. She had said — well he had said she had said that he, ‘can’t go to bed with you anymore‘. Inaris suddenly barked a laugh. “The old hag has no imagination.”

Her anger slowly subsided as plant by plant, she fitted water lilies and several small pads into the minuscule pond. She almost wished she liked roses better. Roses were easier to plant, and easier to acquire . . . . The poor water lilies deserved to be liked more, too, but Inaris couldn’t bring herself to. Though sufficient, they weren’t lotus flowers. Their petals weren’t as soft, nor stems as strong, nor scent as rich and intoxicating, but for now they would do.

Fallowmath: Sneaking Out

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Eruviel paused in a shadow near The Pony. “Hal.”

“What?” he asked, stopping on the steps.

“I can’t walk in the main room looking like this,” she said, motioning to her dirt and black-bloodied self. “I’m going through the back.”

Hallem gave her a guilty look. “Are you all right? For sure?”

Her mouth set in a firm line, she nodded. “I will be. I’ll see you inside.”

Giving her another look, Hallem continued up into the Inn. Turning, Eruviel slipped through the shadows along the side of the building, making her way around to the back door. By the Void, she felt terrible.

Stepping in the back door, a small breath or relief escaped her at seeing the hall vacant. Moving in she hesitated at seeing her reflection in a mirror along the wall. The cut over her jaw from the arrow didn’t look as bad as she’d thought, but she was indeed a sight with dirt and pineneedles in her braid. Orc blood stained her dark shirt and streaked over one side of her face, but the worst was the light bruise that had begun to form on her neck where the Orc had grabbed her.

“I’m going to be in so much trouble,” she murmured with a weary sigh. Poor Hallem. She had been furious when he’d dove for cover under a dead Orc. She supposed it was her own fault. Instead of calling for help, she’d called his name, and it had been dark . . . .

Shuddering, she moved to lean against a wall and wait. The pack she had filled with items from the camp they had passed slipped off her shoulder to the floor, and she pulled out the small note Hallem had found. Keep it up. We’ll starve them out, was scrawled across the small page in Black Speech. Her thumb traced over the name for the Orcs to contact. Ievi.

Fitting the note safely away, Eruviel shoved her hands into her pockets and fixed a hard look down at the black Orc arrows in her quiver. Leave messages for the guilds, inform the authorities, get food, find Rhe — Footsteps down the hall interrupted her list. “Ah, there you are, Hal,” she said, turning her stern gaze up from the floor. She then nods politely to Morty as he followed close behind the young man. “Master Mossfoot.”

“Eruviel? What’s going on?”

Eruviel pushed off from where she leaned. She’d never seen the gravedigger look so serious or strained with worry. “Orcs have us trapped in Durrow. They mean to starve us out. They are part of a group the Wayfarers encountered before . . . led by an Orc . . . His name starts with an ‘S’. Forgive me for not remembering off the top of my head. We are all right, for now.”

Morducai rubs at his face. “Stockard’s bones. What do Orcs want with Durrow?”

Hallem looked between them and responded, “That part-orc, Rheb, ran off. He was mad at Cwen. It could’ve been him.”

“I don’t know who either of those people are,” said the gravedigger, “but all right.”

Eruviel frowned. “What they really want? I’m not sure,” she admitted with a sigh. “I hope to find out more on our way back. My theory is that Rheb is being used by the Orc leader to hurt the people there for revenge . . . or power. Maybe both.” She then nodded to Morty. “Does the name ‘Ievi’ ring a bell?”

Morducai shook his head. “No, sorry. I don’t socialize with a lot of Orcs, either.”

Eruviel managed a small smile. “Probably for the best.”

“But Esthr and Hawk are both fine?” the man quickly asked.

“They’re fine, Morty,” said Hal with a nod. “But we n-need to get food.'”

Eruviel nodded in agreement. “We should get going . . . Can we take anything back for you? Any word or notes?”

Morducai looked to her. “Yes. Please let Esthyr know I know, and I’m doing everything I can to get the Freemason’s Guild down to you.” He then turned his gaze to Hal. “Go talk to the Mayor.”

“What about Kennick? Is he here?”

“Haven’t seen him in a few days, but he was with me when I found the avalanche, so he knows.”

“Anya found the raven, by the way,” said Eruviel as she picked up the pack.

Morty smiled. “Good. I thought she would. I’d say give her a kiss for me, but, well.”

Eruviel chuckled. “I think a sisterly one will have to suffice. I’ll give Hawk a kiss as well.”

“Thank you. I’ll do everything I can from here,” he said before looking back to Hallem. “It’s really good to see you, lad.”

Hallem nodded. “Yeah. You too.” The young man turned a bit towards Eru. “I guess we should go.”

Eruviel took a step towards the door. “We should. Be well, Master Mossfoot, and thank you.”

Morducai nodded. The man was so stressed that he forgot to tip his cap. Giving them one last look he turned and headed down the hall.

Eruviel took a deep breath, and gave Hal the other half of her smile. “Do you want to go see about the Mayor while I get the food?”

“Yeah,” he sighed. “I’ll do it.”

Eruviel nodded. “See you at the West Gate in . . . half an hour?”

Hallem followed behind her as she walked to the door. “Half an hour.”

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(Thank you to Oendir and Hallem for the rp! Dialogue taken from 4/16 in-game role-play and edited for tense and exposition.)