preparations

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.

 

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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?

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The Days Grow Shorter

The house was quiet for the afternoon; the children were both attending market with their mother in an attempt to give Eirikr and Eruviel some quiet time with the baby. Garric was tending the beehives, but was due back shortly. Eirikr sat on a chair watching the boy play with some smooth wooden blocks on a thick quilt spread upon the floor. He smiled as Eboric gnawed on one.

Standing by the door, Eruviel removed the string from her bow. Glancing between the child and the man with a small smile, she made her way around the quilt to find a seat. “He plays so nicely.”

Eirikr leaned back in the chair and stretched out a foot. Eboric greeted Eruviel with a bright smile and threw a block at her shin, but it didn’t go far. “Yes, he does. He is sitting up well.”

Eruviel grinned at the boy. Leaving her chair for a moment, she retrieved the block, and rolled it back to him. “Give it a little bit and we will see if he inherited your aim.” Sitting down again, she hooked one end of her bowstring on her boot to anchor it.

Eirikr nodded and started to say something when the door opened and Garric lumbered inside. He nodded to his guests and move to the table with a heavy bucket. “Garric, how are the bees?” Eirikr asked instead. Eruviel pulled a waxed cloth from her pocket as she looked up and nodded to the towering man.

Garric set the bucket down on the table. “They are buzzing,” he replied, “and producing still. Soon we will not be able to harvest.”

“Ah. I know nothing of bee-keeping. It is fascinating.”

Eruviel nodded in agreement as she pulled her bowstring taunt, and began to wax it. “When do you think the weather will shift? The nights have been getting a bit brisk.”

Garric sighed. “Sooner rather than later. It is going to be difficult this year. For many reasons.” He looked over at them. “You would be wise to reach home before the cold nights set in.”

Eruviel glanced to Eirikr. “Do you know of the condition of the pass over to Rivendell?”

“Aye,” Garric said as he rubbed his thick sideburns. “We have fought to keep it clear all summer; it is becoming more treacherous as the goblins grow bolder and the days grow shorter.”

Eruviel frowned as she turned her string around to wax from the other direction. “More dangerous than traveling with a caravan back through Moria?”

Garric eyed them both. “With a babe in the night… the cold. Aye, perhaps.”

Eruviel turned her gaze to Eboric, then to Eirikr. “When should we plan to head back?”

Eirikr took a deep breath and looked down at the child.

“I do not wish to sound as though your company is not welcome,” said Garric. “But soon. The first snows come earlier in the mountains. And while the paths are clear now…” His stern, yet gentle gaze was troubled.

Eruviel looked back to the man, and gave him a grateful smile. “I hear they are nigh impassable for more than half the year. Our departure will be soon, then. Eirikr and I will sort out the details and let you know.”

Garric nodded and looked between the two. “If there is anything I can further assist you with, please, do not hesitate. It is our desire to see the boy safe and well taken care of. He have grown quite attached to him.”

“We will. You and your family have been more than kind to us, and especially to Eboric. We are in your debt. I do not doubt he will miss all of you as well.”

Garric’s expression clouded as he nodded. “If I may speak frankly, I do not advocate your leaving at all, my lady. But he is not my son.” He stared at Eirikr for a moment before turning toward the bedroom. “I have friends that can take you across the river. They can lead you to the pass, but they will not go so far south as Moria.”

Eruviel looked to Eirikr. “My contacts in Lorien can see us safely south if we do not take the pass. Which ever way you think would be best to take him…”

Eirikr hesitated and looked back and forth between Elf and Beorning.

Garric grunted quietly and disappeared into his bedroom, leaving them with Eboric plopping over onto his side with a baby giggle.

Eirikr rubbed his forehead and looked over at Eruviel.

Eruviel glanced after Garric, and could not help but smile a little as Eboric giggled. “The pass is probably a little more dangerous, but it would save us several weeks of travel. I have had no news of Moria since we departed it’s halls. I would like to think no news is good news, but….”

Eirikr frowned. “Do you think we will be able to keep him warm? What if he falls ill?”

Eruviel motioned to the little boy. “If we can make a thick cocoon-like wrap of furs like they use in Forochel, then he should be plenty warm, especially if he sleeps with whoever is not on watch. If he falls ill then we would already be near Rivendell where he could get the best treatment.”

At her words Eirikr seem to be a bit satisfied, but did not look fully convinced. The expression was not new, however, having bore it most of the journey. “All right, then. The pass it is. When shall we leave?”

Eruviel swiped the cloth up the length of her bowstring before pocketing it. “Give me one day to get everything together, and we can head out at first light… master Garric?” she called, turning her attention to the bedroom door.

Shuffling came from the inside of the bedroom. The door had not closed; Garric’s large form filled the frame. “Yes?”

Eruviel nodded to him. “If in a day we wish to depart to take the pass, when would be the best time to leave here so we have daylight in our favor as we start up and over?”

Garric took a deep breath. “Dawn would of course allow you the most time for travel. I will give you a token that will allow you passage without having to pay our tolls.”

Eruviel gave him a grateful smile. They really did owe him and his family everything. “I would gladly pay them, but thank you. Is our departure in a day enough time for you and your family to make your farewells to the boy?”

Garric nodded. “Of course. We have been prepared for a long time.”

“I just wanted to be sure,” she said, inclining her head to the man. Looking to Eirikr she gave him small smile. “I will start to make preparations tomorrow morning.”

Bowing to her respectfully, Garric retreated once more.

Eirikr rubbed his beard. “I will begin preparing today. That way, I can assist with watching the boy or… or whatever you’ll need tomorrow.”

Eruviel nodded. The poor man. While the only name she could put to it was ‘weariness’ she could see the weight in his eyes. And she felt quite certain that burden ran deeper. She could help relieve it to an extent but, if they pressed hard, they could spend a day of in Imladris so he could rest better before the final stretch home. “I am here to make things easier for you, remember? The market will be open for a while. Unless you wish to go, I can go and pick up a few things we need.”

Eirikr shook his head. “No, I will go. You enjoy some time with the boy.” He stood and rubbed his hands on his pants. “Is there anything specifically needed?”

Eruviel smiled, and started to speak. Being a guard and guide came so naturally it seemed like nothing. And while she knew she could do no more, the Elf hated that she felt her smiles to be useless. Stopping herself, she pulled out the little notebook from her pocket, and jotted down a few items. Tack, soft deer hide, thick cotton cloth, a thick fur pelt, dried fruit — “Here. Mostly hides, and a few food things that will be good for Eboric as we travel.”

Eirikr accepted the list and looked down at it with a frown. “All right. I will be back as soon as I can.”

“We will be here.”

Eirikr nodded once, and then slipped out of the door.

Eruviel watched him go, and told herself the time and space would be good for him. After a moment she sighed, and moved down to sit on the floor with Eboric. Eboric smiled happily as Eruviel joined him. He waved his hands at her.

Such a beautiful little boy. Eruviel waved back at him, and weaved a hand forward to attack tickle his belly.

Eboric squeed with laughter and latched onto her hand and wrist with both of his hands. His feet pulled up to lock around her forearm as he grinned.

Eruviel laugh brightly with him, completely forgetting the Beoring that was in the other room. Yes, the laughter of an infant was magic. Her free hand ready to catch him, she lifted Eboric up and down. “You’ve got me! Ahhh, you strong little man!”

Clinging to her with surprising strength, Eboric let out a giggle and grasped at Eruviel’s hand.

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