Rivendell

A Peaceful One

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Dearest Anyatka,

I hope this letter finds you well. While yet another task keeps the Wayfarers away from home, I assure you we are whole and hale. We have found Master Arrowheart, but that is a topic for another letter.

How I wish you were in Rivendell with us. As midsummer approaches there is a change in magic in the air, and I wonder if you feel it there too. A cool summer breeze tumbles down from the mountains, heady with pine, and I suspect we will have a lovely ro strawberry moon on the eve of the solstice. Do take Anders or Abbi or Eboric out to see it if you can. Strawberry moons are always best admired with good company.

The others preoccupied, I have found myself on a little island under a tree crowned with fiery leaves far back in the succession of falls that I have always wanted to swim to. You would adore it, I think. The fireflies are thick tonight, reflecting off the crystalline waters, and this far in there is nearly no current. I am not sure yet if the scene should be painted, or be too fair, only meant to be cherished in memory.

Well wishes are sent your way, hoping that your birthday is a happy one. Your gift from me will come late, but will be wrapped in an old issue of The Warbler (for that is all they are really good for), and tied with ribbon. Were we at home you would have a cake of whatever flavor you wished, and probably a family supper where Eirikr may smile a little extra for you, Eboric would want food from everyone’s plate but his own, Abbi would craft a passably reasonable excuse to have a few extra drinks, and if Anders came he would be just as pleasant and kind as always.

I miss you dearly, oselle. I miss the nights of story and song, and even if there is no grand event, I pray that your birthday is a peaceful one. Take care of yourself. Give the boys my love, and anyone else my kind regards.

With all my love,

Eruviel

Bittersweet: The Falls of Imladris

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Waiting till the sound of retreating footsteps were drowned out by the thundering of the falls, Eruviel reached a hand out to the white stone pillar to steady herself. For what felt like a minute (but could easily have been more) she stared at the empty space before her, replaying everything back in her mind, if only to make sure it had been real.

Then she remembered to breathe. Sweet mountain air rushed into her lungs as Eruviel slumped against the stone. She looked back to the empty path behind her, eyes soft and bright with disbelief. Realizing then the warmth that radiated from her cheeks, Eruviel scooped up the bundle of her cloak and fur wrap. Hugging them tightly to her chest, she drifted swiftly down the path to where the trees grew near the base of the falls.

Nothing and everything had changed since she had last been to that corner of Imladris. The trees were the same, but taller, the river just as crystal clear and cool, but wider here and there where the earth and stone had eroded away. Dropping her effects at the edge of the clearing, Eruviel sank down into the thick grass to stare out at the rainbows of water that crashed down over each other, sending diamond mist up to coat the pines, and summer grass.

… I would want you to remember…

Letting her long hair out of it’s braid, she laid back to stare up at the high branches. So tall, and warm, and strong. Always there, fearfully just out of reach, then…. Eruviel lifted her hand, but stopped, fingers hovering over her lips, not touching lest the memory that lingered on them be lost. 

It had only lasted for a heartbeat. And as she looked back, time most surely had stopped. Hadn’t it? How pure, and perfect. It had been fleeting, but in it a flawless communication that what she had said to him, as well as the meaning and feelings within her words had been understood. That she had been understood.

Adjusting the little blue agate on her necklace, Eruviel blinked her long lashes against the gathering mist in her eyes. Her chest swelled as she drew in a breath, and a sweet, euphoric laugh suddenly bubbled out of her. Startling herself, she clamped a hand over her mouth, then, quite hesitantly, licked her petal-soft lips. She laughed again, more quietly this time, but there was no need, for beside the falls of Imladris no one would hear her.

Bittersweet: Of Places Homely

Eruviel remembers

“Are we there yet?” asked Artis, craning her neck to peer between the horses’ ears, her whisper echoing off the high stone walls.

“Patience, dear one,” Istuion replied, chuckling softly, catching the little elleth as she began to slowly slide from her seat. “You will see the light of the valley just around this next bend.”

Artis leaned against her father’s arm that held her safely on the large chestnut steed as she stared ahead. She couldn’t blink. She wouldn’t! What if she missed it, the first sight of the hidden valley?

A golden light beamed into the pass. Rounding the corner Artis could see sunlight streaming through leafy, green branches, and hear the distant rumbling of waterfalls.

“Ada!”she yipped excitedly, little legs kicking at the horse’s flanks. “I see it! I see it!”

“Calm yourself, little ligh–” Istuion’s words were cut off when the steed leapt forward, confused by his master’s calm pull on the reigns, and the little elleth’s delighted squeals.

The horse came to a halt near the roof of the first switchback. Nostariel’s melodic humming had turned into sweet, ringing laughter behind them, and their companions and escorts chuckled along with her. Artis did not hear them, and if she did it only added to the wondrous first moment of seeing Imladris with her own eyes. Small hands gripping the horse’s mane, she pushed herself up to lay on the animal’s neck, feet braced on Isuion’s knees and chin resting between the steed’s ears.

Ooh..,” she exhaled in reverent awe. “Ada… Ada! Do you see? Oh, it’s so pretty!”

The noble Elf smiled warmly at his Autumn child. “Sit like a lady, Artistuion,” he chastised, lifting her up and setting her back down in front of him.

Giggling, Artis nodded quickly. “You didn’t tell me it was this pretty,” she whispered up at her father as if his lack of every single detail was a betrayal.

Istuion spurred his mount forward into a walk, and his dark brows rose as he looked down at her. “What if I wanted it to be a surprise?”

Artis thought on that, and her growing grin reflected the daylight reaching past the high peaks. “Will Rain be here?”

Istuion gave his wife a meaningful smile as she brought her horse up to ride beside them. “Yes, Rainion should already be here, as should Elrond and his sons, and the other Lords.”

Artis gasped happily. “Really? Do you think they will play with me?”

Istuion’s stern brow furrowed. “We are not here to play, dear one. This might be the last time it is safe enough to travel outside of Lindon for a long while. There is buisness –”

Nostariel’s mare pranced a few paces, and the Elf cleared her throat.

Istuion’s mouth tugged one way then another, but his conflicted frown vanished as he looked down to see his daughters bright, questioning eyes fixed on him. “We will see, little light. Maybe… Maybe if you ask nicely.”

To Dale: Departure from Imladris

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Imladris rested in the sun of morning like a peaceful Island along the East Road. She had left her room in the predawn hours and sat on a rock off the path to the Last Homely House to rest, and to listen. Now standing on the wide front porch Eruviel pulled her gauntlets on as she heard Eirikr emerge from the doors behind her.

“Aaye, mellon. I trust you slept well?” she asked as he walked up beside her, squinting in the sunlight.

He nodded silently, his eyes falling on the rushing waters. “Yes. Very well. I have not slept like that in years.”

A contented smile spread across her face as she took a deep breath of the sweet morning air. “It is good that we stopped here. I doubt we shall sleep half that well for the rest of our journey.”

Eirikr grunted in agreement. “How soon are you wishing to move on? And which path shall we take when facing the Mountains?”

Eruviel skewed her mouth slightly, the light in her eyes dimming as she looked up at the high, distant peaks. “The desire for haste tells me to go over the mountains, but we would have no safe house to shelter at by that road. There is a caravan of dwarves that intend to pass through Moria. That is the road I suggest we take.” Looking over at him she added, “But this is your journey. If you desire to take the high road than that shall be our course.”

“Moria is a better choice,” Eirikr said, shaking his head. “The passes over the mountains are not passes any more, by all I’ve heard. I went through on my way here.” He paused for a moment and then added, “I wonder how Anya got through.”

“I thought they had gone around . . . but I cannot seem to recall how she got though at the moment,” said Eruviel. Her shoulders relaxed, glad that he decided against the mountain paths.

“I can’t imagine her beneath the stones,” Eirikr said, nodding.

Eruviel smirked at the man, her mind thinking of Anyatka who, for the time being, lived at the homesteads in the mountains of Ered Luin. “She does much better under the open sky, does she not.”

Eirikr looked over at her. “Don’t you?”

Smiling thoughtfully, she turned her gaze back out towards the autumn-crowned valley. “I do indeed.”

Eirikr rubbed his beard and said thoughtfully, “You have been here often, haven’t you? You like it here very much.”

Eruviel chuckled slightly, nodding her head. “I have. I enjoy all the elf havens, though I have not been to Lorien since before the Battle of Fornost. The only one I have not seen was Mirkwood back when it was still Green.”

Eirikr bobbed his head slowly as he shifted his cloak around his shoulders. “Thranduil rules there still. His people are kind enough.”

Eruviel glances to the host as she shifts her sword belt over her hips. “I have not met him, though I wonder if our paths will take us through a different road?” She felt silly, asking about Mirkwood. She liked knowing where she was going.

Eirikr shruged. “If we intend to pass through the Mirkwood, the safest routes are along the Elvish paths.”

Eruviel shoot Eirikr an apologetic look. “I fear I will be no good when it comes to directions once we pass out of Lorien.”

Eirikr smirked, a pleased light passing through his eyes. “Good. Then I’m not a complete waste on the journey to Dale.” He looked over to her with a lazy grin. “I can’t stand being useless.”

“You are far from useless,” she responded, arching a brow her companion. “I would still be in Bree if you were not going back to Dale. And two bows are better than one.”

The edge of Eirikr’s mouth twitched at her comment. “Indeed, you would be in Bree if I were not going back to Dale. In fact, you should be in Bree now. While I agree that two bows are better than one, Eruviel, it does weigh on my mind that you mentioned another reason for accompanying me to Dale.” His eyes remain on the scenery as he adds in a light tone, “What is it?”

Eruviel pursed her lips in a moment of thought before replying. “My first reason is to keep you alive. I can only imagine at how devastated Anyatka would be if you should perish. Also, the simple matter of you being my friend is reason enough.” She skewed her mouth before adding, “And I am looking for someone. A favor for a friend back in Bree.”

Eirikr looked over at her and gave her a hard look. “Who is this person? Dale is a large city — how do you expect to find this person? We won’t be hanging about in the local taverns, you know.”

“Several years back a Watcher of Dale named Hallem was murdered,” she said after a long moment of thought. “A friend of his asked me to see if I could find out who did it. It is most likely a lost cause, but I hope to scrap something up for him . . . anything, really.”

Eirikr frowned as his brows knit low over his dark grey eyes. “You’re going to investigate a murder? What do you know? Dale isn’t like Bree…it’s a merchant’s town, not a seedy backwater trading depot.”

Eruviel took a step down the ramp, glancing back up at Eirikr. “The wealthy have their own crime just as much as the poor.” And they can be less honest about it, she thought grimly. “But as I said, I expect to find nothing, but hope merely for a whisper of something to put my friend’s mind at ease with his loss. Apparently the man had a son that went missing not long after the incident.” She shrugged, looking down the road. “But first we need to retrieve Ninim and Abi.”

Eiriikr grunted and started after her. “You suspect it was someone of the merchant class that committed the crime?”

Eruviel rolled her shoulders. “I hope not. If it was, I fear that could make the situation an even greater problem. A man held in such high esteem as I heard Watcher Hallem was, does not simply get murdered for no reason. I would wish him a more noble death, at least.”

Eiriikr hummed as they headed for the stables. “It would make the issue more difficult indeed. Everything is more difficult when money is involved.”

Eruviel glanced over as she falls in step beside him. “I definitely prefer villages and the wilds to cities. To be killed over money . . . .” she mutters quietly, not bothering to finish her sentence. The thought of being killed over the power of money left a sour taste in her mouth.

Falling silent, Eruviel smiled slightly, seeing their horses saddled and waiting for them. The ride today would be harder than the last leg of the journey, but now she felt assured that they were more prepared, for now.

 

 

To Dale: From Ost Guruth to Rivendell

A stagnant air hovered over Ost Guruth. Eruviel could sense the restless spirits from beyond the Red Pass, and the weight of their wickedness and sorrow made her skin crawl.

Eirikr walked up beside her and looked out as the sun crawled up over the horizon. “Sleep well?” he asked gruffly.

Biting her lower lip slightly, Eruviel fixed her cloak over her shoulders. “No, unfortunately. But it was sleep, I suppose.”

Eirikr turned his head only slightly to look at her as he started for the stables. “It was rhetorical. I didn’t realize Elves slept.”

“Some times,” she said with a small smile, shrugging as she followed him down the broken stone steps. How little the man knew of the Eldar. They did not sleep, not like the race of men did, but they required rest just as much as the other children of Iluvatar. How she delighted of visions of nature, of dancing beneath the tall flowering trees amidst the starlight. Her keen senses remembered the smell and music of elvish banquets, hobbit feasts, and the sensation of cool spring water caressing her skin on the first swim as the seasons turned. But not here in the Lone-lands, especially so close to the lair of the Red Maid.

Eiriikr handed Unni, the stable-master some coin and took the reins of his horse. “Fair enough,” he said. Arranging his things, he mounted his steed as Eruviel guided her own horse from the kindly dwarf and stepped into her saddle.

Nodding curtly to the man as she turned her horse around she nodded towards the East Road. “Let us be off.”

As eager to be off as their masters, the horses leapt forward into a run over the low hills towards the neglected cobbled road. Wargs roamed in the brush, forcing them to alter their course. Trusting her mount to guide itself, Eruviel took a few seconds as they crested a hill to pull her bow off her back and rest it across her knees. The man and elf dodged the occasional creeping spider and keen-eyed crebain as they charged over the dry earth and onto to the road.

“That Elf . . . did you stay up with her long?” Eirikr shouted back to her as they crossed over the Last Bridge.

Eruviel shook her head though she knew he could not see her. “No,” she called up to him, “not long at all.”

Eirikr smirked slightly, “She seemed hungry for company.”

“She was indeed,” Eruviel said, chuckling as her eyes took note of the wolves prowling beyond the treeline and bears lumbering too close for comfort. “I apologize, though, for the interruption to our conversation last night.”

Eirikr humphed, frowning slightly. “I shouldn’t have brought it up.”

Time flew by as they charged along the rugged road through the Trollshaws. She let Eirikr ride in the lead, following only several feet behind, keeping a sharp eye on the few predators that made rather lazy attempts to pursue the swift riders. Over the far rise Eruviel could see the gleam of the Ford of Bruinen drawing nearer. We will make it, she thought, more as a statement than for encouragement . . . or possibly both.

Eirikr reigned in his horse, stopping at the edge of the clear-flowing river. “The ford,” he said flatly. “It seems calm enough.”

Eruviel surveyed the land around them and the river with a stern, cold look. “We will be safe crossing the waters. I do not doubt that my kin know we approach.”

Eiriikr nodded to her. “You take the lead – I do not know the other side at all and I’ve heard the paths can disappear beneath your feet.”

Eruviel returned the nod. “It has been a long time since I have followed the path,” she said quietly. “Do not fall too far behind.” Checking their surroundings one last time Eruviel spurred her horse forward.

“You know, I am surprised Anya did not talk Anric into following us,” Eirikr called up to her as their horses waded through the shallow crossing.

Eruviel skewed her mouth to one side at the thought. “As am I . . . or even that she did not follow us herself, with Anric in tow.”

Eirikr took a deep breath and held it for a moment. “I think she knows what must come to pass. She does not want to revisit our old lives.”

Eruviel glances over at him for a moment. “I do not blame her. It is for the best that she stayed behind for this . . . trip.” Reaching the far side of the river their mounts moved into a gallop. Making their way up the steep trail, Eruviel did not hesitate the as the road vanished, letting her memory and her mount plow the trail. She rode tall, one hand loosely holding the reigns, the other gripping her bow. Several wild cats made chase, but the pounding of the horses hooves discouraged the few that dared getting too close. A small wave of relief washed over her as she saw the road reappear beneath them. Following it around the bend they approached the narrow pass into The Hidden Valley.

Eirikr brought his horse up to ride beside Eruviel. “I still think it best if you sojourn in Imladris while I carry on.”

Eruviel shot him a curious look as she urged her mount forward. “Why do you keep saying that?” she calls over to him.

“Can’t I just want to keep you safe from harm?” he shouted after her.

Eruviel reigned in her horse at the top of the switch-back that lead down to the Hidden Valley. “I thought that was what I am doing here, keeping you safe from harm,” she said, eyeing the valley with a joyful familiarity.

Eirikr sighed heavily and let out a low growl. “Eruviel, this isn’t like battle. There is no honor in this war, if it be called that.”

An amused smile crept across her mouth. “I have a friend in Bree you might see eye to eye with. He held a knife to my throat twice for getting between him and his . . . vengeance.” Tugging lightly on her reigns Eruviel guided her horse back to the path. “I have made up my mind, Eirikr,” she sad sternly.

Eirikr sighed and reluctantly followed her. “Stubborn Elf,” he muttered under his breath.

Eruviel ‘s tilted her chin up slightly with a hint of pride, taking his grumbling as a compliment. Eruviel inclined her head to the view of the Last Homely House. “Shall we to the stables first, or to our host?”

Eirikr’s eyes followed her gaze. “You know best.”

Eruviel glanced between the two horses and nodded. “They need rest. We go left.” Walking their weary mounts down the lane carpeted with leaves a cool, sweet breeze combed through her travel-tousled hair. The bright green and orange leafed trees rustled their ancient songs into the wind, accompanied by the distant echo of the large waterfall across the valley.

Passing under the smooth stone arch leading into the stables Eruviel dismounted, bowing in thanks to Ladrochan the stable-master as he took the two traveler’s horses. Nodding to Eirikr she smiled and motioned to a secondary path leading to a graceful, sweeping bridge. “I suppose you have never been here before?”

Eiriikr shook his head. “No, I haven’t.” His eyes betrayed the wonder her felt as he looked around. “Tales cannot hold a candle to the true majesty of this place.” Stretching out her arms, her face gleaming with contentment, Eruviel stepped forward. Falling into step with Eirikr they strolled quietly out of the stables, abandoning words as their senses drank in the beauty and tranquility of the haven.

 

((Edited for tense and exposition from chat logs taken 4/3/2014))