“Everything’s put away. I’ll start on the molds in the morning,” called Ris as she hung up her thick leather apron and shook out her short, strawberry blonde hair.
“That’s fine! Thanks for the good work,” responded the forge master, glancing up from his bench.
Raising one hand in a small wave the young woman unbuttoned the collar of her coveralls with the other. “Good night, then!”
Slipping out the shop door she took a deep breath of the frigid air, the smell of Bree only partially ruining the moment. Swinging her satchel of tools over her shoulder, Risala strolled past the guards at the South Gate and set off for home.
The thought brought a euphoric smile tingling up from her toes and stretching up the pink corners of her mouth. Home. She not only had one, but a reason to be there.
– – – *** – – –
A month and a half. Mira kept telling herself that it wasn’t that long, but the first night with Rath gone felt like an eternity. She could wait that long. Not much else could be done.
Leaning against the door frame she watched Thamon’s small body rise and fall with steady breaths. For not having a drop of his parent’s blood in his veins Mira was amazed at how similar to the Ranger he was. He was beautiful, the little boy, in all his vitality and willfulness. Even after being brought to the relative safety of Bree-land, the spark of a new fight lit in his eyes every morning.
The dark Eryn Vorn wolf that curled up next to her son blinked his yellow eyes open to look to her. The small knot of trepidation that had begun to wind in her gut loosened. A moment passed between them. Then the animal closed his eyes and Mira closed the door. Yes, she could wait a month and a half. She’d wait as long as it would take.
– – – *** – – –
The last rays of the Gondorian sunset shimmered and reached across the horizon where the sky embraced the sea. Tossing her soft, blonde waves of hair over her shoulder, Feira’s face inched closer to the ivory pages of her book, squeezing as many words as she could into the last few moments of light. A final burst of pale gold shot across the sky before the sun winked away, and the girl snapped the volume shut with a triumphant flourish. Chapter complete.
The winter had been a mild one. In spite if the brisk wind that washed up the sea cliffs Feira pranced ahead, barefoot and balanced atop a low stone fence that ran along one side of the road. Novel secured in one hand and slippers swinging in the other, the young woman danced ahead to a song only she could hear.
Lalaith’s most recent letter had been sent. There was nothing new to report, but Feira’d thought it would be nice to send one anyways. Two more weeks till visiting day. In spite of occasionally seeing Lalaith, and her brother suddenly being more interested in her life, an ounce of loneliness trickled through Feira like an sip of bitterly cold water.
Tugging at the empty locket that hung around her neck Feira looked out to the sea. He had disappeared. Stood her up. The few, wonderful days of Lhainan’s company only made the ache of being left worse. He would have shipped out by now. Maybe she’d never know why he hadn’t shown.
Frowning, she shook her golden mane and pranced forward atop her perch with determination. There was no good in wondering. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Humming the secret, celestial tune, Feira turned her eyes to the heavens as she made her way home. Careful to not miss one, she looked to each star in turn, just in case.
– – – *** – – –
The wind did not drive as fiercely up here. Finding a handhold in the ice Eruviel pulled herself up over the cliff’s edge. The thrill of the climb faded as she fixed the thick of her cloak beneath her and turned her emerald gaze out. The night was darker, being so far north, but the frozen realm glittered as a swath of color danced across the obsidian sky.
The freezing air pricked at her lungs as the Eldar took in a deep breath. The sensation was fleeting and she did not mind. The silvery chime of a delighted chuckled spilled out of her. Hugging her arms across her chest Eruviel plopped back to lay in the tuffs of snow blanketing her perilous perch.
Oh, but it was good to be back in her own body! She meant no disrespect to Abiorn, or males in general, but she very much liked her body without the hint of scruff and extra parts between the legs.
The green and violet hues shifted and changed above her. It was mesmerizing. She reached for the notebook in her pocket to make out a sketch for Anya, but stopped. She reached a second time for it but stopped again, even though she’d gotten so far as to have the notebook in her hands.
Eirikr’s letter could wait. Every word she wrote him felt burdened; the beauty lost in the black and white of her parchment. If only he were here to watch with her. She didn’t need any words spoken, nor small touches, though she would not protest the latter. No, she only wanted his company, and the quiet understanding that might have been shared between them, looking out over the crystal wonderland that was Forochel.
Fitting the book back into her pocket Eruviel stood on the precipice and let down her hair. She allowed the bitter, rising wind to wash over her as the silken swirls of lights swam and danced to a distant tune she could just make out. This land was beautiful. While missing an audience of two, the moment seemed perfect. And it stretched on and up, as infinite as the vastness above her.