The Inn of the Prancing Pony

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.)

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If It’s Worth It

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What had she been thinking? She should have been back home, hidden in the dark of her house, not standing in the common room of The Pony between the Mercenary and the Horselord as they challenged the others ideals. By the looks they kept giving her she should have joined in on the conversation, but she remained silent, focusing on their words to combat her slipping composure.

For nearly two days after she had received Daran’s final letter Eruviel had stayed locked away, not caring for food or drink. Then Exio had broken in, opened all the windows, drug her out of the corner, and forced her to eat something. She had come into Bree to ease his mind, promising to find a quiet spot to enjoy the sunshine, but of course that did not happen. Everyone wanted to speak with her, it seemed. She had done well at first, but each conversation grew too personal, and her enigmatic smile more distant and strained. Raigar had let it drop when she did not explain herself, and Eruviel felt certain he would not press her, but Threz, she feared, might not be so easily appeased.

I need to get out of here, she thought frantically as the two men finally came to an understanding. If it was Anya here I could let down my guard, but not here. . . not in front of them . . . .

“I would like to speak privately with Eruviel, if I may,” said Threz.

Raigar bowed his head. “Of course. I’ll leave you two to your privacy. Have a good night, my friends.” He stepped away and pulled his hood back up over his head.

Nodding after the man, Eruviel left their spot by the fire to follow Threz down the hall and out the back of the Inn. “What is it my friend?” she asked, rubbing the bridge of her nose. She felt weary.

Threz leaned against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest. “Eru, you ok? I’ve never seen you with such a lost look on your face as I saw before you entered the Pony.”

By the Valar. Eruviel’s shoulders sunk a bit as she shook her head, glancing around.  “I’m — No, I’m not all right,” she admitted quietly. It would do no good to lie to the man, and he deserved better than her half-assed excuses.”Though I’ve never been so bad at hiding it before.”

Threz pushed off from the wall and moved to put a hand on her shoulder. “That makes two of us I think.”

A deep breath. Eruviel’s expression wavered and she put her hand on his for a moment before stepping back half a pace. “None of that,” she managed to quip, “if you don’t want me to loose what little calm I have left,” she says, managing a smile. “And what about you?” she asked in attempt to divert the attention away from her.

“I came to ask for advice but,” Threz paused as his brow creased with concern, “I don’t think now is the best time to be asking you more deep questions about my own problems.”

Eruviel shook her head, a half-hearted smile curving up her mouth even as her brows knit together. “No, now is fine, Threz. More than fine. What is it that needs advice?”

Threz hesitated, still looking at her with concern. “Forming attachments.”

Eruviel’s breath caught in her throat, the corners of her mouth quivering. “And you want advice on whether you should . . . or should not form them?”

Threz nodded. “After all, When you can’t protect them . . . is it really a good idea?”

Eruviel ‘s lower lip trembled. So many lives. She felt her knees go weak and she moved to lean against the wall, shoving her hands in her pockets to try and steady herself. She saw their faces in her mind. Hundreds of years of people whom she respected and who respected her. And they were all dead. Would she do it over? Daran. “Y-yes,” she managed, moisture clouding her eyes. Leaning forward she quickly covered her mouth with a shaking hand, as the tears began to pour down her cheeks. “I-It’s wo-orth it,” she gasped between silent sobs.

Threz stepped forward and grabbed her arm. “Eru?”

Eruviel’s tears only increased as he took her arm. Shaking, she turned her face away from him even as she leaned her head against his shoulder, her hand still muffling the sound of her crying.

Unsure of what to do, Threz held her close. “Go ahead Eru. You’ve supported me and others so many times. It’s ok, let go.”

Eruviel shook her head in protest as she continued to weep, her face pressed against the shoulder of his breastplate, not phased by the armor. How long had she known Daran . . . a hundred an twenty years? So long in one of the worst places in Arda . . . and never would she take a minute of it back. Then she thought of Eirikr . . . and Abbi, and Exio, and Threz, and she cried even more at the thought of loosing them. You’ve gone soft, she rebuked herself. Several minutes passed before her sobs slowly quieted. Righting herself, she hid her reddened face behind her hands. “By the Valar, I-I’m s-sorry, Threz,” she sputtered as she wiped her tear stained cheeks with her sleeve.

Threz gripped her by the shoulders and looked her in the eye. “I never had an older sister Eru. But if I did, I think it would be ok for her cry once in a moon.” Giving her a long look he removed his hands and stepped back. “By the way. Did you mean it? About forming attachments?”

Eruviel ‘s ears turned pink and she nodded, choking on a small laugh as another sob gripped her chest. “I did. They will hurt at times, and can be confusing and happen in the worst of places, but every bit of it is worth it.”

Threz’s face twisted a little as emotions that echoed her own flickered across his face. “I . . . mark your words.” One half of his face curved up in a smile. “Will you be ok?”

Eruviel nodded, and chuckled as she reached out and wiped the lingering tears from his breastplate. This time you’re to blame, she thought, a hint of amusement showing on her face. “I think so. I have to head out of town for a few days, but . . . Thank you, Threz.” She looked up, giving him a meaningful smile. “Is this all about who I think it is?”

Threz dropped his head. “Yes . . . it is.”

Eruviel wiped a hand over her eyes, the first real smile in days spreading across her face. “Why do you hang your head?”

Threz looked up. “All things considered . . . I’m afraid.”

Eruviel nodded, sniffed and wiped at her eyes with her sleeve again. Damned tears won’t stop. “I would be concerned if you weren’t. But what about it causes you to fear, if you do not mind me asking?”

Threz made an ‘I don’t know’ gesture with his arms. “Many things. Danger to her, uncertainty. But mostly I’m afraid of myself.”

Eruviel smiled kindly. “That you’ll mess it up, that you’re not good enough, or that you’ll push her away?”

Threz sighed. “Number one, number two, and that I’m too dangerous to be around.”

Eruviel snickered softly. “Well stop it. One is always possible in anything, but know that these things are two way streets. Two: I don’t want to ever hear you say that because it is not true. She is strong and capable and smart. I don’t know her too well, but I think she can discern that one for herself. She stuck around, didn’t she?”

Threz looked abashed. “Uh . . . she doesn’t know me as well as I know myself?”

Eruviel shrugged, smiling at him. “You may be surprised.”

Threz sighed and his shoulders slumped. “Maybe.” He glanced up. “Stay safe on your journey, ok? And remember that your friends are here for you. You were there for us.”

Eruviel nodded, giving his arm an encouraging squeeze before she stepped away. “You have my word,” she replied, turning to look back at him even as she walked. “No heroics from me this trip. Though if I did, I would need a younger brother to put me in my place once I got back.”

“Let me fit into one new roll at a time,” he chuckled. “I’m uncomfortable enough as it is.”

Eruviel grinned back at him, nodding as she untied the reigns of her horse. “All in due time, I suppose.” Swinging into her saddle she gave him a grateful look, her eyes red-rimmed, and bowed her head. “Thank you again. Have a good night Threz. I’ll see you in a few days.”

 

(All dialogue taken from in-game RP and edited for tense and exposition.)

What One Can

The past days had flown by in a blur. Eruviel had missed the riot that had ensued when the gates to Bree had been closed on account of the plague. She was not sure if she was glad she had or not, but the blood on the street made her core feel cold. Glad that Anya and the boys were safe away from town she had rolled up her sleeves and gotten to work.

Wandering the alleys made her wish she had become a healer instead of a hunter, and two days before was spent tactfully relieving headaches and taking fevers till her body shivered with chills, her bones ached and her head spun. Part of her hoped that the more frequent use of her gift would make it stronger, while a small corner of her fevered mind thanked the Valar that she was and elf. Crawling up onto a roof she had slept hard all the next day, the warmth of a chimney to her back and a fresh breeze to ward off the stench of death that crept through the streets. As night fell she finally woke, and she sat back to watch the sunset through the haze, feeling mostly revived and more determined than ever to do more.

All citizens are to remain within Bree, help the sick, and tend to themselves for the greater good of the town,” had been the Mayor’s decree, and it was repeated over and over. She was not sure how the laws of citizenship worked, but she intended to help the sick. She had never spent time in a prison other than those of the enemies, but in her mind the reward far outweighed the risk. After spending her small purse on a trinket for Anya she watched the change of the guard from the same roof. Once . . . twice . . . then on the third change she saw it. A gap. Having ran into an old friend she drug him along with her and at the change of the fourth guard they’d snuck past and scaled the cliff to one side of town.

How incredibly good the forest seemed; the sight, the smell, the open space. But she had little time. The next few hours were spent digging through the undergrowth and riding through the fields to different areas, combing the land for roots, herbs and the few flowers she knew to hold healing properties. The sun rising as she filled her small bag she quickly washed up at Mira’s cabin and slipped back into town.

The smell had gotten worse. Closing the door of the Pony behind her, Eruviel looked around the common room, hoping to find one of the healers who often frequented the Inn. But none were there. Not even Threz was in the small crowd pretending to enjoy the terrible ale. Adjusting the strap of her satchel over her shoulder she shot a glance and polite nod to the Justice as she made her way to the bar.

As she ordered herself a mug the door of the inn opened behind her. Glancing back a small wave of relief swept through her. Laerlin stepped inside and walked over to stand beside her, ordering her own mug of ale.

A string of laughter and off-colored comments rose from a near table. Laerlin shot a quick, strange glance at the bit of conversation to their left, Eruviel hesitating her greeting to look past in the table’s direction. Eyebrows raised, Laerlin looked straight back at the counter, a bewildered look twisting her features.

Chuckling softly, Eruviel took her cup from Barliman and nodded to the healer. “I beg your pardon, Laerlin, but are you free for a moment?”

Taking her drink from the innkeeper, Laerlin turned to look at Eruviel. “Oh, hello again. It has been a while. Yes, how can I help you?”

“I probably should say my greetings more often,” Eruviel nodded with a polite smile, “but I was wondering, with the recent events, how are the healers faring?”

Laerlin wrinkled her nose. “Busy,” she admitted. “Miss Dagnawyn is pushing as much preventative mixtures as she can to any who will take them, as fast as she can make them. I’ve been treating symptoms as I see them. Master Daretwin more recently took a journey to Beggar’s Alley– I regret I could not join him.” She sighed heavily. “I warrant Nillariel, Aniwise, and other jail healers are also helping as they can. And that covers only what I know of healer’s movements recently.”

Eruviel nodded slowly, glancing towards Arion as he departed the room. Good. Taking the small satchel from her shoulder she extended it out to Laerlin. “It is not much, but I want to do what I can as well, and offer my services.”

Laerlin looked at her in faint surprise. She slowly took the satchel and peered inside at the contents. Closing it once more with a glimmer of surprise on her face her grip tightened faintly on the bag. “This is a wonderful collection. How much do you wish for it?”

Eruviel tucked her now free hand into her pocket, pursing her lips as she shook her head. “It is not for sale. You are gifted at healing, and my . . . talents can be put to good use aiding in those efforts.”

Laerlin smiled at her. “Knowing which herbs are valuable and which are not, and being able to find them is a wonderful talent,” she said earnestly. “Thank you for this gift.”

Eruviel nodded, giving a small, amused smile. “There will be more, as long as there is a need. And if you need anything from more of that,” she gestured to the bag, “to an extra set of hands, seeing as I doubt I will get ill, please let me know.”

“It is not like your kind to fall ill, from what I understand. It would indeed be something terrible if you did,” she murmured. “Did you want the satchel back? I can put these into my own.”

Eruviel shook her head. “I can get it back when I get more. On that note,” she said, lowing her voice a bit more, “Is there a certain type that is best suited to combating this illness? I am afraid that is a collection of herbs and not all might be useful.”

Laerlin shook her head slightly. “I have seen different symptoms, many of them cold-like, others worse, such as these nasty looking rashes, to put it simply. If you were to collect but one plant from the wild, though, I would say yarrow would be most useful. If you are out in the Shire, ginger– the whole plant, roots as well.”

Eruviel nodded as she made a mental note of them. “Very well. I hope to get out again tonight or tomorrow. If you think of anything else leave a note with the tanner. He will know where to find me.”

Laerlin switched her mug to her other hand, glancing across the room to where her husband was being interrogated by an exceptionally cheery hobbit. “There are certainly a dozen different herbs that could be useful, but I would say concentrating on searching for one would be most useful, and if you find something like clover and sage and so on while looking, then collect it, but . . . well, yarrow may be most useful if this continues to get worse.”

Eruviel chuckled and took a sip of her ale. It was disgusting. Giving the mug a distasteful frown she set it back on the counter. “You will have them, my friend.”

“Thank you, Eruviel. I should join Darramir, but I appreciate this,” she said with a kind smile, lifting the satchel. “Stay safe.” Giving Eruviel one last nod Laerlin hurried across the room to rescue her man.

Glancing to the two of them Eruviel swallowed and headed back outside. Patting the small statue of a ship in her pocket she strode down the steps, squaring her shoulders against the death and the dark.

 

Smoldering Fire: Kindling

“As you wish . . . .”

in a world there lived a Woman

((Exposition added; all other taken from RP chat logs edited for conventions and tense))

The streets of Bree always seemed to dirty to Eirikr. Tonight, they stank of the late summer evening and the presence of a growing number of Bree’s paltry residents. Each passing day brought more foreigners to the city; while he felt the anonymity of being a part of an increasing minority population, he also felt each Barding meant an increased chance of discovery.

Perhaps it was silly being so paranoid. The chances his father would have recovered from the loss of Sten and so many of his guard so quickly seemed unlikely, but Eirikr never discounted the resourcefulness of the man. He knew that one day, a shadow of Kolrson Tenorbekk would find his way to Bree and there would be a knife at his back.

For now, he merely sought the refuge of a crowded…

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Scoundrel

Waving back to Nillariel, Eruviel walked across the common room of the Pony. She had enjoyed the hour chatting with her fellow Eldar about loneliness, life, and love, but a seed of worry had sprung inside of her as the minutes ticked by. He had not shown. Eruviel did not feel entirely surprised since he was still a wanted man, but Arathier’s failure to arrive made her wonder if something had happened.

Bowing to the dwarf minstrel as she passed the front fireplace Eruviel’s progression up the steps was halted by the shadow of a man looming at the entrance to the passageway. So I was not imagining things yesterday, she thought grimly as she ascended the last few steps to pass by the Barding bearing a hollow expression. Lifting the hem of her long skirt to keep from tripping she swallowed her amusement. She wore the same dress he had practically remade for her back after Milloth had perished.

“Good evening, mellon,” she said with a polite nod.

Forthogar moved his eyes to Eruviel as she passed and nodded in the same apologetic fashion he had the night before.

Yesterday, when she passed him on the stoop outside of The Prancing Pony he had refused to speak to her. He had disappeared with out a word for all those months and now would not even give her a “Well met?” Keeping a mask of calm and concern over her face Eruviel stopped a few paces past and turned back. “Not even a ‘hello’, or did you lose your tongue?” she asked in an attempt to sound light-hearted.

Forthogar shifted his eyes towards her again as the corner of his mouth lifted up ever so slightly. He shook his head, softly before giving her that still-familiar wink. For a brief moment there was a slight glimmer to his foggy grey eyes, before they resumed their newly acquired emptiness. She could learn to bear the silence, but it was that void that troubled her.

Eruviel bit her lower lip and nodded curtly, offering him a sad smile. “Very well, then. We shall have to find you parchment and a quill,” she said quietly, the merriment in her own wink failing her. What darkness in Arda has taken hold of you? “Good night, astalder.”

Inclining his head, Forthogar bowed with a low dip to her. The shadow of a smile hung on his lips for a moment longer.

Giving him one final curtsey she swept down the hall and out the back door into the night. I couldn’t even look back, she thought grimly, the memory of his empty eyes burning in her mind. Shaking her head she forced Forth’s silence out, remembering that she had, in some way, been stood up.

Meranor lingered in the overhang, untied from her hitching post, waiting patiently as she looked expectantly up at Eruviel. Unable to keep back a smile, Eruviel swung up into the saddle and let the mare walk forward on her own. Yes, Nilla, they are all scoundrels.

(All dialogue taken from 5/6/14  in-game RP and edited for tense and exposition.)

The “Mercenary’s” Return

In The Pony

“YOU!” A familiar voice shouted at her from across the room.

So, the mercenary returns, Eruviel mused with a smirk. Retrieving her wine glass from the bar she turned, taking a thoughtful sip, and met the glare Threz sent her way with an arch of her brow.

You,” he spat as he hobbled across the room, brushing past the bard and taking a swing at her head with his crutch. “This is all your fault!”

Eruviel frowned slightly as she watched the knob of the crutch sail past, inches from her face. “What am I being blamed for, my friend?” Glancing down, a flicker of concern passed through her eyes as she surveyed the foot that he favored.

Threz growled and jabbed his crutch at her again. “Talking me into doing something stupid and heroic! That’s whats what!” He took a breath and looked around the room, before adding quietly. “Okay, so it’s not really your fault but still . . . I’m ticked.” He ordered a meal and drink and then waved her over as he limped off to a far table.

Eruviel stared after the man, lost for words. Unable to contain herself she burst out a merry laugh and followed after Threz. Shaking her head and smiling, Eruviel sat herself down on a bench across the table from him. Taking a drink of her cider she shot him a curious look. “So you were heroic and blame me? I would think that would be something you would want to take credit for yourself,” she said, grinning.

Threz gingerly propped his bad leg to one side. “My foot is broken,” he said matter-of-factly. “I had to lay in bed for three days in Trestlebridge after they fished me out of the river.” He shook his head and let out a deep sigh. “You didn’t even flinch when I almost knocked you over the head. The nerve . . . took all the rage right outta me.”

Doing her best to keep back a grin she said, “You are fortunate to have only broken a foot, my friend. And three days . . . you do recover rather quickly.” Eruviel swirled the liquid in her glass. “I did not think that you would actually strike me,” she added casually. Her eyes narrowed slightly, giving him a knowing look before continuing. “When did you return to Bree?”

“Got here earlier today,” said Threz quietly. “Nellie found some exceptional herbs to help me out and I made my way back as soon as that stubborn woman would let me climb on my horse.”

Eruviel nodded her head curtly. “She is a very kind woman, and very skilled at healing. Nellie did right to keep you here.” She then chuckled and raised her glass towards Threz. “You would have been more angry with me, and we cannot have that.” She knew all about the herbs . . . about his whole ordeal, actually. The healer in Trestlebridge, Nellie, had sent her a message as to Threz’s condition after overhearing the man quietly complaining about the elf. The medicine was from the Lady Cwendlwyn, originally meant to help dull the pain and aid in the healing of Eruviel’s own broken bones. Her ribs were mending swiftly enough that she sent half of the pouch of herbs north with her response. Threz had done the people of Trestlebridge a great service, so it was the least she could do for him. Watching him dig at his dinner she hoped that Nellie had indeed kept silent about the medicine and the letters.

Threz glared up at her, leaning forward. “So after you left Trestlebridge, I went and checked out the orc camp. Just to take a look and maybe pick off a good nine or ten of them. That was my plan. But I found some rope bridges that lead to a larger camp. Massive.” He lowered his voice. “There must have been at least a hundred. And they had . . . siege towers.” Threz rested his forehead in one hand. “If — if I’d been on a job, thinking business, I never would have been so stupid as to risk my life but . . . I just –I,” the man stammered, obviously frustrated. “I snuck in and set fire to some of the towers. Nearly got killed before I could jump into the river and escape.”

Eruviel ‘s smile vanished. “I had heard rumors of this. It seems as if their numbers increase every time a band of fighters or soldiers clean the camp out. Did you see how many siege towers?” She set her wine glass down and pursed her lips as she mulled over the new information.

Threz looked up at her. “Maybe five. And a ballista. I wasn’t thinking at the time. I panicked and thought they were going to be used against Bree. But that doesn’t make any sense. First off, they’d never get them across the trestlespan, they’re too big, and second, Bree is surrounded by a hedge. It’d be far easier to just burn it to the ground!” Threz shook his head as he leaned back in his seat. “Either they are bound for somewhere else, or there must be another route to Bree that I haven’t thought of. Something farther east perhaps.”

Valar, where do they all come from? Her eyes drawing back to the present she nodded her head in agreement. “I presume those would most likely be used against Esteldin, though I do not doubt that the fighters there already know of the threat.” She looks up with a frown. “If Bree were to be attacked it would most likely come from the south or east. The advantage at this point in time is that Bree-land is swarming with soldiers and fighters wielding thirsty blades.” Looking around the busy common room she took note of those who wore blades, who didn’t, and those who she felt certain had them hidden on their person.

Threz bobbed his head thoughtfully, “I do not yet know Estilden, but you do not seem worried abou-” He breaks off and slams a fist on the table. “But that’s not the point! The point is, that . . . that . . . this isn’t my war. I’m not getting involved unless I’m paid to!” He crosses his arms and looks away. “If I’d been thinking about that I wouldn’t have wound up in that river, and broken my foot going over that waterfall!”

Eruviel quietly assessed the man for a moment. He reminded her of dozens of men, good warriors every one of them, who failed to turn a cold shoulder. So much for being a mercenary, she thought kindly, her face calm and unchanged. He has not been hardened so much by the world to simply take advantage of others misfortune. I do hope it stays that way. “And what were you thinking, Threz?” she asked, reaching to pick her glass back up.

Threz put his head down on the table for a moment. “I’m thinking that until my foot heals I’ll be relegated to jobs like catching turtles for some cook on the other side of town or something like that,” he said with dismay. “How do you do it Eruviel?” he asked. “You’ve been here healing for weeks! How do you pass the time!? Of course . . . you are an elf. I guess you are blessed with greater patience than I.”

Her mouth curved up with a sympathetic smile. “Some times I question the capacity of my patience. What do I do? I have friends to drink and laugh with, I have a roommate that I worked to keep alive in spite of my wounds . . . . I sneak out of town when I know my healer is not present,” she then smirked, “and the last few days I have taken very long naps.” Oh, blessed sleep!

It was Threz’s turn to frown. “Friends would be nice to help pass the time, I guess. Although, suppose they ask me to help them with something for free — ah, well, I reckon for friends only it would be worth it . . . .”

Eruviel ‘s mouth widened and she tossed her head back, letting out an amused laugh. “That is the thing about friends, they should never cost anything. It is a free and equal exchange of camaraderie and respect.” She then wrinkled her nose slightly at the man, her eyes sparking with amusement. “I do hope this conversation is free of charge.”

Threz smiled a little mischievously. “It is. I didn’t think to charge you before passing on the info regarding the towers . . . my loss I suppose.” He looks around. “Guess you are right. I haven’t had a friend since I left the Dale-lands. Before then actually. Those what didn’t die fighting orc raids left to join an army or explore the world. Guess I was the last one out the door.”

Eruviel nodded. “I can understand that.” She smiled encouragingly over the rim of her glass. “Though, you did step out of the door. Many never make it that far.”

‘”And look where it landed me! Limping around Bree with a broken foot!”‘

“That broken foot is simply a welcoming gift!” she chuckled.

Threz’s face turned serious for a second. “From now on I’m only going to participate in this war if it’s a paid job. Or for a friend. But I never said that last part!”

Eruviel nodded, feigning innocence. “You never said what?”

Threz took a deep swig from his mug and set it down hard, “Darn right!”

Eruviel raised her glass only to find it empty. Glancing to it with disapproval she looked to Threz and rose from her seat. “Pardon me for a moment.” Walking to the bar she stopped beside Forthogar who stood enjoying his own mug of cider. For a moment she wished she were not preoccupied. She had missed Forth’s company in the midst of the past weeks turmoil. Waiting for Barliman to refill her wine glass she noted his combed hair, and that he looked a little less world-weary than he had before. Making tentative plans to meet up later she gave him one more warm smile before walking back to the table. The poor, injured Threz still sat on his bench, though he appeared to be falling asleep over his dinner plate.

Glancing around the room as she sat back down she wondered where Anya found herself that night — anticipating another merry eve before the hearth at home, laughing with Eirikr and speaking of a more hopeful tomorrow.

(This conversation was taken from in-game RP and edited for tense and exposition.)