The Wayfarers

Bittersweet: Sick

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Eruviel remembers…

“Naneth?”

Nostariel looked up from her work, emptying a handful of little paper shavings in the the basket set between her and her daughter. “What is it, dear one?”

Artistuion, now having finally grown, frowned down at the several yards of lacy paper cut-outs displaying uilos. Ada was away on business, and instead of translating the text he had left for her, the young elleth had spent the afternoon carefully ruining a perfectly good blank scroll. Even better, her mother had sat with her and helped. “The humans we saw….”

Nostariel gave her a curious look. “The ones we saw in Ered Luin? Artis, that was months ago.”

“I keep thinking about them,” she admitted quietly, carving out a trail of leaves upon the parchment. “They were sick, weren’t they?”

A minute passed before Nostariel nodded. “They are.”

The elleth’s frown deepened, and she looked up to search her mother’s sliver eyes. “They were in pain, naneth. I could see it. Ada wouldn’t let me help them. I tried to, but… why? Why would he not let me?”

Sighing softly, Nostariel reached over the confettied floor between them to cup her daughter’s cheek. “It is not just the remnants of Cardolan, but most of the human world, dear heart. Heal one, and there is not guarantee that he would not get sick again and die.”

“That does not make it right.”

“Death is a part of their world, my little light, as is sickness, but the latter does not always mean the other. And he was right to stop you. You would feel their pain and the suffering that comes with the fires of fever and draining of life, and you have no need to endure such a thing.”

Artis diverted her gaze, looking down at the delicate visage of a flower she had never actually seen. “Yes, naneth. I understand,” she replied quietly. She did not say how her father had been angry. She had never seen him angry, and never imagined it would aimed at her. Or was it at her? In any case, the elleth was sure that he had never intended his reaction to convict her, making her want to help the mortals that much more.

Nostariel smiled softly, a warm smile that reached into her youngest and lifted away the burden of doubt. “Do not let it weigh on your heart,” she assured her, kissing Artis’ forehead. “They will survive.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It was not the path into the Misty Mountains that kept sleep at bay. Unlike the previous week that had been filled with exceptionally restful nights, Eruviel sat up in the dark, a pang of worry twisting in her chest.

He will survive, she repeated to herself. Every human falls ill. He will be fine. 

What could it be, really? Durrow was one of the cleanest homesteads, and certainly more so than Bree-town. Children often got sick. It made them stronger in resisting such things as they grew older, yes? But a summer cold, she was certain, would not warrant Abiorn writing to Rivendell to call Eirikr home.

Quietly she passed through the camp to where Voronwen stood dozing above a half-eaten tuft of grass. A few whispered words in Sindarin, and the animal’s ears twitched in acknowledgement. Starlight streamed through the trees as she took out a curry comb and body brush from one of her saddle bags, and Eruviel drank in the cool light that pooled around her as she busied herself.

It helped little. She brushed Voronwen’s neck and remembered seeing Eboric sleeping in his crib for the first time. Eruviel brushed the horse’s shoulders, back, haunches and flanks, and all she could think of was late nights when he knew making noise would draw her out to give him attention. Eruviel thought of the first time he splashed in a puddle, of games, and cooking lessons (messes), and lazy afternoon naps. She thought of his screams the first time she had held him, her hands covered in blood.

Wiping her eyes, Eruviel shook her head at Voronwen’s concerned look, and set to brushing the animal down with the body brush. She had always prayed. It came naturally and nearly always unspoken as she went about her day, like talking to a distant friend. Now her lips moved without sound, and some semblance of peace that matched her carefully set expression slowly warmed her core. So many miles between her and home, what else could she do? She pleaded for Irmo to give him peace in spirit and  in dreams, and for Estë to heal him. She entreated Oromë to give strength to the others, and to Elbereth who’s light was already there. For if there was hope of anyone hearing the elf’s prayers it was her.

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Bravery: Nelson Leafcutter

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“Nelson.”

Wha–!” Nelson Leafcutter nearly lept out of his skin, and the stack of letters bound for Ravenhold flew out of his hands like birds from a cage.

Willoric lifted a hand to shield himself from the cascade of paper. “Why’d you shout?”

“By the –” Nelson scampered about the street, snatching up letters before the breeze could. “Don’t do that, Will! You nearly scared me to death.”

The Hobbit blinked. “Wha’d ya mean? I’ve been walkin’ by ya the whole time.”

Nelson frowned. “Since when?”

“Since the Post? Think all that readin’s dried your brain,”said Willoric, taking off after an escaped envelope.

Nelson made a face and took a moment to straighten his robes. “Sorry,” he muttered, counting the letters to make sure they were all there. He then glanced to the Hobbit, wondering if he hadn’t meant to frighten him from the start. “Where are you headed?”

“Same place you are,” Will replied with a shrug, licking his lips.

Most likely going to lift food from the kitchens.

“This should be the last of ’em.”

Nelson accepted the letter with a grateful nod. Turning to walk back up the road he set the letter on top of the stack… then beneath it… then began to alphabetize the pile by the name of the receiver. “Will you be heading out with the others in a few days?”

“S’pose so.” The hobbit prattled on, but the sound grew muddled and distant to Nelson’s ears.

Feygil, Gaelyn, Hallem, Lichen, Lichen, Lichen….

“You organizin’ them by first or last names?”

Nelson blinked, then sighed, and started all over. “Well, be safe when you go.”

Willoric glanced up at him. “You’re not goin’?”

Nelson stood a little straighter, as if better posture aided by his true height might somehow aid him in his excuses. “No, not this time. Ms. Lichen has a lot on her plate, and I’m needed here.” How he loathed field work. Rain ruined books, and dust could harm the condition of the tomes he might decide to take, because of course he couldn’t NOT take books, and then what would Nallo think of him if he couldn’t even protect literature? It was bad enough that he dropped the letters all over the place, but he’d be disgraced if he went to the Lone Lands and wound up with all his books ruined. Not to mention the risk of Orcs burning them, or Goblins stealing and — Oh, Cor, they might tear the pages out!

“Nelson?”

What?” he squeaked, then gasped as he realized he had been holding his breath as his thoughts had begun to spiral out of control.

Will smiled. “There ya go.”

“Oy! To your right!”

The man and hobbit moved off to the side of the road as a wagon clattered up the cobbles behind them, driven by Brock Thornley.

“Good day, Mister Thornley!” called the Hobbit.

Nelson nodded politely, hardly glancing up from the letters.

“‘allo. Hey, Nels. One of the horses got out again.”

“Why tell me? Why didn’t you go get her?” Nelson felt his stomach twist as he caught sight of one escaped letter right as a wagon wheel ran it over.

Brock shrugged, and pulled the length of straw from the corner of his mouth to point at the horses. “Workin’.” He then lifted a hand in farewell and tapped the reigns on the horses’ rumps.

Nelson shook himself as he watched Brock drive off, then went to retrieve the poor, trampled envelope from the middle of the road. “Will, would you mind –” He stopped when he turned and found Willoric gone. “Oh… blast.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Letters safely stowed in one of his cavernous pockets, Nelson trudged out of the gates of Durrow. He heard the horse before he saw it, and chastised himself for not thinking to grab a lead rope… or an apple, or something.

Just over the first southerly hillock, the young man saw Peppermint grazing at the edge of a field. The spotted pony appeared all too pleased with herself, and Nelson filed through his memory on the best way to reclaim a runaway horse.

Snagging up a fistful of long, green grass, he slowly approached the pony, thanking his luck when he saw she still wore a halter.

“Here, Peppermint! Come, girl.”

The pony nickered and pranced around him.

Nelson sighed. Big animals always made him nervous, and this one wanted to play. Perfect. “Come on, pretty pony. Here’s some grass. Yum, yum!” Valar, please don’t let anyone see this.Here, Peppermint…”

Peppermint tossed her mane, and trotted over to indulge in the offering of pre-picked grass.

Taking hold of her halter, Nelson led her away from the farm and back towards the road. “That’s a good girl. Why are you causing trouble?” he said quietly, petting the pony’s cheek as she munched on the last bite of grass.

This really wasn’t all so terrible. If all field work was like this he thought he could manage. It was rediculous, how proud he was that he’d gone and fetched the stray animal. Maybe Amelia would be at the stables. He’d walk in with Peppermint, and she’d smile… maybe even hug him for — oh, but who was he kidding? There was nothing brave whatsoever about going to fetch a horse that probably would have come home on it’s own.

The answer was there. Field work. He’d have to get his hands dirty if he was to show how brave he was… And that would put him in good standing with Nallo, wouldn’t it? The scholar had gone to Moria of all places, hadn’t he? Nelson gazed wistfully down the path towards the gate, Peppermint plodding along beside him. Moria sounded horrid and dank. No place at all for books… but then again, there might be Dwarven tomes. Who knows what old writings might be rediscovered in the far places if someone would just look? Then he’d get to see Amelia shoot her bow all the time, and Nallo would ask him to help at Stonebluff! Yes… yes, field work just might be it. The next trip… or the one after, depending on the destination, of course.

Peppermint pulled against Nelson’s arm as a thick patch of spring grass caught her eye. “No, no, Peppermint. I have to get you back. Ms. Lichen needs these letters, and I need to feed Amelia. No! I mean, my Amelia — I mean! My… not yours — ours… Oh, come on, Peppermint!”

Bittersweet: Quiet in a Library

DA Library 1

Godric dipped his head to the man. “My name is Godric, acting Commander of the Wayfarers’ Guild. We believe you may be in danger, and we have come to protect you.”

Eruviel glanced around as Godric began speaking with the portly scholar. Taking note of the walkway opposite of where the man sat, she motioned to Fey that she would make her way over there. Offering the man her most charming and reassuring smile, she turned to silently head down the hall.

A few girls, dressed in the robes of scholars, lingered on the opposite balcony near Eruviel. They peered curiously over to where Cabrion and the others stood.

Wary of onlookers, Eruviel inspected around the opposite corner before approaching the group of girls. “Good evening ladies,” she said with a pleasant tone and smile. “I am sorry if we are disturbing your studying.”

The girls all looked taken aback by Eruviel, but not too much. One shook her head, and smiled. “No, we’re done for the night.”

She could just make out Godric sighing and speaking with the scholar Cabrion. “I was not aware that only nobles were considered good enough targets for assassins.”

If she could hear him at this distance, others closer to the man could as well. Eruviel inclined her head to the small group. “Forgive my friends. It is nothing to be alarmed about, I assure you. They just do not know how to be quiet in a library. But please, do not let me keep you.”

The girl nodded to Eruviel. “Right. Thank you.” They all give her polite nods and smiles before trailing back down one of the halls.

Returning a smile, she turned to continue her watch, but kept an eye on the girls as they went.

Godric’s voice softly echoed out around the high pillars.  “An organization whose only interest is money. Someone paid them to kill you, and so they are going to attempt to do so. I am not going to let you die. You are coming with us whether you like it or not.”

She had never seen oliphants, but she was sure her company was just as loud as one. Walking back into sight of her friends, she made a low tsk. A few of them looked her way, and she signed for them to keep their voices down.

Then she heard it; the soft whisper of a bowstring being drawn. Taking her bow from her back, she dodge out of sight and nocked an arrow. Across on the far left near the grand staircase she could make out a hooded figure hidden behind a bench, aiming his bow at Cabrion. Without hesitating she loosed her arrow at the assassin.

A scream echoed through the hall as a young woman witnessed Eruviel’s arrow stick into the shoulder of the armed, hooded figure. The man stood quickly, and darted down the stairs. Sprinting after him, Eruviel rounded a corner, flew down the steps, and hopped a banister over to the next flight. 

Slowing to a stop by the woman who had screamed, Eruviel quickly looked her over for injury. “Madam, are you unhurt?”

The shaken woman nodded stiffly. “I… Yes,” she choked out. “I-I need to get my students out of here.”

Eruviel offered her an apologetic smile. “I am sorry to have frightened you. Please, get your students out and inform whoever is in charge here. The man who fled is very dangerous.” Giving the woman one last nod and a smile, she took off once more after the wounded man.

It was an easy path to follow. Turning down a long corridor, a gradually increasing blood trail led the way. Whoever the man was had quite a wound. Eruviel hurried down the hall, frowning at the the ground. Don’t be dead. Don’t be dead.

The trail led her to the end of the hall and up a few steps. Holding onto caution, she skipped up the steps and stopped as she caught sight of the man slumped down on the floor against a wall. A dark hood covered his features. Her arrow looked to have embedded deeply into the soft flesh just under his shoulder, and there was quite a lot of blood. From his raspy breaths, she could tell that he was still conscious. Kneeling down by the man, Eruviel pressed one hand by the wound in attempt to stop the bleeding. Her other hand searched him for weapons. “If you’d not been hiding so well, I could have shot you somewhere less important,” she muttered.

The man sputtered something that was half a cough and half a laugh. “It’s… about time… someone saw me.”

Having heard them follow after, Eirikr and Godric slowed to stand behind her. Godric looked to the man on the ground and Eirikr turned to survey the area around them. “Is he the only one you saw?” Godric asked.

Eruviel nodded to Godric, and reached her free hand under the man’s hood to press against his forehead. It hurt. It was always worse on this end, and while not as bad as the last couple times, the pain pouring into her shoulder from the man was, to be put mildly, unpleasant. Moisture filled the corners of her eyes, but Eruviel just inclined her head to the man. “Do you think you could be moved to get you to a healer?”

Godric knelt down by them and awaited the man’s response to Eruviel’s question.

As Eruviel reached beneath the hood, the familiar features of Húnir came into the light. His features seem to ease some with Eruviel’s touch, but he still looked incredibly worn. “How should I know…? I am no healer.”

Godric grumbled lowly. “He has a point.”

Cwendlwyn’s voice could be heard, calling softly from the hall. “Eirik!”

Eruviel nodded, but did not seem too pleased about all of the blood loss. But Cwen was here now. She could do something for him. “Who hired you to kill that man?”

Cwendlwyn quickly came into view of the scene. “Oh, Bema help me….” She waved her hands to clear the way. “Out of the way, out of the way,” she murmured as she stepped forward.

Húnir’s gaze turned towards Cwen and Meluion as they approached. “My owners… You already must have known.”

Godric stood back up and moved away as instructed. Eruviel shifted to the side so as to be out of Cwendlwyn’s way, but still kept her hand on Húnir’s forehead.

“Forget his head! Keep applying pressure to the wound,” ordered Cwen as she began digging through her pack.

Eruviel nodded, and quickly reached over with her already bloodied hand to press against the wound. Unsure, her other hand slowly drew away.

Húnir just grunted. His chin dipped to his chest as he tried to take deep, unsteady breaths.

Cwendlwyn’s normally severe brow softened just a smudge as she cut away the shirt to reveal the wound. “Don’t force it. I’ve fixed worse,” she said before setting to her work.

~ ~ ~ *** ~ ~ ~

Only another hour passed before Eruviel returned to the Colagar Estate with the rest of her guild. Húnir had been carried back by Eirikr and Feygil, and Cwendlwyn was sitting up to tend and keep watch over the unconscious man. Learning that no others were to be sent after Cabrion that night, the Elf slipped away to the confines of her quarters.

It was cool in the room, and a sea breeze wafted in the open windows. Washing the last of the dried blood from her hands, she traded her clothes for a thin summer robe, and sunk down to lean against a wall. She was used to taking the headaches, weariness and stress of her friends, but this was different. Not quite as bad as the lingering emotions that had plagued her after the previous year’s journey, nor the girl by the lake, or even Hallem’s legs, this pain seemed somehow more harsh. Not just because she was not also wounded, so her body did not fight off the pain that faded all too slowly, but because it had been caused by her in the first place.

Pulling the clip out to loosen her braid, she lay down to drink in the cold from the stone floors. It’s about time someone saw me. Some of it was probably the pain talking, but she felt guilty for having wounded him so. He needed a chance to break from the leash that bound him to Neldor and the organization that held him captive. And, unlike so many in this city, she hoped he would see that chance, and take it.

Letting out a sigh, Eruviel shifted on her side and closed her eyes. It would be gone in a few hours, and she would be right as rain. She would check on the others, and Húnir, then probably make her way to the library to see if any help could be offered in return for the mess that was made. Only a few more hours and a whole other day would begin.

((Minor editing has been done for tense and exposition.

A few things were lost between saving in-game chat logs, but I think I remembered it all correctly.

Thank you to Atanamir for GMing, and playing as Húnir and Cabrion!)

Bittersweet: Writing Home

candles

Dearest Anyatka,

We arrived safely in Dol Amroth a few days ago. Imloth Melui was a success, though rather grim the whole while we were there. Being in the city, I find it is just as bright as when we were here earlier in the year.

While I have not heard specifically what we are to do here, I believe it has to do with the growing discontent among the citizens, and a sudden growth in numbers of unscrupulous sorts. We will be safe, of course, so try not to worry too much. So far the days have been good, and lighthearted.

I wish I had more to write about, but all I can think of at the moment is the swimming spot I found, the few trees that offer an escape from the gleaming stone towers, and the good ale that was shared tonight. You have my word that I will keep you updated on our comings and goings.

Give Abiorn my love. If you could leave a loaf of bread on the porch of my house once a week I would be grateful. Poor Henry was upset with me enough for having moved. Take care of yourself, dear oselle, and be safe.

All my love,

Eruviel

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dear Abiorn,

As Anya might have told you, our company has made it safely to Dol Amroth. We had a bit of excitement in Imloth Melui, part of which was a massive explosion Feygil accidentally caused that flattened an enemy camp (and knocked us flat on our asses as well).

The past few days being here have not been terribly exciting, though. You would like the ale here. Well, I think you would like a lot of things here. The people in the city have been very welcoming to me (though I suspect a part of it has to do with me being an Elf). Eirikr has spent much of his time out in the trees (as to be expected). I myself have found a wonderful cliff jutting out over the sea several miles up the coast that offers a clean dive out into the water. If Anya asks, it’s a rock, but it’s actually only about seventy feet high.

I am sure we will run into more intrigue and trouble as the days roll past. Take care of yourself, gwador, and take care of Anya. If you see Moon Moon at all, tell him we made it safely, and that I say hello.

Till next time,

Love, Eruviel

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Wrapped in a soft, summer robe, and her wet hair coiled up in a towel that sat upon her head, Eruviel folded the last letter. Waiting a minute for the wax to melt, she carefully sealed the first message, and then the second. The last of her company had returned safely from the tavern, and, too awake to rest, she’d set into the writing she should have done days before.

Sitting on the floor in her empty room on a mound of pillows, she leaned both elbows on the low table that was once again covered with maps. She hadn’t had that much fun drinking in a long time. And, thanks to Tolan, she knew to keep well away from the bards dressed in pink.

Shaking her head, Eruviel tried to refocus on the maps before her. She hadn’t had all that much to drink, but her cheeks were still warm. Her mind drifted, and the edge of the region turned into the strong bend of his arm. The southern district of Tharbad slowly transformed into a trim, red beard, and the sketch of Nin-in-Eilph suddenly became limpid, dark grey eyes….

Letting out a despairing groan, Eruviel leaned her toweled head back. She didn’t mind him drunk; not at all, really, but she had had no clue that Atanamir, or anyone for that matter, had thought anything of them. A part of her didn’t care, but right then, for some silly reason, her head still swimming with him and half a dozen off-colored responses, she did. I must escort my lady to bed! Hugging a large pillow, Eruviel flopped over, as much as an Elf might, to lay on the floor. The flush in her cheeks turning a darker shade of pink, and she prayed that Tolan and Atanamir had been too drunk, and too enthralled by their conversation about pineapples to have overheard.