Letters: Drawing to a Close


Dearest Sister,

Forgive me for not writing you in a while. I hope this letter reaches you before we return, for I do believe our time here is drawing to a close.

An unnatural storm had set in on the region, but thankfully has finally abated. Our company and all of those in the city had to take shelter in the Great Lodge. Though the warmth was welcome, I do not think I have ever had cabin fever so badly. A few of us set out one afternoon to track down a hunter that had been lost, and I can honestly say I have never been so cold in my entire life.

There is much to write, but it would be so much better to tell you in person. You will have more sketches of Forochel as well, but those will come with my return. I am well, and Abbi is also. The chief, Panja whom we were send here to aid is beginning to recover. Time will tell if the sacrifices made to see him healed are worth it.

Take care of yourself, Anyatka.  I warn you, Abbi is a little taller, a little louder, and a little more ‘bear’ than he was before. I think you’ll be proud of him (and I won’t cut his hair just so you can have something to fuss over). His presence here has been invaluable to me.

Till we see each other again, and with all my love,




Dear Eirikr,

I realize how long it’s been since my last update, and I apologize. I do hope this letter reaches you before we return home.

Abiorn and I are well, as is the majority of our company. We have suffered a great loss with the passing of one of our number, as well as several setbacks, but at last we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Our company has been able to help the chief we came up here to aid, but time will tell if our efforts turn out to be fruitful.

I am happy to report that the wolf pups we took in have found a new home. Master Dorsett and myself saw them off. While I am glad that they are safe and happy, the parting was bittersweet. I can only blame myself for getting so attached to Hano, but I know he is far better off here than he ever would be in Bree.

There is so much more I would like to tell you, but it will have to wait till we all come home. Give Bear a treat for me, and Grey a polite nod (I do not know if he’s the ‘pat-on-the-head’ or hugging sort).

Be well.

Till then, I remain yours,




Dear friend,

Thank you for your letter. I apologize for not telling you of my departure for the north when it happened, but time was short and I could not find you.

I am sorry that this has been a struggle for you. Though I would prefer to have this discussion in person I fear my return may come too late.

First of all, I must say that I am glad to hear that Lan is behind bars. Nothing I have ever seen him do has been selfless and in the good interest of others. His words are twisted, and while he may have called you ‘friend’, such a term can unfortunately be used lightly. You have a good heart, Threz, and while your emotions are clouding your decisions, I believe you are able to discern the true nature of this man. More than that, I think you already know.

Secondly, you say that he has done all those things for you. Keep in mind that the enemy feeds, clothes, and entertains his men as well. One good deed does not cover a well of wrongs, especially if the one who commits them is unrepentant.

I understand the struggle you are facing. It is a difficult decision and I will not try to lessen the gravity of it. Lan is a hard man, and knows well the road he walks.  Do not let your guilt and feelings keep you back from doing the right things. Hard decisions are part of being a leader and you will have to make more of them in the future.

Remember this: When you go home, will you sleep with the knowledge that you’ve put a cruel man behind bars and saved other’s lives, or will you lay in bed, glad that Lan is alive as another farmhouse burns to the ground, a family within? Taking lives is never a choice one should make lightly, but a decision that should be made with a clear head and right heart.

I hope to see you soon. When I get back I’ll buy you a cider and we can speak more of it.

Till then, take care of yourself.



If It’s Worth It


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.)



Threz woke, if you could call the way he’d spent the night ‘sleeping’.  He woke full of pain and weariness.  His wounds ached, his muscles ached, his head ached, and his throat was soar.  He shifted slightly and grass wet with morning dew brushed his face.  He shook as a round of throat stripping coughs rolled out, then opened his eyes and sat up.

The morning was gray and dismal.  The refugees lay scattered about the small park.  Not randomly, but concentrated near the latticed entrance across from the jail and spreading outwards, as if everyone had simply lain down the moment there was a free spot of grass for them.  Which likely was exactly what had happened.  Not that he could really remember much.  The last moments before he lay down were dark and blurry.

Pain rippled across his back as he rolled over and struggled to rise.  Most…

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Dwarven Crates: A Casual Raid (part 2)


Raigar tilted his head. “Shit,” he muttered as they come to a crossroads. His eyes flickered over his shoulder. “Now we pick a tunnel to follow.”

Anricwulf turned down to the right. “This one looks good.” Threz reloaded his crossbow, shouldered it and followed, dagger in hand.

Eruviel smirked and stepped around a bend in the wall. “Sure. Gotta start somewhere,” she muttered, stepping to follow.

Raigar looked to Eruviel and grinned. “Your friend has some spirit, I’ll give him that.” Drawing his knife once more he moved after them.

“That he does,” she responded with a quiet chuckle.

Threz glared at them. “You talkin about me behind my back?” he whispered.

“Never, Threz. Don’t you worry,” Eruviel quipped.

Raigar approached a line of weapon racks, but shook his head. “Not Dwarven.”

Threz looked around the cave. “Cozy.”

Anricwulf snuck up on a sleeping Brigand before bringing his sword through the robber’s chest. “What was that about Dwarves?”

“Not here either,” whispered Eruviel, quickly looking through a small, empty nook separated as sleeping quarters.

Raigar looked up to the others as the tunnel curved back around to make a loop. “We’ve reason to believe that these Orcs have a shipment of stolen weapons, crafted by the Dwarves of Othrikar.  That’s the last sort of weaponry that we need the Enemies of Bree to be wielding.”

Anric nodded. “Ah. Well that makes sense.” He looked around. “How many weapons are we talking?”

“Has Othrikar fallen then?” Threz scowled, “Or did the uh . . . Longbeards . . . do the selling?”

Hearing  the echo of steps emanating from the direction they had originally come, Eruviel stepped past the men as they talked, watching down the cavern, her bow knocked and pulled taunt.

Raigar shook his head. “We never did get a count.” He then turned to Threz. “Not sure. Though, I believe Eruviel found evidence that one of their trading routes had been hit — not by Orcs, but by men.’Which still begs the question of how they got into Orc hands to begin with.”

“Mounted men?” Threz ventured.

Raigar looked to Threz and shrugged, then glanced over his shoulder for Eruviel to answer. However, she had conveniently disappeared further down the tunnel.

“We could be dealing with Dourhand treachery,” said Anric. “Iwn a few to work alongside Orcs, and the northern lands are crawling with the filth.”

“It’s possible. I wouldn’t put anything past the treachery of the enemy.”

Threz gently unloaded his cocked crossbow and followed, loading a different bolt as he kept the weapon pointed in a safe direction. Moving up beside Eruviel he whispered, “Do you think the other mercenary is behind this? Estorn?”

Eruviel fit her arrow back into her quiver and bow back onto her back. Drawing her sword she nodded to the flickering of shadows back down the way they had came. “I don’t know. By Orome, I hope not,” she whispered back. “But we will have company if we don’t keep moving.”

Anricwulf walked up beside them, and Raigar by him. ‘Then by all means, let’s.”

Arriving once more at the crossroads Anric charged ahead, and Threz, glancing at Eru, followed. Eruviel and Raigar considered the third path, a few carts visible down the tunnel, but followed after the other two as the sound of a small skirmish drifted back. Jogging around the bend the man and elf arrived just as Anric pulled a javelin from a brigand’s chest. Threz wiped his dagger clean and turned to wait for the others. A dry smirk circulated through the group and they continued on down the passage down one bend then another till the tunnel opened up into a cavern, the facade of a forgotten ruin set against the far end.

“That’s interesting,” commented Raigar with an arched brow.

“Well, well. What is this?” Eruviel muttered curiously at the sight of the ancient stonework.

A brigand walked around the corner to walk out out of the ruins, but before any of them could react a javelin flew past to peg the man in the chest. The brigand could only manage a startled expression before he fell dead at the small flight of steps. “Hmm?” Anricwulf asked, approaching to collect his weapon.

Raigar pointed out the intricate engravings that decorated the structure. “The star of the North Kingdom. These ruins are Arnorian.” Raigar shoots a glance over his shoulder at Threz, obviously concerned for the man’s still healing wounds, but just then, the sound of voices up ahead seem to echo through the small tunnel.

Eruviel ‘s brow furrowed as she approached the arched doorway. “I’ve heard of this place, but it’s been a long time . . .” She stopped at the sound of voices, taking another silent step forward in attempt to hear better. Someone, or some thing, was in the midst of a heated discussion up ahead, and neither side seemed capable of coming to agreement. Yet their words were muffled from a distance.

Raigar hmmed softly. “Well then,” he whispered. “Lets go see who’s not so happy.” Drawing a second hidden dagger he proceeded up the steps, the others close behind. Responding the earlier sound of a body hitting the floor and orc rounded the corner only to have Raigar’s elbow smash into it’s face. The man’s hand clamped down on the beasts mouth as the other drove his knife into it’s throat. Pivoting around the man, Eruviel stooped to catch the orc’s crude sword before it could clatter to the floor. Threz moved past them to see if there were more and Anric padded towards a second flight of steps leading to a second level.

“Who is that? I don’t recognize the voice.”

Raigar looked to Anricwulf and shook his head. He didn’t recognize it either. “Might as well go ask ’em, eh?”

Anricwulf smiled. “Sounds good.” Drawing his sword he headed up the stairs.

Eruviel and Threz exchanged another look, the mercenary huffing a silent chuckle as he put his dagger away and once again took his crossbow from his back.

At the top of the stairs, a piece of rubble fell and clattered to the ground. The conversing parties haulted and looked towards the group, just in time for the man who had been bickering with an orc to take Anric’s javelin through the torso.

Fearful that they would loose a source of information, Eruviel flipped her dagger around in her hand, moving in as Anric attacked and cast the blade into the orc. The Orc had turned and made for the door at seeing himself outnumbered. It was nearly there when Eruviel’s dagger caught it square in the thigh, and he tumbled to the ground. But her efforts were in vain and Anric fell upon the wounded Orc, ending it’s life with a flourish of his sword.

Raigar watched Anric finish the Orc as he approached the impaled man with a dour expression. “Well then, he won’t be saying much,” he muttered, before kneeling to search the dead man’s pockets.

Eruviel had moved to the snarling, yet incapacitated Orc and frowned down at it. “Blast it all,” she muttered. Kneeling down she took the few pouches from the it’s belt and began to rifle through them.

Anricwulf raised an eyebrow. “I wouldn’t have expected him to say that much anyways. Besides, they’ll lie and weasel there way out of anything.”

Raigar nodded slowly. “Maybe so,” he whispered. He rose and pulled the javelin from the dead man’s body, and turned to toss it to Anricwulf. A boot kicked the corpse over onto it’s back. “He’s too rugged, and his clothing rough, to be from Bree. My coin’s on him being a brigand.”

Anricwulf caught his javelin mid-air. “My coin was on that from the start. I don’t know any Bree-lad who would willingly work with Orcs. Only Brigands and the like would deal with such brutes.”

Eruviel nodded. “That’s who I suspect had ambushed the Dwarves to get the weapons. Those we still have yet to find,” she added sullenly.

“Then it’s likely he wasn’t just working alone.” Leaving the corpse behind, Raigar strode towards the door. With an idle twirl of his sword he beheaded the wounded Orc before cracking the door open. “It leads to outside,” he whispered. Prying the door open, offering a shrug to the others before stepping outside back to the surface.

Eruviel slippped two of the Orc’s pouches into her pockets before she followed after Threz, closing the door behind them. Chaos reigned in the camp as mounted riders continue their onslaught of the remaining Orc forces.

“Well, that was fun,” Anric commented lightly as he stretched out his arm and took a breath of the relatively fresh air.

Raigar grunted. “No sign of the crates.”

Eruviel cleaned her dagger off on her black pants and slipped it back into it’s sheath as they watched the riders do their work. “Unfortunately. It seems we have more scouting to do.”

Raigar let a sigh escape. “The world is a far place to scout in search of just a few crates.”

Eruviel nodded slowly, glancing back to the hill behind them. “One down.”


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

Dwarven Crates: A Casual Raid (part 1)


From her vantage point on the hill, Eruviel watched as the battle ebbed and flowed below her. Well, if the raid could have been called that. The locking of Bree’s gates during the plague had been a major setback. The search for the crates of dwarven weapons had led her and Raigar here, and she offered a silent prayer that the stolen weapons were indeed still at the camp.

Anricwulf grinned wickedly. With a roar, he drew his spear and charged into the mass of Orc bodies. Plowing through the enemies ranks, Anric slammed Orcs aside with his shield before piercing necks and chests with sharp jabs of his spear. Kicking a wounded and raging monster aside, the man whirled his spear in his hand and brought the point down through the Orc’s eye.

Raigar seemed at ease in the chaos. The Horselord strolled in easily behind Anricwulf, slaying in his wake. He severed the throats of many Orcs that had been left wounded or stunned in his path, and his long sword gleamed in the firelight as it flashed back and forth, deadly yet elegant. Raigar plunged his hunting knife hilt-deep into the skull of one of the Orcs that had been kicked aside, and wrenched it free seconds later. A twisted smirk etched along his lips as black blood splattered across the grounds in the wake of their onslaught. All the while, his eyes remained moving, constantly searching the dark for sign of the missing Dwarven crates that had brought them there.

Threz, standing on the ridge not far from her, set his sights on a meaty looking Orc and dropped the beast with a bolt to the brain. He worked to recock the weapon, grunting as he put strain on his shoulder blade muscles. Eruviel felt a pang of gilt, knowing by all rights he should have been back in Bree, healing. But the guild needed rebuilt, and she figured he would prefer the payout to pity. Threz loaded a bolt and scanned the bloodied scene for enemy archers. He found one when the villain’s arrow bit the dirt near where he crouched. Cursing, he sighted and shot it down before the Orc could get another arrow in the air.

Glancing back to the mercenary, Eruviel pivoted and took out an Orc archer that had circled from the eastern side of camp. Shifting her stance back she loosed arrows in swift succession into the mob of beasts, avoiding the men who battled below, and taking out any potential threats to them she could perceive. A wounded Orc that had been missed attempted to rise to his feet behind her companions and Eruviel swiftly nailed it to the ground. Looking further into the camp she sighted a larger Orc sprinting down from the crude fort, and after striking it once, then twice, the monster finally dropped.

Raigar followed the path of dead bodies even deeper into the camp, pausing only to signal up to Eruviel and Threz to join them once the way had been secured enough. When he turned to them, another Orc tried to tackle him from behind, but he hurled it over his shoulder and gutted it with his blade.

Anricwulf slammed an Orc to the ground before bringing his metal heel down between the beast’s eyes. “So are we looking for something or just here to spill some blood?”

Threz stepped back out into the open, aimed and loosed, pausing to re-cock his weapon before marching down to join the others. Eruviel followed, drawing another arrow from her quiver as she slid down the incline. It had been a long time since she’d had a fight like this, and she easily dismissed her wondering if it was a good or bad thing.

Raigar drew his sword free of the Orc’s belly and called out to Anricwulf, “Didn’t want to deter you from your fun,” he practically laughed, his eyes glancing to Threz and Eruviel as they approached.

Anricwulf cracked his neck. “Was a good fight. Far better than Brigands or Tomb Robbers.”

Raigar rolled his eyes. He sheathed his knife and plucked the horn that dangled from his quiver, raising the mouthpiece to his lips. A mighty roar burst forth as he blew into the horn, and soon a new, large pack of Orcs came running down the hill from the back of the fort. Anricwulf grinned, hurling a javelin into the mass. He drew his sword and rushed the Orcs, shield held out in front of him. Eruviel took a step to the left and aimed high. Shooting in rapid succession, her fifth arrow left the string just as the first hit into the fast approaching mob.

Threz glared at Raigar, and Eruviel could have sworn that she heard the mercenary mutter, ‘horn man,’ rather spitefully. “I thought we were done!” Then he loaded a bolt in, sighting at an archer taking position on the hill, and fired.

As Raigar let his horn drop  the sound of thundering hooves echoed off the cliff walls. Raigar’s riders had arrived, and they swooped in from the far end of the camp, crashing into the Orc lines without mercy. “That cave up ahead,” Raigar shouted, gazing back over his shoulder in search of Eruviel’s attention, before turning to nod at it. “Looks like a good hiding spot, doesn’t it?”

“That it does!” she responded, moving forward as she shot another orc archer from the far ridge. Her eyes gleamed as they then darted ahead towards the cave. Threz parried an Orc’s blow easily, slashing the beast with a practiced arm as he fought through the quickly panicking mob.

Anricwulf slammed his shield hard into the chest of an Orc, his sword finding a sweet spot beneath the foul beast’s arm. His swing produced a spray of black blood that spattered his companions. “Is that where we are headed?”

Raigar nodded and the small company fought their way towards the cave. “There’s no telling how deep it goes. The riders can keep the rest of the camp busy while we explore it.”

Eruviel resisted the temptation to draw her sword, but with a dark, satisfied smile turned up her mouth as she decided there were enough blades about, and shot an arrow inches past Raigar’s head to kill the orc behind the one he’d just cut down. “I hope we are not too late,” she called in response, dodging falling bodies and horses. Threz blocked an Orc’s attack with his dagger and grabs the monster’s sword arm, holding it out of the way while he sliced the beast’s throat.

Raigar ‘s brow quirked as the arrow whistled past his head, and lips curled into another wicked grin. “Aye, to the caves!” he shouted before slamming his sword into the jaw of another Orc. Anricwulf kicked an Orc between the legs with the metal heel of his boot before following, Threz hot on their heels as he slammed his dagger up under an Orc’s chin and into it’s skull.

No enemies guarded the door into the hill, and the small group slid into the cave unhindered, the thick wooden door muffling the roar of the one-sided battle taking place outside. The air was dank and cool, the relative quiet more shocking and welcome than anything else.

Anricwulf looked between his fellows. “Alright, we’re here. What now?”

(All dialogue taken from 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.)