Torrin

Bring May

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The clerk sighed again, giving Inaris an impatient look.

“He’ll be here,” she repeated curtly. By the gods, it was not like the clerk had anything else to do all day. Inaris fidgeted with the red silk of her inner sleeve, looking down at the soft lace and skirt as blue as the sea of Rhun. The longer she waited, the more she wondered. Wondering was dangerous, she knew, and it was worse when she began to doubt what she wanted.

Drewett sprinted into the room, a piece of grass in his hair. “I’m ‘ere! I’m ‘ere!” He coughed a little and upset a few chairs as he staggered toward the stage.

The world exploded around her. The light streaming through the grimy windows grew brighter, and the scent of jasmine lingering on her skin and the little white vanilla flowers in her hair filled the air around her.  What do you really want? Inaris could not hide her grin as he filled her vision, and bit back a laugh. “What kept you?” I bet it was that bloody goat.

Drewett grinned back at her, looking at the somewhat worried clerk with a slightly embarrassed expression. “Goat got outta ‘er paddock. Reckon she’s jealous. I’m ‘ere now though!”

Inaris laughed now, a burst of warmth blooming in her chest. “I should have guessed she’d be the one to throw a fit.” She brushed at the sleeve of his best jacket as she gravitated to him. “Don’t you look sharp!”

Drewett shoved his hair back and smoothed down his mustache. He gave a little chuckle. “Y’ look beautiful, by the way. Ain’ never seen a woman looked as beautiful as you…” He looked at her, utterly lost in thought.

The clerk cleared his throat noisily.

Arching a brow at Drew, Inaris smirked before quickly looking to the clerk. “Seems we’re both here now.”

Drewett didn’t seem to notice the clerk, completely absorbed in looking at Jade.

The clerk shuffled his notes. “I… Ah… do you have any witnesses?”

Inaris’s mouth quirked, and she blinked out of the warm spell Drew’s gaze held her under. “Oh… uh…” She looked to Drew. She knew she forgot something. She had meant to ask Dorsett, but when it came down to it, she didn’t have the heart to. He said he was past grief. She didn’t believe him.

Drewett blinked and then shrugged. “Ted’s lookin’ after the farm…” he muttered, scratching at his beard.

The clerk sighed and, looking between the two of them, bellowed out, “Oy! Gwinnie! Ed! Get in here!” After a few awkward minutes passed a hobbit lass in green skirt and a sallow-skinned man in a high collar make their way in and plopped down in seats at the front.

Inaris looked around Drew to grin gratefully at the halfling.

Drewett grinned as well, looking a little embarrassed by the whole affair. The Hobbit, Gwinnie apparently, clapped her hands together. “Oh weddings are so lovely!” she declared to the man beside her who just nodded a little irritably.

The clerk cleared his throat. “Well! Now that’s sorted. My friends, we are gathered together here in the sight of the gods to join together this Man and this Woman in holy matrimony; which is an honorable estate, instituted of the gods in the west, and into which estate these two persons present come now to be joined.”

Inaris reached over to slip her hand into Drew’s, and lightly brushed her hip against his. How perfectly it fit.

The clerk looked over at the two witnesses gathered from the office and flipped over a few of his notes before continuing, “I require and charge you both, as you would answer in full binding before the gods, that if either of you know any impediment, why you may not be lawfully joined together in Matrimony, that you confess it.”

Drewett squeezed Jade’s hand, he didn’t appear to have looked once at the clerk since the man had begun officiating.

Her slender fingers curled over the edge of his palm, and it surprised her at the amount of effort it took to keep her eyes on the clerk.

The clerk looked over at Drewett. “Will you have this Woman to be your wife, in the estate of Matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor, and keep her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others, keep only to her, so long as you both live?”

Drewett coughed, aware suddenly that he’d being addressed. He looked over at the clerk and then at Jade. “Wha’? Oh aye!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

candles

 “What are you still doing up?”

Feira looked up from where she laid on the floor of her little bedroom. The map of the world from Cirieldis lay flat before her, and beside it a fat candle and several books, each one sprawled open and marked with a bookmark decorated with a flower saved from her first nosegay. “I couldn’t sleep.”

“Again?” Torrin left her door open and his stockinged feet padded softly across the hardwood floor. “What are you looking at?”

“A map of the world,” Feira responded, pulling her loose, golden waves back as she sat up.

Torrin crossed his feet and sat down beside her. By Emeleth, but he looked tired. “Going on a trip?”

Feira snuggled up beside him. “The Lady Ciri offered to send me on a trip. I can go anywhere?”

“Why would she do that?”

Feira rolled her eyes. “Because she is nice? The Lady can do as she pleases.”

Torrin reached over the map to pick up a book that showed a painted drawing of Dale, the Lonely Mountain’s silhouette dwarfing the towers of men. “And you are going to take her up on her offer?”

“Of course I am! How many maids do you know that ever leave this city and it’s bay, let alone Gondor? I may never have a chance like this ever again.”

Torrin grinned, and let her take the book from his hands. “Do you know where you want to go?”

“I want to go everywhere. I have been practicing my Haradic diligently, so somewhere in Haradwaith is definitely on my list. Dale too, it being so dreadfully far away. Also Forochel. Did you know the Lady is from there? I have never seen snow. I bet it’s deliciously cold.”

“How are you going to choose?” asked Torrin with a laugh, suddenly looking uncommonly relieved. “You said you had a list?”

Feira leaned forward to scoop up her stack of books, adjusting the short sleeve of her night dress. “Oh, yes! There were one of the Dwarven kingdoms, but I do not know a lick of KhuzdulI had Edoras on my list, but it is too close, and I do not think there is much to do in Rohan besides drink mead, ride horses, look at horses, and talk about horses.”

“Hey, now! That sounds like a good way to spend every day,” said Torrin, feigning offense.

Feira grinned and waved a hand at him. “I was also thinking of the Grey Havens or Lothlorien, but it is all Elves there, and I hear they are all planning on gradually leaving. I imagine it is all a bit depressing in spite of the scenery. I closed my eyes and put my finger on Dorwinion and Khand, but those probably are not the best of places for a young woman to visit right now.”

Torrin rumbled a chuckle, and kissed the side of her head. “Well, wherever you go, I am sure it will be the best of options. I am glad you’re going, though I’ll miss my little Faerie.”

“Just you wait,” she chimed, beaming a smile a bright as the May sun. “I will be a young woman when I come back. But before I forget!  Will you have time to walk me down to the docks tomorrow?”

Torrin sighed, and rolled his eyes. “Leaving him a letter?”

Feira stuck her tongue out at Torrin as he moved to rise to his feet. “Of course! I can’t just up and disappear on him.”

“Like he does to you?”

Feira scowled, and snagged a pillow from behind her to toss at him. “That’s low.”

Torrin grunted, and caught the pillow, stealing it away with him as he headed for the bedroom door. “That’s the truth! Anyways, get some sleep! You can scold me on our way to the docks tomorrow.”

“You’re the best!” Feira called after him with a roll of her eyes as she laid back down to study her map, propping her chin up on her hands.

“I know. Now get some sleep!” the young man called back as he closed the door behind him. “Love you.”

Bossy. Love you, too.”

(Thank you to Raenarcam for playing Drewett! Jade’s portion was taken from in-game RP and edited for tense and composition.)

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Innocent Heart: Ghosts

 

“Faerie, look at me.”

Feira didn’t respond as she scrubbed the already clean counter-top.

Torrin sighed heavily and rubbed at his eyes. “Feira… Feira, please. It’s well past midnight. What in Emeleth’s name is going on?”

She shook her head and took up a towel to dry the lacquered wood.

“… Did someone stop by?”

Feira nodded.

Frowning, Torrin stepped forward in a swift motion, meaning to stop her furious working but froze as she shrunk away from his hand like a frightened animal. “What’s wrong?”

Turning her tear-stained face towards him, she brushed a hand at her flushed cheeks, and her brother could make out the beginnings of shadows under her eyes. “A man stopped by,” she said quietly. “He said that they would come collecting in two months.” Feira looked up at him. “Tell me the truth, Torrin.”

The young man’s chest deflated. “Shit.”

Feira’s small hands balled into fists. “T-That’s and un-understatement,” she muttered, voice breaking up from fear and anger. “What did you do?”

Torrin groaned in frustration. “Our lovely aunt has apparently borrowed money in my name.”

Feira blinked, staring at him with wide eyes.

“I’ve already tried to talk to the lender. They don’t care that it wasn’t really me. It’s in my name, and they want the money repaid. I didn’t –”

“You weren’t going to tell me, were you?” she asked accusingly, interrupting him.

Torrin shook his head.

“How much is owed?”

Her brother hesitated. A minute passed before he drew out a notice from his pocket and handed it over.

Feira’s eyes grew wide as she read the figure, and her hands gripped the paper. “So much?”

Torrin’s face turned pale as he fixed his gaze on his socked feet.

“… Do you know who it was that came by?”

His eyebrows drew together in a dark frown. “He didn’t… Did you recognize him?”

“Some faces are hard to forget.”

“Gods, Faerie… You poor thing. I’m so — I didn’t think. I didn’t think.” Looking pained, he reached for her again, slowly this time. “What one was it?”

She pulled away, this time out of fear of her own reaction than from being touched. But he kept his arm outstretched, and she relented, finally allowing him to pull her into a protective embrace. “The one with the broken nose,” she muttered timorously.

Torrin’s arms around her tightened, and she wondered if it was to hold her tighter, or from anger. “If you see him… any of them again you tell me. They so much as threaten you I’ll –”

“You won’t do either of us any good if you’re thrown in jail or killed,” she muttered, sniffing as moisture welled in her eyes. “We are safe here. We won’t have to worry if they try to cause trouble on the Lord’s property.”

Several minutes passed before Torrin again spoke. “I don’t want you out at night.”

“But –”

NO. You will be on the estate before sunset,” he ordered sternly, gripping her arms and forcing her to look at him. “You tell me if you’re being followed, or even if you think you’re being watched.”He hugged her again. “I’ll… I’ll make this go away, Faerie. I promise. I just need to pay them back and they’ll forget about us.”

Feira wiped her tears on the front of his shirt, breathing in his smell of soap, hay, horses, and mulled cider in attempt to banish the scent of burnt syrup that clung to the inside of her nostrils. “I think… I think he thought I was mother for a minute.”

Torrin sighed, and finally released her. “Promise me you won’t try to help.”

“Tor –”

Promise.”

She swallowed, a knot forming in her throat, and nodded. “I promise.”

Innocent Heart: Guilty

“Hold on! I’m coming. I’m coming,” Feira insisted, pattering down the steps to the main level.

“How long have you been home?” asked Torrin from the kitchen. “You usually have started supper by now.”

Smoothing out her skirts, Feira quickly checked the laces on her corset and pulled her long hair over her shoulders. Just in case. “Sorry! Sorry. You know me. I got distracted reading.”

The man chuckled as he fed several logs to the fire. “You and your –” Torrin stopped as he turned, and stared at her for a second.

“Fei? Are you all right?”

Try not ta look too guilty!

Feira stood a little straighter, silently cursing her cheeks as she felt them flush a shade pinker. “I-I’m fine! Really! Why would you ask?” she inquired as she forced herself to retrieve a pan from a low cupboard.

Her brother watched her, his brows knitting together. “You look flushed. It’s been ages since you’ve been sick. Do you have a fever?”

Swallowing hard, Feira kept her amber eyes locked on her working hands. “It’s nothing to worry about, Torrin. Just… the night air, or something.”

Huffing, he strode across the small cooking space and pressed a hand to her forehead before she could protest. “Oi! You feel too warm! Tell me the truth, Faerie,” insisted Torrin. “When did this start?”

“It’s — I’m fine, honest!” As much truth as possible. You’re a terrible fibber. “Started a little before noon, I think. Went out for a walk and just felt… out of breath.”

Torrin frowned, his features strained with concern, and he kept on feeling her face as if doing so would make the heat go away. “And here I am expecting you to have supper ready after you’ve worked hard all day.”

Feira managed a timid smile. “I-I haven’t done all that much, really. I can still ma –”

“No!” Torrin exclaimed, pulling her into a protective hug. “I’ll make supper tonight. Gods! You are warm. Poor Faerie. You run upstairs and rest.”

“Are you sure?” she asked, giving him a guilty look.

“I insist! Oh, don’t — don’t give me that look. You deserve a rest,” he said with a curt nod. “I’ll bring food up to you when it’s ready.

Giving him an apologetic smile, Feira accepted a kiss on the forehead. “Thanks, Tor. Don’t make anything too fancy, okay?”

He shooed her off and she obeyed, heading back for the stairs. Glancing back she couldn’t help but feel bad as he turned to roll up his sleeves and face the kitchen. “Oh, I’m sure there is a way to make water boil….”

The Trouble with Boys

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“Faerie?”

“…Fei?”

“Feira!”

Wha — Torrin!” Feira jumped from where she sat by her bedroom window, and nearly fell from her seat. “Can’t you knock?”

“I did,” her brother replied with a smirk as he leaned in the doorway. “You got a little…”

Feira’s eyes grew wide. “A little what?”

“A little mark from the sill on your face.”

“Ha ha.” She made a face at him as she scrubbed at the indent on her cheek. “Is supper ready?”

“It will be as soon as you stop pining and moping, and change out of that ridiculousness.” He motioned to the blue silk skirt from her ball gown that she wore over her work dress, topped off by a baggy knit sweater.

“I-I’m not pining,” she muttered as pink rushed to her cheeks.

“Uh-huh… And I’m not judging. He gone again?”

Feira tossed her sweater aside, and focused on the skirt.

“Feira….”

“Been for a while.”

Torrin scowled. “Wanna know what I think?”

“No.” Feira wiggled around as she pulled the cloth of the gown’s skirt up over her head.

“You should find yourself another boy.”

“I don’t want another boy,” came her muffled response from beneath layers of cloth.

“You all right in there?”

Her struggling stopped for a moment. “I’m fine.”

“Really, Fei. The city is full of young lads who drool when you walk by.”

“No they don’t. Nobody drools at maids.”

“Yeah-huh, they do. Problem is your nose is always stuck in a book, or your head’s up in some cloud thinkin’ of that blasted sailor.”

She started struggling again within the confines of the skirt. “You’d like him if you met him.”

“No I wouldn’t,” he retorted. Sighing, Torrin walked into the plain room and move to assist the struggling girl. “Nothing good can come from a sailor. Besides, I haven’t met him. I don’t like some sea fairing highwayman calling on my baby sister and taking her who knows where.”

“Heavens, Tor. He’s on a naval ship.”

“And that makes it better?”

Giving a despairing sigh, Feira let him help her as she finally found the hidden button that had snagged on her apron. “I’m not a baby, Torrin.”

He grunted in disapproval. “I know. You’re a young woman now. And that is suppose to make me feel better?”

“I don’t — I don’t need you to protect me.” She didn’t sound as convincing as she’d hoped to.

“You keep tellin’ yourself that… Heeeere we go,” he said as he pulled the skirt up and away. “Smart or no, you’re too pretty to be walking about without an escort.”

Feira chuffed out a soft chuckle, and tossed the skirt and her apron onto her bed. “Only ladies have escorts. You’re my brother. You’re biased.”

“Damn straight. I call it as I see it.” He crossed his arms over his chest and gave her his sternest look. “And then I catch you attacking bales of hay and trees with pointy sticks? I’d rather you learn to run faster than anyone else instead of learning how to fight –”

Before he could get the last word out Feira had flung her arms around his torso, and destroyed any chance he had of seeming dour.

“Woah, Faerie, what’s this for?”

Feira’s hug tightened. “F-For caring.”

Torrin’s wavering frown instantly melted into a warm smile, and he hugged her back. “I’ll keep bugging you about the sailor. Find a honest, wealthy, hard working young man who treats you like the world. Then I’ll be content.”

Releasing him, Feira poked him in the stomach. “Whatever, Dad.”

Torrin snorted, and tugged playfully at her ponytail. “Your face is leaking.”

“Oh, shut it,” she retorted, pushing him away and heading out to the room to go downstairs as she wiped at her eyes.

“Shut it? Shut it?! Ooph! I’ve been shot!” he cried, grasping at his chest.

Feira snickered and padded down the narrow stairs. “I smell burning!”

“What? No you don’t. I took all the food off the hearth.”

“Oooh… Is that smoke?”

“Don’t say that!” Torrin shouted, darting after her. “I haven’t burned anything all week!”

“You made it all the way to Tuesday!” she shouted back, squealing as he chased her into the kitchen.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Marlowe-Fireplace

Inaris gazed out her front window into the dark as the light from Drewett’s lantern disappeared down the road. “Good for you, Jade. Now you’ve gone and done it.”

Brushing her knuckles over a smooth cheek his scratchy beard had kissed she sighed, then promptly abandoned the window to began tugging furiously at the strings of her cossetted vest. “Bloody hell,” she grumbled.

It had been a year since he‘d left, revealing everything to be lies. A year since she wasn’t rich enough, or not well bred, or good enough. And it had been a year since she turned her back on him and left the Mark to end up in this backwater little town. She was going to be free. She was going to traipse around the realm and do whatever she damned pleased. She’d be with who she wanted and never tie herself down….

Think y’might be properly th’most amazin’ woman I ever met.

All of the tiredness that crept up on her earlier in the night had vanished, and she cast every ounce of clothing aside except for her long, thin blouse that she now unbuttoned well below her breasts. Tossing her swooping bangs out of her eyes in a futile, irritated gesture, she lit a fire in the hearth and tromped back into her little bedroom. Being cold fueled her frustration at herself, and the shivering that set upon her she gladly accepted as punishment… before promptly wrapping herself up in an over-sized blanket and returned to the front room to plop down before the hearth.

He said he loved her. Did he really? She’d been told that before, more times than she cared to remember, and not all of it from the one man she’d thought had spoken the truth. What was love, but a bunch of lies bound in copper, and silver, and hungry smiles?

But this one was different. How, by all the gods, he had slipped in past her walls and made her suddenly consider being (of all things) an honest woman was well beyond her. He wasn’t like the last one… aside from the broad shoulders which she didn’t mind one bit. No, he didn’t have a long, golden mane, or eyes like the blue sky over the inland sea. Most would find him unremarkable… And for some reason she didn’t want to sell him anything. She wanted to give. The glint in his green eyes, the curve of his bearded smile, and the feel of his hand brushing against hers made her feel that terrible awful warmth inside, beyond the desire to make him smile more, that she had only known once.

Damned Farmer, singing sad songs to his goats, conning ale, not believing in dragons, and looking at her like she wasn’t just a conquest. Sometime we’ll build a castle or sommat, that’ll show ’em.

He said he loved her. How could he? A part of her told her that suddenly worrying was ridiculous, and a part of her said he’d say about the same. As guiltless as she’d always been concerning her past, she felt that she could be ill at the prospect of telling him. He would ask, eventually, about her brand, and tattoo, and where she was really from. He would want to know why she kept her hair short, and hated her father, and if she’d ever taken a life.

Inaris bundled the blanket up tighter around her, and flopped over to lay on the rug on the floor in a puddle of self-pity. She had told him her name. The gods be damned. She had said she loved him too. Did she really? Did she love the way he cursed, and didn’t believe in ghosts, and couldn’t read to save his life? Yes, somewhere deep down, she knew did.

Innocent Heart: Sudden Courage

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She was late. Her work done for the day, Feira politely declined the other’s offers to go out with them. She felt sick with nervousness. Maybe Auntie won’t notice. Maybe she won’t mind. Scampering out the back door of the kitchens, Feira nearly collided with a guard on patrol. Bobbing a quick courtesy, and calling back an apology she raced for her father and aunt’s flat.

Not slowing her pace, the girl tied her hair back into a tight bun. She fixed the buttons of her blouse, straightened her collar, and tied her apron a little too tight. Auntie always huffed about her not keeping herself stiff and trim. But Auntie huffed about a lot of things.

Taking a breath to summon her courage, Feira slowed to a stop on the small porch. Turning the door handle as quietly as she could, she slipped inside.

“Feira? Is that you?” barked Raewiel’s harsh voice from the kitchen.

Feira winced. “Yes, Auntie.” Smoothing out her apron, she nodded to Lirion who sat on an old sofa, reading.

The girl’s father glanced up to her, then back to his book. “You better get in there. She’s not happy.”

She never is, Feira thought, though she knew better than to say it out loud. Tucking a stray hair behind her ear, she glided into the kitchen. “‘Evening, Auntie. I’m sorry, I –” She didn’t have time to duck as the fat woman smacked her over her head.”

“Worthless thing! Where have you been?” Raewiel then shoved a bowl of boiled potatoes into Feira’s hands. “You were supposed to be here an hour ago!”

Feira teetered for a moment as the room came back into focus, and she clung to the bowl so as not to drop it. It’s going to be a long night. “I was about to say that –” Feira stopped, swallowed, and started again as she caught a glare from the older woman. “Forgive me, Auntie. There were more chores tonight since a few of the girls were out sick. It won’t happen again.”

Raewiel chuffed out a sharp laugh. “That’s what you said last time, you empty-headed twit.” The woman returned, and wagged a potato masher inches from Feira’s nose. “You made us late tonight. You’re so inconsiderate of your own family. I’ve had it up to here with you, missy.”

Taking the masher from the woman’s fat fingers, Feira began to work on the potatoes. “Not much of a family,” she mumbled under her breath.

“What did you say?”

Feira looked up with fearful eyes and blinked innocently at Raewiel who pulled biscuits out from the side of the cookfire. “I said that the bread smells wonderful.”

Raewiel huffed. “Good. Gotta get you well fed. You’re so skinny, it’s not right. Need to put some meat on your bones.”

Feira worked in milk and melted butter to the mix. “I have plenty of meat on my bones, thank you.”

She could feel the woman’s gaze on her. “What would you know? Boys like girls with a little substance. No one will like you if you’re always a scrawny bird. It’s a shame, really, that you look so much like her. Seems you got her bird brains, too.”

Feira’s stirring slowed. “Don’t speak of her like that. I’m rather proud that I look like her,” she says quietly. “And you have plenty of “substance”. Where are your suitors?”

“You’ll hold you’re tongue.”

“No.”

Raewiel turned to face her. “No? Smart-mouthed little ass. You’re stupid, and worthless, and ungrateful. Who clothes you and feeds you, eh? Who got you your job? Though, I’m not sure why the Lord and Lady are fool enough to still keep you.”

Feira stood a little straighter even as she retreated a step as the woman drew near. “I haven’t taken a penny from you or father for the past year. I feed and clothe myself. If you remember, you still owe me for last month’s groceries. As for my job, Torrin got it for me.” She then sucked in a sharp breath and lifted her chin to look the woman in the eyes for the first time. “I’m smart, and I work hard, and when I am around you will never speak of the Lord and Lady and my mother with such disrespect.”

The girl’s world spun as Raewiel backhanded her across the face. “I don’t know where you’ve gotten the notion that you can speak to me like that, but I will not tolerate it, you little rat. Finish cooking supper. You’re grounded for the summer. Also, your father needs to speak with you about your mother’s trust.”

Hot tears springing to her eyes, Feira put a cold, delicate hand to her cheek. Reaching past the woman, she stabbed the masher into the pan. “You finish cooking supper. And you cannot ground me,” she said firmly.

“Oh? I can’t, can I?” Raewiel turned back around, hands balled into fists on her hips.

“No.”

“And why is that?”

Feira narrowed her amber eyes at the woman. She dared not pause lest her sudden courage abandon her. “Because you’re not family. You’re just a bitter old woman who hates me for something that wasn’t my fault. Family helps each other and loves each other, and you’re just cruel. I will be eighteen this summer. I am plenty old to live on my own. And as for mother’s trust? You and fa — You and Lirion won’t see a penny of it.”

Raewiel stared at her for a moment, blinking in surprise at the young woman before her. Then her forehead wrinkled, and her lips curled, and her hand shot forward. “Why you little –”

A shadow suddenly towered over the both of them. A strong hand grasped Raewiel’s wrist, keeping her from breaking off Feira’s necklace.

“Let go, Raewiel,” said a firm voice.

More tears sprung to her eyes. She couldn’t see through the veil of salty water, but she new the voice to be Torrin’s.

The older woman consented, and for once in her life she was speechless.

Torrin released his hold on the woman’s arm, and turned his back to her. Gently moving Feira’s hand, he inspected her cheek. Letting out an angered breath through his nose, the young man untied her apron, took down her hair, and, leaving a kiss on her forehead, directed her to the door. “Wait outside for me Faerie. I need only to speak to this woman for a minute.”

She felt numb, and her cheek throbbed as she made her way through the small flat. Lirion had not moved from where he sat, and this time Feira did not acknowledge him. Stepping outside, she did not keep the door from banging shut. Feira sat down on the bottom step, and all the energy that had built up in her escaped like air from a ball. She could hear the angry, rumbling voice of Torrin inside. Just his voice.

Taking a deep breath, she pulled a clean handkerchief from her pocket to wipe away the tears. The past few minutes felt like a blurr, and she had no idea what had possessed her. Hugging her arms to herself, Feira looked down the shadowy, lamp-lit street. Whatever it was, she hoped it stayed.

Anecdotes: Late One Night

 

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The sound of Eirikr’s footsteps had long since faded away down the lane. Closing the hatch to the cellar, Eruviel straightened out the rug. It was so good to be home, and even better that the house was not cold and empty when she’d gotten there.

Books littered one end of the map table. A stack of mail and a finely wrapped parcel sat to another side, and her pack took up the rest of the space. Pulling out several trinkets along with the little stack of drake scales she had collected, Eruviel suddenly stopped her unpacking.

I can do this tomorrow . . . or the next day, she thought. Even her inner voice sounded as lethargic as she felt. Abandoning her things, the Elf drew the iron screen over the front of the fireplace. Shedding her clothing as she went, Eruviel made her way into the bedroom and collapsed on her bed.

Oh, what an excellent bed.

The house smelled warm from the fire. It smelled like old tomes, and like evergreens, and of him. A hint of pipe smoke lingered, but that could have just been from the neighbor down the hill who smoked more than his chimney.

Cocooning herself beneath her soft covers, Eruviel hummed softly in her blissful comfort. A few breaths later she was deep in her rest, dreaming of forests and glittering drifts of snow, and the spray of white powder that flew up from her paws.

 

~~~***~~~

 

Climbing the short incline of the road, Inaris forced herself not to hurry as she made her way back home. Thinking about it, she should have gone back to the Inn to relieve the girl watching Jo for the day, but she wasn’t expected till morning. Inaris had only acquired the little cottage after her things from Rohan had caught up with her, but it was the closest she had to a home, and the only place that felt safe.

Still clutching her right hand to her chest she let out a breath in relief as the little building came into view. She hated that panic kept trying to edge it’s way in. She hated that she couldn’t forget the seconds of burning pain on her palm, the relaxing cool that had flowed through her hand, or the tickle at her wrist. She hated it, she hated it. Most of all, she hated that it made her remember.

Why had I trusted him? And why did he show me?

“Don’t forget, you know what I can do,” he had said. Was that supposed to be a threat?

Practically running up the path to the cottage, Inaris nearly jumped out of her skin as a dog a few houses down barked. Lurching, her foot hit a patch of gravel and the young woman twisted as she fell. Hitting the ground hard, the back of her head smacked against the bottom step of the front stoop.

A brief cry of pain escaped her before she clenched her teeth. Hot tears filled her eyes, but as she slowly sat up Inaris felt a thin, warm stream trickle down her neck. Reaching a hand back, her scalp screamed at the touch. She was bleeding. Not badly, but enough.

“Blood?” she muttered, staring at her hand in confusion. Then it hit her. The panic, as was the lingering memory of pain and numbness in her hand, was gone. No pain that left no marks, or fear of the next night and the one after that. Just the real, burning pain that tore through her as warm blood stained her pale blonde hair.

A laugh bubbled out of her lips. The sound surprised her. Another followed, and another, and before Inaris knew it she was rolling on the ground, seizing with a manic laughter she couldn’t stop. Minutes passed. Still choking on crazed giggles, she wiped the blood from her hand onto the grass and crawled up the steps to her home. Her home. Free, and alone, and without a care in the world.

 

~~~***~~~

 

The late hour was called out by a distant town crier. A cool night breeze that smelled like the sea wafted through the stables as Torrin cleaned up a work station. Hanging up his pitchfork he affectingly patted one of the Ladies mares on the neck as he passed.

“Feira?” he called softly as he closed the large doors behind him. She had promised to stop by hours ago. His little sister often was distracted by her books, but rarely did she fail to show.

Shaking out his sleeves, the stable hand nodded to the guards as he made his way to the gardens. Taking a moment to stop and exchange a few words with two or three that he knew, Torrin began searching all the hidden corners.

About to give up, the young man, on a hunch, ventured into a hidden alcove guarded by a trellis and flowering trees showing the first signs of spring. There, on a curving bench a short ways in, Feira lay sleeping. A thick book served as her pillow and her apron had been folded up to cover her bare arms.

“What are you doing back here, Faerie,” muttered Torrin as he ducked under the trellis. Feira breathed softly, and rolled to lay on her side as he approaoched, but she did not wake.

Quietly chuckling, Torrin reached down. Brushing her tangled waves of curls out of her face, he then retrieved the letter that had fallen to the ground.

“What have we here, little sister?” he asked under his breath. Angling the letter to read by moonlight Torrin read it once, blinked, then read it again. Letting out a gruff breath he looked up to the sky. “Fell asleep star-gazing, I see.”

Folding up the letter, he tucked it safely into a pocket of her apron. “I suppose I’ll kill him a little less. For your sake,” Torrin muttered as he knelt down. With as much care as he could, the young man bore her up in his arms, remembering to take her book as well. She mumbled incoherently something that sounded like an apology.

“C’mere, little Faerie. Let’s get you to bed.” Feira sighed and settled close against his chest as he bore her to the servants quarters, muttering another apology.

“I know, I know. You’re forgiven,” he hummed softly. “You’re all right. Better that I tuck you in, instead of the other girls seeing you wander in in the early morning lookin’ like this.”