Waiting on the War

The thud of the heavy door echoed as it closed behind him. Making his way into the guest suite, Peldirion shed his weapons and cloak in the entry, not bothering to put them on the rack that stood not four feet to his left.

“You’re back.”

“And you’re still here.”

“Yes, sir,” said Halethon as he rose to his feet. “A second lesson?”

Peldirion set into working at the buckles on his arm guards. “No, this was sparing with another knight. A rather talented one, too.”

Halethon did not bother to hide his amusement as he walked over to help his lord with his armour. “As talented as your ‘cousin’, cousin?”

“An entirely different set of skills, I assure you,” Peldirion grunted, shooting the man a dark look.

“It’s not like you.”

“What isn — Augh! Dammit, man!” he cursed as Hailthorn removed his leather vest with a rough tug.

“Hmm, mace?” asked Halethon, undaunted by Peldirion’s withering glance.

Peldirion merely grunted again as the man inspected his back.

“Impressive. That was a well-aimed shot. Seems things they say about the Swan Knights are true.”

Walking away, Peldirion shrugged and stretched his sore, muscled back as he made for the pitcher of water on the table. “I’ve had worse. He’s a good lad, and a good fighter. We’ll be sparing often. Does no good to twiddle our thumbs as we wait.”

Halethon huffed, and shot him a wry smile. “Speaking of twiddling thumbs….”

Peldirion glared over the rim of his glass.

“I’m just saying,” he said, holding his hands up in surrender.

“I know it’s been a while. Don’t read too much into it.”

Halethon chuffed out a breath as he went to pick up Peldirion’s scattered things. “Too late for that.”

A gleam in his dark eyes, Peldirion kicked off his boots and refilled his water glass. “It pleases her to do as she wishes, and it pleases me to let her. There are no strings, thank the Valar. She and I are merely crossing paths.”

Sighing, Halethon shook his head. “You know best, sir.”

Plucking a towel from the back of a chair, Peldirion threw a fur cloak over his bare shoulders. “Don’t give me that look.”

“Your brother taught me well. Just do me a favor, and don’t get yourself into trouble? You have plenty of time for that after the war.”

Peldirion shook his head. “I haven’t let a woman cause me trouble since I cracked Megorin’s jaw those years ago. I have no time for such things now.”

Halethon fixed him with another look. “You told me to hold you accountable in all things,” he said quietly, suddenly not the man’s subordinate, but his equal.

“It is private, and will remain so,” Peldirion replied with a firm, unwavering tone. “What goes on does not, and will not interfere with my duties. And since she is not the fire to refine my soul, I am going to go bathe, and wait on the war that has tempered it.”

Exchanging looks, Halethon nodded, satisfied, and Peldirion nodded out of respect for the man before disappearing through the door.

Imloth Melui: As Shadows Fall

The hours slowly turned from one to the other, and the darkened sky denied him the knowledge of how long he had laid there. Draping a muscled forearm over his forehead Pellion stared at the ceiling, counting the decorative tiles, and resenting every one of them.

Feeling the bed beside him move, the man rolled out from beneath the satin sheets before the soft, slender girl could roll over in her sleep to trap him beneath her thin, pale arms. Though not of her doing, the thought of being touched made him uncomfortable and more frustrated (if that was indeed at all possible). She was too warm. Everything was too warm. The girl, the sheets, the floor beneath his feet. Even the night air blowing through the open double doors warmed his skin.

Pulling his hair back to secure it out of his eyes, and not bothering to even glance at a shirt, Pellion left his room and slumbering guest behind as he padded down the long back stair that opened up below the estate. It was cool down there. So blessedly cool. And while it did nothing to lessen his foul mood, it did clear his mind.

Halethon.” He did not need to shout. His voice filled the narrow stone passage and rolled like a wave through the rooms beyond. Two doors down a pale yellow light shone out of a room. It was not a warm light, and Pellion almost smiled.

The man Halethon stepped out, and gave a small salute. “Sir.” He was unphased by the shirtless Pellion, and he waited for the young lord’s nod before standing at ease. “Not sleeping?”

“As usual,” Pellion responded dryly as he turned into the room they had turned into an office.

“You’re going to exhaust yourself.” Halethon followed him inside and closed the door.

Setting his hands on his hips, Pellion fixed his hard gaze on the map on the table instead of on his friend. “We had this discussion last night.”

“What about what Garax sugest–”

“It’s not working.” Pellion could feel Halethon’s stare.

The young man sighed. “We won’t get our reinforcements,” he said grimly, getting down to buisness. “Not right away, at least.”

Pellion finally looked up from where he maneuvered a marker on the map. “What?” He did not mean for his harshness to slip out — Well, he wouldn’t have cared if it were not directed at Halethon. Taking a deep breath, he started again in a less formidable growl. “Why, pray tell, are we not getting reinforcements?”

Seemingly impenetrable to Pellion’s ire, Halethon filed one report, and retrieved several letters from neat stacks on the shelves. “All of the others wrote back. Here,” he said as he handed them over. “The army is being split up. Half to set up a defensive at Minas Tirith and Osgiliath, and the other to set up a defensive and offensive on the coast. Until their plans are worked out, we will get no trained soldiers for Imloth Melui.”

Pellion’s hand curled into fists. He did not raise them, however. He only set them against the hard wood of the table, and kept his dangerous glare down on the perfectly drawn ridges and rivers of Gondor. “We leave in two hours. Prepare my horse, and wake Yassarah. Thank her for me. You’re a happier face to rise to.”

His eyes darted up, and the two men shared a smirk. “Right away, sir. Should I send a messenger ahead?”

“Yes. Tell the old men that the young fools better be geared up and ready by the time we arrive. And try not to wake the house. I don’t have the patience for them right now.”

“I’ll word it better, but yes. Of course, though . . . .”

Pellion straightened, and arched a dark brow at the other man. “Though, what?”

Halethon glanced his way as he gathered a few things they would need. “Though you might want to take it easier on the boys. They will hold no love for you.”

Pellion grunted, and waved a hand to dismiss him. “The rest of our country is bleeding out, and they want me to smile? I don’t need their love. I need them to do what they are told.”

“Very well. Don’t be long.”

Saluting once more, and giving Pellion a look that made the man want to roll his eyes, Halethon slipped out of the room.

Listening to his only friend’s retreating steps, Pellion let out a long, weary sigh. The rest of the country is off to war, and he was stuck protecting fickle refugees with old men and boys. And all because mother dearest suddenly pretended to care. It made his blood boil.

Pushing away from the table, Pellion sat at his desk, readied a fresh piece of parchment, and pulled out the Elf’s letter. The man had written her to be polite, but never had he expected a response. Worst of all, she sounded so damned pleasant. He hated asking for help, but someone had to. 

Commander Oendir Arrowheart

Dear Sir,