A secret, collaborative effort with the amazing Quae. To be read directly before or after her entry. Tegil has just told Ceswyn the news about Nethali leaving, and in true fashion didn’t leave anything out. He reiterated what Oendir said about how Nethali did “not expect to return.” Picture at the bottom courtesy of her, and Ceswyn is so her character. I only claim Tegil and the prose. All dialogue is ripped directly from the RP log. :3
She looked to the fireplace, face still blank; her hands, however, told the true story of what was in her thoughts. Worry, the obvious answer. She twisted her fingers to get out the tension. Then a question, hesitant. Thoughtful.
“Where…is the Moors, Mister Tegil?”
Mister Tegil. Yes, she was definitely rattled. As most people would be! Yet it still hurt to see. He blinked a second later as he registered her question. His brow twisted, much like her fingers, into a visible frown. An obvious worry. She wouldn’t… no, she wouldn’t. Still, he had to ask. “I would that you not follow her..”
“I am not so foolish.” She snapped, and rightfully so, too. It was a stupid question, but one he had to ask for his own sake. Selfish yet again. He hung his head in a nod, chastised by her tone alone.
“I apologize.” He breathed in to calm himself. He recalled dusty maps he studied long ago, by candlelight, in some old study area. The precise lines floated to his mind and he remembered once again. Still, he paused. It was not good news. His voice softened. “It is near the Misty Mountains; on Angmar’s doorstep, as some say.”
Worried hands untangled from themselves and retrieved the kettle, still unwarmed and clearly not meant for tea, placing it back on the mantel in what seemed like its usual spot. She floated to the window, her skirts silently touching the floor as they followed their mistress’s new path. When she spoke, her voice was strained again. Panic wasn’t there, but he could sense she was pleading for a positive answer; yet he knew he shouldn’t tell her what she wanted to hear. False comfort never gave that which it should, for eventually it would be proven inaccurate.
“Is her expectation reasonable?”
His brow knotted further as he watched her silent form. Back straight – too straight, to compensate for being upset, no doubt – and shoulders pushed back. Head raised. All he had to do was lie to her, say that her cousin overreacted, and she would be relieved. Her shoulders would relax and maybe she’d even scowl for such a stupid decision. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t lie to her, especially not now. She deserved the truth, always, even if it hurt. His feet carried him to stand behind her before even he knew what happened. Both hands, one bandaged and one hale, moved to softly rest on her respective shoulders. He swallowed the lump in his throat and disciplined his voice to be as compassionate as he could manage. “It is not without some merit. Yet she is truly skilled, so it is not a certainty.”
She flinched away. He was unsure if it was for his touch or his words. It didn’t matter. Three words repeated, soft, disbelieving. “Not..without merit..” His eyes closed for the tone of her voice, promptly shooting back open when he heard movement. Her hands flew to her face and she slumped to the ground in shock. As she descended, a strangled noise escaped. She hunched over.
He nearly matched her pace as he immediately crouched beside her. Remembering her flinch from before, he didn’t immediately pull her against him; he hovered over her, arms and hands open wide. “Come here..” Her right palm dug into a cerulean eye, possibly trying to stop tears from coming. The left hand raised from her mouth, above her shoulder, attempting to stave off his embrace. A tear-cracked voice attempted to deter him further.
“That would..n-not be appropriate..”
He swallowed what he wanted to say, thinking it to himself instead. Who the hell cares? Instead, he reached to touch her shoulder, ignoring the upraised hand. He pleaded, “No one is here but us. Please… do not force me to watch you like this without being able to comfort you.”
A tanned hand drifted down to lay atop his own. Choked words drifted back to him, even as her gaze stayed pointed to her lap. “I..am sorry..” He began to tilt his head and blink, trying to figure out why she would be apologizing, but he was cut off mid-thought she drew a ragged breath and her whole body twisted to allow her to bury her face against his chest.
His eyes slid shut. His arms gently went around her. He laid his cheek against her head. Long raven strands mingled with short fiery tresses. The only sounds throughout the main room of her house were unsteady, uneven sobs, muffled and quiet. His robe took the brunt of their noise…as well as her anguish. He managed to hold back a wince as she tightened her fingers around the fabric, pulling it – and some less than happy chest hairs – taut.
Why did Nethali have to go off to the Moors? What did she hope to accomplish there? She has someone, right here: someone who clearly cares about her. Her company seemed sober enough when they learned the news as well. It was not as if she had no one. He pursed his lips as he tried to work through the reasoning – he was unsuccessful.
…Was it any different for him, though? He left home without any true purpose, and just wandered off into who knows what. Was he any different? A particularly loud sob erupted, pulling him out of his thoughts. He rubbed the spot of her back between her shoulder blades. Yes. He was. He would be. He would be, for her. His embrace softly tightened as he held back a sigh. Time passed slowly, tears soaking his robe and leg muscles beginning to scream at their still kneeled position.
Eventually, her sobs grew apart and turned into quiet snuffles. Her head shook against his chest more than once, wiping away tears. Her voice croaked when she spoke, raw with emotion. Her true accent was back, in full form. “She ain’t e’er..said..she’d..not come back afore.”
E’er, that’s easy. Ever. …Afore. Afore.. that was a new word. Think of the context. Ah, before. A minute nod to himself. The accent wasn’t so hard to work through and was charming when not dimmed by tears. He decided the logical approach was appropriate this time. “And yet she always has, has she not?”
Fingers tightened against his chest, nerves screaming. The only reaction he gave was a quick widening and re-closing of the eyes. Maybe that was the wrong thing to say. Maybe she did need to hear a comforting lie. The words she finally found availed him of that notion. “Aye…aye…but…” Her grip loosened as if realizing she was probably hurting him before she forced a strained, shallow sigh.
He didn’t respond with words, only moving his head so that his other cheek slowly nuzzled the crown of her head. A gradual, slight squeeze followed. At the faint hug, she regressed into a heavy sob. His robe muffled it to a thin line of sound. Her body curled against itself, and then against him, making the normally tall woman seem like little more than a child. A sigh of his own escaped.
That finally broke him. That and the screaming of his knees. He slowly sat down, right leg still propped up. He didn’t pull her into his lap, but he held her tightly. He would stay as long as she needed him, even until the sun rose. Whatever she needed.