Bowmaiden: Another Year

Long blonde hair caught on a branch and its owner groaned as she pulled it free. It was interesting that the Commander celebrated Fallowmath…he clearly wasn’t Rohirric. If anything, he was Gondorian. No other country could boast the ability to have black hair, height and a near-constant brooding aura like they could. Not that they were bad people, mind you; she’d met plenty of good Gondorians, and he seemed a sturdy enough Man. Either way, it was a little surprising to hear them speak of starting the fire. Her first instinct was to join in, but something held her back. This held her back.

She completed the small wood pile, fully knowing the fire wouldn’t last the whole week – hell, it wouldn’t make it through the night without her guidance. It didn’t matter; all she needed was to have this private time. A year ago this time, she was in her own land…with her family. The whole village came out for the starting of the fire. It was a special time. It would be ten days from tonight that she set out. She left immediately after the feasting, her parents giving her blessings and gifts for her journey in front of the flames. That’s when she was given her bow. It was well-made and strong…her father was so proud to give it to her.

That same bow was – as always – hanging from her left shoulder. She shrugged, causing it to wave around in the cool air. It was a lot cooler here, but the trees were more diverse. They even had a lot of pine, which was incredible. She actually managed to scavenge nothing but pine branches for her little fire when back home she would be lucky to have even one twig to offer to the flames. Striking flint and stone, her thoughts went as silent as the woods around her.

The small sparks caught the tinder and soon the flames licked and curved their way into the branches. Crackling and hissing were heard as fire invaded wood, turning the former tree into its own fuel to help continue its own existence. Pear-green eyes solemnly stared at the process with nary a sound. She said nothing, only moving from her sitting position to throw another small piece to help the fire in its quest to continue living. Late winter afternoon turned into evening, then eventually to night. Stars began to blink in the midnight-hued sky, watching down on her vigil with twinkling joy.

Hours passed, never moving from her spot nor speaking. Once the stars began to hide from the sun and the sky began to turn a soft pink did Leuedai speak. Her voice was rough with disuse and emotion. She reached to her side and pulled a small bundle of herbs from her pocket. If they were fresh, the smell of rosemary, thyme and sage would waft on the chilled, smoky air. The bundle was held with both hands, as an offering before the fire.

“I offer this to those who came before me, including those who yet live. I will return one day, and do as much good as I may before doing so.”

Her head bowed and blonde strands covered the herbs almost like a blanket. Another long, silent moment later, hair was torn from the dried green as the latter was carefully laid into the remaining fire. The flame took the offering with what seemed to her like gladness and the dried bundle immediately began to crackle. Green eyes watched until it had burned completely before rising and walking away without looking back. Perhaps it was to hide tears, perhaps it was just too cold. No one but her would ever know. So began another year.

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