I figure…why not? Many, many words below the cut.
Just felt like throwing together a small montage of my characters enjoying a cool, sunny afternoon.
The sun’s rays shone through the newly cleaned window pane, casting a warm glow on the wooden floor in Osbeorne’s bedroom. Satisfied with his work, the blacksmith grinned and trudged out to the main room. He opened the front door, letting a fresh, cool blast of impending spring air rush into the house. Winter held many memories, some of the more recent ones dear to him, but Os was very much so looking forward to leaves on the trees and warm nights at this point.
He stretched his arms and closed the door, heading back into his bedroom. His bed was currently littered with ribbons, decorated papers, and twine; in the center proudly stood his two gifts: one for Jaemy and one for Kimby (a small painting and an intricate shelving unit, respectively). Sparing a moment to think on both gift recipients, he sighed and ran his hand down his face; by far, the two most complicated women in his in life. Thankfully he had ‘Ridia. What’d he say to her that one time? She was complicated, too, but in a good way? A soft, lopsided smile took over his lips as he remembered that rainy day a few weeks ago. Complicated, indeed.
The smell of an old tome conjured many feelings and thoughts for Aeldes, but chief among them was always amusement. This text had, during its initial inscription, smelled like ink and parchment and potential; now, most considered it to smell of decay and the loss of a different time. That could not be further from the truth! Its smell was layers upon layers of existence and living and learning! So many had learned from this piece: their fingers laid upon it as they studied, translated, copied. It had history and depth which made it immeasurably special.
Her finger lightly glided above the page, conscious of keeping as much oil from her skin from contacting it. This text was not new to her, but she also did not have first-hand experience of this particular time period. It was a fun one to read, partially because she was not trying to compare it to her own admittedly fluid memory. Oh, it looked like that mistake was copied over from the previous manuscript; it was tickled her fancy when something like that happened. A copied mistake today could be tomorrow’s new theory on an entire branch of science. This one was minor enough to not drastically affect anything, so she smiled quietly and left it unmarked.
Pale blue eyes reflected the bright blue sky as they watched a cloud lazily drift overhead. Kimberly’s lips slowly twisted into a petite, dreamy smile. What she did might have been rash — Nellie straight up called it stupid — but Kimberly was confident with the decision. It had to be better than getting all tongue-tied and stuttering every time he winked at her. There was something inexplicably…magnetic about him, and she gambled that taking a risk would even things out. If only a little. Now that the ice had been broken, so to speak, maybe it’d be easier for them to actually…talk. She wanted to talk to him.
One note of a small chuckle floated up from her lips as she contemplated the absurdity of the past two weeks.
Blood-stained clothes bounced down the steps of a farmhouse, their owner rushing to grab more water from the nearby well. Ada grimaced as the sun blinded her and kept pushing the crank as fast as her arms allowed her to, the heavy bucket jerking up the rusty chain awkwardly. What seemed like an eternity later, the young woman — she was going on fifteen, after all — ran as fast as she could with a heavy bucket of water in both hands.
This baby wasn’t going to deliver itself, and her mom needed more water.
As soon as the door to their apartment slid closed with a click, Kimberly was comforted to hear her mother’s deep, happy voice ring through the main area.
“Hey, Kimmy! Took ya long enough. How’d it go?”
Kimberly smiled widely, slightly out of breath from the three flights of stairs she just ran up. She quickly half-skipped across the room to place her bounty on the dining table next to her mother’s tailoring. “Big ol’ basket of purples and yellows! Five silver.”
“Ha! Good job, sweetie. We’ll get to dryin’ them after dinner.” Natalie Brook rested her current sewing job in her lap and smiled as Kimberly walked into the kitchen.
Glass, glass, glass… Several cabinet doors squeaked while Kimberly searched for a glass. Just as she finally found one and finished pouring herself a reward of orange juice, her mother shifted in her chair and asked a question.
“It don’t matter none for dryin’ them, but why’re they kinda crushed? I told ya to take yer long walks before buyin’ the materials.”
As the reason some of those flowers were flattened immediately flashed through her mind, Kimberly couldn’t help but feel some blood rush to her face.
“Oy, there, look — ah, Kim! …Miss Brook! Sorry about that! I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
Shaking her head, Kimberly walked back out into the main room and took a sip of orange juice before waving the glass in her mother’s direction. “I didn’t! I… ran into Frank. Like actually ran into him. Smushed a couple of flowers. Nothin’ more.”
“Ah, cor. Please tell me you two didn’t make a scene in th’ middle of th’ market.” Her mother’s hand lifted to rub a temple.
The hairs on the back of her neck rose as Kimberly indignantly exclaimed, “Mum!” She was better than that.
Her mother groaned, her other hand rising to slowly circle around the other temple. “…Listen, I know yer an adult but sometimes I just get worried. You two’ve never gotten on.”
That…was true. Was. Rather than even attempt to explain it, Kimberly just quietly sighed and acquiesced. “Yeah… I know. It was…fine.”
It was fine. It was…more than fine. Why? Her attention started to drift as both the heat of the sun on the roof and the whirlwind of the past few days spirited her off to a tawdry daydream.
“–That poor boy. He’s been a good friend to yer brother, through thick ‘n thin.”
The swirling clusterfuck of hormones in her stomach that had yet to settle suddenly screeched to a halt when her mother’s well-meant scolding cut through fantasy.
He’s been a good friend to yer brother.
“…Os.” It was all she could do to hide the horror in her voice as her brother’s name escaped her lips in a whisper.
“Yeah, that’s yer brother. Whaddabout ‘em?” Her mother – their mother – looked in her direction with a confused twist of the brow.
Kimberly quickly averted her gaze and swallowed hard. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Her feet began to immediately carry her toward her room’s door. “I’m…gonna go take a nap.”
Her mother’s voice immediately changed from confused to concerned. “Kimmy, it’s broad daylight out!”
“Yeah, yeah.” She waved her hand and just kept going on through the doorway, mumbling.
“If yer comin’ down with somethin’, you best tell me so I can get some extra water!”
Osbeorne filled his lungs with cool, still air, breathing in the scents of a land on the cusp of winter. His errands were finally done and he even managed to finish early, too. He ran over the list again in his mind, just to be sure: finished delivering those gates, picked up his newly tailored shirt, bought some more of that platinum ore, and picked up another several jars of apple cider. Chores accomplished, he turned his attention to the rest of the day.
What to do…
As he walked down the lane to his house, he couldn’t help but go back over the last couple of days in his head. A lot of intensely personal stuff, including self-reflection and restless nights. Osbeorne sighed and turned his attention to the forge sitting in his yard; the call of smoke and heat and creating sang through his mind. Not even bothering to pull his outer coat off, the blacksmith began loading up the forge with more fuel. He didn’t know what he wanted to make yet, but the muscles in his fingers hummed with anticipation of the chisel’s strike.
When heat filled the smithy once more, Osbeorne shed his usual coat and scarf, shoving the hat into his coat pockets. He turned to face the one least complicated thing in his life — his craft — and couldn’t help but smile. What could he make…? His most recent success in jewelry-making was a pendant, and that could be fun; perhaps the platinum alloy he had bought the other day would allow him to add more fine details than usual.
After retrieving the platinum, he set it in his best-quality crucible and worked on ensuring the fires burned as hot as possible. His foot accidentally kicked the bellows and he laughed quietly to himself, remembering when Jaemy knew what it did before Kieran. It was nice, having the kids in the forge earlier; hopefully, they’d stop by again.
Blue eyes swiveled to watch the doorframe, lost in thought for a moment, imagining a tiny girl, cowering at literal shadows. Osbeorne couldn’t help a frustrated sigh; it made him so mad when he thought about why she acted the way she did. She deserved better. He grunted and looked back to the forge, white-hot flames mirroring his own mood on that particular topic.
Anger quickly fizzled out as he pondered what to make. What came to his mind immediately was, of course, completely out of the question. Embarrassing and childish. Just as he was about to give up and just make another plain band ring, a drawing caught his eye: a sketch he had drawn a few weeks ago, planning to turn it into a painting for his mother. Where he was from, they called those flowers “bog-stars.”
Something about the shape of it, the soft yet defined lines, was comforting to him. He couldn’t help but grin when inspiration hit him over the head like a sack of bricks; he knew exactly what to make, and for whom.
Osbeorne yanked on his heaviest pair of gloves and found his nicest tongs; this would be his greatest challenge yet. He lowered the crucible into his forge with a satisfied smile.
Going to immediately put this under a “read more” because it’s literally thousands of words.
Lori inspected her reflection in the looking glass as she finished inserting her earrings. Her lips curved into an unbidden smile when the turquoise beads shone in the sunlight. Wearing these was always a treat; not only were they beautiful, but they reminded her of fond summer memories. She would occasionally miss her scruffy Gondorian sailor, but in the end, they both knew it was better to part on good terms.
She and Tarlanc had acted like a bunch of lovesick teenagers back then; a rush of hormones and fast declarations of love and general impassioned groping. She wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world, but it wasn’t sustainable. They both were too used to doing their own thing, and after that merchant ship sank, it was clear that their worlds weren’t going to be compatible long term. He needed to go back to Gondor for a long time and wanted her to come with him, but she wasn’t ready for that yet. She had a house, a business, an entire life here.
Even though the two of them were head over heels for one another, Loriwen still wasn’t quite ready to settle down, much less have children, with someone she had known for three months! Some of her friends thought she was insane, but she knew it was the right call. They were just starting to get to know one another. What would have happened if, in half a year, they suddenly discovered a serious and fatal flaw in their relationship? He’d probably be out at sea most of the time anyway, and Lori wasn’t willing to live that kind of life.
And so, one late summer night, they said their goodbyes. He gave her the earrings she now admired, and she gave him an amulet she had carved of the lost ship. Hopefully, he still carried it as a reminder.
The door rattled as someone banged on it, jarring her out of the reverie.
“Oi, c’mon Lori. Market opens in a few minutes; we’re gonna be late!” Her oldest friend’s voice rang through the wood.
Lori shook her head and grabbed her sack of trinkets before running to head outside. The sun radiated down on her as soon as she stepped through the doorway. The wet smell of earth rose to her nostrils and she smiled widely, closing her eyes to soak it in for a few moments. Fall was coming!
The door creaked open and a wave of hot air rushed out of the inn, blowing Bryn’s hair away from her face. Incongruous smells mingled, somehow combining to form a symphony of comfort in her mind: pipe smoke, roasting meat, yeasty beers, the rich taste of metal armor in the air. Loud and entirely too hot in the summer though it may be, The Pony was one of the safest and most beloved places Bryn had found. She figured that this was what “home” was supposed to be like.
She stepped inside and walked over to the bar with purpose, head held high and shoulders back. She was a real customer tonight, not just a street rat paying a fair price for a bag of bread and apples. Barliman’s smile when she first sauntered over to his bar was hesitant, but the tight smile quickly turned genuine after she gave him her order.
“’ey Barli, gimme a real bowl’a stew, an’ whatever’s yer best tea.”
Bryn paid out the exact cost of a full meal with a rare smile and headed to sit at the table closest to the bard currently strumming a lively tune on his lute. The young Hobbit had to still be a tween but he had a lot of talent; his song was both invigorating and comforting, much like a warm cup of tea. She relaxed against the wall behind her, watching his bright eyes carefully keep track of his fingers.
Barliman’s hired help, a young woman with curly auburn hair and clear blue eyes, plopped down a steaming mug of tea and bowl of stew. Bryn could barely stammer out her thanks before the barmaid was swaying through the crowd again. This smelled heavenly! Was that onion, carrot, and potato? The meat – probably beef – looked tender and juicy.
…This really must be what a “home” really was supposed to be like.
Deep blue eyes slowly opened, immediately squinting shut once more when golden-red rays of light bore into them. Tegil stretched for a few long, absolutely sublime, moments before getting out of bed. He had managed to fall asleep in the afternoon heat yet again and it looked like he was going to be awake just in time to watch the sun dip below the horizon. He swung his legs off the edge of the bed and grunted as he pushed himself up to a stand.
Sunset was always his favorite time of the day, but particularly here at his estate in Dol Amroth. He especially loved the after effect, the light purples that spread across the sky, welcoming the moon to her evening. He took a deep breath of salty air and exhaled in a smile.
Life was simple here, but it had some challenges. The bustle of the busy street below, the roaring of the waves…the atmosphere was particularly loud. That didn’t work for some, but Tegil was grateful for the change in scenery from Bree-land. He missed his friends, and would still occasionally write them, yet this existence suited him better. As he watched the last of the sun’s light slip beyond the horizon, he mused that it would be nice to have company on his walks along the beaches or forests, though.
He needed to meet people.
Osbeorne pulled another shirt out of his dresser, unfolding it and laying it down on the bed. He found that it was better to roll his clothes when traveling; easier to fit more in the same pack. This trip would hopefully go better than the last one. He had a wicked scar from his mishap during the fight with that asshole and really didn’t want to repeat that if possible. Kieran was a good kid and Os wanted to help out however he was able.
Hopefully, that little girl would come to her senses and leave with them, too. Sure, Kieran was clearly taken with her and that was nice and all, but the thing he kept thinking of was that parents shouldn’t be that way. What kind of mother lets their daughter get treated like that? It wasn’t right. He’d never treat a kid like that, even if the kid wasn’t his. That guy deserved everything he got.
He folded his shirt in half and methodically rolled it into a tight cylinder, taking some of his frustration out on the poor piece of clothing. Stuff like this only made Os surer he wanted to look into that adoption stuff. He wasn’t giving up on finding someone, but it was about time he needed to really look at what he wanted to do with his life. One of the things he definitely wanted to do was to help raise a kid, and what better way to do that than to adopt a poor kid who doesn’t have a family yet?
His ma wasn’t too keen on the plan; she was concerned that any woman who may be interested in him would find a pre-existing kid a huge detraction, but Os wasn’t actually concerned about that. Why would he want to spend his life with someone who didn’t understand and appreciate the value of bringing a kid in and helping them become a productive adult?
Os sighed and tucked the rolled-up shirt into his pack. When he got back from this trip, he’d start the paperwork for being evaluated. Money wasn’t an issue, but he would have to show he could provide a suitable home. He could do that!
A breeze gently played with the hanging braid of midnight-black hair, slowly swinging it back and forth. A sleepy smile came to the lips of the elf to whom that braid belonged; the breath of coolness that danced upon the late summer’s air current was very welcome. Aeldes hummed a soft tune, one long lost to time and tragedy. Nights like tonight gave her bittersweet memories of her time wandering the forests of Beleriand. It was, as always, so long ago and yet seemed as if it were yesterday.
She didn’t mourn the lost lands or those friends of hers who had sailed beyond to never return, but it did fill her with a sad longing. If she hadn’t been bedridden for so long, she surely would have left with them, but alas, she remained and with much of her passion for the land. This “Bree-land” was a particularly rustic but charming area, and it deserved to be allowed to flourish!
Aeldes stifled a yawn of contentment; this was a wonderful green land, but there was wandering yet to be done in her imagination.
In the early afternoon, a package arrives in Cirieldis’s office: a small, unassuming box wrapped in basic brown paper and held together with twine. The only hint as to whom sent it is the hand in which her name is scrawled: bold, flowing penmanship. It rattles quietly if shaken, a muffled sound. Whatever is inside has been packaged with care to avoid breakage.
Once opened, the box contains only a short letter and something the size and shape of a small rock, wrapped in plain muslin. The letter reads as follows:
I hope this letter finds you well, as we have not spoken in many months and both of our places in life have changed significantly since then. I found myself watching the sea from my new residence and caught myself reminiscing as to how I came to be here.
My introspection led me to realize that I had never properly thanked you for your role in my coming to Dol Amroth, and for that I must apologize! You were the catalyst for this change of scenery in my life and this change ended up being amongst the most welcome in my recollections. As such, I wish to convey my utmost gratitude.
Enclosed is something small; naught more than a whim, really. One of my current avocations is to walk along the shore and collect shells which ensnare my interest. I have included one whose hues immediately reminded me of a pair of most peculiar boots I first noticed back in Bree. May it bring a warm chuckle and memory to you same as it did for me.
At your service,
The small cloth bundle’s bounty is immediately apparent upon pulling the string wrapped around it: a small, delicate seashell. The intricate wentletrap shape lends its pearlescent purple color considerable luster when the sun’s rays shine through.