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.
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.
It is just hair.
Tegil stared out across the lush foliage and sighed. They would reach the city tomorrow, and he was running out of time. The oddly green robe adorning his shoulders was easy to adjust to, but this was a much more difficult thing to do. He repeated the reassurance over and over in his mind, until it nearly became a mantra…but it did nothing to ease his disquiet.
It is just hair.
It really is just hair.
It will grow back.
How much danger was he walking into? That was irrelevant to his mind, in truth. He had grown to like his traveling companions – those he did not know previously – and whatever adventures they would find could do nothing but enrich his life. The left corner of his mouth twitched up in an amused smirk; he had already been kidnapped once…what was one more time, if it came down to it? This was his life to live, and one never learned all there was to learn by staying home.
Yet from the moment he entered into Gondor’s lands, thoughts of his family came to him often. It was to be expected, of course – he loved his family dearly, and it was difficult to not separate from his group of friends to head off to Minas Tirith.
As he watched the sun peek from behind the nearby mountains, Tegil finally admitted to himself that it was mostly guilt which spurred his longing to return to the White City; he had not been able to travel in time to properly attend to his brother’s funeral, and it was a deep sorrow. He frowned as he thought of young Arassiel, bereft of a father so young… It would take resolve of the utmost steel to keep from remaining for her sake.
Upon further reflection, he decided that it was better to remain with the group packing up their horses. Nallo and Tinuvist seemed unconcerned about the idea of being known as whom they were, but there was something in Cirieldis’s demeanor when the group spoke in Morlad that caused unease to settle across his shoulders.
The suggestion that whatever it is they may be doing could somehow be traced back to his family…the thought had never occurred to him. It was, indeed, his own life to live, but not one of his kin deserved to have their lives affected by his actions.
It is just hair. It will grow back.
Black strands danced in the air as Tegil finished wrapping up his sleeping roll and properly stored it. Only hair though it was, still it remained a large part of his identity. His hair had been longer even as a boy and this would be the first time in his life that it would be shorn short.
How lucky my life is, that this is such a dilemma! It is just hair.
Warm light caught the button on his sleeve, blinding him for a moment. Blue-grey eyes instinctively blinked away, and looked eastward. The sun’s rays would be first glowing upon the white stone of Minas Tirith at this exact moment, as well.
There was no doubt in his mind that his beloved mother was already awake and reading a book in the morning dew on the balcony. For years, the other noblewomen told her that she would catch cold from such an insanely flighty practice, but she had thus far proven them wrong. Arassiel would rise shortly and run to find her grandmother, awaiting the morning’s lesson.
If – if – anything were to happen to them because of him, Tegil would never forgive himself. The mere thought of that possibility caused his heart to fill with dread. He would gladly lay down his life to protect them, what little good his prowess in battle would win for them…
…And what was his own life next to hair?
It is just hair.
Shoulders squared, Tegil marched over to the tall elf setting his own gear aright. “Kemendin, if you have time before we set off for the day, I would be appreciative if you could cut my hair to a much shorter length.”
Was this supposed to be so worrisome, even now? The decision was made, so why was his stomach in knots? He took a stabilizing breath and answered the question to which he had no real answer.
“To be honest, I do not know what will be acceptable. It has never been short, and I will be unable to see my hair; I leave its fate entirely to those who can see.”
His eyes involuntarily closed before the blades could slice through years of identity and self-awareness.
It is just hair.
It took little time for Bree-land to feel like home, but even less time for traveling to reassert itself as a passion of mine. The trip was long, and grew cold the closer it got toward the end of the year, but it was good. Refreshing, even. Tomorrow I shall see the gates of Bree-town, and my heart will leap for joy. It is a simple land and I long for its simplicity once more. The docks of Duillond were beautiful beyond telling, with sparkling waters and sweet, clean air; but they were not home. To spend time with Maluhíl, dear friend that he is, was exactly what my heart needed. It needed distance, time, and an understanding companion. It was an honor and joy to be allowed to see him off as he left for his final journey.
This return excursion is far from my final journey, but it is one of renewal just the same. I am older and hopefully wiser for the experience. Despite my heart being shattered when I departed, it is now whole and stronger. Some steel themselves against future hurt, yet that is not any way to live. Life is beautiful, both the tragic and the happy, and each holds a lesson to be learned. What a poor scholar I would be, if I were unwilling to learn such things! Our memories will always hold a place near my heart, but I will no longer dwell upon them.
Last month, when we entered the Shire, snow fell from the sky and brought a true smile to my face once more. For that, I am glad. Thank you for a time of simple peace, and I wish you all the joy you truly deserve.