OOC…Or is it?!: Sudden Changes

Tegil, still silently suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, has run away with the equally smitten Willow. The impetuous 19 year olds are on the hideout from almost everyone: Ceswyn, who Tegil has left abandoned and apparently pregnant through divine intervention; Ceswyn’s family, who will probably kill him despite this “miracle” not being his fault; and Cragg, who so wants them both dead on principal alone. They are hiding out – shhhhh! – in the Shire. They may already be married, no one is certain.

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Tarlanc,

My love, I’m so sorry for being a fool this past near-year. I am going to give up wood carving completely, sell the house and workshop, and we’re going to move back to my family’s farmhouse. We’re going to have as many children as we physically can, and then adopt a few Hobbits. I’m already learning how to cook! Also, please take this bundle of pants to the jail for Arion to pass out to the less fortunate; I’m only wearing dresses now. And I’ll never speak again unless spoken to. I apologize for not being a better wife sooner.

Love,

Loriwen

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In Korre’s now-permanent absence due to elopement, Leuedai has taken upon herself those duties left behind. Her lack of reading and writing was apparently a ruse: Leuedai is actually Rohan’s first fully fluent scholar. She speaks eight languages, including two variants of the ever-controversial Quenya, and is most concerned with the industrialization of the world as a whole. In fact, her thesis – written on fifty handmade parchments with homemade chalk – was on steam power and how the War could be won using it. She has also taken a new vow of celibacy and has become a teetotaler: she cannot let such distractions get in the way of her duties.

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Skyrah has taken up a new profession: lumberjack. She may be spindly, but her height helps with chopping down branches! While spending her nights at a campfire for a reason unbeknownst to all but two people, she has been doing pushups and other various strength-building exercises. She’s taken up with the Combe Lumber Yard, much to the chagrin of her family (who lives in Combe and disowned her). Overalls are now her favorite clothing, because of the convenient pockets.

Wandering Poet: Of Course I Do.

It was definitely daylight outside. Morning, most likely. The cracks under the tent burned his eyes whenever he glanced in their direction. It was shocking just how quickly someone became used to darkness in even only a few days. He’d gladly risk the pain of being reintroduced to the sun in order to be rid of this. The whole situation was horrible. He finally was allowed to lay down on the ground, hands and legs tied to the pole with enough slack to let him do more than sit straight all the time. Dark blue eyes closed again, good temple resting against cool dirt. When nightfall came, maybe he should shift so his bruised cheek was against the dirt. The cold would probably do it some good…

All thoughts of minor self-care flew out his mind as the flap was pulled back and a shaft of light blinded him. That low female voice floated over to the man as he lay there, blinking the pain away. “Gotcha somethin’ special-like. For yer cheek. That sodder shouldn’ta done that, an’ we’re real sorry ‘bout it. Sit up.”

Eyes finally readjusted to the dark and then opened. He peered at her warily. She stood there, dirty and smelling like the leather armor she wore. Her face soon wore a grim and lopsided smile.

“Yeah, yeah, you don’t trust meh. Ya prob’ly shouldn’. This’s fer real, though. Git up.”

His shoulders squared. He didn’t really have a choice, did he? His elbow shoved his torso up, balance taking over and eventually righting him. He looked more closely at her. She carried something. What was it? A…pouch? Skin? Before he could get a closer look at the item in her hands, she moved behind him. Suddenly one of his hands was free. Gut reaction took over and he immediately pulled it to the other, rubbing where the rope had irritated his wrist.

She finally moved back around, holding out the item. It was a skin of liquid. What was it? He pulled the cork out and sniffed it. Then immediately regretted it. His face twisted and through sheer force of will, he didn’t cough. It smelled like bad wine.

“S’not real good, but it ain’t spoiled ‘er nothin’. Figgered ya could use somethin’ t’ help with th’ pain.”

It was bad wine. Ugh. At least it would probably help with the pain. More importantly, it was liquid. He took a steeling breath inward and then downed the whole thing in three very long, revolting draughts. This was the cheapest, most disgusting wine he had ever drunk in his entire life: shallow in flavor, almost sour…and absolutely heavenly as it burned down his throat. They gave him enough water to keep him healthy, but barely. This was the first time he was able to taste anything in days, and even if it was horrifying, he was glad of it. He leaned back against the pole – it was really more of a log, now that he thought about it – with a deep sigh.

She held her hand out for the skin and he leaned to let her take it. Back to business as usual, no doubt. He held his hand out for her to tie it again. A nod and just that began to happen. Then she started to talk to him. Casually. That was unexpected; he should be cautious.

“I gotta ask, d’ya got any idear how that redhaired b- girlfriend’a yers got ‘erself in that much’a debt?”

He stayed still and silent. No answer from him.

A scoff and sigh echoed around the tent. His hand was retied and she stood up before trotting around to face him. “Di’nt ev’n tell ya? Bah, whaddya ‘spect. Not ev’ry day a girl falls int’ ten gold worth’a owin’ people, though.”

That news was, unfortunately, too much of a surprise for him to hide his reaction. He gaped at her. Only ten gold? Ceswyn made him promise not to help over ten gold? A shake of his head cleared the expression. He hoped that the momentary lapse in control would be misinterpreted.

She paused and gave him a curious look. “D’ya love ‘er?”

He may have not gotten around that much, so to speak, but even he knew that was something he would never tell them. Anything at all was leverage. She tried to surprise him by dropping what she thought was an outrageous “fact” and then asked him a personal question. He wasn’t that malnourished or that stupid. He gave her a suspicious look, eyes narrowing and chin raising.

He was rewarded with another savage grin – but only one side of her mouth had tipped up. That, as he had begun to recognize, was her being pleased or amused. She nodded respectfully to him. “Git some sleep, yer cheek there don’t look no good.” Another flash of searing light made him curl up as she walked out, panel flapping behind her.

Sadly, she was right. He should sleep, regardless of the time of day. There was mending and thinking to be done. The wine, horribly low quality or not, began to take effect shortly. He was never a heavy drinker anyway, and even then only the quality vintages. Sleepy lids drooped over deep blue eyes and he shifted to lie on the ground again.

…Only ten gold? They were going to have a long talk when – not if, when – they were together again. A tiny, illogical part of his mind nagged at him. He had to admit it to someone, something. He sighed and quietly croaked to himself, “Of course I do.” The silly and pointless statement said, his mind allowed dreams to take him.

Wandering Poet: Small Victories

He awoke from his dream with a jolt. He was in a new tent? Eyes slowly cracked open, a wince accompanying them. The cut on his temple was still fresh, and hurt when he opened his eyes. The smell of incredibly boring mash finally made its way to his nostrils. Dinnertime? Already? Did he really sleep the entire afternoon away after that brutish man slugged him? Where did they take him, now? The air smelled…rotten. Ugh, the food was not even remotely appetizing, but at least it was nourishing. He could hear his stomach calling for it…so could his food purveyor. A feminine yet deep and unamused chuckle drifted across the cool air.

“Eat up.” She placed it on the floor next to him and untied his hands. He could eat with his hands, which was a great relief, but he knew he couldn’t do anything else with it. She made it abundantly clear last time that she was not above stabbing him and then tending to his wounds if he tried to get around her. He was no hero, so he wasn’t going to call her bluff on it. Rolling his shoulders and stretching his neck, he sighed. Nothing to be done for it, he just had to eat and then get tied back up.

Her deep voice cut through the air again, sharp and displeased this time. He froze mid-reach for the food and finally turned his squinting gaze up to her. She walked over, peering only inches from his face. “Did he do this?” She unkindly poked the growing bruise. He winced and nodded. “Sodding fucker… Applewood’s boys can’t do nothin’ right. I’ll have him run out for this. Told him no harming the merch.” She finally, mercifully, got out of his face so he could continue eating.

She was gone, the food was in his stomach, and his arms were again tightly bound to his sides. This was not at all pleasant, but at least it seemed like the guy who smacked him around earlier was getting in trouble. Small victories…take them when you can. Perhaps they’d even let him have some more water as an apology. Heh, not likely; but it was nice to dream. He twisted his head and leaned his right cheek against the wood behind him. He could practically feel the nasty hit on the left side of his face growing. It and the back of his head were intermittent in their throbbing. To say he had a headache would be a massive understatement.

He took this time to think. Again. That’s all he had to do. He even ran through old Sindarin conjugation tables at one point; anything to keep his sanity in check. The one thing he didn’t want to think about was her. That he couldn’t handle. Not knowing if she was all right, not being able to tell her it wasn’t her fault, not being able to say… argh! This is why he shouldn’t think of her. It hurt too much. His head hung with a sigh. The constant back and forth of pain between back of head and cheek eventually serenaded him to sleep.

Wandering Poet: Kidnapped!

One eye opened, the other still wincing in pain. His head was throbbing. He could hear it, feel it. Thud. Thud. Thud. How hard did they hit him to knock him out? Merileth always did call him thick headed; suddenly the loving jest seemed more a curse. Thoughts finally started to surface above the haze of dark and hurt. Reason began to take over. Where was he? Who had him? Why? He shifted as best he could in his bound state. At least they didn’t gag him. Then again, if they didn’t gag him, he could only assume that meant they knew no one would hear him even if he did try to call out. He briefly considered trying anyway, but the thudding from the back of his head told him that was not wise. More comfortably leaning against the pole he was tied to, he began to actually think.

Where was he? He sniffed the air. Why did he just sniff the air? He wasn’t an Elf or hunter. He had no idea where he was, short of “in a tent.” With dead grass below him. Which meant he was outside. He knew that already…

Who had him? He heard a few names, but they were all lost in the jumble of unconsciousness. He’d have to listen more carefully…hopefully they wouldn’t drug him. That would make figuring out who had him and why fairly difficult. A quick flexing of his muscles proved no good. They had him lashed up well. These people – bandits, crooks, mercenaries? – were clearly of a higher caliber.

Why? A million reasons, most of them fanciful and absurd and he knew it, flashed through his mind. He had no idea. His head leaned back against the pole and then he hissed and let out a near-silent curse in Sindarin. That was not going to heal fast. Hopefully it wasn’t broken or cracked. They really hit him hard.

Some stomping and quiet talking outside his tent jolted him quickly out of his self-query. An ear perked, head stupidly jolting to toss raven hair away from it. He winced at the sudden pain and wooziness that action caused him before blinking a few times to refocus. Focus. Why are you here? He listened as best he could.

“…Think it’ll be workin’ out?”

“I dunno. It better. Can’t believe … without asking me first … talk.”

“What happens iffen … up?”

“Tha’s a real … redhaired bitch doesn’t pay … no idea. Murder’s not … my back enough a’ready.”

His eyes widened until it hurt too much to do that, then they closed shut with a weary sigh. It was the men harassing her. His eyes shot back open. Was she all right? He suddenly tried to get up, groaning at the pain and settling back down against the ground. She had better be safe.

She had best be safe. He didn’t know what he’d do if she wasn’t, but he didn’t even want to think about it. She just had better be all right. His jaw set and, despite the pain it caused, he kept it clenched. It’s all he could do, but it was something.

He could do nothing else but wait.

Before Dreams Take Me

We all think before we drift off to sleep, and often we’ll tally lists or think about our day. Every thought here is unlabeled, and not prefaced. Enjoy this tiny snippet into everyone’s innermost consciousness.

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Please let me sleep tonight…

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What am I doing?

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Tomorrow. I’ll start tomorrow, I promise.

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I have never wanted to break a promise so badly in my life.

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…They’re not bad people.

Letters to Minas Tirith: “An Indefinite Amount of Time”

Dearest Mother:

I write you yet again. I apologize if the weekly ramblings of your youngest son begin to wear you away with boredom; I do not mean such! Yet know I miss you terribly. Your warm and loving conversation has been most missed these days. Let me start by assuring you, once again, that I am hale. I have managed to slightly injure my wrist, but already it is almost completely healed. As you can see, I write to you regardless! So therefore it is not so bad. How fare you, my brothers, Father? Please remember: I do think upon you all every day, every hour. With fondness, of course. Merileth has received her own letter this time, so do not think I shun my beloved sister!

The snow in this land is most curious. When I last wrote, I had finished an experimental house made of snow. It has sadly begun to melt – this is such a perplexing idea! How can something so cold, in such cold air, melt? The sun is truly a powerful force. Soon it shall be nothing more than a pile of cold, white powder. Ah, the snow as it falls, mother! It glistens as stars falling to the earth: a gift from the Valar. What I would not give to see your reaction to such beauty. I can picture you, even now, standing in the yard and bundled in furs, looking to the sky as the snow floats around you, sparkling like diamonds. It is dreadfully cold business, however wondrous. I stay indoors whenever I find the opportunity.

Yet that is not the most important thing which weighs on my mind. I have past written to you of my current plans to remain in Bree for a time; I now wish to beg your forgiveness. “A time” has become “an indefinite amount of time.” It is not the weather, nor my health. I must be discreet, for various reasons which I am unable to disclose to even you, but I can no longer hold this façade. I beg of you, truly, truly beg of you to tell no one: not even Father. It is a matter of utmost secrecy, and even as I write these words, I worry for putting them to paper. I will not request something as dramatic as to burn it after reading, or anything like that…yet I must implore silence.

I stay for another. She is not learned, not compared to the education in which you raised me, and she is not what most in your circles would consider a graceful lady; yet she stirs deep within me something which I have never dreamed possible. I am a poet; if there is one thing I have read over and over throughout my life, it has been descriptions of meeting someone who can take your breath away with merely a look. After Nídhil, I questioned if that were even possible: if someone as beautiful, intelligent, and well-bred as her could not cause the skipping of a heartbeat, who could? I now see that was folly on my part – foolish brooding. You of all people know my fondness for speech, being the one who instilled it in me so well, but now there are times when even I am brought to utter silence by a look or touch.

This letter may come as a shock, my words seemingly scribbled upon the page. My apologies if any are hard to read. I find myself unable to speak to all but one confidant, and even he is unable to truly understand her. Even when described through my own eyes, her demeanor around others skews his opinion too much. She is keenly intelligent, proud, strong, and harbors a deep, abiding sense of hope as well as love of the fanciful. There are many layers to her, each different and a joy to learn. She inspires something altogether new to me, Mother. Protection.

I desire to protect her. Naturally, I have always wished to do as I am able to help protect those I care for, but this is a far more fierce need. When I see tears begin to bead in the corner of her bright eyes, my heart aches to stop whatever is causing it. I want nothing more than to hold her for so long that her worries and sadness dissipate. It is new, and almost disconcerting in its intensity. I aspire to be a better person – nay, a better man – for her. It is far too soon to speak of that which I know you are already wondering. Far too soon. Yet know I am beyond smitten.

I know this should not surprise you, but I do feel obligated to tell you: she is not from the same place as you or me. I do not mean the city proper, either: my meaning is of status. It matters not to me. I care only for the warm, delicate swan hidden behind the mask; not whom her parents may be, nor anything else that could be considered something to be undesirable by my peers at home. Her accent is rough and her hands have callouses; her hair is haphazardly cut and her dresses plain – all these things help to shape who she is, each desirable in their own fashion. I cannot apologize enough for not staying behind and marrying well. I truly cannot, for it was a selfish action. Yet I beg more forgiveness from you still as you read the next line: I will never regret it. I am not sorry, for it brought me here, to this quiet and green land with snow and blossoms of twilight.

This is not the letter you were expecting, no doubt. Yet it is more truth than most would dare speak. I am slowly falling for a woman of no social stature in a land with little true education, and nothing in this world fills me with more joy and nervous hope. You and Father were considered a proper match, so I am aware that the situations are not the same…yet if you would write me your counsel, it would be most welcome. You once did something rash and followed your heart; it brought love and happiness to your life. Did it scare you as much as it sometimes does me? The reward, the future which could theoretically happen, is more than worth the risk: this I know for certain. I only wonder if it is supposed to cause disquietude, or I am truly such a fool. Regardless of my status as “fool” or “not a fool,” I fear I have caused enough distress for you in this letter, Mother.

Forgive your foolish son, and please do but love him still. My address is stationary as of now, and as long as the envelope is addressed to Tegil, it shall find its way to my hands. Please write.

You are the only one for whom I will still sign a letter as such.
Your son, with all his love,

Dínendir

Unexpected Conversations: Part One

Entirely her fault. Also, expect more. I’m posting them in waves so you don’t have like… ten at once. They’re a bit longer than most people’s, as per my usual. I just can’t stop writing once I start!

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As she stepped out and to the side, she was blindsided by a yellow so bright it almost glowed. It was possibly the most hideous yellow Skyrah had ever seen in her life! In fact…the man was bright all over. Red robes – she’d call them crimson, really – covered by green scarf and gloves, topped with that…thing. He stopped and gave her a short if cordial bow. “Apologies for being in your way, miss.”

Skyrah just blinked. “Uh.. s’arigh’.” He looked up and peered curiously at the bag on her back. She explained sheepishly, “I’m, uh, th’ person bringin’ all th’ candles ‘round lately. Make ‘em an’.. uh… stuff.” Her voice trailed off as she ran out of words. He looked surprisingly delighted at such a basic service.

“Ah! I have seen many using your candles. They are most well-crafted, miss. I assume you do not have any extras upon you, so wanted your craft has become.” He let his sentence drift, the obvious question hanging between bright red-and-yellow and dark brown-and-green figures.

She nodded. “Y-… uh, yeah. I, uh, d’ya want one?” His dialect was weird; it threw her off more than usual. At least he wasn’t making fun of her accent or anything, it was a start. She easily pulled a candle from her bag and was relieved when it was one of the nicer ones. Blind luck saved her again; this guy was kind of fancy, he’d probably appreciate one with swirls of color more than a plain candle.

His eyes proved her quite correct, but not how she expected. He blinked and for a split second – she wasn’t even sure it actually happened – his face softened from its polite mask into a quieter, happier look. It was quickly smoothed away as he looked down to pull a coin from his robe to hand to her. “Thank you, it is a perfect candle for my writing, such as it is.” A polite smile and nod of the head in her direction.

Skyrah nodded awkwardly, not even willing to protest they weren’t a whole silver as she handed him the candle in exchange. She had slowly begun to realize fancier people like this usually didn’t want to deal in copper. Maybe they just didn’t carry them, who knows. As she walked away, leaving the vividly colored man with his candle, she was distracted by a single question. Her curiosity nagged at her, but she would not retreat to ask. She’d never ask him if she ever saw him again, either! But she still wondered: what was so special about a candle with bright blue color in it?

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A head bobbed down the main street of Combe. Golden hair shone in the afternoon sun, the warm rays almost seeming to wash out all color. Apple green eyes peered around and finally spotted a young Man sweeping some dirt off a stoop. Such a young little boy, especially compared to her people! She quietly approached, hands clasped gently in front of her. Her grammar in Westron was still quite inadquate, but she had begun to understand more in her travels here. “Excuse me, you do know way to the Shire?”

He looked up, startled; his eyes went from sad to wide in a heartbeat. “Wh- y-.. yer… it.. a… yer.. yer ears an’…”

This is something she had acclimated to. Her head bowed politely to him, golden hair falling to cover her ears. “I am Duinelleth. I am sorry for interrupting your works.”

The boy looked around nervously, brown eyes beneath an equally plain brown mop of wavy hair scanning for something – or someone. He seemed to be mollified and took a half step closer. “Dy’a.. yer goin’ to th’ Shire?”

She nodded quietly. “Yes. I am to go home now. I know Shire is on way to home.”

He looked around one more time – so skittish, for a child! – and looked up to her nervously. “C’n ya look fer ma sist’r, iffen y’ see ‘er? She’s gone ‘way an’ I dunno where she gone off ta. She’s gotta be.. goin’ home, too. Comin’ back here.”

A rather odd request! A sincere one, if his worried frown was any indicator. “I…yes. Perhaps she become lost, if I find I will give her message of welcoming. How is she looking?”

The short young boy pointed to the sky. “She be real tall. Mebbe even yer height, she got brown hair an’ eyes jus’ like me.” His hand flew down to yank a lock of dirty hair and point to his eyes. “Real skinny like, like.. like me. An’ uh, she’s gotta scarf she don’ take off none. S’ brown.” His eyes went wide in realization. “Oh! An’ uh, th’ Shire’s.. ya gotta go int’ town over there,” he pointed behind her to the main town of Bree’s gate, “an’ then git goin’ over t’ th’ West. Ya follow th’ road to a bridge right proper.”

Filing the description away – that could be any number of humans, not that she’d tell the boy that!! – she bowed her head. The directions sounded much more promising. “I thank you, young sir. I now leave, and tell your sister if I am to be finding her.”

“M’ name’s Ridgley, iffen yer findin’ ‘er. Thank ya, Miss Elf Lady.” He stood awkwardly as she gracefully glided out of existence. His first Elf, and what does he do? Ask her to look for Sky! Sky? Gah! He never told her his sister’s name! Ridgley sighed to himself and went back to carefully sweeping the stoop. Idiot.