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by Arenborne on Jun 20, 2018 at 10:24 PM
Evening sunlight filtered through the windows of the tavern, small particles of dust floating in the beams of bright light. Arenborn Kolten was sat inside the Sizzling Turtle tavern of Hookworth beside the fireplace, taking advantage of the light from the windows to write in his book. It was one of his many drafts of a letter to his parents. Every time he had tried to write one they had ended up crumpled up and thrown away. They didn’t even know he was knighted, let alone married.

He was beginning to give up hope when the door swung open and Adriellyn stepped inside. She was followed shortly after by Jonn and then Brynleigh and the evening continued pleasantly and Aren was able to forget his attempt to write to his parents, neatly tucking his leather-bound book into his belt. It seemed strange to Aren to be socialising with others without his wife Inayat there to help interpret the many gestures he makes to communicate, but it was something he was gradually become more adept at, particularly with those he felt comfortable with such as the residents of Hookworth.

The conversation was easy and casual, but came to a sudden and abrupt stop when the door opened for a fourth time that night and one of the town guards stepped in. He was one of the younger guards, and Aren knew him as one who always got annoyed whenever he cantered out the gate whilst racing Inayat. With him, was a young girl, having seen maybe all of ten summers. She had blonde hair down past her shoulders, though it was messy, tangled, and darkened with dirt. She had wide blue eyes as she looked about fearfully, and her face was covered in grime. Her dress was also torn and dirty, and whether it had once been nice it was hard to tell as it looked like she had spent a few nights running through the wild in it. Aren also noticed she seemed well fed, or at least had been until recently, for she had the look of someone who had been hungry a few days yet was not so skinny as for it to be a permanent state for her.

Everyone’s curiosity was piqued, and they all looked over as the guard explained that he had found her wandering near the gate to the village and thought it was maybe a resident’s. Brynleigh became motherly in an instant as her hand goes to her chest with pity as she asks the child where her parents were. She only mumbled a response, and the guard told her to speak up. He was a loud man, and though he meant no harm he scared the girl with his booming voice and commanding tone causing her to shrink away from him in fear.

Aren, uncomfortable with children and how unsure to deal with those older than a toddler, remained in his seat, more than happy to let everyone else take the lead. Adriellyn moved forward to offer the child food, Jonn went and sat nearby playing with his fingers though Aren knew not why, and Brynleigh moved closer to the girl to kneel before her and ask her where she lived and who her parents were. From his seat, Aren gestured for the guard to leave for he had done his part and he didn’t want the loud man to scare the girl again.

The offer of food brought a light to the girl’s eyes and she stared at Adriellyn with hunger in her bright blue orbs as she nodded, and Aren’s earlier suspicions as to her hunger were confirmed. She took a step back from Brynleigh and shrugged to her only looking at her for a moment to answer before staring at Adriellyn again.

Slowly, they manage to get small pieces of information from her, she was called Talia, Bryn found out, and introduced them all to her. Adriellyn bought them both some bangers and mash and the girl went to sit with her at the counter as Brynleigh and Jonn sat back down with Aren. They all watched with curiosity as the girl managed to get through almost two plates of food in what could have been a record time, scooping up mashed potato with her sausage before stuffing as much as she could into her mouth. Adriellyn was talking to her, slowly trying to get her confidence and more information as the others sat and discussed where they think she was from and how she got there.

She was definitely a runaway they decided, but what to do with her they weren’t sure. They hoped that the girl’s parents would come and look for her, but until then, and if they didn’t come, they needed a plan. Brynleigh first suggested giving her to Aren and Inayat, for as she said, they were one of the few couples in town who could act as a mother and father. She probably saw in Aren’s face what he thought of that idea, but he wrote it down in his journal to clarify. ‘Not without Inayat’s agreement,’ he answered her.

It wasn’t long after this that Aeroden arrived and was greeted warmly by Brynleigh to join in their discussion as to what they should do about Talia, still sat at the bar with Adriellyn. Just before Adriellyn brought the girl over to their table in the corner, Aren had an idea. They would ask Katnya to look after her for a while, she was already raising her own child and they could give her the funds to look after Talia for a few days and as they agreed upon that Adriellyn came over to the table.

The girl was less tense than before though Aren caught how her eyes darted about the windows and the door, as though checking exits for a quick way out or to see if anyone is looking through them and trying to get in. It fell silent for a few long moments, as no one was sure what to say for fear of upsetting the already nervous and distressed young girl they were looking after. Out of the corner of his eye he caught Brynleigh holding onto Aeroden’s hand and he smiled slightly. He didn’t know Aeroden well, but he seemed like a nice match for Brynleigh, particularly after all she had been through.

During the silence Talia reached up to grab her cup of milk, and Aren caught a glimpse of what looked like an iron ring on her finger. Staring at it in confusion, he rummaged through his pocket till he pulled out a ring that could be similar to it, and one that had been on his mind for a while. Scribbling on a loose leaf of paper he passed the note and the ring under the table to Adriellyn who was sat beside the girl, asking her if the two rings matched.

It took a few tense moments for Aren until she passed it back with a subtle nod. Aren tried and failed to keep a straight face as he stared at Talia in confusion and shock for a few moments, and then down at the iron ring in his palm. It was not well crafted, just a simple iron band with a face on the front, on which was engraved ‘Tuo’ in Tengwar, meaning Strength in Quenya. It had been taken from the corpse of a Brigand he had killed whilst patrolling with Ina, and she had taken one from his comrade she had killed, and their origin had been plaguing him since as he found nothing in any of the books or scrolls of the Hookworth Historical House.

Aren and Adriellyn escorted Talia to the home of Katnya who was more than willing to take her in, her reaction akin Brynleigh’s as she felt pity for the young girl. On their return, Aren used his book to explain to them what he had realised and what it meant. Somehow this girl was involved with the brigands he had fought. Adriellyn further confirmed this by telling them how Talia said it was given to her by “the Boss.”

There was much concerned discussion following that, and it was decided that the town guards should be warned and that everyone in town should be on the look out for something suspicious. After that was decided, Aren could feel the effect of socialising for too long on him, and he stood up to depart. He said his farewells and then left for home, stopping by the guards to instruct them on what had happened and what they needed to do.

He fell in to bed when he returned home, though could not sleep. He lay staring at the ceiling long after Inayat had returned from her patrol and fallen asleep beside him and his mind buzzed with thoughts and worries.

Who was this child?

What trouble might she bring on the town?

What should they do when someone comes looking for her?

The engraving on the ring.
by Arenborne on Apr 12, 2018 at 09:06 PM
The village of Hookworth was quiet and peaceful. The trees were covered with the green leaves of a fresh spring, slowly rustling in a gentle breeze. Flowers swayed among the grass, the bright yellow daffodils, pink and white magnolias, and the small bluebells were all blooming now, bringing a sense of cheer to the small Breeland homestead. The only sounds were the trickling of the stream and rushing of the waterfall, the breeze rustling through the trees and grass, and the birds chirping, calling out to find a mate.

The peace was disturbed by the loud cracks of a sword on wood as Arenborn Kolten hacked at a training dummy. Over and over he hit it, the thuds, thwacks, and snaps filling the world around him.

The last seven months had been unpleasant, not long after his wedding he had begun to realise how soon the anniversary of one of the most important and tragic moments in his life was. The day they had left on the expedition passed and he sunk into a reclusive state, tormented by the memories of the days before the tragedy. He thought of his mentor, Sir Elmir, and every lesson he had taught him, every task he had had him complete, every time they had sparred with each other on that trip.

Each day became worse for him, as he thought of the conversations they had had about his upcoming knighting, the way he should behave for the ceremony, what he would need to do to prepare, what would happen afterwards. It only hurt Aren more to think of how he never used any of that advice.

Days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months until finally the day had come, the anniversary of his mentor’s death. The day he had lost his voice to the same brigand’s who had murdered his mentor. In the four years since it had happened, he had never struggled so hard to cope with the memories and the depression. Maybe it was because he had previously been able to drown his emotions with alcohol, or maybe it was because now he had a wife who would never meet the man who had effectively raised him, who would never hear her husband utter the words “I love you.” Maybe it was a bit of both.

After that, he didn’t get any better. He felt bad for how Inayat must be feeling, they had just got married and he had so quickly fallen into depression afterwards he knew how it must look, despite trying to explain. Not only that, but he had yet to reach the anniversary of the second worst day of his life. They day his father had banished him, sent him away to somewhere where he couldn’t besmirch the family name and reputation.

When that day came he wasn’t even able to leave the bed in the morning. He didn’t eat anything that day, one of the worst days over the last few months. When it passed though, and he began to recover, he started to think. He had missed his home so much, and despite what his parents had done to him, they were still his parents. Wouldn’t they want to know he was happily married?

He slowly came out of his depressed stupor to find himself weak, hungry, and most of all, lonely. He had barely interacted with Inayat for a long time, something he regretted immensely. They went out together, and despite left over negative emotions, their moods improved once they were in the privacy of their own home, able to enjoy their ‘reunion’ in full. As they lay together in bed, drifting to sleep, he explained what he had been feeling. That he wanted to go and see his parents. She was initially confused, and he found it hard to explain as his book was somewhere in the other room and he didn’t want to ruin the mood by going to get it. She came around to the idea and they agreed to begin their travels soon, first to visit her home, and then his.

So, the next day, Aren resumed his training. He hadn’t touched his sword in a couple of months, having stopped shortly before the anniversary of his muting and he felt it was time to get back into shape. He had a hearty breakfast and headed up to the barracks to work on his swordsmanship and fitness.

Rather than a structured training session, he found himself pummelling a training dummy with all his might, working out any remain negative emotions, anger, sadness, and guilt, letting it all go. When he finished, he found himself panting over a ruined dummy and a slightly damaged sword. He didn’t care though, for he felt better, he felt ready to make the journey to see his parents.
by Ramield on Apr 07, 2018 at 08:41 PM
A final wrapping of sinew went around the shaft of the soon to be arrow, securing the feathers to it. After that, all it would need was to dry before the arrowhead could be fitted into place. The elf set it to the side with a sigh, looking around the trading hall of Hookworth. Her gaze dropped again at a pile of papers, the leftover matters from the former leaders of the Order, the Knights of Eriador. Leaving the quill untouched, she picked up another shaft. This was not like her, but then again none of this was. She found herself in a position she had never sought, not even considered. This was never where she had seen her path in life leading.

Her family was so far away, and her niece and nephew were coming up on their first century. She was far out of her element, handed leadership of a remnant of scattered individuals. How had things dwindled so? Beongarn was in the wind, possibly having gone back to Dale on some unfinished business. Brywyn no longer held her title, passing that mantle to Ramield who now sat there next to a barrel full of new arrows and a pile of unfinished papers. Oronir, Anglaraen, Zargodon, Leothross and others she knew, she had not seen since her return. Ulfban…that woman’s location she knew. Her ashes she had buried next to those of Elenath, Hethan she had been called too, and sang over their graves.
But this was not an order of the dead or absent, but of the living. Ramield laid aside the shaft and picked up the top parchment. So many regulations with no one to enforce. So much structure with no one to fill it. What was there for her to do? How could she revitalize that which had been laid down? No one could bring back the dead.

Taking the whole stack, Ramield stepped from the trading hall. Through the town she trod, purposeful in her gait over the river and up the hill. The birds called from their trees, making nests for themselves; flowers and a thin film of green dust ached to become new life. Cresting the top, she paused and glanced to her right. The stones that had been recovered from the former refuge of the Knights stood in a circle, and carved upon them the virtues of their oath, a firm foundation upon which to build.

The huntress bounded up the steps, two and three at a time, reaching the office, her office, on the top floor. She set the papers aside to stoke up the embers of the morning’s small blaze and added nurtured it from there. Soon, she sat at the desk next to the self-sustaining blaze. Her eyes quickly scanned the piles of pages, separating them out until two piles grew, one on her right, the other on her left. Substance, that was what she sought. That firm foundation lost that had been weighed down. By the time she was finished with the stack, the majority of the papers sat on her right. These she took, pouring through them a second time, putting a few more pages to her left.

It had been a few hours, and a few more logs on the fire, but she was satisfied. She took the short stack on her left, looking toward the fireplace. Throughout that time, it had become too hot, and she opened a window to relieve the dry heat. With the few papers in one hand, she stood, rounding the desk toward the fire. There, she tossed the papers onto a nearby bookshelf. With a quick turn, she heaved the remaining stack in both arms and piled it on top of the fire. The old, dry, cracking parchment caught in an instant, the edges falling nigh instantly to ash while the center of the mound lacked the airflow to catch. It would all in time.

For it was not time to revitalize that which had been laid down, but to give birth to something new
by Arenborne on Jun 11, 2017 at 11:58 AM
Leaves rustle as the warm summer breeze rushes through the trees and the water rushes along the stream that ran through the village, Aren smiles as those sounds are joined the clip clopping of heavy hooves, plodding along the paved bridge. Flowers were blossoming in the village as the sun shone down, a warm and bright day to match his emotions. He was home at last.
Five weeks he had been away on a patrol for the knights, but never had days felt longer to him. Not even when he had lain in bed for weeks with no voice, his father figure dead, and no one to come and find him. Even those days had seemed short in comparison. This though, being separated from Inayat, had been agony. He had awoken each day, thinking of her, and all through the ride till the moment he lay his head on his makeshift pillow each night she would remain in his thoughts. Her vibrant red hair, lively smile, her smattering of freckles, she was there in his mind’s eye down to the last detail. Her blue eyes, infectious laugh, and gentle voice, he longed for it every waking hour and in the world of dreams as well.
What he missed most though, was her understanding of him. With her, he felt almost normal again, as though he had his voice still. Sure, sometimes she couldn’t quite get his gestures, and the more difficult topics he had to write down still, but they got by easily enough with gestures in a way that no one else could. He had tried with these people he was riding with but was returned blank looks till he wrote something down. Inayat understood him, and would try her best till she got it right, and that was what he loved about her, or one of the many things.
About halfway through the journey, he had decided on something. When he returned home, he would begin the planning of their wedding. Sure, they were engaged but hadn’t ever gotten around to planning, they always got distracted. He wanted to marry her though, and every day he was apart from her only increased that ache, that need. So, he decided, he would get to it when he returned, and the sooner they were wed the happier he would be. With these thoughts in mind, he distracted arrived at their home and dismounted Tarphal before heading to the door. That was when he was ambushed.
From above him came a shout of his name, and he was leaped upon by a small, fiery Rohirric woman. Her arms wrap around him as he catches her, laughing his odd, soundless laugh as he spins her in a circle before placing her on her feet and pulling her into a deep loving kiss. Now, being with her again it feels as though the last five weeks had been the emptiest of his life. Without her, he had had nothing, with her, he had everything.
After a time spent on the porch she takes him inside and begins cooking, and despite his efforts she refuses to let him help, telling him he had been on the road to long. The food was good, she was still learning to cook and there were some improvements that could probably be made, but he didn’t voice his concerns, she had cooked possibly the best meal he had ever tasted. Or at least, that was the impression he tried to give. She might have had criticisms, but he certainly did not.
When they were mostly finished, he shows her his book, and what he had been working on while away and when she was cooking. One page depicts them in a sketch, her hands in his as they lean in to kiss one another while surrounded with flowers, whilst the other page explains how soon he wishes to marry her.
She takes her time to read before taking his hand and answering with exactly what he wanted to hear, “Me too. Every day you were gone was lonely. I mean, there were some happy times around town and places, but it just felt off not to be sharing that with you, and not getting to talk to you about things.”
From there, they begin making their plans, who to invite, where to hold it, when. Though they only decide on people to invite, they had yet to look at places, and couldn’t chose a date till all else was sorted. Despite this, Aren was content, it was a step in the right direction, even though they got distracted again.
The next day, they travelled to the barracks together, to do what they always do to express their love, batter the other with a training weapon. Back and forth the duel goes, till they hit the floor together, weapons at each other’s throat. With a laugh, they share a kiss and end they spar, happy to be in one another’s company again at last.
by Ramield on May 13, 2017 at 06:14 PM
“Flower, could you bring me one of those onions please?”
“M’kay!” came the reply, followed by the pitter patter of tiny bare feet. Amelthia looked down at the beaming face rimmed with short, red hair and hands extended upward to present the onion. The woman took it with an exaggerated expression of awe to see the proud look on her daughter’s face. “Woah, that’s a big one.”
“’S why I picked it,” the little girl replied cheerily.
“Well thank you, Inayat.” The little redhead ran back to play with the figurines her aunt had fashioned for her a while back as Mel resumed chopping vegetables.
“Yes flower?”
“Why do you call me flower? My name’s Inayat.”
Mel chuckled at her daughter’s ever inquisitive nature, her knife continuing its methodical motion. “I call you precious and sweet and flower and other things; I just lo-“
“Is it because you grew me in the garden?”
Mel couldn’t help but laugh. “Where on earth did you get that idea?”
“Brenian says you must’ve grown me in the garden and that’s why I have red hair but Mommy has blond and Daddy has black.”
Mel blinked. Had it started already? However long she wanted to protect her from the perception that would always follow her, could she do it? Blast Brenian’s father! And bless his mild tempered mother. Perhaps she had a while yet before…
But her daughter was waiting, and she could not disappoint. She hadn’t even realized that in her dour thoughts, her knife had stopped its work. She turned, placing her hands on her hips, her expression behooved but colored by a smile. “Well, if that isn’t the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.” She pushed her pale gold locks back over her shoulder, not wanting them or the difference between the two girls to be the focus as she walked over to kneel in front of Inayat. She cupped her cherished one’s face in her hand with a loving smile. “After all, you’re my daughter. I call you flower because you’re bright like a flower,” she said, running her hand through the little one’s red hair, “and happy like a flower,” she concluded with a tap to her freckled nose.

Inayat giggled and then gasped as the door’s ever creaky hinges squeaked open and her daughter rushed eagerly toward her husband, eager to explain her discovery. “I know why Mommy and Daddy call me flower.” She put her hands on top of her head. “I’m bright like a flower aaaaaaand happy like a flower!” With that, she leapt at Carthen with arms outstretched. He caught her and swung her around him in circles. Amelthia smiled affectionately at the pair, laughter emanating from them both, and rose to resume her task.
The unpleasant thoughts from earlier faded away, replaced with the next step in the recipe and the scene that was occurring behind her that she monitored with loving amusement. Carthen was never much for eloquent words, but humor came easier, especially around their daughter.
“Hey, flower, why don’t you go out to the garden where the real plants live to give your mommy and daddy some thyme?”
The little girl scampered to the door with an “Ok.”

Mel pushed the vegetables into the pot with the potatoes and felt Carthen’s hand slip around her. She turned to receive his kiss, returning it lovingly. When they parted, she quirked an eyebrow at him with an amused smile. “Thyme? Really? Your puns are terrible.” Her husband grinned and shrugged, squeezing her waist, eliciting a soft chuckle from her. Though as she looked out the window at their daughter rummaging through the garden, her expression became less cheerful, a touch of sorrow entering it. “Brenian told her she must’ve been grown in the garden, no doubt because his mother didn’t want to explain what his father thought about her…or rather me.” Carthen sighed, rubbing her arm soothingly as Amelthia continued. “I’m alright with whatever they might think or say about me. I know how it looks: a woman, going away and coming back a year later with a baby in her arms and a strange man at her side, both of whom look nothing alike. I get it, and I can take the rumors from those who will think what they think despite what I might say. But I will not have them saying anything of her.” She turned to Carthen with a stern expression. “I will not have them telling her that she’s dirty, that she’s the spawn of some Wildman…that she doesn’t belong.”
Carthen held her hands, looking into her eyes, his voice deep. “Folks’ll say what they’ll say. You can’t stop that. But she knows the truth as well as you, that we’re family; we’ve never hidden anything from her.”
“I know, but we’ve never told her the whole story either.”
Carthen shrugged. “Why not now?”
“What might she think? What might she think of herself, of us? Will she not want to listen to us? Will she-
“Mel. Stop. Do you honestly think our little girl thinks that way?” He looked out the window toward the garden and his wife’s gaze followed. “She’s a bright kid. If she hadn’t figured it out already, you think it’d take her long? ‘Sides,” he said, grinning down at her, “you’ll have to explain how these things happen someday…”
Mel shoved him lightly. “Darn you, that’s a ways away, and you know it.”
“Oh is it?” he said, leaning down. “Explain this away…” he murmured against her neck.

A few sweet moments later, Inayat burst back through the door, spoils in hand. She rushed back over to them, calling, “I’ll save you, Mommy! I won’t let him eat you!” Mel pushed lightly at Carthen to get him to move back as she plucked the sprigs of thyme from Inayat’s fist and added them to the pot. She could feel herself blushing, smiling to herself.

The evening passed in general pleasantness. Inayat brought her figurines to the table, telling them a story she made for them. Amelthia smiled softly at her daughter, asking her questions about it to encourage her and suggesting outcomes while Carthen watched them contently. Throughout the night, Mel and Carthen exchanged silent looks. His asked if she would tell Inayat where she came from, but her soft smile in return told him to let it be. There would be another night for that, but tonight was too perfect.

by Ramield on May 13, 2017 at 06:13 PM
“Flower, could you bring me one of those onions please?”
“M’kay!” came the reply, followed by the pitter patter of tiny bare feet. Amelthia looked down at the beaming face rimmed with short, red hair and hands extended upward to present the onion. The woman took it with an exaggerated expression of awe. “Woah, that’s a big one.”
“’S why I picked it,” the little girl replied cheerily.
“Well thank you, Inayat.” The little redhead ran back to play with her figurines as Mel resumed chopping vegetables.
“Yes flower?”
“Why do you call me flower? My name’s Inayat.”
Mel chuckled, her knife continuing its methodical motion. “I call you precious and sweet and flower and other things; I just lo-“
“Is it because you grew me in the garden?”
Mel couldn’t help but laugh. “Where on earth did you get that idea?”
“Brenian says you must’ve grown me in the garden and that’s why I have red hair but Mommy has blond and Daddy has black.”
The knife slowed to a stop, and for a moment, silence filled the room. Amelthia turned, placing her hands on her hips, her expression behooved but colored by a smile. “Well, if that isn’t the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.” She pushed her pale gold locks back over her shoulder as she walked over to kneel in front of the little girl, cupping the young one’s face in her hand with a loving smile. “After all, you’re my daughter. I call you flower because you’re bright like a flower,” she said, running her hand through the little one’s red hair, “and happy like a flower,” she concluded with a tap to her freckled nose.

Inayat giggled. Her laughter was interrupted by an excited gasp as the front door’s hinges squeaked open. “Daddy!” Inayat’s short legs sped her over to stand in front of her father. Carthen put down his load with a tired, low grunt and smiled broadly down at her. “Well now, what’s got you so excited today?”
“I know why Mommy and Daddy call me flower.” She put her hands on top of her head. “I’m bright like a flower aaaaaaand happy like a flower!” With that, she leapt at her daddy with arms outstretched. He caught her and swung her around him in circles. Amelthia smiled affectionately at the pair, laughter emanating from them both, and rose to resume her task.

“Woah there, precious, warn me next time, eh?” Carthen held Inayat up in his arms, and she shook her head defiantly. He scrutinized her with an incredulous gaze. “So, you’re telling me you’re not a real flower?”
“Nooooooo,” she refuted, giggling.
Carthen scratched his stubbly chin. “Well, let’s see.” He turned her over in his arms so that he held her upside down by her ankles, swinging her like a pendulum. The child shrieked and laughed as he flipped her, letting her arms hang free, her fingertips still so far from the floor. He appeared to examine her feet. “Hmm, there’s enough dirt here for a flower to grown in. Are you sure she’s not a flower, honey?”
Mel chuckled. “Yes, dear.”
“I’m not so sure about that.” He carefully laid Inayat down on the ground, and she sat up to smile at him as he knelt in front of her. “These look like little potatoes; they could be roots,” he said, wiggling her toes. Inayat giggled. “No! They’re my toes.”
Carthen’s face was a mask of astonishment. “No? Hmm, toes and potatoes, that sounds a little suspicious to me.” His daughter laughed as if that was the funniest thing in the world. “But what about your stems here?” he asked, tickling the backs of her knees.
“Daddy, those are my legs!”
“What? Then what about these?” he asked, interlocking his fingers with hers and swirling her arms around in circles. “Long, skinny, grabby things. Surely these must be your vines.
“These are my arms and fingers,” she said matter-of-factly, flapping her elbows and wiggling her fingers.
“But aren’t arms supposed to be bigger?”
“That’s because I’m little and not big and strong like Daddy yet.”
“Well, you have me there, but what about your leaves?” he asked, lightly flicking her ears back and forth with his fingers. The little girl twisted her head this way and that to escape them. “Those are ears for hearing!”
“But above them are your red petals,” he said in rebuttal, quickly rubbing his hands through her hair and making it stand out.
“Hair and petals aren’t alike,” she said, pushing at his arms in vain as he continued to play with her hair.
“They are if it’s dandelion petals.”
“But I’m not a dandelion, I’m a girl!”
Carthen stroked his chin. “Hmm…Well, I guess you’re right. But if you’re a girl, who do you belong to?”
“To you! To Daddy and Mommy.”
His mouth fell open in mock surprise, putting a hand over his chest? “To me? You’re my girl?” He let out a relieved sigh. “Well good, I’ve always wanted a little girl like you.” Inayat hugged him suddenly as he smiled, kneeling there and stroking her back before placing a kiss on the top of her head. “Hey, flower, why don’t you go out to the garden where the real plants live to give your mommy and daddy some thyme?”

The little girl scampered to the door with an “Ok.” The garden was only a short way away, though the yard gave her time to run freely as she couldn’t indoors. Inwardly, she smiled triumphantly that she had made it out without having to put shoes on. She curled her free toes in the loamy garden soil. She tiptoed her way past vegetables, including the much hated cucumbers, to the herbs, finding the long, thin leaves of the thyme. When trying to pull off one of the sprigs, she nearly uprooted the plant, and with a worried glance over her shoulder toward the windows of her house to make sure no one saw, she quickly patted it back into place and pushed dirt in around it to keep it steady. She was more careful after that, prying off a few sprigs before tiptoeing her way back through the vegetables again then jogging to the door.

Inayat burst back through the door, spoils in hand. She looked over to her parents who stood together by the table. “I’ll save you, Mommy! I won’t let him eat you!” She charged over. Her mother plucked the sprigs from her fist, chuckling, her cheeks a rosy color, while her father pulled away and grinned down at Inayat. “Oh, but who’s going to save you?” he asked. Bending down, he picked her up with a roar and tucked her under his arm. “I’m a troll!” He roared, stomping around the room. “I can crush boulders with my hands and eat pretty little girls for breakfast!” He lifted her up and pretended to eat her face off with kisses before tucking her back in place with exaggerated chewing noises. “Who can save you now?”

Inayat flailed about, trying to free herself and laughing. “The Riders will save me! Or Aunt Rami! Or my Mommy and Daddy! Or I’ll get you myself, you big mean troll!” She held out a hand toward her mother. “Save meeeeeee!”
Mel chuckled, flipping her golden hair over her shoulder as she turned to add the thyme to the pot. Carthen stumbled away from her as if stricken. “Oh no! The sunlight, it’s turning me to stone.” He collapsed to his knees, releasing Inayat before falling on his back. The little girl plopped down on his stomach, producing a deep grunt, and began pounding on his chest. “Take that, troll!” she cried. Her father sighed. “I am defeated. Now, go claim your reward, hero, for a mighty feast has been prepared in your honor.” Inayat leapt up and ran to her mother and the good smelling stew but was directed toward the dishes to set the table with.

The evening passed in general pleasantness. Inayat brought her figurines to the table, telling them a story she made for them. Amelthia smiled softly at her daughter, asking her questions about it and suggesting outcomes while Carthen watched them contently. Throughout the night, Mel and Carthen exchanged silent looks, a conversation between them alone that Inayat couldn’t understand.
by Arenborne on Apr 21, 2017 at 03:15 PM
Arenborn had returned to Bree-land, his journey back from Gondor taking much time, which he had used to think. He had, not wasted, but failed to use his time in Bree effectively. He knew what he wanted in life, and how he could get it, so why had he ignored it? This is of course, the Knights of Eriador. He had met members of the secretive organisation the last time he was in Bree, and they had welcomed him to their ranks. However, he had not spent much time with them, preferring to spend it with Tosie, or with a large quantity of alcohol. His journey to Gondor had helped to change this, he drank less, especially after months in the wilds with no alcohol at all. Mostly, it had been visiting Sir Elmir’s grave that showed him the disgrace he had become. Aren had improved, but it was a work in progress.

Having returned, Aren spent as much time as he could with the Knights of Eriador, reading in their library, training at their barracks, or socialising in their main hall. Perhaps less of the latter, but this was how his time was spent. Book after book was sped through in days, and the training dummies had never sustained an extended beating like it before, nor will they again. Keeping himself occupied was key he felt, making sure he was training and learning, bettering himself whilst getting to know his fellow members of the order.

This proved a difficult task. Since he had lost his voice, Aren’s social skills and confidence had taken a nose dive over the Falls of Rauros. Not everyone could read, nor could everyone understand his gestures at times. Those were just the issues in a one to one conversation. In groups people didn’t pay attention to him often, they might move on to another topic before he’s finished writing his message, or sometimes not try to understand his gestures and just shrug at him. This difficulty in communicating was what knocked his confidence. He began to withdraw into himself, people couldn’t ignore him if he kept to himself. He would refrain from eye contact, he would remain ‘quiet’ during group conversations, preferring to sit and listen.

Inayat though, was different from everyone else. She regretted she couldn’t read so that they could talk, and did her best to understand his gestures and expressions. More importantly, she didn’t treat him differently for being a mute, and invited him to spar with her one evening. The fiery redheaded Rohirric lass was adept with a spear and shield, and was trying to learn, and over the course of a few sparring sessions, learnt a great deal from Aren. He did what he could to teach, rather than purely sparring, and the fast learner quickly showed results. After three days of sparring together, both were littered with cuts and bruises from the various hits they’d taken each.

Aren had escorted her home each time, or rather to the guesthouse in Hookworth where she was staying, and they parted each night with a hug. On the third night, after sparring and spending time in a pub together and with friends, Aren fought his nerves and kissed her. Perhaps he has a thing for red headed ladies from Rohan with a fiery personality? Maybe she couldn’t read and understand him fully, but perhaps that was what they needed? Writing messages whenever he wanted to say something was not something he enjoyed, nor wished to do with a partner. Being forced to rely on gestures and expressions had developed a bond between the two, and as a lady had said in the Pony that day, “You two seem to communicate just fine.” All this led to Aren leaning down and kissing her as they hug their farewell.

At first, Inayat was surprised, stiffening at the unexpected kiss. A few moments later, she relaxed into it and returned the tender kiss. When the short moment, that had felt like an eternity, ended, Aren met her gaze for a split second before dropping his eyes and his cheeks flushing a shade of pink. Inayat looked at him, her mouth dropping open as though to speak, but, unable to think of what to say she resorted to just taking his hand. They shared a long moment of rare eye contact and Aren felt lost in her pale blue eyes, eyes he hadn’t seen properly due to his shyness, avoiding meeting her gaze. They were beautiful.

They prepare to part, when Inayat mentioned that staying in the guest house would be easier than staying in an inn. It would be cheaper, and he would be closer to the rest of the Order and be able to get to the training easier. She showed him around, and he took the spare room, across the central room from hers. They shared another kiss, this time both of them more sure of their intent, before parting for bed.

Deep into the night Arenborn remained awake, the brief kisses he had shared with her playing through his mind over and over, a smile fixed across his lips.
by Ramield on Feb 22, 2017 at 03:38 AM
Amber sunlight filtered in through the sheltering canopy of the wood. A few leaves, detached from the branches and drifted down, lifted and tossed on currents of air, in no hurry to land. A sound caught them like an updraft, made them feel as if they had life-bringing roots of their own and called them to shine once more before the echo faded and the leaves floated onward once more toward their rest.
Two children ran laughing through the trees. Among the mighty trunks whose boughs stretched impossibly high, they were as slender and flighty as willow leaves. They climbed and fell and laughed and sang and ran the boisterous energy of their limbs away. Finally, the girl slid onto a nearby silver root. By her height and and features, she appeared to be around seven years of age; however, any wise man could tell you that such an appearance can be deceiving. She pushed stray locks of dark hair behind her pointed ears, revealing features that held a grace beyond that which one might expect of one at such a tender age. She held out a hand as if taking hold of something, and drew the other from the hidden object to rest at her cheek. There she paused, aiming her invisible arrow, then with a sound of “Pshew!” she sent her imaginary projectile flying through the trees to a target that only she could see. A boy, appearing much like a young teen with the same dark hair, pointed ears, and similar features jogged up, chuckling. “You know father won’t let you even touch one for over a half-century, right?”
“I know, but I can imagine it, soaring through the air on its own feathery wings.”
“Well, did you at least hit your target?”
The girl crossed her legs on her perch. “Of course! After all, I’m going to be the greatest archer of all.”
The boy grinned teasingly. “I thought you were going to be the best singer.”
“I can be both. Sharpest eye in the Golden Wood and a voice rivalling that of Luthien herself!” The little elleth landed on her back with a soft thump, her hand, thrust up in exuberance and the cause of her imbalance, remained extended above her head. The lad doubled over in laughter, the memory of her flailing limbs playing over again in his mind and bringing fresh peals and giggles. “Heh, and I suppose you’ll be just as graceful too,” he managed to get out between chuckles.
The girl sat up, rubbing the back of her head and pouting. “Merenor…” she sulked. Still chuckling, he sat behind her and began pulling blades of grass from her hair.
“You can’t be both, you know.”
“Why not?”
“You just can’t”
“Says who?”
“Says everyone.”
The girl looked back skeptically. Her brother shrugged. “I’m more than twice your age; I know these things. Though…” he said with a wide grin, “I may not be the only older sibling soon.”
The younger gasped. “Do you mean-”
“I overheard mother and father talking. I think she’s with child.”
The girl exclaimed happily to the golden canopy and spun around to hug him, squeezing with all her might in jubilation. “What do you think they are?”
“He’s a boy, definitely.”
“Well I think we have a sister.”
“A brother.”
“No, a sister.”
“Tell you what, Ramield,” said the brother, rising to his feet. “Let’s race back. If I win, they’ll be a boy; if you win, a girl.”
“Get ready, and-” he took off down the path, calling over his shoulder as he sprinted. “GO!”
The little lady scrambled to her feet. “Merenor, that’s not how it works! Merenor!” she called. Yet, she took off after him as fast as her legs would carry her.
by Arenborne on Feb 21, 2017 at 01:20 AM
Together, or not at all.

The words run through Arenborn Kolten’s mind. They blot out most of his thoughts, distracting him from all but the soft fingers locked with his, the fiery red hair resting against his shoulder, and the familiar scent of Inayat, like long grass in the wind.

The sunlight filters through the leaves of the tall willow tree beneath which Aren proposed, with the soft trickle of the stream running past. It was a special place to them, pretty, calming, and full of good memories. Yet Aren could think of none of those just yet. Only what had happened that day.


It had begun like any other day. They had both done their patrols, and then headed up to the sanctuary to see who was there. At first, no one, but shortly after their arrival, the man Bleon entered. He had arrived in Hookworth not long ago, claiming to have once been a member of the order. He named Beongarn, their Grandmaster, a brat, and attempted to put himself into a position of authority. It didn’t sit right with Aren. Today, he wanted to knight those who were eligible, and swear in those who had not been.

But who was this man? What proof did he have? He said that they could look him up in the chronicles. If so, any enemy could do so and take the name. Neither Aren or Inayat were accepting this. The conflict began however, when Bleon questioned Inayat’s abilities, and whether she had failed her training.

“If it has been so long you do not even remember when you took the oath... should you not have made Knight by now? Have you failed your training?”

It was enough to anger them both. “Hey, you come barging in, not knowing what's going on and expecting all the answers, opening letters that aren't yours, and now you're going to say I haven’t got what it takes?" Inayat bursts angrily, and points at her spear. "Just 'cause certain people haven't shown their faces in a while to see things done doesn't mean we're at fault here. You want to test that training, huh?"'

The debate then raged. Who was this man with no solid proof of identity to question and order them? He was a former High Nine council member; his name was in records. Yet as pointed out by Eterunan who was there to witness, the records held no images, only names.

But then Bleon suggested Inayat and Aren defend their accusations with actions. Of course, they were willing. Blades are drawn; Inayat her spear, Aren his sword and Bleon his own blade. Aren readied himself, adopting a guard and adjusting his grip and footing, but Inayat stopped him. She needed to prove she can hold her own. With a sigh, Aren straightened up. His sword remaining in hand, should he need to intervene.

The battle was short and ended quickly. Bleon suffering the worst beneath the spear of a raging shield maiden, and Inayat a strike to the head from the man’s pommel. Bleon sheathed his sword, but Inayat kept coming in a rage. He stumbled back, causing her to pause when she realised there was no resistance from him. Panting, she slowly backed away.

After this, there was only a small drop in the tension that resonated through the room. Neither Aren or Inayat were happy, and Aren still wanted the man to prove his identity. In a short note to him, he explained as much. This however led to Bleon spew a multitude of facts for them. That people saw him at a festival, that they could quiz him on details from the chronicles of the order, that he was part of the archery contest and that Beongarn welcomed him back. Aren however took only the last of these facts as solid proof. The rest had no effect on the man’s identity. And so, Bleon said how impressed he was with Inayat’s performance, and that he would offer her a knighthood alongside Arenborn. But she refused it. She wanted nothing from him. Then he asked Aren.

The world seemed to freeze in this moment. A knighthood. Hadn’t he dreamed of it since he could remember? Hadn’t he been denied this for so long and it was finally there, in his grasp. All he needed to do was say yes and close his fist around it. But then he looked down at Inayat. She was so angry with Bleon still, and it reminded him that he was as well. This man who acted like an ass and seemed to have enjoyed antagonising them and causing strife. Could Aren really have accepted a knighthood from him? Yet he had waited for so long for this lifelong dream. But there was the love of his life, still panting and sweating from the clash. So, his thoughts circled. Round and around they went. Until at last, he came to a decision; Together, or not at all.

He could not take this from a man he disliked. He could not take something Inayat could not take as well. He had proposed so that they could be together, in all matters till the day they die, and was this not included in all matters? Before he knew it, he had shaken his head, and they were outside, watching Brynleigh swear her Oath to the order.

It could have been him there, knighted, but the slender hand in his reminded him of why he had said no. Turned down his dream. Why? For love. Was it worth it? Most definitely yes.
by Ulfban on Jan 13, 2017 at 04:23 PM
Ulfa had argued bitterly with her mother upon returning to Bree. "Did you know?"
"Yes, I knew."
"How come you didn't tell me? How did you know? Who told you?"
Bitter tears, anger, frustration. They were screaming at each other. So loud the neighbors looked in. Ulfa slammed the door so hard it shook their little home and the guard was called. A screaming match with them, weapons were drawn, the passion of youth claiming another victim. Her mother stepped in. Weapons were lowered, but would not be given up. They were the last thing she had from her father. In the end she left Bree of her own volition, her mother a mess of tears amid a pile of work stained dress.
Months later, just as the frost was beginning to peek from it's hiding places, after scouring the whole of Nen Harn and the Far Chetwood, Ulfa's passion cooled with the weather and she returned home. Tears, sorrow, regret. Her homecoming this time was as passionate as the last, only this time it was sorrow and grieving that gripped the women. Ulfa was sorry she had been so hard on her mother. Her mother was sorry she hadn't spoken up sooner. After a night of memories, both painful and happy, the two were reconciled. It was bittersweet for her mother, being a widow she no longer had to worry about her husband. But she also knew that never would he share her bed again, never would she look on his kind face, smell his pipe, never would they dance amid the trees again.
Ulfa's father had been a special man. Apparently of solid Bree land stock he had a greater wisdom and vigor than any other man her mother had ever known. Always a man of the wilds he nevertheless had a social grace that none of his trapping companions or ranger friends had. He would dance and sing for his love. He could tell children tales of elves, dwarves, and long ago men as though they were a part of him. No one could recall from whence he came, and no one knew where he went in the end. but he was gone now and remembered fondly by all who knew him.
Ulfa, who continued to call herself Ulfban, resumed her life as best she was able. It was difficult for her, she didn't fit in well with the people of Bree town, she even felt alone in the hunting lodge. As the seasons went on she took to ranging further and further afield, searching for she knew not what.
Always she would return home to care for her mother though, who aged rapidly before her young eyes. Ulfa never spoke of her wilderness journeys, nor what she saw there. Not with her mother anyway. Wolves were on the increase, as were all other sorts of creatures. She had tracked goblins in the marshes and noted with concern their growing numbers. One day in the Chetwood she had seen an enormous and especially evil looking wolf. Certainly it was a warg, for it seemed to be speaking to itself in a gutteral tongue. She came upon caves that had been an empty and innocent resting spot a year before that now had doors set in them and evil looking men standing watch outside. Ulfa was growing restless, something was wrong.
Always, on the anniversary her finding her childhood home destroyed, she would visit for a day and sit quietly, wrestling with the spirits of the unknown. Four long years after confirming her fathers passing Ulfa found a clue. Someone had noticed her mark and responded on the little paper...
by Ulfban on Jan 12, 2017 at 07:17 PM
Bree was a dizzying place. Little Ulfa and her mother had moved into town a few months ago but still the child had found no peers to play with. Certainly there were other children her age, but the noise and the bustle of Bree was overwhelming for her and she was never quite able to bring herself to play tag in the streets, or kick the can in the courtyards.
Her mother, though, was back home again. Old friends, familiar haunts, and the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood were around every corner. It pained her to see her only daughter having trouble fitting in. At first she tried to help little Ulfa make friends and taught her the games of her own childhood. It was all for naught. Her odd girl would rather slip away into quiet corners or climb one of the few trees in town. Realizing that Ulfa may have her features but possessed more than a bit of her fathers spirit, her mother took her down to the South Gate to the hunters lodge.
The gruff men and women who frequented the place bothered her mother but she had heard from her husband that the odd hobbit who lived there was trustworthy. Mr Took turned out to be as cheerful and happy to meet Ulfa and her mother as her mother was relieved to find someone in Bree Town who knew her husband.
It wasn't long before the young girl was bringing home fish, rabbits, or grouse every day to help feed her family. Her mother had taken a job waitressing but it didn't put as much food on the table as they had been used to. Her father would stop by every month or so for a weekend, but always he went back to their little home in the far chetwood. Little by little though, his visits became less frequent. He was always tired and haggard, happy to see his family, yes, but exhausted from his trials in the wilderness. His wife tried everything she could think of to keep him from going back out, but he always did.
Meanwhile little Ulfa had taken the name the dwarf brothers gave her after the attack, Ulfban, and begun ranging further and further afield. In winter she would run a trap line, selling the furs to house her mother. She kept what meat they needed and sold the rest. Her skills as a hunter grew to the point she was engaged to bring in wild boar, or bear meat for feasts and holidays. Her favorite past time was fishing. Nothing was more relaxing than dozing on a grassy bank while your worm wriggled about on the end of the line.
One day, unable to bear the noise and of town, Ulfban asked her mother "shall we go visit father? I haven't seen him all season and it might be a nice surprise for him." Her mother refused. In her heart she knew he was dead, but she couldn't bear to tell her little girl that. "You go ahead honey, I have to work."
Ulfban knew there was no changing her mind so simply shrugged and paused to give her mother a kiss and a hug before heading out the door. Ten days later she paused to look in horror on the home she hadn't seen in six years.
It was destroyed. Not one stone remained upon another. Hurrying through the woods she came upon the remains of the little building she had been raised in and wept bitter tears for the savage destruction of all her childhood memories, for the years she spent living here were her favorite. There the burned remains of her parents bed. Here the melted ruins of a glass window, something her mother had been so proud to have. And there, the twisted, ruined, metal bracings the dwarf brothers had put on the door just before she left. A caution to protect her father.
After a good, hard, cry the young woman raised up and took control of herself. She cast about for clues, tracks, anything to tell the tale of what had happened here. But found nothing. The attack had been months ago and winters wrath had ruined all remaining evidence.
Quickly she retreated to the small cave her father had hidden them in after the first attack. There were a few things, old and mouldy, covered in dust. The knives her father had given her and her mother the night of the Guaredain attack, still bright in their sheaths. A few bits of rusted metal and weather ruined leather. Ulfban collapsed into tears. Her father was gone.
She spent a week scouring the land round about. But winter had done its work. There was nothing remaining to show her the truth. Finally, in a last, desperate attempt to learn something, she scratched a simple note onto a small bit of parchment. In truth she carried it to start fires with, but today it had a more urgent task. Urgent but patient, "What happened here? What happened to my Father ~U."
Catefully folding it over on itself she placed the note in her tinder box and tied an oiled leather about it. Burying it underneath what remained of her ancestral hearth she carefully scratched a large ~U into the stone she covered it with. Hoping that was enough Ulfban turned towards Bree...
by Ulfban on Jan 10, 2017 at 08:26 PM
As she lay in the little mud cave dancing with death, Ulfban's mind wandered. Through her sixty and more years of life she trotted familiar paths and strange ones, seeing her life anew, from outside herself...
A little girl, the perfect cast of her Bree land mother, bounced on her fathers knee, large brown eyes sincere with wonder, light brown hair pulled back from her chubby baby cheeks. "But where are they daddy? Where did they all go?"
He laughed, Ulfa's father had an infectious, uproarious laugh, and everyone in the room at least smiled with him. His eternally patient wife, carefully stirring a large kettle over the fire, the strange, dark man who visited on occasion, smoking his pipe in a corner and the two dwarf brothers, gently nursing the much appreciated nut brown ale in their cups.
"The Elder do not give up their secrets so easily little one," he replied. "But if you must know, there are a few places left in the world where you may find them. Far away, across the misty mountains in dark Mirkwood live the wood elves. Little is known about them except that they trade with the men who live there."
The Dwarves shifted uncomfortably in their seats at the mention of the dark wood. "And nearer to the mountains, in fair Lothlorien dwells the wisest of living beings, Galadriel, the lady of the wood and her husband Celeborn. But on this side of the mountains lives Elrond, the herald of mighty Gil-galad, in his secret valley of Imladris."
"And," interrupted the younger dwarf, his dark complexion matching his short, iron grey beard and long, braided hair, "further to the west, shielded by the blue mountains are the sea elves. Making ships to send the rest of their kind west across the oceans." The interruption got him a hard growl from the older dwarf whose beard was as long as his knees, and snowy white.
But Ulfa's father just laughed again. "Yes, Zoya Ironbeard, Cirdan watches over the havens of Mithlond."
Ulfa's eyes remained wide and intent the rest of the evening as the men folk talked and her mother played hostess, a role she herself never really figured out. She sat silently wherever her mother told her to and did whatever was asked of her but always she had an ear out to the conversation. The dwarves went for a walk and her father and the nameless stranger spoke quietly in an unknown language. Before long however, little Ulfa could understand the conversation as she sat nodding on her fathers knee. Soon she was slumped against his chest and dozing quietly. When her mother came to gather her up though she surprised everyone by claiming she wasn't tired, in a language she shouldn't have known.
Her mother started and covered her mouth at the sounds that escaped her child, while her father and his guest merely blinked in surprise and moved their conversation and pipes outside...
The next day the stranger was gone. He never stayed the night, and father always left for a week or more after he visited. Ulfa's mother didn't like him, but she was too polite to say so. The dwarf brothers, however, laughed and smiled and heartily thanked her mother for the feast of a breakfast she laid out for them, bacon, eggs, potatoes, ham, beer, bread and cheese. Before long they went on their way, Ulfa tagging along as far as the lake, it was an hour walk back by herself but her parents didn't mind so much. The woods were safe here and she knew the way.
By the time she returned though her father was gone and her mother worried. "Ulfa, come here. Your father says you're not to wander anymore until he returns." It was almost a month this time, and the howling of wolves grew ever closer as time dragged on.
Finally he reappeared one evening, just around dusk. She had never seen her father look this way. He was armed, not only with his hunting bow and boar spear but with a pair of great knives that were almost swords in their own right. And he was wearing a chain shirt under his leather jacket. He wasted no time, "Ulfa, go inside and get your mother, I'll be in in a moment." His tone was a stern one that brooked no questions, that was also unusual of him.
Peering through the doorway she watched her father set iron wolf traps, her mother aiding him, all about the house, and was truly frightened for the first time in her life. Late that night, in the blackest hour, she lay with her mother, looking down on her father as he watched through the open door, there was a snuffling and one of the traps snapped shut with a sharp CLACK. A howl, ferocious snarling, and her father scurried outside. A sickening squelch, then silence. That was all, the rest of the night passed uneventful but Ulfa was never allowed to wander far again and her father was constantly bringing home wolf pelts. Wolves were new to this part of the woods, and her mother was having none of it.
She lay awake at nights hearing her parents bicker. Her mother wanted to move closer to, or better yet, into Bree, but her father would not go. He would never explain why, only saying that it was his responsibility to make certain that the wolves were not allowed to pass the lake.
Slowly it drove them apart, her mother became bitter at a dangerous life in the woods, but her father would not relent, or explain. She accused him of being in league with the rangers, dirty, wild men who roamed the wilderness. That was met only with stony silence. Her father though, for all his reticence still loved her mother and did what he could to show her that love. Often he would sing to her, or would carve for her some small token of his love. Ulfa's mother knew he loved her, and she refused to leave him, but she became miserable where once she had exulted in her freedom.
Occasionally the dwarf brothers, or others her father knew, would happen by. They all commented on the the increase of wolves in the area, and once she even heard mention of Orcs along the north edge of the lake before her father shushed the ironbeard and took the conversation outside. That night was the only time she ever heard her mother yell at her father. They had gone for a walk after Ulfa went to bed, but she wasn't asleep and snuck out to follow them.
Breakfast the next day was silent and bitter. Even the normally jovial dwarf brothers sensed something was wrong and excused themselves early with many a "thank you's" and "at your service's."
A week later the dark man appeared again. Her mother would not speak to him, tears welled up in her eyes as he and her husband spoke urgently, gesturing wildly out in the yard. It seemed the man wanted her father to go somewhere but he wouldn't. He kept pointing to the house. "Ulfa," her mother asked her. "What are they saying?"
Her mother had never asked her to evesdrop before, and had always discouraged her when she caught her doing it, but today it seemed, things were different. "He's saying that wolf men are coming and father has to go with him to fight them. But father won't go, he says his family comes first." Ulfa watched her mother cry, really cry, for the first time in her life. She wondered what the tears were for, she didn't seem angry or sad, or even afraid. Why was she crying?
The stranger stormed off into the woods. Her father returned to the house, and going to the shed out back, dug out his bear traps. Ulfa began to get scared again. Her father never used the bear traps, great iron jaws so strong they could break a man's leg.
The little family spent the rest of the day setting and hiding bear and wolf traps all around the house. After a grim dinner her father gave Ulfa and her mother each one of his big knives. The look he gave her mother with the knife scared her. It was as though he didn't expect her to use it on a wolf.
That night, at the black hour again, the howling sprang up out of the woods. Her father had lit several campfires far out from the house and she could see things stalking among them. Smaller shadows that must be wolves, larger shadows that she didn't understand, maybe bears, and enormous manly figures stalking the furthest edges. If they were men they must have been half giant, they were all taller than the stranger, who was a head taller than her own father. Ulfa and her mother stayed inside the house, again with the front door open. All the windows had been shuttered though and the entire outside of the house soaked with water.
All at once they charged. Ulfa had never seen her father actually fight before. He stood calmly, firing at anything he could see. Before long he was out of arrows, but there wasn't much left to fight either. Traps CLACK'ed shut everywhere as wolves, wargs, and the enormous wolf men stepped in them. Her house was ringed with death. A few brands smouldered on the ground where they had fallen, useless against the stone and hard wood home. Her father walked carefully about, stabbing anything still living with his boar spear.
As he passed by one of the wolf men though, crumpled over clutching an arrow, it jumped up, swinging a wicked club that smashed into her fathers head with a resounding crack. Ulfa and her mother both screamed. The wolf man looked back and charged at the door. Her father lay still on the ground, unconscious or worse. Ulfban's mother pulled her long knife but Ulfa grabbed her play spear, the knife her father had given her forgotten. It was a stout little spear, fire hardened point sharp enough to catch small game. Running to the door she planted the spear in the dirt and stood on its butt just as her father had shown her. The little girl, not more than ten years, stood screaming defiance at a Gauredain warrior as he rushed at her in an odd gait that used his arms almost as much as his legs. She peed herself and he could smell the fear, but still she remained, perhaps frozen with the fear he could smell.
In the end it didn't matter. As he lunged at her with his odd, low stride he impaled himself on her little spear, knocking her backwards into the house as he crashed against the door frame, a short piece of ash sticking from his collarbone. Up he jumped and roared at the women before him. But his roar ended in a gurgle as blood bubbled out his throat and he collapsed to the floor...
by Arenborne on Dec 05, 2016 at 11:29 PM
Arenborn spent a long time in Bree. He spent a lot of it with Tosie, and a little with his extended family, though he didn’t spend too long with them.

He had spent time with them sure, but was wandering if Blince was more similar to Logan than he had hoped. His cousin, Rin, had shown her uncle an engagement ring on her hand. He had not been happy. He did not like whoever the man was, and claimed he would refuse to let her marry. It ends with the girl throwing a mug at the wall and storming out. Ardyth, Aren’s other cousin had arrived midway through the fight. Rather than watching from afar like Aren, she tried to get involved, mostly to calm her half-sister. It didn’t work, and Rin claimed she was moving out of the family home. Blince and Logan now seemed more similar than ever.

After Blince had disappeared in a rage, Ardyth sits with Aren, and they talk. It was a deep, get to know one another talk, discussing their different life paths, what they thought of Bree-land and what they planned to do in the future. It was a good talk, and Aren felt more connected to Ardyth than before.

As for being with Tosie… well. She knew how to live with being a mute. She knew how to cope and handle things. She was content without a voice, for that was who she had always been. In all, she was the opposite of Aren. Aren who drank too much too often. Aren who had become surly, angry, and bitter at his lack of voice. Aren who didn’t know where he was going with life. The more time he spent with her, the more he admired her. He was certainly developing feelings. Was it love? Maybe, he thought it was. And yet… if she caught him at an exceptionally low moment, where he could think of nothing but how much he wished for his voice, she got angry. She got angry at him for wanting back what he had lost. Because, as she told him, she was fine which meant he should be to. That cut deep.

During his time in Bree, Aren heard tell of a knightly order. He had not expected to find any such group outside of Gondor, yet he soon discovered they were in fact real. Not like the Gondorian nobles, and more like anyone who could fight and take the oath. A knighthood. It was all he had ever wanted since he was a child. The only thing he had wanted. And if they were knights then so be it they would do.

He spent a little time with them, and found them to in fact be a good group of people. But it did not last long, for Tosie left for Rohan with her brother, and Aren was feeling increasingly agitated. He needed to visit his masters grave. He did not know why, nor could he explain it. He just knew he must visit. In their time apart, the two mutes exchanged exactly two letters. Tosie never sent more and Aren realised exactly what being with her had been doing to him. He certainly felt something for her, but he knew then that it had not been healthy. Being back in Gondor was strange to him. The land he had been born and raised in, only to be rejected by it, yet the familiar landscape brought him a degree of inner peace.

Then, one day, it was before him. The grave of Sir Elmir.

Arenborn fell to his knees, head bowed as tears fall into the already damp grass, the sun setting ahead of him.
by Arenborne on Nov 27, 2016 at 02:33 AM
On a fine, late autumn morning, Inayat woke to find the other side of the bed empty, Arenborn already awake and out of bed. However, beside the bed, is a flash of colour.

Sat on the chair is a bundle of flowers, freshly picked, set with a drawing of the two of them together, and a folded up piece of parchment. Written in Arenborn's best hand writing, making it easier to read for Inayat, is a letter of the first words Aren has ever said to Inayat. Sure he had gestured and pulled expressions, spent time playing trial and error to get a message across. But none of it was actual words. He had never properly said anything to her.


Now you can read, there are a lot of things I have wanted to say to you that I can’t say just by waving my hands.

First and foremost, I love you. I love you more than I ever believed I could love somebody. Since meeting you, I have had a home for the first time since losing my voice. You have made me a better man, just by being there for me. You have made my life so much better, so full of purpose that I cannot thank you enough. Without you, I was weak, unable to control myself, unable to even look after myself. I didn’t see the need. With you? I have a reason to get up in the morning.

I was lost. For so long I had no idea what I was doing and without a voice, I didn’t know how to find the way. But with you, I don’t need it. With you I have everything I have been looking for and more. You are like the star to guide me through the storm, to show me the light that is life with you. You are the kindest, most loving, lively person I have ever met and I don’t know what I’d do without you.

Look at me. However long unable to say anything to you and now I can I can’t think of the words? Perhaps it is right, words cannot begin to explain what I feel for you and what you mean to me.

Well… one thing I have wanted to say for a while, and not known how, is that you are beautiful. More beautiful than any sunrise or sunset. More beautiful than the moon or the sea on a calm night. You are more beautiful than any flower in any country or any diamond found in any mine. More fair than any of the fair folk, who should all aspire to look like you.

All of this, me, you, our home, is new. Half the time I don’t know what I’m doing. Back in Pelargir I was told I would be married to a woman of noble birth who I may or may not come to love but I would do it for the family. Now that seems so wrong. Us, together, feels so backwards, yet so perfect. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t want this to end, ever. You listen to me, understand me, and most of all you help me when I struggle. I couldn’t ask you for more. Just know whenever you need something I will be there. Whenever, wherever, whatever, I will always help you.

I love you with all my heart and will continue to do so till I cease to exist.

by Arenborne on Nov 20, 2016 at 05:15 PM
The long ride took Arenborn north along the Anduin, following the mighty river to the capitol city of Minas Tirith. He stayed a few days, mostly residing in the taverns. He avoided the Knights of the city. They were everything he had ever wanted to be. They looked so tall and proud, Arenborn just couldn’t handle being near them. Drinking didn’t solve his problems, but they helped him forget.

From Minas Tirith, Arenborn’s journey took him through to Rohan. He entered the country through Beaconwatch, where he was questioned by the riders there. Apparently, his lack of voice amused them. This opinion was not shared by Arenborn who ended up in a fight with one of them at the tavern. The Thane granted him permission to travel on throughout Rohan, stating that it was his own man’s fault for instigating the brawl. Arenborn left the next morning, wanting to leave the town. The further Aren travelled, the more he preferred the wilderness to towns and cities. Less people, meant less chance of being mocked or trying and failing to get his message across. He still went into the towns, however he mostly just visited the tavern and stayed there for the night before restocking his supplies in the morning and leaving.

Arenborn eventually crossed the Isen, making his way north through Dunland. He had some issues with members of the Dragon Clan, though when he charged down those blocking his path they left him alone. His journey took him up through the ancient ruins of Eregion, at which he stared incredulously. On reaching the East-West road in the Trollshaws, he turned West, riding towards the sunset and his future home, Bree.

He rested in Ost Guruth and the Forsaken Inn, though only briefly, finding both places eerie and disliked the feel of them. The Forsaken Inn especially, filled with brigands and ruffians, was no fit place for a squire of noble birth.

Riding past a hidden town that he would one day call home, Arenborn eventually reaches Bree-town. The hill rising above the landscape ahead of him. It was surrounded by a hedge. Of all things, it was surrounded by a hedge. No wall, no parapets, no defensive siege engines. What was this town to exist so peacefully, with no look to its defence? Any enemy with even an ounce of sense would just set the hedge alight.

Aren walked Tarphal and his pack horse up to the gate, jumping down when he reached the guards. He tried to gesture to them something but whatever he tried to say didn’t work. Possibly because you couldn’t gesture that you wanted entry to find the uncle you’ve never met. The guards found one of their number who could read, and got Arenborn to write out why he needed entry to the town. Though none of them knew the Koltens, one had heard of them, and suggested Aren look for his uncle in the Prancing Pony Inn. As Aren walked away leading his two horses, he thought he heard the men laughing.

Entering the tavern, Aren made his way over to Barliman, gesturing for a drink. After some trial and error, the portly man fills up the mute a cider. Arenborn gazes around the room, looking for someone who looks like they might be related to him but has no luck.

“You lookin’ fer someone lad?” Comes Barliman’s voice. Looking around at him, Aren nods. “Want to write down who so I can help?” The barkeep passes over a piece of parchment along with a quill and pot of ink as Aren nods a second time. Jotting down his uncle’s name, Aren passes it back. “Oh I know of ‘im, can’t say where you’d find ‘im though. Try asking around.”

So Aren spends the night in the tavern, going to bed somewhat off balance before heading out into the town the next day. He asked about, trying to find someone who knew his uncle and his whereabouts. It was hard. Many couldn’t read, and of those who could few knew the Koltens. One however suggested he look for those wearing the sigil of the Bloody Dawn, a local sell sword company.

Aren had yet to meet him, yet already felt disdain to the man. A sell sword and a drunk from all accounts.

A few days of poor luck, Arenborn eventually strikes lucky. A man was in the Prancing Pony having a drink, when Arenborn saw the badge pinned to his chest. The rising sun of the Bloody Dawn. Aren walks over, poking it and trying to get his message across. The mercenary seemed suspicious, and rightly so, but at that moment, and man with striking resemblance to Logan Kolten walked into the inn, making his way over to speak to his comrade with Aren.

Aren stares at the man, hoping it’s him. When he introduces himself Aren lets out a sigh of relief, and passes across the letter from his father. Blince looks at him with confusion, before breaking the seal and reading through the letter. His face would get more confused as he reads the letter, looking up at Aren to inspect him. “Guess you do look like yer old man after all.”

Aren then met two of his cousins, Ardyth and Morrinth. The two young women seemed sulky at first, though this may have been caused by Arenborn’s sour demeanour.

Aren spent little time with his new family. He didn’t like mercenaries. They fought with no cause, only coin. They weren’t true soldiers. His mood gradually turned more and more sour as time went on. He spent more and more time in the Pony, and it soon got to the point that he could just point at specific barrels and get the drink he needed.

It was during this time, that Arenborn met Tosie. The redhead was a mute, and had been from birth but had no idea why. She dealt with everything so well, so efficiently, she had had a lifetime of no voice, Aren had had but six months of loneliness.

She was everything Aren wanted to be. She was comfortable with her muteness, she got on with life, and didn’t let it affect her. Aren only got angry, frustrated, and drunk. Particularly bad days would end with him silently sobbing himself to sleep in his room or punching the wall. She always carried a book and pencil with her so she could write messages when needed, so Arenborn decided to copy her, getting himself a small journal to write and draw in.

He was coping, but he was far from happy.
by Arenborne on Nov 18, 2016 at 01:37 AM
Pain. Unbelievable, agonising, burning pain. Then darkness.

Voices, shouts, horses. Pain.

Movement, hands, dragging. More pain, more darkness.

Jolts. Bumps and thumps. Horses clip clopping. Pain, then back to darkness.

Light. Searing light burning into his eyes as he blinks awake. There’s a ceiling above him, the beams of dark wood lit up by the light coming through an open window. Aren tries to turn his head, only to feel immense pain coursing through his neck. Leathery hands clamp around his face, holding him still. “Don’t move, idiot.” Comes a gruff command. An old weathered face appears above him, “Name’s Lanthor, I’m the local healer. And you have been keeping me busy.” Arenborn opens his mouth to ask a question but the wizened old man begins talking again before he can. “Someone didn’t like you much did they. Tried to stab you in the neck though I’m sure you remember. You,” The man pauses as he leans in for a close look at Aren’s neck, “are lucky to be alive.”

Dozens of questions fill Arenborn’s mind, trying to think of which to ask first taking him a moment before he opens his mouth. Silence. Nothing. He had been trying to ask where he was but only air passed his lips. His lips and tongue worked fine, as was his breathing, so why couldn’t he talk. Panic begins to set in. He tries to push himself up, fear driving him without thought.

Lanthor holds him still on the bed, surprisingly strong for a man of his age. “Stay still you idiot! You’ll tear the stitches open!” Aren freezes, taking in what the man says. “It is as I thought. It didn’t kill you, but you won’t be able to speak again.”

It was as if he had been kicked in the stomach by an ox. His lips move, half forming silent words he would never be able to say again. He blinks, trying to comprehend the full impact of this news. Tears begin to run down his cheeks as he realises everything he would never do again.

“Stop being so gloomy. You lived, didn’t you?” Lanthor places something to his lips, pouring a cool liquid into Aren’s mouth. “It’ll help you sleep.” Darkness engulfs the world again, sending Aren into a deep, painless sleep.

When he wakes again, the sun is still shining, though from what he could tell it was at the same angles as before… had he slept a full day? The pain hits him again, a dull, throbbing pain. He is no longer panicked, and can think things through more clearly, going over his situation in his mind over and over. That’s when he remembers what happened, all of it. Sir Elmir was dead. The man had been a better father to him and his own. The man who had taught him almost everything he knew, and had mentored him through his whole life as far as he can remember. Dead. Tears begin to run down his face. He hopes there is no one else in the room, but soon all thoughts of privacy go out the window as he fully breaks down. He would never be able to speak, to laugh or sing. He wouldn’t be able to cheer at jousts, or give commands in a battle should he become a knight. He wouldn’t even be able to recite his oaths. The sobs, though soundless, come painfully due to how his body shakes each time and sends a shock wave of pain through his neck.

Eventually his tears dry, unable to sustain an extended period of such high emotions. As his body calms naturally, Aren begins to think about where he was and how he got there, how he would get word to his parents back in Pelargir, how they would react, how Sir Elmir’s family would react. A door creaks open towards his feet, and Lanthor comes into view. “Oh good you’re awake.” He holds up a water skin, “You probably want some water aye?” Only now does Aren realise how thirsty he is, and gives the slightest nod he can. The old healer holds the opening to his lips, slowly pouring the cool liquid into his mouth. “Give it another day and I’ll let you sit up.” He says as he takes the drink away.

“I guess I should tell you what happened.” He says, pulling up a chair and sitting down beside the bedridden man. “Well… some folk were travelling, mercenaries I think, running low on supplies so wanted to reach us quick. That was when they heard fighting and shouting. They ran towards the noise, searching for the source. Which was where they found you bleeding out into the mud. They also found another man, knightly by the looks of him. They brought him here to be buried.”

Aren listens intently, soaking up the information about what happened. “You’ve been here four days now. Calembel that is. And two horses were found wandering the farms around here, packed as if for travelling. They may be yours, I’ll take you to look when you can walk about.”

Arenborn nods a little once more, letting the healer do what he needed to his neck. The man explains a little about who he is before leaving, sensing Aren wanted to be left alone. Over the next week, Lanthor allowed Aren to begin moving about, though he was confined to short walks, and had yet to leave the inn he was being kept at. Aren wrote out who he was and where he was from, and a message was sent home to Pelargir for him. Then a little while after that the bandages were removed from his neck and the stitches taken out. That was when Aren began to descend into a yet darker mood.

The scar on his neck was lumpy, messy, and looked like a drunk had been at it with a hack saw. He found himself inspecting it in any reflective surface he found, often prodding it and rubbing it despite the pain it caused him. He hated it. But it wasn’t just the scar. It was the inn. It was Calembel. It was Lanthor. He hated it all because it reminded him of the one thing he despised the most, his lack of voice. He hated it more than he had ever believed possible. There were nights where he would imagine what revenge he would take on the brigands who had done this to him as he cries himself to sleep.

Aren spent most of his time alone, avoiding the others in the inn besides Lanthor and some of the staff, and always covered his scar when he had to see them. Eventually he made his way outside to the stables with Lanthor, and immediately recognised the two large horses there. Nodding to the healer they head back inside.

The next few weeks are spent recovering and waiting until eventually Logan Kolten, Aren’s father, arrives to take him back to Pelargir. The tall dark haired man with a square jaw strode up to the inn, and was met by the elderly healer. “Ah you must Arenborn’s father. He looks almost exactly like you.” Lanthor states as Logan approaches. “Logan, is it?”

The tall man simply nods in response before striding through the inn to find his son. On barging into his room, Logan grabs Aren by the shirt and pushes him into the wall. “Why’d you do it you ungrateful brat?” He demands, almost spitting into Aren’s face with anger, “Why did you kill my friend?” Arenborn only freezes, looking shocked by the sudden entry of his father. On seeing the confusion spreading across his son’s face, Logan punches the wall. “Don’t fucking act like that you know damn well Elmir was one of the best swords in Pelargir, with you not far behind him! You expect me to believe some brigands killed him?”

The man was in denial. He didn’t want to believe what had happened to his friend, yet somehow could blame his own flesh and blood son for the crime. “Only you would be able to kill him! His own squire able to catch him off guard! Why?” By now he is yelling, some of the inn staff peering through the door with wide eyes. Logan releases Aren and takes a step back and taking a deep breath to calm himself. “We start riding now.” He says quietly. “The moment we camp for the night you are going to pick up a quill and some paper and start writing out what happened. The truth.”

Logan payed the inn keep and Lanthor a hefty pouch of silver in thanks before they began the ride back, accompanied by a small contingent of household guards. No one spoke to Aren on the ride, his father outright ignoring him. Aren found little joy in the journey, even less in the stop for the night at which point a quill, a pot of ink, and some sheets of paper were placed before him.

On reading the result, the nobleman just scoffed and threw the paper into the fire. “I know you did it there’s no use lying.” Comes the monotone, angry response. Aren almost punched him.

The rest of the journey was an isolated blur for Aren, riding alone day in, day out, with no one to talk to, even if he could talk. Every evening was just more questions from Logan. Aren refused to write another copy of the story after the first was burned, not wishing to put himself through that again. So, his father took that as proof he was lying. On the final night of the ride, Aren truly snapped and punched his elder repeatedly. It took a couple of guards to pull him off. This however only added to the gossip that had made its way through Pelargir’s nobles. Aren had lost his voice in a training session, gone mad and killed his mentor. Then on questioning tried to beat his father to death. By the morning after they had returned home, this was accepted more as fact than rumour.

No one could prove either way. Arenborn was the only witness yet he was also a prime suspect. His increasingly foul, withdrawn and sour mood only fuelled this belief. Along with the increased drinking.

Logan entered talks with other noble families and knights, yet no one would take Arenborn on. Leaving him to stew in squire hood without a mentor to knight him. He passed the day he should have been knighted, hoping to wake up and it all have been a dream. But no. It was real, this was life, and it was as bad as it had ever been. That night, it took him longer to cry himself to sleep than it had since Calembel.

Then, out of the blue Logan received a letter from his brother Blince, who resided in Bree. The man was known to have many bastards, and was in the business of rounding them all up. Seeing an opportunity. The next morning, Aren had packed his belongings and was on his way to Bree-land.

There was no way of prosecuting Arenborn, there was no proof either way. The only thing anyone could do was say one way or the other. Yet most believed it, and Logan did not want that dishonour on his family. He could always have another son; it wasn’t too late. He waved off Aren with his wife, watching the young man leave the city he had once loved to a land he had only heard of in passing. Logan felt a twinge of regret, but also a large burden lifted from his shoulders. Aren, felt depression, loneliness, and most of all, empty.
by Arenborne on Nov 15, 2016 at 11:03 PM
Sir Elmir began to slow his steed, the large brown destrier coming to a halt. “We ought to stop here for the night.” The older man stated as he surveys the area. Not far from the road were some large boulders forming a crescent, lots of shelter should the weather turn. Currently, the sky was cloudless, a painting of dark blues with oranges and reds to the west as the sun disappears over the horizon.

“Of course sir,” came the response from Arenborn. The dark-haired squire guides his own horse, Tarphal off the road after his master. “What is the plan for the evening?” Arenborn was eager for more training; he was to be knighted soon, after they had returned to Pelargir from their travels. Aren believed himself to be ready, and was certain his master did as well, but he believed life was about learning bettering oneself and so was always ready for more training. Often he could be found in the family library reading about the history of Arda, sometimes drawing his favourite scenes, or maybe in the field having found a fellow squire or city watchman to train with. In the next couple of weeks, he would turn of age having seen twenty-one summers, and would be deemed fit to be a knight and legally allowed to joust in a tournament. He struggled to wait.

“We’ll set up camp,” came the reply, “then you can continue learning your oath. I know it’s a few weeks away, but the more you learn now the less likely you’ll make a mistake on the day.” Elmir slipped easily from his saddle, dust forming clouds around his feet when he lands with a thud. “Secure the horses and get a fire going please Aren.” The knight settles against a rock, laying his bedroll out before settling on it to give his long sword a polish. As he does this Aren goes about hobbling the two horse in a grassy area so they can eat something. Behind his saddle, is a small pile of sticks and twigs, and in the saddle bag is his tinder box. Collecting them all he goes about building a fire.

“Not long now till you stop having to do all this for me. Maybe even get your own squire.” Elmir notes as he runs a whet stone along his blade.

“Aye, but I’ll miss you Sir. Like I would miss my father.”

“I’ll miss you too lad, you’re as good a squire as they come.” The pair fall silent for a moment as Aren gets a flame going, adding more sticks to the fire to keep it growing.

“I’ll go get more wood if we are to get any decent warmth tonight.” He says to Elmir, who looks up from his sword with a smirk.

“Hurry back then, I know what you’re like.”

Arenborn chuckles, unable to stop the grin forming on his face as he makes his way into the woods the other side of the road. A twig snaps beneath his leather boot as he wanders through the trees, looking up at the sky through gaps in the canopy above, watching the first star’s wink into the sky. Arenborn takes a while to listen to the world around him. Birds chirp in the distance and a gentle breeze rustles through the trees. Arenborn always loved collecting wood, it was his favourite chore while travelling. It let him wander through the woods enjoying the world for what it is in its purest form.

Drrrrr… Drrrrr… A woodpecker drills somewhere to his right and he looks for the source, keeping quiet as he tries to spot the bird. Clang. He freezes, that was back at their camp. Clang. Yet again, that was the sound of swords clashing. Then a shout. “For Pelargir!” That was unmistakably Elmir.

The woodpecker shoots from within a bush as Arenborn drops the few logs he was carrying. He shrugs the sheath of his longsword from his shoulder, drawing the two-handed weapon before pulling the empty scabbard over his shoulder again. Running towards the sounds of fighting, the clangs get louder and louder. He races between the trees and crashes through a bush, but in the dark, he hadn’t seen the log behind it. Arenborn hits the dirt with a thump. Cursing, he pushes himself from the ground only to feel cold steel against his neck. The hand holding the blade tremors, the blade accidentally nicking Aren’s throat. “Right… I’m dropping the weapon now… I’m putting it down let’s just talk about this. You don’t need to kill me, just let me go.” He talks to his unknown assailant as he places down his sword for it to be hastily kicked away. There is no response, but when he mentions killing the hand shakes a little more vigorously. “You can have my money, just let me go.”

“HAR!” Comes a sudden laugh from ahead of him. A large silhouette emerges from the trees. “Pleading fer ‘is life like a fecking woman.” The man sneers. In the moment of silence that follows, Aren can no longer hear fighting coming from the camp and more figures emerge from the shadows.

“If you have killed my master so be it. But you have everything you could want now; I see no reason for you to kill me as well.” Aren states calmly, trying to think of how he could fight his way out if it came to it.

“No. We fucking don’t. Yer master manage to cut loose yer horses before we got to ‘im. They were worth a fair few pretty pennies weren’t they.” The man looms above him and Aren can make out his features. The man wore the drab, unflattering clothes of a peasant, with a few pieces of boiled leather and steel armour. He had a thick face with an offset nose and thin, greying hair. “So we fancy killing ya t’ make amends.”

“Al!” The brigand barks. His man with a blade to Aren’s throat jumps to attention.

“Yes boss?” Comes the reply. He can’t have been older then twelve with a voice that high pitched.

“Time t’ prove yer worth if ye want t’ join us proper. Kill this noble fucker an’ let’s sod off.”

“Sir.” Comes the nervous reply. The dagger in the boy’s hand shakes violently now as he steels himself. However, before his execution Aren digs his elbow backwards into the lad’s abdomen causing him to reel away. The squire darts forward, punching the leader of the brigands between the legs, bringing his knee up to meet the man’s face as he doubles over. Aren leaps, trying to reach his sword when a club collides with the side of his head and sends him sprawling. He grunts as he hits a tree and tries to stagger up as stars float about his eyes.

He is however, too late. As the brigands’ leader roars at them to kill him Aren watches the hazy outline of a young boy approach him. The boy’s arm swings, and blood sprays from Aren’s neck. He collapses to the floor his hand coming to his throat to feel the slick dark fluid pouring from the wound. His last thoughts are of the boy. Why was he with the brigands? What forced him to stay with them? How did he feel about killing a man? He falls still with these thoughts on his mind as he passes out from the severe pain, his world turning to darkness and nothingness.
by Colren on Jan 18, 2016 at 11:50 AM
As the Orc's sharp nailed hands tightened around my throat I knew my Luck had run out....

It had seemed like such a simple job , Locate one Boffo Goodbody , a missing hobbit from a recent caravan attack.
The Orcs had become more brazen of late ,pushing deeper into breeland , disturbing the Local farms and making off with livestock..."Nothing the local constable's couldn't handle" , they assured me "but some jobs need a proffessional swordsman eh?"

I was to find the missing Hobbit and deal with the Orcs , reports said they were a band of two or three , but they had a habit of vanishing when confronted. I was to track them back to the lair and make sure they didnt raid again.

The Horse cost more than a few silver coins , but hunting Orcs on foot was foolhardy , besides should "two or three" turn into a full warband I wanted to able to ride the hell out of there , thankfully Orcish Archers relied more on brute force than actual skill , so a fast moving target was usually safe enough.

I snuck out before first light , Sparrow was still asleep and truth be told I didn't want her to have to follow me this time. Most girls her age are still playing with dolls not swords , I made a mental note to try and resettle her again..perhaps she'd be happy in one of the smaller towns hereabouts? , I mused it to myself as the horse and I cantered out of the north gate.

The Caravan wreck was easy to find , as was the trail leading to the northwest , perhaps I'm being too harsh on the constables , but a child from gondor could track these brutes , fallen trickets , broken branches and more damning the bloodstains pink upon the dew wet grass. Also from the passage I could tell we were dealing with at least six Orcs all of them heavy set in good armour.
That gave me cause to pause.I'm a fair hand with my blade at the best of times , but six to one odds would make any warrior pall.
Still the hour was still early , it was possible they would be settling in for the day , less watchful and vunerable to a careful attack..with care and stealth I might just be able to free the captive at least and lead the constable's men back to the lair. I resolved to try .

I found the Cave the brutes were using as the first grey light of dawn lit the sky , well hidden in the brush back from the north road , they had picked the spot well. hitching my horse a good distance i snuck closer on foot gently parting the branches for a better view.
It seems Luck was with me for there was only a pair of them lurking in the grove , one of which seemed to have fallen asleep lent with his back against the tree , it was the work of mere moments to slip up and silently slit his throat , i don't think he even stirred from his slumber as he died.
Lowering the corpse slowly to the ground , I carefully drew my sword , the dawn light glinting on the old grey steel , She's an old blade but its been passed down through my family from father to son since the time of kings and a great comfort when all alone.

Slipping from cover I crept through the fallen bracken to where the second orc stood grumbling to himself , I never gave much stock in what these creatures have to say,but I confess the startled look and the half muttered "ere wot you about!?" as my warsword look his head was very satisfying.
The head , still wearing its expression of suprise bounced off into the bushes and the body stood for a moment spurting its foul black blood into the air before folding at the knees to lie twitching.

The Air was rent with a Cry of anger and I spun to my horror to spot a large Orc with a grossely distended belly emerging from the cave , crusted iron sword held in one meaty fist.
Behind him I could see three more waking dimly from slumber and reaching for weapons.

This was not good , swiftly I spun into a proper combat stance , feet spaced apart and sword held verticle to my head in both hands. I flashed the brute a smirk and spat casually on the corpse of his fellow whilst staring him in the eyes , a challenge the brute was too undisciplined to resist.

With a roar of hatred he leapt at me , cleaverlike sword slashing clumsily towards my un-helmeted head , faster than I thought he'd be , but still too slow. A quick twist of my body and flick of my sword and his arm , still grasping the cleaver , hit the ground. Another flick and his head sailed off to find the one I'd sent away earlier..perhaps they'd find something to talk about?

The remaining two slunk from the cave mouth and hissed threateningly at me. Smarter than the last one they struck in a pair each one assisting the others attacks till my arm grew weary from parrying and the sweat soaked my face..I flicked a hank of hair from my eyes and scowled. This had to end soon or they'd wear me down and have sport instead.
Suddenly there was an opening , a strike overextended and my counter thrust took him in the throat, ripping free just in time to parry his partner's attack. with one on one odds the battle soon turned in my favour once more and soon the last of them lay bleeding on the grass.

I groaned and suddenly all the pain of the wounds I hadn't even realised i'd taken , flooded in. nothing serious thankfully but the slow methodical growth of the stain at my hip would require tending..still not a bad price for....

The attack came from behind just as my tired mind registered there were only five bodies in the clearing. My chainmail took the force of the blow that struck my shoulder , but my sword went flying from my hand. Struggling to rise I turned in time to see the last orc snarling at the broken stump of a sword in his fist , it seems my steel mail was too much for his iron blade. It was small comfort as his foot kicked me onto my back and straddling my body he began to throttle the life from me.

Air!...the stench of the creature above me the desperate burning in my lungs , my hand scrabbling for my sword , a rock..anything...
A thin line of drool splattered on my forehead and I started to see spots..then all went black....

And damp...I could breath! but the stench and foul sticky fluid pouring onto my face from above was enough to make me gag , I struggled desperatly to rise and wiped the blackish blood from my eyes see Sparrow.
My sword in her fist , face expressionless as always she simply looked down at me , head tilted to the side.

I looked to the side and saw the last creature , throat cut back to the spine ,twitching on the grass and lay back with a groan...

It seems I make my own luck....

by Colren on Jan 16, 2016 at 03:49 PM
The coins clinked with a depressingly small tinkle in his gauntled hand , Three months of traveling , fighting off goblinkind , raiders and worse , and this was all he had to show for it..
More scars on his longblade , chainmail badly in need of repair , and no caravan's heading back towards gondor for at least a month..

"Troubles in the east" people were saying , "not worth the trip"..Colren sighed and tucked the silver back into a pouch , looking around the cramped dirty town of Bree , distictly unimpressed by what he saw. Shifting the hilt of his sword to a more comfortable angle on his back he grunted and headed towards the ringing sounds of the smithy.
At least with his arms and armour in good repair he had a chance of picking up some mercenary work in the area , tales of Orcs camping along the north roads had been circulating through the travelers for a few days , if nothing else the scum might have enough plunder to feed them for a few days.

As if summoned by his thoughts , his silent companion appeared from the innyard gates , carrying the soggy banner and short sword she'd salvaged from the ruins of her village , He'd tried to settle her in towns along the road or at least give her better wargear , but she refused to leave his side , ever since he'd slashed his blade through the Orc about to cut her down as she cowered weeping on the corpses of her family , she'd been his companion , silent, ghostlike a waif of battle.

"come on lass" he said nodding towards the smithy. "at least it should be warm in there"

They walked on through the drizzle , side by side.
by Ramield on Feb 01, 2015 at 01:42 AM
“I had finished saddling Cara and armouring her when we heard a horn call. Ramield and I went to the mead hall to muster with the other troops, I with Cara in tow. The Thane Wulfrad gave a rousing speech, proclaiming how as we had driven these men off so many times before, we would do so again. I cheered with the rest of the small group of assembled men, because I guess that’s what one does when he doesn’t know any better.”


Shouts rang around her and Amelthia added her voice to the crowd. The only change in Ramield’s expression was that from impassiveness to uninterpretable narrowed eyes as she ran a finger along the string of her bow which was slung across her shoulders. Amelthia was unaware of the change, as she was caught up in the pre-battle frenzy. She put her foot in the stirrup and began to mount but was stopped by a touch on her arm. Chiding herself, she remembered the elf beside her, whom she had promised to help but had forgotten already in the excitement. “Ah, uh, yes. What was it we were doing?” she stammered as she recovered her footing. The elf half smiled briefly before asking more seriously, “Is there a horse I can use?”
“I’m afraid not,” the woman replied, rubbing the back of her neck. “All of those you see are personally owned by their riders.” Amelthia looked forlorn up at Cara, dreading the thought that Ramield might ask her for her own mare.
“Then may I ride with you?” came the startling request. Amelthia, astonished having not considered the option, contemplated for a moment whether Cara would object to the extra weight. “I suppose…” Her voice trailed off, her words sounding more like a question than a statement. Ramield, her face unreadable as ever, motioned for Amelthia to mount. She did so, and as she was adjusting herself in the saddle preparing to give the elf a hand up, she felt the saddle shift under her as the elf grabbed it and vaulted up to settle in behind her. Her right arms held onto Amelthia for support while the other kept her bow at the ready. “At the start of the battle, go with your own discretion; however, there will come a time when I will direct you where I need to go.” The elf’s voice was steady, a fact that was reassuring to Amelthia. It was stable amid the clatter of hooves on cobbles, the creaking of leather saddles, and barked orders from various superiors. Though she was familiar with battle, the unknown tribe and the presence of the elf had shaken her.

Amelthia could hear her blood pumping in her ears as they approached the gate. Adrenaline amplified her senses. She was aware of every twitch, every murmur, the pungent smell of anticipation, and the calm firmness of the voice behind her saying, “Remember what I told you back at the stables: fight defensively; do not take any unnecessary risks. It is doubtful this town has faced any so ruthless as these, but I also doubt that the Dunlendings will be expecting such a resistance or think that their arrival was anticipated. They may turn back when they see that you all will not be taken so easily.”

By now they had reached the gate with the rest of the small company. Amelthia was sure she and the hooded figure behind her would be receiving many a sideways look had her comrades’ helmets permitted it. This mattered little to her though, for she was focused only ahead. The gate’s hinges groaned and screeched against their opening. Horses and men began to flow from its mouth forming ragged lines, a simple and familiar formation, yet clearly unpracticed. At Ramield’s behest, she made her way toward the right-hand portion and assimilated into a line.

The horsemen waited behind the crest of a small hill as Reord reported to Thane Wulfrad. He signaled to his lieutenant who led the small company of footmen around the left bank of the hill. The sound of their thudding feet faded into a momentary silence.
Suddenly, the yell of a charge filled the air above. Then came the clashing sound of metal on metal. Wulfrad raised his spear over his head to signal the riders to charge as his horse reared as if to encourage his brethren.

Amelthia tensed, her hands tightened around Cara’s reigns. The battle had begun.