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A Lost Child

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.


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