But a Day From Home – Part One

But a Day from Home – Part 1

It had been embarrassing, when they had first rounded the path to the High King’s Crossing, the statue of the tall, pale king had loomed on the bridge, and Brassica had gaped at it, incredulous. Of course…well, of course she’d known that the path that curved through the gleaming white dunes had to go somewhere. All paths went somewhere. But in her mind, the road had always ended where it curved around the hill on the horizon, and that was as far as the thought had ever been taken. A day’s ride–hardly a day’s ride!–from Dwaling was something bigger than she could even have imagined. The embarrassing part was that none of her companions seemed even to notice, until they noticed her gaping.

 

At that, Llythne had laughed, and remarked on how strange it was not even to be aware of something so large anymore. Beldrieth had begun to explain the history of the statue, and once over the initial surprise of it, Brassica was very eager to hear this–but then Celebarad had realized that this was quite probably one of the wonders of the wide world he was meant to be illuminating to her, and had tapped his heels to the flanks of the mount they shared, and torn off down the road to seek a better view for his tiny companion. Having never been on a galloping horse before, Brassica hoped that the headstrong elf had only mistaken her shrieks of terror for shrieks of excitement, and not just galloped on in complete disregard for her well-being.

 

They had reached the Crossing proper before Beldrieth and Llythne caught up, and Brassica set eyes on her first Rangers. There were almost a dozen of them, camped on the bridge as though they belonged there, with maps and crates and cartons of goods, going about some business that Brassica couldn’t even guess at. They seemed just as unperturbed by the enourmous man who they stood in the shadow of, laughing and talking, or sparring and playing at targets they’d erected on the broad stone bridge. They were curious men, with dark hoods and earth coloured clothes, their weapons–for they all carried weapons–were simple and unadorned, nothing like the airy silvered blade that Brassica herself carried. There was something queer about them, something harder and sharper than she’d ever perceived about the Men of Breeland.

 

She’d heard of Rangers, of course, one couldn’t hang around the common room of an Inn of the Shire without eventually hearing some prudish hobbit complain about the wild, unkempt men who roamed the borders of civilized lands, looking for trouble, occasionally darkening the door of a tavern, trawling for news of trouble. While slightly afraid of them, as any respectable hobbit would be, Brassica also quietly thought they were interesting and exciting, and she would have told her peers, boldly, that she should shake the hand of any Ranger she met.

 

Of course, faced with the first Rangers she’d ever met, Brassica found herself shy and tongue-tied, hiding between the legs of the sorrel mare, refusing to make eye-contact with anyone. Celebarad suffered from no such timidity, and chattered blithely away to the men of the crossing–all in Elvish, which thankfully they seemed to understand, and so Brassica was spared the need to explain why she was tagging along in the saddle of an Elven warrior, who glittered and gleamed in the sunlight in a way that marked him as something entirely different from the men around him.

 

He also seemed completely ignorant of why Beldrieth could possibly be vexed with him, when the Huntress and Burglar came trotting across the bridge to rejoin them.

 

Did he give you a fright, my friend?” Llythne asked, with her usual laughing smile, when she came to gather the reins of Celebarad’s mount. “We heard you calling for him to stop, but I imagine it would be hard to say whether he didn’t hear you or merely didn’t listen.”

 

One of us is going to have to learn the other’s word for ‘stop’ before we go any further,” Brassica blurted, rather more indignantly than she’d hoped. “Or maybe I’ll just ride with you from here on?”

 

Llythne laughed. “I should be delighted by your company.”

 

And that was how it had come to be known that Celebarad was not to be trusted with passengers, though he did make a good companion to ride alongside, as they pressed their journey northwest to Tinnudir on the shores of Lake Evendim. The ride was pleasant, for they did not press their pace, and the conversation was easy. Celebarad was taught the meaning of the word “stop” and a handful of other words besides, with Llythne translating from her limited store of Elvish, and Brassica naming the things he pointed at. Beldrieth did not ride, but went on foot ahead of the party, following the road, but staying off it, reappearing occasionally to check their progress, or make some advisement about the road ahead. Once she warned them of a group of tomb robbers, busying themselves near a ruin on the edge of the woods. Llythne had swung from the saddle and drawn her daggers, fixed to go after them, but Beldrieth cautioned her against leaving the road, saying that the thieves should be left to the Rangers to deal with, while they traveled with someone like Brassica in their party. Llythne remounted, but grumbled about it, and for the rest of the ride to Tinnudir was broodingly silent.

 

Thankfully the remainder of their journey was short, and the sky was only beginning to darken when they reached another bridge, and another ruined building on the shores of the great lake. Here Brassica did talk to Rangers, shyly thanking them as they shared out portions from their meat and mead, and for the pallets by the fire that were provided for her and her companions, as full dark fell and they bedded down for the night. At first, Brassica could not even imagine how she would ever fall asleep, with her head brimming with new sights and sounds and strangers. And tomorrow they were to cross the lake! First elves and goblins, then horses and rangers, now statues and boats. Oh, certainly, most everyone knew a hobbit who was a dab hand with a little skiff, or had swum in the summer in the Brandywine river out to a raft moored in the shallows, but to cross such an expanse as Lake Evendim seemed too big to get the smallness of her mind around.

 

Brassica couldn’t have said, as she drifted off (for it had been a very long day, and she had been rather a long time without properly sleeping, for a hobbit–not that she could believe that it had been only a night and not a lifetime since her encounter with the goblins), whether it was fear or excitement she felt at the thought of how far she’d come from home, and this only her first day away.


Leave a comment

5 Comments

  1. robamb2002

     /  January 26, 2012

    Amazing story! I followed it very closely over at cstm and am ecstatic to grab even a snippet more! How fun. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  2. Lal

     /  January 26, 2012

    Thank you for continuing the story! I really enjoyed it at CSTM and now I came to your own blog. Congratulations and good luck! 🙂

    Reply
  3. Narnian of Vilya

     /  January 27, 2012

    Love Love Love this! I’ve always loved Evendim and wondered what Hobbits would think of it, living so near to it. More please!

    Reply
  4. DarkJackal

     /  March 28, 2012

    Love your characters. I feel like these are the best companions to journey with.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: