But a Day From Home – Part Nine

But a Day from Home – Part 9

Beldrieth’s business in the Eavespires had not been of a serious nature. Truly it had been more of a social call, made on behalf of the Lord Glorfindel of Rivendell, who had inquired after an old comrade who he had believed to have passed into the West. And so Beldrieth had sought Erchiel on the other side of the lake, and found her in the company of her husband. Though she had declined to return to Rivendell, declaring herself weary of war, and well-deserving of the peace she had sought at the edge of the wild, Erchiel had been glad of the company of another Elf in her small glade. So with Llythne’s consent, Beldrieth had sent the Ranger had accompanied them back across the lake on his own, in favour of returning to Tinnudir in the morning, and spent the night speaking of old battles and friends long lost to time.

It was a new battle, however, that interrupted these plans, when Rantost across the water had erupted into violence and noise, and a horn call sounded across the lake. This was unprecedented and a source of great concern to the Elves of the Eavespires, who watched Rantost from a distance at the behest of the Rangers, with whom they were friendly. They had no notion of any attack having been planned, least of all for an evening as clear and bright as this one. It was a matter of some debate whether the horn call had been a request for aid. Beldrieth and Llythne immediately wished to investigate, and a boat was prepared to cross to the island.

By the time they reached the shore, the battle had all but ended. In the company of the Elves of the Eavespires, Beldrieth entered the ruin from the western shore, mounting the stairs that rose from a large cistern, open onto the lake. This was disconcertingly littered by the bodies of tomb robbers, and at the top of the stairs it became apparent that they were only the lucky few who had escaped from the heart of the battle. The victorious Rangers were at first quite startled, and then made quite glad by the appearance of the Elves and Llythne, and Beldrieth approached the Dunadan at the center of things, reasoning that he had an air of authority about him.

What has happened here?” Beldrieth questioned, as her own small company broke apart around her, Llythne going to join the Rangers in sorting and recovering the relics stored about the camp, Erchiel’s husband Lithuifin offering his aid to the Rangers who had suffered injury, and Erchiel herself disengaging from the scene of such violence, to return to her boat and wait.

My Lady Beldrieth,” the Ranger she had addressed pulled his hood and mask from his face with a respectful half-bow, and Beldrieth remembered his name to be Orchalwe. “We did not think to see you until we put to shore at Tinnudir. You have come from the Eavespires then?”

I have,” Beldrieth confirmed, and gestured around her. “What violence has befallen this place? You have caused a great deal of anxiety to my kin in these parts, they did not know to expect a battle this night. Had an attack been planned, you could have trusted me to carry the word of it to them.”

Orchalwe inclined his head apologetically, “Word would have been sent, and there would have been no question of your delivery of the message…leaving aside the…ah…integrity of your companion.” Orchalwe’s gaze flickered towards Llythne, who had been rebuffed in her attempt to help with the relics, and instead was watching with a wry smile, her hands clasped obediently behind her back. “But no plan was laid until well after you had departed, and as the result of events concerning the other members of your party.”

At this Beldrieth demanded the whole of the tale, and received it, listening silently as Orchalwe related what had happened since that morning. When he had finished, he pointed eastward across the island, down another flight of steps. “Both the elf and the halfling are quite whole, and largely intact, save a few minor injuries acquired at the hands of the men of Rantost. They wait at rest in a camp across the channel, for we have much to do and cannot yet spare the time for a trip back across the water. By all means, go to them. I imagine they are both most anxious for company.”

I shall, and I thank you kindly for what care and aid you have given mine,” Beldrieth replied gravely, bowing deeply and gracefully to the Ranger. “Llythne!” she called to the woman, who turned from surveying the Rangers and crossed the ruin to join her, keeping her hands still clasped at the small of her back.

They think me not much better than the robbers they spent the evening felling,” Llythne commented dryly, by way of answering the question that went unasked, as she fell in step beside Beldrieth. “Some gratitude I’m shown! They forget that what I’ve stolen from tombs, I have only stolen back, and always returned to them with my gains, however they were gotten. And only asking a fair price in return for my trouble!”

Beldrieth arched an eyebrow and looked sidelong at the woman. “You sell a fish the water around him and balk when he asks if it was not his to begin with?”

Llythne laughed. “Well, then, I was sired by a Ranger, it’s as much mine as it is theirs! Bah!” She winked affably at one of the Dunedain, who watched her intently as she passed by, and then held up her empty hands and wiggled her fingers at him teasingly. “I suppose I cannot begrudge them the stewardship of their heritage. They are a cautious folk.”

Cautious to a fault,” Beldrieth agreed, and then quickly related the tale of what had befallen their companions as they hurried down the steps and across the channel that cut through the fort, and then up to the camp across the water.

Lithuifin had beaten them there, and they found him gently removing Celebarad’s armour, to get at the freshly bleeding wound beneath. Erchiel’s husband was a gentle soul, and conversed cheerfully with the dark haired elf in Sindarin, though Celebarad seemed rather more reticent than usual, and looked away as Beldrieth approached. Perched on a fallen block, Brassica seemed in much better spirits, though she couldn’t quite call out as her friends approached, having her mouth full of some some wonderful and delicious brick of waybread given to her by Lithuifin, who knew just enough about hobbits to be certain that nothing was wrong with her that a meal wouldn’t cure.

Hail!” Llythne called, jogging up the stairs and standing with her hands akimbo as she appraised the hobbit and the elf. “To think it’s from me that the Dunedain expect mischief! I could not have wrought the siege of the stronghold of all the theft in Evendim, even had I turned towards looking for trouble!” She crossed the camp and boosted herself up to join Brassica on the edge of the chunk of rubble where she sat. “Your kin in Dwaling were right, my friend, you are a great deal of roguery in a very small package!”

Brassica swallowed and mounted her defense. “I wasn’t looking for trouble!” she objected. “Only firewood and breakfast!” She gestured with the incredible elven cake. “And this the first bit of food I’ve had all day!” She took another, more manageable bite and spoke around it, “You thieving types are not very mindful of your manners!”

Are you sorely hurt?” Beldrieth inquired as Llythne laughed again, casting an eye over the hobbit’s bruised forehead and split lip, for now respecting the fact that Celebarad did not seem eager for attention. “How came you into their hands? It seems that no one has had your part of the tale.”

I’m not too badly done by,” Brassica answered, and meant it. The elf from across the water had been quite correct in his estimate of her hurts, and whatever magic went into the preparation of the little cake she’d been given (which by this time was actually her sixth) was spreading quite wonderfully through to every part of her, and her fears and her injuries were well eased, to say nothing of her hunger. “As to how I came to be here, it’s entirely my own silly fault. You said to Celebarad…or about him, I guess, as I suppose he didn’t understand…when he got himself caught by goblins, he ought to know to keep his wits about him when in a strange wood. I didn’t think to do just that, and one of the robbers crept up and snatched me away. They thought I was a spy.”

And the Rangers feared you were the same,” Beldrieth surmised, not having been told this by Orchalwe, but drawing the conclusion from what had gone unsaid.

Brassica had not been aware of this fact and spat crumbs indignantly as she protested. The cakes, for being lovely and light and tasty, were just a wee bit dry, and Brassica would have been glad of a mug of tea in which to dip them. “Me! I’m not a spy, for them or anyone! I’m just a hobbit, no more or less, and I wanted no mixing up in such an awful business as this!” She folded her arms and huffed. “Perhaps that’s why it took them the whole of the day to come fetch me. And here, I’d always be the one who put in a good word for those queer old Rangers, when people complained around the common room at the Barley Water. How rude! And…and…un-neighbourly!” Brassica scowled a little and took the thought further. “And them not even who came to keep me safe, only Celebarad between my poor self and getting hauled off to Angmar. I don’t even know where Angmar is!”

Celebarad had turned his head slightly at the mention of his name, but turned away just as quickly, though not before Beldrieth made a note of it, even as she spoke to Brassica, “For our part, we are very glad to find you well, in spite of whatever trials you’ve borne.”

Brassica had followed the movement of the huntress’ gaze, and her lips quirked into a frown. “I don’t think I’m the one hurting worst from the whole ordeal,” she commented regretfully. “Oh, please, won’t you tell him it’s all right? Lithuifin already told him I’m not hurt, but he doesn’t seem glad of the fact that I was hurt to begin with. I hate to see him so unhappy, and me owing him so much in gratitude.”

He suffers from a tenderness of spirit that does him great credit,” Lithuifin spoke up from his work with unguent and linen, gently but firmly winding a strip of cloth about Celebarad’s chest, hiding the ugly, fresh bruise that spread from the edges of the gash above his ribs. “Truly, Brassica, you’ve been done no great injury, and you know it well. Most of the harm he thinks has been done you is what he’s imagined in his own mind, but he feels it no less keenly.” Lithuifin smiled kindly when Celebarad looked up, suspicious that he was being talked about. “But do not grudge him his hurts, real or imagined, do not demand that he forget them, or call for him to see that all is well. My Erchiel is much the same, she carries the weight of many memories, and most of them the painful kind. He will come free of this night when he is ready, and in the time between, only see that he is permitted to rest and to let his heart be easy again.”

For Celebarad’s benefit, he lapsed back into Elvish, “I have not bound your wounds too tightly, I hope. Many a long year has past since I tended the battle-worn! A noble way to come by your scars, and I hope they will not pain you long. I had not thought to see the wounds of war in this land.

My thanks,” Celebarad answered neutrally, still avoiding Beldrieth’s gaze as he shrugged back into the plain, lightly padded tunic he wore beneath his armour. “I hope you do not have cause to see their like again.

Brassica wants you to know she is very grateful to you,” Beldrieth contributed. “If it is well with our hosts, we can enlist the service of their boat, and cross the lake again.

Celebarad got to his feet, and now it was Brassica’s eyes he avoided, drawing his cloak closed. “Whatever you think best,” he agreed, and then, unimpeded, went to wait on the shore of the river, until the boat was made ready, and they departed once more for Tinnudir.

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