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Author Topic: Finding What Was Already There  (Read 1573 times)


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Finding What Was Already There
« on: September 10, 2018, 07:00:04 AM »
Dale was but a ruin.  Eadlyn had only ever seen it from afar, a distant remnant of years long past, dark and empty in the shadow of the mountain. But now it was something far more real, and in turns both haunting and fascinating. He’d have loved nothing more than to explore these ancient streets, to find all those marvelous little bits of history tucked around each corner, but now was not the time for that.  In fact, it was about as far from the time for that as one could possibly be.

He had dismounted his cart at the main gate and now walked beside Hazel, leading her carefully through the war torn streets, busier with activity than one might have thought possible from what small amount he had learned from the two elves who had directed him this way.  (He’d not expected to find elves here, of all places!) They’d not been willing to speak much of the dragon (hadn’t seen it, they’d said, but weren’t elves supposed to know about those kinds of things?), but they had told him the briefest possible account of the battle. Orcs had nearly destroyed what was left of this place, and had killed thousands, including some dwarf king he’d never heard of.  Must have been terrible for the dwarves, though...

The most selfish part of himself was relieved he’d been a few days too slow on the road. Oh, he certainly felt guilty for thinking that way, but it was the simple truth. He’d have done no good in a battle. But after a battle… He could be of some use here, if not of much.

Yet there lurked other, darker thoughts behind his forced practicality. He’d not asked after her specifically, for how did you barge your way into a stranger’s grief simply to ask him if he knew if Kat had survived? But he did search her out with his eyes as he walked, carefully maneuvering down what might have been a main thoroughfare of some sort. Here men busied themselves with clearing away chunks of fallen stone and…  were those blood stains on the paving stones??

Eadlyn could feel the blood drain from his face, and eyes darted away.  He forced his focus upon the men and women he passed, searching under workman’s caps and fisherman’s hats for familiar faces, but finding nothing more than haunted gazes.  And the more he walked, the more his thoughts turned to yet darker places.  What if she was dead? He’d been all but assuming she was alive, for Kat was a survivor.  Even if he’d not yet had the conscious thought of it, somehow his heart knew deep down that she was not the type to fall to orcs without a fight. But had she even lived long enough to face the orcs?  Even Katja could not have stood against a dragon.

A dragon! He’d never quite believed those tales that claimed such a beast was hiding in the mountain. He wondered how many had died thinking the same thing…

He paused a moment, leaning heavily against Hazel’s side. The old mare obliged him, and he allowed his eyes to close, focusing his thoughts on the steady rise and fall of her breathing, the comfort of life beneath the warmth of her coat, then with a gentle pat, he moved on, keeping his gaze ahead.  It was far easier not to look…

He’d been directed to a quartermaster, or the nearest equivalent, a Lake Man whose face he had known in passing, but whose name escaped his memory.   This was more business as usual, and he was easily able to work with this man, providing an inventory of his goods. He carried few things of immediate use, but things that would be needed before long.  Bolts of cloth and rolls of leather, for the most part.  There were a few special orders, spices from the south, an expertly carved rocking chair meant as a gift, a set of candlesticks, a few other odds and ends he’d picked up, but all of it was given freely. Everything save his own personal effects and his books.  And Hazel’s well-worn horse blanket, of course.

At long last, Eadlyn finally found the courage to ask after Kat, but the old quartermaster had only looked apologetic, explaining that some other fellow kept the list of the dead. 

The old man was quick to reassure him that he had not meant to suggest she was on the list of the dead. 

Eadlyn was hardly reassured...

With assurances for the care of his personal items, Eadlyn left his cart behind with the quartermaster and started off again with Hazel, seeking out the makeshift stable where he might find her a place to rest.  Perhaps someone there would have news.  Surely there were still innkeepers kicking around.  Innkeepers always knew everything…
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Re: Finding What Was Already There
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2019, 08:03:06 AM »
'They're all gone.'

Katja had hardly had time to think since...well, the beginning of it all. An understatement, that, but the once proud, cheerful and hardy craftswoman and businesswoman -- once, when it had really been mere hours ago...had it? -- was not only at a complete loss for words apt to describe the situation around her, but felt with what little ability left to feel that there were no words left to describe what had happened.

The mountain breached. The dragon awoken from under the mountain. The destruction of...the arrival, or was it invasion? Of what might have been five armies. Only Katja wasn't quite sure and wasn't sure she particularly cared for the semantics any longer of such things, only that they'd come...and everything was in ruin. Everything was in ruin, and in truth, the crafter turned weapon wielder in the space of what seemed mere hours hadn't been sure who was friend and who was foe. She'd just...acted because she'd been neither too young, nor too old, nor too frail to fight back-- strong with the life she'd led, and an axe and mallet in hand-- no war weapons, but adequate for the job. And so she'd acted, and reacted to anything that had swung with ill intention at her.

'I just...killed them in the end.'

Greed, maybe. Greed was maybe the word for all that had happened, and every fell thing that followed upon its heels. While she was no general or noblewoman to sit upon a council, rumours always had some truth to them-- and failing that, the evidence was before her very eyes.

The greed of kings.

They'd paid for it the ultimate price, or so they were whispering. These kings of kingdoms the folk of Lake-town had had no part in for eons, if they'd ever been a part of them at all.

Later, when she was able to think again, Katja would likely ponder with scorn veiled only by a better nature how often the weakness of Men was expounded upon by the others in Middle Earth, when the ruin around her at this very moment was the cause of Elves and Dwarves and Orcs and Goblins.

But at that very moment, she could think no longer. Feeling, too, was called into question-- only that everything was gone. Gone. There was no purpose left, it seemed, in these immediate hours that followed. Even the children that had been with her, clung to her skirts, clutched to her familiarity among the folk of their burned town, had gone elsewhere.

It crossed her mind, as she sunk upon a piece of shattered debris, that her stomach still roiled with the killing even as her mind no longer moved. And yet it seemed rather belated to be vomiting in celebration of her initiation into the art of killing, if it could indeed be called an art form. There was nothing in her belly anyway.


Time passed in the same way it had since the battle of the five armies for her, or so it seemed. The burning of Lake Town had not been like this-- perhaps because shock was a powerful job, and perhaps because she'd still had a purpose-- no time to linger on ruin and death, and loss.

got something from her, though it felt paltry in comparison to what Katja felt she should have been feeling at the destruction of home, livelihood and what had remained of her family. A lump in the throat, or a blade more, sharp and pressing against the corners. She pressed her eyes more tightly against the arms about her knees, vaguely aware of the press of the bloodied axe that seemed permanently a part of her hand now. And it was small something, it seemed, that jolted her to something like awareness again-- not entirely, not completely, and there was no fanfare about it. Nothing magical in this place where magic had been sapped, nothing poetic or romantic or even tragic.

It was only an awareness of the senses borne up from pain that she heard the burr of conversation, her name maybe, and she knew her ears didn't deceive her, because she hadn't been thinking of anything, wishing for anything, for her mind to be playing tricks on her.

"Eadlyn?" she rasped, the use of her voice setting a deeper pain in her throat. Aching as it already had, with screams and yells of fear and boldness but mostly fear. No good to her, so Katja was forced to look up from the blessed darkness curling into a ball had brought her; the air bringing the sting back to the ache to the side of her head that she'd thought was headache but was bloody some as the fair hues of Rohirric blood interrupted the dull greys and blacks (black stains, black as blood turned) of her periphery.

The man-- possibly an inkeeper, for one would hope they still got about, because more than one man would be in need of drink before the days were past-- who'd paused in passing to greet her unwitting searcher, as grey and dirty as she and so, it seemed, able to easily distinguish like, gestured over his shoulder to her-- a needless warning perhaps, for as a man starving for drink moved to what would sustain him had Kat dragged lead limbs in their direction. Paused, dark eyes both dead and burning unshed in the same gaze, the hesitation only long enough to take the Rohirric trader in before her arms were thrown about his neck, propriety be damned as a strangled whimper buried itself against his neck.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2019, 09:02:03 AM by Katja »

~in a perfect story book, the world is brave and good - a hero takes your hand, a sweet love follows. but life's a different game, the sorrow and the pain, and only you can change your world tomorrow~


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Re: Finding What Was Already There
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2019, 03:19:20 AM »

Time was difficult to measure in the ruined city.  After he’d left Hazel behind in the company of a few other horses in the remains of what had once been a stable yard, he’d taken to the streets once more.  He had a description of a man in his head, given to him by a weary woman who’d been tending the horses, and a vague direction in which to search, but that was all.  He was left on his own to wander.

Things were worse here than they had been where he’d entered from the South. In the city center efforts had already begun to clear away rubble and begin repairs to what was left of the city.  But here, it was hard to say how long ago the walls here had toppled. The freshest of the rubbled had been moved aside to allow for passage on foot, revealing bloodstained paving stones beneath.

Eadlyn tried very hard not to look down at those stones.

Still searching faces, he found the former innkeeper, or at least someone who might have been the innkeeper.  Crooked nose, black hair sprinkled with silver, a pronounced limp.  “Sir… if you have a moment,” Eadlyn had begun, keeping his voice low for reasons he could not fully comprehend.  There was simply something about this place that demanded he not disturb the quiet. The low murmur of his voice even seemed loud in this corner of the city, distant from the noise of the city center. 

“I’m looking for Katja,” he began, forcing down the sudden surge of dread in his gut. What if this man knew?  What if she’d been killed?  Was he ready to know that truth?

Somehow, in that moment of dread, he’d gone even paler than usual.

And then there she was.  His eyes found her almost too late, taken by surprise and hardly given a moment to realize who she was before her arms wound around his neck.  He exhaled sharply the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding and whatever momentary paralysis had gripped him fell away.  Arms enveloped her waist, drawing her closer with a strength he hardly knew he possessed.  As if around the next corner there waited some shadow of an orc or a dragon that might steal her away again.

He realized his mistake quickly enough and loosened his hold, not knowing if she were injured, but he did not let go.  With a cheek pressed into her hair, Eadlyn released a ragged breath, knowing he should speak, but unable to find the words. He knew many words, but all of them seemed inadequate to the task of expressing the depth of his relief, and.... And something more that he could feel swelling within his pounding heart.  Something that, in that moment of overwhelming emotion, he could not begin to comprehend.

But at last he drew back, taking her face oh so carefully between two trembling hands.  Was she real?  Or would she simply vanish into thin air?

“You’re alive,” he breathed, finding nothing better to say than simply stating the obvious.
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Re: Finding What Was Already There
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2019, 03:40:58 AM »
She realised, dimly, that she'd begun to shiver when she'd thrown herself at the Rohirric trader. Registered as dimly that it could be belated shock, let loose with her emotions through the simple gesture-- the purchase clutching on to Eadlyn's rangy, bony form granted and that she hadn't even realised she'd been missing until then. She'd always been her own pathfinder, in a way, for though she was no Ivorak, or Thorin Oakenshield, or any other such adventurer she'd met and/or heard of in her shorter-than-many-realised years of life, Katja had learned the hard way that even well-meaning decisions made by others, and not one's self, never ended happily.

But she'd lived the rest of a lifetime, and all of its tragedies, in the space of a mere day. And adrenaline, eventually, had to give way somehow. So in the end, holding her tightly, aches or not, was everything for her. It kept her there even as it was borne of Eadlyn's fear that she was not there at all, and any resistance to the embrace was only in the way Katja was loathe to be parted from it, arms rigid in protest-- fear, even-- at the separation. Later, she'd be herself again-- needing little save her mind and her hands, warm and sure and amiably distant all in one.

Right then, though, Eadlyn was everything, and all the things he'd never fancied himself to be.

"It's gone. Everything--the dragon--Pa--all of it--" The whimper had begun to take on a frantic taste, as acrid as burning oil and wood varnish on water, as the sounds and tastes of battle were, and it was only in registering the thoughtful, unconscious grip on her face that Katja was able to reassert some small cohesion to her thoughts. Still shaking with moments made vague for sanity's sake as much as those painfully clear, experiences she couldn't begin to explain to him then (if ever, her clever, foggy mind wondered bleakly), she licked parched lips in an attempt to regain some sense. Flinched a little-- contrarily considering the moment and all that had preceded it-- at the contact to her face; not so much because his fingers brushed blood there and the only injury she'd miraculously sustained of any note, but because it was her face, ruined as it had been long ago, and the sensory juxtaposition between the damaged and the undamaged where Eadlyn's hands lay, the equally contradictory manner in which they lay there without uncertainty or hesitation, was also everything even as the mind fixated strangely on it, and its contradiction of the tableau around them, the tableau she'd lived a lifetime in mere hours in, in its bid to stave off shock.

"I can't stay here. I can't." That was rasped after an indeterminable length of time spent looking up at him, fixed by the gesture holding her there, keeping her there, even as bright humour was replaced with the feverishness of horror and battle and unnamed things witnessed that she had never had any desire to see, let alone partake in. Even as that, for a moment, was replaced with confusion and grief and the realisation that threatened with both those things even as it eased the former, and Katja's features threatened to crumple even as her hands finally lifted to grip his tightly.

"It's all gone, Eadlyn. Her entire life's work, her only family, her entire life really-- gone with dragon-fire and the whims of dwarf folk who had not even seen fit to make their new home in the shadow of the mountain, not like the Lake folk had. They'd come for what was theirs, and in doing so, had brought ruin on the common folk whom had made something of this land their own, despite the slumbering dragon looming nearby.

She didn't care a whit for any of it, though. Compassion had gotten her nowhere in this instance, and that was a mild way of putting it. All that mattered now that everything grounding her was gone, save for the man before her-- and she feared even he might not be solid, her wandering, over-cautious merchant, even as he'd given her something to grasp on to in this ruinous aftermath.

~in a perfect story book, the world is brave and good - a hero takes your hand, a sweet love follows. but life's a different game, the sorrow and the pain, and only you can change your world tomorrow~


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Re: Finding What Was Already There
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2020, 07:22:44 AM »
So much in the city was broken, and yet in his relief to find Kat in one piece, it had not yet occured to Eadlyn that she… that all of these people, were equally broken, but in ways that were not as easy to see as toppled walls and cracked paving stones.  But it didn’t take long before he could read it in her eyes and hear it not only in the words that she spoke, but in the tremulous tones in her voice, in the rasping of those desperate attempts to put to words what had happened.

“I’m sorry,” he answered, the words barely half a sigh and utterly useless. What good was his sorrow?  Particularly when it came to her pa…   What good was it even to say I’m sorry,  when all the sincerity in the world wasn’t nearly enough to make those words be of any real comfort?

Eadlyn was not at all surprised that she could not find the words any more than he could.  What words could be equal to the task of explaining all this?  And though he knew there would have to come a time eventually when she would need to find those words and give him the tale in full, this was not the time, no matter how badly he wanted to ask to hear more of it.  And oh how he wanted to ask!

In some small corner of his mind that he was wise enough to push far into the most distant shadows of conscious thought, Eadlyn was fascinated by what little he’d heard of these events.  A dragon was a thing he’d only read of in books, and even then most books said there were none left in the world, if there had ever been at all.  And here he was surrounded by hundreds who had seen a dragon and…  And it only took one look at their faces to banish whatever boyish excitement he might have otherwise had.  Who could think about the wonder of it all when faced with the dismal reality?

“You don’t have to stay here,” he blurted out, a clumsy attempt at reassurance.  Only able to state the stupidly obvious yet again. But at last, some meager courage forced him not to leave it at just that. “W-what I mean is,” he cast a glance around before leaning in to lower his voice, which sounded all too loud in the tomb-like silence of the ruined city.  “I’ve left my cart to be unloaded, but once that’s seen to, there will be more than enough room for two.  I mean… If you’d like.  You can come with me.  I’ll take you away from here.”

Hands slid carefully away from her face, turning to grasp her hands in return so that he might draw her in, entwining his fingers in hers and guiding her so near that they were knotted together with hardly a hair’s breadth between them.

He saw it first on his fingertips, the faintest traces of blood from where he’d brushed against her wound only moments ago, and the dawning of that realization led him to examine her with a keener eye.  He saw it now, the wound.  Nothing so bad as what he’d seen on others, but still there, still a concern. The inner wounds he could not help, but perhaps the outer could be more easily mended.

“I know it’s a stupid question,” he began, overexplaining his thoughts as if they really mattered in the face of ruins and dragonfire.  “And I know the answer is no… at least in the broader sense.” He glanced down at the faint remains of the blood that had colored his fingertips before blue eyes turned back to Kat, examining.  “But are you all right?  I mean… There were healers near where I came in.  Have you been?” 
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