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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: February 9th, 2019, 8:15 pm 
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As Rie-Zunic searched around the area in a most casual manner, he kept his eyes and ears open. Hoping to gather bits and pieces of anything that might prove useful to their quest. He visited the local inns, but avoided Guild Chapterhouse as had been instructed. Though he benoanithat need, he consented to the decision.

Almara, quite some distance away, sat waiting. She loathed the idea of being left behind, but she knew the reasoning was logical. It would be to dangerous for her to travel with them in her current condition. She was left with Aldamir, and she longed to ask him of her mother... but ahe didn’t. There was still an awkward space between them. A space she just didn’t seem able to breach.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: February 24th, 2019, 8:17 am 
Dunedain Ranger of Arnor
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Halvarin had spent much time listening as he lingered about the Guildhouse of Pelagir. The politics were thick in the talk, and Halvarin was uneasy with it as he didn’t feel like he adhered to the thought that seemed to permeate the Guild. Still, he was put in charge of the first course of Navigation for the incoming class of the year.

“Welcome class of 1431. I’m not going to stand here and say all the usual stuff about how great it is that you have chosen the field of navigation to guide the King’s ships. I will say that it is good to see so many interested in the stars and the art of navigation.”

Halvarin set into the first course of Navigation, adding his own thoughts as he went. He thought it good to be able to teach young mariners. When the war came, they would be the ones to carry on the strength that is Gondor on the seas of the world. The days and weeks and months ahead were filled with more of the same, and the news from the north was never good. When it came toward the end of the term, Halvarin had some leave. On the same day, he received a letter from a runner he had employed to take his other letter to Osgiliath. He said,

”I was given this by Prince Vinyarion and was to deliver it personally to you.” Halasian nodded and gave his courier a silver coin. “You stay close. I may need your services in the days ahead.” He said. The courier nodded and left. Halvarin opened the satchel and found a letter penned in Amarwen’s hand. He read it, then read it again before walking out to the quay. The rumours he had been hearing were true, and the Guild was undermining the crown of Gondor for their own purposes! Amarwen wanted to talk, and he was willing to listen. He had just enough days to himself to get things in order and to catch a ship north. His schedule was cleared, and he bade Kerina farewell as he boarded the ship. He would get to Harlond late due to heavy flows of the Anduin and contrary winds.

The last day aboard had Halvarin tense. He had left Osgiliath quickly and not in the best way. He missed Amarwen, but nearly a year had passed, and he had not been too vigilant in writing her, even if she had written him repeatedly. If only he had gotten her letters when they arrived. His pondering of these things came to an end when the ship cast the rope to the quay a Harlond.

He knew Amarwen wanted to meet, but Halvarin seemed nervous and hesitant to seek her out. Maybe he was too late? No, this was more than their relationship, it had to do with Gondor. Halvarin straightened his uniform and walked off the ship. He knew where the Evenstar Inn was. It was a place where high folk went, the captains and marshals and dignitaries stayed there. He considered going to the Quay Tavern instead. But there he too would be out of place, officers didn’t go there. He walked slowly through the streets of Harlond, and entering the Evenstar Inn, he signed in and went to the common room. He stood and gazed around the place, finding Amarwen with a dignified soldier of Gondor. He froze for a moment taking in her beauty, and he started walking toward her when her eyes found his looking at her. He came to the table where she sat and he bowed and said in a somewhat formal voice, even if it was shaking a little, ”Lady Amarwen, it is good to see you again.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Minas Ithil

Aldamir was out looking over the land to the east. He could tell that trouble would one day come to Gondor from there. But right now, it was south to the sea that troubles came. He paused and saw Almara standing by the wall down several paces. He had been quite distant to her even after claiming her as his own. He knew it was not fair to her, and he approached slowly and bowed.

”Lady Almara, it is good to see you out .I am afraid I have not called upon you in all this time. I would like to request your presence for dinner this night. I think it is long past due, and we have much to talk about. Would this meet with your approval?” He eyed her briefly and bowed.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: February 24th, 2019, 6:22 pm 
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Rie-Zunic meandered inconspicuously about, looking for any signs or clues of the guild activity. He had worn ragged clothes. The clothes of a traveler, not of a military man. If anyone saw him, they would assume him to be a drifter. So he hoped.

Meanwhile, Almara was out for some fredh air. Regardless of what the weather might be, she could only stand to be cooped up inside for so long. She almost withdrew when she saw Aldamir. So many questions she had, yet she feared to ask. She wanted to know her father better, but that too seemed a task better left alone at times.

When he came her way, she took a shallow breath and gave a polite greeting.

Tgen, at his sudden request, she paused. “I... would be obliged to accept. I would agree, overdue... yes,” she admitted, then cringed at her own words and how they might be taken. “I understand, all is very busy. Truth be told, I’ve been hoping you would call on me... and... that you would not.” She closed her eyes and bit her tongue. “I’m rambling now.” She curtsied and smiled politely. “I would be honored to accept your invitation.”


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2019, 11:26 pm 
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Three days spent in Harlond had been productive. Guile, charm, diplomacy and tact had yielded dividends. A nudge here, a suggestion there would ensure the Guild would have their hands full with squabbling rivals a while longer yet. Time they sorely needed as the rightful crown scrambled to ready themselves.

It would not last, Amarwen well knew. This tactic would ultimately fail and when it did, the war would begin proper. She did not know how long she could make the gambit endure. After three days she knew the grim tidings she would bear to Aldamir upon her return. War was all but certain now. While she had successfully fed the rivalries within the Guild to keep them burning hot, one thing was clear to her. All rivals within the Guild held a unified view that anyone other than Eldacar was a suitable heir to Valacar's throne. Any optimism she may have had that a war over succession might be avoided had been thoroughly doused.

Rie-Zunic's reconnaissance about Harlond proper had been of similiar use to their ends. He had evidence now of what they had long suspected. The Guild had employed any number of tactics to sap the crown's strength. Their powerful trade and mercantile connections were turning away. Rie had seen the shipments arrive, the goods unloaded. Scant vessels were permitted further north. There was no shortage, as the Guild had protested.

The coming war would be fought on many fronts, not least within the minds and bellies of Gondor's people. All of this meant that it was vital to possess information on what was happening within the Guild itself. Their time had been put to excellent use and yet, when it came to the central reason for their presence in Harlond, they had failed. Three days, and no sign or word from Halvarin himself.

As she sat there with Rie reviewing the preparations made for their return to Minas Ithil the following morning, Amarwen was restless. She could not decide whether she was disappointed or relieved that Halvarin had elected to stay away. So many would be unable to escape the coming turmoil but Halvarin just might. He remained his own man. He could take ship and fly ahead of the storm out of harm. Take Kerina with him and anyone else that had the good sense to flee whilst they could. She was considering how best to suggest that to Halvarin without pricking his pride when she saw him moving through the common room towards their table.

In his uniform he cut quite the figure. An Ensign no longer if she understand the insignia upon his jacket, but an Officer proper. More than a few tracked his path curiously, noting where he had stopped. Amarwen stared up at Halvarin as he offered his greetings, her tongue glued to the roof of her mouth. His face, fair and almost painful to regard. His sea swept eyes washed over her. He was nervous. Striving for calm steadiness. Or was he? A painful year of distance and estrangement left her uncertain that she understood anything about her dearest, oldest friend. Her first love. Not for the first time she cursed the fates that had sundered them.

Halvarin's gaze bounced from her to Rie-Zunic and back again. The silence stretched uncomfortably. Rie-Zunic cleared his throat, his elbow nudging Amarwen slightly. It was enough to shake her back to the proper forms. She smiled as best she could through her uncertainty and gestured at a chair.

"It is good to see you, Halvarin. Please, sit."

Halvarin blinked, as if he doubted the veracity of her statement, and folded into a chair.

"Wine or ale?" Rie-Zunic asked in a bid to further ease the awkward tension.

"Pardon?" Halvarin asked, as if he had not heard the question.

"Wine or-"

"Ale,"
Amarwen said. "Hal prefers ale to wine...unless, that too has changed?"

And there it was. The sharp edge in her words made her wince. She had not asked Halvarin here to castigate him. Amarwen bowed her head, wincing with irritation at her wording.

"Ale, please," Halvarin said, his tone subdued and soft. Amarwen looked up through her lashes and saw pain and regret as he regarded her.

"Ale it is," Rie-Zunic replied wryly, and rose to see to it.

His brief departure from the table returned silence. Amarwen studied Halvarin carefully, lowering her eyes whenever his wandered from a study of the room to her.

"This is a busy place," Halvarin commented.

Amarwen nodded, "Trade is still good here. The same cannot be said up-river."

At her remark, Halvarin's eyes swung to hers. She glanced down as she reached for a half full glass of wine. "How was your journey?"

"Smooth enough...though the spring melt made going slower than usual. I thought I might miss you."


Rie-Zunic's return prevented Amarwen from inquiring further. She could not discern whether Halvarin was pleased to have arrived in time. He was as circumspect and careful as she. A strange, stiff dance of pauses and uncertainty. So different to how it had always been between them. Her fault, she thought, for had she not set in motion that which had brought them to the Dome of Stars that night, none of this would be so fraught now.

One tankard was set down but Rie-Zunic did not seat himself.

"Are you not joining us?" Amarwen inquired and Rie-Zunic shook his head emphatically.

"If we are to set out on the morrow, I have matters to see to. After that, an early night. We've a long ride ahead of us."

"Oh,"
Amarwen said, nonplussed. A faint smile showed on the face of Almara's husband as he took stock of the situation before him.

"In any case," he continued, rocking onto his heels and forward again, "You're hardly in need of a chaperone, are you?"

"No!"
Halvarin and Amarwen intoned in unison. Rie-Zunic's smile became knowing and then he rubbed at his jaw.

"As I thought," he replied, nodded and made for the door.

Both Amarwen and Halvarin watched Rie-Zunic's departure, both taken aback at the prospect before them now. They were both in the deep end and floundering. As the door closed on Rie's heels, Amarwen swallowed. Halvarin straightened in his chair and downed a healthy draught of the ale Rie had delivered. He set his tankard down and slowly lifted his eyes to her own.

They stared at each other, forlorn. Halvarin pressed out a troubled sigh and Amarwen had to look away sharply.

"Now what?" Halvarin quietly pressed.

"I did not think you come," Amarwen muttered in reply. She snatched up her glass and drank, frowning. "You ought not of."

"What?"
Halvarin peered at her, astonished. "My presence is your doing!"

Amarwen took another irritated drink of wine. "You've demonstrated that you're quite accomplished in ignoring my wishes."

"I did not know you had written! Tell me you understand that, Ami!"


This was not what she wished to do. There was nothing to be gained by picking over the bones of their past, save further grief.

She drained her glass and set it down with a weary sigh. " I do understand," she said softly, staring at the grain of the wooden table between them. "And despite it all, you are here."

Amarwen braced herself to meet Halvarin's gaze. She saw anguish and regret there. But stronger yet was a determination. This man, she knew, was one of the most determined people she had ever encountered. In this, Halvarin shared much with Aldamir. The prince, too, was a man whose steadfast spirit burned fiercely within him.

Halvarin leaned forward, expression earnest. "What, Ami? Are you in trouble?"

His eyes were wide with sincere concern. The longer she gazed into them the worse her heart ached. Despite her attempts, she had not inured herself to him. She felt tears prickle her eyes and she blinked rapidly to hold them back.

"Not here," she replied softly, a quick glance at the busy common room. "At the back of the inn you will find a door, unlocked. Wait ten minutes, finish your ale, then come find me in my room."

Amarwen pressed four fingers upon the table between them. The forth room was hers. Halvarin nodded his understanding and Amarwen rose to her feet. Halvarin followed, as protocol dictated, and she extended her hand as their respective stations required. Halvarin held her fingers gently in his own and bowed over them.

"It has been a pleasure," he said, his warm breath whispering over the back of her hand.

"Indeed it has, Master Halvarin. Do convey my regards to your esteemed father."

"I shall,"
Halvarin acknowledged and Amarwen withdrew her hand, lifted her chin, and traced a path through the common room for her room to await him. She kept her pace smooth, graceful and unhurried until she was safely behind the door of her room. Once there she paced her room in a bid to calm herself. She ran through the purpose of this meeting. She was here at Aldamir's request. A request the prince would likely never have made if he knew of the full extent of the history she shared with Halvarin. A history that had just unleashed a storm of emotion she wished she could somehow master.

After what seemed like an hour, she heard a soft tap at her door. Amarwen hastened to admit Halvarin, peering up and down the hall to ensure none had marked his presence. She closed the door, locked it and turned to find Halvarin studying the room with some curiosity.

"Does Aldamir know?" Halvarin asked as he looked about, turning this way and that until he faced her.

"This meeting was arranged at his request," she replied and Halvarin nodded slowly.

"But does he know?" he persisted.

Amarwen studied him for a moment and then looked aside. "No," she admitted. "I saw little purpose in that."

"Is he good to you?"


She walked past him to a sideboard for a bottle wine already opened and began to pour two glasses.

"Ami?"

Amarwen kept pouring. She passed one to Halvarin and took the second for herself.

"How am I to answer, Hal, and to what end?" She shook her head. The action set her heavy, long hair swaying at her back. "In any case, we have other matters to discuss."

Halvarin pressed out a sigh at this and Amarwen settled into a chair by the flickering hearth. Halvarin seated himself. "By all accounts, the situation is dire," he observed.

Amarwen sipped at her wine, thinking. "War is all but certain now. The succession will certainly be contested. All that remains unanswered is by whom, and when."

"There any number of contenders,"
Halvarin observed and Amarwen nodded. "Are you encouraging rivals?" Halvarin asked quietly and Amarwen regarded him at length. "There are...whispers. Rumours."

Amarwen inclined her head ever so slightly. Almost, but not quite confirmation. She drew a deep breath set out all that had come to light over the past six months.

"The princes of the realm ready a defence. That defence relies increasingly on information from within the Guild itself. Vinyarion's recall to Osgiliath has seen what little we had come to a stand still."

"They kept Vin at a distance in any case,"
Halvarin said and she nodded.

"We need someone better placed than Vin could ever be. One of their own, well connected, trusted." They had drained their glasses in this time and Amarwen leaned forward, her elbows on her knees."We need you, Hal."

"Me?"
came Halvarin's incredulous reply. "They tell me less than Vin!"

"You are your father's son, though,"
Amarwen countered, triggering a scowl from Halvarin. It was a vexed subject, as she well knew and what she was about to say next would not endear her to him either. "And then there is Kerina to consider."

Halvarin went very still. "What about Kerina?"

She closed her eyes and sighed. "It is known that you have a personal, close connection to someone deep in the household of the Lord Commander of Pelargir."

"Have you been sniffing around after-"

"No!"
Amarwen replied, her eyes opening as she turned to face Halvarin. He was sternly protective. Once upon a time for her but now for another. "Vin told his father before I ever learned of her and Aldamir is no fool, Hal. He came to me, asking after you and Kerina both. I told him the truth: that we had grown estranged and no longer spoke."

"And then my letter arrived."


Amarwen nodded and slumped back into her chair, saddened and weary both. "And so here we are," she muttered. "I am to ask you to help us, Halvarin. But in truth...If you had any sense, you'd take Kerina and flee while you still can."

Kerina...the woman he had rejected her for. Amarwen swallowed sharply at the sense of humiliation that stirred in her. It had taken her a long time to rebuild her broken heart. She could not allow it to shatter now.

"And what of you?" Halvarin asked, his tone urgent. Amarwen clenched her jaw and considered the hands she had clasped in her lap. A sense of loyalty drove that question from Halvarin but he could not tarry for her. Just as he had not a year ago.

"My fate is bound to that of Gondor herself. I will know peace if Gondor knows peace. If Gondor knows war..."

Halvarin stared at her in dismay. "Do you hear yourself?"

"You cannot begin to know how I have laboured to reconcile myself to the lot cast for me,"
she replied, pain leaking through her words. Amarwen shook her head sharply, willing it away. "You, Halvarin, need not share my fate. You have a freedom I will never know. I beg of you, use your freedom while still you can."

Pleading with him had brought her nearer. Within touch if either dared chance it. Amarwen tucked a thick fall of raven hair behind her ear and sank to her knees between the hearth and Halvarin's chair. Her grey eyes were wide and trained on his own.

"Please Hal...If some of Gondor's best somehow escape...is that not something to be hoped for when peace is all but lost? Will you not give me that to hold to in the darkness that comes?"

She appreciated what it was she asked of him...yet, she knew he could do it for he had done it before. Halvarin had unbound his life from her own. All he needed now was a firm nudge and he'd be free forever and spared further grief. And though it would mean she would never see him again, it was as her mother had said. To love someone truly is to let them go. Tears rose again, shimmering in the dancing light.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: March 6th, 2019, 10:53 am 
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Rie-Zunic saw to the preparations, his mind weighing heavily with the state of things. Fictions were high. He would rather be in all out war than a muddled state such as this where there were only questions and no clear answers. He scolded himself for saying as much, however, thinking of Almara and their child. He sighed. Oh how becoming a parent could change a soul...

He finished his things and settled into his lonely bed. He slept, but not well. When morning came he was up early to see that everything was squared away for their journey.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: June 20th, 2019, 10:26 am 
Dunedain Ranger of Arnor
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“Very well. My personal guard will escort you to my chambers when you are ready.” He bade Almara a good

Aldamir knew it was long overdue, but he wanted to talk and answer any questions Almara may have. As he had his private dining room prepared for that evening, Aldamir considered his memories of the maidservant that was Almara’s mother and the time they had together. Aldamir was in grief with the passing of his wife after Vinyarion was born, and Mira was there. She had worked his chambers for a few years as a young maidservant, and she could see the pain he was in.

Their affair was short but intense, and when Aldamir received orders to go to Calenardhon, he said a final farewell to Mira. He never saw her again.

“Almara, it is good you have come back into my life. I only wish it was in better times and in better circumstances.” Aldimar said as he escorted her to the table in his private study. “Lady Amarwen has advocated heartily for you, and in this I agree. In a … new… Gondor, the blood of many will be accepted. Be they Dunedain of the west, Northman of Rhovanion, or that of what is referred to as ‘lesser’ men.”

As the food and fresh springwater was brought to the small table, he asked, “Is there anything you and your child are in need of?” He knew what they needed was stablilty, and that appeared to be falling into the abyss in Gondor these dark days.

~ ~ ~

Seeing Amarwen was something that he had thought he had shielded himself from, expecting business. But he watched his shield crumble even as he walked in and the Gondorian soldier accompanied her. So many memories come flooding back… His talk with Amarwen drew the pain out of his heart, for he hoped it did not die with this cursed war within Gondor. He went silent for a moment even as he reached out and took Amarwen’s hand. He finally looked up and into her eyes.

”I, or anyone else will be fleeing Gondor. I hear what you ask and though I feel it to be the true path for Gondor, I cannot simply throw aside the path I have taken.”

He turned and paced as he stared at the floor. ” I cannot flee for you Ami. With Kerina or naught. I pledged my life to Gondor, and I will do what I can to uphold her greatness. But if you ask me whether I stand with the thoughts of my father or that of the Guild, I cannot say. What seemed right to me only recently seemed to have crashed down along with the pillars of our land.”

He paused his steps, and seeing there was nobody around but he and Amarwen, he gazed at her and took a breath. She was beautiful and full of passion for our land, and Halvarin knew her heart wished that things were not as they had come to be. His too felt that way. He turned and stepped up to Amarwen and took her hands in his.

”This Gondor we so love and cherish… we do what we must for it. Our paths lead in different directions, and where the winds and currents take us from here, I know not. I will do as you ask Ami, and I will pass what I hear to you. If it helps Gondor in any way it will be worth it. But I cannot flee as you ask. This freedom you speak of that you say I have… it does not come to me for free. It may be as time goes by that we find ourselves standing on opposing sides. Know that you will always be a piece of my heart.”

He gave her hands a squeeze and held her eyes but for a moment. Any longer and he would waver. Too much longer and eyes would see and ears would hear. He turned and walked away, wanting to turn and look back, to turn and run to her and embrace her, to turn and run as far away as he could as she asked. But Halvarin strutted out as a Mariner of the realm, the pain in his heart gnawing at him with every step.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: June 25th, 2019, 3:15 am 
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1431 Nárië – On Route to Minas Ithil


Damn that man, Amarwen fumed inwardly. Her cowl was drawn up against the stiff breeze of the afternoon. It concealed her expression and the flash of ire in her eyes, trained as they were on the space between her mount’s ears.

Not far off came the sound of Rie-Zunic’s horse. They maintained a steady rate, unhurried and inconspicuous now that they had divested themselves of anything that might otherwise mark them for who they were. Pursuit from Hardlond had hardly been sticky that morning. A few beggars only trailed after them, soon giving up the chase for fatter pickings by the docks.

Still, it was unwise to travel openly. In this, Amarwen agreed with Rie-Zunic’s precautions. The man had so many of them, but this was on the list she considered reasonable and sensible both.

Minas Ithil was several days off to the east. At least a week, if the weather held. Amarwen’s eyes flicked upwards to the sky briefly. A big if, she thought, before returning her gaze to her horse.

Damn Halvarin, she fumed again and noticed her teeth had started to grind. Rie-Zunic would read the tension in her shoulders and so she forced them to unwind as well. Why could he not just follow common sense? One man was not going to make the difference in what lay ahead of them. He’d find ready employment in any number of ports clear of the descending madness. Lond Daer, for example. Not as grand as Pelargir, true, but not embroiled in a murderous plot of treason and civil war.

And what in Ilúvatar’s name had he meant with that comment about taking up arms against her? Did he think she’d be remotely comforted by the notion that she’d always be a memory for him as he made war against her?

The leather of her gloves creaked as her grip on her reins tightened. Amarwen pushed out a sharp sigh and shook her fingers out even as her brow knitted closer still. So much of what Halvarin had said troubled her. When had he grown so dark? So ready to cleave to the way of the sword? Duty before all else. Before, even, himself. It would bring him such sorrow. And, what is more, she could not be certain if she could trust him.

If he felt that his duty to the Guild was pre-emininent, what was to stop him from feeding her false information? This touched too deeply on the wounds already between him. Promises made. Abandonment delivered. Why, she wondered again. Why was it like this? Was this turmoil poisoning them all and, if so, her as well?

She shivered at the thought and through that, Rie-Zunic reined in.

”This will do for the day,” he started.

Silent, for words between them had been sparse since he had found her readying her horse in the stables that morning, Amarwen made no reply now. She swung out of her saddle and led her horse after the soldier.

Rie-Zunic selected a place of some cover. Still, she assumed it would be a cold camp so as to ensure no spying eyes marked their positions. When she saw the soldier start to gather wood, Amarwen broke her silence for the first time that day.

“It won’t be that cold,” she observed.

The soldier shrugged as he inspected a dried up stick. ”It’s been icy all day, if you ask me.”

“I had not thought you a conversationalist,”
Amarwen returned.

”Some indication of whether this was a colossal waste of time would be nice.”

The rebuke, and that was what it was despite their respective stations, did not miss its intended mark. Still, Amarwen hesitated. She was not entirely sure of Almara’s husband. His bluff demeanour gave little away now as he added the stick to the collection in his arms.

Amarwen turned back to her horse to unbuckle the girth strap. As she busied herself, she weighed up what to divulge.

”Your silence suggests we failed.”

“You saw the various trading delegations I met with. Only one failed to arrive, not entirely unexpected. The rest played out as anticipated. As best one can discern in such affairs.”

“Agreements that are, when all is said and done, as changeable as the tide,”
Rie-Zunic observed.

Amarwen nodded sharply and lifted her saddle free to set it down. ”It is a well known fact that all trade agreements can be re-written, or ignored, as per the prevailing winds.”

“And the other matter?”
He referred, of course, to the main reason they had come all this way. ”You didn’t do anything....unwise?”

“What do you take me for?”
Amarwen demanded, her frustration and concern bubbling free.

Rie-Zunic lifted a shoulder at her ire and crouched to start a fire, utterly unfazed. ”Had to be asked.”

Amarwen pulled her cloak taught around her as she hid in the refuge of her station. ”I will report to the Prince when the time comes to do so.”

The soldier lifted a brow but otherwise continued with his work. It was not long before a small fire was underway. Silence, in that time, had returned to the pair.

”You could have left with him, you know.”

“I know my place, soldier. Do not forget your own.”


A haunted smile briefly twisted Rie-Zunic’s lips and for a moment she thought he was probably as tortured as she was in his own way. But she soon dismissed that thought for nothing lay between the soldier and all his heart yearned for.

The thought made her scowl. Her heart did not yearn for anything other than the man she was betrothed to. She knew her place. She had accepted her lot. She loved the prince. Halvarin had just twisted her all up. The sooner she returned to Minas Ithil, the better she would be.


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