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  1. Crossroads



    Crossroads



    Home again...

    I had Dandi circle about at the crossroads so that we both could gaze westward one last time. She stood silently for a moment, then shook her head with a whinny, pawing at the cobblestones of the road with her hooves almost as if to rebuke them.

    I leaned forward in the saddle and hugged her about her neck, whispering in her ear.

    "I know, girl. I miss it, too. Best we get out of the rain now."


    We turned and made our way through the Western gate and toward the Pony square. As we went, I watched the small rivulets formed by the rain striking the cobbles flow past us, back toward the gate. The sky drew darker with the end of the day, and the welling of thunder, both from earth and sky, sounded all around. We made our way up the rise.


    The square was quiet and still, save for the storm and the unrest such storms bring. We circled the fountain once with what was left of the twilight and then made for the covered stables. I closed my eyes to the winds and rain washing over us while letting Dandi choose her place amongst the free stalls remaining.


    It pleased me greatly to finally free her of the burden of carrying me through yet another journey, and a stormy one at that. A burden was being lifted from her shoulders in a very real way.

    "But you never complain, do you, girl?" I asked, as I brushed her dry as best I could.

    I wondered how long the storm would last. I wondered how long we would remain in town.

    ...Bree is a town of crossroads, built upon the meeting place of three kingdoms of old, and the Pony a crossroads within that crossroads. But storms both within and without can shroud even the widest path in darkness, leaving only the first few steps in sight. And it is difficult to know the right path, even in the best of times...
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 02 2015 at 10:04 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

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  2. Crossroads - Part 2


    "I will come get you for an early morning ride." I said, as I finished drying her coat.

    After being sure there was plenty of food and water to keep her overnight, I gave Dandi one last hug and then hurried across the square toward the shelter of the Pony.


    I went inside, shaking the water from my cloak and leathers as best I could, before crossing the hearth and side-stepping a couple of dwarves to find a free space at the bar.

    "Good evening, Master Barkeep," I smiled. "A mug of mead for now, and a room for later, if you please."

    "Of course, of course!" he smiled, as he finished cleaning the mug he had in hand while I looked on a bit dubiously. As he went to fill it and fetch the key to my room, he called back over his shoulder, "It is good to see you about town again."

    I reached down toward my purse with a sigh, "It is good to be back as well."

    I pushed a few coins across the bar toward him as he returned, and he gave me a key and full mug in return. "The furthest in the back, up the stair," he said with a nod.

    We chatted for a bit in between patrons needing filled mugs and full plates, and we shared a toast to clearer and brighter days ahead for us both.

    After a time, I excused myself and went to make for my room. "How long do you plan to stay in town?" he asked, as I was turning away.

    "Mmm... a while, I think, but it is difficult to say," I mused. "I have some things to turn over in mind."

    He picked up the mug I had just set down on the bar and went to clean it. "Just see that you turn some of my mugs over in the meanwhile," he laughed with a warm smile.

    I looked back over my shoulder to smile and wave to him, then made my way to the back of the Pony...


    ...Late Spring is upon us. All of May and most of June has come and gone. My days are spent leisurely, peacefully, with few errands save for those that can hardly be counted as such.

    ...There have been so many enjoyable days, and moments within those days...



    ...attending the concerts, performances, and lectures in town, while meeting up with friends both old and new...


    ...just being home again, visiting the festival grounds, trotting Dandi on the tournament lawn...
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 02 2015 at 10:07 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

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  3. Crossroads - Part 3


    ...and knowing when and where I will rest that evening, and the evening to come. Our lives are made of days, and even something so seemingly simple as having the power to decide when each of those days begins and ends is something to cherish and be grateful for...


    ...and I am. I truly am...


    ...yet I feel a burden weigh upon my shoulders that I have not been able to ease. And I feel a shroud of darkness surrounding my heart. A coldness, like that of a mailed hand clenching one's wrist in the dead of winter, encapsulates my heart, its grasp allowing no light to escape outward or flow inward...

    ...all is blindness, all is darkness, and the only paths I can find are its fingers, frigid roads that wind endlessly over a darkened surface of embers, where once there was blood and fire...



    ...between the fingers flow small rivulets of the lifeblood they squeeze from me, like the rivulets formed by rain striking the cobblestone and flowing away along its seams...

    ...there are so many roads, so many crossroads. To hang my stickers upon the hearth and be done with them, once and for all. To make the journey to the Dale-lands, visit my father's family, and see the places within his stories with my own eyes. To stay my course and hope that surrounding myself with the light of others will pry the fingers of the mailed fist from its grasp. I do not know...

    ...I can no longer see my own heart's desire...


    ...what is it that extinguishes the light that once gave me clarity and purpose? By whose hand have these things come to pass?

    ...in the darkest hours, I fear it may be my own...
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 02 2015 at 10:09 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

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  4. Crossroads - Part 4


    I set down my quill with a sigh, leaving my journal open for the ink to dry, and made my way downstairs for breakfast.


    It was mid-morning by the time I had finished breakfast, exercised Dandi, and returned to the Pony. I found a place to sit and write letters near the fire in the back common room.

    I had not made much progress, when I noticed someone sit in the chair before the hearth, next to me...
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 02 2015 at 10:09 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

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  5. #5
    Join Date
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    I really like the picture where she's about to mount up (with one leg about to go up and over). It's just a really interesting and active pose, so it's my favourite one so far (hope it's okay to interrupt with a comment ^^")
    [center][url=http://kindredspiritsoflandroval.wordpress.com/the-characters/elaureth/][img]http://kindredspiritsoflandroval.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/mini-el.jpg[/img][/url]
    [color=#98FB98]LOTRO Blog: [url=http://kindredspiritsoflandroval.wordpress.com]Kindred Spirits[/url][/color]
    [color=#7FFFD4]At My Middle Earth: [url=http://mymiddleearth.com/members/saronai/profile]Saronai[/url][/color]
    [color=#9370D8]Personal Blog: [url=http://musesings.wordpress.com]Muse Sings[/url][/color][/center]

  6. Quote Originally Posted by Renawyn View Post
    I really like the picture where she's about to mount up (with one leg about to go up and over). It's just a really interesting and active pose, so it's my favourite one so far (hope it's okay to interrupt with a comment ^^")
    Oh, of course it is okay Thank you, and I hope you will enjoy more


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  7. Opportunity


    Opportunity



    I looked up briefly and smiled at a cloaked and hooded figure, whose face was turned toward the fire and hidden. The person remained silent and still, a traveler just returned from the road and lost to their thoughts, I figured.

    "Good morning," I said and turned my attention back to my letters. After a few moments, I sensed the person shifting in their chair, and a shadow passed over my letter.

    I looked up to see the person setting a small scroll upon the armrest of my chair. Whomever it was had turned toward me. I could tell it was a man, though much of his face was still hidden by cowl and shadow.

    The man glanced down briefly at the scroll and nodded, and I set my hand over it, to keep it from falling to the floor. I sensed, more than I saw, a smile upon the man's hidden face, and the sense of recognition washed over me, though no other detail came to me in that moment.


    The man stood, swiftly taking his leave, and I sat before the fire alone once again.

    I glanced down at the scroll under my hand, then looked around for a moment before making my way back to the privacy of my room.


    Once inside, I closed the door behind me and lit the candle upon the writing table. I took a moment to settle myself and then opened the scroll.

    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 06 2015 at 06:04 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

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  8. Opportunity - Part 2


    I stood and set the scroll down upon on the table absently, my eyes and ears lost to visions and the words of days before.

    When I came to, I quickly finished my letters and gathered my things for the journey ahead.


    To Esteldin, then. But, first, one stop along the way...
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 06 2015 at 06:04 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  9. Reflections



    Reflections



    I made my way over to the stables to fetch Dandi.


    Together, we began a journey that I both longed for and feared.


    But I could not help looking back and wondering whether this was the right road to take...


    ...perhaps, one day, time and reflection will tell...
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 25 2015 at 11:59 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  10. Reflections - Part 2


    We passed through the Combe gate and turned northward on the road.


    As we came into Combe and passed by the stablemen seeing to the horses' feed for the day, I realized that it had been too long since I had been back home. Memories of journeys made along these same paths, of when I was a little girl helping father to bring the harvest to market, swept over me.

    ...It is striking how one can set foot within their footprints of old, with time being the only dimension to have changed, and that one dimension alone works to change so much...


    Yet all of my journeys home in the days since have been more or less the same.


    Hopes of the village being rebuilt, of green fields growing with the promise of the bountiful harvest that lies ahead remain unfulfilled. Visions of children playing once again in the Springtime sun, that everyone has left that day behind them and surfaced from the depths of despair that held them fast, have not yet come to pass.


    Our pace slowed to a crawl as I pondered these things with the hope that, perhaps, this journey would be different. But I knew in my heart that it would not be. As darkness fell, and I finally approached the northern gate that led to Archet and its surrounding fields and farms, it came to me...
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 26 2015 at 12:00 AM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  11. Reflections - Part 3


    The thing about reflections is that the reflection does not change unless we change...


    ...for hopes to be fulfilled, for visions to come to pass, I must work to bring about that change.


    I must take aim at the waters of the reflecting pool, that those waters may be disturbed...


    ...even if it means that something may be lost.


    Slowly we wound down the trail leading home, but we stopped before reaching the gate.
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 26 2015 at 12:02 AM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  12. Reflections - Part 4


    ...let what is to come begin tomorrow. I would lose myself to reflections past one last time...
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 26 2015 at 12:02 AM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  13. Homecoming



    Homecoming



    It was as I feared. Archet remained in a state of ruin, caught within a stalemate between a seemingly distant past trying to hold off a foreboding future. Blackwolds, encamped within the ruins of an old kingdom, meant long ago, and still mean to this day, to drive out all life from the village we call home, to spread their ruin as far as their ignoble hearts would take them.

    But the people stand firm, defiant. Both pride and guilt swept over me as I hailed the watchmen and walked Dandi through the gate allowing passage past broken walls and into a burned-out village. Those who remain, who made their own walls to protect each other, placing hand within hand and shoulder next to shoulder, give rise to my spirit and hope that all things can be withstood by those of noble heart. That is why I have come.

    The path I chose that day, that led me away from here soon after the Blackwold attack while the others stayed to rebuild, is one I turn over in my mind time and time again. Two paths diverged, and I chose the one I believed was best.


    I must still think so, for not only am I about to retrace those steps...


    ... but I mean to convince another to take the same path with me, at least for a while.

    /

    I have been blessed, fortunate beyond measure, to have so many whom I call friend. From the time when I first began to wander and play as a little girl, getting to know the other children of our village and the surrounding lands upon which we made our home, my days were brighter when I had someone with whom to share them.

    Children live in worlds of their own creation, surely as much as they walk within our own. And they have a precious gift, one that oftentimes seems to diminish with age, for an openness to creating pathways between those worlds, so that others may share them, and that they might share theirs with others. We all share so much more than a casual glance can witness. It was in these days that I began to see how our lives, all of our lives, are shared.
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 27 2015 at 03:10 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  14. Homecoming - Part 2


    From the first day we met as children long ago, Deverell and I have shared so many things. Her father, Sebastian Artri, was known for miles around as the traveling healer who would craft the most remarkable curatives and poultices, combining the herbs from his garden with roots and leaves from growing things in the wild, and then weaving them together by the cauldron's fire with an old-world wisdom passed down from his father and his fathers before.

    When my chores did not keep me, the two of us wandered, sometimes near but often far, past brook and over field, from light into the shadows cast by the trees, and into the light again, by whatever paths we found, whether real or imagined. She would come by our farm to see if I could join her, finding father and I in the fields and giving him advice on planting seeds, how to till the soil, and the like. He did not mind her doing so, at first. But I think it gnawed at him a little when she was proven right.

    We shared in mischief as well, more than our share...



    Stealing arrows from the bucket the watchmen kept on the training grounds...


    ...playing tricks upon the watchers at the crossroad outpost, outside the village...


    She straightened up much sooner than I, it shames me to admit. We began to quarrel more and more, with she taking the higher road, and I teasing her for it. Our paths could have parted at that point. How tragic that would have been.

    In the end, it was another tragedy, the death of my mother and promises she asked from me, along with the guidance of Father, and Deverell, and so many others, that helped turn me from a darker path. And I will always be grateful to them, and grateful for the time to change, because not everyone has that chance. To help to give others that chance, as it was gifted to me, has led me on my path ever since.

    Sadly, my path and Deverell's parted around the ruin of Archet, that dreadful, fateful day, at least in material terms. But, even though I chose to leave and she to stay, I have to believe we still share many paths, and many things along those paths. She has taken over for her father, who was lost that day, as my father was. Her poultices heal the body. Her words of wisdom mend the soul.

    When it comes to mending ruin, few stand taller than Deverell Artri. To ask for her aid is the reason for my homecoming, home but not home...



    It did not take long to find her, for she was treating those injured whilst skirmishing on the training grounds. She saw me approaching and slowly rose...
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 27 2015 at 03:12 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  15. #15
    Been a big fan of your work for a while now. Seeing it in the large format is like going from a 15 inch monitor to a 60 inch HD T.V :P

    Keep up the good work Miss Kaleigh. Interested to see where all this is going.

  16. Quote Originally Posted by MericcAngadraug View Post
    Been a big fan of your work for a while now. Seeing it in the large format is like going from a 15 inch monitor to a 60 inch HD T.V :P

    Keep up the good work Miss Kaleigh. Interested to see where all this is going.
    *smiles* Thank you so much, Tale-spinner! I hope to press on!


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  17. Wishes



    Wishes


    "Deverell!" I cried, nearly toppling over the man she was treating as I rushed to her. "Oh, I am sorry, sir!" I said to him, when his groan reminded me of his being there.

    "Kaleigh! It is wonderful to see you," she replied as we embraced, "but if you keep wounding my patients, we will both be here all day fighting to a draw!"

    We both laughed and, after a time, finally let each other go. We each took a step backward, to let the past catch up to the present moment in which we now found ourselves.

    Her voice helped me to surface from thoughts of long ago, "Is it what you thought it would be? Coming home?"

    I looked around for a moment. "So far it is, yes. But the day is young, and thoughts and wishes are not one and the same," I said with a wistful smile. After glancing toward the man she had been treating, I looked back to her and said teasingly, "I can hardly get over how much you have changed. I remember the days when we used to play tricks upon the Watchmen, and now here you are, seeking to aid them. Or seemingly so, at least."

    The man turned toward us with a look of such alarm that we both burst out laughing once again.

    "She is only teasing, I assure you," Deverell said soothingly.

    I quickly replied, "I am, yes, and I am sorry, sir. It is a perilous place to find oneself, between friends who have not seen one another for such a spell. But you will find no one better to see to your wounds than this woman, I promise you."

    We embraced each other once more, then I let her go to see to the watchman's care. After a few minutes she rose and came to stand near me again. "I have duties here until midday, but afterward I am free. What are your plans?" she asked as she looked to me.

    "I thought I would take a turn about town, say hello to everyone, and wander about outside the village a bit," I replied. "I was hoping to speak with you as well." I gave her a look to say now would not be the best time for that.

    Friends of old have a way about them, a closeness that almost acts as a bridge, a very deep and real connection between the two. Oftentimes, they can speak without talking, and communicate a good deal with a casual glance or gesture. Such bonds withstand many tests, even that of time, and knowing that gave rise to a sense of hope within me, that my wishes and visions for this place might one day come true. I knew we would rely on this bond in the days to come.

    Deverell gave me a nod to indicate she understood. Then a look of remembrance came over her, and she smiled. "I have something to give you. Something from long ago."

    I looked at her, a bit wary from our teasing before. "What? What is it?" I asked.

    "Turn around and close your eyes."


    I laughed, pretending to close my eyes. I half-turned, but not so much that I could not keep an eye on her. "What trickery is this now?" I mused.

    I saw her reach into a pocket of her dress. She embraced me with her free arm, and reached toward my right hand with the other, placing something within. She drew her hand away, and I saw that I held a broken piece of jewelry, a charm of some sort.

    I turned it over and over in my hand, recognition dawning upon me, and my eyes welled with tears.

    "Father's charm," I whispered. The memory of fleeing to the village as he kept the Blackwolds away from me came back as clear as day.

    "We found it amongst the belongings of some of those fiends who tried to raid the village not long back," Deverell said.

    The charm became a living thing, growing and shrinking, changing shape before me, as I viewed it through my tears before they flowed from my eyes and down my face freely, new ones taking their place.

    Deverell laid her head on my shoulder, "Think of all the wishes he made with this in hand, wishes he made for you. And now its path has come full circle, to be held by the one for whom all those wishes were made, wishes you have made come true far and beyond what anyone might have dreamed to wish for."

    "Not enough," I whispered, closing my eyes to the living charm. "Not enough."

    She gently turned me about to face her.

    "That is not for you to say," she said softly. "Your father's wishes were his, and his alone. Leave his wishes be, and seek to fulfill your own."

    I looked to her through my tears for a moment before embracing her once more. I was not sure how I was going to ask her what I meant to ask...


    We worked with the watchmen until midday, tending to the bruises, aches and pains that training for combat will bring. Thankfully, that was all we saw that day.


    While looking over the training ground, I spied Dawn Stockard watching the training. She had lost her father in the attack as well.

    There were too many of us orphaned that day.

    I went over to stand beside her. She nodded to me with a small smile but did not say anything, so I merely stood with her for a while.

    "I should be out there with them," she finally said, "I should be training."

    I looked toward her. "Why are you not?" I asked.

    She became a bit flushed and said under her breath, "Because my trainer, Master Cartwright, is too hard on me. He finds fault with everything I do!"
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 27 2015 at 03:13 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  18. Wishes - Part 2


    As she was speaking, I noticed him looking toward us, then quickly looking away. He appeared as flushed as she.

    "Mmm...well, how about we spar for a bit and see?" I asked her. We sparred for a few minutes, with her trainer looking on all the while. She was quite adept with her blades, as far as I could tell.

    I drew her back further from the training grounds, behind a tree near the wall of the village. "Dawn, I do not think it is your bladework that is the issue," I said to her.

    She looked at me for a moment, letting my words sink in. "Well, what do you think is his issue with me, then?"

    "Well, for starters, trainers tend to be stingy with their praise, even if it is warranted. That is one method they use to keep you at it, of course. Here, let me show you," I smiled at her and strode purposefully toward the training area.


    I walked up to the training dummy that Master Fastred Burrows was observing. "Kaleigh! It is good to see you back in town," he said.

    "Thank you, Master Burrows! May I get your opinion on my technique quickly?" I asked.

    "Of course, of course," he replied, his countenance going at once from cordial and winning, to that of someone who had just taken a long pull from a glass of spoiled milk.


    I gave the dummy everything I had. "Not bad, Kaleigh. But you are leaving your right side far too open when you strike with that hand. You should stay in town with me and work on it."

    I heard a laugh from over where Dawn was watching as I graciously thanked Master Burrows. I then returned to where Dawn was standing.


    "I see what you mean!" she laughed, as I came to stand beside her once again.

    I nodded to her, "In your case, though, I think there is something else at work as well. Sometimes, when someone has something they wish to say but find it too difficult, or they are too embarrassed to give word to their thoughts, they fall back upon old habits and say ordinary things, instead. Things they might have said hundreds of times, to others, just to fill the space with something."


    I caught Dawn's eye and then glanced toward her trainer, as did she. He noticed us and quickly looked away again. "Especially when it comes to someone they might fancy," I looked back to her with a smile and laid my hand on her arm.

    She went flush again and, as she looked downward, I saw a wisp of a smile upon her lips. I gave her a hug about the shoulders and went back to aiding Deverell.
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 27 2015 at 03:16 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  19. Wishes - Part 3


    Once Deverell was free, we took our turn about town, greeting and speaking to friends of old, making the journey from the past to the present as best we could with the remains of the day.


    How Jon and the rest keep to hope with unyielding spirit, how they endeavor to make what they wish for come true, everyday, is an image I will take with me far down my own road. Though my path has come full circle, it must branch off again, very soon.

    But coming home has allowed me to see what made our village what it was, and even today makes it what it is. Thankfully, some chose to stay and kept it so.

    Will they still with the loss of yet another?

    I hope, and I wish it will be so. With all that is within me, I wish...



    I looked upon Father's charm, turning it over in my hand, as I stood by the well in the twilight. The two realms of night and day were still, precariously balanced in their fight for dominion over the heavens. It was the time-between-times, but the balance was soon to fade, I knew.

    ...in the time-between-times, may restlessness be settled, and peace be found...

    ...may I do my part, as so many others have before me, no matter what may come. May the circle remain unbroken...

    ...this is my wish...
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 27 2015 at 03:17 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  20. Mistrals



    Mistrals


    Deverell had already left for the training grounds by the time I awoke next morning. I gathered my things and went to find her there, my thoughts on the conversation we would have later that day. A cold breeze was on the air, brisk and strong, more like a late Autumnal wind heralding the coming of Winter than something felt in late Spring.


    I decided against fetching my cloak and pressed on, finding her in short order. She had more duties to see to today, so I told her I would take a walk outside the village for a bit, and we made plans to meet a bit past midday.


    I feared what I might find outside the gates, but I knew my homecoming would not be complete until I went to see our farm. Deverell had said that area was no longer settled anymore, but I still wished to see it.


    The day was simply gorgeous, sky clad in pale blue, with the white of the clouds moving past so quickly, pushed by the winds, giving life to the vision above. If only the tranquility of the realm above was mirrored by our realm below in these days...
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 27 2015 at 03:18 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  21. Mistrals - Part 2


    Perhaps, one day, it will be. Perhaps, one day, the words we share, singular breaths on the air, will come together and form a breeze. When we join hands, singular flutters will become a flurry.

    We have it within us to summon mistrals, to chase these things away.

    I have to believe...



    I returned to the village, where I found Deverell packing away her things in a stall near the training grounds. She had her back turned, so I stole up behind her and reached past her into one of the bags. She jumped and turned quickly.

    "Still a sneaky one I see," she said finally, when she had caught her breath once again.

    "Usually, I only employ such tricks when facing dangerous foes in perilous lands, but I was curious of what all you had in your kit," I laughed, hoping to soften things with a smile.

    "I am out of calming draughts. Pity, as I have just come into quite a use for them," she said with a smirk.

    I took hold of her hand and squeezed it, "Are you free yet? There is something we need to discuss," I said, looking away toward the gate as I finished.

    "No more tricks, then. You will tell me why you have come," she stated, more than she asked.

    I nodded, "We should take a turn outside the village. It is a lovely day, and we have hours before the sun sets.

    She smiled, placing her hand upon my arm reassuringly. "I just need to bring some things home, and then I will meet you here."

    She gathered up her bags, slinging them over her shoulder as she turned to leave.

    "You may wish to fetch a cloak. The winds are strong outside the village walls," I called out to her as she was walking away.

    She stopped and turned. "I've always been fond of breezes," she said, before turning to start on her way again. I smiled as I watched her go.


    I hope so, my friend. All depends upon it...


    Once she had returned, we made our way through the gate and into the fields beyond. We chatted about many things as we walked. I realized she was not going to press me about things but rather let me get to them in my own time, for which I was grateful.

    The hours we shared, walking in step amidst the breezes and the wilds was like a balm, one of the very best my friend could ever conjure, even with all her skill. But the day was wearing on, and the time had finally come.

    "And what has kept you busy these days?" I asked, as we turned from the road and into the fields once again.

    "Much the same as before," she replied. "I travel about with my remedies, seeking to aid the sick and the injured wherever I might find them. Some cannot travel so well, of course."

    I nodded. "And how far do your travels take you?" I asked. I could see her mind working, trying to glean anything she could from my questions, and I smiled in spite of myself.

    "Well, I stay mainly in Archet, of course. But I travel to Combe, and Staddle, and even to Bree-town often enough. I have been as far as Trestlebridge, but very rarely." She smiled at me, "That all must seem very mundane and boring to you, though."

    She hesitated for a moment, and then mused, "From where had you returned before coming home? Some place far beyond where my path takes me, I am sure."

    I looked to her as we walked, "I am returned from the plains of Rohan, on the other side of the Misties, south of the Golden Wood. That was two months ago. Since then, I have spent my time in Bree-town or my home just south of there."

    "That must have been quite a journey," she said, "and the time since was spent well to rest and recover, no?"

    I shook my head, "To be honest, aside from that journey to Rohan, I have done very little for quite a while now." She looked to me inquisitively, so I explained, "Much is happening in the lands east and south of here. Surely you must have heard, at least a little."

    She frowned a bit and nodded, so I pressed on. "Many have found their way into armies and larger forces, and they go to make the war that we have fought from afar until now. There is precious little that Scouts can bring to bear upon open fields amidst open war. The time may have come for me to stand aside and find another path."

    We walked on silently for a bit.

    After a time, she asked, "Is that something you will be able to choose and have peace with?"

    I smiled pensively, "I am not sure the choice will be mine to make, in the end."

    The two of us came to a halt in the fields to look about. "We should find someplace to sit and rest for a bit," I suggested.

    Deverell looked around for a moment and then nodded, "I know of a place. Follow me."


    She led us further away from the road and up a rise, weaving through brush and thicket. After a time, I no longer remembered the places we walked from my youth, but I made sure to watch as we went.
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 27 2015 at 03:20 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  22. Mistrals - Part 3


    We finally came to a parting in the thicket and gazed upon a field of wildflowers underneath the shade of an old tree, a sentinel keeping watch over a sacred place.

    I looked around and marveled, "Oh, Deverell. This place is..."


    Deverell smiled and nodded as she took my hand. "I know," she said, as she led us into the clearing.


    We twirled about while taking it all in. Portions of the sky had turned to rose, the sun on her path to find her rest, yet the rest remained pale blue, with vessels of white sailing swiftly along her currents and winds. At our feet were wildflowers of purple, rose, and white, amidst a field of greens, from pale to deep.


    ...it meant so much to see, to know, that there are still places, still moments such as these, even in the places and moments that weigh upon your heart...


    I put my arm around Deverell's shoulders, hugging her to me before turning to find a place to settle amongst the wildflowers. She remained standing where she was for the moment, and we both stared into the part of the sky still reluctant to give up the day.

    "Omens bode well today," I heard her say from behind me.

    I looked down to the flowers, picking a dandelion from the grass. I gazed upon it, twirling it by its stem as I heard her move through the field toward me.

    "I hope they do," I said softly.
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 27 2015 at 03:21 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  23. Mistrals - Part 4


    She came to stand before me, watching me spin the flower in my hand, a ball of feathery spores all with the hope of taking flight.

    "Dandelion. That was your father's pet name for you, wasn't it?" she asked.

    I slowly nodded, my eyes still on the twirling flower.


    I looked up as she moved to stand before me and smiled. "Yes, it was. He said it was because I was always getting into places I was not supposed to," I said.

    We both laughed as she settled down in the flowers before me. I looked off in the distance, "I would hear him call me, and there was at least an equal chance I would run away from him as I would to him."

    She smiled and nodded, "I remember."

    "I wish I had run to him more often now."

    I closed my eyes for a moment and lowered my head, as I took in a breath of the fragrant air about us before releasing it again. "Silly whims and capricious winds were all I knew back then."

    Deverell laid her hand on my arm, and I put my hand over hers and looked to her, "It is fine. Speaking of those who have been parted from us makes that distance seem a little smaller. It is as if they have returned to visit, for a time."

    We sat silently for a while, lost to our own thoughts. Then I reached out my hand with the dandelion toward her, which she accepted with a smile. I found another for myself, as I reached into a pocket in my leathers.

    "I must away again, very soon."

    She watched, as I withdrew the scroll that one of the way-watchers had given to me in Bree. I handed it to her to read.


    I watched her as she read the scroll, nervously twirling the dandelion in my hand.


    She rose to her feet, still looking over the scroll. "Well, this Halbarad seems to think this opportunity is not to be missed," she said finally.

    I nodded to her when she looked to me. She came to sit before me again, "And it sounds like something from which you may very well not return."

    "We have to try. Actions now, in the moment before lines are drawn, might be worth their weight tenfold once the battle truly begins. One lost leader leaves a great many leaderless. One intercepted message leaves a great many in the dark. Soon there will be no more chances, no more opportunities for measures such as these, and the time for each side to make their final play upon the field will be at hand."

    When she looked to me, I nodded and touched her hand, "This is how I do my part."

    "But haven't you done enough?" she pleaded. "Whatever wrongs you may have done in the past, whatever blame you lay upon yourself for your mother, and your father and Beckham, you have made up for them, made up for it all, many times over."

    I rose to my feet and walked around her, kneeling behind her, embracing her about her shoulders, pressing my cheek to hers, "I have not done enough, just as you have not made your last journey to Bree-town, or even to Trestlebridge. Those of noble heart have a way of surfacing when and where they are needed most, to do what good they can in that moment. How can I do less, knowing so many who have gone before did not stop with what they felt might be enough?"

    I held my dandelion before us, "It is not about doing what is enough. It is about doing what we are able, in each moment, and knowing what we do will make a difference, both near and far."

    I took in a breath of the fragrant air and sent it along Deverell's cheek, into the dandelion I twirled in my fingers before us. We watched as its spores broke free to be carried upon the strong breeze that swept over us that day.

    ...up until that moment, I was not sure, not truly sure, whether my reasons for accepting Halbarad's task were right and true. I was not even sure whether I would make the journey at all. Sometimes, what is true, even our own truths, can be hidden from us. Sometimes, it takes another to confide in, another to bare our hearts to, in order to see truths within ourselves...

    I started to let her go and stand, but she placed her hand upon my arms.

    "Wait..." she whispered. She shifted slightly, so she could turn her face to mine. She held the dandelion I had given her between us.

    "I will not let you go alone."

    She turned about again, holding her dandelion before us.

    Together, we sent it upon the wind.
    Last edited by Valkrist; Jul 27 2015 at 03:22 PM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  24. Promise



    Promise


    Deverell and I had made our plans well into the night. She needed a few days to prepare for the journey and to tie up loose ends, so I asked her to meet me at the Prancing Pony in Bree.

    The next day, I made to leave Archet, to return to my home and see to things there before going on to Bree-town.


    I said my farewells to everyone that morning, with the promise that I would not let as much time pass before returning home once again.


    But as Dandi and I passed through the village gate, and into the lands untamed beyond its shelter, I knew that promise was likely to be broken.


    ...I looked back once more, and the weight of promises unfulfilled settled upon me...
    Last edited by Valkrist; Aug 12 2015 at 09:50 AM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

  25. Promise - Part 2


    ...visions of fire, visions of loss...


    ...visions of days that might have been, visions that might now never be...


    The morning sun that rises each day to share with us its warmth gives way to the night, whose gentle light leads us back to our homes to rest and be renewed for another day.

    ...the seasons turn, each one with its own gifts to us. Knowing that the beautiful snow will give way to blooming flowers, then to turning leaves, before the snow comes once more gives us a quiet peace and a place from which we can start to build our lives and make our way...

    ...each new day dawns with great promise, yet each day ends with promises unfulfilled. How precious are those things that we know will be...

    ...how precious is promise fulfilled, and promises given that do come to pass....



    ...in the course of our lives, promises kept and promise fulfilled are the hands that steady us on uncertain paths, over which carrion birds await each treacherous step...


    ...I will not turn from this path...
    Last edited by Valkrist; Aug 12 2015 at 09:51 AM.


    Currently running The Spirit Gauntlet, during which no fate is unimaginable...

    'Legendary' Items - Tips, Tricks, and a Guide to the 'Grind' - a Legendary Items guide! (And a new Imbuing guide! and Essence guide!)

    The Life and Times of Kaleigh Starshine: Curing insomnia, one reader at a time, and a proud resident of The Cottage of Pen and Play

 

 
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