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Author Topic: Hope and Hearth  (Read 1451 times)


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Hope and Hearth
« on: March 01, 2015, 07:18:00 PM »
Nothing in particular brought the girl back to consciousness. Her body was still weak and feverish, but she was no longer being hauled by Kophas throughout the pathways of Ered Luin - but in a small, badly lit room. And in a very small bed, an alcove built into the wall. Her dizziness did not permit her to sit up, but the thoughts almost surfaced on her lips. She mouthed, “...Well, this isn’t very lordly.” Despite being conscious, the girl couldn’t bring herself to open her eyes to wherever she was. Some part of her mind tried to pull her under again, especially when a fever-induced shiver ran through her small body. But then she mumbled again, “Kophas…” The attempt to speak brought a round of body-racking coughs, and the girl sat up, and craned her neck before to expunge the blood that was rising up her throat.

The fit lasted quite a while. Anitra’s vision flickered, but the spots of red in the sleeve of her gray tunic were clear. The effort made the dwarf girl’s head feel heavy, so she turned on her side to return to sleep, if it could even be called that, but beyond her burning face and shivering, she could still see. When she turned on her side, the shape of a Dwarf curled up on chair brought her back again. Kophas! It the link girl had had the strength to yell, she would have, because last time she had been awake, both her and her guide looked like they were not going to survive. For a moment her confused her made her think he was not moving, but after a minute or two of observing his silhouette, it was clear that his shoulders were rising and falling rhythmically. He was alive, and Anitra’s heart rate slowed after the panic.

 It was difficult to breathe the chilly air without coughing up more - so she tried to focus on what little she could focus. The raging fire…he was so careless with his coal, though he would scrimp and pinch for everything else, so she never had sugar and the thought of a colored dress was a laugh...called Anitra to just sleep and rest and forget the world, because her head spun and her throat felt raw and she was most likely not going to live to see Thorin Oakenshield. If she asked for something to drink at something else than at meals, he’d ignored her… The room seemed to change into something else; another tiny room, meant for one marriage, and now was only for a merchant and a small girl he did not care. A part of Anitra knew it was only a memory, only a memory, but it was so difficult to ignore the shift, so visible in her mind.  

Whatever this way - dream, hallucination, reality - was cut short by more coughs by Anitra, who was now almost entirely out of breath, and on her back from the exhaustion and fever. The strain of the voyage, the tumble down the Loudwater, were all beginning to catch up on the girl. “Ryel - “ moaned the girl in both reality and haze. “Ri - help me!”[/i] Her plea became stronger, but no less out of place. The sickness had brought her to a land that had once been real and had brought her so much pain - her brother-in-law’s home. If she spoke, he would rarely listen. Unless she was dying. And only then did Ryel of the White Mountains care to look over his sister-in-law.  Anitra’s fevered mind was not as far off as she thought.

Despite thinking herself in a far-off land, caught between the memory of a betraying relative and the reality of a friend she could trust, it was true that she was in the home of a member of her family. But she could not tell. All she could do was call out, hoping for someone to listen. Where was she? Was she going to die? Anitra pulled herself out of both worlds just to mumble out loud for herself, “I’m not coming back. I - ” The girl began gasping for breath again, as she felt retching coming on - but she could not spray blood all over herself! This was the last travel tunic she’d brought for herself - where was her pack? There were so many questions she needed to ask - but who knew if she was going to breathe long enough for it.

Played by Jo


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Hope and Hearth
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2015, 10:48:00 AM »
The knock came closer to dawn than sunset. It was a sluggish series of thumps, bringing Rian rolling to her feet before she was fully awake. Fingers brushed the stone lamp, bringing it softly to life. Calm blue light threw soft shadows on the walls, far more comforting than flickering firelight could ever be. Her heart gave a stuttered jump and sped up as she began to wonder what had happened, what would bring anyone to her door at this time in the morning. Was it Kvas? No, he was in the city, he was safe, even if it was him it wouldn’t be because of him. Li? Ghost?

 She unlocked the door with remarkably steady hands, not caring that she was wearing nothing but a sleep shift. Hacking coughs came through the thick wood, making her rip it open with the vague memory of the fading hints of consumption in Kvasir’s lungs. She hadn’t been there when it was truly bad, she had been off gallivanting around Middle Earth doing things that hadn’t mattered in comparison. Wasting time.

 But the bowed figure wasn’t Kvas. Too sturdy, moving wrong. The hair was curly, shorter now than her beloved’s since it was growing out. When he tipped his face upwards, haggard and smudged with dirt and blood, grey-blue eyes closing, it took a moment to recognise Kophas. Or Cephas. One of the identical twins that numbered among the sons of Anlaf. She couldn’t tell them apart offhand, and before she could ask he had launched into another violent fit of coughing his lungs up. The burden on his back became another dwarf as Rian narrowed her eyes in confusion, completely confused as to why he would show up to expire on her doorstep with a frail, blonde girl on his back that looked remarkably like an older Anitra.

 No. It wasn’t so much denial as sheer incredulity, and the thief instinctively glanced over the pair to check the street, as though she expected Damel and Raelan to be coming behind them. If Anitra could show up here, then what was stopping them?

  Of course, her brothers weren’t there and green eyes landed back on the sellsword and the link girl.

 “S-she. Said you. Youwerefamily.” He resettled her weight, looking like he was about to fall over. His eyes pleaded gently and insistently, and she thought for a moment of Kvasir’s winning grin. This wasn’t conscious manipulation, though. (She didn’t think this one was smart enough for that.)

 Wordlessly, Rian opened the door wider and stepped out of the way.

 The fire was lit in due course, the son of Anlaf curled up and fast asleep on a chair by the time she thought to offer him anything. His final words had been that he would just rest for five minutes, then he would take Anitra – ’Nitra, they must have known each other well, or else he was just too worn out to pronounce all of the syllables – on to his home. Rian had cast him a disbelieving look, but his eyes had been shut.

 He had left her cousin on the bed, as small and fragile-looking as Rian remembered. Even with blankets inexpertly tucked around her – it was like the day Kvas had come back from the Weather Hills, broken and exhausted and hurting, and Rian had had little idea of how to help. She had even less now that she couldn’t judge what Anitra would hate. What had Raelan and Damel told her? What had Cephas or Kophas or whoever he was told her?

 Both of them were decidedly the worse for wear, and water was one of the first orders of business now that flames were licking enthusiastically in the hearth. Rian had to slip out into the street to fetch it, breeches and a coat pulled on hastily in order to make her way to the pump in eerie silence and retrieve a heavy bucket of water.

 The twin was more loosely curled when she returned, about to fall off the chair in two ways at once but sleeping peacefully regardless. The bucket was left next to the table, two bowls stacked on its surface, and Rian delved into the cupboards against the wall at the end of her bed to find cloths and extra blankets.

 Coughing rose over the swishing crackle of the flames, weak and rough. Then Anitra’s voice, getting more like a memory as she called out. Ri made Rian flinch, nameless guilt finding its mark between her shoulder blades. She would try to help. But what if she couldn’t? What if Anitra died before morning?

 That thought was shoved away. Anitra wouldn’t die. Morning would come and Rian would be able to send a message off with Jefian to get a healer and Kvas, and they’d sort this out somehow. It would work out. Anitra would live to take news of Rian’s whereabouts back to Damel.

 … Focusing on the moment would be best, here. “I’m not coming back. I - ” Anitra heaved breath and then the air hitched, like she was trying not to cough. Or dying.

 Rian rocked to her feet and moved quickly around, a bundle of rags that had been a pair of breeches before they were condemned to waste fisted in one hand and a rolled up cloak from her travelling days under the opposite arm. Anitra’s eyes were a softer brown than Damel’s, full of fear, and Rian’s gaze blinked away. She settled herself neatly on the edge of the bed, sliding an arm behind Anitra’s shoulders and lifting her far too easily. Lithe muscles built by smithing were more than enough for her cousin’s weight. The bundled cloak was placed where she had been, the pillow dragged to sit on top before Rian let Anitra down again. She’d choke on her own blood, lying flat on her back. Breathing would be easier when propped up.

 “Hey.” Awkwardly, avoiding eye contact, she offered a rag to cough into. A thousand possible options were discarded before she even considered half of them, voice husky and empty. “I’ll get you water.”



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Hope and Hearth
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2015, 06:01:00 PM »
The sea of confused, feverish thoughts, found themselves interrupted when a strong, short arm slid under Anitra’s shoulder and lifted her as if she were a small bag. Thus she was propped up to sit, on a pillow, and under a cloak, so she wouldn’t choke on her own blood. “Hey.” Anitra’s eyes found a familiar sight, of flaxen hair and green eyes, by her side once she opened them. The ghost from her past did not even look at her in the eye, but it was better that way. “I’ll get you water.” If anything, Anitra’s head turned the other way in fear. Fear! What fear must she have for family when there was sickness to claim her any moment now! But for some reason, she didn’t want to face this. Not more family that had left her, and that she now depended on.

“Please,” she whimpered, but the hoarseness of her voice may have distorted the plea. It was still fairly simple to tell what she wanted. Her clammy hands reached her forehead - blue-with-cold fingertips met white-with-fever skin. The contrast was as mad as the meeting between the submissive and loyal Anitra with the reactive and rebellious Rian. A small groan escaped her when the thoughts assaulted her - what was Damel to say of this? But Damel was not here. Neither was Raelan, or Dyen. No, what made Anitra afraid was the fact that Rian was here. Her cousin. After twenty years.

The link girl shifted between consciousness and unconsciousness too easily for her liking. It had happened many times before, but the same way one would never get used to pain, Anitra could never get used to holding on for dear life when sickness tried to claim her yet again. But this time, the strength of the fever, and the violence of every cough she made, took her so much by surprise, she believe that it wouldn’t be long before her last sickness was over. And she would spend it in the house of...Rian. Rian, who owed her nothing, who she owed nothing to. Family, but not really. Then what was she doing here, dying in a strange land with strange people?

Except for Kophas. Despite their short time together, the…honesty of him had made Anitra believe he was her one anchor in Ered Luin. Strange. How she couldn’t trust the only family she had, but she could trust a guide she had only met months before. And yet, if Anitra trusted anyone with her life, it was him. She wanted to cry, because now she was dragging one of the only friends she had ever made in her life into the void with her, and it would be her fault. But the fatigue that wracked the link girl was too much for that. It seemed to be the same for Kophas, who was at least sleeping without any problem. Maybe...maybe he would live. Now there was only the guilt of having her br - cousins - mourn for her when she died.

Anitra’s vision clouded every now and then, and she did not know how much time had passed since Rian had went for water. But there was no one in the room, save Kophas still sleeping in the couch. Her thoughts found their way to her tongue without her permission, but her head was swimming between reality and memory, so who was to say she wasn’t thinking internally. “Why would you care,” she whispered fiercely to the memory of the last time she had seen Rian, twenty or so years ago. “Didn’t you leave - because of us?”
« Last Edit: July 19, 2016, 05:59:32 AM by Anitra »

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