In Loving Memory

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It had been a day since Darramir left his companions in Minas Tirith. Some planned to stay and fight, others were to return to Bree by boat. For Darramir, his path was the open road. If this truly was to be the end of days, it was time to pay his respects to the places and friends he left behind. If there was to be a war, he was going to fight it from his home: Bree. If the Dark Lord was any sort of tactician, there would no doubt he a force descending from Angmar was well.

When first leaving the city, Darramir saw a fair number of travelers on The Greenway, the majority of which were headed to the White City. Whether they did this simply to visit or to find safety from the coming storm, he knew not. By midday, he found himself looking down on a small settlement in southern Anorien. This small border-town was aptly named Edrain, but more specifically it was his birthplace.  After taking a steadying breath, the lone Gondorian urged his smokey steed forward.

As he slowly made his way through the town, it became rather apparent what little change had occurred over the eighteen years he had been gone. It was just as he remembered. The buildings were largely unchanged aside from a new roof here or a bit of paint there. He had expected it to be in some state of disrepair with all that was going on, but strangely it seemed in better condition than ever. The stable where he once worked was as it always had been, and perhaps more alarmingly, the old stable master, Himlad, shouted orders at his employees the same as he always had.

Darramir found it hard not to stare at the old man.  Edrain was the same, and yet it felt alien and far from home. Before him was his first employer. This man, while perhaps a bit abrasive, had taught him his first trade and was one of the first men in his life he aspired to make proud. Now, a score of years later, here he was only a few feet away.

“Something you need, stranger?” Himlad asked expectantly. Darramir blinked away his thoughts, realizing the stable master had caught him staring.  The stable boy looked up from filling feedbags and stared at the traveler.

“Oh, no. Apologies,” Darramir quickly replied. “Simply lost in thought.” In an effort to avoid further conversation and uncomfortable questions, Darramir began to continue on, but  before his mare could take another step, he pulled back on the reins and turned back to Himlad. “Actually… a question for you. The  paupers’ graves, those are just west of town, aye?”

Himlad eyed the horseman for a long moment before giving a curt nod. “Aye. Surrounding the oak tree. You’ll not miss ’em. Got a corpse to visit?”

Darramir simply nodded in answer. “My thanks,” he said politely before giving his steed a light tap with his heel. With that, he was off.

As Darramir turned off the road and headed west to the lone oak tree, he pondered why he had asked for directions. This was a route he knew well despite his time away. There was no reason to ask. Perhaps he just wanted to make conversation.

Unable to come to any logical conclusion, Darramir abandoned the thought and it was not long before he found himself before rows of small stones forming concentric circles around the old oak.  The stones were known as the paupers’ graves, or the graves of the unclaimed. If bodies were not claimed by a family, they were put in a pine box and buried here among the rest of the unwanted.

Darramir dismounted and led his horse through the circles with purpose. He came to rest before a small stone in one of the inner circles. Like the others so close to the tree, this stone was covered in moss and was claimed by the earth long ago.

With a strange mix of reverence and discomfort, Darramir knelt before the grave and gently pulled away the moss, revealing the nameplate, which simply read “Caeleril”. As the graves belonged to the unclaimed, they were marked without any sort of family name or identifier. To most, this name was meaningless.

He lightly traced the hastily-engraved name with his fingertips and took a long, steadying breath. “Rest well, emel,” he said in a whisper as he climbed back to his feet, his respects now paid.

As he returned to his mare, he found himself thinking of what would become of his body when he passed. After all, he had successfully burnt almost every bridge he had. Who would claim him?

Perhaps it was high time he looked to the future instead of mourning the past.It was time to make sure his grave read more than just “Darramir”. It would not be overgrown and forgotten as his mother’s was. Now was the time to mend bridges. It was the time to make a new home. His life had cost his mother’s hers. He would not waste it.

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Couldn’t Stay Away

So it was back to Gondor.

Darramir sat by a small fire in the outskirts of Galtrev, mulling over his recent decision to return to Gondor and offer what aid he could. From here he could still hear the mixed sounds of mourning, rejoicing, and healing that follow every battle. Those things were not for him. They were not his fallen, and it was not his city.

It had been almost eight years and it was finally time to go back, though he knew not for how long. By some cruel turn of fate someone might recognize him and that would be the end of it.  Knowing his luck, Arion would magically arrive to sentence him personally as he once promised. Perhaps his worry was unfounded. Who could possibly recognize him in a city he had never been to?

If he was being honest with himself, the first thing he wanted to do when he read that letter  was to run back to Bree and pretend he hadn’t seen it. That would have been easier, simpler. But it was time to stop running, and he knew that. Whether it stopped with a noose or with redemption, at least it would be over. Chapter or book, this part of his life had been drawn out far too long.

Darramir reached for another log to add to the fire pit as the flames began to choke in the cold breeze. When the flames grew once more, he smiled with a faint satisfaction.

Oddly enough, he was surprised to find Dynt had not learned of his past from Laerlin. Evidently she had not sought to hurt him in some twisted form of vengeance. Was that so surprising, though? She was short-tempered, not spiteful. In the end it mattered little; Dynt would have to be told at some point.

Darramir stirred from his thoughts at the sound of cheering from within the city. Perhaps someone had won a game… or a fight. It was hard to tell with the men – or women – of Dunland.  He smirked to himself and receded to his thoughts once more.

Strangely, it was good to see Dynt and Laerlin growing closer, though he certainly wouldn’t say it. That would be more than a little strange to tell your former wife. Still, perhaps Dynt could undo some of the damage he had done to the woman and restore some of her confidence. Granted, if helping defeat some age-old dark lord with a magic dagger didn’t give her confidence, there was no telling what could.

The weary Gondorian let out a tired sigh and leaned back into his pack, using it as a make-shift backrest. Waiting to return to his homeland was far more exhausting than any battle.

Sellsword

by Peace Sells

A hell of a  run indeed  it`s been…
It`s me speaking of my life
As my hand goes down  to my  pocket
Reaching for my precious  pipe

 
Old friends are gone now.
It`s me alone sitting on a broken chair
Smirking slightly…
As now the smoke is flying in the air

 
Old times are gone now.
Let go Hunger,  Let go Lust…
No longer with  passion do I sweat
Living in a  shell  I am,  of  a once fine  lad

 
No longer do I care
if it`s a fair crafted steel I carry on my back
No longer do I wear
Shiny silver on my neck

 
It has been a damn while
Since the  time I could  lock  my fist
No more do I feel the power
With my hand  falling from my wrist

 
Fifty coppers for an order
Is how I used to live
When like a crow walking around rotting flesh.
Only  I`d allow myself to  breath

 
Whatever is running now inside my head
No more I am bothered to be pleased
No more blood there is for me to shed
Nor is there a story for me to  add.

 
Let go my former life
Let go my broken name
Yet shall I  keep the pain
So the scars could freeze my body

 
Should again I live the same.

What Haunts Me

It was a few hours past midnight and rain fell generously in Bree-land. The night bore a distinct chill that hinted at the onset of autumn. All but one of the houses composing the small homestead of Arrowfold were dark and quiet. This small shack of a cottage that stood out from the rest was recently purchased by a man of the south and saw few visitors.

Darramir sat in this small, sparsely furnished cottage with a small cup of whiskey in his hands and his dog, Arodbor, sleeping soundly at his feet.  This sort of arrangement had become far too regular for Darramir’s liking. In fact, the majority of his daily activities had become much too regular and the days simply blurred together. But for all his complaints, even he knew this lack of companionship and activity was of his own making.

It was he who left the noble cause of the Elentiri to simply sit in an inn and complain about his lack of work. It was he who had left a woman who professed to love him. Despite the undesirable outcomes of these choices, he could not consider them mistakes. He knew that the mistakes were marrying in the first place and thinking he could wash away his failures with good deeds.   The mistake was trying to forget what he was.

Darramir shifted his stare to a table in corner of the room that was untouched by the dim light of the candle beside him. Though he could not see it, his thoughts were on the leather bound journal sitting atop this darkened table. He kept this catalog of his failures and the descent of an honorable soldier to a self-pitying fool as a reminder. He did not deserve to forget, nor did these events deserve to be forgotten.

Unlike the journal’s author who had used a noose to end his misery, Darramir did not wish for death. Those who knew of his desertion wasted no time in warning him of the fates of oath breakers. He did not know if such things applied to him, but the concept was enough to keep from seeking a more permanent end to his demons.

Darramir could not help but let out a quiet chuckle at his own thoughts. Even he knew they were melodramatic and unbecoming, but they were there all the same. He was a coward with nowhere left to run. Fortunately, self-pity and whiskey were good enough for the moment.