Having spent so much time together that day, Barliman had tried to offer back the coin for their food but had been flatly refused. While he tried to do good by folk, he was grateful, but conflicted, when he had been told to keep hold of it. They had all exchanged news, views and the occasional laugh, for most of the day. None seemed in a hurry to move on from the battles at the Barrows into another conflict within Bree, at least for that day.
Turning Up and Turning In
Once Caethir and Hanawen had assisted with tidying and washing the plates and tankards, and giving the common room in the Prancing Pony a sweep, they began to split up into groups for the night. Barliman had mumbled his thanks in surprisingly few words, served himself another ale and disappeared to his own room, after locking the main door of the Inn and checking it was locked several times.
The group could have taken two vacant chambers at the end of one long corridor, but Herynglas had warned them against being cornered, given the nature of some of the other patrons still loitering about.
The Elf gave a wry chuckle and pointed behind her, where a small bear was stood patiently waiting for them.
“When did he come in?” Faeladar asked in surprise.
“He’s quite well-behaved, especially if the reward is meat,” Herynglas smiled, “so you need not worry about us.”
“Yeah, Da, we’ll be fine,” Hanawen laughed, “in fact, we might be safer than you lot.”
“Fair enough, get what sleep you can then.” her father said, with a nod, “we’ll decide in the morning how we split the fellowship because Caethir needs to go forwards on his journey, I believe, but we cannot leave Bree in its current state either.”
“There’s no time limit on my trip, Faeladar,” Caethir pointed out, “if you need my help, you’ll have it.”
“Thanks, son,” Herynglas interjected, “but I think it’s best we have this conversation…in less enclosed spaces. We’ll catch up on the morrow.”
And with that, the father and daughter embraced, and Caethir and his mother did the same, and they went into their separate rooms.
Catching Up and Catching On
Grateful that Barliman had left some bowls of water for them to freshen up, Caethir, Faeladar and Reggie quickly washed and flung off their heavy cloaks and tunics, glad to finally let the air cool them down.
Each stretching out on their own bed, Faeladar looked at Caethir, clearly with intent.
“So, my Elven friend. Way back in the Old Forest(ref), you said you would tell me what the issue was between you and Herynglas, your mother. I know you’ve clearly sorted it out now(ref), but I’m still intrigued.”
“My lord, isn’t that a tad personal?” Reggie asked.
“He doesn’t have to answer,” Faeladar retorted with a smirk, “and please, it’s the end of another long day, just use my name.”
Reggie nodded and turned his eyes to Caethir, who had been staring at the patch of floor not filled with their beds.
“Eh, we all have different strengths and weaknesses, Caethir, even Elves.” Faeladar smiled.
Caethir looked up, and nodded.
“I am very aware of my faults. Even my chosen path of being a forest-wandering, somewhat-aimless Elf, sometimes clashes with my brother’s path, because I occasionally have to kill the animals he fights to protect. Though he’s never held that against me.”
“Everyone has to eat,” Reggie pointed out, “and berries don’t sustain us for long.”
“True,” Caethir laughed, “Okay, while we’re asking questions, something’s been bothering me since you first rescued me from the Weavers’ Den(ref).”
In the Other Room…
It had been too long since Hanawen had been able to chat with an Elf and having that opportunity made her very grateful for their paths crossing. She hadn’t been able to sit and rest, yet. She was used to being constantly on the move, supporting her Father in the defence of Bree-land, so having been sat down talking for most of the day felt strange to her. Herynglas, for her part, was also glad to be able to chat with the girl, away from their male counterparts.
“You know, Hanawen,” Herynglas asked, “there’s something stirring in Caethir that is not a trait found in our family.”
Hanawen tilted her head questioningly.
“And that is…?”
“Something I’ve seen in you these last couple of days. Bitter humour in the middle of adversity. But I saw it in Caethir before we encountered you.”
“I doubt I’m the only person in his life with that coping mechanism.”
“Maybe not, but it just seems very close to your very reaction. Does your father have the same?” Herynglas pressed.
The girl, who had been pacing the room, forced herself at long last to sit on her bed and she pondered the question.
“No, not in the middle of battle. Before it and afterwards, Da jokes in abundance. But usually, in the middle of battle, he is fully invested in it. I guess that’s because normally he’s responsible for more people than just himself and Reggie. He takes his role seriously,” Hanawen explained.
“Yeah, I’ve been this way for most of my life. When you lose someone you’re close to, it has a way of echoing down the years.” Hanawen sighed, pulling the warm blanket around her knees.
“May I ask who you lost? If it’s too difficult, I am not forcing you to share.”
“My sister, a very long time ago.”
In the Other Room
“Ask away,” Faeladar said with a yawn, “so long as you word it faster than dear Barliman, I should still be awake by the time you finish the question!”
“Do you have another daughter?” he asked Faeladar.
“Well, I wasn’t expecting that of all things,” the Captain replied in shock, “but, as much as it seems random, I’m happy to answer it.”
“He doesn’t have to answer”, Reggie grinned at Faeladar.
The Captain stepped onto the red rug on the rough wooden floor and stretched.
“No, but I will. I…had another daughter and a wife. We were separated.”
A Family Divided
“No, again. I said ‘we were separated’, not ‘we separated’. Rohan has not exactly always had a peaceful existence, to put it mildly. One day, when the girls were quite young, our village was targeted by raiders. I sent all three of them to flee to the next settlement – both for their safety and to warn them. But in the chaos, Hanawen became separated from the other two, and we ended up staying together to defend our home. After counting our losses, in their various forms, we visited all the neighbouring villages but never found them. I’ve not seen either since then. Part of how myself and Reggie ended up in Bree-land was to travel the lands in search of them.”
“Until we eventually realised, even if they lived, they would be lost to us,” Reggie added with sadness.
“Hanawen has been deeply affected, mostly by the loss of her younger sister than that of her mother. She lets her weird humour come out occasionally, but if you see her fight in close quarters, you can feel the anger and aggression. I love her dearly, but I can’t mend that hurt.” Faeladar sighed.
Caethir nodded, with some measure of understanding.
What’s in a Name?
“Hanawyn. They weren’t twins, as Hanawen is…was a couple of years older, but they looked so alike as children. It was the similarity of names that meant Hanawyn ended up calling herself Hany. Why all these questions?” Faeladar frowned, intrigued.
“Hany, Hanawyn, Hanywyn…” Caethir muttered, then began rearranging the letters in his head.
“What is it, Caethir?” Reggie asked, unsure whether to be concerned or not. The Captain, sensing something took a step towards where Caethir was sat thinking.
After a few moments longer, the Elf looked up and directly into Faeladar’s eyes.
“I think I know your other daughter.”
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