Truth Before Trial
“I know green eyes are certainly not unique, but equally they are rarer than other colours. On a different note, as far as I am aware, only those of Dúnedain descent became those most people know as Rangers, or if there are non-Dúnedain in your number, I have yet to meet any.”
Reggie coughed and cleared his throat.
“I had one Dúnedan parent and one parent from the race of Man, but yes, I still fit your description.”
“That being the case, I can make things clearer. I saw something of a resemblance of my Dúnedan friend to Hanawen – both in her expressions and humour. And my friend has lost her sister – though I do not know enough about her parents, I admit. But I believe that a woman called Nyahwyn to most people is your daughter. If you rearrange Hanywyn, you arrive at her given name.”
As if straining against his own emotions, Faeladar laid back on his bed, obscuring his face from the Elf. But when he spoke, his voice was quavering.
“Yes,” the Elf confirmed, “though I’ve since taught her to use a bow, much as she has improved my sword arm.”
Reggie glanced from Faeladar to Caethir and nodded slightly.
“That fits Hanawyn’s skills, even down to the trying to teach others. As a kid, she wanted others of her own age to protect themselves,” Reggie explained, “she also hated using a bow as a child.”
“It would require a special kind of friend to get her to take up the bow, though,” Faeladar mused, “but my next question is this: when talking to different people groups, does she provide an alternative name to…Nyahwyn?” Faeladar asked.
Rays of Light
“We called both of our daughters ‘rays of light’. We did not impose the title of ‘warrior’ on either girl though, because each had to choose their own path. But if memory serves me, that would be Maethorglin, Glinmaethor or something similar?”
Caethir nodded, knowing however that it would only have been seen by Reggie.
“Glinmaethor,” he affirmed, “but before you ask, I only know where I last saw her. I don’t know where she is now, or where she is going. However, whether by design or happenstance, we cross paths regularly. Never for long enough, truth be told.”
I won’t say any more than that, the Elf resolved, he’s only just realising he still has two daughters. Let’s not complicate things further.
The Morning After
I don’t want to get my hopes up, he reasoned, I abandoned hope long ago. Maybe I should not have been so hasty. I’m starting to sound like an Ent!
As the group reunited in the common room for breakfast, Hanawen gave her father a troubled look.
“What’s the matter, Da?” she asked in concern.
Faeladar shook his head.
“I didn’t sleep well and… well, something came up in conversation last night.” he started, slowly.
As he was about to explain, Barliman bustled in, carrying plates of eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and bread.
“Sorry I didn’t come sooner, it was a difficult night. And, well, you know, things aren’t exactly normal about these parts right now and I wasn’t sure what you eat, especially you Elves. And I had to check that the way was clear outside the door when I unlocked it. But I don’t have any meat, what with the ruffians controlling much of Bree now, but I couldn’t send you on your way with no breakfast. So here you are!” he said, with forced optimism.
Herynglas smiled kindly at him.
“We would have been just as grateful with the bread, so this is a feast. Thank you.”
Barliman nodded and hurried back to the kitchens for coffee and what juices he could find that were still in a good enough state to be served.
Say “Breakfast” Twice and a Hobbit Appears
Suddenly, the door of the Prancing Pony was thrown open. All around the table were reaching for their weapons when a cheeky voice called:
“Did somebody say ‘breakfast’? I ‘ope it’s only the first’un, as I wouldn’t want ta miss both!”
“I know that voice,” smiled Caethir and turned his head around, “that would be one Rubybella, cousin to Lamuna.”
The Hobbit chuckled. “At yer service, misser Elf, Caethir, sir! But jus’ call me Ruby, aye?” she grinned with a mock bow, before hopping onto the seat next to Caethir. “I’m jus’ glad I found you before you left Bree. I thought you’d’ve been long gone, but I can’t walk that fast.”
“Yeah, I was supposed to have arrived here much quicker. But life’s never that simple, is it?” Caethir grumbled.
“Awfully informal fer an Elf!” Ruby giggled, “Mus’ be the influence o’ yer lady-friend, eh?”
Caethir blushed, with his eyes wide.
“Ruby, she’s not, I mean, that’s not how…oh never mind. I’ll have a chat with Lamuna about that when I next see her!”
On the ‘oof with no ‘oss
Caethir breathed a sigh of relief, hoping the conversation would quickly move on from what had nearly just been revealed.
“Neither did I, truth be told,” he smiled.
“Will you be needing breakfast too, my Hobbit-friend?” Barliman continued, “Not that it’s safe being a Hobbit in Bree today, but here you are, somehow safe, not that I’m not glad or anything, but,”
“It’s fine, Barliman,” Ruby interrupted, leaving him free to put the mugs on the table, “glad to see you haven’ changed a bit. No, I were jokin’ ’bout breakfast, I ate on the ‘oof, so ta speak. With no ‘oss! Wouldn’t say ‘no’ to coffee though, I ‘ave coin,” she added.
Nodding in bemusement at someone able to ramble on as much as himself, he returned to the kitchen.
‘On the hoof with no horse’ sums up how I feel right now, Caethir mused.
Over the next hour the group, their mood lightened by the jovial Hobbit, shared news and stories. While Hanawen and Faeladar spoke about the state of the Bree-land and Shire border, Caethir slid some bread and eggs in front of Ruby, who happily ate, forgetting her earlier claim of not needing to.
You can take a Hobbit out of the Shire, Caethir thought, but you’ll never take the Shire out of a Hobbit!
Once only crumbs and dirty plates were left, they all paused with mugs in hand to enjoy the last few moments of calm.
“So, Ruby, you hoped to catch me here, because?” Caethir asked, pushing the worry away from his mind.
“Oh yes! I nearly forgot,” Ruby laughed, “Lamuna sent me to tell you, she can’t join on Lone-Lands part of yer journey, and that’s because her ‘n’ Myrlas got married!”
“Did they now?” Caethir smiled, “I don’t know how long ago Myrlas told me he was going to ask her. He’s fought off all kinds of things but the one foe he never conquered was his own nerves. Glad to hear he finally did!”
“Yep! Though I am more surprised she didn’t ask first! Anyway. they’ll be on their own path now. Bad news for you is she can’t join yer group ‘ere. Good news is, you got me instead!” Ruby grinned.
“Well, no one here has committed to being with me after Bree. It’s all accidents that have brought us together. I have a feeling my mother will not leave my side, though. Either way, I’m glad to have you, assuming the Bounders are at peace with it. I may need your humour on this trek.”
“Bounders’ll do fine, Lamuna’s taken me place fer now ‘n’ ‘er ‘n’ Myrlas go for wanderin’ an’ practice in the woods ‘n’ stuff.”
“Regardless of what happened last night and what…news…we have heard, we must now work. Firstly to ensure Caethir – and anyone who may be joining him – leave Bree safely today. Secondly, how to deal with the locals. I’ve sent Reggie to acquire some paper. When he returns, we will plan.”
The more she thought about it, a twinge of shame crept to her face and she pulled her gaze away from the Caethir.
Am I jealous?, she thought, realising the creeping resentfulness in her mind, Maybe I envy the fact that my sister is out there and being free to be herself. Jealous of Caethir? I don’t know, but I do feel like the time I should have had with my sister has been taken by someone who, in the grand scheme of things, was not that far from my own daily grind.
Truce and Tracking
“Life has a way of stealing people and time from us. But that’s not the same as people being to blame. The journey through the Old Forest and Barrow-Downs suddenly brought new friends around me. I don’t want anything to take that friendship away, whether it’s with your Da, Reggie or you, alright?” he asked just looking into the room.
“I know. At least I think I do. I just don’t…” she took a deep breath, “I don’t want to lose any more time if I can help it.”
“You’re saying if she learned I was still alive and where I was, she would come running?” Hana almost whispered.
“Give or take a day or two to make sure her responsibilities were being handled, yes.”
“Is your journey one that takes you to meet her?” Hanawen pressed but saw Caethir instantly shake his head, leaving her surprised, but disappointed that her guess had been off the mark.
“Not intentionally, no. I’m heading for Imladris for personal reasons. The last time I saw her, she was at Tinnudir where she took over my role in reclaiming Annúminas. But I can pretty much guarantee she isn’t there now. She tends to get flung around from crisis to crisis, going where she is needed.”
“Not much different to being a ‘Ranger’ in Bree-land that’s been torn apart by brigands, haunted by wights and tested by holding back an Orc invasion then?”
“Glinmaethor, eh?” Hanawen asked, intrigued, “It will be interesting to see what kind of woman my sister has become.”
Once for All, Once for Self
But first, they had to provide a way out of Bree for Caethir and Rubybella. In her mind’s eye, Hanawen began to silently plan how she could slip out at the same time. While she welcomed the peacemaking that had just taken place, if Caethir was not intentionally going to see Hany, she would need to track his journey in secret. To do that she had to put enough of a distance between her father and herself without revealing her intentions to Caethir.
I’ve spent all my life so far serving others, she thought, it’s time I served my own needs for once.
It was then that Reggie returned with parchments in hand. With no need for explanation, they all gathered aroud.
“It’s time to get started, then, but not here. There are too many eyes and ears,” Faeladar pointed out.
“Usually two o’ each per person!” Ruby giggled, not able to help herself.
“Well,” said Hanawen with a shrug, “what are we waiting for? Let’s go!”
The battle was about to become very real very quickly.
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