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The Vessel 
Chapter 23 
The Elf-Lordling of the East Wing or Point me the way South. 

And now it’s time for
Silly Songs with Larry.
The part of the Show where Larry sings a silly song.
“Everybody’s got a water buffalo
Yours is fast but mine is slow…” 

Silly Songs with Larry
Veggie Tales

***

Bronwyn rolled over to an empty bed. By the light – or lack of it – she could tell it was still several hours before sunrise. Her hand reached to touch the pillow to find it indented, but cool.

Haldir had been up quite a while. She smiled softly, rolling to the other side of the bed, searching for Beckett’s crib. Sure enough, her husband stood next to the crib, looking intently down at the sleeping child.”You know, Cormmin,” she whispered, “they grow while they sleep.”

He did not look up from the sleeping child. “Is that true? Then I am watching him grow.” Even in the dark, his eyes glinted. “I did not think I would have room in my heart to love anything more, but I was wrong.” He held his hand out to her as she rose from the bed. She went to his side, allowing him to pull her close. Together, they looked down at the small Elfling, on his back, eyes slitted and glowing.

“Half-pence for your thoughts?”

Haldir thought for a moment. “You wish to know what I am thinking.” He took in her shadowed smile. “I was thinking about a conversation I had with Legolas, when you came into my life.”

“Oh really. And what conversation was that?”Arms tightened and she felt secure, safe within the boundaries of the cocoon of his love.

“I had not been happy for a long time. I searched for happiness in the caress of Liandrien, in the embrace of many. I sought it guarding the Golden Wood, everywhere. I told him I wanted a peaceful life, a life-mate and children.” He leaned down to nuzzle her hair. “I had no idea it all sat within my grasp, disguised as a filthy, vomit – covered youth.”

“What did Legolas say?” She felt the tall Elf chuckle deeply in his chest and squeeze her tighter.

“He said one cannot have peace AND children.”

Bronwyn laughed quietly with her husband. “I think he is wrong. Right now, I have a beautiful child and it is a peaceful feeling!” Her laughter did not cease.”Oh really? Just wait until your son wakes up demanding his late night feeding!”

And at that moment, Beckett did. For a few moments, there was no peace in their apartments.

***

For several days, it was not unusual to see Bronwyn, Beckett tied around her in a sling, sitting down in the catacombs with Gandalf, Elrond, and Celeborn, separate or in any combination, discussing, debating, or arguing over piles of scrolls. Bronwyn was amazed at the amount of written word that had survived for over a millennium.

However, as they delved deeper into the caverns, she was alarmed at the amount of dust, the staleness of the air, and feared for the babe’s lungs. Her own lungs burned as they had at Baradur and Elrond gave her an infusion of special herbs mixed in her tea to help clear them.

They bandied about talk to remove the scrolls from their place in the bowels of the fortress, but the parchment was in such delicate shape, she shuddered at taking them from the cool, dank dungeons to her bright chambers.

And so it was that the Guardian and Shield of Tel’ Lindar, became Ada and Chief Elfling -Sitter of Beckett, Elf-Lordling-In-Charge of the Two Rooms of the East Wing of the Palace. And Orophin and Rumil became Guardians of that same Elf-Lordling, greatly assisted by Heridil.”What do we do now?” Orophin asked, leaning over the crib. The four Elves pulled up chairs and staked out a side, each one peering over the crib, watching the rise and fall of the little one’s chest.

“How am I supposed to know? He is asleep.” Haldir whispered. ” ‘Tis the strangest thing. I can tell by the way he cries, what he wants.”

“Crying is crying!” Heridil scoffed.

“Nooo.” Both Haldir and Rumil shook their heads. “When he is hungry, it is like a sheep’s bleating. When he is wet, it is a bellow, very short.” Haldir reached into the crib and stroked a soft cheek with a calloused finger. 

“And next you will tell me that when he wants to be held, he sits up and says ‘Ada, please pick me up. I desire your attention.’ He is such a smart…” Three pairs of churlish eyes stared Heridil down. “I was joking!” He held his hands before him in supplication. “I am sorry! I will say no more.”

It was quiet for several minutes. “Now what?”

“I do not know! Does he do anything but sleep?”

Haldir didn’t even look up from the crib. “Aye. He makes a great smelly mess in his clothing, he gets bathed, and he eats. He eats a lot.”

Orophin raised a single eyebrow to Heridil. “And he has wrapped our stoic, serious brother around his finger! All Beckett has to do is…” the youngest of the Lorien brothers lifted one hand, pinkie raised, “pull, just like this!” He crooked the raised appendage.

There was quiet chuckling at the expense of the former March Warden, who was so well known for his arrogance and seriousness. Haldir grinned at the revelation. “Aye, it is true!” he turned dark blue eyes up to his youngest brother. “But, you wait. It will happen to you!”

“Oh, no!” Orophin shook his head. “I do not think so. Rumil has a better chance than I.”

“Oh, that was low!” Rumil punched the youngest Elf. “I would bet that Heridil will settle before us.” The three Elves watched as a rather sad look quickly passed over the Elf’s face, before covering it with a blank mask.

“Heridil?” Rumil inquired. “Did I say something amiss?”

Heridil had always been closed-mouthed with whom he had been with. It was not known when or whom he had slept first with, or if he had slept at all with anyone. If he had ever been in love, it was not common knowledge, no matter how much pleading and cajoling or spying – and yes, the brothers had lowered themselves to that a time or two – could pry anything from him.

“There is no one.” Heridil’s eyes were glued to the rhythmic rise and fall of the tiny chest. “Leave it be.” His voice was tight, terse. The brothers looked at each other, realizing they were walking on thin ice.

Haldir caught the attention of his brothers.”Go get Bronwyn. It is close to Beckett’s dinner time.”

The implied message was obvious. Go. I will talk to him. The two Elves got up quietly and left the room. There was silence for several minutes as the two watched the babe.”So, who is she?”

“There is no one.”Haldir’s smile was mirthless. “I have known you too many years, mellon. Who is she?”Heridil hung his head. “There is no one, Haldir. She loves someone else and their love is great. I am resigned to be her friend. And happy to be considered such. There is no one.”

The only sound was that of Beckett beginning to awaken from his slumber. The tiny fists stretched above reddish curls and a small, puckered mouth opened in a yawn. Before the babe could come fully awake, Haldir reached over and brought him to his chest, tucking the tiny head under his chin. The Elf’s hands totally encompassed the child from head to knee. “Does she know your feelings?”

“Nay. I hope she never does.”

“Ah.” Haldir nuzzled the curly locks. He thought back over the times Heridil’s eyes had followed Bronwyn; he had been fast to volunteer to travel with them, always under the guise of friendship for his brothers. He who had corrected her grip, fixed her quiver. At Baradur, he had quickly agreed to sit with her when no one else wished to. Heridil had been the one attempting fetch her back to his side that day on the flets, when she had died. She died attempting to rescue him. She had given him, in an obscure way, his father… he had quietly covered for her, aided her, silently watching her, always.

“Should I watch my back?”

Heridil chuckled softly. “Nay. Even after much daydreaming on my part, I came to the conclusion long ago that I could not handle your wife. She would be dragging me around by the nose in no time and I would be nothing but a lap dog.” The sounds of chattering and laughter came from the hallway. “Wake up, young Beckett.” Heridil whispered, “Your dinner arrives!”

***

Several times over the next several weeks, Haldir would catch Bronwyn inspecting her body when she dressed, when she exited her bath. Running her hands over the widened hips, waist, the marks fading too slowly. He could sense her disquiet, her unhappiness with her figure.

He ached for her. He had not touched her since the birth, the scene, the pain of her child birth etched on his mind. How long should one wait for his wife to recover from that? How long did it take? He posed the question to Galadriel.

“What?” she queried. “You have not touched her since? Haldir! It has been six weeks! Surely, she has said something to you…”

“No. She is unhappy with her body.” he retorted, yanking on his braid. “I reassure her, but I am worried and I am afraid Beckett will awake.”

“You have not touched your wife in six weeks?” Celeborn looked up from the ancient scroll he had been studying. He and Bronwyn had argued over the meaning of its words and he wished to examine it closer in order to continue the lively discussion with her. “Melkor’s Chains, you must be aching!” He ignored the nasty look his wife gave him.

“If you must know, eight weeks. She was very uncomfortable and the only position… she is short…” Haldir was yanking on his braid until Celeborn reached over and grabbed his hand.”My head hurts when you do that.”

Celeborn looked at his wife, who was deep in thought. “My love?”

Galadriel was tapping a slender finger against her lips. “A wet nurse… definitely…”

“I beg your pardon, my lady?”

“I am thinking a peaceful evening is what you need. If I can procure the services of a wet nurse for a few hours, perhaps a quiet, romantic dinner would do the trick.”

And so commenced the Romancing of the new Mother.

***
Scarce is the heart that does not reject
And the vow that binds eternally
Graceful, gentle girl
There is no other I could put in your place
I would walk with you to the back of the sun
And to the ends of time

Ribhinn Donn (Brown-haired girl)
From In Search of Angels
RunRig
***

She had been incensed when Haldir had come down into the musty caverns, determined she come to their rooms.

His brothers left when she arrived and Haldir had a tub, filled with rose scented oils and insisted she luxuriate in it until the water cooled. While Beckett slept peacefully, he washed her hair, rinsed it, washed her back. When Beckett awoke, he brought the babe to her, so she could nurse him in the tub and bathe him as well. Haldir found the scene highly erotic.

She was visibly upset when Haldir informed her that Galadriel and Celeborn wanted to play indulgent Grandparents for the evening. Considering she was spending so much time in the recesses of the ancient library, she felt Galadriel was taking her quality time with her baby.

But Haldir was quietly persistent.And when he brought her one of her softest, flowing gowns to wear, and she spied dinner being brought up, she knew, she had been set up. 

But she was determined to enjoy dinner. As dinner progressed, conversation was light. Haldir nevertheless felt her becoming more and more nervous as the obvious conclusion became closer.

As the sun set and servants cleared the dishes, he held her in his arms on the balcony.”Why are you nervous? Why would you be frightened of me?” His tongue flicked her and she shuddered in pleasure. 

“I am not frightened of you. I love you.” 

“Ah, but lately I wonder. You have hid yourself; kept yourself from my embrace.” Which was true. He had heard and accepted the excuses. When the last of the servants had left, he led her into their rooms, locking their doors and moving her to the foot of their bed. 

“I do not like what my body has become. Maybe, in a few more weeks…” She had stepped fully into his embrace, her head on his chest and her arms wrapped around his powerful torso. 

“I am not… how do you put it… I am not buying that excuse, Baraer.” His tone was stern. Mocking, but stern. His fingers were gently working the fastenings of the back of her gown. 

“My… my… butt… is big.” Her whisper was petulant. 

“Ah, so I fell in love with your… butt?” Her dress fell about her feet in a copious, gossamer pile. 

Bronwyn rolled her eyes. He didn’t understand. “My breasts. They are large and ponderous and they leak at the most inopportune times!” 

“Ah, so I fell in love with your breasts?” He had unhooked the undergarment that supported them and it too, fell to the floor. Bronwyn felt herself being nudged backwards, the back of her legs coming in contact with the bed. The rest of her undergarments came off in the batting of an eye. He prodded her and as she fell flat on the bed, he crawled up above her, straddling her now nude body. 

“Do you wish to know what I love?” Her answer was a low moan. His tongue went to her ear. “I love your ears. They are round and sensitive and when I kiss them like such…” He blew gently and flicked the rim before nipping the lobe, “it makes you shudder and I can hear your body scream.” He then moved, slid kisses to her mouth. 

“I love your mouth because it says things that make me laugh, make me think, make me angry. It gives sweet kisses and it tastes and licks and suckles parts of my body until I cannot stand or speak.” And with that his tongue plundered her mouth, stealing her breath, clouding her desire to wait. Wait until dark, wait until she was happier with her body. 

Well, forget that... 

His mouth moved downwards, tongue encircling achingly full breasts. The areolas were dark, deep chocolate brown and he flicked at the liquid that seeped from them.

“Ah, these I do love. I admit it wholly. I love to cup them at night in sleep, their weight brings me comfort. I love to play with them, I love how your nipples react to my breath, my tongue. They bring nourishment to my child and bring great pleasure to me…” his tongue sucked greedily at the nipple. “But I will admit that I have often wondered what my son finds so delectable in them…”

And to her relief, he gently devoured her… 

Eventually, he continued downward, over her soft belly, the indention at her navel…To the angry marks.”At first,” he whispered, “at first I worried, was enraged of the marks on you. They marred you, marked you and I did not like it. But…” he silenced her before she could excuse them, “But, I finally realized what they were, what they represented. I not only realized what they were, but I take pride in them, in their marking of you.

This one…” his tongue ran over a particularly long stretch mark, “this one is a sign of your courage to stand up to that… bastard Ramsey by not killing your first born before he had a chance to experience life.” Bronwyn’s moan intermingled with tears starting to flow.

“This one,” he picked another and followed its trail along her abdomen, “you received giving birth to Duncan, whom I realize I love very much.”

“This one,” his tongue continued its path, “you received in agreeing to bear our child.”

“This one was caused by carrying our son for almost twelve months.”

“This angry welt is a sign of your courage through a difficult labor…”On and on he continued, licking the trail, the weavings of each mark, naming them, praising her until she was squirming. His hands reached her thighs, spreading them, spreading her…

“Now thisssss…” He blew gently on her damp curls and spread her nether lips, opening her to the air, to his sight. “This, I love greatly. This passage that I have traveled so many times, into the core of your body, which harbored me, my seed, protected our child, my child, and he is my child as well as yours, and then led him to life. This I love much. But mostly I love it because this comforted me when I was unsure, assured me when I was confused and mostly, when I put my mouth right… here…” his thumb stroked the very wet nubbin, “you will jump.” And at that instant, his mouth covered her, his tongue finding that hard knot beneath it and his fingers delved into molten lava.

And he was right.

She jumped and only his quick thinking, and remembering what had happened the first time he had done this to her, kept him from seeing stars and silly talking rabbits as he pinned her neatly with his hand.

Her screams when she came, could be heard into the hallway. When she became conscious of sound as she came down, she could hear him removing his clothes; she heard the tunic hit the floor, the snapping of the ties on his leggings, the sound of them sliding from his hips, his legs. As her breathing returned to normal, she felt the dip in the bed and when she opened her eyes, she saw him over her, his moonlit tresses trailing up her body, finally settling on her shoulders. His hands propped his body above hers, his knee nudging her legs further apart.

His kiss tasted of her.”Do you love me?”

Her sigh rent the air as she cupped the face above hers. “You know I do. Why would you question that?”

He lowered himself, placed himself at her entrance, but did not enter. His forehead touched hers. “You hid from me. Held yourself from me. Did you think I was so shallow that all I cared about was what your body looked like? Even if it does not return to its former state… it is your mind, your laughter that I love. It is the way you argue with me, with Celeborn, with Elrond over scrolls older than me that I love. It is the way you banter with my brothers, with Heridil, the way you whisper with Legolas, dance with Gimli, the way you stand up to Thranduil, that I love. It is the way you sit at Gandalf’s feet and listen to him explain unknown things to you. It was the way you cried over the pain and loss of life in the Dead Marshes and Baradur that I love. It is the way you hold Beckett, love him, love Duncan that I love about you. The fact that you are Tel’ Lindar means nothing to me.” He lowered himself further, kissing the tears that ran down her cheeks. “You are Baraermin – My Fiery One. No one else, but mine. Please. Invite me in.”

She took a huge, sobering breath, taking in what all he had said to her from the moment her dress had hit the floor.

Never question.

Ever.


Haldir saw the flame flicker, catch, and begin to burn in those deep eyes of hers. Her voice was a soft whisper.”Dive in deep, Heru en Corrmin. The water is warm!”

He almost came the moment he buried himself to the hilt. “Warm?” he murmured raggedly in her ear. “Warm? Try hotter than the liquefied rock in Mount Doom.” He set a powerful rhythm and her legs wrapped around his waist, beckoning him, urging him. He managed to wait for her to tighten and when she called out to him, he growled and allowed himself to explode.

***

He took her twice more that night. And again that morning as the sun rose. It wasn’t until she cried at the pain in her breasts that he pulled on leggings and went to their apartment door where Orophin and Rumil had stood guard, allowing no one to disturb them that night, and sent one to get Beckett.

***

For two years, until Beckett was weaned and relying totally on solid food, they stayed in the White City, Bronwyn crawled the caverns with Gandalf and Elrond. She was present for the birth of Aragorn and Arwen’s first child – a son – and was totally disgusted at not only the ease with which the elleth gave birth, but the fact there were no marks on her body.

Some nights, she and her husband, usually accompanied by the Twins, Haldir’s brother’s, Heridil and sometimes even Celeborn and Galadriel, cruised the drinking establishments, Bronwyn taking her guitar and entertaining anyone who wanted to listen. She caroused the marketplace, listening to gossip, seeking out the Elders, remembering. She purchased every instrument she could find; drums, fifes, reed flutes, cymbals, bells…

Several times, the twins went to visit their new sister. After the fifth time, they invited Orophin and Rumil to join them. Orophin, who hated travel and was desiring greatly to return to Lothlorien, finally decided to tag along. Rumil was too enthralled by his nephew and by the sights in Minas Tirith to go.

One bright morning, Haldir awoke to trunks opened, clothing being packed, her traveling pack and satchels unrolled on the bed. Beckett crawled happily in the floor, jabbering and waving Bronwyn’s decrepit teddy bear around by the ear.

“Baraer?” His voice was sleepy. She had been very enthusiastic the night before.

“My palms itch, Haldir. My gut says it is time to go south.”

***Oh tell the Tale of the Wicked Soldier
Oh tell the Tale of the Wicked Man…

Wicked Soldier
Tonic***

“Dededo mobu nekky!” The chubby finger wagged at Rumil, the voice in early stages of authority.

“Yes sir!”

“Nono bebe garu! Neee nobo wawa bebe!” This was directed to Heridil.

The Elf looked straight ahead, never taking his eyes off the landscape before them.”As you wish”

Beckett sat in the saddle, held secure by his father. The child looked around in his most arrogant manner, so reminiscent of his father and spied his mother, stifling her giggles.”Mama! Yada yada yada!” His finger punctuated each word.

“Yada yada yada!” she answered before laughing outloud. She looked askance at the small, serious face. He looked down right put out with her reaction and raised his eyebrow at her. Oh no. His eyes narrowed in vexation.”Dammit!”

“Now, young sir, THAT is not necessary!” Bronwyn made a mental note to watch her language in the immediate future.

“Bebe! Nina lolo gerorewisa! ADA!” His small hand smacked the rock hard thigh.

Haldir never flinched, the Elf continued to look forward, carefully watching the small wisp of dust in the far distance.”You are most certainly correct.” He pulled the child closer to his body. The dust cloud was making him very uneasy.

Bronwyn watched her husband and her son in the saddle of His Arrogance. Identical facial expressions, identical scowls, identical vocal inflections. Mirror images. There was no way Haldir could deny Beckett was his – not that he would. He was too enthralled with the child. The only difference was that wild, unruly red hair. She told Haldir she had no idea where the child had gotten that from. That remark had started a love making session that went during the entire time of Beckett’s nap. 

Haldir moved his horse over towards Bronwyn. “Beckett,” he lifted the Elfling from his lap, “go to Mama.”  

“Nononono! Mama!” Beckett began to smack at Haldir’s hands. “Ada! Ada!” 

Bronwyn reached across for her squirming, angry child. “Come to Mama, honey.” Beckett continued to kick. 

“Nononono, Mama! Ada!” Beckett continued to smack, but once sitting down upon on Bronwyn’s lap, he quieted to a Bronwyn-like pout. “Ada!” His glare at Haldir was almost heartbreaking.

“I am sorry, Baraermin.” Haldir continued to peer into the approaching dust cloud, along with his brothers and Heridil. “I do not know why he prefers me.”

“I do and do not feel bad.” she smirked. “You both have the same thing between your legs!” Her knives, strapped around her waist, began to hum. “Haldir. I do not think that approaching cloud brings friends.”

“Neither do I.” He motioned to the other three Elves. Quickly, they moved forward, forcing Bronwyn and Beckett behind them.

Bronwyn immediately began to hunt for shelter, a copse of foliage, to hide the Elfling in. There was none. Her eyes narrowed into thin slits. Just try to mess with her baby! For forty-five minutes, they watched the cloud grow, become larger, come closer. They were able to make out riders, roughly twenty. The Elves did not speed up, ride out to meet or greet. They maintained their steady pace.

“Haldir.” Bronwyn’s voice was stern. “I cannot defend Beckett on this horse.”

Hearing his name, Beckett restarted his squirming. “Ada!” he demanded. “A-da!” Smalls hands reached for the tall Elf.

“I am aware of that. Stay behind.” Haldir’s voice was stern.”But I…”

“Do not even think about joining in the skirmish, if there is one!” Haldir never looked back, using the inflection of his voice to command. “You are to run if something happens.” He spun then on his horse and looked straight at her. “You are to take Beckett and flee. I will find you!” He pulled his horse alongside her. “Promise me you will take our child and flee.””But I…”

“Promise!”

“I will try.” Bronwyn sighed.

“Baraermin -” Haldir’s had pulled up next to her, their legs touching. Beckett’s shrill voice began shrieking for his Ada louder. “You will flee. We can handle a handful of roughnecks. Do not force me to worry for you!””But…”

“Do not force me, Bronwyn!”The use of her name brought her up full and even Beckett quieted, looking at his father with huge, frightened eyes; the child was unused to hearing his father’s voice used in such an intimidating manner. “You will ride toward Mansfield and wait for us there. Do you understand?”

Bronwyn refused to answer, looking at him with offended eyes. “You would bid me leave?”

“I would bid you to think of yourself and our child.” His voice was tense.”Do not worry for me. Just go if I tell you!” His eyes bore into hers and she knew if she disobeyed or flouted his authority, she would lose the final argument.

“Yes, Heru en Cormmin, I will flee.” Haldir’s hand reached out and caressed her cheek. He then tousled the curls of the wide-eyed child, smiling gently. Beckett continued to reach out.

“Ada!” The Elfling’s look was bewildered as his father smiled at him and rode back to the front of the formation.

Too soon for Bronwyn, they found themselves confronted by nineteen armed, scruffy outriders. They exchanged pleasantries, inquiries of destination. Haldir was not forthcoming. The outriders were equally vague.

Bronwyn looked at each outrider carefully and recognized the one in the back, trying desperately to hide. As the armed riders finally rode off, she approached her husband. Beckett immediately reached out for Haldir, but the Elf simply tickled the Elfling under the chin.

“The one hiding in the back. I know him, Haldir!”

“He was with the taxiser, was he not?”

Rumil’s gasp was audible, a hiss. “I thought I recognized him!” Orophin was livid. The group continued to ride on, if perhaps a little harder and faster towards their destination. Beckett was very unhappy riding with his mother. Bronwyn pretended not to notice the Elves furtively looking behind them.

At sunset, Haldir spoke out. “Here they come.” Bronwyn looked back and saw the dust cloud rising, gaining quickly on them. “It would seem, Baraer, the taxiser’s friend recognized you as well.” Haldir stated drily. “Ride fast to Mansfield. We are behind you!”

“Haldir, I cannot ride fast with Beckett” The armed horsemen could clearly be seen, swords drawn. Bronwyn was frantic, seeing the pace in which the riders were closing in.

At the lead of Haldir, the Elves had unstrapped swords, had pulled out their bows and were notching arrows. He never looked at her, never glanced at Beckett. “You will leave now, Bronwyn. Do not anger me.”

Despite Beckett’s screaming, she turned and headed towards the town, still at least an hour away. She heard Haldir’s bowstring release – his had a different vibration, unique in its pitch and sound – and despite what he had ordered her to do, she turned to look.

The Elves were surrounded. Five… six men were down, arrows protruding from bodies, but they had already reverted to swords. Bronwyn quickly dismounted, setting Beckett at her feet. Her chant had begun before she had completely dismounted.

“Beavis, Beavis, Beavis, Come to Beavis, my darlings…” her knives were out, spinning and quickly, they went into the back of the man whose sword was poised so close to Haldir’s back. They were back in her hands and she was quickly wiping them as the man hit the ground, his horse, stepping on his body in its terror. She flung again, this time hitting one who was bearing down on Heridil. Rumil saw the knives and glanced at Bronwyn in horror. As they returned to her hands, her music began to rise, the sound waves spinning, spinning…

Beckett began to crawl forward, his sights set on Haldir. With the waves still spinning in the air, she reholstered the knives, and reached forward, hauling Beckett back, scraping his knees on tiny rocks. His wails began again in earnest. Quickly assessing the situation, she flung sound waves at one of the three men hounding her beloved. Blood she could not see burst from the one’s ears and when he fell, she aimed at a second, his body spasming as he hit the ground. She saw Haldir dispatch the third and turning quickly in his saddle, she heard the word, saw his mouth form the word….

Go.

Nimbly, she lifted the screaming Elfling to her saddle and climbing on, she flung the waves a final time, felling the man who was hacking at Orophin. Beckett was kicking, his hands slapping at everything and she deftly spun him in the saddle, his tiny hands clutching her shirt. Bending low over the saddle, she clutched him to her body with one hand, while grabbing the reins with the other. Sea Spray, smelling the blood in the air, took off at a gallop towards the town still over an hour away.

Haldir felt her leave, felt her discomfort, felt her frustration as she galloped away. He did not see the tiny face, peering at him anxiously in terror from around her arm. He did, however hear his son screaming.

“ADA!”

***My love’s by the old tin wall
She’s waiting there
She’s waiting there for me..

Wicked Soldier
Tonic***

Bronwyn made it into town without being accosted. She was stopped by a sentry, a soldier from Aragorn’s army, who questioned her on the whereabouts of the ambush before sending a messenger to his commander. He was told to allow a party of four Elves – she sincerely prayed for the safe arrival of four Elves – in without much delay and a small party of soldiers was dispatched in the direction she had come from. In kindness, seeing she traveled with a small child, the commander accompanied her to her destination.

Bronwyn headed straight for The Wandering Sailor. It was a weeknight, so the eatery was not wholly busy, but she could hear a decent singer plying his trade inside. Beckett had cried himself to sleep and she gently lowered him to the waiting arms of the battle hardened soldier while she dismounted. He handed the Elfling back to her and told her he would stable and rub down her horse, as well as retrieve her bags for her.

She walked into the bright tavern. As usual, the smell of good food and ale permeated the air. The walls had been newly painted, new tables and chairs were scattered about and paintings of ships and happy people adorned the walls. The Wandering Sailor had been doing a fine business for the past three years. “Morgan! Morgan la Fay! ‘Tis truly yew?” Rory had expanded in girth as he barreled from behind the bar. As Bronwyn turned and he saw the sleeping Elfling she carried in her arms, he leaned over to the serving girl coming over. “Go git me Meg, Suezan. An’ make sure we ‘ave a room fer her and th’ babe.”

“I need two rooms, Rory. Hot water, food, and…” Rory quickly determined that she was distressed. When the commander of the king’s army came in the door with her baggage, he knew something was wrong.

Meg came crashing from the kitchen, and seeing the bedraggled woman and child, immediately took over. “Rory! Yew gits yerself behind that bar! I be takin’ care o’ Morgan an’ ‘er wee one. Yew!” she nodded to the serving girl, “Follow me! We be needin’ assistance!” Bronwyn followed her up the stairs, fatigue taking over her body. “Yew need tew rooms, Morgan?” They went up the stairs to the quieter section of the inn. The soldier, seeing she was in friendly and capable hands, made his leave, after handing the saddlebags to the sturdy Suezan.

“We were set upon by a large group of thieves outside the city. My husband, bade me flee with our son. He is with three other Elves.” She allowed the woman to take the sleeping Elfling and look closely at him.

“‘e looks like ‘is father, don’ ‘e?” She turned to the serving girl. “We needs hot water, a tub, ‘ealin’ ‘erbs, an’ food. Tell me worthless ‘usband, we needs both Garret’s old beds from the cellar.” She looked back at Bronwyn. “Garret’s me youngest. We hadda small bed fer our babes when they tew old fer a crib. An’ there only be one bed in t’room. We’ll set up anuther fer yer extra Elf, ifin’ tew don’ mind sharing.” She gently laid the sleeping babe in the middle of the large bed in the room they were in. “Now girl, yew gonna tell me yer real name or no?”

Bronwyn slid down on the bed, vaguely aware that the large woman had removed her knives and laid them gingerly on the sideboard. She had begun to remove her boots. “I am so sorry, Meg. My real name is Bronwyn. Bronwyn Morgan ap Powell. We didn’t want anyone to know we were together. My husband, Haldir…”

“The March Warden o’ Lothlorien? The big Elf wit’ yew is ‘e?” Meg’s eyes were huge. “We ‘ave ‘eard o’ ‘im! When t’ King came ‘ere with ‘is soldiers an’ Elves , they spoke o’ ‘im. ‘Ee now be the Guardian of… Tel Lin Dar.” She spoke the syllables very carefully. “Tuh Storyteller. ‘Tis yew! ‘Tis yew! Yer t’one they be talkin’ ‘bout. I knew yew ‘elped to run off t’ Mayor and stopped t’ Taxiser, but thet yer she…” the woman’s eyes were large. “An’ yew played ‘ere! Ah, such good luck yew brought us tew!”

“I’m glad I could help, Meg. The King was most distressed when he heard of the town’s plight.”

“Well, ‘ee’s a good ‘un, our king! Came right out ‘e did, an’ stopped all t’ unfair practices. We ‘ave ‘onest taxes now, we do. An’ we don’ mind payin’ ‘em, either!” Suezan brought up a huge bowl of steaming meat stew and Bronwyn’s mouth, despite her exhaustion, began to water. “Yew eat! We be takin’ care o’ t’ rest!” And with that, the large woman bustled out. As Bronwyn ate, a tub was brought up and steaming water poured into it.

She heard noises next door and when she looked to see the commotion, she saw not one but two beds being set up in the large room. Men, she was informed by Meg, were not like women and did not like to share the bed with other men.

Bronwyn smiled inwardly. You don’t know some of the stories I have heard, she thought, but it didn’t matter. The small child’s bed had just been set up and Beckett settled in it, when a racket rose from the hallway.

Bronwyn threw open the door in time to see Haldir and Rumil carrying a bloodied and unconscious Orophin down the hall