Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

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Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 8:58 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon
Year: 29 051 (116 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Stirring

“River.”

River’s brow furrowed slightly, and she burrowed her face deeper into her pillow.

“River.”

River sighed in her sleep and pulled the blanket higher, covering her head.

“Come on, River, we have to start packing.”

River cracked one eye open and peered up at her older sister. “Already?”

Jasmine knelt next to River and smiled. “Yes. We’re leaving as soon as the ship’s ready. It may not be until tomorrow, but Mother and Father want us to prepare.”

River groaned and stretched. “This early?”

“Jess is waiting for you for breakfast,” Jasmine said innocently, pushing herself back to her feet. “And he was hoping you could both get your packing done quickly so that you could visit with Aennan and Aranxia for the rest of the day … maybe see the twins and Dwr …”

She had to duck to avoid being hit with River’s blanket as the younger woman rushed to get herself dressed.

“Dress, brush hair, breakfast,” River muttered to herself as she pulled off her nightdress and tossed it onto her cot. She reached for a new shirt and pulled it on. “Jas, where are my boots?”

Jasmine sighed and pulled the desired boots out from under River’s cot as River pulled on a pair of pants. “Here.” She set the boots down on the floor next to her sister, then stood back and watched her prepare in a panic. “Why are you so tired this morning, anyways?” she asked with a slight frown.

River finished dressing, picked up her hairbrush and began brushing her hair. “Couldn’t sleep,” she said simply. “I mean … Miyuki and her family and all the others left yesterday … and I was thinking about them …”

She clenched her teeth and sighed as her brush caught in her hair, and Jasmine stepped forward and took the brush from her.

“You need to calm down,” she said softly, moving to stand behind River. She began to brush her sister’s hair gently. “Everything you do, you rush. I know you’re easily excited, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing … but …” She sighed. “In the end you’re only going to make things harder for yourself and others. Take your time to do things properly and you’ll save yourself time in the end.”

Having finished with the knots in River’s hair, she divided it into five strands and began to braid it.

“Jess is a patient guy,” she went on, smiling warmly. “If he has to wait another minute or two for you, he won’t mind. It’s his choice to wait in the first place. If he minded, he would tell you so. But I can tell you, right here and right now, he doesn’t mind.”

She finished and tied off the braid. “There.”

“Thanks!” River turned around and hugged Jasmine. “I suppose everyone else is already up, too.”

Jasmine giggled. “An hour and a half ago.”

“Shades!” River exclaimed, her eyes widening. “I really did sleep in late! Thanks again!” She darted out of the tent and into her aunt and uncle’s house.

The living room was empty, as were the kitchen and dining room.

“Jess?” River called out, looking around anxiously.

“Packing,” Jess’s voice came from the direction of the room he was staying in.

Like a shot, River was off, running to Jess’s room, and when she arrived, she was breathless. “Sorry I made you wait so long,” she said anxiously. “I couldn’t’ sleep last night and then I couldn’t get up this morning and then I couldn’t find things and then my hair was-”

Jess chuckled and put one finger to her lips, a folded shirt in his other hand. He looked at her warmly as she blushed. “It’s all right,” he told her quietly, his eyes sparkling with amusement. “I’m in no rush.”

He leaned forward and kissed River lightly on the forehead. “Come on, let’s get something to eat. I know you and Aranxia are good friends, I thought you’d want to spend as much time with her as you can before we have to leave.”

He tossed his shirt onto the bed and put one arm around River’s shoulders. River leaned into him and hugged him tightly.

“I almost wish we could stay here another month and a half,” she murmured softly.

Jess smiled. “Well, we could always talk to your parents,” he reminded her. “But before we can do that, we do need to have a reason for it. Now, if you wanted to tell them that we want to be married here, they might listen. Otherwise, they’re going to say that it’s time to go.”

River sighed. “I know … it’s just … from here, we go back to Amon Darthir – I think – and then from there, it’s going to be another five and a half months before we’re even in the Four Lands, then another several weeks to get home … and I just wish that we could have … I don’t know. Some kind of stability, at least for a while, when we’re first married.”

Jess brought River to the kitchen and started to put together some breakfast for her. “We haven’t even decided where we’re going to live,” he reminded her, pointing at her with a knife before turning to cut a slice of bread from the loaf that Lily had made fresh that morning. “Honestly, we should probably have talked about these things a bit earlier.”

“I know,” River said wistfully. She pushed herself up onto the counter and swung her legs back and forth. “We’ve already talked about Chansond’eau and Paradise Valley …”

“And so far, Paradise Valley does seem like the best option,” Jess nodded, buttering the bread for River. “It’s close enough that my family can visit, and there’s no leather worker on the ranch yet, so there would be work for me and …” He looked up at her. “And what about our children? Is there anyone there who might be having children, that ours would not grow up without playmates?”

He opened a cupboard and pulled out a jar of raspberry jam. “And Chansond’eau has three leather workers already,” he went on, unscrewing the lid. He got some jam on the knife and spread it on the bread. “And every other town, city and settlement in any land already has more leather workers than they really need.”

He passed the finished sandwich to River, who accepted it with a quiet “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” He used his fingers to clean the excess jam off the knife, then licked his fingers clean. “I did have a bit of a thought, though.”

River blinked and swallowed. “Oh?” she asked hesitantly.

Jess grinned at her. “Think of places where we know people.”

River’s brow furrowed. “Paradise Valley … Chansond’eau … Tor Karad …”

She trailed off. Jess gave her another moment to think, and then he grinned. “Come on. Think off-continent.”

River blinked again. “Off-continent?” she repeated, her intonation rising questioningly. “Well, in Amon Darthir we know Aethos-sola and Alassëa-sol … and yeah, it would be nice to see them again, see how they’re doing … well and I guess my cousin Rhea is there …”

Jess laughed. “Pity’s sake, River, are you awake? Open your eyes!”

“What …” The crease in River’s forehead grew deeper and her chewing slowed as she tried to understand what Jess was getting at. Then it dawned on her.

“Here?”

The astounded look on her face made Jess laugh again. “It’s a thought, anyways,” he chortled. “Look at it this way. Aranxia is here and staying. Your uncle lives here. There’s plenty of opportunity here, and plenty of children. And it’s not like we have to decide now, I mean we can’t stay now anyways, we have to go back. We can try living somewhere else, but just remember that this is always an option that’s open to us, if Roydon and Arwen are ever heading back here. Which you know they’ll have to do,” he added, “when they pick up Princess Wren and the rest.”

Just then the front door opened and closed, and Timaeus’ voice called out, “River?”

River kept her eyes fixed on Jess, but she shouted back, “In the kitchen, Papa.”

A moment later, Timaeus was in the kitchen with them. “There you are,” he sighed. “Come on, you should be packing. I know you haven’t got an awful lot, but Arwen and Roydon want to get the ship packed as soon as possible.”

River shoved the last bite of the sandwich into her mouth and pushed herself off the counter.

“Coming, Papa,” she told him. “I’ll be right there.”

With a nod, Timaeus was gone.

River turned back to Jess, and for once, her expression was perfectly serious.

“We’ll continue this conversation later,” she told him firmly; and with that, she headed off to finish her packing.
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:03 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon
Year: 29 051 (116 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Stirring

“I’m sorry Aennan isn’t here,” Aranxia apologized as she let River and Jess into the house. “I think he’s still trying to catch up on the work he missed when he took the time off for us to get married.”

“Is Amanya still bugging him about that?” River frowned, stepping inside.

Aranxia laughed softly. “No. She’s quite changed, I think. But for Aennan, I think it’s his way of apologizing for being so hard on her.” Once Jess was inside, she closed the door and motioned for them to make themselves comfortable. “Come, take a seat,” she invited them warmly.

Jess took a seat on the couch and River curled up next to him. It had been a chilly walk from the city to out here, and she took advantage of the fact that her parents weren’t there to scold her to snuggle up to Jess and let his warmth warm her up as well.

“Can I offer you a drink?” Aranxia asked them.

Both River and Jess shook their heads, and River smiled at her friend. “I see you’ve gotten quite comfortable playing the role of hostess,” she complimented her. “And you look like you’ve been keeping well. Marriage seems to agree with you.”

Aranxia blushed faintly and sat down in a chair across from the two. “It’s wonderful,” she murmured. “Honestly, I can’t remember ever being so happy. Back home – Tor Karad, I should say, this is my home now … back in Tor Karad, I did my lessons, I trained, I did the things a princess is supposed to do … visited the city, helped those who needed it … I painted, which I enjoyed, but it was all without purpose. To just be a face … knowing that, in the long run, I would end up as bored as everyone else …”

She trailed off and was silent for a moment, and then she looked at her friends and smiled softly. “Now there are so many things to do, it seems there are hardly enough hours in a day. I’m doing things I never thought I would do … cleaning, cooking, laundry … but I love it. I love it all. And I get to do it for Aennan, and with him … which is what makes it all worthwhile. And even my painting has a purpose now, something beyond mere interest. I actually feel needed.”

River grinned at Aranxia. “And you never even considered living anywhere but here.”

“No,” Aranxia laughed, “I didn’t. I know Aennan would have been more than willing to come back to Tor Karad with me, but I don’t think he could have stood that kind of life. Nothing real to do, always being stared at for being different … I know he would have borne it, he is amazing like that … but … neither of us would have been as happy there.”

River and Jess exchanged a glance, and Aranxia’s brow furrowed slightly. “Don’t tell me …”

“We haven’t decided where we’re going to live,” Jess answered Aranxia’s unasked question. “We’ve been discussing it, but …”

“The towns in the Westland have too many tanners, the Southland cities don’t have enough demand,” River ticked them off on her fingers, “the Borderlands don’t have young couples so our children would be alone …”

“I suggested here, actually,” Jess admitted. “It would be far from our families, but you’re far from your family, too. Visits would at least still be possible, even if they were far apart … and if you’re willing, you could always teach us that magic that Lancaeriel taught you, to see our families with the mirror.”

“And this place is so big,” River added with a grin, “that no matter how many tanners there are, they can’t keep up with the demand. I’m not even sure that after being here for a year, we’ve seen everything there is to see!”

Aranxia’s eyes sparkled brightly. “Well, I don’t want to influence your decision,” she said calmly, holding back her excitement, “but I would love it if you did. Having someone here from home would be …”

“Easier to hold back the homesickness,” River supplied with a grin. “I know. That entered my mind as well. I know we haven’t seen you homesick since we first got here, but I know that it can come at any time. I got homesick when I was traveling with Grandmama and Grandpapa around the Four Lands. I know what it’s like.”

Aranxia smiled. “But … I don’t suppose that you would stay here now,” she murmured.

River shook her head. “No way Mama or Papa would let us. They won’t even let us marry yet, since Jess still has a month and a half to go before he’s sixteen.”

“Besides,” Jess added, “it wouldn’t be fair to stay here without seeing Mother and Father again. And maybe some others, I know River got to know Princess Maeglin pretty well when they were in the Eastland.”

River nodded. “Yeah, I’d definitely want to see her again. Besides,” she grinned impishly at her fiancé, “if we were to go off without her having met you, I’m pretty sure she’d have my hide.”

Jess laughed.

Aranxia giggled. “Does that mean your decision is made, then?”

River looked questioningly at Jess, who grinned. “Come on, it was my suggestion,” he reminded her. “It’s up to you whether it’s a yes or a no.”

River bit her lower lip as she thought about it again, then looked over at Aranxia briefly before looking back at Jess.

“All right,” she laughed at last. “Yes. We’ll live here in Caras Galadhon.”
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:04 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon
Year: 29 051 (116 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Stirring

A cool breeze blew over the stern of the ship, and River shivered and pressed into Jess’s side. He smiled and wrapped his cloak around her, then turned his eyes back towards the land that they were leaving behind.

“It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year,” he murmured. “It really had almost begun to feel like we belonged there.”

River giggled. “Someday we will,” she reminded him. She laid her head against his shoulder and sighed softly. “This trip … is going to be very different. Aranxia isn’t here, Miyuki isn’t here, Amalirahc … Lancaeriel … most of the people we hung out with aren’t here.”

“Brooke and Jasmine are still here,” Jess pointed out with a chuckle. “It’s not like there’s not anyone our age.”

River wrinkled her nose. “Jasmine never wants to do anything, and Brooke is still a kid.”

Jess considered that for a moment in silence. “Well,” he mused, “we could always pass the time designing the house we’d like to have once we come back here. And anything else we can think of.”

“That’s true,” River agreed. “And it would be warmer inside than out here.” She shivered again involuntarily. “I know winter is over, but it doesn’t feel like it yet.”

Jess rubbed her arms to warm her up. “Do you want to go below deck?”

“Not yet.” She shook her head. “Not until the land is out of sight.”

Jess smiled again and kept rubbing her arms. “As you wish.”

They could still see people on the shore, and though not everyone was distinguishable, River knew that the four blue-haired figures standing with the two black-haired and two black-skinned people were the ones who were seeing them off. They were getting quite small by this time, though, and River raised her hand in farewell one last time. Immediately, those on shore did the same.

“There you are!” came the voice of River’s mother from behind the two of them suddenly. River and Jess turned around to look at her. River shivered and pulled Jess’s cloak around her shoulders again.

“You were looking for us?” she asked, confused. “We just left. Where else would we be?”

Alyse smiled and eyed River – specifically, River’s hand which was holding Jess’s cloak around her. “I had thought perhaps below deck, where it’s warm.”

Jess chuckled softly. “It’s had to say goodbye from below.”

River looked over her shoulder again, but the group on shore had vanished. Swallowing down a lump in her throat, she looked back at her mother. “Well, they’re gone now, anyways,” she said softly. “Did you want us for something?”

“Yes.” Alyse held up a leather bound book that she had been holding. “This. It’s a copy of a ledger that the librarian in Caras Galadhon keeps. Not a financial ledger, but a record of those people who left Caras Galadhon to travel to other lands, both to learn about them and to stay. They’re listed by century and by race.”

“I thought Amanya only wrote her books in the Caras Galadhonian script,” River frowned. “Why do you have it?” With the question, there was the implication of, You can’t read it.

Alyse laughed softly. “Well, after Eärendil and Lin were asking Amanya about who from Caras Galadhon had gone to the Four Lands that they might know, she thought that we might be interested in taking a copy with us to see if anyone else we run across might have come from there, so she copied it for us in High Elven – since that’s the only one of our writing systems that she knew. Aranxia taught it to Aennan, who gave Amanya a copy of his lexicon for it.”

“Ah.”

“Anyways,” Alyse went on, shifting her weight slightly, “I’ve been reading through it for about a week now, off and on … and this afternoon, I came across something I thought might interest you, Jess.”

Jess blinked. “Me?” he repeated, dumbfounded.

River’s forehead creased. “Something that would interest Jess?” she echoed. “What is it?”

Alyse grinned and opened the book to a page that she had bookmarked. “An entry from about one hundred years ago.”

Jess blinked up at his future mother-in-law. “I can’t read High Elven,” he reminded her. “I can barely speak it.”

“I’ll read it to you,” River offered, taking up the book eagerly. Alyse pointed at the entry she wanted River to read, and River stared at it in disbelief. After a moment, she blinked, looked up at Jess, blinked again, and looked back at the book.

“What does it say?” Jess asked anxiously. “You’re making me nervous.”

River swallowed hard and looked back at Jess again. “This is from the list of people who left Caras Galadhon and never returned … people who stayed where they ended up,” she explained first. “And keep in mind, their time reference is different than ours, and this entry is from …”

She did the calculations in her head, hoping that she had remembered the conversion correctly.

“One hundred and six years ago … how old would your mother have been then?” She looked at Jess curiously.

Jess had to think about that. “Uh … ten?”

River nodded and looked back to the entry. “Here it is,” she murmured. “In 28 945 – a hundred and six years ago for us, tenth year of the fourth age – Harna and Calima left Caras Galadhon with their daughter, Jacinthe, and were never heard from again.”

She and Alyse both looked to Jess to see what his reaction would be. He was staring at the book, slack-jawed, his eyes wide. For a moment, he was speechless, and then he found his voice back.

“Mother?!” he squeaked, his voice not sounding anything like his usual voice. “Grandmother? Grandfather?”

Then suddenly he whirled around and looked at the land that was growing further away from them. “My mother’s family came from there? I have family there?”

“You just might,” Alyse grinned. “It’s a pity we didn’t find this out earlier, isn’t it?”

Jess nodded slowly, still shocked by the implications of that one simple line in the book.

River sidled up to him and slid one arm around his waist, her eyes sparkling as she grinned at him. “We’ll find them someday,” she murmured quietly into his ear, hoping that her mother wouldn’t overhear.

Jess nodded dumbly, then laughed. “Wow … I can’t wait to see the look on Mother’s face when we tell her about this. I don’t know if she’ll believe it! I mean, I’m sure she will, but … I mean, who would have thought?”

“Well, you did make the comment that the clothes Aranxia got for her birthday from Lykor and Galanna were remarkably similar in style to the clothes that your mother makes for herself and Jasta,” River reminded him. “I mean, that really should have been a clue, right there.”

Jess chuckled softly. “Yeah, it really should have been.”

He exhaled slowly and smiled at River, his eyes soft and warm as he gazed at her. “There’s going to be so much to tell when we visit,” he murmured.

River just giggled. “You can say that again.”
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:04 am

Location: Wing Hove, Amon Darthir
Year: 29 051 (116 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Stirring

By the time the group of voyagers reached Amon Darthir, the snows had melted completely, though the days were still cool. There were clouds overhead when the ship docked at the base of the cliff, thick clouds that hung ominously in the air.

“Do you think they’ll come down to greet us again?” River asked Jess curiously as she packed her bag for their stay in the city of the Sky Elves.

“I’d imagine someone would come,” Jess mused. “They do seem very good about taking care of visitors to the island.”

“Of course, the last time we were here, we had all kinds of royalty with us, too,” River reminded him. “Now it’s just Arwen and Roydon, and they’ll probably want to stay with the ship for the first day or two at least.”

Jess shrugged. “I really don’t think they would hold that against us. I’m sure they’ll come and greet us, at the very least.”

Suddenly there was a knock at the door, and both of them looked up to see Halmír framed in the open doorway.

River smiled. “Grandpapa, you know you don’t have to knock at an open door,” she chided him. “Just come in!”

Halmír chuckled softly. “I know, but it’s easier to get your attention that way,” he grinned. “Come on, Captain Striate is already here to take us to the castle.”

Jess grinned triumphantly at River, but though he didn’t say anything, River stuck her tongue out at him anyways.

“I’ll be ready in a moment, Grandpapa,” she told Halmír, turning back to her packing. “I’ll meet you up on deck.”

Halmír pursed his lips thoughtfully. “Maybe I’d better take Jess up with me,” he said seriously, “so that you’re not tempted to take longer.”

“Hey!” River exclaimed, whirling back to face her grandfather. “That’s not funny!”

It was only then that she saw the sparkle in her grandfather’s eyes; and at the dismayed look on her face, both Halmír and Jess burst out laughing.

“Oh, River, you’re such an easy target,” Halmír laughed. He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Quickly then, you’re the last one to finish packing.”

“I’ll be there,” River promised.

True to her word, very soon she was up on deck, her bag over her shoulder and Jess at her side.

“There you are,” Captain Aurin Striate greeted them warmly. “Good evening! If you’re all ready to go, the others have been waiting for you.”

Xion had accompanied his father again. Now nearly eight years old, he had grown a bit since they’d last been there, though his hair was the same length, nearly to his chin. His green eyes narrowed slightly when he spotted River and Jess, and he turned to Halmír and said in an accusatory tone, “There wasn’t time to take a nap before they got up here!”

Jess, Aurin, Arwen, Roydon, Arthael, Timaeus, Alyse and all the ship’s hands nearby laughed heartily while River glared at her grandfather.

“Come on, climb up on Skyel,” Aurin chuckled. “It will be dark soon.”

Jess helped River up, then followed her, and he was followed by the rest of River’s family, Arwen and Roydon. The mers had opted to stay with the ship so that they could sleep in the ocean, and most of the party had remained in Caras Galadhon.

“Looks like Rhiannon could have come along after all,” Xion told his father as the two of them strapped themselves in safely. “Lots of room this time!”

Aurin smiled. “Well, your mother didn’t tell us how many people would be here,” he pointed out. “Better safe than sorry.”

With a lurch, Skyel took to the sky. River clung instinctively to Jess’s hand, but she couldn’t help but smile at the feeling of the wind whipping through her hair. She had always been adventuresome, and growing up, becoming an adult, had not changed that. She loved everything about this trip, most of all the unexpected bits. But there was nothing like flying, and Valar help her, she absolutely adored it.

She could see why Rhiannon wanted so badly to work with the magnificent birds when she grew up.

When they landed in front of the castle, King Caranthir was waiting for them with Lady Rhea and little Rhiannon.

“Where are the others?” Alyse asked Aurin, leaning forward to be heard.

“Waiting for all of you inside,” the captain replied. “Dinner will be served as soon as we join them.”

“Sounds like they knew when we would be arriving,” Jess confided to River.

She just grinned.

“Welcome,” Caranthir greeted the group as they dismounted from Skyel’s back. “I hope your trip was good.”

“Calm and clear, your Majesty,” Roydon replied with a grin. “And I trust that all is well here, too.”

“Couldn’t be better.” Caranthir was positively beaming. “Come inside, we’re about to begin our dinner and you are all welcome to join us. We can catch up in there, that way we’re all present.”

He turned to lead them inside, and Alyse darted forward to give Rhea a hug. They were after all first cousins, and though Alyse was twelve years older than Rhea, they had spent quite a bit of time together when they were younger, especially as there hadn’t been any other children around for Rhea to spend time with.

The dining hall doors were wide open when they arrived, and the scene was quite cozy. Aerin was sitting at the head of the table, her son, Cameron, seated to her right; and around the corner of the table, next to Cameron, was Aethos, who was sitting comfortably, leaning back in his chair, one arm over the back of the chair next to him, where Alassëa was sitting, a tiny infant cradled in her arms.

“Welcome,” Aerin greeted them all warmly. “Come in, take a seat. Forgive me for not rising to greet you, but I’m afraid standing is not so easy these days.”

“Are you all right?” Arthael asked anxiously. She had worked alongside Aerin as slave hunter for much longer than she had known Aerin as queen, and in her worry she didn’t think to address Aerin by her title.

Aerin just laughed. “Oh, yes. Yes … I’m just very close to joining Alassëa in becoming a mother once again, so my sense of balance is quite a bit off.”

“Congratulations,” Arthael beamed, her violet eye shining brightly. “To all of you.”

River and Jess had sat next to Alassëa, and the rest of them took seats on the other side of the table.

“Is it a boy or a girl?” River asked Alassëa eagerly as servants began to appear with plates of food.

“A girl,” the blind woman smiled widely. “Calista. Calista-sol, by title, I should say.” She laughed. “I’m still getting used to that, myself. One would think it would become normal after a year and a bit, but … I’m afraid it’s not.”

River giggled. “I’m sure you will eventually.”

Alassëa tilted her head slightly as if listening for something, then turned towards River and murmured, “There are much fewer people here this time, and I did expect that, since so many of them were going to explore the continent before returning to the Four Lands,” she said hesitantly, “but … where is Princess Aranxia? My understanding is that she had been forbidden by her parents to continue with the inland travel … that she was to return to the Four Lands with all of you …”

“She was,” River snickered. “But here isn’t the only place that things changed.”

Alassëa’s brow furrowed slightly. “I’m afraid I don’t understand,” she said hesitantly.

Their food was served just then, and Aethos took the child from Alassëa so that she could use both hands to eat: after all, she needed one hand to find the food before she could use her fork to pick it up and eat it.

River grinned at Jess before turning back to the sol. “She got married,” she said simply. “And I know your next question is going to be: shouldn’t she have returned home to her family, then? To which I reply: Lancaeriel brought them to Caras Galadhon by magic, and so they have already met her husband – Aennan – but were there for the wedding, so no, they are staying in Caras Galadhon.”

“Ah.” Alassëa smiled widely. “That is wonderful. I am happy for her. I know that she was troubled on the voyage … lonely. If she is married, then she is no longer alone, and that is wonderful.” She took a bite of food and chewed it thoughtfully. “And … what about the two of you?” she asked hesitantly. “Are you …”

River shook her head before she remembered that Alassëa would not be able to see the motion. “No, not yet,” she said instead. “Another month and a bit before Jess will turn sixteen.”

“Just a month?” Alassëa smiled. “You should stay here until then. You know you’re welcome, and then we can all be together to celebrate.”

“We would love that,” Jess admitted. “We wanted something more … well, more private than the ship for the beginning of our marriage. Unfortunately, it’s not up to us.”

“Arwen and Roydon will be the ones setting the schedule,” River added softly. “And I’m still under the authority of my parents, so it’s really not my place to say anything.”

Alassëa frowned slightly. “Surely you can make a suggestion, or a request.”

“Well,” River mused, her eyes sparkling brightly, “I don’t think they would turn down an invitation …” She arched one eyebrow suggestively, even though she knew that Alassëa wouldn’t see it.

The sol laughed and turned to her husband. “What do you think?” she asked him with a grin. “Shall we invite them all to stay for at least a month, maybe two?”

Aethos chuckled. “And I assume that I’m not to take no for an answer?” he quipped.

Alassëa leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “Such a smart man,” she teased him.

River turned to Jess and grinned widely. It seemed that they were going to get their nuptial wish, after all.
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:05 am

Location: Wing Hove, Amon Darthir
Year: 29 052 (117 Fourth Age)
Status: Yestarë (New Year’s Day)

Warm sunshine shone in River’s east-facing window, but it was the song of the birds that perched there that woke her from her sleep. Still groggy, she lay in bed a while longer, smiling to herself as she listened to the birds greet the morning.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door, and Alyse’s voice called out, “River, are you awake? You’re missing breakfast.”

At the noise, the birds in the window took flight, and River sighed and pushed herself into a sitting position.

“I’m awake, Mother,” she called back. “I’ll be down shortly.”

“We’re waiting on you,” her mother replied through the door. “Don’t be long.”

It was a warm day, and River decided to wear a short-sleeved shirt instead of long, though she did still wear long pants and shoes. When she was ready, she made her way down to the dining hall, where, as promised, everyone was waiting for her before they began their meal.

Or nearly everyone.

“Where are Queen Aerin and King Caranthir?” River asked, slipping into her seat between Jess and Alassëa.

“You took too long,” Halmír chuckled in response. “Her Majesty is in labour.”

River’s eyes grew wide. “Really? That’s so exciting!”

Alyse giggled. “Another prince or princess born on this date. Seems quite popular.”

River blinked, then burst out laughing. “Unbelievable! I forgot it was my own birthday!” she laughed. “And Aranxia’s, too, of course!”

“And Leyenda’s,” Arwen added, her eyes sparkling.

“And now the new young sol or sola’s,” added Arthael with a grin.

“If all goes well,” Aethos added anxiously.

“Rhea is with them, I’m sure things will be fine,” Aurin smiled. “It’s just a matter of time.”

“On that note,” Jess added, smiling as he pulled a small wrapped package from his pocket and setting it on the table next to River; “Here. Happy birthday.” He chuckled softly. “It’s a bit late, I apologize, but I thought it was better late than never.”

River took the package and grinned at Jess. “Late, huh?” she winked at him. “And so small … shall I take a guess?”

“If you’d like,” Jess chuckled.

He watched as River untied the string that bound the paper around the item and set the paper aside to reveal a small box, small enough to fit several times in the palm of her hand. Then she opened it. Her eyes grew wide and began to sparkle, and then she giggled softly.

“I knew it,” she murmured, taking out the ring and slipping it onto her left ring finger. The ring was gold, and from its design of a Celtic knot, intricate and hypnotic, it was clear that it had been made there in Wing Hove. In the bands of the knot, tiny blue gems sparkled in the sunlight that filtered in through the windows.

River turned to Jess and smiled widely. “Thank you,” she murmured, leaning forward and kissing him on the cheek. “It’s beautiful.”

Jess blushed and hugged River. “You’re welcome. And now no one can doubt but that we are engaged.” He released her and chuckled softly. “But that’s not all. You have to wait for the rest of your present, though, until after lunch. This morning there are celebrations in the city.”

“It is certainly going to be busy,” Alassëa agreed. “I don’t know if I’m going to be going, though … Calista is still only a few weeks old …”

“We can carry her in her sling,” Aethos told his wife with a smile. “I can carry her, if you don’t feel comfortable.”

Alassëa brushed her fingers lightly over her sleeping daughter’s cheek. “I can,” she murmured. “It will help me not to worry so much.”

“Is everyone going?” River asked, looking around.

“I will be staying back with Rhea and their Majesties,” Aurin replied, “though if someone wouldn’t mind looking after Xion and Rhiannon, there’s no reason they can’t accompany you.”

“We’ll take them,” Alyse offered brightly. “They’re Brooke’s age, after all, and our cousins.”

“Thank you.” Aurin smiled warmly. “Then I’ll leave them to you.”

River grinned at Jess, her eyes sparkling brightly. “This is going to be the best birthday ever,” she giggled.
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:05 am

Location: Wing Hove, Amon Darthir
Year: 29 052 (117 Fourth Age)
Status: Yestarë (New Year’s Day)

The atmosphere in the city was one of celebration, and the entire population had turned out for the festivities. There was music and dancing and feasting and games and competitions, and River and Jess tried to take part in all of it. Jess won River a prize of a jeweled bracelet in a ball toss game, and River in turn won an archery competition for a prize of a pouch of littinum styl.

Overall, it was a fun morning, and just before noon, the people gathered in the city square as was custom for them to finish off the celebrations. When they had all collected in the square, everyone looked to the raised podium in the center expectantly. This was where their queen would address them every year, on each of their celebratory days. She had done so just the day before, for the Year’s End, as well.

But of course, today she was nowhere in sight.

Instead, it was Aethos who stood before the crowd, Alassëa standing next to him, Calista in her arms, and he raised his hands to silence the murmuring.

“Citizens of Amon Darthir,” he said in a loud voice, smiling widely as he faced the crowds, “people of Wing Hove, and those who are visiting us from Wing Haven … I know you were all expecting Her Majesty Queen Aerin to be here now, addressing you. I promise you that indeed, that was both her wish and her intention! But fate has a way of intervening in the best-laid plans, and such was the case on this celebratory day. Before you worry, however, I must inform you that the reason she is absent among you this day, and King Caranthir as well, is a joyous one!”

Even from the middle of the crowd, River and Jess could see the joy on the sola’s face, and River squeezed Jess’s hand excitedly. She knew what was coming.

“Not an hour ago,” Aethos went on, grinning, “Queen Aerin gave birth to a girl. A daughter. Your new sol.”

Immediately, the crowd erupted into cheers, and it was a few minutes before they were again quiet enough for Aethos to continue.

“The dedication ceremony will take place one week from today, as is the custom in our land,” he went on. “Unfortunately, though you all know that Her Majesty would love to invite you all, even our home cannot accommodate you all. Therefore she respectfully requests that only the head of each family come to the dedication.”

River glanced over at Jess, then leaned close to him and asked softly, “What’s this dedication business? I’ve never heard of it before.”

Jess simply shrugged. “I guess we can ask tonight when we get back.”

River’s brow furrowed slightly. “Tonight?” she repeated. “It’s lunch time, shouldn’t we be going back for that?”

Jess grinned. “Not us. Come on.”

He took River’s hand and started pulling her through the crowd, away from where Aethos was still addressing the city. Soon they left the square and the people behind, but still Jess did not slow down, and when River asked him where they were going, he simply smiled and said nothing.

“What about lunch?” River pressed as he took her out of the city.

“Taken care of,” he promised.

He took her down the long slope towards Wing Haven, the smaller of the two cities of Amon Darthir, and led her through the gates.

“Jess,” River laughed as he took her through the residential district, “where are we going?”

“Almost there,” Jess chuckled. “Come on.”

He brought her to the middle of the city, and River couldn’t help but notice that though even this small city, not much more than a town, was usually still bustling with activity, today it seemed nearly deserted. Even the woman who usually played instruments outside her husband’s shop was absent.

“This is actually kind of creepy,” River said softly, looking around.

“Don’t worry about it, they’re all in Wing Hove,” Jess assured her. “Now come, we’re here.”

River blinked and followed him into a quiet looking place, where they were immediately met by a young woman around their own age, her green eyes warm and bright.

“Welcome,” she greeted them graciously. “Come, your table is ready for you.”

“Thank you,” Jess replied. He smiled at River and held out his elbow. “Coming?”

River giggled and tucked her hand in his arm, walking alongside him as the girl led them through a room full of tables. “How long have you been planning this?” she asked him in a murmur.

Jess chuckled softly. “A few weeks.”

The girl took them to a private dining room. It was big enough for several tables, but there was only one in there, and it was a somewhat small one, with only two chairs facing each other across it. A large tapestry on one wall depicted a field of flowers before a series of tall, majestic mountains, the sky behind them a glorious blue.

The table was already set for them, and as Jess pulled out the closer chair for River, their hostess lit the two tall candles in the middle of the table using her firecasting ability. Once River was seated, Jess took the other seat, and the girl smiled and bowed her head to the two of them.

“I will be back momentarily with your drinks,” she told them, and left.

River looked at Jess questioningly. “She didn’t even ask what we wanted,” she remarked.

Jess grinned. “She knows what we’ll be having. Don’t worry.”

He reached across the table and took River’s hands in his own. For a moment, he simply looked at them, and then he brushed his thumb lightly over the backs of them. He had never been much for words. Throughout his life, he had been bullied by the other children in the city, and it had left him with social scarring that had made it difficult for him to get to know people, left him quiet and shy. River knew this, and she could see that he had something on his mind, something that he wanted to say, so she remained silent, smiling at him, watching him, waiting for him to say what it was he wanted to say.

“River,” he said at last, his eyes still on their hands, “I … hope I wasn’t being too presumptuous … but … I’ve … I’ve been talking with people … about … about our wedding …”

River felt her cheeks grow warm, and she leaned forward, closer to him. “It sounds so much more real,” she murmured softly, her eyes sparkling brightly, “when you say it aloud.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “Our … wedding,” she breathed. Then she opened her eyes and gazed at him again. “And what, dearest, have you prepared thus far?”

Jess blushed right to the tips of his pointed ears. “Well … I asked Queen Aerin if we might have a banquet at the palace for our friends and family … which I suppose really is just those who are already there … and … I asked if she might … officiate for us … not to marry us like the Sky Elves, with the runes in our hands … I mean, we can do that if you’d like to, but I … I didn’t know if you’d want to or if you’d want rings or-”

River squeezed his hands and giggled softly. “Jess,” she smiled at him, “you know that as long as I’m with you, I will be happy. It’s not my decision alone. If you would like to be married in the way of the Sky Elves, then we will do that. Or we can do rings. Or we can do both. After all, it’s about what they mean, not what they are in themselves.” She held up one hand, making a circle with her thumb and middle finger, and looked through it at Jess. “A ring, a circle, symbolizes eternity. Unending, as is our love.”

They were interrupted briefly as their hostess returned with a bottle of wine and two glasses. As she poured each of them some wine, Jess smiled at River. Then she was gone again, and River continued.

“So … rings. And then there’s the wedding of the Sky Elves. Having the name of your spouse burned or engraved into your palm.” She took a sip of her wine, then reached across the table and opened Jess’s hand, laying it on the table. She traced the runes for her name in his palm. “Not only a representation that we are united in the bond of marriage, a sign to others that we’re taken, but a reminder to each other that we are alive and safe.”

Jess smiled softly, his gaze tender. “Some people might consider both as overkill,” he murmured. “Married is married, after all.”

River giggled. “Does it matter what other people think?” she asked in reply. “It’s up to two people what our wedding is like: you and me.”

“How very true,” Jess chuckled. He caught her hand and raised it to his lips. He kissed her fingers lightly. “And personally, I like the symbolism behind them both,” he added with a warm smile.

“So do I,” River agreed.

Jess’s smile grew wider. “And now that we’re getting close enough,” he murmured, “have you given thought to a specific date?”

River tilted her head playfully. “Well,” she mused aloud, “I was thinking … what about the thirty first of Spring?”

Jess’s eyes sparkled brightly. “Then I’m afraid you will have made yourself a liar,” he teased her. “This morning you said this was going to be the best birthday ever, but if that is indeed the date you wish us to be wed, then that will be the very best birthday that I have ever experienced.”

“Then does that mean you approve?” River giggled.

Jess chuckled and squeezed her hand again. “With all my heart.”
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:05 am

Location: Wing Hove, Amon Darthir
Year: 29 052 (117 Fourth Age)
Status: 31 Spring

After Yestarë, River and Jess began to plan their wedding in earnest. They used the styl that River had won from the archery contest to buy their rings; Alyse and Arthael brought River to the tailor to have a new dress made for her while Halmír took care of making sure that Jess also got some new clothes; both of them spoke together with Caranthir about the banquet that would be served (seeing as Aerin was more or less indisposed, especially for the first few weeks).

Of course, in the meantime, there were many other things going on: on the sixth, the dedication of the new sol, Eirien, to the people took place; once Aerin had recovered enough to start coming to meals again, there had been another feast; and River and Jess took some time now and again to visit the city and the friends that they had made there, play some football together, and even a few times went swimming in the ocean, or took a flight with Aurin.

Then, at length, the day of Jess’s sixteenth birthday arrived. For once, River was wide awake long before her mother came to wake her, followed by a servant bearing a tray with River’s breakfast. After eating, River bathed and Alyse helped her to dress and put up her hair. It took a while, but they were ready on time.

Throughout the morning, River’s excitement and nervousness grew hand-in-hand, and for a while the two emotions battled each other so violently in her stomach that she felt she might be sick. Alyse did her best to calm her, though she also freely admitted that she hadn’t felt like that on her own wedding day … but then, she hadn’t had a big wedding like this, either, she and Timaeus had simply made their vows in private and moved in together to the house where they had lived since then.

Then, at the appointed time, Alyse brought River down to the throne room, where the ceremony itself would take place. Timaeus was waiting for them just down the corridor, in the doorway to a receiving room, and there were tears in his eyes as he gazed lovingly at his daughter.

“You’re beautiful,” he murmured softly, gently pressing a kiss to her forehead.

River smiled up at him, her eyes bright. “Thank you, Papa,” she murmured.

Soft music welcomed Timaeus, Alyse and River into the throne room. Aerin and Caranthir stood at the front of the hall, in front of their respective thrones, Jess standing near them, and those whom River and Jess had invited – friends and family – were standing in a semicircle around them.

River had eyes only for Jess.

He was wearing a long crimson tunic, trimmed in pale gold, a white cloak falling from black and gold spaulders. The gold of his clothes matched the gold of his hair, but more brilliant than that to River was the smile upon his face – and she was certain that her own was just as wide.

They stopped just inside the semicircle, a few steps away from Jess and the monarchs. Aerin paused only a moment before asking, “Timaeus and Alyse Aldrich, do you give your daughter to Jess in marriage?”

“We do,” Timaeus replied for both of them; and then the two of them stepped back as Jess moved to stand next to River.

Then Aerin turned her eyes to the young couple. “Jess and River,” she said solemnly, though she was smiling, “I am honoured to have been asked to bestow upon you the bond of the Sky Elves for your marriage. If you had asked out of custom, simply because you happen to be in our land for your marriage, I would not have agreed to do it; but you have explained to me that not only do you understand but also embrace the meaning behind it, and so I count it a privilege to be able to do this for you.”

She motioned for them to take each other’s’ hands, and once they had done so she put her own hand over them.

“By the authority instilled within me,” she said, fire emanating from her hand and engulfing those of Jess and River, “by the power of my office, I unite you, River Aldrich, and you, Jess, in the bond of marriage.”

The fire vanished, and Aerin held out their hands, palms upwards, revealing River’s name etched into Jess’s palm, and Jess’s name etched into River’s.

“As these marks never fade,” the queen went on, “may your love never fade, nor may either of you be removed from the other. May you both be blessed as you begin and continue your life together.”

Xion and Rhiannon, who had never seen anything but a Sky Elven wedding, clapped their hands excitedly. Rhea quickly reached down to hush them, and Aerin chuckled softly.

“In addition to the marks of unity,” she said, her attention still focused on Jess and River, “you have expressed your desire to also wear the symbols used by your own land to make visible the pledges that you have shared with each other.” She held up the rings that the two of them had chosen and bought, each ring with a Celtic knot design that, when the two rings were placed together as Aerin was holding them, fit together like two pieces of a puzzle. “To some, a simple piece of metal … to others, a canvas to display individuality. For you, a matching pair, incomplete without the other. Littinum, indestructible. A circle, unending. In every way a visible symbol of your love and your unity.”

She held the rings in her open hand, and Jess took the smaller of them and slid it onto River’s finger. Then River took the other, the larger one, and did the same for Jess. Then, with a nod and a smile from Aerin, Jess pulled River close and kissed her softly. It lasted but a moment, but to River it was a promise of things to come.

There was a slight smattering of applause, but when Aerin spread her arms and said, “Friends and family, I present to you, Jess and River Aldrich, husband and wife,” everyone clapped and cheered loudly.

There were hugs and congratulations all around, Timaeus and Alyse welcomed Jess as their son, and then Aerin ushered them to the dining hall for the banquet. The celebration lasted all afternoon and into the evening, interrupted only very quietly a few times when Alassëa and Aerin were fetched by their servants to take care of their young children.

But as the hour grew later and the festivities showed no signs of slowing down, Jess leaned over and whispered in River’s ear. A wide grin crept over her face, and she nodded; and as soon as the first opportunity arose, they slipped away, unnoticed by all.
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:06 am

Location: Wing Hove, Amon Darthir
Year: 29 052 (117 Fourth Age)
Status: 37 Spring

For the first few days after River and Jess were married, they kept more or less to themselves, spending their time, when they weren’t in their room, going for swims or to the city or exploring the island nation. Then they began to spend more time with other people, visiting their friends and family and helping look after Cameron while Aerin took care of Eirien and Caranthir looked after the affairs of state.

In the evenings, after dinner when everyone retired to their rooms, Jess and River had taken to reading together different sorts of things: some historical, some informational, some instructional. There was always a variety of things for them to choose from. On this particular evening, they were browsing through the book that Alyse had received from the librarian in Caras Galadhon, the one with the lists of people who had left Caras Galadhon to visit other lands and had never returned.

“You know, it’s a pity she didn’t add any personal information about the people,” River commented as they looked for the hundredth time at Jess’s mother’s name on the page. “Who they were related to or something. I mean, how are we going to find them when we go back?”

They were on the couch in their bedchamber, Jess sitting up and River lying with her head in his lap, and as River read the book aloud to Jess, he was stroking her hair gently.

He shrugged at her comment. “Ask around,” he suggested. “We know my mother’s age, we know my grandparents’ names, and we know the year they left. You guys found Alassëa’s father without knowing any of those things.”

“True …” River smiled up at him. “You’re right. And we found each other, and Serenity found Beren back …” She closed her eyes and sighed blissfully. “You know … it really isn’t difficult to believe that the Valar really are watching over the Aldrich family, and those we’re associated with.”

Jess chuckled softly and traced the shape of her cheekbones with his fingertips. “You won’t need to convince me of that. It doesn’t matter where your family goes, things always happen.” He nodded at the book that was now lying on her chest. “We should look through more of that,” he suggested. “If I’m from there – or my mother, anyways – I’d be willing to bet that there are others we know. Or you, anyways. You’ve traveled so much more than I have.”

River smiled again and opened her eyes, picking up the book. “All right,” she agreed, “I’ll look. Though it’s not as if I’ve been doing as much traveling as Miyuki and her family.”

She started reading through a list of people who had gone to the Southland, Dark Elves, but considering that neither she nor Jess had ever really spent any time there – and even when River had been there on the group trip around the Four Lands, she hadn’t really left the palace – she decided to skip that section, at least for the moment.

“What about here?” Jess suggested, chuckling at her impatience. “We’ve gotten to know quite a number of people here, after all.”

River obligingly turned the pages to the list of people who had come to Amon Darthir. “I can’t imagine who if anyone would have come here,” she told him as she flipped through the book. “I mean, they always sent people who looked like they belonged, that was how they stayed undetected all this time. And no one from Caras Galadhon looks like they belong among Sky Elves.”

After all, the Sky Elves had changed from Light Elves after they had left the Four Lands, all those many thousands of years before. They hadn’t been created as they now were, not like the many races that peopled the continent of Arkandia.

Then she found the page.

“Never mind, there is one,” she grinned. “And-”

She just about bit her own tongue, she was so surprised by the entry.

“What?” Jess asked, reaching over and turning up the book so that he could see it.

River laughed. “You can’t read it, silly.”

“Then tell me what it says!” Jess laughed back, tickling her ribs and making her squeal.

River giggled and turned the book back to face her again, pressing her elbows against her sides to protect herself from Jess’s tickling fingers. “Sorry, it was just so surprising. It’s Caranthir! King Caranthir, I should say. And Amanya even wrote in the dates, he left Caras Galadhon right when Queen Aerin was attacked by the dragon and needed his help!”

“King Caranthir,” Jess repeated, just as surprised as River had been. “Do you think your mother would have seen that?”

“Probably not,” River mused. “Or else she would have said something, I’m sure. And I can understand why he came and took Queen Aerin away from here, I mean … it was a bad place back then, and she was so ill … but I can’t help but wonder, why would he have brought her all the way back to the Four Lands rather than taking her to Caras Galadhon? I mean, she’s not a Light Elf, she stood out in the Four Lands, she wouldn’t have stood out in Caras Galadhon. Or at least, not as much. And it’s so much closer … one week’s sailing rather than half a year.”

Jess shrugged. “I’m sure he must have had a reason.”

They were both silent for a moment as they thought about it, and then River grinned and looked up at Jess. “We should ask him,” she said decisively.

Jess laughed heartily. “Oh, River,” he chuckled, his eyes sparkling brightly in the light of the candles that they were using to be able to read the book, “why does that not surprise me?”

“Because you know me so well.” River smiled innocently up at him. Then she set the book aside and hopped lightly to the floor. “But not now, in the morning.” She grinned and leaned over him to blow out the candles, leaving them in near darkness. “Now,” she murmured, taking his hands and tugging him to his feet as well, “it’s time for bed.”
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:06 am

Location: Wing Hove, Amon Darthir
Year: 29 052 (117 Fourth Age)
Status: 38 Spring

The next morning, when Jess and River joined the others for breakfast, Halmír burst into applause. Alassëa jumped at the noise, which startled Calista and made her start wailing, which made Aethos glare at the grizzled fighter while calming his wife and his child.

Halmír, being Halmír, ignored the sola.

“Congratulations!” he grinned at his granddaughter and new grandson-in-law. “It’s the first time you’ve made it down for breakfast on time in over a week!”

Arthael sighed and whacked her husband upside the head. “Insensitive lout,” she grumbled.

Jess was blushing, but River just laughed. “Come on now, Grandmama, you can’t blame him for stating the truth.” Then she turned serious and wagged her finger in her grandfather’s face. “But you ought to know better than to make a baby cry.”

Halmír arched his eyebrows in mock surprise. “Are you kidding?” he asked her incredulously. “Have you seen my face? What else can I do?”

River giggled and pretended to slap his cheek. “Grandpapa, behave!”

Halmír bowed his head repentantly and turned to Alassëa, who was still trying to calm her daughter. “I apologize, Alassëa-sol, for my behaviour.”

“It’s all right,” the blind woman assured him as she put Calista to her shoulder and rubbed her back to calm her. “I was just startled, that is all.”

Slowly, the titian-haired infant’s cries ceased, and everyone was able to resume their meal in peace. River and Jess were served as soon as they sat down, and they were also able to enjoy the meal.

“Where is King Caranthir?” River asked, looking around curiously.

“He was already down,” Aethos answered her question. “He took breakfast up to Aerin. Do you need him for something?”

River caught Jess’s eye and grinned. “Just curious,” she said simply, and resumed her meal.

Alyse wasn’t buying that. “River,” she laughed softly at her daughter, “you are always curious and have always been, but never without a reason. You are looking for him specifically.”

River giggled. “Yes. Well, we were looking through that book from Amanya last night, and his name came up, so we wanted to ask him about it. That’s all.”

“Amanya?” Alassëa repeated questioningly.

“The librarian and historian in Caras Galadhon,” Alyse answered, her tone filled with surprise. “She gave us a book that’s more of a ledger … a record of those who came from Caras Galadhon to visit other lands, or who left for good.”

“And Caranthir’s name is in there?” Aethos blinked. “Then he is not from the Four Lands, as he led us to believe?”

“Led us to believe,” Timaeus countered the sola, “or let us believe? He never once said he was from the Four Lands, we just assumed so because that was where we met him, and he seemed to fit in.”

“It would certainly explain how he showed up here so quickly after Aerin was injured when she killed the great dragon,” Aethos mused. “Senator Luk said that from Caras Galadhon, our island is visible through their distance viewers, and they were keeping an eye on my father.”

“It would indeed,” River agreed, “but the mystery is, why would he take her to the Four Lands, rather than back to Caras Galadhon? It’s much further away, and from what I understand, Caras Galadhon has the more advanced medicine. And a Sky Elf in Caras Galadhon wouldn’t have gotten a second glance – but in the Four Lands, Aerin really stood out, even to me – and I grew up with a huge variety of people!”

Halmír snorted and folded his arms across his chest. “‘That’s all,’” he said, repeating River’s words from when she had introduced the topic. “That’s quite a big ‘that’s all’, River.”

River giggled. “You’re the one who always says I’m too overdramatic,” she countered him.

Timaeus laughed. “And of course, we all know where you get that from.”

Halmír blinked. “We do?”

That comment left everyone in stitches, and even Halmír chuckled. Of course he knew. He was no fool, despite how he acted.

“Either I missed a joke,” Caranthir’s voice came from the door of the hall, “or I am the joke.”

“Both,” Aethos replied, still chuckling. “Though the one you missed was one where you had to be there for it.”

“Ah.” The king smiled as he resumed his seat at the head of the table. “And pray tell me, what sort of joke am I?”

“Less a joke and more a mystery,” Alyse put in before anyone could tease him. “River and Jess came upon your name in a history book and had some questions about it.”

“Indeed?” Caranthir was intrigued. “Do tell.”

“Well, we were mostly wondering why you never told us that you were from Caras Galadhon originally,” River smiled at him.

Caranthir chuckled. “Because I’m not,” he replied simply. “I ended up there, yes, and it was from there that I first came here … but I was not born there.”

“Then where are you from?” Aethos asked him in exasperation.

“Lightholm,” Caranthir smiled. “The capital of Quir, the easternmost country of Light Elves in Arkandia. It’s a beautiful place, to be sure, but not very exciting. I left at a young age to travel and see the world. Found Caras Galadhon, found it a bit too calm, and was looking for somewhere else to move on to. Then there was word that Aerin had been injured and they knew that only a magic healer could help and that there weren’t any here, so I went to help.”

“You can heal by magic?” Alassëa asked, surprised.

Caranthir laughed. “No, no, nothing like that. I just knew that I could bring her to someone who could.”

“And why the Four Lands?” River burst out, dying of curiosity. “Caras Galadhon was so much closer!”

For the first time since they’d begun asking him questions, Caranthir looked serious, and took his time in answering.

“That … is not an easy reply,” he said hesitantly. “There were … many reasons. Most of which are now irrelevant. Situations have changed. I suppose … well, I suppose I wanted her to trust me – as a man – and taking her to a place of intermarriages might have cast some doubt in her mind as to the purpose of my rescuing her.”

“Not that it mattered, in the end,” Halmír pointed out. “You married her anyways.”

The king smiled again. “That has been my good fortune,” he murmured, “for which I am truly thankful, each and every day. But our relationship was born out of the trust that we shared in each other … and I do believe that, had I brought her to Caras Galadhon, it would have taken longer for her to trust me, if she did at all.”

He chuckled. “As it was, it took a while for her to trust me … though I’m sure it was helped by her gratefulness to me for taking her away from her life here, at least once she got over the grief of losing her younger brother.”

Aethos smiled, though there was a hint of discomfort behind it. He had been a part of what she had been glad to leave behind, and now, at long last, he knew and understood why she had been so happy to leave. And he himself was more grateful than ever that she had returned, especially in the way that she did.

“Have you ever regretted coming back here?” River asked curiously.

Caranthir smiled and shook his head. “No. It was rough when we first arrived … dealing with her father, trying to convince Aethos that it had all been for the best …”

Aethos’ face flushed slightly, and he lowered his gaze in shame. Alassëa smiled and put one hand on his arm comfortingly.

“But the people were fantastic, they made it unbelievably easy to adjust,” Caranthir added with his usual grin, “and we’ve been absolutely happy ever since – now more than ever. We’ve started a family of our own, Aethos is back with us and he is happy, and he has also brought us the joy of his own family as well! In all honesty, we could not ask for more.”

“Perhaps to be rid of those dragons once and for all?” Arthael suggested, her single eye sparkling brightly.

Caranthir chuckled softly. “Perhaps that. Though unfortunately Aerin is the only one who is truly confident enough to even try, and it’s going to be a while before she’s up for any hunts. Our one consolation is that they do not grow quickly, so by the time she is ready they will not be much bigger, stronger or smarter than they are at the moment.”

“That’s good at least,” River agreed.

“Though since we’re on the subject,” Caranthir added, turning to face his brother-in-law, “Aethos. Any regrets coming back here? I know you really enjoyed your time in the Four Lands.”

Aethos just smiled and put one arm around his wife’s shoulders. “What do you think?” he asked in reply.

“I only wish I’d sent a note to my father, just to let him know where I am and that I’m all right,” Alassëa murmured. “Aside from that, I have no regrets. I did not have much of a life before I met all of you, after all, and I had given up all hopes of ever being around people again, let alone being married or having a family.”

“Give us a note, we’ll pass it on when we return,” Timaeus offered. “After all, after crossing this much distance, a trip from the Borderlands to Andunin is nothing.”

“Thank you,” Alassëa smiled warmly.

“Where is this talk coming from, anyways?” Alyse asked hesitantly.

River smiled uncertainly at her mother, then looked at Jess, and then back at Alyse. She reached for Jess’s hand under the table and clasped it tightly. Now was the time to tell them what she and Jess had decided.

“Well, Mother,” she said after taking a deep breath, “Jess and I have been talking about where we’d like to live … and so far we’ve come to the conclusion that we’d like to live in Caras Galadhon.”

Her announcement was met with silence. Under the table, where no one could see, Jess gave River’s hand an encouraging squeeze.

“We’re well aware of the distance,” he spoke up strongly, without the hesitation that usually laced his speech. “And it isn’t a decision that we made lightly. But we do feel that that is the best place for us to go, where we can be of the most use.”

“Besides,” River added softly, “we thought it would be nice for Aranxia to have someone around that she knows well.”

“And it’s not like we’ll be going right away,” Jess put in. “We’ll first go to the Borderlands with you, then to Chansond’eau to see my family, ask Mother about Caras Galadhon … visit the Eastland, since River got to know Princess Maeglin pretty well the last time she was there, and then from there we’ll see. But eventually, we would like to settle back in Caras Galadhon.”

“Obviously we would have to wait for Arwen and Roydon to be ready to take another trip,” River concluded. “But that’s more or less our plan. Or our hope, anyways.” She smiled at Jess. “Life is full of surprises, after all.”

“And if you have children before you’re done your wandering?” Arthael pointed out.

River shrugged. “Then we adapt. Though I do feel it only fair to point out that many people travel with children. Leyenda and Kelirahc, despite Leyenda being so sick during her pregnancies. Haldia and Celeb, even if they did settle down. Eärendil and Lin.”

“Many people in Arkandia also must travel with young children,” Caranthir interjected softly. “Often because they have no choice. But it is doable.”

“But as we said,” Jess smiled at Timaeus and Alyse, “that is only our hope, and it will be a long time before that happens, so you don’t have to worry about losing your daughter just yet.”

“And hopefully not without warning when the time does come,” Timaeus murmured softly.
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:06 am

Location: Haven, Borderlands, Four Lands
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Summer

It had been a long trip back to the ranch for the group of travelers, but by this point it was only family left: Halmír and Arthael, Timaeus and Alyse, Jess and River, Jasmine and Brooke. They had left Arwen and Roydon back in Namonuito and the mers had gone back to Gaia while they were still in Tor Karad. The family hadn’t stayed long there, just long enough to resupply and let winter pass, and then they had begun their trek through the desert, heading north.

Now, just as summer was beginning, they had arrived back home – sunburned, those of them with lighter skin, but otherwise none the worse for wear. It wasn’t hard to tell when their return was discovered.

“They’re back!” came a shout from somewhere in the trees ahead of them.

Halmír pouted and muttered something about ‘wanted it to be a surprise’, but Arthael just chuckled bemusedly.

“What kind of sentries would they be if they didn’t notice us coming?” she reminded her husband. “And we’ll be back on duty in a day or so ourselves. You know the scolding we would get if we let anyone past us.”

“Aye, aye,” Halmír laughed.

River giggled. It was good to be home again. She glanced at Jess and grinned. She was excited to be able to tell everyone that they were married – though she was certain that most people would already know, or at least guess as much, by now.

It had been three years since they had left, and when they left the shelter of the trees and the ranch came into sight, they could see that there had been a few changes. A second well had been dug, there were some new faces, and Shiara was in the yard, helping a very small blond-haired, brown-eyed boy to walk.

“That took them long enough,” Halmír quipped with a grin. He was too slow to duck and Arthael’s open hand caught him just behind the ear.

Jess laughed aloud and River giggled as the house door opened and more people came out: Haradhel and Elrohir, and a moment later, Arahad at top speed. Some of the fighters came from the barracks to greet them, and even a few of the field workers waved from where they were hard at work. They were welcomed back and sent to unpack under strict orders to return to the ranch house for a hearty meal before they could return to their homes and get the rest they needed.

Since Jess and River had no home here, Haradhel insisted that they stay in the ranch house. There were rooms for married couples after all, and since they were not planning on staying there would be no point in building another house for them – at least, not at this point. As it was, they were grateful: a bit of privacy, a room with space for both of them without having to wait – and best of all, it was indoors and had a real bed! Traveling was fun, but there was nothing quite like being in a real bed. That was something on which they both agreed.

“Do you think,” River asked Jess softly as they lay in bed that night, Jess’s arms around her, “that when we finally arrive in Caras Galadhon, we’ll end up buying or building a home?”

Jess was already half asleep, but he cracked one eye partially open and looked at his wife. “River, that’s at least a few years away,” he mumbled, his voice cracking. “It’s late – isn’t it time you slept? Aren’t you tired?”

River turned onto her other side so that she could face her husband. “No,” she replied quietly, quite wide awake. “My mind is too busy. I mean … we’ve been traveling for a long time to get here, and all the time we’ve been saying, ‘I wonder what will have changed when we get home’ … but now that we’re here, it really isn’t our home, is it?”

Jess sighed and rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hand. “I guess not,” he admitted, blinking sleepily at her. “But I guess I hadn’t thought about that … to me, we still haven’t arrived ‘home’, or even what feels like ‘home’. We’ll be going to visit my parents in a few weeks, after all.”

“And your siblings,” River reminded him with a giggle. When she had gone to pick up Wren and Jess from Chansond’eau before their big trip, Jess’s youngest brother, Jamie, had been less than two years old. “Just think how much will have changed!”

Jess smiled. “Yeah …” He let off a jaw-cracking yawn and closed his eyes again, settling once more against his pillow.

For almost a full minute, all was silent, and then River, her mind still racing, mused aloud, “I wonder when we’ll arrive.”

This comment drew a soft chuckle from Jess, and he sighed bemusedly and looked up at her once more.

“Are you going to sleep tonight?” he asked her frankly.

River giggled. “I don’t know. Maybe.”

Jess chuckled again. “Then can you at least lay still and be quiet so that I can sleep?”

“I’ll try,” she promised.

Within moments, she felt Jess’s entire body relax as he slipped into sleep. As for her, though – she remained awake, staring at the ceiling for hours, her mind racing with thoughts of their future.
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:07 am

Location: Chansond’eau, Westland, Four Lands
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Midsummer

As a collective wedding gift from everyone at the ranch, Jess and River had received two horses, both bays, which were the best colour for keeping hidden in the forest. They were also good strong beasts, and fast, with wonderful endurance. They were, in a nutshell, exactly what two people traveling on their own needed in order to avoid detection or escape an attack if the need would ever arise. Of course, they had also received everything else they’d needed along with them: saddles, bridles … all the tack they would need. The horses had performed marvellously for the two on their trip to Chansond’eau, and after only a week’s travel, they had reached the marble bridge that led into the city.

“You know,” River commented, cocking her head thoughtfully as she gazed at the bridge and the guard booths on each side of it, “the first time we came here, I was in awe of this. The last time, too. But after Caras Galadhon …”

She smiled at Jess, who chuckled back at her. “Yes, I know. It kind of loses its grandeur, doesn’t it? No silver in this marble.” He reached across the space between their horses and squeezed her hand. “It’s just a matter of time now.”

“Yes.” River smiled widely at the thought. “But come on, your parents will be waiting for us.”

“It’s probably a good thing we wrote ahead,” Jess commented as they started across the bridge after they were questioned by the guards. “They’ll know to have a room for us.”

“Where?” River questioned in reply. “I mean … there aren’t any extra rooms. Jamie had your room when we left, and it’s not like he can share with Jasta.”

“Maybe the inn?” Jess suggested. “Now that we’re here, at least we’ve got the proper currency.”

“And lots of it.” She giggled. Along with the horses, Timaeus had given Jess River’s dowry, which, considering his work, his lack of spending, and the fortune he had amassed over his lifetime, was quite large. “Still, it would be nice if we could stay with them.” Her eyes grew brighter. “I’m so excited to see Jasta again! I just hope it’s not too much excitement for her.”

Jess laughed. “Yeah. And we can ask Mother about Caras Galadhon, too.” He sighed, though he was still smiling. “I wish we could go a bit faster.”

“It’s not safe in the city,” River reminded her husband. “You’re the one who taught me that.”

Jess didn’t reply, but he frowned at her – only for a few seconds, before his laughter broke through. “When did we change roles?” he laughed at her. “You so serious, and me eager to rush ahead?”

River giggled back at him. “Marriage does strange things to people. Why should we be any different?” She nudged her horse closer to Jess’s and leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. They had been married over a year now, nearly a year and a half, but he blushed anyways, his cheeks reddening even as he beamed at River.

Despite Jess’s complaint about their speed, it was not long at all before they reached his parents’ shop, with their house above it. They tethered the horses to the post on the street, shouldered their bags, and headed inside.

Jess! River!” Jasta’s excited squeal was something River had never heard before. The pounce that followed was far less surprising, and Jasta nearly strangled both Jess and River together, until Jess pried her arms from around them and held her at arms’ length to get a good look at her.

“Well,” he grinned, his blue eyes gleaming. “Look who grew up. Weren’t you just a kid when we left?”

“I was thirteen,” Jasta protested, though she was giggling. “The same age River was when you two met.”

“She’s got a point, Jess,” River pointed out with a laugh. “You were even younger than that. And we’re married now.”

She had to admit, though, Jess did have a point. Jasta had grown taller – not terribly, she was still only about as tall as River’s chin; and she was still thin: but she had also filled out where it counted and had the gentle curves that could turn a man’s head.

“That does raise a question, though,” Jess grinned at his sister. “Suitors?”

Jasta made a sour face. “None that I would ever pay attention to. Darren is still the jerk he always was. He still pushes everyone around all the time. Only now that he’s older and handsome he’s gotten even worse.”

Jess looked distraught at the news that Darren of all people was trying to court his sister, but River just laughed.

“Glad to hear it!” she beamed, putting one arm around Jasta’s shoulders. “No fears on that score then, eh?”

Jasta rolled her eyes. “Give me a break. All he cares about is himself, and I am no man’s personal trumpeter.”

River giggled. “See, Jess? Nothing to worry about.”

Jess let out his breath. “Good.”

“You were actually worried?” Jasta feigned disgust. “I’m insulted. You mustn’t think much of me.”

“No!” Jess protested. “I-”

Jasta and River burst into laughter at the dismayed look on Jess’s face.

“Priceless!” Jasta gasped, holding her sides, tears streaming from her eyes. “Oh, Jess, I thought you were going to faint!”

River was laughing just as hard. “That’s for all the times you got me!” she told Jess gleefully. “You and Grandpapa!”

Jess chuckled and shifted his grip on his bag. “All right, all right, you girls have had your laugh. Come on, River, let’s see the rest of the family.”

River picked up her bag and slung it over her shoulder again. “It’s good to see you again, Jasta. This is going to be fun.”

“Indeed it is,” Jasta giggled. “Welcome to the family, River.” She kissed her new sister-in-law on both cheeks and made a swatting motion at her brother. “Now go on and see Mama and Papa. I’ve the shop to mind.”

“If they don’t know we’re here yet,” Jess quipped, turning his eyes towards the ceiling, “they’re deaf.”

River laughed again and took Jess’s hand. “Well, then, they’ll really be waiting for us to come say hello. Come on.”
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:08 am

Location: Chansond’eau, Westland, Four Lands
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Midsummer

Jess and River’s reunion with Jacinthe and Jeremiah was much quieter than their reunion with Jasta had been, and Jamie, now five years old, but who had been too young almost to remember his brother when he’d left, and didn’t remember River at all, shied away from both of them and hid behind his mother’s skirt as much as she would let him.

River thought it was cute, though a bit sad that the boy would be afraid of his own brother. Strangers, she could understand. But siblings?

Clearly she didn’t know what her Uncle Adonijah had once been like.

They enjoyed an enormous dinner together, and then Jamie was put to bed, and the adults visited in the living room. Jeremiah and Jacinthe each took a chair, while River sat between Jess and Jasta on the couch. Jess had his arm around River’s shoulders, and she was leaning against him. Despite the fact that it was the middle of summer and it was a somewhat humid evening, neither of them felt uncomfortably warm in such positions as they were currently in.

“Now you didn’t give us many details in your letter,” Jacinthe was saying, leaning forward in her chair. “You’re not going to be staying here – what are your plans?”

They had spent the afternoon talking about what had been happening in Chansond’eau and the rest of the Four Lands during Jess and River’s absence, and now that they didn’t have Jamie to interrupt them (not that he did so often, mind you) they were discussing Jess and River.

“So far,” Jess began, “the plan is to stay here for the winter, maybe until next summer, then head south again. Maybe spend a bit of time in the Borderlands again, but eventually we’d like to make our way back to Namonuito, until Lord Roydon and Lady Arwen are ready to sail again. We’d like to settle in Caras Galadhon.”

Jacinthe blinked. “Caras Galadhon,” she repeated. “That’s … far.”

“Very far.” Jeremiah frowned gently.

“Why so far?” Jasta asked, sounding hurt. “That’s across the ocean!”

River sighed. “It is, but … how can we explain this …”

“It’s not a decision we made lightly,” Jess told his family quietly. “But logically, it’s the best place for us, and it’s where we both want to live. There are already too many tanners in the Westland, Papa, so there would be no point to us staying here. I need a livelihood, too. I know you would be happy to let me help you out, but the truth is that you don’t need help, and you know it. You let Jasta mind the shop because it gives her something to do and gives you more time in the back, but with four shops in the city, you’re limited in your clientele.”

“All of the cities in the Four Lands have more than enough tanners, really,” River added. “There just isn’t enough population to make it worthwhile opening another tannery here.”

“Even in the Borderlands?” Jeremiah asked, arching his brow.

Jess smiled. “Even in the Borderlands,” he agreed calmly. “They do their own work there. Maybe it’s not up to our standard, but they don’t need a tanner. Besides, there are too few people there. We’d like a place where our children will have playmates.”

“And there are people and demand for a tanner’s work in Caras Galadhon?” Jacinthe pressed.

Jess bit his lip in amusement, and River giggled, though she tried to keep her laughter back as best she could.

“Clearly, you haven’t been there in a while,” River grinned at her mother-in-law. “And on that note, why didn’t you tell us that’s where you were born?”

Jasta and Jeremiah both looked at Jacinthe, stunned, but their surprise was nothing compared to her own.

“What are you talking about?” she asked.

River laughed and reached for her bag, which until that moment had been left on the floor under the long table in the middle of the room and ignored. “It will be easier to show you,” she grinned, opening the flap. “Can you read High Elven?”

“I can,” Jeremiah spoke up, leaning forward in his chair.

“Good.” River laughed again and handed him the ledger that her mother had given her from Caras Galadhon. “I’ve marked the page. I’d read it for you, but I don’t know if you’d believe me otherwise.”

Jeremiah took the ledger and began by reading the front cover and the first inside page. While he was doing that, River grinned up at Jess, her eyes sparkling brightly. They had discussed several times the possibility that Jacinthe wouldn’t remember her past – she certainly hadn’t remembered the name of Caras Galadhon when they had first visited the city.

She looked back at her father-in-law when he turned to the page that River had marked, and she knew the very second it happened exactly when he read the line about Jacinthe and her parents. Both eyebrows shot straight up, and he looked sharply at his wife.

“What year is this?” he asked, looking back at River and Jess. “Twenty eight thousand, nine hundred forty five?”

River looked back at Jess again. “Um … a hundred and … eight … nine … years ago?”

Jeremiah looked at his wife. “Jacinthe?”

She blinked at him. “Don’t ask me about that time, I was a child then, and a young child, at that.”

“We wondered if you might have forgotten,” Jess chuckled. “Read it to her, Papa.”

Jeremiah glanced at Jess, then back at his wife, and then he looked back at the book. “In the year 28 945, Harna and Calima left Caras Galadhon with their daughter, Jacinthe, and were never heard from again.”

Jasta laughed. “Mama, you had no idea? How is that even possible?” Her eyes were bright, and she pushed her pale hair behind her ears. “How old would you have been when you left?”

“I think the first time we did the arithmetic, Jess said ten years old,” River volunteered. “Though you are right, Jasta – that should be old enough to remember.” She glanced back at Jacinthe, who was shaking her head slowly.

“I … can’t remember anything from my childhood, not really,” she murmured. “I mean, there are vague images … the celebration clothes Mother wore … I remember being sick …”

Jasta’s brow furrowed in confusion, and Jeremiah leaned back in his chair. “Well,” he said simply, “there’s only one thing to do.”

The others were all curious to know what he meant. “Indeed?” Jacinthe asked at length.

The tanner smiled. “Yes. We shall invite your parents to visit for a while. They’re still in Tavari, right? We’ll send a letter first thing in the morning. Invite them here for a week or so. They need to meet River, anyways.”

River poked Jess in the ribs. “You never told me your grandparents live in Tavari,” she accused him. “We could have visited them on the way here.”

Jess poked her back and made her squeal. “Well now we get to see them and ask about their life in Caras Galadhon, all at the same time,” he pointed out.

“In the meantime, you’ve done a wonderful job of distracting Mama and Papa away from your little surprise announcement,” Jasta spoke up again, eying the two with a faint smile. “You laughed when Mama asked if there were people and work in Caras Galadhon to make it worth your living there.”

River snickered, and Jess took it upon himself to answer. “Well,” he said slowly, thinking while he spoke, “let me put it this way … if you walk through the city, it would take you an entire day to go from one end to the other, and even by horse it would take several hours to cross it. Yet for all its size, it is quite densely populated … perhaps even more than here. If you were to total the number of people who lived there, I’m sure it would be more than the entire population of the Westland.”

“And the Southland,” River added, confident that she was not over exaggerating the number of people who lived in the city. “Put together.”

“And with so many people, there is of course a much higher demand for all kinds of goods, which of course includes leather wares,” Jess finished simply.

“And there are more and more people all the time,” River nodded. “Immigrants and people being born there.”

“It hardly seems believable,” Jasta murmured, her voice filled with awe. “So many people … and such a large city …”

“Well, the country itself is nearly as big as the Four Lands,” Jess pointed out. “Well, two thirds the size, anyways.”

“Besides,” River added, a bit more softly now, her eyes unfocused and staring straight ahead, “this way we won’t have to worry about any prejudice. When I was here the first time, I was … not well received. Amalirahc ended up in a fight, defending Miyuki. I know now why I’m different, and why my father and my grandmother are, and for me, it’s something I can be proud of. Not for the sake of having Earth Elven blood in me, or having some Human blood in me … but because that’s what has made me who and what I am. But it means that my children – our children – will also have some of that blood in them, and I – we – can’t let them be treated as I was, just because they are different.”

Her words were met with complete silence. There simply was no rebuttal that anyone could offer after those comments. There was nothing to debate. It was pure, honest fact. River had been mistreated, and it had been because her skin was darker than most peoples’. No other reason. Even Jess and Jasta had been treated poorly by the other children with whom they had played; Jess because of his small stature, and Jasta because of her difficulties with breathing.

It was Jacinthe who at length broke the silence once again.

“You’ve really given this a lot of thought,” she said quietly. She looked over at River and Jess and folded her hands together in her lap.

Jess nodded seriously. “We have.”

Jacinthe nodded back and sighed ever so softly before smiling faintly. “Well then,” she murmured, “we’d best not waste any of the time we have together.”
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:08 am

Location: Chansond’eau, Westland, Four Lands
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Late Summer

Since Jeremiah and Jacinthe did not have enough space for Jess and River, the young couple did end up staying at the inn, and of course they also had to keep their horses in the city livery. Jess helped out in his father’s shop, which gave Jasta some time off. She and River became thick as thieves, and both of them took great pleasure in teasing Jess whenever the opportunity arose, rare though that was. With time, Jamie became used to Jess and River as well, and he was no longer shy with either of them. Then again, it was next to impossible to be shy with River for long.

One afternoon, after they had been in the city for several weeks, Jamie came tearing into the living room where River and Jasta were working on some mending, his pale eyes wide, panting for breath.

“Jasta! Jasta!” he gasped. “Come quick! Grandmama and Grandpapa are here!”

River’s eyes began to gleam, and she helped Jasta put away the sewing supplies.

“I want to hear about Mama’s childhood,” Jasta murmured softly. “I can’t understand how she could have forgotten about it – from what you and Jess have been telling us, it all seems rather unforgettable to me!”

“True, but remember that she was very young, and it’s been a long time,” River reminded her sister-in-law. “And if she was sick, as she says, then that can do things to a person’s mind.”

She just about lost her balance as Jamie ran past her to get to the stairs, and she winced when he slammed the door behind himself.

Within moments, they heard voices in the shop below, but by the time the door to the stairs opened again, River and Jasta had put away all of their work and Jacinthe had joined them in the living room.

“Mama! Papa!” Jacinthe smiled warmly and hugged each of her parents in turn, and River took a moment to look at them.

Both Harna and Calima had very pale hair, nearly white, and River’s first thought was that she now knew where Jasta and Jamie got their pale hair from. They were very friendly people, too, very warm. After hugging Jacinthe, they greeted Jasta, just as warmly as they had greeted their daughter, and Jamie and Jess came in from the shop; and then they both turned towards River.

“Well,” Calima beamed, gazing down at her new granddaughter. “I have to say, it’s a pleasure to meet you, dear. Welcome to the family.” She put her arms around River in a warm hug, and River was surprised by the enthusiasm of the embrace. Her husband was only a step behind in welcoming and embracing River, and then Jacinthe invited everyone to sit. Jasta went to the kitchen to get drinks for everyone, and Jamie climbed up into his grandfather’s lap.

“Presents?” the boy asked eagerly.

Harna laughed. “Yes, presents for all,” he agreed. “Calima?” He smiled at his wife.

The pale-haired woman laughed and reached for her bag. “Yes, of course.” She opened the flap of her bag and pulled out a little toy bow and a quiver of blunted arrows. “Jamie.”

The boy squealed and jumped down from his grandfather’s lap. “Thank you!” he exclaimed excitedly, taking the bow and quiver. He put the quiver around his neck and put one arm through it, then pulled an arrow out of it and put it against the string of the bow.

“Jamie, up in the games room or outside,” Jacinthe warned him. The boy grinned and ran down the hallway, towards the upstairs games room, and Jacinthe called after him, “And no pointing it at people!”

“Yes, Mama!”

Harna and Calima were laughing softly, and already Calima was reaching for the next gift.

“Jacinthe, for you,” she smiled, pulling out a bolt of vibrant blue cloth. “You commented in your letter that you were running low, and I know you prefer the cloth from Tavari. And to go with it …”

Her gray eyes sparkling, she reached once more into her bag and pulled out a large spool of silver thread.

“Oh, Mama,” Jacinthe breathed. “Thank you!”

After that, there was some sheet music for Jasta and some new designs for Jeremiah to try out in his shop – and then it was Jess and River’s turn.

“Now,” Calima murmured, growing more serious. “Jess and River. Your gift is a bit … bigger.”

River bit her lip and looked at Jess excitedly. Jess chuckled softly and put one hand on River’s before turning his attention back to his grandmother. But this time, it was Harna who reached for a bag.

“Here,” he said, rising from his chair and bringing the bag to the two of them. “Careful now. It’s a bit full.”

“It’s enormous!” River couldn’t help but exclaim as she and Jess took it from him.

Harna chuckled softly and returned to his chair. “Well, Jess missed a few birthdays while he was gone traveling. Then there are your birthdays that we’ve missed – all of them. And it’s also a wedding present.”

Jess grinned at River and opened the clasp on the bag, then nodded for her to take their gift out of it. River reached into the bag, and the first thing she encountered was something solid wrapped in cloth and tied closed. She pulled it out, and together she and Jess untied the string and found a carved wooden box. Inside, it was padded, and it was clear why: it was a set of porcelain dishes – large and small plates, shallow and deep bowls, cups and saucers, mugs, a serving plate, basin and jug.

They were both stunned by the extravagance of the gift, but Harna only chuckled and said, “Keep going. Everything in that bag is for the two of you.”

The next thing that River pulled out was a bed quilt, but that still wasn’t the end. After that, there was a set of silverware to go with the dishes; then there was a book of recipes of all kinds; and the last item was a small chest, about the size of a roasting pan, which was filled to the brim with gold coins.

For the first time in her life, River was left completely speechless, and it was Jess who had to express their thanks to his grandparents.

Calima insisted on helping Jacinthe with preparing dinner after that, and so it was not until dinner time that everyone once again had the opportunity to talk together. They began with the typical – the weather, the city, things that were going on – and then they chatted about the tannery and how the business was doing, and then, after all of that, they came to the topic of Jess and River and their upcoming plans.

“Now that you have the finances to buy a house, where do you plan on settling?” Harna asked as Jacinthe brought out the dessert.

River smiled and let Jess answer.

He took a moment to wipe his mouth clean with a napkin before answering.

“Well, Grandfather,” he said, sounding far more certain than when they had spoken on this topic with his parents, “once winter has passed, we plan on heading south again and waiting in Namonuito until Lord Roydon and Lady Arwen are ready to sail again, and then we’ll be returning to Caras Galadhon to stay.”

At the mention of Caras Galadhon, both Harna and Calima sat up straight, their faces filled with surprise.

“Caras Galadhon,” Harna repeated slowly.

River giggled at the look on his face. “Yes. Any long-lost family we should look for when we arrive?”

Jacinthe’s parents both looked at her, and she held up her hands defensively. “Don’t look at me,” she laughed. “I have no memories of that time aside from colourful clothes and being sick.”

Her parents exchanged a glance. “Well … you were seasick the entire voyage,” Calima said softly. “And you were so very young when we left …”

Jasta clapped her hands together excitedly. “Then you’ll tell us all about it!” she exclaimed. “What it was like when you were there, and why you left – everything!”

Harna looked at his wife again, then nodded. “Very well. But after dinner.”
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:08 am

Location: Chansond’eau, Westland, Four Lands
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Late Summer

With dinner over, the dishes done, and Jamie in bed for the night, the adults gathered again in the living room – though this time, they had to bring in a few chairs from the dining room as well so that they would all have room to sit. Again, River sat on the couch between Jess and Jasta, but this time Jacinthe’s parents were given the padded chairs, while Jacinthe and Jeremiah occupied the dining room chairs.

“So tell us, Grandfather,” Jess said as they all made themselves comfortable. “Why did you leave Caras Galadhon?”

“Yes, you did say you would tell us all about it,” Jasta said eagerly. “What was it like there when you were there?”

Harna tapped his fingers lightly against the arm rest of his chair and stared thoughtfully at the wall. “Well,” he murmured, “it was … well, I would imagine it hasn’t changed much since then. A large city, bustling, always growing …”

“Why did you leave?” Jess asked again, more curious about that than what the city had been like.

Calima smiled. “Adventure, of course. We always knew that this land was here, and we wanted to know more about it. Many people were not able to come, even if they wanted to, because they would not be able to blend … but fortunately, both your grandfather and I are able to pass as Light Elves.”

“Does that mean you’re not?” River asked curiously. “Or at least, not fully?”

Harna chuckled at River. “You’ve a keen mind,” he winked at her. “You’re quite right. Both of us have some White Elven blood in us, though as my wife said, we are able to pass as Light Elves. Like you, I should imagine. You could pass, I think, for a Light Elf, but you have other blood in you as well, don’t you?”

River giggled. “Earth Elven and Human,” she confirmed, “though little of either, and Human least of all.” Her smile faded slightly. “But I am different enough that I am not accepted here in the city. The first time we visited, we ended up in a fight because of it. Actually, that’s how Jess and I met – he was the only one who didn’t treat me like I wasn’t Elven at all.”

She grinned at Jess, and he smiled back at her, though his cheeks were flushed with embarrassment.

“But that’s one of the reasons why we want to go back to Caras Galadhon,” Jess explained to his grandparents. “Because there, everyone is accepted, no matter what their background might be.”

“An excellent reason to return,” Harna nodded approvingly.

“Did you ever consider going back, Papa?” Jacinthe asked curiously.

He smiled faintly. “Occasionally, yes. But you were so sick on the voyage over, we didn’t want to put you through that again … so we never brought it up with you.”

“We had no idea that you’d forgotten about our life there, though,” Calima added, somewhat shamefaced. “We thought you simply didn’t want to talk about it. I mean, you spent years teaching yourself to make the clothes from there …”

Jacinthe laughed. “Unfortunately, that’s all I can remember from my early childhood. The clothes.”

“You always were obsessive about your clothing,” Harna chuckled.

“Yes, we have often asked ourselves over the years why you didn’t open a shop and become a tailor,” his wife added, her tone curious. “We know that you have no need of it – Jeremiah’s business is more than enough for you to get by; and we know that you do enjoy spending time with your children, but …”

“I considered it, back when Jeremiah and I were first married,” Jacinthe admitted, “but as River has already pointed out, the people here do not accept anything that is different from what they are accustomed to. And I fear that the clothes I enjoy making are too different to be accepted.”

“Not in Caras Galadhon,” Jess grinned. “Princess Aranxia got a salwar kameej for her birthday from her sister-in-law there.”

“You’re making me homesick,” Harna chuckled softly.

River’s eyes grew bright. “Then come with us!” she exclaimed. “At least for a visit, Arwen and Roydon won’t be staying forever either, so you could come back with them again!”

“Oh, can we all go?” Jasta burst out excitedly. “Mama, Papa, can’t we? It would be so much fun!”

“Your father can’t leave the business for that long, Jasta,” Jacinthe replied, shaking her head. “I am sorry.”

“It would be nice to see my brother again,” Calima mused. “It has been such a long time.”

“So we do have family there!” Jess grinned. “Wish I’d known that before we’d gone the first time. We could have met them already.”

Calima laughed. “Oh, we have family all right,” she grinned. “My brother had just gotten married for the second time when we left. His first wife passed away giving birth to their second child. And your grandfather’s parents were still in the city when we left, too.” She nodded at her husband, who took up the tale.

“Father was not happy when we left,” he smiled. “He was one of the few tanners in the city and he wanted me to stay and help.”

“You know how to work leather?” Jess asked, stunned.

Jeremiah chuckled, taking his children by surprise. “He taught me,” he confided. “That is, he taught me new methods, the ones that have given me the success that we’ve been enjoying and made me the Guild Head. Until that point, I was no better than anyone else in the country.”

“Well, at least you’ve confirmed two things for us,” Jess mused. “That there will be demand for a tanner’s work in Caras Galadhon, and that the methods I know are at least good enough to be marketable there.”

“Though if things are still the way they were,” Harna put in, “you’ll need at least three people in your shop to keep up with the demand.” He turned to his wife and leaned back in his chair. “What do you think about moving back? Permanently? Pick up the family business.”

Calima pursed her lips thoughtfully and looked around at the others. “But even with you and Jess,” she murmured, “that’s two. You said three.”

Without a word, Harna looked across the room at his son-in-law.

Jeremiah blinked. “Me?” he repeated.

“You’ve been saying for years that the demand here in the city is waning,” Harna said matter-of-factly. “In addition, in your own words, despite the fact that you have been here your whole life, and your children as well, they have not been treated the same as the others in the city. Jess has always been small for his age, and with Jasta’s lungs she’s never been able to do the same things as the others, so they’ve always been more or less on their own. In Caras Galadhon that would never happen.”

“So you think I should close up shop and just leave.” Jeremiah’s voice was cold. “Give up what I’ve worked so hard my whole life to build.”

Everyone else in the room grew silent, and River reached for Jess’s hand. She had never seen Jeremiah angry before, and though he hadn’t raised his voice or moved a muscle, it frightened her. Even Jacinthe didn’t speak, but she reached over and put one hand on her husband’s arm.

Harna sensed that he had overstepped his bounds, and he didn’t press the matter except to say, “It’s just something to think about.”

Jeremiah nodded curtly, and the tension in the room dissipated.

“I would like very much to see it, at least,” Jasta murmured wistfully. “Though I suppose if Grandmama and Grandpapa are going to stay there with Jess and River, you wouldn’t want me traveling back by myself.”

“Definitely not,” Jacinthe agreed. “But we won’t discuss that now. We’ll see how things go.”

“Jess, did you say something about a princess with in-laws there?” Calima asked lightly, changing the subject. “She can’t be from there, there’s no monarchy there …”

“That’s my cousin, Princess Aranxia Aldrich,” River grinned. “She’s the youngest daughter of Prince Aranel and Princess Tinúviel, of the Southland. She came with on our trip as well.”

And she and Jess told the story of Aranxia’s unexpected romance. By the time they had finished the tale, it was late, and Jess, River and their grandparents all headed back to the inn for the night.
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:08 am

Location: Chansond’eau, Westland, Four Lands
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: 1 Fading

It was the first day after the festival of the Enderi, and after having eaten out for three days straight, River and Jess were once again joining Jess’s family for dinner. Most of the family was in high spirits, but Jeremiah was far from it. For the first while, the rest of them just talked around him, but at length, even Jamie, as young as he was, noticed his father’s sour mood and couldn’t help but comment on it.

“Papa,” he said, shifting so that he could sit on his feet on his chair, “what’s wrong?” He turned his wide, pale eyes toward his father, giving him the innocent look that only a young child could do.

Jeremiah looked surprised by the question, but then he sighed and smiled sadly. “Sorry, Jamie. Just thinking again.”

Jess and River exchanged a glance. That didn’t sound good.

“What are you thinking about, Papa?” Jasta asked curiously. “Did something happen?”

“Are you thinking about Papa’s suggestion again?” Jacinthe murmured, setting her fork down and looking at her husband.

Jeremiah looked back at her and nodded slowly. “He has a point, after all. Usually the Enderi are the days we sell the most goods. Every year our sales go down, though … and this year we hardly sold a thing. It’s not lack of quality, people keep giving compliments … but they don’t buy. The demand simply isn’t there. There are too many tanners in the city.”

Jasta dropped her silverware to her plate with a clatter. Her eyes were wide as she stared at her father. “Papa, are you saying …”

Jeremiah looked around at the others. Jamie was confused, but the others were holding their breath in anticipation. He took his time looking at each of them, and he didn’t have to ask to know that all of them – with the exception of Jamie, of course – was hoping for a positive answer.

“Jacinthe?” he murmured, turning back to his wife. “Are you willing to risk a bit of seasickness?”

All eyes turned from Jeremiah to Jacinthe, but unlike her husband she simply smiled and took only a second to say, “If you’re willing to make the voyage, I could never hold you back.”

River and Jasta squealed, and Jess grinned widely. It looked like the whole family was going to move, after all.
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:09 am

Location: New Kaliningrad, Eastland, Four Lands
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Late Fading

The end of Fading found Jess, River and Jasta at the edge of the city of New Kaliningrad, sunburnt and exhausted, but in good spirits. Their trip had taken quite a bit longer than expected, as they had made a stop in Andunin to deliver Alassëa’s letter to her father, and as Jasta had become easily exhausted and needed frequent rests. It had been difficult to convince Jeremiah and Jacinthe to allow Jasta to accompany Jess and River to the Eastland, but they had relented upon the reminder that Jasta would have to make the trip eventually, and upon the promise that they would take care of her as if she were their child, rather than their sister.

The plan was to meet up with Jeremiah and Jacinthe in Namonuito by the end of Stirring. They needed the time to close up and sell their shop, and then they were to pass through Tavari and pick up Jacinthe’s parents on the way. Jess and River had gone east first for two reasons: first, because River would not hear of leaving the Four Lands without first visiting Princess Maeglin, who had been her first real confidante about her feelings for Jess; and second, to obtain from Lady Alena the recipe for malek, in order to make Jacinthe’s ocean crossing as pleasant as possible.

“Where should we stop first?” Jess asked, looking over at River and Jasta. “The inn? The livery?”

“The palace?” River suggested with a tired smile.

“How do we know that they would take us?” Jess asked doubtfully. “It’s probably better if we go first to the inn, settle in – even if we don’t unpack our bags – and send a note to the palace, let them know we’re here, and wait for word.”

“Trust me,” River grinned, her eyes sparkling with amusement. “They know.”

“If you’ll allow me,” Jasta spoke up, her voice rasping from the dryness of the desert. “I think Jess is right. We have no connection with them. It’s simply proper.”

River couldn’t argue against that, and she conceded the point. “The inn first, then,” she agreed. “When we’re settled, we can take the horses to the livery.”

Since she was the only one of the three who had been to the city before, she led the way through the streets towards the inn. Thanks to the coming onset of winter, there was some moisture in the air, enough that there were flowers growing in the well-kept gardens around the inn.

“You go in and get us some rooms,” Jess told the girls as River dismounted from her horse. “I’ll stay with the horses until everything’s set.”

“Okay.” River left her bag strapped to her horse’s saddle and helped Jasta down from her horse. The young woman had lost a bit of weight on the trip, and River was a bit concerned; but she was also confident that with the proper rest, Jasta would recover without any problems.

“Come on, Jasta,” she smiled at her sister-in-law. “Let’s head inside.”

Jasta smiled back and pulled down the scarf that she’d been wearing over her head. It had kept her from the worst of the sun’s heat, and she had continually thanked River for her suggestion to wear it.

The young man tending the counter was new to River, but considering that she had only visited this city once before, that came as no surprise to her.

“Two rooms, please,” River requested to the youth. “One single bed, one double bed.”

The young man nodded and dipped his quill into the inkwell next to the records book. “Names?” he asked.

“Jasta of Chansond’eau, and Jess and River Aldrich.”

He looked at her, surprised. “Aldrich?” he repeated. “Any relation to Adonai and Shael?”

River beamed. “My aunt and uncle!” she said proudly. “Are Reuven and Rayna around?”

“Not at the moment, sorry.” The youth was apologetic. “Let me get your keys.” He reached under the desk for the keys. After a moment, he straightened again, a look of surprise on his face. “Oh … there’s a letter here for you.”

“Me?” River blinked and reached for the letter. “Thank you.” She opened the letter and read the letter, and a moment later she laughed. “Thank you for your help, but it seems we won’t need the rooms after all.”

She grinned at Jasta, who looked very confused, and linked arms with her, leading her back outside.

“What’s going on?” Jasta asked curiously, her brow furrowed. “River?”

River giggled. “When we’re back with Jess. I want to see the look on his face.”

“And mine, apparently,” Jasta giggled.

River laughed. “Yes. Come on. You’ll laugh, too, I promise.”

Jess was still waiting for them where they’d left him, except that he had also dismounted, and was now standing between the horses and holding their reins.

“Jess,” River grinned, holding up the folded letter, “don’t bother unpacking. We’re not staying here.”

Jess blinked. “We’re not?”

River giggled. “No. There was a letter waiting for us. Waiting for us, mind you. From Princess Maeglin. She says that when we arrive in the city, we’re not to stay in an inn, but we’re to go straight to the palace, where we will be expected, and stay there for the duration of our visit.”

Jess’s jaw dropped, and Jasta burst into laughter. “If you choose to say ‘I told you so’, River, I won’t fault you for it,” she giggled.

River grinned and patted Jasta on the shoulder. “I would never be so petty,” she winked. “But come, in half an hour we’ll be sheltered and watered.”

The three of them mounted up again, and once more River led them through the city.
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:10 am

Location: New Kaliningrad, Eastland, Four Lands
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Late Fading

The sun was high when Jess, River and Jasta arrived at the Eastland palace, but they did not have to wait to be received. Princesses Maeglin and Lalwen were both waiting for them just outside the palace entrance. Both princesses had matured into beautiful young women since the last time River had been there, but despite their outwardly calm appearances, it was not hard to detect the excitement in their eyes. Behind them were two servants.

“River!” Maeglin exclaimed as her friend dismounted her horse. She stepped forward to give her a hug, then moved aside and allowed Lalwen to do the same.

River greeted the two excitedly, then stepped aside to introduce everyone. “My husband, Jess,” she said proudly as Jess dismounted and bowed deeply to the two. “And his sister, Jasta.”

“A pleasure to finally meet you,” Maeglin smiled slyly at Jess. “I have heard so much about you.”

Jess blushed and bowed deeper. “Thank you, your Highness,” he murmured.

River giggled. “And Princess Maeglin Aldrich, and Princess Lalwen Aldrich, daughters of Prince Elwin and Princess Amora Aldrich, daughter of King Estel and Queen Lothiriel.”

Jess helped Jasta down from her horse, and she fell against him, overcome by the heat.

“Come,” Lalwen spoke up, frowning and stepping towards the three of them. “Inside. She needs rest and refreshment.” She gestured towards one of the servants, and he bowed and headed inside to make the necessary preparations.

Only a few minutes later, they were all sitting in a cool room deep in the palace. Jasta was lying down, a cold cloth on her forehead, and River had taken it upon herself to give her sister-in-law sips of cold water every few seconds.

“Forgive my ignorance,” Jess was saying to the princesses, “but how did you know we were coming? We sent no word ahead.”

Maeglin smiled. “We are a family of Seers,” she explained patiently. “Those born into our family have the gift of Sight, and are able to see many things. Not all, but many. Past, present, and sometimes future.”

“Except for myself,” Lalwen added ruefully. “I was the first to be born without the Sight in this branch of the Aldrich family. Though I have seen how the others struggle with the secrets of the things that they See, so … I do not feel any regret in the matter.”

Jess nodded. “Ah. No wonder River was confident that we could have come straight here when we arrived.” He smiled over at his wife, and she grinned back at him, her eyes bright.

“But tell me,” Maeglin put in, her tone curious. “The last time River was here, you two had just met – and now you are married. Even without the Sight, I could see your rings, or the runes on your hands. But how long have you been married, then?”

“A year and a half,” River beamed. “Come Spring, two years.”

“In Amon Darthir, I presume?” Lalwen asked with a smile.

Jess blinked. “How did you know? I thought you didn’t have the Sight!”

Lalwen laughed softly. “That is true,” she agreed. “But as Maeglin already said, the Sight is not necessary to note the runes on your hands. Lord Elros and Lady Alena also have these runes, and I am well aware that this is the symbol of marriage for the Sky Elves. My only conclusion could be that Queen Aerin married the two of you, and that could only have happened in Amon Darthir.”

“She’s got you there, Jess,” River giggled. “Logical, as always.”

As she spoke, two more women entered the room: Princess Elia, looking exactly the same as she always had; and Lady Alena, her flaming orange hair tied back loosely away from her face. Greetings were again exchanged and introductions made, and then it was Lalwen who asked, “Lady Alena, what brings you here?”

The historian and counselor smiled and raised a flask that she was carrying. “I brought this to tend to their burns, your Highness,” she replied respectfully. “Unaccustomed to the desert sun as they are, I was cautioned that some kenet would be necessary.”

Kenet?” It was Jasta who spoke, her eyes still closed, her voice soft.

Alena smiled. “To treat your sunburn. It is very soothing. It is a solution from my former home, Amon Darthir, a land of fire-users, and where there was once a constant threat of dragon attacks.”

Jasta opened her eyes and smiled faintly. “It sounds like Amon Darthir is a people of great medicinal knowledge,” she murmured.

“Oh?” Alena’s brow furrowed slightly, and she smiled and cocked her head questioningly. “What do you mean?”

“Well,” River spoke up, “one of the reasons we came here was to see you …”

And she explained about Jacinthe’s history of seasickness, and how they had hoped to either get the recipe from Alena, or else get enough of the draught from her to last the half-year voyage that lay ahead of them.

Alena listened intently to her explanation, and when she had finished, she nodded slowly.

“How long do you hope to stay here?” she asked at last.

“A month, if we are welcome,” River replied, glancing at Jess.

Alena nodded again. “Then while you are here,” she smiled, “I will teach you all that I know about all of our medicines.”

River grinned. That sounded good to her.
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:10 am

Location: Namonuito, Southland, Four Lands
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Late Stirring

Rather than staying just one month, River, Jess and Jasta had remained in New Kaliningrad for the remainder of Fading, all of Winter, and the beginning of Stirring. They reckoned they could do that safely, they weren’t due to meet Jess and Jasta’s family in Namonuito until Mettarë, and the trip south would be easier than the trip from the west had been. Sure, they were traveling across the desert again, but this time they knew what to expect from the weather, the horses, and themselves; and they took more of the proper supplies.

The trip did go better than the first leg had gone, too: with Alena’s recipe for kenet, which, along with malek and other recipes, Jasta had learned far more easily than River, they avoided being sunburnt, which prevented them from reaching the same level of exhaustion they’d experienced on the first trip. There was only one thing that had slowed down their journey, though not by much: the discovery, only a few days out of the city, that River was expecting a child. And now, only a few days before the end of the year, they were arriving in the large fishing town which would be their last stop before their voyage across the ocean.

“The air here smells so fresh and clear,” Jasta breathed, inhaling deeply and letting it out slowly. There was a wide smile on her face. Though this trip had been longer, it had been much kinder to her, and she felt quite good.

River smiled at Jasta. “It’s the ocean,” she murmured. “It’s something you can easily get used to, and very quickly miss when you leave.”

“But we’re going on a ship across the ocean,” Jasta pointed out, “and Caras Galadhon is also on the coast, is it not?”

“Mm-hm,” Jess murmured, leading them forward in search of an inn.

“Then we won’t be leaving this kind of air behind, will we?” Jasta pressed.

River laughed. “That’s right. This is going to be the air we’re breathing from now on, in all likelihood.” She grinned at Jess. “Now which inn will we be staying in?” she asked him. “I don’t know if we clarified with your parents …”

Jess shrugged, but he was smiling, too. “We’ll just stay in the first one we come to and start asking around for my parents. We’re about a week ahead of schedule, though, so if we don’t find them right away, I won’t be too concerned.”

His brow furrowed slightly with concern, and his smile grew wider. “How are you holding up?” he asked her softly.

River put one hand on her stomach and smiled. “Hungry. I know lunch shouldn’t be for a few hours yet, but if we could grab a meal when we find the inn, I would be very appreciative.”

“And she’s not the only one,” Jasta added, her pale eyes sparkling. “Though I admit, I’m more thirsty than hungry.”

Jess laughed. “All right, all right. We should be almost there, from what I remember.”

They made their way up the street and were about to turn a corner when a voice behind them called out, “Well, if it isn’t Jess and River!”

They pulled their steeds to a stop and both of them turned to see who it was. Just stepping out of a shop they’d just passed was Arwen, a basket tucked under one arm, and beside her, Haldia, with the now six-year-old Alyarra, and a second, younger girl in her arms, both of whom had dark skin, white hair, and green eyes.

“Arwen!” River exclaimed excitedly. She turned her horse around completely and rode forward to meet her distant cousin. “How are you doing? And you, Haldia? And don’t tell me this is Alyarra – she’s grown so big!”

Haldia chuckled softly. “Hello, River,” she greeted her warmly. “Ve all are fine, doing very vell. And yes! Alyarra grows bigger every day!”

The taller child smiled shyly and pressed herself into her mother’s side.

River giggled. “And who is this?” she asked brightly, turning her attention to the smaller girl, who did not seem as shy as her older sister. Instead of trying to hide, she was looking at the travelers curiously.

Haldia smiled and put one hand on the smaller girl’s head. “Elen,” she replied. “She is now three years old.”

“Hello!” the little girl greeted the travelers, raising one hand to them.

“Hello!” River replied with a giggle. “And Arwen, you remember Jess of course, but Haldia, I don’t think you ever met him.”

Haldia shook her head. “No, ve did not make it to the city with you,” she agreed.

River nodded. “Right. Well, then, this is my husband, Jess” – Jess smiled and waved a greeting, and River continued – “and this is his sister, Jasta.”

Jasta smiled warmly. “Hello,” she said softly.

“So what brings you all the way to our end of the continent?” Arwen asked the three curiously. “You’re quite a ways from home.”

“Looking for you, actually,” River grinned. “We’d like to sail back to Caras Galadhon. To stay. Whenever you’re ready to sail again, that is.”

Arwen’s eyebrows arched in surprise. “So you were serious about moving there. I must confess, I’m surprised.”

River giggled. “Well, it’s not just us,” she confessed. She couldn’t keep her grin back. “Jess’s entire family is coming as well. Remember that we discovered in the book from the librarian in Caras Galadhon that Jess’s mother and grandparents are from there?”

Arwen nodded. “So everyone is moving back?” She smiled. “Well. That’s good for you.”

“We’re all excited,” Jasta spoke up eagerly. “And we spent some time in the Eastland, I learned how to make the anti-sickness draught from Lady Alena, so we won’t have to worry about Mama getting seasick like when she was young.”

“Good!” Arwen laughed. “And hopefully no one else will need it either.” She shifted the basket on her hip. “You’ve just arrived in the city?”

River nodded, and Arwen went on. “Why don’t you go to the inn and get your things put away, and get your horses into the livery, and then come and join us for some lunch? Celeb and Haldia are staying with us while they’re in the city, so we’ll be a right merry bunch. You remember where we live?”

River smiled. “Yes. Down by the docks somewhere. Just have someone outside so we can find the exact house and we’ll be fine.”

“Will do.” Arwen grinned and started down the street with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren. “We’ll see you soon, then!”
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:10 am

Location: Namonuito, Southland, Four Lands
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Mettarë

The days passed. Stirring ended. Still there was no word from Jess’s parents or grandparents.

“Do you think something might have happened to them?” Jasta asked the others softly.

She, Jess and River were the only ones in the dining room of the inn, as it was quite late in the evening, but they weren’t eating. They were each sitting with a glass of wine – or, in River’s case, water – and watching out the window. It was too dark to see much, but they felt better doing that than sitting in their rooms.

Jess was just as worried as his sister, but he showed it by remaining silent rather than voicing his questions aloud.

River reached over and put her hands over Jess’s. “They’ll be here,” she said confidently. “It’s been a long time since your mother and grandparents traveled, and your father never has, at least not this far. Plus they’ve got Jamie to worry about. It’s probably just taking longer than they expected to get here; we had the same thing when we went to the Eastland.”

“That’s true,” Jasta nodded slowly.

“And they’ve got more desert to cross than we did,” River went on, smiling now. “So it just stands to reason they would take longer. And if it’s been a century since they first traveled, then it was probably still forest when they did – so they wouldn’t have known in advance how they would pace themselves through the desert.”

Jasta smiled faintly. “True …”

“Just watch,” River grinned. “Tomorrow, maybe the day after, or maybe the day after that, we’ll be walking down the street, thinking of something completely different, and there they’ll be, right in front of us!”

She smiled and leaned against Jess. Sure, she was worried, too, but it would do no good to add to Jess and Jasta’s concerns.

Jess put one arm around River’s shoulders and stroked her hair gently. “Tired?” he murmured.

“Hm. Yes.” She closed her eyes and allowed herself to bask in the attention her husband was giving her. “But if we go to bed, Jasta will be on her own.”

“It’s all right, I can read a book,” Jasta said quickly, forcing a smile.

River laughed softly. “Even without looking, Jasta, I can hear your lie,” she murmured. “You don’t want to be alone. Admit it.”

Jasta giggled. “I can do it if you need to rest, don’t worry.”

River opened her eyes and sat up. Jess’s hand fell from her hair, but he kept his arm around her waist. “Sleep is something that I can catch up on,” she said firmly. “I’m not going to go and leave you on your own.” She knew that if she went to bed, Jasta would not let Jess stay up with her, either.

“Is there a reason River needs more sleep than anyone else?” a voice came from the doorway behind the three of them.

“Papa!” Jasta squealed and stumbled over her chair in her excitement to greet her family.

Jeremiah chuckled and hugged Jasta tightly. “Calm down, you’re going to overexcite yourself!” he chided her. “Yes, we’re here. All of us are here.”

As he spoke, Harna appeared in the doorway behind him. He was also chuckling at Jasta’s reaction.

“Hello, Grandfather,” Jess smiled. “Hello, Father.”

River stood up, allowing Jess to do the same. “We’re glad you made it,” she said for the both of them. “Jess and Jasta were worried.” She winked at Jess.

“We heard,” Harna grinned. “I have to say, River, you’re quite the smooth talker. If I’d been worried, you would have convinced me not to be.”

“Thank you,” River grinned smugly.

“Where are Mama and Jamie and Grandmama?” Jasta asked, looking around. “You said they’re here …”

Jeremiah smiled and hugged her again. “Calm down, I told you,” he murmured. “They’re getting our rooms ready. We just heard voices and thought we’d take the chance that it might be you before we joined them.”

“And Jamie fell asleep a few hours ago,” Harna added, “so Jacinthe wanted to get him into a bed as soon as possible.”

“Well, then, we shan’t keep you from joining them,” River smiled. “And that way we can all go to bed and get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow is Yestarë – the whole city is going to be celebrating! Sunup to sundown, so make sure you’ve got lots of energy!”

Jeremiah laughed, and Jasta had to poke him to remind him to keep quiet, since it was so late at night. “That explains your comments earlier,” he grinned. “Well then. Good night all, tomorrow morning we shall ask you about your trip and how you are all doing, though I can see you’re all doing well. Your mother may need some more convincing.”

Jess smiled. “Good night, Father. We’re glad you made it safely.”

“Thank you, Jess,” his father smiled back at him. “Good night.”

He and Harna headed off to join their wives, and Jasta stayed with Jess and River only long enough to finish her drink. When she headed off to bed for the night, Jess turned to River and asked softly, “Shall we also head to bed?”

River thought about the question for a moment. “Up for a walk?” she asked instead.

Jess chuckled. “You’re the one who says you need energy for tomorrow,” he winked at her. “Besides, it’s your birthday tomorrow.”

“Yes, I’m aware,” River giggled. She slid her arms around Jess’s waist and pulled him closer. “I thought we might ring it in together by the riverbank.”

“That does sound romantic,” Jess admitted, laughing softly.

River’s eyes gleamed as she pulled him closer. “That’s the idea,” she murmured. She kissed him softly, then took his hands. “Come on.”
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:11 am

Location: Namonuito, Southland, Four Lands
Year: 29 054 (119 Fourth Age)
Status: Yestarë

When River woke in the morning, she was alone in bed, but Jess was sitting nearby with a tray of breakfast for her.

“Breakfast in bed?” she murmured with a smile, pushing her hair back from her face. She rolled over to lie on her stomach, rested her chin in her hands, and gazed at him lovingly.

Jess chuckled and leaned over to kiss her on the forehead. “Happy birthday, darling,” he murmured.

River tipped her chin up and caught his lips for a warm kiss. “I love you,” she murmured softly.

“And I you,” he murmured back. He smiled and tucked some of her hair behind her ear. “But you’d better eat, dear; the celebrations in the city have already begun.”

River giggled. “It’s tempting to stay in here all day,” she teased him. “But I know, your parents and grandparents are here and we owe them a good visit, and there are the celebrations in the city to attend … I’ll get up.”

Soon enough, she was up, dressed, and had finished her breakfast, and then she and Jess were off to find the rest of the family. The dining room was empty, so they headed outside. Since the day before, the street had been decorated with banners and streamers, there were musicians every few blocks, and everywhere they went, shopkeepers had their wares for sale at grossly discounted prices. Restaurants were giving away free drinks, and with them their food was very cheap. Everywhere there was enough space near the musicians, there were people dancing, and in a few areas there were plays going on.

“Look, there they are!” River exclaimed after a few hours. She pointed at a round table where Jeremiah, Jacinthe, Jasta and Jamie were all sitting and eating a meal.

Jess smiled and took River’s hand. “Let’s join them,” he suggested. “Come on.”

They headed towards Jess’s family. Jasta was the first to spot them, and she pointed them out to the others. Jacinthe rose to meet them and greeted both of them with a hug, then invited them to join them. A waiter appeared very quickly to take their orders, and with him he brought two glasses of wine.

“Water for me, thank you,” River told the waiter politely. He bowed and headed off for their food.

“Water, River?” Jeremiah asked curiously. “On a celebratory day like today? Yestarë and your birthday?”

River grinned. “Yes, Jeremiah, and for the next year or so as well. I have been warned not to drink wine and such things when I am with child.”

It took a moment for her comment to sink in, and then Jacinthe squealed with excitement. “Really?”

Jeremiah chuckled and leaned over to kiss River on the forehead. “Congratulations, my dear,” he said warmly. “I hope all goes well.”

Jacinthe came around the table and hugged River again. “Yes, congratulations!” she bubbled. “Oh, this is wonderful news! I’m so happy for you both!” And she hugged Jess tightly and pressed a kiss to his cheek.

“Mama,” Jess chuckled, blushing hotly.

Jacinthe laughed and sat down again. “Come now, it’s been half a year since we’ve seen you, and now we have such wonderful news from you. I have the right to squeal as much as I like!”

Jamie was completely lost, and he tugged on River’s sleeve to get her attention.

“Yes?” she smiled down at him, her eyes sparkling brightly.

Jamie motioned for her to lean closer, and when she did he cupped his hands around her ear and whispered, “What’s going on?”

River giggled and turned to whisper in his ear in turn. “I’m going to have a baby.”

Jamie blinked and stared at her for a moment, then motioned for her to lean down again. This time, he whispered, “What’s that mean?”

River’s eyes sparkled, and she turned to whisper back to him, “It means that in a few months, Jess is going to be a papa, and I’m going to be a mama.” She sat up and grinned at him, then reached over and poked him in the ribs. “And you will be an uncle!”

Jamie squealed and pressed his hands to the spot where he had been poked. He pouted up at River. “But what’s a uncle?”

There were laughs all around, and while Jasta explained family relations to Jamie, Jess and River spoke with Jeremiah and Jacinthe about their trip.
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:11 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
Year: 29 054 (119 Fourth Age)
Status: Enderi

It was a cool day when the Zephyr arrived in Caras Galadhon. The weather between Autumn and Fading was always a bit iffy, and today was no exception: the wind made for choppy water, and despite the ship’s usual stability, today it was rising and dipping with the waves. It made it dangerous to dock, and Roydon made the decision to anchor offshore until the water was calmer.

It was also the day that River and Jess’s baby had decided to arrive, and it was about noon when Jess emerged from his and River’s cabin to announce the birth of their daughter, Kaera. He was more than pleased to add that mother and daughter were both doing very well.

The second day of the Enderi, Haldia, who along with her family had come with on the voyage, had used her roc to take herself, Celeb, and their two daughters to the city to meet up with Kelirahc and Leyenda. They all returned rather quickly with Kelirahc and his family on his dragon for a reunion with Arwen and Roydon, and in the evening, the two families had gone back to the city with the plan that Celeb’s family would stay with Leyenda’s family, at least for the present.

On the third day of the Enderi, the waves were finally sufficiently calm that Roydon felt it safe enough to dock. It was also the day that River finally left her cabin and once more took in the sight of her and Jess’s future home.

There were a number of people on the pier to meet them when they landed: Luk was there with Lily, a young red-haired boy in Luk’s arms; Aranxia and Aennan, and Aranxia was holding a small, pale-skinned boy with dark blue hair; Aysu, grinning widely; her sister, Ta’neer, holding Dwr’s hand and visibly pregnant; Kelirahc and his family, Celeb and his family; and last but not least, Lykor and Galanna, the latter of whom was in the wheelchair Ruel and Andarien had made for her, a shawl around her shoulders, a blanket over her lower body.

Jacinthe, Jeremiah, Jasta and Jamie were stunned by the variety of appearances, and it took quite a while to get through introductions, greetings, and explanations of races. For Jess and River, the only new names were Aereandir, the son of Aennan and Aranxia, and Vaartan, the son of Luk and Lily; and of course they were very proud to be able to introduce their own daughter.

It took a while, but eventually plans were made for lodgings: Aennan and Aranxia had lots of room, so Jess, River and Kaera would stay with them until a house could be found or built for them; Jeremiah and Jacinthe would stay on the ship with their family until they could find a place to live; Harna and Calima would look for Calima’s parents and see if they could stay there until they found a home, and if not they would return to the ship as well. Leyenda and Kelirahc had only two spare rooms, so they had room for Celeb and Haldia and their family; but Arwen and Roydon would once again have to stay with the ship – not that they minded: after all, it was theirs.

Once that was settled, they went their own ways with the promise that Harna, Calima, Jeremiah and Jess would meet at the ship the next morning to find Calima’s father’s tannery and find out for certain about the demand for another leather goods shop in the city.
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:11 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
Year: 29 054 (119 Fourth Age)
Status: 1 Fading

It was mid-morning by the time River left the room she, Jess and Kaera were sharing at Aranxia and Aennan’s house, and when she did, she had Kaera wrapped snugly in a blanket, asleep in her arms. She was dressed and had pulled her hair back into a braid, but that was as far as her personal preparations had gone for the day.

When she came down, Aranxia was sitting in her studio, just off the living room, working on an illustration for one of her husband’s books, while Aereandir was playing on the floor with a set of building blocks.

“Good morning,” Aranxia called out, spotting River when she reached the bottom of the stairs. “How are you this morning?” She smiled warmly at her cousin and motioned for her to join her in the studio.

River smiled back and tiptoed her way carefully through the blocks on the floor as she made her across the room. “I think I’m doing well,” she replied softly. “But if you don’t mind, I think I’ll stand for a while.”

Aranxia smiled sympathetically. “Of course. And I’ll be honest with you: I’m amazed you’re out of bed already. I didn’t leave my bed for a week after Aereandir was born.”

River giggled. “Come on, she’s three days old already. I can’t stay in bed that long.”

“You may not want to,” Aranxia laughed, “but you’ll regret it later if you’re up for too long.”

“I’ll make sure to lie down again when I need it,” River smiled. “Don’t worry.” She smiled down at her daughter. Kaera’s eyes were shut in sleep, but she yawned and wriggled slightly inside her blanket. River just about cooed at her.

“I hope we didn’t keep you from getting enough sleep last night,” she said apologetically, turning to watch Aranxia paint.

Aranxia smiled. “Oh, we’re used to waking up in the night,” she assured her cousin. “Aereandir still cries through the night on occasion. Think nothing of it.”

The child on the floor looked up at the sound of his name, and Aranxia laughed and blew a kiss at him. The boy giggled and pressed one hand to his mouth, then pointed at his mother.

“He’s adorable,” River laughed.

Aranxia laughed with her. “He is. And we’ve also discovered something fascinating!”

River arched one eyebrow at her. “Oh?”

Aranxia turned to look at her, her brown eyes sparkling brightly. “Yes. Do you remember that we were told that when elves of different races here marry, their children have no magic? Like Aysu and Ta’neer, they’re very close to pure blooded Water Elves, but they don’t have the Water Elven magic.”

River nodded. “So?”

“Well,” Aranxia grinned, “it seems that we have something of an advantage, being descended from the Firstborn and not the Newborn, the elves the Arkandians are descended from. It seems that when a Firstborn elf marries an Arkandian elf, the magic barrier is gone. As young as Aereandir is, he is already showing the same abilities as Water Elves.”

River blinked. “Seriously?” She giggled. “I would imagine that makes for a slippery bath time for him.”

“You have no idea!” Aranxia laughed. “It’s like trying to hold on to a soapy fish!”

River giggled. “You certainly have been doing new things since your move here.” She shifted her weight to her other foot. “What time did Jess leave this morning?” she asked, a bit sheepishly. “He didn’t wake me, so I completely missed him …”

Aranxia smiled. “Early. With Aennan. And he took your bag with him, the runed one.” She tilted her head curiously. “Big business today?”

River smiled and took sat down gingerly on a chair next to her cousin. “Yes … we ended up quite rich when we went back to the Four Lands. Papa gave Jess a rather sizable dowry for me, and his grandparents gave us a fortune in gifts, and from everyone at the ranch we got two of the best horses I’ve seen in my life … we had to sell the horses before we came here, of course, they wouldn’t do very well on a ship for half a year. So we ended up with a massive chest of gold.”

Kaera began to whimper in her sleep, and River began to rock her gently.

“Anyways,” she continued, more quietly now, “our currency is useless here, so he’s going to get it changed for us. Hopefully we’ll be able to finance either buying or building a house and be able to move in before winter. But in addition to that, he, Jeremiah and Harna are going to some of the leather shops to check out the demand for leather, and then possibly ask about opening their own shop together.”

She laughed softly. “I was going to help out with the shop as well, maybe with the procuring of skins or something. I still love the forest best of all. But now …” She pressed a light kiss to Kaera’s forehead and grinned at Aranxia.

“The most welcome interruption imaginable,” Aranxia agreed. She cleaned the brush she was using and set it aside. “My painting has also slowed down since Aereandir was born, but with Aennan still working at the library we’re not in need of the money.”

She knelt down and scooped up her son, tossed him in the air, and caught him, making him squeal with laughter.

“Come on,” she grinned at River, hoisting Aereandir up to sit on her shoulders. “Let’s get you something to eat.”
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:12 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
Year: 29 054 (119 Fourth Age)
Status: 1 Fading

When Jess returned midafternoon with River’s runed bag, River was fast asleep. He smiled and set the bag on the floor at the foot of their bed, then sat on the edge of the bed next to her. For a few moments, he simply watched her sleep; but this was one day they had plans for the evening, and so he had no choice but to wake her up.

He lightly brushed some stray strands of hair away from her face. “River,” he murmured softly. “It’s time to get up.”

“Mm.” River sighed in her sleep and pushed his hand away. “Go ’way.”

Jess chuckled and tickled her ear. “Come on. Dwr, Ta’neer and Aysu are going to be here in an hour or two and you need a bath.”

River cracked one eye open and glared at him. “Are you saying I’m dirty?” she mumbled into the sheets.

“I’m saying you need a bath,” Jess said firmly, though he was still smiling. “Go on, Aranxia’s already getting it ready for you.”

River stretched and yawned, then rolled onto her back and pushed her hair away from her face. “What time is it?” she asked groggily, rubbing her eyes.

“About half past nineteen,” he replied, standing up so that she could throw off the blanket.

River groaned. “Kaera’s been sleeping for an hour, then. She could wake up any moment.”

“Then we will hear her and come take care of her,” Jess said firmly. “You need to wash, River. Go.”

Grumbling all the way, River obeyed. But despite her grumblings, when she reappeared half an hour later with fresh clothes and her wet hair pulled back in a new braid, she was smiling, and she greeted Jess with a kiss and an apology. He chuckled, assured her that she was forgiven, and informed her that their daughter was still asleep.

“If you’re going to feed her before the others arrive,” Aranxia suggested to River, “you might want to do that soon. Aennan will be home any time now, and he’s going to be bringing them with him.”

“Alright.”

As River turned to head upstairs, Jess hurried after her. “I’ll come with you,” he smiled at her, taking her hand.

Kaera cried when River woke her from her sleep, but she was quickly appeased when River began to feed her.

“So how did it go in the city this morning?” she asked her husband, leaning back in her chair and crossing her legs to help support Kaera’s weight. “Did you get the money changed all right?”

Jess sat on the chair next to River and made himself comfortable. “Yes,” he grinned, “and with the exchange, I think we may have ended up with even more money than we had before. About two hundred thousand in the currency here.”

River stared at him, shocked into silence, and Jess laughed.

“And Papa and Grandfather are worrying about opening a new shop, Alaric says he’s been absolutely swamped with work since Grandfather left,” he went on. “So as soon as that’s ready, we’ll also have a steady income.”

“Alaric?” River’s curiosity overcame her shock.

Jess nodded. “Yeah, Alaric. Remember the leather shop we spent so much time in when we were here last? Him.”

River was about to tell him that she did remember the blond-haired man when Jess laughed again. “Uncle Alaric, I should probably say.”

Again River was stunned. “Uncle?”

Jess laughed again at the look on River’s face. “Cousin? Something like that. I know, we spent so much time with him last time, and who knew? Turns out he’s Grandmother’s brother’s son from his first wife. Which makes him … Mother’s … cousin … which makes him our …”

“Cousin,” River said abruptly. “If you’re going to talk technicalities, it’s going to get ridiculous very soon.” She shook her head incredulously. “We spent hours there. Weekly!”

Jess chuckled and ran his fingers through his hair. “I know. You should have seen the look on his face when we discovered who we each were. I don’t know who was the most shocked, us or him.”

River laughed softly. “Unbelievable. And have your grandparents found your great-grandparents yet, then?”

“Gone.” Jess grimaced, then shrugged. “Boating accident. I’m sorry for Grandmother and Grandfather, but … it’s hard to miss someone you never knew.”

“Yes …” River looked down at Kaera thoughtfully. “It … does raise the point … my parents … they don’t know about Kaera, and how is she going to know about them?”

Jess smiled sadly. He and River had known from the beginning that this would happen, but that didn’t mean it was going to be easy to handle. “You could ask Arwen and Roydon to send a message to them when they return to the Four Lands,” he suggested. He sighed. “I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful, River, but … that’s about the best I can offer.”

River reached over and touched his cheek lightly. “I know, darling,” she murmured softly. “It’s all right. I’ll get by.”

Suddenly from downstairs they could hear voices, which meant that Aennan, Aysu, Dwr and Ta’neer had arrived. Both Jess and River glanced towards their bedroom door, which was slightly open, and then they looked at each other.

“Go ahead,” River smiled at him. “I’ll be down when Kaera’s finished.”

Jess rose to his feet and brushed his lips across River’s forehead. “I’ll see you in a bit, then,” he murmured.
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:12 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
Year: 29 054 (119 Fourth Age)
Status: 1 Fading

It was quite late by the time Aysu, Dwr and Ta’neer left for the night. Kaera had ended up sleeping most of the evening, which made for a (relatively) quiet visit, but River of course couldn’t sleep through it, and as happy as she was to visit with their friends, she was exhausted by the end of it. As she made her way upstairs for the night, she heard Jess offer to help with cleaning up. Shortly afterwards, she heard footsteps behind her, and when she turned she saw Aranxia following her up.

“Do you need more help?” River asked, slightly confused, her thought process hampered by her exhaustion.

Aranxia smiled in reply and shook her head. “No,” she murmured softly, “but I wanted to talk to you before you fell asleep. It won’t take long, I don’t think.”

River laughed softly. “All right. Just don’t be offended if I fall asleep.” She led the way to the room she and Jess were sharing and motioned for her cousin to take a seat while she tucked Kaera into the little crib that they were borrowing. As she tucked her daughter in, she murmured, “What is it?”

Aranxia paused to collect her thoughts before she began. “Well … when you came out from your bath and went upstairs to feed Kaera earlier, you were in quite a good mood,” she said softly. “Yet when you came downstairs after Aennan and the others had arrived, you were … very quiet. You seemed disturbed by something.”

River gazed at her daughter a long moment before she finally turned to look at her cousin. “Yes,” she said quietly. “Jess and I were talking, and … it suddenly struck me … very hard. That my parents don’t know about Kaera, and I have no way to tell them. I can send a letter with Arwen and Roydon when they return, but … who knows when that will be, and even then it will be at least a year before my parents receive it.”

She collapsed into the chair next to Aranxia and leaned back in it. Tears rimmed her eyes. “They may never meet Kaera, nor she them.”

Aranxia smiled gently and put one hand on River’s to comfort her. “This may sound like an odd question,” she began softly, “but do your parents own a mirror?”

River blinked at her cousin and wiped away the tears that spilled down her cheeks. She had to think about the answer for a moment before she could give it. “… Yes. Mama has a large one on her vanity, in their bedroom.”

Aranxia’s brown eyes grew bright, and her fingers curled around River’s hand, squeezing it slightly. “Then there is a way for you to speak with them,” she said, sounding calm despite the fact that she was clearly excited. “Any time you wish.”

River blinked again. “Any time?” she repeated. “Right now?”

Aranxia laughed. “You haven’t the energy at the moment. But tomorrow, I will show you.” Her eyes sparkled as she squeezed River’s hand again. “Tomorrow. I promise.”

Exhausted though she was, River found the energy to throw her arms around her cousin and hug her tightly.
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Re: Creating A Home (Jess and River) | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:12 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
Year: 29 054 (119 Fourth Age)
Status: 2 Fading

Despite Aranxia’s promise, it was nearly noon the following day when she finally conceded to show River how she might contact her parents using the mirror in her and Jess’s bedroom.

“The problem is,” she explained patiently as she watched River get settled into the chair in front of the dressing table, “they’re about a third of the way around the world. And because they’re to our west, that means that they are about ten hours behind us. Now, it’s currently noon – about fifteen hours on the clock.” She nodded at the wind-up clock that she and Aennan had bought from Corazin shortly after they had married. “That means that in the Four Lands, it’s somewhere between four and six hours on the clock.”

River nodded thoughtfully as she took in the information. “Sunrise.”

“Exactly.” Aranxia smiled widely, pleased at how quickly River caught on. “The best time to catch them in their room.”

River nodded again. “Right. So how does this work?”

Aranxia had to think about how to explain it. “Have you ever done meditation?” she asked at last. “Concentrate. Clear your mind and expand your senses. Focus on the magic that’s inside you. Like that?”

River thought back to her staff lessons with Alassëa. “Sort of.”

“Then start from there.” Aranxia sat off to the side so that she could talk to River without being visually distracting. “Close your eyes and search inside yourself until you find the core of your being, the magic that lives inside you.”

“How will I know when I find it?”

Aranxia smiled. “You’ll know.”

River nodded and closed her eyes. At first she couldn’t concentrate, her mind was too full of everything that had happened, everything that she and Jess were hoping for, and everything that she was worrying about. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, forcing everything out of her mind. She had to let it all go, just for a moment, she told herself. Just temporarily …

Suddenly she felt a tingling sensation spreading from her hands up her arms and then through her entire body. But it wasn’t an unpleasant tingling: it felt good.

Aranxia saw River’s posture change slightly and relax, and she knew that River had reached the point she needed to find.

“Now,” she murmured, “picture your parents’ room in your mind. Try to visualize it from the point of view of the mirror, it makes it easier. Make sure you can see it clearly. Think of where it is, whose it is, and who you want to see.”

River smiled. “That’s the easy part.”

Her comment made Aranxia laugh softly. “Good. Once you have that, just touch the mirror.”

River opened her eyes, reached forward, and touched the mirror. There was an odd rippling sensation, and then she found that she was no longer looking at her own reflection, but rather gazing into her parents’ bedroom. She turned to look excitedly at her cousin, and Aranxia was standing just beside her.

“I knew you would be able to do it,” the princess said softly, touching River’s shoulder lightly. “I’ll give you your privacy.” And with a smile, she left.

River grinned and turned back to the mirror. It was just beginning to grow lighter in the Borderlands, and she knew that her parents would soon be waking. Aranxia had been correct, this was indeed the perfect time to catch her parents.

“Mama,” she said softly, hardly daring to believe what she had accomplished. The sound of her own voice made it more real to her, and she repeated it again, louder. “Mama! Papa!”

Like a shot, Timaeus sat bolt upright in bed, one arm hovering protectively over his wife. “Who’s there?” he demanded, instantly alert. He looked around cautiously.

River laughed. “In the mirror, Papa. It’s me! River!”

Alyse raised her head from her pillow. “River?” she repeated groggily.

River felt tears returning to her eyes and she wiped them away immediately. “Here, Mama! Here, Papa! Look in the mirror, I’m talking to you from Caras Galadhon!”

Her father pulled a blanket around his waist and sat on the edge of the bed, blinking at River in disbelief. “River?”

Alyse laughed and sat up. Leaning against her husband’s shoulder, she commented, “I would ask how this is possible, but I’m going to take a wild guess and say magic. Oh, River, I’m so glad to hear from you. We were so worried … anything could have happened in the time you’ve been gone! It’s been over a year!”

River tilted her head in confusion and blinked. “Didn’t you get my letter?” she asked. “I sent one before we left Namonuito.”

Timaeus shook his head. “We haven’t received anything. How did you send it?”

River sighed. “Via an unreliable messenger, it seems.” Then she grinned. “Then you haven’t heard the news.”

Alyse’s brow furrowed. “News?”

River giggled. “Just a second,” she winked at her parents. “I’ll be right back.” She turned to leave the chair she was sitting in, but she stopped partway and turned back to her parents. “Papa,” she said seriously, “you might want to take a moment to get at least partially dressed. I’ll be a minute or two.”

She hoped he would take her advice. The last thing she needed when she brought Kaera to the mirror was for him to drop his blanket. She took her time in taking her daughter from her crib, making sure she was wrapped warmly enough while not being so covered by the blanket that her parents wouldn’t be able to see her well.

When she turned back towards the mirror, she was glad to see that her father had pulled on some pants. Her parents were murmuring quietly to each other as they waited for River to return, and she took advantage of their distraction to slip quietly back into her seat in front of the mirror. Positioning Kaera so that she would be easily visible from her parents’ side of the mirror, she cleared her throat and said, “Mama, Papa, meet your granddaughter, Kaera.”

Timaeus was stunned into silence, but Alyse let out a squeal that startled the sleeping infant awake. She began to wail, and River laughed and rocked her gently, putting one finger to Kaera’s lips to try to calm her. It took a minute, but Kaera settled down, her eyes open just a sliver, sucking sleepily on River’s finger, and then it was quiet enough that the conversation could continue.

Alyse was fighting tears. “She’s beautiful!” she exclaimed, coming closer to her mirror. “How old is she? Where was she born? Did everything go well? How are you? Where are you? Oh, River, tell us everything!”

River giggled and answered all of Alyse’s questions, giving as many details as she could. She had just explained that they had been on land only two days and were staying with Aennan and Aranxia when Jess entered the room. Again, Timaeus and Alyse passed on their congratulations, and then it was Jess’s turn to join the conversation. He explained how much money they now had and their plans for the new leather shop, and Timaeus and Alyse were surprised to hear that Jess’s entire family had moved to Caras Galadhon with them.

“How do things look for finding a place of your own to live?” Timaeus asked once the general news had been given.

River and Jess exchanged a glance. “Well, sir,” Jess replied after a brief pause, looking back at the mirror, “we haven’t really discussed that yet.”

“I’m in no condition to be looking around at houses, Papa,” River added with a gentle smile. “Sometimes it’s hard to leave our room for more than an hour at a time. I need some more time to rest, maybe just a few more days, and then we can start looking.”

“Perhaps you should ask Aennan and Aranxia for advice,” Alyse suggested. “They went through the same process, after all.”

“And ended up building,” River pointed out.

Jess chuckled. “Maybe we should forget about looking and just design a house and start building.”

River beamed. “I like that idea,” she agreed. “Somewhere around here? In the forest?”

Jess grinned. “If Aennan and Aranxia don’t mind more neighbours,” he agreed cheerfully.

“If they don’t mind you as houseguests, they won’t mind you as neighbours,” Alysa murmured. “I’m sure of that.”

Suddenly they heard someone knocking, and each of the four of them looked towards their respective doors to see who it might be.

As it turned out, it was on Alyse and Timaeus’ end.

“Mama? Papa?” Jasmine’s voice came from out of River and Jess’s view. “Are you coming to breakfast?”

“Shortly,” Alyse promised. She beckoned for Jasmine to come join them. “Come! Say hello to Jess and River and your niece!”

“What?” A moment later, Jasmine also appeared in the mirror. Despite the early hour, she was, as usual, immaculately prepared, from being properly dressed to having her hair neatly and nicely done up. A look of astonishment crossed her face, but it was quickly replaced with excitement. “River!”

River laughed. “Hi, Jas!” She held up Kaera again, who was by this time fast asleep once more. “Meet your niece, Kaera.”

“Oh, she’s adorable!” Jasmine gasped. “You can definitely tell she came from the two of you!”

Jess and River grinned at each other. It was true – Kaera’s skin was only slightly lighter than River’s, and her hair was the same gold as both of theirs, but her features were more like Jess’s than River’s, including her cool blue eyes.

“Maybe someone should get Brooke,” River suggested with a laugh. “She’ll be very upset if she doesn’t get to see Kaera, too.”

“I’ll get her,” Timaeus chuckled softly, rising from the bed. “Be right back.”

He disappeared from view, and Jasmine crowded closer to the mirror to get a better look. “How old is she?” she asked excitedly. “You two must be so proud!”

“Four days, and yes we are,” Jess chuckled.

They were interrupted by another squeal and a flurry of footsteps, and Brooke came tearing into the room, her brown eyes wide, her golden hair only half brushed. “River! Jess!” she exclaimed. She jumped onto the bed in front of her mother and sister without hesitating. “And – and …”

River and Jess laughed and introduced Kaera for the third time, and when Timaeus rejoined the rest of the family again, they started into all the details of what they had done since they’d left the Borderlands a year and a half previous.
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