2. For love and money
Erendis surrounds herself with women to spite one man. Inzil and the others in her house were only pawns in the war between her lady and the king. She doubted that Erendis realised, or cared, that for some of her women, the absence of men was no hardship or sacrifice, and certainly not an act in her war; that they sought each other's embrace out of love, not out of necessity.
Erendis embraces none though, Inzil knew. When loneliness overcame her, she looked upon Erendis and wondered if her lady even understood anymore that anyone did love, or loved her.
(prompts used: Economy: war, Relationship: same-sex relationship)
Building a road was hard work, Brandir considered, but it paid pretty well. More so here in Endor, since few Númenoreans wanted to spend several years away from the island, and the locals were an indifferent labour force at best.
Right now, he was glad to be back in Vinyalondë and enjoy the comforts of civilization. Out here those comforts amounted to little more than a clean and soft bed and a decent meal, not one burned beyond hope by the camp cook. Even so…
"Innkeeper, a room for tonight, and a bowl of that onion soup I can smell!"
(prompts used: Economy: infrastructure, Smells: onions)
Country boys are easy
It is time she gives serious thought to settling down, Hareth thinks, even if she doesn't quite want to yet. She has nearly saved enough to buy the haberdashery shop in Armenelos she has her eye on, but she'll need another season or two for that. Right now she would have to find a partner for the remainder, and she doesn't want to be indebted to anyone.
She still likes travelling too much, even if it's becoming more of a chore of late; she feels the sea fog in her bones like she never used to. With the next village coming into view, she puts aside her dreams; no need to make up her mind for at least another year. She mentally goes through the contents of her pack. It's a useful trick to be able to find the right buttons or ribbons without hesitation, even before adding the usual spiel about how special this item is, or how well it goes with a customer's hair or eyes.
Unlike the stories she's heard of Endor, Númenor is safe for a woman to travel by herself, but that doesn't mean she isn't an unusual enough sight to attract attention in villages like this. Larger towns are better for being left alone, but she sells more in agricultural backwaters.
Inside the village, she quickly finds the inn and gets a room for a week. After putting away her baggage, she comes down to the common room and sits down with a pint of cider after ordering her meal. Years of travelling have taught her to hold her drink, and to enjoy it. She knows what will come next, and sure enough one of the locals comes over to sit down next to her.
"Is this seat taken?" he asks.
Is that your best attempt? she thinks scornfully. He's not bad-looking, and it wouldn't be the first time she's allowed herself to be seduced by a pleasant smile and a strong body. Perhaps not this time, though; there's something in his voice that makes her wonder how strong the lock on her room's door is.
Besides, if she went with this bumpkin, it would be all over the village by tomorrow, and her chances of selling anything to the local women ruined.
The bumpkin sits down, ignoring her silence. "What brings a woman travelling alone this far from the city?"
"I'm a merchant," she answers curtly. It won't hurt to advertise her reason for coming here; she notices that several people are attempting to listen in on them.
"An unusual occupation for a woman," he observes.
"Is that so?" she retorts.
"What is it you sell anyway?" His implication is obvious, and best ignored.
"Buttons and ribbons, and sewing supplies," she replies. "I am sure your lady wife will be interested in my wares." It may be enough to cut short his interest, and sure enough, after some attempts at small talk, he goes back to sit with his fellows.
Hareth finishes her pint, and after eating a rather indifferent portion of shepherd's pie, she leaves the common room for an early night
Upstairs, as she fumbles for the key of her room, suddenly she is grabbed from behind, and a hand is put over her mouth before she can scream.
"A sample of your wares wouldn't go amiss," the bumpkin whispers in her ear, but before he can do more than grope her, she hears footsteps coming up the stair. The bumpkin tightens the hand over her mouth, but he is distracted and Hareth takes the opportunity to bite down on his finger.
"Hey!" A shout as her assailant screams, and the innkeeper comes running up with a lantern and a cudgel in his other hand. Hareth's assailant shoves her against the innkeeper to make his escape.
"Don't worry, I have a few lads waiting downstairs," her rescuer says. "Did he harm you?"
"No," she shakes her head. "But I don't know what would…"
"Don't think about it," he says. "I'll send my wife up to see if there's anything you need, and we'll deal with that clod Galadir in the morning."
Later, after the innkeeper's wife has been, she thinks that it is definitely time to settle down. Perhaps she will look for a loan or a partner for that shop after all.
(prompts used: Economy: agriculture, travelling merchants, Relationship: seduction, intimacy, fear of commitment)
Many had sailed after Ost-in-Edhil fell, and Gil-Galad doubted those who remained now had the numbers to resist Sauron, even if people felt safe enough again to have children. Among the Sindar there were even remarriages.
The destruction of the forests of Minhiriath and the Enedwaith would not be undone so soon, and that had not been done by the Enemy, but by their allies of Númenor. The land had dried out, and trees would not grow again without careful management. The rain that once fell on Minhiriath fell upon the hills of Dunland, or as snow in the Hithaeglir.
(prompts used: Economy: climatic change, Relationship: remarriage)
We shouldn't have come here. His wife's angry words stick in Hallan's mind. He shakes his head. She knows as well as he does that they are doing better in Pelargir than in Númenor. They are fairly well off; a good smith is in demand anywhere, and he puts a good roof over their heads.
But Fíriel complains that merchants charge exorbitantly for something as commonplace as the fruit of the yavannamírë, not realising that here it is scarce. He has happily traded his breakfast slices of yavannamírë for oranges, which are abundant and cheap, and taste almost as good.
(prompts used: Economy: scarcity, Smells: onions)
Good, the place looks busy, Azrûphel thought as she entered Eldalondë. The streets were more crowded than they had been for at least a year, even on market day. She understood why the King had decreed that all known Elf-friends should move east to the area around Rómenna, but it did not make for good trade, even if there had been new people moving in from Armenelos as well. Too many of the newcomers acted as if anyone who had lived here longer than they had were Elf-friends, and suspicion did not make for good trade either.
Azrûphel glanced up at the town's clock tower. Early enough for a good place in the market, at least if Narâk is in a good mood. Yet even if he was, the market master had his favourites, and she was not one of them. Azrûphel wished she had good evidence that he was an Elf-friend; she had her suspicions, but not enough to bring charges on. Not like Imrazôr… Perhaps it had been that they had been childhood sweethearts, and that had made him careless about his leanings. Whatever had made him act so recklessly, Azrûphel was a loyal subject of her King; she could not ignore it when Imrazôr had brazenly admitted in front of her that he had met with Elves who still came to the island in secret.
He had not been so bold when the King's men came to his house to deliver the decree of removal to Rómenna, begging to be allowed to remain here in his home, that the charges against him were lies, that he was as loyal as they. Azrûphel scowled as she remembered how quickly he had changed his tone when they said that they could not protect him from the anger of the villagers and that he could either leave or be burned out of hearth and home. Imrazôr knew well enough that the King's men would make certain that the mob came if he didn't go – Azrûphel knew it too, and wasn't sure she approved of such heavy-handed threats. She had been glad to see that Imrazôr and his family safely left their village before nightfall; he might be as good as a traitor, she had loved him once, and she did not bear his family malice either.
(prompts used: Economy: market day, Relationship: childhood sweethearts )
"It's the perfect time to buy property out here, I tell you! Okay, the Crown will snap up the greater estates abandoned by Elf-friends, but there's still good deals to be had if you keep an eye out. I know just the thing for you too; a nice little townhouse in Eldalondë. It needs a bit of work on the top floor and the garden, but it's just perfect for a young family to grow into. Nice part of town, quiet, but close to the market. And I can offer you a very nice price as well, just for you."
(prompts used: Economy: real estate)
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.