Relic (a lotr fan fiction)

Ayfara lives with her ailing father in a crumbling mansion but the situation deteriorates when she learns they are in danger. She must gather allies or lose everything. When she sets out, she quickly learns that her mansion was safety. Out there is the unknown.

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1. The Gift

 

 

Every time her father called for her, her heart skipped a beat. She stared at the servant before her, trying to read anything from his eyes. Implacable, obsidian, they stared back at her. Damn him. Lifting up her skirts, she pushed past him and into the hall.

 

For a moment, she saw nothing but bright blotches staining her vision. Moving from the vibrancy of the day into the gloom of the manor was a shock to the system. Pausing for a moment, she felt the chill seep into her bones. Why didn’t he leave this hall of misery? She knew why; soldiers were stubborn. It was something she had inherited.

 

Finally regaining sight, she moved forward. Weak rays of light from the high windows filtered down. In the centre, as they criss-crossed, was a throne. A small figure sat in it, reduced by the pile of blankets and extra clothing. A head peeked out, wizened and with a shock of hair, streaked white. Ayfara swallowed. It was hard to believe that this man was only fifty summers.

 

“You called me father,” she spoke softly, taking one of the numb hands and kneeling down. Her dress would bear dirt and scuff marks, but that was nothing new.

 

In the silence that followed, she could hear the oppression of the hall. She shuddered; it hadn’t seen light or laughter for a long time. Yet here, the lord of the manor still sat, unable to leave his past behind, knowing that he didn’t have a future. Ayfra didn’t push. Behind those watery eyes she knew his mind was trying to scramble the blot of words together. They would come in his own time.

 

“I need a favour,” he rasped, the noise grating through the hall.

 

“Tell me,” his daughter pressed, squeezing his hand.

 

“They’ve returned to our borders, we need aid…” Her heart beat erratically. Who were they? “You must find-”  Jehin Threevale drew a huge breath that nearly choked him. “Lord Droeut, in the next shire. He will help.”

 

“Father, who they are?” the girl pressed, only half-absorbing the rest of the information.

 

“The creatures of the past.”

 

Ayfara swallowed. Bedtime stories weren’t fabricated then. The ones her mother had told her had held the truth, and she hadn’t realised until this moment. Bred from the underbelly of the earth, in the dark lands of Morgoth, this race known as the Orcs had no semblance of humanity. Their forms may be linked to human ones, but that was as far as the comparison went. The thought of these creatures lurking on the borders clamped Ayfara’s heart.

 

Now the truth of what her father was asking sank in.

 

“I can’t…surely one of the knights could go? What about Fulk? He could go. He’s trained, knows what he’s doing -”

 

“I want you to go.” The man’s grip was surprisingly hard. Ayfara stared down at the hand. Paper thin skin strained over the bulge of veins. Since her mother’s death, Jehin had taken responsibility for his daughter’s safety by making sure she trained just as vigorously as the knights did. Of course they had hated it, the resentment growing when they found this dark-haired girl could reach their level in a matter of years. Now, those who had scoffed her now feared her.

 

It was the thought of leaving her father here. With no emotional connections or no blood ties, it was up to the servants to take care of him.  Judging by the quality of the food they had, they couldn’t care less. There was no one else. Just them in this crumbling manor house that had once spoken of decadence and burst with vivacity.

 

“I have something” Jehin breathed, “under my chair.”

 

Raising her eyebrows, Ayfara reached under the folds of blankets. Her body tensed as the fabric whispered over her skin. Determined not to scream, she felt around. Hidden at the back was something long and metallic, the chill shocking her fingers as they closed around it. With a rasp, it came forward. As a worn leather scabbard was dragged into the light, so too did the hilt.  The head was curved into two sharp points, with a triangle left open. Ancient writing scrolled around the gap. Standing up, she drew the sword out, extending her arms out as far as they could go. In the weak light, the segments of the steel that had not been besmirched by dirt and time glinted. She observed the way the long blade tapered into a lethal point, still sharp.

 

“That blade belonged to a king of Gondor.”

 

That had been another fantasy in the tales her mother had told her.

“When he died, the sword was buried with him. But there were those who thought the sword could bring them kingship and power. Instead it brought them death. My father stole the sword, determined not to let black smoke consume him. He fled here, into the marshes, where no one would ever find him.  That was why they came and your mother…” He issued a small hiccup, a precursor to tears.

 

Ayfara planted a kiss on her father’s cheek then placed Anduril back into its scabbard. She would do this for him if it meant the filthy scum would be defeated. Her father had been a soldier and although his body was decaying, she knew he still retained the spark of days gone past within him.  If he could hold on till she returned, then she would dedicate her time to restoring him.

 

Gone were the days of her pretending to be the impoverished chatelaine.

 

Steel had been placed into her hands instead of dolls. She had knocked arrows to bows instead of sewing. Whilst  other woman like her were content to learn duty, she had been careening around the field, riding as if the slavering hounds of hell were behind her.

 

Those pointless lessons had turned out to not be so pointless after all.

 

Anduril was more than a gift.  

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