Chapter 16: The Road Well Travelled

269 38 66

The road they took once leaving Tirion seemed well travelled based on how little grass had grown there. They went three abreast, with Eve beside Huan on the right. Farmsteads lined the road for the first two hours, fields of wheat and corn the most noticeable for Eve. The road headed south. Occasionally the travelers passed others, most heading into Tirion.

"How far is the festival?" Eve asked Tyelko who rode beside her. "You guys said we'd be gone awhile."

"It will take a week to reach the Plains of Yavanna, and her orchards are near there," Tyelko told her.

She looked at him in surprise. "Really? Wow. That's a long way."

But Tyelko merely shrugged. "There are inns along the way to rest in, should we desire. I ride often even further, to Oromë's forests."

"Oromë, Yavanna," Eve tried the words carefully. "Who are they?"

At that question, Tyelko faced her quickly. "They are two of the Valar."

She nodded. "I've met some of those."

She didn't miss the humorous expression on Tyelko's face but she chose to ignore it. The day passed slowly by, the sound of quiet chatter and the beating of hooves on the ground the only real noises. Flocks of birds occasionally soared overhead, and Eve fancied she saw two dozen travelers on their way south that day.

Every so often a small settlement popped up beside the major road. It usually consisted of an inn and a few houses, nothing fancy. They passed all of them. Eve ate a fruit that looked and tasted like a pear for lunch. Amazingly, she didn't feel particularly hungry despite the lack of a substantial meal. By the time night fell, they reached a larger inn than anywhere previous.

Nelyo helped Eve down from her horse as they stopped. She hugged Alassë as best she could before stabling her and following the rest of her companions inside. Instantly she regretted it, for as they walked inside, a massive tavern opened up. It was classy, almost like a bar at a fancy restaurant back home with it's mahogany tables and wine racks. But all she could smell was the alcohol and it made her sick. Tyelko and Nelyo paid for rooms but Káno stood beside Eve and after a moment of watching her, knew something was up.

"I forgot something with the horses," Káno told the others quickly. "Eve, can you come help me?"

She nodded silently and ducked back out the door with him. About halfway to the stable he paused and pulled her aside. Káno looked down at her face and saw unshed tears. "Clearly you are not alright."

"N-no. I'm fine," she assured him with a fake smile. "What did you need with the horses?"

"Nothing. I merely wanted to get you out of the inn before you became sick or sobbing," he told her quietly, his voice low as more patrons arrived from the road. "My brothers are not always observant."

Eve nearly laughed at his assertion, and would have if not so disconcerted by the alcohol smell. Instead she merely rubbed her arm and sighed. "It's just memories."

"Clearly they are bad ones," he reminded her with a frown. "Were you hurt at a place such as this?"

Eve opened her mouth and then frowned right back, sighing in defeat. "I drank a lot on the night I died. Probably too much, to be honest." She wiped a few tears away. "I went to a bar, a place like this. And then... got killed as we went home. Now that's all I can think of when I smell the wine and stuff. It's stupid."

Káno looked at her sadly, a solemn expression on his face. He placed a hand on her shoulder. "If you do not wish to join us in the tavern, you do not have to."

A Different Kind of HeavenWhere stories live. Discover now