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Old 12-29-2003, 11:47 AM   #2
piosenniel
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Pio's post - Piosenniel

The air was still and thick with the dust of several old leather-bound volumes she had pulled from the shelves. Here, on the fourth floor, in a tiny cubicle at the back of a larger room Pio sat cross-legged on the floor, the journal of one Cemendil, a trader in cochineal and indigo in the Southern Lands, perched on her knee. She was only half way through the faded pages and already yawning from the heat of the little room and inactivity. ‘I will never get this read here,’ she said to the dancing motes in the shaft of sunlight from the small window.

She laid the journal on the floor beside her and went to the door to check for the docent who had shown her to this place. She could just see his head bobbing over some bound manuscript at the far end of the big room, stopping every so often to scribble notes in the little chapbook that was his constant companion. He was engrossed in some obscure research for a class he was teaching, and for all intents and purposes had forgotten her presence.

‘Good,’ she thought to herself. With his nose stuck in his book, his thoughts wrapped round the rule of King Ostoher and the rebuilding of Minas Anor it would be easier getting round him. She picked up Cemendil’s journal and stuck it into the waistband of her breeches, letting the loose folds of her tunic hide the rectangular lump that now graced her belly. Her eyes searched quickly through the stacks for a volume of similar size and color, and having found one, she placed it into the hole where the other one had stood, the intimate companion to a book on fishing techniques found favorable along the River Morthond and another small leather journal that bore the inscription, The Sandpiper, in faint black lettering against faded red.

A captain’s log, she discovered, when she took it down and leafed quickly through the tattered edged pages. Charts of tides and currents, carefully noted with details of shoals and reefs marked clearly. ‘Lovely,’ she thought, running her fingers over the maps the good captain had made for his lugger as she plowed the waves along the shores from Cobas Haven to a small cove just south of Umbar, at the foot of the Grey Mountains. ‘Perhaps I should take this, too,’ she murmured, thinking her own store of sea charts plotted mostly the courses for ships in deeper waters. Into her waistband at the back of her breeches went the ship’s log. And again a search was mounted for a like volume to replace it.

Once done, she crept quietly behind the hunched over figure and his book on Early Gondorian History. Moving quickly to the door, she cleared it, just as his head turned in her direction. Down the hall, down the steps, she strode, her feet hurrying her down further as she made the descent from the fifth tier to the first and out the Southern Gate of the Rammas Echor. Her mount was there, a grey gelding called Sinda, waiting patiently in the green field to the west of the South Road. Pio clambered up onto the horse, her mount-up made clumsy by the unyielding tomes that splinted her mid-section.

‘Home,’ she directed, flicking the reins lightly on Sinda’s neck. The horse set off at a leisurely pace. He had taken his rider so often on this route that he could have found his way to and fro blindfolded. A short half hour later found him at the small dwelling nestled at the foot of Mindolluin.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was later that night, when the little ones were tucked in bed, that Pio got out her journal. It was an irregular habit at best, but she had told herself she would keep the unspoken promise to her old friend Cami when she had found the unused journal among the others left behind in the Shire. Lately, though, she had found herself writing down her thoughts more often . . . beginning with the day her hidebound husband had declared she would not be accompanying him on his voyage south.

The children, thankfully, had been on an overnight outing with their Aunt Rilwen, the wife of Gaerion, Mithadan’s older brother, when Mithadan had come home from the city, announcing he was to put together a trading mission to Umbar. Pio was surprised at the news. She knew the King’s minister had made the request some time before, and Mithadan had been reluctant to take it on. But now Elessar himself had urged Mithadan to undertake this on his behalf, and Mithadan had agreed.

Pio seized on the opportunity, assuming she would accompany him to Umbar. It would be the perfect opportunity she told him, for her to see what information she could ferret out on their old friend Bird. They had not heard from her in three years, since she had gone south seeking news of her kin. Her absence was always present at the back of Pio’s mind, an uneasy sense of loss. Of further concern to her, though none the less important, was that the Southern realms were still unsettled. Respect for the new King’s rule was tenuous in Umbar – given their long history of animosity toward Gondor and the pockets of shadow that yet remained despite the outcome of the War. Another able blade might keep the balance tipped toward the side of Mithadan’s and the crew’s safety.

Mithadan had listened carefully to Pio’s hastily conceived plan, and then, in his irritating way, had just as carefully detailed for her why she could not go. He could, and would, see to the safety of himself and his crew, he had informed her. She need not concern herself with that. Further, the children could not come, and he would not have them left at home without either parent for the five or so weeks it would take to complete the mission. They were too young he had told her, and he insisted that she stay with them, despite the fact that she argued his older brother and his wife would be happy to care for them this one time.

The morning after his announcement found him bleary eyed, his face drawn with fatigue, but unmoved by any of the arguments that Pio mustered. It was with great reluctance and a simmering anger at being thwarted that she acceded to his ‘request’.

Her anger had cooled these last two weeks; a non-useful emotion that produced at best only haphazard solutions to a problem, she concluded. She still chafed at the fact that she had not been allowed to go, but there were only two more weeks before the Lonely Star would return. Pio smiled as she turned back to those first few days in the journal – the words pig-headed . . . obstinate . . . perverse . . . doggedly stubborn . . . narrow-minded . . . stiff-necked . . . hidebound . . . , among others, stood out on the white background of the pages, underscored and smeary where she had stabbed them out on the innocent vellum.

What had not waned was her concern for Mithadan’s safety. His assurances aside, she felt uneasy that she would not be there should he need her.

The night was warm; a breeze blew in from the river, carrying the tang of the Anduin faintly to her as she sat on the stone bench in the garden. Light, from the brass lantern hung on the fig tree’s branch above her, obscured her view of the night sky, drawing her attention in to the blank page of the journal that lay open on her knee. Picking up Cemendil’s Journal, she flipped through the pages, making hasty notes in her own when something of interest struck her. Then, with measured strokes she charted the course of her day, pushing worries she could do nothing about from her mind for a brief space of time.

Last edited by piosenniel; 04-07-2004 at 11:30 AM.
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