Taethowen's House, Auld Town, Edoras
"I hope I can help the Westmark get back on their feet again," Taeth confessed, though she smiled at Lail's
words of support. "I'm still... sorting out everything that has been going on at the Hornburg and it's... concerning.
"But that's definitely not an appropriate conversation for tonight," she said, pouring each of them another cup of mead while Lailyn
began to talk of her travels.
Taeth took the opportunity to eat more of her own food while Lail
spoke. Minas Tirith to Anfalas was quite a stretch of distance, and Dol Amroth... Taeth had thought about traveling there at one point, but she'd never made it there.
spoke of not being wholly herself, Taeth's heart ached. She knew that unease full well: she was, in many ways, still dealing it, and perhaps that was part of why she'd made rash, impulsive decisions lately that she never would have a decade ago.
..." Taeth whispered when she heard of Lail's
mother's death. "It is good you got to say goodbye."
Taeth hadn't been able to make amends with her own mother before she died, and that was a burden she would carry for the rest of her life. She'd thought there was time... she'd never guessed that the lack of replies to letters was because her family had died
She noticed Lail's
slight hesitance when her friend mentioned Lake-town, and Taeth wondered what might have happened there, but didn't want to turn the conversation quite so serious again so soon.
"Working with your hands does have a way of settling your mind, doesn't it?" Taeth murmured. "I hope you find your beekeeping to be as soothing as my stitchery, though I've had woeful little time for it in recent weeks."
melancholy seemed to fade away as she asked after Taeth's travels, and commented on her reinstated Cavalry rank. Taeth swallowed her bite of food, took another sip of mead, and thought of where she should start.
"While our journeys seem to have some similarities, the beginnings of them are quite different," she said softly. "I... do not recall if we saw each other after the Southern Storm campaign in Gondor. But when I returned, I brought an adopted son back with me. The reason I left the Mark again a few years later was because distant kin of his contacted me, and wanted to raise him as their own.
"So I took him back... and on the way home, I fell ill. I nearly died. The fever... messed with my head. For several weeks, I had no idea who I was. My recovery was long, and by the time I was physically capable of leaving the healer's care, I felt quite beholden to them. I ended up remaining in Gondor for a few years, doing seamstress work to pay off my debt at the healing house and then working a little while longer to make some money to take care of myself before I returned to the Mark..."
Taeth paused for another sip of mead, and wondered now at the strange strings of fate that were working in her life.
"I made a bit of a name for myself in Gondor as a seamstress, though not with my true name. But I did some work for some noble houses, and I came across some lovely, lovely fabric. However, I'd inadvertantly offended some of the more... prestigious tailors in Gondor, because I was an unknown who randomly appeared and stole some of their best clientele. And I wanted that fabric, but I quickly found I was going to have my own source for it... and so I traveled to Umbar."
She'd been such a fool, and even now she was seeing the repercussions of that foolishness. Taeth looked down, biting her lip, and blinking her eyes against their tell-tale burning. She was so Bema-damned tired of crying these days.
"That was where I met Frost," Taeth confessed. "I was young and foolish, and thought that because I'd been a Marshal, been a pæthfindian, and knew how to make a good barter, that I could easily find someone to supply me with Haradrim silk regularly.
"But I didn't prepare. I thought I would just be able to hire a translator, and make a deal in the market. I should have known better, and I was in far over my head. I nearly got myself sold as a slave to a pleasure house. But..."
Taeth hesitated here again, still not sure of how the actions taken that day would play out in the future. Were playing out, even now. She finally looked back up at Lail, tears shimmering in her eyes.
"Frost isn't a good person, either," she whispered a bit brokenly. "But for some reason, he saved me that day. Likely because he thought he could get something out of it, and there was... a draw between us, even then. But I... was still married at that point, though my relationship with my husband was already starting to crumble, so... I ran away."
These days, Taeth wasn't sure what she regretted more--going to Gondor to give her son back to his family, going to Umbar in the first place, or running away from Frost that day. She'd never expected to see him again after that. But when he'd shown up in front of her at the summer festival... oh, she'd been foolish indeed.
"Well," she sniffed a little and put on a brave face again, "since I didn't get any Haradrim silk, I decided I would venture to other less dangerous parts of Middle-earth and see what textiles I could procure. I traveled north, made a brief visit to Mirkwood, and also Lake-town and Dale, though I don't know if we would have been there at the same times. I passed by Imladris, though I can't say I really visited it, and stopped in Bree. I didn't make it to the Shire or further west, but it was so fascinating to get to know different locals and learn about the textiles they create."
Taeth took a deep breath then, feeling an odd, empty relief, but it made meeting Lail's
eyes a bit easier. "I'm sorry, all of that might be a bit burdensome for you. But I've not really had... anyone to talk to since I returned."
"Oh!" She remembered something, then, that she'd meant to ask earlier, when Lail
brought up beekeeping. "We're running low on beeswax for waxing threads at Awesnis
. You wouldn't happen to have any extra on hand? Eldreda--my cousin--or I can even melt and filter it ourselves."