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Jan 30, 2023 2:01 PM
the children of hurin, but gayer
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Danallin is born to a house under siege - a quiet siege, one of her mother standing in the doorway while an older girl holds Danallin still and hiding, a hand clamped like iron over her mouth - a siege of men who stole the lands from them when Danallin's father went off to war and never came back - a siege that hangs like a sword over their heads. If Danallin is found, she'll be killed she's told - and then as she grows in strength and cleverness and beauty, that warning morphs. She'll be taken as a slave, a thrall, a wife of some chieftan or warrior or petty lordling as her cousin was, as her aunt was, as the mothers of many of the children who take brief shelter in Morwen's halls were.

The day she's judged old enough to wield a knife - a summer day, bright and colorful like the world has forgotten for a moment the veil of darkness over it - Sador, an ancient woodsman and carpenter, visits. He's watched her on her forrays outside of her mother's halls, whenever she slips her guard, and she's never slipped him for all that he's missing his right foot with the remnants of his leg too shriveled even for a wooden prosthetic. He comes rarely into the halls themselves, avoiding Morwen's scorn for his maiming, but many of their few beautiful items were carved by him, an attempt to fill a forcibly humbled hall with something glorious again.

He finds her when she's not near any of the other inhabitants of her mother's halls, and stops, leaning on his crutches, and says, simply, "I have a gift for you."

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"What kind of gift?"

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He sits beside her, and pulls out a sheathed knife from his pack. It's long, enough to be a weapon, and the hilt and sheath are both a deep black. Both are decorated with swirling designs in gold and ruby, showing leaping flames and racing hounds.

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"Oh, wow. It's gorgeous."

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He smiles. "It was given to me in trust, and now I give it to you in turn. May it serve you well."

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"Thank you." She reaches out to take it and admire the filigree designs.

"Um, who gave it to you?"

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His smile fades, a little, into a wistful sorrow. "Your sister," he says, "When she was not much older than you."

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"You mean... Lalaith? You knew her?"

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"Yes. She liked my carvings," he says, wistfully, "And was always a helpful, kind child..."

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"...Do you know where she went?"

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"Yes," he says, "Though it isn't safe to speak of, even here."

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"I want to know. I'm old enough."

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He glances around. Then, quietly: "There are ears less kind than yours, and you must always assume they're listening."

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"Then can we go somewhere safe?"

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"There's nowhere safe enough," he says, "Not in the halls of Men."

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Danallin furrows her brow. She doesn't understand the old man.

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He pats her on the head, good-naturedly. "Practice every day with that knife," he advises her. "It will be the means by which you make your world safer."

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Hrrrmmm.

"I can do that," she promises.

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"Good."

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Off she skips, then, clutching the dagger close to her chest.

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...Her mother clearly recognizes it and just as clearly decides not to say anything. Danallin does, however, soon find herself scheduled for knife fighting lessons in even stricter secrecy than she's used to living, and stern warnings about never showing her blade outside her mother's hall.

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Conveniently, that's just what she wants. (She's going to get so good at knife fighting and then she's going to go find her sister.)

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(Her mother, oddly, seems very motivated to not go find her sister - especially as the world outside grows ever more dangerous, and the food being smuggled into their holdings trickles off, and their well dries, and their own paltry crops struggle and fail under ashfall after ashfall, early frost and unseasonal heat...)

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Fine, then. If her mother isn't going to take action- Danallin will. She gathers supplies, her knife, and sets out.

If the halls of Men aren't safe, then she'll try the halls of the Elves.

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She's going to need to avoid... Pretty much all Men on her way, at least ones who live near her mother's halls, and she's also not entirely sure where the halls of the Elves are. Doriath is probably the biggest and is 'somewhere south,' at least? 

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That's a direction, at least. If it's big enough, maybe she'll just run into it. Or someone who can point the way, when she gets closer. Danallin's always considered herself to be a reasonably lucky person that way.

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