“You’re sure you want to buy it? You’re mad, you know, but I’ll take your gold if you really want me to.”
The Bree-lander was answered by the sudden heavy thud of sacks of coins hitting the table in front of him. His face alighted with a sort of sorrowful glee at the sight of his payment and immediately placed his fingers upon the bags, checking their contents.
“I am sure,” the darkly clad man answered in a voice of firm certainty as he looked down upon the other, watching him count the coins. “Are you certain you wish to sell it, Arden? It was in your family for a long time, I hear.”
“Aye, I am…” Arden answered with thinly veiled pain. “Brigands murdered them all. It’s been a few years since, and I hardly go up to the house at all anymore. This place… it’s just too painful to be here anymore. This is enough to get me anywhere I want to go. I hear the beaches near Dol Amroth are beautiful year-round. Think I’ll buy me a nice spot there and take up fishing. Who knows.”
Several minutes passed between the two men as Arden counted the payment. Eventually he nodded his head in satisfaction and collected all of the coin back into their sacks. “That’s it then,” he spoke as he lifted his eyes to meet the gaze of his buyer. “The house is all yours, Valthier. Let’s go down to get the deed finalized and sort the taxes, then I’m on the next boat South. You’re sure you don’t want to go up and see it first?”
Valthier glared down at him with certainty in his gaze. “I am.”
The journey into the hills surrounding Starmere Lake was longer and more arduous than the simple walk into the woods to his cabin. It was better this way, however, and the location kept him far more secluded from others than before. Valthier commanded his horse to come to a stop as the hill-top manor came into view. As he stared at the frame of the large house he began to take in deeper and deeper breaths, uncertain of how he should react to the swelling feeling in his gut.
He eventually slid from the saddle and left his horse, Nightmare, behind. A short walk around the expansive yard lead him to an old stone fence that separated the property from the perilous cliff it rested on. He gripped the barrier, glove against stone, and peered out over the northern Bree-fields below. It came to a surprise to him that he could see the abandoned Lowater farm from here, or at least part of it that was tucked away in the distance.
This manor, this perch, was perfect he thought. A nest for the snake.
The key to the front door of the manor inserted easily enough into the lock, and the door opened with similar ease. The craftmanship and shape of this new home was far superior to that of the worn, shabby cabin he had been staying in. The halls were dark and dusty; the windows were covered in a thick layer of dirt that kept out most of the light, though a few rays struggled to shine through and provide a small amount of lighting to the otherwise uninhabited structure.
There was plenty of furniture, furniture that had been there for years and held the dust to show for it. As Valthier’s eyes glazed over the setting he was struck with a sense of nostalgia like an arrow to the heart. He remembered it all. He remembered the family that lived here, and how he and his brigand allies took their lives several years prior. He remembered how they pleaded for their lives, but in the end it proved fruitless.
He heaved a heavy sigh that was sourced from the furthest depths of his gut and turned his back on the manor for now, for it was empty and needed filling. One snake was hardly a nest, after all.