Month: February 2014

Faethril: The First Encounter

Finally, a glass of white wine. Eruviel had been glad to finally have an afternoon with Anya, relaxing and listening to a bard perform in the Pony who she had never heard before. Their conversation had been cheerful and light for the most part, but as always the seriousness of their recent circumstances seemed to catch up with them.

Anyatka frowned slightly at Eruviel. “How long till you are recovered?”

Eruviel glanced down at her glass. “If I had been a human, I believe Cwen said it would be at least six weeks. But alas, I am not. I presume it will be two weeks before I am able to return to the hunt, as long as I take things slowly. It has been my great fortune to have the grace of my ancestors. I will be taking a riding holiday here soon with another of my kin. I am hoping the rest from that will help.” How she detested being laid up. She missed her jaunts through Chetwood, and not being able to work might soon drive her insane.

“You certainly deserve a holiday,” Anya replied nodding. The young woman glanced nervously around the room, and for some reason the look in her eyes made Eruviel feel uncomfortable.

Eruviel motioned to Anya, frowning. “You look ill at ease, oselle.”

Anyatka shook her head but put her drink down on the counter. “I…I think I shall go for a walk,” she said rather distractedly.

“Should I accompany you?” Eruviel asked, frowning.

Anyatka ‘hmmed’ vaguely as she started for the door. She seemed to not quite hear the elf and stumbled a bit on the rug as she walked away.

Eruviel ‘s frown deepened and she set her glass down on the bar. Sighing heavily she followed her friend, nodding politely to Falros and the group with him as she stepped over the the threshold into the brisk, Bree-town afternoon. She could see Anyatka wander over to the fountain with a rather blank expression on her face. Only her eyes, darker than her normal overcast grey, revealed anything out of the ordinary. Blood and orcs, this cannot be good, Eruviel thought grimly.

Quietly crossing over the cobbled street to where her friend stood, Eruviel stopped beside Anya. “It is going to be a long week, is it not, oselle,” she said. A woman passing by eyed the pair suspiciously before moving on.

Anyatka blinked slowly and turned her head to Eruviel. “He needs it,” she said in a faraway voice.

Eruviel sucked in a sharp breath. Rotating her body to face Anya, her sad eyes gleamed as they searched those of her friends. “Oh, oselle. Why does he need it?” She did not let on to any of the recent events, hoping her suspicions were wrong.

“He needs it!” Anya said, her tone rising. “They are coming. He will not survive!” She turned from the elf and began to wander down the street that led further into town.

Eruviel turned after her, reaching out to grab Anya’s shoulder. “No one is coming, oselle. Tell me what you need.”

Anya shrugged off the elf’s hand, shooting her a foreign glare. “You know very well what I need!” Brushing past Eruviel, Anyatka  . . . no, it was merely Anya’s body that made haste down the hill.

A knot formed in Eruviel’s gut and as fast as her wounded body could carry her, she ran down the hill past her friend. She is going south! The thought leaped into Eruviel’s mind. Stopping near the boar-head fountain, she put out an arm towards Anya, halting the woman’s progress. “I will not let you leave with her, Faethril,” spoke Eruviel, her voice dark and rich as her elvish accent surfaced. “Let her be, ancient one. You will not be allowed to harm her.”

Anyatka’s body recoiled when Eruviel spoke the name of the spirit still dwelling inside of the young woman. She then looked up, her eyes narrowing as she hissed through gritted teeth. Eruviel set her feet as Anya swung at her with a clawed hand. Moving forward to catch Anya’s wrist her muscles around the broken ribs suddenly spasmed, shooting streaks of pain through the elf’s body. Hindered by her injury she missed her target and Anyatka raked her nails across Eruviel’s jaw, leaving behind two deep cuts.

Taking a step back to relieve the pain in her side she looked up just in time to see Anya dive forward to tackle her. Caught under the weight of her friend, Eruviel fell backwards. She cried out in pain as her back struck the pavement, her hands up to ward off Anya’s attacks. Wrenching back, the young woman struggled to get up in attempt to bolt away. Setting her jaw Eruviel swung her legs around, tripping Anyatka, and as she landed Eruviel rolled over fast enough to come atop of her, backhanding Anya across the face. Anya’s eyes shot open, flashing their usual grey color. She pushed Eruviel back, rolling both of them once before her body fell limp.

Eruviel struggled to breath, grasping at her side. Looking over she saw Anyatka’s eyes flicker open, confused. A wave of relief rushed over the elf. She could not have lasted much longer against the violent spirit.

“Systir, what . . . where are we? Why are we on the ground?” Anya looked around them, her surprise apparent.

“What do you last remember, oselle?” Eruviel breathed, sitting back on her elbows to take stress off of her side. Feeling a small stream of hot liquid run down to her chin, she brought her free hand up to cover her jaw.

“I remember . . . I last thought we were in the Pony having a drink.” She then whipped her head around towards the elf. “Oh, Eruviel! You are bleeding!”

Eruviel chuckled as much as her body would allow. Laying down on the street she put her left arm over her brow and closed her eyes. “I am, oselle. Do not fret. It was not you who wounded me, but Faethril. She turned out to be a lot stronger than I had anticipated.”

Anyatka lowered her head, her eyes growing moist. “I can’t take it, you getting hurt. You and Eirik and Canderas, and even Torlach — you all risk your life for me, and it’s not right.”

“My dear friend,” Eruviel said seriously, grunting slightly as she slowly sat back up, “It is a small price to pay to see you free of that tainted soul.”

“I should just turn my self in to the town jail now so that I don’t cause any of you further harm,” said Anya, shaking her head. Rising to her feet she looked down the street that led to the prison.

Eruviel steeled herself as she carefully rose to her feet. “I have considered it as a possibility for the night or two before we depart for the last venture, but I do not want you to be locked up all week. You do not deserve a filthy cell, my sister.” She wiped the last bit of blood from the scratches. She would have to put ointment on it as soon as she got home. It seemed quite vain of her, but she did not wish to have facial scars, especially if it came from something like this.

Anya smiled kindly to her, though still concerned. “Well, should we then head home, systir?”

“Yes, oselle, let’s.”

Only the first half of the rp logged saved, but the encounter is as accurate as I can remember.  (Anya, let me know if I need to fix something!) ^_^

First, There Was Fornost . . . .

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Eruviel could not decide what had hurt worse; the moment when the armoured troll’s massive mace had struck her, sending her flying across the chamber, or the impact when she landed hard on the ground, her bruised arm and cracked ribs taking the brunt of the impact. Yet, by the grace of the Valar, they had all survived.

Pulling a small wafer of lembas from her saddlebag she looked up to watch her three companions sitting by the campfire in the camp of the Free-People. Breaking the bread into four bite-sized pieces, she rubbed her stallions nose affectionately before carefully making her way back over to rejoin her fellowship.

Anyatka and Canderas were having a quiet and presumably tender conversation as she approached them. “Please, ignore my interruption, but here,” she handed them each a quarter of the elvish waybread. “You will need to eat. This will tide you over till we return home.” Anya accepted the food almost reverently while Canderas happily took his portion, quickly devouring half of it.

Torlach, having sat down on the opposite side of the fire turned down Eruviel as she offered him his piece, though he was not unkind about it. Words were exchanged, bidding each other good night, and the Elf gracefully and carefully moved away from her friends to the corner of the ruined, walled square. She could taste iron as she slid slowly to the ground, biting her tongue to keep silent as pain raced through her body. Finally seated, she let out a small sigh of relief. The ride back to Bree-town would be a trial if her group decided to travel hard. But she would keep her face stern and as emotionless as she could. She would not have Anya worrying over her. Not with Eirik and Canderas also injured, nor while Faethril, the spirit of Aeron’s wife still dwelled within the young woman. Fornost had been a close call, but the next leg of their journey might prove to be a greater challenge.

She could see stars glistening down from above the haze and clouds. Rainion had seen this, so many years ago. For a long time she had feared Fornost, maybe more than she had ever feared the Barrow-downs. But now that she had helped release spirits bound within the broken walls, now that Aeron had risen from Anya’s body and they had spoken face to face, she no longer trembled as she sat on the ancient ground where so many before her had perished.

“So this is what you died for, my brothers,” she whispered to herself as she looked around the area littered with tents, cots, and weary soldiers. The quiet that surrounded the camp seemed to have been well-earned, though hard-won. Eruviel had not expected to find a camp this far into the blighted Fields of Fornost.

Glancing back to her companions a small smile crept over her wearied face. Torlach sat alone, and silent as usual. She still did not understand the man, but in spite of their glareing differences they had fought well together that day. His might in battle had surprised her, and she was grateful. He was brutal and bloodthirsty, but he also proved to be exceptionally skilled and efficient and that was what mattered.

Canderas had moved to sit behind Anyatka, wrapping his arms around Anya to comfort her as she fell asleep against him. Eruviel averted her eyes, looking up once more. The only warmth she felt hid under her own skin, primarily where her injury had begun to swell. The cold of the stone that held her upright was the only thing that embraced her, creeping past her armour and beneath her padding. Pulling up her hood she leaned her head back and closed her eyes. Drifting into a light sleep, she pushed it all out of her mind — every ache, every pain, and nearly everyone.

 

(I forgot to save the rp chat log, so a few minor liberties were made.)

 

A Quiet Evening

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The Inn of the Prancing Pony had been more quiet than usual. No music echoed down the halls from the common room. There were no pairs of couples and conspirators filling the corners of the rooms, nor brawls or drunken dwarves. Eruviel had seen three regulars sitting on their own when she had entered the front door, but for the first time in a long time she sat by the fireplace past the first hall alone and in silence.

Her entire day had been quiet, aside from a slight ventured she had undertook with a young Ranger who had come to town and sought her out to identify a few Angmarim cloaks, swords, and emblems he had gathered after his own unfortunate encounter. He had taken her and another of her kin who had fought in Angmar to the spot where he had fought the small band, him having killed five out of the six. The place had been cleaned out of the bodies. But it was not the Angmarim being this far south that bothered her. She had earned a name for herself in the north, killing servants of the enemy. Was it the young Ranger himself that bothered her? She had intended to pay him for his trouble, and to help him get on his feet since he was new to Bree-land, but he had then insisted that she owed him for giving him her services.

You’re getting soft! She chastised herself, leaning her head against her hand as she gazed into the warm fire. A whole gold . . . . What in the name of the Valar were you thinking? It would not happen again.

Minutes passed, the only sounds being the crackling of the burning wood, and the sound of her heart beating in her ears. Rising slowly she pulled her new long, blue and gold cloak off from the back of her chair, fastening it around her neck as she glided like a specter down the second hall towards the back door.

You know it is not the Ranger, yaaraer. Yes, it was in times like these that she did indeed feel ancient. Calling her horse away from his grain, she mounted the sturdy Angmar steed, looping her bow over her left arm and head. She had trained the mount so well that he began the ride home without her prompting. There was a reason she had taken the time to visit the blacksmith to have her armour seen to, and her weapons inspected — though those were handed straight back to her as if she thought it to be a joke for the bow and two swords to be in less-than-perfect condition. In two days time she would make the journey north with a small band of friends and acquaintances to Fornost.

Fornost. The name hung over her like a shadow — haunted her thoughts the closer the trip came to fruition. She had been nearly everywhere in Eriador during her relatively long life, but not to Fornost. She could not bear to take the trip and face the wasteland that had claimed Rainion’s life. She had skirted around the realm, through the North Downs into Angmar, and even to the west in to Forochel. But to Fornost she would not go . . . until now. Now she waited to accompany a friend — a sister among the race of men who had her own ghosts. Quite literally. Eruviel had been eager to go, and out of her love for her oselle —  her sister Anyatka, she would walk through the Fields and into the ruins to whatever end.

Voronwen nickered at her and Eruviel emerged from her thoughts to see that they had already reached the gates to the homesteads. Nodding her head respectfully to the night watch she spurred her horse forward. Rounding the two short bends to her house that sat on a small, lone hill Eruviel sighed, glad to be home. She had done her best to keep the place a sanctuary — full of good food and both stillness and merriment, depending on the occasion. Dismounting the steed, she removed his tack, letting him wander on his own to graze. The door was still unlocked and she ducked through the entrance, taking note that Anya had not yet returned home from going on a fishing trip with the gentleman Canderas.

Setting the saddle down to the side and kicking her boots off without ceremony, she walked across the living space into her room. How she coveted her room. The elven decor was warm-toned, the bookshelf full of books and scrolls containing long histories, and stories of great renown. Unclasping her cloak she tossed it onto her bed and undressed before breaking off and eating a small corner of the elven way-bread she kept hidden in her dresser. It had been a gift, and it was her one food store that she would not share.

She felt cold . . . like she had back then, and it concerned her. Lighting a fire in her small fireplace, Eruviel curled up on her soft elven bed beneath the cloak, painfully aware of the silence and emptiness around her.

“Amin sinta thaliolle e dagor,” she muttered in prayer. I know your strength in battle, Orome. I do not wish to fear. Great Huntsman, steady my hand and my undeserving heart.

The chill that had set upon her began to dissipate . . . possibly from renewed hope, or maybe just from the fire. “Yes,” she whispered to herself, rolling onto her other side and draping a toned but slender, pale arm over the edge of the mattress. “For my oselle I will gladly face Fornost.”

The Party in Westfarthing

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Eruviel remembers.

It was yet another refreshing morning, just south-west of Michael Delving. Eruviel ducked out of her little home, arms laden with an exceptionally large basket of fresh-baked elven breads, several wheels of cheese, and vegetables from her laughably small garden. Closing the unpainted hobbit door behind her Eruviel took a moment to take a deep breath of the crisp breeze that rode on the beams of the rising sun.

The hole had been dirty, cold and vacant when she had first moved to the Shire seventy years prior.  Now it was warm, clean, and often frequented by her little friends for afternoon tea, dinner and supper. It had taken a while to earn the trust of the small-folk, but her careful watch of the border of the Sire, along with her failed years at growing proper potatoes had warmed up the Hobbits of the Westfarthing to her. It was a quiet, comfortable life for the most part, and it seemed to heal parts of her soul that had grown despondent.

She wore a finer dress today of a cheerful yellow, a red velvet fest laced up her torso, and a soft, green cotton shawl wrapped around her waist. Her rich brown hair tumbled down her back to her hips, reflecting the morning light as it swayed with each step.

Her bay mount grazed inside the short, green lawn, waiting to bear it’s rider.”Quel amrun,”  she greeted the steed. He nickered at her, not bothering to raise his head from the patch of grass that had consumed his attention. Eruviel smiled, shaking her head at him, then pat his neck twice in command for him to follow. “You are going to be fatter than a child’s pony, Eosul. Though, I should begin to skip second breakfast myself.” The horse huffed as he reluctantly followed her out of the picket gate.

Using a stone marker as a stepping stool, the elf-maiden gracefully mounted the bare-backed steed, careful to not drop her basket or parcel’s. No saddle or reigns today. It would be a fine, peaceful day for the ride to Tuckborough. Her horse began the walk on his own accord to the junction with The East Road as Eruviel arranged the food more comfortably across her lap. The calm, bay steed jaunted down the road, swerving every so often to snag a bite of grass as Eruviel bid her smiling neighbors “Good morning” . . . as well as their neighbors and their neighbors. She exchanged “good mornings” with a grocer on his way to Michael Delving, and to a band of hobbit children who traded her two jars of red and purple berries for a large loaf of bread.

Ahead at a bend in the road she saw a wagon full of barrels being driven by a lady of the small-folk. Eruviel had just enough time to tighten her knees to keep her seat before her horse broke into a canter to catch up with the cart and pony.

“Good morning to you, Lady ‘ruviel!” chimed the hobbit woman driving the bouncing wagon.

“Good morning to you as well, Lady Marisily! And well met!” she beamed down to the pink-cheeked woman. “Are you off to Tuckborough this beautiful day?”

“That I am, friend. Gotta take these here barrels of Old Toby to the party! You have quite a bounty there with you too. Master Took invite you as well?”

Eruviel looked to the precarious stack held before her. “He did indeed. It is very kind of him to consider me to join his birthday celebration.”

“And why would he not?” laughed the little hobbit as she lightly bounced the reigns on her pony’s rump. “You’ve been livin ‘ere for a good many years now. A part of the community, now more than ever!”

With Marisily chatting merrily about parties, pipe-weed, and the good growing season, the several hours ride to the Great Smials too no time at all. Cheers arose from the party-goers as the wagon turned down the road, the abundance of Longbottom Leaf just as important as the amount of food and ale. Not long ago had Tobold Hornblower domesticated the plant, and now every hobbit in the Shire smoked as much as a chimney. Though her neighbors and friends twisted her arm, she had yet to try the pipe.

Music flowed over the hills, pairs and circles of the little folk dancing in the square amidst the late afternoon light. The street swirled with laughter, stories, and pipe-smoke. Bright red and yellow banners hung from every lamp post, and streamers adorned the eves of the hobbit holes and branches of the tall green trees.

“Lady Elf is here!” shouted several of the merry Hobbits. In seconds she was surrounded by a cheerful crowd, half of them excited simply at the sight of more food. Clutching a jar of berries to herself, the basket and parcels were whisked off her lap and she laughed at seeing only half of her bounty reach the long tables laden with more food than she could remember seeing at one time. Slipping from Eosul’s back, she landed nimbly on her feet, giving the horse a pat on the flank, sending him out into the fields of grass to graze and relax.

“Lady Eruviel!” Called a robust hobbit voice from behind her. Turning she curtseyed low to the halfling before taking a knee. “Heruamin, Thain Took, you do me an honor. Your party looks to be overflowing with merriment.”

The male hobbit bellowed a laugh, clutching his sides before reaching out and shaking Eruviel’s hand. “You are very kind, but I will have none of your proper nonsense tonight, my elf friend!

Her musical laugh joined the chorus of shouts, laughs, and singing that surrounded them. “I shall do my utmost to be as hobbitish as I can tonight, you have my word.”

The Master Took’s grin turned mischievous at her words and a twinkle glistened in his eyes. “In that case, I have a present for you!” Reaching into the bulging pocket of his green velvet jacket, the middle-aged Thain produced a thin parcel twice as long as Eruviel’s hand, wrapped in purple velvet. “For all that you do for us, tall one,” he said, placing the gift in her up-turned palm and waiting rather impatiently for her to open it.

She glanced up at the bright-eyed hobbit, she began opening the folds of soft cloth to reveal possibly the finest pipe she’d ever seen. Made out of a rich red-colored wood, limbs and leaves swirled down the stem, and a thin silver ring lined the inside rim of the bowl. One side of the base had a carving of a hobbit party, and the other side was adorned by a slender archer shooting an arrow at a wave of claws. “This is the most beautiful gift I have ever been given,” she said, meeting the Thain’s shining gaze. Laughing aloud, she added, “You are indeed scheming, Master Took, for I do not doubt I will be forced to smoke from this one day.”

“Not one day, but today,” he laughed. “Marisily! Bring me a pinch of fresh Longbottom leaf! Our elf friend is finally going to smoke!” he shouted across the square. Cheers erupted around them at the Thain’s proclamation, and everyone laughed as Eruviel’s cheeks flushed.

Taking the pinch that the woman brought him, the Master Took fit in the pipe-weed, lit it, and handed the pipe back to the elf-maiden. Chants of “Smoke!” and “Elf!” rose as dozens upon dozens of hobbits crowded around them. Nodding his head forward, the Thain grinned widely, “There is no escaping this, my friend. You did give your word!”

Laughing along with the crowd Eruviel slowly lifted the end to her pink lips. The crowd grew silent, watching as she puffed a few times as she’d seen others do before. Then, lifting her chin towards the sky, she exhaled, offering a small smoke ring for the gleefully watching party-goers to see. Cheers and laughter arose as she coughed out the last of the smoke, her eyes watering slightly. Master Took clapped her on the back laughing before getting carried away by the happy mob. Countless other hands patted her on the back in congratulations as she rose before they took hold of her and whisked her into the throng of bouncing, dancing hobbits.

What Was Found in The Barrow-Downs (part 2)

(side note: the previous post’s tense did not seem to fit right, so I will be changing it. Enjoy!)

Eruviel remembers.

Her bones ached from the cold. Her soft, fair skin had faded into a pallid grey over the past days as she remained where she had first lain on the grassy, mist-ringed hill. Her ears had grown accustomed to the groans and wails of the barrow-wights, and on the rare occasion the screams of some creature meeting it’s untimely end.

Eruviel stared south into the mists, her once vibrant green eyes now faded and hollow. This must be what it is like to fade away, she thought. Even her mind seemed void of emotion. The battle with the wight played over and over in her head. And over again she saw herself thrust the knife into Rainion’s corpse. He is not your brother, she had told herself repeatedly, but it had not been long till her care to say it faded.

“I wonder if this is what it is like to die,” she whispered through parched lips.

A cry echoed from a distant barrow to the south, and Eruviel’s grip on the hilt of Rainion’s sword shifted ever so slightly. Though they passed by in the low places, not once had a wight or hound climbed her hill.

The rising sun crested the furthest barrow, shining a cheery bright yellow that in another time would have woken her with delight for a new day. But now, she wished it had risen red as it seemed often to do. Another cry of a wight rung out, closer this time. Her muscles did not tense. She simply laid there, waiting as she observed the land in the direction of the crys with a dispassionate gaze. The bark of a hound no further than fifty yards away ended abruptly, and an awareness crept back into Eruviel’s eyes. Who could possibly be here? More importantly, why did she suddenly care?

The fog below shifted, twisting as if it were somehow attempting to flee. A figure rose out of the mists, features shadowed by the brilliant light behind him. She knew without a doubt that the newcomer to be of her kin, for he was tall and his step unwavering. The sun gleamed off of his golden hair, and for one crazed moment she thought it to be the High Elf Glorfindel. The figure stopped, his etched leather boots inches from her body. She felt his eyes upon her but had not the strength to meet them.

“Oh, oselle,” flowed the sad, yet deep, musical voice of the elf. He moved to retrieve her discarded weapons, then stooped and lifted her in his strong arms, cradling her against his chest. Then they were moving. The elf lord lept from the small hill, sprinting through the Barrow-Downs at a pace few elves could match. He bounded over rocks, dodging all manner of foes, bearing her swiftly down a southern path into Bree-land where the sun finally warmed her skin. Looking up, only then did she see it was her brother Milloth.

He did not stop till they reached a campsite, a fire already burning in a pit. He laid her down on a pallet of bedding he had previously rolled out, and gently unwrapped her fingers from their grip around their older brother’s sword. She did not want to let go of the ancient weapon. Eruviel had not realized just how much it had numbed her mind, and how much of her desire to wield it came from the blade itself till Milloth had taken it away. He did not speak, his movements swift and graceful as he pulled off her damp overcoat and tucked a wool blanket around her. Finally seating himself next to her he untied her braid, letting out her hair so it could dry faster. Taking a wet cloth he moistened her mouth, dripping the warm water past her lips to slowly hydrate her.

She could feel heat beginning to return, slowly trickling through her veins. Milloth paused for a moment, his sea-blue eyes looking sadly down at her. “Sister, why were you in the Barrows? And how is it that you have Rainion’s blade?”

Eruviel looked up, searching his eyes as her own began to clear. “I saw him, Milloth,” the words caught in her throat. “The dark spirit had stolen his body and –” her voice cut out as tears welled in her eyes. Suddenly fear gripped her. Looking to Milloth his face change into Rainion’s. “No, a’mael toror. Please,” she whimpered, pulling away from Rainion’s face and Milloth’s hands.

The face suddenly changed again, the vision of her brother withering, his eyes growing dark with a hungering evil. A panicked scream rose up from deep within her and Eruviel scrambled to escape, even as the hands took hold of her, pinning her down as she thrashed in vain. Weeping, she screamed Rainion’s name, begging for forgiveness. A firm hand struck her, slapping her across the face. All the fight in her vanished as did the haunting vision, and she collapsed against Milloth’s strong chest, shaking and sobbing quietly.

The next two days Eruviel lay beneath the blankets, trembling as Milloth tended to her, giving her water and feeding her small portions regularly. On the third day her shaking stopped. Her mind had revived, her body having regained some of its former strength. She sat up to eat, devouring the food Milloth set before her, then sat quietly, staring into the fire, unable to look at her brother.

It was afternoon when he knelt beside her. “Can you stand, oselle?” he asked kindly. Eruviel nodded, taking the hand he offered her, but standing of her own accord. Straightening up she raised her head to look at him. His handsome face showed nothing but sternness, but his eyes glimmered a little with pride as she stood before him expectantly. “Good. Take up your bow,” he commanded, giving no explanation. She did as she was bid without question, shouldering her quiver and expertly stringing her bow in one smooth motion.

“I am ready,” she said simply. Where could he be taking her?

Turning, she matched his stride as he set out in a jog. Her heart skipped a beat as his path lead them back towards the Barrow-Downs. She moved with the elegance and grace that she always had, her face set in a calm yet determined look, but her eyes belied her body, filling with panic as the brother and sister rounded the corner into the Downs. Milloth took the lead, cutting down any enemy that thought to pursue them without slowing his stride. Further in they ran, one behind the other till they came to the hill he had found her on.

Milloth pulled a sword from his belt — Rainion’s sword — and stabbed it into the earth. “The blade, while powerful, is dangerous. We should not take it with us.” Eruviel nodded slightly in agreement as her eyes darted around their surroundings. Milloth, looking at the sword for a moment longer, moved to stand beside her, more regal than she ever remembered him as he counted the arrows in her quiver. Taking a handful out, that left her with five. The Elf muttered something under his breath, touching each of the arrows then finally the top of her head.

“Now, oselle,” he said, one strong, lean hand on her shoulder, the other pointing to a lesser wight fifty yards away. “Slay it.”

She turned to look up at him, not caring to disguise the fear that saturated her voice. “But toror, I– I do not think I can.” The terrifying vision of Rainion flashed in her mind. She shook her head in attempt to expel the wicked, grinning face.

“You will,” he said matter-of-factly. From the look her gave she had no other option.

Turning to face the wight he had pointed out she took a tentative step forward, then another. The horrifying face flashed in her mind, more dark and terrible the closer she stepped towards her foe. Raising her bow she aimed for the wight’s head. “Orome, steel me,” she muttered under her breath. She loosed her arrow and it struck the wight in the head, flinging the fiend back, though not killing it. Her arms shaking, she rushed at the being, thrusting her daggers into its neck. She let out a frightened cry as it screamed inches from her face. Then the body collapsed, her hands covered with the perished man’s dust. The vision of Rainion vanished. Her chest heaved as she worked to control her breathing.

“Well done,” Milloth said, still watching from the hill. “No, no oselle,” he said softly as she started back towards him. “You will slay four more. We will not leave until you do.”

Eruviel looked up at him, her face stern. She smiled a little at him, understanding what he meant to do. He was forcing her to face her fear, and he meant to drive it out of her. He even had the foresight to deprive her of ammunition in the event she go too far. Something inside of her clicked. It was a subtle change, but in spite of her uncertainty, she knew it could never be reversed. Giving him a curt nod she turned away, disappearing into the mist as she knocked another arrow. She no longer trembled, her eyes no longer showed fear, and the vision did not reappear as she glided more confidently towards her quarry.

What Was Found in The Barrow-Downs (part 1)

Eruviel in the Barrow-Downs

Eruviel remembers.

The unrelenting sun pours its merciless heat down through the canopy of the Old Forest. Sweat gathers on her brow as Eruviel guides her tired horse through the thick undergrowth. An afternoon ride into Buckland had turned into a week of exploring the Old Forest. For the most part her exploring proved uneventful aside from being shadowed by wolves for three days, and a long conversation with a beautiful, golden-haired woman who called herself the “River-woman’s daughter.” But now the air had begun to change, and her mount more reluctant to press on.

“Calm yourself, Crithta,” she says, patting her mare’s neck. “Why have you grown skidish?” She dismounts, and scratches along the edge of the horses’ mane as she peers ahead of them.

The horse grows silent. After a moment the mare jerks away from Eruviel’s hand and back away.

The elf-maiden frowns, looking from her horse back to the path ahead of them. “Crithta,” she beckons, “tula sinome.” The horse tosses its head in protest. “Tula sinome,” Eruviel commands quietly, pointing to the ground next to her. Her mount snorts unhappily, but steps up beside it’s lady. Patting the reluctant animal once more, Eruviel takes the reigns and begins to press on through the trees.

The humid air begins to thin as does the foliage. She can see grey hills ahead as she nears the edge of the forest. The sun seems less oppressive, and a sour wind cools the sweat on the elf’s face. Cresting the first open hill before them Eruviel sucks in a sharp breath. A chill courses up her spine and a growl rises from Crithta’s throat as the horse lays its ears back. As far as they can see the landscape is covered with grassy, rolling hills and mounds. Mist creeps like a living thing through the low places, and from nearly every mound stone megaliths grasp at the sky like cold fingers pushing up through the earth.

“The Barrows,” Eruviel says with a hushed breath. “Once part of the capital of Cardolan.” She attempts to comfort her frightened mount. “It fell a hundred years before I was born. Uuma dela, Crithta. We will not remain here long.”

The mare huffs in protest, and jerks the reigns out of Eruviel’s hands. She canters half way down the hill back towards the forest before stopping and whinnying after its mistress.

“Ed’ i’ear ar’ elenea!” Eruviel exclaims. Waving the horse away she smiles down to it. “Begone with you, then! Wait for me by the East Road.” The horse nickers, bobbing it’s head in response before it plows back into the trees, oddly confident of it’s path.

The elf maiden shifts the long daggers on either of her hips into a more comfortable position, and pulls an arrow out of her quiver as she carefully makes her way down the hill and further in. Several times she dodges wights as they rise from the ground or pass through the mists. “This is foolish,” she mutters to herself as she slips behind a boulder to avoid a wight that passes by too close for comfort. She rises up into a crouch, about to turn back when, from the corner of her eye she sees a cloak . . . a sword . . . a withered body she recognizes. Her muscles freeze and her limbs refuse to listen to her.

“I– it c–can’t be,” she gasps, her chest heaving. Her mind snaps to and she leaps down the hill, her sprinted steps silent as she disappears into the mist below in pursuit of a wight, begging the Valar that her eyes deceive her. Leaping up out of the swirling fog, Eruviel finds herself standing on a small, unmarked mound. No megaliths, no markers, not even a barrow door rises from the earth.

Lifting her head, Eruviel sees the the wight hovering not fifteen feet before her. Her pulse quickens. The shade’s breathing echoes in her ears, and as it turns slowly to face her Eruviel’s heart stops and rises into her throat. Her face, her body language remains calm and confident, but her mind screams in agony, beating against the cage of her skull with rage.

Despair.

“Rainion?” The name catches as it trickles out from her lips.

Despair.

Amin toror,” her voice wavers as she stands, “Why is it that I see you now, when you perished three hundred years ago?”

Despair.

Eruviel drops her bow, the wight too close for it to be of use. Her serene face grows dark, and her eyes gleam with misery and wrath. “No, you are not my brother Rainion. He now lives across the sea. How dare you desecrate his body.” Her voice steadies, her tone deepening with anger as she slowly unsheathes her daggers.

“Thisss body hasss been very ussseful,” breaths the wight. “When my massster fled the battle the lassst of my brothersss came here. Thisss body laid hewn upon the ground. Did it belong to you?” His raspy voice mocks the elf-maiden.

“Rainion, my brother,” she says as she slides her right foot back behind her, ready. “You tarnish only his memory, fiend of Angmar,” she hisses. He is not your brother! She tells herself. Her arms tremble as the wight begins to approach. Rainion’s sword is in its hand. Ranion’s armour clads its body. Ranion’s now-gaunt, decaying face holds only the eyes of a black spirit. Stop shaking. He is not your brother!

Despair.

With a great cry Eruviel leaps forward to attack the shade before it can raise its weapon. Thrusting her left dagger into it’s chest the wight screams and bats her off of him. She hits the ground hard, but rolls and jumps to her feet, attacking again. Faster! she commands her body, muscles aching with sorrow. What poor fortune has she that she must kill the body of her beloved, deceased brother? She stabs the wight once — twice before he punches her in the face with his cross-guard. Eruviel stumbles back, barely avoiding his swinging blade as the tip grazes her leather breastplate. With one final shout she passes the wight’s swinging sword and thrusts her blade deep into its chest.

The wight screams, struggling in the throes of death. Eruviel pressed herself hard against it, twisting the dagger. The evil spirit attempts to claw at her but it perishes and dissipates before it can touch her. The elf is left standing on the small green hill, panting for breath, a pile of dust, bones and elven armour at her feet.

Her face is cold, and her eyes empty of everything as she drops to her knees. The earth is soft here, and Eruviel has little trouble carving out a hole in the soil just big enough to bury Rainion’s remnants. She can hear the cries and hollow breaths of other wights as they circle their own mounds, but none approach her small hill. Breathing seems pointless except as a habitual action. Her limbs tremble with weakness, and hot tears course down her chilled, pale cheeks. Leaning over she curls up on her side, cradling her brother’s sword, and a bitter, broken wail rises from her parched throat to echo over the Barrow-Downs.

Partings

lotr_Grey-Havens_by_paul_lasaine

Eruviel remembers…

She had been here before. The familiar, overwhelming calm rippled across her skin as the wind danced around the tall towers of the Grey Havens. She loved the smell of the sea that blew through the glistening harbor. She loved the way the sun beamed through the clouds onto the white sails of ships waiting patiently at the docks. Every time she had ridden down this road she wished she could sit in blissful silence, simply listening to the sound of the gulls, the billowing of the sails, and the sea air swirling around her. Looking past her kin riding before her she could see a ship exiting the harbor, cutting through the waves with ease and eagerness.

At the head of their procession rode her father, Istuion. He rode tall and stern, leading the march of family and friends down to the ships. He held his head proudly . . . yes, he was always proud. Istuion thought himself an example of their kin before them. Old and haughty, he had been indifferent towards the race of men since the fall of Numenor. He had remained in Lindon during the battles of the Last Alliance, and had spurned her, his youngest, for seeing hope in the world. Well, that and because she had become everything he didn’t want, thanks to her two elder brothers. She did not hate him for all his unkindness to her. He had seen dark things that would have driven any other elf over the sea ages ago.

But now her eldest brother was gone, perished at the battle of Fornost. And now her family sailed to the west to join him.

Beside Istuion rode her mother, Nostariel who, though as old as her husband, did not harbor ill towards any of Iluvitar’s children, and was a light wherever she went. Behind her trailed her now-widowed sister-in-law Talathiel — a plain, graceful elf maiden.  Following them came several dozen other Elves who had lived under her fathers protection since the death of Celebrimbor. Finally, taking up the rear behind the lindar, and clad in leather elven armour that looked a stark contrast to the flowing robes of the others, she rode with her brother Milloth beside her.

Others of their kin were waiting to take the horses as all but the two last riders dismounted and moved towards the boats. Istuion paused and turned to look at his last children. There was no sorrow nor warmth in his eyes as he met their gazes. After a minute the towering Elf turned and crossed the gangplank to take his final voyage.

“Artistuion,” their mother said softly, coming up beside her horse.

She turned to look down into her mother’s soft blue eyes. “Naneth,” her voice caught as she took her mother’s raised hand.

“Will you not come with us, child? You are certain that this is what you want?” Nostariel searched her daughter’s bright, forest-green eyes.

“Aye, naneth. I will remain here. We are needed.” She squeezed her mothers hand reassuringly. “Do not fear for me. Milloth will keep me on the right path.” Her eyes darted over to her brother who smiled softly, nodding his head in agreement.

Nostariel reached up, cupping Artistuion’s soft face in her hands. “Tinu, my sweet girl, my little lion. You need your amliesse before I depart.” Artistuion closed her eyes, imprinting the warmth of her mother’s hands into her memory. She willed her expression to remain as it was, yet her true emotions overflowed from her glistening emeyes as she opened them.

“Eruraviel,” her mother said softly, the name flowing richly off her lips. “Yes,” Nostariel says with a smile, pulling her daughters face down to kiss her forehead one last time. “My lioness. Eruraviel suits you, tinu.” The woman stepped around her daughter’s horse to embrace Milloth. “Take care of each other.”

And then she was gone. The boards were pulled back and the ships unfurled their wings to begin their passage into the west. Along with her brother, she raised her right hand in farewell to the vessels, watching in silence till the last one disappeared into the sunlight.

“Come, Eruraviel,” Milloth beckoned with a smile as he turned his black steed around to face the way they had came. “Eriador awaits us.”