The Day Before Departure: Reasons (part 2)

Eruviel felt relief at seeing the streets fairly empty. The few people who walked it’s length were either too busy to notice, or simply did not care. Setting the man in the cart she cut open a bundle of pelts to cover him and guided the mare who pulled it out of the South Gate. The town watch on post smiled and waved back at her, shaking his head at the sight of her bloodied dress. All those times coming home from the road covered in dirt and blood suddenly came to good use. Once safely to the homesteads the man gave her directions to a house two hills over from her own, set against a cliff and hidden by tall trees. The man made no sound of pain as she helped him up the steps, though what she could see of his face looked pale.

“Thank you,” he said with a sigh of relief as he let her help him inside. It was a modest home, not much larger than her own, though she noted with amusement that all the walls had been painted black.

“Think nothing of it,” she said, smiling slightly as she tore her attention away from the house. Exio would approve of this place, she thought with a chuckle. Rolling up her sleeves she turned back to the man. “I need hot water, and clean linens.”

“It’s all there,” he said, pointing to the dining table.

Moving quickly to gather what she needed she set a small cauldron of water over the fire to boil. She could feel his eyes watching her from where he stood, assessing her as she tore the clean cotton sheets into long strips. “Do not worry. I will replace these.”

“After these last weeks, and through all of this . . . I do not even know your name,” he said, his voice low.

Eruviel smirked wryly as she walked back over to him. Reaching behind him she pulled out one of his daggers and proceeded to cut the bandaging off his shoulder. “Take your shirt off,” she said mildly as she turned to retrieve the steaming water from the fire.

The man slowly did as he was instructed though he kept his mask on. Turning back to him Eruviel could see a scarred burn mark stretching down his toned chest.

She hesitated mid-step, keeping her expression controlled as she carried the cauldron over to the table. “Are you sure there are no other wounds . . . whatever your names is,” she said, muttering the last part with amusement.

“Arathier . . . my name is Arathier, and no I have no other wounds . . . .”

Eruviel arched a brow at him, inclining her head. That I can see, she thought grimly. “Take a seat, please, Arathier,” she said, testing his name, her elvish accent surfacing for a brief moment.

Arathier moved to sit in the chair by her and leaned back from exhaustion, clenching his teeth in attempt to abate the pain.

Having soaked the rags in the steaming hot water she knelt beside him. Inspecting the still-seeping wound she began to clean around his shoulder injury. “I am Eruviel.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you,” he replied calmly. She noticed a hint of color creep up his neck as she worked. Ed’ i’ear ar’ elenea! The man really hasn’t been to a healer much if he gets embarrassed by a female patching up his careless wounds.

Eruviel succeeded in concealing a smirk but the tips of her ears still turned pink. Casting a bloodied rag over into the fire she picked up another, doing her best to not irritate the torn skin further. What he needs is stitches, she thought sullenly. “You never answered my question earlier . . . not really, anyways.” She instantly regretted saying something, remembering his reaction when she had first posed the question.

“And what was the question?”

“Why you do what you have been doing in Bree? What was your promise?”

Arathier’s gaze moved to the fire. “Killing the men who took my mother from me.”

Eruviel stopped for a moment before pulling back, unable to look at him. “You had mentioned her before. It was wrong of me to ask. I will speak no more on the matter,” she said quietly as she rose gingerly to her feet. Emptying the contents of her pockets onto the table she frowned at the handful of empty vials. Of all the things for me to be thoughtless about.  “One good thing has come from you ruining my dresses; I finally have to empty out my pockets.” Dropping clean rags in to the cauldron she brought it, more linens, and a little glass jar back over to Arathier.

“I — um . . . ,” he stuttered, the parts of his face that she could see turning red.

It took all of her strength to to keep from laughing and simply pretend not to notice. “After all the trouble you’ve caused me, I cannot believe you have me playing healer,” she muttered quietly. Dipping two fingers into the salve she began to dab it on the puncture wound. “You are fortunate that I do not listen well to my own healer.”

“For that, I thank you,” said Arathier, smiling warmly in spite of his hurt.

Unable to keep back a smile any longer she glanced at him, making an effort to not let her eyes linger on the scar on his chest. “I suppose you are welcome,” she quipped good-naturedly. Motioning for him to sit forward she unraveled a long dry linen strip and picked up a tightly folded compress.

Arathier leaned forward at her command. “I would be dead if it was not for you,” he said, his voice low and serious.

“Of that, I have no doubt,” she said simply as she wrapped his shoulder. Finishing, she moved to set the jar down but paused, looking from the burn scar up to meet Arathier’s eyes. “Do you mind if I . . .” she held the jar up slightly.

“Leave it. I want it there as a reminder of–” Arathier cut himself off, flushing slightly in what she thought might be frustration as he looked away from her.

Washing her hands, Eruviel set into bandaging his leg. It was a shallow puncture wound on the outside of his thigh. Frowning as she pressed a second compress on it she had him hold the square of cloth in place as she began to wrap it.

Arathier winced slightly. “I was surprised . . . when you saw me there half dead. You did not turn me in.”

Eruviel threw another rag into the fire. Securing the loose end of the linen she smirked slightly up at him. “I had thought about it. Why were those men shooting arrows at you?”

“I ah . . . dealt with their leader.”

Eruviel ‘hmmed’ quietly as she started to clean up her mess. “I was wondering . . . .” her voice trailed off and she simply chuckled, shaking her head as she sat back with a sigh. “I ask too many questions.”

A smile turned up Arathiers mouth as he shook his head. “I think it’s c — I do not mind,” he corrected himself.

Eruviel pursed her lips as she smiled, glancing down. By the arrows of Orome, stop doing that, she though vehemently as she rose to her feet and turned away to hide the flush in her cheeks. “If we were in my own home I would feed you. You lost a lot of blood and need sustenance.”

Arathier nodded over his shoulder. “There is food on the table . . . I can get it myself if you prefer.”

Eruviel stepped in front of him to sweep the clutter of vials and paper on the table into her basket. Turning back to Arathier she smiled slightly, her face again composed. “It is your home, and you’d better be on your death bed if I am ever to feed you. Just eat some meat and drink a lot of water. I leave tomorrow and would be very disappointed to not have my life threatened when I return,” she said with a good-natured wink.

Arathier smiled but a look of worry passed over his face. “You are leaving?”

Eruviel nodded, clasping her hands in front of her as she leaned back against the edge of the table. You were out of it when I told you before . . . but why do you care? “For several months, unfortunately.”

“Where are you going?” asked Arathier, steeling himself as he stood and walked around the table to retrieve a white shirt from a chair on the other side.

Eruviel watched him, not caring to hide her perplexed look. “To the East. I have a friend to protect.”

Arathier nodded rather sullenly as he carefully pulled the shirt down over his torso. Eruviel caught his amused smirk as she looked away.

Eruviel smiled, skewing her lips to one side. “Try not to kill too many men while I’m gone,” she said as she stood up, stepping towards the door. “I should be here to try and stop you.”

“I am almost done, Eruviel,” Arathier said as he walked carefully back around the table.

“What do you mean, you’re almost done?” she asked, frowning up at him.

“I am almost done my sweep of Bree. The number of the brigands I hunt are dwindling. I have no family here, so I will be leaving un–unless I have a reason to stay,” he said quietly, tucking his hands into his pockets.

Eruviel smirked as she studied him. Things were so much easier when you were simply a killer in the shadows. “If I understand you correctly, a complete stranger is asking me to give him a reason to stay?”

Arathier shook his head violently. “Not at all! I did not m-mean i-it like that!” he started, stumbling madly on his words. Taking a deep breath he brought his hands up to his face and slowly removed his mask. “Am I still a stranger?” The void between his blue eyes and short black beard filled in. He had a strong, rather handsome face.

Eruviel ‘s eyes widened slightly. “I suppose not . . . . You trust me to see you without the mask?”

“I trust you,” he said with out hesitation, nodding curtly.

“I am glad of that.” Though I hardly know why . . . . “What is your profession, if I may ask?”

“A woodsman,” he replied with a smile, a familiar gleam in his eyes.

A Ranger, she thought with satisfaction, relaxing her shoulders a she shifted her basket to her other arm. More pieces to his puzzle. Nodding, Eruviel beamed an amused smile up at him. “I suppose I should tell Watcher Arion that the masked man has left town. I cannot abide an honest woodsman being thrown needlessly into prison.”

“I would appreciate that,”Arathier said with a laugh. Stepping with her he opened the door before she could reach for it.

Moving forward into the door way she turned to look back at his bandages to make sure they were holding. “If . . . if you happen to be around if –when I return, I would like it if our paths crossed again. Without the knife or the mask.” Inclining her head in a small bow she stepped out onto the small porch.

“Eruviel,” Arathier called out as she descended the steps.

She turned slightly to look back at him. “Yes, Arathier?”

The man frowned, more to himself than at her. “Have a safe trip.”

Eruviel smiled back at him, her emerald eyes brimming with anticipation and confidence. “I will do my best. Safe paths to you, my friend.”

(All dialogue taken from in-game RP played out on 3/31/14. Some alterations have been made.)

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