The brigand lumbered along the road between Staddle and Bree, shooting foul looks over his shoulder as he shrugged at the ropes that bound him. Little idiot, Eruviel smirked as she walked behind him, the end of the rope tucked into her pockets along with her hands.
“I’ll pay you if you let me loose,” the young man attempted, slowing as he turned to look at her.
“Not a chance,” said Eruviel, pushing his back to urge him forward again. “All I wanted was a nice afternoon at the festival and you thought you could mug me. A waste of my time. Although, you did save me the effort of hunting you down, so I really should be thanking you.”
“My boss is gonna kill you for turning me in,” the brigand spat.
“Highly unlikely,” Eruviel responded, her eyes darting around as the air changed. “As soon as you tell me who he is I will personally take it upon myself to bring him to you so you can have that nice long chat behind bars.” Her captive did not respond, but she really didn’t care. Something was amiss. Urging him forward at a quicker pace she unclasped the strap from over her dagger.
“What is it?’ asked the brigand, his eyes now darting around as well.
If it is him . . . “For your sake, I hope it is nothing. Now move along. I will feel better with you safely in the prison.” Though that never stopped Arathier before. From the tension in the air she knew it had to be him. It had become familiar to her over the past weeks, and she hated that she looked for it while at the same time loathing it. And then it was there, like the heat of the sun blazing upon her back.
“No further! You’ll hand him over to me!” Arathier growled as he paced around Eruviel and her captive like a wolf assessing its prey till he came to a stop, blocking her path into Bree.
Eruviel jerked the rope back to her, the brigand crying out in surprise as he stumbled backwards. “I should have thought better of taking this road into town. You know I will not hand him over,” she replied sternly, narrowing her eyes.
“Please, I do not wish to harm you in the process,” muttered Arathier, giving her a stern, cold look.
You keep saying that, she thought grimly. First it was the night in Chetwood when they had gone for a walk and Sickleaf had captured Arathier. Eruviel had saved his life twice from that man. Shaking her head to clear it of the memories and the emotions that hindered her judgement, Eruviel looked squarely back at him. “You should have caught us when he jumped me outside of the homesteads. I might have then. But not now. Let us pass, my friend.”
Arathier studied her as he raised his dagger. “I can’t let him go,” he replied, his tone low from anger.
Eruviel pulled on the rope again, giving the brigand a dark look when he resisted, looking between her and masked man with confusion. “Yes, you can,” Eruviel said, her voice thickening as her slight accent surfaced.
“He dies today. It’s how it has to be.” Arathier moved a step closer . . . then another.
Eruviel stepped forward as the brigand ducked behind her. “Why must he die? What has he specifically done to acquire your wrath?”
Arathier shot a deadly look at the man cowering behind her. “This man has killed a farmers two little boys here in Staddle!”
Eruviel’s eyes darkened a shade. “Even more reason for him to be turned in to the Justice.”
“Now Er-” Arathier began as if to try to reason with her before cutting himself off. “Lady, you will back off. He is MINE!”
Eruviel moved back half a step but drew herself up to her full height. “Sir, I will not. This man will most likely be sentenced and executed before the week is out. His life does not belong to you.”
Arathier smiled wickedly at something outside her vision. “It does now.” In a flash he threw his knife out.
Seeing that the brigand had stepped from behind her, Eruviel reached out in attempt to grab the knife. It sliced across her palm as it escaped her grasp, burying itself into the brigands neck. Freezing for a moment, her hand burned from the pain as the young man fell to the ground, drowning in his own blood. Wrenching the knife from the brigand she cast the knife into the ground at Arathiers feet and turned away, pulling her wounded hand to herself.
You did it again! she raged, both to herself and Arathier. What in Arda am I thinking? And yet another man dies on my watch from his dark obsession. He will break me, as loosing Cade and Adrovorn nearly did. I don’t think I coul–
“Eruviel! Wait!” Arathier called out from behind her, following.
Eruviel looked back at him with a wounded glare. “It is my turn to take care of the body this time, I believe,” she said quietly.
“Eruviel you are bleeding,” he said, reaching out as concern filled his voice. “Look. I’m . . . I am sorry.” You don’t sound very sorry.
Eruviel clenched her hand, dropping it to her side. “I am, but it is my own fault. I should have known . . . . No, it does not matter now.” Looking down at the corpse she stepped over it to get a better angle at picking up the deceased man. The coroner was only a short walk away. She could make it.
Arathier gently took her by the shoulders, moving her back several steps. “Let me,” he said quietly. Picking up the body the walked off. “Wait for me,” he called as he hurried away.
Turning her back to him she frowned down at her hand. The bleeding had slowed, but it would definitely scar. I won’t wait this time, she thought as she stood there. Music floated over the town walls and down the path and Eruviel sighed as she pulled a kerchief from her pocked and wound it over her hand. She hated that he could move her like that. She hated that he made her second-guess herself, and that she didn’t want to hate him in spite of their conflicts of interest. Arathier had lied to her about how many men he intended to kill. He killed too easily. Maybe that was what she hated most.
Then he was back, standing in front of her. Carefully taking her hand he fixed her poor excuse of a bandage, securing the ends in a firm knot. “Thank you for waiting,” he said quietly.
Glancing down at her feet Eruviel realized she had not moved. Looking up at him she merely nodded, still to frustrated to trust herself to speak.
“I am sorry my lo –”
“Stop! You are under arrest for murder!” Glancing behind Arathier, Eruviel saw a man of the Watch standing several yards away, his crossbow aimed at them.
“Put your bow down sir, please. There is no need for that,” she said calmly as she extended out her wounded hand. Could this Watcher be new?
The Watcher aimed his bow at Eruviel as another emerged from behind the first, aiming his crossbow at Arathier. “I will shoot. He is a wanted criminal!” She did not recognize the second man either.
Glancing up at Arathier, she did her best not to smirk at the two uniformed men. “I do not know why you aim your bow at me, sir, but shift to the left or you will miss.”
“Stop,” Adrovorn whispered to her, “just let them take me. They will take you too if they know you hid a criminal.”
Eruviel pursed her lips as she studied the Watchers, taking care not to acknowledge Arathier’s words. “Forgive me, Watcher. I did not mean to cause more trouble,” she said as she slowly stepped away. This is wrong, she thought as she observed the shifty, nervous movements of the Watchers.
“Turn around,” ordered the first Watcher, motioning to Arathier. Arathier complied, putting his hands behind his head as he turned to face the Watchers, giving Eruviel a reassuring nod.
Taking a step forward the second main leveled his aim. “Mr. Jack sends his regards,” the man spat. They aren’t Watchers! Both men fired their weapons. Arathier screamed out in pain as the bolts struck him, one in the chest, the other in the shoulder. Whipping her bow from her back Eruviel effortlessly pegged the first man in the forehead as he struggled to reload, and her second arrow sliced across the second man’s neck as he attempted to run. This is the difference between us, the why and how.
Dropping to the ground beside Arathier Eruviel ripped the satin hem from her dress and pressed it against his wounds. “Don’t move, you will make it worse,” she hushed him, her voice catching.
Arathier shook his head. “There could be more of them. Y-you have to leave me. I will be fine,” he choked.
Quickly pulling his extra daggers from their hidden sheaths, Eruviel fit them into her belt and moved her quiver from her back to her waist. “You know I will not leave,” she said firmly, the color draining from her face.
Arathier took in a sharp breath, stilling stifling a cry. “Please le-eave Eru. I don’t want you to-to — I made you a promise. I will make it back to your house.”
The blood had begun to pool around him and soaked in at her knees. If you were not wanted I could simply take you to the infirmary, she thought harshly. Eruviel shook her head defiantly as her eyes pierced through their surroundings. ” I cannot leave you like this.” Sitting up she whistled for her horse who grazed a short distance away.
“What is this, the second time?”
“The fourth,” she said a little too bitterly.
“Eruviel,” he whispered hoarsely as his hand fell away, “I — I see stars.”
“That is because it’s getting to be nighttime,” she quipped quietly, glad for the small smile it brought to his face. Meranor trotted up beside them, nickering unhappily at the sight and smell of blood. “I see them too,” she continued. “Keep talking, Arathier. You need to stay with me.” Eruviel kept her hand pressed firmly against his wounds as she helped him to his feet.
“If you insist,” Arathier smirked, offering a garbled chuckle. Gritting his teeth against the pain as he settled into the saddle he did not protest when Eruviel tied him to the seat.
“Khila amin, Meranor,” whispered Eruviel to her horse, scratching under the mare’s chin. Knocking an arrow on her bowstring, Eruviel tucked the excess length of her skirt into her belt and set out in a silent sprint, Meranor running in a smooth gallop behind her.
The dark sentinels of old trees watched quietly as Eruviel led the way to the homesteads. Laughter from the guardhouse reassured her that they would not be spotted aside from Meranor, whom the Watch knew enough not to be concerned. Peace often caused the neglect of diligence, but tonight Eruviel did not mind. Reaching the house first, she quickly unlocked the door and opened it wide as Meranor came to a stop on the stoop. Arathier slid too easily from the saddle, his falling weight throwing Eruviel against the wooden door frame as she caught him. Wincing from the impact Eruviel drug Arathier inside, drops of blood marking the floor as she moved him to her bedroom and carefully laid him on the bed.
“Talk to me Arathier. Stay awake,” Eruviel urged, lightly patting his cheeks before turning to rush through the house, gathering what supplies she could think of. Bringing a small cauldron of water with her she set it over the fireplace in her room.
“Wha– what do you want to hear,” he muttered with labored breaths as his eyes followed her, his hands pressing down on where the arrows still protruded from his chest and shoulder.
Tearing through her dresser, Eruviel found the vials she had just received from Cwendlwyn. Thank Orome, she thought, breathing out a heavy sigh. “Anything, Arathier, that will keep you awake a minute longer.”
“Eruviel, I –” he started as she walked to stand beside the bed, unstopping one vial, then another. “Your hand!” he exclaimed weakly, remembering. “I hurt you,” he growled, grimacing as he tried to move the wrong shoulder.
“I am sure it will not be the last time,” she said matter-of-factly as she lifted his head with her good hand. “Drink this,” she said, cutting off his protest as she forced him to swallow the clear, pale pink liquid.
Sputtering, he swallowed the last of it after seeing her glare. “That stuff’s gawd-awful.”
Smirking, Eruviel set the small vessel to the side and picked up one of her thick leather gloves. “I need to pull those out.”
“Do it,” Arathier coughed gruffly, accepting the glove that she fit in his mouth.
“Forgive me for this,” she muttered, her brow furrowing. Pressing one hand down on his chest, her other took hold of the first iron and wood bolt.
(All dialogue taken from in-game RP and edited for tense and exposition.)