“Dreadward!” boomed Adrovorn, his strong voice rising above the clamor of the fight taking place at an enemy stronghold a short distance away. Twenty well equipped riders fell into formation. Even their horses seemed to respond to the Gondorian Captain, waiting patiently for his next orders. Wheeling his black war steed around he stopped beside Eruviel, the two exchanging curt nods.
Giving him a small smile, Eruviel reached over to unhook the sheath of his sword from where it had gotten caught in his mount’s tack. “The same as usual, my lord?”
“The same as usual, my lady,”Adrovorn responded, extending his arm down to tuck a stray strand of hair behind Eruviel’s pointed ear. His steel blue eyes lingered on her before flicking back to her quiver, counting.
“It is not like you to worry,” Eruviel chuckled as she fit a new string onto her bow.
“I don’t show it when I worry,” he quipped dryly. Sitting upright he patted the neck of his horse as he watched the fort beyond the treeline, waiting for the signal. “Until we reach Lindon I doubt that I shall sleep at all,” he added gruffly.
Myrthrost, one of Adrovorn’s closest friends shot her an amused look over the head of his dwarven companion, Rhuniki, who blabbered on and on about how to best kill an orc. Wrinkling her nose back at him she turned her head just in time to see a torch being waved from the top of the wooden wall. “You will have time enough to sleep after we get to Thorin’s Hall,” said Eruviel, choosing an arrow from her back and knocking it.
“No I won’t,” said Adrovorn quietly, laughing as color crept into Eruviel’s cheeks. “Myrthrost! Rhuniki! Take the gate,” he commanded as he unclasped and pulled out a black spiked flail from behind his saddle. Twenty swords rang as they were unsheathed in unison. The dwarf let out a zealous war cry, and he and the man dashed forward with Eruviel following a few paces behind, sniping archers from the wall. Shoving each other back and forth as they ran, Rhuniki brandished his axe, jesting with the more level-headed Myrthrost. Eruviel smirked as she released another volley upwards, giving the two precious seconds to get to the gate and take out the dozen orcs guarding it. Sometimes she wondered which one of them was the sidekick.
It had been eight years since the Dreadward Tribunal had been formed. Campaigning across the North Downs into Evendim the troop fought with others of like-minds, dealing judgement and driving back the enemy where few dared to go. They had become a cohesive unit with Myrthrost, Adrovorn, Rhuniki, Milloth and Eruviel at its core. It had been a refreshing change from the years of living and fighting in the shadows of Angmar. Daran had been dissatisfied at her departure, but had also understood, even more than she had at the time. Sprinting through the gate Eruviel glanced back to see the column of dust rise from where the rest of the troops sped across the dry earth. What had it been . . . three years? Adrovorn had stopped her after a bloody battle and told her upfront of how he felt and of his intentions. He had been tactful in his own way, and eloquent as always, but the man never beat around the bush. And she had made him wait.
“There they are!” shouted Rhuniki as a sizable number of Tarkrip stampeded down the lane towards them. Eruviel loosed a succession of arrows into the approaching mob as Myrthost fit a second rune between his fingers and cast barrier of protection around them.
The sound of thundering hooves drew near, and as the Tarkrip stumbled over one another to retreat, the trip jumped to the side of the road to watch Adrovorn and his men thunder past. Taking a moment to watch the riders plow through the enemies ranks, their black cloaks billowing like smoke behind them, Eruviel split off from the man and dwarf to scale the lower inner wall of the fort.
Running along the elevated walkway she dropped every enemy archer she laid eyes on. In the center of the fortified camp she could see Milloth battling the Tarkrip Commander. Adrovorn had dismounted and now fought back to back with the Eldar, leveling any foe that came within reach of his blood coated flail. They do not call him the Black Thorn for nothing, Eruviel smiled to herself as she plunged her sword through the skull of an orc clinging to the edge of the platform.
Just as the battle seemed to have be won, a foul tension wound in her gut. Across the large yard Eruviel could see Milloth reach back to find his quiver empty as the Tarkrip Ccommander’s blade cut across his breastplate. A particularly large orc flanked Adrovorn as he was beset by two others, and at the same moment a dozen Tarkrip clamored up onto the wooden walkway on either side of her. In the blink of an eye she took note of the other fighters, and made eye contact with the few that had started to run towards her, their own bows rising. Knocking an arrow to her bowstring she took aim, the white fetching brushing across her cheek. My last one. She exhaled a whispered blessing to ignite the light oil, and released.
The arrow streaked across the distance with a flash of lightening (courtesy of Myrthrost), and struck the enemy commander in the forehead with a sickening thwap. The foul creature had hardly begun to fall back when Milloth wrenched the arrow from it’s face and spun around to peg the orc leaping at Adrovorn in the heart. Drawing her sword and dagger Eruviel dodged the first two of her attackers before cutting them down. Thrusting her sword into another on her left she wrenched the weapon out to smash the pommel into the face of the orc behind her. An arrow from below took out the creature as it swung its dark blade, giving Eruviel the moment she needed to jump down from the wall, avoiding the spread of arrows that mowed down the Tarkrip defenders attacking her.
Rolling as she hit the ground, Eruviel rose to her feet, and took a moment to observe Rhuniki finish off a downed foe before relaxing her grip on the hilts of her weapons. It was finally over. Nodding to the Rangers and Gondorian fighters that had come to her aid she walked across the yard littered with corpses towards the rest of her gathered comrades. The handful of men with her half followed, half guarded her. Adrovorn, she thought, letting out a short huff. Several months back his men had taken it upon themselves to ensure her safety, but this was ridiculous. The look Adrovorn shot her told her that even he thought his men might be taking their self-proclaimed duty too close to heart.
One more stop, she told herself as she stepped between Milloth and Adrovorn, exchanging a smile of understanding with her brother. One more trip north to protect my future from the past.