The rabbit was the fattest she had seen in months. Turning the spit over the fireplace, Eruviel slowly basted the meat, the excess hissing as it dripped onto the hot coals. The savory smell filled her house and mixed with the sweet summer breeze that floated in from the open windows.

It was quiet now. Quiet and empty. Eruviel refused to admit that it was lonely. Not yet. Arathier was gone. Anya had moved in with Eirikr and Abi, and now Eirikr . . . . Eruviel pulled out a knife and checked the meat, nodding in satisfaction at seeing it done. Fitting her hand into a thick mitt she picked up the meat, impaled by an iron spoke and cooked to a golden brown, and easily slid the still sizzling game off the spoke into a wooden dish. Try as she might, nothing she cooked or cut could silence Eirikr’s voice in her head as her mind replayed the events from the day before.

The waves kissing the shore . . . . I can’t . . . . I pushed her too hard . . . . She’s gone . . . . IT’S HIS FAULT!

Eruviel stabbed the paring knife into the cutting board, the blade piercing through the bottom of the slab and into the table. She gripped — no — clung to the handle as she hung her head, not seeing the fixings neatly diced beneath her gaze. He didn’t listen . . . he wouldn’t. And now he’s gone. He turned his back and left. They all leave. I promised . . . .

Standing straight she frowned as she jerked the knife out in a sharp motion, setting it to the side. Brushing a few stray strands of hair out of her face with a frustrated swipe she surveyed the food she had prepared. Eruviel had gathered herbs in the forest as she had made her way back. Those that would be of no use to Abiorn would be good for cooking. Her smallest saddle bag bulged with fresh berries and she had prepared a colorful salad from the vegetables in her neighbor’s garden. Eruviel had watered the little plot for a week in the woman’s absence and she felt no guilt at the small harvest.

“I’m a fool,” she muttered harshly as she secured the lid on the jar of cold milk. Why would she think that he would listen to her? She hadn’t listened when she had hit a similar low . . . and she was almost to that point again. “Oh, gwador,” she whispered sadly, wrapping the rotisserie rabbit in butcher paper. As much as she wanted to go back out and find the tortured man she knew there was nothing for it. He needed the space, and the quiet. The last thing he needed was a silly elf’s council.

Filling two large baskets with her bounty, Eruviel stepped into her black leather boots and headed out the door. She squinted for a moment as her eyes adjusted to the mid-morning sun. Shifting her hold on the wicker handles she then started down the lane. Eruviel hoped she was early enough to catch whoever it was who planned on making dinner at the Tenorbrook residence. Anya and Abi were expecting her to bring Eirikr home. It was not what she had hoped, but Eruviel refused to show up empty-handed.


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