Anyatka looked up at Esthyr. “You’re his flesh and blood. I see him in you. She shows me what it would be like . . . if he were younger . . . whole. If he loved only . . . me.” Her voice broke again and she lowered her head. By the Valar, she looked tired, and if there was not the threat of unleashing Faethril again, Eruviel would have relieved the woman’s weariness in a heartbeat.

“Well obviously that’s fake, then,” Esthyr snorted. “Morty was never young.”

Eruviel tucked strands of Anya’s hair behind the young woman’s ear. “And I’m sure if he was he would not be half as handsome without the scars.”

Anyatka nodded to both of them and managed a smile. “True.” Looking down at her hands a curious frown creased her face. “What is in my hand?”

“Something from someone called Atanamir,” said Esthyr.

Eruviel looked over Anya’s shoulder at the orb. “Abbi handed it to you.”

“I know Atanamir,” Anyatka frowned, “But why would he give me something? What is it?” She held it out as best as she could, stretching it up on her fingers towards the elf.

“Something to focus your mind,” said Esthyr as she took a step back and looked around the small camp. “Anyway, I’m tired, so I’m going to rest a bit. Don’t get ghosty on me while I’m gone.”

Nodding after Esthyr with a grateful smile Eruviel reached around Anya and plucked up the orb. A faint calm crept through her mind and her eyes widened slightly as she cradled it in her palm. “I can see how it helped you, oselle.”

“I didn’t know Abbi knew Atanamir. I wonder when he got it.”

Eruviel shrugged as she offered the orb back to Anya. “I have met the man only a few times, and know little about him.”

“Me, too. I hope Abiorn paid him for the item,” replied Anyatka.

Eruviel smiled and shifted in her seat, her eyes darting for a second to Eirikr and Hallem as they walked off to speak privately. “Maybe, but unless specifically sought for, that seems like an item that is gifted.”

Anyatka shrugged and nodded wearily. “I guess so.”

The poor girl. She needs sleep after the ordeal with the Gauradan. Eruviel inclined her head to the small pile of packs as short ways away. “Shall I get you a cloak? You can rest against me for the night if you wish, oselle.”

Anyatka nodded to her. “If you would not mind. I sleep better.”

Rising to her feet for just a moment she retrieved her and Anya’s packs. “I know when I’m interrupting something private,” she heard Hallem snort a short distance away. It took more willpower than she wished to admit to force herself to not eavesdrop on the distant conversation. Pulling out her large, thick cloak Eruviel shook it out as she sat back down, returning the faint smile Anya managed to offer her. “Will this spot suit you? Or should we find a more comfortable one?”

Anyatka leaned over and shook her head as Eruviel wrapped the young woman up in the warm cloth. “It is fine.”

Curse these ears, she inwardly chastised as one more small bit caught her attention. Pulling a smaller, thin cloak out for herself she untied her braid and set the packs to one side. “Here, use my lap for a pillow. Whatever you need.”

“Thank you,” Anyatka murmured as she laid on her side and rested her head in Eruviel’s lap.

“Rest well, Anyatka,” said Eruviel quietly. Checking to make sure the young woman was bundled as warmly as possible she then smoothed and hand back over her human sister’s hair. A small sigh was all the response that came before Anyatka fell soundly asleep. They were not nearly to their goal . . . but soon . . . . Soon we will have you freed of her, dear Anya.

The distant murmur of conversation ended, much to Eruviel’s relief, and she could not help but watch in the dark as Eirikr walked along the far side of the camp to find a place to rest. Why, for a painfully lingering moment, did she wish it was his head and not Anya’s that rested in her lap? Tearing her eyes from his shadowed form she leaned back on one hand, the other resting on the sleeping Anya’s shoulder, and peered up past the towering canopy of evergreens.

She told herself that it did not matter, that it meant nothing, but Eruviel had learned the folly in lying to herself long ago. It mattered, and for now she refused believe it could not be. But when did it start? In spite of herself it suddenly meant everything . . . But the memory of his words was still there, and she was glad for the presence of the young woman who slept on her lap, reminding her she was not alone. In the end she would keep constant, whether he chose that she remained systir or become . . . . But if he knew, saw her scars, and knew of Angmar, and all she had lost she was sure it would not be her heritage that would be the hindrance. The thought of loosing her new family pained her more than the thought of loosing just him.

I’m just a man. A small smile curved up her lips. You do yourself a disservice, gwador. She could still feel the memory of his concussion lingering in the back of her head, and it mixed with the memory of his warmth as they had stood arm in arm by the shore.

And then she made up her mind. And she felt time spin about her. The tides of the years she now waded through, grasping to keep but for a moment longer, seemed so much more precious. Such little time left, Milloth, before you can chastise me in person. Eruviel listened to the soft breaths of her sleeping companions, the soft beating of Anya’s heart, and to the mountain breeze that floated down through the thickly needled branches to brush over her face. Her soft eyes looked from one star to the next then grasped beyond them, wishing the vastness would swallow her up.

It’s nothing. I assure you.


(All dialogue taken from in-game RP and edited for tense and exposition.)


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