Eruviel shivered beneath her blanket. It was not the chill of her swim that had seeped into her bones. That had been chased away by dry clothes, the fire, and the small smile that had accompanied the hot tea offered by Eirikr. A crisp, late autumn breeze floated down from the mountains to the west, but her blanket had served her well. No, it was the journal of the man called Parmenan that made the hairs rise on the back of her neck. As her studies returned to her, Eruviel almost wished they hadn’t. At times the words sent shivers down her spine, and the the next page might very well cause her blood to boil.
She had sat up by the fire as the others slept, however uneasy, and more than once she had risen to suppress a nightmare. Her senses stretched out to hear the pattering of fallen, golden leaves a hundred yards out, Eruviel still walked around the camp every half hour. Call it paranoia, or precautions, it would have been over her dead body if her companions were woken before the sun rose. The journal never left her hands.
For the few hours left to the night she poured over the stained pages that were nearly as old as she. Orome help me. All they do is take, even from their own. How she hated them, and yet for the first time since she had met her first Black Numenorian, a handful of journal entries brought her to pity. And she supposed she should not have been surprised. It all fit, like some wicked, sad, twisted puzzle.
May your dreams be free of fire . . .
A soft, pink glow spread over the far horizon. Rising silently to her feet Eruviel walked through the camp to stand on the lake’s edge. Mist rose off the water as the light of dawn slowly chased the night back into the far recesses of the forest behind her. The breeze caught in her loose hair and she turned her sharp gaze south as she pulled the blanket tighter around her shoulders.
Foul bastard. I want my sister back, she thought bitterly. All those months . . . Was it selfish of her to want more time? More time with just Anya? She wanted the chance to take her on the little trips they had hoped to share. Simple days spent in the sun as Anya painted to her hearts content. Days without the fear that her oselle’s mind might be taken over or that the smallest gift might hurt the young woman. Did not Anyatka deserve even one such day?
The pink and gold mixed in with the deep, blue morning sky above her, and Eruviel breathed in the sweet smell of pine and spruce. They would get her back. They had to get her back. What if the others . . . Eruviel shook her head as if to rid herself of the heartbreaking thought. She could not loose focus.
Her father would have been proud of the stern look that seemed to highlight her elven features. Hang on, Anyatka. Just a little longer.
Who knew what the next few days would bring? As Eruviel clutched the journal to her chest she wondered if perhaps their best chance was not in swords, spears, and the strength of their arms, but in actual, selfless love, and in the strength of the souls the went to both slay and save.
Perhaps, I will find you again.