Nearly every light in Durrow had been blown out for the night as Eruviel made her way down the cobbled path. A crisp wind moved through the bare branches above her, foretelling the coming of snow. She stopped at the gate to the Tenorbekk cottage, second thoughts flying through her mind. You should go home. You were fine before; you can be fine now. The house was dark; a small refuge on the side of Ruby Lake, and her eyes drifted for a moment to the wagon. No. What would they think if any of them walked out in the morning to find her sleeping in the bed of the wagon?
She had been having a lovely week. Several commissions sat in her pocket, Arylieth had insisted on stealing all her dresses to mend and touch up, and no one had died. A far better week than that of the ones prior to Evendim. And then as she had just ordered her first cider in weeks, Arathier had appeared beside her.
Eruviel forced her feet to work as she walked slowly into the yard, pulling her bow and sword belt off before she reached the front steps. She waited there on the stoop, her hand resting on the door handle, staring at the wooden door in the dark. The last time she had shown up like this Anya had been awake, and the elf had slipped in through the young woman’s window. Eirikr had reprimanded her for that later, telling her to used the front door next time. Eirikr.
Turning the door nob she slipped inside the house, the only sounds within being the sleeping breaths of the three Tenorbekks. Eruviel quietly closed the door behind her, careful to have not let in too much of a draft, and she silently set her things down on the rug. The small front room was warm. She had not realized how cold she had gotten on the walk from town. Glancing over to the slumbering forms of Abbi and Eirikr, Eruviel tip-toed the few steps over to the couch, snagged a folded blanket and laid down across the cushions, hiding her face in her arms.
We found him, Eru. We know who killed Daran . . . He wants to meet you. Could you, please . . . .
The news had shot through her like a bolt of electricity. She had tried to move past it. Why did he have to tell her? Why could he have not just let her be? Evendim had come at the perfect time. It had forced Daran’s death, and the murders she and her neighbor had stumbled upon out of her mind. No mourning or worry about the troubles in Bree-land; it was just Anya, just Abbi, just Eirikr. But Arathier had found her tonight.
He had told her that one of the strongest men she’d known had been killed by a child. While she felt like laughing, hot tears rimmed her eyes. Daran had been right in his letter. It really was strangely poetic. But now Arathier and Mira had the kid . . . and the kid wanted her to take his life for what he’d done. Just a child; no older than ten. It reminded her of the broken bits inside of her. It reminded her of the brokenness of Angmar. What would she do when she met the boy who had grown up in so much anger and hate, and now desired his judgement to come from her hand? Maybe, she thought, that what she feared most was that she would see Daran in the boy, as he had been all those year ago.
A pain twisted in her chest as she pulled out her hair ribbon and wrapped the blanket around her. She had promised to see him. To talk to the boy they called ‘Thamon.’ But what could she say? She knew what Daran would say . . . and that was probably the best place to start.
One of the boys rolled over in their beds, and Eruviel froze, not wanting to make any more noise than she already had. After a moment passed she found a small pillow and hugged it beneath her head. A tear escaped out of the corner of her eye. She should have gone home. Home was safe, and most of the time she enjoyed the quiet, but not tonight. She feared if she went home tonight she wouldn’t come out for days. She couldn’t count on Exio noticing her absence and breaking into her home again to force her into the sunlight.
No. She had work in the morning. Just tonight she would rest on the couch till twilight, then she would sneak out again. She could be strong tomorrow. She would give Ris swordsmanship lessons, and hunt and be back in time to make lunch. She had tomorrow to smile and be all right, and to work and return to some resemblance of a routine. But she didn’t want to be all right; not tonight. She didn’t want to fall prey to loneliness, and the despairing memories that came with it. So Eruviel curled up on the Tenorbekk couch and drifted off to sleep on the tear-stained pillow, dreaming of not so distant people and and very distant places.