In Exchange

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Eloir waited patiently as Eruviel fit the bridle over his ears. The destrier had been unusually still the whole time she had packed her saddle bags. Fitting the reigns over the pommel of her saddle the elf stopped for a moment, looking down to her delicate hands as she balled them up into fists. The faintest tremble took over her hands, and the muscles in her arms grew weak. She had one more thing to do before she left, and by Orome she prayed that she was doing the right thing.

“Wait for me, my friend,” she whispered, smoothing a hand down the dark grey neck of her horse. Shifting the bow on her back she turned and strode down the path to the road. Every step that brought her closer to the square of Glaston was a tug to straighten her high, open V’d collar, a brush at her braid, a deep breath that sent a solemn and confident air swirling about her. Crossing over the bridge she could not help it as her shoulders sunk as the young boy came into view. His new mother walked away, arms hugged to herself. Eruviel had spoken to her briefly the day before, and though she had given no details she knew Amiraen understood.

“You must be Thamon,” she said evenly as she approached. Eruviel ignored the knot that rose in her chest. Though he lacked Daran’s amber eyes she could see the same conviction that lingered behind the storm of emotions on his face.

“Yes. You are Miss Eruviel, then?” he asked quietly, dipping his head.

Eruviel studied the boy with a somber expression as she stopped. “I am, young one,” she said as she offered him the most graceful of curtseys in spite of the blades fixed on her hips. “I wish we could have met under happier of circumstances.”

Thamon nodded slowly as he walked towards her with caution. Extending an arm to her he offered her a knife. It had been one of Daran’s. He closed his eyes, his lower lip quivering. “Please, I took one of yours. . . and I wish for you to take my life in exchange.”

Eruviel’s eyes brimmed with moisture as she took the knife. Resting a hand softly on his shoulder she nodded. “If that is what you wish.”

The boy sucked in a sharp breath. “I-I am sorry.”

Studying him a moment longer she turned and motioned back the way she had came. “Walk with me?”

Thamon flinched when she touched his shoulder and slowly nodded, following her quietly with his head hung low. “Yes, Miss. Eruviel,” he whispered as he stayed close to her.

Eruviel strolled forward at a leisurely pace as she lead the boy down the street. “How is your mother coping with your wishes?” she asked, her tone both sad and sweet.

Thamon shook his head slowly. “She did not agree. . . but my decisions are my own. I took something from you, and I can never give it back.” A tear escaped down his cheek, the sight of it planting a pang of guilt that slowly grew in her gut.

Eruviel glanced down to him with an indecipherable look. “It is a great loss. Killing can become so easy,” she spoke quietly, “until you realize that life is the most precious thing one has.” Turning to head up the path to her large, secluded yard she nodded to him. “How old are you, Thamon?”

The boy looked back up at her, the tear betraying his steel mask of emotions. “I am nine; would be ten in a couple weeks.” He looked around the yard a small smile forming on his face at the near haven-like home . . . . But he remembered where he was, and why he was there, and the smile quickly faded. “J-Just do it Miss Eruviel.”

Eruviel stopped in the shadow of the path, the moonlight reflecting in her eyes. “Do you know who Daran was?” she asked as she turned to face the lad.

Thamon nodded slowly. “I know a lot about him. I was forced to follow him for awhile.” He stared up at her. “Miss Eruviel . . . I don’t want to be rude.” Another tear followed the path of the first as his dark blue eyes searched hers. “Take my life. I don’t want to be here anymore. Please,” he whispered. “All I can think about is the day I loosed that arrow.”

Eruviel turned her head to peer down at him. “Very well, Thamon. Kneel,” she said as she unwrapped the dagger he had handed her, letting the cloth drop as she inspected the blade.

Thamon stared at Eruviel for a moment before bowing his head. “As you wish,” he whispered quietly as he fell to his knees. Looking up proudly even as tears poured down his face, the boy locked his gaze on hers. “Do it.”

Eruviel slowly lowered herself to her knees, and putting one hand on Thamon’s shoulder set the tip of the blade against his side. Looking him in the eyes she whispered, “Thamon Thranuin, son of Arathier and Amiraen, I hereby pass judgement on you.”

Thamon stared at her with a hardened look, flinching again as she pressed the knife against him. Taking in a ragged breath he waited, nearly motionless for her to end things.

Eruviel ‘s expression remained solemn and almost mournful. “And so, for having slain the warlord Daran, captain with the Free People in Angmar in an act of self preservation, and without malice . . . do give you mercy. You are forgiven, Thamon.”

Thamon stared at her and shook his head. “No!” he shouted miserably, his hands grabbing at her’s that held the knife. “I deserve to be punished! I am a monster. I am no better than anyone in Angmar.” His jaw trembled. His whole body trembled. “I don’t deserve it.”

Eruviel’s armed hand did not budge as her eyes narrow. “Daran was born the son of an Angmarim captain. Do you know how many good men and women he had killed by the time he was your age? He struggled with the guilt and memories for years, but he vowed to be a better man than those who had trapped him in that world.” She tucked a crooked finger of her free hand under his chin. “You did not kill him because you wanted him dead, Thamon. The only one punishing you is yourself. Forgive yourself and live in his memory. Daran was a hard man, but a good man, and strong. He understood.”

The boy’s chest heaved and a sob clawed up to escape his throat. Clinging to her Thamon collapsed forward, burying his face against her shoulder. “I-I’m no better . . . I’m no better.” he muttered as he cried. “I-I’m so-orry, Miss. Eruviel. I-I never meant t-to. I didn’t want to!” he shouted.

Eruviel let the dagger fall from her hand and she wrapped her arms around the boy, drawing him onto her lap as they sat on the path. “It’s alright, Thamon,” she said quietly as he wept. “You’ve just showed more honor than many do in their lifetimes. You are a good boy, and you’ll be a great man,” she whispered as she smoothed her hand over his dark haired head. “I am sure of it.”

 

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

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