Month: February 2015

The Forest of Lies

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Somehow, despite everyone’s best efforts to stay together, the shadowed spirit forest managed to separate the Wayfarers. Eruviel did not look back, nor did her keen gaze linger long on her surroundings. Clearly, this forest was meant to show someone the darkest aspects of one’s inner self. At the very least, it intended to torture witless wanderers with lies and temptations. But so far, nothing had bothered Eruviel. It almost seemed as if the forest couldn’t be bothered to care.

Her eyes almost always fixed ahead of her, the elf took advantage of being left alone by the forest to run towards her goal as quickly and quietly as she could. Memories flashed through her minds-eye. What could this forest counjur? Dead Rainion or Daran? Anyatka taken over by Faethril? Parmanen . . . Alagos . . . Damn it all, run faster. About her she could only see icy snow, and the smell of wet bark, and snow-patched boughs of pine filled her nostrils with every breath.

After a while, a small, silvery doe appeared between the trees. She stepped delicately through the snow, and paused as she saw Eruviel. Large, shivery ears swiveled back and forth as her black nose twitched.

Eruviel’s progression slowed as she caught sight of the doe. Unsure if it was a trick of the forest or a spirit of the realm, she dipped her head to it in a respectful bow to the graceful creature before continuing on.

The doe’s eyes followed Eruviel as she ran. After a moment, the doe began to follow. Like Eruviel, she left no footprints in the snow.

With a glance behind her, Eruviel sped back up to her original pace, aiming herself in the direction of the castle. It is just a doe. You are nearly there. Nothing can hurt you, she told herself. You have nothing to fear. Drawing a deep breath to fortify herself, she ran on, resisting the urge to look at the animal behind her.

The doe picked up the pace to match Eruviel’s gait. She remained close behind, her eyes fixed on the Elf.

Eruviel did not look back. Her pace did not change, but she did cast a cautious look into the woods around her.

“Wait!” someone cried in a soft, feminine voice. “Why are you running? I bring a joyful message for you!”

Eruviel faltered, slowing only slightly as she cast her eyes back towards the doe. “Was that you?”

The doe stared at her, dark eyes wide and sweet.”Yes,” said a voice from somewhere and nowhere.

Smiling slightly, she ran on. “I am running to get to my destination.” Thinking twice, Eruviel asked, against her better judgment, “What is this message you speak of?”

“Do you know the grim woodsman with the hair as red as berries?” asks the doe. “I am his dream guardian. He wished for me to bring you tidings.”The doe flicked her big ears, and gave Eruviel an earnest stare.

The Elf slowed to a jog. Keep on your guard. Belethil was beautiful too before we found out the truth. “I have not heard of the grim woodsman. What are these tidings?”

The doe trotted over to Eruviel, and nosed at her palm.”He says, ‘Eruviel, I am sorry for my anger. I know you were only protecting me and mine. I am tired of denying what I feel. When you return, come to me, and I will embrace you as I should have long ago. If we cannot have forever, then let us have the now.'”

“Wha — W-Who is this woodsman?” She asked, halting and turning to better face the doe. It will lie to you.

The doe nosed Eruviel again, and looked up at her.”Don’t you know? Isn’t it what you’ve wanted?”

Giving the deer a thoughtful smile, Eruviel nodded, suddenly understanding. “I see, and it is, but me wanting it, and him actually saying it are different things. Thank you, but I can wait in the hopes to one day hear such a thing from his own lips.”

“But you don’t have much time!” the doe urged. “He will be dead soon!”

Taken aback by the animal’s tone Eruviel retreated a step, and quickly shook her head. “He is safe in Bree. In comparison to me, perhaps, yes, he will die soon. I promise I will go see him once I return home.” You have been polite enough. Just smile and leave —

The doe advanced on her.”You’re going to lose him,” she urged. “If you don’t tell him, you will lose him to her.”

“I have told hi — Her?” Eruviel felt a twist in her gut. “Who is her?” she asked quietly. “Ninim?” Please, oh please, oh please say ‘Ninim’.

“No,” said the doe. “I can feel what he feels for her. He is going to ask her to marry him. He thinks it will be better, for flesh to wed flesh, to forget you like the memory that you are. His heart wants you, but if you don’t go to him, tell him, he will take her as he should take you!”

Eruviel took another step back, her still somewhat calm expression faltering. A wave of emptiness washed over her. Just like the pool. No one wants me, and those that do . . . no . . . NO.  “I will take your words into consideration,” she said in an even tone. “Thank you for speaking with me.” With that she turned to resume her trek towards the castle, resuming her original pace.

This time, the doe did not follow. It just stared at her, its black eyes unblinking and suddenly terrible in their depth.

Moments later, the forest faded away quite abruptly, leaving Eruviel alone in the barren, snowy foothills beyond. Up above, on the highest peak, ghostly Veli-koti loomed. Skidding to a stop, the Elf gasped for breath, a steeled expression taking over her features as she looked back to the forests edge.

 

– – – – –

For the most part, the group remained quiet and withdrawn after the return to Suri-kyla. An hour has passed since their return. Abiorn’s relatively positive ending to trekking through the shadowed spirit forest gave her a measure of relief. Being back in the physical realm helped as well, but that only gave her enough strength to keep a small half-hearted smile on the surface.

Dear Abiorn. The look in his eyes told her he did not quite believe her when she said she would be all right. She wanted to tell him. She wanted to tell Fey, but how could she with so many others around? Five minutes of venting would have been enough . . . or a minute of tears and a hug. But some things were not so easily obtained, no matter how simple they seemed to be.

Cwen sat crying in Oendir’s lap, Vahan napped happily with his head in Abbi’s lap, and Dorsett and Atanamir had disappeared into some hidden corner of the Lodge. It was too much.

Excusing herself she retreated to her bedding, wrapped herself in a blanket, and disappeared beneath a layer of furs. She read through Anyatka and Eirikr’s letters, but even that did little to settle the storm of emotions within her. Rest. You need . . . Oh, by Orome, make it stop, she thought miserably as a dozen of whispered, tender voices from around the Lodge swarmed into her ears. Eruviel shuddered and retreated further beneath her blanket, but the whispers of love and promises did not stop. There was no escaping them. The Elf squeezed her eyes shut, gathered moisture escaping from their corners as she pressed the letters against her chest.

A minute passed, and Eruviel started and opened her eyes when a warm, wet tongue licked her cheek. Háno sat by her, his head tilted to one side, and soft, little puppy ears flopped in the same direction.

“Hey, there, little one,” she whispered in Sindarin, reaching out from under her covers to pet the wolf cub. “Where is your brother?”

Háno gave a quiet yip and moved to put his front paws on her face.

Augh, no, I — we can play in the morning,” she muttered, moving him off and wiping tears from her eyes.

His flopping tail slowed. Ears lowering a bit, Háno made a small, concerned rumble under his breath. Glancing over his shoulder to where his brother slept, he then slipped beneath Eruviel’s blankets and curled up against her stomach.

More tears came. Háno licked her hand and she focused on his warmth, blocking everything out. Slowly, as she curled herself around the white cub, the twisted knot in her chest began to unwind. A night of rest and it will fade. You are stronger than this. They were just lies. You’ll be fine . . . . You’ll be fine.

 

(First part taken from rp-mail. Thank you Oendir for the great GM’ing!)

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Lotus: From the Mud

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Why in Arda did I come north? Inaris wondered, pressing her palm against her cold nose. Three weeks had passed since she’d arrived in the backwater town of Bree. Intending to follow the road west to see the sea, a snow storm had forced her to hole-up in the croweded inn that smelled of farmers, bad ale, and drunk dwarves.

Slipping in a side door of The Pony, Inaris stomped the mud from her boots and wove her way through the crowd to the bar. Teasing a hand through her short, pale blonde hair, she snagged a hot cup of cider. To her relief one table sat unoccupied. Claiming it for herself, Inaris set down her mug and plopped down into one of the wooden chairs.

Reaching into her small satchel, she pulled out the tattered copy of Ariaduialeleth and the Orc that had been recommended by a young woman the night before. Flipping to an unmarked page in the middle, Inaris  began to read.

 

~~~***~~~

Three years ago . . .

An unsettling quiet set in on the sprawling camp. Rain had turned the ground to mush, and Inaris was glad that the tents for Companions had been set up on a small rise. A breeze flowing down the valley from the north stirred the firey red, and orange tent flaps. Each lazy wave of cloth allowed enough room for her and the few women with her to see out to the fading daylight, and the bodies that littered the camp.

A few of the women cried softly, sitting huddled together between the makeshift cots. Inaris sat alone. Elbows resting on her knees she twirled the butchered ends of her pale golden hair as she watched the lifeless body of her Keeper. The young girl noted that the crimson corners of tent canvas did not change in color as they soaked up the Easterling’s blood.

Serves you right, she thought, narrowed eyes brimming with spite.

Falling quiet, the last of the frightened women ceased their crying, all their heads turning to listen. The sound of heavy feet drew near, and the soft clink of armored bodies were too numerous for Inaris to guess their number. She had heard tales about the men of The Mark and, seeing as they were told by the Keepers to put fear into the girls, Inaris could only assume they were lies.

Shadows filed up beside the tent, blocking out the light. Crossbows entered first, but it was not the weapons that caused the women to shrink back. Tall, broad men entered the tent, covered in mud and blood. All right, all right. Half lies. Unlike the swarthy Easterling hoard that had brought her and the others west, Inaris noted that every single Rohir sported long, blonde hair and full beards. Dozens of blue eyes combed through the number of dirty and frightened females. She didn’t know if she was relieved or unsettled that there was only pity in those looks. Well, in most of them.

The piercing gaze of the tallest man finally settled on her. Inaris was the odd man out among the Companions; all the others having brown or black hair and dark eyes. Unflinching, she stared right back at him. It was not a daring gaze, nor did it hold any fear. Nothing could be worse than the past few years.

“Broþor,” spoke the man in a deep, authoritative voice, motioning for the women to rise even as he turned to look to a rider behind him, “round up extra horses, and send a rider back to the fort to have room made for them.”

“Sir?” asked a younger man tentatively, giving the colorfully dressed group of females a distrustful glance.

The horse lord in charge gave the man a look that shrunk the lad at least a foot. “We’re not going to leave them all the way out here. Now, go.” The younger man practically scampered away, most of the onlookers following after. Pulling off his plumed helm, the tall, Rohirric man pressed two fingers against his eyes before turning back to face the women.

Inaris had not stood with the others, but she sensed the ‘no nonsense’ policy that lingered about the man. Tugging the remnants of her hair further over her face she stood, peering out at him through the feathery veil.

“Are there any more of you we should know about?” All the women’s heads swiveled to Inaris as the man spoke in Common.

“No,” she said flatly. “We are all that’s left.”

The towering man of The Mark stepped forward and lifted a massive hand to brush her bangs to the side. She did not move away as he inspected the bruise that had blossomed over her left temple. Retreating without a word, his thumb left a streak of mud on her cheek.

“Take these ladies down to the horses,” the man rumbled, turning to the cohort that waited in the opening of the tent. “Check them for weapons then escort them back. See that they are not harassed. We will ride on.”

Ushered outside, Inaris led the dozen or so women down the hill, flanked on either side by armored men. Hundreds of pairs of eyes followed them, but she fixed her gaze ahead, not caring about the bodies of Easterlings that littered the path. Inaris had wondered when the fighting began two days before, but now she knew. They were free. They could go back; go wherever they choose. But it felt too surreal. Was not freedom supposed to fill her with relief, and other overwhelming emotions?

Brushed down for any weapons, Inaris accepted the hand that was offered, and swung up into the saddle of a spare horse. To be honest, she felt nothing at all.

Letters: Miss You

Dearest sister,

Thank you so much for your reply! Hearing from you has been the highlight of my week. I am glad to read that you are well. Be assured that I will see that Abbi writes again.

It is good to hear of home. I’d think Little Staddlemere would be lovely this time of year; frozen over and wreathed with glistening snow. I hope the village is as cozy and safe in its wintery bliss as I imagine it to be. I do not mind Eirikr being at my place. The quiet is probably nice. I assume it is far away enough to satisfy his wandering feet, and close enough that he is not far from home and you.

The mental image of little Bear wreaking havoc in the market is hilarious. At least he did not destroy the house. I’m sure there are enough cats around to keep him in line (for the most part). Speaking of pups, this is my current new little friend. Háno and his brother Kemp (yes, named after Hallem), were rescued by a group of us after their pack had been killed. Do not worry. I am not brining back a retinue of new pets to add to the zoo. Between your house and mine I daresay we could have one. I am hoping either another wolf pack or a Lossoth hunter will take in the rascals. I will miss Háno, though. He has decided his new bed is atop of my legs, and while still wild, is relatively well mannered.

What else is new?! I competed against a Larsi gentleman at chopping wood the other night, and won. Apparently he was so impressed by my ability to do chores that he gifted me with a token of favor. With the troubles concerning the chief’s marriage the token could come in handy, but I hope it’s use will not be necessary . . . mostly because I am a terrible pack-rat and would like to keep it as a keepsake.

Things in the spirit world have not changed much, but I am still equally delighted and concerned by it. We witnessed the most beautiful thing earlier this past week. A spirit of higher standing had fallen in love with a human woman in Suri-kyla. I do not know how long they have been lovers, but he was granted the freedom to leave the spirit world to join his beloved. It was almost like a birthing, but with no blood; only explosions of light, warmth, and the simmering radiance of the night sky seeming to dance about us as the spirit left his world behind. The look they shared as they touched hands for the first time, though seemed somehow more brilliant and meaningful than all the light and power in the past minutes.

The two drawings are lacking, but I hope they suffice. I miss you greatly, Anyatka. Be well, sleep in, and spoil yourself while we are away. I have asked Eirikr to give you a hug so be sure to collect one from him. I hope to see you soon as well.

With all my love,

Eruviel

Háno

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 – – – – – *** – – – – –

Dear Eirikr,

Thank you for your letter. While I detect a frown in your words, know your gloom only made me smile. I do not do so because I like your gloom, but because I feel you would worry even if there were no danger. I am honored by the confidence you put in me, but am not sure if I should double my efforts in being careful, or simply never tell you of whatever peril I encounter. Seeing as I cannot find it in myself to lie to you, I will merely report on the good in an attempt to relieve your worry. The not so good will only be told in person once Abbi and I have safely returned.

Abiorn has been causing a little mischief, but no harm has been done. Indeed, if he were acting innocently I would be more concerned. He has made several friends in our time here. Though his joints still bother him, he has done well (as always) under Cwendlwyns care. His spirits seem more bright and alive than ever. He might have grown an inch or so as well, but I cannot be certain.

Concerning the dragon, do not give up hope. I am sure we will find a way. I apologize for not consulting you before, but if anyone can help us it would be Atanamir. He is the dark, exceptionally melancholy gentleman who is so pretty he might be mistaken for a girl ( though you did not hear that from me). I know not yet if he has had time to look into our situation, but I pray to have some progress to report once I come home.

As for other updates, a few things have transpired since my last letter. Apparently my wood-chopping skills were impressive enough to earn me a token of favor with the Lossoth. My Larsi has been coming along nicely, though I am nowhere near as fluent as I would hope to be. The other evening we all took a much needed respite at a hot springs. I could have remained there for hours, and am thoroughly convinced that more places should have such a place for relaxation.

The only other major news is that there are two wolf cubs in our company for the time being. Feygil, Atanamir, a gentleman by the name of Dorsett, and myself went out in search for a pack of wolves. To our distress we discovered that the pack had been slain by a Gauradan hunter. Spiriting the two surviving cubs back with us (who have been named Háno and Kemp), we hope to find them a new home. They are hardly a foot tall, and white as the snow. Háno has taken a liking to me, and I admit I have grown far more attached to him than I really should. The drawing (art not being a great talent of mine) is what I woke up to this morning. He is so adorable, I could melt, even after he decided the other morning that latching onto my ear was a good way to wake me to play. I am now sporting a neat set of bite marks on the tip of one ear, and sleep entirely hidden beneath my covers. I doubt the layers of fur will suffice as a shield for long. I will have both Háno and his brother in my hut tonight, and have decided to take them on a good long walk before bed in hopes of tiring them out.

Give Anyatka a hug for me, and Bear a treat. If Henry should show up give him my greetings as well. I hope the house has been suitable. Do know you need not stay only in the cold of the cellar, and can take your reading upstairs, if you wish.  I mi I do not know how much longer we will be here, but I miss your company, and when we get back hope to see you well and rested.

Till then, I remain yours,

Eruviel

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Letters: Where to Begin

Dear Nate,

Thank you for your letter. I admit that I was surprised to receive it, but nonetheless delighted.

In spite of the cold and ever present danger of Forochel, I am well and whole. Indeed, I feel safer than I have in a long time due to the company I keep. It is beautiful here, and wild, and there is always something new for my old eyes. I have hunted large, long-toothed cats, stood nose to nose with a massive wolf that was as tall as a man, and spent an hour in another persons body. It is a long story, but I promise to give you all the details upon my return.

Though I would tell you not to worry for me, I thank you for caring enough to do so. I’m am glad to hear you still continue to pursue healing. I hope things with Auroera are going more smoothly. Be well, my friend.

Till we meet again, safe paths to you.

Sincerely,
Eruviel

—– —– —–

Dearest Sister,

Before I start in, the first sketch is where I am writing to you. How are you? How is home, and Eirikr, and Durrow? I do hope Bear has healed up since the spider incident.

Where do I begin? So much has happened since I last wrote. I daresay a novel or two could be written in recounting tales from the past weeks.  Due to a little trouble in the spirit world one evening, our party was cast back into our realm . . . reawakening in the wrong bodies. A young woman by the name of Faethril was in my body, and Abiorn found himself in the body of a young gentleman who goes by Sage. I myself awoke inside Abbi’s body. I do not think I can properly express everything that I felt, with our little brother as the vessel for my soul.

I have tasted mortality, the ache in his bones, and the overwhelming fire of wanting to turn into a bear (which, I should note, I did not). But, worst of all was that I — he apparently had to relieve himself and I had to hold it the whole time before being able to be put back in my own skin. Never, have I ever been more grateful to be a female! The only side-effects are that occasionally I get the urge to shout at inconvenient times, and certain things stir my anger more than they ever have before. It has given me a whole new appreciation for Abiorn.

In preparation for the impending wedding (though the young chief Panja has yet to decide on a bride), Cwendlwyn, Master Arrowheart, and myself went out to collect snowdrops (one which has been pressed and is with my sketches to you), and to hunt large, saber-toothed cats known as Kalpa-kita. Five pelts were needed, for it is customary for brides to wear dresses made from the animal’s white fur. That was the first day since our arrival that I had seen trees. How I miss them!

I will not take my time here for granted, and hope to find more remote corners to sketch down for you. I wish I could draw for you the giant wolf I saw in the spirit world, the thousands of pools I wrote of before, and the glistening ice palace of the spirit Prince named Pretty. I am sure Abbi will regale you with more of our adventures.

Take care of yourself, Anya.

With all my love,

Eruviel

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—– —– —–

Dear Eirikr,

I hope this letter finds you well and enjoying your winter respite. The most recent snow storm abated a few days ago and we find ourselves as busy as ever. We spend a great deal of time in the spirit world, and though I cannot say all of the experiences have been pleasant, we have met a great many kind spirits and have had more than our fair share of adventures.

Not long after my last letter we were in the other world, attempting to calm a lost spirit who was unaware that she had perished in our world, when two wolves came upon us. The lady Faethril seemed to know who they were and spoke with the smaller female, but the male circled the rest of us. He finally stopped before me, his nose hardly an inch from my own. I feel like a fool for, instead of greeting him, all I could do was stare back at his piercing gaze in wonder. His name is Valkoinen, and he is as tall as Kvgir. I wish you could have seen him. He is by far the most magnificent creature I have ever beheld. Looking back, perhaps it was appropriate that I found myself speechless. Such a moment would have been easily ruined by words.

A dark creature has been following us. We do not know what, but those who know of it seemed gripped with fear by it’s presence. The hate in it’s white eyes is unrivaled, and it has attacked our party more than once. One night it attacked and there was no escape. Thrown back into our world we awoke, but in the wrong bodies. Abiorn found himself in the body of a young gentleman who goes by Sage, and I was in Abbi’s. While it was a worthwhile experience, I mean no disrespect your gender when I say I am infinitely relieved to be back in my own skin. The lingering side-effects are that occasionally I feel less restraint in being frank with others (which actually came in handy the other day), and certain topics stir my anger more than ever before. I have seen things through Abbi’s eyes, and it has given me a new appreciation for him.

Even as events turn and we find ourselves in dangerous situations, we are all well and in some ways more whole. I forgot to mention before, but I took the liberty of speak with Atanamir about our research. I hope this does not meet your disapproval, but he is the most knowledgeable resource we have in that field of study. He said that he would be glad to aid us in finding a solution.

Give Anyatka a hug for me. There should be a treat in my pantry for Bear, and if you happen upon Grey give him my greetings. He does not strike me as the hugging type.

Till then, I remain yours,

Eruviel

SIFrp: Whispers and Chance

Decided to switch my SIFrp game night blogs over to my other site. And poor Marisily finally started getting good rolls!

The Worlds of S.G.Hansen

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Marisily’s lids fluttered open, not as heavy as they had been in the past, well, months. Sitting up did not make her head spin, and standing did not send sharp stabs of pain shooting through her legs. Two days in the upper cells were not ideal, but there were no sounds of torture, nor the lingering stench of death. Never, ever would she complain after her days in the dark below. She now had a bed, and food, and the haunting echo of Captain Garen’s heavy, injured shuffle only sounded in her dreams.

The echo of hushed whispers of prison guards trickled down from the far end of the hall. Mors was not in his seat, but Larklan remained at his post before her cell doors. Pulling a scratchy blanket around her weak, aching shoulders, Marisily made her way to the bars in attempt to better hear.

“Vermithor?”

“Are you…

View original post 1,086 more words

Moments: 100th post

“Everything’s put away. I’ll start on the molds in the morning,” called Ris as she hung up her thick leather apron and shook out her short, strawberry blonde hair.

“That’s fine! Thanks for the good work,” responded the forge master, glancing up from his bench.

Raising one hand in a small wave the young woman unbuttoned the collar of her coveralls with the other. “Good night, then!”

Slipping out the shop door she took a deep breath of the frigid air, the smell of Bree only partially ruining the moment. Swinging her satchel of tools over her shoulder, Risala strolled past the guards at the South Gate and set off for home.

The thought brought a euphoric smile tingling up from her toes and stretching up the pink corners of her mouth. Home. She not only had one, but a reason to be there.

– – – *** – – –

A month and a half. Mira kept telling herself that it wasn’t that long, but the first night with Rath gone felt like an eternity. She could wait that long. Not much else could be done.

Leaning against the door frame she watched Thamon’s small body rise and fall with steady breaths. For not having a drop of his parent’s blood in his veins Mira was amazed at how similar to the Ranger he was. He was beautiful, the little boy, in all his vitality and willfulness. Even after  being brought to the relative safety of Bree-land, the spark of a new fight lit in his eyes every morning.

The dark Eryn Vorn wolf that curled up next to her son blinked his yellow eyes open to look to her. The small knot of trepidation that had begun to wind in her gut loosened. A moment passed between them. Then the animal closed his eyes and Mira closed the door. Yes, she could wait a month and a half. She’d wait as long as it would take.

– – – *** – – –

The last rays of the Gondorian sunset shimmered and reached across the horizon where the sky embraced the sea. Tossing her soft, blonde waves of hair over her shoulder, Feira’s face inched closer to the ivory pages of her book, squeezing as many words as she could into the last few moments of light. A final burst of pale gold shot across the sky before the sun winked away, and the girl snapped the volume shut with a triumphant flourish. Chapter complete.

The winter had been a mild one. In spite if the brisk wind that washed up the sea cliffs Feira pranced ahead, barefoot and balanced atop a low stone fence that ran along one side of the road. Novel secured in one hand and slippers swinging in the other, the young woman danced ahead to a song only she could hear.

Lalaith’s most recent letter had been sent. There was nothing new to report, but Feira’d thought it would be nice to send one anyways. Two more weeks till visiting day.  In spite of occasionally seeing Lalaith, and her brother suddenly being more interested in her life, an ounce of loneliness trickled through Feira like an sip of bitterly cold water.

Tugging at the empty locket that hung around her neck Feira looked out to the sea. He had disappeared. Stood her up. The few, wonderful days of Lhainan’s company only made the ache of being left worse. He would have shipped out by now. Maybe she’d never know why he hadn’t shown.

Frowning, she shook her golden mane and pranced forward atop her perch with determination. There was no good in wondering. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Humming the secret, celestial tune, Feira turned her eyes to the heavens as she made her way home. Careful to not miss one, she looked to each star in turn, just in case.

– – – *** – – –

The wind did not drive as fiercely up here. Finding a handhold in the ice Eruviel pulled herself up over the cliff’s edge. The thrill of the climb faded as she fixed the thick of her cloak beneath her and turned her emerald gaze out. The night was darker, being so far north, but the frozen realm glittered as a swath of color danced across the obsidian sky.

The freezing air pricked at her lungs as the Eldar took in a deep breath. The sensation was fleeting and she did not mind. The silvery chime of a delighted chuckled spilled out of her. Hugging her arms across her chest Eruviel plopped back to lay in the tuffs of snow blanketing her perilous perch.

Oh, but it was good to be back in her own body! She meant no disrespect to Abiorn, or males in general, but she very much liked her body without the hint of scruff and extra parts between the legs.

The green and violet hues shifted and changed above her. It was mesmerizing. She reached for the notebook in her pocket to make out a sketch for Anya, but stopped. She reached a second time for it but stopped again, even though she’d gotten so far as to have the notebook in her hands.

Eirikr’s letter could wait. Every word she wrote him felt burdened; the beauty lost in the black and white of her parchment. If only he were here to watch with her. She didn’t need any words spoken, nor small touches, though she would not protest the latter. No, she only wanted his company, and the quiet understanding that might have been shared between them, looking out over the crystal wonderland that was Forochel.

Fitting the book back into her pocket Eruviel stood on the precipice and let down her hair. She allowed the bitter, rising wind to wash over her as the silken swirls of lights swam and danced to a distant tune she could just make out. This land was beautiful. While missing an audience of two, the moment seemed perfect. And it stretched on and up, as infinite as the vastness above her.