Month: June 2015

One Final Lesson

Eruviel remembers . . . .

“Get up.”

Rainion’s words sent air rushing into her lungs, and Artis used the pillar behind her to pull herself to her feet.

“Pick up your sword.”

Her eyes never leaving her brother, Artis stepped over to pick up the curved, Elven blade. “How much longer wi –” Her words were cut off when Rainion flung out his arm, sending a wave of wind out to knock his little sister off her feet. Flying back it was the pillar that once again brought her tumbling to a halt.

“Get up.”

“Stop helping,” grumbled Artis with gasp. At least she hadn’t lost her sword this time. Anticipating his attack, she spun around and hid behind the pillar as a force of wind rushed past.

“How am I helping, Moriquendë?”

She took a second to steady her breathing. “You say this is preparing me for the future,” she said as she stepped back out into the open, “and I heard Ada telling you not to go easy on me. Stop giving me air when the wind is knocked out of me.”

One corner of Rainion’s mouth curved up. “Do not lose your sword. We will not stop till you start landing on your feet every time.”

Setting her feet as he had taught her, she nodded. “Go.”

The force slammed into Artis, and the world spun as she fell backwards to roll through the dirt of the training yard. Panic shot through her as she gasped frantically for air. Sliding to a stop on her knees she forced herself to breathe, rose to her feet, and moved into a jog to attack Rainion head on.

Again he flung out his hand, and again she was thrown back. Once, twice, three times she rolled across the ground.

“You are not a sack of wheat. Get up!”

Artis got up. Her head spun, but her sword remained in hand, and with each fall she more quickly recovered. Land on your feet. Land on your feet.

Reaching a hand into the leather pouch hanging from his belt, Rainion waited for Artis to get within striking distance before throwing his hand out at her. Catching the force of the blow with her chest, Artis sailed back through the air, but this time she had prepared for it. Flipping around she reached down and caught the ground beneath her with the tip of her blade. Slowing, she landed on her feet, slid to a stop, and launched herself forward towards her brother.

“Again!”

Rainion grinned, and attacked. She had figured it out. His strikes were never the same, but no matter which way she was thrown Artis used her weight, weapon, and surroundings to land upright. Each time she got faster, and each time she got a little closer to him.

Landing sooner, Artis attacked before Rainion had a chance to recover. A swipe of her blade forced him back, and as Rain cast out his hand she took hold of his wrist. In the blink of an eye he had twisted out of her grasp and extended a dagger to her throat.

“Not quite fast enough, Moriquendë. Took you a few days –”

“And a few beatings,” chimed Artis to reminded him.

“Ah, yes, and a few beatings, but you have improved.”

Artis’s mouth slowly curved up into a grin, and she tapped the flat of her blade against his side.

A look of realization passed through the tall Elf’s grey eyes, followed by a gleam of pride. “That’s my girl.” Withdrawing his blade, Rainion took a step back. “My last day home, and my little sister beats me.”

Frowning, Artis gave him her most stubborn scowl. “We tied. You will know when I beat you.”

“I look forward to it,” Rainion said with a chuckle, reaching out to tousle her already messy bangs. “I hope Milloth is there to see it when you do. He becomes rather childish when reminded of his many losses.”

Fixing her bangs, Artis could not help but smile a little as she moved to walk with him. “I will train hard while you are away.”

Rainon did not speak for several paces. Draping an arm across her shoulders he nodded as he led them back to the main house. “Pray that I will not be gone long.”

Handing her sword off to an attendant waiting at the door of the yard, Artis glanced to Rainion’s hand that draped over her far shoulder. “I will. Naneth . . . Naneth does not want you to go.”

“Neither does Eilianniel.”

She could feel his shoulders sag. “I know,” responded Rainion quietly. “I wish none of us had to go, but when there is evil someone has to stand in it’s path.”

Pursing her lips as she frowned, Artis nodded. “I saw her packing earlier today.”

“I do not have to report in for a couple weeks. Eilianniel and I will be spending that time together.”

What could only have been jealousy twisted a little inside of her. Swallowing, she looked down to the smooth stones set into the ground beneath their walking feet. “Is it difficult? To be away from her?”

“Very difficult,” said Rainion. Looking down to the top of her head he smiled softly, and gave her a one-armed hug. “I forget sometimes how much you’ve grown. Perhaps you will finally be wed by the time I return.”

Scrunching up her nose, Artis lifted her chin to look to the path ahead. “Do not get your heart set on it. I just have a few more boring, arrogant, and passionless options to check off Ada’s list, then I will be free.”

Laughing, Rainion placed a kiss atop of her head before moving to take them up a stair that lead to the kitchens. “So long as Ada is on this side of the sea, dear Moriquendë, you will not be free of what he sees as your duty.”

Artis frowned. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?”

“No. Just promise me you will be our good Artistuion while I am gone? As much as you two clash, you can still learn a lot from him.”

Nodding, Artis stepped inside the door he held open for her. “I will do my best.”

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Imloth Melui: As Shadows Fall

The hours slowly turned from one to the other, and the darkened sky denied him the knowledge of how long he had laid there. Draping a muscled forearm over his forehead Pellion stared at the ceiling, counting the decorative tiles, and resenting every one of them.

Feeling the bed beside him move, the man rolled out from beneath the satin sheets before the soft, slender girl could roll over in her sleep to trap him beneath her thin, pale arms. Though not of her doing, the thought of being touched made him uncomfortable and more frustrated (if that was indeed at all possible). She was too warm. Everything was too warm. The girl, the sheets, the floor beneath his feet. Even the night air blowing through the open double doors warmed his skin.

Pulling his hair back to secure it out of his eyes, and not bothering to even glance at a shirt, Pellion left his room and slumbering guest behind as he padded down the long back stair that opened up below the estate. It was cool down there. So blessedly cool. And while it did nothing to lessen his foul mood, it did clear his mind.

Halethon.” He did not need to shout. His voice filled the narrow stone passage and rolled like a wave through the rooms beyond. Two doors down a pale yellow light shone out of a room. It was not a warm light, and Pellion almost smiled.

The man Halethon stepped out, and gave a small salute. “Sir.” He was unphased by the shirtless Pellion, and he waited for the young lord’s nod before standing at ease. “Not sleeping?”

“As usual,” Pellion responded dryly as he turned into the room they had turned into an office.

“You’re going to exhaust yourself.” Halethon followed him inside and closed the door.

Setting his hands on his hips, Pellion fixed his hard gaze on the map on the table instead of on his friend. “We had this discussion last night.”

“What about what Garax sugest–”

“It’s not working.” Pellion could feel Halethon’s stare.

The young man sighed. “We won’t get our reinforcements,” he said grimly, getting down to buisness. “Not right away, at least.”

Pellion finally looked up from where he maneuvered a marker on the map. “What?” He did not mean for his harshness to slip out — Well, he wouldn’t have cared if it were not directed at Halethon. Taking a deep breath, he started again in a less formidable growl. “Why, pray tell, are we not getting reinforcements?”

Seemingly impenetrable to Pellion’s ire, Halethon filed one report, and retrieved several letters from neat stacks on the shelves. “All of the others wrote back. Here,” he said as he handed them over. “The army is being split up. Half to set up a defensive at Minas Tirith and Osgiliath, and the other to set up a defensive and offensive on the coast. Until their plans are worked out, we will get no trained soldiers for Imloth Melui.”

Pellion’s hand curled into fists. He did not raise them, however. He only set them against the hard wood of the table, and kept his dangerous glare down on the perfectly drawn ridges and rivers of Gondor. “We leave in two hours. Prepare my horse, and wake Yassarah. Thank her for me. You’re a happier face to rise to.”

His eyes darted up, and the two men shared a smirk. “Right away, sir. Should I send a messenger ahead?”

“Yes. Tell the old men that the young fools better be geared up and ready by the time we arrive. And try not to wake the house. I don’t have the patience for them right now.”

“I’ll word it better, but yes. Of course, though . . . .”

Pellion straightened, and arched a dark brow at the other man. “Though, what?”

Halethon glanced his way as he gathered a few things they would need. “Though you might want to take it easier on the boys. They will hold no love for you.”

Pellion grunted, and waved a hand to dismiss him. “The rest of our country is bleeding out, and they want me to smile? I don’t need their love. I need them to do what they are told.”

“Very well. Don’t be long.”

Saluting once more, and giving Pellion a look that made the man want to roll his eyes, Halethon slipped out of the room.

Listening to his only friend’s retreating steps, Pellion let out a long, weary sigh. The rest of the country is off to war, and he was stuck protecting fickle refugees with old men and boys. And all because mother dearest suddenly pretended to care. It made his blood boil.

Pushing away from the table, Pellion sat at his desk, readied a fresh piece of parchment, and pulled out the Elf’s letter. The man had written her to be polite, but never had he expected a response. Worst of all, she sounded so damned pleasant. He hated asking for help, but someone had to. 

Commander Oendir Arrowheart

Dear Sir,

Bittersweet: A Little Light

Evening had come and gone, and darkness welled up in the low yard of the Tenorbekk property. The black pool of a moonless night swirled about her and, aside from her fair features that caught bits of starlight, she blended in seamlessly.

Several hours has passed since Eruviel had decided to set herself down upon the porch, and she had yet to move from where she leaned against the door. No one had come home. No Abiorn, no Anyatka, no Eirikr. The more the minutes ticked by, the more she worried. She knew she shouldn’t. If Abbi was gone too, then he was probably somewhere with Anya. That alone both reassured her and caused her to fret. As for Eirikr’s heading off to who knows where . . . . She never worried much before. He was strong, and more than capable, but the nagging tug of concern had grown little by little as the days passed till it ate at her. Huffing out a breath, she drew up one knee.

Twirling a dagger through the fingers of one hand, the Elf let her head fall back against the wooden door with a soft thud. “This must be what aging feels like,” she grumbled.

It was strange, having the house cold and empty behind her. Eruviel could almost feel the shadows leaning away from the cabin’s outer walls. Her keen eyes darting about, she searched the tree line for the thirtieth time and, with a thoughtful air, observed for the fifth time how the light of the closest street lamp did not quite reach the edge of the fence. Someone needed to clean that.

She had walked through town earlier in the afternoon. She had been out and about the hills north of Bree, and she’d eaten supper at the Cask. As her luck would have it she did not catch sight or sound of the younger Tenorbekks. How her fortunes turned out to be so poor she did not know, but she did not want to leave now out of the chance of missing them on her way to search.

Rising to her feet, it took her only a minute to get the door unlocked. Sally’s eyes flickered in the dark portal that led to Anya’s room. Observing the intruder for a moment, the cat turned and disappeared. Picking up the few things that lay strewn about, Eruviel put food out for the fickle animal, and after a moment’s hesitation, borrowed a blanket from Eirikr’s bed before slipping back outside.

The door once more locked, she shrouded herself in the blanket to ward off the night’s chill, and the impending dew that would come in only a few more hours. It smelled like him. And while it was just fabric wrapped around her shoulders, she felt warm and safe, and it somehow made the waiting more bearable. Sitting back down on the stoop, she turned her face up. Her eyes glinted in the little light offered by the pale gems that betrayed where the earth ended and the sky began.

They were all right, she assured herself. They were all right.