(Thought I would clean out the drafts that had sat forgotten for the past year and a half.)
The last gleam of sunlight disappeared over the hills as Eruviel’s eyes fluttered open. For several minutes she stared up at the star-lit sky framed by tree branches and ruined elvish architecture, wishing she could fade back into her sleep-like trance. There would be no true rest till she had all three human back safely in Bree.
Reluctantly rising to her feet she stretched up, observing Eirikr sleeping a few feet away. He slept hard, and a small pang of guilt stung her as she picked up her boots and silently padded away. Best that he gets as much rest as possible, she thought as she nodded in greeting to the few hunters and fighters milling around the camp. She knew his mind was far to the east, and they still had a long way to go.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
She never stayed up this late. Till the night she’d gone out two weeks back Feira had always been early to bed and early to rise. But now the night was at it’s coldest, and she leaned against the side of a bench on the look-out, feet dangling over the ledge as she watched the horizon.
Why did she even care to watch? She had never been lonely, but then again she might have always been and never knew it. Don’t waste your time, Torrin had said. Nothing good can come from sailors. Maybe he was right. She didn’t know him really. For all Feira knew he was good at hiding his real nature and had shown up amidst the laundry lines just to mess with her… but did it matter much? She had no idea what she was getting herself into, but there was nothing to do about it now.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Having returned cold to her core, Abiorn had not left her side. Long since recovered from the search for the lost hunter, Eruviel sat wrapped in furs, her back against a pillar near one of the fires. Abbi slept leaning on her left arm, and Huor had nested in her lap. Both of them radiated delicious heat that made the bitter hours of tracking through the storm nothing but an unpleasant memory.
Smiling softly to each in turn, the elf turned her attention back to the letter she now knew by heart. The thumb of her free hand traced over the scratched out words as if doing so would make the mark blacking them out disappear. She would never tell, but she allowed herself to hope as the faintest remnants of words brought a warmth to her cheeks that the wolf and her young human brother could not offer. It won’t be long. Help Panja, help Taja, Huor, survive, then home.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Eruviel let out a quiet sigh. “People do funny things when they think they are helping others. Sometimes the reasons are good, and sometimes they are not, but we always need someone to come after us. I’m sure Morty knows you will go after him.”
Hallem shook his head. “He wouldn’t want us to.”
“Because he wants to be left to his fate, or because he doesn’t want you to get hurt?”
“Then I am sure he knows you will come for him anyways.”
Hallem looked to her. “Why does that m-matter?”
Eruviel smiled sadly. “Does it not matter to you?”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A soft thud of the outer door leading in from the corridor summoned Peldirion out of his thoughts. Sitting up from where he leaned took more effort than it should have, and an exasperated sigh poured out of him as he heard the outer door open and close again.
“Boys,” he said in a tired, no-nonsense tone.
The sound of cautious footsteps stopped. Then, obediently, they slowly turned, and two boys in their late teens entered Peldirion’s dark study. Both saluted quickly, and the shorter of the two nervously stepped forward.