Bittersweet: Choices

lotrosky

“Since we did not need his help, we owe him nothing.”

Eruviel nodded in agreement with Eirikr. All she had wanted was Anyatka back, and now that they had her, putting the orc camp a ways behind them, she wanted to see them all safely home.

Eirikr looked around at his companions. “Then the question is whether we release them or…not.”

Her right hand tightened ever so slightly on her bowstring. Delostor. Not that wanting to steal Anya and put the spirit of Faethril in her was bad enough, now Parmanen had changed his mind and planned to put the long dead woman into the body of his daughter. His only child. It turned her stomach, and made her furious.
“Just give them the damn statue, and let them have their obscene little romance. At least then we never have to see them again,” said Esthyr from behind the tree she had retreated to.

Eruviel shook her head. “It would be very one sided,” she says quietly.

Esthyr’s arm snaked round the tree to point in the direction of Lomiphel. “You heard her! She volunteered.”

Lômiphel sagged as she nodded. Her face was flushed and sweaty, and the Elf looked to the woman’s bandaged arm. We need to get her to a healer, and soon.

Eruviel shook her head. “Giving Faethril a body will not make her love Delostor. And he does not love her.”

“If we give them the dragon, we must return home for it…” Eirikr looked at Eruviel. “What are you talking about?”

Esthyr crossed her arms. “Fine.”

Eruviel could feel Parmanen’s eyes as he watched her and Eirikr closely and with a look of concentration. Did the air around him cool? Be careful. For all you know he could freeze every one of us.

Eruviel looked to Eirikr. “About Faethril or Delostor?”

“Both.”

“Faethril never mentioned Delostor. Not once. It was always Aeron. The last time I saw her face it was when we thought we had killed her and she looked peaceful. Trapping the spirit of a woman one can never posses, then forcing her into the body of another is not love. It is want, and possessive, and wicked,” she says, turning her gaze to Parmanen. It was all a sick, twisted mess. Anyatka being used by this man, Lôm agreeing for, if nothing else, the love of her father, the danger that those she loved had been in for the past two years….

“Then we kill them and go home,” said Eirikr.

Gaelyn spoke up then. “That seems unnecessary.” Hallem nodded in agreement with him.

Eruviel continued to watch the older man with a wary expression as Eirikr looked over at Gaelyn. “We have no jail to hold a sorcerer.”

Parmanen raised his bound hands and suddenly the surface of the lake surged. A wave of water rose and crashed toward them.

She had wanted to try and save him. Ever since reading his journal she had wanted to try and find a way to, in the least,  give the old Parmanen a chance to overpower the Black Numenorean that had been put in him all those years ago. She had tried, and failed. What if he now escaped? How many more lives would he hurt and ruin? The water rushing in, Eruviel drew back on her bowstring, and fired her arrow at the sorcerer.

It was a clean shot, aimed at the man’s heart. But a shout that did not come from one of her friends rose, and as the wave hit them, Lômiphel threw herself in front of her father.

The wave gone, Parmanen struggled to sit up, but the weight of Lômiphel pinned him down. Harsh, rasping gasps for breath fill the air, and Eruviel saw her arrow sticking out of the woman. “Help her! Please!” cried the older man as he tried to get up again.

Gaelyn rushed forward, and Eruviel with him. She glanced to one side. Good, Eirikr is all right. He has Anya…“Esthyr!”

Esthyr stalked over to them all, cursing under her breath.

Parmanen suddenly looked not like a wicked sorcerer, but like a scared old man.

Esthyr squatted down to inspect the woman, and sighed. “Her lung is punctured, and her scapula likely shattered. If we were in Bree, I might be able to do something, but I don’t think she can survive this. I can’t remove the arrow without tearing even more.”

Eruviel, keeping out of her way, knelt down beside Esthyr, her face pale. “She wouldn’t survive the trip back?” Parmanen let his head fall back against the dirt and closed his eyes.

Esthyr pursed her lips as she looked down at Lomiphel. “She’s not going to survive for even a few more minutes.” She looked at Parmanen. “Whatever you want to say, old man, say it now.”

Damn… damn, damn, damn…. Eruviel put her hands on either side of Lom’s head. It was the least she could do. “Lom?”

Gaelyn frowned deeply. “Shit…”

Esthyr squatted down to mop at Lomiphel’s brow in a vain attempt to make her somewhat more comfortable.

Lômiphel didn’t respond. The breaths came slower; her eyes hardly open. It hit Eruviel like a charging beast. Pouring calm and comfort into the young woman’s body, her own suddenly screamed as if muscles had been torn, and her lung felt heavy and on fire. Something was shattered, she could feel the fever and infection from Lom’s arm, and to top it off Eruviel could feel her body weaken as the life drained from the young woman’s body.

Esthyr reached into her pouch. “I have some valerian leaves. It will at least ease a little of the pain before she goes.” Esthyr tried to open Lomiphel’s mouth, and deposited a few of the leaves under her tongue.

Parmanen spat out between gritted teeth, “Just kill us. End her suffering.”

Eruviel continued holding Lomiphel’s head, her features pale, looking somewhere between tears and being sick. Esthyr stayed as well, mopping at Lomiphel’s brow.

“Please,” Parmanen begged as Lômiphel struggled to breathe. “Don’t let her suffer.”

Eruviel shook her head. “S-She has no pain….”

“I can pull out the arrow,” Esthyr offered. “That would probably knock her out…” Esthyr leaned down to check Lômiphel’s breath. Lômiphel coughed, spattering Esthyr’s cheek with blood.  Not seeming to care, Esthyr firmly gripped the arrow shaft where it protruded from Lomiphel. But her hand relaxed when she felt the woman’s chest go still.

Eruviel let out a quiet, pained gasp as she felt the life leave Lômiphel’s body, and quickly drew her hands back. Out of the corner of her eyes she could see Parmanen tremble. No one, not even a man like him, should have to suffer the loss of a child.

What felt like several minutes passed before Eirikr picked up Anya. “Bring them both. We can deal with this at home. For now, let us get further away to a place we can safely camp.”
Gaelyn, Eruviel, and Esthyr all moved to take up Lom’s body, but it was Eruviel who ended up bearing the young woman in her arms.

“Gaelyn?” sounded Eirikr’s voice with surprising gentleness. She couldn’t bear to look at him. Not any of them.

“…Huh?”

“Are you all right?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine.”

Gaelyn? Had he and … Oh, Valar…. And she thought she had felt ill before. Cradling the deceased woman’s body, Eruviel’s gaze grew distant as she played those few seconds over and over in her head. She couldn’t save any of them, could she? Not Lom, not the warg woman in Rohan, not Ni —

They walked on, following Eirikr’s lead.

“Look, you can’t blame yourself,” said Esthyr as she walked beside her, supporting Parmanen’s weight. “She chose to do that.”

You made your choice, and she made hers.

The pain still singing through her limbs, Eruviel offered a single, agonizing nod.

 

((Taken from in-game RP, 3/12/2016. Edited for tense, point of view, and exposition. Thank you to Cwendlwyn for the lot, and for playing as Eirikr, Anyatka, Lomiphel, and Parmanen!))

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