Month: September 2016

Bittersweet: Get Out

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In a cloud of steam and laughter, the women poured out of Stonebluff. Hair damp and eyes bright with merriment, the soak and good company had brought each soul to overflowing.

“– then he cut his apron strings and ran out of there as fast as he could!” cried Beth, laughing lasciviously at her own joke.

“Umm… Yes, I… I think I get it,” muttered Anyatka, cheeks flushed with embarrassment as she looked to Eruviel for help.

Eruviel fought back a playful smirk as both women looked to her. She paused, handing off her basket of food to Feygil who shouted a war cry about beating the men to the feast as male voices drifted out of the Broken Cask. “I think in this rare case your joke would flow better if the baker ‘pounded’ instead of ‘kneaded’.”

Anyatka look utterly mortified, and Beth laughed even louder than before as she skipped ahead to share her joke with Ansithe and Varidia. “Do not look so shocked, oselle,” said Eruviel as she linked arms with Anya, her fair cheeks flushed with one too many glasses of wine. The merry band crossed over the Dunwash on their way to Ravenhold, and behind them Rosie could be heard preemptively scolding the menfolk for drinking all of her good ale.

“I just was not expecting that from you,” Anya muttered, a sheepish smile stealing over her features.

“You will find out soon enough. Just spare me the details when you and Ander–”

Eruviel!” Anyatka cried.

Eruviel threw her head back with a merry laugh, and that was when she saw the lone figure standing on the bridge. Was it Eirikr? Or perhaps Cedoric wandering off?

“What is it?” asked Anya, peering around the Elf in attempt to see what had caught her friend’s attention.

Giving the young woman’s arm a squeeze, Eruviel stepped away from the flow of friends heading up the hill. “Nothing. I will be right behind you.”

Arching a brow, Anya shrugged and waved after her. “Don’t take too long!”

Eruviel grinned and, pulling her ribbon-bound braid over her shoulder, headed for the bridge.

“Hey, where are you going?” called another voice from behind. Glancing back she saw Abbi waving at her even as he snagged a bottle from Hallem’s hands. Behind him was… Eirikr? who’s wave to her faltered as he reached to try and snag Abbi, the younger Tenorbekk scampering around Taja. Chuckling, she waved and continued on.

The figure on the bridge shifted, and she could see it better now, the long beard and stern profile.

“Commander?”

Godric turned again in the dark to face her.

“You should come and join us, Sir. We –”

Eruviel’s words were cut short when the towering man slumped forward in the darkness. She rushed up the bridge, and skidded to a halt when the shadows receded enough to reveal the Commander leaning forward, impaled on a long black sword. Breath caught in her lungs as happy laughter echoed down from Ravenhold.

“I should thank them,” came the cool, all too familiar voice. Eruviel’s fists clenched as she slowly remembered, her dream continuing on without her. “That is one less pest to have to account for.”

“You will leave them alone.”

The shadow leaning up against the railing of the bridge watched her, violet-brown eyes unblinking from beneath the dark hood. “Did I ever tell you what it sounded like? The last ragged breath escaping Milloth from the hole in his chest?”

“Get out of my head.”

“Who should I kill first? Or should I curse the lot of them and save myself the effort?” The robed figure stood and began to approach. Bodies began to bob up in the water below them, Ruby Lake turning crimson in the moon light.

A terrible ache tore through her chest. She had promised. She had promised. The Elf looked down again, and to her surprise the horrifying scene changed. As soon as the bodies appeared they suddenly vanished, one by one in soft puffs of smoke.

“It is no use. Why do you fight? Are you not tired of it all? I might steal whatever magic is in the red eye of your friend. I also have more spirits. You remember, don’t you? I could turn them all against you….”

Shadows snaked around Eruviel to trap her, suffocate her… but they collapsed at her feet in piles of flowers. It wasn’t her….

“Did you forget what he told you? You will never be free, not of him, or me, or the curse that follows you.”

“Get out,” she growled through gritted teeth.

Cold laughter wafted around like a chilling breeze, drawing nearer. “No? Maybe I will make myself a bear fur coat. There is something so sensual about fur against the skin…. And maybe I’ll take that little boy and his father, and –”

Godric’s greying body fell away in a glittering shower of limrafn dust, and Eruviel reached out to catch the sword before it could fall. “Get out!”

Whirling around, she sliced off the hand reaching for her and with a shout, before plunged the blade into the bridge. The figure reeled back as the reality of the Eruviel’s dream shifted violently and heaved up to shatter about them. Starlight flickering like fire erupted with a concussive roar from the Elf and sword, and flooded out, filling every crevice of her mind till his laughter and shadows had nothing to hold onto.

– – – – –

With a cry Eruviel shot upright, the steaming water in her tub sloshing about her. Gasping she sagged back in the fragrant bath, hiding her face in her hands.

He was gone. A small, relieved sob escaped her as she curled up into a ball at one end of the basin. One night of rest was all she wanted at that moment. And somehow she knew he was gone. Finally gone. Whatever, or whoever had helped her —

Fletch’s frantic barks sounded from beyond the closed door. The  growing pup whined, scratched,  and barked again as he tried to dig his way past the door and into her. Grabbing her robe, Eruviel stumbled out of the bath, water pooling in her wake. Yanking open the bathroom door, she was nearly knocked over as Fletched barreled into her.

“Hey, hey, calm down boy. It’s all right. I’m all right.”

Whining worriedly, Fletch nuzzled and licked her face as Eruviel knelt down on the floor.

Wrapping her trembling arms around his neck, Eruviel closed her eyes, offering a prayer of thanks when she saw nothing behind her closed lids. “Shhh, boy. It is all right. Everyone will be all right. I promised.”

– – – – –

Yarig! Benrith!

The Uruk and Angmarim guard exchanged unreadable, yet somehow knowing looks as they turned to step into the bedchamber. They did not so much as flinch as a bench flew to shatter against the stone wall beside them, nor blink as a wave of shadow tore what was left of the bed to pieces. Light bent and twisted, and the Lord marched, sword in hand to stand between the guards.

“My lord,” said Benrith, standing at attention.

Long black hair tossed in a crazed twist over his shoulders, piercing eyes drifted from one guard to the other. “Yarig?”

The Uruk stood a bit taller. “My lord.”

The sorcerer was not the tallest of his peers, and his muscled shoulders not the broadest, but the shadows loomed up about him, making him in his anger appear larger than life.  “Bring me your pick of five of the best you can find in the ranks. I mean to double my guard.”

Yarig did not move till his lord motioned for him to. His long strides only carried him to the doorway before a word from the sorcerer halted him.

“My lord?”

The sorcerer put a hand on Benrith’s shoulder, and with one clean swipe, sliced the man’s head off. It hit the stone floor with a sickening thunk and rolled towards the Uruk even as it’s former body decayed and turned to dust. “Take that with you. Have it sent to Aughaire. It would not do for him to be late in reporting back.”

Bittersweet: Last We Spoke

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Godhric stood, silently staring out into the ice bay of Forochel, near the outskirts of Suri-Kyla, with his hands clasped together behind his back. The only sounds came from the now calm, morning winds and crashes of gentle waves on the cold shore.

Having left the village behind, Eruviel quietly approached the towering man, her own hands held behind her back as she walked over the thin layer of fresh snow. “You would think it might be easier to find a person in such a relatively small area.”

Godhric turned his head to glance upon Eruviel as she approached him. His eyes studied her for a moment before returning quietly to the sea again. “It is a beautiful place, is it not?”

“Breathtaking,” Eruviel replied, nodding slowly in agreement. “I do not think I would ever tire of winter if I lived here.”

“Nor would I. The air is more forgiving, now that the Northwind is calmed.”

Eruviel’s features lit with a small smile. “Just wait till winter sets in. It can be bitterly unforgiving, and equally as lovely.”

Godhric hummed lowly. “I believe you,” he said with a short pause. “What did you come to me for? I am sure it was not to talk about the weather.”

Eruviel tisked softly. “Ah, but the weather is such a broad topic.” Looking out over the water her expression turned serious. The emotions and thoughts of the man from when she had, but for a short time, inhabited his body were still all too fresh in her memory. “When will you leave?”

“The Wayfarers?” He paused again in thought. “After we have settled in Bree. I will ask Oendir to resume his place as Commander. My son and I have matters to attend to in Rohan, and I am homesick.”

Eruviel ran her tongue along the inside of her cheek, nodding once. “And when will you return?”

Godhric remained silent. His eyes narrowed on the distant edges of the water where his vision ended.

Eruviel did not break the silence for a time as she watches the water in the bay ease and roll at the behest of the tide and breeze. “You meet a lot of people in fifteen hundred years, but I can only count on one hand the number of men I have met whom I would follow to any end, and fewer still that I would do so unconditionally. If you do not eventually come back, be sure that I will send both Hallem and Feygil after you.”

Godhric’s chest deflated after releasing a large, measured breath with a plume of mist that extended from his lips. “It seems I will have to make my home in the North, now.”

A soft chuckle escaped her. Reaching into the pocket of her warm coat she pulled out her notebook, and from it an aged envelope. She had intended to save it for the next time she passed north of Lorien, but somehow this seemed right. Looking up with a soft smile and meaningful look, she extended it to Godric. “I am sure you can find a proper place to plant this once you get to where you are going.”

Godhric glanced over to study the envelope before unclasping one hand to reach for it. “What is it?” he asked as he held it in front of himself.

“Seeds. Plant the dried flower with it, and wait a week. It should sprout and bloom by then.”

Godhric brought forth a second hand to hold the seeds with. “I will. Thank you.”

Eruviel closed the notebook and slipped it back into her pocket. “You are welcome. Thank you.”

Godhric nodded slowly, then glanced forward to the water once more. “I believe I am going to take a walk before I head back to the village. I will not stray far,” he said. “Thank you, for everything you have done for me.”

Eruviel looked to him for a moment, then dipped her head in a respectful bow. “Commander.” She then stepped away and turned to head back to the village.

“Eruviel,” came Godric’s voice from behind her.

Eruviel stopped and looked back as the man as he turned to face her. “Sir?”

Her eyes sparkled as they might if she had laughed as his voice rose over the sound of the frigid, lapping waves. Responding in jest, she did not have to wait for him to continue.

“– When I am gone, I need you to look after them all for me. Can you promise me this?”

The Elf then gave him a sure nod. “I will look after them. You have have my word.”

Godhric nodded once with a warm smile, then turned to leave, away from Suri-Kyla.

 

(Thank you to Valthier for playing Godric. Taken from in-game RP and edited for tense and composition.)

Be So Cruel

“Still working?”

Peldirion did not look up from his writing. “I am always working,” he responded mildly.

Lothiel watched him from the door of his study, her presence an affront to the privacy of the entire house. “Not always. I saw you on a walk with Halethon earlier. It is kind of you to look after him.”

“He is my friend, Miss Lothiel. Such loyalty is not uncommon.” Peldirion’s dark gaze lifted from his papers, giving her a harsh, pointed look.

The woman shrugged off the look, and stepped inside the room. “He deserves the best, of course, for giving so much in the name of our freedom.”

“I will extend your compliments to him, then, as well as your sudden adoption of patriotism.” As she casually glanced about, Peldirion noted how carefully she had prepared herself. Everything was meant to appeal to him, from the simple, flattering cut of her dress, the color, and the way she stood to encourage any gaze that found her to wander. Then there was the lack of customary blood red on her lips,  and the way her dark blonde hair, woven in an intricate braid, caught the light. Things he pined for ten years ago and would have had him sweeping her off her feet. Things on her that, since then, had repulsed him.

“Do not make fun. War will make patriots of us all. But not you… You’re a hero for saving him.”

Sighing heavily, Peldirion closed his ledger with a definitive thud. “What do you want, Lothiel?”

She drifted in like an independent breeze, toying with the sash of her dress. “I want to know why I am being forced to leave.”

“You know why,” he replied, as if softly reprimanding a child. “You are a widow, and it is improper that you remain here.”

She was suddenly beside him, leaning against the straight edge of the heavy desk. “It doesn’t have to be,” she said quietly. “This is my home, Peldirion. I am meant to be here. And we…”

He had to give her credit for the effort. She was a lovely woman, to be sure, but it took every effor to not to berate her and have her sent from his sight. “We what, Miss Lothiel? Whatever we once had is long dead.”

A hurt expression masked her frustration. “Is it? I am still me, Peldirion. You would leave me destitute, and alone? Surely you would not be so cruel as to abandon your brother’s wife… a woman who loves you, to the world?”

Pushing back his chair, Peldirion rose to his feet. He did not touch her, but he hovered, ever so close,  dark blue eyes capturing Lothiel’s as he peered down at her. She responded just as he expected, her breath catching, and heat flooding her cheeks. “My dear lady, I do not believe you ever loved me, and if I were to pursue my brother’s wife if would be Adrovorn’s.”

Lothiel started out of the trace he had held her in, and scoffed. “That northern witch?”

“She outshines you in every way,” he replied coolly, ever so carefully tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “She is not a parvenu, and holds her own land and titles by right. But I doubt my station and accomplishments would be enough to even tempt her.”

Lothiel blinked in surprise. She probably only carried a promissory note. She drew a breath to speak in her defense, but had no chance to as he continued. “No, I have made other arrangements for my marriage. You can assure my mother of that. You will leave this house, as is proper, and stay with your family. The arrangements have been made and your dowry has been returned to your father.”

Her control snapped, and Lothiel recoiled a step from him. “How dare you do so without my consent!” she shouted.

“I do not need your consent.”

“So what? You think being Vice Consul gives you the right to –”

“Miss Lothiel, it gives me every right, though I do not need its position to give me authority in such matters,” said Peldirion calmly, stepping forward as he motioned to the office door.

Herded out from behind the desk, Lothiel scrambled for a response, advancing back to him as she gazed up with a sorrowful expression. “Is this how it ends, then? You banishing me because you cannot find it in your heart to forgive?!”

He caught her hands as they reached for him, and trapped her with a gaze that made her pull back. He did not let her. So many hateful, perfectly crafted words rose in his mind, and he wanted, more than almost anything, to destroy her. Lothiel struggled only for a second and was caught completely by surprise when he lifted one of her hands up to his lips.

“There is something….”Peldirion began, his breath warm against the skin of her knuckles. He hesitated, allowing a tormented shadow to pass over his hardened features. It was almost cruel… No, it was, and it was perfect. 

“What?” she breathed in response, hope kindling in her eyes.

Lowering her hand, Peldirion kept the other as he slowly escorted her to the door of his office. “Go to your father’s. For now. In about a month I will be hosting a gala here, and as of yet do not have anyone in the city to accompany me.” He stopped at the door, gently releasing her before offering a small bow. “There are some important people you should meet. It would… mean a great deal to me if you would attend.”

“I… I would be honored to, my lord,” she said quietly, triumphantly, caught hook, line, and sinker as she curtsied.

The smile lines that tugged at the corners of his eyes were genuine. “Splendid. Till then, Lady Lothiel.”

Bittersweet: Foolishness

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Eruviel sat on the railing of the icy bridge, looking out over the bay. Her notebook rested open on her lap, it’s pages fluttering in the wind held down by the elf’s gloved hand that grasped a short, well used pencil. This was the last sketch on her list, and she was glad that she had saved it. The view that afternoon was stunning, and a night’s rest without Mornenion in her head helped her enjoy it even more.

Liriedir, having paced around the settlement without purpose, appeared to her right and began to cross over the span. His fingers curled around his slender chin,  Elven brows tugged together in a fretful frown. Consumed by his thoughts, he did not seem to notice Eruviel as he began to pass her.

“They should have a contest to see who can pace the shoreline more,” Eruviel offered in jest as he began to pass her by. “I have little doubt that you would win it.”

Liriedir gave her a sour look. “I am pleased the storms have not blown away your sense of humor.”

Eruviel cast an amused glance at him before quickly catching the pages of her book as they begin to flip. “Are you really? A shame they did not. Being out in this cold so much, you might have caught it.”

Liriedir’s look did not change, and Eruviel felt her stomach drop a little, finding his expression unpleasantly familiar. “Laugh all you wish. Your fleeting emotions are a mark of your age.”

Uhh… The elleth studied him, and she easily responded, “Yes, they are. And I assure you I have no intention of being rid of them. They make life more enjoyable, and seeing and understanding some things far easier.”

Liriedir turned towards the other side of the bridge, overlooking the huts and campfires that doted the shore. “I do not suggest being rid of them. I suggest immaturity. Joke and posture as you will to your fellows, but I will abstain from this foolishness out of respect for our hosts.”

Eruviel turned in her seat to face him, saving her page with her pencil. What in Arda… She quickly thought over her words, not understanding why he would be so harsh. “You consider my joke to you as being disrespectful to our hosts?”

Liriedir set his hands behind himself. “Joking while the city mourns? Yes, I do. Do you feel none of the despair and regret in the air?”

Eruviel’s smile hardened at this. Deep breath. “I feel it deeply, and it is part of what keeps me up every night. I will joke in private with friends as I see fit, for a bitter heart dwelling on death will not help heal the wounded, nor keep my head clear for dealing justice to the enemy when the time comes,” she answered quietly. You do not owe him any explanation. Let an Angmarim break his nose. But she went on.”I bear much of their pain, and spend a great deal of my time aiding the healers with every seriousness that should be afforded.” Turning again, she faced the bay and returns to sketching on her saved page.

“You think like a man. If you feel it, I suggest you act like it.” His shoulders straighten. “We are the firstborn; We are guides, shepherds, teachers. We possess wisdom lost to the younger races. Help all you will, but if you laugh in the face of tragedy, you will be seen as uncaring.”

Eruviel did not respond to him. It had been a long time since she had been accused of being uncaring, and it hurt far worse than expected. She only continued to sketch in her book, her pencil pausing at his words. Be still. He knows nothing, and he would not care if you told him anything, she reasoned.

Liriedir did not say any more. Without a response, he continued down the slope of the bridge, paying no mind to the swirling snow.

Blood boiling in her veins, Eruviel waited till he had gone a ways to snap her book shut. Swinging her legs over, she stood on the bridge and began to stride purposefully back to the Lodge. Bitter, asinine, haughty… Let the others mistrust him. I have no time, and now no care to empathize. Maybe she did think like a man, but she was quite sure she was better for it.

Stopping at the door of the Great Lodge she took a deep breath — well, several deep breaths to calm herself. She could show her anger when she drug Wahseena — Wahsenahthat man to Panja’s feet, and crushed the dark god’s face in with her fist, but she would be damned if the horrid new Elf ruined her mood. Kem, where are you when I need you? Smiling a little down at her notebook, she took one more breath before gladly stepped into the warm building.

“Sivullinen!”

Eruviel look over to where the call had come from. Smiling as she offered a slight wave to the young healer, she weaved through the small crowd by the door to approach the woman. Swallowing, she switched her thoughts to Larsi so as to make speaking it easier. “I apologize for taking so long.”

The young healer smiled hopefully, and shook her head. “Do not apologize. You… you have it?”

Eruviel nodded and reached into her pocket to pull out a makeshift envelope, bits of blue feather escaping out of one corner. Would he think this foolishness? “I hope this will suffice.”

“It will! I cannot thank you enough. He was so upset when he learned that the ones I gave him were ruined….” the woman whispered, a sudden look of shame and worry showing in her eyes. “I would go, but I cannot leave with all of –”

“It is not safe to leave,” Eruviel interrupted softly, resting a reassuring hand on the woman’s arm. “And you are needed here. You can just say a friend helped you get them. They were a gift to me, so it is only proper that I gift a few to you. He will like them, but not as much as he does you.” She then turned her gaze to the beds filled with wounded across the great room. “How are they?”

The woman blushed a little, tucking the precious envelope safely away before a more serious look took over her features. “No change. Hopefully we do not loose another before nightfall.”

“How about Keihäs and Pentu?”

“A pain, those two.” Nodding to Eruviel, she reached into her healer’s apron and offered the Elf a bottle. “Their dressings will need changed as well. Would you mind?”

Eruviel smiled kindly as she accepted the bottle. “Not at all.” Parting ways, she followed the wall around, nodding respectfully to several of the healers. She was sure Maggie and Varidia were about helping somewhere nearby. Keeping out of the way, she slowed as she approached two cots.

“About time!” one of the men huffed as he looked back to see the Elf. “What took you so long?”

“Welcome back,” replied the man in the second bed, a thick dressing laid over his eyes

“Thank you, Pentu. And I got caught up in an unpleasant conversation,” she replied mildly to the first man. “How is the leg, Keihäs?”

“The same as when you left,” Keihäs huffed. Propping himself up on his elbows, the man nodded to her. “Did you get all of them?”

Smiling softly, Eruviel knelt down between the two beds. “Of course I did.”

“Well, hand them over!”

Eruviel swatted away Keihäs’ reaching hand. Opening her notebook to the page saved by her short pencil, she carefully began tearing out several pages covered with rough, but meticulously sketched scenes of the landscape and village. “Here you are.”

Keihäs eagerly accepted the drawings from her, and laid back, pouring hungrily over each page. “You are terrible at drawing.”

“Do not be rude, Keihäs,” Pentu admonished quietly, turning his head a little to the sound of the rustling pages.

“He is not wrong,” Eruviel replied with a smile. Placing a hand briefly on Pentu’s arm she then reached to take up the wide bowl and small satchel left at the foot of the bed. “Let us change the dressing on your eyes first, hmm?”

Nodding, Pentu straightened his head to face up. “But it is still unkind to say after you went through all of that trouble.”

Eruviel chuckled quietly, and rolled up her sleeves. Washing her hands in the prepared water, she carefully peeled away the thick poultice from the man’s wounded face as she had watched Cwendlwyn and so many other healers do before. “It was no trouble at all.” Keihäs grunted at their conversation, but said nothing as he slowly traced his fingers over a drawing of a cluster of huts.

“What is it like… outside” Pentu asked quietly, managing a small frown as he looked up past burned lids to see nothing.

A pained expression flickered across her features, but Eruviel did not let it reach her voice. Placing a textured stone from the shoreline in his waiting hands, she pulled the cork from the small jar, and took up a clean rag. “The storm is not as bad today, and a bit of golden sunlight filters down now and then to warm the round roofs. You can see the pale bean — oh, eh– ice… floating in the dark, grey blue waters….”

 

(Thank you to Atanamir for playing Liriedir! RP taken from in game and edited for tense and composition.)

Bittersweet: Answers in the Cold

The wind of the storm beyond Suri-kyla stung the freshly healed skin of her cheeks as she walked. Eruviel’s pace quickened as she approached the Ferry only to come to a stop at the start of the short pier. Staring out over the bay she searched the waters. For answers? For comfort? Shaking her head, she yanked off her gloves.

Perhaps she should have told Cedoric when he asked, or Eirikr because she should have. Because she wanted to. But then again, what good would it do? Another trouble to have on the mind. Another burden for something that may or may not come. Her cloak followed the gloves, then her wrap followed by her heavy fur-lined coat. The wind catching her braid and the ribbon that struggled to keep it bound, Eruviel yanked off her boots and socks and walked to stand on the far end of the pier. Cold cut through her shirt and lined trousers to bite her healing flesh. As bitter as it was the chilled air washed over her, filling her chest with the clean, spirit-filled air, and awakening all of her senses.

But I will just say this: to ever trust the word of the Angmarim would be a deep betrayal to my people… She had wanted to run after Beth and ask her what she had meant. Why she had turned away. But then her thoughts went to Angmar. What was waiting for her, sought for her at night now that the link had been broken in the fire, and what she wished was still. What she wished with all her heart was still beyond those borders.

If you were alive you could have helped us. Attacked them from behind. You would have known what to do. Eruviel wrapped her arms around herself, and squeezed her eyelids shut even as hot tears escaped. A hundred men, their bodies broken and burning in the fires illuminated the back of her eyelids, mixed with glow of the river of molten rock. This is not the time. They will get through this. Somehow we will make it. We always do, don’t we? Keep him out. Keep him out.

He had been there again, waiting in the shadows of the trees in her dreams, filling her paths with traps. Having found a clearing she had banished the scene, all for the hill, and surrounded herself with light. All night she could sense him, waiting, but he could not get through. Then daylight came.

A warm body pressed against her leg. Looking down, Hano sat on the dock beside his golden eyes gazing up at her. Letting out a cloud of breath in a sigh, she knelt down beside him, and returned the nuzzle he gave. “Thank you. It is good to have another voice of encouragement in my head…. Or look,” she added with a little smirk.

Hano nipped at her pointed ear, and Eruviel petted behind his. “It’ll work out, won’t it? Of course it will. We’ll just beat Tuma… again. Find the daughter, beat the warlord, keep Panja alive… But if things go badly, you and Kemp go. Promise me. Keep away from any fighting, hmm?”

The wolf grumbled, and licked the Elf’s face. She laughed, most likely the response he had hoped for, and kissed the top of his head. “Let us head back. There will be a meeting, and I promised not to disappear.”