“You sure they’re there?”
Frank grumbled in frustration and pointed again to the distant copse of trees lit by the low orange glow of campfires. “I don’t give shit reports. They are there.”
“Watch your mouth.”
“We should move in now, while we have the chance,” Frank growled, glaring at Ildric through the dark.
Ildric crawled back till it was safe enough to stand, and adjusted the sword at his hip. “I’ll take it from here. You ride on back.”
Frank wheeled around to face the towering man. “I brought the report from the Elf herself. I have seen their numbers and I am staying. I want them dead just as much as –”
Ildric snatched Frank up by the front of his tunic and tossed the young man back. “Go to your wife, Frank. I know you got a score to settle, but you’re no good to me.”
“You bastard,” Frank snarled, scrambling to his feet.
Moving to shove the younger man away, the sound of horses reached Ildric’s ears. Grabbing Frank by the shoulder he drug him in to clap a hand over his mouth. The sound grew louder then faded off to their right, and Ildric did not release his friend till the echo of hooves had faded.
“What you do that for?”
“You’re a mouth breather.”
Frank punched Ildric hard in the shoulder. “I am not. You’re an ass.”
“When do we go?”
Ildric frowned down at him. “You’re goin’ nowhere but home.”
Frank set his feet and glared up at the man.
What felt like several minutes passed before Ildric nodded his head curtly. “You’re a pain, Frank.”
Frank sniffed, dusting off his left sleeve as he marched past the older man. “I learn from the best.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Feira leaned over the railing, hands cleaning to the rigging as fresh ocean mist sprayed up to shower her face and cling to her hair. Home! It was just beyond the horizon… and a little ways beyond that, but still! The air slowly turned increasingly warmer, as did the salty sea, and Feira wondered for a moment what would happen if she lept from the side do dive into the frothing hills of blue water.
“Ho! Miss!” called a deck hand from behind her. “Ya wanna be careful. Hit a swell ‘n ya be swimmin’ yer way back teh Gondor!”
Feira shoved her golden hair out of her eyes as she beamed back at the man worn by sun and years at sea. “If I did, maybe I’d beat you all there!”
The man stared at her for a moment, a little bewildered by her response before chuckling and shaking his head. “Well can’ say I didn’ warn ya! S’long as yeh enjoy it and ain’t leanin’ too far I s’pose it don’t hurt any, though.”
Nodding readily, Feira smiled a charming smile at the man, not minding the pitch of the ship since she had got her sea legs a few days before. “I’ll be careful! Thank you!”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Eruviel leaned back against her front door, listening as Eirikr’s footsteps retreated down the hill towards the cabin. The fearful ache started to crawl it’s way back into her chest.
How can you ask me to stay behind?
And she had caved. Of course she had. He thought she sounded crazy. He was angry with her… and she supposed if things were reversed she would have been, too. As much as she wanted to beg and plead for him to change his mind, a fresh confidence also settled over her, knowing that he would be there.
Damn it. Damn it. Damn it.
How could she communicate the danger? How could she tell him — all of them why any of this was happening? Sliding down the smooth door, she stared at the floor between her knees. How could she turn the tides in their favor. He’s arrogant, prideful, dramatic… and scared.
“Going to face him head-on, tracking him down. That is predictable. Draw him out!”
Her gaze turned to the delicate silver chain around her neck. Lifting a hand she pulled the small blue agate out from beneath her shirt, gazing at it for a moment before grasping it in her fist. “Draw him out, hmm? Damn it, Eirikr,” she whispered softly. Leaning her head back she closed her eyes, pulling herself out of each thought and emotion, allowing the white light that filled her mind to become everything that was.
Eruviel opened her eyes. There were no shadows as bare feet carried her up the low, grassy hill speckled with blue and white flowers swaying on silver stems. Carefully she withdrew the light from the boundaries of her mind, and while not blinding and filled with her will, the light remained, like the soft haze of sunlight that blurs one’s surroundings.
It was not long till he came. She sensed him first, cautious and corrupting, his shadows coiling out in attempt to drown out her light.
“I admit that I am surprised. Are your defenses so weak, or are you too tired to care.”
Her skin crawled as he drew close, but the dark form did not attempt to step foot on the low hill, and she did not so much as move to acknowledge him.
He prowled for a moment, circling her small rise with an air that said he was merely humoring her. “How disappointing that you burned the banners, though. I had been saving them just for you. I was hoping you might keep them with you as you steal into my tower to finish what you had started.”
Again she did not respond, gazing off to some distant corner of her mind, her own features obscured by the surrounding glow.
Mornenion stopped, fixing her with a dangerous look. “Why did you let me back in?”
Finally she she turned to face him and lifted her gaze to meet his. “I have been waiting for you.”