Epilogue: Ahiga


Heat from the ovens below his attic room seeped through the cracks between the aged floorboards. Even at such an early hour, before the first twinkling of dawn brushed against the dark did only the Watch and a handful of yawning tradesmen wander the cobbled streets. His few things shoved into a weatherproofed pack, and borrowed linens left folded on the foot of the straw mattress, Ahiga quietly stepped out into the cold dark.

The warmth that had sunk into him from the stark living quarters was slowly pulled from his skin and clothing as he walked. Thin lips twisting, he welcomed the uncomfortable bite of the chilly air. Ahiga did not look to the trinket shop of the crazed woman, nor did he look to the quiet garden that, in the past months, he had found himself frequenting, if only in vain hope.

What was hope, but futility? He told himself he felt nothing. That feeling was weakness. He had not come to Bree-land to live in a warm attic and deliver mail for the witless flocks of Eriador. But his weeks of not caring turned into months of loneliness as he felt a fresh bitterness blossom deep in his chest. He had let himself get ensnared by the dark smile and verdant gaze that saw right through his pitiful charade only to wake up alone.

Swiping his mess of black hair back out of his eyes, Ahiga paid no heed to the few familiar faces he passed on his way to the South Gate. The revenge he had waited for so long had crumbled into aimless anger not long after the morning he had woken up alone. He had been so close, and he knew, he KNEW that the Elf had known he was there. Waiting for her in the dark with a poisoned blade and her name as a curse upon his lips, the Elf had stopped at the top of the path leading to the cabin beside the lake. She had stood there in silence, gazing down to the home of people who loved her, and her silent presence waiting patiently for Ahiga to do what he’d meant to overwhelmed him.

He hated her, hated her so much because he had to hate someone. And he had let her go. It would have meant nothing, taking her life then, and the next day she was gone — gone with purpose, just like the rest. He was empty, and aimless, and every child’s laugh, every whisper of a garden snake in the fields, and sweet summer rain fed into the anger that burned deep within his bones.

Ahiga did not stop as he reached the edge of the woods. He did not look to the trees where Leuca often lingered, or the gates of Durrow in the distance. He was going someplace, far away from Angmar, and Bree, and feelings he wanted to forget. The young man did not know where, nor did he think on it. For the time being, moving forward was all he truly needed.

When It Happens


“But you don’t understand! She’s my best friend’s sister! We threw rocks at each other!”

Eruviel’s merry chuckle echoed about her yard as she watched Frank pace and throw out his hands in a dramatic display of frustration. “Frank! Frank. I punched my deceased in the face on — no, twice. It is not impossible for a relationship to mature beyond enmity.”

Frank scrubbed his hands over his face, and plodded over to lean heavily against the railing beside the Elf. He sighed heavily. “I saw her… two weeks ago? For the first time in years. She’s… She’s still Kimby, but she’s an entirely different person.”

“You both are,” Eruviel offered thoughtfully.

The young man shot her a little smirk. “Is… Is it okay? I mean, it’s been a while since Mag’s left. I just…. I don’t wanna jump inta something if I’m not ready.”

The Elf’s kind smile evolved into a smirk. “Do you want to be ready?”

Frank thought about it before an uncontrolled, boyish grin spread across his face. “Yeah. I really do.  I wanna know everything there is about her.” He then chuckled and blushed furiously as he hooked a hand around the back of his neck. “When she — an’ then I kissed ‘er back… it was like seein’ colors fer the first time in a long time.”

Eruviel chuckled, and slid gracefully off of her seat on the fence rail before dusting off her fitted trousers. “It can be like that.”

Frank braced a hand on a fence post before easily swinging himself over. “How was it for you this time?”

“How…? Frank, I’m not going to start telling you what it’s like when Eirikr and I kiss –”

“Oh, COR, please don’t! I didn’t mean it like that!” Frank insisted with a laugh. “That’s like my mom tellin’ me weird stories about her an’ Dad, and it’s so gro –!” He made a shudder and grinned as he unsuccessfully attempted to doge a swat to the back of the head.

They turned to head down the road, Eruviel composed but for a soft chuckle and blushing, and Frank grinned, rubbing at the back of his head. Several steps down the lane, the young man looked over to her once more. “… So, you think it’s okay if I try to go for it?”

“What do you think, Frank?” said Eruviel, her tone kind as she gave him a knowing smirk.

“I think… I think it will be an adventure with her if I do,” he started with a sheepish chuckle. “When some things happen… I think I would be missing out if I didn’t try.”

Innocent Heart


((A response blog to the brilliant and lovely Valael Valia Tia. The first two parts happened a year ago, and the third is a little recent addition.))

“And maybe a sketch with nothing. Just in case the portrait is not sufficient,” Alduial considered, looking herself over in the dress. “I am going to buy this. I like it. I can always wear something grey to dinner.”

Feira nodded as she slipped her arms into the mostly opened sleeves and adjusted the dress over her slender waist. The fluid grey dress swirled around her legs like a morning mist, the pre-dawn hue warmed by a sunrise glow that crept up from the hem, and somewhat unkindly pulling her away from the first successful distraction she had had in weeks.

Do you have a favorite color?

It took a second to steady her hands. Fastening the pale gold sash beneath her bust she smoothed her hands over her hips even as she nodded to Alduial. “Good! And I am sure your supper will be splendid, whatever you end up wearing. What is most important is him and you, and sharing such a happy occasion with your loved ones.”

“‘Loved Ones’ is a little excessive, but I suppose so,” Alduial said dismissively and looked over Feira, her expression turning to a beaming look of approval as she danced over and smoothed out the shoulders of the dress. “You look like the sunrise made flesh,” she said firmly and fixed a little wrinkle. “That is marvelous.”

Feira blushed, adjusting the delicate gold clasps that fastened the open sleeves over her elbows. “I’m worried it’s too young…. I feel like some seaside nymph.”

“I understand seaside nymphs are in fashion,” Alduial replied and bent slightly to look over the clasps. “You are a positive siren anyway. You could march down to the docks and have your pick of sailors in a heartbeat. But I would not dare call it young, you look bright, that is different.”

Feira’s almost genuine smile faltered at the mention of sailors, and for a moment she looked down at herself, self-consciously brushing at one sleeve and smoothing her hands over the bodice. “Bright is — is good. I do enjoy bright….” She found a smile again, though not one of her own, and nodded to Alduial. “I – It is fun, trying on dresses with friends. It has been a while. Was there anything else that caught your eye?”

“Oh all sorts!” Alduial exclaimed, suddenly far more chipper and bright, and she swept over to the door, calling in a sing-song voice for the tailor and leaning through the doorway to summon more distractions to the dressing room.


“If you are sure…. Remember, just four days a week. Any hour you can spare is welcome. Till next Monday. And thank you again, Miss.”

The headmaster hired by The Jays Ladies offered one last reluctant bow before closing the front door of the new, simple little school behind him. Cloak bound around her library books to protect them, Feria leaned back against the whitewashed wall of the building in Dol Amroth’s lower quarter, her golden hair slowly growing heavy from the blowing sheets of rain that fell, unhindered by the low-hanging eaves.

Not all of us can afford to be self-righteous.

For weeks she had hidden. At the estate, at the library. Even the errands she had to run around the city were done quickly and quietly. It had been far easier than she had thought, slipping back into her former ways of avoiding notice, and it was almost effortless, the way she stole about, smaller than before and entirely unassuming. Work filled her days, study her nights, and exhaustive training found it’s way into her free time. She covered as many shifts as she could, every time telling herself that each kind deed she did for those around her was a lie.

The clouds above the city whipped and churned, chasing couples on the rainy Emeleth’s Day inside, and accompanying the gloom of those who would not celebrate it. A free hand rose to brush at the bare hollow of her neck, a motion that had become habit. She knew where it was, the distant memory of it breaking free played often when she thought of the locked, and Feira tried desperately not to think of it.

One part of her told her to slip down to the warf and check the Alshier if he was not there. Another told her to suffer the loss. And the maelstrom in her mind began to spin.

If he was there, what would he say? What would she say? She felt like a monster, fearing his cold look and reproachful tone as if it were wolfsbane. He must hate her. In spite of all her well meaning she had hurt him. Then he had walked away. Emeleth, he really did hate her. She hated herself, hated the mindset that trapped him, and the men that kept him there. Most of all she despised that she hated. It was a dark weight that held her down. It fueled her loneliness and sadness, trapping her in a hole of going nowhere in circles. Everything was empty, numb and grey. Every ambition nearly loosing it’s fire. She thought about all that was lost… what he didn’t know that had been lost, and the dreadful cycle pulled her down even further.

And then there was a third part of her. It told her to leave the necklace there. If he threw it away she would have to be fine with that. The sentiment and lessons that had come with that locket were not bound to cold metal, but to her. She did not dare to hope that he would come looking for her. Two years of Yule, holidays and birthdays and he had given her nothing. Then again, he had given himself, and his time when he could, and she would not deny that he had given the best that he knew to give. He had said that he had never lied to her, and while knowing full well that it could have been meaningless words spat out to make her feel guilt, she chose to believe him.

If she did not go now and retrieve her locket as the agonizing twist in her chest begged her to, she always had an excuse to sometime… some better time find the Alshier. An excuse to see Lhainan.

Hugging her bundled books to her chest, Feira walked out into the some what quiet street, avoiding a passing cart as she began the long walk through the city. For now the third voice held sway, and she did not mind the chilling rain.


“That is it for today. Bently, you will pick up where we left off tomorrow.”

The nine year old boy groaned, and rolled his eyes as he added his worn tome to the pile of books on the bench his tutor sat on. “Yes, Miss Feira.”

As the books piled up and the small flock of children gathered their things, Feira rose. Motioning to the oldest boy, Dannert, she stepped to the side of the courtyard of the little school. Concern written across her features, Feira opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the young man.

“Don’t say it, Miss Feira,” huffed the fifteen year old as he brushed self-consciously at the dark bruise beneath his left eye. “It’s nothing. I just got into another scrap, is all.”

Feira’s amber eyes narrowed. With a gentle touch she reached for Dannert’s arm, lifting it so they could both see the bruise the poked out from beneath the cuff of his sleeve. “And this?” she asked softly.

Dannert stiffened and withdrew a step from the young woman. His face twisted in frustration and a grimace. “It’s — Just let it lie, Miss Feira. I’m fine. I can handle myself.”

“Dannert, this is the third time in a month,”

“I said, let it LIE,” the young man shouted.

“Let what lie?”

The man’s voice that sounded behind her from the open doors of the school made the hairs on the back of Feira’s neck stand on end. For a second she caught Dannert’s eye, and behind his scowl she could see the same dread that she felt. Her expression steeled, and Feira turned around to face the regrettably familiar man.

“I was attempting to convince my charge to attend lessons tomorrow, but he insists he cannot miss work.”

The tall, muscled man known as ‘Bor’ looked at Feira in surprise, and then wicked amusement as a sly smirk turned up his rugged features. “Well, well, well. Little Miss Sunshine! It’s been a long time. I didn’t know my kid brother was getting his learning from you.”

“Not primarily from me, but yes. I tutor him. Dannert is one of my best students,” Feira replied, her tone crisp and professional, and yet it only seemed to make Bor’s grin widen.

“He better be.” Bor slung an arm almost roughly around Dannert’s shoulders.

Dannert shrugged the arm off and didn’t so much as glance to Feira as he began to stalk away. “Whatever. Let’s go.”

“Hold up there, big man!” said Bor as he caught the lad by the arm. “Me and the pretty lady are friends –”

Acquaintances,” Feira corrected briskly.

The look Bor gave her made her stomach feel sick just like it had two years before. “Close enough, right? If Miss Feira’s teachin’ you, then I don’t see why you can’t take a break to come to her lessons.”

Dannert rotated his jaw, gazed fixed on the floor. “Thank you.” The response was careful and automatic.

Feira felt a knot coil with a sickening tightness in her gut. She softly clasped her hands in front of her. The presence of the cruel dagger hidden in her sleeve was far more reassuring than she could put into words. “It is my pleasure. Master Bor, your brother works very hard. You should be proud of him,” she said in a collected, but sincere tone.

“You don’t say? Well, I’ll take your word for it,” said Bor as he ruffled Dannert’s hair with a scared hand. “I will have to check in to see how he is doing from time to time.”

At that Feira’s amber gaze fixed on Bor’s cold, hazel eyes. “If the doors are open you are free to do so, of course. But I should not be keeping you, Master Bor… Dannert. I will see you tomorrow.”

The brief glance Dannert gave her was a myriad of emotions, but Fiera was glad to see the hint of relief. “Yes, Miss Feira.”

Arm once more slung over his little brother’s shoulders, Bor smirked in smug satisfaction, and let his gaze wander freely over the young woman. “I’ll be seeing you.”

Feira didn’t remember to breathe till the brothers left the courtyard. One hand grasping the small, broken shell that hung from a gold chain around her neck, she moved to the front doors of the school to watch the bustling crowds flowing up and down the filthy street. There was no sign of the man, but there was no relief. She wanted to be away from the lower quarters, in the safety of the library or the estate with — Emeleth, with anyone who could take her mind off of that bastard.

Hands grasped at her indigo skirts, and Feira looked down in surprise to see Akiva suddenly clinging to her, and glaring out at the world. “I told ya tha’ you didn’t wanna meet his brother.”

Anecdotes: Where We Are

The glow of a new dawn crept over the wooden beams of the ceiling. It was several minutes of staring up at the warm hues before Jade fully realized that she was awake. For a split second she thought she might have been back in Bree-land, with Drew’s arm draped over her, but then the strong arm reflexively pulled her closer and she remembered.

Turning her head she watched Hazim as he slept, his dark hair tossed over their pillows. For several minutes she listened to him breathing, as well as the occasional stirring of Rafi elsewhere in the room. Thoughts filtered through her mind as she savored the heat that seeped from Hazim’s skin into her own. Regret for the pained look on Drew’s face, for the anger on Sadie’s. She missed Dorsett, and Jo fiercely. And Drew. In truth the wondering had come often in the early hours of the day. Would she regret it someday? Leaving a loving husband, and a quiet, secure home? She thought of the few friends she had, and the small vineyard behind the house. Of the flower bushes that hid her failures.

Careful not to disturb her lover, Jade untangled herself from Hazim and the sheets. The room she and the two brothers shared was simple, and modest, and, most importantly, cheap. Cheap enough for them to live comfortably till they got their footing in the city.

Quick to wash and dress for work, Jade regarded herself in the mirror as the grey light of morning took on a dull, fiery hue that filled the room. Yes, there were things she missed. Selfish decisions that made her question herself. But then a warm sea breeze stole past the curtains to pull at the fabric of  her dress, tease through her hair, and blow away her doubts. Jade drew in a deep breath, and a confident, impish smirk curled up the corners of her mouth.

Turning back to the bed as the tall fighter stirred, Jade stooped to press a soft kiss to his neck. His smell and warmth was almost enough to make her stay, but she pulled herself away and fixed the blanked over Rafi before silently stealing out the door. The sounds of Dol Amroth filled her ears before she even reached the street, and beyond the arch of the exit the glimmer of the nearby sea reflected in her blue eyes. Yes, this was where she was supposed to be.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“You did what?!”

Feira winced as Nellie gaped in disapproval. “Please do not give me that look.”

“Oh, I will!” Nellie proclaimed huffily, tossing her brunette locks over her shoulder as the two maids browsed over the selection of fish at the docks. “I can’t believe you!”

Feira rolled her eyes and then gave the merchant a charming smile as she selected a fat salmon for purchase. “What was I supposed to do?”

“Uh, say yes? He’s gorgeous! And owns his own business, and is an actual gentleman,” Nellie griped, spelling it out for her friend with a hand set firmly on her hip. “You know, for as smart at you are, you can be an absolute idiot!”

“What? Because I know how to say ‘no’ to men and you don’t?” Feira retorted smoothly with no small amount of sass.

Nellie gasped in offense, but had no other response because, well, it was the truth. “That is not the point, missy, and you know it. Uugh, and I could have bought a new dress and gotten free treats, too,” she added with a pout as she watched her friend pay for the fish, and exchange knowing smirks with the grizzled but kindly-looking fisherman.

Fiera turned and motioned for Nellie to lead the way down the row of busy merchant stalls. “I am so sorry, Nells, that I am not getting married for your benefit,” she teased.

Nellie jutted out her lower lip in a disgruntled pout at Feira before checking her shopping list. “Why couldn’t you just do it for the money? And you know, since it’s so important, you could have at least tried to love him. You have to get over that silly sailor someday.”

Feira brushed golden strands of hair out of her eyes and cast a glance to the nearby sails at the docks. “Maybe, but Berest deserves someone who does love him, not someone who might.”

Exhaling a long-suffering sigh, Nellie hooked an arm with Feira’s and led her to another stall. “And maybe you’ll be an old maid and give all your pennies away to those little runts you tutor. Or, perhaps I should give that boy — Sully? Sally?”

“Master Sellion?”

“Yes!” Nellie snapped her fingers and pranced several steps. “Perhaps I should give him pointers on how to turn your head.”

Feira scowled at Nellie. “My students are not runts, Sellion and I are just friends, and you are impossible.”

Nellie giggled and squeezed Feira’s arm before dragging her another way, distracted by displays of Haradic jewelry. “I know!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The young recruit dashed in, so sure that his practice sword would find it’s mark. Peldirion had made the young man he sparred with work to get an opening, and waited as he took the bait. Then, without hesitation or mercy, batted away the driving wooden blade, and swung his free arm in to knock the man off of his feet.

“Good! Your form has improved,” he said, expression stern as he offered a hand down to his gasping opponent. “Faster on the draw, and if you get knocked down, roll with it. I may not deal the finishing blow, but your enemy will.”

The training room had filled with young guardsmen eager to serve a new Gondor, and they watched with rapt attention. The Lord Calaer’s morning training sessions were known for being brutal, but every young man at the garrison was up each morning, eager to learn and prove their worth. The fit private stood at attention despite his struggling to regain his breath.

Peldirion looked back to his audience and was about to select two men for the next demonstration when the sight of Halethon in the near hall caught his attention. “Captain Matteson! Run the men through their paces.” One of the officers off to the side strode in and barked to the room as the men began to pair up.

“Woe to the fool who dares attack Pelargir,” said Halethon with a smirk as his friend drew near.

Peldirion’s eyes narrowed to show his amusement and fit on his tunic as he joined him. “Let us hope these lads do not have to see war so close to home again,” he huffed in response as he held out a hand to accept the sealed scroll Halethon offered up to him. His friend turning his wheeled chair, the two began to slowly walk down the hall to the terrace that overlooked the courtyard of the garrison. “Do you know how she is this morning?”

“I did not hear much, but I think your beloved had her breakfast in bed.” There was silence for several seconds, and it prompted Halethon to look up and read Peldirion’s frown. “Pel, she is well,” he assured quietly. “Morning sickness is common.”

Peldirion grunted, and kept his focus on the letter that was suddenly vastly insignificant. “What do you think?”

Halethon’s gaze narrowed as he watched his friend. “I think a lot of things.”

“Do you think it is a boy?”


“… What if it is a girl?”

Halethon blinked, and suddenly leaned his head back as he laughed. “Then you will be hopelessly head over heels for two women! You’re going to be the most ridiculously adorable father. Seriously. I don’t know if your men will fear you less or more after!”

Peldirion’s hardened expression cracked faintly, and only Halethon could see just how soft of a look it really was. “You think so?”

“By Ulmo,” Halethon huffed with a grin. “If you start crying on me I swear I will punch you!”

“I never cry,” Peldirion retorted.

“Horse shit.” Halethon swatted at Peldirion’s arm before turning to wheel himself away. “You’ll do great. Now stop grumping all over the place. We have work to do.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A log in the fire popped, sending a shower of sparks up into the wide chimney. A thick quilt draped over her, a steaming mug of cider rested on the end table, and Fletch slept, snoring softly on Eruviel’s bare feet. It took her a good while to fully concentrate on her studies. The common room of her little home in Durrow still echoed with the memory of laughter, and smelled of beef stew, buttered rolls, and winterberry pie. Even the feel of his final parting kiss lingered, warming her fair cheeks.

But soon enough Eruviel’s emerald gaze was fixed on the old tome as she studied her brother’s notes by fire and candlelight. There was nothing new for her to find, but still she read, possibly to glean what knowledge she lacked, and also out of hope that she could find something else to help the young girl.

She found it again. The recounting of similar cases. And if she thought about it, even from across Ruby Lake, she could faintly sense it. She had not told Eirikr, but it frightened her at first, the fear in Jaemy’s eyes when their hands first touched. The young girl’s pained, confused cries. At the same time that it broke her heart, a fury like blinding fire burned in her veins towards the people that had harmed the child. But she was with Varidia, and in truth, Eruviel could think of no better place for Jaemy’s sake. Both for herself and for her guardian.

Sighing softly, Eruviel closed the tome. One hand tracing over the intricate designs in the leather cover, her other reached to first take up the letter from Idlric, and then the hot mug to sip from. The warmth seeped through her, and the Elf settled further beneath the massive blanket. As prepared as she worked to be for the worst, Eruviel knew that the poor girl was getting the best medicine and magic she could. The logs in the fireplace popped again, and Eruviel watched the flames dance in the hearth. Very few things… if anything in the world were as powerful as true kindness and love freely given. Perhaps they were meant to rescue the young one. Then again, perhaps Varidia and even Durrow were simply the Hunter’s tools to guide Jaemy to an understanding that she could, indeed, save herself.

Innocent Heart: Mouths and Minds to Feed

“There she is!”

Feira looked up as the call rose from the gaggle of children sitting on the rocks rising above the warm shoreline. One… two… three…. And two boys. I’m missing two. Then all of them were running to meet her — well, except for Siyra who had gotten it into her fifteen year old head that running was beneath her.

“We’ve been waiting!” called one boy, sand flying in his wake.

“What took you so long?!” called another.

Jenna, with her hair freshly chopped short, sprinted ahead of the other girl, Akiva, and the three boys. The eight year old tomboy let out a jubilant whoop as she saw the covered basket hanging from Feira’s arm. “What did ya bring us? What did ya bring us?”

Feira laughed and reached out a hand to catch the young girl as she stumbled over her own feet. “Food that you will have to share!”

“But I get a bigger portion, right?” Jenna chirped, putting on a frown as Feira lifted the basket out of reach of the girl’s grabbing hands.

Nine year old Bently skidded to a stop beside them. “Stop being so greedy!” he shot accusingly at the girl.

Jenna hopped back, hands balling into fists. “Take that back!”

Feira stepped easily between them, and rested a delicate hand on Jenna’s head with a commanding weight. “You two can pick a fight some other time,” she resolved as her and Siyra exchanged amused looks. “Akiva? Ren? I see Tom is not here. Ready for your lesson?”

“You bet! Well, I sure am,” said Akiva with a haughty little bobble of her head. “Ren’s just been messin’ around.”

“Tom’s off getting ready to start his Page — And it’s called a job, ya dolt!” Ren shot back with a smirk. He snuck around Siyra to pounce on an unsuspecting Bently.

Feira chuckled, letting the boys tumble about, and turned to lead the small pack towards the smoothed ocean boulders nearby that were crowned by the children’s faded cloaks and jackets. “Danert is not here?”

All of the children frowned, and Ren and Bently ceased their wrestling. “He’s… runnin’ messages today,” Ren replied as he moved to fetch the small pile of borrowed books for Feira.

Akiva sat down by Feira and began helping the young woman unload the picnic she had brought for everyone. “His brother came home,” she spat under her breath.

Feira frowned and looked to the others that were sullenly taking their seats. “The older brother? I suppose it would not help if I talked to him?”

“Nuthin’ helps,” Bently muttered, selecting a worn volume from the stack.

Jenna cozied up beside Feira, and was all too willing to begin passing fat sandwiches to her left. “Best to steer clear of him. He’s mean.”

Siyra frowned darkly, and she held the sandwich she was passed close to her. “He…. Let’s not. What are our lessons for today, Miss. Feira?”

With a knowing look, Feira studied the five children gathered on the beach with her. She drew in a soft breath, and worry vanished from her fair features “Today? We are going over our numbers from yesterday, and Akiva and Ren will be reciting their passages. But first let us enjoy our meal, hmm?”

Ren, having not waited for the others, mumbled with a mouth full of food. “Mmmph! I’s gooo!”

The rest followed suit, eager to consume the meal, and forget the lingering concern that weighed on all of their minds. Breeze catching her golden hair, Feira listened to their chatter and offered over an old tone to Siyra when the girl finished with her food first. It had taken months for them to accept her, and several more for her to earn their trust. She only tutored them for two hours  three times a week, but much of her free time seemed to include at least one of them. Never had Feira felt so fulfilled and so challenged, and as the book was passed for the next youth to read, a dose of pride and concern swelled in her chest for all of her charges, those present and those not.

Find Him

“Curse you! Get off me! Get –” 

One last attempt to pull loose saw Ildric finally crawl free from beneath his dieing horse. The light dimming in its brown eyes, the fallen animal struggled for one more gasping breath as the man fought his way to his feet. He did not pay the horse that had failed him so close to his destination any mind. Cursing under his breath, the man held his broken arm against his chest and scrambled up  the hill towards the distant pillar of black smoke.

He was not a lithe man. Tall and thickly built, Ildric was made for short furious bursts of speed. But he ignored the burn of his lungs and blood in his mouth. Several hours ahead of the others, he would run himself to death as he had his horse if only to see. 

He had to see. They couldn’t be….

His broken arm and left leg cried for him to slow, but it was in vain.

Three more hills…. Two more hills…. One.

The once sprawling farm now was nothing but scorched earth. Flames still engulfed the black remains of barns, fences and a little farmhouse. The smell of death permeated the grey haze. Half burned bodies of farm animals were scattered about, and what remained of the few farm hands could be seen in the nearest field.

Hate boiled, coursing through his limbs. He would find him. And once he did….

Brushing embers from his shirt, Ildric half ran, half stumbled down the hill and into the yard. The silence roared in his ears, the distant popping of coals and crackle of fire like deafening explosions. He did not notice the burns on his hands as he shoved the smoldering gate out of his way. 

“Hello?” he called, what breath he had catching in his throat.

“Anyone!” he begged, pleaded, even though he knew no one would answer.

Heart pounding furiously, Ildric smashed the charred door of the house open with his shoulder… and he froze. A single body laid in the remains, the small floral print of the dress still faintly distinguishable.

The pain hit him all at once, and his heart made a sick twist in his chest. Dropping to his knees in the ash and coals covering her door, Ildric curled over, clawed at the ground and screamed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

“You have everything?”

Vrax pulled the last strap over the wagon canvas and tossed the extra length over the top to Eruviel. “Enough. Can’t wait around for the rest.”

“I’ll see that it gets down to you once it arrives.” Eruviel secured the rope in a taunt knot.

There was silence between them. A minute of unspoken apologies and assurances as Vrax waved to the wagon drivers behind him, and Eruviel handed up the reigns as the man stepped into the drivers seat.

“Drive safe. I’ll send word when I learn more.”

Vrax caught the Elf’s wrist and frowned down at her. “As much as I want him dead, you living is more important.”

“I promised to find him. We tried to do things my way and we see how well that worked out.”

“Dammit. Just say it,” he huffed with a low growl.

Eruviel’s stern expression gave way to a faint smile. “I’ll be careful. Take care, old man.”

Vrax managed an uncommonly weak smirk. “See you in the spring, Witch.” Releasing her, he snapped the reigns to start his wagon forward.

Innocent Heart: Journal Entries 



My wild heart
Sustaining and bursting
With summer’s desire.


Over rocks and sand
I roam and run
Searching through sea foam
For what might become
An answer for searching souls
And questions carefully forgotten
If I find you then maybe
Just maybe


Delicate parchment of
Facts and fables
Trusting cold fingers to
Find and understand.
Lost in the sea of
Faded leather and ink
Bleed out more questions that
Feed endless searching
Candlelight flickers in
Frigid drafts that warm my cheeks
Whispering reminders of sun


Sharp and bright
This steel in midday heat 
Parry and slash 
To be faster 
Bending but not 
Breaking like waves 
Rippling like sails 
Warm against my skin
Parry and slash
Practice for them
For me
For what may never be
Arm held steady
Spinning in the dance
Plucking fiddle strings
That snap and yield to your
Attack and slash
Parry and thrust

Bittersweet: Lex Talionis


“Watch your step, Artis.”

Eruviel stopped short, halted by Milloth’s quick whisper. The stone tile in front of her gave off a faint, sorcerous shimmer. “Why are we here?” she asked in a hushed tone as she skipped two tiles ahead to be safe, and crowded up beside him.

Milloth’s golden hair cascaded over his grin as he motioned for her to be quiet. The heavy, scraping steps of an orc guard echoed from two corridors down, grew louder, than faded away. “Borrowing something.”

“You mean stealing.”

Milloth motioned for her to follow, and the two Elves glided down to the end of the dark hall with hardly a rustle of their cloaks. “I mean taking preventative measures.”

The elleth frowned up at her brother. “What are we stealing?”

His fingers twitching, Milloth did not respond for a moment. Resting a hand on her shoulder, he pointed through the wide door to a winding stairwell leading up.  “Four flights will take you up two floors. There is a large study, and you should find a little black box somewhere.”

Eruviel seethed. “What, with all the other little black boxes?”

“There is only one.”

“This is a terrible plan.”

“Then why did you come along?”

Huffing a harsh, quiet breath, Eruviel moved towards the stair only to have her wrist caught by Milloth. Looking back to the Elf, he placed a little pouch in her hand. “What is that?”

“For the student resting on a bench to the right of the door — Oh, and be careful of the holding cell one floor up. I couldn’t tell if anyone was there.”

Eruviel gave her brother an incredulous look.

Milloth released her and nodded briskly for her to go on. “Be quick. I will be here. I promise.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Eruviel turned down a dark corridor as she headed back to the front hall, knowing, in spite of her frustration, that Eirikr was right. Her hand ached from gripping the sword hilt too hard, and no amount of shaking her head could expel the fog gathering in her mind as she walked briskly to return to the group near the entrance of the Tower.

Stone. Iron. Orc. Incense. Blood. It was the blood she could smell most. Her fingers shifted on the leather-bound grip. The Elf could feel it, the haze creeping in on the edges of her mind and vision, making her irritable, and impatient. Then there was the hunger….

Darkness trickled into the hall like water from up ahead. If she could end it now, if she could just get one shot, then they could regroup. They could walk out of the gates, and go home, and never have to come back.

Air rushed past her as the dim light shining from behind her disappeared. Rainion’s words springing easily across her tongue, flame sprung to life along her well oiled blade, and she moved to run when a wave of darkness slammed into her. Trapping her arms, the black tendrils whipped about, and for a moment Mornenion’s face appeared, grinning wickedly as he closed in on her…. But then the face vanished. As quickly as it appeared the mass of shadow dropped her and withdrew, retreating down the corridor in the direction she meant to go.

Eruviel landed on her feet. If it had come from the hall be hind…. Shouts from ahead interrupted her thoughts. Leaping into a run, she did not falter as the shadow of an orc stepped into her path. A thrill ran up her arm from the sword and she ran faster, colliding with the beast, sword piercing between plating and ripping out as the Elf did not stop. She could feel it, the cold, hateful soul of a being, twisted from birth, flowing into the bright elven steel.


In the long hall before her, Eruviel’s eyes flicked quickly over the faces of her friends, hunting as the small group reacted to black tendrils yanking Phrazanu off of his feet and dragging him away. Locking on her quarry, she flew forward over the smooth stone tile. Putting her full body into the swing, she half spun with the slash, severing the dark arms.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Mornenion watch from his cover of darkness at the far end of the hall as the Elf paced back and forth. She was faster than she had been minutes before, and certainly more volatile. Like an animal caged by reason and expectation she prowled, searching the shadows, not for the sorcerer, but for him.

No, he had planned to kill the brothers and Bree woman as soon as Eruviel had led them up the stairs. She was closest to those two, the bear and the archer, and making her watch them die would have been delicious. But at the last minute the man had stopped her and somehow convinced her to turn back. Mornenion cursed the Barding. To be honest it surprised him, her relenting to the insistence of the Human.

And there was Minuziel. Lovely, troublesome Min. He had expected some sort of plotting from her, but not like this. She belonged to him, as well as her bastard child, and he would never allow her to leave. Mornenion’s fists clenched, a fresh surge of unbidden anger rising in him as his wife clung to the arm of that horrible boy.

They are mine!

Casting out a hand, a wave of darkness surged across the hall, tossing some, and whipping about others. Poke them, prod them, then let their bones clatter to the floor in piles of their own dust. The swell of sick delight at Eruviel slamming into the wall was swiftly obliterated as he saw Minuziel standing calm and untouched by his attack.

Looming forward, behind the newly arrived second party — What timing — Mornenion focused hard and gathered more shadow from further into the tower. “If you wish to leave, she stays.”

The call of the Bree woman was lost to his ears as Minuziel spoke up.”You may as well come out. No use in acting dark and shadowy when they know who you are.”

Mornenion glared at her for a moment, mulling over the idea. He was using more energy than he had intended… But she was right. He could come out, strike in the middle of their ranks…. The sound of bone rung in his memory again, and Mornenion looked down as the Barding archer drew his sword and…. Was he really pointing a sword at him?

The sorcerer’s laughter rung against the stone walls. “What are you going to do with that?”

The angry, bearded man did not falter. “Poke things that should die.”

Eruviel was ushered further behind her friends, the bear-boy following close to her as the Bree woman pushed herself to her feet and walked over. “Hey, ass, I asked you a question!” she barked at the shadow.

Mornenion sighed. Some people. He manifested the outline of his figure to appear in the center of the room has he turned his attention from the Barding to the Bree woman. A tendril of shadow flicked out lashing the woman hard across the face. She managed to get her arms up in time, and took the full force of the strike, which flung her back to the floor with a thud and sharp gasp.

“Come out, coward!”

Mornenion’s focus snapped to the silver-haired Elf just as the Barding charged at him. Landing in a run, the sorcerer drove his shoulder in to the bearded man’s chest, intent on rushing past. The Barding grunted on impact, but grabbed at his attacker to take him down with him.

The bear-boy roared loudly and thundered toward the sorcerer and his brother, only slightly hindered by his nasty wound. Mornenion staggered a bit as the Barding grabbed for him, but shrugged off his hands and flung a wave of shadow at at the charging animal. It barreled into the bear-boy, shoving him out of the way with a yip in pain just as a sharp kick dropped the sorcerer to his knees.

Out of the corner of his vision Eruviel rushed at him. I’ll finish this once and for all. I swear, I’ll kill all of them as you drown in your own blood. Mornenion lashed out a hand as the Elf drew near, shadow tossing her aside like a doll and reaching desperately for her mind as he turned back to drive —

Amidst a shout, a fist slammed into the side of his face. Mornenion staggered from the force, emitting an angered cry as he fell back. It had been years since he had been struck, and it never felt quite as painfully disagreeable as this. He felt his shadow lift off the white-haired man — then tasted blood as the Barding’s foot caught him in the mouth. Snarling, he grabbed at the bearded man’s ankle… and nothing happened. The Barding should have been collapsing in a heap of dust and hunter garb, but instead he struggled against Mornenion’s grip, very much alive. Somewhere beyond the weight of anger and blood, desperation finally crept in as his shadows were swept away, leaving the great room measurably brighter than before.

Releasing the man, Mornenion scrambled to his feet, panic gripping him as he turned to flee. No sorcery! None! Never had it left him. Was it the Elves? The Barding? Min? Perhaps it was the other sorcerer, or the Council…. Betrayed, betrayed, they all have betrayed you. A little more power and I’ll show them all. They will cower and writhe and I will take everyth — The Bree woman’s hands appeared from the side, causing him to stumble, when suddenly a bitterly cold shock plunged through his spine.

A tormented cry of pain erupted from his throat, filling the room  as a red-coated sword drove out of his chest. Mornenion knew what death felt like. It had not been pleasant, but there were worse things. With a little help it had been easy enough to escape from the first time, but this…. He was paralyzed by cold steel sapping the warmth from his blood. He tried to rebel against it, and pull himself away, but that only increased his agony. Every fiber of him felt as if it were tearing apart.

Gasping, grasping for air, for power, for anything, true darkness crept into his vision as he was forcefully ripped from the spells that held his spirit in place. He felt the weight of a body against his back, the warmth of a forehead against his shoulder. In one last effort to escape his fate he grabbed for the Elf who held the despicable weapon that devoured his essence from the inside – out. Nails caught flesh, then feeling was lost, and as the steel was pulled away, the last he ever saw was the prized cage that had been his body slumping over to exhale it’s final breath.

(Second half derived from in-game RP log, and edited for tense, composition, and Mornenion’s point of view. Thank you to Atanamir, Cwendlwyn, Valthier, Raenarcam, Hallem, and Feygil for all the help and for coming along for the ride!)

Innocent Heart: Backlash

Feira leaned against the front door of her and Torrin’s little home, and let out a heavy breath. She had wanted to run home right away to tell Torrin the good news, but after leaving the lower quarter of the city and the ruffians who, she was assured, would never bother her again, the young woman had better ideas.

It was an incredibly exhausting. As mean as she was, Auntie also was not always the brightest. Sneaking into her father and Aunt Raewiel’s flat after the two had left for work that morning, Feira had taken back the money her Aunt had hidden in the safe place Feira had always used. Her brother had reminded her that the money, technically, belonged to him. Then she had taken the money Torrin had saved, and every penny from her own savings. Her bones rattling beneath her skin, Feira had told herself she would make the appointment on time and give the lender his money as well as a piece of her mind. She would do it for her and Torrin. She would do it for her mother. If the man with the crooked nose said she looked like her, then Feira had decided that she should start acting more like her.

Hair tied back in the hopes of attracting less attention, Feira found and followed the man from her nightmares down to where the streets were lined with filth, and where the buildings had been rather hastily mashed together. Through the scent of waste and kitchen fires and pedestrians who needed baths oh so badly she could smell it. However impossibly faint, she could smell the opium in the air and wafting off the man leading the way through the crowds. It made her sick, and angry, and she clutched the old satchel ever tighter to her chest.

Waiting in the mouth of the alley seemed to take forever. She did not know where she was, only how she had gotten there. The man with the crooked nose spoke little, only murmuring about the Blood’s Way to the young man with the scared knuckles. Trying not to look like a deer that had been cornered, she found herself wishing she was elbow deep in laundry, in the library talking books and poetry with Lord Claur, or better yet, far out into the bay snuggled against Lhain on his little boat….. But those were the best of places, and anywhere would have been better than here.

She had just realized that she had forgotten to breathe when the rough looking young man returned. Rather angrily, he told the man with the crooked nose that the debt was of no interest to the boss, and that her money was no good there. She must have indeed looked like a frightened deer for the older man, appearing somehow relieved, stepped between her and the younger man and told her to go. What was done was done, and she would never see them again.

Feira did not need to be told twice. Shrinking away, she hurried down the street, feeling as if there were eyes everywhere that were watching her. Not stopping till she reached the brighter streets above, Feira found a corner away from the early afternoon sun and cried. It was not long until the girl wiped her eyes, and stood, then leaned weakly against the shadowed wall and cried some more. She did not understand. Not any of it. But, she would not question such turn of fortunes. Perhaps it had been Torrin, or Emeleth… or even Lady Cirieldis. Yes, Ciri could do anything.

Clinging to the brand new saddle with one arm, Feira rummaged through her apron pockets in the dark for her house key. She would tell Torrin, and eat something — that was what she had forgotten to do all day… Then sleep. By Emeleth, she felt as if she could sleep for days. Setting the saddle on an inside chair, Feira closed the door behind her.

“Where is it?”

A sickening chill ran from her head to her toes. “What are you doing here?” she asked, turning to face her Aunt Raewiel.

“That does not answer my question,” replied the large woman as she advanced a pace.

Just one shout. One shout and the guards will take her away… Hopefully forever. Feira drew a deep breath and lifted her chin defiantly. “I have no idea what you are talking about.”

In a flash Raewiel stode over and grabbed a fist full of soft golden hair to keep Feira from escaping. “You lieing little bitch! I know it was you!”

Feira yelped in pain and shot a small fist out to catch the awful woman in the gut. “Let me go! I do not have anything of yours!” Then she smelled it. Oh no —

Raewiel grunted from the punch, then slapped her across the face. “You stole it! Where is the money? Only you know about that hiding spot! I want every penny back!”

Feira saw stars. “I-I don’t ha-ave it! I swear.”

“What do you mean you don’t have it,” Raewiel hissed, shaking her by her hair .

Grabbing desperately for Aunt Raewiel’s hand, Feira grit her teeth as the corners of her vision blurred with tears. “I mean it’s gone.” She grinned, possibly the most wicked grin she had ever given in her life. “I gave it away. All of it.”

Raewiel blinked, staggered by the loss of that much coin. Then she snarled and struck Feira again. “You thief! You worthless whore. You’ll pay for that! That was mine!”

Fighing back in vain, Feira gasped for breaths, trying to swallow the sudden rush of panic that gripped her chest as another slap made the room spin. “I-It was n-not y-y-yours! The lo-oan was under Torrin-n’s n-name!”

Growling, Raewiel wound back to strike another blow when a flash of steel could be seen, pressing against the large woman’s neck.

“Hit her again, and it will be the last thing you ever do,” Torrin snarled in the dark.

Raewiel’s grip on Feira loosened as the sharpened edge tapped against her fat throat, drawing blood. “… You wouldn’t dare.”

“I would,” Torrin responded without hesitation, his voice trembling in anger. “Only I wouldn’t kill you. I’d leave you for the justice Lord’s guards.”

Even in the dark of the room Feira could see Raewiel pale. The woman opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted as Torrin continued, moving so as to force the woman towards the door.

“Get out of my house. If I ever see you again I will kill you. If you ever raise a hand against her again I will kill you. Is that understood?”


Torrin motioned to the door. Raewiel opened it and stepped out. “I did not hear you.”

Raewiel put a hand to her throat, glaring back at the young man. “Yes. I understand.”

Torrin slammed the door shut, and locked it. Tossing his dagger to the side he turned to catch Feira up in a tight, protective hug as she began sobbing against his chest. “I’m so sorry, Faerie,” he murmured, petting her head. “I should have been here earlier.”

All Feira could do was shake her head.

“Let me see. Let me see your face.”

Feira let him lead her over to the light of the hearth, clinging to his arm. “I-I’m glad you came h-home,” she sputtered between sobs.

“What happened? Did you pay it?” he asked as he gently checked her cheeks.

Sniffling, Feira shook her head and wiped at her eyes. “They turned me away. Said the debt was marked off.”

Torrin frowned down at her. “People like that do not just mark off a debt, Feira. Especially them…. What did they do to you?”

Feira shook her head quickly, eyes growing wide. “Nothing! The thug that came out to tell me looked righ peeved, too. Told me my money was no good and that I’d never see them again.”

Torrin clearly did not like it, but nodded reluctantly. “What happened to the money?”

Feira put the cool back of her hand against her right cheek. “Took out what Raewiel owed us from the past then gave the rest to the temple… Oh,” she added, motioning to the forgotten saddle, “and I bought you a birthday present. Your money is in the saddle bag.”

Smiling, Torrin looked touched, and kissed the top of her head. “You’re the greatest, Faerie. Now go rest. I’ll bring you supper… And what say you and me go out after our shifts? My treat.”

Nodding, Feira turned to go, but quickly pivoted, hugging her brother tightly. Just one more. Feira didn’t know how to properly thank him, but this seemed the closest she could get.

Innocent Heart: Waiting

Dear Lhainan,

I suppose this letter shall not be added to the stack of ones unsent. It is strange that now that I’ve decided to send one, holding little hope of it reaching you, words seem to escape me. 

Things are quiet at the estate, and I suppose that is a good thing. The Lord and Lady’s anniversary is today. I feel so bad for her, having to spend it with him gone. Gifts and kind words are no match at filling the empty space left by his absence .

Rumours have started to circulate that the war is over, though I scarcely dare to hope. Even worse, I hate to think of the cost as the city awaits the return of the knights with bated breath. It’s become frustrating, the waiting and the weight of knowing nothing can be done about it. 

Borgil shines bright tonight. I never told you, but I look up at it often. It’s a pretty star. While it is a romantic notion that it might hold such powers as you say, I am comforted by it none the less. To be honest, a part of me wishes for it to be true, if only for you.

Please be safe. I hope that by the time this reaches you the sea is ours, and any sails spotted are friendly ones. I should thank you for being able to stay  long enough this time for a proper ‘goodbye’. It has made missing you a little easier.

Praying that you only see fair winds, I remain yours,


Her letter sealed and sent out with a ship that sailed that morning, Feira went about her day as she always did. The flowers in the house were replaced with Mredothyn’s favorites, and she had taken it upon herself to see that the Lady’s breakfast was extra special. 

She lingered for a moment, duster dangling from her wrist by it’s leather cord, to gaze out an east-facing window. The shadow that had lingered beyond the far mountain peaks had dissipated and she wondered how much longer they would have to wait for them to come home.