Adrovorn

A Healthy Dose of Shock

lotrohorizon

Eruviel remembers….

Twenty years ago.

“You’re off in the morning, then?”

Eruviel looked up and accepted the mug of mead as Ildric stepped over the bench to sit beside her. “Things are getting bad again north of Aughaire.”

“Wargs?”

“Worse.”

Ildric grunted into his mug as he turned his gaze to the half finished feasting hall filled with merrymaking. “Typical. Leaving me to deal with a camp full of drunk mercs.”

“Ahh, but they are your drunk mercs,” Eruviel responded affectionately, eyes drifting warily to an exceptionally rowdy table.

“Damn straight,” the man snorted. “Sure you don’t wanna stick around a few more days? I could really use the help setting them straight.”

“You will manage,” Eruviel responded with a sniff. Beginning to feel the last five mugs of ale finally take hold, she put a hand on the man’s shoulder, shaking her head as she stood. “I would rather raid an Angmarim camp with Daran and his Hunters.”

“He gets more of your time than we do,” Ildric grumbled, holding out a hand to catch her in the event that she might stumble. “The ass.”

“Takes one to know one,” she shot back, smirking. Loud, drunken whispers began to fill her ears and she nodded to Ildric. Yes, it was time to go. “Good luck, my friend.”

Ildric must have heard it too, for he turned his harsh, withing gaze on the rowdy bunch that had turned their attention. Offering her a wave he watched over the rim of his mug, poised on the edge of his seat.

Eruviel had almost made it to the newly installed double doors, sixth mug of ale in hand, when one of the more handsome and bold young men of the newcomers stumbled into her path.

“Ma’ammm…. Boysss… wanna know weh — why Boss calls yeh ‘Witch’.”

By Orome, she had had too much ale to patiently deal with this tonight. “I am sure you will find out soon enough. Now if you will excuse me –”

“Le– Leavin’ aaahready?”

Then she felt it. There was a slight tug on the long braid that hung down her back, and her head felt lighter somehow. The music and merry voices that filled the room instantly fell into a shocked silence. The Elf reached a hand back and, to her despair, felt the frayed ends of her unraveling hair that now only reached down to the curve of her bottom.

Lookee here!” declared one of the drunken newcomers, waiving the bottom six or seven inches of the Elf’s soft braid above his head. “You lot now owe me fifteen silver –”

In a flash Eruviel spun around. Mug of ale cast aside, her fist found the brigand’s face and the man flew back, flipping over the table and into his friends. His prize still in one hand, the man grasped at his mouth with the other, catching blood and teeth.

While a few of the drunken men moved to right the table, one of the offending man’s friends advanced, attempting to restrain her as his hands landed where they shouldn’t. “Bitch. Don’t think you can go an’ do that to one o –” With a shout from the men around them, and a cry of anger and pain from the second man, Eruviel drew the knife from his belt, tripped the man, and stabbed down, pinning three of his finger to the bench.

Sit,” she growled, voice low as she stood at one end of the table and gently laid the knife down before her . All but the man now missing three fingers, and the other missing several relatively decent teeth sat.

“The bet was twenty silver each?” She glared at them, the alcohol that had begun to make her limbs tingle now burning away in her blood.

Seven sets of eyes refused to look at her as the nearly six dozen others watched on. Ildric had moved, but it was to sit back in his seat, dark eyes taking note of the offenders.

Well?”

“It… it was fifteen, ma’am,” offered one of the younger men, daring a glance up at her.

Eruviel exhaled, the delicate fingertips of one hand resting on the table beside the knife. “Oh? It was thirty? Very well. I will accept the thirty silver each of you owe him.”

Their eyes widened. Thirty silver was what they had been paid for the last weeks of work, and for some of them it was probably all that they had.

“You heard the Lady,” sounded Ildric’s voice, cold as stone from across the room.

Slowly coins were counted, and seven coin purses were passed down to the Elf.

It paled in comparison to the lovely length of hair that had been lost, but Eruviel swallowed her tears as she plucked up the payment. “Thank you, boys,” she said briskly. “Welcome to Tharbad.”

The music struck up again from the far corner of the room. With a wave to Ildric, and a nod to the others she knew as she went, Eruviel glided out of the hall with her payment and what remained of her pride.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Fourteen years ago.

“Oy! There’s a sight for sore eyes!”

Eruviel laughed as the Dwarf took the reigns of her mare, and hopped down from the saddle. “It is good to see you too, Rhuniki!”

Rhuniki let out a belly laugh as he tugged on his long beard. “Thought some strange pointy-ear was comin’ up. Di’n’ figure it fer you! Lookin’ like a whole new elf.”

“I feel like a whole new Elf, Master Dwarf. Is Milloth nearby?”

Rhuniki shook his head as he confiscated the jug of ale from behind Eruviel’s saddle. “Took off this mornin’. Figure he’s gone scouting up north a ways with a few of the men.”

Looking about the encampment tucked away in the woods north of Esteldin, the Elf did her best to not appear too disappointed. “And what of Myrthrost and the others?”

“They’re in the Commander’s tent,” the Dwarf responded after a moment of hesitation and a drink from the jug. “Got some Angmarim trouble on our hands.”

The muscles in Eruviel’s neck tensed, but she nodded and clapped a hand on Rhuniki’s shoulder. “I think I will go see what sort of trouble is afoot, then,” she responded with a smile.

Shaking his head, Rhuniki waved her off as he led her horse away. “Mind yourself today. Commander’s in a foul way.”

Eruviel waved back. She did not doubt it, and it did not help that their first meeting had been a bad one. Nodding politely to the few men who greeted her as she passed, Eruviel found her way to the Pelargirian’s white tent trimmed in blue, black and gold. Stopping at the ten flap, she listened to the conversation for a second before ducking inside.

“How many did you say there were?” came the mellow voice that belonged to Myrthrost.

“Two dozen at least was what the messenger said,” responded a soldier who hesitated as the elleth appeared. “We — ehh…. With how long it takes to get to this side of the mountains, our window is five days.”

Myrthrost offered a small smile and a nod to Eruviel as she stepped up to the table. The Commander, however, did not look at her, his only reaction being the displeased frown that tugged at his already grim expression.

“That should be just enough time. We can intercept them at the point,” said Adrovorn, pointing to a spot on the well used map laid out on the table.

Eruviel peered down at the map and the foot-path over the mountains that had been marked. “Forgive me, but where were the Angmarim said to have started from?”

She felt Adrovorn’s disapproving gaze fix on her, but Myrthrost ignored the Commander and picked up another marker to set on the northern side of the mountain range. “Here is where they were spotted. The Free People’s fighters that spotted them were outnumbered, so made no move to intercept the enemy.”

“Thank you, Myrthrost,” said Adrovorn with a tight smile. “And you need not bother about it, Lady Eruviel. When Mrthrost returns with a report we –”

“They will not come that way,”Eruviel interjected.

All eyes turned to her, and Adrovorn lifted his head with an imperious air. “Excuse me?”

Eruviel frowned back at the tall man. “I will,” she snipped back. “That path is well out of the way from where the Angmarim were spotted. They will not come by that way.”

“My lady, that is the only way there is. Now, if you would be so kind, see if the cook has supper ready, and leave the preparations to us.” Adrovorn stepped back and motioned to the tent flap.

“I will not. If you will just listen to me, there are –”

“You are a fair archer, from what I hear, but I have heard nothing of you being a tactician. If you wish to remain, you will do so silently. Otherwise please take your leave.”

Myrthrost moved to put a calming hand on Eruviel’s shoulder, but she stepped around him to stand by the Commander and the table. “They will either come by this way, or out here,”she said curtly, leaning over to set two markers on two separate unmarked peaks.

Adrovorn stepped over to reluctantly peer over her shoulder. “There is no path there.”

“There is a path.”

“No, clearly there is not,” he insisted, growing agitated. “This map is new as of this spring. I can weigh your opinions with your brother’s knowledge when he returns.”

“Milloth has not spent half as much time there as I have. I am not telling you that you are wrong to cause trouble. If you go here your men –”

“Lady Eruviel,” said Adrovorn, shoulders tense and hands clasped behind his back as he moved between her and the table, forcing her to retreat a step. “I appreciate you attempting to help, but when I want the opinion of an Elf maid who’s been mind-fu–”

Eruviel’s fist connected with the Gondorian’s jaw. Stumbling back, the towering man dropped to the ground, landing hard on his bottom.

“Now, you listen to me,” Eruviel spat, eyes turning dark as her glare met, what she assumed to be, a healthy dose of shock as the man stared up at her, jaw held in one hand. “If you want to go and waste your time or risk your men getting killed that is fine with me,” she declared, leaning over the fallen man. “If there are two dozen Angmarim coming over those mountains, you can be damned sure there will be more not far behind them, and you will either be passed by or pinned against the mountains with nowhere to run but a narrow path.”

Adrovorn stared up at her for a minute, the others gathered around the table silent and tense as they watched. “You know where these paths lead out to, I assume.”

Standing up straight, Eruviel turned her nose up in disdain and pivoted to stride out of the tent. “Yes, I do.”

A Little Sand

Eruviel remembers.

Nine years ago…

“By the gods I hate this place,” Ildric muttered as he spurred his horse up the narrow path to catch up with the others.

“Only because you do not understand it,” Daran retorted, shooting the mercenary a disdainful glance as he tossed a water skin back.

“I am sure Orome subjects you to it just to hear you complain,” added Eruviel as she caught the skin and pulled the cork.

Ildric’s scoff cut out when he caught sight of the water. “Hey! Where was that two hours ago?!”

Daran looked back to the path ahead of them. “With me and out of your greedy hands.”

“If you ladies are done squabbling I suggest we catch up with the others,” called a voice from up ahead. “We are still two hours from the village.”

“Yeah, yeah, Shiny Shirt,” grumbled Ildric as he moved up to ride beside Eruviel. “You had to bring him along?”

The Elf looked ahead and smirked as she caught the brief glare Adrovorn spared Ildric. “I didn’t have to do anything. He wanted to come.”

“Better aid from the Dreadward than being overrun by greedy men playing at thievery,” Daran chimed in, sparing an amused glance to Eruviel.

“I resent that, caveman,” Ildric retorted, aiming a snatch for the water skin. “We merely —

“Vrax, quit pretending to make excuses for your pride,” called Adrovorn, sounding bored. “We all know you have none.”

Looking to the tall soldier ahead, Ildric’s attempt to claim the water skin for his own failed, and instead hit the end of Eruviel’s bow, sending it tumbling down the hillside.

“Bloody — Vrax!” shouted Eruviel in alarm. Jumping down off her horse she left the water skin hanging from her saddle and set off down the steep rocky slope.

“Wit — Eruviel! Come back! I hit it I’ll get it,” Ildric insisted as he too dismounted and stood on the path’s edge to look down after her.

“Good job,” Daran scolded. Patting his horse on the neck he turned the beast to bring him back to where Ildric stood.

“Oh, shut up –”

“Don’t let her go down there alone,” insisted Adrovorn as he rode to rejoin them.

“Ahh, she’s fine, pretty boy,” huffed Ildric as he pointed to where Eruviel stepped off the rocks and onto sand to retrieve her bow.

Adrovorn glanced to Daran and squared his firm jaw as he saw the hill-man’s sudden frown. “What is it?”

Eruviel had frozen in her tracks three or so steps from where her bow lay. “Adrovorn…” The bow had begun to slowly sink into the ground.

“Don’t move,” the Gondorian ordered firmly as he stepped down from his war steed. Pointing to the horse as if to order it to ‘stay’, Adrovorn took his halberd with one hand and started down the slope.

“No shit,” Eruviel grumbled, eyes still fixed on her bow. Swallowing, she nimbly danced forward a few steps across the surface of the quicksand. Successful in snatching up her bow the elf turned, but not before a particularly loose spot caught her foot. Before she could react she was sucked down past her knees.

“Aw, hell,” grumbled Ildric. Smacking Daran on the leg he started forward. “C’mon.”

Sighing, Daran dismounted more slowly. Taking a moment to grab his spear he began following the other two down.

“I told you not to move!”

“I heard you the first time, Captain,” Eruviel responded. “I am sinking too fast.  There must be something beneath me. Here.” She threw her reclaimed bow to Adrovorn, then began unbuckling her sword belt.

Having reached the bottom of the hill, Adrovorn caught her bow, set it aside, then caught her sword belt. The loss of it’s weight slowed her progression, but not enough. “Where is the edge of it?”

Glancing around her, Eruviel shook her head. “Beyond arm’s rea — ” Her words cut off with a gasp as she dropped down another foot. “Halberd!”

Daran and Ildric scrambled to a stop beside Adrovorn as he tossed the long weapon to the Elf. Catching it, Eruviel began fishing for the edge of the pit while moving as little as possible.

“Is there nothing else we can do?” asked Ildric, looking around the barren terrain for anything that might be of use.

“She’s got this,” said Daran as he let Ildric take his spear.

Standing rigid on the edge of the rocks, Adrovorn completely ignored them as he watched and waited.

“Shiny Shirt,”said Ildric, his voice suddenly nearly as authoritative as Adrovorn’s had been earlier. “Use your sword and help me find the edge of the pit.”

“No –” Eruviel, chest deep in sand, leaned back slowly against the flow. “No need.” Having reached behind her with the halberd, she had found the edges and, bracing the ends of the long weapon on either side, had begun hefting herself up. Taking a moment to catch her breath she began slowly working her feet out.

“You got it?” asked Adrovorn, his expression more stern and his features more pale than before.

“Just about…” She froze for a moment, gave a sad look, and resumed pulling her legs from the trap.

“Eruviel? What is it?” asked Daran as the men ventured forward.

Laying on her back and liberated, Eruviel quickly rolled to the side and off the surface of the quicksand. Taking up the halberd she accepted Ildric’s hand and rose to her bare feet.”

“I lost my boots,” she muttered with a particularly dignified air of remorse.

Daran looked to the pit, Adrovorn seemed too busy looking her over for injury, and Ildric laughed. “You females and your shoes!”

“They were new! And… they had my good daggers in them,” she added with a pathetic, Elven pout.

“You still have what? Twenty blades on you? And what’s with that pout?” Ildric chided.

“I can be disappointed if I want,” said Eruviel with a sniff. “And I don’t have to care what you think.”

Ildric shot a glare back at hearing Daran choke back a snicker. “Well, let’s check to see if you’re injured.” He reached forward towards her chest when a big hand grasped his shoulder and sent him sailing into the quicksand.

It was Eruviel and Daran’s turn to chuckle, and Adrovorn just glared, satisfied that the mercenary had landed right where he wanted him. “Are you hurt?”

“I’ll live!” came Ildric’s shout as he fought against the sand.

Smirking, Eruviel shook her head. “I am fine… Really!” she insisted as he frowned down at her.

“Close your eyes,” Adrovorn insisted as he pulled out a kerchief.

“What?”

“Close your eyes. You have sand all over your face.”

“Not much. Honestly, a little sand never hurt anybody –”

“Put your hands down, and close your eyes,” Adrovorn grumbled as he took up the end of her braid to toss over her shoulder.

Daran frowned at the two of them. Taking the Gondorian’s halberd the hill-man rolled his eyes and turned away. “Nobody panic. I’ll fish the thief out.”

 

(Thank you, Laerlin for the writing prompt!)

 

Tombs

Brushing off the last of the dried leaves, Eruviel’s pale hand lingered on the cold stone. “They are all here?”

Standing several yards behind her, Peldirion nodded. “Most of them. There were a few that were never found, and a few who’s bodies were asked for by their families. Everyone listed there is here, though.”

Her fingers slowly traced the smooth curve of the lettering. With honor we place this stone in remembrance of those who gave their lives in defense of Gondor. Heavy-hearted, we lay to rest those of the Dreadward Tribunal who are listed below. Adrovorn Calaer of Pelargir, Mirthrost of Minas Tirith, Rhuniki of Ered Luin . . . . And so the list continued.

“Mother refused to let them put down ‘Aranduin’.”

Eruviel’s mouth curved up with a small, sad smile. “He never wanted to be buried under a rock.”

Peldirion chuffed out an amused breath. “I assume he would have preferred something grand that included fire.”

Wiping at her eyes, Eruviel nodded. “He wouldn’t care now, though.”

A silence settled in, and Eruviel traced her fingers over his name again. “Thank you. Thank you for letting me come back,” she whispered as more tears came.

“Hmm?”

“Nothing. I am just mumbling,” she said in a more audible tone. It was the last piece. It’s been about a year since we last spoke. You were right, you know. Though, you usually were. I would have missed so much if I had stayed . . . .

More silence passed. “He spoke well of you.”

Rising to her feet, Eruviel took a deep breath. Her hand falling away from the stone, she pulled his halberd out of it’s resting place in the polished foundation. “I’d hope he would have,” she responded with a soft chuckle.

His brows furrowed, Peldirion gave her a confused look. “What are you doing?”

Approaching the young captain, Eruviel set the spiked end in the ground before him. “Take it.”

“No,” he said, shaking his head. “I cannot wield my brother’s weapon.”

“Pellion.”

The stern man stood a little straighter as the Elf’s voice grew uncommonly serious. “As his widow, I am giving this to you. You have his ring, now take his weapon. Adrovorn hated waste. If you cannot wield it, find someone worthy of it.”

He seemed suddenly unsure in her presence as her unblinking gaze fixed on him. Taking a deep breath, he finally accepted the halberd. “It’s heavy.”

A small smile sparked back to life at the corners of her mouth. “It’s the weight of responsibility.”

A light chuckle escaped him. “Hell, you sound like him.”

“Like-minds,” she added with a kind smile. Then she smelled it . . . felt it . . . . Putting her hand on Peldirion’s arm, Eruviel looked around.

Peldirion tensed, and followed her gaze. “What is it?”

“Smoke.” Eruviel pointed to where fresh wisps of smoke rose in the distance.

Giving a displeased grunt, Peldirion marched over to his horse and stepped up into the saddle. “The carravan. We need to go.”

Already in motion, Eruviel gave the grave one last, fond smile before hopping up onto her own horse. “I’m not fully recovered yet, or I’d suggest we check it out ourselves.”

Nodding curtly, Peldirion wheeled his steed around. “Then to Arnach. We will see if they have news before we get your friends. I’d like to see if they are as good in a fight as you say.”

~ ~ ~ * * * ~ ~ ~

“You’re late.”

“I am early. You merely needed me sooner, sir.”

Turning a corner, Peldirion led Halethon down a long corridor. “Mind being my orderly till the end of the week?”

“You’re demoting me?”

The men exchanged amused glances, and descended down a dimly lit stair. “Think of it as a vacation.”

Halethon snorted. “Thanks a lot. The men won’t say it, but they miss you on the field.”

Peldirion grunted. “Then I won’t say that it’s good to be missed.”

“You leave, and they suddenly realize how much easier everything was with you keeping it a well-oiled machine.”

Motioning to another set of stairs, Peldirion clasped his hands behind his back. “They should remain a well-oiled machine with me gone.”

“Oh, they do,” said Halethon grimly, “but it’s rough when your temporary replacement wants to make it into his own, less efficient machine.”

“That should make things much smoother when I return.”

“Will you, sir?” asked Halethon as if the prospect had weighed upon him.

“I will perish if I am kept in this tomb much longer.”

“It is such a lovely tomb, though.” Halethon smirked as Peldirion shot him an unamused glance. “Speaking of tombs, this place might as well be one. This the dungeon?”

Peldirion nodded. “He’s just up here.”

The main dungeon lined with cells was a dim space, lit only by lanterns on the center posts. It was clean, though. Cleaner even than it had been before Peldirion’s arrival.

“You mean to postpone the trial, then?” asked Halethon quietly.

“I do,” said Peldirion with a curt nod. “With the reinforcements only four days away, that means Laergultor, much to his delight, actually, will be tried by his countrymen. It also means I don’t have to put up with another inquisition by the Wayfarers.”

A chuckle from Halethon echoed down the hall. “What, you don’t like them, sir?”

“I like some of them. The Rohir, and the Dalish man in particular. I would make them officer’s in a heartbeat if they were in our army. I thank the Valar some of the others aren’t soldiers. I don’t have time for troops that can’t take orders. It’s a wonder more of them haven’t died.”

Halethon’s retort was cut short when Peldirion turned to stand before a particular cell. “So, this is the corsair.” Nodding to the furious-looking man, Halethon greeted him in his own tongue. He had not yet finished the greeting when the corsair lept to his feet and began shouting. “He . . . says you are men of dishonor. He was promised his freedom in exchange for information.”

Peldirion smirked, and stepped closer to the bars. “Tell him he will get his freedom.”

“Sir?”

“Tell him.”

Halethon motioned to the corsair, and the two exchanged a few short words. “He wonders why he should believe you now.”

“Tell him I never gave my word to free him to begin with. I am offering him a new deal.”

Halethon arched a brow, and relayed the message to the Haradrim. The prisoner seemed surprised, but still distrustful. “He wants to know the deal first, before he says anything.”

“Tell him I want him to stand trial,” Peldirion said, looking the corsair in the eyes, “as a witness against the old man, Laergultor. I want him to tell what he told us earlier on the road, and anything else he man know about the unfortunate situation.”

Nodding, Halethon spoke to the corsair for a moment, and exchanged a short conversation. Frowning, the prisoner’s shoulder’s relaxed, and he nodded, looking right back at Peldirion. “He says you surprise him. Did you intend for this by bringing him here?”

“Yes.”

“He says ‘yes. If you will give him his freedom, he will stand as witness.”

“There is more, though. Once freed, he will not rejoin his countrymen in the fight. He will be given enough provisions to get him as far south as the first Haradic city. Tell him that if I ever see him again, his life is forfeit.”

Looking back to the corsair, Halethon once again translated. The Hardrim smirked, and offered Peldirion a slight bow. “He said he looks forward to not disappointing you.”

A Belated Return: Angmar Part Two

This most definitely was not her brightest moment. They had been safe. Daran’s burns were healing, and Arathier and her had stopped in Tinnundir to rest their own wounds when news had reached them that Teryn, Arathier’s childhood friend that Eruviel had met only a week earlier, had been captured. Eruviel glared defiantly up at the Angmarim captain, bracing herself as his foot slammed into her abdomen. She glanced over to Teryn who was chained to the wall next to her through a haze of red, giving him a reassuring nod as he protected his face with his forearms from his own torturers blows.

Looking back she could not see a way around it, but she had been caught sneaking into the dungeon to free the man. While saving Daran she had been stabbed in the side with a dirk while Arathier had taken a bolt to the leg. There was no way she would have let him try to go after Teryn with such a handicap. The fast healing and high pain tolerance helped her out, but it wasn’t enough, and they had trapped her. The ache of dread in her gut did not come only from the Angmarim’s practiced kicks.

Teryn’s ruggedly handsome face had lost it’s color, but he smiled wickedly up at his captor and make a jest at the Angmarim’s expense. He got the reaction he wanted, but the beating only increased. Eruviel laughed numbly at the joke — it really was quite humorous — before the Angmarim slammed his fist across her face. Arathier said he would come, she told herself. If — NO! When she got back to Bree Anya would be sure to have her own lashings readied for her.

Spitting a mouthful of blood to the side an idea came to her. It was a bad one, she knew it, but they had to try something before they were carted away to Carn Dum. She would not go back there. Not again. Not like this. Dodging the second punch, her tormentor flew into a rage as his fist collided with the cold stone behind her. Teryn grinned over at Eruviel, even as his head was slammed against the wall. Spitting blood into the Anmarim’s face only made things worse for him and the twisted man drew out his knife, carving it through the muscle on Teryn’s shoulder. Teryn could no longer hold back a cry of pain.

Eruviel grunted, gritting her teeth as she took another kick to the gut. “Does this thrilling conversation have a purpose,” she asked hoarsely. She knew the beating had a purpose, but the silent, senseless torture grated on her nerves like fingernails on slate.

Teryn’s face darkened as blood trickled down his arm. “Well?!” he shouted as best he could, backing up her question. The Angmarim raised his knife to strike at him again and Eruviel could feel the panic rise. We BOTH have to survive, she told herself. In the blink of an eye Eruviel mustered what strength she had left and pulled herself up with her chains, sweeping her feet out. Tripping her captor, she brought the heels of her boots down with all her might onto the Angmarim’s face at the moment his head cracked against the stone floor.

Teryn watched in horror as his torturer and another from outside the cell rushed at her and pinned her down. Chaining her feet, they then proceeded to both whale on her. Everything began to dim. The excruciating pain filled her body and a harrowing cry clawed it’s way up her throat. Through the gap between her arms she could see that Teryn was being spared, but her relief was short lived when two more Angmarim entered and rushed at the man. She did not know how much longer it lasted, seconds — minutes, but a strange stillness settled over the room even as her body worked to numb the pain.

Blinking out of a bloody haze, Eruviel looked up at Teryn. Two new Angmarim sat next to them, quietly gazing towards the bars of the filthy cell. Teryn did not look as bad as she felt . . . and she hoped he was better off. They exchanged looks, both wondering how many days it would take till they could find a way to escape, if in fact they were not killed first. Then there was an echo of pounding feet making a mad dash down the hall. Teryn’s eyes widened as he looked over and Eruviel shifted her head to follow his gaze.

Arathier stood in the hall, panting for breath as his hands reached back for his knives. His eyes widened and Eruviel’s stomach sank, knowing he only found one. She felt like she would be sick when he did not look at her.

The Angmarim started from their day dreams and quickly moved to hold knives to the prisoner’s throats as Arathier and Teryn exchanged looks. “It’s all right, Arathier,” said Teryn quietly as his captors blade pressed against his throat.

Orome, Eruviel thought miserably, I know that look. Don’t you two make this decision! She ordered her throat to function; raged at her lungs when they struggled to do her bidding. She could not feel it, but her arms struggled against the chains that bound her none-the-less. “No,” she rasped, her voice finally reviving, “NO! Arathier — Teryn, I’ve lived far more than my share! You have hardly begun –” Her words were cut off as the cold bade pressed against her neck drew blood. Hot tears blinded her and she squeezed her eyes shut. Was this not what she was here for? To, if worst came to worst, take someone’s place? In the furthest corners of her mind she wondered if it was what she really wanted. Death. A noble one, a death that meant something, but death just the same.

Then it happened. As Eruviel’s eyes opened Arathier’s blade sailed over her head to sink into her captor’s face. The Angmarim’s knife fell free and she kicked it across the room and under the bars to Arathier even as the blade against Teryn’s neck did it’s work. Arathier’s face twisted in anguish as he dropped to his knees.

“We are not done!” she managed to yell as she fell over, unable to hold herself up. Her words snapped Arathier out of his sorrow long enough to pick up the knife she had kicked him, dropping the last Angmarim as he charged across the cell towards Eruviel. Tears stained the red painted floor beneath her face. Breathing became a chore as she watched Arathier break down the wooden cell door in a rage and crumple down beside Teryn’s now lifeless body.

“You — you have to burn his body,” she managed to rasp as her consciousness began to slip. The closer she drew to the darkness the suddenly more aware she became. She could sense somewhere in the massive citadel above them the presence of wights . . . and of something– no, someone far worse. “They wi-ill take it i-if you d-don’t.”

Arathier’s wide, sorrowful gaze finally turned and he began to move towards her. She felt his hand on her forehead as her lids drew closed. So heavy, she thought numbly. She wanted to apologize . . . to say something, but it escaped her, and she forgot everything else.

 _ _ _ _ _ _

She could feel it, every ounce of pain, every splintered and broken bone. Something else inside of her had broken as well. She could not tell what it was, but it’s shattered presence was beyond repair — a concept she had never been confronted with before, and it terrified her. In the darkness, lit with red flames she opened her eyes and instantly regretted it. A vast wall stretched out before her, hung with the corpses of her friends. This was worse than the dream she had had months earlier. Far worse. Eirikr, and Anyatka; Cwen and Threz hung in a line, followed by Adrovorn, Nillariel, Forthogar, and Rainion. Every face in Bree she respected followed. The Watchers of Bree decorated a row, followed by Wyllawen and her troop of friends, a dozen lines of Rangers, then halflings. A lifetime and more of friends and acquaintances filled the empty spaces as her eyes searched frantically for hope.

A tall, robed figure materialized from the shadows. She knew those eyes, and that wicked smile. Alagos stood before her, his head tilted like a viper waiting to strike. Then a wave of terror assaulted her. The massive, overwhelming presence approached her from behind and a scream of pain and fear was seemingly pulled from her lungs as the sudden sensation of her skin being torn from her body burned through her nerves.

The presence looked down upon her as she continued to scream against her will. Alagos dropped to a knee then prostrated himself before whoever it was that broke past her wall of defenses as if merely opening a garden gate. “My Lord, please receive my offering,” the Black Numenorian spoke, his voice filled with reverence and a foreign tone of humility. The gigantic presence bore down on her, drowning her in it’s rage and wicked pride.

But he couldn’t touch her. Suddenly something outside of her hell shook her. The call of her name, distant and filled with concern. And then she was falling. The hold they had on her slipped and it all faded away along with the wall of horrors and searing pain. 

A cool breeze hit her. The sweet smell of the sea filled her nostrils and Eruviel suddenly realized that her eyes were clenched shut. Trembling, she forced them open and a whole new scene met her empty gaze. She was surrounded by the summer waves of a blue ocean, hovering several feet above the surface. Looking at her arms to see her fair skin whole and gleaming in the warm sunlight she felt where all her scars should have been. They were gone. The skirt of a white dress swirled around her feet as she sped forward through the air, her long hair whipping about her. The beauty and relief that quenched her soul brought fresh tears to her eyes.

In the distance through the blue haze and wisps of clouds a white shore shone on the horizon. Could it really be? Anticipation swelled in her chest even as doubt sat in her mind, it’s arms folded. Should she really be here? Her progression slowed and she alighted on the gleaming sands even as a crystal blue wave of water tumbled over her feet. In spite of the peace that lightened her heart, in a way it was wrong, feeling the warm sand beneath her bare feet. 

Miles away down the beach the silhouette of a massive pillared forum rose from the shore in swirled spires. She felt a pull to walk towards it, but after a moment’s hesitation she turned only to be greeted by the last face she expected.

“It is cruel, really, that I was the one sent to see you,” spoke Adrovorn in his rich, deep voice as he pushed off of the rock he’d been leaning against with a shrug of his broad shoulders. His voice rolled over her like the blue waves that tumbled up the white sand. He walked towards her with his ever-confidant stride and she hugged her arms around herself, fighting the heart-wrenching urge to fly into his embrace. They stood facing each other, hardly a foot apart, a thousand words and wishes silently passing between them.

“Walk with me,” he said quietly, tucking his hands into his pockets. A slight smile curved up the corners of her petal-pink lips at the gesture, realizing she had picked up that little human quirk from him.

They walked side by side down the beach, listening to the other’s footsteps, neither one touching the other. “What are you doing here?” she finally asked.

“You could say I’m in between destinations,” he replied thoughtfully. Looking down at her his dark blue eyes shone sadly. “The question is, what are you doing here?”

Eruviel pursed her lips. “I was killed, I suppose,” she said quietly.

“Yes and no,” Adrovorn said as he chuckled. After another moment he sighed. “You know you have to go back.”

She knew it. That was what felt wrong. As much as she longed to stay she was not quite dead on the other side, and it was not yet her time. Stopping, she looked out to sea for a minute before turning her gaze back to him as he stood a pace in front of her. She had lost the meaning of her purpose amidst the veil of grief since his death. A part of her had withered away when he had not returned, and it had perished in the flames that had consumed the letter informing her of his death in battle. “Forgive me,” she said softly, her brows furrowing. “I let myself despair after you left.”

“I know,” Adrovorn nodded, moving to stand beside her and gaze out over the waters. “You shouldn’t have. You are strong, and I’d rather you live happily in honor of my memory.” The man let out a long sigh. “You were right,” he said slowly, “I should never have left you behind. My regret grew worse with every step I took away from you.”

“You were only trying to protect me, and for the most part, you did,” she said. A bitterness lifted from her as she spoke those words, and she wondered if it had not been Milloth’s idea for Adrovorn to meet her here. “It will take a long time still. A fear has sunk it’s claws into me.”

Adrovorn bobbed his head. “I take the blame for that as well, but you are going to have to work past it.” A playful smile then lit his face. “I see you have found someone to fill the gap I left behind.”

Eruviel could not keep back the soft, merry laugh that trickled past her lips. “No, he has not filled the gap. As intrusive as he is, I have learned that I can feel such warmth again, though not for him, as he so ardently hopes.”

“Good,” Adrovorn said with a satisfied nod. “Be prepared, my love. He is going to cause you a lot more heart ache in the months to come.”

“I have feared that . . . Now I am reaping the consequences of loosing myself, I suppose,” she said with a sigh.

Adrovorn looked down at her with a warm smile. “He’s not good enough for you. At least you dodged his advances.” His eyes searched hers, and like it was before, she sensed that he could see right through her. “You are fond of him, aren’t you?”

Eruviel hesitated, then nodded, understanding that he spoke of another. “I think I am. It is . . . unexpected . . . refreshing,” she said quietly. Softly biting the corner of her mouth, she raised a hand to put it on his arm, but stopped. “Might I . . . .”

He shook his head with a sad smile. “I could touch you, but we both know that if you touch me you won’t go back.”

Her mouth quirked with a smirk as she nodded, lowering her hand. “It is tempting, believe me, but the others might not forgive me. And if I really am able to return, then I suspect they are waiting with waning hope that I will wake up.”

Both of their eyes turned upwards as the light breeze picked up, tugging her towards the water. Swallowing hard, Adrovorn suddenly stepped closer and cupped her face with both of his hands, planting a lingering, tender kiss upon her lips. “I should have given that to you before I rode away that day,” he said quietly. Hovering, he then pressed a second kiss on her forehead before stepping back. “Things will get better. Just don’t keep trying to do it all on your own, if you can manage it.” Giving her a bittersweet smile, Adrovorn bowed his head, tucked his hands into his pockets, and turned to walk down the white shore as the sweet ocean wind lifted her up and carried her away.

Ruby Beach, WA

(first half edited from chat logs for tense and exposition))

A Little More Time

Eruviel remembers.

It was a quiet day. A lazy day. The soft mattress and blankets puffed up around them in soft waves and the shimmering mountain sunlight filtered through the thick glass window to chase away their late morning slumber. Groaning in protest as the light hit his face, Adrovorn turned his head from where it rested in the small of Eruviel’s back to hide it between her side and the bed.

“So you are finally awake,” smiled Eruviel as she rolled over onto her back and stretched out. She could not help but chuckle at the squinted glare he shot her as she abandoned him to the sunlight.

“No, I’m not,” said Adrovorn in a yawn as he stretched out his thickly muscled arms. Hooking a hand over her side he pulled her close and laid back down, his broad, lightly tanned shoulders draped across her hips. Pecking a kiss on her cool skin he set his head down on her stomach and tucked his hands under her back. “Did you rest well?” he asked, his voice low and thick from sleep.

Eruviel nodded as she fixed the pillow beneath her head. “I always rest well with you,” she said, offering a contented sigh, his head rising and falling with her breath. “I do not think I need to ask if you slept well or not.”

Adrovorn shook his head. “No, you don’t. I slept so hard I don’t even remember dreaming.”

“I am glad,” she responded, combing her fingers through his strawberry blonde hair. In the last months her own dreams were not as distant as they had been in the past. She did not escape to thoughts of distant rivers or white shores. No, she dreamt of the previous day, and the day before that. Of their wedding under the flowering trees of Celondim, and the blissful weeks that followed. They would fight, hunt and drink together with the dwarves during the day, and at night . . . .

“We will not be here much longer, will we?” she asked, interrupting her own thoughts as color trickled into her cheeks.

Adrovorn sighed, crossing his arms over her abdomen and resting his head atop of them to look up at her. “No. I think we have three or so more weeks. Then we head out to find the Tribunal.”

Eruviel raised her eyes to the stone roof of the bedroom, her eyes catching the glints of dust floating through the rays of sunshine. “It’s strange . . . thinking about how much will change.”

“You will miss it, won’t you?” asked Adrovorn as he propped himself up on one arm, tracing his free hand lovingly over the pale scars that wound around her torso.

“I will. Eriador is all I have ever known. I have never been east of Lothlorien nor south of Enedwaith.”

“Gondor is a wide land. When this war is over you may get lost exploring it all,” he said with a smile. Scooting up he pecked a kiss on her cheeks before resting his head on her chest. “And you will already have a head start on seeing the world after I am gone.”

“I will not be seeing much of the world at all after you are gone,” she whispered into his hair. “I meant what I said the other night.”

Adrovorn raised his head, sitting up as his dark blue eyes searched hers. A soft look replaced his natural sternness as he studied her. “I cannot ask something like that of you.”

“That’s why I am giving it to you. Besides, I would think the halls of Iluvatar would be more grand than those of Manwe,” she chuckled softly.

A mischievous smile curved up the corners of his mouth and Adrovorn was about to speak when a knock sounded from the front door. Letting out a frustrated sigh Adrovorn laid back down atop of her, burying his face in the nape of her neck. “If we don’t move they won’t know we’re here,” he muttered.

Chuckling, Eruviel wrapped her arms around his shoulders as the knock sounded again, louder. “Give them a minute and they will go away.”

The knock sounded a third time, accompanied by a muffled call of, “My lord?” The fourth time Eruviel and Adrovorn looked at each other, silently debating whether or not to actually answer the persistent visitor. Then silence. The two waited, their heads lifted and turned towards the door.

“Maybe he left?” Eruviel wondered.

“Good. We rarely get a whole day to lay around,” huffed Adrovorn as he rolled onto the side and pulled her against his chest. The calm returned. Nestling against him she laid there for a time, forgetting everything else. The two had almost fallen back asleep when a new, harder knock sounded against the front door, the thud echoing through the small home.

“Adrovorn?” sounded Myrthrost’s voice from the other side. His tone made Eruviel’s stomach sink. “I’m sorry, but I know you’re in there. It’s urgent.”

Letting out an irritated growl Adrovorn pulled himself away from her and slid out of bed. Quickly stepping into his trousers he leaned over to plant a warm kiss on her mouth. “I’ll be right back love.”

Nodding, Eruviel sat up as she watched him walk out into the common room. She heard the door open, and the low voices exchange words. She could not make out what had been spoken, but it was only a minute before Myrthrost departed and the front door shut. She waited.

“Adrovorn?” she called softly. No reply came. Rising from the bed she wrapped the large white sheet around her and padded softly out of the bedroom. Her tall Gondorian stood still as stone in the entryway, a tattered parchment stretched between his hands. Stopping beside him she rested a deceptively delicate hand on his forearm. “What does it say?” she asked simply, reading the dark storm of emotions that shadowed his face.

“It’s from Pelargir,” he said quietly, rereading the letter again. “The city has fallen into chaos, and a fleet of Corsairs presses hard against the navy. I am being called back.” Sighing heavily Adrovorn sunk down to the floor, leaning back against the wall. “This was sent months ago,” he said gravely. “My men and I are long overdue.”

Looking down at him for a moment Eruviel shifted the sheet around her and gracefully lowered herself to sit beside him. “Well, then we will leave for Gondor sooner than planned.” She tried to sound encouraging, but his unguarded expression of dismay made it difficult to even smile.

“I do not want you to have to fight,” said Adrovorn bitterly as he looked up to study her face, “and I was hoping that the ten years I’ve been away would see the end of this turmoil.” She could see the anger swelling in him towards whoever it was that wrote the letter.

A genuine smile played across her lips. “You know I do not mind fighting. It is what I’m best at.”

A pained look came into his eyes and Adrovorn handed her the letter. “No, Eruviel. I cannot have you come with me.”

“I do not see why not,” she said as she read over the orders. In spite of brevity, the page was filled with haunting details of the south being raided and burned. Osgiliath was overrun and a large part of the army was stuck in the west. And she’d thought things were bad here in the north.

“Eruviel,” Adrovorn cupped a hand on one side of her face to turn her head to look at him, “You cannot come with me yet. I will go and fulfill my oath, and when my lord releases me I will come back for you.”

No, my love. I am going with you. I am fully capable of facing whatever fate awaits us,” she said firmly.

“You really are an anomaly. What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?”

“I have lived and fought fifteen hundred years before you came along, and I do not intend to wile away the days here when you are down in Gondor risking your life!”

“You don’t get it,” he said in frustration, gripping her arm. “I know you can face anything! But you shouldn’t have to, not any more, not if I can help it. Eruviel, I will be leading hundreds of men into battle and if you were there I would put your safety above theirs. My love, I can’t allow it! Many of them will die anyways, but I can’t leave a hundred families without fathers because my judgement was impaired out of worry for you.”

Eruviel forced down the tears that threatened to appear. She did her best to keep her lower lip from trembling, and merely nodded as he gently pulled her over to sit between his legs. “I understand,” she said quietly, resisting the urge to shrug off his hand.

“I am sorry Eruviel, that this had to happen when we were just beginning,” said Adrovorn, tucking stray strands of hair behind her pointed ears.

Eruviel shook her head, ruining his careful work. Shoving her bangs out of her face she did her best not to show her disappointment, and worry — among a hundred other emotions. “Do you mind if I ride with you and the Tribunal for a part of the journey?”

“Not at all. I would prefer it,” he said with a small chuckle, running a hand up and down her arm.

Nodding, she leaned against his chest with a small sigh, relishing the feel of his skin against hers and listening to the strong beat of his heart. “How long do yo think you will be gone?”

“A year at the most,” he said with certainty. “And if my lord tries to keep me longer I will just leave. He can find another captain to lead his men.”

A few minutes of silence between them passed as his words somewhat calmed her and dried up the moisture that had gathered in the corners of her eyes. “Then we should prepare,” she said reluctantly.

“I don’t think so,” he said with a warm smile. Kissing her shoulder he wrapped his strong arms around her and held her close. “I say when we leave and we still have a little more time.”

Small Victories

Eruviel remembers.

Heat blasted up through the iron grate beneath their feet. The sound of shouts and clashing weapons rang from outside the chamber doors that Daran held shut. Fighting as a single unit, Adrovorn with his sword and shield, and Eruviel with her bow and knives had (with heavy support from Myrthrost and Milloth) held their own against the Black Numenorean. Adrovorn’s great shield had taken such a beating that she could barely make out the white tree emblazoned on it’s face.

Behind them Adrovorn’s soldiers drug fallen comrades behind a shield wall. The surprise attack had been betrayed to the enemy had slain half of their numbers. It was a staggering loss. Milloth and Myrthrost now stood on the opposite side of the room behind the shields, one casting spells to counter the sorcerer’s attacks, and the others to protect those that still survived.

Parrying Alogos’s strike, Eruviel ducked to the side as Adrovorn rushed past her to slam his shield into their opponent. Adrovorn’s eyes were bloodshot, and his shield arm had begun to shake from trauma. As he dropped to a knee to protect her from another strike, Eruviel knew his injury was more than that. Alagos had spoken of darkness and of his master through the duration of the fight, and Eruviel could feel his words seep like poison through her veins. How well she remembered the feeling. Meeting Adrovorn’s look Eruviel knew he could not hold out much longer. Neither could she.

“How convenient that you came back, what ever your reasons are. You have saved me the trouble of hunting you down,” Alagos sneered. His eyes, pale from his craft, flashed with pain as he wrenched a barbed arrow from his side. In spite of the hate and lust for power that hung about him, Eruviel could sense his fear of death. She could see how he struggled for breath, and knew that he was aware that she saw it.

“I will not live with your shadow following us wherever we go,” Eruviel growled, stepping up beside Adrovorn as she shifted her grip on her weapons handle. How many of his spies had she killed in the past eight years? We will not be free till you are dead.

Eruviel trembled as Alagos’s voice, rich with his Adûnaic accent clawed through her mind. You fight in vain. I find pleasure in tormenting the only Eldar to escape me. Know you will have no victory. If I die, someday my brothers will find you.

Adrovorn must have read the fear that twisted across her face, or possibly heard the same voice as well, for they leapt forward to attack at the same moment. Being nearly equal in height and broader than their foe, Adrovorn stepped inside the Black Numenorean’s reach and brought the edge of his shield down on Alagos’s wrist to disarm him. Grabbing him by the throat Adrovorn then threw Alagos over the alter at the chamber’s center. The evil man had barely a second to find his feet before Eruviel flew across the space between them with a shout. Her blade aimed at his chest, Alagos stumbled back as she continued to fight against his hold. His eyes suddenly grew wide with shock and pain as the tips of the iron spikes jutting from the wall blossomed from his chest.

Time froze. Blood trickled down the fuller of her blade from his hand to her cross guard. A fire burning several yards beneath them on the lower level hissed as streams of red coursed over the fallen Numenorean’s armour and through the gaps in the iron floor. Eruviel’s arms trembled as she gripped her hilt, staring up at the mocking eyes of her greatest fear while the color drained from his face, still trying to grasp what had just happened.

“So, you’ve done it,” coughed Alagos, blood filing his mouth. Releasing her sword his arms fell limply to his sides. “You will never be free,” he whispered hoarsely as the last breath of air escaped his body.

Taking the Fort

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Eruviel remembers.

“Dreadward!” boomed Adrovorn, his strong voice rising above the clamor of the fight taking place at an enemy stronghold a short distance away. Twenty well equipped riders fell into formation. Even their horses seemed to respond to the Gondorian Captain, waiting patiently for his next orders. Wheeling his black war steed around he stopped beside Eruviel, the two exchanging curt nods.

Giving him a small smile, Eruviel reached over to unhook the sheath of his sword from where it had gotten caught in his mount’s tack. “The same as usual, my lord?”

“The same as usual, my lady,”Adrovorn responded, extending his arm down to tuck a stray strand of hair behind Eruviel’s pointed ear. His steel blue eyes lingered on her before flicking back to her quiver, counting.

“It is not like you to worry,” Eruviel chuckled as she fit a new string onto her bow.

“I don’t show it when I worry,” he quipped dryly. Sitting upright he patted the neck of his horse as he watched the fort beyond the treeline, waiting for the signal. “Until we reach Lindon I doubt that I shall sleep at all,” he added gruffly.

Myrthrost, one of Adrovorn’s closest friends shot her an amused look over the head of his dwarven companion, Rhuniki, who blabbered on and on about how to best kill an orc. Wrinkling her nose back at him she turned her head just in time to see a torch being waved from the top of the wooden wall. “You will have time enough to sleep after we get to Thorin’s Hall,” said Eruviel, choosing an arrow from her back and knocking it.

“No I won’t,” said Adrovorn quietly, laughing as color crept into Eruviel’s cheeks. “Myrthrost! Rhuniki! Take the gate,” he commanded as he unclasped and pulled out a black spiked flail from behind his saddle. Twenty swords rang as they were unsheathed in unison. The dwarf let out a zealous war cry, and he and the man dashed forward with Eruviel following a few paces behind, sniping archers from the wall. Shoving each other back and forth as they ran, Rhuniki brandished his axe, jesting with the more level-headed Myrthrost. Eruviel smirked as she released another volley upwards, giving the two precious seconds to get to the gate and take out the dozen orcs guarding it. Sometimes she wondered which one of them was the sidekick.

It had been eight years since the Dreadward Tribunal had been formed. Campaigning across the North Downs into Evendim the troop fought with others of like-minds, dealing judgement and driving back the enemy where few dared to go. They had become a cohesive unit with Myrthrost, Adrovorn, Rhuniki, Milloth and Eruviel at its core. It had been a refreshing change from the years of living and fighting in the shadows of Angmar. Daran had been dissatisfied at her departure, but had also understood, even more than she had at the time. Sprinting through the gate Eruviel glanced back to see the column of dust rise from where the rest of the troops sped across the dry earth. What had it been . . . three years? Adrovorn had stopped her after a bloody battle and told her upfront of how he felt and of his intentions. He had been tactful in his own way, and eloquent as always, but the man never beat around the bush. And she had made him wait.

“There they are!” shouted Rhuniki as a sizable number of Tarkrip stampeded down the lane towards them. Eruviel loosed a succession of arrows into the approaching mob as Myrthost fit a second rune between his fingers and cast barrier of protection around them.

The sound of thundering hooves drew near, and as the Tarkrip stumbled over one another to retreat, the trip jumped to the side of the road to watch Adrovorn and his men thunder past. Taking a moment to watch the riders plow through the enemies ranks, their black cloaks billowing like smoke behind them, Eruviel split off from the man and dwarf to scale the lower inner wall of the fort.

Running along the elevated walkway she dropped every enemy archer she laid eyes on. In the center of the fortified camp she could see Milloth battling the Tarkrip Commander. Adrovorn had dismounted and now fought back to back with the Eldar, leveling any foe that came within reach of his blood coated flail. They do not call him the Black Thorn for nothing, Eruviel smiled to herself as she plunged her sword through the skull of an orc clinging to the edge of the platform.

Just as the battle seemed to have be won, a foul tension wound in her gut. Across the large yard Eruviel could see Milloth reach back to find his quiver empty as the Tarkrip Ccommander’s blade cut across his breastplate. A particularly large orc flanked Adrovorn as he was beset by two others, and at the same moment a dozen Tarkrip clamored up onto the wooden walkway on either side of her. In the blink of an eye she took note of the other fighters, and made eye contact with the few that had started to run towards her, their own bows rising. Knocking an arrow to her bowstring she took aim, the white fetching brushing across her cheek. My last one. She exhaled a whispered blessing to ignite the light oil, and released.

The arrow streaked across the distance with a flash of lightening (courtesy of Myrthrost), and struck the enemy commander in the forehead with a sickening thwap. The foul creature had hardly begun to fall back when Milloth wrenched the arrow from it’s face and spun around to peg the orc leaping at Adrovorn in the heart. Drawing her sword and dagger Eruviel dodged the first two of her attackers before cutting them down. Thrusting her sword into another on her left she wrenched the weapon out to smash the pommel into the face of the orc behind her. An arrow from below took out the creature as it swung its dark blade, giving Eruviel the moment she needed to jump down from the wall, avoiding the spread of arrows that mowed down the Tarkrip defenders attacking her.

Rolling as she hit the ground, Eruviel rose to her feet, and took a moment to observe Rhuniki finish off a downed foe before relaxing her grip on the hilts of her weapons. It was finally over. Nodding to the Rangers and Gondorian fighters that had come to her aid she walked across the yard littered with corpses towards the rest of her gathered comrades. The handful of men with her half followed, half guarded her. Adrovorn, she thought, letting out a short huff. Several months back his men had taken it upon themselves to ensure her safety, but this was ridiculous. The look Adrovorn shot her told her that even he thought his men might be taking their self-proclaimed duty too close to heart.

One more stop, she told herself as she stepped between Milloth and Adrovorn, exchanging a smile of understanding with her brother. One more trip north to protect my future from the past.