Anyatka

Bittersweet: Get Out

ScreenShot00144

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eruviel!” Anyatka cried.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Commander?”

Godric turned again in the dark to face her.

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

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

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

“You will leave them alone.”

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

“Get out of my head.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Get out,” she growled through gritted teeth.

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

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

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

– – – – –

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

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

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

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

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

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

– – – – –

Yarig! Benrith!

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

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

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

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

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

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

“My lord?”

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

Advertisements

A Peaceful One

ScreenShot00001

Dearest Anyatka,

I hope this letter finds you well. While yet another task keeps the Wayfarers away from home, I assure you we are whole and hale. We have found Master Arrowheart, but that is a topic for another letter.

How I wish you were in Rivendell with us. As midsummer approaches there is a change in magic in the air, and I wonder if you feel it there too. A cool summer breeze tumbles down from the mountains, heady with pine, and I suspect we will have a lovely ro strawberry moon on the eve of the solstice. Do take Anders or Abbi or Eboric out to see it if you can. Strawberry moons are always best admired with good company.

The others preoccupied, I have found myself on a little island under a tree crowned with fiery leaves far back in the succession of falls that I have always wanted to swim to. You would adore it, I think. The fireflies are thick tonight, reflecting off the crystalline waters, and this far in there is nearly no current. I am not sure yet if the scene should be painted, or be too fair, only meant to be cherished in memory.

Well wishes are sent your way, hoping that your birthday is a happy one. Your gift from me will come late, but will be wrapped in an old issue of The Warbler (for that is all they are really good for), and tied with ribbon. Were we at home you would have a cake of whatever flavor you wished, and probably a family supper where Eirikr may smile a little extra for you, Eboric would want food from everyone’s plate but his own, Abbi would craft a passably reasonable excuse to have a few extra drinks, and if Anders came he would be just as pleasant and kind as always.

I miss you dearly, oselle. I miss the nights of story and song, and even if there is no grand event, I pray that your birthday is a peaceful one. Take care of yourself. Give the boys my love, and anyone else my kind regards.

With all my love,

Eruviel

Bittersweet: Choices

lotrosky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Esthyr crossed her arms. “Fine.”

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

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

“Both.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gaelyn frowned deeply. “Shit…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…Huh?”

“Are you all right?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine.”

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

They walked on, following Eirikr’s lead.

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

You made your choice, and she made hers.

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

 

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

Bittersweet: Red

Faethril screamed, this time in pain, as the molten metal directed by Anric’s expert kick to the vat covered her. The jewelry was coated in the hot plasma. They were destroyed, melting beneath the heat, and Faethril lost substance. The gems in each piece burst, her face took on a strange look of serenity and then, just like that, she was gone. In that moment, Anya fell to her knees as if struck.

“They’re… she’s gone,” said the young woman as she stared past red waves of hair at the dirt between her hands.

Eruviel placed a hand softly on Anya’s back. “How do you feel, oselle?”

Anyatka turned her light grey eyes up to look at her. “I…I feel so light.”

Eruviel’s eyes snapped open. She could still smell the deer meat and savory gravy from the pie lingering in the warm air of the house. Drawing a deep breath she sat up in the oversized chair filling one corner of her bedroom, mindful of the puppy that slept on her feet.

It had been two years since the Red Pass. Two years since she had sat in Ost Guruth holding Anya’s hand as a healer had stitched up the young woman’s back. Two years, and they were no closer to being rid of Faethril, and Parmanen.

Reaching down beside her chair, she lifted the red wine bottle with her seal on it’s side, and frowned. She had forgotten that she had finished it earlier. A shame. She liked that vintage. The same that they had almost gotten drunk on a year ago….

“I should be moving out soon. Regardless of breaking ground on the expansion. You need your space back, and my siblings need me there.”

Frowning, Eruviel adjusted the sash of her long, black and gold silk night robe. Glancing to the glow of firelight that could be seen past the cracked open door, she scooped up the puppy who had by now awoken to gaze expectantly up at her.

Anyatka, Anyatka, she repeated to herself, attempting to focus on the more pressing matter at hand instead of the ache that tightened in her chest. It was not the impending departure, but the stoic expression he wore as he’d said it that made her suddenly wonder if it had all just been —  Eruviel shook her head violently. Such a fool. She was being as ridiculous as her oselle. She had overstepped her bounds before, and would not do so again. She would do nothing, for it was not her place, and it was the right thing to do. She was sure of it.

Curling up in the chair with her puppy, the Elf closed her eyes. What would I do without you, my little friend? Getting tackled then tossed about by a six and a half foot, two hundred and eighty pound man had left her exhausted. It was not good for her to dwell on such matters when in such a state. She would need all of her energy for when they left in the morning to go hunt for their lost sister. Anders would get the message by morning and, Valar willing, they would meet Anya half way to the horse farms.

Resting her head on the arm of the chair, Eruviel let out a long, quiet sigh. She drew away beyond the house and the distant memory of his arms, beyond Durrow, and Bree-land till the woods and fields filled with colors and faded. Then all was dark as night, and she slowly emptied herself till all that remained was a luminous star-like being that hovered alone in the blue-black void, filled with gladness, and peace, and purpose.

Dear, foolish, selfish oselle. Be smart. Be safe.

Orome, please… please let us find her first.

 

((Two years since all the fun at ‘Through the Red Pass‘!))

Two In The Morning

download

Tap, tap.

Witch!” sounded Ildric’s lazy attempt at a whisper.

Tap, tap, tap….

Eruviel!”

The Elf’s eyes flew open and she shushed the window, feeling a bit of relief at seeing the door to her room closed and latched as she went to open the window. “Keep it down, old man” she whispered, far more carefully than he had. “What do you want?”

Ildric poked his head inside and looked around. “Why’ve you not invited me in before? This is a nice place — Is that really what you wear to bed?”

Eruviel rolled her eyes and cinched the satin belt of her robe tighter around her waist, just to be safe. “That’s none of your business. Why are you here in the middle of the night?”

“The boys have everything packed up. We’re ’bout to head out.”

“It’s freezing, and two in the morning!” she chided in a hushed tone.

“So? You said you wanted to see us off whenever we left.”

Eruviel leveled him with an even look. “I was having a good dream.”

Ildric’s lips curled in an impish smirk as he leaned against the ledge. “I didn’t think Elves dream. Was it a good memory… or perhaps a daydream?”

Failing at fixing him with a withering glare, Eruviel pushed him out of her window. “Get out you old thief. I’ll be right there.”

“Aww, not gonna climb out your window for –” His teasing whisper was cut off as she quickly and quietly closed the window on him.

The puppy had remained asleep, and Eruviel doubted anything aside from Eboric trying to pick him up would wake the canine after the romp he’d had earlier in the evening. Putting a fresh log in her small fireplace and tucking her new quilt under her arm, Eruviel tip-toed silently out of her room, careful to let as little light and cold into the front room as possible before she could close the bedroom door. Careful to not kick a stranded toy behind the couch, Eruviel slipped by the slumbering Eirikr and Eboric. It took all her willpower to not fix the blanket over the sleeping man’s shoulder, but she decided against it, not wanting to wake him on her way out. She would fix it when she got back, she told herself. Plucking up her boots Eruviel swiftly unlocked the front door and silently slipped out into the night.

The change in temperature nearly took her breath away. Ildric stood by the front gate, arms crossed over his chest and leaning against a post, and she waited till she reached him to fit her feet into her boots.

Cor, Witch, if you were human you’d catch your death o’ cold,” he muttered, snatching the blanket out from under her arm and throwing it around her shoulders.

“I think death from cold would be the least of my worries,” she retorted as she let the long skirt of her robe conceal her tall boots. “And I wonder who’s fault it is for me being out at such an hour.”

Ildric adjusted his own wraps as they exited the yard and started down the street. “Late nights never bothered you before.”

Eruviel chuffed, sending out a breath of white clouds from her lips. “I suppose I am getting soft.”

“Bull,” Ildric grunted. “You’re just saving up all your meanness.”

“I? I am not mean.”

The man grinned wickedly in the dark. “And what if I punched your pretty, red-headed sister or stabbed your human?”

“It’s not in your nature to do such a thing,” she responded sternly.

“Not without cause, no,” said Ildric, grinning as the source of the chill in the air changed. The two exchanged looks as they passed a street lamp, and Ildric suddenly chuckled and tossed an arm over her shoulder. “I missed that.”

His gesture broke the unexpected tension his question had caused, and Eruviel smirked as she shrugged off his arm. “Missed what?”

“That look of death in your eyes. I’m glad you got it back.”

Eruviel chuckled, and pulled the blanket more snugly around her. “I didn’t know I had lost it.”

“Aye. When I saw you three years ago, though….”

One corner of her mouth curling up in a smile, Eruviel nudged him with her elbow. “Is the mighty Vrax getting sentimental?”

“Damned old age,” he muttered bitterly. “Does terrible things to a man.” He nodded down the road. “It’s been nice to relax, but I need to get back into my usual frame of mind. Things are well with the camp, but matters on the outside are getting rougher, specially on the outskirts of the Riddermark.”

“You’ll have no trouble with that,” said Eruviel with an encouraging nod.

Ildric nodded curtly, the mask of command slowly finding it’s place over his features. “Good thing about going back is the weather will get better as we go south. None of this blasted damp and cold.”

“You will raid along the way, I presume?”

“You bet your ass we will. The boys are itching for action, and so am I. Plenty of orc camps and brigand lairs along the way. We have an empty wagon for loot, too. Plenty of goodies for the lads and others.”

Humming thoughtfully, Eruviel looked up as they continued along the way. “The group made it safely back then, I take it?”

“Only lost three, and just two had injuries still healing when they got in a few nights back.”

“Not like that would keep them from killing orcs,” Eruviel replied, chuckling.

Ildric echoed her chuckle as he nodded in agreement. “Not at all… Has anyone in the tribe written you lately?” he then hesitantly asked.

Eruviel’s brows rose and she looked to him. “From Aughaire? No, not lately. Why?”

“They were wondering… with the war in the south heating up and all, if you were thinking of coming back to fight.”

The Elf fell silent for a moment, green eyes fixed on the road before she shook her head. “I have thought of it, but I have no intention of going back to Angmar. Not unless the Wayfarers are called north. After…” She shook her head again, and frowned at the night. “No. I have people I need to be here for, and my responsibility to them comes first.”

Seemingly satisfied with her answer, Ildric nodded and swiped a hand across his cold nose. “Good… But enough of that. Met your sister earlier.”

“Oh? You met Anya?”

“Sure did. Nice as you said she was, but you never told me she was a looker.”

Laughing, Eruviel shot the man a glare. “She’s beautiful, but that is hardly something you should care about. Hands off you brigand. She’s already being courted.”

“Lucky kid… What if he stops courting her?” he prodded, leaning in, clearly fishing for a reaction.

No.”

Bittersweet: Merry and Bright

download

“What are you going to name him?”

Eruviel looked down at the puppy with an oddly fond smile. It had been… goodness, over fifteen hundred years since she had had a pet dog. “I am not sure yet.” The puppy wiggled a little in her arms before licking the Elf’s hand. He was an adorable little pup, and big brown eyes gazed happily up at her. She always had been a sucker for dogs, and the way this one looked at her made her miss the wolf pup, Háno. This is, quite possibly, the cutest puppy ever.

Pheadra laughed softly. “He is very sweet, though I think he will be quite big.” She gently took hold of a paw. “Look how big!”

Excited by the room full of people and smell of good food, the puppy nipped playfully at the woman’s hand.

Pheadra moved her hand around for him to chase, first to scratch behind its ear, then under its chin. “Do you have any other pets?”

She heard Abiorn departing, but it was the sudden absence of the elder brother’s presence that made Eruviel blink and look up. “Just one…” Still smiling, her bright, keen eyes quickly darted over the room before resting on the door. “A swan, actually.”

Pheadra pulled her hand back and smiled. “That should be amusing with a puppy.” She laughed and glanced in the same direction as the Elf. “Do you live nearby?”

Her gaze lingering on the exit for a moment, she tore it away to look back at Pheadra. “I do. Just a short ways down on Chestnut.”

“I won’t keep you if you need to get going,” said Pheadra with a nod. She gave the puppy’s head another scratch.

Eruviel offered her an apologetic smile. “I do, but we should go shooting together soon.”

“I would like that very much.”

“Good!” she responded with a pleased nod. “I look forward to it. It was good to see you again. A good night to you, Pheadra.”

Pheadra bowed her head and smiled, “You as well. Good night, Eruviel.”

Eruviel inclined her head to the young woman. Taking up the box with her free hand, she bore her happy little gift with her out the door. In the entry she remembered her cloak, and draped it around the pup before stepping out into the cold.

A million thoughts swarming through her head, she left the box by the wood pile, and turned her slippered feet towards home. Unlike the short trip to Ravenhold, she felt no care as the wind whipped her hair and silken, midnight blue skirts about her. She had looked forward to finally getting to wear the dress, and to enjoying the cheerful evening with friends. Now she almost wished she had stayed away and gone on her short birthday outing. But she had come back.

Letting out a soft sigh she removed the delicate, star-like earrings from her pointed ears along with the silver hair comb and ear cuff. Tucking them inside the soft curve of her neckline she resolved to wear them again sometime for herself, and hugged the pup to her chest with both arms even as he snuggled against her. You are not helping, little one.

Casting the small, petty thoughts away, along with the grumble of an empty stomach, she refocused her mind. There were more important things to be dealt with before she could even think about finally escaping to relax and soak up hot water and starlight. First, she probably should not name the puppy. Not that she did not want to, of course. Puppy cuddles were some of the best, and even carrying the little ball of fur and love was unexpectedly comforting. But, in his best interest, he would be better off with someone who could look after him properly. Second, and most importantly, Anya was missing.

When she had told him that he should be happy, she had not expected his response to crush the amusing reply she had prepared. Oh, oselle. It was this alone that sped her pace to a swift glide down the dark, empty street towards home.

Perhaps Atrian would like a puppy for his first pet.

Bittersweet: “And If He’s Gone…”

Listen to me! https://youtu.be/OjVpKmCN7g4

Eruviel turned into the room, two mugs in hand. “Ah. Here,” she said, lifting both vessels, “I got a cider and an ale, not knowing what you prefer.”

Lomiphel threw herself onto her bed and leaned against the headboard. She kicked her shoes off and stared at the Elf. “Whichever.”

Eruviel set the mugs down on a nightstand, and moved to sit on the next bed after quickly looking over the room. “Barliman should really consider adding more sitting rooms.”

Lomiphel just stared at her. “Well?” she said after a few moments.

Eruviel looked back at her. “Well… what do you want to know?”

“‘All that shite about reasons.”

“Ah, yes,” said Eruviel with a nod. “Well, I was not after your father, but the other spirit inside of him. Saving Anyatka was our first priority, but before things got out of control I was attempting to help your father get the upper hand.” She frowned, and looked to the mugs. “He was in there, I just could not reach him in time.”

“What are you talking about?”

“My shite reasons,” Eruviel responded frankly. “There were two in that body of a man. Delostor, and Parmanen. One was your father, the other was a sorcerer that wanted to kill my human sister and use her body as a vessel for another.”

Lomiphel frowned as she worked this out, and it was clear that this was the first time she had heard of this. “My father is my father. He was always who he was.”

Eruviel shook her head. “Not always. He might have been who he was, but who he was was not his true self. He had a journal from when he was younger, before they put the Black Numenorean inside of him.”

“My father is a Black Numenorean,” said Lomiphel slowly.

Eruviel frowned at her words. “… Was. I do not know what he wanted at the end, though I did see Parmanen, the real him when you were mentioned. I do not know where his journal went to, but I remember much of it, if you would like me to write it down for you.” It was not all truth. The journal sat at the bottom of Eruviel’s box of letters, beneath the box of trinkets that held the glass rose and black powder, but there was no reason for the Elf to ever tell her that.

Lomiphel frowned back. “Why should I trust your words?”

Eruviel shook her head. “I have no reason to lie to you about your father. I am part of why he is gone, so I feel as if I at least owe you the courtesy of sharing the little of him I know. Whether you choose to believe me or no is for you to decide.”

“Fine, then,” Lomiphel responded. “I will accept whatever you wish to hand over.”

Eruviel nodded, and pulled a notebook and pencil out of her right pocket. Taking a moment to think, she jotted down several lines before tearing out the page and offering it over to the young woman. Tomorrow I will have seen twenty summers…. “Here. I remember the last entry the best. I remember him writing about how he missed the sand and the sun, and hated the smell of orcs.”

Lomiphel took the paper and looked at it for a moment.

Eruviel sat quietly, watching her.

Lomiphel looked up and dropped the paper to the bedspread. “I do not know what I am supposed to do with your memories of his words.”

Eruviel shrugged. “Whatever you like. Burn them for all I care. I just wanted you to know the truth from where I stand. I am sorry I could not save your father.”

Lomiphel stared at the paper. “You think he could be saved?” she asked abruptly.

Eruviel’s frown turned serious as she studied the woman more carefully. She understood when people did not like to think of their loved ones in the past tense, but not now. Now it was unnerving. “I think he could have been, yes. Everyone deserves a chance.”

Lomiphel continued staring at the paper. “You believe that this Delostor could be removed? And if he’s gone, I would still have a father left over?”

She felt as if her blood stilled in her veins. Is. “If we could get to him, yes. Delostor is dangerous, but if I could draw Parmanen to the surface, give him control, there is a chance that would give us time to see it done.” It took all of her self control to attempt to appear unphased as she tested for the woman’s reaction.

Lomiphel looked up and seemed to come back to herself. “Oh. Yes. Too bad, though. That it’s too late.”

Eruviel managed a small, sympathetic smile. “That it is. While I do not expect it, do forgive me for failing in that. I would have liked to have met the real man, and see if any of who he was had survived.”

“Well, no one can meet him now,” said Lomiphel with a nod. She stood and walked over to open the door. “Thank you for your time.”

Eruviel rose to her feet, and followed her to the door. “You are welcome. Thank you for your patience. Be well, Lomiphel.” Lomiphel merely nodded, and Eruviel quietly slipped out of the room and into the hallway.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She walked all the way through town, and out the South Gate, having seen none of it. Voronwen nickered as she passed the stables, and it took only till she reached the eaves of Chetwood for the steed to catch up with her.

“And if he’s … And if he is gone….” 

With all of her might Eruviel wished to believe Lomiphel had misspoken. She wished to believe the young woman’s words that it was too bad, and too late, and that he rested beyond the veil of death. She wanted to believe so bad that it hurt.

Anyatka... They had all gone to save the young woman. She knew all to well that if the enemy did not stay dead, they would come back with a vengeance. Abiorn, Eboric, Eirikr…. Gripping at the wolf cloak clasp at her neck, Eruviel turned. Grabbing a hunk of Voronwen’s mane with her free hand, she swung up into the saddle, and it took no command from her for the horse to know to leap forward into a run.

They would be all right, she knew. She would get there, windblown and without a proper excuse, and she would find Anya as she always was. The sooner she knew and saw, the better. The others, too, she knew would be well. But she would have to tell Eirikr, as much as she didn’t wish to…. No, she would tell him, but later in the evening after she set her last wards about the two houses, and when she was more collected and not feeling as if a foul spirit bore down upon her. Now there were too many ‘what if’s’. Tomorrow she would take the vial, and find Atanamir, and start putting her worries to rest.

First section is taken from in-game RP, and has been edited for tense and exposition.

Thank you, Cwendlwyn, for playing Lomiphel!

Bittersweet: Writing Home

candles

Dearest Anyatka,

We arrived safely in Dol Amroth a few days ago. Imloth Melui was a success, though rather grim the whole while we were there. Being in the city, I find it is just as bright as when we were here earlier in the year.

While I have not heard specifically what we are to do here, I believe it has to do with the growing discontent among the citizens, and a sudden growth in numbers of unscrupulous sorts. We will be safe, of course, so try not to worry too much. So far the days have been good, and lighthearted.

I wish I had more to write about, but all I can think of at the moment is the swimming spot I found, the few trees that offer an escape from the gleaming stone towers, and the good ale that was shared tonight. You have my word that I will keep you updated on our comings and goings.

Give Abiorn my love. If you could leave a loaf of bread on the porch of my house once a week I would be grateful. Poor Henry was upset with me enough for having moved. Take care of yourself, dear oselle, and be safe.

All my love,

Eruviel

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dear Abiorn,

As Anya might have told you, our company has made it safely to Dol Amroth. We had a bit of excitement in Imloth Melui, part of which was a massive explosion Feygil accidentally caused that flattened an enemy camp (and knocked us flat on our asses as well).

The past few days being here have not been terribly exciting, though. You would like the ale here. Well, I think you would like a lot of things here. The people in the city have been very welcoming to me (though I suspect a part of it has to do with me being an Elf). Eirikr has spent much of his time out in the trees (as to be expected). I myself have found a wonderful cliff jutting out over the sea several miles up the coast that offers a clean dive out into the water. If Anya asks, it’s a rock, but it’s actually only about seventy feet high.

I am sure we will run into more intrigue and trouble as the days roll past. Take care of yourself, gwador, and take care of Anya. If you see Moon Moon at all, tell him we made it safely, and that I say hello.

Till next time,

Love, Eruviel

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Wrapped in a soft, summer robe, and her wet hair coiled up in a towel that sat upon her head, Eruviel folded the last letter. Waiting a minute for the wax to melt, she carefully sealed the first message, and then the second. The last of her company had returned safely from the tavern, and, too awake to rest, she’d set into the writing she should have done days before.

Sitting on the floor in her empty room on a mound of pillows, she leaned both elbows on the low table that was once again covered with maps. She hadn’t had that much fun drinking in a long time. And, thanks to Tolan, she knew to keep well away from the bards dressed in pink.

Shaking her head, Eruviel tried to refocus on the maps before her. She hadn’t had all that much to drink, but her cheeks were still warm. Her mind drifted, and the edge of the region turned into the strong bend of his arm. The southern district of Tharbad slowly transformed into a trim, red beard, and the sketch of Nin-in-Eilph suddenly became limpid, dark grey eyes….

Letting out a despairing groan, Eruviel leaned her toweled head back. She didn’t mind him drunk; not at all, really, but she had had no clue that Atanamir, or anyone for that matter, had thought anything of them. A part of her didn’t care, but right then, for some silly reason, her head still swimming with him and half a dozen off-colored responses, she did. I must escort my lady to bed! Hugging a large pillow, Eruviel flopped over, as much as an Elf might, to lay on the floor. The flush in her cheeks turning a darker shade of pink, and she prayed that Tolan and Atanamir had been too drunk, and too enthralled by their conversation about pineapples to have overheard.

Lotus: Late Spring Evenings

Nursing her mug of cider, Inaris studied the young woman with the odd color in her hair. With long hair, the red and black streaks struck Inaris as rather fantastic. An interesting choice in fashion, but Inaris wondered how Anya managed it, and could not help but toy with the idea of it would look like with blonde instead of the red . . . . “What picture did you hide in the first one?”

Anya smiled. “A fish and a rabbit’s head and a snail and snake . . . a whole bunch of animals.”

Inaris sat up a little straighter as the young woman listed off the animals. “My, how do you think it all up?”

“I do not do much else,” Anya admitted. “I cook and clean for my brothers, but one is away right now. But I do drawings and painting most of all.”

Inaris licked a droplet of cider from the rim of her mug. “There is nothing wrong with that. Best to dive head first into a gift if you have one, and you definetly do, Miss Anya. Do you have a market for your work?”

Anyatka shrugged and then shook her head. “Not really. Not here. I do a portrait every now and then and sometimes I can sell a landscape. But most folk here do not have the means to spend frivolously on pictures.”

How silly to be excited for a painting . . . But a piece of art would definitely liven up the plain space that was her bedroom walls. And now that no rain could leak in to ruin her things — “I’m not well off by any means, but I would love to buy something of yours. If you can sketch like that, I can only imagine what your paintings must look like.”

“Really?” Anya asked, looking up with a surprised smile. “I can do a custom work just for you. What sort of things do you like?”

Inaris made a face and shrugged. “All sorts of things. I like warm places where I’m not up to my knees in mud. I like flowers . . . especially lotus flowers. Oooh! What does the sea look like?”

 – – – * * * – – –

ashlee-simpson_00185090

Two years prior . . . .

Tying down the last bundle of straw, Inaris sat on the peak of the thatched roof, frowning at her poor, scratched up hands. The red hood kept the sun out of her eyes, and hid the gaudy clip that secured her bangs back over the top of her head. She’d been working on the roof since sun-up, and she had quietly grumbled to herself the whole time, but now, seeing the fresh straw gleaming like gold in the late spring sun, a bit of pride swelled in her chest. She had done this, and all by herself.

“Jade?” called a woman’s voice from somewhere below. “You still up there?”

“Yeah, I am!”

“Well, hop down, dear. Supper is about ready, and you have a visitor!”

“Sure thing, Miss Wynthryth!” Tossing the last of the rope ahead of her, Inaris carefully made her way down the slope of the roof. Nearing the bottom the young woman glanced around and slid the last six feet like she’d seen so many of the young men do before. Flying off the edge she landed on her feet, but as soon as her weight came down she tumbled several times before skidding to a stop on her rear end.

Letting out a small yelp, she grimaced, and slowly rose to her feet to dust herself off.

“First time trying that, eh?”

Shit. “Yeah, but I’ll get it next time,” she said, casting a tight smile over to her audience of one. “What are you doing here, Othorion?”

The tall captain leaned against the side of the house, arms crossed over his broad chest, not bothering to hide his amused smirk. “I came by to see you, of course.”

Reaching beneath her hood, Inaris removed the clip and hid it in her pocket, her bangs falling down to veil her face. “I am honored, of course, good sir,” she said with a dramatic inflection, “but I’m smart enough to know you want something.”

Chuffing out a laugh, the Rohir pushed himself away from where he leaned to approach her. “Miss Jade, you wound me.”

“You can take it.”

Othorion leaned back against the side of the house to face her as she washed her cut-up hands in a basin. “And what if I just want the pleasure of your company?”

Her bright eyes darted up to meet his. “You never visit for my company.”

The imposing man’s eyes narrowed, and his smile grew. “You don’t know that.”

This man was unbelievable. Rolling her eyes, Inaris winced, and attempted to remove a splinter from her left pointer finger. “What can I do for you, Commander Othorion.”

“I have a favor to ask,” he replied after a moment of watching her.

Inaris chuffed out a breath and smirked. “Of course. Are we mapping out possible scouting positions, or do you want to grill me for the location of more enemy camps that I don’t know of?”

“Aren’t they your people?”

“Never. They are the enemy. But you were saying?”

“This time it is something a little more exciting,” Othorion answered with a wry smile. Moving, he suddenly stood next to her, as tall, and overwhelming as ever. It irritated her that it made her heart leap in her chest. Taking her delicate hand in his massive grasp before she could protest, Othorion, with surprising care, removed the splinter on the first try.

She did not shirk back, nor did she pull away. “The sound of that makes me curious . . . and want to answer ‘no’ before you tell me what it is.”

Releasing her, he pulled a large pair of worn leather gloves from behind him, and draped them over her hand. “I left armour inside. The set we spoke of before,” he said in that low, rumbling voice that made the air nearly too thick to breathe. He hovered there for what seemed forever, his piercing eyes cast down to meet her unyielding gaze.

“What in Arda would I do with that armour?”

Othorion stepped back. “A great many things, I imagine, but see if it fits. I will be back to discuss business tomorrow.”

Tucking his gloves into her belt, Inaris offered a curt nod. “Very well. Till tomorrow, Commander.”

Othorion inclined his head to her. “Good evening, Miss Jade.” Brushing past each other, neither looked back as they went their separate ways.

Bittersweet: Fallowmath

Eruviel could feel the heat from the flames as the golden-orange light bathed her features. She watched as Anyatka walked forward, Abiorn’s bear carving in hand. Maludir had thrown in blades of grass into the bonfire, Hallem tossed in a small token made by his wife Lichen, and now her human sister added a thorny branch to the blaze. She had nothing.

She could throw in the tuft of pine tucked behind her ear, but she liked it where it was. She could toss the handkerchief in her pocket that had been a gift from Annuwen, or even strands of her own hair, but none of it felt right. Nothing felt like it should be fed to the flames. Then, as Anya’s offering caught fire, it dawned on her.

Looking down and shifting the belt at her hips, she began to untie the black cords that had for so long been bound to the handle of her sword. The knots had hardened from time and use, especially the oldest of the two, but they had to go. The first had been tied . . . almost seven years ago? While the second had only joined it as of last summer. So short a time . . . . So much time.

Unwinding the first cord, her motions suddenly grew more purposeful when she felt Eirikr’s eyes on her. How appropriate that she burn the tokens of what had propelled her forward to where she was now. How oddly grateful she suddenly felt for those bitter years, for they were behind her.

The last one came free, and Eruviel wrapped the two cords, as black as the days she’d gotten them, into a small ball. Alagos, who still somehow found his way into her nightmares. Mornenion, the novice who had extinguished a small spark of her future, and had kidnaped the man she had been with. What if it hadn’t been Arathier? What if it had been Anya, or . . . Not wanting the thought to ruin her evening, she banished it from her mind and strode forward to toss the cords into the fire.

Keep us safe, dear brothers; my new family and those dear to them. Sparks shot up from the knot and into the night sky.

Grant us your strength. Small tongues of blue and green flames danced along the stretch of cords as the heat unwound them.

Eruviel could still feel the pair of storm-grey eyes on her.  A long forgotten feeling twisted in her chest. She should wish for more . . . shouldn’t she? The couples had already begun exchanging meaningful looks, and whispering. It was misery, but the most she dared hope for was a shared look and maybe . . . maybe a small, light touch. The stern man had been smiling more lately, and everything felt better when he did.

Turning back, she stood by Anyatka as Eirikr moved towards the fire. She wondered what he’d wish for. Anyatka and Abiorn? Eboric? Since the dream before Yule there had been small moments of peace, where no worry or fears could be seen in the eyes of those gathered. Moments filled with laughter or quiet contentment. Moments that should not have been as fleeting, but found their way nonetheless. A soft smile stole over her face as she watched the fire consume the black feather that Eirikr offered to it. Their wishes. Let their wishes come true.