battle

What Happened That Day

“C’mon, Hale! You’re falling behind!”

Halethon made a face and smacked his eight year old legs against the flanks of his pony. “Only ’cause you’re going too fast!”

“Well,” started Peldirion, slowing, Halethon was sure, merely to patronize his distant cousin, “when you lead, you can set the pace.”

“But you ALWAYS lead! And we always go play at the old ruins,” Halethon grumbled.

“Oh, don’t pout like a girl,” Peldirion jabbed. “It’s our castle!” he exclaimed, stretching his lanky, twelve year old arms out wide as if to embrace the shoreline, and the broken spire rising from beyond the next hill. “Adrovorn said he will convince father to buy it for me whenever he comes home.”

Halethon looked over to his dark-haired cousin, and grinned. “You couldn’t make him let you go with?”

It was Peldirion’s turn to pout. “No. And Lothiel says he’ll probably find a tribe of wild people, marry a savage girl, and never come home.”

“Lothiel’s stupid,” said Halethon flatly.

Peldirion reached over to punch him on the arm. “Shut up!”

The two boys rode in silence till they crested the hill nearest their ruined destination. “Did you mean it?” asked Halethon suddenly.

Peldirion frowned. “Mean what?”

Idiot. “About it being our castle?”

“Shit. Of course I did!”

“Ass. Don’t say ‘shit’.”

“Shit, shit, shit. And don’t call me that, or it’s just my castle,” said Peldirion without a scrap of conviction.

Halethon smirked. “You’d be bored without me, admit it. And I always kill more orcs than you.”

Peldirion huffed. “I’m starting page work soon. We won’t be able to do this much.”

“Can I go with you?”

“What?”

“I wanna go with you,” said Halethon with a stubborn set to his jaw. “You’re older so you can get started first, but… if it’s our castle, and we have to kill all the orcs in it first, I can’t be in someone else’s army.”

A grin spread across Peldirion’s face. “You won’t be. I promise.”

Relief spread across Halethon’s face, and he drew his wooden sword from his belt. “Last one to kill the fat orc gives up his lunch!” the boy cried, spurring his pony forward into a run, his imagination bringing shadowy beasts to life beneath the ruined arches. “For the King!”

“For the King!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A surging wave of silver and blue, they thundered out of the broken gate. How great they seemed in that moment after a day of darkness; a vanguard of Gondorian might and resolve. Halethon rode closely behind Peldirion as their contingent of Pelargir soldiers took the Swan Knight’s right flank. Their numbers melded with those of the Rohirrim, and the sea and the earth smashed into the lines of the enemy, their wave and zeal neither cresting nor falling.

His heart pounded in his chest to the drumming of his horse’s hooves. They could win! A brother to his left, a Rohir to his right, and Peldirion charging ahead of him, halberd gleaming in the morning light he knew. Drive them to the river! Excitement coursed through Halethon. This was the Gondor he dreamt of! This was the Gondor Peldirion talked about and aimed for. Mighty men fighting along side their allies, spurred on by the rising sun to retake their lands for the glory of their people. It was idealistic at best, and in the past months something of dreams, but now… NOW.

Peldirion shouted a command and the line of mounted Pelargir soldiers turned in a practiced formation, sweeping a few Rohirrim along with them to devour a line of orcs so that the Prince’s knights would not be hindered from that flank. They all followed him, their swords raising as his did, and half of the hope and fear in their hearts came from him as well. They were unwanted sons, either though scandal, found to be of little worth to other commanders, or simply too far down the line of succession. Granted by the unfortunate end of Peldirion’s eldest brother he had found them, or they had begged him for a chance, one chance to prove their worth and be more than the lot in life that had been cast for them.

On and on they fought, till suddenly new drums pounded the ground of the battlefield. Mûmakil. Enormous beasts, they ran into the frey, crushing and throwing dozens with every stride. What was an ordered assault turned into a chaotic tide of men fleeing from the Mûmakil’s paths and attacking groups of orcs. Wheeling his mount to one side, Halethon was nearly thrown from his horse as a soldier crashed into him. Fresh fear gripped his throat as one of the giant animals tore through a line of Rohirrim and Swan Knights.

What hope had built in him slowly began to turn. He didn’t want to believe it. He couldn’t! Turning back around Halethon went in search of Peldirion but, instead of seeing his Captain, an orc dove over the head of Halethon’s horse, and tackled him to the ground. His leg caught for a moment in the stirrup, and something pulled, sending hot pain up his leg, but there was no crack, and no time to think on it. His foot falling free and horse bolting away, Halethon grappled with the snarling creature.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“The river! Black sails!”

Halethon cut down an evil man and turned to look to the river. He had lost him in the chaos. Many of his comrades had been found alive and dead, but not Peldirion. Not anywhere. At the cry that there were ships, he stopped dead in his tracks. What now? Before they might have won by sacrificing every man, but with the aid of Corsairs, how could they ever hope to drive them back?

Pelargir. What had they done to her? To their castle? Anger ignited, mixing with the despair that washed over him. Where was Peldirion? At least they could die together, brothers hewing apart the monsters that more than likely saw to the ruin of what was left of their fair city, and with it, years of dreaming. So many dreams, all burning and drowning in blood.

His knees found the earth, sinking into the dark mud as pain clawed through the muscles of his left leg. So many. Emeleth… Valar… Is this what will become of us? Hailthon wavered, swaying. Soaked in sweat, rainwater, and blood he waited for a passing orc to finish him as black sails filled his vision.

“Get up!”

Halethon blinked, the words distant, echoing in his ears. “Wha –”

Air suddenly rushed back into his lungs as strong hands drug him to his feet. “Get up! Halethon?!”

He blinked, staring in disbelief at Peldirion and maybe two dozen of Pelargir soldiers. By the gods, he looks like death.“S-Sir?”

Peldirion smiled… no, grinned at him. A bright, engulfing expression he had not seen in years. “Don’t give up on me! Halethon, stand up! The king is here!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It was a battle to rival all others, and none would match it. At least he hoped not. He didn’t understand it, how the Captain could keep going. He had stayed up when the others slept, fought in the worst of, and Halethon could not remember the last time he had seen him eat.

They had fought for the majority of the daylight hours, the sun and brilliant hope brought by the return of the king fueling them. For the first time in hours, it seemed, Halethon stood still in the strange silence and observed the fields. A great wind had swept the rain clouds away, and standing next to the fallen body of a Mûmakil, the man suddenly felt so small. What was he compared to the mighty men that inspired their armies to victory? Against all odds they had somehow won, and it was on the wings of the gods that each new hope arrived.

He was tired. So tired. Sword dragging in his hand, Halethon turned to watch his comrades sweep across the field in search of brothers and friends. One picked a Swan Knight out of the mud, another wept as he embraced a Pelargir soldier long thought lost. Yes, he felt small. Small, and proud to be here among the victorious dead, and triumphant living.

Catching sight of Peldirion, Halethon raised a hand and started towards him. Peldirion rose to his feet, looking over his men with pride. But turning his gaze to Halethon he stopped. Something was wrong.

Fatigue slowing his limbs, he frowned. What was he shouting about? Peldirion had picked up his halberd and was now rushing towards him. Why are you running? What is wrong?

A shot of searing pain like fire exploded though his back. Halethon stumbled, barely aware of the arrows that suddenly flew past him. The world turned red, and he looked down to see a black spear tip protruding from his chest. How had that gotten there? And why… why can’t I move my arms? Breathing became a struggle, and the ground rushed up to meet him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“What is going on?”

“Don’t worry about it. Close your eyes.”

“Why are you carrying me –”

“I said don’t worry about it. Just relax.”

“Peldirion…”

“Yes?”

“Why can’t I feel anything?”

Silence.

“Tell me.”

“Later. For now just rest. We are almost there.”

“I feel cold.”

“A few minutes more, and I’ll get you warmed up.”

“Your eyes…”

“What about them?”

“You never cry. Tell me, damn you.”

“Not now. Not here. I said rest.”

“Is that an order?”

“… yes.”

“Is it bad?”

More silence.

“Don’t lie to me.”

“Just… hold on. We’re almost there.”

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Fires That Temper the Soul

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Ducking his head, Peldirion felt his bones quake as a foul voice ripped through the air. Gritting his teeth as he heard Grond being pulled back for a third swing he caught sight of a few of the men cower then move to flee. Growling, he snatched the first man by the arm and threw him back in line. “Hold!” he bellowed, bashing the cross guard of his sword against his shield as the others fell back into formation. You will not die with your backs to the enemy! The thuderous crash sounded behind him, and Peldirion turned to face the gate. It creaked, groaned… and fell with a deafening clatter.

Here they come.

Orcs clambered into the gaping wound, flinging themselves through the gap, flooding into the courtyard, driven mad to fight. A line turned and charged at the cluster of Pelargir soldiers, raising sword, mace, crossbow, and club. Some of the men of other companies and provinces, overtaken by the dread of the Captain of the Nazgul, turned and fled. “Cowards,” Peldirion muttered, thankful for the sounds and smells of death and fire that ignited his blood. Adjusting his grip on his sword, Peldirion gave a shout, and he, along with several dozen Pelargir soldiers, rushed forward to meet the advancing enemy.

The orcs were mad, fighting even as they died, clinging and tripping up men as they trod over them. A young man, little more than a page, shrieked and fell, kicking at the mouth of a slavering, bleeding orc. Forming a line, the soldiers pressed against the orcs that crashed against their bright shields like black waves. Halethon, fighting to Peldirion’s right, drove back a screeching orc, and the two men served as an anchor to the thin wall of soldiers.

Behind the first line of orcs rose a mountain range. Or so it seemed. Cave trolls, five, eight, perhaps more, thundered through the gate. Some of them did not stop, bowling through the lines like boulders, into the fires beyond. One ugly lout fixed his only good eye upon Peldirion and roared, charging. Wrenching his sword out of an orc, Peldirion turned in time to see the troll face him. Caught up in the rush of battle, he roared back, his voice deep and filled with fury. He dodged past a group of fighters, and ran to meet his foe.

Already, men were dragging bodies back out of the clash to the shadowed edges of the courtyard. Some begged for their mothers, others screamed in agony, dying. The troll raised a spiked club the size of a horse and swung, intent on crushing his prey like a bug. Diving within the reach of the troll, Peldirion sliced out to drag his sword across the creature’s gut. The troll screamed, enraged, though not much slowed, as thick greenish blood oozed from his glutted belly. He flailed his club side to side, sweeping at the bug which dared to bite back. Either too focused on slaying the beast, or blinded by the blood that dripped down his visor, one could not be sure, but as he swung his sword again the the club crashed into Peldirion’s shield, throwing him back like a rag doll.

Time, and light, and gravity seem to shift. The red burning flames took on a cool blue cast, and shadows and light leapt out in contrast. Around the perimeter of the courtyard, a grey shadow flited in and out, hovering over fallen men.

Fighting now to breathe as the wind had been knocked out of him, Peldirion lay stunned, sword arm unable to move from being pinned down by the body of a fallen orc. Gasping, he struggled for a moment before he could wrench his sword arm free. He rolled over onto his shield, chest heaving, and forced himself up to his knees. Yanking the helm from his head, he wiped at his eyes to clear them of the blood when the shadow caught his attention. A grey robe and veil formed a slender silhouette in the shadows, but the image seemed to flicker, as if insubstantial. He stared, still dazed. What tricks of light… she cannot be…. Cool grey light trailed after the ghostly form, as if pale little stars slowly gathered around her.

An orc some distance away had stopped, and paused in his horse eating when he realized something much more delicious was nearby. Manflesh– or more precisely, woman-flesh. The orc snarled and began to stalk over to the grey figure. The woman knelt, caressing the brow of a dying soldier. He stilled, breathing his last, and another star joined the constellation forming about her. She rose and moved to another fallen body, seemingly ignorant of the stalking orc. Wiping again at his eyes, a snarl curled the man’s lips as he caught sight of the orc. Ramming the helmet back onto his head, he snatched up his sword and charged at the fiend.

As Peldirion rose, the figure of the woman flickered out, disappearing. Flames and blood reddened, and time jerked back into full motion. The orc paused at the sight of the strange light-show happening with the slim figure in front of him. Before he could fully regain his senses, he was split straight onto Peldirion’s sword. It died with black blood gushing out of its chest. Nearly stumbling, Peldirion stared at the foul body hanging from his blade. How in the… What in the pit is going on?! Kicking it angrily away he looked around wildy in search of the vanished form. For a moment he saw it, a grey light in the corner of his vision. Whirling about as he hunted for the source of the light a hand grasped his elbow.

“Sir! Sir!” Halethon cried above the chaos, the fear on his face telling that he had seen his commander get tossed by the troll. “Are you all right?!”

Feeling life rush back into him as he fully regained his breath, Peldirion shook his head as the world ceased sounding so distant. “What? Yes. Yes, I’m all right!” He motioned to the wall with his sword. “I will gather the remaining men. See how the Swan Knights are faring up the-”

Suddenly, a blast of cold air and sheer dread blew through the Gate. No more orcs. No more trolls. Something worse. Through the archway rode the Lord of the Nazgûl, and those nearest the gate fled before him. Even on the opposite end of the great court did both men stumble away, whirling around to look to the terror beneath the gateway. But one approached the fallen man. The wizard that had ridden out with the Prince the day before now paced forward on his white steed to oppose the wraith.

As the two spoke and unbidden dread welled in his chest, the grey light flickered again, a few meters to Peldirions left. The man tore his eyes from the scene to look. Halethon saw nothing but the stand-off at the gate.

Lalaith, for surely it was her, knelt, bowed over a dying soldier, her hand raised as if against a great and terrible wind. The image of her even bent and flowed as a banner in a typhoon as she struggled. He did not understand, but a chill ran though his limbs as he saw her ghostly form in the midst of the bodies. She should not be here! Forcing his feet to move, Peldirion rushed towards her. The metal of his knee guards ground against the stone as he dropped to his knees beside her. Half blinded by blood, half by a wave of panic, he quickly brought his shield arm around her, guarding her from the sight of the Black Rider.

Her face blooming with recognition, she suddenly looked to the soldier she knelt over, opened her mouth to cry out….Then she was gone again. Peldirion gaped at the void between him and his shield. Forgetting the terrible conference across the court, frustration and rage began to shadow his features but stopped when he saw the soldier he knelt beside. It was a recruit from Imloth Melui. A man no older than Halethon that had driven Peldirion half mad before the Captain had allowed him to join his ranks. He was a good boy, a strong young man. He was dead. Peldirion’s shoulders sank, his head bowed, and a minute passed before he closed the lad’s eyes and rose once more to his feet.

Looking up, Peldirion saw the Black Rider lift his sword above his head, and flames ran down the blade. The wizard did not move. It was the strangest thing, in that moment, when the sound of a rooster heralded the dawn, and filled the dreadful silence with it’s crow. Peldirion could hear his heart beating in his ears. Horns.

Horns?

Out of the darkness beyond the walls sounded great horns. He knew that sound… It was Rohirrim!

“Lieutenant!” Peldirion boomed, regaining the mask of command as he stode back towards Halethon. “The Prince and his knights!” he called, reminding the man of his orders. Halethon, face alight from the sound of morning, quickly saluted and dashed for the stairs. Peldirion could feel the fire surge back to life in his veins. “There is a war to be won!”

 

(Thank you to Feygil, and Laerlin for plotting and RPing this with me! Taken from in game RP and edited for tense and exposition.)

To Have Known Better (part 1)

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I should have known better, Eruviel fumed. Pushing the crude grate up from where it sat over the dried-up tunnel Eruviel thanked the long-dead architects for the gracious space that avoided her the room to move through while in her armour. Hoisting herself up she signaled down to the hill-man hunter that waited hidden below before racing across the high stone courtyard that ringed the citadel.

She had recognized the foul presence of the man who had broken in to their — no, her home. Shrouded in darkness he had come; a reminder of her past, and that she could not escape retribution. Iluvatar bless him, Arathier had gone out to face the intruder in attempt to protect her. But he was no match for the student of Alagos. Eruviel knew the tortures that awaited him, and the monster within her cursed, swearing to raise the ancient fortress to the ground if he was dead. She should have sought him out and killed him years ago. She should have known better.

With as much speed as she could muster she sprinted towards a side door to slam into the two Angmarim Summoners guarding the entrance. Before they could react Eruviel threw open the door, their rent bodies still falling behind her. Rage boiled the blood in her veins as she ran down the hall, cutting down the few orc guards and servants that loitered at their posts. Some attacked her, but others merely gaped at the sight of her before they too were killed. Nothing had changed in the thirteen years since she had been held there. Well, aside from a few extra skeletons in the cages, and the darker chambers.

It was not till she had reached the lower flight of steps leading to the dungeons that Eruviel realized that the guards did not even notice her as she struck them down. He does have Alagos’s flair, I will give him that. Stopping in the middle of a landing she stood between four Angmarim soldiers, staring at their almost blank expressions for a moment before hurrying on. Though they themselves did not see her, it almost felt as if the master of the fortress watched her from behind their eyes.

Bursting into the first long, narrow hall of cells that began the dungeon labyrinth, Eruviel rushed from cage to cage in search until she skidded to a stop. “Arathier,” she whispered numbly, staring at the breathless body within the cell. Panic seizing her chest she tore at the lock and searched for a way in past the cold iron bars. No . . . Orome, NO, you cannot let them — Then the spell lifted, and for a brief moment relief washed over her as she saw the stranger who had been masked with Arathier’s likeness.

A faint, cruel laugh rippled through the dank air. Turning she walked with an unnerving calm back down the hall. Her anger turned to wrath, and her gleaming emerald eyes paled to an ice green. They had taken from her. Again. And she would have no more of it. Deep in the recesses of her mind she welcomed the inner beast. It filled her, fitting it’s steady hands into hers, and peered out of her eyes. The numbness in her legs dissipated as she strode up the stairs with all the confidence and grace of her ancestors, and without stopping she slit the throat of every orc and Angmarim she passed.

It seemed unnerving, how she remembered her way to the great hall. How many times had she been drug, beaten and bruised and fighting though these corridors? Her time here seemed like an eternity ago, but her victory over Alagos now seemed to be for naught. My brothers will find you, he had told her. You will never be free. She had been a fool to disregard the threat. She had taken care to avoid contact with any Angmarim for a time, and had thought she had gotten away with it. Not that she ever regretted slaying the wicked man, but she had been foolish in thinking she had outwitted the agents of the enemy. Worst of all she unwittingly risked the lives of those she cared for by simply caring. Anyatka, Abiorn, Eirikr, Laerlin, Daran….

Fitting her bow onto her back she stepped in through the open doors. A red fire burned in the fireplace, the banquet table was cleared, and only a single figured occupied the room. Dressed in the garb of the fallen men and a lesser iron crown upon his head he faced away from her, his shoulders shaking with a silent laugh as she drew her sword. “Where is he?”

“Right here,” the man said in a dark, even tone as he turned. Eruviel’s only initial outward sign of distress being her nuckles turning white as she gripped her sword hilts tighter, her mind screamed, thrashing within it’s cage. For the first time in years she wanted to fall over and retch.

All the color drained from her face as she stared at the pallid, black-eyed Arathier. No, she realized as she set her foot back to steady herself. There is something else. He is something else. “What have you done to him?”

Advancing a step towards her Arathier . . . or at least Arathier’s body . . .  motioned uncharacteristically to the open door. “Bring him in,” he called out, his voice twisted with something darker. A wicked tone she recognized from sometime . . . .

Eruviel stepped to the side to not expose her back as she turned her head to see two Angmarim soldiers drag in one of the hill-men who had accompanied her north from Aughaire. He was beaten, and some of his bones visibly broken, but he met Eruviel’s eyes and shook his head. It was not her fault, and he would not give the enemy the satisfaction.

What had been Arathier laughed as the hill-man was dropped. Strangely, the Angmarim retreated from of the room. “Such proud people,” he said with disdain, “yet so naive.” Crossing the space, he unsheathed a dagger that was not his own. “May this be the first of many.” With that Arathier slit the young man’s throat and let the body fall to the ground, blood soaking into the ancient rug.

She drew a deep breath, than another as anger burned through her. He is not himself. He is not Arathier. Do what you must. As the slain hunter’s body hit the stone floor she half-heartedly sprang forward to strike.

With inhuman speed, Arathier whirled around, grabbing her right arm as she came within inches of stabbing him. “Do not try anything, or you will share the same fate as your human,” he growled, towering over her as he squeezed her arm tighter. “I will destroy you.”

For a brief moment as she met his glare a hint of color crept back into his eyes, as if from somewhere Arathier was fighting to take back control of whatever held him. The moment did not last long, however, and Eruviel steeled herself as she felt the bone of her arm weaken beneath his grip. “Would not your master prefer to kill me himself?” she growled, forcing herself to not fight back. He is not Arathier!

Arathier opened his mouth to speak when suddenly his eyes darted to look behind Eruviel. Releasing her he dropped to his knees. “You have come.”

Eruviel could hear the scrape of metal as a sword was drawn from a sheath, and she could feel a presence behind her that she knew all too well. “What a delight that we finally get to meet face-to-face.”

Turning, her sword at the ready and blocking out the pain in her arm, Eruviel beheld the Black Numenorean that had broke into her home and stolen Arathier. “You are Alagos’s pupil,” she said matter-of-factly even as she felt his sorcery stab into her consciousness. Not this time, she thought, narrowing her eyes in defiance. She noted that the possessed Arathier had not risen from where he had knelt.

“I am Mornenion,” flowed his deep, venomous voice. “It is a pleasure to finally meet you.”

He is weak, Eruviel told herself as she readied to strike, fighting hard to keep him out of her thoughts. He does not hold half the power Alagos did.  But even then… “It took you long enough, mortal,” she mocked in a sweet tone. Chin raised proudly, she summoned all of her will to meet his gaze and banished the doubts that clawed at her subconscious.

Mornenion’s upper lip curled in a sneer. “If you defeat me, you both may live.”

“Somehow I do not think that will be enough,” she replied with a wry smirk. Taking a step to the left she quickly took stock of his weight, height and how he carried himself. I have to end this fast, she told herself. The longer we fight the more it will be to his advantage.

The Black Numenorean opened his mouth to respond when Eruviel dashed forward, her elven steel ringing loudly as it clashed against Mornenion’s dark iron blade. She did not back down as he countered each of her strikes, forcing herself to attack faster . . . Faster! One of her blows pushed him back far enough and, quicker than she thought possible, the tip of his sword cut across her breastplate even as she leaped back to avoid it.

Fighting on, her mind flickered to Nillariel for a moment, and she wished now that she had let her come. The elf maiden’s shield would have come in handy, as well as her experience in battle. Barely avoiding Mornenion’s slash, the blade grazing over her left arm guard, she drew her dagger across, slicing into his unarmoured side. The fool! Thinking back she remembered Atanamir asking if her mission north would be better accomplished with aid. Or something like that, she thought sullenly, not bothering to recall the details of how the man had worded it. It was too late now. Whatever he was, Atanamir would have been the most helpful.

She could feel the power building, a terrible pressure in the air around her. It pulled at the veigns in her head, an with each passing second a terrible pain gnawed at her chest as if some unseen hand was digging at her heart.

Eruviel turned too slowly and Mornenion, bellowing in rage from the injury, brought his sword crashing down on her left shoulder. The force dropped her to her knees and even as she resisted the blow cracked her pauldron enough to slip in between plates and cut into her shoulder. Crying out, the pain brought a sudden clarity. This was not just for her, nor Arathier, but for all her friends; all the lives that could potentially be harmed by this black-hearted man. Never again. Her icy gaze reflected the fire from the hearth, and she let out a sigh of an apology to Anya and Nilla, that she had broken her promise to not go it alone. One last time. In the blink of an eye she watched herself grab the Black Numenorean’s blade. She did not feel it slice open her fingers as she used it to pull the wicked man towards her. Letting out a shout brought on by pent up adrenaline and fury, Eruviel thrust her sword into Mornenion’s chest. Her blade pierced his heart and he dropped his weapon, screeching like a wounded animal. Running him though she ducked under a wildly thrown punch to bring her dagger up under his chin and into his skull.

He stared at her, his lips parted in a disbelieving gape that she had beaten him. She felt his sorcery fade, and did not release her hold on him till the last garbled breath escaped his lips. The building darkness retreated, drawing back into the lifeless corpse. The Black Numenorean could not curse her, nor revive for one last vengeful strike, and as his body dropped to the cold stone floor his pridefully coveted life was extinguished.

The screams did not stop. Eruviel had only moments to catch her breath before turning to see Arathier writhing on the floor. A shadow was upon him but Eruviel paid it no heed as she ran over to drop to her knees beside him. “I am here, Arathier,” she insisted with a soft voice, reaching out to him.

Arathier’s eyes looked cold, his faced twisted as he struggled against the spirit. “You lose! He is mine!” he spat.

Fighting off his flailing arms, her teeth grit in attempt to bear the pain from her wounds she finally took hold of his head, cupping his face with her hands. “You can fight him,” she whispered. Staring into his eyes she forced what little powers she possessed to subdue the spirit that had taken residence inside of Arathier. After using it so often on the return from Dale, the Elf had been in a haze of brokenness, and even now bits of it still lingered in her subconscious. She did not dare draw it into herself, and she could not cast it out. She did not know if anyone could, but she poured her will like streams of light into the man even as the wight within him screamed in protest. She lent all but the last bits of her strength to help him take back control, praying –no — begging Orome for it to work.

His voice weak, Arathier finally looked up at her with his own blue eyes. “Eru — Eruviel?” he managed to mutter in disbelief before passing out from exhaustion.

The second hill-man who had accompanied her ran into the room, his sword wet with blood. Looking about with a concerned frown he then nodded to Eruviel. “You survived, Lady Aranduin.”

“I did,” she said with a forced calm, pulling herself to her feet. “This is him. Take as much Angmarim garb off of him as is feasible. Could you manage to carry him?”

“Aye,” the man answered, giving her a long look and taking note of her injuries before seeing to Arathier.

Leaving him to his work, Eruviel walked with dragging steps over to Mornenion. Retrieving her weapons, she cleaned them off on his robes and stet them in their sheaths. Picking up his rather heavy sword she pulled the Black Numenorean’s black badge from around his neck with a sharp tug, then brought the dark weapon down, severing the man’s neck. To the Void with you. Give your Master my regards. She would leave nothing to chance.

Nodding to the hill-man as he hoisted Arathier onto his back Eruviel pulled the pendant from the black cord. Giving it a disgusted look she threw it across the room into the fire and walked out of the hall, a sulfuric green light dancing around her as the pendant burned. Following the hill-man out she tied the cord around the handle of her sword along with the one she had taken from Alagos. That makes two. By Orome, let that be the end of them.

 

 (All dialogue taken from  in-game RP and edited for tense and exposition.)