Cwendlwyn

Bittersweet: Quiet in a Library

DA Library 1

Godric dipped his head to the man. “My name is Godric, acting Commander of the Wayfarers’ Guild. We believe you may be in danger, and we have come to protect you.”

Eruviel glanced around as Godric began speaking with the portly scholar. Taking note of the walkway opposite of where the man sat, she motioned to Fey that she would make her way over there. Offering the man her most charming and reassuring smile, she turned to silently head down the hall.

A few girls, dressed in the robes of scholars, lingered on the opposite balcony near Eruviel. They peered curiously over to where Cabrion and the others stood.

Wary of onlookers, Eruviel inspected around the opposite corner before approaching the group of girls. “Good evening ladies,” she said with a pleasant tone and smile. “I am sorry if we are disturbing your studying.”

The girls all looked taken aback by Eruviel, but not too much. One shook her head, and smiled. “No, we’re done for the night.”

She could just make out Godric sighing and speaking with the scholar Cabrion. “I was not aware that only nobles were considered good enough targets for assassins.”

If she could hear him at this distance, others closer to the man could as well. Eruviel inclined her head to the small group. “Forgive my friends. It is nothing to be alarmed about, I assure you. They just do not know how to be quiet in a library. But please, do not let me keep you.”

The girl nodded to Eruviel. “Right. Thank you.” They all give her polite nods and smiles before trailing back down one of the halls.

Returning a smile, she turned to continue her watch, but kept an eye on the girls as they went.

Godric’s voice softly echoed out around the high pillars.  “An organization whose only interest is money. Someone paid them to kill you, and so they are going to attempt to do so. I am not going to let you die. You are coming with us whether you like it or not.”

She had never seen oliphants, but she was sure her company was just as loud as one. Walking back into sight of her friends, she made a low tsk. A few of them looked her way, and she signed for them to keep their voices down.

Then she heard it; the soft whisper of a bowstring being drawn. Taking her bow from her back, she dodge out of sight and nocked an arrow. Across on the far left near the grand staircase she could make out a hooded figure hidden behind a bench, aiming his bow at Cabrion. Without hesitating she loosed her arrow at the assassin.

A scream echoed through the hall as a young woman witnessed Eruviel’s arrow stick into the shoulder of the armed, hooded figure. The man stood quickly, and darted down the stairs. Sprinting after him, Eruviel rounded a corner, flew down the steps, and hopped a banister over to the next flight. 

Slowing to a stop by the woman who had screamed, Eruviel quickly looked her over for injury. “Madam, are you unhurt?”

The shaken woman nodded stiffly. “I… Yes,” she choked out. “I-I need to get my students out of here.”

Eruviel offered her an apologetic smile. “I am sorry to have frightened you. Please, get your students out and inform whoever is in charge here. The man who fled is very dangerous.” Giving the woman one last nod and a smile, she took off once more after the wounded man.

It was an easy path to follow. Turning down a long corridor, a gradually increasing blood trail led the way. Whoever the man was had quite a wound. Eruviel hurried down the hall, frowning at the the ground. Don’t be dead. Don’t be dead.

The trail led her to the end of the hall and up a few steps. Holding onto caution, she skipped up the steps and stopped as she caught sight of the man slumped down on the floor against a wall. A dark hood covered his features. Her arrow looked to have embedded deeply into the soft flesh just under his shoulder, and there was quite a lot of blood. From his raspy breaths, she could tell that he was still conscious. Kneeling down by the man, Eruviel pressed one hand by the wound in attempt to stop the bleeding. Her other hand searched him for weapons. “If you’d not been hiding so well, I could have shot you somewhere less important,” she muttered.

The man sputtered something that was half a cough and half a laugh. “It’s… about time… someone saw me.”

Having heard them follow after, Eirikr and Godric slowed to stand behind her. Godric looked to the man on the ground and Eirikr turned to survey the area around them. “Is he the only one you saw?” Godric asked.

Eruviel nodded to Godric, and reached her free hand under the man’s hood to press against his forehead. It hurt. It was always worse on this end, and while not as bad as the last couple times, the pain pouring into her shoulder from the man was, to be put mildly, unpleasant. Moisture filled the corners of her eyes, but Eruviel just inclined her head to the man. “Do you think you could be moved to get you to a healer?”

Godric knelt down by them and awaited the man’s response to Eruviel’s question.

As Eruviel reached beneath the hood, the familiar features of Húnir came into the light. His features seem to ease some with Eruviel’s touch, but he still looked incredibly worn. “How should I know…? I am no healer.”

Godric grumbled lowly. “He has a point.”

Cwendlwyn’s voice could be heard, calling softly from the hall. “Eirik!”

Eruviel nodded, but did not seem too pleased about all of the blood loss. But Cwen was here now. She could do something for him. “Who hired you to kill that man?”

Cwendlwyn quickly came into view of the scene. “Oh, Bema help me….” She waved her hands to clear the way. “Out of the way, out of the way,” she murmured as she stepped forward.

Húnir’s gaze turned towards Cwen and Meluion as they approached. “My owners… You already must have known.”

Godric stood back up and moved away as instructed. Eruviel shifted to the side so as to be out of Cwendlwyn’s way, but still kept her hand on Húnir’s forehead.

“Forget his head! Keep applying pressure to the wound,” ordered Cwen as she began digging through her pack.

Eruviel nodded, and quickly reached over with her already bloodied hand to press against the wound. Unsure, her other hand slowly drew away.

Húnir just grunted. His chin dipped to his chest as he tried to take deep, unsteady breaths.

Cwendlwyn’s normally severe brow softened just a smudge as she cut away the shirt to reveal the wound. “Don’t force it. I’ve fixed worse,” she said before setting to her work.

~ ~ ~ *** ~ ~ ~

Only another hour passed before Eruviel returned to the Colagar Estate with the rest of her guild. Húnir had been carried back by Eirikr and Feygil, and Cwendlwyn was sitting up to tend and keep watch over the unconscious man. Learning that no others were to be sent after Cabrion that night, the Elf slipped away to the confines of her quarters.

It was cool in the room, and a sea breeze wafted in the open windows. Washing the last of the dried blood from her hands, she traded her clothes for a thin summer robe, and sunk down to lean against a wall. She was used to taking the headaches, weariness and stress of her friends, but this was different. Not quite as bad as the lingering emotions that had plagued her after the previous year’s journey, nor the girl by the lake, or even Hallem’s legs, this pain seemed somehow more harsh. Not just because she was not also wounded, so her body did not fight off the pain that faded all too slowly, but because it had been caused by her in the first place.

Pulling the clip out to loosen her braid, she lay down to drink in the cold from the stone floors. It’s about time someone saw me. Some of it was probably the pain talking, but she felt guilty for having wounded him so. He needed a chance to break from the leash that bound him to Neldor and the organization that held him captive. And, unlike so many in this city, she hoped he would see that chance, and take it.

Letting out a sigh, Eruviel shifted on her side and closed her eyes. It would be gone in a few hours, and she would be right as rain. She would check on the others, and Húnir, then probably make her way to the library to see if any help could be offered in return for the mess that was made. Only a few more hours and a whole other day would begin.

((Minor editing has been done for tense and exposition.

A few things were lost between saving in-game chat logs, but I think I remembered it all correctly.

Thank you to Atanamir for GMing, and playing as Húnir and Cabrion!)

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Bittersweet: Grasp of Darkness

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After falling victim to the trap before the door to the tower, Eruviel woke in another building entirely. Her armor and weapons had been stripped from her, and her wrists chained. At the center of the room lay bodies of slaves, dead from a variety of causes and injuries. Around them, children toiled to clear the bodies away, tossing them into a great forge on the opposite wall. None paid much attention to Eruviel, but Ûrîzîr was there, wrists chained, too, and he glanced briefly to the Elf.

Frowning as she came to, a bit of misery mixed into her expression as she watched the children work. Where am I? Taking a minute to feel herself for all her weapons, her shoulders sunk a little at finding them all gone.

Turning her gaze to Ûrîzîr, her eyes quickly searched him for injury. “Are you all right, Uri?”

The child bled in several places, some of his injuries looking to be from a whip. For the most part, he, too, ignored Eruviel, answering with only a slight nod. He then made to dislodge a body from the pile with one of the other children.

Watching him with a sorrowful ache growing within her, Eruviel slowly rose to her feet. Taking her eyes from the boy, she looked around the room. “Where are we?” she wondered aloud to no one in particular.

Another boy, this one looking to be of Easterling descent, shrugged to Eruviel.

“The red haired man was looking for you,” Ûrîzîr mumbled to her as he struggled with the corpse.

Eruviel’s shoulders sank, and the motion reminded her of the few ribs cracked by the warg-woman. Taking in a deep breath, she stretched to one side till a faint pop sounded, and she let out the breath in relief. I have to get out and find him. “Is . . . is he all right?”

Ûrîzîr hesitated. He looked down, shifting the chains on his wrists so he could pull the body free. “He was. The orcs . . . came and hurt him.”

A pained look crossed over Eruviel’s face, and she turned away so the boy would not see. The orcs had better be gone by the time she found him, or they would wish they had been. Eirik . . . and the others. Where were they? Turning her gaze to her chains she shifted them around her wrists to see if she could manage to get them off. Just as quickly as she started, she stopped, for even the slightest movement of the sturdy chains cut into her wrists. How she hated chains.

Somewhere, on the other side of the bodies, another child screamed in fright, followed by the sound of a cracking whip.

Eruviel turned quickly, her eyes narrowed, and she moved around the pile of bodies to find the source of both sounds.

The children scattered in the opposite direction that she hurried. As she rounded the pile of bodies, she came across Taja on the other side, on his knees. The whip struck him soundly across the face, and he fell down on the pile of corpses.

Eyes wide, Eruviel lept forward to stand between Taja and the whip.

The Uruk that bore the whip gave Eruviel a scowl, and pointed her towards the bodies. “You have a job. Unless you want to end up like him,” he said, nodding to Taja who lay unmoving.

Eruviel leveled a dangerous glare at the Uruk. Strike me with that whip and I swear I will tear — “I will work, but you will not touch him, nor the children.”

The Uruk chuffed a laugh at her. “He’s already dead.”

Though the man’s blood still oozed from fresh wounds, his chest did not rise with a single breath. One of the children came over to start dragging him away.

Eruviel turned quickly to stop the child. “No, no, no dear. This one is not for the fire,” she said gently as she took hold of Taja. The child gave her an odd look, but he stepped away, allowing Eruviel to take the man. The Uruk looked on at the scene, saying nothing. His lips curled in dark amusement as he allowed her to take Taja’s body.

Milking the pain from her cracked ribs, Eruviel grimaced as she took Taja to the side. Sparing a glance back at the Uruk for any other weapons, but seeing only the whip, she carefully lay the man down. Tearing off the bottom hem of her shirt she bound his worst wound, and brushed her fingers across his forehead, sending in trickles of calm and alertness. “Stay with us, my friend,” she muttered.

Taja did not respond to her words, or even in response to being dragged. Without movement or breath, it was clear that he was dead, and the warmth of his body began to slowly fade.

From the other side, the Uruk laughed cruelly.

Panic gripped her. No! You just joined us! You’re needed here and home! Eruviel pressed one hand against his cooling forehead, and pounded her other fist against his chest over his heart once . . . twice . . . . “Dammit! The spirits aren’t that far, nor the Valar. Breathe!”

Nothing happened. Some of the children glanced to Eruviel, but none stopped their work, avoiding the overseer’s ire.

After a minute Eruviel ceased her efforts and, letting out a heavy breath of defeat, crossed Taja’s hands over his chest. Slowly rising to her feet she shifted to face the room once more when a young girl with messy blonde hair pulled another body out from beneath the others. The Elf froze as she caught sight of the pallid face and lifeless eyes. Feygil.

“What is this?”

No one answered her.

As she watched, more of the Wayfarers are dragged from the pile: Scield, Cwendlwyn, some of Langafel’s men. None moved, and none breathed. The racing of her hear pounded in her ears. Not again . . . By the Valar, I can’t loose them all again . . . . Then another thought struck her, and her panic turned to fury.

“This isn’t them . . . It cannot be . . . It is not!” Fists clenched, she pivoted to face the Uruk’s wicked grin. “Where are they?!” They were more stubborn than she. This was not them . . . This was not how the end for her company would come. She could not — no, she would not accept it.

“Where are who?” the Uruk asked, albeit mockingly. “Your men who thought they could steal away in here? They’re dead. All except the red-haired man, and you.”

Eruviel strode over to feel for Cwendlwyn’s pulse. “This can’t be . . . Why?” Looking around her, she did not care to hide her struggle with what she saw. Then her eyes darted around, looking for a way out. “Where is he?”

“In the dungeons, being taught a lesson. One I think you need, too.”

The Uruk drew back his whip, but then froze. Everything around Eruviel froze in place. The scene flickered, the room fading into where they fell to the trap. It lasted for only a moment before everything returned to as it was, and the Uruk swung a mighty blow of his whip at her.

Her eyes growing wide at the scene, and Eruviel knew. Bracing her feet she did not dodge the blow. Grab, pull, slide, jump, strangle . . . White-hot pain shot through her body as the whip connected. As she grabbed for it, however, it simply passed through her fingers, as if she were made of nothing but air.

Everything around her changed again. For the briefest moment, the sleeping bodies of all of her companions came into view around her. Eirikr’s arms, too, still held her.

Then it was gone once more.

Gritting her teeth against the pain that summoned unbidden tears, Eruviel staggered back a step. She had to snap out of it. She had to wake so she could try and pull him out of whatever nightmare he was held in. Ignoring the cold bite against her flesh, she tugged at the metal that bound her wrists, and slunk back to get behind the pile of bodies. The whip might not work now, but the chains would fit around the Uruk’s neck . . . .

The bodies flickered in Eruviel’s sight, her surroundings uncertain. As they took form again, her bow appeared on top of Cwen’s chest, waiting for her.

Thank you! I like this plan much better. Wiping moisture from her eyes, she hurried over to Cwendlwyn to take up her bow. Keeping an eye out for the Uruk, she looked around for an arrow. As if someone responded to her very thoughts, an arrow appeared just in front of her eyes, suspended in the air.

Whip at the ready, the Uruk followed her around the pile of bodies, having grown irritated. “Get back to work, slave.”

Snatching the arrow out of the air, Eruviel nocked it and drew, aiming for the Uruks head.

“I’m no one’s slave.” She fired.

The arrow found it’s target, and sunk right into the Uruk. He didn’t bleed, and he didn’t react. Everything around her went still when he was hit, however, then began to fade away. Her surroundings melded into a voided black, as did her consciousness.

After a Party: Yule Cheer

“Really, Miss, I just –”

“By the Valar, hold still!” Aryl insisted, taking a pin from her mouth to use on the sweatshirt she had fit on the first stranger through the door.

Crazy elf,” Ildric grumbled, holding his arms out as the dark-haired elf maiden circled around him, pinning the pieces of warm cloth together. “I just want my tunic mended! I’m not your dummy. ”

Arylieth scurried to fetch her shears from a cluttered tailoring bench, waving a hand at the man. “You’re a bit broad compared to the boy, but I’m sure he will fill it out soon enough.”

Ildric groaned in protest as she ushered him to a mirror and motioned for him to spin. Arms extended, the man stopped and stared at his reflection, or more specifically at the picture worked into the thread of the sweatshirt. “A bear? Really?”

“It’s a Yule gift!” Arylieth explained with an excited grin. “Now if you would please stop complaining I’ll mend your tunic for free once I’m done.”

_ _ _ _ _

“Best friend EVER!” Feira exclaimed, sliding down the railing of a flight of steps in a far wing of the manor. A letter fluttered in one hand as she used the other to catch herself from falling as she flew off then end into a lower hallway. Spinning a few steps she re-read Lalaith’s letter for the twentieth time. Someone had written her a letter! Her!

Carefully folding the letter back up and slipping it into her pocket, Feira snatched up a broom and dust pail. This might have been the best day she’d ever had. Well, beside the day she first visited Lalaith at the temple, the day the Wayfarers returned from defending the city, and the day she had off in town when a gentleman told her she looked lovely. But this might just out rank them all.

She had to finish her chores. She had to finish them quick!

‘If you are still inclined, I thought we might visit your friend’s cheese shop. The one with the delicious gouda! Might you be free?’

“Yes!” she laughed, skipping nearly too many steps in one leap. She had made sure to get visiting day off. A day in town with a friend? And gourmet cheese! Life just kept getting better.

_ _ _ _ _

You bloody fool. Eruviel didn’t bother closing the door to her dark house all the way as she dumped her Yule basket and Anric’s gift on the long, cushioned lounge chair. Yanking the green ribbon from her hair she drew the letter from her pocket and paced towards the hearth that still cradled half a dozen hot coals.

She stopped, the letter extended before her, and after a long moment drew herself away from the mostly cold fireplace. No, she couldn’t burn the letter; little Eboric’s hand print. Clenching the letter in her fist she turned and slammed her hand down on the map table. What had she expected? She had fretted over the letter since she’d received it, stressing over if she should actually give it to him or not. But it was too late for that.

Letting out an enraged shout she shoved the map table back, threw up her rug, and lifted the hatch to drop down the steps that led to the cellar. Grabbing up a fresh quiver of arrows she selected a short sword from the collection on her wall and hopped the steps back up to the common room. Shedding her dress, discarding it, her circlet and ribbon by the rejected letter on the map table she then disappeared into her room. A minute later she emerged, clad in her hunting garb, buckling on a bracer. Fitting on her sword belt she sifted through the stack of warrants on the corner of the map table and selected one out.

She was mad — no, she was furious. Never had she meant for the letter to remind him of Ninim, and yet the guilt for every little glance and thought towards him, each hope she felt suddenly became like salt on a wound. But it didn’t matter what she had meant. She had been thoughtless; selfish, and that was the worst crime of all. She should have known better, and the look of pain that had twisted his face hurt worse than the beating she’d taken in Angmar months earlier. Eruviel stopped, her hand resting on her toned abdomen for a moment before snatching up the quiver of arrows. She hadn’t told anyone, but she should have told Cwen . . . if anyone could help her with that it would be Cwen. She couldn’t tell Eirikr. Not now. And possibly not ever. Not after tonight.

Grabbing a pad of paper she sketched down a note and left, not bothering to add a log to the fireplace. She had a bad habit of taking off with no one knowing. Maybe the piece of paper was her compensating for how much of an idiot she felt like. But she couldn’t take off without leaving some sort of word for Cwen in the event the woman showed up. She’d find her bounty, and if it ended up being too easy maybe she’d go on a run. A long run. Tacking the note to the outside of her door she turned and disappeared into the dark as flakes of snow began to drift down from the night sky.

Cwen,

Went out on a job. Be back in a day. Make yourself at home.