Milloth

The Sea: In Time

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Eruviel remembers . . .

“Rain? Milloth?” called little Artis as she burst out of a wall of lush ferns and onto the grey beach. They had to be close. They had to be! She’d heard them, and she wouldn’t stand to be left behind as they explored the shoreline without her.

“Rain?” she called again, scampering up an old, fallen tree, gripping at the sea-treated roots. “Millo — aah!” A chunk of rotted bark broke away as she stepped too close to the edge of the log, and the little Elven girl cried out as she fell. A foot of free-falling felt like forever, but instead of landing on the cold rocks and sand below, strong, warm arms caught her.

“Woah, there, little sister!” laughed Rainion as he spun her in a circle. “You should watch where you are stepping. I can’t always catch you.”

“I would have been all right,” chimed Artis even as she cast her arms around the Eldar’s neck for added security.

“You find her?” called a second voice from around the beached log.

“We are over here!” responded Rainion as he knelt down to set Artis on her feet. “You should be more careful, Artis. Ada would have my head if you were hurt.”

Artis leaned back, giving him an obstinate frown. “Then I won’t get hurt! You’d look funny without your head. Besides, nothing bad can happen if you and Mill are around.”

Rainion gave her a strange smile as if she’d said something amusing, and he tugged playfully at her braid as Milloth jogged around to join them.

“Hey, who was it that just accused me for being too soft on her?” the youthful Eldar declared as his grey eyes flicked over Artis for any sign of injury.

Rainion rose to his full height, and pushed his blonde hair back over his shoulder. “Soft? You spoil her!”

Milloth strode over, and mussed a hand through Artis’s hair. “Me? Who is the one who taught her the easiest ways to climb out of her window?”

“She would have done it anyways,” responded Rainion matter-of-factly. “Call it preemptive damage-control.”

Artis frowned up at Milloth as she ducked away from his hand. “You made my hair all frizzy. And I’m not spoiled.”

“No?”

“Nope!”

“How do you figure that?” asked Milloth as he stooped to allow her to clamber onto his back.

“It’s . . . not,” she offered, making a face as she scrambled to find a better excuse. “You just love me!”

Milloth hopped upright, bouncing Artis on his back. “I don’t know. I wonder how much our big brother loves you.”

Rainion lifted his head in a proud manner, his mouth quirking with a smirk. “Enough to keep you from falling on your head.”

“Enough to give me a piggyback next?!”

“If you can catch me, you — hey!”

Milloth leapt forward after Rain, chasing him out over the wet sand with little Artis clinging to his shoulders. “Get him, Milloth! Catch him!”

~~~***~~~

Cold waves rolled up the pale golden sand. She hadn’t bothered to keep track of how long she had been walking. Eruviel’s faint prints faded away with every step she took, and it was not until the warm, Gondorian spring sun reached well past noon that she turned around to venture south again.

A brisk ocean breeze combed through her long hair, and left salt kisses on her lips. The flowing in of the tide wrapped its arms around her like an old friend, and when it ebbed the waters were reluctant to let go, beckoning for her to follow.

You’re not far. The sea is not as wide as it seems.

Eruviel walked a little further, the sun’s rays warming her loose, happily tangled locks of hair. The distant cry of birds blended in with the thunderous crash of the surf. Occasionally a smoothed, shimmering fragment of pearly shell caught her eye and she stooped to collect it, depositing each little gem into a small purse that hung from a thin belt at her waist.

Rounding a bend in the shoreline the sand turned into small, smooth pebbles. The beach receded into the sea and, thanks to the low tide, the Elf navigated through the calm waters, skipping from the top of one submerged boulder to the next. A veil of cloud passed overhead, and Eruviel stopped, calf deep in the blue-green waters to look out over the expanse of glistening sea. Her thin, hiked-up skirts flapped in the air that flowed around her. Had she wings, a gush of wind would have carried her away up the towering sea cliffs.

You’re not far.

Far enough.

You don’t need to be.

I’m going back.

Come to us. You’re so close.

Not now. Not yet.

You could have stayed before.

I wasn’t ready. I’m still not.

Soon?

 . . . In time.

A Bitter Wind (part 1)

Eruviel remembers.

“Please, Master Istuion. We will not sta –”

“No,” the Eldar lord interrupted, the single, sharply spoken command echoing through the stone gatehouse. “I will not say it again. You may water your horses and rest for an hour. My sons brought you here, so they will escort you away. Them and a company of archers will see you and your men safely to the next bridge.”

The face of the tall Arthedain commander known as Jorrin hardened as he chose his words . “Will all due respect, my lord, that would be back tracking. Winter has come even earlier this year, and from reports from back home it will be even harsher than the last. We have reason to believe –”

“Sir, do you suggest that the soldiers I have will not be able to easily thwart whatever scourge the cold drives south?”

“I do not, my lord,” responded the human commander, meeting the elf’s gaze, “but my men and I only mean to pass through you lands.”

Tension flooded the space left by silence. “I will deal with whatever filth the Witch King has sent so far west. You will take your men back south. If you leave in an hour you can make the human outpost by nightfall,” spoke Istuion finally.

“Very well, Master Istuion,” Jorrin responded grimly.

Artis watched from where she sat perched in a gatehouse window as her father paced away, hands clasped behind his back and head high. A bitter wind floated over her, goosebumps pricking on her arms and sending a chill down her back. The older she got the less she understood why Istuion treated the humans with disdain. What made it worse was the silence and dismissal she got whenever she asked. She probably should have sought understanding, but Rainion had been sworn to say nothing, and Milloth knew as much as she did. Istuion’s refusal to speak of it only made her want less of that which he wished for her to pursue.

Swinging her bare feet over the ledge she jumped to drop the several yards to the ground below, landing with ease. Smoothing out her tunic and pulling her braid over her shoulder she rounded the corner to where the human commander still stood, frowning after the Eldar lord. “Mae govannen, heruamin,” she said as she offered the man a slight curtsey.

“Oh! I-I beg your pardon,” said Jorrin, startled out of his thoughts. A fond smile replaced the frown on his face as he bowed, the dozen or so men behind him following suit. “Well met, Lady Artis.”

Nodding with a kind smile to the others she motioned with a hand to the inner courtyard.  “Shall I show you to the well, sir?” she inquired in Westron, remembering that many humans did not speak her native tongue.

The commander arched a brow at her even as he gave her a faint, grateful nod. “That is not work for you, my lady. Your father will send a servant in a minute, I am sure.”

“Nonsense,” Artis said, a smile twitching at the corners of her mouth as she turned, expecting for them to follow. “It is the least I can do to show you and your men hospitality.”

The commander motioned to his men and stepped with her. “Thank you.”

Artis nodded as she led the way to the stables. “What is it that you and you men are –”

“Were.”

“Pardon me, were hunting?”

“The enemy,” Jorrin chuckled. Motioning for a younger Ranger to lead the others to the troughs the commander motioned to the side and led Artis to the vine covered wall that separated the main way into the estate from the stable courtyard. “But that is not important,” he said in a lower tone. “Your father will see these lands safe, but if I may, I suggest you do not leave for a few days.”

Artis arched a brow, clasping her hands in front of her as she studied the man. As much as she liked the humans they still at times confused her. “Why would I need to stay? I would not go out alone. Whatever dangers present themselves –”

“My lady,” said Jorrin more sternly, “I mean no disrespect, but for all your skills in the hunt you do not know battle, and I doubt that in your few hundred years you have even known fear.” Glancing back at his men he sighed and scrubbed a hand over his face.

“You worry about reporting back not having found what ever it is?” she asked, eyes narrowed.

Jorrin nodded. “The trouble in the east grows worse and we would like to keep it out of Lindon.”

Aris sighed and nodded. “Very well.” She then chuckled lightly. “I am sure that you just saved my father the trouble of convincing me.”

“I doubt he would thank me,” the man laughed. “Your brothers do say you have an unusually rebellious streak.”

“Just because I would rather be out hunting with them than learning to embroider and restore old paintings does not mean I am rebellious,” Artis retorted, pouting about as much as a proper elf could.

“For and elf, for an elf,” the commander added quickly, flashing a grin. “If you were a human I do not doubt you would be a prized child.”

“If I were a human, at my age I would no longer be a child,” she quipped with a smirk.

“You will always be a young one to us, my dear onórë” rang Milloth’s amused voice from behind her.

“Lord Milloth,” said Jorrin, bowing to the elf.

Having caught the glare Artis sent him, the elf lord walked up to stand with them. “I apologize for this, my friend,” said Milloth quietly to Jorrin as he rested a hand on Artis’s shoulder. “Both Rainion and I would have let you pass.”

The commander tucked his lips in, narrowing his eyes as he nodded. “That was Lord Istuions decision, so we will respect it. These are his lands. Even beyond the river, we are just guests in Lindon.”

Artis looked between them, wishing she fully understood the serious looks the two exchanged. She wanted to go with them. Why should she stay when they were only riding to the bridge to begin with? Turning her gaze up to Milloth she was prepared to speak when he looked down to her, a different shadow passing over the eldar’s face.

“Thank you for showing them in, Moriquendë. I will see to our guests from here. Father wishes to speak with you.”

Taking the Fort

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Eruviel remembers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just For Fun

A friend got me hooked on this site, and it has been too much fun! I definitely suggest checking it out.

http://www.dolldivine.com/hobbit-and-lotr-dress-up-game.php

The children of Istuion: Milloth, Eruviel, and Ranion.

The children of Istuion: Milloth, Eruviel, and Ranion.

From left to right: Daran (Ge'bar), Eruviel (business), Eruviel (casual), Adrovorn, and Cade.

From left to right: Daran (Ge’bar), Eruviel (business), Eruviel (casual), Adrovorn, and Cade.

I have another post for today, but just wanted to share the joy. Also, for the those who keep up with Eruviel and her back story, leave a comment and let me know what I should write next!

Rescued from Himbar.

Eruviel remembers.

Tightly bound rope bit into the flesh of her wrists as two Angmarim priests tied the other ends to the pillars she knelt between. A small trickle of red ran down her arms and it surprised her, for she didn’t think she hand any blood left to bleed.

How many weeks had it been since her capture? Or had it been months? She had cursed herself for being careless, but not for the lives that had been spared. A gathering party, deep in relatively safe territory had been ambushed and Eruviel had been struck down as she helped the last Trév Gállorg woman to safety. She had been drug away by the enemy’s horses and thrown into a small, cold cell below the crypts of Imlad Balchorth. After three days without food or water, and only beatings to fill the time between, she had been led out, and had nearly escaped before they brought her to the general of Himbar’s tower. Only the cursed man was not there.

A Black Numenorean man stood unnervingly calm by the throne-like seat at the head of the long banquet table. Her stomach had sunk as every orc and Angmarim left the room. He is going to break me, she thought hopelessly. She sat in the seat he pulled out for her, and drank the water he poured her, but as soon as he spoke it took all the will she could muster to guard her mind from the venomous words that spewed from his mouth. The echo of his sorcery still reverberated through her limbs. Two days and nights they talked, bickered, and finally fought. It was her own fault for physically retaliating, being exhausted to the brink of collapse. The Numenorean Alagos, had touched her, hoping for a reaction. He had gotten it, and Eruviel was sure his healers had had plenty of mending to do. She was able to fight him off for a time, but in the end she laid crumbled on the floor, beaten and bleeding.

Since then sleep had come in short spurts. She had been questioned, tortured, forced to fight, deprived of rest, and the night before she had been the decoration for a feast. A small occasion to congratulate Alagos for finally capturing the elf maiden who had been a thorn under his foot for so long. The thought of death tempted her as she hung in the cage above their cruel laughter.

Twice she had nearly escaped. First from Himbar, and they moved her to Carn Dum, then two agonizing weeks later from there. It haunted her, the darkness and cruel hands dragging her back from the hope of daylight. Eruviel had abandoned trying to keep her strength, putting all her effort to withstanding the sorcery that threatened to engulf her mind. Enraged that she still resisted him, Alagos had ordered her to be flogged, and so now she knelt, slumped over, waiting, the last remnants of her dress that had been returned to her hanging from her like a wights’ shroud. Dirt and blood and bruises served better in covering her and gave color to her skin that had lost all of it’s glow.

He will come, she told herself without a hint of doubt. It was the one hope that she still clung to. It did not matter when. Either he will make it, or every one of them will die by his hand. He will be my wrath.

“Worthless scum,” growled the deep voice of the Numenorean that made her insides twist with fear and rage. Alagos crouched before her, moved her hair out of her eyes and grinned wickedly at the hate-filled glare that she gave him. “Still holding out, hmm? You will cave, Eruviel. You will be torn and then turned to serve our great master. Or . . . maybe I should hand you over to my brothers?”

The starved remnants of her shivered at the thought. Then a slight, fresh wind blew across the ruined courtyard. She felt it glide over her and she knew it would not be long. Finding a lingering wisp of strength she righted herself and pulled tight the ropes that bound her, staring the cruel man in the eyes. “Not before I rip the black heart from your chest,” she growled. How she hated him. She imagined it; her bonds snapping and her hand tearing through his black silk robe and the flesh beneath it. What a terrible, wonderful thought it was to envision her cold hands being warmed as his life drained away. There would be nothing left of him for them to resurrect.

Smirking, Alagos rose gracefully to his feet and motioned to the waiting orcs. “Flog her, but not too much.  When you’re through take her to my chambers. It is about time she is finally broken. And after? I suppose we can hand her over to the men for the night.” A sharp pang of fear twisted in her gut as Alogos stooped and kissed her cheek. Then his brisk, confident footsteps echoed down a side corridor in time with his cruel laugh. Orome, anything but that. All this time she had been spared that, the one failed attempt ending in four broken, throatless orcs rotting in her cell for… two weeks? In retrospect, any one else would have done that at the start. But not Alogos. He liked pain and feeling his victims break beneath him as his final triumph.

A light glinted in the distance . . . how far, she did not know. Raising her chin in defiance, she kept the ropes pulled taunt as two orcs unraveled their long whips and brought their arms back to strike.

One, two. They paused, then three, four, the whips cracked through the air. A pained cry escaped from her lips before she could catch it. Seven, eight . . . . eleven, twelve, she counted, hot tears trickling down from her blood-shot emerald eyes as she clung to consciousness. Where are you?

As if hearing her desperate thoughts two bolts whistled through the air, cutting through her ropes and sticking into the plaster behind her. Her tormentors distracted, Eruviel took the split second advantage to reach back and wrench the iron arrows from the wall. Give me strength . . . just a little more strength. Lunging forward, she plunged them into the eyes of the two orcs and ran forward towards the tall figure that fought his way towards her. Daran!

Dodging an Angmarim who dove to tackle her, Eruviel used her falling weight to drive the man’s head into the stone floor. Rolling away from the body she scrambled forward, stumbling as she struggled to rise in spite of the pain that tore through her.

Killing the last priest, Daran dropped to his knees to catch Eruviel as she tripped over her own feet, her legs finally giving out. Red splatters covered his arms and his voice was filled with a mix of concern and relief. “I have you, dear friend,” he whispered as he set her down, pulled off his shirt and gently fit it over her head. “You’re safe now. I’ll take you home.” Scooping her up in his strong arms Daran set off in a run, leaping back over the broken wall the way he had come.

How ironic, she thought to herself. “A-Aughaire . . . is everyone safe?” she asked as she let him pull her close, clinging to his warm chest. She watched back over his shoulder, praying that she would not see the iron helm of Alagos appear over the rise.

“You have been in this wicked place for two months and you worry for us?” Daran inquired, his voice filled with amusement as he dodged through empty streets towards the lower gate. “The tribe is fine, though the hunters have been in a rage since you were taken. I have not seen them fight back the enemy with such zeal in a long time.”

“G-good,” she managed, weariness overcoming her. Everything hurt, and nothing hurt. Shock numbed  her limbs and she prayed that she would pass out before it wore off.

A commotion arose from the mountain behind them as Daran rounded the last ruined house on the outskirts of Himbar to take a hidden path south. “Sounds like we made it out just in time. I cannot deliver you to Milloth dead, now can I?”

Eruviel managed to raise her head to look up at him. “M-Milloth is back from Dale? When did he arrive?” She wanted to weep from relief. Between Daran and Milloth, she would be safe. Her brother could heal her, mend the fractured pieces of her mind and spirit, and set her to rights

“He was half a day’s ride south when I departed to find you. He has a band of men from Gondor with him, as well as a dwarf.” Daran ducked under an outcropping rock and pulled them into a shadowed corner in time to avoid being detected by warg riders. Tense minutes passed as the enemy ran by one way, then back from where they’d come.”I — I am glad that I did. If  . . . .” his voice caught and trailed off as he looked down at her. The gleam from overwhelming emotion that flooded his amber eyes caused her’s to widen.

“Daran, no-” The words were halted as he suddenly pressed his warm mouth against hers. She couldn’t stop him or even try to pull away. She had no strength to. Years of longing and months of rage-filled grief poured out of him through that kiss. He had told her once how he felt, but then kept it to himself. She loved him fiercely, but as a brother and a friend. He never complained, never protested, being a stern, hardened man, but she knew it tore at him. Bringing a frail, pallid hand up she cupped it gently over his cheek as she kissed him back, letting his lips discover hers. Since he had finally given in, and her being in no capacity to protest, she could at least give him this; only this.

Finally pulling away, Daran hung his head, unable to meet her eyes. “Forgive me,” he whispered, his voice weak. “I . . . .”

Looking up at him sadly, a hint of regret in her eyes she simply nodded, pursing her lips together. “I understand, Tithdaeron. We shall not speak of it. But let us be gone from here.”

A smile creeping up one side of his face, Daran peered out of their hiding place. Nodding that the way was clear he shifted her in his arms and set off on in a run.

Ge’bar and the Lady of Mercy

Small, filthy hands trembled as they grasped the knife. A hundred Angmarim surrounded him, watching. Pulse racing, he looked up at the dark, scarred face of his father.

“Do it, Ge’bar, you worthless boy,” growled the man. Garduun’s red-gloved hands rested on his sword belt, watching the lad with out pity, but with surprising patience. “He’s our enemy. We will not leave until you finish him.”

Ge’bar turned his pallid face back to look at the young Hill-men fighter who had been beaten for a good portion of the previous night. He wanted to ask the man’s name. He wanted to ask his father why he forced him to kill a prisoner every week. But the last time he had asked he had been beaten and physically forced to slit the prisoner’s throat. It had been a woman that time. Most times it had been men, which made the killing a little easier, though he didn’t know why. Ge’bar didn’t like that the killing had gotten easier, but as he met the blood-shot eyes of the man who couldn’t be more than twenty, Ge’bar plunged the dagger into the man’s chest, feeling numb as blood poured out over his hands. The sight and feel of the warm, sticky liquid made him feel sick.

Red — everything was blood red, a murky, poisonous green, or grey with death and decay. His father wore red, as did he, and nearly every other man in Fasach-falroid. Warg’s growled and gnashed their teeth a hundred yards away, the sound making his little nine year-old heart thrash within its cage. Orcs lumbered around in their midst, snarling their dark speech, anger and hate filling every essence of their being. Ge’bar’s greatest fear was that he would be turned into one one day. He could no longer look at his reflection, for lately he could hardly recognize his own face. Looking back up to search his fathers face he wondered if any of them were much different.

“Father,” he asked quietly, calculating his words with the utmost care, “where do the enemy come from? Why do they fight us?”

A cruel smile spread across Garduun’s face. “The enemy are everywhere, my boy. They think the land is theirs, but not for long. Our great lord will consume them and rule as he did in the days of old. When he returns north he will find that the Free-people who opposed him will be no more.” A cry rose from the surrounding Angmarim and orcs, spears and swords thrusting into the air. “Back to your camps, the lot of ya!” Garduun shouted in command. “We have Hill-men and Elves to kill tomorrow!” The soldiers shouted with excitement and turned to ready their own men for the battle.

Yes, they had been winning against the hill-people for as long as Ge’bar could remember, up until several months ago when two elves had arrived with a company of Rangers. He wondered what an elf was. He had seen a Ranger before, but never an elf. Garduun had told him that Elves were a race from across the great Western Sea that despised everyone. Behind their beautiful faces were demons of light, though Ge’bar never understood what was wrong with light, nor did his nine year-old mind grasp the concept of beauty. Elves let the trees grow tall and wasted the land that could have been torn up to build on. They thought they were better than everyone else, and above all, elves wanted the Witch-king dead.

Ge’bar could not help but shudder visibly as he cleaned off his knife. He did not know if he liked that idea or not. For almost a year Garduun brought his son with him into battle. If Ge’bar lived, then he was considered to possibly be worthy of serving the Witch-King. In the event of his death, though, he knew his father would not care, convinced that Ge’bar’s death meant the boy could have never amounted to anything. For months he had wanted to die. If life everywhere was like here, he did not want to live it. The few small things that brought him joy confused him more than encouraged him. He did not understand the emotion aside from the joy in his father’s face after killing.

“Do you think she will be there?” Ge’bar asked as he slid his blade back into its leather sheath, careful to darken his tone so as to hide his curiosity.

Garduun frowned down at the boy for a moment. “I hope so, son. We will be greatly rewarded if she is slain.”

“I — I should like to do it, father, if we can find her,” said Ge’bar. He turned his head down to hide his eyes, afraid that the two dry orbs would betray him.

Humphing, Garduun studied the child before nodding with approval, some faint hint of a smile crossing his twisted features. Ge’bar followed his father back into the circle of tents, leaving the dead man’s body behind for the wargs to devour. He got a double portion of food that night for the execution. Laying down on his pallet, Ge’bar fell asleep to the sound of growls and screeches, thinking that it might not be so bad to die at the hands of an elf.

~ ~ ~

Eruviel remembers.

The weather in south-west Angmar was the fairest Eruviel had ever seen in that land. Streaks of bright blue sky peeked through the tumultuous red clouds as a warm southern wind stirred up dust and ash from the valley floor. Fitting a new string onto her bow, the elf maiden strode down the hill to the northern gate of Aughaire where hundreds of armoured hill-men and Rangers gathered.

“Lle desiel, oselle?” Milloth’s voice floated into her ear as he stopped beside her as he counted the arrows in his quiver.

“I am always ready, dear brother,” Eruviel responded as she smirked up at him. She finished fastening a blade crafted by her brother to the tip and back curve of her bow. With his golden hair pulled taunt into a tail behind his head, one could see they were related by their merry, green eyes, and their bright, sincere smiles. When she had been a child she envied Milloth his Vanyar traits inherited from their mother, one of them being his golden hair. Now she teased him that he made himself a greater target. Relatively short for an Eldar, standing at five-foot-ten Eruviel delighted in her ability to vanish into shadows and meld into the crowd of hooded men.

The Noldor lord towered over Eruviel by more than a foot, and this morning he grinned at her like she were a child. “You look fair today, Eruraviel. You still retain all the grace of your youth,” Milloth said, chuckling affectionately. “I do not know how you manage it in a place like this. For some reason I am reminded of our first hunt,” he said as he brushed her rich brown braid off her shoulder.

Eruviel smiled at him and pulled the braid back to hang past her neck. “You forget, yaaraer, that I brought in the greater catch that day.” Lifting his arm up she cinched a loose buckle on his armour till it grew taunt. “Such sentiment is unlike you, brother. Unfortunately, today we do not hunt among the blossoming trees and evergreens of our home.”

“No,” he said grimly, his deep voice filling with concern. “Are you sure you should come today? You have earned a name for yourself amongst our friends a foes. The Angmarim, I am sure, will be searching for you.”

The Ranger Cade stopped by Eruviel’s other side, wordlessly nodding to her as their eyes met for a moment. He then handed her a small bundle of laced arrows. “Light and fire oil, brother,” she explained, catching Milloth’s curious look. Slipping the projectiles into a smaller, secondary quiver strapped to her back she moved in step with Milloth and the others as they began to march down the hill.

— — — — —

“Cover the left flank!” came the orders amidst the roar of battle.

Not wasting time to respond, Eruviel wrenched her blade out of an Angmarim High Priest and dashed north to answer the command. She moved freely amid the ranks, aiding where ever help was needed. The wind had picked up, swirling clouds of grey dust through the lines of warring soldiers. Her long, dark lashes protected her eyes from the dirt as she dodged thrown implements and shot down wargs in her path. The enemies of the Free-People had grown strong, but thanks to Milloth’s foresight their lines had held and a change in tact kept losses to a minimum. Arriving on the far left side of their lines, Eruviel loosed a volley of laced arrows into the enemy as they ran forward to meet the fierce blades of the hill-men.

As the last Angmarim fell she turned to rejoin Aloeer and Cade at the front when a strange cry carried across the field. The sound brought her heart into her throat. It came again, louder, clearer. “By the Valar,” she spat, cursing under her breath as she shot forward. If her features were not hardened enough from battle, her eyes now gleamed, blazing a cold fire from under her smokey green hood. All sound faded from her ears except for the frightening cry. Weaving across the battlefield she bounded atop the impaled body of an orc and leaped over the front lines. Ignoring the alarmed shouts from behind her, Eruviel sprinted up a slab of rock and vaulted high into the air.

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Drawing her bow in-motion she saw a small boy curled up on the ground at the base of the large stone. Loosing three arrows into the advancing enemy she dropped to the ground, putting herself between the injured child and the dozen Angmarim and orcs. Raising herself up to her full height, she threw off her hood and released her last two arrows, downing two of the dozen before they could react to attack her. Unsheathing her sword she wielded it in one hand, using the bladed end of her bow as an off-hand spear.

Letting out a terrifying cry of pent-up energy and rage, Eruviel spun into the first attackers, hacking down the ten with unnatural ease, and turned to greet more of the enemy. How dare they, she fumed. She ignored the child’s blood-red robes and the long black knife he clutched. The monsters!

Another wave of enemy drew within her reach. Eruviel forgot herself as she danced through the orcs and Angmarim that surrounded her. Slicing through their numbers she turned off her thoughts, not liking the dark analogies her mind made in the heat of battle. Black mud — not dust clung to the bottom of her boots as she whirled from one foe to the next. The only graces she allowed herself were to glance back to the boy, making sure he still lived.

A wicked, garbled voice cried out as the Angmarim leader of Fasach-falroid rushed her from behind. Thrusting her sword into the head of a warg she pivoted around, ripping one of her arrows from a fallen foe, and, whispering a blessing to ignite the light-oil, pierced the corrupt man in the heart. It was only then that Eruviel realized that there were no more foes attacking her. Hill-men and Rangers ran around her and the scattered mounds of her quarry. The Angmarim had finally been routed.

Turning back towards the boy she saw that he still laid on the ground one hand grasping his black blade, the other clutching his leg. The blade wavered as the child turned to point it at Milloth who approached from the side, Cade following close behind.

Eruviel intercepted her brother, putting a hand firmly on his chest to stop his progression. “No, Milloth. Leave him be,” she said quietly.

“He is an Angmarim, oselle. I cannot suffer you this.”

“You will suffer me this, brother,” she replied, her voice alarmingly fierce. Searching her face for a moment, Milloth nodded, relenting. Giving her shoulder a squeeze, he turned to rejoin the main force. Meeting Cade’s gaze that was all shock and admiration, the man gave her a small smile and a curt nod before turning to guard her back.

Eruviel’s eyes flickered over the landscape before they finally settled back on the boy. The child could not have been older than ten, though he looked half that age. Shaggy, dirty brown hair fell over his amber eyes. Eruviel noted that they were not dilated, nor were they blood-shot, though he stared at her openly with a fearful awe. Filthy and half starved, the boy looked to her like any other child would have if trapped in a nightmare. His knife was now aimed at her, though his arms shook more now than before.

“Please, kill me.” His trembling words sounded through parched lips.

Shocked, Eruviel looked down at the boy for a minute. His amber eyes seemed to drink in the sight of her, and Eruviel wondered if he had ever seen an Eldar before. Slowly lowering herself to kneel before him, she inclined her head so that he could see all of her face, the knife’s tip hardly a foot from her throat. “Why would I kill you, little one?”

The boy frowned, his still-wide eyes filling with tears. “I am a servant of the Witch King who rules these lands. This is all the world is . . . e-except for you. P-please, I don’t want to go where you have sent my father.” The child glanced past her to the fallen Angmarim Captain.

Eruviel let out a sharp breath. The moisture that had gathered in the corners of her eyes reflected light from the partially cleared sky. “Little one, I will not kill you,” she said softly, all of the usual warmth of her voice returned. Slowly extending out her arms, she gingerly closed her palms over the knife’s hilt, unnerved by how cold the boy’s hands were. He let her take the blade, and his arms fell limp at his sides.

“B-but, I will be fed to the wargs if I return,” he whimpered fearfully. His eyes stared up at her, tears pouring down his filthy face. “They call you the Lady of Mercy. I beg you. I-I think . . . maybe if I let you kill me . . . maybe your demo- your gods of light will listen to you.” He clawed at the rock behind him, pulling himself up in spite of what Eruviel suspected to be a broken leg. “You don’t think I deserve it?” the child managed as he sobbed, his eyes flashing with a familiar fury. “I can kill just as well as you, b-but I’ve killed your p-people, not m-mine. Lots of them!” The boy choked on his words as he struggled for breath, his angry attempt to clear his eyes of hot tears failing.

Eruviel slowly reached out her hands, tenderly unclasped the pin below his neck, and pulled the filthy red cloak off of him. Her lower lip trembled when he did not pull back from her. “What is your name, little one?”

“Ge’bar,” said the boy, his face twisted with confusion as he watched her clean the blood from her sword off on his cloak.

“Hmm,” she exhaled, sniffing to keep her own tears in check. Sheathing her sword she tossed the soiled cloth over her shoulder. “We shall have to find you a new name,” she said, smiling kindly at Ge’bar.

“I . . . I don’t –“

“I am responsible for you now. Do you understand this?” Eruviel asked seriously.

Ge’bar looked over to Cade who still stood guard several feet away. “Yes. I understand,” he said, the glimmer of hope in his eyes sucking the air from Eruviel’s lungs. He glanced at her sword almost hungrily.

Shaking her head she offered a hand to the child. “Can you walk?”

Bewildered, the boy looked down to his leg and shook his head, his lower lip quivering. “No.”

She stood and moved half of a step closer. “I know a good healer who can take care of that leg, if you will let me carry you.”

Ge’bar hesitated drawing back for a moment before nodding his consent. Careful not to cause undo pain to the boy, she lifted him in her arms, her left forearm bracing his broken limb well enough so that she could run. It took a minute for the boy to relax, as if he had not been carried since before the time of memory. Cade ran before them to ensure her safe passage, occasionally picking off a straggling enemy.

“After . . . after you heal my leg, then will you . . . ?” asked Ge’bar as he began to relax, drawing closer to her as she bore him across the barren field.

“No, little one. Not I, nor anyone in my company shall kill you.” Eruviel chuckled softly. A stream of tears blew back from the corners of her eyes as she ran. “I shall teach you the quality of mercy.”

What The Rangers Learned

Eruviel remembers.

Milloth owes me dearly, Eruviel thought grimly. She had been fighting in Angmar three months ago, until Milloth had sent her to join the troop of Rangers in his stead. She did not mind men, but half of those in the company were young and fairly inexperienced. Commander Aloeer, a friend of many years, had kindly received her, keeping a watchful eye out for her as she worked with the few Rangers who lacked skill with a bow as well as a certain level of maturity.

Leaning against a tree, her dark green hood having fallen half way off her head, she waited for the last of the men to finish bathing at the river. She had become painfully aware of the forty rangers that surrounded her, some letting her be, some ignoring her, and some studying her for whatever reason. It had been a hot summer and with the company making their way north the men poked fun at her for continuing to wear her heavier armour and cloak. A few of the older Rangers had met her before and they kept respectful relations, but a good number of the men had begun to throw names at her. They meant no harm, she was sure, in their ignorance of the Eldar as they discussed whether she had a body at all, or what she might be hiding from the world — as if their off-colored and derogatory references were supposed to get a reaction out of her. Unfortunately, her silence only seemed to encourage them.

“Artis,” said a man walking past her. She looked up to see Cade, Aloeer’s second in command whom she had fought beside before. He had more of the look of a Southron to him, and several times Eruvial had heard him quiet the others when their joking had gone too far. “You’re up,” her jerked his head towards the river. “Aloeer made sure no one would lurk.” He offered a kind, yet slightly amused smile. Nodding curtly, she stood, returned the smile and made her way into the woods.

The camp stood only a short distance from the river bank. Whatever enemy that might have been withing a league of the camp had been hunted down and killed. Thus they were granted the rare luxury of bathing in the clean, crystal river that flowed east from the elf havens in Lindon.

“There you are,” said an older Ranger, pushing of off the tree he had been leaning on to approach her.

“You need not wait for me, Aloeer. I do not need to bathe.” She glanced over her shoulder towards the camp.

The man shook his head, giving her his best fatherly look. “I will wait here watching the camp till you have finished.” He walked back the tree, taking a towel from a branch and tossed it to her.

Eruviel narrowed her eyes at him as she caught the rough cloth, a smile sneaking out one side of her mouth. “Thank you, Ada.” She hesitated for a moment before walking past the Ranger Commander into a small clearing, her eyes hungrily fixed on the shimmering river. Shedding her cloak, Eruviel unclasped her armour piece by piece, setting it aside. After a moment’s thought she hung her bow and quiver on the branch nearest the water and laid her belt with its daggers on the edge of the bank. Shifting her thin, white tunic around her she had just dipped one foot into the river when she heard Aloeer cough from his post.

“What are you doing, my friend?” The man asked looking back at her.

“Why are you looking, mellon?” Eruviel arched a brow at him.

The man narrowed his eyes to her as if to say, “Really?” Chuckling, Aloeer looked her over in the manner she had seen him and many others do to their own daughters. “It’s mid-summer, Eruviel. Take that blasted tunic off and enjoy yourself. We won’t have this luxury in a few weeks.”

Eruviel frowned at him then looked down at herself as he turned away and crossed his arms over his chest. Why did she feel embarrassed? She looked back to the camp, then again to the river. A grin spread across her face as she walked back to the river’s bank, the blanket of pine needles cushioning each step. Reaching up she began to unlace her tunic, her bright green eyes surveying the land around her. Confident that there were none elsewhere she timidly let the garment fall to the ground, the only covering over her thin, toned body being strips of cloth wrapped around her chest, and a white loincloth-like undergarment that fastened around her hips.

The river stretched wider at this spot, with round, smooth, multi-colored pebbles carpeting the riverbed. Summer water swirled around her feet, embracing her as she moved further in. Fifteen feet out the river finally rose to her waist, and a few steps further, the lazy current splashed up onto her face. Pushing off she dove under the surface, eyes open, light simmering through the crystal blue water. Evergreen forests blanketed the landscape, and she felt quite at home. She could see quite a ways both up and down stream, and Eruviel forgot her worries and stress, the dirt, sweat and sadness washing away.

It had not been long, possibly twenty minutes of swimming and bathing when Eruviel suddenly felt ill at ease. Finding her footing she stood, chest deep near the far bank, her eyes narrowed — searching. The world seemed too still.

Something flashed in the brush and before she could react a goblin lept out of the bushes at her, screeching at the top of its lungs. Falling atop of her she wrestled with the creature as they both plunged to the bottom of the river. Her hands held it’s wrists, it’s arms short enough that it’s gnashing teeth could not reach her. She dared not let go for a moment in attempt to snap the fiends neck, her eyes taking note of the goblin’s claws and the black dagger at its waist. Her lungs screaming for air, she kicked her feat along the river bottom in a desperate attempt to get to the other side.

Bursting out of the water the goblin commenced its screaming, still thrashing violently. She could see her belt and weapons on the river bank not ten feet from her. The creature wrenched one arm free, and as Eruviel swung it around and over her head towards the shore the goblin’s claws grazed her right shoulder. Not stopping, she sprung forward, sprinting through the water at the same time the goblin caught its footing and began to run back at her, it’s crude weapon drawn. Leaping out of the water, never stopping as she pulled her daggers free from their sheaths, the elf-maiden slashed out as she passed the goblin, skidding to a stop not five feet further. She rose upright to look back, flinging strands of wet hair out of her face. The goblin fell over dead, deep gashes in its neck and side.

Smirking, she shook her head, flicking the black blood from her blades. “Disgusting creature,” she muttered as she checked the scratches on her shoulder. Her pale skin flushed from adrenaline, gleamed in the sunlight. Chuckling softly, glad that her few coverings had survived, she shifted her feet to walk back to the river when she stopped in her tracks. Looking up she saw all forty men stopped at the edge of the small clearing, swords drawn and jaws slack.

How incredibly inconvenient, she thought as she surveyed the shocked, wide-eyed faces. Her mouth slowly turned up in a smile. She could do nothing now to cover herself so there would be no reason for her to scurry and hide like a child. Standing straighter with her arms down at her sides, she lifted her chin with an air of authority. “I presume, now, that all of your questions have been answered.” Her eyes openly assessed the Ranger’s faces. Aloeer leaned against his tree, his arms still crossed over his chest. His faced creased with an amused grin and a look of approval. Cade stood a step behind him, looking down as he sheathed his sword. She noted that he made a point to not look back up. ” I had hoped for privacy,” she said, her tone warm as most of the men suddenly realized that they were staring, looking away, their faces red with embarrassment.

Aloeer turned towards the men. “You heard the lady. Get back to camp and make yourselves useful! She obviously needs none of your lousy protecting.” The men bowed their heads to Eruviel as they turned to leave, the younger ones more awkward, two of them retrieving the dead goblin and carrying it away. The few older Rangers gave her smiles similar to Aloeer’s. She could not resist letting out a quiet chuckle at seeing a handful of them hand Cade their coin pouches.

The last to leave, aside from Aloeer, Cade tossed a fatter purse towards her things. “I never thought I’d ever collect on that bet,” he said with a smirk, finally looking back up at her. “I beg your pardon, Eruviel.”

Shaking her head with a smile as he walked away she glanced to Aloeer, giving him a knowing look. “I will be just a few more minutes.” His laugh echoed through the trees as he turned once more to face away. Throwing her daggers down to stick into the earth, she walked back into the river.

What Was Found in The Barrow-Downs (part 2)

(side note: the previous post’s tense did not seem to fit right, so I will be changing it. Enjoy!)

Eruviel remembers.

Her bones ached from the cold. Her soft, fair skin had faded into a pallid grey over the past days as she remained where she had first lain on the grassy, mist-ringed hill. Her ears had grown accustomed to the groans and wails of the barrow-wights, and on the rare occasion the screams of some creature meeting it’s untimely end.

Eruviel stared south into the mists, her once vibrant green eyes now faded and hollow. This must be what it is like to fade away, she thought. Even her mind seemed void of emotion. The battle with the wight played over and over in her head. And over again she saw herself thrust the knife into Rainion’s corpse. He is not your brother, she had told herself repeatedly, but it had not been long till her care to say it faded.

“I wonder if this is what it is like to die,” she whispered through parched lips.

A cry echoed from a distant barrow to the south, and Eruviel’s grip on the hilt of Rainion’s sword shifted ever so slightly. Though they passed by in the low places, not once had a wight or hound climbed her hill.

The rising sun crested the furthest barrow, shining a cheery bright yellow that in another time would have woken her with delight for a new day. But now, she wished it had risen red as it seemed often to do. Another cry of a wight rung out, closer this time. Her muscles did not tense. She simply laid there, waiting as she observed the land in the direction of the crys with a dispassionate gaze. The bark of a hound no further than fifty yards away ended abruptly, and an awareness crept back into Eruviel’s eyes. Who could possibly be here? More importantly, why did she suddenly care?

The fog below shifted, twisting as if it were somehow attempting to flee. A figure rose out of the mists, features shadowed by the brilliant light behind him. She knew without a doubt that the newcomer to be of her kin, for he was tall and his step unwavering. The sun gleamed off of his golden hair, and for one crazed moment she thought it to be the High Elf Glorfindel. The figure stopped, his etched leather boots inches from her body. She felt his eyes upon her but had not the strength to meet them.

“Oh, oselle,” flowed the sad, yet deep, musical voice of the elf. He moved to retrieve her discarded weapons, then stooped and lifted her in his strong arms, cradling her against his chest. Then they were moving. The elf lord lept from the small hill, sprinting through the Barrow-Downs at a pace few elves could match. He bounded over rocks, dodging all manner of foes, bearing her swiftly down a southern path into Bree-land where the sun finally warmed her skin. Looking up, only then did she see it was her brother Milloth.

He did not stop till they reached a campsite, a fire already burning in a pit. He laid her down on a pallet of bedding he had previously rolled out, and gently unwrapped her fingers from their grip around their older brother’s sword. She did not want to let go of the ancient weapon. Eruviel had not realized just how much it had numbed her mind, and how much of her desire to wield it came from the blade itself till Milloth had taken it away. He did not speak, his movements swift and graceful as he pulled off her damp overcoat and tucked a wool blanket around her. Finally seating himself next to her he untied her braid, letting out her hair so it could dry faster. Taking a wet cloth he moistened her mouth, dripping the warm water past her lips to slowly hydrate her.

She could feel heat beginning to return, slowly trickling through her veins. Milloth paused for a moment, his sea-blue eyes looking sadly down at her. “Sister, why were you in the Barrows? And how is it that you have Rainion’s blade?”

Eruviel looked up, searching his eyes as her own began to clear. “I saw him, Milloth,” the words caught in her throat. “The dark spirit had stolen his body and –” her voice cut out as tears welled in her eyes. Suddenly fear gripped her. Looking to Milloth his face change into Rainion’s. “No, a’mael toror. Please,” she whimpered, pulling away from Rainion’s face and Milloth’s hands.

The face suddenly changed again, the vision of her brother withering, his eyes growing dark with a hungering evil. A panicked scream rose up from deep within her and Eruviel scrambled to escape, even as the hands took hold of her, pinning her down as she thrashed in vain. Weeping, she screamed Rainion’s name, begging for forgiveness. A firm hand struck her, slapping her across the face. All the fight in her vanished as did the haunting vision, and she collapsed against Milloth’s strong chest, shaking and sobbing quietly.

The next two days Eruviel lay beneath the blankets, trembling as Milloth tended to her, giving her water and feeding her small portions regularly. On the third day her shaking stopped. Her mind had revived, her body having regained some of its former strength. She sat up to eat, devouring the food Milloth set before her, then sat quietly, staring into the fire, unable to look at her brother.

It was afternoon when he knelt beside her. “Can you stand, oselle?” he asked kindly. Eruviel nodded, taking the hand he offered her, but standing of her own accord. Straightening up she raised her head to look at him. His handsome face showed nothing but sternness, but his eyes glimmered a little with pride as she stood before him expectantly. “Good. Take up your bow,” he commanded, giving no explanation. She did as she was bid without question, shouldering her quiver and expertly stringing her bow in one smooth motion.

“I am ready,” she said simply. Where could he be taking her?

Turning, she matched his stride as he set out in a jog. Her heart skipped a beat as his path lead them back towards the Barrow-Downs. She moved with the elegance and grace that she always had, her face set in a calm yet determined look, but her eyes belied her body, filling with panic as the brother and sister rounded the corner into the Downs. Milloth took the lead, cutting down any enemy that thought to pursue them without slowing his stride. Further in they ran, one behind the other till they came to the hill he had found her on.

Milloth pulled a sword from his belt — Rainion’s sword — and stabbed it into the earth. “The blade, while powerful, is dangerous. We should not take it with us.” Eruviel nodded slightly in agreement as her eyes darted around their surroundings. Milloth, looking at the sword for a moment longer, moved to stand beside her, more regal than she ever remembered him as he counted the arrows in her quiver. Taking a handful out, that left her with five. The Elf muttered something under his breath, touching each of the arrows then finally the top of her head.

“Now, oselle,” he said, one strong, lean hand on her shoulder, the other pointing to a lesser wight fifty yards away. “Slay it.”

She turned to look up at him, not caring to disguise the fear that saturated her voice. “But toror, I– I do not think I can.” The terrifying vision of Rainion flashed in her mind. She shook her head in attempt to expel the wicked, grinning face.

“You will,” he said matter-of-factly. From the look her gave she had no other option.

Turning to face the wight he had pointed out she took a tentative step forward, then another. The horrifying face flashed in her mind, more dark and terrible the closer she stepped towards her foe. Raising her bow she aimed for the wight’s head. “Orome, steel me,” she muttered under her breath. She loosed her arrow and it struck the wight in the head, flinging the fiend back, though not killing it. Her arms shaking, she rushed at the being, thrusting her daggers into its neck. She let out a frightened cry as it screamed inches from her face. Then the body collapsed, her hands covered with the perished man’s dust. The vision of Rainion vanished. Her chest heaved as she worked to control her breathing.

“Well done,” Milloth said, still watching from the hill. “No, no oselle,” he said softly as she started back towards him. “You will slay four more. We will not leave until you do.”

Eruviel looked up at him, her face stern. She smiled a little at him, understanding what he meant to do. He was forcing her to face her fear, and he meant to drive it out of her. He even had the foresight to deprive her of ammunition in the event she go too far. Something inside of her clicked. It was a subtle change, but in spite of her uncertainty, she knew it could never be reversed. Giving him a curt nod she turned away, disappearing into the mist as she knocked another arrow. She no longer trembled, her eyes no longer showed fear, and the vision did not reappear as she glided more confidently towards her quarry.

Partings

lotr_Grey-Havens_by_paul_lasaine

Eruviel remembers…

She had been here before. The familiar, overwhelming calm rippled across her skin as the wind danced around the tall towers of the Grey Havens. She loved the smell of the sea that blew through the glistening harbor. She loved the way the sun beamed through the clouds onto the white sails of ships waiting patiently at the docks. Every time she had ridden down this road she wished she could sit in blissful silence, simply listening to the sound of the gulls, the billowing of the sails, and the sea air swirling around her. Looking past her kin riding before her she could see a ship exiting the harbor, cutting through the waves with ease and eagerness.

At the head of their procession rode her father, Istuion. He rode tall and stern, leading the march of family and friends down to the ships. He held his head proudly . . . yes, he was always proud. Istuion thought himself an example of their kin before them. Old and haughty, he had been indifferent towards the race of men since the fall of Numenor. He had remained in Lindon during the battles of the Last Alliance, and had spurned her, his youngest, for seeing hope in the world. Well, that and because she had become everything he didn’t want, thanks to her two elder brothers. She did not hate him for all his unkindness to her. He had seen dark things that would have driven any other elf over the sea ages ago.

But now her eldest brother was gone, perished at the battle of Fornost. And now her family sailed to the west to join him.

Beside Istuion rode her mother, Nostariel who, though as old as her husband, did not harbor ill towards any of Iluvitar’s children, and was a light wherever she went. Behind her trailed her now-widowed sister-in-law Talathiel — a plain, graceful elf maiden.  Following them came several dozen other Elves who had lived under her fathers protection since the death of Celebrimbor. Finally, taking up the rear behind the lindar, and clad in leather elven armour that looked a stark contrast to the flowing robes of the others, she rode with her brother Milloth beside her.

Others of their kin were waiting to take the horses as all but the two last riders dismounted and moved towards the boats. Istuion paused and turned to look at his last children. There was no sorrow nor warmth in his eyes as he met their gazes. After a minute the towering Elf turned and crossed the gangplank to take his final voyage.

“Artistuion,” their mother said softly, coming up beside her horse.

She turned to look down into her mother’s soft blue eyes. “Naneth,” her voice caught as she took her mother’s raised hand.

“Will you not come with us, child? You are certain that this is what you want?” Nostariel searched her daughter’s bright, forest-green eyes.

“Aye, naneth. I will remain here. We are needed.” She squeezed her mothers hand reassuringly. “Do not fear for me. Milloth will keep me on the right path.” Her eyes darted over to her brother who smiled softly, nodding his head in agreement.

Nostariel reached up, cupping Artistuion’s soft face in her hands. “Tinu, my sweet girl, my little lion. You need your amliesse before I depart.” Artistuion closed her eyes, imprinting the warmth of her mother’s hands into her memory. She willed her expression to remain as it was, yet her true emotions overflowed from her glistening emeyes as she opened them.

“Eruraviel,” her mother said softly, the name flowing richly off her lips. “Yes,” Nostariel says with a smile, pulling her daughters face down to kiss her forehead one last time. “My lioness. Eruraviel suits you, tinu.” The woman stepped around her daughter’s horse to embrace Milloth. “Take care of each other.”

And then she was gone. The boards were pulled back and the ships unfurled their wings to begin their passage into the west. Along with her brother, she raised her right hand in farewell to the vessels, watching in silence till the last one disappeared into the sunlight.

“Come, Eruraviel,” Milloth beckoned with a smile as he turned his black steed around to face the way they had came. “Eriador awaits us.”