night

Bittersweet: Cold Nights and Warm Thoughts

It was the second night that freezing rain had fallen on Durrow. Her thick cloak that blended into the darkness of the hill kept most of the moisture off. The bitter wind tugged impatiently at her hood, and chilled her delicate hands that held her bow, but Eruviel did not leave her post.

On full alert, her ears and eyes scoured the village before her and the hill behind her for any movement. Ansithe and Hawk slept soundly below. Branches creaked in the wind, a bucket left out by one of the village boys clattered off a distant porch, and Eolir paced in his stall in the stables, fully aware that she was up and armed. But all was well. She dearly hoped it would stay that way.

The sun would rise in an hour. As soon as the great orb fully breached the horizon she could go home. Through the darkness and the rain she could make out the thin stream of smoke that rose from her chimney. There would be a warm hearth, and warm food, and them…. They could make any place feel warm. He could.

Three more months. The estimate crept back into her mind as it was off to do, and she quickly banished it before it grew to dominate her thoughts and ruin her focus. The presence of the pup she couldn’t, and now wouldn’t, get rid of had reassured her that the missing that was sure to come would not be present for the wrong reasons. It was an easy, enjoyable coexistanc that made her want to go home every night. Warm company, warm food, and the occasional noticed warm glace caught in passing — No. Some other time, she firmly told herself. There were more important things that required her attention than the potential emptiness those thoughts encouraged.

Her delicate features hardening, Eruviel adjusted the Elven sword at her hip. She was careful not to touch the hilt. It was perfect for such a post. Just in case… Though cleansed thanks to Atanamir, it still hungered and kept watch with her. Maybe it was the proximity of the Barrow Downs, or simply the make of the steel, but she didn’t need to touch it to feel it’s pull. Why in Orome’s name Rainion had made it, she didn’t know, but she was a thousand years too late to ask.

A sea of bones. Raenarcam had not found her to report on any findings. She did not know exactly what it meant, but between necromancy and the Downs it was easy to speculate.

The gradual predawn light crept up over the hills. Tugging her wind-tossed hood back up Eruviel remained at her post watching and waiting. The constable’s lantern bobbed down a far lane. Light shone in a few windows as Durrow’s early risers began their mornings. Another quiet night. She hoped the following would be the same.

Between Friends

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“Hey… you in there somewhere?”

“Hmm?” Eruviel blinked out of her thoughts, and looked up. “Oh, yes. Forgive me. I am here. Are you ready to go?”

Ildric’s concerned look faded as he arched a brow at the Elf. He jutted a thumb at the spear on his back. “As ready as I’ll ever be. Why the blazes are we doing this at night?”

Eruviel smirked, and hopped down from the stone wall she sat upon. “Because I am busy during the day.”

The man snorted, and hooked his thumbs in his belt as he moved to walk with her. “Babysittin’. When I came by to drop off the note you were doing your Elf napping thing in the hammock with the tyke on your chest. So friggin’ cute, it was disgusting. Him all holdin’ your braid in his little fist and nuzzled up under your chin.”

“I am surprised that I didn’t hear you. You could have woken me,” she said, shooting the man an amused smirk.

“No ma’am! First of all, you were out like a light, and if I did then you’d make me hold the crying, pooping bundle of fat and giggles. All the warm feelings would give me a cold or somethin’.”

The Elf threw her head back as she let out a silvery laugh. “It would do you some good. He’s a cute little boy.”

Her laugh brought a smile to his scruffy face, and Ildric elbowed her. “Yer both cute.” He then quickly held up his hands in defense as the Elf gave him a teasing, suspicious smile. “Hey! Nothin’ wrong with sayin’ it. You’re beautiful, and all, but too Elfy and not angsty enough for me.” Ildric then snapped his fingers, and gave her a wink. “And not old enough.”

“Suck-up. I bet you cannot count your ancestors back to when I was half this old.”

“You know I can’t.”

Eruviel hesitated a step as some distant sound reached her pointed ears. She motioned through the trees to a small hill a short ways off. “Well, you should stop by the house again sometime. How much longer will you be in town for?”

Ildric pulled the spear from his back, and proceeded through the woods, though not nearly as quiet as his companion. “A week or two. Sending the first caravan south tomorrow after tonight’s hunt is seen to. Waiting for another merchant to get into town so I don’t buy up all the cloaks in Bree.”

“I doubt you could do that. It will be good to see more of you, though. You were quite busy, and our stay was short when we stopped by the camp.”

“Eh, you had good reason.” A wicked smirk turned up the man’s face, and he shot her a mischevious look. “Think I could now?”

Eruviel frowned. “Could wha — No! Blood and orcs, Ildric, the answer will ALWAYS be no!” she exclaimed, her face turning red in the dark.

“What?! It would be a great conversation starter. “Hey, there, Mister Teborneck –“”

“Tenorbekk.”

“Tenorbekk, same thing. “Hey, there, good evening. Darnedest thing, you see, me smackin’ your Elf’s –“”

Eruviel punched Ildric’s shoulder. “I am not his Elf, and there will be no smacking of any sort.”

Ildric laughed, and rubbed at his bruising shoulder. “Ouch! Hey, fine! Say what you like, but why does Trent get to be the only living guy who has? Can’t we just keep it between us as friends?”

“Keep in mind that Trent and I were on better terms before, and he was missing teeth and a finger when that whole fiasco got over. He was drunk and on the other side of the room! It wasn’t like I was offering anything.”

“That’s why he tried!” Ildric cackled happily as he fished the reaction out of her, and dodged to the left before she could punch him again. “Uh-huh, well I won’t ask again, or you’ll never feed me.”

Eruviel grinned as she pulled an arrow out of her quiver. “The invitation has been rescinded. No homemade biscuits for you.”

“Aww! C’mon! Those are the best! You’re a terrible Elf, Witch,” he huffed as he frowned at the incline before them. “We need a rule about no take-backsies when it comes to food. That little kid’s got the best of both worlds, and he has no idea.”

“You are scaring all the game away,” Eruviel chided, picking up the pace as they headed up the hill. “Keep up, old man.”

Bittersweet: A Little Light

Evening had come and gone, and darkness welled up in the low yard of the Tenorbekk property. The black pool of a moonless night swirled about her and, aside from her fair features that caught bits of starlight, she blended in seamlessly.

Several hours has passed since Eruviel had decided to set herself down upon the porch, and she had yet to move from where she leaned against the door. No one had come home. No Abiorn, no Anyatka, no Eirikr. The more the minutes ticked by, the more she worried. She knew she shouldn’t. If Abbi was gone too, then he was probably somewhere with Anya. That alone both reassured her and caused her to fret. As for Eirikr’s heading off to who knows where . . . . She never worried much before. He was strong, and more than capable, but the nagging tug of concern had grown little by little as the days passed till it ate at her. Huffing out a breath, she drew up one knee.

Twirling a dagger through the fingers of one hand, the Elf let her head fall back against the wooden door with a soft thud. “This must be what aging feels like,” she grumbled.

It was strange, having the house cold and empty behind her. Eruviel could almost feel the shadows leaning away from the cabin’s outer walls. Her keen eyes darting about, she searched the tree line for the thirtieth time and, with a thoughtful air, observed for the fifth time how the light of the closest street lamp did not quite reach the edge of the fence. Someone needed to clean that.

She had walked through town earlier in the afternoon. She had been out and about the hills north of Bree, and she’d eaten supper at the Cask. As her luck would have it she did not catch sight or sound of the younger Tenorbekks. How her fortunes turned out to be so poor she did not know, but she did not want to leave now out of the chance of missing them on her way to search.

Rising to her feet, it took her only a minute to get the door unlocked. Sally’s eyes flickered in the dark portal that led to Anya’s room. Observing the intruder for a moment, the cat turned and disappeared. Picking up the few things that lay strewn about, Eruviel put food out for the fickle animal, and after a moment’s hesitation, borrowed a blanket from Eirikr’s bed before slipping back outside.

The door once more locked, she shrouded herself in the blanket to ward off the night’s chill, and the impending dew that would come in only a few more hours. It smelled like him. And while it was just fabric wrapped around her shoulders, she felt warm and safe, and it somehow made the waiting more bearable. Sitting back down on the stoop, she turned her face up. Her eyes glinted in the little light offered by the pale gems that betrayed where the earth ended and the sky began.

They were all right, she assured herself. They were all right.