Eirikr stood on the ledge of the rock wall surrounding Thorenhad. The surrounding woods stirred with the noises of the nocturnal: the howl of wolves, the flutter of bats, the song of the owl. All around him, he felt the quiet pulse of life.
He was in his element.
Thorenhad was little more than a ruin slowly losing itself to the growth of the forest. The Elves that kept vigil did not seem to mind the crumbling walls or the open sky. Eirikr looked up at the stars – he found the familiar constellations waiting for him. They were ready to lead him home.
Behind him, he heard the low murmur of conversation. Elves needed no sleep. They rested; he had witnessed Eruviel settle down in her trance that she called sleep. He had to admit to himself that it unsettled him at first, but as they traveled, her habits and mannerisms slowly became as natural as his own. The wilderness did that; it stripped away the pretenses of civilization and left people naked – figuratively at least.
As he stood at the edge of the wall, a breeze picked up and caught his cloak. It whipped about him and he suddenly missed his wife. Since receiving her letter, he had been solely focused on returning to Dale and pulling her out of the mess she was in because of him and his family. He had cursed his father and his need to win at all costs. He had plotted and schemed so far as to purchase the vial of poison resting in his coin purse. But he hardly stopped to contemplate why.
At the bottom of the wall, a noise drew his attention. The light from the stars easily illuminated the outline of a sleek animal: a wolf. Eirikr tensed and immediately reached for his bow. The wolf sniffed about in the roughage below for only a moment before it disappeared into the shadows. Frowning, Eirikr rolled his shoulder and looked back up at the stars. They twinkled against the inky black of the moonless sky. A quiet fell.
Eirikr thought of Ninim as he stood there in the night. He thought of her eyes and her touch. Try as he could, he could not remember her smile. It chilled him more than the thought of Sten near her. More than the idea of what he planned to do.
Reaching into his pouch, he withdrew the small vial he bought from Cwendlwyn. He tipped it and watched the dark liquid flow back and forth. As he looked up at the stars, he let it fall from his grasp to the earth below.
Turning from the ledge, he went over to his bedroll near the campfire. He laid down on his back and linked his hands behind his head like a pillow. His heart light for the first time in months, he smiled.
Far off in the wood, a wolf howled.
((OOC Note: Apparently, I have called Sten “Sven” in several posts. Eventually, I will correct that.))