His scent is heavy. Both young and wise in such a Man’s body. He follows their trails to ensure they are safe.
I will do the same.
Mainy seasons have passed since I left the sanctuary of the forest. Perhaps my paws have forgotten the feel of the grass of the Shire. The sands of the Barandalf. How long has it been since my muscles have strained as I tore over open plains?
My pack is strong. I trust them to keep the vigil and watch over her as I have watched over her since I returned from the burning Brown Lands to find her still and beautiful. I can finally leave the forest without fear.
Her scent keeps me alive.
Her understanding keeps me strong.
Her forgiveness guides me.
She tells me in my slumber that the Mountain-lake Pack is troubled. Their members quarrel and stray. In the years since I was exiled, the descendants of Shadowclaw have only grown fatter and more frivolous. They see not what their actions do to the security of the pack. They did not listen. They would not help me. They forced my hand and I pay the price to this day.
And now, as Bregamir and Hara… Hara move north…
I will not help them but I’ll help Them.
His scent is heavy.
It keeps me strong.
She tells me they are strong through visions of trees and flowers. They reach the sky, tall and terrible to behold with the majesty of the days when the Old Forest took me from the western sea to the Anduin. Brilliant colours: crimson and greens and blues. Gold and orange. Then the vision shifts and I understand they seek great peril. A great winged-worm of silver. An iris such a deep burgundy it is black. The earth speaks deep secrets if only one is willing to listen.
He listens. They will hear.
Or they will die.
Silloth, when will I hear your shining laughter again?
They arrived in Oatbarton without incident. Anya’s wrists chafed beneath the cords that wrapped around her wrists, but she did not complain. For most of the ride, she simply listened to Abiorn ramble about tracking and hunting and Bregamir’s training. She hoped the boy understood that he would never be able to keep up with “normal” young men. She hoped his hopes wouldn’t be crushed.
The waggon turned and climbed a steep slope up to the farms. She listened to the others debate about what was good for her and what was not and tried not to respond with the emotions that rolled through her. She understood that they were acting in her best interest. Their best interest. She felt Faethril surge when Anric sat in the back of the waggon with her. But it didn’t make it any easier.
See how they leave you behind?
She tried not to jump as the voice echoed in her head.
“They didn’t leave me behind. People stayed with me.”
To watch over you. To bind you. Try to control you. They do not trust you; they fear you for no reason. Give them a reason to fear you. Take control by accepting the power only I can give you. Strike down those that try to wear you away to the small, suffering whelp you once were.
“Why? Why do you do this?”
Let me show you…
Blackness that faded into a midnight sky. No stars dotted the great expanse above. A swirling disorientation and Anya was standing before the Tower in the Lone-lands where she knew Faethril’s master, Delostor kept his study. Anya moved forward and reached to the worn handle. Her footsteps echoed off the stone walls. There. At his workstation with his back to the stairs, Master Delostor held the heirloom in his hand. He chanted over the small silver dragon as he held it in the smoke rising from his ritual bowl.
She stood at the top of the stair with her hands clasped in front of her. She could feel the power of the experiment.
“You are certain you wish to do this? Once done, it can not be undone.” Her master’s voice was silky and rich. It cooed like a lover even as the purple smoke curled around his head as if caressing him.
“Very well. You have it?”
She held out her hand. A few strands of hair. His hair, freshly pulled as he slumbered next to her. He would never miss the few she plucked from his scalp; in fact, he had only winced and rolled over. As she murmured the soothing spell over him, the Adûnaic flowing with her remarkable penchant for language, he stilled and sighed. It was for him. This would make him strong – both of them strong. He would survive.
Master Delostor’s eye gleamed as he took the hair and added it to the fire.
“For the last ingredient,” he said as the smoke swirled angrily as the hairs burned, “I need your arm. Please, Faethril. Step forward.”
Anya felt herself stepping forward and she held out her left arm to the sorcerer. She felt herself cringe slightly as the jagged dagger left its sheath, but she did not pull away.
A steady stream of crimson blood. A low hiss as a drop missed the open mouth of the dragon and fell into the flames. The smoke turned black and then a rich, warm burgundy. With a noise like a child slurping from a running stream, the dragon swallowed the smoke until it’s emerald eyes flashed like aquamarine. As they faded back to green, the remaining smoke cleared and Faethril’s master handed her the statue.
“This will protect him?”
Anya took the dragon from Master Delostor and though the metal was hot, it did not burn her. As she tilted the statue to the side, she thought she saw Aeron’s image flash in the adamant star mounted on its forehead. She ran her finger down the six set into its hide. The irony of the trophy from the King… his father’s pride. Her master had assured her the use of the Arthedain relic would not weaken the spell.
“Yes. He cannot be killed as long as this statue is whole. It will take the power of the Witch-king himself to destroy it. And your blood only strengthens the spell; you have bound your souls together until the end of time.” Delostor looked at Anya with his changeling eyes and she smiled even as she trembled.
“Thank you, my lord.” She curtsied deeply, sinking all the way to the cold stones of the tower’s floor…
You see, I will do anything. He is my strength and my succor. This world took him from me and for that it shall suffer.
Anya closed her eyes and shook her head. She heard the horses whinnying outside the waggon. She felt the heat of the fire on her face still as she leaned back against the canvas.
I will bring him back. We will have the life that was stolen from us once these Men with their petty quarrels have paid.
As she fought to ignore the sinister undercurrent, Anya whispered to her solitude, “Give me strength.”