The shield was dirty and it made Abiorn’s face look dirty. Dirty streaks crossed his features as he touched his cheek and then his chin. Was this his face? What happened in those ruins?
He looked down and turned over his hands. The bruises that ran across his palms from wrist to ring finger attested that yes, he was the one who had caught the club of the hulking tomb robber. His hands turned into burly claws and he was the one that ripped out the man’s throat with his teeth. His eyes in the mirrored surface of the shield were his eyes. Those were his shoulders, though, yes, in the time he spent since leaving Dale, they were broader. Stronger. Work around the cabin had made them so. His hair was a wild frame around his face; he rarely spent much time on it anyway.
He touched his lips and could still taste the robber’s blood on his tongue. No matter how many times he rinsed his mouth out, he could not remove the taste. But that did not bother him quite as much as the simple fact that he had liked it.
He had liked the raw power rippling through his muscles as he stood on his hind legs and easily overpowered the lumbering robber. He had liked watching the body fall as an enemy vanquished. He had liked the fear he saw in the eyes of the humans around him, friend and foe alike.
It felt strong. It felt powerful. It felt right.
The boy touched his lips again and ran his tongue over his front teeth as he bared them in a snarl.
Abiorn the Bear. Not the weak, crippled boy that he lived as all his life.
Yes, that felt right.
Every instinct in my body tells me to look at her as I used to before we left for the dark road to Dale. Even as we slept side by side beneath the changing moon, I only saw her as a companion of the woods. A companion in arms. A fellow marksman and tracker and a systir. Never did I see her as I do now each time I close my eyes. Each time I look at her and see her smiling up at me with sparkles in her hair. Each time I simply want to dive into her and lose myself.
How many times has my pain been removed by her touch?
How many times has she saved my life and I saved hers?
Yet, she is an Eldar. Men and Eldar cannot find happiness in such a union. Our fates lead us down different paths and despite how she is becoming my journey, I know I am just a detour in hers.
Anya’s lips curled into a smile as Morty’s hands roamed over her bare skin. She arched into the gentle weight of him as he hovered above her and she looked up into his warm brown eyes and kissed him.
“Only you,” he murmured into her ear as the moonlight bathed them in its gentle glow. “Only you, my Anya.”
Somewhere in the far corners of her pleasure-logged mind, a bell went off. A silver tinkling like the sound of the little bell she left on Morty’s mantle grew louder and louder until she could no longer hear the heavy breath of her lover. She could only hear the ringing of the bell.
Anya pushed against Morty’s chest and looked up into his face. Clear of scars. Soft brown eyes. Not Morty.
Her heart stopped to coil into a tight pain and then it raced ahead in panic and fear.
“Anya…” His voice was worried and still laden with desire as he leaned in to kiss her temple. Her forehead. His lips were warm and she felt his heart thudding against her breast.
She pushed harder against him and tried to sit up. He gripped her shoulders and tried to catch her eye.
“Anya, what is it, love?”
Every fiber in her body screamed for release from him in both senses of the word. She arched against him to push him away and when he did not move, she hit him. His rough grave-digger’s hands easily pinned her wrists to the mattress.
“No! Release me! Let me go!”
Then he laughed and it was cruel. His perfect face faded and she was left naked on a cold stone floor. Blue flames surrounded her in her nightmare and she saw Faethril on the other side.
We could make it so, you know. Mend his pain and make him yours.
“Never… I will never give in to you!”
You don’t want him all to yourself? Just you and he to make babies and eat supper together every night?
“That’s not us. That’s not Morty.”
But are you sure it isn’t you? We can make it so.
“It would not be right. I know it in my heart it would not be true to who he is or who I am!”
Oh, but little dear… who are you? What colour is your hair?
“I know who I am. I feel it in my gut, I am me! I will never be you!”
And I feel it in my soul that I will have you. Call it… a premonition. My instincts tell me that you will join me if it means having him. In time, you will see.