Nothing

After the encounter with the Gauredain…

The Last Huntress of The Dreadward Tribunal

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Anyatka looked up at Esthyr. “You’re his flesh and blood. I see him in you. She shows me what it would be like . . . if he were younger . . . whole. If he loved only . . . me.” Her voice broke again and she lowered her head. By the Valar, she looked tired, and if there was not the threat of unleashing Faethril again, Eruviel would have relieved the woman’s weariness in a heartbeat.

“Well obviously that’s fake, then,” Esthyr snorted. “Morty was never young.”

Eruviel tucked strands of Anya’s hair behind the young woman’s ear. “And I’m sure if he was he would not be half as handsome without the scars.”

Anyatka nodded to both of them and managed a smile. “True.” Looking down at her hands a curious frown creased her face. “What is in my hand?”

“Something from someone called Atanamir,” said Esthyr.

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Overdone: Instincts

From High King's Crossing

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.

From High King's Crossing

~~~***~~~

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.

Not Morty.

“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.

Not Morty.

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?”

Not Morty.

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.

Not Morty.

“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.

TFF September 2014 Challenge: A Day in Durrow

The morning was blossoming pink over the treetops and the birds were singing high as Alder Leigh stretched beneath the warm quilt. He smiled as the first rays of sunlight warmed his face and threw back the covers. He had a meeting with the new resident after lunchtime. He didn’t know much about the lad or his family, but he knew there were more people in that little cabin than would be comfortable. If all went well, he’d have a new project commissioned by supper time.

As he dressed, Alder heard his children milling about in the other room and he hoped Caroline was preparing breakfast. The thought of fresh eggs and hashed potatoes made his stomach rumble lowly.

When he entered the kitchen, he found both Caroline and Dane sitting at the table waiting for him to eat. The potatoes weren’t hashed, but fried in little pancakes that he liked well enough. The children chatted about their plans for the day and he nodded and smiled and frowned when necessary. Dane commented on how quiet the village was with the Wayfarers and all their lot gone, and Caroline got a wistful expression on her face that make Alder shake his head and sigh.

Alder’s apprentice, Bran Bullrush, knocked on the open window and grinned at them from outside. As Dane greeted the young man, he waved and walked out of view only to reappear after a few moments, inside and taking a hearty helping of potato pancake for himself. The gathering ate merrily, enjoying the slow morning and each other’s company.

Once dishes had been cleared and washed, Alder bid farewell ’til the evening to Caroline and Dane as he and Bran headed down the well worn path toward Ruby Lake. The fisherman’s cabin – now the Tenorbekk Cabin – sat low between two high cliffs with its back yard running right into the water. The elder brother, who bought the property right out from Oendir Arrowheart, wanted another room added to accommodate his siblings.

It would be a big project and there hadn’t been a wall raising in a while. The challenge would be where to put it, but that’s what he loved about the project. No repairs. No restorations. Creation, something that would blend in with the landscape and the current structure. And then, building the furnishings, unless the moneyed Dalish lad had all they needed beneath that beat up tarp covering the equally beat up wagon in his yard.

The meeting was shorter than he expected. The young man was brisk but not rude. He simply knew exactly what he wanted and had a good idea of how the structure should be added on to begin with. He built his house in Esgaroth, he said. His own hands had carved the dragon into the headboard of his wife’s bridal bed.

He didn’t have the time with his brother and sister, he said, to do it again. But Alder heard something else in the man’s tone. He didn’t want to do it again.

Alder had heard he lost his wife, just as he had lost his so long ago.

Bran took measurements (that he covertly double-checked) and together they bid the young man farewell. The sun was still high and he and his apprentice returned home. On the way, they ran into Nancy Thistle on an afternoon walk with her son and Alder paused to smile and chat with the boy. Tipping his hat to Mrs. Thistle, he led Bran back to the shop.

Bran sharpened the chisels and saws while he sanded several miter cuts that had torn out. They joked and counted nails and then Caroline came home with a basket of fresh biscuits from the shop up at Ravenhold. Though she smiled, Alder could tell she missed Maludir and Maggie and Sage.

Dinner was hearty and the family sat out on the lawn counting stars as they came out. Dane nodded to his sister and his father and trotted off down the lane. The young man had plans and Alder knew better than to ask.

When the mosquitoes started to eat them alive, they turned in and called it a night. Alder hugged and kissed Caroline good night; he patted the girl’s hair as she turned to her room. In his own, he washed in the basin and ran a comb through his hair. He did some stretches to work out his back muscles before turning in.

As he settled down beneath the warm quilt, he peered out the window at the full moon above.

“Good night,” he whispered before rolling over. “Another good day. Sweet dreams.”

 

Smoldering Fire: Kindling

((Exposition added; all other taken from RP chat logs edited for conventions and tense))

The streets of Bree always seemed to dirty to Eirikr. Tonight, they stank of the late summer evening and the presence of a growing number of Bree’s paltry residents. Each passing day brought more foreigners to the city; while he felt the anonymity of being a part of an increasing minority population, he also felt each Barding meant an increased chance of discovery.

Perhaps it was silly being so paranoid. The chances his father would have recovered from the loss of Sten and so many of his guard so quickly seemed unlikely, but Eirikr never discounted the resourcefulness of the man. He knew that one day, a shadow of Kolrson Tenorbekk would find his way to Bree and there would be a knife at his back.

For now, he merely sought the refuge of a crowded room without his siblings on top of him. He loved them both dearly, but years of living with just Ninim spoiled him of the joys of living in close proximity to his brother and sister. Even back home in Dale, they each had their own sections of the estate and rarely had to encounter each other unless they willed it. Since selling the large family home he had bought in Bree for Ninim, the three siblings dwelt in the small fisherman’s cabin in Durrow-on-Dunwash. It was a good, sturdy home, but he had never imagined Anya would be claiming the single bedroom leaving Abiorn and he to share the small front room with the tables and cabinets.

At least the floors are laid and set, he thought to himself as he pulled open the heavy door to the Prancing Pony.ScreenShot00352

The wave of heat hit his face as he stepped inside. He frowned. It was crowded; moreso than he was comfortable with. The weeks lost in the Far Chetwood still clung to him and people packed into the front room of the Pony immediately caused him to tense. Without meeting anyone’s eye, he made his way to the bar and ordered a drink. Butterbur served him with his general jovial small talk and then set to other business leaving Eirikr to scan the room for a familiar face.

He saw her walk in.

With a man that was not her ‘husband’.

He grunted and let a short woman pass by before crossing the hearth to her.

“Eruviel.”

She was speaking of searching and swordsmanship and it all made his stomach leap and twist into knots. He had to remind himself that she could handle her own better than most Men he knew.

He waited patiently for her to finish speaking with the man and finally turn to greet him. After she explained it was her neighbor and exchanging pleasantries and noting she looked a bit strained, he offered to buy her a drink.

She nodded, smiling at him. “I don’t need one, but I am getting one,” she chuckled. “Just a moment.”

Eirikr nodded and remained awkwardly standing as she stepped to the bar to order herself a drink. He remembered the drink in his hand and took a long swig to steady his nerves. The din of the inn filled his head and he couldn’t think clearly. Why was it a good idea to come here again? he thought.

Eruviel talked briefly with Barliman and, trading her coin for a pint of cold cider, she walked back over, tapping her mug against Eirikr’s. “Care to find a seat?”

He looked down at the clinking mugs in surprise having been lost in his own thoughts. “Certainly.” He looked around before adding, “Perhaps in a far corner somewhere,” in a mumble.

Eruviel glanced around the room, nodding. “Perhaps the fire down the hall is unoccupied?”

He nodded, grateful. “Wouldn’t hurt to look,” he said without emotion, outwardly at least.

Eruviel arched a brow at him but shrugged slightly and began making her way towards the steps. She skipped faintly at seeing the vacant room. “Ah, good!” Eirikr danced around her to hold the chair for her to sit in and she arched her brow at him but nodded as she sat. “Thank you, Eirikr.”

Eirikr nodded back and settled in the chair across from her. He took another drink before saying. “I wanted to thank you. For helping us.”

Eruviel smiled at him over the rim of her mug. “I told you before, you do not need to thank me. I was more than happy to help. I need to come over soon to see it.”

He nodded. “It looks wonderful. Like the Dwarves themselves set the stone.” The corner of his mouth twitched.

Eruviel chuckled. “I do not think we did /that/ magnificent of a job laying tile, but I am sure it looks very good.”

Grinning, he asked, “So what have you been up to, Eruviel? Between laying tile and…whatever else it is you do?”

Eruviel licked a bit of cider from her lips, relaxing back into her chair. “I have been hunting mostly, taking smaller commissions, and telling tales to a little friend of mine who is keen on writing a book.”

His eyes fell her her pink tongue as she licked her lips. Looking up quickly, he raised a thick brow. “A book? About…you?”

The Elf scrunched up her face in a smile, shaking her head. “My tales are just to educate and inspire her. She is a younger elf who had never ventured far from Rivendell. Though, I think I tell her too many tales of adventures. She’s gone off to explore local ruins.”

Eirikr’s eyes traveled over her face and down to her boots before they returned to her eyes. “Does she know how to defend herself? I avoid ruins when I can… too many bandits trying to get rich as quickly as possible with the least amount of work as possible.”

She looked back over to him as his eyes reached her face again. “I tried to teach her how to use a bow, but her skills are elementary. She has a close friend who travels with her.”

Eirikr nodded slowly. “She know how to protect herself?” he asked, making casual assumptions about the pronoun.

Eruviel smiled, nodding. “She does.” Taking a sip of her cider, she inclined her head towards him. “But what of you? We have not gotten a chance to speak much. How are you doing, Eirikr?”

He looked down into his mug as he swirled the amber contents. “I’m doing. Not much else to be done,” he said rather cryptically.

Eruviel studied him for a moment. “Your tone makes me wonder if there is a condition to that,” she said with a sad smile. “What would it be if there /was/ something to be done?”

He was beginning to dislike how she could see through him. Only Ninim had ever been able to do that, and it made him feel open and exposed. Vulnerable. He pressed his lips together into a thin line. “I guess if I knew, I’d do it.”

Eruviel nodded slowly looking to the fire as she took a drink. “Well, when you find out, let me know.”

He chuckled without much mirth. “I will.” He mulled over his thoughts for a moment as he stared into the fire, his mug gripped between both hands as he leaned his elbows on his knees.

She frowned slightly as she watched him. “What is on your mind, Eirikr?” she asked quietly after a moment of hesitation. “I would have you laugh like you did the other day.”

Eirikr looked up at her, startled. His eyes flicked over her face before a small grin curled his lip. “It was good to laugh again.” He sat back in the chair and drummed his fingers on the arm. “I suppose you will just have to do something to make me laugh.”

Eruviel smirked, though not unkindly as she crossed her right leg over her knee. “That would entail me either making a fool of myself or making a delightedly oblivious comment, both which are common enough, but I would hate to make a bigger fool of myself and not be funny.”

He grinned and held out a hand. “Well, my systir, however shall I laugh?”

Eruviel leaned forward, her mouth twisted to one side as she looked to his hand. “I have not the slightest idea where to begin, gwador.” She then chuckled, reaching out to tap her fingers on his palm. “Has Abbi cursed much lately?”

Eirikr grunted a laugh. “Every day as much as he can get away with. Foolish boy thinks it makes him sound like an adult, I’m sure.”

She grinned, shaking her head. “He grew quite sullen after I had him insult me. I had hoped that would curb it, but my example or a proper retort was poor to begin with.”

He laughed fully. “Well, you tried. I think he’s trying to prove a point now, but Bard knows I don’t know what it is.”

Her face lit with a smile at his laugh, nodding before she narrowed her eyes in a playful glare. “Then I /should/ stop by. I will have to gather up my wits, wherever they’ve gone off to, and see if I can find out.”

Eirikr grinned. “Your wits are perfectly fine, Eru.”

She snickered, shaking her head. “They have dulled some as my blade has gotten sharper, I fear. But I think more time with you and Abbi will remedy that. That boy must keep you on your toes.”

Eirikr let out a frustrated noise of disgruntlement. “You have no idea. He’s mother’s wits and father’s tenacity. And, well, I’m not sure where he gets his sense of humour from. Have you seen the spiders that are found in the Chetwood? The little ones that glow?”

Eruviel nodded. “I have. It is rather lovely, though most wild things that glow are best admired from a distance.”

He nodded. “I agree. Abbi doesn’t understand that. He thinks they belong in Anyatka’s paint pots.” He smiled ruefully.

Eruviel sputtered mid-drink. “Oh please, please tell me she plans to paint soon.”

He pursed his lips. “She’s found some of them. Made me kill them all. I didn’t realize she had such issues with spiders. They’re nothing here compared to…” he shivered slightly as he recalled Mirkwood. “But he keeps catching them. Just you wait, she’ll find some when you’re around.”

Eruviel nodded, a gleam in her eyes as she smiled. “I look forward to it.” She stopped suddenly and quirked a brow. “They are not poisonous, are they?”

Eirikr shook his head. “Not that I’ve noticed. Though, they are small. Perhaps too small yet to bite.”

She nodded, quickly concealing a mischievous smile. “Let us hope we do not find out if they are.”

Eirikr nodded, smiling. “I agree.” He regarded her fondly for a moment and then cleared his throat. Taking another drink, he turned his gaze back to the fire.

Eruviel sipped her cider thoughtfully, arching a brow at him as he cleared his throat. “You are not becoming ill, are you?”

Eirikr shook his head. “No, I do not think so. Just…thirsty.” How lame.

Eruviel nodded. “Good. That was the third time you’ve cleared your throat tonight. Don’t worry me like that,” she smirked, reaching out to kick his foot. “Men are hopeless when they get sick, and before you know it Abbi and Anya will be ill as well and I’ll have to tend all three of you.”

He arched a brow. “You wouldn’t need to take care of all of us. I’m sure I’d recover before any illness set into them.”

Eruviel continued to smirk. “Of course you would. Though, if they do ever fall ill, I call taking care of Abbi.”

It was Eirikr’s turn to smirk. “He’s funny when he’s feeling well, but when he catches the slightest cold, he milks it for all it’s worth. It’s quite miserable being around him actually.”

She chuckled. “What is Anya like when she falls ill?”

Eirikr thought about it for a moment before answering. “She’s much better than Abiorn. She tries to keep it to herself as much as possible, but will certainly try to find comfort in your pity if she’s able.” He swirled the ale at the bottom of his mug. “Or at least she was like that. When we were littler.”

Eruviel nodded, smiling softly as she looked to the fire. “I can see her being like that still. Since it would be unfair of me, I will not retract my earlier claim to care for Abbi if he falls ill,” she said with a playful wink. Lifting her mug and finding it empty she set it down on the floor beside her chair.

Eirikr followed her action with his steady gaze. “Do you need another?” he asked rather quickly.

She caught his look and smiled slightly, shaking her head as she stretched out her arms in a rather cat-like motion. “I do not, but you can cover my drink the next time. I am too full and warm to enjoy another as I should,” she chuckled, leaning against one arm of her chair.

He nodded. “As you wish. Do you wish for me to walk you home?”

She rolled her shoulders as she sat forward in her chair. “If you have no other business in town and would like to. I would be glad for the company.”

He nodded again. “I just came to get away from…” he blushed beneath his tan, “…well, it gets crowded in our little cabin.”

She nodded in understanding. “I would think so. We should see about expanding it so you and Abbi can have your own rooms without stealing Anya’s.”

Eirikr smiled as he set his mug down and stood. He offered her his hand. “Shall we, then, my lady?”

Eruviel laughed merrily and, taking his hand, rose to her feet in one smooth, graceful motion. “Why yes, let’s, my good sir.”

Eirikr returned her laugh with a smile. He tucked her hand into the crook of his arm and led her toward the back exit to escort her home.

Welcome Home

The light was on.

A lantern hung in the window of the little cabin on Ruby Lake and laughter could be heard all the way out by the lane. The man paused at the gate with his bow slung over his shoulder. His hair and beard made him appear wild; bits of the far Chetwood clung to him everywhere and he pulled his fingers through his the tangled net on his head. His eyes were weary and wary as he looked upon the small dwelling. ScreenShot00347There was guilt in the way he drug his feet as he approached the door. He raised a fist to knock and then remembered who the house belonged to. He carved a smile into the weathered bark that was his skin and took a deep breath. The latch lifted easily and he pushed the door open.

Inside, a woman and a teenage boy sat facing the fire burning low on the hearth. Smoking nuts sat in a pile between them and as he watched, the boy took one and tossed it into the fire. It popped loudly and the woman batted at his arm.

“Abbi, stop! I want to eat those!” she exclaimed with a laugh.

The boy laughed and tossed a handful into the flames. “They’ll be extra crunchy for you.”

The woman threw a handful the boy. He ducked, laughing, and leaped up and away from her. As he grinned, he spotted the man in the doorway and his eyes lit up.

“Eirikr!”

The boy called Abbi limped over to the man and hugged him. “Brother, it is good to see you!”

The elder brother looked down at his younger and his creaking smile splintered. The boy glistened with sweat and a rash covered the skin exposed by his loosened tunic. Eirikr placed a hand on his forehead before he could protest.

“Abbi, you have a fever. You should be resting.”

The boy smiled. “No, no. I’m fine, brother. Just happy to see you. You look like hell.”

The woman stood and turned to face the reunion. She scolded Abbi gently, “Watch your words, Abiorn.” Eirikr stared at his sister in disbelief. Every time he saw her, it seemed like there was something new. Tonight, the quiet joy he had felt from her was only slightly dampered by his sudden appearance. He hadn’t been sure what to expect. Tears and anger? Embraces and jubilation? He had years of experience dealing with both from her. He did not know how to take a cool and responsible Anya. He looked at his brother for a lead.

Abiorn waved off the gentle reprimand and shuffled to the hearth. “Let me make some tea, Eirik.” He looped his hand beneath the handle of the tea kettle and set it on the rack to heat.

“Thank you,” the man said from just inside the door.

The cabin never felt so small. Anya simply stood, staring, while Abiorn placed three cups on the table with hands swollen at the knuckles. He fumbled and the noise from the clay cup hitting a saucer split the silence otherwise punctuated only by the popping of the fire.

“Didn’t chip,” Abiorn assured himself as he tried to measure out tea leaves.

“Here, Abbi.” Their sister walked over to take the jar of leaves and the spoon. She placed the leaves in the teapot and then replaced it on the shelf. Each movement seemed deliberate. Measured. Eirikr’s chest tightened the more he watched his sister treat him with such wariness. He couldn’t blame her. He had lost track of the days while he traveled the Chetwood and the northern mountain range surrounding Nen Harn. He ate what he shot or fished from the waters. If his bow or hook found nothing, he chewed pine bark or found what he could in the way of greens and mushrooms. He didn’t mind roughing it and he had done it many times before.

The look his sister gave him now, however, made him pause. It was if she thought he might spring at them at any moment. As if he was a stranger.

“I’m sorry it was such a long time,” he said to break the silence between them. “I…lost my way near Trestlebridge. Orcs nearly surround the place. I had to circle around to avoid…”

Anya nodded without looking at him. He felt his stomach drop and he took an involuntary step backwards. His hand reached for the door.

“We were just eating these nuts Anya got from the market,” Abbi interjected. “They’re from down south. Come on, Eirik. Sit down and try some.” He hurried over to the stack and picked up a fistful and shoved them in his mouth. “They’re good!”

Eirikr nodded and moved to sit where Abbi indicated. He watched his sister’s rigid back as she fetched the kettle and made the tea. Her grey eyes shone as he caught a glimpse when she brought him a cup, but she turned away before he could ascertain why.

When the pile of nuts was depleted and the flames of the fire replaced by the soft glow of smoldering embers, Anya excused herself for bed. She hugged Abiorn tightly and then gave Eirikr a little pat on the shoulder. She passed into the sole bedroom and as the brothers watched her form disappear behind the door, Eirikr let out a heavy sigh.

“You were gone a long time, Eirik. Near three weeks, I’d reckon. Hell, she probably didn’t think you were ever coming back.”

“Abbi, your language. You’re still a gentleman.”

“Like you, brother?” Abiorn leaned back in his chair and propped his feet up on one Anya had abandoned. “Sorry. Didn’t mean it like that. But I’d like to think I left all that rubbish behind in Dale.”

Eirikr didn’t answer right away. His thoughts drifted north to the woods and the banks of the lake. When Eruviel found him there, he was more wounded beast than man. His pain made him deaf to her concern and imploring. He had hurt her. And he had hurt Abiorn and Anyatka. He did not look at his brother, but he knew the young lad’s eyes were on him. They always were on him, even when he wasn’t here to be seen.

In the quiet that fell between them, he thought he heard a distant howl. “We left a lot of things, Abbi. But we shouldn’t forget who we are.” He rubbed the thick beard covering his chin. “I need a trim.”

His brother grinned and nodded. “Aye. You do, or you’ll scare the neighbors. They’re pretty decent folk, far as I can tell.”

“Think they’d appreciate if we got that tile out of the yard?”

“Yeah, I think so. Eruviel came by the other day and offered to help. We didn’t know when you’d be coming home.”

Eruviel. He owed her so much. He owed all of them for disappearing for so long. He looked over to his brother and together their heads turned to the closed bedroom door.

“She’ll come ‘round, Eirik. She’s been lots better recently and seein’ you back’s probably just a shock, you know?”

He nodded and offered him a meek smile. The muscles around his mouth protested and his cheeks felt unusually hot. Abiorn grinned in return and punched him in the shoulder.

“Just don’t go runnin’ off for so long again, okay? Then she won’t act like she’s seen a ghost or something next time you come back.”

The smile eased and he managed a quiet laugh.

“All right, Abbi. I won’t.”

Interlude: Eirikr’s playlist, updated

Life should be a musical. Or at least that is what I say. Music is that universal language that allows people to express themselves in a way that transcends the things that separate us. Or something else equally cliche and profound.

Eirikr was never really meant to become such a rounded character. I have Eruviel to thank for his development; the Dale plot was initially meant to be a side story for me to blog while focusing on other things in-game. Luckily, it grew, as RP often is wont to do.

As a character, his soundtrack has always existed. Songs like Ludo’s Anything for You easily found their way onto his playlist to define his love for his wife. Since Dale finished, however, Eirikr has changed. Grown some and died some. The following songs are added to the playlist of his life. Enjoy.

The Price of Freedom by Takeharu Ishimoto (cover by “ViolnTay”lor Davis and ArnoMusicTV)

I love Taylor Davis, and this cover is one of my favorite renditions of The Price of Freedom. I will admit, the first time I ever played Crisis Core, I couldn’t even play the end because I was crying so hard. And the next time. And the time after that. Final Fantasy VII introduced me to RPGs, Japan, and video games. As much as some people have problems with it ‘as a game,’ I will always love it for the story (as messed up as some people might think it is).

Cloud carried a burden. The sacrifice of another for his own freedom, the need to prove himself from childhood, and the loss he felt when he couldn’t save Aerith. So much fail.

As I was writing Eirikr, I did not even realize how much Cloud was influencing him, especially Advent Children Cloud. “I’m not fit to help anyone – not my family, not my friends. Nobody.”  Eirikr presently suffers from these feelings of guilt and loss and they weigh upon him greatly. The introduction of the wolf probably came directly from the lone wolf of AC – I just didn’t realize it at the time. It first manifested when Eirikr was in Thorenhad debating on how to deal with his father – and thus which path to take: light or dark. And it showed itself again after he returned to Bree without his wife who died in childbirth.

The haunting violin, the strong electric guitar chords. The price of his freedom and the freedom of his siblings. You’re gonna carry that weight…

Zero’s Theme from Vampire Knight 

Maybe this says something about me. Undead. Underdog. Painstakingly protecting those he loves despite his desperate desire to protect those he loves from himself. Ah, Kiryuu.

But what does it say about Eirikr?

Simple, haunted, searching. Alone by choice. Loved against will. Hope.

The Mountains Win Again by Blues Traveller

I pick up my smile put it in my pocket
Hold it for a while, try not to have to drop it
Men are not to cry so how am I to stop it
Keep it all inside don’t show how much she rocked ya

Ooh can you feel the same
Ooh you gotta love the pain
Ooh it looks like rain again
Ooh I feel it comin’ in
The mountains win again
The mountains win again

Dreams we dreamed at night were never meant to come to life
I can’t understand the ease she pulled away her hand
This time in my life I was hurt enough to care
I guess from now on I’ll be careful what I share

Ooh can you feel the same
Ooh ya gotta love the pain
Ooh it looks like rain again
Yeah feel it comin’ in
The mountains win again

A pocket is no place for a smile anyway
Someday I will find love again will blow my mind
Maybe it will be that love that got away from me
Is there a line to write that could make you cry tonight
Can you feel the same
Yeah ya gotta love the pain
Ooh it looks like rain again
Ooh feel it comin’ in
The mountains win again
Ooh the mountains win again

 

 

Cwen Sings: Rain

Listen! There’s some “She’s using a cheap mic” distortion, but eh.

Read!

Cowboy Bebop is one of the classics. I don’t care who you are or what you like, you must like CB to be my friend. I mean, Spike Spiegel. Jet Black. Yellow vinyl-clad Faye Faye. Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV. And Ein. I never had a particular fondness for corgis until I met Ein.

And let’s not forget the music. The soundtrack is absolutely brilliant and plays a vital role in the series. The music of the Seatbelts drives the series as much as the great characters – it is practically a character itself. Therefore, it is easy to use their songs in the soundtrack of life, er, the lives of my characters.

I envision Eirikr possessing the same intensity as Spike. Mellow and relaxed until something gets under his skin and then he’s yelling at Jet for bell peppers and beef sans beef. Calm and collected until he’s scented his prey. Roguish. Charming. And haunted. Broken. But surviving.

Rain is from The Ballad of Fallen Angels.” Spike is facing he ex-partner who recently murdered their mentor and kidnapped Faye Valentine, who Vicious used as bait to get Spike to show. “When angels are forced out of heaven, they turn into devils…”

 

To Dale: Epilogue

The Last Huntress of The Dreadward Tribunal

The miles that passed underfoot were but numb echoes in Eruviel’s limbs. She could still feel Ninim’s blood on her hands with every arrow she loosed, and see the life fade from the young woman’s eyes whenever her own closed.

It had gone all wrong. Try as they had, Ninim had perished as Eruviel cradled the screaming newborn against her chest. In the moments before Abiorn had taken his little nephew from her she had stared down in horror at the beautiful child, fearful that he might die as well.
Never, she had thought, never will I have children. She would not . . . could not. Not now.

Every night when they made camp her eyes would follow Eirikr as he’d take his leave to stand watch. The memory of his harrowing cry kept her from sleeping when he was gone, and she stood more alert when he would…

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To Dale: In the End

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They crept out of Esgaroth beneath a new moon. Only the stars lit the way as they traveled north through the Lonely Mountain where a Dwarf Eirikr knew from childhood housed them for two nights. Then down to the borders of the realm of the Wood-elves where Eruviel’s pointy ears helped convince the scouts to let them pass unharmed. The paths through the Mirkwood were slow and tedious. Several times, they almost abandoned the wagon, but it made traveling so much easier on both Abiorn and Ninim. They backtracked. They waited while Eirikr or Eruviel scouted. They made their way through the shadows and fog with a constant vigilance. If their heightened state wasn’t for the spiders and the wargs, then the knowledge that Kolrson Tenorbekk still lived plagued them all.

Eirikr kept a close eye on Abiorn. The boy joked about his lack of handiness – figuratively and literally – when it came to life on the road. His hands found wielding anything larger than a small knife difficult and his crooked legs kept him from ever being graceful. One night, he spilled their entire supper onto the leaves when his grip weakened his hold on the cast iron pan. The boy nearly cried as he scooped up the bits of potato and carrots with his bent fingers. It took both Eruviel and Ninim to calm him with reassurances and shoulder pats and hugs. He then got angry and did his best impression of stomping away to brood at the edge of their makeshift camp. Eirikr took him some food they salvaged and sat next to him in silence as they ate.

Ninim seemed to be holding her own. She rode in the wagon when she grew tired and walked when she would. Soon, though, her ankles started to swell and she became tired much more quickly. She began to rapidly consume their water supply and Eirikr had to push them a little harder to make up the time they had planned to travel. Still, she smiled as they forged their way through the dark wood, never complaining, never stumbling on their path.

Until one day, as they were finally reaching the end of the darkness, she did.

All at once, her legs seemed to give out beneath her and she fell on hand and knee, panting. Her face twisted into a grimace of pain as Eirikr rushed to kneel beside her.

Quickly, Eruviel and Abbi threw up a camp and Eirikr carried his wife to the bed they made. Abbi fumbled with the flint and tinder as Eruviel rushed to examine Ninim to her best ability. Ninim looked up at them with fear and determination. It was time.

The labor was long. Eirikr and Abbi stood as tense sentinels as Eruviel played midwife as best she could. When it lasted past eight hours, Eirikr took her place beside his wife so she could rest, though she went to take his place as guard instead. After twelve hours, Eruviel came back to them and checked on her progress. The Elf shook her head before she could stop herself. Eirikr’s heart stopped in his chest. He felt a terror and it stole his powers of speech.

Fifteen hours. Eighteen.

At the twentieth hour, a long, tortured scream rent the near silence of the Mirkwood followed by the cry of a baby. The sound of sobbing bounced off the trees and died before it could travel far. A man’s cries overpowered the baby’s and lasted throughout the night.

* * *

“Eirikr, I am so sorry, gwador. If only I-”

“Eruviel, stop now. It is not your fault.”

“But if only-”

“Eruviel!”

“Eirik, what about the baby?”

“I do not know. I do not know anything, brother. I do not know.”

“There are ways to sustain a child without its mother’s milk. I have heard of it before. Once we are out of this cursed forest, we can hunt and boil broth for him.”

“We cannot take a baby through Moria, can we? Eruviel, tell him we can’t take him into Moria. He won’t survive!”

“Abiorn, please. One thing at a time.”

“Well, tell him!”

“Abbi, quiet.”

“You want him to die, don’t you? Because it might be his. But he might be yours, too, Eirik! And even if he isn’t, how could you just let him die?”

“Shut your mouth, Abiorn! I do not know!”

“Wait. Silence, both of you. Do you hear it?”

“Eru?”

“There, again. In the trees to the north. Someone’s coming.”

“Eirikr? What-”

“Silence! Quick, behind me!”

“The baby!”

* * *

The bear emerged from the shadows to stare at the three travelers. His deep brown eyes traveled to the babe swaddled in the arms of the youngest and then to the still form of what had to be its mother. He sniffed the air. Familiar scents were scattered by blood and tears and pain. But there was life, there, too. And hope, but it was quickly fading. He sniffed again and lumbered forward, his large head lowered docilely as his eyes took in the rest of the rough camp.

The man tensed. He raised his hand toward his back but when he found nothing there, he looked around sharply. His eyes landed on the bow just as the bear reached it. Instead of passing over it or destroying it with its powerful jaws, the bear nudged it with its nose. The man gaped as he nudged it again. Go on, take it, he almost said. I won’t hurt you.

The man approached slowly and picked up the bow. The bear tilted its massive head and regarded him with curiosity. Then it lumbered on toward the boy holding the child.

The Elf let out a shout and pulled boy and baby behind her. Pausing, the bear tilted his head again and waited for the boy to peek around her. Slowly, he stepped out and looked into the bear’s eyes. Nodding, he told the others to break camp. They resisted. The man said some angry words, but eventually, they packed a rugged and beat-up wagon. They lovingly wrapped the body of the woman in a sheet and placed her in the back. Yes, she must be treated properly. He could help see to that.

The bear led the boy holding the baby to a secret trail. The wagon and horses could find the road and the bear grumbled lowly until they left the canopy of the Mirkwood. His pace quickened as they reached a small cottage with smoke rising from the chimney. A woman came out followed by a girl and a boy. They helped the travelers; they fed them and gave them a soft bed to sleep in. The bear wandered off into a grove of thick trees and then came back a man.

The baby was left with the woman and her children and her Man that was more than a man. It did not have to suffer the dark mazes of Moria and the boy promised to come back and visit one day. The man could barely look at the baby. He had buried his wife beneath the old Oak Tree last night and had no more tears to water her grave. He carved a headstone from a branch throughout the night and in the morning, “Ninim, wife of Eirikr In death shall I live” sat above the mound of earth. The Man that was more than a man clapped him on the shoulder and said supportive and encouraging words, but he did not think the man heard them. His grief weighed upon him like iron chains.

They were heading back to Bree-land, the three travelers. They could not take the baby, and when it was time to say goodbye. only the boy and Elf kissed the child’s head and bade him farewell. The man kept his eyes on the western horizon and as the sun rose behind him, he led his party away, fleeing from the light.

Back to Bree.

Ludo in Lotro

Lotro RP Played by...

Ludo is a band that I would probably follow around the country in a van. Well, was as they are no longer a band, but they should be. They were so absolutely wonderful and their music still is.

After a chit chat and channel spam of Ludo songs, I decided that an official blog post dedicated to their songs and how my characters would love them was in order. So, here we are: Ludo in Lotro, which can be found here on Audiosplitter.

Anyatka

“The Horror of Our Love” – Anya gets a bit obsessive. While she’s not gone off the deep end yet, the potential it totally there. Is it murder if he’s already dead?

Ultimately, “The Horror of Our Love” is about the all consuming love that turns one into a insatiable monster. Anya can definitely be a monster when it comes to Morty.

“Please” – She wants something special with Morty, something that’s just between the two of them. Each love is special, and once she accepts that, she may find contentment and happiness. “Please save this for me; I’ll come back to you, love, I promise you. Please save this for me and until I return, my love will burn…”

Cwendlwyn

“Too Tired to Wink” – Having been through a lot, Cwen often feels rather zombie-ish. She pushes through and tries to remember that there is always a light at the edge of the Mirkwood.  “Look at all the stars, we’ve come so far even if we don’t know where we are it’s gotta be somewhere great…or am I just too tired to wink?”

“Such as it Ends” –  “Love, such as it ends, breaking the hearts that wouldn’t bend…

Emmelina

“Whipped Cream” – What can I say. Lina likes sex. She likes things that are good and whipped cream are good. She likes fun. “I really want it…”

“All the Stars in Texas” – She’s a bit of a bad girl when she needs to be. She’s a bit of a good girl when she needs to be. She does what she wants. “All the stars in Texas ain’t got nothin’ on your eyes when you say let’s hit ’em one more time…”

Eirikr

“Anything for You” – Eirikr defined himself by his love for his wife. Ninim was his world. “I’ve gotten drunk and shot the breeze with kings of far off lands; they showed me wealth as far as I could see. But their kingdoms seemed all shrivelly and they cried with jealousy when I leaned in and told them about you.”

“Drunken Lament” – “Now you’re gone and I’m lost, in the swells I am tossed – bobbing and choking and losing the fight in the fog. You said, “Forever.” Tell me, why can’t you stay?”

Abiorn

“Battle Cry” – Poor Abbi. Truth be told, he doesn’t even have a bio yet. I  mean, he has the background his siblings have given him, but a purpose and motivation of his own? No. Which is why I feel “Battle Cry” is appropriate. “We are young and we will never die. We won’t give up; this is our battle cry! We will defeat the other guy!”

Aeron

“Topeka” – Aeron is like a whole person. He’s a white knight that isn’t trying to be a white knight. He just really is that nice of a guy. A thousand years between birth and death as a Man gives a certain type of insight. “Topeka” is about finding a truth, a belief. A self.

“I’ll Never be Lonely Again” – While he will not be reunited with his love until the end of Time, he deals.

Every Saint has a Past…

…every sinner has a future. -Ludo “Topeka”

 

Cwendlwyn stood on the banks of the Brandywine and watched the brown water stream by the steep banks. The wagon borrowed from Blanco Banks broke an axle just north of the hedges separating Buckland from the the Great East Road. Unloading their possessions took most of the morning and now they waited for the spare part to arrive from the carpenter. Neilia splashed in the shallows of the river, closely watched by Callee. The Hobbit had willingly agreed to accompany them to Ravenhold to help mother and daughter settle in before returning to Buckland to be caretaker for their home while they were gone. Cwen thought longingly of her gardens but knew that moving to Bree for the time being was best for her little family.

After all, Biramore was not coming back. Cwen had to face that now that the money they had saved was running low. The spacious home and grand kitchen seemed cold without the parties of neighbors and friends visiting from Bree. She couldn’t keep up with the gardens and the cleaning and the cooking anymore though it had never been a problem before. She couldn’t put her finger on what was wrong since he was gone. It wasn’t like it was the first time she was loved and left. Perhaps it was because for once, she truly thought it would last. She had picked a man that put family first and did not involve himself with plots and schemes. She did not have to heal injuries without knowing their cause because it was ‘safer’ if she didn’t know. They were honest with each other. They were true.

She thought about her conversations with Anya as she watched Neilia splash after a toad. She had been surprised when Anric told her that the two had separated and she did not pry when he resisted saying anything more on the matter. She now knew Anya was entertaining thoughts about someone other than Anric, but she never imagined she would act upon them. Perhaps the girl’s honesty revealed too much of the situation and that is why he left her. Cwen hadn’t the heart to ask when she visited Eirikr’s new home in Durrow. The poor girl looked on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

A frown knit her brow as she considered how her words might have played a role in the destruction of Anya and Anric’s relationship. Such talk of burning and faithfulness. What did she know about such things anyway? She had not felt the burn since Anidore and that turned out lovely, didn’t it? As she watched Neilia play, she answered own question without her usual sarcasm: yes, it did. She had Neilia and she always had to remember that. The time she would spend away on her duties was for Neilia’s benefit; vegetables and coney pies would not bring in enough coin to ensure she was taken care of in the future. If anything happened to her, Cwen knew somehow that Oendir Arrowheart would not let Neilia starve on the streets.

Sighing, Cwen turned to check on the repair progress. It was a long day’s journey, and they would have to make camp now that most of the day was lost. Neilia would take the news well; she always had an adventurous spirit and saw the move as a great mystery waiting for her in the land of Men. She was certain to enjoy camping beneath the stars.

She smiled slightly as she climbed the bank of the river. She would have to get used to camp again now that she was employed as a Wayfarer.

* * *

Eirikr poked the campfire with a long, spindly stick. The woods spoke quiet comfort as the dusk settled in around him for a quick hug before sinking beneath the treetops. The rosy skies did little to brighten his mood. Nothing seemed to these days.

A snap of a twig alerted him that he was not alone. The Chetwood was full of bandits and beasts – surely a beast would not have made such a tell-tale sound. His hand flew to the hilt of his sword and he held the stick out in front of him ready to swing at the first thing that moved.

A pair of eyes reflected the firelight as the sun finally sank beneath the horizon, plunging the woods into night. They watched him, unblinking, until Eirikr relaxed and lowered the stick slightly. A black nose and then a muzzle emerged from the shadows followed by the yellow eyes of the wolf.

Eirikr stared back at the animal, fascinated. The remains of his supper rested on a leather scrap he used as a plate. He picked up the roasted rabbit and took a bite before holding it out to the wolf. He expected the animal to run – or charge – but it did neither. It simply padded over to sniff the food before accepting it with a chomp.

He wiped his hands on his tunic and sat back to watch the wolf eat. The meat was gone in seconds and the wolf licked its muzzle of the grizzle. Then, it settled down with its massive paws stretched out before him and stared into the fire.

For a long time, Eirikr watched the wolf for any signs of aggression. His instinct, however, told him there was no threat and the wolf did not see him as something foreign to the trees and night air. Eventually, it laid its head down and closed its eyes.

Eirikr looked up at the stars showing through the gaps in the trees and for the first time since he received Ninim’s letter, their beauty did not sting.

* * *

The Watcher passed by her hiding spot with that overconfident stride all of them seemed to adopt when on duty. She didn’t know why she loathed them so much lately. She knew many of them and had liked them well enough before. Things were getting more difficult, though, and she refused to go home and admit defeat. It would work out, this time, she just knew it.

When she was sure he was gone, Lina swung her legs over the wall and let herself fall to the stones covering the ground. Her arms ached from holding herself balanced for so long and she unhooked the pouch of coin from her belt with a frown. “So much work for so little,” she muttered.

“And it really wasn’t worth any of it, now, was it?” The deep voice precluded the hand that grasped her tightly around the shoulders from behind. She looked down and saw the Watcher’s colors and scowled. With her heels, she kicked at his shins, but he anticipated the move and lifted her up and back causing her to kick forward in an attempt to regain equilibrium. A rope was thrown around her arms and looped expertly around her wrists to draw them behind her. Before she knew it, she was trussed and practically helpless kneeling on the cold cobblestones of the alley.

“Honest, mis’er Watcher, sir, I didn’t do nothin’.”

The man’s cold blue eyes stared into her own as he reached for the pouch she dropped. He smiled as he straightened.

“Oh? Then what is this?” He emptied the contents of the bag into his hand and the gold coins slid from his palm to the street. An empty vial also fell into his palm and Lina’s eyes widened.

“What is this indeed,” he continued and tucked the bag into his belt. He uncorked the vial and sniffed. “Poison? I’d bet my life on it. What would a little girl like you be doing with poison?” His broad shoulders blocked out the sun as he looked down on her.

“Wha-I-I-” Lina stammered for words but had none. Damnit all!

“Empty. What have you been doing, little girl?”

“I ain’t li’l and I ain’t been doin’ nothin’!” she insisted, though she felt it was useless to protest any more. She did not think this particular Watcher was a particularly good man who was interested in the truth and something told her that she was going to regret lifting this particular purse.

“It’s empty. Tell me, did you know a Dwarf was recently poisoned right in the Prancing Pony? They have no idea who did it. The Watch is just puzzled about the whole thing. And here you are. With an empty vial of poison. That is such a coincidence. Isn’t that right?” Another man emerged from the shadows behind him. He grinned with a nod.

“Tha’s right, Dama, right shame.”

“Ye mean ta tell me ye ain’t got one clue about the culprit! What ’bout th’Elf I lifted tha’ from?” She added a bit late, “Mis’er Watcher, sir?”

Dama’s eyes widened briefly and then he smiled even broader. “Well, no, he just arrived in town today and we are stumped. But I think we might remain stumped if say, you could pay an Information Fee. That would ensure that this information would stay just between the three of us.”

“B-bu…I ain’t got no money. Tha’s why I was stealin’ in the first place!”

The man grinned down at her and lifted her head by her shaggy hair. His teeth gleamed as he said, “Then ye best be finding some, little girl. You have three days. And then I will deal with you my way.”

Some Lake Somewhere

To Dale: Confrontation, Part 2

((A combination of exposition and chat logs edited for tense))

“Abiorn!”

Eirikr did not even try for subtlety as he led Eruviel up the stone staircase to the second floor. His low voice boomed throughout the hall as he called for his brother.

“Abiorn!”

A strained, thin voice came from the west wing. Eirikr took the stairs two at a time as his brother called back, “Eirikr? Eirikr, it is okay. Go away! I-I do not want to go with you, all right, brother?”

Eririkr paused on the landing and listened carefully. He held up a hand to Eruviel as she opened her mouth to speak. In the unsettling quiet that fell, Eirikr heard the faint melody of a bell. The sound was not heavy and threatening like the bell his father used to summon his guard. A haunting plea sounded in the gentle rustling of the metal.

Tinkle tink tink

Quick as a jackrabbit, Eirikr bounded up the stairs and rushed to the closed door at the end of the hall.

Abion had taken over his brother’s space when he moved to Esgaroth with his wife. The parlor was small, but spacious and opened to a larger bedroom with soaring windows. The heavy drapes concealed the pale blue sky reflecting off the waters of Long Lake. The boy lived in a world of darkness to hide him from prying eyes. His weak muscles and bent limbs could be concealed with loose fitting garb and a pleasant smile, but his shuffling gait could not.

Now, as Eirikr stared with eyes burning with low rage, Abiorn sat in the stuffed chair, a dagger point just drawing blood from his neck. In his hand he clutched the tiny silver bell with trembling fingers, but the practiced calm of his face was betrayed only by his terrified eyes.

Eruviel looked past Eirikr to the boy, her eyes wide as glanced from him to the stairs, and back.

Eiriikr ‘s fingers flexed around his bow. His eyes leveled with his father’s as he demanded, “Let him go. He’s a child.”

Kolrson shook his head. “You bested four guards, hm? The fact you made it back at all astounds me. Gregor was right. I did not give you enough credit. But I will not allow you to take this son from me as well.”

Eiriikr kept his gaze steady, though the veins of his forearm showed from his restraint. “You would rather see him dead then free?” Behind him, Eruviel gripped the hilt of her sword as she glared at the man, waiting, listening.

He raised the hand resting on the back of Abiorn’s chair. “I do not give away anything for free, son. You should know that by now. If you and your sister insist on freedom, a price must be paid.”

Eiriikr shook his head, his red hair grown long from the journey. “This is madness. You would kill your own son or daughter just to have your own way!” He motioned subtly with his free hand for Eruviel to move in closer. She stepped forward, giving him the faintest of nods.

Kolrson noticed the movement and grabbed Abiorn by his auburn curls. “Don’t come any closer, She-elf! What are you really, Eirikr, bringing one of those with you for protection?”

Eiriikr kept his eyes on Kolrson and raise a hand at his hip to Eruviel. “I thought you liked Elves, Father.”

He sneered, “I like their gold, boy.”

Eruviel smirked. “I can leave, gwador, if you think it best.”

Eiriikr managed a tight smile. “I prefer you watching my back, systir mine.” He rolled his shoulder. “How fast is your draw lately, systir?”

Eruviel’s fingers tightened around her bow. “My draw is far faster than yours, brother,” she snickered, her eyes still locked on Kolrson.

Eiriikr raised a brow. “Oh, you believe so? I recall you complimenting me on my skills several times on the path here.”

Kolrson tensed as he watched the exchange. With wide eyes, Abiorn looked up at his father and then at the two across the room. His hand tightened around the bell in a fist. Tinkle tink tink Finally, the man sneered, marring his already severe features. He barked out with impatience, “Stop chattering! What is wrong with you?!”

Eiriikr laughed mirthlessly. “What is wrong, Father?” The word ‘father’ dripped off his tongue like poison. “Not the center of attention?”

Eruviel ‘s shoulders relaxed as a wry smile curved up her mouth. “Do not make me eat my words. I would hate to have to let you win.”

Eiriikr grinned. His white teeth glistened in the firelight. “He can’t dodge two, I don’t think. Not a soft old man like him.”

Eruviel nodded once. “We will not know unless we try.”

Abiorn sank lower in the chair only to be stopped by the fist in his hair. He looked on at Eirikr in terror. He wouldn’t shoot…would he?

Eiriikr nodded, still grinning. He motioned a countdown with his fingers. Three…two…one…

As Kolrson watched the obvious countdown, his eyes grew wide. As Eirikr counted down to one, he attempted to duck behind the chair. Eruviel whisked out an arrow, and anticipating the cruel man’s flight, knocked and fired without hesitation. The man screamed as Eruviel’s arrow penetrated his calf. However, it was a feint! As Eruviel shot, Eirikr charged and tackled Abiorn right in the chair. The entire seat moved back, checking into Kolrson and knocking him over. The force of the chair crashing into him knocked him to his side and he lost hold of the dagger tipped with Abiorn’s blood. Eruviel lept forward and snatched up the dagger before it could be recovered.

Abiorn let out a shout that was abruptly cut off by the force of his brother’s full weight. As he toppled backward, his frail arms and legs flailed about and tried to catch the landing that never came. Eirikr rolled away from the pile-up, dragging his brother with him. He shielded his brother with his body as he looked over toward the chair and fallen man. “Eruviel!” he called out, motioning for her to take hold of Kolrson before he could manage to recover.

Eruviel ran over to grapple Kolrson at Eirikr’s command, dropping her weapons to the side. Bleeding profusely from the arrow in his leg, Kolrson attempted to manipulate Eruviel to the ground. As he rolled her over, his momentum carried him back on to his back where she suddenly had the advantage. He cursed and grabbed for his dagger.

Eiriikr looked down at Abiorn. The boy was fighting back tears and clutching his arm. “Are there any other guards? We faced four downstairs.” Abiorn shook his head yes. “Where are they?”

Eruviel grabbed his reaching hand as she pulled her other arm back to throw a punch. Her fist connected squarely and he sputtered as blood spurted from his nose. He howled in anger and threw his weight toward her to knock her off balance.

Abiorn answered softly, “He probably sent the back guards after you. Most are on leave until the evening. Wh-what are you doing here, Eirikr?”

Eiriikr shook his head. “We are leaving, brother. Your arm?” He frowned down at him and touched his arm gently.

Abiorn shook his head in dismissal. “It is nothing. Sore.”

Eruviel’s eyes widened in surprise as the man threw her. She tumbled over and attempted to scramble back to get a hold on him. Kolrson pushed her away and tried to crawl on his hands and knees, leaving a trail of blood on the floor toward the door. She fell back but rolled, grabbing at the man’s foot to pull him back as she braced her feet to right herself. He kicked weakly as his leg was latched onto by the Elf, shouting out in pain.

Eiriikr nodded and looked over to the two struggling. He grinned at Abiorn as he helped him sit up. “Should I help her?”

Abiorn looked alarmed for a moment and then relaxed into a grin. “You might just get in the way.”

Eruviel dodged Kolrson’s kick and grabbed his free foot with her other hand. Quickly rising to her feet she pulled, hoping to drag the man further back into the room. He flailed his legs, but the injury was too much. Bending at the waist, he grabbed at her hands, but his rather rotund belly got in the way.

Eiriikr grinned back at his brother and strode over to Eruviel and Kolrson. He grabbed the man by the front of his robes and lifted him with one heave so he can punch him in the face. Kolrson used the opportunity to punch Eirikr in the gut. He crashed back to the floor and kicked out at Eruviel again hoping the inertia of his fall would assist him in gaining his freedom. Eruviel batted away the kick and grabbed for one of his feet as she attempted to draw her sword with her free hand.

Eiriikr doubled over and gasped for breath. He drew his sword as he struggled to catch his breath. His father growled as he was denied and grabbed at the Elf’s sword. Stepping forward, Eirikr lowered the sword to Kolrson’s throat.

The older man stilled and looked up at his son from his back. “You wouldn’t kill your own flesh and blood, would you, son?” he sneered.

Eruviel’s hand grabbed her sword and she froze, still holding on to Kolrson. “You filth,” she growled. “You are one to talk.”

Kolrson kicked out at Eruviel just for spite. “I’ve not killed one of my own,” he said before stilling as the cold metal of Eirikr’s sword touched his skin. “So, what now, boy?”

Eiriikr growled, “You may not have killed any of us, but the damage you set upon us is proof enough: you don’t deserve life, old man.” He went in for the kill, but a sound of alarm from Abiorn stayed his hand. He glanced back, the sword tip wavering.

Seeing the moment of weakness in his son, Kolrson reached up to grab the sword from his hand. Eruviel swiftly drew her blade as Eirikr looked behind them, but Eiriikr turned around in time to see him grab at the sword. He took a step back as he pulled away, and Kolrson reached out to trip him.

Eruviel thrusted her blade down, hoping to parry Korlson’s movement, stabbing him in the arm in the process. He laid back and clutched his wound, glaring at the two.

Eiriikr redirected his sword to point at Kolrson again. To Abiorn, he said, “Abbi. Go. We will follow.”

The boy nodded and edged around the room for the door. Once he reached it, he slid out reluctantly.

Eruviel glanced back to the door. “Should I stay or follow him, brother?” she asked quietly.

Eiriikr shrugged. “He said the only guard is in the front now. We shall thus exit the back.” He walked around his father slowly and nodded for Eruviel to leave. “Take Abiorn to Ninim. I will raid my father’s safe and then we shall leave. A small restitution for the suffering his actions have caused, I think.”

Eruviel shot a withering glance at the wounded Kolrson and nodded curtly as she turned for the door. “I will see him safely there. Don’t be long, Eirikr.”

Eiriikr nodded, his eyes on his father. As Eruviel left, he said simply. “Don’t send anyone after us. They will die, or end up like the men you’ve hired downstairs. Don’t try to find us, as we are better off without you. Sten is dead. You could be, too. Be thankful I am nothing like you, Father.”

Still clutching his arm as it bled, Kolrson glared up at his son. “You won’t have a single night of peace. I heard Sten gave your wife a present, didn’t he?”

At those words, Eirikr stopped in his tracks and turned. He grabbed his father by the robes and slammed his fist into his face. Without a word, he followed Eruviel out, heading for the safe and leaving his father dazed and bleeding on the floor.

 

To Dale: Confrontation, Part 1

((edited from chat logs for tense and exposition. all fight action based on a d20 roll with an AC of 10))

 

Eirikr stood staring at the house. The rain fell around him and dampened his light auburn hair to a deep rust. The yard was quiet; no one was out in the rain. He walked up the worn path slowly as if willing the moment he has to enter the house to pass him by. Behind him and unbeknown to him, Eruviel walked up the path, remaining hidden as she observed her surroundings before setting her sights on the large home ahead.

As he approached the stone entryway, a man emergesd from a side entrance. From beneath his heavy hood, he gaped at Eirikr before rushing forward. “Master Tenorbekk! You have returned. Your father will be…forgive me, sir, but where is Miss Tenorbekk?”

Eirikr raised his hands to hush the old man. “Pyotr, please. I am not here with good news. I am here for Abiorn.” He looked up at the house, blinking through the water clinging to his lashes. “We are leaving this place, Pyotr. It might be best if you gathered everyone in the servant’s wing.”

Pyotr gaped some more and nodded vigorously. “But, sir, your father will not let you take your brother. You surely know-”

Eirikr cut him off with a shake of his head. “I know, Pyotr. Get everyone, especially the women and children, into the servants’ wing. Now.” Without another glance at the servant, he looked up to the house and strode for the door.

From the shadowy lane, Eruviel risked a glance over the stone wall. Seeing Eirikr walk inside, she ducked and retreated down the path to circle around the house to find a better place to hide and to hopefully listen.

Mumbling to himself, the old servant hurried back into the house via the side door.

 

Eirikr closed the door softly behind him. He looked down at the old floorboards in the entryway and stepped carefully. The house was clearly being prepared for a feast. Tables and chairs were out of place as apparently they were recently abandoned. The clutter led to the main hall. Kolrson Tenorbekk stood in the middle of it all, bellowing about lazy layabouts and whippings.

Eirikr could not help but smirk when he saw his father out of sorts. He stepped into the room with his hand loosely on the sword at his side. “Good day, Father. I see you are well.”

Kolrson whirled to face his son. He glowered a moment as he searched for the shadow he expected to be clinging to Eirikr’s sleeve. “Where is your sister?” he asked finally.

Eirikr shrugged. “She didn’t want to come back. I don’t blame her.”

Kolrson’s eyes narrowed as he strode forward angrily. “Do not play games with me, boy. I sent you after your sister and you were supposed to bring her back.”

Eirikr stood his ground and looked down at his father. The son stood a good three inches taller than the man. “I chose not to. We like it where she is. I think Abiorn will like it, too.”

Shaking his head, Kolrson glowered in disbelief. “Never. Abiorn knows his place. You might be a grown man, Eirikr, but I will still teach you yours.” Turning, he reached into his pocket and withdrew a large silver bell. Its sound pealed through the grand hall and rushing footsteps followed. Two men arrived through the door and stared stupidly at Eirikr and Kolrson, their hands on the grips of their swords. “What is it, sir?” asked one.

Eirikr shifted into a slightly defensive stance but did not draw his weapon. “Hello, Karl. Tjorn.” The guards looked uncertainly between the two men.

Kolrson smirked. “Now, now, Eirikr. See how foolish it was to come here alone? Do you actually think just sauntering in here was going to work? It is a shame you didn’t declare yourself properly so the guards knew who you were. Accidents do happen, though.”

Eirikr narrowed his eyes. “What, Father? You can’t face me yourself?”

Just around the corner in the entryway, Eruviel silently glided over to stand near the front door.

Kolrson mounted a platform that appeared to be set up for a performance. “Why waste the energy. Karl? Tjorn. Show my son what happens when I become disappointed. And then send word to Sten in Lake-town. Tell him to slit that bitch’s throat.”

Eirikr grinned openly. “Sten is dead, Father. Ninim is safe from the likes of you. Your goons cannot touch her any more.”

Turning, Kolrson stared at his son. “You lie. You would not be here if that were true. Only a fool would do such a thing.”

Eirikr drew his sword. “Or someone who loves his brother. You’ve never understood that, Father. I don’t expect you to now.”

Red-faced, Kolrson gave the order. “Just kill him!” The two guards advanced with grins. One said to the other, “I always wanted to gut him, didn’t you, Karl?” In response, Karl said, “Nah, I never really cared one way or the other. But I don’t mind it now.”

Eruviel opened and slammed the front door shut, promptly kicking over the wooden chair with a loud crash.

Eirikr spun around at the noise, ducking. His back turned to the guards, they charged forward throwing caution to the wind. Eirikr whirled around in time to parry one blow only to be tackled by the other man. Karl slammed Eirikr backward into the large pillar supporting the vaulted ceiling and punched him in the gut.

Eruviel ran into the room, taking everything in before taking a swing at the man who punched Eirikr. “Sorry I’m late.”

Eirikr wheezed as the breath is knocked out of him twice. He crumpled down and fell to his knees as the man took Eruviel’s blow without any attempt at defense. Karl flew backward from the force of the blow. Tjorn swung his sword toward her as he tried to hide his surprise.

Eruviel dipped into a bow in the same motion as her punch. “You must be Kolrson.” She then turned to the armed man and drew her sword.

Eirikr looked up at Eruviel with a glare that fell somewhere between thankfulness and annoyance.

Kolrson slammed his hand down on the table in front of him. “Who are you? Get out of my house! Guards!”

Eruviel drew out her dagger as she attacked Tjorn. “Do not worry, gwador. You will be buying me dinner on the trip home, though.”

Eirikr pulled himself up on the pillar. “Eruviel, I thought you were staying with Ninim!” he gasped.

Tjorn parried and counterattacked with skill. He was no cheap mercenary, but a trained guard bought from the Dalish army. “Watch your head, now, pretty lady,” he taunted as he swung toward her thigh. Meanwhile, Karl, recovered from the blow, walked around her to seek an opening.

Eruviel continued to fight Tjorn, hardly giving him time to block her blows. “She is safe! Hence my coin-purse being empty.”

Eirikr kicked out his foot to trip Karl. As the man landed, Eirikr grabbed at his sword fallen beside him and raised it to strike. Too late, the man caught his wrist and caught him in a grapple. They rolled over each other and Eirikr gritted his teeth as he released the sword to slam his fist down into Karl’s face. “You did what?”

Tjorn, a man with an athletic build beneath his armour, kept up with Eruviel surprisingly well. He was unable to press an advantage as he was in full defense mode. On the floor, Karl’s head swam as Eirikr punched him again and again. Two more guards appeared in the doorway looking bewildered.

Practically screeching, Kolrson pointed at the fight and ordered, “Kill them! Kill them both! Make yourselves useful for once and kill them!”

Eruviel glanced over to Kolrson as she pressed Tjorn harder, changing her footwork. “Now is not the best time for details, Eirikr.” She moved to trip Tjorn, hoping for a chance to draw her bow.

As Eirikr looked up to see the guards, Karl’s right hand worked at the wrist sheath beneath his sleeve. In one blind, but swift motion, he jabbed it the arm pinning him down. With a yell, Eirikr dropped his sword and grabbed his bicep.

The new guards bore spears and hesitated only a moment before charging toward the fray. Kolrson took the opportunity to run for the stairway leading to the upper wings.

Tjorn, thrown off by Eruviel’s fancy footwork, fell into her trick and tripped to the stone floor. His sword stayed firmly in his grasp and he swung it at her even as he fell. Eruviel leapt away from Tjorn and cast her dagger across the room to one of the charging guards. The dagger missed the far guard by a hair. He and his partner paused to exchange glances and started to approach with more caution. From the ground, Tjorn reached out for Eruviel’s legs to trip her in turn. She attempted to shift her footing, thrusting her sword down towards his outstretched arm. The guards scowl as the Elf’s strike nearly severs the man’s arm off.

Eirikr threw himself forward as Karl tried to toss him off. He ripped the dagger from his arm and slammed his fist into the guard’s face once again. The man’s eyes rolled back as he lost consciousness.

Eirikr regained his feet with his sword in his hand. He shot a glance at Eruviel. “Though this might now be the time, I do wonder who it is who is with her.”

Tjorn, being rather torn, rolled on the ground clutching his bleeding arm. Eruviel picked up the bleeding man’s sword, and turned to face the men armed with spears. “The young lad, Hari? Him, the waitress I befriended, and a soldier both Hari and Ninim approved of are taking turns watching her. No one knows where she is, and I bought up all the rooms on the top floor so she should not be found out.”

Across the room, the guard stare at Eruviel in wonder. They exchange looks.

Eirikr gave her a shake of his head and advanced with her. “You never cease to amaze me, systir.”

Eruviel snickered. “It is difficult to protect two people in separate places.” She then narrowed her eyes at the guards. “Are you going to stand down, or do want to trade me a sword for your spear before we start this?” she asked matter-of-factly.

The guards looked less seasoned than the other two. One gulped. “Um, perhaps…Mister Tenorbekk don’t pay us t’ face no Elf.”

Eirikr smirked and looked over to watch Eruviel’s response. Shel nodded to the two. “A little coin is not worth your lives. If you fight me I cannot guarantee that you will not end up like him,” she gestured of her shoulder, “or worse.”

They exchanged glances again. “By golly, Jossr, let’s get out of here. I ain’t int’rested in killin’ no She-Elf t’night.”

Eirikr stated, “You aren’t interested in losing a limb or dying tonight, you mean. Now stand aside so we can find my brother.”

Eruviel gave the guards an almost motherly smile. “I had hoped not.” She then nodded in agreement with Eirikr.

The guards backed up, though Jossr seemed less inclined to stand down. “I dunna think we should let you inta th’ house, Mister Tenorbekk. So why dunna you jes’ walk away. Save ev’ryone tha trouble.”

Eirikr shook his head no. “I am here for my brother. You will stand aside, or you will face us. Make a choice.”

Jossr stopped and shook his head. “I can’t let you in, sir.” He lowered the spear in a defensive grip in front of the door.

Eruviel adjusted her grip on the two swords, shifting her stance as she looked to the other guard. “Is this really what you want?”

The guard looked at his companion but was clearly not the leader. “Jossr?” Jossr glared over at him.

Eirikr rolled his shoulder and sheathed his sword. “So be it,” he said as he drew his bow and an arrow from his back. Eruviel nodded and followed suit. Bringing her bow up a blade mounted on the outer curve of the bow was made apparent.

The hesitant one saw the bows and backed up. “No, this isn’t worth it. Mister Tenorbekk can just take his coin back!” The man quickly retreated out of the door. Jossr watched him flee and turned back to the two archers, wide-eyed. “Uhhhhh…”

Eirikr nocked the arrow and pointed it at the man. “Come on, Jossr. Come and get us.”

Eruviel remained silent, her bow drawn as she kept her steady gaze on Jossr.

The last standing guard shook his head. “I will take my chances from over here.” He crouched with the spear at the ready and prepared to dodge the arrows.

Eirikr shrugged before he rolled his shoulder again. He raisedthe bow and loosed an arrow. Eruviel held for a breath, waiting for the guard to dodge before loosing her own arrow.

He could not move in time. The arrows penetrated his armour at the junction between breastplate and shoulder guard. “Aarsahsfhgggrrr!” Jossr screamed, but remains on his feet. “Come at me like a real man!” he challenged.

Eirikr watchedthe blood course down the man’s arm. Ignoring the taunt, he nocked another arrow. “Two more for you, Jossr?”

Jossr, driven by adrenaline, dodged. The arrow sank into the wall behind him.

Eruviel nocked another arrow and took aim. “Your friend had the right idea, young one.”

Jossr grinned and shook his head. “I don’t abandon my duty.”

Eruviel glared at Jossr. “We do not have time for this.” Loosing her arrow she leapt forward, gripping her bow with her left hand as she drew her sword mid-stride.

Jossr manages to dodge the arrow only to fall to one knee from pain. Eirikr drew his sword as well. Eruviel batted Jossr’s spear to the side and drove her blade towards him, intent on stopping a hairs breadth from his neck.

The man froze so that the blade barely brushed the skin of his neck. He did not even have time to raise his spear.

Eruviel narrowed her eyes as she held steady. “I suggest you drop it.”

He dropped it with a clatter and sank back to his haunches. Eirikr came up to him and smashed the hilt of his sword into his skull, knocking him out.

Eruviel rotated her jaw around to one side, looking at the guard before moving to retrieve her dagger from where it had stuck in the wall. “Shall we?”

Eirikr nodded. “We shall.” He led them out of the hall deeper into the house and up to the second floor.

 

To Dale: Respite

Sometimes, I have thoughts. Sometimes, others do!

The Last Huntress of The Dreadward Tribunal

A cool draft wafted through the dark room. No, it is not so dark. A trickle of light seeped in from the lantern hanging one door down the hall. A soft white beam from the moon rimmed the window and a faint orange glow from the fire on the edge of town danced along the ceiling.

Eruviel sat in one of the two chairs in her smaller room, her feet propped up  on the second as she sat watching the hall. She had left the door to her room cracked open to keep an eye on the hall. Eirikr had finally returned, having been let in from the back by the barmaid Eruviel had befriended. She could only hope that after all this time, and after everything both of them had been through — especially Ninim — that they were able to reconcile.

Setting her now sharpened and cleaned dagger…

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