After Death

Abiorn prowled. He prowled and prowled and the bit of him that was human hoped that someone had picked up his cloak because he liked that cloak and fixing it to break away easily upon transformation had proven to be difficult. But mainly, he prowled.

He encountered little wildlife on the ice. For that, he felt grateful and grateful felt better than anything else he could be feeling right now. His animal mind wrestled with the feelings without having the human mind dwell on their meaning.

Grief.

Shock.

Pain.

Emptiness.

Betrayal.

Guilt.

How could he feel betrayed that Godric died? His commander. His leader. His boss. He felt betrayed, let down, angry. But he did not feel those things toward Godric, did he? But the man should not have gone off on his own, he knew better, he was the commander, he was his commander, he shouldn’t have gone off on his own…

Salmon. He could smell it. He lifted his head to sniff the air and followed the naked trail of fishiness to the bay. Catching a fish came easy. Thinking about Godric was too hard. Being a human was too hard…

What happens when a man dies?

After Godric fell from the fort’s wall, Taja had sat down to lead his spirit to where spirits go. Not the Henki-maa. The other place out of reach and time.

When he died, where would he go? He was more than a man. Would he be stuck there on the spirit plains? Would he descend into a hukassa? Would he join Joren and live with spirits of the bear-men instead? What about his brother and sister…

Fish. Focus on fish and sweet berries. There are no bees in Forochel.

~~~***~~~

The cold seeped into old bones. It crept into the marrow and stopped the heart though the lungs kept breathing in and out. In and out. In and out.

He did not want to breathe in and out anymore.

The boy had used his power enough to close the wound and stop the blood from draining out, but to what cause? Zabathôr knew that he was not in a pile of Lossoth furs being tended to by one of their beautiful women. He knew he was truly alone in the world for the first time. No slaves. No servants. No hope.

His crusted eyes fought to open beneath the warmth of the summer sun. He could not  understand why they tried. He could not fathom how they succeeded. The white and grey  blinded him. The blue suffocated. The world around him weaved in and out of his vision in a waterfall of colour. He could not stop looking.

His old bones ached from the cold.

Slowly, he turned his head to look across the parapet where that cursed boy cut him down. The Angmarim had fled quickly, but thoroughly. Only a broken barrel remained in his field of vision. A barrel and blood on the cold stones.

Weakly, he lifted a hand and the wood ignited. It flared brightly, blinding his tired eyes and then settled into a low burn. It would not last long. He would not last long if he remained exposed to the Forochel air. Perhaps something remained…

Above him, a black shadow circled.

Slowly, he rolled over to his side, wincing and biting back a groan. Even though only the cold stones towered around him to hear it, he kept it inside as he pushed himself up into a sitting position. His hand braced his torso. Pain exploded beneath his cool composure, but he was used to pain. He had not always been the most powerful of the Four Lords. He knew how to bear the fires of pain.

“My poor chest,” he murmured as he pulled himself closer to the fire. “All these years and I managed not to mar it…”

He pulled the sliced pieces of his robe tighter over his cold chest to hide the angry red wound.

The black shadow above cawed down to him to die. It was hungry. So was he.

Gritting his teeth, he lifted a hand and murmured the words. He was too tired to do it without the words. Even as the carrion bird fell to the stonework of the fort, he paled. It would be a while until he could do that again. Its feathers smoldered nearby. He could not let the fire he had go out…

It would be easier to die. He wasn’t sure he could stomach the bird after he defeathered the carcass. He used a fine dagger used for decoration more than slicing flesh and severing ligaments. He skewered a bit of meat on its end to hold over the barrel fire. He managed to eat a few bites and then he set the rest on the cold stones and looked around himself. Saw the door. Managed to stand with the help of the low wall that their commander had toppled over so poetically. He smiled.

The Ironspan claimed many men in its time. It would claim many more in the times to come. But Zabathôr knew that it would not claim him that night.

((Sidenote: Because I am indecisive, I rolled a lot for Zab’s situation. 14 to survive the night. 18 to survive waking up. 6 to be found by someone. 17 to stand and make it to shelter. He clearly wants to live. 😉 ))

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Headstrong Heart: A Message

Dear Godric,

I wished to let you know that I have landed and made my way to Minas Tirith. Unfortunately, it is not a good time to be in Minas Tirith and my uncle was not pleased at my arrival. He has sent me to the Houses of Healing to assist the healers as they prepare for war.

I must admit that having something to do with my time is a relief. I do not have to think about the encroaching shadow or the oncoming war. I tear and sew (I was never very good at it) and help prepare for worst. 

Do wish the others well. I am hopeful that the darkness that has settled in people’s hearts here does not reach its tendrils into Durrow. I hope that you and the others are safe.

Give my regards to the other Wayfarers. Tell Gael

Sincerely,

Halvel of House Remlor

~~~***~~~

Dear Rosie,

First, I need to apologize. I am so sorry to abandon you and my work at the Broken Cask. I know that my assistance was minimal, but it was a relief to have you there when I was in Bree-land. The loneliness that one experiences when you lose all your friends is very different than the loneliness that descends when you simply have none. 

I have found myself in Minas Tirith, and though I had intended on coming here to live with my uncle, Tomlin, I did not expect to arrive the way I did. I suppose I am lucky to have arrived without something much worse than a bruised eye and broken lip. My uncle was not pleased that he had to present me to others in such a manner, but there was little I could do about it. At least the story of a corsair ship accosting ours earned me some admiration among some of the ladies left in the Houses of Healing.

There are times when I miss you and Glory terribly. I miss Atrian. And Gaelyn. But nothing can be done; it is over and I am gone. I should not have made the choice so rashly. It just hurt so badly when he said he could not anymore. It hurt more than I realized it could. 

If what they say is true, soon it will not matter. Few believe we will survive this storm. If that is true, please tell me that you will be safe, Rosie. Flee into the forest or west to the mountains. The shadow lies over this city and grows each day. It will make the waiting easier to think that you and Glory will be safe. 

Write if you can; I do not know if anything will get through any longer. Know that you are in my thoughts. 

Your friend,

Halvel

~~~***~~~

Dear Gaelyn,

Please know that I am safe in Minas Tirith. My uncle has taken me in and I am working at the House of Healing making bandages and doing simple things where I can. 

I hope Atrian is well. Give him my love.

Halvel

A Bitter Pill: Request

Dear Rheb,

As I write this, I do hope that the rest of your thrusk went without further encounters (violent or otherwise). I am glad that I was able to see you and I hope that you enjoy the paints. Do you remember Anya? She lives with her brothers and their menagerie on the shore below your cliff. She mixes the pigment with some material that makes it sparkle–I forgot to tell you that. She can probably make more if you’d like.

Speaking of your cliff and your house that sat on it, Oendir is renting it to the man he’s chosen as his acting commander when he is not afield. He is Godric of Rohan and he has established himself as a disciplined and caring man if nothing else.

I tell you this for two reasons:

One, he lives there now, but if you want to come visit, I do not want that to deter you. You are always welcome in Durrow; if you’d like, you could stay in my shop on Garden street with Hunyr if the inns are too crowded for you.

Two, he wishes to meet you and I agreed to write to ask you for permission to bring him to the Lone-lands to do so. We could meet on the trading hill or further south by the Forsaken Inn. If you want, I will send him away after a short visit so that we can be left to our own desires.

That sounds far more naughty than I intended when I wrote it. I do hope Han or one of the women is not reading this to you.

On Han, he mentioned that he wished he could stand to translate for us. That you have much more to say than you are able. He said other things, but perhaps those are best left to my next visit.

I love you, Rheb. We all do, in our own ways. Please do not forget your family here in Durrow. I know one day, Oen will be able to visit. I think that you should visit here. I really, truly believe you should.

With love,

Kwen