Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 19

The harbor at Mithlond rose above her as she walked through the streets of white marble.

Above the harbor rose the towers. And above the towers the mountains themselves, capped with white and idly letting out puffs of clouds. She breathed the sea air and smiled. There was nothing like the sea. She could watch it for days, listening to the endless dancing of the waters. Telvadar greeted her as she walked into the House of the Darkened Tree, embracing her gladly and welcomed her once more to his House. He was a tall Noldo with a cheerful smile. His long hair was bound back and confined with a thin ring of Ithildin. rielle1! I was afraid you might not be able to join us. Happy is this meeting! It wouldnt be like me to miss a fight. rielle smiled back. I saw the Dnedain marching up from the south to help us. Yes, they are here now. He replied, leading her into the house. Crimson banners with the symbol of a pair of black, leafless trees hung from the ceiling and covered the walls. The hall was filled with both elves and the Dnedain, all of them preparing their weapons and armour, gathering supplies and provisions for the road, and reacquainting themselves with old friends. Telvadar walked to a burly man with a grey beard clad in spotless plate armour, bowing as they reached him. Arkonhtar. He said, taking the mans hand in a firm grip. Its been too long! Nigh on ninety years now. Arkonhtar grinned. Though you look not an hour older, of course. Is this all now, or are more coming? rielle asked. My niece, rielle. Shell be leading the Gwaithiradon2 in the northern assault. Telvadar explained.

1 2

(Sindarin) Noble Daughter (Sindarin) Company of Seekers, Those who Find

I will do my best to keep the Angmarim looking south, lady. Arkonhtar bowed with a creak of harness. You neednt worry, lord. rielle smiled. Not at all. Telvadar smiled as well. The men in the Ered Luin and all the way to Amon Sl gave her the name Evendm3, and I assure you she lives up to it. Honored to go to battle with you, lady rielle. Some of the Dnedain call me Katswith, lord Arkonhtar. A nickname of sorts, and much easier to say than lady rielle Evendm. She pulled her long hair around and began braiding it tightly. What does it mean? She smiled impishly. Most likely it means Swift Steel in some local colloquialism. Some of the rangers started calling me that and it seems to have stuck. Telvadar began speaking of specific needs; food, arrows, spears, armour. rielle walked away to get some wine, smiling to the twelve Gwaithiradonim that would be following her. They smiled back and one bowed. It was good to be working with them again, she thought. If they were any quieter the sunlight would have to take lessons in silence. The Dnedain were talking quietly with some of the rangers of the Ered Luin. Both groups were tall men with noble faces marred by grim purpose, and their voices were quiet as they talked. She passed one who was younger than some of the others, sitting quietly with a great broadsword sheathed across his knees. She stopped and he looked up. The brooch of his cloak was that of a silver tree and a crescent moon. She saw that though he may be young, he wasnt a stranger to battle. His hands were scarred and his armour bore the marks of furious battles. He just looked up at her, staring without expression into her eyes.

(Sindarin) Ever Silent

She smiled slightly, puzzled. His hair was as black as hers, his eyes of a bright gray. He stood up, looming slightly over her. Then his pale skin flushed slightly as he remembered his manners, and he bowed carefully, mumbling a greeting in elvish. rielle touched his hand, bowing slightly. I am Katswith, leader of the Gwaithiradonim. And you are? I am Akhaillen, lady. Your armour is Gondorian, your weapons of Arthedain, your name in the tongue of fallen Nmenor, and I perceive Noldorin blood in your countenance. From whence do you come? Lady, I was born here, of the house of the Moonlit Tree, now fallen. I have spent the last thirty years learning the arts of war in the south of Gondor. My heart I left here in the north, and finally I came back. My cousins told me that battle was brewing here in the Ered Luin, and we took a ship to Mithlond. It all came out in a rush. You are very beautiful, lady. He finished, quietly. Across the room a knight called his name and waved him over. They nodded to each other and Katswith turned to walk back to Telvadar, eyes still on Akhaillen. Then Akhaillen stopped her by gently taking her slim hand in his. Lady. He said, eyes locked with hers. After after the battle, lady Katswith perhaps we could talk again? I would like that. She smiled brightly, realizing she wanted nothing more in all the world, that moment. He smiled back, eyes dancing happily, and something that words cannot describe passed between them. Be careful, Akhaillen. She whispered. And you, Katswith. He whispered back.

The fortress was looming over the trees on the north side as she and her scouts crept along like shadows in the dappled, wavering sunlight. A ways behind her was the main Noldorin force, led by the elven lords. Luinbar was a village on the west side of the river Lhn that was unfortunate in its location as the only bridged crossing in a hundred leagues. The Angmarim attack was not only unexpected, but it was overwhelming. Those who fled early were the only survivors. Now they were striking back: the Iathrim4 bowmen would enfilade the fort and village from the north while the Noldorin lords and knights would assault below the arrow storm. From the road to the south the Dnedain would attack at the same time, covered by more Iathrim bows. A few of the Dnedain had the great steel bows of Nmenor as well. The Dnedain were much farther off, to keep the element of surprise. Once the assault began, they would rush to the attack. Katswith and the Gwaithiradonim were ahead of everyone: to them fell the task of dealing with the sentries. They reached the wall with a great tower shading them from the sun. Light as breath, Katswith crept up the wall and circled around to the battlements, the Sindarin bowmen following just as silently. Men were guarding the walls, standing in the sunlight where the goblins would have been almost blind. The closest was sixty feet or so, and he didnt notice the greyclad elves passing over the battlements. With finger signals Katswith directed bowmen to places and assigned targets. She herself took the farthest: those guarding the main gatehouse. Her fingers deftly tapped her arrows, finding the one with the line attached. Carefully she drew it and set it aside. The head was long and barbed, and on it spells of earthsong had been laid. Her friend, Camcr5, looped one end of the line around a merlon and pulled it tight. She looked about quickly, seeing all was ready, and sent a warbling call sounding through the forest.
4 5

Literally, Fence People; these are Sindar who lived within Doriath in the First Age. (Sindarin) Skilled of Craft

Three heartbeats later twelve bows sang as the Sindar fired their first arrows. The twelve men fell over with barely a choking cry. Another heartbeat, twelve more arrows. Katswith fired her third on the fifth heartbeat. The fourth was the arrow attached to the line: it stuck just below the gatehouse battlements, piercing half a foot into stone. Other targets began appearing and the Gwaithiradonim engaged them immediately. Katswith leaped onto the line thirty feet above the courtyard and ran across swift as a falcon. In moments she had leaped over the battlements of the gatehouse. A goblin lunged at her with a spear and she flipped backwards to avoid him. There was no time to draw an arrow as it gave a cry and charged after her. Camcr jumped over the battlements and, nothing loath, shot the unsuspecting goblin in the back of the head. She ran to the stairs and fired at movement, putting an arrow into the throat of another goblin. Then came a roar of stone as the tunnel of the gatehouse collapsed in a choking cloud of dust and rock. Camcr dove for the shaking rope, just getting his fingers on it as the battlements shook and collapsed beneath his weight. She caught just a sad flash of his green eyes as he slid over the edge with the rope in hand. The rest of the Gwaithiradonim dropped into the courtyard and began firing arrows as fast as accurately possible. She could see the Dnedain charging up the road, ignorant of the blocked entrance below. An armoured troll brandishing a double-bitted axe bore down on the Sindarin in the courtyard, rock dust and gravel coming off of it in clouds. Arrows stuck in its armour or glanced off, but none slowed it down. From below the war cries of goblins rose to a crescendo. She spun, looking for a way to run. She sprinted across the top of the tower as the goblins came pouring up the steps, and without pause leaped across the gap to the other gatehouse tower. She fired an arrow in mid-air at the startled goblin on the other side and landed lightly beside the

falling body, rolling to her feet and running to the other side of the tower. The battlements were just below, and she dropped the twenty feet and landed in a crouch. Four of her bowmen were down, slain by the raging troll. One was hacking at it with a war axe, desperately dodging blows from the fifteen-pound axe. Two others were firing arrows to keep the garrisons head down. She couldnt see any others. Moving down the battlements she fired arrows at the troll. She could hear the Dnedain shouting as they rushed around the fort and into the ruined village, working around to the postern gate. She planted an arrow in the trolls neck. It barely shrugged. In the village the waiting Angmarim sprang their trap. In moments the Dnedain were reeling in a flood of foes. Surprised they might have been, but their courage blazed the higher for it. Standing a full head taller than even the tallest of the men they were fighting, and even more than that compared to the goblins, they hacked down adversaries and smashed them aside. She didnt see it, but she felt it. In the forest where the Noldorin troops were even now rushing the fort, she felt it rise up. Something powerful. Something filled with the evil of the void. A creature of power. A fallen spirit. A Rhaugr6. An ancient servant of Morgoth. A hundred yards of forest whipped in a hellish wind, the trees turning black and withering away in seconds. A crescendo of screams rose on the wind, fighting to be heard over the hacking roar of the creature. Katswith ran down the wall and leaped over, catching a merlon and sliding down the irregular stonework. Her mind was shaking from the awful presence of the creature, but she ran towards where it was. To where it was slaughtering the Noldor. She ran into the now open space where the withered trees were being blasted down as the black bulk of the Rhaugr flailed and smashed at the elven knights.

(Sindarin) lit. Demon

It was a dozen feet in height, with crackling black skin that seemed like flesh burned black. Its frame was lean but powerful, with long limbs ending in clawed extremities. One hand held a sword of runed darkiron that smoked with the elder blood that had spilled on the oven-hot metal. Half, more than half of the Noldor were dead already. The blade sliced through bodies without pause, and the poison of its breath drove men to their knees. As she watched it gripped one elf and hurled him through the forest like a thrown pebble. She gripped her bow and drew the nock to her ear. Time slowed to a limping crawl. Akhaillen tossed his broken shield in the face of the Angmarim knight. The knight ducked and Akhaillen drove the point of his broadsword in the mans throat right to the hilts. His knee came up and struck the choking warrior in the chest and kicked him back into the rest of the enemy. They were being pushed back onto the bridge, and from the other side came more Angmarim, trapping them there. A few Dnedain in the middle still launched arrows from their steelbows at point blank range. So powerful were the shots that the arrows were passing through their targets and striking those behind them. It was impossible to miss. The hard-pressed Dnedain were killing five to one or more, but the price was too dear. One by one they fell by spear or axe or sword, their enemies clambering over the piles of dead and dying men. Akhaillen picked up a second blade and stepped back into the combat. The battle had been going on for a half an hour now, and his breath was rasping in and out in huge, bellows-like gasps. The two mile jog in full armour hadnt helped either. A hammer struck his breastplate with a ringing like a gong, driving him to his knees. He cut reflexively at legs he could barely see through the haze and felt the blade bite into bone. Parrying a barely seen blade he thrust at its wielder and his blade stabbed through the mans gut.

He was just regaining his feet when the bridge shuddered and tilted, the weight of so many dead and so many fighting shearing two supports off. Men and goblins fell off the side with many of the dead, down into the rushing waters. Akhaillen fell and slid towards the edge, slowing himself with a clawing hand and then driving his blade through the wood. A poleaxe swung and Arkonhtar fell right next to him, vomiting blood before sliding off the side. He bid a silent farewell to the fallen lord. He picked up a blade from where it lay and hurled it so that it struck the axeman in the face. His chest hurt like fire every time he took a breath. Then he heard the Rhaugr. And worse, he could make out Katswith as she dropped off of the fort and ran into the woods after it. Fire blossomed in his veins as he struggled to get to the upper part of the bridge. From there he could jump into the shallows. She would need his help Then the bridge turned over and he was falling, weightless for just a moment, and the cold waters closed over his head. He struggled with his armour, finally drawing a knife and slicing the straps. His feet hit bottom and he pushed himself up coming out into the roaring stream just long enough to painfully grab some air. The current pushed him back-first into a rock and he heard a scream of tearing metal. His head struck another rock and he knew no more. Her arrow barely got the attention of the creature. It responded by hurling an elf at her. The headless corpse missed her as she dove behind a smoking tree. She came to her feet and let another arrow fly. She was dangerously low on arrows when the demon turned and decided to deal with her once and for all. It rushed her with a sound like a hundred horses; its red maw gaped behind teeth that were clotted with rotting meat and bone. She dodged behind a tree, a fear from the very heart of her being making her shake.

The tree shattered into splinters and the she threw herself aside, rolling to her feet. Shed lost her bow but the demonsword only cut a eight foot smoking rent in the ground instead of through her. Another tree exploded as the Rhaugr smashed through after her. She was running through a rain of splintered wood and bark, slipping and trying to stay ahead of the raging Rauko. There was an explosion of sound, but it was sound that you could hear but also see, even feel it through your skin. It was a song of incredible concussive power, and it struck the demon and hurled it aside even as it knocked her flat and stunned her. Just before she fell unconscious she saw a Noldo charging with a great sword in hand, glowing with power, his eyes blazing like those of the Valar. She came awake slowly, feeling not any hurt of body, but of her spirit. Without opening her eyes she could feel the presence of the lord. 'You are safe, and healed.' She heard him say, and opened her eyes. The pain from the fear will subside. Not everyone manages to fight an evil like a Rhaugr. The room was tall and bounded by great beams of wood and marble pillars. The bed she lay in was soft; the cloth was nearly silken in its feel and she stretched lightly, feeling the comfort it brought her. 'You saved us, lord.' She said, looking into the incredibly bright eyes of this Noldo who had come with songs of power and an ancient blade to battle a Raughr. Almost none, alas!' He looked stricken. 'Two only did I save. You, and one other who has yet to wake. But of the Angmarim, there are none left.' 'You are lord Calasl7.' She said. 'I hadn't known you were with us.' 'I was not.' He replied. 'But when creatures of power come, those who have power must needs be there. I came as swiftly as I might.' 'Is it slain, then?'

(Quenya) Bright Spirit

'I fought it for an hour.' He shook his head. 'Power for power, might for might. I threw it down into the dark ravine and it writhed as it died. There is no place in the Halls of Mandos for such as it, just the blackness of the void beyond Arda.' 'You are mighty, lord.' She said, humbled by this grave lord of the Noldorin. 'Perhaps. How do you feel?' 'I feel... well, but my heart aches at this defeat. Who has survived?' 'Of our folk I have already spoken.' Calasl said quietly. 'Of the Dnedain, only five. They are camped by the river, and we are helping them bury their dead with such grace as can be managed.' 'I would go to them.' She sat up, heart beating anxiously. 'Then go.' He nodded. A little way from the river Lhn she found them, five men with faces grimmer than she had seen in the halls before the battle. Nine score and twelve of their brethren had fallen in the battle, and they were beyond weeping. Elves were building a cairn, using stone from the shattered fort. She walked into the campsite, looking at each of them. None were Akhaillion. 'I am sorry for your loss. A grievous battle it was, and all have tears to shed.' 'Thank you, Katswith.' A knight she remembered as Pelendur said. 'Your folk have taken care of us well. You have our thanks for that.' They were grimy and spattered with dark blood, and their armour was rent and broken, but if men existed that had a will like these she had never met them. 'Tell me.' She said, hesitantly. 'What of the warrior, Akhaillion?' 'He died, lady.' Pelendur said softly. 'He was one of the last, as the bridge collapsed. He picked up a sword and handed it to her, hilt first. It was indeed that sword that she had seen only briefly, but she could not have

mistaken it for any other. It was nicked and stained and evil blood was left upon it. The world shrunk, and she felt the pain of the wound that she had never taken. Elves love once, and only once, and she had never realized looking into those stormy eyes that it would have taken just a single word, just one, and she would have been his forever. Now she would never hear that word, and she blurrily saw the warriors stand and Pelendur took her hand. 'Lady, are you hurt? What is wrong?' 'I am hurt.' She answered, shakily. 'I am wounded unto death, and there is no healing for this pain.' She dropped the blade and walked away, heedless of the knight's cries to come back. He woke slowly, pain filling his frame. Someone was sitting near, and he lay on wood. The world rocked slowly and he heard the heavy clop of hooves. 'I...' He started to say and his chest was filled with fire. 'Easy.' A light hand lay on his shoulder. The voice spoke westron with the thick accent of Cardolan. 'You're more dead than alive. We found you by the river four days ago. Are ye thirsty? Let me give you sommat to drink.' He got a couple of mouthfuls down through the pain. 'There's a ranger post not far.' The voice continued. All he could see was a roving blackness. 'We'll drop you there. The Dnedain will see to you.' He barely nodded before he passed out. 'You're awake.' The voice was deep and strong, and he flicked his eyes open. 'Wasn't anything much survived from what I was told. The elves were attacked by something... old, something from the long wars.'

His chest hurt, but the pain was more than bearable. 'Did they... did they kill it?' He managed. 'An elven lord fought it to the death, and overcame it. But it slaughtered the elves mercilessly before he arrived. He survived, none others.' Akhaillen gasped, and grief welled up inside him. No... Youre certain? He demanded, face drawn tight. 'Im certain. Are you okay?' The ranger asked in concern. 'Justa moment.' He replied, tears running down his cheeks. The ranger waited patiently, misunderstanding. 'For just for a moment, I looked into eyes like the starlight shining through the seas. So deep I could drown my soul in them.' Akhaillen whispered, heart breaking as he remembered. 'And she's gone. Gone, taken by them.' He was helpless to stop the cold rage that flooded him. He ground his teeth in such fury that the ranger grabbed a piece of wood, thinking he had swallowed his tongue. Weakly, Akhaillen beat away the hands that grasped at him. 'I will have a reckoning.' He grated. 'If I kill every one of them, if I slay the witch-king himself and all his works are destroyed by my hand, still I will not be content!' Calm yourself, Akhaillen. Do you understand? They took everything from me! Akhaillen shivered with the depth of his anger. The ranger looked down into blazing blue-grey eyes, and watched this lord of the Dnedain become Hate. And so it was. He healed, and received new weapons and armour, and joined

the Dnedain that still fought in the remnants of Cardolan and Arthedain. Many grew to know him, but few loved him: he was too grim and dark for them. They came to call him Amondr, the dark mountain; for he was tall, and his visage was black with hate and his eyes were filled with the loom of the darkness at twilight. He hunted the enemy without worry for his safety, but he was not careless: if he should fall, then the servants of the Dark Lord would have won. But he roamed the hills in the east with spear and blade, and few called him friend though many listened to him. In quiet moments he could speak with wisdom, especially when planning an attack, or looking for a way to foil the servants of the Enemy. For her part, she went north and helped for a while with the healers in the barren lands, until she understood there was no healing for her heart and so she came back to Ered Luin and once more took up her bow and blades. She roamed with the elves who had no desire to sit in the havens and live quietly: these were those who kept the northern borders safe. From ambush or by design they killed the Angmarim wherever they found them. 'Katswith!' Pelendur exclaimed, striding to meet her and take her hand. 'I didn't know you would be leading this force! Glad is this meeting.' He smiled and bowed. 'Someone had to.' She said. 'Tell me of the Black Crypt. What can we expect?' 'The rangers tell me this is fraught with danger, lady, but we cannot let this opportunity pass.' He replied. 'There is within those unhallowed halls, a prince of old, one of the ancient kings of Cardolan. It is he we seek, to lay him to rest once more.' 'And the situation?' She felt she was treating this faithful man coldly, but just seeing him brought pain to her heart. Time does not lessen elven wounds of the spirit. 'He is in there, at the bottom of the fortress. It's not a dungeon; the ground underneath is all broken up by streams and waterfalls. But we'll have to find a way. Four companies will enter and seek the way in. Whichever finds him must attempt to slay him.'

'A long chance.' She observed. 'It is. But since we have little hope we must make our own.' Pelendur said in his rumbling voice. 'Where do you need me, lord Pelendur?' 'There are caves in the hills above the fortress. You and your people would be best there. We have three hundred Dnedain who will assault while you enter, and groups of knights to delve into the dark for this wight.' 'Then I will be where you need me.' She said. 'You are hurt, hurt inside.' He remarked. 'I feel it.' 'Yes, but there is no healing for me, Pelendur, though I thank you for the kindness of your heart.' 'Be careful, lady.' He said. 'There is much to live for, and I hope you see that.' She didn't, but the earnestness of this grave lord touched her, that and the honest worry that he had for her, and she embraced him before she left. She put salve on her wounds and chanted a song of healing, softly though it was doubtful any could hear her over the roar of the dozen waterfalls in the room. The attack was a shambles, unless you counted only the bodies of the enemy. She was alone now, not knowing where any of her brethren might be other than wandering through the fortress, fighting and dying. The only thing that might be said was that they had taken the enemy by surprise. But now the attack had faltered and devolved into scattered groups that ran through the fortress attacking and defending without purpose. Faced with a score of orcs she had jumped into the chasm, finally catching herself and making her way along the wall to this shelf. None had come looking for her yet, but she was sure they would. Her keen elven sight spotted one of the Angmarim on a thin bridge high above,

and she quickly shot an arrow. It struck his leg and he fell. With a cry he tried to twist and grab for a handhold, but missed. He struck an outcropping on the way down with a crunch of bone. Down below she could see a floor wracked with ruin and old bones and the bodies of the fallen. It might be possible for her to climb down, but it was quite a ways and the rocks were slippery. Her pack had a line of rope... she rarely went anywhere without some... but it had slipped off her back and now lay down there, somewhere. She came to a crouch and lifted her bow. Somewhere above her there were screams and the clash of battle. She couldn't see anything but a man flew past her on his way to the hard cold stone below. The spray from a waterfall made her dark hair glisten with dewdrops. Then came a shower of stone. Shouts and curses came and suddenly two men fell onto the shelf, gripping eachother. For a moment they strained and then the larger one tossed the other off the shelf. There was a cry that was cut off suddenly. The man raised himself painfully and stood shakily, moving his limbs carefully checking for wounds from the fall. A Dnedan, for certain. The man tossed back his hair and ran bloody hands through it. 'It's safe here, for now.' She said, rising and stepping towards him. He spun with hand on hilt and they locked eyes. For long moments they stood, staring at each other, wordlessly. Then they were in each others arms, entwined and locked in a long kiss. Their bodies quivered with the intensity of emotion. In this moment, which can be measured in long seconds but in the timeframe of the heart, perhaps ages of the world fled past, their hearts met and they were healed. Their breasts were filled with warmth and love and the darkness in their souls fled wailing. Breaking the kiss their eyes met again, and long they gazed into the depths of each other's souls.

'I thought you were dead.' She smiled through a shower of tears. 'And I thought the same of you.' His voice shook. 'I thought you were dead and I never told you I loved you from the moment I saw you.' 'I thought I would never be able to tell you the same.' She said, and they kissed again, long and lovingly. 'I shall never again be parted from you.' He said, breathlessly. 'No! I could not bear it!' She replied. 'Here in a fortress of evil, surrounded by evil creatures, and I find you.' He smiled through his tears. 'The Valar themselves sent you.' She kissed him happily. 'We've things to do.' They said at the same time, then laughed. It was with light hearts that they gathered up their things. 'I wish we had a rope.' She commented. 'Ask and ye shall receive, gentle lady.' He said, pulling his small pack around and pulling out a long rope. They secured the line and dropped it over the edge, and he slung his shield and checked the dark hilted blade he bore. 'You are changed.' She said. 'As are you.' He replied. 'They call me Amondr , now.' 'Not I.' She replied. 'I shall call you my heart, my love, my dearest desire. Amondr you were, but that is just a word to wake fear in our foes, now.' 'You have wisdom beyond mine, lady.' He smiled. 'Amondr I am, but only as you say.' They crept carefully down the line, careful so they did not dislodge stone and give word of their coming to any below. They landed on solid rock and he stopped her, kissing her gently.

'This prince still needs to be destroyed, lady.' He said. 'He does.' She smiled. 'Let us see to him.' The halls were mostly empty of living foes or allies. Katswith crept along with the somewhat-lumbering Amondr just behind her. Normally the clanking of armour would have annoyed her; this time it was welcome. A goblin came running up from behind and Amondr spun and sent him flying with a smash of his shield. Two more from the front and Katswith shot them down one after the other. There was a roar of battle getting louder up ahead and she sped along, stopping when she reached the ruins of the great hall. There were several knights and a few other Dnedain fighting a score of barrowfiends and Mewlips. At the top of the stairs at the other end the barrow-lord himself squatted in a throne of stained rock. Ill make a hole through there, you follow me through. Amondr whispered harshly. I will follow you closely. She smiled. Without any war cry he raised his shield and blade and rushed. One Angmarim warrior slew a man and looked up, trying to pull his spear from the body as Amondr smashed him clear off his feet. The man and three of his companions went down in a pile. Amondrs sword split the evil skull of a Mewlip and he struck a barrow-fiend in the chest with the edge of his shield. Katswith sprinted full speed and flipped up in the air over Amondr and his foes, landing several feet past them with long knives in hand. They shimmered coldly from the proximity of the enemy. A wight swung at her with an axe and she leaped back, then back in so suddenly it missed again. Her blades struck through his undead flesh a dozen times and he fell back into a mouldering pile of old bones.

Behind her Amondrs shield snapped with a ring of metal and crack of wood. He gripped the long hilt of his sword and swung the sword in vicious arcs, clearing the enemy from his feet and path. Katswith was at the foot of the stairs, and at the top, now standing, was the ancient wight. It glowered at her with glowing eyes, drawing a sword and hefting a shield. Amondr joined her. I always meant to ask. She said, idly, as the creature came slowly down the stairs. Did you ever make the choice of your elven blood? Yesterday I didnt want to live another day. Now? He smiled as he lifted his sword. Now theres nothing I want more than to live forever. The wight came at them in a rush. Place burned right down once we found the oil the goblins were keeping. Amondr said. Excellent. A strange battle, thats for sure. Im glad more of ours were wounded than slain. Pelendur nodded. Well, Ill be here for a week or so, then Im going to head to Lindon and see what help I can give on that frontier. He smiled slightly as Katswith walked past him.

She took his hand without pausing, out the door, out of the house and into the forest, leading him into the glade without a word. In the peace of the grove with the scents of flowers and pollen in the air they embraced, long kisses drawing out deep sighs. The grass was soft as they slipped down to the ground and lay in each others arms, gently caressing. The beginning of forever, love. She whispered in his ear. Forever or a single hour, I am content, love. He whispered back, breath warm

against her throat. Their lips touched and their souls swirled together.