The Solitary Arrow Ch. 09bymack_the_knife©
Harlen and Hyandai walked slowly home, it was early in the day, and they were both careworn and tired from their long nights and suffering. They took comfort in each other's company, and in the beautiful countryside, with its small copses of trees and rolling hills. Shepherds tended their flocks off on those hills, and waved as the couple passed close enough to be seen clearly.
She did not find human lands as objectionable as she had been told they would be. They seemed mostly friendly, and the land was not nearly as 'raped' as many elves felt that it would be. Certainly, the humans changed their environment, as did the elves, or did they think that woodlands were simply naturally like a garden or orchard? That humans were not quite so enamored of simple forest should not be held against them, there was beauty in all sorts of countryside, and she reveled in all the sorts.
The scuttling clouds provided cooling shade as they passed overhead, and the sunlight was bright and warming when it fell on them. She was in very high spirits now. The taint of her womb was healing, and she would soon be whole. The witch had not gotten the true payment she had sought, and Harlen, even if he did not stay with Hyandai, would not return to the embrace of the hag.
They were young, they were in love, and they were happy for the moment. She did not let any of the darker thoughts that she had been having come forth for now, and she simply enjoyed the moment, as an elf should.
That was what she had learned, hanging helpless in the manacles while her folly had dribbled from her torn innards. She had learned that she had approached everything wrongly, and her clan was, too, maybe all elves had been. They had stopped being elves, so worried were they by events of the world, and in their own lands. She would not succumb to that again. Certainly, she would have sadness, and she was certain that evil would befall her again before this ill-conceived quest was complete, but she would not despair, for despair was the one thing that she had to let go of. Despair was not elven.
Harlen, for his part, mulled over his actions of last night. How much of what had happened was witchcraft and how much was his frustration in not being able to give his most intimate love to the woman he felt he did love.
He knew frustration was there, and, though he would never admit it to Hyandai, some of it had, indeed, changed to hostility. He looked through his mind, and found those kernels of resentment, and tried to purge them from him. She was not responsible for what had happened to her, and he knew it. She wanted him, and he wanted her. That things kept interfering was not her doing, and he needed to remember that.
Sorcha had played on their innermost fears, resentments, and twisted their loyalties. But she had failed, ultimately, to break the elf, or subvert the man. She had nearly done both, and if she had both would now be on a very different path.
"I'm sorry." Harlen said to her, taking her hand. "I don't know if it was witchcraft or my own lusts that drove me to think the things I did, or both." He looked over at her as they walked. "I can only ask for your forgiveness and hope that you will."
She smiled tenderly. "If it is needed, I give it. Though, I am not convinced that it is necessary." She looked west. "You knew I was returning to my own lands soon, and there is no great wrong in seeking to do something after that event."
He chuckled. "Yes, but it is rude to go filling a vacancy before it is made."
"Some might say it was good planning." She smiled wryly. "Though I will not." They walked a while in silence again. "Harlen. I am not going home." She said, quietly.
He stopped, watching her take a few steps then she turned to him. "I thought you had to?" He asked.
She walked back to him. "No." She said. "I do not. I will seek out the Ehladrel, but I am not going home to collect another silly man to accompany me." She looked at him.
"You wish me to?" He said, rather shocked, and a little worried.
She smiled. "If you will." She said.
"Of course I will." He answered. Kissing her brow. "I only hope we will fare better than Eleean and you did."
She smiled. "We will." She said, her voice assured. "It was foretold."
She made a quick turn and started up the road again. He stared after her a moment, then jogged after her. "It was foretold?" He asked, catching up to her.
"Of course." She said. "It is all in the seer's words." She patted his arm, as if consoling a school child.
His face looked a bit distant, and not a little stunned. "But the seer said that the man would be your...betrothed." He said.
"So she did." Hyandai said over her shoulder as Harlen had slowed again. "She is never wrong, so I suggest you get used to that idea." Her smile was lovely and her hair gleamed like burnished copper as the sun came out from behind a cloud and lit it from above.
Harlen ran toward her, and she squealed as he wrapped his arms around her and lifted her from the ground. He held her to his chest and spun her about, causing her long legs to fly away from him, and he kissed her as they spun. Soon, however, he was dizzy and they both fell into the grass beside the road, giggling and laughing, and he kissed her as she laid atop him. She kissed him back, running her hands up and down his arms and onto his shoulders.
"I shall take that response as a affirmative one." She said, smiling down at him.
Harlen nodded enthusiastically, as a wagon on the road passed them. The driver and his wife sitting on the buckboard glaring at the trysting couple unapprovingly. As the wagon rolled past, two girls, apparently twins, were riding on the tailgate, and they giggled as the couple sat up in the grass and waved to them. The girls giggled some more and waved back until their parents turned their basilisk stares upon them.
Hyandai rose gracefully from atop her man, and stood, straightening her skirt.
Harlen climbed to his feet, and kissed her again, knocking small bits of dirt from his backside, and grass from his back and hair. "We should always have a blanket with us, if we plan on being so impetuous." He said.
"That sort of makes being impetuous rather planned, does it not?" She asked him, helping him dust himself off.
"Perhaps." He agreed. "But then again, people will at least think us good planners when they see us rolling about."
She grinned after the almost vanished cart. "I care not if we are seen in loving one another." She said. "It is honest love and others should see it in flower."
Harlen nodded at that. "Yes, they should, but I don't think they will wish to see my hairy bottom, even in honest love."
She regarded that bottom as they set off on the last mile to Morrovale. "I should think it a good butt, hairy or no." She said, appraising it, and then running her slim fingers over it through is trousers.
The last mile seemed too short to them, as the sun lowered in the sky and the moon was well up. The townsfolk watched them pass and there was some small comment to their passing. They were smiled upon, though, and the people still would come out of their way to watch the elf-maiden pass by. She greeted those that greeted them, and they even stopped again to speak to one of Harlen's hunting acquaintances. This man was named Hurgon, and he was small and wiry, almost like an elf himself. He showed Harlen his recent prize of three wolf tails, and Harlen wowed appreciatively. They talked for a while about the possibility of the Duke rezoning the assigned lots come fall, and discussed the possibilities and pitfalls that might entail. Hyandai busied herself speaking to Hurgon's wife, a tall, broadly built woman who laughed a lot and smiled even more. The two couples spoke for a long while before parting, well after dark fell on the village.
Finally, they arrived at his home, to find Trevir sitting on the porch, looking worried. When he saw them opening the gate. He leapt to his feet and ran to them, hugging Harlen then Hyandai. "I feared for you." He said. "Someone said you two went to the witches road."
Harlen nodded. "Yes, we did, for we had business with the crone." He said. "We needed her advice on some matters, what of it?"
The boy stared blankly. "One should seek a cleric for advise, Harlen, not a witch, they will deceive you."
Harlen nodded. "You're wiser than you look, Trevir, and we will agree now with your council." Hyandai nodded enthusiastically.
"I am glad you two are back well." The boy said, and hugged them both again.
He paused a moment, his face clouding. "Miss Hyandai, there has been an elven man seeking for you, by name."
Her face shifted to one of immense worry. "Me? By my name?" She said, suddenly she was somewhat panicked looking. "What did he look like, or did you get his name?"
The boy shrugged. "He looked like an elven man, he had blonde hair and silver eyes, and he wore a fine mail tunic." He thought a moment. "He had a odd blade crossed with a staff on his back." He added as an afterthought.
"A blade dancer." She said. "Did you get his name?"
Trevir shook his head. "He said he would seek for you later, should you return." He said.
She looked out to the street worriedly. "I see." She said, quietly. "I fear it may be someone whom I know, and they will not be pleased with how my quest has fared."
"Not another picked suitor?" Harlen said, looking concerned himself.
She shook her head and smiled wanly. "No, if it is who I fear it may be, it is my brother." Her face took on a look of immense worry.
Harlen looked a bit worried. "I though elves tended toward small families." He said. "Yet you seem to have no shortage of siblings."
She smiled widely. "My parents were, and are, legendary among the clan for being rather...affectionate toward one another." She giggled. "I have two sisters, one elder and one younger, and three brothers, two younger and one elder." She looked down the road. "The elder is the one I fear is here. He is the eldest of us and considers himself something of an authority figure." She looked at Harlen. "His name is Ceriandel."
"Speak a name and they shall appear, sister." A voice said from the darkness near the road. A tall elf walked into the light of the lantern Trevir had set upon the porch. He was indeed clad in mail. He walked like a warrior, Harlen noted, moving gracefully, like a cat.
Hyandai sighed, and looked at him. "Well met, Ceriandel." She said, smiling, though it looked somewhat forced to Harlen.
"Am I?" He asked as he stood at the gate. "Somehow, I feel my arrival has come as less than welcome news." He said.
She looked down a moment. "I did not expect anyone from home to follow me on this." She said.
"How could I not?" He said, a small tinge of anger in his voice. "You are my sister, and I cannot let you, of all people, go into harm and not worry for you." He said in a rush of words. "When you did not come home when expected, we grew concerned." He looked at Harlen, and not favorably, near as the hunter could tell. "Where is your betrothed, Eleean?"
She kept her head down. "Dead." She said. "We were accosted by orcs east of here, and he was killed, and I was grievously injured." She said.
He began speaking in elven, words that were both beautiful and sounded very, very hostile. She looked up at him, and her eyes were filled with tears. Then she said. "Speak in Westron, Ceriandel, it is rude to speak in a language those about you cannot understand." Her voice had iron in it now, she had her back up. Enter the courtyard, my brother, stand not in the street, casting your voice at us from a distance.
Harlen told Trevir to go warm the bath, and to stay inside. The boy watched the group as he went inside, and kept a wary eye on Ceriandel as he walked into the yard and stood before the couple.
"I understand from the talk about the village, you were so injured that you needed the special services of a Sorceress." He said, a sneer in his voice. "Such injuries are grievous, I would imagine." He glared at both of them, his eyes seemed to have gained some gray, turning them the sheen of steel.
Hyandai straightened her back and set her shoulders. "You think you have the truth of it all, do you?" She said to her brother, her voice sounding set and her jaw squaring. "You know all things?"
"I do not pretend such." He said. "But I know the marks of an unwanted child, and smell the stench on you of the abattoir." He looked at her, and his eyes flashed with rage. "You perform an act that is most unholy in the eyes of the spirits, and seek to defend yourself, and the man."
"This man did not send me to that place, you unknowing fool." She said, finally snapping, tears rolled down her face as she confronted him. "If you must know my business so intimately, then I tell you, it was no human and elf child that I had torn from my womb, but the offspring of those foul orcs that accosted Eleean and I." She gave him a look of pure anger. "Or would you have me carry such abominations to term?"
The blade dancer blinked a few times, then said. "I did not know." The color had drained from his face. "Forgive me sister." The anger was gone from him.
"I can forgive you, but you need to apologize to this man, for you placed the blame on him, and he has not touched me in that way." She said, giving him an icy stare. "Yet." She added.
Harlen was very uncomfortable now, and fidgeted a bit. The predator eyes of her brother worried him, even as they were now cast downward in remorse.
"Yet your mind thinks of lying with him now?" Ceriandal said, looking at her disbelievingly. "You find your own race lacking?"
Her eyes widened in shock. "You can say such, hypocrite, I know you have lain with human women, on more than one occasion when serving in the Windy Isles." She turned her back to him. "Do not lecture me on virtues such as that, unless you have some standing in the area."
"It is not the same..." He started.
She interrupted him, spinning about and stepping forward, forcing him to step back a half step. "It is not the same?" She screamed at him. "You think it is so different because you are a male?" She was railing now, and Harlen was very uncomfortable. "It is not different, you self-righteous ass!" She yelled. "I will take whomever I like to my bower, and you will not gainsay it." She quieted down a bit. "Or did you have a friend in need, perhaps? Someone more worthy of me putting my legs around?" She grinned evilly now, and Harlen took a few steps away from the siblings. "Bring your friend about, and we shall compare his staff to my Harlen's, and if he can best him, then I shall take your friend instead."
The elf looked indignant. "Have you become a whore?" He exclaimed.
And upon that, Harlen turned. "You will keep a civil tongue on my land, elf." He said, raising a pointing finger at the blade dancer. "Or warrior or no, I shall remove you, lest you desire to draw blade on me."
"I'll not dishonor my chosen calling for you." Said the blade dancer. "Or for her." He said, pointing to Hyandai. He backed to the gate, and walked out, shutting it behind him. "I see now that my sister is no longer of us, and she has cleaved to you, so be it." He turned and walked down the road, at the edge of the light, he turned again, his silvern eyes glinting. "When he has grown old and died, my sister, maybe you will return to your own kind." He turned and was gone, into the night.
"I did not know there was a stigma attached to being with a human." Harlen said, putting his hand on Hyandai's shoulder. She was crying, frustrated and angry tears.
She looked up at him, smiling gently. "To most elves, there is not." She said. "But some are of a different sort, I just never knew my brother was one of those." She sniffed and touched his face. "Most elves know one cannot control whom they fall in love with, they are happy just to see others in bliss." She looked to where her brother had gone off into darkness. "But some think it debases our line to give ourselves to humans, though dallying with them is apparently acceptable, do not grow attached to them, else you are a whore."
"You are no whore, my love." Harlen said. "You know that."
She nodded. "I know." She giggled sourly. "If I am, I am very bad at it, as I've yet to bed the main target of my lusts."
Harlen smiled at that. And hugged her to him. She let herself be enfolded in his protective arms. "You took a grave risk." She said. "I half expected him to come at you."
He looked down at her. "So long as he didn't draw that ehladrel on his back, I wasn't worried, I can hold my own in unarmed brawls."
She giggled. "That is what I feared, the risk was that you would hurt my wayward brother. He is a fool, but he would not have drawn on you. And without being able to do his dance of the blade, you would have probably pounded him like a tent peg." She smiled up at him. "He is an accomplished warrior, Harlen, and not to be taken lightly, but he would not be used to such a contest, and you are much stronger than he." She squeezed his arm. "If you cross him again, please do not hurt him, he is my brother, after all."
"I'll keep that in mind." Harlen said, looking, himself, down the road.
Trevir popped his head out the door. "He has gone?" He asked, looking warily about.
"Yes, young Trevir." Hyandai said, sighing. "He said his piece and left."
He looked at her. "I thought I would like all elves." The lad said. "But your brother is a different sort from you." He looked at her.
"Yes, he is different from me." She agreed. "Very much so." With that, she took Harlen's hand and Trevir's and led the two into the house. She sent the lad off to bed in his small servant's quarters in the back, and she sent Harlen to the bathing room, to wash the witch's stink from himself. She, herself, sat in the common room and thought a while.
When Harlen emerged from the bath, she watched him cross the darkened room for the stairs. She smiled, realizing he had not seen her. She slipped behind him into the bath and climbed in, soaking herself. Harlen did not come back down, so she supposed he was awaiting her upstairs. She forced some water into herself, and back out, carrying small blood clots out with it. She was tired of bearing injuries to her womanhood, even if she was not planning on putting it to use. Finally, she climbed from the tub and walked out, still dripping into the back. She laid upon the grass there, and watched the stars overhead. She laid there a long while, drying slowly in the night air, and feeling the cool caress of the breezes. She thought of Harlen, and his touch, and she longed for it, but she, for some reason, did not go to him to receive it.
She wanted Harlen to make love to her, and was growing quite frustrated at her inability to let him do so. Her mind ran through scenarios of him taking her, in various poses and places. And she moaned slightly at the thoughts. The stars did not accuse her of being a whore for her thoughts or desires. She was no whore, but she was, as the witch had put it, 'damaged goods.' The ordeal that the small remnant of her mind had been put through still affected the rest of her when they merged again. The awful feeling of being torn into and the wretched feelings that her body gave back when it actually somewhat enjoyed the feeling of being used thus. That was the part she would bear the most. People would commiserate over the agony, and she would get sympathy for that part. But the little part of pleasure, sick, twisted pleasure, she had felt, and the shuddering orgasm she had while her womanhood was being torn and ripped would elicit no sympathy from Harlen or anyone else she could think of.
And that was the agony of it. She actually found herself envying the small part of herself that had endured the rape, for that one filthy moment of pleasure that was buried in the humiliation of the violent encounter. She sighed at the stars. They would never clear her of the charges of 'orc lover' that she had given to herself for that little piece of physical betrayal. Her body had taken pleasure in the act that had deflowered her, impregnated her, and ruined her, even while her mind had screamed in agony. She came to the sudden realization that she was touching herself. Her body, even now, was acting of its own accord, and she removed her fingers from her opening. She had been thinking of the orc over her, entering her, and using her body as a orifice to ram its huge member into and to spew its foul seed into her womb. Seed that had taken root and had tried to give her corrupt children.