The Lords of the Ring

Firelight

He was blond.

Aoife sharpened her dagger with the stone and looked across at the sleeping form of Théodred across from her. His family – nay, his father – had ordered the destruction of her village and her people. All of them.

She tested the blade against her thumb, swiping against it so that she could feel its sharpness without cutting herself.

Théodred rolled over. He was facing her now., eyes closed, chest rising and falling in the firelight. His neck and face were limned with red from the fire behind it, bringing out the gold in his beard. Such as it was.

She smiled to herself.

That neck. So close. Just a few short steps away. Varonwe was on watch, had moved a few steps away from the fire to check out a noise. He faced away.

Aoife could cut the sleeping man’s throat in a second, and be gone before Varonwe even knew that she had moved.

She could vanish into the night, no-one would see her. The rest of the Free Company could continue on their pointless quest, but Théoden, Théoden… he would hear the news of the death of his child. He would have the pain that came when his closest kin were taken from him, destroyed at the will of another. He would fall to his knees and scream into the night that his son was dead and that there was nothing that he could do to bring them back. He would scream into the void until his throat was raw and the tears would not come any longer.

Then, eventually, he would sleep.

And in the morning he would realise what had been torn from him in such a short moment, and would begin to scream again.

A sudden pain. She looked down, saw the blood running from her dagger where she was testing it. Careless. A scratch, but – careless.

She looked again across the fire at the man’s sleeping form. His neck was smooth, where he had shaved in an attempt to make his beard look more manly, more proper, more pretty than than the shaggy neckbeards that the wizards thought was right

She looked at his face, his blond hair shining in the firelight. Then there was a sound. A step upon the earth.

Varonwe had returned from his circuit of the camp, and sat down beside the fire, opening his hands and arms to cup its warmth. He nodded briefly to her as he arrived, then paid her no more attention.

A small nod in response. It was enough. Varonwe turned back to the fire. The moment had passed.

Aoife wiped her dagger clean with a cloth and absent-mindedly sucked the blood from her thumb as she marvelled at the strange colour of his hair, so different from her own, her family’s.

He was fair.

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