so i bare my skin
and i count my sins
and i close my eyes
and i take it in.
His smile is wide, curling at the edges of his mouth, but is is somehow
thin. Strained. Stretched too far. Is that what they will call it now? Such
a word once had a kinder meaning but now —— now, war is pleasure. It
has become that and the waging of it has grown to the only balm to
soothe his spirit. Without action, the quiet drowns him, seeps into his
lungs, seals out the air. There is nothing else now, nothing but the war
and the terrible void of all other things. Things he had once loved, once
revelled in, now are annoyances and distractions. How he had loved to
be distracted once. But now, as he reaches for the stem of his goblet,
he can see the agitated trembling in his own fingers. It eases when he
grasps at the glass. There are sword sounds ringing in his ears that will
not cease. They will not cease until he is dead, Tyelkormo knows. He
knows, too, that death is not so far away. But still he smiles, and laughs,
and raises the glass to salute Moryo before drinking deeply.
“what pleasure is left to be had, we must surely take.”
His hand is steady now as he holds the goblet up in cheers. Tyelko watches
his own wrist like an enemy. If he were to ride out to hunt tomorrow, should
he even be able to hold the bowstring straight? Or is the sword the only way?
I told you what I was,
would you turn your back on me?
And if I seem dangerous,
would you be scared?
Weary as he was, Tyelkormo could not help but smile a little at his father’s words.
He leaned heavily back against his chair and nodded, almost mute, considering
that thought a moment before speaking. Few things ever held the power to give
the thirdborn pause —— but his father had always been one. He had that impossible
effect. It was not a kindly sort of statement, uttered as idly as Feanaro could ever
manage. A mere afterthought or confirmation but no less intentional because of it.
And terrible, too, to think on. Perhaps terrible to some. To Tyelkormo’s ear, it sounded
only honest. The true intention that few people would dare to confess. No. Confession
implied a sort of shame. This was not some confession. It was a statement of fact
without apology —- the same that Tyelkormo always felt bound to pay.
“I cannot think the world will stand long against you. I have known
very few who ever could.” His tone was teasing but it was honest
enough. Wearied he might be, tired and aching from the relentless
nature of their progress, Tyelkormo felt a certain thrill of energy to
hear that. Fuel for the fire. To be worn was better than to be frozen,
mute and unmoving. He watched the stain of new scars on his father’s
arm in the low light of the tent as he paced. Burn scars, unmistakable.
No, he could not think of that now. His armour would cover them. He
would be unmarred with his armour on. What he had failed to pull out
from the flames ——— no. Not now. He had never seen his father
fail before that night, if night it had been. Seamless darkness. He could
not think of that now. Tyelkormo sat a little straighter and filled his cup
again. He would think of it when the war was over. Should the war ever
be over, then he would think of him. “What punishing we mean to do,
we must begin it quickly, aranya. The lull will not last for long.”
Tyelkormo did nothing to stop a sudden burst of laughter.
“Both have their place. It has been my long experience,
one has much wider use than the other. So very fortunate
that to be called refined we need not be gentle. No one
should ever deign to have called me that ———— “
“But if practised is refined, then I think you are a refined and
vulgar girl, both. I would hold myself to that same standard.
Complacency is the only quality that I have ever really hated.”
The Eldar leaned up, canting his body forward, to better observe her. This
woman was an interesting sort. He weighed the weapon on her back with
a keen interest. “My people call an axe a vulgar weapon. I would bet some
coin that you might teach them how it might be called refined?”
“how gracious you are —— but I will say that, to my ear,
your confession sounds a little confused. Belthronding is
a clumsy name … but I cannot deny that the thing is most
beautiful.” His words were idle as Tyelkormo turned the
great longbow in his hands, trailing two fingers along it’s
smooth black back as intimately as though it had been
a lover’s spine. Yew, fine and supple. Strong as bone that
bends. The upper and lower limbs were graceful as a maid’s
collarbones, two fine scrolls, balanced. He tested the heft of
the string lightly as a lute. No horsehair or rawhide here. The
string was silk, fine reverse braided by some magic fingers,
black and beautiful as the bow itself. And though his words
were flippant and edging on disrespectful, he handled the
weapon with obvious reverence. He had little attention to
give to the archer himself, so enraptured was he by the
bow. An unfortunate name, Yes. But such a lovely thing ——
From across the fire, Beleg reached to reclaim his weapon
and as he stretched his hand towards the Feanorian, Huan
raised his great head and bared his fangs like white knives,
snarling. Tyelkormo watched with a certain satisfaction the
wary look that flickered over the Sinda’s face but turned the
bow to offer the upper limb back to the other huntsman.
“Here, in the wild, I cannot hate you, Strongbow.
In point of truth, I am surprised to say that I might
spare you some affection. Respect, even. In some
other world, we might have been brethren.” Tyelko
set his now empty hand onto the Hound’s head and
Huan relaxed visibly, no more than a loyal pup again.
Tyelkormo, too, seemed to loosen at his hinges. He drew from
his wineskin and reclined back, never moving his sharp grey
eyes from the elf that sat before him. A smile curled his mouth :
“Alike as we may be in skill, we have our differences.
If that bow had been mine, I should never have let
you touch her. Fortunate for me that you are you
and I am I. A pretty thing. When the sun rises, we
shall see if you can use it. Try not to love me ‘til then.”