We rode as soon as were able, our camp struck and all traces of fire gone. Our horses left prints in the soft grassland but we did not want to take the time to tread carefully or cover our tracks; besides, if they wanted to find us, they easily could no matter what we did. Every so often I would catch, out of the corner of my eye, Jibril wiping the backs of his hands across his eyes and did not have the courage to console him for I knew his pain only too well.
If only we had been given more time to plan our escape, we could have taken his beloved with us and rescued my dear Elendil. The thought of him brought back the searing pain of reality and I choked it back. I channelled my pain through my limbs and into the horse beneath me, sensing the strengthening of his energy, he sped up until I was leading our pack. It seemed fitting. I was the one who had ruined them all, I should go first into the danger and leave them to brood on their thoughts.
Familiar landscapes grew in number as we neared Eitan. Bowlers Hill, as Captain Reach had told me. Brooks Creek was near too, my ears could just pick up the faint rushing of water. Trusting my subconsciousness to lead the horse, I sunk back inside myself.
What had I done? I mean, really, what had I done? Jibril, torn from his beloved, he will have lost the status he had worked for since we were young ones, his position on the Council of Elders will be given to some worthier warrior. All his gold, taken to compensate the aggravation we have caused the guards; thus his beloved wil become a destitute widow. Princess Eddia, I made her lose her legacy, her throne, her palace. She would be lower than the low should she ever return. A traitor to her kin and kind. All the trust she had built up with her subjects; I had made that evaporate in an instant.
I realised we had stopped so I looked up.
We were in the clearing where Elwyn fell. The whole place was penetrated with death, pouring into all three of us and poisoning us. I had to get out. But she was there. She had touched this place. That bramble, those blade of grass. The earth here had held her body the way I never would be able to again. I could not leave. Instead, my legs swung themselves from the saddle.
"Elvin." Jibril muttered anxiously, sensing the sacredness of the place.
"I lost her," My eyes traced the pattern of footprints that were my own, "This is where she fell."
"Elvin," He repeated gently, his voice filled with understanding and compassion. I laughed, they thought I was upset. Did they not realise this was the closest I could get to her now? I was thrilled!
Crouched low like a tracker, I followed my prints. There were nicks in the ground where my sword had brushed the earth, blood stains deep within the soil and flattened grass where my enemies had fallen. But I wasn't interested in them.
Then I found them. The two prints, deeper than the others. That was there I stood when I watched her. Matching up my feet, I gazed straight ahead and let the scene play out before me. I saw it all again. The rearing horse, the look of fear and pain on her face, the cowering guards, the captain.
I watched again as she fell before my eyes, rolling away from me and the horse side stepping. Then I ran with myself to where she had fallen. My memory arms ghosted forwards and cradled her head once again in my arms; the heat was real, I could have sworn my life on it.
I laid myself down where she had fallen. I was Elwyn. Oh if only she had been there! She would have known exactly what to say, how to make everything better! All she would have to do is smile at the Queen and we would all be forgiven! My two companions stared on at me in my insanity. I found it rather plausible, that I had lost all sense of dignity and who I really was. I knew what I wanted then. I wanted to be like Elwyn.
I wanted to be dead.