We rose early, probably earlier than we needed to but out discipline had slipped over the decades, we were no longer as prepared to leave as we had been at the start of our immobile journey. While the others packed up what remained of our supplies and the High King had disappeared to warn the captain, I slipped off into the trees.
I took my weapons with me and my armor; I had to change in private, I could not feel anything even close to vulnerability while I dressed, despite having been without clothes in front of them all on countless occasions. I had to do this. My thin linen undergarments went on first, then my fine chain mail that shimmered past my knees. Over those went my silver tunic and a leather belt with my scabbard. I attached my bracers to my arms and the equivalent to my shins, tightening the straps and flexing my fingers. I inhaled deeply.
I drew out my sword. It's weight was familiar in my hand, I had been wielding it every day for the last three centuries and trained against my comrades. Together we had been shaken, fallen and triumphed; it had been there when we escaped the East Forest, then Eitan, then the East forest again. As much as an elf could love a piece of sheeted metal, I loved that blade. I swung it forwards, seeing my own reflection staring back at me. I looked different; ravaged and old. Beaten. And it was about to get worse.
How many other faces would my silver blade catch? How many of those would live to tell the tale? How many elves would be slain from the moment they looked upon it? How much metal will be showing by the end; will it be covered in blood or would I even live that long? I swallowed. Sheathing my blade, I swung my shield against my bracer, fitting my wrist against the strap comfortably and ambled back to the clearing where everyone was waiting for me. They too were ready for battle, fully armored and with daring expressions on their faces. It would take us three hours to reach the battle field, and we had several until they would arrive.
Still, we departed, the human army an hour from mobilising. I hoped fervently that it would be over quickly; that we elves would be slaughtered quickly to limit their deaths; we fought for them, we never asked them to fight for us. They would suffer heavy losses. Then I looked upon Princess Eddia.
She was glorious; a beautifully deadly panther poised for the pursuit of prey with the capability to take down as many as she could before she went down. Before she went down.
"No." I murmured, striding over to her and cupping her face in my hands, holding her eyes steadily in mine, "I cannot lose you too." The very thought of it brought back the sharp memories of Elwyn and Elendil, "Please, side with your kin. Side against us. Please." I begged.
She took my hands from her face and kissed them, letting her own tears fall over my skin, "Whatever end finds me, I will not be found to betray the one I love."
"But your mother, you must love her too. Please, Eddia. I am begging you; past Elendil," They gasped, "More than I ever wanted Elendil back, I want you safe."
She shook her head, pressing her lips together, "You are all I will ever need."
"But I am not!" I implored her to understand; but how could she? She had never known the power of a young one truly, and I would give up all hope just to have her with her mother once more where she rightfully belonged.
"Who else would you have, Elvin? I will not leave you now."
"Then I must go alone."