What: Part 2 Learning more about each other! And..other things!
When: Right after part 1!
Shindrika couldn't help it, and flashed a bright, cocky grin, as if to say: not a chance in Mordor. Something about his sense of humor and his sense of death made her feel like she was talking to herself. "You really don't care about this," she said, wiggling the knife, "do you."
He shakes his head, and grasps the knife's blade with his bare hand, squeezing it until blood dribbled out of his fist. He grinned at her, his breath like ice from the north, 'I fear nothing, especially not death.'
Galnir's breath made Shindrika feel chill, and her smile faded completely. She watched him studiously, sharply, with dread and not exactly fear rising in her. At last she spoke, and she said darkly, almost accusatorily: "You have been touched by Morgul hand." She had encountered something like it before, and she did not want to remember it. A terrible feeling twisted in her stomach, wondering what this meant for her.
'Have I? You know this?' His voice took on a softer edge, and his eyes grew quizzical, 'I only remember great darkness, and flashes of fell places. When I walk, the shadows seem to watch me. When I gaze into fire I cannot find solace. When I gaze into darkness I can all but touch it and mold it and make it bend to my will, but is it truely my will? I control it not. It controls me.'
"I know this," Shindrika responded softly, gravely. She nodded to the knife in her hand and looked back at him. "Release it." She did not want to pull it away and slice his hand.
He let go of it, slowly, then looks at his hand and the blood flowing out of his wound, 'Blood is life, is it not?'
Shindrika pushed the knife aside, and pushed away the arm of Galnir's that held the knife to the back of her neck at the same time. She grabbed his wrist surely and looked directly--pointedly--at him, and insisted, "Yes, it is."
'Your touch burns me. Not too hotly, like the light-elf's, but enough to seer like the sun,' He grinned, teeth again glinting like a cheshire cat's, then impulsively kissed her, his blood warm and slick on her arm.
Shindrika's eyes flew wide, for the first thing she noticed was the cold. An inexplicable sadness rose in her, and an anguish that she could not understand. It stung like ice in her heart, and all of her sparked and rose to fight the cold. She pulled away from him quickly and stared at him, fear noticeable in her for the first time. Suddenly and urgently she asked, "Have you any wounds that will not heal?"
He glanced at his hand, then took his shirt off and wrapped it around it. His skin seemed to have translucent patches, and over his heart was a jagged scar, that looked as though it had been burned into his flesh. Yet all the same, his scars, and his skin seemed to be in the beginning stages of belated healing.
She did not leap off of him, though she wanted to. Her curiosity and her pride kept her there, examining his strangeness with a sharp eye. "The elves who burned you must have saved you from the very edge of hopelessness," she said quietly. "But you are saved after all." Her gaze darted to his wrapped hand, and she said, "I will bandage that better for you." Slowly, she rose and stepped back.
He sat up, muscles rippling in his shoulders as he did so, and unwrapped his hand, staring at her with a stare that was at once harsh, and yet wanting, though the sort of wanting of someone who didn't know he was wanting.
Shindrika openly watched him, but not in any way that seemed wanting. She was watching him the way a warrior watches people; she saw his muscles and knew that he had long been a fighter. But she did have to bandage him, so she went to her pack and opened it, removing a roll of bandage, a flask, and worst of all, a ball of thread--but she'd have to look at the wound first to see how bad it was. It certainly bled. She came over and sat next to Galnir, then took his hand and began to examine it to see if it needed stitches. "It will help if you don't grab at knives," she said, sounding a mix of serious and sarcastic that was uniquely hers.
'You disapprove,' He retorted. 'Perhaps next time I will grasp for your wrist, if that would make you feel better.'
His eyes watched her every movement, studying her, memorizing her, drinking in the way she moved. She made him want to hit her and kiss her all at once. He'd waited so long, and with the setting sun in the window outside, the light cast on her face made him almost hunger.
"It will certainly make you feel better," she said, studying the cut on his palm. "You've pressed it and stopped the fastest of the bleeding, but you're going to need stitches. Hold still." Unceremoniously, Shindrika picked up the flask she had--which contained the hardest liquor she could buy anywhere--held onto Galnir's fingers, and then doused the wound with the liquid.
He let out an old Easterling curse, one that had generally fallen out of use, and grit his teeth, 'I believe you are just enjoying this, far too much.'
"I would be lying if I told you that I found absolutely no satisfaction in it," she said, and released him momentarily only to do something worse: she took a lit candle from the stand in the room and began heating a needle over it, then doused the needle in the liquor as well. She suspected that if he really had such little memory, he might be getting nervous about the time she began to thread the needle, and the idea gave her more satisfaction than before.
His eyes seemed drawn to the candle, before settling on hers, his hand tensing as she threaded the needle. He had dim memories of being stitched up, and it hadn't been pleasant. He also knew the skin on one's hand tended to be somewhat more sensitive then many other places on the body.
"I will be quick," she said. "I have done this often. It is easier if you do not watch." Shindrika rubbed down a length of the thread with the alcohol and began her work with as little hesitation as if she were patching a shirt. She really was very good, though not as a doctor or a healer exactly. She was trained by necessity and by others with experience, and she learned how to close wounds quickly to avoid worse troubles on the road. When she finished, she bit off the remaining thread out of habit, though she had a knife, and held Galnir's hand while she gave it another wash of liquor. After that, she took up the bandage and began wrapping the hand in a way she was sure he would not accidentally unwind.
He watched, regardless, with fascination, wincing only slightly at the initial piercing. He was utterly fascinated, to be honest.
'You are very skilled, at that, Shindrika.' He said her name with a certain lilt.
"I have had to stitch many wounds," she replied, still involved in finishing up the bandage. She tied it off, and then gathered the thread, needle, and liquor. She looked at Galnir pointedly. "Don't dirty it," she ordered.
'A waste of liquor,' He said, jokingly, then looked down at the bandage on his hand. He pulled a glove out of his pocket and pulled it on. 'Is that sufficient?' He smirked at her, eyes flicking from her eyes to her hands, and back to her eyes.
Shindrika smirked a little, putting the items back in her pack. "You don't need to go that far until you eat. You'll need it on the road. Oh, and keep it dry." She tried to ignore the strange looks Galnir was giving her. They had been constant since they met, but she could not shake the strange feeling they gave her. "How much have you fought on the road from where your memory starts?"
'Constant. Brigands and goblins.' He waved a hand like it was nothing, 'Something fell is in the air. Something familiar.It sturs up discontent and the evil things of the earth.'
"So then we must only wait until you can hold a weapon," she said. She was really wondering whether he ought to rest until his strange, translucent spots disappeared, but she could not guess how long that would take.
'Wait?' He shook his head, 'I do not wait. I have two hands.' He raises his good hand, and brushes it alongside her cheek, more gently than necessary.
Shindrika gave the very subtlest smile and smirk and caught Galnir's wrist lightly. She pulled his hand away a little and leaned in to look at him with amusement in her eyes. "You will need both," she said lightly with a little suggestive lilt, and quirked one eyebrow before letting go of him and rising.
His eyes followed her movements unhurridly, his lips quirking up into a cocky half smile. His voice passed over the air between them like so much vapour, 'Why do you do this, Shindrika?'
"Do what?" she asked, dropping her pack by her bed.
'This..' He gestured around the small room they'd been staying in. There were two small beds, a tub for bathing, a chair, and a table with a candle stick standing on it. Galnir had to duck when walking, the ceiling was that low.
'You could just cast me aside on the road, and likely be the better for it.' Not that he particularly wished to be cast aside.
"I might be," she admitted. "But then I might not." She put her hands on her knees and sat down on her bed, then rested her elbows on her knees, letting her hands fall. "I am alone on the road and I have no destination. I do not need anyone along who has great goals in mind. But I do need someone to share the night watch."
'I've no goals, save to survive. No destination, save the light.' He replies, eyeing her a bit at the 'night watch' bit, his mind going places he'd long forgotten existed. 'The nights can be lonely, cold and dangerous. Certainly no place for a man alone, let alone a woman.'
Shindrika shrugged and smirked a little. "No one sees me when I choose to sleep. Few see me when I choose to travel. I care little for companionship, warmth, or safety. I am not the sort of woman you are used to."
And that is what makes him drawn to her so. She's confident, she's strong, and her eyes sear through his soul. He can't help it, he whispers, questioningly, 'What do you believe in? The lies of the West, or the lies of the East? Do you believe in destiny, or fate? Or in coincidence. What do you fight for? Live for? Is there nothing TO live for?'
"I wish I knew," she said, but did not sound like she cared. "I believe in what I have felt and what I have seen. I believe in Khand. I have fought for Khand, and I have lived for Khand. It will draw me back soon enough. For that reason I believe in destiny."
'You do care,' He states. 'You fight for Khand, but Khand is under the sway of a dark Master and his servants. So, then, do you believe in Shadow and darkness, the erradication of all light? Let me say this - there is nothing in Darkness but fear, and loathing. I remember darkness, true darkness, so utterly black that it would blot out the sun and cause all life to stagnate. You care, in that you would fight that, for your home, as those so-called free-peoples would fight for theirs.'
As an afterthought he adds, 'Though, they are freer, than our homes. Freer, in ways, than either of us.'
"They are free," she said quietly, almost enviously. There was bitterness in her voice. "And because my land is no nation they call us enemy and servants of Shadow. We are ravaged by war." She looked directly at him, fire in her eyes like he never could have seen, and each word ready to turn to venom. "If there is anything in this world that I care for, it is Khand. I will die before I see it all turned to shadow. The people will be killed, the grasses will be burned, the waters will fill with filth, and the horses mashed to meat for beasts. It will not come to pass while I live."
'You cannot deny, that many of them fight for the Shadow. They have no choice - it is that, or death. Either quick at the hands of the Dark Lord or slow and painful in servitude and slavery. Better a death in battle against a hated enemy - For hated is Gondor, in the East, and the elves, among those who have been cast into the shadow the longest.'
A light sparks somewhere inside Galnir, and his shadows are suddenly less dark. His voice grows almost impassioned, her fire feeding his, 'There was a time, when those lands were free. There was still shadow, still things to fear and things to hate, but there was freedom, in the wake of Barad-dur's fall, for a long time. But the shadow grew ever stronger, and bad Men would crush those who opposed them, crushed in the name of the Shadow.'
His voice grows distant, his eyes afraid, 'And then they came, terror and death in their wake....'
Shindrika watched Galnir, listening to what fueled his passion and his will. She watched with interest, and with great study--and when Galnir began to dim, Shindrika started up again. "But there are those who would rather die in glory than in shame or in slavery! The Eye captures poor shepherds and turns boys into murderes easily felled, but there are those in Khand who know well the old ways of honor and war. They cannot be made to fight under a whip or pull under a yoke!"
'But they would doom their families to such pains,' He responded sharply, meeting her eyes with eyes like a Khandish storm. 'And some of them would fight willingly, for the chance of power, for the chance of strength. For the simply joy of the fight. And those, those are the most dangerous. Have you ever seen, a Nazgul?
"There are more who are honorable than you know!" Shindrika barked out. Clearly his words had bothered her greatly. She snarled. "I have seen a Nazgul. I will see more before I am finished." It sounded like an oath.
And then Galnir laughed. For he remembered. He remembered!
It was a soft sound at first, like the calm sea before the storm, then it grew twisted and dark, 'You know not what you toy with, Shindrika Golden Eyes. You know not! He slew all before him, even as they fled. Our warriors fell like so much grain to the harvest, until only I stood. But I could not move. I was -frigid- in fear, and only my will kept me from fleeing. There were no eyes to meet, and that voice was the voice of Death. The Shadow of the East. The King of old, the warlord who once dared to unite scattered tribes, and fell to a power greater than he.'
He leaned forward, eyes glinting in the candlelight, 'And Death spoke, and told me that I would repent this night. And then, then I knew only darkness, and voices, ever whispering, ever telling me to do their bidding. Khamul's, and the Lord of Angmar, and the eye that ever watches. But the lidless eye was not the only eye that watched. Before shadow claimed me utterly, I saw amber gold, as though eyes of light watched me.'
Shindrika's voice dropped dangerously low, and she was grave. "I do not toy with anything. I know what it is I face--but I also know what I must do."
'You would march boldly to death - or a fate worse off,' He replies. 'I would hope the former - be taken by Death's consort, rather than be slain and risen in the service of Sauron.'
She had calmed significantly since her snapping, and spoke evenly, but surely and with great strength. "I will kill myself first," Shindrika said without hesitation. When she said it, it was not said lightly. She was the kind of woman who would not pause in such an act if she knew that it had to be done. "But I will go to death, for in this thing it is right to die." Shindrika looked away from Galnir for a moment and out the window, wishing she could see farther into the east. Her voice took on a nostalgic tone, as if repeating a story told for generations. "In Khand, they say that Death is a great horse."
'Farther East, they say Death -rides- a great horse,' Khamul replies quietly. 'Perhaps the tales share similar roots. Perhaps we are not so different, and the men of the West not so different from us. There is little hope left, Shindrika. I've seen the armies that Mordor built. When He pours from behind the Black Gate, nothing shall stop the flow of blood.'
"Men shall stop the flow of blood," she said, turning her eyes, but not her face, back to Galnir. "Even if we must rely on the men of the West."
'And if it is not enough?' He puts a hand on her shoulder. It is so very cold, yet soft, almost gentle, 'They will fall into shadow, and the sun will never rise again. Death will slay his consort. It is a bitter place, Shindrika. A bitter place, and I wish to not fall back there. I walk upon the edge of a sword. To my left is burning fire and light. And to my right, shadows lick up, purple and black and red.'
Shindrika's brow knit in a measure of irritation. "And if they are so terrible, then fall the other way."
'I fear being burned.'
"You will be burned!" she said, a spark rising in her again. "There; you know without doubt. If you had no doubt that you would be burned, would you still hesitate? Would you go back into shadow?" Shindrika's voice grew hard and hot; it was not the voice of simply a woman, or a fighter. It was entirely different than it had been before. It was the voice of a leader who called men to glory. "You did not hesitate to go to death when you knew that it was certain. Why do you now, when faced with the promise of life? I say that life is more fearsome, more terrible than death! Has death not prepared you for it?"
Galnir was not entirely sure how to react to the way her fire burned and twisted. He wanted to kiss her, or punch her, or kneel before her and proclaim that he'd follow her to death and back again if she so wished it. His had tightened on her shoulder, and he stared into the double sun that were her eyes, and he knew then what it was to love. Painful and searing and wanting, it burned itself into him.
'Let me be burned.'
Shindrika's gravity fell away, and a deep satisfaction entered her look. She smiled just a little and nodded. It was an understanding, and it was an acknowledgement of accomplishment, asking him to truly appreciate what he had resolved. She spoke quietly now, calmly, and raised an eyebrow subtly as she did. "Now what is life to he who has already lived?" It was a direct question, a call asking for an answer. She did not feel uncomfortable so close to him anymore. Her heart beat strongly, spurred by her conviction. She was drawn and not repulsed, not even by his cold hand or the ice on his breath. Her skin felt hot to her, and the air thick, and the room felt smaller and shorter than it did before. Her breath felt short and shallow, and she could not shake the stifling feeling that Galnir stirred in her. Before she had time to think, Shindrika lunged forward like an attacking cat, kissing him like he had never yet tried with her, and pulling on his shoulders with hands like grappling claws.
Galnir fell over backwards, the bed cushioning him, her fingers and nails digging into the bare skin of his shoulders. Blood is life, pain is life, and her skin was like scorching fire. Fire is life. She could burn him up to ash and he would let her. His own fingers dug painfully into her hips, before roughly exploring the curves of her body there, his other hand losing itself down the curve of her back. His lips thirsted for hers, and all but blistered from the heat.
The hand on her back slid up under her tunic, and hesitated. The flesh there was different, raised as though burned and scarred. And the pattern his fingers traced was familiar. A lidless eye wreathed in flame.
Shindrika noticed what he was doing. She did not want to break their contact, for all of this inexplicable desire rising in her, but after a while she could not help it and she pulled away from him, laughing. It was a laugh of victory. She hovered over him and lookd down at him with great power in her eyes, and a large, satisfied smile on her face. "Do you understand now?" she asked him. "Don't you see?" She lowered her voice to a hush, severe and urgent and full of her intensity. She grinned more widely than before. "I know already that the Eye could never take me, for its men already tried. They took iron to my flesh to break it, to make it shrink away, but see! Even my flesh grew greater than their fire. It now remains to show them what they could never take, and makes mockery to shame the prince of hell!"
He continued to trace the all-seeing eye with a finger, gazing into her eyes with dark intensity. There was something about the feel of her skin under his hand that awoke a fire within, and his muscles were tensed like a tiger laying in wait - or a snake about to strike. His grin matched hers in intensity, teeth flashing in the light from the window, 'They could not break you! They tried, like with so many others, and they failed! You are indeed what I waited for, what kept me from giving utterly into the Shadow and losing myself entirely!'
Rolling them over suddenly, Galnir's lips pressed against Shindrikas, feasting on them, delighting in them. He had her pinned beneath him with a great amount of strength, and need.
Galnir's sudden passion left Shindrika's senses whirling. His aggressiveness awoke something feral in her, and she fought him, pulled at him, if only to drive him on. She grasped at his back and shoulders as if she were grappling with him and pulled at his remaining clothes as if she were disarming him of weapons. She could not have imagined this a day ago, but now she wanted nothing else.
His pants are now somewhere in the vincinity of gone. And so is her shirt, now. His hands are hungry and rough, exploring and gentle. This is a man who has not had another's touch in a century. His body is chilled in places, firey warm in others. It's like she chases all the shadows away.
Shindrika did not know, really, how strange his skin was until her shirt was gone. She inhaled sharply at the contact, unable to reconcile the cold and hot. She squirmed underneath him, trying to find something constant, but she felt like he changed every time she did. She felt it everywhere, and she remembered his coldness, and she wanted to make him come alive again.
Usually, Shindrika was not one to give in. But somehow, this was not a matter of domination or of power, but of something else she could not name. She had not felt hands like his before, and they made her groan into his mouth. Before she she began inching out of her pants, she bit his lip--not enough to bloody it or injure it--and growled almost like something inhuman.
If before, his need was not evident, it certainly was now. Her trousers joined the rest of their clothing somewhere on the floor, and as he takes her, he growls her name. It is a promise and a plea, a request and a demand. And somewhere deep inside of him, the sword's edge shifts, and the burning fire comes ever closer, and the shadows grow afraid.