Special thanks to the following people: ScoobySnack









THANK YOU SOOO Much for your kind words and encouraging feedback. I only hope that this chapter doesn't disappoint. There are author notes at the end.

And a HUGE THANKS to my beta, Artuta, who is the BEST beta EVER!

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The next day Rúmil was allowed to leave the healer's care, but with restrictions. But by the third day of the imposed enforcements, he was driving his brothers mad with his restlessness. Rúmil was ordered to make several visits a day to receive care for his still-healing injuries, which much to the healer's delight and awe, were healing quicker than anticipated.

Eight days had passed since the return of Haldir and Rúmil. The healers gave their full permission to allow Rúmil some much-needed exercise, mainly due to the bribing of his brothers to gain some peace and quiet.

As the three descended down to ground level, Rúmil turned to the other two. "Let us go and get Mowaea! Let her see our home and meet the Lord and Lady."

Haldir eyed his brother. "Are you sure you are up to a long journey?"

Rúmil scowled at the March Warden and waved a hand. "We can take horses. I do not wish to see her travel here on foot. It would be easier to ride."

Haldir looked over to Orophin, who merely shrugged, then sighed. "Then let us prepare."

Rúmil laughed as he set off for the stables. Behind him, Haldir leaned in to Orophin and whispered. 'And if he gets himself into trouble again, I will personally break his legs to ensure he stays out of trouble for a long while!"

Orophin laughed as he helped the other brother load up their horses and ride out, taking a white mare that would be Mowaea's mount upon their return.

The trip took less than a day on horseback. The three brothers talked merrily, their ears perked for sounds of pursuers or threats. Rúmil told Orophin all about Mowaea, and how she had told Haldir what to do and put him in his place. Orophin laughed, wishing he could have seen it. Haldir merely glared ahead, his face stony and his temperament not happy.

As the trio neared the homestead, Haldir's hand shot up, stopping them dead in their tracks. Their horses remained silent, knowing their riders were using their senses to track something unseen. Orophin raised his chin and sniffed lightly, his nose detecting the smell of something foul burning. Haldir nodded his knowledge then nudged his horse to a quiet gait, his brothers taking up the rear.

With bow poised the three came upon the cottage that Mowaea lived, though now it smoldered in ruins. Blackened stone, partially fallen, and had shown the perimeter of the house, its shell now charred, its contents ate by an apparent intense heat.

"Do you think Mowaea was in there?" Rúmil asked softly, his voice cracked and dry.

Haldir's eyes swept the perimeter, then fell upon a dark shaped hunched up beside a tree. Spurring his mount hard, he gained the shadowy figure in seconds, his breath catching in his throat as he took in the familiar features of the human woman.

Haldir dropped lightly from his horse, his heart hitching as he approached her. "Mowaea? Mowaea, it is Haldir and Rúmil, the elves you helped. Mowaea?"

Mowaea didn't stir. Her head hung limp over her chest, her hair spilling out about her.

Haldir leaned down to where he was level with the human woman and felt his heart stop as he noted her bound hands and ankles. He gently reached out a hand and touched her neck, hoping to find a pulse beneath his fingertips. His hand only met the chilled skin of the woman that had saved his brother's life, her life no longer flowing, her light no longer burning. Only a shell remained, bound to a tree and left in the open for scavengers.

Rúmil dropped to his knees beside Haldir, his eyes shining with tears. "It cannot be. We have not been gone long. She is merely sleeping, is she not Haldir?"

Haldir turned to his brother, his face gray and crystal tears streaked down his face. "Her life is gone, brother."

Rúmil began to shake; his hands balled up into fists. "She is not dead. She just fell asleep. You only need to wake her!"

Orophin stood behind Rúmil and placed his hands on his brother's shoulders, gripping them slightly as he felt them tremble.

Rúmil reached out to Mowaea, gently stroking her face. "Who would do this?"

Haldir's blue eyes were shining brightly with tears as he silently shook his head. He took several deep breaths, hoping to calm the ache he felt in his chest and the hatred he felt flare at the ones who could do this to another. Hoping his voice wouldn't betray him, he said, "We should attend her properly. It is cruel to leave her like this."

Rúmil seemed to have lost the ability to speak. He leaned against Orophin's legs, his mind reeling and his eyes fixed on the lifeless body of his friend. Guilt washed over him as he stared, his heart wrenching painfully in his chest as he saw the person that desperately fought to save him, slumped against a tree, her life drained from her body by savages. He felt helpless, knowing he could do nothing to return her kindness, and now, he would never get the opportunity.

Haldir took his knife from its sheaf and cut the bonds binding Mowaea. She remained upright, her body rigid with death and the exposure to the elements. Carefully, Haldir threw a blanket from his horse across her body and with the help of Orophin, started to work digging a suitable burial place. Rúmil stayed transfixed, his eyes staring unblinkingly at the blanket that covered Mowaea's still body, tears racing down his cheeks.

As night fell, the three brothers kneeled beside a mound of earth, piled with rocks and covered in flowers. They sang of friendship, loss of life, and the grief a heart carries when it loses one it holds close. Rúmil sang little of the songs, his voice broken, his throat dry, his chest heaving from sobs and pain from his still-healing injury.

When the songs turned to joy and celebrating the life of one that had passed, Rúmil looked over to Haldir, who was always the strong one; the leader of the brothers, the one that was always a rock to lean upon. But right now, Haldir was neither of those things. His voice didn't have its usual flare, his eyes didn't have their twinkle, and his heart didn't have the comfort that was sought.

Haldir found his face cooled by a blowing wind as it dried his tears on his face. He could think of no words of comfort, no words of wisdom, nothing to give peace to this night. With a heavy sigh he rose. "We should return home. We may have been heard and I do not wish to encounter anymore humans for a long time."

Nodding mutely, the two brothers said their last good-byes to Mowaea's grave and mounted their horses. With a last bow of their heads, the trio charged their horses towards home, each one secretly vowing in his heart to bring justice to the ones that were responsible for Mowaea's death, and knowing it will be a long time before they could trust another human again.

The End.

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Authors notes: I know some right now are probably plotting my demise but all I can say is.. I'm tired of reading the same boring thing that has everything turning out all peachy and everyone is happy and the world smells of roses. And I am rather known for my twists, so this really shouldn't come as a surprise to readers. *G*

I didn't want another story that had a happy ending.. I wanted to set up some angst for the Elves in the future. They will tread softly around humans now, and have their prejudices reinforced and humans' nature.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the story. My newest fic is already about 75% finished and there is a short story in the final stages of being beta'ed. So I hope to upload soon.... if I survive the horrible things being plotted. LOL