Chapter 12

Rúmil was gone, that much was certain once they reached the iced over lake and the citizens riding in the wagons of the caravan were told to get out and spread across the ice to even the weight so the icy sheath wouldn't buckle. Lothiriel didn't know if she could consider herself relieved, surprised, or indifferent at that point. She just felt defeated and lost—she was once more alone in this world with no true future to be seen. Perhaps it was her destiny to die under the control of the Saxons after all. Lothiriel didn't voice this, and the Sarmatian Knights she had grown closer to over the years, the ones who sensed Lothiriel's change didn't say anything either. Basil, her faithful horselord, kept whispering reassurances to her, trying to give her hope and strength, but over the cold winds, it fell on deaf ears. When she dismounted, grabbing her quiver and bow she followed the knights to meet the Saxons as if she were walking to her execution with no sense of life preservation left in her. After all, what did she have to live for when the ones she had loved no longer saw any self-worth in herself? Tears were forming as she took her first aim, the ice cleared of the civilians and the Saxon army clear in sight.

The Saxon archers were the first to release their arrows, but with the wind against them they helplessly were out of range. At the order of their Roman Commander, Lothiriel released three notched arrows into the Saxon Army's direction, hitting three targets straight in the chest, sending them to their icy graves. She felt no emotion as she continued to kill, mechanically loading her bow one right after another. As the ice began to crack and the knights began to fall back, she noticed Dagonet eyeing his axe with their nestled belongings. Lothiriel knew then that the gentle giant was about to do something incredibly stupid.

"Arthur, call your man back now!" Lothiriel ordered when Dagonet took off, grabbing his axe as he flew across the ice at such a speed Lothiriel would think impossible for someone of his magnitude. The archers of the Saxon army were quick to take aim, and began to open fire on Dagonet as he reached the center of the lake. Letting out a scream of rage, Lothiriel grabbed the biggest of the shields available and ran out onto the surface not caring that Lancelot had nearly grabbed her around her neck to stop her. She skidded in front of Dagonet, just as the first arrow punctured the shield, sending her to her knees from the sheer force of the blow. Dagonet looked up in surprise from where he was hammering into the ice.

"You fool; you have a boy waiting for you back there—don't leave him alone in this world. You have something to live for!" Lothiriel screamed at him as he continued to whack away at the ice, causing the first crack to make a real impact, to appear on the ice. The growing fracture on the ice drove straight towards their opposing army, and spread beneath their populous forms.

"Get out of here, you don't belong here!" Lothiriel seemed to be hearing that a lot these days. And so doing something incredibly foolish, she punched the man in the face with the shield she had been holding, sending him to the ground. As if hearing her beckoning within their minds, Bors and Arthur were there, shields raised and ready to protect their backs as they dragged him away.

"Let's go Lothiriel!" Arthur called, but Lothiriel had picked up the axe and had taken up where the gentle giant had left off. "Lothiriel, we need to leave, now!"

"Go, I'll catch up Arthur!" Lothiriel promised, throwing all her weight into hacking the sheet of ice. Arthur didn't wait for Lothiriel. The Commander knew the welfare of his men was too important to be compromised by one civilian. He got Bors and Dagonet out to the safety range just as Lothiriel delivered the blow that sent her into the icy waters.

Lothiriel would have considered fighting her way back through the icy drift…but she didn't. She had been fighting for over half a century, and the Elleth was quite done fighting. Lothiriel was resigned to let fate take her as it sought fit. And if her coming to the halls of Mandos was to be through this icy grave, then let it be so—at least she died a warrior. The current was strong beneath the ice, taking her back towards the valley they had just traveled from. Her chest tightened as the last of her air was released, causing her lungs to burn fitfully as her body tried to fight to survive against her will. Lothiriel's last thoughts before she lost consciousness were that of regret for not giving into Lancelot's advances. Perhaps he was right, maybe she had been sent here for a reason.

"Lothiriel!" Lancelot screamed, his voice horse as he fought in the arms of Bors, Dagonet, and Arthur—all three men restraining their fellow knight from launching himself into the river, and into an early grave. They had all watched as the ice caved beneath the lithe Elf, Arthur figured she would have popped right back up as fast as she went in. When she didn't emerge, he knew something had happened—perhaps she had injured herself, or the water had iced over too quickly. Or maybe Lothiriel had panicked and she couldn't find her way back to the surface cleared of ice. They stood there as long as they were able to, but when it was clear that the Saxons were getting ready to move on without their fallen brothers, they knew they had to leave and catch up with the caravan. So containing their struggling dark haired knight, Arthur and his knights disappeared from the frozen lake, unaware of the danger they were leaving their fallen companion to.

Cynric had been irritated when his men insisted on pulling a body from the water knowing everything below the surface was good and dead. He had his father's army to catch up to, and he already knew he had quite the lashing to look forward to when he reached said father. He had failed to kill the knights as well as to take care of the caravan escorting the prominent Roman family back to Hadrian's safe haven.

"She's still breathing," Cynric's head snapped to the side from where some of his men came, one holding a soaked body in his arms. He recognized the girl instantly as the fucking bitch who broke the ice and killed off half of his men. He should kill his men for even considering pulling the girl out—must less putting those thoughts into action. When he got closer to the group of soldiers, he started to understand why his men gave such efforts—the glow emanating form the girl's skin spoke of the legendary enchantress his father had told him about in stories as a boy. It was with trembling hands that Cynric was able to pull back the soaked locks of pale, blonde hair that clung to the girl's face and neck. His efforts weren't for naught, for his actions revealed a long, distinguished pointed ear that confirmed his thoughts.

"Lothiriel," Cynric whispered the girl's name in reverence. Perhaps his father wouldn't be so angry with him when he would arrive. "We leave now, dry her off and put her on my horse. She will ride with me." The man who had been cradling her to his chest wanted to object, but seeing the critical way his leader was eyeing the faire maiden, he was quick to follow orders.

Cerdic looked up from the bonfire he had been sitting around to see his son approaching with a few men behind him. The older Saxon was quick to note that his son's numbers had dwindled to less than a third since his departure—he truly was an embarrassment. If his wife had blessed him with a daughter, Cerdic could see more hope for his army with a sword in his daughter's hand than with this mistake.

"Stop," Cerdic ordered before his son had the audacity to sit down and share warmth with him and his inner circle of generals. His son stood, stalk still with an indescribable look on his face. "You have failed in your mission, why should I let you join me as an equal when you would be better suited for the outskirts of our camp?" Cerdic asked cynically as he eyed the men that came in, grabbing meat and water wherever offered, the others just collapsing when and wherever they could find room.

"I may have failed the incentives of the mission you sent me to fulfill, Father, but I have brought something of great value to you that will prove my worth as your equal." Cerdic outright laughed at his son's assumptions, his men following his example—his son was a child that needed to face reality, he was a fool. The sooner he was shown the ways of the world, the better.

"Have you now, please Cynric, show me this treasure and prove your worth." Cerdic spoke sarcastically before he took a long drink from his satchel of mead. Cynric nodded, snapping his fingers, a burly man came forth cradling something carefully to his chest, the closer he came the clearer the figure in the arms came to be. Cerdic was left gaping at a form he thought was but a dream from a childhood memory. Standing to his feet, Cerdic dropped his satchel of mead and walked up to the man cradling Lothiriel, his father's greatest treasure—a taboo all his life was now his for the taking. This night certainly could not be better.

"You are forgiven, come take a seat." Cerdic mumbled, not even bothering to face his son as he moved hair from the Faye-like creature's face. The glow—so intoxicating, she smelt as he remembered. Licking his lips, he yanked the unmoving body towards his own, groaning as the warm body met his. "Better than I remembered," Cerdic muttered, "And no Father to put an end to my fun." Cerdic tentatively patted the girl's face, his hits going stronger until the girl in his arms began to stir and gain her own footing. Lothiriel groaned, shaking her head back and forth as she fought to gain surface to the conscious world once more.

Lothiriel took a moment to look at the face above her, a human man that appeared in his early 40's, but well into his prime that accompanied wisdom. A dreadful feeling filled the Elleth when she realized just who was holding her so tightly that her bones ached.

"Cerdic." Lothiriel murmured deliriously, causing joyous laughter to erupt from the Saxon.

"Good, you remember me—and look at you, haven't aged a day. You are still as young and beautiful as you were all those years ago. You know, my father—the fool, never gave up looking for you, not even on his deathbed. And yet here you are in the flesh, finally mine for the taking. Unlike my father, I won't be so lineate with you. Uveri, grab some chains; I want her cuffed and monitored at all times. Welcome home, my one of a kind treasure." The Saxon murmured before forcing a kiss onto Lothiriel's less than willing lips.

"Adar, please—I beg you, help me." Lothiriel whispered reverently as she was placed in shackles and led to a tent that held all the luxuries of a commander, it was all too familiar to her. Her chains were rooted to the ground by an iron stake, the echo of the hammer slamming metal against metal still causing the area behind her eyes to ache.

How was it possible that her day just got preposterously worse?

A/N: What did I tell you-a quick update! lol so what do you think-expecting the this new twist? Guess who we get to see next chapter? I'll give you a hint, it starts with an H!