He was tired.

Tired of fighting, of war, of the smell of blood and sweat, the sound of dying screams and clashing steel. Tired, sore, and heartsick.

Fighting still made his blood sing, filled him with grim triumph, refilled his conviction in their cause. After all, he had sworn, beside all his brothers and his father, that he would pursue the Silmarils even unto death – his, and anyone's who stood in their way. But after…

All the battlefields looked the same, now, blood and mud and grime; Elves who died bravely and Orcs who died running. They died the same, in the end.

It sickened him.

He'd never been the thinking one, the decision making one. He was well aware that he didn't have the brains to make those kinds of decisions, and left them gladly to Kurvo, who enjoyed that kind of thing. After all, he trusted his brother. But since…

Somewhere something had gone wrong. Finrod was dead. How had that happened? He wasn't sure anymore. But somehow – Finrod had died, and they had been cast out of Nargothrond, and they had nowhere to go. But all of that…he could have dealt with. Maybe. Except…

He pulled Kurvo up on his horse and spat at the Edain. "We do not forget," he said, coldly, "Nor forgive." He ignored Luthien, bent over her lover, staring at him with cold fury, turning his eyes instead to Huan, his loyal friend, his faithful companion since they had both been small. His gift from Oromë in happier days, who had always been with him. Kurvo's arrow was snapped in two at his feet where he stood, quiet, stolid, firm.

"Huan," he said, softer, calling him.

And Huan turned his tail and walked away. He didn't look back. He didn't even pause.

And it hurt. He felt it deep inside, and swayed, and nearly fell, if Kurvo hadn't supported him and snarling a last threat snapped the reins to ride away, he would have gone to his knees for the sudden and profound loneliness somewhere very deep in whatever was left of his soul.

It would have been bad enough then. But when he sought out other hounds, other dogs, seeking to replace the hole that was left, they wouldn't respond to him. It was as though he weren't there. And it was then he was truly aware that something, somehow, had been broken beyond repair. And after losing Celebrimbor, his young nephew that he had helped raise, looked after, loved – it was too much.

He was weary; and they never seemed any closer to – well, anything. Closer to retrieving the Silmarils, to defeating Morgoth, to …

He wanted to go home. Home to green land and green forests, before he'd known what it felt like to kill other Elves, before he'd known or cared about anything other than the thrill of hunting, the joy of spending time with his brothers, the occasional irritant from his cousins. He'd been so young. So young, and strong, and free…

And now he was tired. So tired.

He picked up a quill and set it to paper, wrote a few lines, crossed them off, tried again. And gave up. He sighed, and turned, stretching out his legs, half expecting to feel a dog warm and curled at his feet. There was no dog. Something smelled like blood, but he was sure that was only his imagination; and he had smelled it so often it was always there, to some degree.

He was tired, and yet the fire of the Oath burned still in the pit of his belly, unrelenting, unceasing, unquenchable. Sometimes, on his darker nights, he thought of abandoning it all, of leaving everything behind and just leaving, riding forever just to see where he came to. But then he thought again – forsaking his brothers, forsaking his duty, forsaking everything he had left-


So he was tired, and heartsick, and unsure; he didn't believe with the same firm conviction that they were right anymore, he was worn out – but none of that mattered. None of that would ever matter.

He had made an Oath, and he would keep it. Made a promise, and he always kept his promises.