For this year's Back to Middle-earth month, organized by the Silmarillion Writers' Guild, I decided to write a compact story, one chapter for every challenge. And as I wish the winter would be over already, it will be set in Harad in the time when Aragorn traveled those lands as Thorongil. I'll see how long I'll be able to keep the continuity of the story, and when I'll be able to post, as march will be a busy month for me. The chapters will be not corrrected by a beta reader as I post them (maybe later they will), so please excuse the mistakes, English is not my first language. But enough of talk, onwards to Harad!

Day 1:

Challenge - Nan Elmoth: Voltaire said that it's not enough to conquer: one must learn to seduce. Write a story or poem or create artwork where seduction plays a central role.

The Dancer

Feet barely touching the ground.

Step light like the sweet breath of summer.

Veil – butterfly wings, covering and yet revealing, spinning a web of intricate dance, a soft mist before his eyes.

Sun fell into a glass of wine and kissed her lips.

Reflections of nomads' fires in the raven wings of the night sky became the light in her eyes.

She danced just for him. The deep, earthy rhythm of drums matching his heartbeat.

She danced – a fairy-tale of fragrant haradhrim nights.

She danced, inviting him to become lost in her eyes.

He averted his face.

Her light steps came closer; he could feel her breath – cinnamon and jasmine.

She was so close, so real.

There was another. She was far, so far now. And she would have never known. He was a man…

The wine was heady; its rich taste bittersweet on his tongue.

So far… But he would know. He wouldn't be worthy of her.

Captain Thorongil raised his gaze to meet the burning coals of the girl's eyes. "I'm sorry," he whispered softly, and left the tavern, leaving a silver coin on the table.