Date

"Thenin, wake up. Thenin, your brother is dead", said Anakumo, as he

shook the unconscious Thenin. After a few moments, Thenin was roused.

"Thenin. The poison of the spider has killed your brother."



Thenin took a few moments to comprehend this. Presently he punched

Anakumo in the face and fell unconscious again. Anakumo hung Thenin

on his own horse and headed for the camp of the Black Eagles, which

was several days off.



Thenin was delirious with rage, grief, and pain during the journey

back. Anakumo didn't mind the lack of conversation; despite their

respect for each other, they had never gotten along.



The travel was eventless. It was much easier to avoid confrontation

in the disputed land without the entire group. After several days,

Anakumo came to the camp at nightfall. When they had noticed their

fallen leader, several of the men ran out and acted towards Anakumo

with overt suspicion.



"What the hell is this?", shouted the corporal as he approached.



"He is alive", said Anakumo. "The others are dead. Siladis by a

great wolverine and Irryli by a great magical spider. I saved your

leader and almost saved his brother."



Two of the men took Thenin from his horse and went into a tent.

Anakumo tried to follow, but they showed he was unwanted with

unsheathed weapons.



Outside, the corporal questioned him. Anakumo explained that the

attempt to gain the city was a disaster; they had killed the lord in

the heat of battle and the guards, unsurprisingly, did not turn

docile. After weeks of fleeing, imprisonment, near execution,

fleeing, and attacks by vicious beasts, only he and the barely-

conscious Thenin of the Black Eagles remained. Anakumo was allowed to

stay with the Eagles that night, until their leader was coherent

enough to verify his story.



In the morning, the man who Anakumo had initially encountered when he

met the Eagles, Feril, came to him. He was sent by the corporal.



"Anakumo, Thenin wants to see you. He doesn't seem angry, but he is

quiet."



Anakumo stepped into the tent. Thenin was lying in his cot. "I'm

disbanding the Eagles. You can do what you want."



Anakumo said nothing. He nodded and parted the tent's flaps to leave,

but Thenin stopped him.



"As I said, I don't care what you do now. However, Feril has shown

interest in you."



Anakumo nodded and left. He immediately began packing what little he

had along with some food given to him by the Eagles. Feril eyed him; he

obviously wanted to say something. Anakumo ignored him and started

walking towards a low hill in the east. Apparently, Feril couldn't

hold back any longer, so he trotted up behind Anakumo.



"Where do you think you're going, on foot?"



"A town."



"The next town is weeks away at your pace. And it's not even a town,

more like a few hovels."



"I can only hope that the people are gracious enough to offer bedding.

Besides, there is a bigger town beyond that."



"They would hope that they have it for themselves."



Anakumo shrugged, and continued walking.



Feril was getting frustrated. "You know, you pierced me with your

shuriken."



"I know."



"And you haven't apologized, in these months."



Anakumo stopped. Anakumo turned to Feril. "Would you like an

apology?"



Feril flustered. "I don't need one."



"Good", Anakumo said, and continued walking.



Feril grumbled something which sounded like it included the phrase

"foreign bastard", and continued walking after Anakumo.



After a few minutes, Anakumo said "And you, Eagle? Why do you walk to

the east with no horse?"



Feril scowled and said "I have family in that town."



"It seems we are at an impasse, then", said Anakumo, and said no more

for a long time.