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The Mirror Cracked

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It is a strange sense of intrusion and wrongness that stirs him. Rarely others stepped through Belshiral'an, but always they left before he was even half awake. Never has such malevolence been there and it wakens him completely. He is weak, he has spent too much time dreaming, but he rises and seeks out the source.

It is a thanlen, bearing the sign of Falon'din. He wonders that they still keep those marks, long after their masters disappeared. It is grasping at its side, blood flowing freely, and he can smell the poison that is already killing it. It has only two arrows left in its quiver and has dropped its bow at its feet. The falon'thenlen has been a very busy guide for its master. It does not see him though, and turns back to the el'u'vi'an it obviously stepped through. He recognizes the frame as belonging to one of the southern fortresses.  Lethanavir, perhaps, if it is one of Falon'Din's thanlen. The mirror has deactivated, spent, and the thanlen pounds on it fruitlessly.

"Mahariel!" It shouts. On the other side of the mirror is another thanlen, this one with Andruil's sign covering most of its face. It rests against a great sword, just as drenched in blood as the other, one hand stretched out towards the el'u'vi'an. Odd malformed corpses surround Andruil's mis'thanlen, and there is movement behind it as more gather. The falon'thanlen shouts in a strange, almost familiar tongue, gesticulating its hands quickly and with purpose. The mis'thanlen can obviously see him, even with the portal deactivated, for its mouth moves silently, its hands making similar gestures.

It is the durgen'len's Trade tongue, though it has changed much. He begins to make out some of the falon'thanlen's rapid chatter.

"-broken- can go here not. Can go- all places. You - destroy -. Ir abelas, Mahariel, ma'vhenan. -do this."

The mis'thanlen's face goes from confused, to terrified, to grim and set, and he wonders at how the thanvhen have changed so much, to let their faces speak so freely, or if the lovers only do this when alone. The hand movements must be how they are communicating, or else they are lip-readers.

The falon'thanlen obviously recognizes the poison in its system that it has brought through the mirror, and knows it cannot spread further. The creatures the thanvhen fought must be the source of the poison and the thanlen's passage has already tainted the mirror it came through. The shapes behind the mis'thanlen are closer, and there's a strange hungry intelligence to them, and he knows they know the el'u'vi'an for what it is. Where it might take them. If any should attempt to reactivate the mirror, he will have to destroy it. But the thanvhen obviously understand the problem, better than he, even though they don't know what Belshiral'an hides, and they are correcting it.

The mis'thanlen picks up its sword, and he can see that the blood it is soaked in is not just from the slain, both of the thanlen have been poisoned by the creatures. They are both of them dying. It takes two steps towards the mirror and swings the sword. The last he sees of the mis'thanlen before the connection is completely severed is it spinning to face the oncoming horde.

The falon'thanlen collapses against the glass, bleeding out and dying inside. He approaches. It hears him, looks up, and reaches for its bow.

"Fen'Harel," and the thanlen's eyes glitter with fear and defiance in equal measure. He realizes he has not shifted shape, the wolf an easier form to hold when resting, and what stories do the thanvhen tell themselves, that one would raise a weapon against him, after all he had done to help them? He shifts, continuing his approach on two feet. It continues to talk, drawing back an arrow. "- wolf - too late -"

He sidesteps the arrow and takes the bow away from the thanlen. It glares up at him, even as its body fails him, and the only thing he can do for the thanlen is to give it a quick death instead of the lingering one the poison in its system promises. He snaps its neck.

There is a mystery here. The thanvhen freed and yet still marked, still serving their exiled masters. The Trade tongue the People of the Stone used to communicate with the People, mutated over the years, and the few small words in elvhen. It should have been the reverse, if there was to be any of the Trade tongue at all. The falon'thanlen, recognizing him, but terrified and on the offensive.

What has happened in his long rest between the worlds? He goes in search of one of the el'u'vi'an to Arlathan for answers.