Well everybody, I'm sure you're quite upset with me by now. I know I promised another oneshot on Maerad and Cadvan, but I got busy and lost my inspiration and it took forever for me to get this written, but here you go! Plus, I just read the last book after I finished this, so it's still set after book three.
Disclaimer: If I owned the Books of Pellinor, would I be sitting in front of a computer writing fanfictions about it?
Maerad sighed once more, glancing at Cadvan as she did so.
"I still don't think that this is a good idea," Maerad said.
"Yes, I realize the plan has some risks," Cadvan responded with the air of someone who had repeated something one too many times, but was trying to stay patient. "Still, I think this is the best course of action. We couldn't both ride Darsor all the time, and Imi is in the opposite direction than the one we need to go in. This way, we get some traveling done and Darsor still fetches Imi."
"Couldn't we have waited for them at Pellinor?" Maerad asked, even though she knew the answer she would be given.
"No, we couldn't have," Cadvan said sternly, obviously clinging to what was left of his patience. Trying a new tactic he continued, "You want to see Hem again soon right?"
He waited for her to nod before he finished his point,
"If we go to meet Hem and Saliman at the edge of the Malinau Forest, we'll cut weeks off their travel. It's the sensible thing to do."
"Fine then," Maerad muttered ungraciously before realizing that she sounded like an ungrateful child. "I'm sorry Cadvan, it's just that I liked being at Pellinor."
That in itself was sort of an understatement. After the horror she'd went through in the north, her time at Pellinor had been a paradise, second only to the time she had spent in Innail. It had been a peaceful time were she could forget about her destiny and focus on repairing her relationship with Cadvan. He was her teacher, her friend, and the only man she had ever trusted so entirely.
"I'm sorry Maerad," Cadvan said, looking down at his feet instead of her. "I really wish we could have stayed there longer. It was a very peaceful kind of place, but the dark grows ever stronger. . ."
Maerad smiled, his words echoed her own thoughts.
"At least this way," she interrupted cheerfully, finally on board with Cadvan's plan, "we aren't likely to run into any Hulls."
"Yes, I really doubt that we're going to find a Hull in the middle of a forest," Cadvan agreed. "Not for now anyway, we aren't even on a road yet."
As if to mock their confidant words, the sudden sound of hoof beats sent them scuttling behind the nearest trees. Maerad drew Irigal out, ready to defend herself. She could hear the crashing of four horses, complete with riders, coming in their direction.
"Slow that horse down boy!" A man yelled. "Use the whip!"
The sound of galloping horses slowed and then stopped just beyond the tree that Maerad was hiding behind.
'Thane spit,' Maerad thought angrily. 'Of course he'd gain control of his runaway horse just before they reach us.'
"You'll never make a good warrior, boy, if you can't control your horse," another man said.
"It's not my fault my horse bolted," the young man said. "I think it would like nothing better than to buck me off and trample me to death with its own hooves."
"I told you," the man replied. "Bard horses are good, but they don't take well to being ridden by Hulls. You should have just killed it."
"Silence," the fourth rider said, speaking for the first time. "We are not alone."
"You really think that someone is wandering around these woods?" The young man asked incredulously. "We aren't anywhere near the path!"
Maerad didn't even dare to breathe as the men fell silent, obviously listening for a human presence. She cast a glance at Cadvan, and he mouthed the word 'ironic' at her. She couldn't help but smile before spinning out from behind the tree to stand side to side with him. Three out of the four Hulls looked surprised, the other cold and calculating. Maerad wasn't worried though, sure that Cadvan and herself could take him.
"They couldn't be the ones everyone's looking for," one Hull said as they drew their swords. "The girl is just a stick."
"No, this is them," the younger Hull said as he took a strike at Maerad.
All four of the Hulls appeared to be well dressed young men in their twenties, and while Maerad knew that wasn't the truth, she chose to not delve deeper to see the truth and instead began to fight.
She had the young Hull pressed to a tree when she felt a sudden build up of power. Maerad hesitated for a moment, her attention caught by the Hull which had first felt their presence, giving the young Hull time to get away. She stared in horror at the old Hull as he built up his power for a crushing attack. For the first time since she had escaped Arkan, she felt the sudden chill of fear. She glanced to Cadvan, but the battle had separated them too far apart for them to be able to clasp hands.
'I can do this,' Maerad thought to herself. The sudden blast of otherworldly flame leveled all four of the Hulls. Unfortunately it caused a sudden wave of exhaustion and she had to cling to a nearby tree to stay on her feet. Cadvan was at her side in a second.
"At least I didn't pass out this time," Maerad said weakly.
"Yes," Cadvan agreed without looking at her, even though he was holding her up, and her heart sank.
'Every time!' She thought angrily. 'I use my thane-blasted power he won't look me in the eye! What's the use of power if it only scares away the people I care about?!'
She stumbled slightly, and was surprised to see that the young Hull's body lay at her feet. She was shocked to see upon closer inspection that it was a familiar young man as well.
"He was at Norloch," She exclaimed.
"He must be a newer Hull," Cadvan commented. "They probably instated him in hopes that he could find us."
Maerad felt sick to her stomach at the idea, and she stumbled over to the only horse left standing.
"My name is Maerad," she said in the Speech.
"It is good to meet you Maerad," said the horse. "My name is Liach. My rider was Adhil, he was the young Hull."
"I'm so sorry," Maerad whispered. "Were there something I could do for you. . ."
"There is," Liach replied. "Allow me to travel with you to the next town. You have no mounts of your own."
"I'll have to ask Cadvan," Maerad replied, turning to ask him. Seeing him going about the business of burying the body of the young man, she turned back to the mare. "Later."
Maerad knew that she should go to offer her assistance, but she was too tired to do so much as stop leaning on Liach. Eventually he came over to her.
"Time to move out," Cadvan said without looking her in the eye. "If you don't have the strength to walk, you should attempt to ride the horse."
Maerad mounted numbly, still depressed by the silence that was coming from him. They rode in that silence for a while, until they happened upon a dingle where they could rest for the night. Maerad climbed off Liach, thanking her for the help. Cadvan spoke to the mare for a minute before she galloped away. He then turned to his young charge, who was sitting against a tree with her head on her knees.
"Maerad, what's wrong?" Cadvan asked, worried that something had happened to her. The entire scene just felt wrong to him somehow. She didn't reply, so he laid his hand on her shoulder and asked again. This time he got a reaction, but not the one he was hoping for.
"Stay away from me!" Maerad cried out, shaking his hand off her shoulder. Her head went back to her knees as her body racked with silent sobs.
"Maerad," Cadvan began, getting no response from her. He went down on his knees beside her and placed a gentle hand on her head. "Il ver unmonor imenval kor, dhor Dhillareare de niker kor."
Maerad visibly flinched at the words, "By all we have suffered together, and by the sworn bond you owe me as your teacher, and by the deeper bond you owe me as your friend, I bid you tell me now: what has happened to you, Maerad of Pellinor."
Maerad remembered the only other time he had spoken those words to her before and sobbed even more at the memory. After a time she found she was able to speak.
"You're afraid of me," she said louder. "I can't blame you though. I'm horrible. I'm impulsive and dumb and I can't control my powers like I should and I'll never be able to forgive myself for killing Ilar of Darsor. I'll never be able to. I'm too wild to be a normal bard, but I'm too useless to defeat the Nameless one-"
"Maerad," Cadvan's voice was strong, cutting across her words, "that isn't the truth. I should know, I'm a truthteller."
"And the darkness," Maerad continued as if she did not hear him. "I feel like there's so much darkness inside of me. No wonder you fear me. I'm afraid of myself!"
"Maerad," Cadvan said softly, giving her a quick hug before continuing, "Maerad, I'm not afraid of you."
"You should be Cadvan," she argued, scooting farther away from him. "I'm a murderer, you saw it yourself."
"Maerad," Cadvan's voice was suddenly stern. "You are not evil. Yes, you over-reacted and killed Ilar, but you weren't doing it with evil intent. You were scared, the dark made it seem okay, and the Elidhu part of you took over. You weren't yourself when you killed her."
"I can't forgive myself for what I've done, for what I still do," Maerad said, beginning to sob again. "Every death leaves a stain on my soul Cadvan. I'm not a good person."
Once again Cadvan's voice was full of authority, forcing Maerad to look at him,
"A bad person wouldn't care if they were a bad person Maerad. I trust you."
"You do?" She asked quietly, the tears finally having stopped.
"I do," Cadvan said, turning her body so that she was facing him directly. "I trust you very much, but do you trust me?"
"Completely," Maerad replied, "I never trusted anyone like I trust you."
"Then believe me when I say that you are a good person Maerad," Cadvan said passionately. "I could not care for you the way I do if it were otherwise."
"What do you mean?" Maerad asked, the possible explanations running through her mind only confusing her even more.
"Maerad, I have something I wish to tell you," Cadvan said, leaning close to her ear and whispering a word in the Speech to her.
"Cadvan, is that your Truename?" Maerad exclaimed with a kind of shining wonder in her eyes. "Why would you tell me something like that?"
"Maerad, among Bards it is considered a very intimate thing to know a person's Truename," Cadvan explained. "Normally it is only shared between a married couple or the truest of friends. I have known yours so long and you have never granted me that honor, so I decided that it was time to return the favor."
"Cadvan," Maerad began, reaching out to touch his hand lightly, "even if I had had a choice, I would have shared my Truename with you."
Maerad's eyes were wide as he leaned forward far enough to press his lips lightly to hers. She waited for the panic, he waited for her to push him away and call him a creepy old man. Neither thing came.
"I love you," Maerad heard her mouth saying after he had pulled away.
"Well that was sort of the point," Cadvan said, slightly teasing.
Well, I hoped you liked it! I lost some of my ideas since it took me so long, but I hope you liked it anyway. Sorry Cadvan was so out of character at the very end. The second chapter is going to be a completely unrelated bonus oneshot. If you have the time, leave me a review, 'kay? Oh, and if you know what T.V. show I got the title from, leave it in your review!