Swathed in billowing black cloaks in the shadow-blanketed room, a storm of darkness may well have surrounded Dullathaen. He knelt down before a tall man on a small stool, a man closed like an iron chest, yet exposed as a sick animal. He protected his identity with the shadow upon his face.
“You say it is Eru’s will,” Dullathaen said quietly; he could not help but say it that way.
The figure nodded warily. There were murmurs around the collected crowd, at what Dullathaen knew not. “You have been asked to address me as Se’r. And it is indeed the will of Eru. Do you doubt it?”
“No, Se’r. I am deeply devoted to the cause, and to Eru, though his gift of death was not granted to my people. It is only …”
“Your brother?” asked the cloaked figure.
“Yes, Se’r. On one side I feel he is a weakness to the cause, but on another, he is my blood. I cannot deny that.”
The figure did not answer for a second, sitting on his stool quietly instead. Then, as if he had been standing all along, he rose. Pulling open his cloak, he stared down at Dullathaen. “You are all armed right now, all clad at least in two layers of clothing, and some with armour. But I am protected only by my tunic and this cloak.”
With a flourishing motion, he dropped the cloak away from him. It was still impossible to see anything other than his head, which was draped in hair black as the shadow around the rest of his body. Suddenly, his voice rose to a sudden crescendo. “I am cursed by the weakness of the flesh, as are you all, be you Elf, Man, Dwarf, man, woman, child, ancient, it matters not. We all are cynicists, all unwilling to trust completely, all willing to let doubts take us and deceive us. Some of you could be drawn to kill me now. I am so weak, so fragile, bearing no weapons, and little cunning. Any may cut me down, but I do not fear it.”
Silence came, and he sat down on the stool, pulling his cloak around him once more.
“Weakness is our strength, Elf, true strength that all may have. Not the strength of the body, which you are so burdened by. We all have weaknesses, and their purging is not our purpose. It is learning to live through them, not without them.”
Dullathaen sighed. “Truest words, oh Se’r, but my weakness is that I cannot speak to my kin of this cause. He is not ready yet. Only I am, now. But to hide is against my nature. To not tell him turns me against myself.”
“Ah, Child of Eru, you have much to learn. But first, I have something for you to do. Something to do which will keep this thing off your mind.”
He stood up, and Dullathaen moved to put his arm under the shoulder of his master. You always did that, whenever he stood. No one knew why the powerful, fearless master, who could even stand strongly on his own two feet sat on a stool rather than a shadowed throne, and could not walk.
Hobbling, Dullathaen led “Se’r” to the door of the room. He was made to stop at the doorway. Dullathaen’s master gestured broadly with his hand.
“So much evil must be extinguished before Eru’s Hand may be seen.” The shadowed master looked out into the night-cowled world. “Kill 100 Blackwolds. Then, return to me.”