Exile: Chapter 7: Homecoming

<p>Minas Tirith; the heart of Gondor, the seat of King Andaran. </p> <p><br />People from far and wide traveled to do business in the fair city. People were always streaming through the huge white gates that never closed<br />A certain young man with hair the colour of spun gold looked up at the famous city as he slowly rode through the gates. At first glance, his plain black cloak with the equally plain grey tunic and leggings identified him as a simple peasant, but a closer look would reveal the expensive cut and cloth that his garments were made from.<br />However no one paid him much attention.<br />Which was how Maril preferred it. Coming home was bittersweet, he had missed the old city, but certainly not his home where he was sure his cold father and cruel sister were waiting. Lord Maril had just returned from The Shire, a broad smile lit his face as he recalled his visit there. The halfings were a breath of fresh air. There were so small but larger than life and their songs were filled with absolute joy.<br />Oh! How he will treasure the music he had accumulated in his latest travels, he could hardly wait to try them out for his friends. Maril&#8217;s thoughts were cut short when he realized that he had reached the gates of his home. Already, he could feel his heart pounding in dreadful anticipation of how his family would receive him. The young lord rode into the wide courtyard, a girl not more then 12 summers saw him and ran to the horse. &#8220;Master Maril! You&#8217;re back!&#8221; He smiled at the child.<br />&#8220;Why Serene, I believe you&#8217;ve grown several inches since I&#8217;ve been gone.&#8221;<br />She made a face. &#8220;I&#8217;m not that tall, milord.&#8221;<br />Maril dismounted as other servants came closer to greet him, this told him what he wanted to know; his father was not around, for the servants didn&#8217;t dare behave so friendly to Maril when Lord Rhymadis was around. As he returned the servants greetings, he saw a familiar person approach the small crowd.<br />&#8220;Alright everyone,&#8221; said Bhanen loudly &#8220;we must let Lord Maril rest, he has come a long way.&#8221;<br />The steward waited till most of the crowd had dispersed before approaching the young noble.<br />&#8220;Welcome home Master Maril,&#8221; he said with a broad smile.<br />&#8220;Bhanen ,&#8221; said Maril happily as he hugged the old man who he wished a million times had been his father. Bhanen pulled back after a while and reached for Maril&#8217;s bags which the young lord quickly snatched up.<br />&#8220;Its okay, I can carry them,&#8217; he said with a smile. Bhanen smiled &#8220;Still the same I see.&#8221;<br />Maril followed him into the huge mansion. &#8220;So how was your trip Lord Maril?&#8221;<br />&#8220;It was amazing!&#8221; answered Maril enthusiastically he proceeded to tell him how he joined a group of merchants to The Shire and how he met the shy hobbits and learnt many songs.<br />&#8220;I enjoyed myself so much that I almost forgot the festivities were around the corner.&#8221; Bhanen nodded. He knew the young lord would return soon because Maril attended the festivities for the sole purpose of collecting old and new songs from visiting performers from different parts of the known Middle Earth.<br />&#8220;I must say the city seems more crowded then last year,&#8221; commented Maril as they climbed the stairs to his room.<br />&#8220;In that you are correct, my lord,&#8221; agreed Bhanen &#8220;I hear the inns are hard pressed to accommodate so many visitors.&#8221;<br />&#8220;Some of the merchants I returned with said they came because there&#8217;s a rumor that the king is to wed. Is this true?&#8221; asked Maril.<br />Bhanen&#8217;s face had a thoughtful frown. &#8220;I have heard nothing of the sort, which merchants are these?&#8221;<br />&#8220;They&#8217;re from the eastern part of Rohan, I left them in Osgiliath,&#8221; Maril paused; uncertainty replaced the smile on his face. Bhanen waited, already knowing what the young lord wanted to ask and sad because of Maril&#8217;s reluctance.<br />&#8220;My&#8230;..father isn&#8217;t home, is he?&#8221; It wasn&#8217;t a question.<br />&#8220;No, Lord Maril, he&#8217;s at a meeting in the king&#8217;s court, I&#8217;m not sure when he will return.&#8221;<br />Relief flowed through Maril. &#8220;I see, well I&#8217;ll be out as soon as I rest a bit,&#8221; he sat down to remove his boots; he froze when he heard the steward&#8217;s following words.<br />&#8220;I&#8217;m afraid that&#8217;s not possible.&#8221; Maril looked up, the uncertainty was back. Bhanen was saddened further by the fear he could see lurking in the young man&#8217;s eyes.<br />&#8220;Lord Rhymadis requested that once you returned home, you must remain until he got back. He said it was extremely important that he sees you as soon as possible.&#8221;<br />Uncertainty became visible fear.<br />&#8220;He&#8230;&#8230;he said that?&#8221;<br />&#8220;Yes,&#8221; lied Bhanen, actually the old lord had coldly ordered the steward to use any means possible to keep his son in doors even if it meant binding him hand and foot and locking him up in the cellar.<br />&#8220;What does he want with me?&#8221; asked Maril in a tremulous whisper.<br />Bhanen sighed sadly. &#8220;I don&#8217;t know Lord Maril, but its best if you waited to see him before going out.&#8221; Maril, now a dejected figure looked at the floor for a long time before he nodded silently. Bhanen let out a breath he did not realize he was holding.<br />&#8220;Lord Maril, I&#8217;ll prepare a bath and a meal, would you like&#8230;..&#8221;<br />&#8220;A bath would be fine Bhanen, but leave out the meal, I&#8217;m not hungry,&#8221; interrupted Maril in a small voice.<br />Bhanen nodded and quietly left the room, he could tell the young noble wanted to be alone. For several seconds, Maril stared at the richly carpeted floor, consumed by his thoughts.<br />Ever since he could remember; Maril had been terrified of his father, he had always tried to avoid his notice. His father would sneer when he saw his son playing music or singing, on several occasions he called him a spineless sorry excuse for a son. How many times had his father openly declared that he wished Catrena had been born a boy? His father&#8217;s ridicule had isolated Maril among his noble peers, only the servants had any sympathy for the young lord and they had to hide even that so as to avoid lord Rhymadis&#8217; wrath.<br />Maril looked at his hands; they were trembling, that always happened when he recalled his father&#8217;s frightening cold eyes. Maril first noticed them when he was 6 years old. It was summer and he and the servants&#8217; children had been playing hide and seek. He had hid in a cupboard in a small room which contained a stone slab in the center of the room. Suddenly the doors burst open and two of his father&#8217;s guards walked in carrying Maril&#8217;s mother, the guards gently laid her on the stone slab. Maril had wanted to reveal himself but his mother&#8217;s unnatural stillness made him hesitate. His mother, the Lady Elyna was dressed in hunting clothes, he and his sister had seen her leave with their father that morning, he wondered where his father was. Then Rhymadis filled the doorway and curtly ordered the guards to leave, he waited till they were gone and walked to his wife&#8217;s still body. He looked at her, his face blank then he smiled coldly.<br />That look frightened young Maril so much that he didn&#8217;t dare make a sound.<br />&#8220;Elyna,&#8221; whispered Rhymadis almost tenderly, then he left with the smile still on his face.<br />After what seemed like years, Maril finally crawled out of the cupboard and walked slowly to his mother&#8217;s still body. Painfully aware that something was terribly wrong, he tried to awaken his mother. His pleas went unheard and eventually he collapsed beside the stone slab and cried his heart out realizing that his beloved mother would never wake up. That was how Bhanen found him; stunned the steward quickly took him away from the room and warned Maril to never tell anyone including his sister that he had been there.<br />Maril shook his head; he didn&#8217;t want to recall such disturbing memories. He returned to taking off his boots.<br /><br />* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *<br /><br />A bath and a forced meal later, Maril was descending the stairs when his sister walked in through the front door. She looked around and stopped when she saw her older brother.<br />&#8220;Why it looks like a certain son has returned home,&#8221; she announced mockingly. &#8220;I&#8217;m surprised you are back from mingling with the peasants. Tell me; how many &#8216;common&#8217; songs did you learn this time? I&#8217;m dying to know.&#8221; <br />Maril sighed wearily. It was back to bandying words with his sister,<br />&#8220;Good day Catrena, it&#8217;s nice to see you&#8217;ve taken an interest in my work, perhaps you would love to accompany me on my next trip.&#8221;<br />&#8220;In your dreams Maril,&#8221; said Catrena tartly as she walked away.<br />Maril said nothing and walked to the grand library, he wanted to read something to keep his mind off meeting his father.<br />He had gone aimlessly through several books when the door opened silently behind him. Though he heard nothing he was suddenly aware of someone watching him; with his heart in his mouth Maril slowly turned round to face his father.<br />Lord Rhymadis stood silently; his face blank as he looked at his son. A young handsome man in his early twenties, lean with a good stature, blond hair and blue eyes. He had dreaded the day Maril would finally want to settle down, it might be with a daughter of a common man, after all Maril took every opportunity to mingle with peasants, but now maybe he could correct that possible future mistake.<br />&#8220;Maril,&#8221; called Rhymadis softly.<br />&#8220;M&#8230;my lord father, w&#8230;welcome&#8230;..h&#8230;home,&#8221; stammered Maril.<br />Rhymadis&#8217; expression hardened, such fear he desired seen in servants; not in his son, when would Maril acquire a backbone?<br />&#8220;Sit down Maril, we have to talk.&#8221;<br />The young man felt for a seat behind him before lowering his body on it, Rhymadis thought it was a wonder he didn&#8217;t land on the floor.<br />The lord drew out one of the ornately decorated chairs and sat down opposite his son. He closely observed his son for several moments.<br />Maril fidgeted aware of the cold sweat forming on his brow, whatever his father wanted to say, he just wished it was already over.<br />&#8220;How was your trip?&#8221;<br />For several seconds Maril was struck dumb, never before had his father asked about any of his journeys. It made him even more frightened.<br />&#8220;It&#8230;&#8230;it&#8230;was..f..fruitful.&#8221;<br />&#8220;Good,&#8221; remarked Rhymadis with a smile that didn&#8217;t reach his eyes.<br />Maril wondered if he was having a nightmare.<br />&#8220;Good,&#8221; repeated his father &#8220;because now its time for more interesting events.&#8221;<br />Maril was now curious and&#8230;..wary.<br />&#8220;What do you mean father?&#8221;<br />&#8220;How well do you know Chief Steward Halmed?&#8221; asked Rhymadis. Maril remembered the kind man who was said to be the king&#8217;s best friend.<br />&#8220;Not very well, just that he is the king&#8217;s steward.&#8221;<br />&#8220;Do you know his daughter Faerla?&#8221;<br />&#8220;I&#8217;ve seen her once or twice; we barely exchanged a few words.&#8221;<br />&#8220;Hmm, too bad but I&#8217;m sure that will be rectified as soon as possible,&#8221; stated Rhymadis with a satisfied attitude. A nasty suspicion began to take root.<br />&#8220;Father, why are you interested in Lady Faerla?&#8221; Rhymadis&#8217; smile got wider and colder.<br />&#8220;As I recall Faerla is a few years younger than you, it&#8217;s about time you settled down.&#8221;<br />Maril began to panic. &#8220;Father......&#8221;<br />&#8220;Infact I think you should see her as soon as possible,&#8221; interrupted Rhymadis.<br />&#8220;I hear she visits the House of Healing every morning, may be you might even meet the king himself. I also hear he treats her like his niece, she would be an excellent wife for you.&#8221;<br />&#8220;Father!&#8221; Maril managed to say &#8220;what if &#8230;&#8230;she is betrothed to someone, I can&#8217;t&#8230;&#8230;&#8221;<br />&#8220;She isn&#8217;t,&#8221; cut in Rhymadis &#8220;I checked, heaven knows why but it would be wise if you&#8217;re quick about it, before someone else gets interested.&#8221;<br />&#8220;But, I&#8217;m not interested!&#8221; cried Maril. Rhymadis gave him a cold stare that made him quake in his boots.<br />&#8220;You will be interested.&#8221; It was an order, with that Rhymadis stood up and walked out. Maril used a shaking hand to wipe the perspiration off his face. His father was ordering him to marry Faerla! By the stars, what made him think he would succeed?<br />As Maril shivered, he knew he had no option but to do as his father ordered. <br /><br />* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * <br /><br />It was several hours past midday, the sun was lower and the shadows were beginning to lengthen, but these facts did not bother the riders on the Pelennor fields. Collectively, the gondorian rangers had paused to gaze at the beautiful white city they called home; even from afar the magnificence of the ancient city was undeniable. To Ty&#8217;lana; it was the first built structure she had seen on this side of the world and she was impressed.<br />&#8220;Minas Tirith,&#8221; she breathed. The heart of Gondor, home to the King Andaran of Anor; a direct descendant of Lord Elrond. Though she looked forward to meeting him, she also dreaded it.<br />&#8220;Fascinating, isn&#8217;t it,&#8221; remarked Ivorhen beside her, &#8220;though I don&#8217;t live here, it never fails to take my breath away each time I gaze on its fair walls.&#8221;<br />Lorandil raised an eyebrow. &#8220;You missed your calling as a poet, my friend.&#8221;<br />&#8220;So the girls tell me,&#8221; added Ivorhen .Lorandil shook his head and looked at Ty&#8217;lana who was still silent.<br />&#8220;What do you think my Lady?&#8221; he asked.<br />&#8220;It&#8217;s beautiful,&#8221; she answered. Lorandil nodded as the group moved leisurely towards the city&#8217;s gates.<br />The Ent had left them once they neared the city, Ty&#8217;lana had been sorry to see him go but knew how important it was for Lightbeam to continue his journey.<br />As they neared the massive gates which faced eastwards, Ty,lana could hear the other rangers talking of how much they had missed the city and what they planned to do in the up coming festivals. The elf princess remembered Ivorhen telling her that this year marked the 75th anniversary of the end of the Great War. Ty&#8217;lana found herself looking forward to the celebrations. In no time the group was before the gates, waiting patiently for those before them to enter. Ty&#8217;lana removed her hood; though almost evening she could still feel the heat. She was yet to fully acclimatize to the warmer weather this side of the world.<br />She heard a startled gasp from someone on the ground. She looked down to see the wide eyes of an elderly man staring at her, those around him had heard him and turned to find out what he was looking at. Before long there were stunned murmurs. She could clearly hear questions. &#8220;An elf? I thought they were all gone!&#8221;<br />&#8220;Are you sure that&#8217;s an elf, looks kind of&#8230;.. different.&#8221;<br />Ty&#8217;lana felt her cheeks go warm, during her brief stay with the rangers; they had come to accept her presence as something normal but special. It was hard to explain. She had not<br />realized that the people of Gondor would consider her strange. Besides they had the king and Lorandil, why were they staring at her? She looked for the half elf and was a bit surprised to see he had not lowered his hood. With his beard he looked like a human.<br />&#8220;My Lady, it looks like you&#8217;ve given the people of Minas Tirith something new to talk about,&#8221; commented Ivorhen softly as he looked at the stunned looks on the faces of the people they passed.<br />&#8220;It appears so,&#8221; she agreed uneasily. The attention clearly made her uncomfortable.<br />Lorandil meanwhile was talking to the guards at the gate.<br />&#8220;Welcome home Lord Lorandil, we&#8217;re glad you made it safely back.&#8221;<br />Lorandil smiled. &#8220;So am I Narlen. I have in my company an elf maiden; Lady Ty&#8217;lana of Firlaya and 16 rangers.&#8221; Narlen paused in his writing down of names. The disbelief was visible on his face.<br />&#8220;An&#8230;.elf maiden? Lady Ty&#8217;lana of&#8230;Firlaya? Where is that?&#8221; he asked, clearly confused. Lorandil had pity on the soldier.<br />&#8220;Somewhere far away Narlen, don&#8217;t bother to check the map,&#8221; he passed the guard who was trying his best to see who the &#8216;elf maiden&#8217; was. Lorandil&#8217;s sensitive ears picked up the soldier&#8217;s audible gasp when he saw Ty&#8217;lana.<br />Meanwhile the elf princess was seriously contemplating putting her hood back on, the stares were making her very uneasy. Ivorhen gave her a sympathetic look.<br />&#8220;Don&#8217;t worry my lady; we&#8217;ll soon reach our destination.&#8221; Ty&#8217;lana tried smiling.<br />&#8220;That&#8230;would be relieving, I assure you.&#8221;<br />After giving her name and other necessary details to a clearly stupefied and stuttering Narlen she was through the gates. As the group of rangers moved among the throng of people, Ty&#8217;lana&#8217;s attention was drawn to the grand inner city. Her extraordinary keen vision noticed the graceful lines of the buildings that were a signature of dwarfen architecture. The wide road curved as they made their way to another huge gate which was on the south side of the city; when they reached the third gate that was on the northeast section of the city Ty&#8217;lana had to ask a question.<br />&#8220;Just how many gates does the city have?&#8221;<br />Ivorhen answered. &#8220;Seven&#8221;<br />&#8220;They are all placed at different parts of the city, are they not?&#8221; It wasn&#8217;t really a question. Ivorhen nodded.<br />Ty&#8217;lana nodded appreciatively. &#8220;Brilliant, taking this place would be next to impossible.&#8221;<br />&#8220;And that has been proved time and time again,&#8221; contributed Lorandil as he turned round to give her a piercing look. Ty&#8217;lana&#8217;s eyes narrowed, it was obvious she didn&#8217;t care for his tone.<br />&#8220;Of cause,&#8221; she replied coolly. Ivorhen rolled his eyes, if something wasn&#8217;t done soon, he wouldn&#8217;t be surprised to find these two in a duel to the death. From the look of things that might happen in the very near future.<br />The Dunedain ranger inwardly released a sigh of relief when they reached the 6th gate on the 6th level of the city; they turned towards the stables where grooms were ready to relieve them of their mounts. However all the rangers thanked the grooms but insisted on seeing to their horses themselves. One of the most important lessons learnt by rangers was that the care of the mount was extremely important.<br />Ty&#8217;lana also politely refused the aid of the grooms, she always took care of Maethor herself; besides the mearas was still a bit touchy and she daren&#8217;t risk him kicking someone for the fun of it.<br />Ty&#8217;lana picked twigs and leaves from his long luxurious tail, then brushed him from his head to his feet. As she checked his hooves, she couldn&#8217;t help thinking of Lorandil.<br />One moment he was half way polite and charming, then the next moment he was practically accusing her of espionage. It was infuriating. She had expected that from the humans and not from a fellow elf. Ty&#8217;lana was so engrossed in her work and thoughts that she did not notice Lorandil standing behind her. <br />&#8220;Lady Ty&#8217;lana.&#8221;<br />The elf maiden turned with the brush in her hand<br />&#8220;Once you are ready, I&#8217;ll take you to Halmed; the Chief Steward of Minas Tirith. I&#8217;ll be waiting outside.&#8221;<br />Ty&#8217;lana nodded, saying nothing. Lorandil gave her a blank look then walked away.<br />She turned back to continue grooming the mearas. When she was through, Maethor gently tugged at the lapel of her riding cloak, she was forced to look into his big brown eyes. The horse asked her what was bothering her.<br />Ty&#8217;lana affectionately touched his forelock. She and Maethor had been together since he was a colt; he knew her moods better than anybody else. She couldn&#8217;t hide anything from him.<br />&#8220;We&#8217;re in a strange land old friend which is very far away from home and that makes me nervous.&#8221; Maethor neighed softly telling her not to worry that with Lorandil helping her everything will be alright.<br />Ty&#8217;lana gave a disbelieving laugh. &#8220;Lorandil ?! You must be joking, I&#8217;m not sure he even likes me.&#8221; Maethor made a noise that oddly sounded like laugther.<br />&#8216;You&#8217;ll see&#8217; was all he said. Ty&#8217;lana stared at him then shook her head when she saw the mearas wasn&#8217;t forthcoming with any more information. She begged him to behave himself and went out to find a large number of grooms waiting for her to emerge from Maethor&#8217;s stall. One of them stepped forward and reverently introduced himself as Chief Groom Cardil; he asked if the mearas had any special needs. It was obvious he and the junior grooms were ready to do anything to make Maethor comfortable.<br />Ty&#8217;lana was about to ask how he knew Maethor was a mearas then realized one of the rangers must have said something.<br />&#8220;I appreciate the offer, right now he just needs to rest. Maethor would like his stall to be left open; I assure you he wouldn&#8217;t wander off,&#8221; Ty&#8217;lana was glad the horse couldn&#8217;t hear her because if there was one thing he loved it was hide and seek. He always hid.<br />Ty&#8217;lana thanked Cardil once more and went in search of Lorandil.<br /><br />* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * <br /><br /><br />Lorandil was leaning against the stable wall when Ivorhen found him.<br />&#8220;So how&#8217;s the good old grumpy elf?&#8221; asked the Dunedain good naturally.<br />Lorandil sighed, he was in a foul mood and he didn&#8217;t think he would be good company for Ivorhen. Apparently his friend agreed with him.<br />&#8220;My, my; you are in a great mood tonight, I bet your company would be just as delightful!&#8221;<br />&#8220;Alright Ivorhen, you win. I was a total ass. I &#8230; shouldn&#8217;t have spoken to her like that.&#8221;<br />Ivorhen folded his hands and tilted his head to one side. &#8220;Could you be referring to just recently or since you met her?&#8221;<br />Lorandil closed his eyes. &#8220;I &#8230;you won&#8217;t understand.&#8221;<br />Ivorhen shrugged. &#8220;Maybe but you could try explaining to her. She&#8217;s bound to understand you.&#8221;<br />Lorandil gave him a quizzical look. &#8220;Meaning?&#8221;<br />&#8220;I believe both of you have a lot in common.&#8221;<br />&#8220;Apart from the obvious fact that we are both elves,&#8221; commented Lorandil dryly.<br />&#8220;I&#8217;m relieved to know you do realize that,&#8221; quipped Ivorhen &#8220;but what I said still stands, it just depends on whether you&#8217;re ready to accept it.&#8221;<br />Lorandil shook his head wearily. &#8220;Thanks for the information, but I assure you; Lady Ty&#8217;lana and I have absolutely nothing in common.&#8221; <br />A light step behind him made him whirl round to see Ty&#8217;lana regarding him with a strange look; it was quickly replaced with a neutral expression.<br />Lorandil was only too aware of the last words he had spoken and strangely enough&#8230; he wished he had never said them. Ivorhen looked uncomfortable as he waited for someone to speak. Ty&#8217;lana finally broke the silence.<br />&#8220;My Lords I am ready,&#8221; it was delivered in such a formal tone, that Lorandil flinched, he suddenly felt like kicking himself.<br />&#8220;If you would follow me,&#8221; he turned to lead the way.<br /><br />* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * <br /><br /><br />At first the walk began in silence, then Ivorhen tried to start a conversation. It took a while but Ty&#8217;lana began to respond as the Dunedain described the city and its people.<br />Lorandil remained silent. <br />As Ivorhen talked, the elf princess thought hard. What was wrong with Lorandil? And why did she hurt when she heard his last words? It didn&#8217;t make sense, besides she hardly knew him. She took a deep breathe to steady her nerves.<br />It didn&#8217;t matter she told herself, because pretty soon she might have to leave and would probably never see him again. That would be good, she said to herself. <br />Yet a smaller voice within her called her a liar.<br />Ty&#8217;lana forced her mind back to what Ivorhen was saying. They were on the 6th level of the city on the southeastern side. The trio passed through lovely well tended gardens and reached a building that Ivorhen described as the House of Healing.<br />&#8220;Is this where Chief Steward Halmed stays?&#8221; asked Ty&#8217;lana.<br />Surprisingly Lorandil answered. &#8220;No, but his daughter works here, right now she may know of his whereabouts.&#8221;<br />The entrance of the building was illuminated by lovely glass lamps that hung from hooks driven into the stone walls. Before long they reached a similarly lit huge hall which had several neatly made beds; most of them were empty. Lorandil walked up to an elderly man who was sweeping the floor with a long brush. The old man stopped his work to listen to the half elf.<br />&#8220;Is the Chief Steward&#8217;s daughter a healer?&#8221; asked Ty&#8217;lana.<br />&#8220;No,&#8221; answered Ivorhen &#8220;but she does a lot towards getting the patients back on their feet.&#8221;<br />&#8220;I see,&#8221; said Ty&#8217;lana. Healers were very rare and usually very powerful, the many vacant beds were a testament to the skill of the healers of Minas Tirith. <br />Lorandil thanked the cleaner for his help and walked back to the others.<br />&#8220;Lady Faerla is in the next ward, let&#8217;s hurry before she leaves.&#8221;<br /><br />* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * <br /><br />Faerla let out a tired but triumphant sigh. Finally she had finished the summaries on the recently discharged patients. As she stood up she gathered up the neatly written papers, rolled them up and walked to the nearby wooden cabinet. After putting the documents in an empty cubby-hole she was in the process of closing the cabinet when a familiar voice called her name.<br />&#8220;Lady Faerla I presume.&#8221; <br />Faerla turned round slowly not daring to believe. She let out a squeal of delight as she saw who it was. She ran to the half elf who had his arms open to envelope her in a warm hug. Ivorhen smiled, but his expression slipped when he saw the fleeting expression on Ty&#8217;lana&#8217;s face.<br />Ivorhen could have sworn that for a moment the elf maiden looked&#8230;. jealous.<br />Meanwhile Faerla was busy welcoming Lorandil.<br />&#8220;When did you get back? How is Romer? Is everyone alright? How long are you staying?&#8221;<br />&#8220;Wow! One at a time,&#8221; said Lorandil with a huge grin. &#8220;I just arrived and Romer is well; the same goes for everyone one else we left behind.&#8221;<br />Faerla smiled happily. &#8220;Father will be so pleased to see you, we thought you would stay in Gatelin forest for much longer&#8230;&#8230;&#8221; her voice trailed off when she noticed the beautiful dark skinned elf maiden standing beside a pensive Ivorhen. Faerla assumed that she must have arrived with Lorandil yet despite a long and dusty journey the elf maiden looked exquisitely immaculate. Faerla suddenly felt the urge to dash away and tidy up, she knew she must look a dreadful sight with her dark brown gown and packed hair which had several strands pointing in all directions.<br />Faerla pressed a hand to her chest as her face reddened. &#8220;Please forgive my extremely poor manners, I was so glad to see Uncle Loran that I didn&#8217;t see anyone else.&#8221; Faerla bit her lower lip, she felt even more stupid for uttering the last few words.<br />However the gorgeous elf maiden smiled warmly. &#8220;It&#8217;s alright, there is nothing to apologize for; if anyone&#8217;s manners have been poor it would be Lorandil&#8217;s,&#8221; she looked at him &#8220;won&#8217;t you introduce us?&#8221;<br />An odd sound escaped from Ivorhen, the Dunedain turned the muffled laugh into a cough. He had been watching Ty&#8217;lana closely when Faerla called Loran &#8216;Uncle&#8217; there had been a subtle change in her expression; she had seemed relieved. That was interesting.<br />&#8220;She&#8217;s right,&#8221; said Lorandil after giving Ty&#8217;lana an odd glance. &#8220;Please forgive my despicable manners; this is Lady Faerla, daughter of Chief Steward Halmed, may I present Lady Ty&#8217;lana of Firlaya and Dunedain Ivorhen who you&#8217;ve met before.&#8221;<br />Faerla gave a graceful curtsy.<br />&#8220;Delighted to make your acquaintance.&#8221; Ty&#8217;lana returned the curtsy.<br />&#8220;Delighted as well,&#8221; replied the elf maiden with a friendly smile. Ivorhen just nodded still not trusting himself to speak. Lorandil clapped his hands.<br />&#8220;Well, now that we all know each other I thought I might have a word with your father. Do you know where he is?&#8221;<br />&#8220;I have no idea where he is, would it be alright if I passed on a message to him?&#8221;<br />&#8220;Well&#8230;.it&#8217;s not exactly a message it&#8217;s&#8230;&#8221;<br />&#8220;Me,&#8221; cut in Ty&#8217;lana deciding she was tired of being treated like a dangerous parcel. &#8220;I am from Firlaya and I wish to see King Andaran. Lorandil said Chief Steward Halmed was the one I had to meet first to get approval.&#8221; This was greeted with silence during which Loran glared at Ty&#8217;lana, while Ivorhen was wisely silent. Ty&#8217;lana returned Loran&#8217;s furious expression with a cool one.<br />&#8220;Pardon me but wasn&#8217;t that what you were about to say?&#8221; Faerla looked at the 2 elves with alarm; it didn&#8217;t take a tactical genius to see that there was clearly tension between them if something wasn&#8217;t done soon the situation would definitely get worse.<br />&#8220;I see&#8221; she said slowly &#8220;come to think of it the last place he could still be is the Great Hall of Feasts.&#8221; Loran finally looked at her; his anger replaced by an embarrassed expression.<br />&#8220;Yes&#8230;&#8230;we&#8217;ll check there first, if you would excuse us?&#8221; <br />&#8220;Wait,&#8221; said Faerla before any of them could move &#8220;Uncle; you and Dunedain Ivorhen can check the Great Hall while Lady Ty&#8217;lana who is no doubt exhausted from her long trip can come home with me.&#8221; Lorandil was taken aback by Faerla&#8217;s words.<br />&#8220;Are you sure?&#8221; he asked without thinking. Ivorhen sighed wearily at the tactless question while Ty&#8217;lana&#8217;s eyes narrowed.<br />&#8220;Of course, I&#8217;m sure,&#8221; replied Faerla with a laugh &#8220;you have to move quickly; with 2 more days remaining till the Festivities I&#8217;m sure father won&#8217;t stay in one place for long.&#8221;<br />&#8220;You&#8217;re&#8230;right,&#8221; said Lorandil a bit uncertainly with a quick glance at Ty&#8217;lana he left. Ivorhen gave the ladies a bow and an additional approving smile in Faerla&#8217;s direction for her quick thinking.<br />The two young women were now alone. For several seconds they stared at each other. Ty&#8217;lana was the first to break the silence.<br />&#8220;Well that was embarrassing,&#8221; breathed the elf maiden &#8220;I apologize for&#8230;&#8221;<br />&#8220;For Uncle Loran&#8217;s behaviour?&#8221; asked Faerla, she gently shook her head &#8220;Take my advice, don&#8217;t apologize it&#8217;s not your fault.&#8221;<br />Ty&#8217;lana was clearly puzzled. &#8220;I was apologizing for my rudeness, besides isn&#8217;t he your uncle?&#8221;<br />&#8220;Not really but I&#8217;ve known him since I was little so I&#8217;m used to calling him that. Come; you must be tired and by the way I wasn&#8217;t upset by your words.&#8221;<br />&#8220;You weren&#8217;t?&#8221; asked Ty&#8217;lana as she fell in step with Faerla.<br />&#8220;Of cause not,&#8221; Faerla paused and looked at the vision that walked beside her. Ty&#8217;lana was stunning yet she wasn&#8217;t proud like Catrena and her brood of empty headed friends.<br />Ty&#8217;lana looked like she needed a friend and Faerla was in need of one too.<br />&#8220;Of cause not,&#8221; she repeated &#8220;if you don&#8217;t mind my asking where exactly is Firlaya?&#8217;<br />Ty&#8217;lana smiled ruefully. &#8220;I have a very strong feeling that I am going to be asked that a lot. Well Faerla, first we need to get a very big map then maybe I can point it out to you.&#8221;<br />&#8220;I guess that means it&#8217;s very far away,&#8221; assumed Faerla.<br />Ty&#8217;lana sighed sadly &#8220;You have no idea.&#8221;<br /><br />* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *<br /><br />Lorandil walked very fast oblivious to the fact that Ivorhen was trying to talk to him. He just kept seeing Ty&#8217;lana&#8217;s face in mind. What was wrong with him? He always seemed to misinterpret any thing she said, but her last words had been intended to provoke him. He hoped she was happy that it had worked yet he believed otherwise.<br />Ivorhen finally stopped in front of him. &#8220;Lorandil will you halt for a few seconds?!&#8221;<br />The half elf tried to go around him. &#8220;You heard what Faerla said, we have to hurry to find Halmed.&#8221;<br />&#8220;And then tell him what? That there&#8217;s a dangerous elf maiden from Firlaya?&#8221;<br />Lorandil whipped round. &#8220;She&#8217;s not dangerous!&#8221; he stated vehemently.<br />Ivorhen lifted his hands to skies as he looked upwards. &#8220;Thank the Valar, you&#8217;re not completely dense though you&#8217;re dangerously close to it! Now tell me why she scares you.&#8221;<br />&#8220;She doesn&#8217;t!&#8221; Ivorhen tilted his head at an angle and raised an eyebrow.<br />&#8220;Are you sure? She doesn&#8217;t even make you a little uncomfortable?&#8221;<br />Lorandil glared at the ranger. &#8220;I am definitely sure.&#8221;<br />Ivorhen stared at his friend for a few moments then he nodded. &#8220;Well you could have fooled me, but if you say so&#8230;.&#8221;<br />&#8220;I do say so,&#8221; asserted Lorandil firmly. Ivorhen raised his hands accepting defeat.<br />&#8220;All right, then there&#8217;s nothing to worry about,&#8221; he patted Lorandil on the shoulders and smiled broadly &#8220;so let&#8217;s find Halmed, we must not miss him.&#8221; The Dunedain ranger walked away. Lorandil stood for a long time staring at the floor then looked back at where they had left Ty&#8217;lana and Faerla. Maybe he should go back and apologize. <br />He shook his head angrily.<br />&#8220;I have better things to do.&#8221; He walked after Ivorhen.<br /><br /><br />* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * <br /><br />Hi everyone, sorry i haven't written in so long,i had to be away for quite a while and i am so glad to be back, love the new site and will definitely try and catch up on all the new gist. Love u guys!!<br /><br /><br /></p>
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