Hidden Blade: Chr. 20

The next morning dawned just as night had fallen, with grey clouds filling the sky and threatening to fall upon the Elven city. The silvery giants had not stopped dropping large, fluffy snowflakes down upon the inhabitants of Rivendell, and all about, Elves walked with hoods drawn over their faces to keep out the cold.

Aramir sat upon his bed, safe from the chilling cold of the winter day. His dark hair, a tangled mess due to a night of fitful tossing and turning, hung in his eyes as he laced his boots. His sword sat next to him upon the bed-no doubt the blade was icy cold after being propped by the bedside all night.

The Itir was neither surprised nor startled when his door opened and Kellian bounded inside. The Elf, who most likely had not been plagued with horrid nightmares, was as excited as he always was. He sat himself down next to Aramir lightly, yet with enthusiasm as well.

"Good morning Ar!" he fairly shouted into Aramir's ear.

The other leaned away, swatting at the Elf. "I'm sorry, you've made me deaf," he said with a grin. "You'll have to write it down now."

Kellian rolled his eyes. "Well, since you are deaf, no doubt you won't hear all the terrible things I'm about to say about you. At last I can say what I really think of Aramir, and he won't ever know." His eye's twinkled devilishly.

"I wonder what Kell is saying," Aramir mused. "Then again, he never did have anything worthwhile to say."

If he had been deaf before, Aramir was crippled after Kellian leapt at him and forced him off of the bed. A loud clang! followed when Aramir's sword fell to the ground after its owner. The two young Itir flailed about on the hard ground, throwing blow after blow at each other, all the while throwing friendly insults back and forth.

The fight was short lived. Swatting at Aramir with more force than he meant, Kellian drew back when he heard Aramir shout, more in surprise than pain. The part-Orc sat back, holding his hand over his nose. When he moved it away, his palm was stained with his inky blood, as was his face.

Kellian's face flushed. "Oh Aramir, I'm sorry!" he exclaimed.
He leapt to his feet. "Where is the bottle? You do have it, don't you?"

"Yes, I have it," Aramir said, still clutching his throbbing nose, should someone come in suddenly. He dove into his sac and fished around until he found it, then hurriedly unscrewed it and turned away from Kellian. Despite his best friend's feelings toward his bloodline, Aramir could not push away the shame he felt at what he was.

"I'm really sorry," Kellian was saying. "I didn't mean to-"

"-I know, Kell, don't worry about it." Aramir said, turning back to his friend. His blood now ran a deep scarlet and he tucked the phial into his tunic. "I'm alright. I think. First you deafen me, then you break my nose."

Kellian looked only slightly amused. "Sorry," he mumbled.

Aramir's face filled with concern. "Kell, are you alright?" He slung his arm around the Elf's shoulders. "I'm not mad at you."

"I know you're not, but I'm angry at myself. If anything happened to you Ar, I mean...you know. Well, I'd never forgive myself."

Aramir felt a swell of affection for his friend. He turned and stood right in front of Kellian, placing his hands on the other's shoulders. "Thanks, Kell. You shouldn't have to worry about me like this. It would have been better had I not told you."

Kellian shook his head vehemently. "No, no. I'm glad you trust me so much. I didn't think anyone could ever have that much trust in another. Especially me." He smiled weakly. "I'm glad you told me." He paused, and his smile widened. "Sorry I made you deaf."

Aramir laughed. He stooped over to pick up his sword and headed for the door. "We had better find Kaelith before the council starts."

"Council!" Kellian exclaimed, following after him. "What about breakfast?"


*****************

Kellian wasn't disappointed in the breakfast that was prepared for the King, Queen, and Itir. When the meal was finished, both Aramir and Kellian would have just as soon stayed right where they were instead of following Arodan and Ilren. The king and queen, led by an Elven escort, glided down the house's many halls, speaking softly to one another about the council that was soon to happen. Formally silent, Aramir, Kellian, and Kaelith trailed after the nobles of Gondor, senses alert to any danger.

Danger seemed a foreign word in the Elven city, thought Aramir. Everywhere he looked, even in the winter, there were signs of the beautiful, lush trees that grew when the weather was warm. Their branches were bare, and yet they held a beauty and a strength, as though playing dead, but green and alive underneath. The sun dared to force its way through the clouds and showered the earth with glittering rays. Aramir breathed deeply of the cool air, and though it seemed to freeze his nose all the way through, he found he could still catch the scent of flowers on the breeze.

The council went as was usual for councils, at least in Aramir's experience. He, Kellian, and Kaelith stood in the shadows, watching and occasionally listening when they heard something interesting. Aramir and Kellian exchanged teasing grins when they thought no one was looking, but a glance from Kaelith told him that at least one person saw their game.

The next week followed much the same as their first day. Council was held at least once a day to discuss varying topics. In their free time, Aramir and Kellian wandered the city, talking and teasing as usually. Sometimes Aiken joined them, and more often than not the Elf's presence would result in Aramir-and-Aiken-versus-Kellian fights. The blonde-haired Elf lamented that his two best friends were turning against him, which only gave them reason to fight harder.

Sleep should have been easy in the peaceful city, but by the end of his stay, Aramir was thoroughly exhausted and ready to return to Gondor. He spent his nights tossing and turning in his bed. In his mind he saw angry Elven faces staring at him. The Elves pointed and shouted and called him horrible names, and no matter how hard he tried, he could never run. He was chained to the ground by some invisible force, made to stay and endure the mockery and loathing of the Elves. In his mind he would cry out over and over, sometimes for Kellian or Lee, and other times for his parents. No one ever came.

Kellian knew of these nightmares, but he never mentioned them. If Aramir wished to speak of the horrors in his mind, he came forward and spoke to the Elf, but Kellian knew better than to breach such a sensitive subject. He was always there to listen, however, and Aramir never once feared that Kellian would reveal his secret.

When their time in Rivendell came to an end, Aramir was both relieved and disappointed to go. He sat atop Narmo and turned around often to watch the city fade into the distance, becoming smaller and smaller, and yet loosing none of its beauty. They had bade Kellian's parents and his friends goodbye shortly before leaving, and the last thing Aramir saw before they departed was the Elf embracing his parents. He smiled outwardly, but inside he felt a pang of jealously towards his friend, a pang that left him wishing his father was still alive.

The trip back was uneventful, despite their frequent stops in cave systems, which put Kellian on edge yet again. Aramir teased his friend just as he had on the way to the Elven city, and Kellian was no less amused.

"I hope you roll into a crevasse in the middle of the night," the Elf snarled one night.

The morning they were due to arrive in Minas Tirith, Aramir was filled with such foreboding that he thought he might fall off of Narmo on their way in. The weather was bright and beautiful, the temperature was cold but not unbearable. Narmo and the other horses were in a fine mood, as were the young Itir's companions. There was nothing to suggest that anything was amiss, yet Aramir felt it in his blood. He shuddered just thinking about such a thing.

They reached the city without incident, and as Aramir took deep, steadying breaths to calm himself, he tried to assure the butterflies inside of him that nothing was wrong. As they rode over the sprawling fields and through the outskirts of the city, a rider upon a small, dark horse approached them at amazing speed. Concerned, Kaelith held up his hand, and
the party stopped.

When Aramir realized he recognized the rider, the terrible feeling returned with new fury.

It was Sicil.

She drew her horse to a stop right in front of them, panting and out of breath. Kaelith frowned, not familiar with the woman, but she didn't give him a chance to speak.

"Aramir, you must come quickly! I've been waiting for you all week, where have you been!?" Her voice was high and frantic.

"Sicil, what is it?" he demanded, riding forward, dimly aware that all eyes were upon him.

Her eyes were filled with tears that she could not fight back. "It's mother."

All of the colour drained from Aramir's face. He tried to speak, but no words would come.

"Come on!" his sister implored.

Aramir cast a glance at Arodan and then Kaelith. Both were staring at him with deep pathos in their eyes. "Go, Aramir," Arodan said.

Without a word to the King or a glance back, Aramir spurred Narmo and hurried after his sister.

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