Puppet Strings - Chapter 16
One morning, in a smaller dining room, Eldarion was eating his breakfast with Arahad. Eldarion gobbled away happily while Arahad sat across the table from him. Arahad also spent a great deal of time with Eldarion. Just like friends or brothers, they were slowly starting to exhibit the need to pester and poke fun at the other. At first it seemed strange to Arahad, but he became increasingly good at it. Maranwe and Gilraen had already come and gone. Arahad and Eldarion were still waiting for Laurelin, who was taking an uncharacteristically long time to join them.
"So has your father and his...cohorts decided what they will do with me?" Arahad spoke while he leaned back in his chair, interlacing his fingers in front of him. He looked over the table and waited for an answer. Eldarion kept on eating, avoiding eye contact.
"Please assure me that they will not build a ship, set me adrift and see how far it takes me." Arahad said sarcastically. Coincidently, Arahad discovered sarcasm due to his long hours spent with Eldarion. Eldarion looked up from his plate at Arahad and quickly retorted.
"No my friend, I believe they were going to weight you with stones and watch you sink to the bottom of the sea." Then he gave Arahad an equally sarcastic smile.
Arahad gave no reply to his comment; he just let his mind wander. When given the chance his mind always wandered to the same thoughts, and those thoughts were never good. Luckily he was snapped out of his stupor when he saw Laurelin finally enter the room. She glided gracefully in, as beautiful and as sweet as ever.
"I see someone did not wish to get out of bed this morning." Eldarion teased as he greedily finished his food. In response to his comment, Laurelin put aside her dignity and grace long enough to stick her tongue out at her older brother. The sight allowed a small laugh to escape from Arahad.
"Oh that's lovely. No wonder he is enamored with you." Eldarion declared as he rose from the table. Again, if Arahad's skin allowed him to blush he would have. Arahad's shortcoming did not stop Laurelin's cheeks from blushing. Eldarion laughed at her reaction as he leaned over and picked up the cat that had accompanied his sister into the room. When he had secured it, Eldarion sat back down in his chair. Laurelin smiled at Arahad and he returned it as he rose out of his chair.
"Good mor..." The greeting never came out in its entirety. Quickly his chest began to heave and his head pound. As the pain spread violently through every inch of his body, he could only think of one thing...Laurelin,
"Not here, please not now." He whispered, begging to some unknown force. Of course the force paid no heed to his plea because soon he heard those familiar words in his head. It became more violent than it had ever been; it was like he had no control anymore. His arms flailed about, causing chair to crash to the floor and for the brother and sister to take drastic steps back. They watched as it came over him, Eldarion knew it had never been this bad. He was screaming and thrashing and it was a wonder that the walls of the palace did not come crashing down on them all. Feeling himself drown in the pain and violence he screamed out to them.
"Run! Go!" Arahad struggled to speak. He was able to open his eyes a moment and he looked over to Laurelin. Her face was filled with fear and concern. Eldarion began to back away but Laurelin had not moved. She can't be here he thought to himself. He turned to her and screamed.
"I SAID GO!!" Eldarion heard the same roar in his voice as he did in the forest, during the troll attack before he had been rendered unconscious. His eyes held a little of the same hellish fire that they had before. A moment later, his body acting on its own accord, he reached towards Eldarion and ripped the cat out of his arms. Eldarion ran to his sister and pulled her to the door. Neither one of them could tear their eyes away from Arahad and the cat burning up in his hand. Eldarion ushered Laurelin out of the room and shut her out. He then turned, with his back against the door, watched Arahad.
All the while the voices were speaking to Arahad, saying the same things they had been saying for the last week. Finally it had become too much for him, all of it was just too much for him to bear. As the pain passed and Arahad collapsed to the floor he began to sob. When he was sure it was over, Eldarion cautiously walked closer to him. Arahad lay on the floor trembling.
"Arahad?" Eldarion whispered as he crouched to the floor a few feet away from Arahad. He got no response from him until finally Arahad managed to sob out some words.
"I killed her, I murdered her! She trusted me and I killed her! I killed Rhian!" Arahad continued to sob uncontrollably as he ranted. The moment Eldarion heard the name of the little girl in Rohan; he hung his head and sighed deeply.
"I can't do it, make it stop! I won't, I won't, I won't do it! I can't!" Arahad kept rambling on as his tears spilled from his eyes, down his cheeks and onto the floor. Eldarion sat down on the floor and covered his face with his hand.
"I know Arahad, I know. You helped her, you gave her peace." Neither of them said anything more. They sat there quiet and alone. In strange way, Arahad felt comfort in the fact that Eldarion hadn't left him there and was just sitting with him. He hadn't run away, Eldarion saw him though it. It occurred to Arahad that this must be what a friend is.
Arahad had spent the rest of the day in his chambers, he refused to come out. He was terrified to come back out and face everyone. It only made the fact that he was not in control even more apparent. For hours and hours he waded in these depressing thoughts until they were silenced when a he heard a soft tap on his door.
A second tap came before he brought himself to speak. He called for them to enter and a moment later the door cracked open and Laurelin looked inside.
Though he loved to look at her, at this point she was the last person he wanted to see. He had been lying on his bed, sprawled out with eyes shut. He took one look at his visitor and he rolled over, his back facing her. If he had wished to, he could have listened to her thoughts but he had no desire to, instead he pushed them out of his mind.
"Are you alright?" Arahad whispered to her, still not turning to face her. At first Laurelin made no answer to his question, some much time passed in silence that eventually Arahad rolled over onto his other side to look at her. What he saw broke his heart. She stood beside his bed, with a single tear streaming down her fair cheek and an expression her face that ripped him apart.
"I came to inquire the same about you." She said, desperately trying to keep her voice from shaking. When he heard her words, a look of confusion came over his face. Arahad opened his mouth to speak but was cut off quickly.
"Eldarion came and explained to me what happened, I didn't know. I knew you were immortal and that I could not touch you, but I had no idea..." Her voice faded before she could finish. When she realized she was crying she quickly brought her hand to her face and wiped away her tears. All the while Arahad was watching her. One thought of hers seemed to be louder than all the others, he could hear it loud and clear no matter how much he resisted.
"You're terrified, so scared of me. Yet here you stand." He spoke sadly, barely above a whisper. Normally when he was with Laurelin he felt an aching in his heart but now there was a sharp pain in its place. He hated that she was so scared of him, not that he blamed her at all. He slowly sat up, slid to the edge of the bed and stood up.
"I will not lie, yes I am scared." She said flinching when he got up. Arahad didn't move any closer to her; he could see that she was trembling with fear. He couldn't help but wonder why she had come to see how he was even though she was scared of him and of what he could do to her. The two of them stood in silence for a few moments. Then Laurelin stepped back towards the door, taking her leave. Arahad saw her leaving and he raised his arm, motioning for her to stop.
"I would never hurt you Laurelin. I swear I would sooner go back to that grave in Angband I crawled out of then let any harm come to you. I couldn't bear it." Arahad murmured to her. She looked back at him with eyes welling up with tears. She still said nothing. Arahad took a tentative step forward and continued.
"Nothing in Arda could make me hurt you." Arahad longed to be able to comfort her, but he just didn't know how he could. Once again, Laurelin wiped her tears away but this time she took a step forward. She nodded her head and sniffed back her tears. Arahad could see she was deep in thought. After another long stretch of silence she finally spoke.
"I know you never would, somehow I know. I trust you Arahad." Arahad breathed a sigh of relieve when he heard her of her trust in him. He also felt the fear in her starting to fade a little. He was confused as to how she could just dismiss all that she saw that morning. After it had happened he was sure he would never again be able to see or speak to her. But here she was, in his room, telling him that she trusted him. Even though he knew she probably shouldn't. Arahad also knew that no matter what happened to him he would never harm her in any way. He gazed at Laurelin and it became increasingly clear that she was exhausted; he could see it in her face and her posture.
"I know you are tired princess, please go to bed and rest." Arahad managed to tell her as he waved his arm towards the door. Laurelin nodded and turned to leave. Arahad followed behind her and attempted to give her a smile. When she had gone he shut the door softly behind her and went back to bed. His mind was still racked with thoughts of the day's events. Arahad half-heartedly shed his boots and his tunic, and then threw back the covers on the bed. He knew he would not find any rest that night, but decided he might as well lie down anyway. Take advantage of the comfortable bed as long as he had it.
To be continued...