Puppet Strings - Chapter 18

He had said it, Arahad had told her. Arahad loved Laurelin and he admitted it to her in his most vulnerable moment. He didn't know what reaction to expect from her, and he didn't know how to feel about the one he received. Laurelin had not said anything to him; she merely smiled warmly and left the room. No word to tell him if she felt the same way or if she loved another. He stood there watching her retreat from his bedroom, silent and alone. As minutes passed into hours after she left, Arahad slowly began to regret saying anything to her at all.

"No doubt I frightened her again." Arahad muttered sadly to himself as he dressed. After he had put on some fresh garments he trudged over to the table across the room. He picked up the comb and ran it through his hair. The many shards of his smashed mirror had been removed days before, though Elanor had brought him a small hand mirror to use. Arahad picked it up and looked hard at his own reflection. As he stared intently into it, his grasp on the handle began to tighten.

As he looked at himself, he felt anger start to well up inside of him. The sight of him staring back at him became infuriating. Arahad found himself repulsed and disgusted at the reflection of his own face. His grip tightened and he clenched his teeth. He kept staring until it became too much for him. Arahad squeezed his eyes shut tightly and slammed the mirror back down onto the table in front of him. When he opened them again he saw that he had smashed it on the table. Small shards were strewn across the table top and some had fallen on the floor at his feet. He looked down and picked up a small piece of glass, turned it over in his hands and tossed back onto the table.

"I hate mirrors." He said gruffly as he turned, flung open his doors and walked out into the corridor.

Down the hall, leaning against a massive pillar was Eldarion. He had been standing there for some time. He questioned Laurelin after she had left his room little more than an hour before. She would tell him nothing though, which was a source of great frustration to Eldarion. When he casually glanced over to Arahad's door and saw it was opened, he speedily walked across the corridor and down to his chambers. He reached his destination just as Arahad closed the door behind him.

Without even raising his head to look at Eldarion, Arahad began walking down the hallway towards the staircase. Eldarion caught up with him and soon they were striding side by side, without a word between them. Arahad stomped along, obviously intent on getting somewhere as soon as possible.

"Arahad, where are you huffing off to?" Eldarion asked quietly as they continued down the stairs. Arahad said nothing though, didn't even look in Eldarion's general direction. He obviously had a mission, and was letting nothing stand in the way of that mission. Eldarion followed behind until Arahad had made his way to the doors of Aragorn's counsel chamber. Eldarion paused a moment when he realized where they had headed, Arahad did not take a moment to pause as Eldarion.

Arahad took long, angry strides to the door. Paying no notice to the two guards posted at either side of the great doors. They moved to bar his way into the meeting room, but when Arahad flashed them angry, dangerous looks they quickly backed off and allowed him to pass with ease.

Eldarion was close behind as Arahad pushed open the doors harshly and went in. The scene was almost exact to that as the first time he had been in there. All of them were seated around the table with somber faces in dead silence. In one motion, Aragorn and his guests looked up to see Arahad moving quickly towards them with Eldarion striding closely behind him. Eldarion didn't know why they were here but he knew that it most likely not be a pleasant encounter and that he probably should be there.

"My lords, tell me what solution your wisdom has found!" Arahad's deep and gravelly voice echoed through the large room. His words had been polite but his tone was anything but. Aragorn stood swiftly and was soon almost toe to toe with the man. Everyone who was seated stared unknowingly at Arahad. He looked Aragorn dead in the face, waiting impatiently for an answer.

"We are still discussing the matter." Aragorn replied in an equally defiant tone.

"You have had ample time to do so; time is a luxury you do not have." Arahad countered in a seething voice. His eyes narrowed, looking directly into Aragorn's eyes. Then Arahad leaned forward slightly and spoke somewhat more softly.

"I have very little time left Aragorn. Every moment that passes, your people come closer and closer to unspeakable danger." Arahad leaned back a little and looked deep into the kings' eyes. Now the look was not so threatening, it was more of a warning.

"I understand." Aragorn whispered back to him. He had also become less stand-offish and more nervous. Arahad nodded at Aragorn's comment. He took a few steps backwards, never breaking the eye contact with the man in front of him. Ignoring the others in the room, Arahad continued to speak only to Aragorn.

"I will leave your city tomorrow unless you can tell me something your majesty." Then he abruptly turned and left the room as quickly as he had entered it. Eldarion did not follow him this time, he stood near the table. He dropped his head down and sighed then brought it up again to look at his father. Aragorn glanced over to his son and was met with a questioningly expression.

Elrohir and Laurelin strolled arm in arm through the palace all that afternoon. She told him everything that had transpired with Arahad that day. Elrohir listened thoughtfully and waited until she had finished her tale. He knew that Laurelin was confused and concerned and every other emotion in the world when it came to Arahad. Usually when his nephew or nieces came to him with a problem he could provide them with some crumb of useful advice. On this particular subject however, he was just as clueless as the rest of them.

The two came to the throne, which was rarely used for anything except in times of tradition and ritual. It was a very large room, enormous pillars holding up the extremely high ceiling. All along the walls of the room there hung tapestries, shields, and arms. Elrohir and Laurelin often walked together in the evening hours. She was his favorite niece and he her favorite uncle. Whenever they came to the throne room it was abandoned, except this time.

As they walked slowly side by side, both of them noticed they were not alone and soon became aware of a figure near the rear of the room. Straining to look around the pillars, Elrohir saw a man looked up at a wall covered with shields and weapons. As the pair drew closer it was apparent that the man was Arahad. Without breathing a word to one another and with an exchanged glance the two crept closer.

Arahad's eyes poured over the swords and spears that were mounted on the cold, stone wall. One sword in particular caught his attention. It was an elvish blade among a great many Gondorian swords. Arahad didn't know it, but the sword he was admiring was Glamdring. The blade that was forever at Gandalf's side since it was found in the trolls' hoard some many years before. The wizard, having no use for it after he sailed to the Undying Lands, left it with his good friend Aragorn. Now it sat in place of honor in the home of the king of Gondor.

Two pairs of eyes peered at him through the shadows as he reached up and took the sword down from the wall. It was surprisingly light in his hand. Arahad ran his other hand lightly along the blade, reveling in its smoothness. Then his fingers wandered to the runes that were engraved on the hilt of the sword. He had no idea what they said but they were intriguing none the less. His eyes traveled the entire length of the sword as he held it at an arm's distance from himself. Then with no warning he tossed it into the air.

Laurelin and Elrohir watched as it was flipped up into the air and was then caught again with skill and precision. Arahad then spun the sword expertly in his hand. Arahad watched the whole thing outside himself. He could never remember using a sword in his life; he never had the need to. The knowledge of swordplay just seemed to all of a sudden be there in his mind.

"How...I don't know anything about swords." Arahad whispered to himself. He looked down in bewilderment at the sword that was still in his hand. A moment later, being somewhat disturbed, Arahad placed the sword back into its place. All the while the princess and elf had seen the display and were to say the least confused. Soon Elrohir snapped out of his trance and looked over at his niece, who in turn returned his glance. Their hearts jumped when the silence was broken abruptly.

"Did you think you could venture so close without me knowing?" Arahad said in a loud, strong voice. He did not even turn to look at them; he simply kept looking at the arms mounted before him. Laurelin and Elrohir's voices were caught in their throats. That had been the last thing they had expected to happen. Before they could answer him, he turned around and stared at them, his eyes narrowing. Elrohir gently pulled in Laurelin's arm, which was entwined with his own and spoke softly to her.

"Come niece, we should not linger." As soon as he has whispered to her they both were walking at a much quicker pace towards the door. Arahad watched with keen eyes as they hurried to the exit, leaving him alone once more. He had not meant to frighten them but he was he knew the moment he spoke that he had. He didn't mean for his words to sound so threatening, but they had been. He raised his hand to his face and then ran it through his hair that hung loosely in his face. He shook his head, feeling his heart sinking. He felt that all he had achieved is to fool these innocent people into thinking that he was more than what he was, that he was a man. More than anything he had fooled himself; he thought that perhaps he was capable of humanity. It was a lie. He had lied to all of them and lied to himself.

Arahad presently left the throne room and kept wandering through the palace. He did not return to his own chamber that night, he just kept on walking. The lonely hours of the night passed slowly for him. Arahad was not sure if he wished that they pass more quickly or more slowly. To go or stay, he did not know which one he wanted, but he was aware of what was needed.

To be continued...


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