Puppet Strings - Chapter 6

Eldarion did not know why, but his he felt his heart break as he saw this creature weep before him. Could it be that felt remorse for what he had done, and what he feared he might do? As he watched the pitch black tears roll down Arahad's cheeks he was suddenly reminded of something the man had said the day prior. Eldarion remembered him saying to Aragorn that he was not interested in his or his son's death, but only his own. He was interested only in his own death.

"You want to find a way to die, don't you? That is what you meant the other night." Arahad wiped the tears from his face and nodded his head. He said nothing; the simple nod of the head was enough answer for Eldarion. The prince also nodded his head and murmured, "Yes, I think I understand." As he spoke he sat down next to Arahad, dangerously close.

Aragorn had seen this exchange between the two and he now was filled with panic as he saw his son sit so close to this monster before him. He moved forward and opened his mouth to speak but Elladan stayed him. With his hand grasping Aragorn's arm he said softly,

"Don't Aragorn, Eldarion is in no harm, let them be." Aragorn's eyes quickly met that of Elladan's and he whispered urgently, "He could kill him!" As he spoke Elrohir strode up next to Aragorn and spoke in reply, "He weeps my friend, he does not wish to hurt Eldarion. He has killed enough already."

Filled with frustration, Aragorn pulled his arm from Elladan's grasp and began to pace. After moment he violently opened his pack and removed a brush. He then stomped over to his horse and started to harshly brush him. As he attempted to groom his steed, the elves prepared food and chopped firewood. All the while their thoughts were plagued with what they had heard from Arahad. What would they do with him, how does one deal with this? Needless to say, no one knew.

Eldarion sat next to Arahad, searching through his pack. He was searching for something, occasionally he would take something out, slowly but surely emptying his bag. Finally he found what he was searching for, and he tossed it to his companion next to him. It was a small piece of cloth, white embroidered with the royal emblem in blue and gold. Arahad picked it up and asked, "What is this?" Eldarion glanced over to him and gave a small laugh.

"It is a handkerchief, to wipe the tears from your face." Arahad shook his head as he smoothed the cloth over the palm of his hand. He then pointed a black finger at the embroidery and replied, "No, what is this? A tree?" Eldarion moved his bag aside and looked at the handkerchief he had handed him.

"It is my father's coat of arms, the emblem of Gondor. My mother made this for me." Arahad's gaze rested on the piece of cloth lying in his hand and then shifted his gaze to Eldarion.

"Your mother?" Eldarion nodded and added, "Yes, the queen of Gondor, my father's wife." As he spoke, Arahad gently set the handkerchief on the ground in front of him and smoothed it gently. While doing so he asked softly, "Is that where we are going, to Gondor?" Eldarion nodded his head yes and replied, "To Gondor's capital city, Minas Tirith. That is where my family and I live." Arahad looked at Eldarion as he spoke and then looked back at the embroidery before him. He had a questioningly look on his face.

"Minas Tirith?" Arahad asked confusingly. He had become more and more aware that he had been dormant for a long, long time. The few things that had existed when he was last awake were either gone or drastically changed. He also realized that there were many strange new things in the world that he had yet to encounter. Gondor being one, and more importantly kindness being another. Seeing the display of confusion upon Arahad's face, Eldarion reached back into his bag and removed a large piece of parchment that had been folded several times. He casually unfolded and then slid closer to Arahad. Arahad flinched when he saw Eldarion moving closer to him. He jerked away, not wanting to accidentally touch him but he quickly regained his composure and attempted to relax. Eldarion laid the now unfolded parchment on his lap.

Arahad cautiously leaned to his left slightly to look at the parchment and soon realized he was looking at a map. Eldarion made on final motion to smooth out the map and then said clearly, "This is Minas Tirth, my home."

Arahad looked with a child-like interest at the city of Gondor. He saw that there were seven levels, all separated with great walls. Atop the highest level there was a great tower. Arahad had seen the fair cities of the Elves and each of their destruction many years ago. What little he could remember of them were nothing like that of Minas Tirith. He glanced up from the map at Eldarion and asked curiously, "Where in this city do you live?" Eldarion let slip a small laugh from his lips as he pointed to the high structure towering above the remainder of the city. "I live here, with my parents and my sisters."

Arahad nodded his head in acknowledgment and as he did so a small smile crept across his face. Brothers, sisters, mother and father all together. Alive and happy. The smile quickly disappeared from his face as he then thought of all the families he had destroyed. Murdering parents and their children without hesitation or regret. Though Arahad never felt regret for the atrocities he had committed lifetimes ago, he now could feel all of the then absent remorse flooding it's way back into him. He knew now he would slowly but surely drown in it.

Eldarion could see that his companion's eyes were now being glazed over once again by his midnight-colored tears. Eldarion opened his mouth to speak but before any words could be spoken Arahad quickly stood up and walked a few steps away. His head turned upwards to the night sky. The sky was cloudy, only the brightest of stars could be seen. Without looking away from the clouded heavens he asked loudly.

"Elves are said to be the people of the stars, are they not?" He then paused for a moment, and continued without waiting for an answer. "If that is so, then what is the race of Men called?"

Elladan and Elrohir had been watching the exchange between the two quietly; they were unaware of their elven companions. They had remained silent until now; Elladan answered the man's question.

"Men are called the people of the sun. It is said they awoke with the sun's first rays." After a few moments after the elf's answer to his query, he turned to face them and asked quietly, his eyes never leaving the ground.

"I would like to go for a walk, if that can be allowed." He then glanced over to Aragorn and was met with an unfriendly look. Arahad then added unpleasantly, "Or perhaps I should be bound to a nearby tree, if that would make my gracious host feel more at ease." Aragorn once again shot a nasty glare to Arahad, but then waved his hand in dismissal. Without a word Arahad then turned and quickly disappeared into the darkness of night.

He did not return until dawn, though when he did he found that they all were waiting, and perhaps prepared to go searching for him. The fire had been extinguished and their gear gathered. All of their bags had once again found their way back onto their horses.

"Perhaps you thought I would not return?" Arahad asked. As he spoke he had a small smirk on his face. He smirked though he knew not where he would go if he did not return to them. He could return to Angband, though he did feel an overwhelming desire to do so. He had no desire to do anything. Just as Arahad was making his way through the tall grass, a sudden bolt of intense pain shot through his body. He fell to the ground screaming as he felt an otherworldly force rip through him. Eldarion and the others looked on as he jerked and writhed on the ground before them. Eldarion wished there was something he could do to help Arahad but without even being able to touch him, what could he do?

Slowly Arahad grew quieter and lay still in the tall grass around him. Everyone was silent as they watched and waited for him to recover. A short time afterwards he slowly pulled himself up and looked up at the four pairs of eyes looking intently at him.

"It may not be wise for me to go to your city, Eldarion." As the prince contemplated the man's word, Aragorn sighed and spoke sternly.

"The decision regarding you can be best made in Minas Tirith, there I will benefit from the wisdom of my counselors. All of us are going." As he spoke Arahad looked at him at him blankly. He did not agree with Aragorn's decision, nor were they in any position to enforce it. For some reason he went along with it though, Arahad knew not what else to do, as free will was still quite foreign to him.

To be continued...

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