The Thieves' Ring - Chapter Two
As Legolas and Telden strolled throughout Mithlond Legolas began to notice a growing uneasiness in his friend. This worried him for Telden was usually in high spirits. At the moment he seemed nervous to the extent of fear, even. Such moods were unlike him and Legolas did not like it.
As they turned a corner on the busy street, Telden started looking about for something.
"Aha!" he cried, and lunged at a strange looking blur in the air. For a moment he appeared to struggle with nothing, but he apparently came out victorious for moments after the blur became a human that Telden was gripping by the arm. He had something clutched in the palm of his other hand.
"Let go of me! Let go of me!" The girl yelled. She had a tangled mass of black curls and her face was streaked with dirt. She wore a dress that was ripped and frayed over a long, baggy shirt and baggy breeches that were far too large for her. She had no shoes. Her glaring eyes were a mysterious grey-green that might have been beautiful if her face was washed.
At the moment, however, she was struggling against Telden's vice-grip and muttering a stream of highly un-ladylike curses at the elf lords.
"Give me back my ring! Give it back!"
"Where did you find it? And how do you know it is yours?" Telden asked patiently.
"I found it in the forest. If you want I may give it to you--for a good price." The girl stopped struggling. Legolas stood, unmoving, watching the scene. He still had absolutely no idea what was going on. How had that girl suddenly appeared there?
"Do you know how to use it?" The dark-headed elf questioned the girl. "Do you know?"
"It makes you disappear. People can't hear you. Now please let me go. Here, I'll even give you your money back." The child handed Legolas two heavy leather bags: Their purses.
"That's not quite how it works. I believe you'll have to come with us."
"Telden! What are you doing?" Legolas gasped. "We can't take her with us! What in Middle Earth is going on?!"
"We will talk back at the inn. What is your name, child?"
The young girl sniffed." My name is Selira." She glowered at them angrily. "Just let me go. I gave you your money back. What more do you want with me, anyway?"
"You know something of this ring. I may need your help. In return, Legolas and I may be able to help you. Now, come along. We haven't all day. I will explain everything at the inn."
Legolas certainly hoped he would. Why should Telden keep secrets from him? And what was all this fuss over a mere ring? Telden seemed to think it important. The elven prince frowned. He did not like the look of this child who, at the moment, was being half-dragged through the streets by his companion. The prince shook is head. Nothing but good could come of this.
And at the moment Selira was thinking the exact same thing. What did this elf mean by help anyway? And what was so important about the ring. She was also slightly enraged about being called child as if she were a mere ten-year-old! Honestly! She'd seen sixteen winters, but with a background and reputation such as hers that did little good. Among the other thoughts that swirled about her mind, Selira was certain there were bad things to come.
If only she had known how right she was.
* * *
"What is going on, Telden?" Legolas growled tensely. He was highly unhappy with his friend. The girl, Selira, was leaning on a wall nearby, fidgeting. Telden had been silent since they arrived at their room and Legolas was growing impatient.
"Silence, Legolas. I will answer your questions momentarily. Where did you say you found this ring, Selira?"
"On the outskirts of the city. I go out there to think sometimes. Everyone says it's fair dangerous to wander about at night near the forest, but no one worries about me so..." She trailed off, a saddened look in her eyes.
"How very strange. Strange, indeed. I thought this ring had been lost a long time ago." Telden appeared to be speaking more to himself than the others.
"How do you know of this ring? What are its powers?" The prince of Mirkwood demanded. Telden smiled, almost wistfully.
"When you where this ring your colors blend with everything around you--like camouflaging yourself. You lose the ability to make sound--any sound at all. You cannot speak or cough. Your footsteps are inaudible. And when it is dark, the wearer can control certain amounts of light issued from the stone."
"How do you know all this, my friend? Do you know who made this ring?" Legolas said with a heavy, worried sigh.
"I do. This ring is mine. I wrought it a long time ago." The ebony-haired elf murmured. As expected, his companion gasped. Even Selira looked impressed, though still somewhat bored.
"What does all of this have to do with me?" She finally asked. The elves turned to meet her gaze.
"You know how to use it," Telden said." If you wish to keep it you must accept the certain responsibilities that come along with owning it."
"You're giving it to me?!"
"Perhaps. In the end it will be your decision. Now tell us of yourself. Where is your family? Why are you on the streets?"
"My family is gone. Killed during the war. I have to steal to survive. It's the only way to get the things I need." Selira answered heavily. There was a certain sadness in her eyes, and Legolas wondered if she was reliving a few of the more devastating times she had survived through. All of a sudden she looked very young. Young and sad. And Legolas wanted to help her. Telden, it seemed, had had that in mind since their meeting because after a moment's thought he asked," How old are you?"
"Legolas, do you think they might take her on as maidservant or tavern worker in Dale? If she came with us we could buy her some new clothes and help her to find work." Neither elf could help but see the excited glow that came into the girl's eyes.
"You'd honestly do that for me?" She gaped. "This is like a dream! To be back on my feet again! To never ever ever have to steal again!"
The elf lords grinned at each other.
"I suppose we could do that..."said Telden with a feigned seriousness. He burst into laughter when he saw Selira's eyes bulging.
"I think you ought to take a long bath first," Legolas remarked. He and Telden went and spoke to the inn-keeper who, although all-in-all disapproved of Selira, rented another room out for them. One of the maids showed Selira to her room and drew her a hot bath. As she sunk into the warm water Selira thought perhaps it was all a dream. The ring. Everything. But then again, she doubted it; you couldn't get hurt in a dream (or so her mother used to say), and she was certain the water was burning her.