“Easy there, Eladrion!” Eiliandel playfully scolded the year and a half old son of Arwen and Aragorn. Arwen laughed from her seat on the garden bench as Eladrion squirmed in Eiliandel’s grip. Eiliandel was eight months pregnant, and Eladrion had quite the comfortable seat, perched on her belly. Eladrion laughed as he got a good grip of Eiliandel’s hair and wouldn’t let go, “Arwen! I think you need to come get your son!” Eiliandel said, trying to gently pull the hair out of Eladrion’s grasp. Aragorn leaned over before Arwen could get up and he took his son, laughing at Eiliandel as he did so, “You’re going to have to get used to that, Eiliandel!” Arwen nodded, “It seems all children love long hair. Especially if it is their mother’s long hair……..” she smiled at Eiliandel who muttered something in elvish. Aragorn laughed as his son transferred his grip from Eiliandel’s hair to Aragorn’s. They all had been enjoying a time of peace after the battle that had ravaged the city. Arwen was enjoying watching Aragorn try to rebuild the palace, something she swore he should leave to Gimli and the other dwarves, as it was just about as entertaining as watching Eiliandel figure out how to adapt to motherhood. The gorgeous dark haired elf had finally been convinced that she could not climb over the garden walls like she used to, although the rest of her habits were still going strong, such as her love of sneaking out of the palace to the nearby woods via the pipelines. Novrion had caught her trying to scale the walls earlier that week, and he had been none too pleased. She had relented, but had resorted to swimming in the lake far more often than she’d used to. Arwen watched a look of sadness cross her friend’s face, “Eiliandel? Come on. We need to go clear out all the plants in that spare room in your quarters! You are going to need it!” Arwen tried to cheer up Eiliandel. Taking Eladrion from Aragorn, the two women left to go to Eiliandel and Novrion’s quarters.
Aragorn watched as they left, turning to Novrion, who had quietly walked up, he said, “Novrion, I must talk to you. This morning, one of the stewards of the palace was found in front of my chambers, dead. He’d been murdered,” Aragorn turned to the elf, “This is the second of such murders.” Novrion bowed his head slightly, “I am truly sorry to hear of this. What would you have me do?” Aragorn shook his head, “Nothing at the moment, except use your knowledge. I ask you to go and look at the poor man’s body. Something about the way he died does not fit.” Novrion inclined his head slowly, blonde hair falling over a shoulder, “Other than that he was murdered, what bothers you?” Aragorn stared off in the distance a moment, “It was as though he was killed as a warning. Please, go look at the corpse.” Novrion nodded and began to leave, but Aragorn stopped him, “Novrion? Do not say a word of this to Arwen or Eiliandel. Something tells me that they should not know of this.” Novrion grmly left to his task, and left Aragorn to worry over something only he knew.
Arwen stared at the tangled mass of plants, flowers and vines that clogged the spare room in Eiliandel’s chambers. This would be far more work than she’d thought. Eladrion gave a delighted laugh and grabbed a flower off a vine. Smiling, he offered it to his mother, “Oh that is lovely, Eladrion! Thank you!” Arwen willingly tucked the flower in her hair at Eladrion’s insistence, and then laughed as he repeated the gesture with Eiliandel. The women got to work, hauling out as many of the plants they could salvage and then allowing Eladrion to help them pull the rest out. Soon only the walls and ceiling were covered in ivy, but Eiliandel insisted that that be left. She wished her child to have a room much like hers had been in the River Realm where she’d lived. The women then moved in a crib and several elvish toys for the soon to arrive child. With Arwen’s help, Eiliandel hung veil-thin curtains over the window and then decided that she needed to call it a day. Leaving Eiliandel sleeping on her bed, Arwen and Eladrion snuck out.******
An ear-piercing shriek destroyed the silence of the night. Aragorn bolted upright, one hand reaching for a sword, the other for Arwen. Arwen gasped and sat up. Another shriek sounded. Arwen darted over to the other side of the room and grabbed Eladrion, who had started crying at the sudden sound. Aragorn pulled her and Eladrion close, “Come.” he darted from the room, Arwen following close behind. Aragorn did not wish to leave her alone in their rooms when he did not know the source of the shrieks. They began running towards the sound of the shrieks. Cornering, Aragorn nearly plowed over an ashen faced Eiliandel. Novrion was close behind her, armed and pale. “A dragon!” Eiliandel yelled as another shriek broke the night. Arwen cradled Eladrion closer, “A dragon! Here! Are you sure?” Aragorn asked, pulling Arwen even closer. Novrion nodded, “It has been circling the city. Eiliandel and I heard it scream and when we looked it was closing in on the palace, right Eiliandel? Eiliandel?” Novrion whipped his head around. Now where had she gone! Turning he saw the very edge of her nighgown vanish around the corner, “Eiliandel!” he took off, with Aragorn and Arwen in hot pursuit. They caught up with her under a covered walkway. She peered through the columns that supported the walkways’ roof. Novrion grabbed his wife and pulled her back into the doorway, “What do you think you are doing?” he asked in astonishment. Eiliandel shrugged, “I do not know your preference in this matter, but mine is that I wish to be able to see the dragon, thank you.” With her rather sharp answer, Aragorn nodded, “Best keep an eye on it. As long as it does not set anything on fire or begin attacking, I see no reason to confront it.” Arwen nodded in support of her husband’s decision. Novrion reluctantly agreed, “Very well, but Eiliandel, please do not take any risks.” Eiliandel bowed her head slightly, showing her deference to Novrion’s wishes. She would stay safe, but she could do as she wished. Aragorn sent Arwen, Eladrion and Eiliandel to the stronghold room for the rest of the night, just to be safe, but the dragon only circled for hours, screeching as it went, before leaving at the crack of dawn.
Aragorn yawned and walked out of his quarters. He stopped in shock. Another dead body lay the hall, more manged than the last. He quickly peered through his door, Arwen still lay sleeping peacefully. He darted down the hall to Novrion and Eiliandel’s quarters. Carefully pulling open the door, he snuck towards their room. With any luck, Novrion would be still sleeping and Eiliandel would be out somewhere in the garden satisfying her curiousity over the dragon. Praising the Valar that he had been correct, he hauled Novrion out of bed, “Aragorn, what are……” Novrion stopped when he saw Aragorn’s face, “What is it?” he asked, his face mirroring the dread he was feeling. “Another body. Hurry.” Aragorn muttered as the two men took off down the hall. Aragorn had every intention of removing the body before Arwen and Eladrion awoke.
Novrion gingerly shifted his hold on the sheet they’d found to remove their ghastly cargo. Putting the hapless man’s body next to the other victim’s remains, Aragorn looked at Novrion, “I never asked. What did you conclude from the other body?” Novrion nodded, “You are right. He was killed as a message. What that message is, I do not know, but this cannot continue.” Aragorn nodded, “I am working on a plan, I will contact you when I have figured what I want.” Novrion nodded again, “I believe I shall do a cursory search of a method of transportation both our wives seem to know much about. Do not worry, I will not say the real reason behind my curiousity.” Aragorn looked puzzled, “Where are you going?” Novrion made a face, “The sewers. Eiliandel and Arwen know how to get out of the city walking through them, perhaps that is how our killer got in.” Aragorn was suddenly glad that he had not thought of this particular idea.