They spent a good two hours sitting in the tavern, talking animatedly about anything that came to mind. It seemed to Aramir that he and Kellian had been meant to be friends long before they had ever met. There was something special in the way they were able to tell each other anything, even after such a short time of knowing each other. Or almost anything, Aramir thought, thinking of his secret. He could tell no one that.
As they were preparing to leave, two of the Itir entered the tavern together, talking easily. Kellian’s eyes lit up and he dragged Aramir over to where they sat, eager to introduce his friend to the men, although, as Aramir pointed out later, they already knew who he was.
Nevertheless, they both congratulated Aramir and told him to watch out for Kellian, much to the Elf’s mock annoyance. After bidding the Itir farewell, the young men slipped out of the tavern and headed back to the lodgings, with Aramir keeping a careful lookout for more of ‘Kellian’s friends.’ The gave the password to the guard at the gate, then quickly made their way to their ‘house’, for lack of a better word. Once inside, Aramir pulled off his shirt and boots and collapsed into his bed, not caring that a lantern was still lit. A minute later Kellian blew the light out and flopped down on his own bed.
“Tired?” he asked Aramir in a clearly teasing tone.
“Not yet. I’m sure I will be tomorrow, though,” Aramir replied with a laugh.
“And the day after, and the day after that, and…” Kellian added, and would have continued if Aramir had not thrown a pillow at him. It smacked him in the face, silencing him momentarily before he pulled it off and hurled it back at Aramir. Aramir reached out, caught it, and sent it flying back at him, but the Elf had another pillow ready, which he sent flying into Aramir’s face.
“Ahh!” Aramir cried. “Pillow war!!”
He leapt from his bed, pillow in hand, and dove at Kellian. The Elf raised his hands in defense but Aramir dodged the pillow-blow that was aimed for him and smacked Kellian hard with his own. His friend cried out and backed away with the speed of his race, pillow up and ready to throw at any given time. They stood facing each other for a moment, grinning wildly, and then Kellian leapt at Aramir. The pillow fight continued for several minutes as the two trainees hurled pillows at each other, laughing madly, and then all of the sudden the door opened. At the same moment, Kellian dove away from the door where he had been crouched, and Aramir’s pillow smacked right into the face of the intruder. Both young men gasped and froze. Lee stood in the door, looking slightly surprised and amused to have been assaulted with a pillow.
“Oops,” Aramir muttered under his breath. “Heh.” He could feel his face burning red with embarrassment.
Lee raised an eyebrow, calmly stooped over, and retrieved the pillow from the floor. He hefted it in his hands for a moment as though giving it an examination, and then all of the sudden sent it sailing towards Kellian.
It hit the Elf’s face and he leapt back in surprise. “Hey!! He threw it!” he cried, pointing at Aramir. He seized another pillow and threw it back at Lee.
The fight resumed, this time between the two trainees and the Itir captain. Neither Aramir nor Kellian showed any respect for Lee as they hurled pillows at him, and at each other as well.
Eventually, after nearly fifteen minutes of relentless pillow throwing, the fight ceased. Aramir flopped over on his bed and grinned, panting hard.
Lee chuckled. “Well, that was an experience. I come to tell Aramir that he has been chosen as the last Itir, and he attacks me with a pillow.”
Aramir bolted upright. “What!?” he cried.
Lee burst into laughter. “Just kidding,” he said with a devilish grin. “Serves you right for pillow-ing me.”
“Hmph,” Aramir muttered.
“Here,” Kellian said, thrusting a pillow into Aramir’s hands. “I’ll hold him down.”
Aramir laughed. “He’d probably win. You fight as well with pillows as you do with a sword,” he told the captain.
Lee rolled his brown eyes. “The newest training class: pillow fighting. I’ll even let you two teach it.”
Kellian and Aramir burst into laughter. Lee chuckled, then rose from Kellian’s bed where he had been sitting. “Well, I think I’ll be going before I am further assaulted. I shall see you both tomorrow. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight!” Aramir called. Unable to stop himself, he whipped the pillow he had been holding at Lee’s retreating back. The captain swung around, caught the pillow, and tossed it back at Aramir. Before the young man could do anything, Lee was gone.
“Darn,” Aramir muttered with a grin.
Kellian laughed and lay down on his bed, and Aramir followed suit.
“Pillow fighting,” Kellian muttered quietly, and Aramir cracked up once more. When the laughter finally died down and silence filled the room, the two young men drifted off into sleep.
The next several months of Aramir’s life were much the same as his first day of training, if not more tiring. His days were filled with the demands of training to be one of the elite Itir, but they were demands that he was able to meet. Each day he and the others worked hard to meet the expectations of their teachers. They fought with swords and daggers, practiced and perfected their archery skills, and even worked on hand-to-hand combat from time to time, as well as fine tuning their riding skills under Alaith’s watchful eye. At night, Aramir and Kellian would sit in their room and talk till all hours of the night. They drew closer and closer together as time went on, and it was generally accepted that wherever Kellian was, so was Aramir, and vice versa. Deep inside of them, they knew that only one of them could become an Itir, but this knowledge did nothing to their friendship. Neither Aramir nor Kellian were, however, ignorant of the other students, and in fact, they both got along well with all of the others, except for Janst, who continued to be ‘a pain in the pointed ears’, as Kellian had so appropriately pointed out. The young man was rude and ruthless, and Aramir swore that Janst spent his free time plotting against them. For the most part, however, the other simply ignored the two best friends, albeit frequent glares.
In addition to working on fighting skills, they also learned to craft their own weapons. Since Aramir and Kellian both knew how to make longbows, they became assistant instructors to Pilindar and aided the other students, and watching Janst try to craft a longbow gave them hours of amusement. Apparently, Aramir noted, his appearance was not the only thing that lacked resemblance to his half-Elven heritage. They also learned to make swords and daggers, and Aramir often thought of Rin during the time the students spent in the forge, carefully crafting their weapons. He rather missed the young man, although he did not have much free time in which to do so. He wondered briefly how Rin was doing, and wondered if he would ever come to visit.
Thinking of Rin caused Aramir to think of his mother, and in turn, his secret. So far, he had done, in his opinion, a very good job of keeping it. He carried his little bottle everywhere he went, and he had been forced to use it more than once. Fortunately, the liquid never seemed to decrease in amount, so he wasn’t in need of a new bottle yet, and no one questioned his story about its use. As for his knowledge of the Black Speech, he had kept his mouth shut whenever he felt the urge to use it, and so far he had not been forced to come up with any reasons why he knew it. His dreams came every now and then, the same as always, but fortunately he had not yet woken Kellian up in the middle of the night by his sudden cries. Aramir wondered if Elves had nightmares, and decided that even if they did, they certainly were nothing like his own. He had learned to make himself fall back asleep after his dreams, for he needed all the sleep he could get to make it through his busy days.
And busy they were, but he enjoyed every minute of it. Nothing gave him more pleasure, except perhaps beating Kellian with pillows, which he did often, than dancing across the ring with his sword in hand, striking with amazing speed at his opponent. Kaelith, their regular sword instructor, had been greatly impressed by Aramir’s lightening speed from the very beginning, and even Tahar, whom, according to Lukar, never said anything nice about anyone, had commented on Aramir’s swiftness. Aramir never said anything in return to these compliments, except a shy smile, and inside of his head he pictured the Itir he had seen fighting on his first day in the training centre. He wondered if he would be able to fight that fast, but as of yet he had fought only the students, so he had still not found out. He supposed that he would just have to keep working.
Chapter 6: https://www.theonering.com/docs/12101.html
Chapter 7: https://www.theonering.com/docs/12217.html
Chapter 8: https://www.theonering.com/docs/12255.html
Chapter 9: https://www.theonering.com/docs/12309.html