“Open the door!” Aramir’s voice called from the hallway. Isilmë just sat on the bed, ignoring his insistent pleas. She had had enough for one day. First Sirk, then Orcs, then Aramir, then Corin, now Aramir again. She figured that if she didn’t answer the door, eventually he would go away. She knew that she wasn’t being very nice, but she just couldn’t deal with Aramir right now. Sure enough, after several minutes he gave up, and she heard his footsteps receding down the hall. There was silence, albeit the sound of her crying softly. Then silence continued for a few minutes as she pondered what was to happen to her. She was not entirely certain whether she had been rescued or simply kidnapped again, and the thought of yet another kidnapper made her tears fall more intensely. But he had said he would see her safely back to Gondor. She sighed. Perhaps there was hope, but even that hope didn’t make her feel any better. Suddenly, added to the sound of her crying was another sound, this time coming from outside the window. Fearfully she backed up against the far wall, only to realize that the window was open! She gathered her courage and was about to cross the room to close it when a dark shape appeared on the roof. It moved over to the window, reached down, pulled the window up, and began to climb in.
“Daro! Halt! Stay where you are!” Isilmë commanded.
“Ugh, now what?” a familiar voice asked irritably.
“Now who else would be climbing in your window in the middle of the night?” Aramir asked, perched in the window.
“Well, you could have used the door.”
“Uh huh,” he nodded, raising his eyebrows and cocking his head to one side. “It stopped raining.”
Isilmë looked down at her hands and said nothing. There was an uncomfortable silence, then she said slowly, “I suppose I should thank you. You’ve saved me twice now.”
Aramir waved his hand slightly. “Forget about it.”
The girl shook her head. “No, I can’t forget about it.” She paused again. “And, I’m sorry about what I said earlier. You were right; I had no right to say any of that. Please forgive me.” She raised her eyes to meet his, and they simply stared at each other for a time, Aramir’s black eyes solemn. He had the most intriguing eyes Isilmë had ever seen-their depthless black seemed to absorb the light rather than reflect it, and yet his eyes did sparkle in the dim light. He nodded his head slightly. He didn’t say anything, but Isilmë felt that she was forgiven. There was another silence, then the princess asked cautiously, “Aramir, umm, if you don’t mind my asking, what happened back there in that clearing, with the Orcs?”
Aramir’s laughter filled the room, surprising Isilmë. He had a very nice laugh. “I don’t usually reveal my rescue tactics, but if you really want to know…” He trailed off and grinned mischievously as he adjusted his position in the window. “It was an idea I have always wanted to try. I am, how shall I put it, blessed, you might say, with the ability to speak and understand the Black Tongue. So I simply rode into the clearing, cloaked and hooded so no one could recognize me, dressed black and forbidding. The Orcs, of course, tried to attack me, but I cried out at them. They were startled because I used their tongue. I spoke to them, telling them that I was a dark lord, and that if they did not obey me and do as I asked, that I would send plagues upon them. Horrible things would happen if they did not heed me. Well, they believed me, so when I told them I wanted you, they were eager to give you up.” He shrugged. “That’s about it. Pretty smart, huh?”
Isilmë nodded with a smile. “I know little of you, but that seems like an idea you would come up with,” she told him.
Aramir gave her a wicked smile, then asked, “So are you going to sleep or not?”
“And where will you sleep?” she asked.
“I don’t know. On the floor, the roof, I don’t care. This window is actually quite comfortable.” He shifted again and smiled ruefully.
“Yes, and you keep the insects out rather well,” she laughed. “And the fresh air.” She reached over to pull him out of the window, then stopped short. “Aramir, your lip is bleeding.” Her tone suggested that it was not simply the fact that he was bleeding that had startled her.
“Oh, yes,” Aramir reached up and wiped the blood hastily from his lip. “Corin, you know…”
Isilmë stared at him. “But your blood; its-“
“Black?” he cut her off with a shrug.
She nodded calmly, but her mind was racing. Orcs bleed black blood, she thought. Orcs.
“I couldn’t use the bed and make you sleep on the floor,” she changed the subject abruptly.
“Sure you could. Besides, what are you going to do, sleep on the floor too?” She nodded. “No, you’re the lady, you take the bed.”
“But Aramir, you rescued me. Besides, you’re probably sore from your fight with Corin. You take it.”
“Isilmë, I haven’t slept in a bed in…in I don’t know how long. I am perfectly used to sleeping on the ground.”
Isilmë threw up her hands in exasperation. “This is pointless, arguing over a bed.” She shook her head.
“We could share it,” Aramir suggested slyly.
“Aramir!” Isilmë shoved him out the window, and he went rolling down the roof, laughing. He lay sprawled out on the roof for several minutes, laughing softly while Isilmë stared at him. He was certainly on of the oddest people she had ever met, and she found her distrust of him was fading. She wouldn’t have admitted it to herself, but she rather liked him. Chuckling softly to herself, she lay down on the bed, and realized for the first time that she was exhausted. I’ll just lie here and rest, she thought.
When Aramir looked into the room, he found her asleep on the bed. Smiling, he withdrew onto the roof, closing the window behind him.
Aramir lay awake on the roof for a long time, unable to sleep and not desiring to anyway. His thoughts drifted from one thing to another, one experience to another, one life to another. He sighed as he thought about Gondor. It had been a long time since he had truly thought about the city, truly missed its people, its activity, its tall, fair towers that marked the palace… He closed his eyes and saw an Elf with shoulder-length golden hair sitting upon a black horse. A figure rode next to the Elf- it was himself, long ago. He saw his own bright smile, and that of the Elf, and sighed again. How he missed that Elf- Kellian, his best friend, even to this day, even when he had not seen his friend in hundreds of years. What was Kell doing right now? Sleeping, if he had any sense, but he didn’t, Aramir thought with a smile. He knew without a doubt what his friend had done that day, and would do the next. As an Itir, he would be with the Royal Family in council, or wherever they were, or perhaps at the training fields practicing, or maybe… Aramir sighed. Maybe he was missing his best friend. Aramir reached down to his side and felt his sword- the sword of an Itir, a mark of his rank long ago.
His thoughts shifted to Isilmë. He had never particularly cared about women, at least where love and attraction were concerned, although without a doubt Isilmë was the most beautiful thing he had ever laid eyes upon. He had several acquaintances that were women, but all of them were fighters like himself, and it had been many, many years since he had come in contact with a woman like Isilmë- beautiful, noble, and proud. He smiled as he thought of her, dagger extended, her eyes narrowed in anger at him. She certainly had more spirit than most of the noblewomen he had ever met, and he was inwardly glad that she had not simply melted in his arms and allowed him to hold and kiss her, as much as that would have amused the young Exile. It occurred to him that she seemed to think of him as yet another captor, rather than a rescuer, but he was used to being mistrusted. And misunderstood, he added to himself, thinking of Isilmë’s outburst earlier.
He took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of the fresh, after-storm air. A soft breeze blew through the trees and across his face, and for a moment he thought he heard a voice in the wind, but who it was and what they said, he could not discern. It didn’t much matter, and Aramir placed his hands behind his head and closed his eyes, waiting for sleep to come.
By request of several readers, here are the links to the previous chapters: