Aramir sat silently by the fire, letting his thoughts stray. Each time they strayed, though, they eventually found their way back to one thing, or rather, one person-Isilmë. He found he liked her very much. He sighed inwardly, knowing he shouldn’t. A lady of Gondor, and a noble at that. And him, an Exile and-
A sudden cracking noise at the edge of the clearing brought the young Exile to his feet. He swiftly drew his sword and held it at his side, ready if needed.
“Who’s there?” he demanded, no hint of fear in his voice. His call brought Isilmë’s head up, then she swiftly lay back down so he wouldn’t know she had awakened.
“Well, well,” a harsh, ironic voice sailed across the clearing. “If it isn’t Aramir.” A dark cloaked figure materialized out of the shadows. He came forward to the edge of the fire’s light, then stopped as if afraid of it. All that could be seen of the figure was his mouth, and it was twisted into a nasty smile.
“Morag,” Aramir returned, his voice just as harsh as the other’s.
“And who is this?” Morag gestured towards Isilmë with one huge, black-gloved hand. “She’s very beautiful.”
“She is not your concern, Morag. What do you want?”
“No need to sound so angry, Aramir. I just want to talk.” Morag advanced again, and Aramir held up his sword. The other shook his head. “And now you draw your sword against me. Whatever happened to our friendship?”
“We never had a friendship, and you know it. Now what do you want?” Aramir’s voice was low and full of contempt.
“To talk. Tell me about the girl.”
“As I said, it is not your affair.”
“Oh come now, Aramir. Humour me. I should be very interested in knowing what someone like her is doing with someone like you.” He sounded to Isilmë as though he were trying to get a reaction from Aramir.
“Someone like me? And what is that supposed to mean? An Exile?”
“You know perfectly well what I mean, descendant of the Orcs. Now come, tell me.”
Aramir sighed angrily. He knew the only way he was going to get rid of Morag was to do as he asked and tell him. “She was kidnapped by a guard from Gondor. I rescued her, and I’m taking her back.”
Morag burst into a laughter that was almost as bad as his smile. “Back to Gondor!? Oh, that is amusing, Orc-boy. Yes, they’re just going to let you back in after exiling you all those years ago. Quite funny. You realize what they’ll do to you? Honestly, why don’t you just kidnap her yourself? Make her your own. It would be much easier. Just look at her. She’s young, beautiful, helpless-“
“Morag,” Aramir cut him off, his voice even and surprisingly calm. “I am perfectly aware of that. However, I, unlike you, have honor, and I will do what is right.”
“Do what is right! Ha! Do what’s right, and end up in prison, or worse. I’m sure she’ll be a lot of help to you then.”
Aramir took several steps forward, sword extended, but Morag didn’t seem to notice, or care.
“Or maybe she won’t help you after she learns your secret, hmm? The one who rescued her isn’t what he seems, no, not at all, Mr. Orc. Will she still care about you when she learns you have the blood of the Orcs in you? Will she-“
Morag’s next taunt was cut short by Aramir’s sword, which was now placed threateningly at his throat.
“Get out,” Aramir hissed. “Now.” He gestured with his free hand to where Morag had come from.
“Fine.” Morag shrugged his indifference. “But think about what I said, Aramir. About her. Which way do you wish to take; the right way, or the…profitable way?” With that he turned and melted back into the shadows, leaving Aramir alone again.
The young man stood still for several minutes, watching the place where Morag had been, before he sheathed his sword. Slowly he slipped back into the camp and sat down next to Isilmë, who was, fortunately, still asleep.
“Idiot,” Aramir muttered to himself. “Does he honestly think I’m going to go back into Gondor?”
Isilmë heard Aramir creep over to her side and sit down. He began to mutter to himself, mostly about the man who had just ‘visited’. She didn’t dare move, fearing that if she did, he would realize that she had heard the entire thing. Now her suspicions were confirmed, but she couldn’t help feeling odd about the whole thing. When she had first seen Aramir’s blood, and first thought about the possibility that he could be part Orc, it had frightened her considerably. But now she knew Aramir better, and it didn’t really matter that much any more. Her fear had been washed away by his kindness and easy manner. And by the way he had stared at her just tonight, and took her hand in his, and… And she no longer cared, she realized. He was still Aramir, wasn’t he? She closed her eyes fully and pictured the young man next to her. She saw his handsome face, his bright, friendly smile, and his sparkling eyes. In her mind she heard his voice and his laughter and she smiled to herself. Her knowledge of him did not change who he was. He was still Aramir.
“Oh Isilmë,” she heard him whisper. “He’s probably right. You wouldn’t want anything to do with me if you knew.”
Yes, I would! she wanted to cry. She wanted to simply sit up and tell him she had heard. She wanted to embrace him and tell him she still cared about him. But instead she lay where she was, thinking, until she fell back to sleep.
Chapter 4: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9079.html
Chapter 5: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9131.html
Chapter 6: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9136.html