“Ah! So you sent the Orcs to the borders! I hadn’t thought of that.”
The morning sun alighted upon the pinnacle of the fortress. Morihondo and Arathorn had stayed the night in the small guardroom.
“That was only a distraction . . . ” the Elf sniggered; the effects of a few cups of wine was setting in. “I have whole armies waiting at the Tower.”
“Orthanc?! How did you find Orthanc?” the King cried sarcastically. Rude sarcasm is his signature, thought Morihondo.
“The palantir, my lord Arathorn; the seeing stone,” he replied.
The Númenorean turned a deep shade of red. “How?!” he demanded.
Morihondo smiled inside. A greater fool than I thought, although not a total idiot. “I am more than a humble Elf, lord,” he said slowly. “I may conjure at will, without your notice. In Orthanc, one of the palantir, one of the seeing stones, abides. I have been watching the two Princes very closely for you.”
“Good,” the King replied, but said nothing more, and went back to studying his maps.
The maps were old, and not very accurate, but good enough for their plans. The idea was this: murder more Elves, Arathorn was to hold supreme power of the area, and the Princes were to be killed. Your brother won’t leave his beloved trees as easily as you think. The boy practically is an Elf, living with that brat of a Prince all these years. The lad has potential more than you’ll ever know. Both of them do. Legolas knows the boy’s strength, too. He’ll start teaching him how to use that power if we’re not quick enough . . .
“Morihondo! Wake up!” the King jested. “You’re looking rather pale,” he said in a more serious tone.
Morihondo shook his head, dark hair damp with sweat. “It’s just the wine,” he lied. “I don’t usually drink anything more than water.”
“Come,” Arathorn offered. “I’ve had a bed made for you. You need some rest.”
* * *
Legolas pressed his ear to the door; quiet snores were muffled by a pillow. He burst into the room, bow strung and an arrow ready.
“AGH!” Aurseldo jumped, and nearly fell off the couch. “Do you have to wake me up like that?” he muttered angrily, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
“Yes,” his brother said. “You are getting up at 1:00 in the morning instead of 3:00. We have much to teach you.” He laughed.
As if on cue, Larkarusse stepped into the room, a long, slim bundle held in his hands.
“What’s that?” Aurseldo asked, fully awake and curious.
“A gift for you. A person’s sword, Man or Elf, when he fights with it long enough, is like his soul. If you haven’t your own sword, then you haven’t your own soul.”
He extended his arms, and Aurseldo could see that the silk wrapped object was a sword. Eyes fixed on the swordsmith’s, he grasped the hilt. It was encrusted with rubies, emeralds, silver. He pulled the silk off and whispered, “Oh!”
The blade was of the finest steel, with script engraved and running down the side.
“Yavanna ler le, Laurelin, ekhant en Anor andaith i tulidhrin. Eledh ist hein luuum teli, morth al tobo Amar.”
Aurseldo sat for a moment, thinking hard, then said slowly, ” Yavanna sang to thee, Laurelin, and created the Sun from your fruit, signifying the coming of Men. The Elves knew now that when their time came to depart, darkness would not cover Earth.”
Larkarusse grinned. “You’ve taught the boy his letters,” he said to Legolas, not looking away from the wonder-filled eyes of the Numenorean. “How do you teach him words so quickly?”
Legolas smiled back. “He’s a fast learner, and a good student.”
“Well, I’m glad you didn’t have that refugee from Lorien teach him,” the swordsmith laughed, “he speaks with such an accent you can only understand if he repeats himself 8 times!”
Aurseldo woke from his trance of amazement and jumped up, cutting in quickly, “Can we go practice now?” he asked excitedly.
“That’s what I nearly scared you out of your skin for. Get dressed and meet us in the Northwest courtyard,” his brother said, and pushed him toward the door. “Hurry up! I want to show you Niquefenume!”
Aurseldo skidded to a stop, looked up at his brother in pure admiration, and ran off.
* * *
“So you strangled her with the belt?” Arathorn was saying over yet another cup of wine. And he never gets sick, Morihondo thought, he must have been raised on the stuff.
Coming back to their conversation, the Elf replied, “Yes,” and asked a maid for more water. Being pressed for answers was something he was not used to, and it made his throat dry. He had decided to stay for another week, to study maps and to plan. Because Elennoorie was so small, it would take no more than about 1,000 men to ravage the area.
A war was not something Arathorn needed; he didn’t have a very large army, his men were 3,000 in number. Not enough to attack all of the Greenwood, not by a mile.
“Small achievements oft make the most difference.” the King quoted. “Now, who should die next?” He asked excitedly, with an almost boyish glee.
“That was what I meant to ask you . . . ” said Morihondo slowly. “I want to kill Legolas. I want to watch him die. I want to hear his screams, and I want them to be heard by my ears only.”
“Fine. But you haven’t answered my question. Who will be the next to die?” Arathorn asked.
Drinking more of the water, he smiled over the rim of his cup. “I have answered your question. lord, you just didn’t notice it.”