Lindar crouched in a dark, remote corner of the palace in Minas Tirith. He had been there since sunrise, and he had to admit, he was rather tired of the dark, cramped, protected area in which he hid. Several times he had thought of moving closer to his intended final destination, but each time the prospect of what would happen if he were caught would catch up to him, and he would tell himself that he was safer where he was. Safe, he thought with a snort. No where in Minas Tirith was an Exile safe; no where in Gondor, for that matter. He thought once again of how he had ended up where he was now. Before this morning, he had never been in Gondor, but his father had made it clear long ago that he had no choice in the matter, and no one argued with Lindar’s father. Men who did ended up dead, or worse. No one lasted long with Janst as their enemy-except for one person, and hopefully, Lindar thought vengefully, that man would be dead by the time the plan was over.
“The plan.” It had been the centre of his life for as long as Lindar could remember. The endless hours of preparation, the rigorous training, years of studying and memorizing maps of the city and Palace- all had been forced upon him to prepare him for this-the plan, finally put into action. It was simple, to be honest, and if it worked…no, not if. It would work. It had to. Aramir would never know what had happened.
As if on cue, the subject of Lindar’s thoughts came walking down the hall. The young man didn’t need to be told that it was King Aramir who was coming towards his hiding place. His father had told him plenty, more than he wanted to know, in truth. The description Janst had given his son fit the king perfectly-shoulder-length black hair, sparkling black eyes, thin black scar across his right cheek. And a black heart, Lindar added to himself, trying to contain the rage he felt as he thought of what this man had done to his family. His hand moved automatically to the dagger at his waist, but he held his anger in check. Not now, he whispered. Not ever, for the pleasure of killing the king was not his, but his father’s. Janst had made that quite clear. Kidnap Princess Teleri and get out before they know what has happened. Leave Aramir alive. Those were his instructions, and he intended to follow them. He knew what would happen if he didn’t.
Lindar watched Aramir approach his hiding place. His intense blue eyes studied the king as he came closer. He bore the appearance of a young man in his early twenties, and by all appearances he didn’t look any older than Lindar himself. His walk was light and easygoing. His black eyes sparkled in obvious pleasure at something, and then his face broke into a bright smile. For an evil, dark-hearted man with Orc blood in his veins, he had a nice smile, Lindar thought.
“There you are Sil,” the king said, his smile broadening as a beautiful young woman reached him. She hugged and then kissed him before answering him. Lindar watched as they kissed lovingly in the middle of the hall, as though such an action was natural for them. Together, the two proceeded down the hall.
Lindar watched them go, satisfaction in his hard eyes. So that was Queen Isilmë, the woman who would marry his father before this was all over. She was the key to the end of the plan. Killing Aramir would be easy compared to taking the throne of Gondor. But that was his father’s affair. All Lindar needed to do now was get Princess Teleri out of the city. He gently rubbed his arm, a nervous habit he had picked up somewhere in his nineteen years of life. Not that he needed to be nervous; this would be easy. Certain of himself, Lindar settled back into the dark corner and waited.
On the other side of the palace, Princess Teleri streaked down one of the halls faster than one would have thought possible for a girl in a dress. Her wild black hair flew out behind her, whipping across her face as she tossed her head and laughed. Behind her, she could hear the voice of Elenya, calling out to her to slow down. Teleri laughed. Elenya may have been a wonderful friend, but she wasn’t very fast.
A sharp voice brought Teleri to a screeching halt, and she nearly fell over as Elenya bumped into her from behind. Teleri sighed in annoyance and rolled her turquoise eyes as a short, plump woman approached her, a disapproving look across her stern face.
“Yes Irian,” Teleri muttered, a natural reaction by now.
“How many times have I told you? No running down the halls.”
“No running down the halls,” Teleri and Elenya said at the same time as Irian.
If your father knew what you were doing…
“If your father knew what you were doing!” Irian continued, oblivious to Teleri’s exasperated expression.
The Healer woman continued for several minutes, but Teleri chose to ignore her. She knew that if her father did, in fact, know what she had been doing, he probably would have joined right in. Irian knew that as well, but that didn’t stop her from continuously scolding the heir to the throne.
When she seemed to be finished, Teleri nodded. “Yes Irian.”
The Healer snorted, and the noise suggested she didn’t believe the princess at all. Then she turned and stalked back in the direction she had come.
Teleri put her hands on her hips. “No running down the halls,” she mimicked Irian.
Elenya giggled. “If your father knew what you were doing!” the girl added in he best Irian voice, which was almost as good as Teleri’s. They had, after all, had plenty of practice.
“You should hear her yell at Father,” Teleri confided. ” ‘If Isilmë knew what you were doing!’ “. The two girls dissolved into laughter.
Suddenly Elenya jumped in surprise. “Oh no!” she cried. “I have to get home right now. Namárië, Teleri!” she called as she tore down the hall.
Teleri resisted a strong urge to yell ‘no running down the halls’ after her, and instead she turned and made her way slowly down to the gardens. Once there, she sat down under a tall willow tree and sighed again. The soft breeze blew through her messy hair as she sat next to her special tree, wishing she had been born someone else. Not that being the heir to the throne of Gondor was a bad thing, but she always felt as though she was being watched, always being scolded for something done wrong. Her father had told her that she had inherited the worst things from him-his messy hair, his wild spirit, and his uncanny ability to get into trouble. Even as these words ran through her mind, she smiled. She was lucky to have Aramir and Isilmë as her parents, she knew that. Her father had never objected when she had asked to learn to shoot a bow, to use a sword, to ride bareback when it would have been much more proper to ride in a saddle. And while her mother was a bit more proper than her father was, Isilmë had always supported her daughter. Teleri knew she was everything a princess should not be, but it didn’t matter much to her. And yet, at the same time, it mattered very much, in a way the girl could not explain. All of the sudden, one of Irian’s rebukes entered her mind, one she had heard only in her sub-consciousness as she pretended to listen to the Healer’s scolding. ‘How do you ever expect to find a husband if you act like this?’ Teleri sighed in defeat. She knew that Irian was right, and that bothered her more than she cared to admit. She had never met anyone who cared anything for her beyond the fact that she was the heir to the throne of Gondor. Teleri knew she had two options- change herself, or wait until she found someone who would love her as herself. She had run these options through her head a thousand times, and the decision was always the same. Just wait. And so she did.
The King of Gondor’s black eyes sparkled in the late afternoon light as he walked slowly along the beach. The sound of the waves crashing against the shore echoed in his ears, calling to the Elven part of his heritage. His black hair-which was actually halfway neat today-blew back from his handsome face as he stared into the Sea. No, I won’t, he thought to himself. But the water looked so cool and refreshing. And he hadn’t been swimming in, well, ok, in a day, but still, he argued with himself. Finally he settled for climbing onto the rocks which sat in the shallow water. Leaping carefully from rock to rock, he let the cold water splash onto him as he balanced precariously on a rather unsteady rock. He leaned slightly to one side, preparing to jump to the next rock.
He heard the voice in mid-jump and spun around, throwing himself completely off-balance. With a startled cry, Aramir went crashing into the Sea. He came up a moment later to see the slim, willowy form of an Elf standing on the beach, his hands on his hips.
“Hello Kellian,” he said with an innocent grin as he climbed out of the water.
The black-garbed Elf rolled his blue eyes at the king. “Hello, My Lord,” he said, putting extra stress on the Lord part. He folded his arms over his chest and tried to look stern, but failed and grinned back at Aramir.
The king shook his head. “I will never get used to that-especially from you,” he muttered.
“Sorry Ar,” Kellian smiled apologetically. “I have a message from Isilmë. Sinnadar is due to arrive in ten minutes and-“
The horrified look on Aramir’s face told Kellian that he needn’t go any further. “Sinnadar! I completely forgot!”
“I know,” Kellian told him teasingly. “Here. An Itir and now a delivery Elf.” He grinned and held out a dry set of clothes for Aramir.
The king took them with a shake of his head. “Boy am I predictable,” he said, pulling off his wet tunic.
“Actually, Isilmë expected you to be swimming, not falling in,” Kellian said matter-of-factly.
Aramir gave him shrewd look. “And whose fault was that?”
“Not my fault you have bad balance,” Kellian said with a laugh, holding up his hands.
“You know, the water is very nice Kell. Perhaps you should take a swim…” Aramir walked forward threateningly, and evil smile across his face.
The Elf grinned and drew his sword. “Make me,” he dared.
Aramir drew his own sword, realized it was soaking wet, and sighed. “Some king I am, hmm?”
“Oh Ar,” Kellian said, sheathing his sword and putting one arm around Aramir’s shoulders as the two began to walk back to the palace. “We’ve been through this a thousand times. You are a wonderful king. Ask anyone.”
“Except Sinnadar,” Aramir muttered.
“No. Sinnadar thinks you’re a wonderful king,” Kellian countered. “He’s just jealous of you. You know that.”
It was true. Sinnadar, the present Steward of Gondor, was exceptionally jealous of Aramir, for a number of reasons that Aramir had never cared to think of. While the two were on even terms, it was clear to Aramir every time he spoke to the man that Sinnadar held some grudge against him.
“Forget about him,” Kellian repeated as the two friends entered the palace.
“How can I? I have a council with him right now.”
Kellian shrugged sympathetically.
Aramir and Kellian entered the council room to find Sinnadar standing in the middle of the room, looking annoyed. He was an older man with greying hair; a mortal, and it was perhaps for this reason that he so disliked Aramir. Taking orders from such a young man, and with such a history as Aramir’s, irked him greatly, and he made no effort to hide his disdain. Isilmë also stood by the council table, waiting patiently. She smiled at Aramir as he entered.
A false look of respect crossed Sinnadar’s face. “My Lord,” he said, bowing.
“Sinnadar,” Aramir returned grudgingly. “I apologize for being late.”
“It is perfectly all right, my Lord. I trust the water was refreshing?” Sinnadar asked coolly, noting the king’s wet hair.
Aramir sighed inwardly. This was going to be a long evening.