In the field, Janst and Aramir fought as neither had ever fought before. They moved with such speed that to those who watched, they seemed only as blurs of light that moved across the clearing. Swords clanged over and over as each combatant tried to gain an advantage over the other. It was clear to Lindar that Aramir was a better fighter, but his new wounds hindered him and prevented him from ending the fight quickly. Janst struck in his typical style- quick and powerful, but Aramir’s fluid, graceful movements prevented Janst from ever striking his opponent. Aramir gritted his teeth as he parried yet another blow. This should be easy for him, but it seemed that Janst had done nothing but train for the last thirty years. The former captain of the Guard had been an amazing sword fighter, though not nearly as quick as Aramir, but he had clearly spent much time since his exile perfecting his skills. He had one purpose in mind, one reason to train as he had- to destroy Aramir when the time finally came. And it seemed that it had come, but Aramir was not about to give up. The former Itir was by no means out of practice- nothing could ever stomp out the training Aramir had received. He and Kellian fought all of the time, in addition to working with Teleri, but even those fights did not drag on as this one did. It seemed to Aramir as though it would never end, and nothing he or Janst did made any difference. They were in their own world not, destined to fight until neither could fight any more.
“You seem to have been practicing,” Aramir commented through pants, as though making small talk in the midst of a life-and-death battle was normal for him.
Janst glared at him and snorted. “What makes you think that?” he retorted sarcastically.
Aramir shrugged. “It’s just a guess. Correct me if I am wrong.”
Janst snorted again but said nothing. He leapt forward again and his sword narrowly missed Aramir’s arm. The king leapt away, rolling on the ground and leaping to his feet. A searing pain in his chest and a crack of thunder accompanied his action, but he ignored both and fought on. His chest ached where the arrows had struck, and he began to regret his decision about asking Kellian to stay out of the fight. But this was his battle…wasn’t it? Perhaps, he thought, he was not the only one who should be fighting. Janst had hurt others besides himself. But he could do nothing now. Turning to summon Kellian would certainly not be a good idea, he knew that for sure. But he needed help; he did not think that he could end this fight on his own.
Lindar knew the same thing as he watched the fight. Amazing though he was, in the state Aramir was in, he would not be able to win this battle by himself. After a few more minutes, his mind was made up. He ran back to the place where Kellian stood watching.
“Kell,” he hissed. “We have to help him.”
The Elf shook his head. “He made me promise. He wants to do this alone.”
Lindar nodded. “Yes, he does. He wants to do it alone. But he is not alone. He has us. Please Kell.”
Kellian didn’t need too much convincing. He drew his sword. “Sorry Ar,” he muttered with a grim smile. “Alright, let’s go.”
Teleri drew her sword as well. “Don’t even try to stop me,” she muttered to the two men who stared at her in surprise.
A cry from the clearing halted any protests Lindar and Kellian might have had. All four hidden in the brush turned to see what was happening, but the fight was still going on as if nothing had happened. Except that both warriors looked exhausted. Without another word, Lindar raised his sword and charged into the clearing. Teleri and Kellian followed close behind. They reached the startled pair within seconds and dove into the fray. Seeing that help had arrived seemed to take away Aramir’s pain and exhaustion. He raised his sword with a cry and leapt at Janst. With four adversaries against him, Janst had no chance, and yet he continued to try and fight. He blocked blow after blow, but for every one he blocked, he seemed to be struck by two. A hard blow from Lindar sent him falling over backwards, and he stared up in defiance at his foes. Blood dripped from several serious wounds, and he gasped for breath.
Aramir glared down at Janst. “It is over for you,” he said menacingly.
“Then kill me,” Janst spat.
“Death is too good for you!” Lindar retorted.
“Lindar,” Janst said, as though seeing his son for the first time. “Son.”
“Don’t call me that!” Lindar cried. “I was never your son! You used me, but you never loved me. And you never loved her,” he added, his voice low. “You killed her, didn’t you? You told me it was a Warg, but it wasn’t. You didn’t want her in the way of your plan. Why should I care what happens to you?”
Janst stared at his son. “I am the only family you have, boy,” he spat, ignoring Lindar’s accusations. “What will happen to you now?”
Lindar snorted. “You were never my family. I will worry about myself when I no longer have to worry that you are still alive.” He turned from Janst and stood behind Aramir, eyes hard but filled with sadness nonetheless.
Aramir stared down at Janst for a moment as though unable to decide whether he should really kill him or not. He turned to face Kellian, but in that moment Janst leapt to his feet with a cry, sword up. Aramir spun around, sword raised, and brought it down hard to block Janst’s blow. He swung his sword left, then right, back and forth in an old trick. A trick that Janst knew, but seemed to have forgotten. Aramir swung, left, then right, left, right, and right again. Blocked by nothing air, Aramir’s sword met Janst’s neck, and this time, it didn’t stop. His body fell to the ground with a thud, and then there was silence.
There was complete silence for nearly a moment as all four combatants stared at the lifeless body on the ground. Finally, Aramir lowered his sword slowly, then turned to his friends and daughter. “I wanted to do this alone,” he murmured. “But I am not alone.” He smiled. “Thank you.”
“Aramir!” Isilmë came tearing out of the woods and ran straight into his arms. He wrapped his arms around her waist and hugged her tightly.
“Oh Isilmë! You’re alright!” Tears streaked Aramir’s face as he stroked Isilmë’s long dark hair. She buried her face in his tunic, murmuring his name over and over. Aramir leaned against her, whispering her name in turn. He gently lifted her face to meet his, then leaned forward and kissed her in joy and relief.
Teleri, in the meantime, had thrown herself on Lindar and was doing much the same to him as her mother was doing to Aramir.
Kellian stood next to the group, watching in amusement. “I’m so alone,” he lamented with a grin. The next thing he knew, Teleri and Isilmë were smothering him with hugs. Isilmë gave him a quick kiss on the lips, making him blush. Aramir laughed, then turned to Lindar. As he did, another thunder rumbled and a soft rain began to fall.
“Are you alright Lindar?” he asked softly.
Lindar never got a chance to answer. A second crack of thunder echoed in their ears, and the soft rain intensified. It fell down on them in sheets, soaking them through.
“Oh this is nice,” Kellian muttered.
“Come on!” Lindar cried, beckoning them to follow.
“What about the horses?” Kellian cried.
Lindar let out a shrill whistle, and, to his surprise, both horses came running. He led them to a small cave further around the formation, where he and his father kept their horses. Sure enough, both horses stood in the cave, munching contentedly on their lunch. Lindar got some more food for the two new horses, and, after telling Narmo to behave himself, headed back to where the group stood waiting for him. He led the way back into the caves, then turned to the small, wet group. “We can wait in here if you want to.” He reached back and wrung the water out of his hair. They all nodded agreeably, although Lindar noticed that Kellian looked a bit uncomfortable. Dismissing the Elf’s uneasiness, Lindar led them through the series of tunnels. He took them back to the main room and immediately set to work building a fire. Within minutes, a blazing fire crackled in the middle of the room. Lindar gathered what blankets he could find and gave them to the group to dry off as best they could. Isilmë made Aramir pull of his shirt so she could inspect his wounds, and with a few healing salves that Lindar found, she cleaned up a series of cuts that specked his chest. To Lindar’s surprise, Aramir had only one bad wound-a nasty cut across his upper arm, but he claimed it didn’t hurt, even though it looked quite painful. With Teleri’s help, Isilmë cleaned and bound the cut.
Kellian sat next to the fire in surprising silence. A distinct look of unease lined his fair Elven face.
“Ahh, I’d forgotten you don’t like caves, Kell.” Aramir chuckled, noticing the Elf’s discomfort. “Remember back in the Itir…?” his voice trailed off and he laughed.
“Hmph,” Kellian muttered. He stared at the fire as though it would protect him in some way from the cave. “How did you stand it Lindar?” he asked. “You’re almost all Elf.”
Lindar laughed. He had never felt totally comfortable in his cavernous home, and he knew it was because of his Elven heritage. “You get used to it,” he told the Elf. “I’ll get some food,” he added to the whole group. He turned and trotted down one of the tunnels towards a storage room. On the way, he stopped at his ‘room’ and hurriedly changed into a dry shirt, then went on to the storage room. He rummaged around in the food supplies that were stored there and gathered enough for a large meal. He, at least, was hungry. As he made his way back down the hall, the sound of laughter reached his ears. He rounded the corner and stood in the shadows, watching the four gathered there. Isilmë sat on a log by the fire, and Aramir, straddling the log, had his arms wrapped contentedly around her waist. His chin was rested on her shoulder, and both were laughing as they watched Teleri and Kellian on the ground. Teleri sat next to the Elf, her hands raised in defense as the he tried to tickle her. Kellian seemed to have gotten over his unease, at least for the moment.
Lindar sighed sadly. What place did an Exile have among such people? Even one such as he…no, especially him. True, he was their friend, and perhaps more, but the law was the law. He had, after all, broken his exile. Odd that he had not thought of that until now, but now that he did, he realized how unwelcome he was in Minas Tirith. The son of Janst, an Exile of Gondor, with no family. His eyes glazed over as he tried to focus on Aramir. The king had been more of a father to him in two weeks than Janst had ever been. And Teleri…he sighed again. Just thinking of having to leave Teleri was more than he could bear right now. He leaned against the wall of the cave, trying to calm himself. His eyes focused on the ground, and as they did, a single tear fell to the floor. Stop it, he muttered to himself. Not now. You can cry when they are gone. He took a deep breath to steady himself, wiped his eyes, and stepped into the light.
Chapter 7: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10111.html
Chapter 8: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10168.html
Chapter 9: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10222.html