“I still don’t believe he said yes,” Teleri commented for the hundredth time as Lindar carefully opened the stable door.
“Me neither,” he answered, also for the hundredth time.
They quietly entered the building, trying not to disturb the peacefulness as the horses slept in their stalls. Teleri led the way to Narmo’s stall, and for some reason, Lindar was not surprised to discover that the horse was awake and alert. He pricked his ears and snorted as they approached, and to Lindar, he sounded pleased to see them, or at least Teleri.
“Hello Narmo,” Teleri cooed, fondly rubbing the horse’s forehead and twirling his forelock in her fingers. Narmo whickered in pleasure, then caught sight of Lindar and snorted. He pinned his ears back on his head and tossed his head.
“What’s the matter boy?” Lindar asked, his voice steady and calm, but Narmo did not relax at all.
“He’s just wary around strangers,” Teleri told him, but Lindar thought that perhaps it was something else. “I’ll go get him a treat, maybe you can get to know him.” She turned and walked quietly down the hall.
Lindar turned back to the big black stallion in the stall. “Narmo,” he whispered. The horse perked his ears up for a moment, the laid them back on his head. “You can tell, can’t you?” Lindar whispered. “You can sense him in me. You are right, Narmocarca. I am his son, but I am not Janst. I mean no harm to Teleri, or anyone. Please trust me, friend.”
Narmo pricked his ears forward again, and Lindar knew that the horse understood him; whether it was his Elven heritage or simply the words he spoke, he did not know. He stretched his hand out to Aramir’s horse, and Narmo stuck his nose into Lindar’s palm. The Exile gently stroked the horse’s soft nose, then patted his neck. “Trust me, Narmo,” he repeated. Narmo whickered softly, and Lindar received the immediate feeling that the horse had decided that he was not a threat.
“That’s better,” Teleri’s voice said from behind him. “I guess you do not need this then, silly boy,” she added, waving a carrot at Narmo.
Lindar laughed as the horse snorted and tossed his head, obviously in distress at not being able to reach the carrot. He took it from Teleri and proffered it at the horse, who ate it from his palm eagerly.
“Ready to go?” Teleri asked, and Lindar nodded and opened the stall door.
Narmo stood obediently in his stall and did not object when Lindar entered and patted him again, then followed him out of the stall, down the hall, and out of the stable.
Lindar did not bother to offer Teleri a leg-up- she would have been insulted if he had. Instead he just stood at Narmo’s head, stroking his nose as the princess swiftly mounted her father’s horse. When she was on, he moved to the horse’s side and leapt nimbly on behind Teleri. He absently put his hands about her waist, and Teleri grinned and leaned against him for a moment before returning to her usual self. She pulled his hands off of her waist and scoffed, “You need not hold me on. I won’t fall.”
Lindar laughed. “Ah, but I might,” he said, but he left his hands at his sides.
A silent cue to Narmo started their ride off at a quick walk. The tall, muscular horse took huge strides, and it took Lindar several minutes to get used to the difference between Narmo and his own horse. Once he was settled, he let Teleri direct the horse and looked up at the stars. The sky was clear and the moon shone brightly down upon them, reflecting in Teleri’s dark hair. Funny, he thought, they were the same stars and moon he had seen all his life, and yet tonight they were brighter and more beautiful than they had ever been. He sighed contentedly and continued to stare at the sky. To think, not two weeks ago, had someone told him that he would be living here in Gondor, he would have laughed. Two weeks ago, his only purpose in life was revenge on Aramir. Everything was different now, and it felt… right. This was where he wanted to be. And why not? he asked himself, but in his heart he knew the answer. Because he was hiding a terrible secret from everyone, and because sooner or later, and it would probably be sooner, his father would catch up to him, and one of them-Aramir or Janst, would end up dead. The thought left a sadness in his heart that he could not escape, but he pushed it aside. Now was not the time to be thinking such thoughts.
The sound of the water lapping at the shore brought Lindar out of his thoughts. He glanced sharply to his right, and to the source of the sound. He had seen the sea before, but never this close. They stood right on the beach in the cool sand, staring at the sea. It was beautiful. The moon shone brightly overhead and reflected in the calm water.
He made an impressed sound in his throat and Teleri turned and smiled. “It is beautiful, is it not?”
Lindar nodded. “Its wonderful.”
Narmo seemed to agree. He tossed his head and pranced forward and into the water, splashing the cool seawater on their legs. Teleri gave him a gentle squeeze with her legs, and he sprang into an energetic canter down the beach, spraying water all over. Teleri cried out in excitement and Lindar laughed joyfully. Despite her earlier protest, he wrapped his arms around Teleri’s waist and leaned forward, resting his chin on her shoulder. Teleri looked back at him with a surprised smile.
“This is great!” he cried.
“I told you!” she yelled back over Narmo’s joyful whinny.
They galloped down the beach with the wind blowing in their hair, and when they ran out of room to run, Narmo spun around and ran back the way they had come. After a time, Teleri directed him to a huge rock formation that spiraled into the sky. Lindar was sure that one could see everything for miles, if one could get up there. Apparently, they could, because Teleri dismounted and beckoned for Lindar to follow her. Narmo was not at all pleased at being left behind, but he stood silently at the base of the formation and waited. Teleri led Lindar up the steep incline, pointing out the best foot and hand holds.
“I guess you do not come here often,” he joked as he followed.
Teleri laughed, then told him seriously, “I come here whenever I can. Father and I discovered a way to climb up it. It gives to most beautiful view.”
“I’ll bet the Itir were pleased,” Lindar mused. “Their king and the heir to the throne out climbing rocks.”
Teleri laughed again. “Kellian came along. He’s supposed to be father’s personal guard and protector. Lee once said that father needs someone to protect him from Kellian!”
Lindar chuckled, but his laughter was cut short as he and Teleri reached the summit of the rocks. He stared out in awe at the sea. It was much the same view as he had seen from below, but it was so much better, for some odd reason, from above. The moon shone brightly overhead, its soft but dazzling light shining in his hair, and in Teleri’s. He stared down at the midnight blue waters of the sea in amazement. A soft breeze blew his hair off of his face as he stood on the flat little area at the top of the rocks. It seemed to be made for this, he thought. Big enough for about five people, it was perfectly smooth and flat. Lindar stared again, amazed.
“This is the most beautiful thing- no, wait.” He put his hands on Teleri’s shoulders and positioned her near the front of the rock, then backed up. “There,” he said, satisfied. “Now it is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”
Teleri blushed and gave an embarrassed laugh. “Flattery will get you no where, except pushed off of a rock,” she teased.
“I speak only the truth,” he whispered, taking her hand.
“Thank you Lindar,” she whispered in his ear as he continued to stare at the beautiful view.
“For what?” he asked, sensing that her thanks was for more than his compliment.
“For being such a good friend. For accepting me for who I am and what I like, and not trying to change me. You’ve no idea how much that means to me.”
Lindar stared at his feet. He wanted to thank her, too, for being the first true friend he had ever had. But then he would have to explain himself, and he did not want to ruin this perfect night. “You’re welcome,” was all he said.
They stood hand-in-hand, staring out at the sea for a few moments more, and then Teleri gracefully sat down, pulling Lindar down with her. He leaned back against the broad rock at the back of the formation, wishing he could simply pull Teleri close to him, but not brave enough to do so. Seeming to read his thoughts, Teleri pressed herself against him, resting her head on his shoulder. Lindar blushed, then smiled brightly as he took her hand and laced his fingers through hers. He sighed to himself. This was the girl he was supposed to kidnap. His father would be furious when he finally caught up with Lindar and found out what had been going on. Then again, it wasn’t too late to do as Janst had asked… He eyed Teleri, and for a moment she seemed small and frail and certainly unarmed. And Lindar could always take her, but spare her life…
What am I thinking? he asked himself. Teleri would hate him forever if he dragged her off into the wild and forced her to stand by while her father was murdered. And now that he thought on it, Lindar cared more for Aramir than he had ever for his own father. Yes, he realized, it was too late. If he did anything against Teleri, against Aramir, he would never forgive himself. Janst was on his own now.
They sat by the rock for a long time, so long that Lindar lost all track of time. Finally, Teleri rose and turned slowly to go.
“We should get back,” she murmured reluctantly as Lindar climbed to his feet. “Father will be worried.”
“Teleri, wait,” Lindar murmured, taking her hand and pulling her towards him. He put one arm around her waist and stared at her, seeing the stars shining brightly in her eyes. Then, before he could stop himself, he leaned forward and softly kissed her lips. He felt her entire body tense and immediately stepped back and looked away from her, ashamed.
“I-I’m sorry, Teleri,” he muttered, scuffing at the ground with his boot. “I should not have done that. I-I-“
He was silenced when he felt Teleri’s hand under his chin, raising his face to meet hers. “Don’t be,” she whispered.
“What?” he whispered, but the only response he got was a gentle kiss on the lips. He opened his mouth in surprise, and Teleri kissed him harder. Finally recovering from shock, he kissed her back. After a moment, they drew apart. Lindar almost laughed as a result of the odd feeling that had arisen inside of him.
“How many people do you think saw that?” Teleri whispered with a grin, reaching up and absently playing with his hair.
Lindar glanced around, remembering where they were. He could feel his face turning red but he hoped the darkness was hiding it. “No one, I hope,” he muttered.
“Why not? Are you embarrassed by me?” she asked with a completely straight face.
“No!” Lindar protested, but then he saw the glimmer in her eyes and started to laugh. “You should be embarrassed by me, not the other way around.”
Teleri shook her head with a smile. “We really should be getting back,” she insisted. “Anything else, Lindar?”
He grinned and shook his head. “Sorry.”
Teleri snorted and led the way back down the rock formation. Upon reaching the bottom, they mounted Narmo, with Lindar riding in the front this time.
“I feel bad for not getting you a gift,” Lindar confided to Teleri as they rode back.
“Lin-dar,” she scolded. “You didn’t have to get me anything.”
“I know,” he muttered. “But everyone else did.”
“Everyone else only got me a gift because they wanted me to notice them. You don’t have to.”
“Because I’m just so noticeable, huh?” Lindar laughed.
“No.” She laughed, giving him a hug. “Because you noticed me even when I was just…me.”
Lindar smiled to himself, but said nothing.
Satisfied to ride in silence, the two made their way back to the palace, enjoying the peaceful feeling of the night.
Despite his wonderful evening, Lindar awoke with a feeling of premonition so strong that it left no doubt in his mind that something was going to go wrong today. The weather did nothing to improve his mood, and although it was not raining, it should have been for the look of the clouds and the chill in the wind. Unfortunately, in order to find out what it was that was going to go wrong, Lindar was going to have to get up. Or he could simply lie here and wait for Teleri. The latter sounded the better idea, so he shut his eyes and tried to fall back to sleep. He had not been lying there more than ten minutes when suddenly he felt something cold running down his neck. With a startled cry he sat up and placed his hand on the back of his neck. It was soaking wet, as was his entire back.
“Hey!” he cried, turning to face a grinning Teleri.
She burst into hysterical laughter and dumped an entire bowl of water on his head. He cried out again and leapt up. “Wake up!” she howled with laughter.
“Come back here!” he yelled as she ran out of his room. He sprinted after her. “You’ll be sorry!” He chased her down the hall until he caught her wrist. She pulled away from him, but his grip was too strong.
“Lindar!” she screeched between bouts of laughter. “Let me go!”
“Ha!” Lindar scoffed as he dragged her down the hall. “Make me!” He pulled her into his room and grabbed the basin of water that sat on a small table on one side of his room.
“No!” she cried, trying again to break free. She pulled back sharply, then went flying back onto the bed when Lindar suddenly released her wrist. Before she could even react, Lindar had dumped the entire thing over her head.
Teleri screamed as the freezing water fell on her head, thoroughly soaking her. “You little-” she began, jumping up and pushing him to the ground with surprising strength. She glared down at him in mock anger.
“Good morning to you as well,” Lindar smirked, looking extremely satisfied with himself.
“Hmph,” Teleri muttered with a grin. She ran her hand through her now wet hair. “You had better find a way to dry my hair so we don’t have to explain this to father.”
“Your hair? What about mine? Besides, you started it,” Lindar declared, rising to his feet with a sly smile. He moved behind Teleri and ran his fingers through her hair. “Any better?” he teased.
She grinned and rolled her eyes. “I’m going back to my room to change,” she said pointedly. “I’ll see you at breakfast.” With a smirk she left his room and went back to her own.
Lindar laughed as she walked out, then set to drying himself. He pulled on a dry pair of clothes and tried in vain to dry his hair. When he was satisfied that he was dry enough, he left his room and headed to the dining hall. To his surprise, neither Aramir nor Isilmë were there, although Kellian was, but the Elf claimed he did not know where they were. Neither did Teleri, who arrived a minute later. If Kellian noticed either’s wet hair, he said nothing while they ate.
“Are you feeling alright, Kellian?” Teleri asked sweetly as they ate.
The Elf looked confused. “Of course. Why shouldn’t I?”
Teleri smirked. “Well, you know, all of that dancing you did last night…”
Lindar almost choked on the juice he had been drinking. He coughed several times, then began to laugh.
Kellian crossed his arms over his chest. “I hope you choke,” he muttered to Lindar, who only laughed harder. After a moment, the Elf gave in and smiled good-naturedly. “I feel fine,” he said to Teleri in the most innocent, sweet voice he could manage. “I should wonder that you are even able to walk after dancing with me.”
Lindar shook his head and laughed again.
“You’ll be sorry,” Kellian muttered out of the corner of his mouth.
“I’ll bet,” Lindar shot back.
They finished their meal between sudden bouts of laughter. Finally, Teleri rose to her feet with a grin. “I’m going down to the ring,” she told Lindar. “Wait ten minutes, then come down.” She grinned at him.
Lindar raised his eyebrows, but agreed nonetheless. He could only guess what Teleri was going to do, and he had a brief moment of envy for Kellian, who had something else to do today.
“What did you do to her?” the Elf asked with a grin.
“Nothing!” Lindar protested. “Ok, I dumped a bowl of water on her head, but she started it!”
Kellian cracked up again, shaking his head. “Oh, you are going to get it, Lindar,” he laughed.
“I know,” Lindar muttered with a sly smile as he rose to leave.
“See you later…I hope,” Kellian called after him.
Teleri ran down to the ring, grinning as she went. Lindar would be sorry, she thought with a small laugh. She burst into the training ring and looked around. Where should she start? After a moment’s thought, she trotted across the ring to the other entrance. What if she- her plotting was cut short as a pair of hands seized her from behind and dragged her into a dark corner. She struggled madly against her antagonist’s hold, but he-or she-was too strong for her. One hand was clamped over her mouth to prevent her from crying out; the other held her arms at her side. Suddenly her hands were jerked behind her back and tied tightly with a cord. She struggled again, crying out in fear, but no one came, and the cords only became tighter. A piece of cloth was tied around her mouth, muffling her cries for help. Tears streamed down her face as she heard low, evil laughter ringing in her ears. The laughter continued as a dark piece of fabric was tied over her eyes, and everything became dark. Unable to see, she could only guess where the figure dragged her next. He-and she was sure it was a he- lifted her off the ground and carried her…somewhere. She kicked furiously, and was given the satisfaction of hearing her kidnapper curse as her foot met his face. The next thing she knew, she was thrown violently to the ground and a door was slammed. Everything became dark and silent, but she had the distinct feeling that there was another person in this room. Unable to see or move, she lay where she was, tears soaking the blindfold as she wondered what would happen to her now.
Chapter 1: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9681.html
Chapter 2: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9811.html
Chapter 3: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9866.html
Chapter 4: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9913.html
Chapter 5: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9975.html