When Lindar finally came to his senses and stopped running, he found himself at the heart of the city of Minas Tirith. Fearful of what would happen if he went back to the Palace, he strayed around the city for the rest of the day, lurking in the shadows and letting his tears fall freely down his face. Poor Aramir! If he was dead, Lindar would never forgive himself. And Teleri; what would she say when she found out that Lindar’s father had done this? He wandered around the city, unsure of where to go, but his wandering eventually led him to the entrance to the Palace. He sighed. It seemed that he was meant to come back here, to this place, to face whatever awaited him. Giving in to the seeming fate, he slowly trudged up the stairs towards the main doors. The guards that stood there only nodded grimly at him and opened the doors, much to Lindar’s surprise. Somehow he had expected to be seized, tied, and dragged into the palace at sword point. Which meant that they didn’t know about his part in it. Which meant that Aramir was-
“Lindar,” a relieved voice said from behind him.
Lindar swung around in surprise to find Kellian standing there, looking solemn, a look that did not seem to fit the usually cheerful Elf.
“Kellian,” he returned tensely. If anyone else knew, Kellian did.
“We’ve been worried about you all day,” Kellian said, taking Lindar’s arm and leading him down the hall.
“Worried? Why?” Lindar asked. He didn’t give the Elf a chance to answer. “What about Aramir?” His face was grave with worry. “Is he…” Lindar let his voice trail off.
Kellian shook his head. “No, he is fine. At least, that’s what he thinks. He has a few nasty wounds from the arrows, and he had lost a lot of blood by the time we found him, but he’ll be fine.”
Lindar heaved a sigh of relief.
“How did you know?” Kellian asked curiously, then shook his head. “Never mind that. Aramir wants to see you. It seemed rather urgent.”
I’ll bet it did, Lindar thought. He let Kellian lead him down the hall to the healing rooms in silence, not wanting to start a conversation he could not finish. When they reached the door, Lindar was surprised to see an Itir guard standing outside. The man nodded at Kellian and Lindar and let them pass.
The healing room was quite large, lined on each wall by beds covered in clean white sheets. In one of the beds lay Aramir, an odd look upon his face. Leaning over him, dressing his wounds, was Irian, the healer woman. Kellian closed the door silently and he and Lindar stood just inside, watching. Lindar looked around and was startled to see neither Teleri nor Isilmë.
The woman fussed over Aramir a minute more, then straightened up, gathered her healing salves, and silently left the room.
“I found him Ar,” Kellian said gravely.
Aramir smiled slightly at his friend, but Lindar was shocked to see a terribly pained look in his eyes. “Thanks Kell,” he murmured.
Kellian nodded. “I’ll get back to the search,” he said, then turned swiftly and left.
Lindar heard, but did not comprehend Kellian’s words. He stood by the door, head down in shame, absently rubbing his arm as he waited for Aramir to speak. He didn’t have to wait long.
“Well Lindar?” Aramir said softly, bringing Lindar’s head up.
Lindar bit his lip to keep himself from crying again. “My Lord, I’m so, so sorry,” he began, not daring to meet the king’s eyes.
“Now Lindar,” Aramir interrupted, “what have I told you about calling me that?”
“Sorry,” Lindar mumbled. “I don’t think I deserve to call you Aramir any more.”
Aramir smiled briefly, then sighed. He sat up slowly and patted the bed. “Come sit down,” he invited kindly, but to Lindar, it sounded like an order. Obediently he walked over to the bed, then sat down timidly on the edge. He stared down at his hands, unable to meet Aramir’s gaze.
“Aramir,” he whispered sadly. He jumped in surprise when he felt the king’s gentle hand upon his shoulder. He looked into Aramir’s kind eyes and tears formed in his own. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what else to say. I-I…”
“Lindar,” Aramir said softly, “I know. Why don’t you tell me the whole story?”
“Really?” Lindar asked incredulously.
“Lindar,” Aramir repeated. “I don’t know what happened this morning in the ring. But I do know that I am alive, and if you had not been there, I seriously doubt I still would be. I would very much like to hear your story, young man.”
Lindar nodded slowly, taking a deep breath. “Aramir?” he asked. “After, after I tell you my story…well, would you tell me yours?” Seeing the surprise in the king’s eyes, he hastily added, “It is just that, I have never heard any version besides…his, and I’d like to know the truth.”
Aramir’s eyes filled with pity. “Of course,” he said.
Lindar heaved a sigh of relief and scooted further onto the bed. He wrapped his arms around his knees and drew them to his chest, then quietly began his tale. He told Aramir everything he could think of about Janst’s plan and his involvement in it. Over and over he wished he didn’t have to say any of it, and several times he had to stop to keep himself from crying. He felt horrible, worse than he had ever felt in his entire life. And the worst part was, Aramir listened quietly and understandingly the entire time. He never said anything against Lindar, and his eyes were filled with caring. Finally, Lindar could stand it no longer.
“Why are you treating me like this?” he burst out.
Aramir looked confused. “Like what?” he asked.
“Why are you being so nice to me? You knew, didn’t you? The whole time I was here, you knew, and you never did anything. And now I tell you the entire thing, all the terrible things I was supposed to do, and you aren’t the least bit angry with me!”
Aramir held up his hand and Lindar fell silent. “One thing at a time,” the king said. “Number one, yes, I knew the whole time who you were. Years ago, I was informed that a son was born to the exile Janst, although this son’s name was never told to me. I knew Janst, and I knew that he would do something like this. When and how, I had no idea. When you came, I had only to watch you to discover that you were his son. You don’t resemble him as much as you think, but the way you move, fight, the way you carry yourself, all resemble Janst, and your age fits with what I already knew. And your sudden appearance in the tree didn’t help.” He chuckled, but Lindar continued to look miserable. “And number two, just as you said, you told me all of the terrible things you were supposed to do. Supposed to do, Lindar, not did. You had a choice, whether or not to do what he asked of you. You chose not to. I have no reason to be angry with you, and I will not hold you accountable for his crimes.”
Lindar stared in awe at Aramir. In his wildest dreams, he had never imagined anything like this. Aramir was honestly and truthfully not angry, resentful, or hateful towards him. He broke into a weak smile. “I don’t know what to say,” he whispered again, sudden joy and relief filling him.
“You don’t have to say anything, Lindar,” Aramir told him, putting his arm around the young man’s shoulders. “Listen to me. I sound like a king.” He rolled his sparkling black eyes and chuckled. “Do you still want to hear my tale?”
Lindar nodded eagerly and listened in earnest as Aramir recounted his story from years ago. He told Lindar of his exile, his life out of Gondor, his meeting with Isilmë and confrontation with Janst, and finally the repeal of his exile. By the time he was done, Lindar was convinced that his father had never told him one shred of the truth. Everything single thing Janst had ever told him was a lie. Aramir saw his amazement and smiled.
“Not what Janst told you, was it?”
Lindar shook his head forcefully. “Wow,” he whispered. “You have no idea how much better I feel.”
Aramir grinned. “You never know, I might,” he confided.
Lindar smiled back. “How do you feel?” he asked suddenly, remembering Aramir’s wounds.
The king grimaced. “I feel fine,” he muttered irritably. “A bit sore, but that’s expected. But alas, no, Irian seems to think I’ll die if I move from this bed. ‘You need rest!'” he mocked the healer. “No I don’t. I want to help…” his voice trailed off and he glanced at Lindar with a guilty expression.
“Help with what?” Lindar demanded, sensing that something was terribly wrong.
Aramir sighed and hung his head. “I forgot you don’t know.” He raised his eyes and stared directly at Lindar. “Teleri and Isilmë are missing. No one knows where they are.”
Lindar leapt to his feet. “No!” he shouted.
Aramir gently took hold of his arm and pulled him back down onto the bed. “Yes. I’ve told no one of your involvement in this whole thing, but they know that Janst was here, and he is obviously the most likely suspect.”
Lindar shook his head. “He is not a suspect. He did it, I know it.”
“And you know where they are, don’t you?” Aramir asked, black eyes sparkling.
Lindar caught the gleam in his eyes. “Are you serious?” he asked in a low tone.
“I am dead serious,” Aramir answered.
“That is not the only dead you will be!” Lindar exclaimed.
“That’s why I am bringing you along,” Aramir told him flippantly, rising from the bed and making his way over to a small table on which sat his sword.
“It’s a days journey,” Lindar informed him as he checked his own weapons.
“All the more reason to leave now,” Aramir announced. “Come on.” He had tied a rope to the balcony and was ready to descend. Lindar made his way over the balcony and watched Aramir swiftly climb down the rope. When he had reached the bottom, Lindar swung himself over the side and began to descend. Suddenly a pair of hands seized him and dragged him back onto the balcony. He looked up from where he lay sprawled on the ground into the skeptical face of Kellian.
“Heh heh…would you believe the door was jammed?” he asked. Kellian raised one eyebrow but said nothing. “Didn’t think so.” To his surprise, the Elf smirked, pulled him to his feet, then peered over the edge of the balcony.
“Like I’ve told you, you are too predictable!” he shouted.
Aramir appeared from out of the shadows. “Guess so,” he called.
“I’m insulted,” Kellian declared.
“Why? Because we thought we could sneak out without you catching us?”
“No, because you were going to go without me.” With that, he leapt over the balcony and slid down the rope. Lindar followed him quickly.
When all three were on the ground they stealthily made their way to the stables. It was decided that Lindar and Aramir would ride Narmo and Kellian would ride Scyelë, his own horse. Lindar and Kellian entered the stables and retrieved the horses.
“After all,” Kellian was saying when Lindar came out with Narmo, “I hate him almost as much as you do.”
“And I hate him more than both of you combined,” Lindar muttered.
Kellian heard his comment and laughed. “Please Lindar. He may have kidnapped Teleri, but you don’t know him at all. He’s Aramir’s archenemy. He’s a horrible, nasty Orc (sorry Ar).”
“And he’s my father,” Lindar declared bitterly.
Kellian was in mid-mount when Lindar spoke, and the sudden thud that accompanied this announcement told Lindar that that was the last thing Kellian had expected to hear.
Aramir looked down at the Elf lying under his horse, then over at Lindar. “I’m impressed. I’ve never been able to make him fall.”
Kellian snorted and picked himself up off the ground, then seized Lindar’s tunic and glared at him.
“Did you say what I think you said?” he demanded.
Lindar nodded. “I don’t deny it,” he said. “He is my father.”
Kellian slowly let go of his hold on Lindar’s tunic and stared at Aramir, then Scyelë, then Lindar again. “I guess I should have seen that coming,” he muttered.
“I’m sorry Kellian,” Lindar muttered, wishing he could say more.
Kellian didn’t say anything for a moment, then he smiled grimly. “I’m sorry for you, Lindar.”
Lindar snorted and mounted in front of Aramir, who was waiting on Narmo. “It’s alright. Come on, let us go. The sooner we get there, the better.”
Without another word, the two horses made their way silently out of the city and into the oncoming night.
Chapter 4: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9913.html
Chapter 5: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9975.html
Chapter 6: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10024.html
Chapter 7: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10111.html