The Exile – Chapter 5: Dark Secrets

by Mar 12, 2006Stories

Chief Steward Halmed successfully suppressed the yawn that threatened to erupt. It was the middle of the week and as usual the king, his advisors and several lords and ladies of significant holdings had gathered to discuss important activities of the realm.
As the Chief Steward, it was imperative that he attend the meetings because from time to time he was called upon to contribute his opinion.
But he was so tired, he could hardly remember the last time he had up to 3 hours of sleep.
There was so much to do and he felt he was wasting his time here. He desperately wished Lord Malor would finish reading out his list of needed expenses. Halmed glanced at Andaran , the king was patiently waiting for the lord to finish, Halmed wondered where he found the strength sit through this, maybe it had to do with practice.
When Andaran was 8 years old, his father King Aragorn started bringing him to the weekly meetings, at first his son would stay for 30 minutes at a time but gradually the time would be increased to 45 minutes, then an hour to 2 hours. In the end Andaran began to look forward to the meetings.
Eventually Malor finished and put down the sheet of paper he was holding.
The king looked at him. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that the same list you presented less than a year ago?”
Malor’s flustered look made Halmed scold himself for not paying more attention.
“Yes….. Your highness,” Malor managed to say “but some of the requests were not………attended to.”
“Then why present exactly the same list again? Why not just state the ones that were not seen to?” asked Andaran.
Malor looked around, probably hoping someone would help him, the other Lords simply stared and said nothing. After seeing an answer was not forth coming, Andaran made a decision. “Lord Malor, I believe it would be wise if you left the list with Halmed and I’ll send someone around to find out what you really need.”
“I’m grateful your highness,” replied Malor weakly.
Andaran shot him a look which clearly indicated he hadn’t finished with him yet. Halmed smiled a little at the pale look on Malor’s face.
Andaran turned to the next person beside Malor, Lady Esmelda and indicated she should speak.
“This year’s harvest was a lot better than last year, the following figures are the profits made in several homesteads around Gondor.” She read out the numbers as Andaran nodded approvingly. When she called the profit of Lord Malor’s holdings, the king held up a hand and she stopped. He turned to the troubled lord with a smile.
“Lord Malor, it’s good to see how well your land has done this year, I believe we’ve just found where you can deduct the money you need for those expenses you talked about.”
Malor’s eyes widened with alarm. “Your majesty, the total expense is substantial.”
“I know, yet that amount is less than half of your profits, surely you can afford it, unless there are some expenses you wish to drop?”
Halmed wanted to laugh out loud; he loved it when Andaran pulled out the rug from under the feet of certain lords and ladies on the council. They often made the mistake of thinking his youthful looks meant he was naïve and could easily be fooled.
Andaran had to correct them of that notion occasionally. Lord Malor smiled nervously.
“It seems there’s a slight error in my list; I’ll see it’s corrected at once.”
“Please do so,” added the king firmly. Halmed knew that the list would be accurate this time because Malor would be the one to pay the bill.
Lady Esmelda completed the reading and then it was Lord Calmethor’s turn.
“Your highness I would like to bring your attention to the taxes.”
Andaran’s eyes narrowed. “What about them?”
Calmethor continued. “Since the end of the War of the Ring the taxes haven’t been increased. We feel it’s about time it was done so.” Some of the nobles gave sounds of agreement, while a loud snort came from the other end of the table.”
Halmed didn’t have to turn to see who it was. Machel, son of Klaine was a farmer and one of the king’s top advisors. When King Aragorn was alive he appointed people from many works of life to the council. Some were farmers, blacksmiths and soldiers, a number of nobles complained stating that such positions belonged to only those of noble blood.
They had been dismayed when Andaran carried on his father’s tradition.
“Why should taxes be increased?” asked the king in a soft voice.
If Halmed was sleepy before, he was wide awake now, Andaran’s soft voice hid a lot of things, one of them was anger.
Calmethor as usual didn’t notice. “Your highness,” he began in a voice which to Halmed rang with insincerity. “Minas Tirith, your royal city needs maintenance on a regular basis and that costs money.”
“I see,” said the king softly “anything else?”
“Yes your highness, the wages of the troops need to be seen to.” He ignored the incredulous look Captain Nadir gave him. Halmed was sure the Captain was wondering when Calmethor began to care about the soldier’s welfare. Halmed stared at the lord.
What was he up to? They had discussed this topic last month and the king had said no, even when they argued that it was for the cost of the celebrations to which Andaran had replied that since he was footing the bill; they had nothing to worry about.
The attempts of the nobles to raise taxes never ceased to amaze and irritate Halmed. They lived very comfortable lives and yet they were greedy for more!
Andaran was silent for a long moment during which Calmethor tugged at his collar which showed he was nervous.
The king finally looked up with a smile. “Master Machel, how are the people?”
Some of the lords were surprised at the change of topic. Machel grinned. “They’re fine your majesty, harvest was good last year and seems very promising this year. I’ve heard few complaints.” Calmethor seemed confused at the direction the meeting was taking.
Andaran nodded and turned to Nadir. “And how do the soldiers fare? Are their wages adequate?”
“The wages are ….. satisfactory sire, but I feel the wages should vary.”
Andaran folded his arms and leaned back. “In what way?”
“Border patrols are lengthy and in some cases dangerous, soldiers who are sent on such missions should have a higher pay which resorts to basic pay once they return home.”
The king nodded thoughtfully. “Sounds like a good idea, go over the figures with Halmed and we’ll see what can be done.” He turned to Calmethor.
“Lord Calmethor, you said that Minas Tirith needed maintenance, can you state exactly where?”
If Calmethor was nonplussed by the question, he covered it up well.
“There are a lot of places, I’m not an architect but I’m sure my assistant who has experience in such matters would list those areas for you. He’s waiting outside.”
Halmed had to give him credit, the man came prepared. Andaran smiled coldly.
“I’m sure he would.”
“Your highness, may I speak?” All turned to face the questioner. It was Lord Rhymadis, a slim 67 year old in dark rich brown flowing robes. He never missed a meeting, but usually kept silent, only speaking when he needed to and he always made sense which was why everyone was attentive to his words.
“You may speak, Lord Rhymadis, “said Andaran with respect. The lord nodded and turned to Calmethor.
“The entire city of Minas Tirith and even Osgiliath was rebuilt by our dwarfen allies and the elves immediately after the war.”
“I know that,” snapped Calmethor. It was no secret that the 2 disliked each other, which made Halmed like Rhymadis more.
“Good,” continued Rhymadis “though the elves have departed from our shores, the dwarfs have never failed to come each year to check the buildings and make any necessary repairs. The money from the taxes has been more than enough to cover their labour, so I fail to see how new increased taxes are needed for maintenance.”
Calmethor gritted his teeth. “Once I present the list, you’ll understand.”
“The list will eventually be seen but what I am trying to say is that over the years since the war the cost of maintenance has reduced due to the excellent work by our allies. So increasing the taxes is unnecessary.” Rhymadis looked at the other nobles in a mild but challenging way. Halmed wanted to clap him on the back, the wily old lord had indirectly
told his peers that they were a greedy bunch and wasn’t afraid to stand against them.
Andaran smiled warmly. “Thank you for your opinions Lord Rhymadis.”
“You’re welcome sire,” said Rhymadis. Calmethor’s face was red with anger.
Andaran’s gaze touched each of the people at the table, and then he spoke. “Lords and ladies, members of the council, I appreciate your thoughts and advice it is important we govern our land efficiently and fairly. The people are happy, that is the best news and for it to remain so the taxes stay the same.” Calmethor made a sound of protest which died down when Andaran simply looked at him.
“Anything else that needs to be discussed?” asked the king.
“Yes sire, I have something important to say.” This was from Calmethor again.
What is it now? Complained Halmed silently.
Andaran was barely able to keep his voice civil. “Yes Lord Calmethor?”
“Sire….” He began tentatively “we are worried about your marital future.”
Not again thought Halmed as the lord continued.
“You are quite…… mature and is yet to choose a bride. The people of Gondor are worried, we are not at war but they need to see a Queen and most of all an heir.”
Halmed looked worryingly at his friend. Though he hated to admit it, Calmethor was right. Andaran should have married by now, his human age mates were already grandparents but yet the `eternal king’ as the common people liked to call Andaran had not yet taken a bride. Halmed knew that his friend was looking for the kind of love his parents had, but that would be difficult when most of the young women he met looked at his wealth and power but not his heart.
Andaran took a deep breath. “I appreciate your concern but I will take a bride when it is time.”
“Sire, when will that be?” persisted Calmethor.
“That is none of our business,” said Rhymadis “let our king be.”
Calmethor for once wisely kept silent. Halmed was thankful for the respite and nodded gratefully in Rhymadis’ direction.
Eventually the meeting ended and all stood up as the king left. The lords and ladies followed, some complained they did not achieve their goals while the others greeted Halmed as they passed him. Machel and Nadir promised to see him later concerning the upcoming festivities.
Halmed thinking he was alone, gathered up his files and was about to depart when he heard a discreet cough behind him. He turned back to face Lord Rhymadis.
“Lord Rhymadis!” exclaimed the Steward in surprise “I had no idea you were still here.”
The nobleman smiled. “I know I wanted to speak to you for a moment. It won’t take long.”
“My lord, I’m at your service,” said Halmed cheerfully. This produced a small smile from Rhymadis.
“Its about the taxes, I know the king has already made his decision and will not change it, but those who want them increased are going to persist till they have their way.”
Halmed sighed. “I was afraid of that.”
“But there is a way to discourage them for the time being.”
The Steward was curious. “How?”
“Increase the taxes.”
Halmed was dumbfounded. “But I thought you were against that!”
Rhymadis lifted a hand to calm Halmed. “Of cause I am, forgive me for not explaining fully, increase the taxes of all noble born, myself included.”
“But won’t that give them an excuse to raise the taxes of the common folk that live on their lands?” asked Halmed with a frown.
“Not if the king passes a decree that the common folk should pay the current taxes, while the nobles pay the higher tax,” countered Rhymadis.
Halmed was thoughtful for a few seconds then smiled. “My lord they are not going to like it.”
Rhymadis nodded. “True, but it will keep them from bringing it up for some time. It’s not the perfect solution but discuss it with the king and see what he thinks.”
“I’ll do that, I appreciate your help.”
“Don’t mention it.” The two men left the hall side by side.
“By the way, how are the preparations for the upcoming celebration?” asked Rhymadis.
Halmed grimaced. “Hectic,” was his answer. Rhymadis chuckled.
“You sure look it, anyway don’t let me keep you, besides I need to see a few people before I head home. Good day to you,” then he left.
Halmed watched him leave, then suddenly remembered something important.
“Lord Rhymadis!” called Halmed as he quickly walked after him.
The lord stopped and turned round. “Yes?”
“I’m sorry for wasting your time, but I need to ask you a question.”
“It’s alright,” said Rhymadis “What’s the problem?”
“It’s not a problem, I just wanted to know if …… Lady Catrena will be attending the
festivities.” Rhymadis looked puzzled by the inquiry.
“You mean my daughter? Of cause she’ll be there, she’s never missed it as long as I can
remember. Why do you ask?”
Halmed seemed a little nervous as he asked the next question.
“Would you mind if she was the king’s partner for the celebration?”
Rhymadis was stunned. “Mind? Of cause not! I would be honoured but…..”
Halmed’s hope fell at that last word, Rhymadis continued. “You would have to ask her
about it first, I don’t know if she has made other arrangements… that is , I mean she
hasn’t mentioned if she’s going to the festivities with someone else.”
Halmed was visibly relieved. “That’s quite alright; I’ll make inquiries at once. Thank you
again Lord Rhymadis.” The lord nodded and watched as Halmed hurried off.
Rhymadis finally allowed a cold malevolent smile replace the friendly look he had
assumed for the Steward.
“No Halmed,” he said softly to himself “I should be the one thanking you.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

People cleared the way as a small dark drawn carriage made its way on the streets of Minas Tirith. The driver flicked his whip over the heads of the horses and the steeds moved faster, after negotiating around many corners and passing through some of the inner gates of the city; it eventually reached the large estate of Lord Rhymadis. A servant who had been standing outside ran up to the carriage before it stopped, he quickly set down the steps and opened the carriage door. He bowed deeply as the owner of the estate descended.
Without a glance, Rhymadis walked into his home, he ignored the bowing and greetings of the other servants and quickly made his way for the grand library.
His steward, Bhanen followed at a respectable distance; with his head bowed he spoke.
“Your Grace, is there anything you need?” Rhymadis removed his coat and flung it on the floor.
“Take that out and see it’s cleaned properly; it smells of mildew, this is the third time I have asked you and yet you refuse to get it right!” Bhanen bowed lower; it was no secret that all the servants were terrified of Rhymadis and the lord loved it.
“Forgive me your grace; I’ll attend to it personally. Would you like anything else?”
“My lunch and absolute privacy,” Rhymadis eventually turned round “has my daughter returned from her shopping yet?”
“Yes your grace, she having her lunch right now.”
“Send her to me at once.”
“But your grace she just started….” Rhymadis silenced him with a cold glare. Bhanen swallowed nervously. “I’ll fetch her at one your grace.”
Rhymadis turned back to his shelves of books, but did not move until he heard the door close. He walked to the exact center of the books, counted 7 books to the left then removed one, inside it was a gray box. After muttering the words of a spell, it sprung open, he removed the plain silver ring on his left middle finger and placed it inside.
Once he put back the lid, he said a single word, closed the book and replaced it to its space. Rhymadis drew out a chair and sat down. He smiled dreamily; nothing could beat the feeling of practicing magic.
Rhymadis was the son of Lord Rhendal who was for a short time a member of late King Aragorn’s ring of advisors, all who knew him said he was a kind and gentle man. He had fought to defend Minas Tirith during the War of the Ring and faced the Black Gates of Mordor with Aragorn but very few knew of his hobby; which was collecting old books, especially those that dealt in magic and the occult. He never allowed his son to read the books saying he could only do so when he was older.
Unbeknown to him; Rhymadis began to secretly borrow the books, reading them in a short time and returning them when he was through. He was fascinated by the contents and in a very short time began to practice what he learnt. His father never knew what his only son and heir was up to, then one day Lord Rhendal fell ill when King Aragorn and his family had left for Rohen to visit King Eomer.
The old lord’s health deteriorated rapidly and the healers of the House of healing could not ascertain the cause of the ailment and tried to sustain him till the king returned.
However Rhendal feeling the end was nigh put his affairs in order and called his son to say a few last words.
Rhymadis, a young man of 19 years smiled at his father; then leaned in close and whispered.
“Father you lie here because of me, the information I obtained from your forbidden books have been extremely helpful in creating a most effective undetectable poison. I thank you.”
Rhendal at this point was so shocked by his only son’s treachery that his heart failed him. Rhymadis silently stood aside as the healers battled to save his father’s life. Rhendal tried to warn the healers but the strain was too great and he died with his son’s dark secret.
King Aragorn arrived a day too late and was distressed over the lord’s death. The healers found it had to explain how Rhendal died within 4 days of his illness; eventually after examining the body they attributed the illness to old battle scars that had somehow gotten reinfected. Many knew that during the War of the Ring the forces of Sauron used poisoned, magically enhanced mordor steel weapons and a lot of the veterans of the was had complained over the years of inexplicable ailments and aching old scars. No one ever suspected Rhymadis , the young lord married and had 2 children, a girl and a boy, he disposed of his wife when he grew tired of in a convenient riding accident.
Shortly afterwards he was elected to the council of advisors which his father had been a member of, he began to bide his time, keeping silent and listening, making sure he appeared the quiet unassuming lord who always drew King Andaran’s attention when he spoke. Today had been perfect; as he talked to Halmed earlier he used the charmed ring to plant a suggestion in the Chief Steward’s mind. He found it hard not to appear eager when Halmed asked about his daughter.
Rhymadis’ train of thoughts was interrupted when there was a knock at the door.
“Come in!”
The door opened to admit a tall slim breathtaking blonde girl with deep blue eyes. She was angry.
“Ah Catrena, finally you’ve arrived.”
“Father, what was so important that I had to leave my meal?” she asked bluntly.
Catrena closed the door and walked up to the table, she folded her arms.
“What news?” she asked simply.
Rhymadis usually did not like anyone addressing him in so bold a fashion, but he ignored it in his daughter. She looked exactly like her grandmother, waist long honey blonde tresses on a heart shaped face and breathtaking blue eyes. He had already received several offers for his daughter’s hand but he always found a way to stall them a little longer. Now if all went as planned, the highest offer will be at his doorstep.
“What is the news?” Catrena repeated she was still angry.
“Sit down my dear, can you guess?”
“I dislike guessing father,” said Catrena crossly.
Rhymadis sighed. “Fine, have you bought your outfits for the upcoming celebrations?”
Catrena had a puzzled frown on her face. “Of cause, what does that have to do with your news?”
“The Chief Steward asked if I had any objection to you being the king’s partner for the festivities.” Catrena’s face brightened.
“Father… you mean I ….” She couldn’t complete the sentence. Rhymadis nodded. She stood up, flushed and breathless with excitement.
“I `m….to… be Andaran’s partner! Thank you father,” she happily hugged Rhymadis.
“Don’t mention it, but do not forget what we have talked about.” She nodded.
“I know, I should speak intelligently, not stare at him or spread any rumours about him and I.”
Rhymadis smiled approvingly. “Good, with luck we might just make this work. Where’s your brother?” A look of distaste marred her perfect features.
“He was to return today, but you know what he’s like when he goes music hunting.”
Rhymadis said nothing. Maril; his only son was a great disappointment to him. He couldn’t fight and only loved to read and play music. He abhorred any form of violence which made some call him a gentle soul, Rhymadis saw him as a weakling. Each time the lord looked at his son, the boy reminded him of his late wife. Rhymadis had tried all he could to make the boy give up his music but it only seemed to encourage the boy more.
Then again, thought Rhymadis, maybe his son might be useful after all.
“Catrena, I want you to inform me the moment he comes home.”
“Why?” asked his daughter with a puzzled look, she knew her father couldn’t stand Maril.
Because my dear, he might just be the one to encourage Andaran’s attentions towards you.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Lady Ty’lana!” The elf maiden looked up to see a ranger riding back from the front of the column. He slowed his horse to a walk and bowed.
“Lord Lorandil requests your presence.”
“Of cause,” answered Ty’lana.
“If you would please follow me?” asked the young man as he wheeled his horse round to return the way he came. Ty’lana followed, wondering what Loran wanted.
The group of 17 horsemen and one female elf had left the camp several hours ago; traveling at a slow but steady pace was to ensure the horses were not too tired at the end of the journey. Before departure, Captain Romer called her and advised her not to tell anyone except the King about her exile because of possible misunderstanding. Ty’lana accepted his words with heartfelt relief realizing the captain and his 2 close friends were wise enough to keep it a secret.
Eaodan got a chance to touch Maethor which he did reverently with the horse eyeing him the entire time. Reluctantly he left the mearas and explained to Ty’lana he was not accompanying them to Minas Tirith, for this journey Loran was in charge.
However as they were about to leave camp a rider in a dark brown cloak arrived, he caused quite a stir with the other rangers and Ty’lana who had been close to Lorandil heard him mutter “Oh no” beneath his breath.
Yet she was surprised to see a broad smile on Lorandil’s face when she looked at him. The rider came over to greet them and was already yelling the half elf’s name then fell silent when he saw Ty’lana. Lorandil introduced her to the dumb stricken rider whose name was Ivorhen. Ty’lana heard Lorandil call him a “Dunedain ranger.”
Ivorhen looked at Lorandil and said in a voice that brooked no argument “I going with you to Minas Tirith.”
Lorandil groaned good naturally. “As if I could stop you.”
Ivorhen laughed heartily, bowed to Ty’lana then left to see Captain Romer. Ty’lana felt there had been an unspoken discussion between the two friends and she was the main topic.
Once the group was on their way, Ty’lana saw Ivorhen take the rear of the column and stay there.
Maethor slowed down and stopped beside the mounted half elf.
“Lady Ty’lana,” greeted Lorandil “I…. need your help.”
Ty’lana looked at the half elf closely, he seemed a bit agitated, his request did not come lightly.
“What’s wrong?” asked Ty’lana. Lorandil hesitated before answering and when he started he sounded embarrassed.
“I….seem to feel something… out there, I can’t tell what it is but I feel like I …..should know how.”
Ty’lana could not contain her shocked expression, every elf learnt from childhood the art of sensing all manners of living beings, from elves, to humans and animals; even dreadful creatures like orcs and trolls could be detected. For Lorandil to be unable to do so explained a lot, no wonder he couldn’t detect the orcs who were about to ambush his men the day before. The half elf’s face even reddened some more when he saw Ty’lana’s expression. Silently scolding herself for her carelessness, she asked carefully.
“Could you explain…..what it is you are feeling?” He said with difficulty.
Lorandil shook his head. “I can’t ….. explain it.” Ty’lana said nothing; the wrong word would anger him greatly.
Ty’lana looked ahead; they had stopped on a well beaten wide trail that gently climbed a small hill. She closed her eyes and tried to `see’ beyond the hill.
The trail wound down the hill and reentered the Gatelin forest, huge tall trees now bordered the path and now she could `see’ animals moving among the trees; some being hunted while others hunted. Gradually the trees began to reduce in number and she realized she was about to reach the plains; then she saw something strange.
Though Lorandil was watching her closely, he almost panicked when she gasped softly.
“What is it?” he asked worryingly. Ty’lana turned an excited face towards him.
“Come quickly before it leaves!” then she took off at a gallop.
Lorandil was so startled he almost swore. “Ty’lana! Wait!”
“What’s the hold up?” asked Ivorhen who arrived just in time to see Ty’lana racing away. He looked at Lorandil in alarm. “Where is she going and why aren’t you with her?”
The ranger didn’t wait for Lorandil’s answer before he followed the female elf.
Lorandil muttered a few choice oaths and tersely told the rider behind him to take over for a while, after selecting 3 other warriors; they quickly went after Ivorhen and Tylana.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ty’lana’s steed had responded to her feeling and rapidly put a huge gap between her and the other riders. The elf princess had `seen’ something very special that she had observed a long time ago and was in a hurry to get to it before it disappeared. She reached the trees and slowed down and quietly entered the forest. They had to be silent so as not to alarm the inhabitants of the forest, they were half way down the trail when Ty’lana was alerted by a crashing noise behind her. Annoyed she stopped and turned to see who was making such a racket.
Ivorhen’s sharp eyes had seen Maethor entering the forest, he had been amazed by the burst of speed the mearas had shown and a little alarmed. He calmed down a bit when Ty’lana slowed down he assumed then that she wasn’t trying to run away, but what made her take off like that?
He entered the forest to see that she had stopped down the path and was looking his way. Ivorhen gently drew on his reins to slow down his horse; at fast walk he approached the elf maiden.
“My Lady, you shouldn’t be alone, these woods are not completely safe.”
“I’m alright,” said Ty’lana impatiently “but we must hurry before it leaves!” She turned back to the front. Ivorhen quickly moved up beside her, his hand going to his axe.
“What are you talking about? Is it dangerous?” Ty’lana gave his axe an odd look.
“It will be if it sees your hand on that weapon.” Something in her voice advised him to let go of the axe, he reached for his bow instead.
“What about this one?” he asked. Ty’lana stopped her horse which made Ivorhen halt as well.
“It won’t worry about that one,” she said slowly while looking up.
“Why not?” asked the ranger as his keen eyes searched the surrounding bushes.
“Because it can’t hurt it.”
“My lady, what creature are you talking about?” asked an exasperated Ivorhen.
A loud noise from far above them made him look up into the face of a legend.
“By the Valar!” muttered the ranger in shock.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

That was how Lorandil found them, he was ready to deliver a bristling reprimand to Ty’lana when he met them staring upwards at an Ent. The half-elf was struck dumb by the huge tree like creature; he thought that like the elves, the Ents must have departed these shores a long time ago. When he could think calmly he realized Ty’lana was having a conversation with it in Sindarin.
“Good Ent! I’m Ty’lana of Firlaya and this is Ivorhen of the Dunedain, we mean you no harm,” said the princess.
The Ent swiveled its massive treelike head from side to side and looked at each of them.
“Elves and humans,” it said in a slowly rumbling voice “humans I have seen but elves have left, yet you two remain. Hmmmm….very curious….but that is a hasty thought.”
“Hands away from your weapons,” whispered Lorandil to his stunned men “it won’t harm us if we are friendly.” The half elf hoped what he had read in the history books was accurate. He slowly guided his horse till it was between Ivorhen and Ty’lana.
The Ent spoke again. “Two names have you given me…the others are yet unnamed.”
Lorandil hastily answered. “I’m Lorandil of Gondor, these are my men Ostehan and Naredin as she said we mean you no harm,” he paused “may we know who you are?”
“I been light of body and heart as say the elders, I am known as Lightbeam,” the ent paused “but another name is Fastfoot which describes my unnatural hastiness. What seek you in the woods?” Lightbeam’s eyes narrowed as he glared at Ivorhen’s axe.
“Perhaps you seek a tree to cut?” the question hid a warning.
“No, no” said Ivorhen quickly “we’re not seeking to harm trees; my axe is for hurting orcs and uruk-hai.”
“Ahhh,” murmured the ent appreciatively “then good use has the axe seen; do keep up the good work.”
“Certainly,” beamed the Dunedain ranger.
“Lightbeam,” called Ty’lana “if I may ask, where are you from?”
“You may ask, from Farngorn forest have I come exploring and to it will I return when I am done.”
An ent exploring? Thought Lorandil incredulously, now I’ve seen everything.
“We have more men with us,” continued Ty’lana “we only need to cross this path; the trees will not be harmed.” There was silence as the creature pondered over her request.
“They may pass, but cut the trees they will not,” finally agreed Lightbeam.
“Thank you, we will honour your words,” said Ty’lana graciously.
Lorandil sent Ostehan to bring the remaining men while Ivorhen continued to stare at
the ent.
“Amazing isn’t it?” whispered Ivorhen “I never thought I would see an ent, how did she know it was here?”
“She sensed it,” answered Lorandil. Ivorhen gave his friend a puzzled look.
“Sensed it? Must be one of those elf things you can do.” Lorandil said nothing he was glaring at Ty’lana who was still talking with Lightbeam. Ivorhen recognized the signs.
Right now, Loran was livid.
“Loran, go easy on her, she meant no harm, in fact she did us a world of good.”
The half elf still kept quiet. Ivorhen sighed and moved away to wait for the other men.
After a few more words, the ent left them and went deeper into the forest. Ty’lana turned and moved Maethor closer to Lorandil, in her excitement she was oblivious of his anger.
“Lorandil, do you know he’s a very young Ent? He’s just 658 years old and left Fangorn forest to do a research on the various creatures of the different forests of Middle Earth.
He is quite unique.”
“Fasinating,” said Lorandil drily. The tone of his voice made her look at him closely.
“Lorandil, what….”
“Lady Ty’lana” interrupted the half elf coolly “until we reach Minas Tirith, please endeavor to remember that I am responsible for you.”
“I….”began Ty’lana. Lorandil continued as if he didn’t hear her “in Firlaya I’m sure you were familiar with the environment, but this is Gondor and not too long ago we had a terrible war. The remnants of the enemy’s troops though depleted still lurk in these parts, so if you wish to live; desist from doing anything stupid.” Then he turned his horse and moved away.

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Found in Home 5 Reading Room 5 Stories 5 The Exile – Chapter 5: Dark Secrets

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