With more than a little reluctance, Ilmariel went to the bow to get off the ship. A plank, similar to the one that had been on the boat when they had boarded, was there now, and all of the elves were waiting to get off.
At the front of the line, not surprisingly, was Sauron, who was still able to pull of some amount of dignity, even with his frazzled appearance. Most of the others had given him a very large area for his own, except for Cirnil, who was standing next to him while the gangway was made ready.
Ilmariel got as close to Cirnil as she could without getting in striking distance of Sauron (just as a precaution). “So, you will go back to the other docks now and pick up more people?” she asked Cirnil.
“Normally, that is what I would do. However, I am to be your guide for a while; therefore, I will be getting off with you.”
Finally, the plank seemed to be in place, and Cirnil walked down it to the dock, closely followed by Sauron and Ilmariel. The pier was very busy now, elves going around everywhere as they loaded or unloaded ships that were anchored. There was something happening everywhere Ilmariel looked. The docks quickly became quite the labyrinth, and Ilmariel was grateful that Cirnil was there to lead her through it.
At last, they came to the end. Sauron’s countenance instantly became less dark at the sight of solid ground. However, just feet from stepping onto the shore, two elves came out of nowhere and stopped them. They looked over at Sauron in a way that discomforted Ilmariel a bit —It was one of those looks that made her think that they knew something she did not particularly want them to know.
Obviously, neither Ilmariel nor Sauron knew who they were, but Cirnil seemed to be acquainted with them, and he instantly began to converse with them in his cheerful manner. However, this was now in a language that, although similar to hers, Ilmariel could not fully understand. Yet, by the look on Sauron’s face, he had a pretty good idea of what was going on.
“Do you know what they are saying?” Ilmariel whispered.
“Yes! Now hush, or it won’t do much good!”
Ilmariel promptly complied, straining her ears to hear, although she knew she would not really be able to understand. She knew a bit of Quenya, but not enough. Cirnil’s mood had quickly turned more serious as the two other elves spoke to him; however, Ilmariel was not certain why. And then, she heard one word that was perfectly clear to her. Or, not so much a word, as a name…
At once, the two elves shot Sauron a glance. Cirnil slowly turned to look at him, surprise etching his features. While Cirnil seemed to attempt to soak in the information being given to him, the two elves continued to talk, their voices now somewhat louder than before.
As they finished, Ilmariel saw that same look of panic cross Sauron’s face, just as it had when he first caught a glimpse of Taniquetil.
“What did they say?” Ilmariel asked, not really expecting an answer.
Sauron opened his mouth a couple times as if about to say something, but no words came out. Ilmariel waited patiently, but was not rewarded, as the two elves then stepped towards them. One pushed Sauron forward off the pier, and it was at that moment that Ilmariel saw the swords hanging from their waists.
As the guards walked on, prodding Sauron ahead of them, Cirnil stepped over to Ilmariel. “Why was I not informed?” he asked her, as they followed the procession.
“I was advised not to tell anyone if it could be helped, given that he is not particularly popular,” Ilmariel explained.
“Were you not told then that I was to keep close to you and him while you are here?”
“I was only told that there would be somebody around,” Ilmariel said, “I was not given a name.”
For once, Cirnil seemed to be in a very solemn mood, thinking a lot to himself. “So he’s really Sauron, then?”
“Yes, he really is.”
“That explains a lot.”
Ilmariel looked at Cirnil quizzically. “What do you mean?”
“There is something unsettling about him, you know? Something did not seem quite right.”
“You mean, aside from the facts that he abhors the ocean, is continually giving everyone dirty looks, and was so terrified by the sight of all this that he fell off the boat?” Ilmariel asked. “Something beside those things that are not right about him?”
“Well, yes… And now all those things that puzzled me fit. It makes sense. I mean, I suppose I’d be scared to come here if I was him, too.”
“He did it to himself,” Ilmariel said.
“Yes, I know,” said Cirnil. “And he deserves what’s coming to him.”
Ilmariel then remembered the expression that had crossed Sauron’s face at the last words of the other elves. “What exactly is coming to him?” she asked.
“Well, there’s been a summon for him. We are going to Valmar. He is to be brought before the Valar.”
“The Valar? Now? But we just got here!” Ilmariel exclaimed as she walked along side Cirnil.
“Which, I suppose, is why we are going there now.”
“Why do we need to go? I mean, I thought everything had been taken care of before we left Mandos.”
“That part of the situation– getting out, meeting me, and arriving here –was taken care of then, yes. However, it seems that there are some more things that need to be addressed.”
“Like what?” Ilmariel asked.
“Like laying down the law!” one of the guards said grimly, prodding Sauron forward a little more.
Ilmariel then considered what a rotten day it had probably been for Sauron. Between having to go on a boat, and then falling off it, and now being taken to the Valar, things just kept looking worse for him.
The precession was silent as they made their way. No one, not even Cirnil, said a word. Ilmariel soon realized that they must have been taking a secret road. There was nobody else around, and, by what she could tell, they were climbing a bit up into the hills to the south of the city. The area was heavily wooded, and therefore offered no view (except, of course, for the trees).
After an hour or so of walking, it was starting to get rather old. Of course, Ilmariel was now happy just to be alive, but a change of scenery would have been nice. She was beginning to feel like she was on duty guarding the borders of Lothlórien again. This was an activity that, although she had been good at, she had never been particularly fond of. To make matters less enjoyable, Sauron was present. Furthermore, unlike when she had been on duty, there was nothing here that she could shoot at.
Could you stop thinking so loudly? It’s like you are screaming in my head.
Without missing a beat, Ilmariel replied. No, thank you. They are my thoughts, and I am entitled to think them any way I please!
Well, who hit you with the grumpy stick? Sauron replied, turning around momentarily to look at Ilmariel before one of the elves pushed him forward again.
What are you talking about? That makes no sense!
I’m sure this will: SHUT UP! I’m the one who gets to be crabby now, not you. You’re here in your little `elven paradise’ …Ungrateful little wretch.
I beg your pardon? Ilmariel snapped back, forgetting to walk for a moment.
You heard me. You’re being ungrateful. What do you have to complain about?
I can complain about you nosing around in things that aren’t your business!
I wouldn’t have to if you’d keep it down… Or just stop, like this fellow to my right, he
ended, jerking his head over. Haven’t had a thing out of him …It’s sort of creeping me out, to be honest.
Well, I guess my intelligence is just too high for me to put a cap on my thinking.
Sauron snorted. Your ego is pretty high, but that has nothing to do with intelligence, kid.
So what if I have a bit of an ego? It isn’t as if yours is not at least twice the size of mine.
Ooo, ouch. That really stung. I was completely unaware that I have a tendency to be proud.
If you realize that you are, why don’t you knock it off?
If you realize that you are, why don’t you knock it off?
I asked first.
I asked second.
You have to answer first, though.
Because I said so!
And since when did you rule Arda?
I haven’t, obviously. But then, neither have you.
Well, no… but I got close a couple times. And I have seniority, by… a zillion years. Beat that! Ha!
Dear ERU, you are so annoying! You’re like a little immature kid! Ilmariel thought, having to put forth a great effort to remain quiet.
Thanks. I try.
“ERRRRR!!!” Ilmariel growled, realizing all too late that she was actually yelling into the silence.
Cirnil stopped, and the two elves ahead did as well. Sauron turned around with a positively overjoyed expression, a demonic grin slowly spreading across his face.
“What,” one of the elves asked after a moment, “was that about?”
Oh, they think you’re loony! This is rich.
Ilmariel gave Sauron a death glare while trying to think of something to say.
Cirnil followed her glare to Sauron, whose smile had grown at the reaction of the other elves. “He’s doing something,” he said, pointing to Sauron.
Sauron’s smile instantly fell, so that he looked as if the incident had completely untouched him. “Oh, yes, blame the little psycho’s problems on me.” he said. “If something bad happens, it has to instantly be my fault. No possibility in the world that it could just be something in her brain.”
“You’re lying! You are always lying! You’re a pathological liar!” Ilmariel said.
“Yes, I am. But everybody has problems, don’t they?”
“He’s messing with my mind,” Ilmariel said, edging on whining.
“See, and that’s your problem. What about you, Cirnil?”
Cirnil opened his mouth as if to say something, but then shut it without a word, blinking several times.
“Bit shy about sharing?” Sauron asked, one of those ridiculous `I-know-how-you-feel’ looks on his face. “You’ll come around.”
“Speaking of problems,” Ilmariel shot in, “you still need to be brought before the Valar today!”
Sauron frowned. That was low, he responded grouchily.
Ilmariel smiled smugly as the two elves saw back to their duties and herded Sauron forward again.