They had been walking down the path for some time, when Ilmariel suddenly thought she heard someone call her name.
“Who’s there?” she asked, looking around for who had called her, but she saw no one.
After a few more steps, she and Sauron came over the crest of the hill they had been walking up. Looking down, Ilmariel saw an Elf standing off to one side of the road below, looking up at them.
“You are Ilmariel?” the Elf inquired.
“I am,” Ilmariel replied.
The Elf waited a moment as they came down the hill. When they were a few feet away, he bowed slightly. “I am to be your guide to Tirion,” he said with a smile. “My name is Cirnil.”
Cirnil smiled again at Ilmariel, and then turned towards Sauron. He tilted his head a bit to one side, and frowned. “I was not told that there would be anyone other than you,” he said, speaking to Ilmariel.
“Last minute changes,” Ilmariel explained. “I am to bring him along with me, by orders of Namo.”
The fact that Namo had given the command seemed to appease Cirnil. “All is well then,” he said cheerily. However, he then asked another question…
“What is your name?”
Sauron, who had been off in his own special little world, suddenly snapped back to earth. “What?” he asked.
“Your name. What is it?”
“Uhhh…” said Sauron, his face dropping. He looked at Ilmariel out of the corner of his eye, obviously in need of some assistance.
Ilmariel hurriedly searched the shelves of information stored within her mind, but came up empty-handed. The fact that Cirnil was becoming suspicious did not help any. She looked up, noted the stars… again, and then went through a thought process that, although it made perfect sense to her, would likely have seemed completely random and illogical to anyone else, at the end of which she came up with a name… sort of.
“He is, ah… Ron…dae.”
Ilmariel could sense Sauron’s annoyance at the name. Thankfully, however, he withheld any comments he might have made. He bit his lip and forced a smile– hard things to do at the same time –and, apparently, was able to meet Cirnil’s approval.
“Very well.” The Elf’s smile popped back into place. “Follow me.”
Cirnil then began walking down the road ahead of them. As soon as their guide was reasonably out of earshot, Sauron turned to Ilmariel. “Rondae?!?!” he yelled in a whisper. “Is that the best you could do?! What sort of an absurd name is `Rondae’ supposed to be?!”
“You would rather I had just stood there and let you stutter around trying to think of a name for the next week?”
“Well, I’d rather do that than have people calling me `Rondae’; it’s a sissy Elf name! You’ve cursed me!”
“The only alternative would have been to just say what your name really is, which, might I point out, is also a `sissy Elf name’.”
“Well, for starters, that is not my real name; it is just the one that everybody happens to call me. Secondly, I doubt that what `Sauron’ means could actually count as sissy.”
“You are absolutely right. That name would be much better! Then, you would never have to go the market for eggs, because people would be throwing them at you everywhere you went,” Ilmariel said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Yes, and that would be just terrible! Eggs can really maim you for life, you know.”
“Do not forget that I am stuck with you for the next who-knows-how-long, and I personally do not want to wind up being punished along with you for your poor choices. Try to think of someone other than yourself.”
“I never have before, and I do not really plan on starting.”
“Well, you are going to, because I am not about to spend the rest of eternity baby-sitting you.”
“For your information, I am perfectly capable of seeing to my own needs.”
“Yes, and also seeing to the destruction of various peoples, I know.”
“Hey, I might have changed. You have no faith at all.”
“Well, I cannot really see any reason I should, since you have had multiple opportunities to repent of your ways, and yet have never done so.”
“I almost did, once.”
“That’s nice. However, you did not, so it does not count.”
“Well, it doesn’t, so just drop it and get walking, Rondae!”
Sauron glared at her, but began following after Cirnil, nonetheless. For a long time he steamed silently, muttering under his breath things that sounded oddly like curses. Ilmariel tried not to worry about it too much, as Namo had assured her that Sauron would not be able to do anything involving the kind of powers he had wielded in the past …or at least not to a level she need be concerned about. She just hoped that Namo had been surer of that than he had been of whether or not Sauron would be able to read her thoughts.
They walked on in the still darkness of the night for quite some time. Cirnil hummed to himself, seeming to have a never-ending store of happiness. This, it seemed, only added to Sauron’s agitation. Ilmariel glanced over at him on a regular basis, every few minutes, noting that each time she did so his expression had turned sourer.
She was beginning to think that it was not a good idea to simply leave Sauron to his own thoughts, and was about to say something, when they broke through the forest they had been walking in, and came to a short plain. The path went straight across this to a dock, where a large boat was anchored, waiting to sail.
After walking on for a moment, Ilmariel realized that Sauron was no longer in sight. She stopped and turned back, finding the Maia at the edge of the forest, staring at the ship. Ilmariel heaved a sigh of irritation, and made her way back to him. Sauron, however, did not seem even remotely aware of Ilmariel’s presence beside him.
Ilmariel waved her hand in front of Sauron’s face. “Hello? Are you in there?”
Blinking a few times, Sauron turned to her with a look of horror on his face. “We don’t have to go on the ship, do we?”
“Oh yes, the ship to Tirion! You don’t want to have to walk all the way; that wouldn’t be any fun at all!” Cirnil said, coming up behind them.
“I think that it would be plenty fun to walk, on the ground, with dirt under my feet, and rocks and solid things of that nature, away from the water,” said Sauron.
“What’s wrong?” Cirnil asked. “Don’t you like sailing? All Elves like boats,” he put in bubblingly, although the look in his eyes added that he thought `Rondae’ to be the oddest looking Elf he had ever seen.
Sauron instantly opened his mouth to clear up Cirnil’s misconception, but that definitely could not be allowed. Ilmariel quickly threw her arm around Sauron’s shoulders, causing him to take a moment to rebalance himself before speaking. It was in this moment that Ilmariel tried to answer Cirnil.
“He is not particularly fond of boats… had some bad experiences with them, and all,” she said, lowering her voice, as though what she was saying was highly embarrassing to Sauron.
“Oohhh,” Cirnil breathed, nodding knowingly. “I understand. Do not worry, though; we are good sailors. We wouldn’t let your drown, or anything!”
Sauron’s face blanched drastically, but Cirnil did not seem to notice as he ushered them forward towards the ship.
Ilmariel abruptly pulled her arm off of Sauron, cringing at the idea that she had actually touched him. Eeeww… she thought to herself, pausing a moment to consider it again. Eeeeeewww…
Sauron glared at her angrily, but could not really have been frightening, as he was still white as a sheet. “You could lay off the mean thoughts, you know,” he hissed, so that Cirnil, who was only a few feet away from them, would not hear.
“Well, at least I did not say them out loud, hmm?” Ilmariel said.
“Oh, honestly! Do you think I have been lying in a dung heap, or… rolling in a pile of rotting corpses?!” Sauron asked, sounding rather indignant. “I’ve had this body for a total of about four hours. Not really enough time to mess it up, I would hope.”
Ilmariel truly looked at Sauron for the first time then. Yes, he still looked very much like he had in the cell, and not at all like a dark lord. It was possible that he could have been mistaken for an Elf– a consideration that Ilmariel found a bit degrading–, except for the fact that no Elf would ever go out in public with their hair looking like it had lost a fight with a crazed demonic weasel. Additionally, his eyes still had some vestige of fieriness to them, although they were now very dark, along with an unmistakably sinister quality. Elves’ eyes did not generally tend to appear that way.
He did not look contaminated by something foul… unless, of course, it was his spirit, which Ilmariel suspected to be highly tainted.
They were now on the docks, and Ilmariel did not want to have to continue the argument when they were on the boat, around other people, so she decided to let it go. Nonetheless, she did not answer in a way to suggest that she had given up her position on the topic.