“You are sure that you want to do this?” Cirnil asked, a very skeptical look on his face. Apparently, he was not sure that he wanted to do this.
Ilmariel smiled. “Positive.”
They were sitting at the table in the kitchen. Upon returning to the house about ten minutes ago, Cirnil was almost instantly accosted by Ilmariel, who wanted to tell him her plan immediately. At the moment, he still seemed to be turning everything over in his mind.
“He will not be very happy with you if you do this,” he stated. “You know that, right?”
“That is the whole point in doing it,” Ilmariel replied. “Besides, I will by no means allow him to get away clean with this.” She pointed to the red welt on her forehead.
Cirnil grinned. “It is rather funny, actually. I’m seeing a pattern. Rings certainly are his weapons of choice, aren’t they?”
“Apparently,” said Ilmariel. “Now, are you going to help?”
After a moment of consideration, Cirnil nodded. “I suppose so. I mean… so long as he cannot actually do anything in retaliation.”
Ilmariel knew what he meant. “Other than lob rings at you, he can’t do much. So, do you understand the plan? It will be easier to pull off if we work together.”
“What plan? As far as I’ve heard, all we are doing is jumping him with a hairbrush. I do not know if that really counts as a plan.”
With a dismissive wave of her hand, Ilmariel ignored the question. “It’s good enough, so long as the objective is completed.”
“And, to be certain that I did not miss anything, that would be…?” Cirnil ventured.
Ilmariel grinned, a puckish gleam in her eyes. “To ensure that his hair is in as nice a condition as that of any Elf you could find here.”
Although he shook his head, Cirnil smiled back. “Well then, let’s get this over and done with before I think better of it.”
They made their way out of the kitchen. When they had reached the top of the stairs, Ilmariel instructed Cirnil to wait by Sauron’s door, while she went and got the brush. Quickly, she went into her room and over to a chest of drawers. In the top drawer, right where she had seen them earlier, were a pair of brushes; or, more accurately, a brush and a comb. She looked thoughtfully at the brush, but quickly decided on the comb. Even though the brush, which was made with boar’s bristles, probably would have been easier on Sauron, she could not abide the thought of such a nice brush being used on that undead mop attached to his head.
Ilmariel picked up the comb, feeling rather sorry for it, and left the room. Once she was back in the hall, she motioned for Cirnil to lean close. “All right, here is a better plan for you,” she whispered. “You knock, and get him to come out. I’ll stay around the corner, out of sight, since he has probably guessed that I will be up to something in the near future. Hopefully, he won’t think that you are in on it. Then, I’ll wait for an opening. All right?”
“I guess so.”
Ilmariel smiled and backed to the corner, hearing Cirnil knock on the door. There was silence for a brief moment, but then a mumbled “What do you want?” could be discerned from behind the door.
“I, ah, wanted to tell you thaaat… dinner is ready. You didn’t have any lunch, I heard, so I thought you might want to know,” Cirnil stumbled along.
“She’s around,” Cirnil said, glancing over at Ilmariel, who had poked her head out to hear better.
After another pause, the door opened and Sauron came out. Ilmariel quickly ducked back into the room, having to keep herself from laughing. She felt incredibly naughty, as if she were playing one of the sorts of pranks her younger cousins would do at times.
It actually felt quite good.
“Well?” Ilmariel heard Sauron ask Cirnil, an air of suspicion creeping into his voice.
“Um, that’s a nice tunic,” Cirnil said lamely.
Ilmariel rolled her eyes. Smooth, Cirnil. Very smooth.
“What’s going on?” Sauron now sounded highly suspicious.
It was time to go. If she waited any longer, she would likely not be able to carry out her scheme. Quickly and quietly, Ilmariel moved from her spot in the room and slunk down the hall. Cirnil managed not to glance over at her while she was sneaking up, which was very helpful.
Finally, she was just feet away. She gathered herself up, and pounced, practically tackling Sauron to the ground. It actually worked out very nicely for Ilmariel; she did not get banged up at all. Sauron, on the other hand, might have felt a bit more. After all, he had been like Ilmariel’s cushion to the floor. He had not made all that good of a cushion… but he had been one nonetheless.
Upon hitting the floor, he let out a sound very much like the one people make when the wind is knocked out of them. Ilmariel, of course, took advantage of this opportunity to reposition herself. This probably did not help Sauron much, as she was now sitting squarely in the middle of his back to keep him pinned to the ground, but she was not really concerned about his discomfort.
Cirnil stood to the side, and watched as Ilmariel began the task of making the mess attached to Sauron’s head look a bit more like hair. Frankly, he found it rather interesting. On one side, he felt bad for Sauron’s head, because it was going to be sore when Ilmariel was finished. On the other hand, he felt bad for the brush— even inanimate things should not have to take that kind of abuse.
Presently, Sauron seemed to get his breath back, and he let out a fairly steady stream of curses (some of them quite original) for the next few minutes. While yelling these at the Elves, he tried to wriggle free. However, every attempt he made at getting loose was unsuccessful. Factors against him included the fact that he had landed on his right arm, and therefore only had use of his left, and that his head was almost completely anchored to the brush by this time, so Ilmariel pretty well held reign over him.
After a bit, Sauron stopped squirming, much to Ilmariel’s relief; it was beginning to be very annoying. The ranting and yelling did not let up at all, however. If anything, it only increased in intensity. After all, now all of his energy could be focused on that task.
“What do you think you are doing!?”
“Actually, I am trying to fix your hair.”
“Get off me! I can’t breathe!”
“I’m sure that you are able to breathe, otherwise you would not be wasting your breath on talking. And I am not getting off until I’ve finished this, because I know that you will immediately run off if I do. Unless, of course, you stick around a while to pelt me with jewelry.”
“I did not sign up for this,” Sauron complained.
“Of course you didn’t, you only promised me. You would not write something like this down. That would be terribly silly, don’t you think?”
“I didn’t actually mean what I said!”
“Obviously, however, I did. I kept my end of the bargain; therefore, you have to keep yours.”
“But I never keep– OW! Hey, that’s attached!!”
“Sorry,” Ilmariel apologized as she tried to untangle another evil snarl.
“As I was saying, I never keep my word. It’s something I’m known for.”
“Maybe we can change that, then. What do you think?”
“Somehow, I do not think this is the method to use in going about trying to change my natural tendencies.”
“Well, this is the way we are going to try today. Now, stop talking. It makes your head move, and that is why I keep tugging at you.”
This did not seem to be a good enough argument for Sauron. “Can’t you leave my hair alone?” he asked, sounding more than a little upset. “OH! That hurts! Cut it out!”
“Oh, you don’t really want me to do that,” Ilmariel said, keeping a lid on her amusement. “You’d end up looking like a chronically abused mop. Not that it would be much of a change…”
“You know what I mean!” Sauron retorted angrily. “Just stop!”
“I couldn’t do that at the moment—not unless we were to try the ‘cut-it-out’ method. Besides, I’m already about a fifth of the way done.”
“Only a fifth?!?!” Sauron cried.
“I tell you, if you’re quiet, I will get done much faster.”
Ilmariel raised a brow, but did not reply to this random statement. Instead, she momentarily forgot that she held the comb, and that, when brushing someone’s hair, it is generally not a good thing to suddenly pull it up.
Sauron yelped. “OUCH! What are you trying to do, scalp me?”
Although a smile spread across her face, Ilmariel remained silent. From then on, she did actually try to be careful, using her fingers more often than the comb, as this method proved more effective. As she had anticipated, the process took quite a while to get through. Contrary to her expectations, however, there were no strange families of animals nesting within the tangles. Furthermore, despite the fact that it still probably contained a large amount of salt, Sauron’s hair was not in as bad a condition as she had thought it would be.
Finally, right about the time that her left leg was falling asleep from being sat on, Ilmariel had gotten all the hair untangled. She ran the comb through a few more times, just for good measure, and decided the job was done. She couldn’t help but frown a bit when she wondered if Sauron’s whole lower body was asleep by now; she’d only been squashing it for who knew how long. Oh well, at least it wasn’t her problem.
Although she briefly considered finishing things off as she would have done under ordinary circumstances, meaning to braid parts of the hair back to keep it out of Sauron’s face, Ilmariel decided that this might be a bit much. Simply having it look like normal hair was a big enough step as it was.
She got up slowly, leaning on her right leg, since the other one was tingling from waking up. Cirnil gave her a hand, and then they stood there for a minute, waiting for Sauron to do something. That was odd… After his being stuck in that position for so long, one would think that he’d move as soon as he had the chance. However, he did not. He hadn’t said anything for a while, either…
“I hope I didn’t kill him,” Ilmariel said, not really believing that to be the case, or meaning any of the words she said in the statement.
“I don’t die quite that easily,” was the reply to this.
After a moment, Sauron managed to flip himself over, cringing all the while. “My legs…” he said, wiggling his feet and instantly groaning. “It hurts!”
“Well if it helps any, my leg is doing the same thing.”
“Yeah, one of your legs. This is both of mine! And my arm! Oh… needles… I hate this. Now I remember why I didn’t like having these sorts of bodies; the circulation in the appendages always gets cut off for stupid reasons, and then it hurts. Ooww… As if it wasn’t enough that I feel like I am probably going to be walking around with patches of my scull showing, I also have to have lost feeling in about two thirds of my body.”
“If it hurts, you are feeling something,” Ilmariel pointed out.
“You know what I mean.”
Ilmariel shrugged. “Care to try standing?”
“No,” Sauron answered, and there was an almost pouty note to his voice.
“Suit yourself, then. We’ll wait for you.”
“How considerate,” Sauron replied sardonically.
“I do what I can,” said Ilmariel, smiling.
By now, Ilmariel was not feeling pins in her leg anymore, and both she and Cirnil sat down in the hall to wait for Sauron’s legs to recover also.
…She had a feeling that it might be a while.
Ilmariel took this opportunity to inspect her handiwork, and congratulated herself on the success of her mission. Although just about anything would have been a step up from what it had been, Sauron’s hair actually looked quite nice. In fact, now having some clothes that were in decent shape, along with hair that actually looked like hair, Sauron could easily pass for anybody else on the streets. Again, Ilmariel could not help feeling that there was something inherently wrong with this, but she tried not to dwell on it long. Besides, he still had an expression that could have wilted plants and curdled milk.
After some time had passed, Sauron finally got up, still complaining somewhat. Ilmariel was not bothered by it on this occasion, however. If anything, she was pleased. Punishment is only punishment when the person on the receiving end is not happy with it.
“I swear, I will get you back for this, Ilmariel,” said Sauron.
“You should be thanking me,” she replied.
Sauron snorted. “Not likely even if it had been something I wanted you to do. Never going to happen for something I did not want you to do.”
“Oh, it looks fine.”
“That is the problem.”
“What is wrong with it actually looking decent? I’m sure that not everything you have has to be ‘bad’. After all, you just got new clothes, which can hardly be called anything negative, and you seemed pretty pleased with them.”
“That is different, though. My old clothes were just nasty, and nasty is different from what you are categorizing as ‘bad’. Of course, the clothes are not bad either; it is impossible for them to have such an alignment, as they are not alive.”
“You know what I was getting at, though.”
“Yes, I do. So, basically, all I have to say is that the clothes were bought under certain criteria that I was looking for. Perfect hair, on the other hand, was not something I was looking for, therefore it causes a problem,” Sauron said, patting his head to feel his hair. The changing of his expression was intriguing; it was something new every other second.
“Nothing to worry about then,” Ilmariel said, “Your hair is definitely not perfect.”
Sauron sighed and dropped his hands back to his sides. “Hopeless. Completely and utterly hopeless,” he mumbled to himself as he went down the stairs, leaving a laughing Ilmariel and Cirnil behind.