The travelers decided to keep moving despite their lack of sleep and Selira’s wounds. For the most-part they allowed Selira to walk, but when she appeared to be tiring they would offer (although they were usually met with angry words and glaring eyes) to carry her.
By the end of the day, the group was just outside a small town and they settled down for the night.
“How are you faring, Selira?” asked Telden.
“I’m all right. I think my knee needs tending though,” the girl replied reasonably (for the first time all day). “Can you do something for it?”
“No, I am sorry. Neither Legolas nor I know much about mortal healing methods. Elf healing generally deals more with the spirit.”
“Here, let me see it,” said Dallon, dropping his newly-gathered firewood in a pile and going to his pack. He motioned to Selira. “Come over here.”
“You have to say `Please’ first,” Selira batted her long lashes innocently.
Dallon rolled his eyes. “Please.”
“Fine, fine, fine. I accept.” Selira limped over to where he was sitting and dropped down beside him. She pulled the torn pant-leg up and untied the cloth strips that they’d used to stop the blood so he could get a good look at her wound. It looked horrible.
“I didn’t know you knew any healings,” Selira commented as she watched her fellow thief crush herbs. He already had water warming near the fire.
“I only know a little. It’s useful stuff to know if you get into a scrape or a tight spot.” Dallon smiled lightly.
He looks nice when he smiles, Selira thought. Almost. She brushed a few ebony curls out of her face.
“Can you grab the water for me? Please?” Dallon laughed, still working with the herbs. “I’m almost done with this.”
Selira leaned over, grabbed the bowl and handed it to him. He bathed her knee in the warm water and rubbed the herbs over the wound. Then, Dallon reapplied the make-shift shirt bandages.
“Much better. How does it feel?”
Selira stood and tested her weight on the bad leg. It stung badly, but it had improved quite a bit. “It’s a lot better. Thank you, Dallon.” She yawned and stretched. “I’m going to sleep for now. When’s our watch?”
“Not for a few hours.”
* * *
When Selira woke up Dallon was already awake and on his watch. Selira came and sat beside him. “Why didn’t you wake me?” She asked, moving nearer the fire for warmth. Dallon sighed.
“I figured you need the rest. You’ll heal faster if you’re not up for half the night.”
“Sure, but what would you do without me if we were attacked by a hoard of angry dwarves, hmm?” Selira managed to say without a giggle. Dallon laughed.
“A hoard of angry dwarves? I’d point them in the direction of the nearest mountain, that’s what.”
“How about…a host of disgruntled trolls?” Selira giggled, but Dallon wasn’t paying attention. He was staring into the fire.
“Dallon? Are you all right?”
“Why were you on the streets?”
“Why were you on the streets?” Dallon repeated. “I just want to know.”
“My father was killed in the wars, my village was raided, pillaged, and burned by orcs, and my mother was killed as we fled…” Selira swallowed hard and looked up at him. “Why do you want to know?” She asked quietly.
“I just always wondered. I mean, you just showed up out of the blue one day and you were so young when the Ring took you in. I was just curious.”
“I wasn’t that young. I was eleven.” The thief twisted a lock of her hair and sighed, “Maybe that was young. I don’t think I could have made it by myself. Besides, the Ring was family.”
Dallon snorted. “Some family…”
“I still can’t believe they broke the Code to turn you in.”
“I can. We grew apart once you left, maybe it was because you left. I don’t know… But once Theril started to take over, I knew they would turn on me. Everyone had a reason to kick me out.”
Selira smiled fondly at the memories,” Like when you yelled at Garlir for trying to bring that mad woman in to the hideout? Or how about the time when you beat up Derret for trying to…” She paused and chewed her lip,” well, trying to take advantage of me…”
Dallon met Selira’s eyes. “I wouldn’t have let him. The foolish drunkard, he was. He had bruises for weeks.”
“I never said thanks for the other night. Y’know, you saving me from the wargs and all. And for saving me from Derret too, I guess. Thank you.”
Dallon grinned. “Well, you know me. Always follow the Code.”
Selira rolled her eyes, reciting,” Always help a fellow thief in need. Rule number four.”
The chilly southern wind picked up and moved the clouds swiftly across the sky. Selira shivered and moved closer to the flames.
“If you get any closer you’ll catch fire,” Dallon cautioned.
“I know, but brrr…It’s freezing. Maybe we should have picked a more sheltered spot to camp in.”
Dallon stood and sat directly beside her. “We’ll keep warmer if we stay close together.”
Selira sighed and looked up into his eyes. “Why were you on the streets?”
“You don’t want to know.”
“Yes, I think I do. If I didn’t I wouldn’t’ve asked.”
Dallon sighed and looked up at the cloudy sky; his dark eyes were filled with sadness.
“My family lived in a little town in the far reaches of Gondor. We were just a small way off the border that separates Gondor from Mordor. My father–curse him–was a drunk and he was never home. My mother worked so hard… Mordor’s armies swept through our town. They burnt it to the ground. They killed the women and children, the elderly and the sick. They kept the men and sold them into slavery.”
Selira drew in a sharp breath.” You were sold into slavery?”
“Until I managed to escape with a few others. I still have the scars.” He pulled the back of his shirt up for her to see. Sure enough, large whip scars were etched into his back. “I stole some knives from one of the dead orcs and a few of us escaped. Twenty of us tried to leave, but only nine of us made it out alive. The rest–” He stopped.
“Well, after that we wandered until we made it to Minas Tirith. They let us rest and healed us, but they never let us stay. After that I traveled from village to village until I finally found Mithlond.”
“How old were you when they sold you into slavery?”
“Eleven.” Dallon answered. To his amazement, Selira put her face in her hands and began to cry. “Selira?”
“That’s so awful…” she sniffled. “It reminds me of my story. Bad memories.”
“It’s best not to think about it, then.” Dallon pulled a ragged handkerchief out of his pocket and handed it to her.
Selira wiped her eyes and returned it. “Thanks.” She smiled weakly. Looking up, she noticed that the sky was turning a lighter shade of blue.
Dawn would be coming soon.
Dallon tugged lightly at Selira’s cloak. “Why don’t you go wake Legolas and Telden? They can watch until the sun rises.”
“All right…” Selira struggled to stand and failed. Her knee throbbed in protest.
Dallon stood and pulled her to her feet. “Better?”
“Much.” She smiled at him and hobbled over to where Legolas was sleeping.
Dallon watched as she roused him and then limped over to Telden’s bedroll. She had cried for him… He’d never thought much about being sold into slavery. Of course, it had been horrible, but he had never gotten that reaction from anyone.
The dark-eyed thief walked slowly to Selira’s side.
She turned to face him. “Uh-huh?”
“Thanks for caring about me.”
Then he did something that Selira was not expecting. He kissed her lightly on the cheek before returning to his own bedroll.
As Selira pulled her own blankets up around her, she sighed. “You’re welcome.” She whispered softly, even though she knew Dallon couldn’t hear her.
* * *
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.