Tell me what it’s like to be with you
Remind me of the things we used to do
And tell me that this time will never
Tell me what it’s like, tell me again.
Every time you stay
It never feels quite the same
And every time you go
It hurts a way you'll never know
Legolas looked around carefully, the delay chafing at him. He had had
no opportunity to get close to Aragorn yesterday, but today he was
guarding the herds in the north pasture, which happened to be the same
place that the ranger was working. He wanted to go speak to his friend right now, but he did not wish to
draw attention to the ranger or himself while the other overseers were
around, so he kept to his own tasks and whittled distractedly at the
new arrows he was fashioning. He had more than enough really, but the
elf did not take kindly to sitting idly by; he needed to be doing
Finally the time came when the overseers were away in another part of
the field and the slaves were more or less all occupied with their own
tasks. Aragorn finished forking the last bales of dried grass off the
back of the cart for the Oliphaunts in this herd to feed on and hopped
down off the lowered gate of the wagon. Sircyn drove the cart away for
another load while Aragorn retrieved two large buckets of ground-up
feed and began walking back towards the feeding area with it.
Grabbing his chance, Legolas caught up with Aragorn and quickly pulled
him behind the grain bins, where it would not be so easy to be seen.
"Aragorn, quick, back here."
The young ranger seemed totally surprised and flinched at the
unexpected move, half expecting to be struck for something as he
stumbled around to see who had dragged him back here, nearly dropping
"You’re brown as a nut, my friend!" Legolas smiled at the ranger’s
obvious surprise. A faint white scar stood out against the tanned skin
on the human’s temple and the prince resisted the urge to feel angry at
whatever had happened to his friend; he had found him, that’s what
mattered. "I barely recognized you at first. But come, I think I know
how we can get you out of here-"
Aragorn blinked several times and pulled back. He recognized the tall,
golden-haired man as the new overseer his master had employed, a
sharpshooter, or so the other slaves said, but he didn’t understand
what the man wanted with him. For a moment, and a moment only,
something else about the fair being in front of him tugged at his mind,
but the residue of the memory struck oddly and he felt the beginnings
of a headache grip him almost immediately. Realizing with a start that
he was staring at the other man, Aragorn dropped his gaze quickly. "Can
I do something for you, sir?" he asked quietly.
It was Legolas’ turn to blink. When Aragorn had not seemed to react to
his presence the other day, Legolas had assumed that it was because of
all the guards present... but he didn’t understand it now.
"Aragorn..." Legolas wasn’t sure what to say. ‘It’s me?’ Wasn’t that
obvious? What was wrong?
"Adrar," Aragorn corrected quietly, thinking the overseer had his name
"What?" Legolas was really confused now.
"Adrar, that’s my name... but you may call me Aragorn if you wish," the
human added quickly, not wishing to make the other man upset.
The elf prince was at a complete loss. "Estel... don’t you know me?" he
took his friend by the shoulders, trying to get Aragorn to meet his
eyes, disbelief running through him and turning his blood inexplicably
cold. If his eyes did not tell him that this was his friend, he would
think he indeed made some kind of mistake... but there was no mistake,
save, it seemed, in the Dùnadan’s mind. Legolas was reminded
horribly of the time when the bounty hunter Dyryn had overdosed his
friend on a nasty drug called Belithral. Aragorn hadn’t known him at
first then either... but this was different. Aragorn was not visibly
injured, not in pain or under the influence of anything. He simply did
not seem to have a clue what the elf was talking about.
"I – you – " Aragorn shifted uncomfortably. His headache was getting
worse and he wanted the overseer to let him go back to work before he
got into trouble. The other guards would beat him if they caught him
idling and not doing his job. "Yes, I saw you yesterday, you work for
my master. Is that all, sir?" he backed away a little. He hated it when
the guards played this game with him, acting as if he should know
things he didn’t. It frustrated him. He hated it.
Legolas felt a knife pass through his heart. Aragorn truly didn’t
remember him! But how was that possible? He resisted the urge to shake
the young human. "Estel, what has happened to you?" he half implored,
half demanded in shock, reaching out to touch the scar on his friend’s
temple as fear grew inside him. "It’s me, Legolas!"
"Please, I don’t know what you’re talking about..." Aragorn shook his
head. "I’m not Eztal or Aragorn or whoever you think I am... please
don’t make fun of me. I need to return to work." In the beginning, he
would have been curious at someone who claimed to know him, but the
guard’s constant teasing had hardened him to it by now; besides, the
longer he was around this man, the worse the pain in his head was
becoming. He was nearly dizzy with it now and didn’t understand what
kind of game the overseer was playing with him, or how he was making
him hurt like this. It wouldn’t be the first time the guards had
taunted him over his inability to remember his past, acting as if there
were things he should remember and didn’t. The overseers could be very
"Yes you are!" Legolas protested, a sick, sinking feeling making him
almost ill. "You are Aragorn, son of Arathorn, you are Strider, Ranger
of the North, you are Estel, adopted son of Lord Elrond, you are my
Aragorn gave a small cry and stumbled backward, dropping his buckets as
his hands flew to his head and he fell to his knees. Bright flashes of
pain pounded between his temples. The words hurt, they hurt... he
didn’t understand why this was being done to him.
"Strider!" Legolas knelt quickly by his friend’s side, laying his hand
gently on the young man’s back. The human was in pain, but he didn’t
"Please..." Aragorn pulled away, turning hurting, frightened eyes up at
the elf. He couldn’t distinguish the fact that it was his own mind, and
not the other being, that was causing him this pain. "Please I haven’t
done anything to you, I work hard, I don’t make trouble, don’t do this
to me... I-I haven’t..."
"Is there a problem, sir?" a respectful, yet obviously concerned voice
interrupted them and Legolas jerked, looking up quickly to see a tall,
dark-skinned man standing close by, watching them with guarded, but
Legolas rose quickly and the older slave moved closer to Aragorn,
dropping his hand down to touch the ranger’s hair gently as he looked
at the spilled buckets and the young man’s trembling shoulders.
Cabed kept his eyes low and his tone neutral despite how his heart hurt
at seeing Adrar like this. He knew the guards tormented the young man
sometimes, but he hated to see it happen.
"Adrar’s still new, sir. If you need something, I can help you."
Actually Aragorn had been there for quite a long time already, but
Cabed counted on the new overseer not knowing that.
Legolas shook his head slightly, still in shock. "No, no, I..." he
wasn’t even sure what to say.
Cabed tensed slightly, mistaking the elf’s meaning. Unobtrusively, he
moved so he was standing protectively in front of Aragorn, who was
still kneeling on the ground, holding his head and rocking back and
forth. "Please you, sir, Adrar’s been hurt, some things aren’t all the
way there in his mind," the elder slave touched his fingers to the side
of his forehead to convey what he meant. "He’s trying very hard, sir,
please understand. If there’s a problem I’ll fix it. I’ll get this mess
cleaned up and we won’t lose no time. Please don’t get him in no
trouble, he’s a good worker, I apologize if he made you upset, I
promise it will not happen again."
Legolas just shook his head numbly. The other man thought he needed to
protect Aragorn from him. From HIM. The elf’s mind was reeling, but he
managed to shake his head again. "No, he did nothing wrong. I don’t
wish him any trouble..."
"Then we’ll be back to work right away," Cabed helped Aragorn quickly
to his feet and led the young man away swiftly. "Thank you, sir."
Cabed walked next to Aragorn, directing him over to a small bench that
sat in the sparse shade of a scrub brush tree. The older slave motioned
Sircyn to him and quietly told his son of the spilled feed buckets.
Without another word the young slave nodded, and walked around to the
back of the bins, followed by two others who had seen the need and gone
to aid him. Kneeling in front of the younger man, the older Haradrim
watched Adrar carefully as the ranger closed his eyes and focused on
breathing. Slowly the pain in his head receded and he looked up into
the worried eyes of his elder.
The warm touch of the man’s large hand on his knee settled Aragorn’s
fears and he smiled softly at the Haradrim. "Thank you, Cabed."
"Adrar, what happened back there? Did he hurt you?"
Aragorn shook his head, his eyes huge with confusion, "I don’t know,
Cabed. I don’t know." He glanced behind him to the tall grain bins, his
voice low as he recounted what had occurred, "The master’s new
sharpshooter dragged me behind the bins. He said he knew how to escape
and he spoke like he knew me but..."
The ranger pressed his eyes tightly closed as the image of the
fair-haired being reclining beside a clear blue lake flashed through
his mind; the person was smiling and speaking to him as he laughed.
Aragorn grimaced as a sharp spike of pain cut through his mind,
renewing the ache that had started to go away.
"Slowly, Adrar. Why were you on the ground, you were in pain?" Cabed
did not like the idea that the guard had been speaking of such things
to the young northerner. It was very likely that he was trying to set
Aragorn up to get him in trouble. Attempting escape was a severe crime;
it could get Adrar killed.
The young slave shook his head fiercely; trying to dispel the
fragmented recollection as the shards of his memory painfully pierced
through his consciousness. "I see his face in my mind, but I don’t
remember him. It is like when I sleep. Sometimes when I close my eyes,
I see so many faces... but I don’t know who they are. I don’t know if
they are just phantoms that my mind creates, or if they have some
substance somewhere. When I try to remember it hurts. It hurts badly
and it feels like my mind is on fire." Aragorn glanced up into the dark
eyes. "I’m sorry, Cabed."
The dark-skinned slave gently ran his fingers down the side of Adrar’s
face, tracing the welted scar that ran the length of his temple. The
old wound was healed and the scar was fading slowly, but the deeper
injury to the young man’s mind for whatever reason was not yet mended.
Perhaps it never would be.
"Stay away from him, Adrar; he will get you in trouble. But do not
worry, young one, in time your memory will return, if that is what you
are experiencing and he is not merely telling you lies, like the
others, which is what I suspect."
"And if it does not?" Aragorn questioned, his voice a mere whisper. "If
my memory does not return, ever?"
"I’ve told you before. If it does not you have nothing to worry about.
You have a family right here." Cabed thumped his own chest with his
fist and smiled at the younger man. Sircyn rounded the grain bins and
walked towards his father and his adopted brother.
"Now, are you able to finish the work?" Cabed stood to his feet as his
son gained his side and passed him one of the buckets, once again full
Aragorn smiled at the two and nodded, taking the bucket from his elder.
Even now the pain had receded and the memories had submerged once more
into the darkness of his past recollection where they were no longer so
sharp and intrusive. He ignored the slight ache that tinged his heart
and cheerfully followed his family out towards the fields as Sircyn
called the oliphaunts back to feed.
Legolas moved silently in the gathering dusk, not wishing to alert
either the people in the tent or any of Rhuddryn’s other guards and
employees of his presence. In the shadow of the falling darkness, the
Simbani clan tent glowed faintly from the light of the fire within, the
cheery yellow radiance wavering and flickering, casting vague shadows
of the occupants upon the tent walls as they moved around the small
enclosure. A thin tendril of smoke rose from the vent in the roof.
Inside, the pleasant, rolling buzz of comfortable conversation rose and
fell, dotted by occasional laughter.
The elf’s sharp ears heard Aragorn’s voice raised in an amused chuckle
over something that had been said or done and a woman’s voice playfully
scolding either the ranger, or the person who had spoken to him.
Legolas settled down with his back against a tree about fifteen yards
away from the tent, carefully hidden in the dense foliage so that he
could not be seen. Folding his arms across the top of his knees as he
drew his legs up to his chest, he watched the small, glowing tent
He was glad that these people had adopted Aragorn; they obviously
looked out for him and protected him as one of their own, which may
have been the only reason the ranger had survived this long. He was
glad that the young human was not alone, that he had people he could
laugh with... The elf closed his eyes tightly for a moment as their
encounter earlier in the day played back through his mind. His breath
hitched in his throat for a moment before he caught himself and forced
his body to calm. He was glad, but... he missed his friend. Missed him
He had gone through so much to find the young human and now...
The fear in Aragorn’s eyes when he looked at him this morning would not
leave his mind and it hurt the elf. After everything they had been
through and all they had been to each other, his friend did not know
him. Worse, Aragorn believed that he was a slave and that that
condition was somehow natural. The prince saw none of the fiery
resistance he would have expected from the man he had once known.
Aragorn’s submission and acceptance of the situation pained Legolas
deeply, as did the unusual amount of fear he had seen behind his
"What did they do to you, Estel?" Legolas’ whispered breath fogged on
the normally hot air. As soon as the sun set the temperature dropped
dramatically, creating nights that could potentially become quite
chilly. "And how can I get you back?"
There was no answer but silence of course, and Legolas let his chin
drop down to rest on his arms. Aragorn could not seem to stand being
around him. His very presence appeared to distress the ranger, so if
this was as close as the elf could get for the moment, then here he
would stay and watch over his friend from a distance.
As much as he longed to simply grab his friend and drag him out of
here, take him back to Rivendell maybe and see what Lord Elrond could
do for him... he knew that was impossible. Rivendell was many long
months of travel away from here. The way things stood now, Aragorn
would never go with him willingly and he feared the emotional trauma he
would cause by attempting to force the young human to do anything,
especially since remembering seemed to physically hurt Aragorn. So
Legolas would be patient and he would wait. Wait for whatever wounds
still burned in the human’s mind to heal. He felt certain that Aragorn
had not truly lost his past, but it was buried deep and the prince did
not know what it would take to bring it back. Yet that didn’t matter...
someday it would come back and he would be here when it did, he would
wait however long it took. If it took years, he would wait years.
Legolas buried his face against his sleeves. He wouldn’t give up on his
friend, ever. Nor would he betray the weighty trust placed in his hands
by Elladan and Elrohir. He would someday bring their brother back to
them, or he would spend the rest of his life trying.
The occupants of the tent were settling down for sleep and a soft,
melodious sound made Legolas look up again. Some of the slaves were
singing, soft and low. It was a comforting, peaceful sound and it
comforted the prince to think that somewhere in there Aragorn was
falling asleep to the gentle tones of its rhythm.
"Sleep well, Estel..." the elf murmured softly in the darkness. "Sleep
well, my friend. I miss you."
Tell me what it’s like to be with you,
Remind me of the things we used to do
And tell me that this time will never
Tell me what it’s like, tell me again.
Everything I fear
Shows itself every time you’re here.
And everything I know
Leaves with you every time that you
Aragorn filled the watering buckets from the deep well and headed back
out to the fields. It was nearing midday and Cabed had asked him to
fetch them all something to drink.
"What you got there, Adrar?" The sound of the guard's taunting voice
stopped the ranger in his tracks.
Fear filled his heart as he looked to the ground and answered softly,
"I was sent to bring water back to the others. It is nearly midday." He
silently cursed his carelessness at being caught alone and out of sight
Aragorn glanced up quickly as Talft walked towards him, joining Lur who
stood towering over the ranger. The tall, dark guard smirked as he saw
the slight glance. He stepped nearer the cowering slave and gave the
man a good shove. They harassed all the slaves, but the young
northerner was their favorite to pick on. There was something uniquely
vulnerable about him and they liked to see his fear of them. They had
given him more than enough reason to have that fear.
"Please. I am on my way back out." Aragorn replied softly, moving
around the Haradrim and walking slowly away from them, hoping that
taunting was all they had in mind.
"Did I say you could leave?" Lur called out, his voice low and
Aragorn swallowed hard and stopped. He closed his eyes as he fought
back the apprehension that pounded in his heart. Why couldn’t they just
leave him alone? He did his job; he was a good worker. He flinched
involuntarily as he heard the quiet snap of a whip being shaken out.
"Hey, Adrar," Talft walked up behind the slave and placed his hand on
the young man’s shoulder. "You don’t have to be in such a rush."
He couldn’t handle it any longer, the taunting, the abuse. Without
thinking, Aragorn shrugged out from underneath Talft’s hand and
proceeded to walk away. If he could get far enough away from the
immediate grounds and out onto the field someone else would be able to
see them. The guards weren’t supposed
to be cruel to the slaves, but it happened anyway. He looked up,
desperately searching for any sight of Cabed or Sircyn, but the slaves
had followed the oliphaunts to the far side of the pastures.
The stinging bite of the whip wrapped around his ankle, cutting through
the light cotton legging he wore. He cried out as the leather thong
tightened and jerked backwards, pulling his foot out from under him and
dropping him roughly to the ground. The buckets tipped and spilt their
contents out, the water quickly soaked into the hard packed dirt.
Aragorn winced. Why did everyone seem intent on making him drop
whatever he was carrying? Why couldn’t they just leave him alone?!
Legolas stood in the shade of one the small brush-trees that dotted the
plains. He leaned back against the skinny trunk, bracing himself with
one foot on the rough wood. His keen eyes turned to the rolling hills
that backed the oliphaunt pens. The morning had been uneventful and he
was only halfheartedly watching for the wild taergs that plagued the
compound, his mind wandering back to the previous day, when the sound
of a familiar cry assaulted his ears.
Pushing off from his resting-place he whirled back towards the slave
quarters, his sharp eyes seeking out the source of the distress.
"Aragorn?" He spotted Talft and Lur working over a slave that lay
cringing on the ground. The whistle of Talft’s whip reached the sharp
elven ears and without thinking Legolas ran towards his friend,
shouting at the other guards.
Neither of the Haradrim heard the elf’s approach over the sounds of
their own laughter and taunting. The whip cut the back of Aragorn’s
shirt, drawing blood.
"Come on, Adrar. Tell us where you’re from! You don’t even have half a
brain. Why, the master keeps you around only for our entertainment."
The tall guard brought the lash down hard intending to strike the young
ranger again, but the lash never reached its mark.
Legolas stepped over the prone body of his friend and raised his
forearm up, catching the whip on the leather vambrace he wore. The
thong wrapped quickly around the hard leather and the elf grasped the
end of it, jerking the weapon out Talft’s hand.
"Leave him alone!" Legolas growled at the two men, backing them down
slightly as he advanced on them.
"Hey, you have no authority over us!" Lur stepped towards the elf but
quickly moved back as the prince glared at him, coiling the whip up in
his hands and throwing it into the other guard’s face.
"And you have no reason to beat this one." Legolas continued to speak
as he backed the two away from Aragorn, "How do you think your employer
would like to hear that you slowed down the slaves today? Do you think
that would please him at all? Now be off with you. Surely there is
something else you can be doing besides tormenting the workers." His
tone was low and dangerous and he didn’t back down when Talft pointed
the handle of the whip menacingly at the elf.
When they finally turned and left, Legolas quickly walked back to
Aragorn’s side. The young human was trying to sit up, but his back was
bleeding and the cut to his ankle was painful. The elf gently placed
his hand between the man’s shoulder blades and softly spoke to the
"Do not rise just yet. Lie still and let me have a look at you."
At the sound of the words Aragorn gasped and turned towards Legolas,
looking over his shoulder at the elf. But he did not see the
sharpshooter's face, he saw the face of an elf, an elf who was bending
over him, his hair falling down about his shoulders, exposing his
pointed ears and they were in a cave... a tunnel and the elf was
speaking to him much the same way. The vision shifted so rapidly that
the human cringed slightly, the same elf jumped in front of him as a
swarm of black creatures rushed them, his own hand was trapped and he
heard his voice calling out a name.
"Strider! You remember?" The elf leaned down close to the human,
The pictures faded as quickly as they had come and Aragorn found
himself staring at his master’s new employee once more. The pounding in
his head grew intolerable as he tried to hold onto the images that
flashed through his mind.
"Aragorn?" Legolas whispered as he watched the human’s pained reaction
to his nearness.
"It hurts." He touched his palms to the sides of his head, trying to
push the pain of remembering away, "Make it stop." Images of other
elves mirrored themselves on his tightly closed eyelids and a cascade
of emotions tore at his heart.
"What!? Strider you must tell me what’s wrong." The elf was at a loss.
His very presence seemed to pain the young man. Aragorn’s breath was
coming in ragged gasps and he cried out through gritted teeth before
collapsing into unconsciousness.
"No. NO!" Legolas felt for the human’s pulse it was there, strong and
steady. He must have simply passed out. Quickly gathering the ranger in
his arms the elf picked him up and walked back towards the sleeping
tent that he had stood guard over last night.
He shouldered his way through the opening and laid the ranger gently
down on the nearest blanket, turning him onto his stomach so he would
not further aggravate his wounds. The odd sensation of being watched
alerted the elf to the presence of another in the room and he glanced
up quickly. A small child sat perfectly still in the far corner,
watching them quietly. It was obvious by the crudely carved oliphaunt
shaped toys that he held that he had been playing inside the safety of
Huge, dark eyes watched the elf fearfully.
"Go get your father quickly," he instructed the boy.
The child hesitated for only seconds, his gaze falling to Aragorn
before fleeing from the tent.
Legolas wasted no time. He knew he had mere minutes before Aragorn’s
adopted family returned, and they would not react well to his presence
here. Quickly he ripped a strip from his outer tunic and, pouring water
from his own flask, tended the deep cuts on Aragorn’s ankle and his
back, wrapping them in the soft, light cloth. He kneeled next to the
man, his hand gently touching the ranger’s head.
"Estel, wake up." He spoke in elvish quietly, "Come back, my friend."
The world was hazing and his head still rang as the ranger fought the
darkness that hedged his sight. He tried to turn towards the sound of
the voice but was stopped by the elf as Legolas carefully pressed the
human’s head back down onto the blanket beneath him, facing away from
"No, don’t look at me just yet. It seems to hurt you and I wish you no
more pain, you have had enough." The elf’s voice broke and the human
found it odd that the guard was upset. They usually never cared what
the slaves were feeling, most didn’t seem to think they had feelings at
"Who are you, really?" Aragorn questioned. The marksman did not act at
all like any of the other guards. He was very strange. He wondered if
maybe, just maybe he had known this person before... A sharp stab of
pain that threatened to put him back out again made Aragorn pull back
from that train of thought.
"Oh, Strider." Legolas shut his eyes tightly closed, his hand gently
touching the human’s head once more. "I hope you can remember."
"I want to," the human whispered softly.
"Then that is enough for now." Legolas glanced at the tent opening.
"Your family is coming. Here, I have something for you. Take it and
maybe it will help you remember." The elf leaned over the human and
pressed a tiny circle of cold metal into the man’s palm. Legolas closed
the ranger’s hand into a fist, holding it there with his own for a
moment. "I’ll bring you something later for the pain, after it is dark.
I will leave it near the door. Let your elder know."
When Aragorn finally turned over, the elf was gone. He opened his hand
and stared at the silverring that sat there, a beautiful green jewel
mounted between two serpents. The fair face of a dark-haired man
flashed in his mind and he quickly tightened his hand back around the
ring as the memory shot a small spike of pain through his mind. The
sharpshooter was right, whoever he was; the ring would help him to
remember, but he wasn’t sure he could deal with the anguish of the
memories and the ache in his body from the beating at the same time. As
he relaxed back onto the floor he was surprised to find that the
deepest pain that assaulted him was the ache that had started beating
in his heart when the elf had tended him out on the grounds. Something
was missing in his life and his heart knew what it was; he just
couldn’t understand yet what it was saying.
The tent flap was jerked open and Cabed stumbled into the darkened
interior followed by Sircyn.
"He was right there! I saw him!" Kidrin was pointing to where Aragorn
lay, "It was the new one, the other adrar."
"All right, be still Kidrin." Cabed knelt down next to Aragorn. The
young ranger painfully eased up into a sitting position, with the help
"He did that to our Adrar!" Kidrin was pointing at Aragorn.
The young man smiled at the child and shook his head slowly, "No, the
other adrar did not do this to me, he does not carry a whip." Aragorn
glanced at Cabed; "It was Talft and Lur. I was clumsy and got caught by
them when I was returning with the water. The sharpshooter stopped them
and brought me here." The ranger hissed slightly with the renewed pain
to his ankle, gently touching the bandage that the elf had placed there
temporarily. "He said he would return tonight with something for the
Cabed glanced at Sircyn who stood once more in the entryway keeping
watch. A dark look marred the young Haradrim’s face as he turned back
to watch Adrar. He didn’t trust the masters or the overseers and did
not like the attention that the northern sharpshooter was paying to his
friend. It could be dangerous. "How did he know this was your tent?"
Aragorn glanced at his friend and shook his head. "I do not know.
Perhaps he watched as we returned from the fields."
"You did not bring him here?" Cabed questioned as he rechecked the
younger man’s wounds.
The ranger glanced down to the ground, his eyes lighting on his closed
fist, fearful of opening it up, "No." He whispered, "He – I... I was
"Adrar!" Sircyn stepped in and quickly knelt by the fair-skinned slave,
looking him over carefully. "What did he do to you?"
"Nothing." The questions were wearing on him. The answers were so far
out of reach that he grew tired of grasping for them and the pain of
the surfacing memories wore him out.
"You must tell us." Cabed softly touched the slave’s arm, fearing the
worst. The guards could be very cruel and Tyndel had been exhibiting
far too much interest in Adrar for their comfort.
"Cabed, I swear he did not hurt me. Not intentionally anyway. His voice
and the things that he spoke, they reminded me of..." Aragorn stopped
speaking and looked back down at his tightly clenched fist.
The elder followed his gaze and gently pried the ranger’s fingers open.
Aragorn flinched and closed his eyes, turning away from the sight of
the ring, but not before the face of another dark-haired being flashed
in his mind... or was it two? But no, they both had the same face...
"What have you there, Estel?" the being questioned as they both looked
down at the ring. He swallowed hard against the nausea that threatened
him and breathed deeply, calming the stirring in his heart. He realized
that Cabed was speaking to him and he had not heard what the elder had
"I’m sorry, what did you say?" He asked the other to repeat the
"Do you know what this is?" Cabed held the ring out to the ranger.
Aragorn snatched it quickly back from the elder and tightened his grip
about it. It felt familiar in his hand but...he shook his head slowly.
"I can see pieces of memories in my mind. But it hurts to remember, it
hurts horribly, and that was why I passed out." The ranger sighed
deeply and finally met the older man’s gaze, "That is the truth, I
swear it to you."
The old Haradrim nodded his head, turning to look at his eldest son.
"We must get back to the fields or we will be missed. We will talk more
about this tonight."
Aragorn attempted to rise and follow them out, but Cabed pressed him
back down. "You stay here the remainder of the day. Tomorrow you will
have to go but today you will stay off that foot. I cannot risk you
near the oliphaunts with an open wound like that. It will become
infected too easily."
"They’ll not notice if it is as you have said. Lur and Talft are cruel
but they are also cowards. They will not be near our fields again this
day. Stay, my son, and rest."
Aragorn sank back down to the ground and dropped his gaze guiltily. It
seemed he was always causing trouble lately.
"It will be well, Adrar, you will see." Cabed stopped at the threshold
and turned back towards the young slave.
With a small smile Aragorn nodded his head. He hoped it would be.
Gently fingering the ring, he tried it on several fingers on his right
hand. It fit a couple of them but did not feel right. He tested the
silver circle on the forefinger of his left hand. It slid easily over
his knuckle and settled into place as though it had naturally fit there
always. Turning his hand so that he could see the deep green jewel set
in the middle of it, he gazed at the stone for a long moment. Was it
really his? Before he realized what he was doing Aragorn found himself
thinking about it and trying to recall exactly when and why he would
have acquired such a piece of jewelry. Surely slaves were never given
treasures such as this.
Memories surfaced and assaulted his senses, momentarily throwing him
off. He heard a deep melodious voice speaking as if to him, "It is
called the Ring of Barahir, for it was a gift to Barahir and his
descendants in reward for the saving of Finrod Felagund’s life, many,
many years before your father’s father was born." And saw himself hand
the ring back to a person who looked just like Rhuddryn’s sharpshooter.
The young faced northerner smiled warmly at him...
Aragorn gasped as much from the shock of the clear memories as from the
pain it lanced through his temples. Bright sparks exploded on the edges
of his vision as the memory was ripped from him by the ache in his
head. He lowered his head into his hands, the cool metal of the ring
touching gently against his throbbing temple. Excitement and fear
warred in him. The sharpshooter was right. The ring was helping him to
remember, but did he really want to know?
He had a life. He was Adrar, Master Seobryn’s personal slave. He was a
member of the Simbani clan and he helped to shepherd the oliphaunts on
Master Rhuddryn’s land. He had a family now; he wasn’t just a slave. He
belonged and the work was good. The people he saw in his fragmented
memories did not look like him; they couldn’t be family members. He
laughed softly at himself at the absurd thought, realizing he didn’t
look like he was related to Cabed or Sircyn any more than the faces in
his recollections...except maybe the older wise-eyed man with the long
brown hair. But what if who he had been before was not someone he
wanted to be? What if this was better?
What if it was not?
A tiny voice in the back of his mind kept questioning quietly. It all
just felt wrong; how could it be right?
With a deep sigh, Aragorn removed the ring from his finger and pulled
his sleeping pallet up from the floor, exposing the earth beneath it.
It would never do to have Talft or Lur catch him with the ring. They
would only insist that he had stolen it and he would be punished and
the ring taken from him. Quickly and quietly he dug a shallow hole in
the dry ground and placed the ring into it, covering it with the
displaced dirt. He would need a way to be able to find the ring later
if he wished, something to remind him where he had hidden it. Sometimes
their pallets were moved around as people came and went and it would do
no good to hide the token only to be able to never retrieve it. He
spied the small collection of rocks that Kidrin had been saving and
selected a smooth oval stone. Pressing the rock into the ground above
the place where he had buried the ring he laid his pallet back on top
of it and eased down on his back.
He could feel the small rock jutting slightly out of the ground as it
touched his spine near the base of his neck and he smiled softly to
himself. Wondering what type of person he had truly been, he fell into
a light sleep.