Narn I Auros


Second Age 3173, Lairë, Imladris

by Eonwë-(Valar)
01 September, 2023

Steel bore down on steel as Arandil's sword descended to meet Auros'. It was just another clash, another test of strength, speed, and skill; another chance to focus on something other than toil. That's something he didn't see Auros doing much, and he wasn't sure sparring counted either. Still, sparring could be just as much sport, and so they'd gone to the training grounds. By some stroke of fate the private circles had all been taken. The main arena, however, had been empty. That suited Arandil just fine. If some passersby found the spectacle entertaining, all the better.

Auros shoved the blade aside. There was just enough time as he drew back his sword for Arandil to recover, parry the incoming attack and close the distance between them. He took advantage of the opening, the upward arc of his slash crossing through Auros' side. If Auros hadn't leapt back, Arandil's victory would've been assured.

The first to doff his helm was Arandil, revealing a grin laced with a hint of satisfaction. "Is that enough for today, or do we need to break the tie?" He freed a hand from its gauntlet and wiped the sweat from his brow.

Auros pulled off his own helm and took in the cooler, fresher air. He refused to be distracted by the bead of sweat rolling down his forehead and cheek. "Were you interested in playing this out, I'd say we should keep going. Since you're not, let's quit while we're both still having fun."

Arandil worked his shoulder and winced. "Good, because I'm still sore from that first point." A flurry of motion drew his attention to a small group of young maidens on the side of the arena. They had been watching the match and were now whispering amongst themselves. "I suppose we drew a crowd after all."

"You have a habit of doing that." There wasn't so much as a hint of surprise or curiosity in his tone. Of course Auros knew they were there before Arandil. Auros could probably tell him when they arrived.

There was only one proper response and it started with a smirk. "What makes you think they're here for me?"

"I've done nothing to curry such interest. I have no time for ---"

"Nonsense?" Arandil's smirk widened to a grin.

"I was going to say 'distractions'. Regardless, I have no time for it. You, on the other hand, draw attention as well as laughter with little effort."

"We each have our talents; but you, my friend, need more distractions. You spend too much time on training and studying. When you're not doing that, you're hard at work at the anvil. I don't remember the last time I saw you do anything amusing."

"Amusing to me, or amusing to you?"

"Amusing to me, of course. What's amusing to me is amusing to everyone." A flash of inspiration came upon him. Arandil drew himself up, a sheer veil of solemnity draped over his jovial demeanor. "That's it, you've convinced me. I will no longer tolerate no nonsense in my presence. None at all."

Those words managed to draw a grin from Auros. "No 'no nonsense'? Arandil, if you managed an entire day without some sort of nonsense, I'd wonder if you were feeling well."

"You're serious enough for the both of us. Now let's go before you change your mind and decide to offer our audience more entertainment." That earned a single bark of laughter from Auros, and off they went to change.

Greaves. Gauntlets. Vambraces. Piece by piece Arandil removed his armor, scrutinizing it for damage. A scratch or two, but nothing serious, despite that first hit. The armor was set aside and he pulled a fresh shirt over his head. I could say he was showing off, but any fool with even half a measure of sense knows better. A smirk grew. And I happen to be a fool with a full measure of sense. Bah, who needs to see me serious all the time anyway? I can be serious; I just prefer not to. People need to laugh. People need to have fun. Bah. Save all that seriousness for when it matters.

He thrust his old shirt into his pack and cast open the door to the changing room, surprised at the speck of annoyance he found in himself. Into the hallway he emerged, just in time to see Auros, already changed, speaking with one of their spectators. Hushed tones carried down the hall, too soft to understand, and Auros' shoulder blocked most of the maiden's face. Nevertheless, Arandil thought he recognized the voice of Filithel, one of the maidens working in Lord Elrond's kitchens.

Arandil eased the door closed behind him. He needs more distractions. He keeps himself too busy and seldom does anything amusing. If I weren't here to make sure he laughs, who would? Not Maikalkar or Curulin, that's for sure, and certainly not Malril. At least Farothel keeps him on his toes these days. A glance down the hall towards the other end, and Arandil wondered if he should try to sneak out. A glance back toward Auros and he locked eyes with Filithel, who seemed to be so elated by whatever she and Auros were talking about that she'd risen to the balls of her feet and could now be seen over Auros' shoulder. "Aiya Arandil! Your match with Auros was quite impressive."

"Thank you." There was no escape once he'd been seen, so he applied his usual jovial grin and joined them. "I do work so hard to make him look good. Some days are easier than others."

Filithel grinned, the usual response Arandil received to his antics. "I always thought it was his job to make you look good."

"Well, we take turns. So what brings you here, besides to see the indomitable Auros triumph over his foes, however formidable they may be?" A wink was all the hint he gave at his own boasting.

"I was just sharing the good news."

The glance Filithel shot Auros gave Arandil the feeling there was some joke between them he wasn't privy to. "Oh? Would this good news be for Auros' ears only, or is it permissible to share with others?"

"Maikalkar has been accepted by the stonemasons!"

Arandil kept the grin plastered on his face. "That's wonderful news! How did this come to be?" While it was indeed good news, it wasn't one of the many possibilities that had cascaded through his mind.

"I'll let Auros tell you all about it. My father is waiting for me. Thank you again Auros!" A curtsey later she hastened down the hall and out the door.

Once Filithel disappeared, Arandil turned back to Auros. "So, she seemed pretty happy about something to come all this way to thank you for it."

"Hmm? Oh, I was commissioned to make some new utensils for the kitchens. She says the bread pans were of superb quality."

"Hmm indeed. How does that translate to Maikalkar's success with the stonemasons?"

Auros arched a brow. "It doesn't."

"I just can't imagine she was so ecstatic about bread pans that she would stand on her tiptoes."

"Now that was about Maikalkar's achievement."

"Then do tell. We left his house not more than a few hours ago, so it must've happened since. How'd she find out so soon?"

"She was walking with her father."

"Ah yes, her father is a stonemason, isn't he?"

"Aye. They were conversing with a couple of other stonemasons when their amble took them by Maikalkar's house. They caught sight of his stone tabletop and one of the stonemasons wanted a closer look. After a thorough examination, they agreed he had potential and extended an invitation."

"The one he carved from the stone we dug out of the refuge? Well, how about that! It's a good thing you suggested he put that table together on his front porch today, isn't it?"

"Aye, funny how things work out sometimes."

It was an odd smirk that perched itself on Auros' face, the kind of smirk known to kindle suspicion, though Arandil wasn't quite sure what he should be suspicious of. If Auros found levity in Maikalkar's good fortune, all the better. He was much too busy, not at all doing enough to keep himself amused.