Fate's Twists

by Faramir in Dark Ages

Deep into the night he staggered. His thoughts upon the grim scene he left behind, not conscious of anything that might sway him from the visage.

"A harmless meeting, that's all it was to be," thought Faramir as he shook his head in both sorrow and guilt.

He stopped suddenly as the memory flared to life once more, too real in its pain, too real in its imprint upon him.

The small inn was crowded, as it was often for the times he came to play. The crowd was a fun loving one, the best kind for any wandering bard to play. Bawdy at times, as he regaled them with a saucy tune, quiet and respectful as he played the sorrowful ballads, their response had buoyed him all night.

"A just reward for a bard's best effort," had been his fleeting thought as the night wound down.

With the thinning of the crowd, he noticed the quiet couple in the corner. Their spot had been chosen in such a way as to be both intimate and secretive. Strumming his battered lute in a soft ballad to lull the patrons into the night, he noticed the couple sink deeper within the room's shadows, willing themselves to be unseen. As was his manner, he observed them, without seeming to, a trait most bards learned early in their life.

"What be their secret?" he wondered idly, as all but the last hardy drinkers slipped away.

Humming a quiet tune, his mind adrift still in the songs that mixed their melody within him, he felt the soft hand upon his shoulder. In trained nonchalance, he looked into soft grey eyes. The lass from the corner was younger than he had guessed from his viewing them in the shadows, maybe a whole 16 harvest seasons upon the land, yet she had the unmistakable aura of one who already knew her way and her path.

"Excuse me bard, I had no wish to intrude upon your reverie," spoke the soft, determined voice.

Unhurriedly, Faramir glanced to see that the young man had stayed in the corner, but was clearly on edge, despite his attempt to pose otherwise.

"Nay my lass, tell me what brings you to speak with a weather beaten bard."

Her demeanor remained determined, but the nervousness suddenly shown.

"I, we, were wondering, if.if.we might prevail upon you to help us," she spoke with a sudden rush of words. She stopped there and glanced back to indicate the young man. "I can see your aura, I know you are Aisling." Again, haltingly, her eyes to the floor. "I know not why, but I can see auras clearly, almost as if the firelight was full upon them."

Faramir looked intently at the girl. "Tis well you saved this conversation 'til now lass. I am an Aisling, as you surmised, but have no wish of advertising the fact. Mayhap, I have heard of mundanes with abilities such
as yours, but 'til now, never had I met one."

Faramir smiled, the weather-beaten face lit by the flickering flames of the dying hearth fire, "Now lass, what can I help with?"

Her nervousness returning, he could tell she had reached some internal decision. "We need your help now, tonight, this moment if possible," she trailed off her words bitten off by a hint of desperation.

"Tomorrow my father plans to see me wed to the son of the butcher. I won'tI won'tI won't marry that sadistic brute," her voice fell off revealing hidden steel. "We need your help to leave tonight, I have made
arrangements to meet a friend outside the gates, where the road reaches the wood. We need your help to get out of the city."

Faramir leaned back in the battered chair, rubbing his chin thoughtfully, "Lass, I can sympathize with your plight, but what miracle do you expect me to work upon the night watchman to allow him to open the gate." He shook his
head sadly, "Lass, be I an Aisling, there still be no powers for me to majik you past gate and guard."

She seized his hand, her grip desperate, "I see your nature too, Aisling. I have seen it before, though always before have I hidden the knowledge away. I see the rogue spirit upon you, I know you have those abilities,"
whispered she, with a fervor of true belief.


Faramir held her gaze, "Lass, you are a true wonder. Never before has someone seen past the facade that I choose to hold before me. All right, we will have ourselves a try. I do nae know if we can really pass through, but
I will try."

With the comment, he glanced at the lad and nodded curtly, an affirmation that relaxed the clean, good-looking youth. He looked closely at the girl, "We best go now lass, the switch of the guard just occurred, and no doubt the night watchman manning the gate was in the crowd here tonight."

She quickly strode to the young man and talked quietly, urgently. Faramir gathered his lute to hand and grabbed a half-empty flagon of wine off the table. A quick glance to them, telling them with his eyes to follow, he
sauntered out of the Inn and walked toward the gate.

Once outside Faramir faded into the shadows afforded by the large sign. As the two reached them he spoke, "Nae words now, follow me at a distance, in whatever shadows you can. When we are close to the gate- wait. It will be
easy to see if I succeed," a wry grin upon his face. Turning away, he strode down the street, never glancing back at the two shadows that ghosted after him.

As the firelight of the guard's small building fell upon him, the booming voice of the heavyset night watchman reached him, "Faramir, what brings you to my lonely vigil?" A bulking figure stepped into the light.

"Ah, you old war-horse. I saw you there at the inn. Don't play the dedicated veteran with one, who knows better," laughed Faramir as he held out the flagon. "No one left at the inn to have my last touch with, I needed some company- you know I nae wish to drink the last one alone."

Faramir had gauged the reaction correctly. "OK, you useless bard, I will have a last touch with you," laughed the guard in his booming bass tone. "Only one now, I have a long night ahead of me."

"Longer and shorter than you think," muttered Faramir under his breath. He uncapped the flagon and handed it to the guard, "Here let me strum a night tune for you." Faramir's concentration was complete as he softly willed the
guard to sleep the touch of the sleep spell building as he strummed and hummed the precise tune. A moment later, glaze upon his eyes, the guard sank to the ground, keeping a stubborn hold of the flagon. Unfortunately
his slump took him full upon the keys to the gate.


Faramir, easy way gone, quickly went to the gate and motioned to the shadows, "Come on!" he hissed, "this won't last long." He stepped quietly to the gate and fitted a skeleton key. A gentle turn, with a little mental push, and the gate opened noiselessly. The couple scurried through the barely open gate, as Faramir closed and re-locked it.

"How far to where your friend will meet you?" said Faramir quietly, his gaze darting continuously, searching the shadows.

"Not far," whispered the girl triumphantly, "just over that first rise." Both she and the lad were beaming at each other in relaxed contentment.

"Well, let's get there then, sooner you are away, better for me and for both of you."

A small measure of satisfaction crept into Faramir's thoughts. "Helping mundane escape fate, how appropriate in the scheme of life," an inner smile shown in him. He led them quietly, at a brisk pace. As they topped the
small rise, his mind still chortling at that thought, he felt the pang of fear. As an Aisling, he had gained a sixth sense to danger, a trait that he obeyed with all the devoutness of religion. Before he could stop the couple, lost in their shared happiness, they strode past him toward the visible wagon.

Stopped, his senses keening at him, Faramir gestured to the couple, but they failed to see.

As they reached the wagon, the moonlight glint warned Faramir of their peril. "Run!" he yelled desperately, even as he pulled the dirk from behind his shoulders and launched himself toward the wagon.

The couple, hearing his urgency had stopped, but fate for them was already written, as the head of the centipede appeared and struck at first her and then him. Even as Faramir reached the fallen couple, he knew that his efforts were in vain. She lay still with her head lolled to the side, as if a broken doll. His throat was torn out, blood drenching him as he lay upon his fallen love.

Head coiled, fangs reflecting the mixed blood upon them; the centipede saw the dirk in hand and paused. Realizing that it still had the edge, it bound forward to strike at the bard. Faramir managed to score the 'pede with the dirk, and danced aside, but knew his fate might also be upon him.

Knocked to the ground, Faramir took a sharp wound from the fangs and felt the poison enter him, fiery pain streaming. Knowing he had little time left, he continued to roll, hoping to make the cover of the underbrush. As the 'pede reared, a shaft of ethereal flame engulfed it. Twisting in agony, it backed up, then fell to the ground, scorched in its many rings.

The poison taking deeper hold, Faramir's will allowed him to rise and he dragged himself down the road. Knowing no limits, his body allowed him to push relentlessly forward, as if to escape the scene haunting him. His mind drowning in the pain of the poison and of the lost couple, he staggered onward.

"I never knew their names," was his last conscious thought as he fell to the road.

*


"Faramir, you just don't know when to give up," commented the lady sternly as she stood next to his unconscious form. Gathering her strength, she hooked her arms under his and dragged him off the road into a small copse of trees. In a small space she lowered him back to the ground, winded from the effort of hauling the unconscious bard. Incinerating the 'pede had drained much of her energy, chasing down the delirious bard had taken almost as much, and she felt infinitely tired.

Knowing full well the poison was working its way through the bard's veins; she dug out what herbs and potions she had that might help. Gently raising his head, she forced what she could into his mouth. Again she lowered him gently to the ground and dug into her pack for her bedroll. As she draped it over him, she leaned down and softly, tenderly kissed him upon his fevered lips, briefly tasting the bitter traces of the potions she had forced into him.

"My light. Now is not your time to leave, no matter how you may desire it," said she in a loving tone that brooked no disagreement.

*


Thrashing about in the throes of both last night's memory and the bedroll wrapped around, he felt the hands firmly gripping him, holding him down. As full waking dawned on his fuzzy brain, he looked up. Framed against the glint of early dawn's sunlight, the long red tresses were dazzling. Tired, yet relieved, brown eyes watched him-questioning in their watchfulness.

Smiling weakly, he calmed to her gentle touch. "Beloved. I had despaired of finding you again," murmured Faramir in the rough, dry voice of one parched from his struggles.

"Shhhh, no talking," whispered she, putting a lip to his fingers. "Rest now."

*


Awakening to the full light of the mid-morning sun, Faramir gauged his condition without moving. The pain of the fang's scratches was fresh, but he judged the poison's control had faded, leaving only a dull throbbing. Moving his head slightly, he looked upon Moonrose. She hadn't caught his waking yet, so he drank in her beauty. Her slumped shoulders told him all he needed to know. She must have come upon him last night and kept vigil over him in his state.

"My jewel," he said quietly.

She tilted her head toward him, the smile now full in its relief. "My light."

They studied each other's faces, both smiling the inner smile of contentment. A light breeze caught the leaves around them and seemingly wove them around the two, as if to hold the world at bay.

"Glad carries not the full measure of my feeling at seeing you," murmured Faramir.

Her smile was tired, but full of both feeling and relief. "I have missed you, more than I can tell you. The light in my heart was dimmed when I was away from you."

Faramir winced as he sat up. "I longed to see you, but I vowed I would not look for you 'til I was sure that you had reached the level of learning you sought. So my days have been long. Each dusk I would give my love to the evening breeze in hopes that it would reach you. But I had despaired of seeing you. I was resigned to wandering Temuair without you."

She reached as if to pluck a leaf, then grasped the empty air. "I felt thy wish, it has come to me often. That alone offered me much comfort in my times of trial. In the end, I balanced my learning against my yearning, and this time the yearning won out."

She stood and stretched tiredly. "Our path lies together, my light. We knew that at the dawning of our life as Aisling, it is ever more true now." Walking to him, she stretched her hand to him and pulled him to him to his feet, both struggling with the exertion.

"Will a wandering bard, of no consequence in this world, be enough for you, my jewel?"

"Aye," she whispered as they kissed deeply, passion of both past and present swelling over them both in a flood of pent up emotion.