Ruel, Meet Luthien | 20 4A

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Ruel, Meet Luthien | 20 4A

Post by Nara-pyon on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:00 pm

Ruel … Meet Lúthien. Part I.


Young Prince Ruel had always been the same. He would speak to few besides his twin and his grandmother, and when he spoke he was opinionated and heavily biased. As he grew older, little changed, save that he grew slightly distant from his twin as well. No one dared approach him; it was well known among the palace staff that it was better to avoid him when it was possible. Even when he went out into the city, the crowds parted before him as if people were afraid that he might touch them. Such was his reputation, and much of it was truth. He was indeed one to be feared – if one feared being looked down upon, even despised. Among all of the Aldrich children, he was unique. And to think, if a certain event hadn’t transpired, he might have remained the same to this day.

It was a typical Southland day. The desert was hot, even in the mountaintop city. Ruel was an adult at this time, though barely so. He was but eighteen years of age, and he had been living at the palace for the past nine years. It had been eight years now since his sister had disappeared, but he preferred not to think about that. In fact, few outside of the castle even remembered her existence. He liked to keep it that way.

He was heading down to the tailor’s, nearly alone today, distantly trailed by a single bodyguard. Ruel paid him no mind, however; he was used to being followed by at least one guard. But today he was deep in thought. He had heard some disturbing rumours about an Elven woman who was wandering the Four Lands … or had been, until nearly two years ago, at least. He had a sneaking suspicion that his sister might be the subject of the rumour, and it bothered him very much. He was so distracted that he didn’t see the young lady in front of him until he ran right into her – or she into him, neither of them were ever quite able to figure out what had happened – and they both tumbled to the ground.

“Hey!” the young woman shouted as she clambered back to her feet. “Watch where you’re going!” She turned to face him, fists clenched at her sides.

Ruel jumped to his feet, equally angry. He had never been spoken to in such a manner, not in his life! “Why don’t you?” he snapped back angrily, crossing his arms rebelliously. He reached up with one hand to straighten the circlet on his head, then crossed his arms again and took a good look at the woman he’d run into.

She was a little shorter than he, and she had luxurious black hair that went down to her knees. She was of a slim build, and, he thought without reaction, quite handsome. No, beautiful. Her fair face was flushed red with anger, and her brown eyes were nearly sparking with rage, but all that did, he thought, was enhance the effect.

What happened next, however, shattered it completely.

“Just because you’re the prince, you think you can push people around?” she snapped; and she reached out with both hands and pushed him right back down to the ground. As his bodyguard rushed forward to his assistance, she turned on her heel, crossed her arms, stuck her nose in the air, and stomped off.

Any other time, Ruel would have been drawn his sword at anyone who had the gall to touch him – let alone the impudence to push him. But for some reason, this time he only stood and brushed himself off. Perhaps, he thought, he would find out who she was and deal with her later.

For now, she wasn’t worth the trouble.
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Re: Ruel, Meet Luthien | 20 4A

Post by Nara-pyon on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:01 pm

Ruel … Meet Lúthien. Part II.


It was well over a week after the first incident when Ruel found himself in the city again, but it was close on his mind. Why? He couldn’t say. Perhaps it was because the woman had the nerve to do what no one else in the entire kingdom would ever have dreamt of doing to him: not only touch him, but actually push him …

Well, there was no time for that now. He had an errand to run. Yet even as he thought that, he spotted the woman striding confidently down the street, her movements swift and graceful. He wondered where she might be going in such a hurry, and picked up his own pace to follow.

As she passed the jewelry shop, the owner’s son came out and called out the name, “Lúthien!”, and the woman slowed her pace, then turned and smiled back at him. She moved to join him for a little chat, and Ruel’s face darkened suddenly, recognizing the man. He brushed past the two of them and continued on his way, refusing to acknowledge them.

He doubted they noticed.
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Re: Ruel, Meet Luthien | 20 4A

Post by Nara-pyon on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:02 pm

Ruel … Meet Lúthien. Part III.


Months passed, and little changed. The desert grew hotter with each passing day, yet for some reason Ruel found himself heading out into the city more and more often. It wasn’t to escape the forges; he liked working with the molten metal: he wasn’t sure of the reason, actually.

Yet he found himself always keeping an eye out for the young lady, Lúthien. Sometimes he was rewarded with a glimpse of her, but quite often he returned home disappointed. Still, he never gave up trying – though he didn’t know why. Probably, he reasoned, it was because she was the only person who had ever stood up to him in his entire life, the only one he knew who would dare. That in itself was intriguing.

On this particular day, he was loitering in the archway between two of the levels of the city. He had discovered where she lived, and was watching from a distance, waiting for her to come out. Perhaps he would ask her why she had pushed him … odd, that it was still on his mind. But perhaps it was because it had been such a singular incident.

“What are you doing?” a cold yet curious voice asked from behind him, startling him violently.

He whirled around to see Lúthien standing directly behind him, a basket tucked under one arm and filled with fresh baking and vegetables from the market. Her hair was woven intricately back from her face today, allowing the sun to prevent any shadowing. Once his heartbeat slowed back to its usual pace, he found himself blinking at her stupidly, completely unable to think of any sort of acceptable reply. There was no way he could say he was watching for her … because he’d been there several hours, that would just be creepy …

Her lips pursed slightly, thoughtfully, and she tilted her head to one side, studying him. He felt himself turning red beneath her gaze, and he shifted from one foot to the other uncomfortably.

Finally, she spoke again, and her voice was soft but firm. “I think you have better things to do with your time, Ruel Aldrich,” she told him; and she stepped around him and headed down to her house.
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Re: Ruel, Meet Luthien | 20 4A

Post by Nara-pyon on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:24 pm

Ruel … Meet Lúthien. Part IV.


The next time Ruel went to watch for Lúthien, he wasn’t standing in the archway long when he felt a strong grip on the back of his neck. Immediately, he regretted leaving the castle without a bodyguard – and just as immediately, he reacted, prying the hand from his neck and whirling around to face his attacker.

It was an elf he had seen many times, walking with Lúthien into and out of the house, and one he also knew because he was employed at the palace. His name was Eldrin, and he was the head trainer of the Queen’s bodyguards. And the very fact that one who was sworn so honorably into the Queen’s service had a prince by the neck meant one of two things: first, that he had gone rogue (which Ruel doubted, since he was making no effort to be stealthy in his actions), or second, that Ruel had just attracted the attention of a very overprotective older brother.

Uh oh …

“What are you doing, stalking my sister like that?” Eldrin snapped at Ruel, hand closing into an iron fist between them. “You’ve been here nearly every day for the past month! Always watching, spying! I thought she might have made herself clear by this time? Leave her alone!”

Ruel wasn’t sure how to respond. Make herself clear? But she’d only spoken to him once! And how was he supposed to tell Eldrin what he was doing here, when he didn’t even really know himself?

At his hesitance, Eldrin’s face grew dark, and her reached forward and grabbed Ruel by the neck of his shirt and drew him closer. “Stay – away – from – her,” he hissed. “Prince or no, you bother her again and I’ll make you wish you hadn’t.” And with that he threw him to the ground violently and headed down to his house.

Ruel jumped to his feet, face flushed with anger, fists clenched at his sides. Such impudence! Worse than Lúthien’s! How dare he tell him what to do!

With these thoughts in mind, he cast one final glance at their house, then started back towards the castle.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Meanwhile, back at the house he had just been watching …

“Why doesn’t he go away?” Eldrin fumed, tearing off his tunic and reaching for the basin of water that was on the table near the door. “Lúthien, I thought you were going to tell him to go away!”

Lúthien stood by the window, her eyes on the figure of the prince who was just turning and leaving. It wasn’t until he was out of sight that she turned with laughing eyes to answer her brother.

“I want to see how long it takes him to give up,” she replied in a soft voice, kneeling down and picking up her brother’s discarded tunic. She turned it right-side-out and folded it over her arm. She moved over to her brother and handed him the towel that was hanging next to the basin, and paused, catching sight of a cut on his arm. “You’re hurt again,” she murmured.

Eldrin nodded. “Young Prince Gion is learning quickly, but he hasn’t the strength yet for the proper wielding of his sword. I believe that he will have it soon, though. He is the most eager and hard-working student I’ve ever had, I believe.”

“You should have taken care of it before coming home,” she scolded him, taking the towel back from him and dipping a corner of it into the basin. She started bathing the wound gently, then looked up at him curiously. “I wonder that you’re so offended by Prince Ruel watching me,” she told him, though her tone was questioning.

“Because I happen to be the one who trained him,” Eldrin replied shortly, his handsome face contorting with disgust, “and I know that he would rather die than treat anyone but the Queen with any semblance of respect.” He turned and faced his sister, taking the towel from her to make sure he had her entire attention. “I know you like him, Lúthien, but I know you can do better. Prince though he is, he’s not nearly good enough for you.”
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Re: Ruel, Meet Luthien | 20 4A

Post by Nara-pyon on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:25 pm

Ruel … Meet Lúthien. Part V.


The day after Ruel’s confrontation with Eldrin, he was heading right back to the place that had come to be his lookout point. He didn’t know why he was persisting. Perhaps out of spite. Perhaps because he just wanted to show Eldrin that he couldn’t be intimidated. Or maybe, a thought appeared in the back of his mind, he just really wanted to see Lúthien again.

He pushed the thought aside disdainfully. Why would he be looking for a chance to see her? After all, she was the one who had no respect for him, for his position. In fact, she had outright scorned him! No, he reasoned, his reason directed by his pride, it had to be because he wanted to show them that he wouldn’t bend to their will.

When he got to the place where he normally stood, he was surprised to see that Lúthien was already there, apparently waiting for him … but he was even more surprised to realize that … he was pleased. In his mind, he told himself that it was because he was successfully messing with her mind, a suitable revenge for what she had done to him. Still … he wondered what it was that had brought her there.

“I knew you would come back again, Ruel Aldrich,” she said softly as he approached her, her face impassive. Searching her eyes, however, Ruel thought he saw a trace of … triumph? No … something … different …

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lúthien did her best to keep her face expressionless as the prince approached her, though she was certain he would be able to hear her wild heartbeat. She could read his eyes as she knew he could not read his own heart, and she knew that the way she felt about him was reciprocated. It was only a matter of time before he figured it out.

Well, and maybe he would need a bit of help along with that.

“I’m surprised your brother’s letting you talk to me,” the prince replied, staring at her shamelessly. He seemed suspicious, but she could see the genuine surprise in his eyes.

“He’s working today,” Lúthien replied as if it made no difference to her what her brother thought. Of course she cared, he was the only family she had left; but on the other hand, this was something he could not change. That she could not change. That no one could. She added, “I want to ask you a question, and I want an honest answer.”

Though she doubted he would give one.

He nodded shortly, one eye narrowing suspiciously.

“I want to know,” she said in a tone far braver than she felt, “why you have been watching me for nearly a year now.”

He stared at her for so long with a gaze so fixed that she eventually started to feel uncomfortable. She fidgeted slightly under his fierce gaze, and she debated leaving things the way they were, and turning and fleeing. She felt her face warming, and she knew that she was blushing. But she couldn’t help it.

She was just about to run when he replied softly, in the kindest tone she had ever heard him use, “I think … you’re beautiful.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

An honest answer indeed. And yet a lie. He did think she was beautiful – but he knew for a fact that wasn’t why he was following her everywhere. He just didn’t know the real answer.

Still, she seemed satisfied. She gave a small sort of nod, and her blush deepened, and Ruel had to fight the urge to smile, though he wasn’t exactly sure why.

He felt himself also flushing, but with embarrassment. He mumbled something unintelligible to excuse himself and turned and walked away, his ears burning.

Damn it all.
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Re: Ruel, Meet Luthien | 20 4A

Post by Nara-pyon on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:39 pm

Ruel … Meet Lúthien. Part VI.


Instead of finding Lúthien at his lookout spot the next day, Ruel was disappointed to find only a folded piece of paper. His disappointment, however, was replaced with surprise when he opened it and read what it had to say:

Ruel
My brother is at work today, and I’m working in the house.
Why not come for a visit instead of standing in the heat?


Short and to the point. Unsigned as it was, Ruel knew who had written it. He was confused. Eldrin wanted Ruel to stay away, Lúthien obviously hated him, or at the very least was irritated by him, but she was inviting him not only somewhere to talk with him, but into her very house?

Something was strange here.

He tucked the note into his pocket and found himself heading, not back home where he knew he should have been, but down to Lúthien’s house. Once there, he knocked on the door. He was nervous – now why was that? Why didn’t anything make sense?

He waited for the door to be answered, and he was about to walk away when it opened and Lúthien appeared. She was smiling at him, and he wondered why briefly. She hadn’t smiled at him yet … not in the year he had been watching her. Not in that way … not that he could explain what “that way” was. He found himself growing even more nervous.

“I … uh … got your note,” he stuttered, flushing with embarrassment. He scratched the back of his neck, wondering what on Arda had prompted him to come here.

Lúthien nodded, her face impassive. “I thought it might be a good idea if we actually had a proper conversation,” she told him with a shrug, “rather than only a comment or question or two.” She stepped to the side. “Come in.”

Ruel did as she requested, still rubbing the back of his neck nervously. What was he doing?
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Re: Ruel, Meet Luthien | 20 4A

Post by Nara-pyon on Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:39 pm

Ruel … Meet Lúthien. Part VII.


For the next month, Ruel visited Lúthien daily. It seemed Eldrin was always busy training, so it seemed safe enough, and Ruel found eventually that he really enjoyed Lúthien’s company. She was funny, kind, and intelligent, very different from most women he knew. Sometimes he would even help her with her chores, whether it was washing, cooking, cleaning, shopping, whatever; he found that he actually liked it – mostly, he was willing to admit, because it meant he could spend time with her and not feel awkward about it.

Every day it was later and later when he headed back to the castle. He knew it was dangerous, but he didn’t care. The only place he didn’t accompany her was the jeweler’s – he had personal reasons not to go there, reasons he didn’t feel he could adequately explain. It was the one place that, even in her company, he couldn’t stand to go. Whenever she announced that she had business there, he would pretend to have remembered something to do back at the palace and excuse himself for the day.

One day, nearly a year and a half after their first encounter, Ruel discovered something on his way down to her house. He discovered that he liked her very much … very much indeed. His face warmed as he realized this, and he slowed his pace. What should he do? Keep going? Turn around? He couldn’t continue to visit her as he was, he didn’t want things to remain the way they were … yet how could he avoid her? His every waking moment was spent wanting to be with her …

He tried to keep his thoughts away from that area throughout the day, but several times he caught Lúthien looking at him as if he were acting strangely. Perhaps he was. He couldn’t tell. He wasn’t really paying attention to himself.

The end of the day came far too quickly, despite the fact that he stayed until past sundown. He didn’t want to leave … he couldn’t deny it. But her brother would be home soon, he had to get going … he was pushing his luck … well, he always was, just by being there.

When Lúthien saw him to the door at the end of the day, he bid her farewell and turned to leave; but gathering his courage he turned around again and held the door open before she could close it behind him. Her surprise was obvious, but he didn’t let it slow him down. In a single rushed sentence he blurted, “Lúthien-I-really-think-you’re-the-most-beautiful-thing-I’ve-ever-seen-would-you-mind-if-I-called-on-you-formally?”

He held his breath apprehensively as he waited for her answer, watching her face carefully for her reaction. At first she just blinked, taken completely by surprise; then a slow smile crept over her face and her eyes lit up like candles. She reached out and took his hands, pulling him back inside.

“I thought you’d never ask,” she told him breathlessly.

Ruel smiled widely and saw in her face the same longing he felt inside. Without hesitating even a moment, he took her face in both hands and lowered his lips to hers and kissed her warmly.

The next thing he knew, he was lying on top of a bed with a pounding headache with raised voices coming from below him. Lúthien … and Eldrin.

Shades.

He sat up slowly, wincing at the pain in his head. He felt the back of his skull and found a huge lump. Shades, that hurt! The shouting wasn’t helping, either.

He tried to stand and fell back weakly. He put one hand on a bedside table and used it to brace himself, and in that manner he slowly made his way to the door. He used the walls to balance himself as he made his way down a set of stairs, and the voices grew louder. He kept one hand on the back of his head as he opened a door where the voices seemed to be coming from.

As the door opened, Lúthien and Eldrin stopped their shouting and stared. Eldrin’s lips curled into a snarl when he saw Ruel, but Lúthien rushed forward to help him.

“Careful,” she murmured softly, helping him to a chair and getting him to sit down. “Easy.”

Ruel grunted as he lowered himself into the chair. “What happened?” he slurred, still slightly groggy.

“Eldrin knocked you out,” Lúthien told him, frowning severely at her brother. She looked back at Ruel. “You should still be resting, you can’t make it back to the castle like that.”

“I’ll manage,” Ruel grunted. “I don’t think your brother wants me to stay here for the night.” He tried to stand again and swayed dizzily.

“Then I’ll help you,” Lúthien said quickly, her tone disallowing any argument. She lifted Ruel’s arm and ducked under it, taking his weight on herself. She ignored her brother’s protests as she led Ruel out the front door and in the direction of the castle.
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