Heart of Flame: A Tale of Sauron

The Ring in Question

“... he appeared the other day from Tirion.”

“Does he have kin among the Teleri?”

“Have you ever heard him speak of his parentage?”

A pause then Náretarnon let out a breathy laugh to smooth over the edge in Curvo’s voice.

“All we speak of is silver smithing, he has a passion for it. One doesn’t simply ask a stranger where his people are from.”

“Perhaps here in your city, but in Tirion things of that nature are important. Blood is important.” The sheer ring of iron being sharpened seared the air. “But you believe the best of all folk. You are too good, Náretarnon.”

“And you are too suspicious,” Náretarnon replied brightly.

“These are suspicious times.”

Náretarnon cleared his throat. “Sister? You can come out, I know you are there.”

Luimëníssë cringed and stepped out from the doorway where she was hiding. She hadn’t meant to eavesdrop, she had only been passing the alcove leading onto the balcony that overlooked the rose garden. She was due to meet Artanis to take her pearl diving.

But their voices had stopped her cold in the corridor. A name caught on the salty breeze and left her breathless. Her brother had mentioned it.

Rembano.

She heard them say his name. Like a moth to the flame, she was drawn.

As she appeared, her brother quirked a heavy eyebrow. Curvo continued to sharpen a fine sword at the railing. Playing with the sheer fabric of her light gown, Luimëníssë shrugged.

“What were you doing lurking in the shadows like a child?”

Her face flamed at her brother’s words, especially in front of Curvo. Though he had seemed less snappish of late, she was still hesitant around him, especially when a dark brooding shadowed his countenance.

“I was curious about metal smithing,” she blurted.

Náretarnon did not look convinced and Curvo scoffed, the deadly blade gleaming against his thigh. “You taking up an interest in metal working?”

“Well, rings perhaps.”

“Rings...” Náretarnon crossed his thick forearms over his chest, his dark curls pulled high on his head in a mound to keep out of the way when he worked. “What kind of rings?”

Perhaps this was a moment to have a few questions of her own answered. Ever since the Feast of Pearls, when she wasn’t in the sea, Luimëníssë had worn the pearl ring belonging to Rembano on a delicate chain around her neck. She produced it from under the neck of her gown.

“This kind of ring, perhaps,” she said, approaching them. “It’s too big. I was wondering if I could find another like it somewhere else or perhaps have the band made smaller?”

Náretarnon broad brow furrowed as he studied it. “I’m not sure. Jewelry isn’t something I’m very proficient in yet. Curvo is a genius with anything he touches. Perhaps he may give you a better answer.”

Curvo peered up at her, impatience humming in his earthen eyes. They flickered over the ring. His lips parted as he stared hard at the piece. Rising to his feet, he halted in front of her and lifted it in his hand. His silken black hair was looped in a series of braids away from his face.

“Where did you get this?” he ran a thumb over the trio of pearls.

Luimëníssë hadn’t held his attention this intensely even when she was rescuing him from drowning.

“I- I found it.”

“Where?”

“On the sea cliffs, years ago.”

He met her eyes, a sardonic grin gracing his mouth. He let the ring drop from his fingers. It landed softly between her breasts.

“A very precious finding.”

Luimëníssë swung her gaze on the sea, feeling very naked in front of Curvo. He had a way of looking at her that made her feel as though he knew all her secrets. He was as unpredictable as the sea, one moment vicious, the next vulnerable, and then secretive as a mollusk.

“Luimëníssë?” Artanis stood at the entrance to the balcony. She spoke to her, but her glare was only for Curvo. “I thought we were to meet in your mother’s salon?”

“I apologize for my sister,” Náretarnon interjected, giving Luimëníssë a friendly shove in the shoulder. “She was waylaid by a discussion of metal smithing.”

Luimëníssë rubbed her arm and met Artanis in the corridor. “Come, let’s see if the tides are favorable for our outing.”

She led Artanis towards the archway leading onto the path of white stones that curled down to the water.

“What were you speaking of?” she asked, a note of what sounded like suspicion in her voice. Luimëníssë recalled what Curvo had said about these being suspicious times and wondered if that even extended to her golden and eloquent kinswoman.

Luimëníssë surveyed the turbulent cove waters. “I was asking him about a ring of mine, that’s all.”

“Take care with him, that son of Fëanor,” Artanis said warily. “He is not one to be trusted, he is too much...”

“Too much like his father?”

Artanis’s pale eyes widened. “Where did you hear that, little Luimëníssë?”

Luimëníssë tried not to let the word ‘little’ bother her, though she was growing weary of being treated like a child. “Curvo told me himself.”

“Curvo? When did you start calling him that?”

“I’m afraid to say it, but our excursion will have to wait for another day. I don’t like the way these winds look, a gale might sweep out from the east and we don’t want to be too far out if that does.” Luimëníssë shot her a playful grin. “The better pearls are farther out, but don’t mention that I know that to my mother.”

Artanis let out an uncertain laugh as she followed Luimëníssë up the pearly path back to her home. But she didn’t ask anymore questions.

“Are you busy this afternoon?” Luimëníssë asked as they sauntered through the rose garden.

Artanis shook her bright head. “Nothing other than our pearl diving.”

“Would you like to go into Alqualondë? Perhaps meet with Írissë and meander the streets to pass the time?” Her voice was casual as she plucked the petals from a rose.

With a firm nod, Artanis smiled. “Yes, that sounds lovely.” She climbed the marble steps before Luimëníssë.

With a clandestine smile, she pressed the pearl ring to her lips. Her gaze drifted up to the balcony where her brother and the Fëanorian had stood.

Curvo rested on the railing, the sword gleaming in his hands. He ran a cloth down it’s vicious edge and met her eyes. His prominent lips were tight, but his dark eyes alight with questions. Lifting her chin, Luimëníssë caught up to Artanis as they returned to their chambers.

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