Chapter 4

After the meeting had finished, Aranlin made his way to the gardens. "How could she have told him!" he raged in his mind. Deciding he needed to teach her a lesson he knew exactly where to find her. At the statue for those who didn't return. She always sat there when she had a few moments.

When he saw her sitting in front of it he quickly closed the distance between them, glancing around to make sure they were alone.

"What did you tell him?" he hissed, anger barely contained in his voice before she even saw him.

She turned around surprised and looked up at him, shielding her eyes from the sunlight that shone in them from behind him.

"I didn't tell him anything!" she spoke doubting whether to put in an angry tone or a scared one.

"Then why did he ask me if I disliked you?" he hissed angrily.

"I promise you, I did not speak of our ... conversation" she answered again and lowered her gaze before turning her back to him again.

"Do NOT turn you back to me!" he shouted and stepped forward.

"Do NOT shout at me!" she retorted and glared at him just as angry as he looked at her.

For a moment he remained quiet, he had not expected her to speak up like this. But when she turned her head away from him again he suddenly and violently grabbed her by her hair and pulled her head back so she'd look at him again.

"You don't tell me what to do!" he hissed and watched as the look on her face turned from anger into fear and pain.

"Let me go!" she managed to say with still some anger in her tone trying to free her hair with both hands.

"WHAT did you say to him? Don't lie to me!"

"I didn't say anything!" she cried out as he twisted his hand in her hair pulling her to her feet by it.

"You lie!" he shouted and shook her violently. "TELL ME!"

"I didn't!" she tried once more.

Loosing his patience Aranlin struck her across the face with the back of his right hand, still holding on to her hair with his left. Shocked she covered her right cheek with her left hand.

"I really didn't say anything" she sobbed.

"ARANLIN!" Thranduil's voice suddenly sounded coming from the palace interrupting the advisors second movement to hit the elleth.

"I'm coming my Lord!" Aranlin answered before turning his attention back to Lindëlas.

"This isn't over!" he threatened.

"I keep telling you I didn't say ANYTHING!" she spoke angrily again. "Just leave me alone!"

"Never!" he hissed again angrily and pushed her away from him with such force she fell against the statue badly. Mistaking the fact that she laid still for a sign of sub missal he dusted of his hands and went to search Thranduil.

"Where have you been?" Thranduil asked his financial advisor, "I have been looking all over for you!"

"I needed some fresh air after the meeting, my Lord" Aranlin lied.

"I can imagine" Thranduil mused thinking back of the office he found. "Let's head to your office shall we?"

Together they entered the office again and Thranduil watched Aranlin' s reaction very closely as they walked up to the desk.

"My papers have been moved!" Aranlin cried out. "Who has been here?"

"I told you" Thranduil spoke keeping his eye on his advisor, "I came here to look for you. When I couldn't find you, I decided to wait, and perhaps throw away some of the leftovers from... weeks ago... Hope you don't mind?" He asked, trying to keep the conversation light.

Aranlin noticed the papers lying on top of the pile and for a split second Thranduil could see the financial advisor's eyes go wide. Immediately he tried to cover them up with several other papers but Thranduil quickly intervened.

"What happened to your hand?" Thranduil asked when he saw Aranlin's hand on the pile.

"Oh that" Aranlin spoke, pulling his hand back and rubbing over his knuckles. "Nothing, must have hit it somewhere."

"You'd better let somebody check that" Thranduil spoke and nodded at his hand. "It might be broken" he continued and then paused. "And it's hard to steal coins with only one hand isn't it?" he suddenly asked keeping his tone as natural as possible.

"My Lord?" Aranlin asked undignified, but the colour on his cheeks had already betrayed him.

"You can't fit as many coins in one hand as you can hold in two, now can you?"

"I have no idea what you are talking about, my King" Aranlin spoke moving the papers from his desk into the cupboard behind him. "Maybe you should return to your bed, you are apparently still hallucinating."

"Yes" Thranduil answered still speaking quite calm. "That must be it. I'm hallucinating. And the air in here must have worsened it" he nodded and turned around implying he was walking away. "That must be the reason" he said while he returned again to the desk. "I must be seeing things" he spoke still softly and leaned on the desk. "FOR I JUST KNOW YOU WOULDN'T DARE TO TAKE THE MONEY FROM THE TREASURY FOR YOUR SELF!" he suddenly raged, scaring the advisor and watched him stumble back against the cupboard as he stared at Thranduil with his eyes wide open.

"My King" Aranlin stammered wanting to crawl into the cupboard if that would keep him safe.

"TELL ME YOU DIDN'T!" Thranduil raged again and banged his fists on the desk making everything that laid on top of it jump up. "TELL ME!"

"I... my King, you must believe me..." Aranlin continued stammering eyeing Thranduil obviously scared to death of this side of their new king.


"I was going to give them back" the advisor cried.

"GIVE IT BACK?" Thranduil asked only getting angrier by the second, "WHEN? WHEN EVERYTHING IS GONE?" he shouted and with one fluent move he wiped the entire desk clean before leaning on it again.

"What is going on here?" Herudil shouted as he entered the counsellor's room adjacent to his and frowned as he saw all the papers thwareling around and Aranlin backed away behind his desk. "My Lord? What has happened?" he asked as he approached Thranduil warily.

Thranduil remained leaning on the desk glaring at Aranlin angrily, neither of them spoke, until...

"Herudil, help me" Aranlin suddenly begged, "the king has gone mad! Look at what he has done to my office! It will take weeks until..."

Herudil unconsciously stepped away from Thranduil and glanced at Aranlin.

"SILENCE!" Thranduil shouted interrupting the financial advisor and both elves watched as the scared elf closed his mouth and lowered his gaze immediately. "Tell me what you make of this" he spoke to his agricultural advisor and handed him a paper he had saved from the pile.

"I'm no financial expert" Herudil whined, he hated numbers and found more pleasure in actually seeing things grow.

"Look at it!" Thranduil raised his voice without ending his glare on Aranlin.

"Yes, my Lord" Herudil answered and stared at the pages. "What are these?" the elf asked not making head or tales from all the different numbers. "A detailed list from our treasury?" he asked glancing from Thranduil to Aranlin scratching his head in wonder. "These are the costs?" he mused and pointed to the left line, "these are the income?"

He paused and looked up at Thranduil.

"Go on!" the king pressed, noting that more and more advisors had joined them now and Aranlin became more and more nervous.

"Do we have this many costs?" Herudil asked frowning at the page. "Where did all the money go?"

Thranduil handed him another page silently.

"This is the same list, only from one of our advisors!" Herudil spoke loudly, feeling very accomplished at recognising the list, but then his face darkened and he started comparing the numbers on both lists. Raising an eyebrow he held the pages closer to his eyes and looked again.

"What can you see?" Silas asked wondering what was taking him so long.

"There have been frequent deductions from this list" he spoke and held up the treasury list. "And the same frequent adding onto this list" he continued and held up the other page.

"Whose list is it?" Nardil, the transportation advisor asked.

"It's... its Aranlin's" Herudil spoke baffled.

A loud rumour rose from all the advisors standing by the door, murmering amongst one another. Aranlin seemed to crawl even more into the cupboard and slowly sank to the floor.

Thranduil stood and straightened his back before glancing at all his advisors behind him. As Silas smiled and nodded at him he returned the nod, before he turned around again he noticed a servant heading towards one of the healers standing amongst the advisors.

Frowning as he watched them converse he wondered what was going on but was quickly distracted as the security advisor stepped up to take Aranlin with him.

"Wait, I want to ask him some questions first" Thranduil said while he grabbed Ardith's arm and stopped him.

"My Lord" the healer interrupted them, drawing the attention towards them. "May I be excused? I have an urgent matter to attend to" he spoke quickly. "It's Lindëlas, it appears she has taken a bad fall" he added.