"Nonetheless he would not wholly leave deeds of war;" – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion
Túrin picked Mîm – plush again – off the sidewalk and tucked him carefully under his arm. He let out a sigh. 'Well, we are set for those twenty-four hours again,' he said. He looked at Beleg. 'Thank-you for that.'
Beleg nodded coolly and lifted up the toy version of Andróg. 'He looks cuter like this,' he said.
With a roll of his eyes Túrin continued in the direction of the city. He wondered how long it would be before they got there, or if they were simply lost. He felt the sword swing at his side and was grateful that Beleg had let him carry it, even if it was Beleg's. He felt safer with a sword.
'I wonder what the others think of us,' Beleg said. 'Do you think that they might believe we are very strange here?'
'Most likely.' Túrin looked around again. 'We dress nothing like these people, and I do not see weapons on them. It is a very different society than those that we have known.'
'Indeed.' Beleg turned around as he walked, surveying their surroundings. 'Do you see those tall buildings over yonder?' he asked, pointing with his hand.
Túrin turned and looked in the direction that he was pointing.
'It could be that those are the city for which we are searching!' Beleg exclaimed. 'Do you wish to head in that way?'
'Yes, I think that would be wise,' Túrin said.
Another half hour of walking brought them to the seaside. There was a harbour with grey stone and a few boats, a couple of ships, and people walking about, mostly silent.
Túrin surveyed the area. It looked very much like what he would have imagined a harbour city to be. A boat made its way to a docking area, and he watched as people boarded it.
'Beleg,' he said. 'Is this then the ocean?'
Beleg nodded. 'Yes, indeed, Túrin,' he said. 'It is the ocean.' He looked down at the waves lapping against what seemed to be the side of the street. It was like a square that just disappeared into the water, straight down. Túrin looked down with him. 'So this is the city of which we were told,' he said. 'Come, it is time to find who rules it and see if there is any way to re—'
He froze as Andróg fell. Beleg gasped and then dropped to his knees, reaching down to retrieve the toy – the man. He bobbed in the water out of reach, that persistent smile on his face, but he was getting heavier as the water leached into his plush skin. The smiling face was slowly going under.
'He is going to drown! What have you done?' Túrin cried as Beleg reached out another time.
Beleg did not answer him. The Andróg-toy was sinking quickly now. He jumped off the stone and into the ocean. It was quite a fall before he hit the water. He went under and came back up again.
'He is there!' Túrin said, pointing.
Quickly Beleg snatched the Andróg toy from the waves. He swam back towards Túrin and pushed Toy-Andróg up to him. Túrin dropped to his stomach to grab it. He threw it down beside him and reached his hand down to Beleg. Beleg clawed his way up the side until he could reach Túrin's hand. Túrin dragged him up and rolled him onto the ground beside him.
'What happened?' he gasped, ignoring the small crowd of onlookers who had gathered.
'The wind,' Beleg said. 'I'm sorry. It knocked him out of my arms.'
Túrin looked down at the soggy toy beside him. 'He wasn't under long enough to drown,' he said.
'Do you think that he could drown in that state?'
'I do not know. It is better to take precautions.' He stood up again. 'Besides, he could have been lost at the bottom of the sea. How deep do you think it is?'
Beleg looked down at the water. 'I could not say. It is deep though.'
Without another word, Túrin gathered the soaked Andróg-toy into his arms and started across the square towards the buildings on the other side. Beleg followed him, empty-armed. Túrin brushed past the bystanders as quickly as he could, not meeting their eyes.
This square seemed like a place where you would have a market. There were even a few people selling things. He wondered if it would be a good idea to ask them about whoever ruled the land and if there were any great wizards known. Perhaps it was just best to make to the building that had caught his eye.
'Beleg,' he said, turning to the elf, who was starting to fall behind. 'Behold! there is a building of great might and majesty.' He pointed with his hand to a tall white building with blue domes touched by gold that towered above the others. 'That must be the palace!'
They made their way to the palace and went up the many steps to the entrance. Other people were milling in and out of the building. Cautiously, and still holding their toy-friends against them, they stepped in. There were many benches facing the front, and candles glowing in a dome to their right, but there was no king to be seen. A few people sat on the benches, and all around there was silence broken only by an occasional whisper.
Túrin and Beleg sat down on one of the benches and looked around. The building was constructed very well. Every part of it was ornate, and there was a huge instrument of pipes that looked like some overgrown flute. Túrin felt strangely uncomfortable there; it was as if everyone about him knew something that he did not. He coughed into his fist and looked around. Right. Beleg was soaking wet, he was wearing a sword, and he was carrying toys. What everyone else knew was that he and Beleg simply did not belong there.
'We must needs ask someone about what this place is,' he whispered against Beleg's ear. He smelt salty.
'Excuse me,' Beleg said to the dark haired couple across from them. 'What is this place?'
The man and the woman exchanged nervous glances, but they said nothing.
'I think that we are too strange at present to be given answer to our questions,' Beleg whispered to Túrin.
He nodded, and they quietly left the building.
'Come on,' said Túrin. 'Let us find some place for you to dry, and we can then discuss what we need to do.'
It took them sometime to find a comfortable enough nook to stay for a while. It was a staircase leading down under the street to a locked door. It was not too far from the "palace" and it offered some shelter from the biting wind. Slowly Beleg dried off, but Andróg-toy only seemed to be getting wetter (although that was probably just skewed perception.) Finally they climbed back out onto the street ready to face their problems all over again.
Two hours of aimless wandering brought them no closer to a solution. They tried to examine every important looking building that they could find, finally learning that quite a few of these ornate places were "churches" and "cathedrals." There seemed to be no palace to find.
Growing frustrated, Túrin turned to Beleg. 'Why do you not ask that stranger,' he nodded towards a man passing by, 'where we can find the king of this land?'
'Why do you not ask him?' Beleg asked.
'You are better with people, my friend.'
'Fine.' He sighed. 'Excuse me, sir?'
The man stopped and turned to them. He smiled. 'I don't speak Finnish,' he said in English.
'Ah, you speak English though?' Beleg said, switching to English.
'Yeah,' the man smiled again.
'Well, I have a question, if you would be willing to answer?'
'Um, sure,' the man said.
'Do you know where the king of this land lives?'
'Oh, Finland doesn't have a king,' the man said. 'It's got a president.'
'Yeah. Sweden's got a king though.'
Sweden. Sweden. Túrin thought to himself. Oh, yes. He remembered it from the map that Chantal had shown them. It was a country bordering Finland.
'Thank-you,' Beleg said. 'Do you know where this president lives?'
'Um.' The man blew air from his cheeks. 'Somewhere in this city, I think. I don't know where. I'm just visiting.'
'Thank-you,' Beleg said again. 'And…what exactly is a president?'
The man crinkled his brow, and his brown eyes narrowed. 'It's…um, it's…is this a joke?'
Beleg shook his head solemnly.
'It's a political leader elected by the people with some power over the country, I guess.'
Beleg nodded solemnly. 'I see. One last thing, do you know if this country has any great wizards?'
The man started to laugh, then he looked at the two of them and stopped laughing. 'You're joking.'
Beleg shook his head.
'You're crazy then.'
No one called Beleg crazy. In a flash, Túrin had drawn his sword. The plush-toys fell to the ground in a pile. 'Take that back.'
The man took a step back. 'You're both loony.'
'Túrin, put that sword away. Now.' Beleg said. He placed a hand on Túrin's wrist.
'I'm going to call the police,' the man said, reaching into his pocket.
Túrin sheathed the sword, and Beleg gathered the plush toys up. 'Let us go,' he said.
'You did what?' Chantal pinched the bridge of her nose and then rubbed her face against her fist. 'You did what?'
It was the next day, and they were once more in the little woods where Chantal had left them the day before. They had spent the night hiding there, and were now under interrogation for what they had been up to.
'He called Beleg crazy, so I drew my sword on him,' Túrin repeated.
Chantal took a few sharp breaths in. 'I'm not usually angry,' she said. 'But…' She took another deep breath and let it out slowly. 'Give me the sword.'
'Give. The. Sword. To. Me.' She held her hand out. 'Now.'
Túrin reluctantly handed it over. She nearly dropped it.
'Ah! This is heavy.' She lay it down on the grass near her. 'Now I'm not going to kiss you,' she said. 'You're all going home with me, and you're going to stay in my suitcase and be good.' She folded her arms before descending into a fit of coughing.
Túrin stood there uncomfortably. It was awkward being scolded by a tiny girl. 'But,' he said. 'We have to go to Sweden.'
She looked up at him. 'What?'
'We have to go to Sweden.'
'Why do you have to go to Sweden?'
'They have a king,' Beleg said. 'We must talk to him.'
She sighed. 'And you think he would talk to you.'
'We would beg for audience,' Beleg said.
'That's a fine way to get arrested. That and drawing swords on people!' She gave them another sharp look.
'Please, we must go.'
'Why don't you go to Norway or Denmark? They have kings. Or you could go to England to see the queen…or the Netherlands…or…' She coughed again. 'Or you could practice not being stupid.'
Túrin crossed his arms.
'I hope you turn plush,' Chantal said. 'I'm not kissing you.'
'He's going to file a police report. They're going to be looking for you. You can't go do stupid things like that.'
'I'm not stupid,' Túrin said.
'I'm sure you aren't,' she said. 'Just incredibly, horribly, terribly, male.'
'There's no need to bring sex into this,' Beleg said.
She harrumphed and ignored them, only to start coughing again.
'Are you…sick?' Beleg asked.
'Yes, wonderfully so.'
'Is that what makes you so short-tempered?'
'That and your stupidity! Drawing a sword in public.' She harrumphed again. 'Do you know that I got an email today?'
'…And that is?' Beleg looked curious.
'An electronic letter.'
'Is this somehow important?' Túrin asked.
'Only if you consider Sauron important,' she said.
They both looked at her. 'Sauron?'
'Yes, Morgoth's little underling.'
'What does it say?' Túrin demanded.
Just writing to let you know that Morgoth changed his mind. I'll be dropping by soon for a little chat. Toodle-loo until I see you soon.
'Heart?' Túrin said.
'It means love.'
'Ah,' Túrin said, and he might have said something more except that suddenly the world around him grew a lot larger, and he found he couldn't say anything at all. Or move. Once again, it was plush-toy time.