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"Still up so late, Vlohiri?” the prisoner asked and seemed truly astonished.

“You are the poacher they caught, right?” Vlohiri accused him the same second. “You shot a deer.”

“That’s what the guards told you?” Aragorn coughed again. His face was still bruised, and the cut on his right cheekbone was healing slowly. It looked even worse in the restless gleam of the torch. Vlohiri did not want to look at it, so he stared at the scratches on the wood of the door.

“Narana did.”

“Narana is…?”

“The cook. She told me you were captured by Lt. Medros,” he said stubbornly, looking up again. “And that the Lady said you go to the dungeon for that crime. She knows you’re guilty.”

Aragorn exhaled and closed his eyes for a moment.

“Guilt is a hard word,” he then said and looked at him again. “Before you can talk about guilt you have to say what is the crime.” Vlohiri stared at him. He had expected the prisoner to defend himself, saying, he was not guilty and that the deer had already been dead. Something like that. “I cannot convince you, lad. You either believe me or Narana. You do not know me. So it is your right to trust who you know.” Another pause followed. Vlohiri felt the cold creep up his legs and arms. He shivered and rubbed his arms. The prisoner down the other side of the corridor whined bitterly. It sounded awful in the cold darkness. “But still – I speak the truth. I did not kill any beast on the Lady’s lands. I had not even been there when I was captured.”

Vlohiri locked eyes with Aragorn, not knowing what to think. He wanted to be convinced that all men locked up in these cells deserved their sentence. This was what he had been told since he could understand words. But Aragorn had not reacted as he expected it.

“I’m so confused,” he admitted and almost broke into tears.

“Go to bed, Vlohiri.” Aragorn stepped away from the bars, and slowly Vlohiri made his way back into the hall. Aragorn’s answer was like mist he could not see through. ‘Confusion’ was a word too weak to describe the trouble he felt.

Impressum: Balkau, Berlin, Germany

balkau-web (at) power (dot) ms