"Angel of Music" - Part 12 - Walking with the Sun
Walking with the Sun
Recap: The Fellowship just exited Khazad-dûm. Carolyn fainted at the sight of fire and Bûrzash pulled Frodo along - without touching him.
Eæric had spent hours under the hot sun looking for the others after their encounter with the orcs, during which time he briefly met Bûrzash. After having no luck, the elf headed to Rivendell to alert Elrond of the circumstance. Elrond had accepted him graciously, before sending Eæric to Gondor, telling him that Vywien, if she escaped, would most likely make her way there in search of her daughter, Melia. Now the elf rode as quickly as possible across Middle Earth, toward Gondor.
The sun shone down angrily on the Fellowship. What right had they to abandon it* just to walk through some mines? Now they were back, of course. They could have had at least a little gratitude for it waiting kindly for them. But none of the Company paid any attention to the indignant sun, they were all too bothered with something else. With the exception, of course, of the one who shrank away from it and blocked her eyes. The sun looked away from Bûrzash and sniffed in a sort of burning way. But it didn't really matter - the sun was much too far away from Middle Earth to affect it - and was not the Company's concern.
Or, at least, had been. He was gone now. Gandalf the Grey had fallen into shadow. All of the Fellowship bowed their heads in memory of the wizard, each one of them recalling the good times with him and the friend he had been.
All of the Fellowship. But now two more traveled with them - neither of whom knew well, or cared about, Gandalf.
Carolyn Müller was in shock, and could not stand - Legolas was still carrying her. One might have said it was because of the Balrog's fire so reminded her of Auschwitz. A critic would probably have complained of this, claiming that the only reason the young German had to be in shock was it seemed the right thing to do. It would be strange after all that time if she hadn't, in any case.
Bûrzash, on the other hand, was a very different case. She hated the moon and stars, the power that bound her and any sort of living creature - especially orcs - with the sole exception of her new master who seemed almost benevolent toward her. But more than anything, Bûrzash abhorred the angry sun that glared with malicious cruelty down upon her. It was impossible to hide from the face reddened with blood now that Frodo Baggins of the Shire was her new master. The sun was the one adversary Bûrzash could never defeat.
"Alas, I fear we can stay no longer," said Aragorn at last, breaking the silence. "Farewell, Gandalf! Did I not warn you not to pass the gates of Moria?"
The sun regarded Strider with regal studiousness. It supposed that if the victim was Gandalf, at least they had some excuse to ignore it. He was, after all, a wizard. But still, people didn't seem to pay the sun enough attention.
"We must go now," Aragorn said, turning toward the Company. "There is a long road ahead, and many orcs behind." And off they went, toward the woods of Lothlórien; home of the elves.
Frodo and Sam kept up with the Company for some time, but eventually they straggled behind, as Aragorn was leading them at a great pace. They had eaten nothing since early that morning, and each was hurt: Sam's head was burning like fire and felt light; Frodo's side ached, and he found it difficult to breath; he gasped for air with every step.. Bûrzash had attempted to help her master, but she knew nothing of medicine and had to be led by him; her blacked-out glasses blocked out sunlight, but also her ability to see.
At last Legolas turned around and saw the hobbits - and a former-assassin - lagging behind. He spoke to the ranger for a moment, and they all halted. Aragorn loped back to Frodo and Sam, calling behind him for Boromir to follow. Bûrzash backed up quickly from them. She could not see them, but her hearing was quite sufficient to know of the noisy mens' approach.
"I am sorry, Frodo!" he cried in concern. "So much has happened that I forgot you and Sam were hurt. Come, Boromir, we will carry them."
Each of them picked up a hobbit, and ran forward to the rest of the Company. Bûrzash did not move for a moment - until, in fact, Frodo had been carried about thirty feet from her, at which point she gave a small yelp of pain, and followed as if being dragged by an invisible chain between them. Under her breath, Bûrzash muttered to herself: "Afar Angathfark."
Not one of them noticed, save Sam who was looking over Boromir's shoulder. It's funny, he though, that Ash'll not make a sound even if she's badly hurt, and cry out just because Mr. Frodo's too far away. I don't like it. She has no right doing that, and hanging on to my master the whole time!
Soon afterwards they came upon a noisy bubbling stream. Gimli and the two younger hobbits started a fire; and Legolas tried to persuade Carolyn to speak to him. Aragorn cared for Frodo and Sam with Bûrzash hunkered not far off, watching the inside of her glasses so intently Strider felt she could almost see him. But of course that was impossible.
"Good luck, Sam!" Aragorn said, looking at the hobbit's head - it was a nasty cut, but neither deep nor poisoned. "Many have received worse for slaying their first orc; you'll be fine. Now let me look at you, Frodo."
"I am all right," said Frodo, reluctant to have his garments touched. "All I needed was some food and a little rest."
"No!" said Aragorn. Bûrzash tensed; but Frodo, sensing her mood in some inexplicable way, whispered that it would be all right. Aragorn went on, "We must have a look and see what the hammer and anvil have done to you. I still marvel you are alive at all." Gently he stripped off Frodo's old jacket and worn tunic, and gave a gasp of wonder. Then he laughed, holding the corslet of mithril mail above his head so it shone in the sunlight that played proudly upon the true-silver.
"Look, my friends!" Aragorn called. "Here's a pretty hobbit-skin to wrap an elven-princeling in!"
"All of the arrows in Middle Earth would have been deflected by it," said Gimli, looking over at it in wonder. "If that is the mithril coat Gandalf spoke of, then he undervalued it."
"I always wondered what you and Bilbo were doing locked up in his room," said Merry. "Bless the old hobbit! I hope we have a chance to tell him about it."
Carolyn looked up for a moment from her stupor. She gazed longingly at the shining mithril. It was so beautiful - like nothing she had ever seen before, or would again. For a moment she considered asking to hold it, to just touch the coat. But Aragorn was already putting the thing back on Frodo, and cautioning him to never remove it. Carolyn sighed and sat back again, just as Legolas turned toward her. He thought for a moment she had moved, but that was soon forgotten: the girl was as immobile as always.
They went on again, but had not gone far before the sun sank. Dusk veiled their feet, and mist rose from the hollows. Sam and Frodo now walked easily,. Bûrzash came with them, but no longer leaned on her masters arm; when the sun was gone she saw painlessly - more so than any of the others - for she had taken off her blackened glasses with relief.
Frodo heard the soft pattering of bare feet following them. The same as he had in Moria. He turned around swiftly. There were two tiny gleams of light behind, but they at once slipped away and vanished.
"What is it?" asked Gimli.
"I do not know," said Frodo. "I thought I heard feet, and I thought I saw a light - like eyes. I heard them often, since back when we entered Moria."
Gimli halted and stooped to the ground. "I hear nothing but the night-speech of plant and stone," he said. "Come! Let us hurry! The others are out of sight."
"You âdhûnal know what he is, goth," muttered Bûrzash jerkily under her breath, only partly in the common tongue.
"Lothlórien!" Legolas cried as the company came to the edge of the Golden Wood. Carolyn looked up vaguely, the words brought back very different memories than she had been thinking of before. "Long have I wished to come here - fairest land of my people. Alas that it is winter!"
"Winter or not," Aragorn said, "I am glad to be here."
But Boromir stopped at the edge and did not step in. "Is there no other way?" He asked.
"Do you not wish to go into the wood?" Legolas asked, surprised.
"Not unless I must," answered the man. "In my land we have many tales of Lórien. They say it is ruled by a witch, and that none come out unscathed - if at all!"
"Say not `unscathed,'" said Aragorn, "but perhaps if you say `unchanged' you will be closer to the truth. Come with us into the wood."
"All right, I will come," said Boromir. "But not willingly." He stepped resolutely under the trees and followed Aragorn.
They had gone little more than a mile into the forest when they came upon a stream flowing down swiftly from the tree-clad slopes that climbed back toward the mountains. They heard its gurgle and splash and it hurried along.
"Here is the Nimrodel!" said Legolas. "Of this stream many songs have been made. It is clean and healthy! It is said the water is healing for the weary; I will cross it. Follow me, the water is not deep." The elf went forward and climbed down the bank. He let Carolyn down so that she might walk beside him in the waters. The others crossed behind him.
Frodo stepped into the water and felt the cleanliness sweep over his tired limbs. He walked slowly across and climbed out. To his surprise, Bûrzash was already on the other side, and not visibly wet. But Frodo shook off the surprise as Legolas began to speak.
"Do you hear the voice of Nimrodel?" Legolas asked. Frodo listened, and almost fancied that he could indeed hear a voice singing, mingling with the sound of the water. "I will sing you a song of the maiden Nimrodel in the Common tongue." In a soft voice that could hardly be heard, he began.
"An Elven-maid there was of old,
A shining star by day:
Her mantle white was hemmed with gold,
Her shoes of silver-grey.
"A star was bound upon her brows,
A light was on her hair
As sun upon the golden boughs
In Lórien the fair.
"Her hair was long, her limbs were white,
And fair she was and free;
And in the wind she went as light
As leaf of linden-tree.
"Beside the falls of Nimrodel,
By water clear and cool,
Her voice as falling silver fell
Into the shining pool.
"Where now she wanders none can tell,
In sunlight or in shade;
For lost of yore was Nimrodel
And in the mountains strayed.
"The elven-ship in haven grey
Beneath the mountain-lee
Awaited her for many a day
Beside the roaring sea."
Carolyn listened vaguely, and a memory started to form itself in her mind - one of happier days, though perhaps not wiser ones:
Carolyn strode confidently through the woods, singing to herself. She smiled broadly and flung out her arms, spinning around. What luck it was to live so close to the forest that she might walk there any day her heart desired.
"Are you sure that's safe?" a laughing voice behind her asked. "A girl walking alone in the woods."
"I'm not alone," cried Carolyn back gaily. "You're here after all." She turned to face him, bright blue eyes sparkling. She lowered her chin and looked at him innocently, braiding her golden locks. "Come protect me, I'm not afraid."
The man laughed. "What's your name, girl?"
"Where I come from," she teased him, "it's polite to introduce yourself first."
"If you like," he said, sweeping a mock bow that matched his smile and voice perfectly. "I'm Christoph, the gestapo in this area."
"I'm Carolyn, Carolyn Müller," the girl said, grinning. She knelt down to pick up one fallen golden leaf, and sat down on a log next to the river. Carolyn sat listening to it for a moment.
The gestapo agent came to sit beside her. He was singing softly.
"A wind by night in Northern lands
Arose, and loud it cried . . ."
"A wind by night in Northern lands
Arose, and loud it cried,
And drove the ship from elven-strands
Across the streaming tide.
"When dawn came dim the land was lost,
The mountains sinking grey
Beyond the heaving waves that tossed
Their plumes of blinding spray.
"Amroth beheld the fading shore
Now low beyond the swell,
And the cursed the faithless ship that bore
Him far from Nimrodel.
"Of old he was an Elven-king,
A lord of tree and glen,
When golden were the boughs in spring
In fair Lothlórien.
"From helm to sea they saw him leap,
As arrow from the string,
And dive into the water deep,
As mew upon the wing.
"The wind was in his flowing hair,
The foam about him shone;
Afar they saw him strong and fair
Go riding like a swan.
"But from the West has come no word,
And on the Hither Shore
No tidings Elven-folk have heard
Of Amroth evermore."
Legolas faltered. He was looking intently at Carolyn who had stood up straight during his song, listening. At the end, she had been singing the tune along under her breath. "I cannot sing any more," he said. "That is but a part, for I have forgotten much. It is long and sad."
"No," Carolyn said. "It is beautiful. You have a strange voice, freund, and I am glad to have come this way. There is no emotion in Music: you are part of it or you are not. It dictates your response, and you are its. Any feelings from it are your own, and what you put into it. That is the beauty of your song: it tells me of you, not the other." The others stared at her. They had never thought of it that way - nor did they agree.
"Perhaps so," said Boromir gruffly, "but we should not stay here."
"Indeed, no," replied Legolas. "But in the times of the fair Nimrodel, the people lived in trees. Perhaps that would be safer for us as well tonight."
"You're words bring good counsel," said Aragorn. "Tonight we will seek refuge in the tree-tops if we can. We have stayed here beside the road already longer than was wise."
Carolyn did not say anything. The song was almost forgotten and she stared blankly ahead once more, neither knowing nor caring that the Company now turned aside from the path, into the shadow of the deeper wood. Though, perhaps, she had improved for the music.
Not far from the Nimrodel, they came upon a cluster of trees. They were enormous in size and their grey trunks would have been strange to Carolyn, had she looked at them. Their tops would have stretched far beyond her vision.
"I will climb up," said Legolas, gently sitting Carolyn against the trunk of the tree. "I am at home among trees. These are called Mellyrn, and I am eager to see the shape of it, for I have never ascended one.
"Whatever they are," said Pippin, "they will be marvelous trees indeed if they can offer any rest at night, except to birds. I cannot sleep on a perch!"
"Then dig a hole in the ground," said Legolas, "if that is more after the fashion of your people. But do it quickly, if you wish to hide from orcs." He sprang lightly up from the ground and caught a branch that grew from the trunk high above his head. But even as he swung there for a moment, a voice spoke suddenly from the tree-shadows above him.
"Daro!" it said in a commanding tone.
Legolas dropped back to the ground in surprise and fear, but Carolyn stood and looked up near-sightedly into the tree. "Rindel?" she asked.
Sorry if I was a bit - shall we say - cynical with this part. I had a rotten day, and this is my way to "purge my soul of really nasty thoughts concerning certain teachers."
*Note: elves and hobbits refer to the Sun as "her." I do not; it might get confusing. Anyway, I already wrote it and am too lazy to go back and change what I wrote now.