"Angel of Music" - Part 13 - Entering the Wood -- cheerfully?
Entering the Wood
Foreword: Okay, everyone, it's been a little while since I last wrote, and some of the parts may be forgotten, so I'll bring it all back.
Recap: Vywien, Rindel, Eæric, and Zachary (who died) were traveling with Carolyn to Lothlórien. Vywien had multiple husbands, and by her seventh and favorite, she had a daughter: Melia.
While they traveled, Rindel was a cheerful elf, slightly an air-head, but quite pleasant. He became friends with Carolyn.
Eæric was Carolyn's Angel of Music, though she did not know it.
Vywien spoke almost constantly, and was pretty likable.
After they became separated, Eæric - who knew the land very well - went to tell Elrond, then headed to Gondor in hopes to find Vywien with her daughter, Melia.
Carolyn went on with the Fellowship. They were soon joined by Bûrzash, a mysterious former-assassin without a clear past whose new master has become Frodo. She cannot go more than about ten yards away from him. Carolyn doesn't like Bûrzash and avoids her.
Carolyn went into shock after seeing the Balrog's fire (think the crematoria!) We have just entered Lórien, and after the Nimrodel song - by Legolas (and some rather odd philosophy from Carolyn) pulled her out of that shock. The part ended:
"Daro!" [descend] 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.
Note: Sorry, that was a long recap, but this story is getting a little complicated, and I wanted to make sure you were all caught up. If y'all have any more questions, just ask. Enjoy!
Over their heads, there was the sound of soft laughter, accompanied by another voice, familiar to only one of the travelers. "Carolyn?" it asked. "I had feared you dead!"
"Dead?" she returned, perfectly normally. "I should say not! The Angel would not allow it. I am here; come down and greet me properly; don't just stay in that tree!"
Legolas stared at Carolyn. This had not been the first time in the last few days she had surprised him; but now the German sounded cheerful. Carolyn was smiling up into the tree, with a look of expectancy on her face. She seemed to have completely forgotten the Fellowship of the Ring, and Bûrzash, and the Balrog, and everything that had bothered her at all. Never, even with Legolas, had she been like this before. The elf guessed rightly that once, before whatever it was that had happened to her, Carolyn was very light-hearted indeed. No depression could keep her down anymore how that she saw a friendly face - other than his.
Legolas was strangely sad. In a way, he had felt almost . . . well, vain as it sounded, there was no other word for it: special. Only he had brought her out of terrified spells. She had spoken to none but Legolas.
Then the elf thought back once more, to see this was not true: Carolyn had also responded well to Frodo. During the banquet of Elrond, Frodo had pulled her from the dark world of dreams. When Carolyn had run away from everyone and everything, wishing only to die, it had been Frodo who had found her. So she could adapt, and obviously had. Carolyn needed no more guidance from him, and Legolas was not as glad as he once would have been.
But Legolas's thoughts were interrupted by the elvish voices speaking again to him. He looked up and answered in the same language.
"Who are they, and what do they say?" asked Merry.
"They're Elves," said Sam. "Can't you hear their voices?"
"Yes, they are Elves," said Legolas; "and they say that you breathe so loudly that they could shoot you in the dark." Sam hastily put his hand over his mouth. "But they say also that you need have no fear. They have been aware of us for a long while. They heard my voice across the Nimrodel, and knew that I was one of their Northern kindred, and therefore they did not hinder our crossing; and afterwards they heard my song. Now they bid me climb up with Frodo; for they seem to have had some tidings of him and of our journey. The others they ask to wait a little, and to keep watch at the foot of the tree, until they have decided what is to be done."
The first elvish voice spoke again to Legolas, and he added slowly: "Except for Carolyn, for one wishes to speak with her."
A grey-cloaked figure leapt down from the mallorn tree in front of Carolyn, and bowed. "You wish a proper greeting, my Lady? Well I have come! But perhaps we should go a little distance again!"
Carolyn laughed in a high, sweet voice and took the arm Rindel offered her. They walked a little way off so that Legolas could not hear their words, and he wondered.
Out of the shadows a ladder was let down; it was made of rope, silver-grey and glimmering in the dark, and though it looked slender, it proved very strong indeed. Legolas ran lightly up, and Frodo followed slowly; behind came Sam trying not to breathe loudly. Bûrzash followed unnoticed, giving the rope a wide berth, and running up the trunk silently.
When Bûrzash came to the top of the flet, this is what she heard and saw: there were three elves - other than Legolas - seated in the shadows, in a manner which they obviously thought was difficult to see. Each of them sat calmly, watching Legolas, Sam, and her master. They welcomed the newcomers in a strange tongue that burned Bûrzash's ears before reverting to the more common Westron.
The elves greeted her master. One spoke, and introduced himself as Haldir, and his two brothers: Rúmil and Orophin. "We have heard rumors of your coming, for the messengers of Elrond stopped by on their way past. We had not heard of - hobbits, or halflings, for many a long year, and did not know that any yet dwelt in Middle-earth. You do not look evil! And since you come with an elf of our kindred, we are willing to befriend you, though it is not our custom.
Why does my Master wish to be friends with these people? Bûrzash wondered, before quickly stifling any thought even close to disloyalty. Of course he's right. My Master is always right. I simply do not know the truth. Still - elves!
"But you must stay here tonight," Haldir added, looking over the three of them: Legolas, Sam, and Frodo. "How many are you?"
"Ten," said Legolas. "Myself, four hobbits; and two men, one of whom, Aragorn, is an Elf-friend of the folk of Westernesse. The Lady Carolyn, who lost her way traveling her; and - " Legolas looked helplessly at Frodo.
"My servant," Frodo said softly, glancing into the shadows. Somehow, though even his eyes could not pierce the shadows, Frodo knew Bûrzash was there.
Haldir looked at Frodo questioningly, but merely said: "All is well then, and the name of Aragorn well known to the Lady, and it was known of Carolyn's coming. But you have yet spoken only of nine."
"The tenth is a dwarf," said Legolas.
"A dwarf!" exclaimed Haldir. "That is not well. Dwarves are not permitted in our land; I cannot allow him to pass."
"But he is from the Lonely Mountain, and friendly to Elrond," said Frodo. "Elrond himself chose him to be one of our companions, and he has been brave and faithful."
The Elves spoke together again in their soft voices, but the foul language of the elves still burned Bûrzash's thoughts. Did they dare doubt her master? The Zanbaur,* Let them just try to go against her. . . why couldn't they speak in the Common tongue? It was foul, yes, but not like this!
"Very good," Haldir said at last. "We will do this, though it is against our liking. If Aragorn and Legolas will guard him, and answer him, he may pass into Lothlórien, but he must be blindfolded!
"But now we must debate no longer. Your folk must not remain on the ground. We have been keeping watch, and there is a troop of orcs nearby. If you have indeed come from Moria, the peril cannot be far behind. Tomorrow early you must go on.
"The four hobbits shall climb up here and stay with us - we do not fear them! There is another talan in the next tree. The others must take refuge there. You, Legolas, must answer to us for them. Call us, if anything is amiss! And have an eye on that dwarf!"
It never even occurred to Bûrzash that the Haldir had implied that she come to the other tree. Why in the world would - or could - she leave her master?
Legolas went down the ladder at once to deliver Haldir's message. Soon afterwards, Merry and Pippin climbed up. They were out of breath, and seemed rather scared. But all was well - for them - after a second and rather better supper.
"I hope, if I do go to sleep," said Pippin. "That I shan't roll off this loft."
"Once I do get to sleep," said Sam, "I shall go on sleeping, whether I roll off or no. And the less said, the sooner I'll drop off, if you take my meaning."
"You'll be staying with me for a while," said Rindel, "if that's all right. Haldir will be coming soon, with some [elvish] maids to take care of you. Now tell me all about this little adventure of yours. I had never thought you would end up with the Fellowship, of all peoples! Is it bad, traveling with a dwarf?"
"Well," Carolyn conceded, "he was a bit strange - kind of rough. But I don't mind so much, now."
"You still singing?"
"Ah, so that's what you wanted to talk about," Carolyn answered, winking mischievously at him. "Why are you so interesting in my music all of the sudden? It's not so important, really."
"But I thought you said the Angel kept you safe!"
"Oh! he did; he did! But I've been thinking. I mean, if the emotion really is from Music, why do we need it at all? It all seems rather silly to me. In fact, I've been re-thinking the whole `music' thing."
"Yes," she said shortly. "I was rather silly - being so morbid and all! I've decided that from now on, I'm going to be perfectly cheerful and never let anything bother me! `Let the past be the past' as my mother always said. Do you know, that Vywien reminded me a bit of my mom? It was kind of silly, you see. She was married three times - my mom, not Vywien! That elf had about seven. I wonder if she ever had any children."
"I don't know;" said Rindel, attempting to keep up with Carolyn's rather fast and random stream of words. "What shall we do?"
"Ooh! I know," Carolyn answered. "Let's ask Haldir, when he comes, if he knows any old stories!"
"Wonderful!" answered Rindel. "And here he comes now!"
Haldir looked at them in surprise from where he had emerged from the trees not thirty feet away. He had heard his name, and wondered very much what he might be pulled into now . . .
Frodo lay for some time awake, and looked up at the stars glinting through the pale roof of quivering leaves. Sam was snoring at his side long before he himself closed his eyes. Frodo could dimly see the grey forms of two elves sitting motionless with their arms about their knees, speaking in whispers. The other had gone down to take up his watch on one of the lower branches. At last lulled by the wind in the boughs above, and the sweet murmur of the falls of Nimrodel below, Frodo fell asleep with the song of Legolas running in his mind.
Late in the night he woke again, with the strange feeling of being watched; yet all the other hobbits were fast asleep, and the wind was still. A little way off, he heard a harsh laugh and the tread of many feet on the ground below. There was a ring of metal. The sounds died slowly away, and seemed to go southward, on into the wood.
A head appeared suddenly through the hole in the flet. Frodo sat up in alarm and saw that it was a grey-hooded Elf. He looked toward the hobbits.
"What is it?" asked Frodo.
"Yrch!" answered the Elf.
"Orcs!" said Frodo. "What are they doing here?" But the elf had already disappeared.
"They are chasing you," said a soft voice from the shadows, that Frodo knew must be Bûrzash's. Yet somehow it seemed different in the night - less rough, perhaps. She spoke in a low voice, but he could hear the knowledge and understanding in it. "And the others. Fear of their master overcomes even that of the Elves. They are strange creatures; I hate them all." Low as her voice was, Frodo shuddered when he heard the last part of her speech; for it was wreathed in hatred.
Bûrzash fell silent, perhaps feeling Frodo's discomfort; and there were no more sounds. Even the leaves were without sound, and the very falls seemed to be hushed. Frodo sat and shivered in his wraps. He was thankful that they had not been caught on the ground; but he felt the trees offered little protection, except concealment. He drew out Sting: it flashed and glittered like a blue flame; and then slowly faded again and grew dull. For the first time, Frodo realized that the elven sword did not react to Bûrzash's presence. Somehow it didn't surprise him: what good would stealth do if magic betrayed you to the enemy?
But it was not that uncomfortable thought that made the taste of immediate danger grow more. Frodo crawled to the opening, for he was almost certain that he could hear stealthy movements at the tree's foot far below. And it was not the elves, for they were absolutely noiseless in their movements.
Something was now climbing slowly, and its breath came like a soft hissing through closed teeth. Then coming up, close to the stem, Frodo saw two pale eyes. They stopped and gazed upward, unblinking. From behind the hobbit came a soft flurry of movement that Frodo perceived to be Bûrzash, but, for whatever reason, he stopped her with one signal of his hand.
Suddenly, the eyes turned away; and a shadowy figure slipped round the trunk of the tree and vanished. Bûrzash hissed softly through her teeth, but shrank back once more.
Immediately afterwards, Haldir came climbing swiftly up through the branches. "There was something in this tree that I have never seen before," he said. "It was not an orc. It fled as soon as I touched the tree-stem. It seemed to be wary, and to have some skill in trees, or I might have thought that it was one of you hobbits. I did not shoot.
"Orcs were here, but my brothers and I drew them off until more of our kindred could fight them - for there were three hundred. Yet not one of those orcs will now leave the woods of Lórien. I bid you go back to sleep - for I have a tale to finish." So saying, Haldir disappeared, leaving Frodo alone to his thoughts - and to wonder what Haldir meant by his last words.
"You should be careful," Haldir warned Rindel and Carolyn tiredly. "We took care of all the orcs about, but there is another thing, and I do not know what it is."
"Don't be silly!" said Carolyn, laughing. "You're just procrastinating. Come on - tell us a story!"
Haldir sighed in a long-suffering manner, but began anyway.
"Once, when I was a much younger elf - only in my early hundreds - I took a short trip to Mirkwood with several of my friends on a search for adventure.
"Now on the way, I straggled behind my traveling companions and ended up falling into a large pool of dirt and mud. I began to sink rapidly into the stuff until it came up to my chin.
"All this time, of course, I had been calling and pleading to my friends to come and help me - but to no avail; they were just too far away.
"I had begun to loose all hope when the most unlikely of creatures saved me - one of Mirkwood's famed giant spiders! When I was nearly done for, the thing came and dragged me out of the muck and onto dry land. Then I was more frightened than ever; for surely the spider was going to eat me!
"They what do you think happened?" Haldir asked.
"What?!" exclaimed Carolyn and Rindel together, eagerly waiting to hear his fate.
"Yet another spider came! And the two monsters started bickering about exactly what they were going to do with me. You see, spiders are very greedy creatures, and each of them wanted me all to themselves.
"Well, they argued among themselves so long that at last my friends caught up with me and shot both of those spiders. That night I swore that one day I would be a great warrior like my friends - and here I am! March-Warden of Lórien. Now does that satisfy you?"
"No!" said Rindel.
"Tell another!" added Carolyn. Haldir groaned; it was going to be a long night. First orcs, then this.
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Carolyn took the road of carelessness after one worn and painfully traveled. We all stray sometimes, though, and who knows where she will go next?
What you see now is Carolyn's true personality; she `snapped out' of it.
Oh, this part is dedicated to Vana, because Haldir was at her begging . . . and I'll let her say anything else.
The Robert Frost poem was more or less - well, what the last line said: we all change, and each of our decisions is that. Which way we turn changes the direction - and feel - of our travel.
*Zanbaur = elfson. It is an insult.
Part 1: http://www.theonering.com/docs/9591.html
Part 2: http://www.theonering.com/docs/9599.html
Part 3: http://www.theonering.com/docs/9619.html
Part 4: http://www.theonering.com/docs/9671.html
Part 5: http://www.theonering.com/docs/9791.html
Part 6: http://www.theonering.com/docs/10080.html
Part 7: http://www.theonering.com/docs/10374.html
Part 8: http://www.theonering.com/docs/10709.html
Part 9: http://www.theonering.com/docs/10813.html
Part 10: http://www.theonering.com/docs/11066.html
Part 11: http://www.theonering.com/docs/11366.html
Part 12: http://www.theonering.com/docs/11533.html