A Lady's Tale - Part Thirty-Two
Lady of Lómaelin
She wandered across a vast expanse of snow, her footprints leaving soft marks that were quickly covered up by the white powder falling from the sky. Her breath curled in front of her, and her tears froze on her cheeks. Her heart had stopped beating and her thoughts ran around her mind in slow spirals. She did not even try to understand them. She felt, heard, saw...nothing. All that existed was the endless expanse of whiteness that she walked across now.
Analsiel woke sharply, her eyes filled with unshed tears, and her pillow wet from those that had fallen. Her hair was wet with frost and icicles still clung to it and her teeth chattered from cold.
Another waking dream, she thought, and shivered, not entirely from the cold. The last dream she had had that left her with proof of its reality had been one in which she and her horse flew up to the stars and were blessed by Galadriel. Then, when she had awoken, she had carried Galadriel's talisman around her neck. Now, she was covered in frost and her whole body was icy cold.
Frightened by the thought that she had dreamed something so awful and it had been real, she nestled deeper under her blankets, but they were just as frozen as she was. So she slipped out of her bed and went into her bathroom to draw a warm bath.
They had been at the palace two weeks, and Analsiel was back in her old room, having left the army. She had not really wanted her to, but Arwen had explained that soon she would be of the nobility, and she would not be permitted to be a regular member of the Army. Besides, she would be busy enough planning for the Ered Lithui, and she would not want to be burdened with life of a soldier.
The hot water of the bath brought back some of Analsiel's calm, and certainly stopped her teeth chattering. She was relaxed enough now to think about what the dream meant.
It must be when I killed the warg, she thought. I've never been in snow like that before, so it must be from that time. But I never felt that way. then a horrifying thought occurred to her. What if it hasn't happened yet? What if that will happen to me, and soon?
That idea was too horrible to contemplate, because Analsiel knew that she could not change her fate. If that was coming to her, it would come, and she could not change it.
Shaking her head, she rinsed the icicles out of her ebony hair and let the dream melt away with them. She then continued to wash herself, but the warmth of the water was no longer comforting.
"No, no!" moaned Nori, pinning up the fabric onto the dressmakers model. "Analsiel, that color will look ghastly on you! Just because you are going to be the Lady of Lómaelin doesn't mean you have to dress like a Mador-hai!"
Analsiel sighed and looked to Firnciliath for sympathy, but the Elf maiden ducked her head to hide her mischievous grin. Analsiel gave her own smile, resignedly, and let the fittings continue.
The two women were only helping her pick out fabrics for her dress, as neither had any skill as a seamstress. They had spent hours poring over designs for the insignia of Lómaelin, and had at last settled upon the design of a sword emerging from a blue lake. Firnciliath had made an excellent drawing of it, and all that was left to be done was to decide the coloring. They were agreed that the lake should be blue, but Nori wanted the sword red, like Ruthruin. However, Firnciliath had pointed out that red and blue would look ghastly together, so that idea had to be abandoned. But they didn't know what other color to make it that wouldn't already be using the colors of another noble of the realm.
Analsiel moved around the room, examining fabrics. Nothing caught her attention. Then she stepped past the dusty curtain in the back of the room into the dressmaker's private shop for those outside the palace who sought her services. A glimmer of shining fabric caught her eye, and she reached out to them.
A bundle of glowing satins spilled out of the rough canvas bag they were in. She ran her fingers over bolts of crimson, black, white, and sapphire. Periwinkle embroidery graced a length of silver, and golden gauze shimmered at the bottom of the pile.
Analsiel sighed. All of it was so beautiful, and yet none would serve for her insignia. Though she would ask the dressmaker for gowns made from several of these fabrics. The crimson in particular was fine. But yet, there must be something in this magnificent pile that would suit.
Then she found it. A full bolt of the fabric, totally unused. It was creamy ivory at first glance, but when twisted to another light, it was silver. She looked more closely at it and saw that weave was so tight it gave the illusion of being two colors, but in fact, the weft of the fabric was silver, and the warp ivory. It was the most magical cloth Analsiel had ever had the joy of touching.
"Here," she called out, when she heard Nori call her name. A moment later, her friends passed through the curtain. They both caught their breath at the magnificent pile of fabric at Analsiel's feet. Then Nori looked at what her friend held in her hands and exhaled softly.
"Perfect," she whispered. Firnciliath nodded her agreement.
Analsiel smiled. "Yes," she said softly. "Perfect."
They chose dark blue velvet the color of a lake at twilight to make up the lake on her insignia, and put the whole emblem on a pale lavender field, to represent Analsiel being Arwen's lady. Then they showed the fabrics they had chosen to the dressmaker, and Analsiel told her that she would return in a few days to see about a few other gowns. Analsiel also asked for a dress, less formal, in the same colors for Quelleanon, who was her seneschal, and in charge of Lómaelin in Analsiel's absence.
Analsiel went to bed that night happier than she had been in days.
The dress turned out more beautiful than Analsiel had hoped. She had commissioned a cloak to match, and even a set of jewelry. She had been speaking to a creditor, and had worked out that half of her `allowance' from the crown as one of Arwen's nobles, as well the start of her pay for being an official commander in Aragorn's army, would be sufficient to start farms and homes on the land of Lómaelin. The lake would also prove a source of retinue, as it turned out that there were minerals and fish in its waters. So once she had people who would settle there and serve under her, she would indeed be a well established peer of the realm.
She planned well for all of that and even better for her command in the Ered Lithui, but that was all in the future. The ceremony that would make her nobility was to be held in only a week, and she had a large number of ceremonial speeches and responses to learn, things that had been done since the beginnings of Gondor. It was all a great deal of old fashioned speech, but at times it was rather poetic.
The day dawned bright and clear, but very few people were out in the city or in the practice yards. Almost everyone knew of Analsiel and liked her, if only in passing, and were glad to see her rise in the world. And anyone who didn't know her came out of a love to see pageantry.
And pageantry they saw.
All the nobility of the realm was lined in the Great Hall, bedecked in the finest. Men, Elves, and even a few dwarves had gathered to see someone made into an equal of their own station, to take their measure of her to plan for their intrigues.
Aragorn and Arwen waited at the end of the pathway in all their Gondorian splendor. They wore identical capes of cloth-of-gold, with the white Tree of Gondor embroidered on the back. Arwen wore a gown of scarlet that hugged her form, and Aragorn a long tunic of red with leggings and undershirt of midnight black. They made quite a show.
Their nobles almost upstaged them. The gathering in the hall was like a flock of many-colored birds, all glittering and twittering. Legolas wore a tunic of what looked like spun moonbeams, and Firndil a tunic of fawn color with gold trim. He stood next to Firnciliath, who wore a loose gown of sea-green that brought out her eyes. Nori, standing next to her, whispered into her ear now and then, her ice blue skirts rustling, asking which noble was which. Firnciliath would answer back and Nori would nod, only to ask her another question as more important people swept into the room.
Then a loud sweep on a harp, Analsiel's chosen signal, sounded and the hall fell silent. Aragorn stood and began to speak.
Hidden behind the large oak doors at the end of the hall, Analsiel could not hear Aragorn's formal address. She would only know he was done when the doors swung open to reveal her. Terrified, she smoothed her skirts and straightened her hair. Doing so gave her courage, as fine attire usually does. Then she squared her shoulders, and took a deep breath. She was ready for this, she was not afraid-
The doors swung open.
She was not ready. She was afraid. It was much easier to lie to herself behind the closed doors. Now, she faced all of the court of Gondor, and its King and Queen. She suppressed a gulp and stepped out onto the carpet.
Then her mind whirled back in time. She watched her past as she walked timidly down to the King and Queen. She saw herself as a scared sixteen year old just arriving in a new country without a friend. She saw being made one of Arwen's Ladies. She saw herself training, and receiving Carandae, and getting her leaf, and dying, and then healing men in Mirkwood, and then fighting the Mador-hai, and then...she saw Lómaelin. And she drew her head up higher. All this she had done. All this she had accomplished within the last three years of her life. Now she held her head and walked smoothly down to thank her King and Queen.
Firndil saw the change in her. He didn't know what had caused it, but it lit up her features and she straightened to her full height and walked with pride. She looked a goddess. But she had been beautiful before that. Firndil hardly had an eye for such things, but he could see that she was dressed amazingly well. The blue velvet made the body of the gown, sweeping to long, pointed sleeves that dangled on the floor, and parting at her waist to reveal an underskirt of a creamy-silver fabric. Firndil could not figure out how an underskirt could work in a dress that hugged Analsiel's form so smoothly. Still, it worked. She wore her silver leaf around her neck on a short silver chain. Her hair was swept up into a blue snood that hung demurely at her neck. It was studded with pearls that were almost the same color as her underskirt. She was a vision.
He felt Firnciliath at his side sigh, and run her fingers along the box that lay beside her. She had not told him what her present to Analsiel was, but he could guess from its length and weight. And he saw Nori wipe a small, happy tear away from her eye. Their emotions were very different, but Firndil sensed that both were pleased beyond words with their friend.
He was as well. He knew she would not, could not, look his way, but even so he smiled when she passed him. Then he jumped. She had winked at him.
Analsiel knelt, careful of her trailing sleeves, knelt before the dais upon which the King and Queen stood. Ruthruin was naked in her hand and she stretched forward her arm and placed into Aragorn's hands. The ceremony began with this action and with her words.
"Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor, and to the Lord and King of the realm, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need or plenty, in peace or war, in living or dying, from this hour henceforth until my lord release me or death take me, or the world end. So say I, Analsiel, daughter of Tenedril and Feredwyn, of Rohan, home of the Rohirrim."
The words were from an ancient ceremony that had been started by the first steward, and many thought it was probably what the ancient kings had used. So Aragorn had adopted it. Now he spoke.
"And this I do hear, Aragorn son of Arathorn, King of Gondor, and I will not forget it, nor fail to reward that which is given. Fealty with love, valor with honour, oath breaking with vengeance. Now take your sword from my hands, and become my vassal!" he cried.
A great cheer rose up as Analsiel took her sword and bowed to the king. She felt overwhelmed with pride and gratitude, but had little time for such strong emotions, as her friends took this moment to pile about her and carry her off to celebrate.
***Yes, the ceremony is from Return of The King. I had a really corny one on here, and then I reread the part where Pippin swears this oath and I thought it would be perfect. The last line of it however, (the worst one) is mine. ***