A Morning Star ~ Chapter 2 of 18 - The Road West
Chapter 2: The Road West
Recap: Arelen of Rivendell just discovered that she is a half-elf and that her name is actually Ariya Alayah (although both names mean "Morning Star," Arelen is Elvish while Ariya Alayah comes from an ancient tongue of men). She has set out to find her parents in an attempt to answer the many questions that have arisen about her past.
Ariya sat along the banks of a small stream, gazing at the flowering trees, the branches swaying in the wind above her head. It had been several weeks since she left Rivendell. Not knowing where to begin the search for her parents, she had decided to travel west along the East Road. She knew that it was a fairly well-traveled road, and hoped that she might meet someone who knew her father or mother. She stopped at every village she found, asking many people whether they had seen a man named Ambilë or his elven wife, Melwen. She also occasionally strayed from the road, stopping at farms and houses asking the same question. So far no had been able to help her, but she was not discouraged. She knew that it would likely be months before she was able to locate them, and she was confident that she would eventually find someone who remembered seeing a man with an elven wife. Therefore, she chose to enjoy her idyllic journey and the beautiful June weather.
After a few moments rest, Ariya mounted her horse and continued her journey. She wished that she had spent some time looking at Elrond's maps before she left; she only vaguely remembered the maps she had seen years ago and wondered how much further she should continue her westward journey. She thought she would travel west until the road no longer looked well-traveled, then she would try searching in another direction, perhaps to the south.
After a few more hours, the sun began to sink below the distant hills and Ariya decided to stop for the night. She walked her horse a short distance from the road into the nearby trees and began to build a small fire. Throughout her journey, she had been buying food at the villages and had been collecting fruits and berries along the road, so her supplies never ran low.
As she sat watching the flames, she suddenly felt as though she were being watched. Always trusting her elven instincts, she glanced around her but could see nothing in the dark. While she had been blessed with an elven intuition, her other senses were no keener than that of men. She turned back toward the fire, but a moment later she heard a noise behind her. Startled, she jumped up and turned around to see two men leap from the trees and run toward her. They both had knives in their hands, and she clumsily reached for her bow. Before she could release an arrow, the first man was upon her and threw her to the ground. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the second man looting through her supplies, and realized that they were highway robbers.
She struggled against the man and tried to reach for her knife. Suddenly she felt a sharp pain in her side; during the struggle the man had managed to stab her with his knife. Seeing that his partner had gathered up her supplies, he released her and ran toward her horse. She tried to stand but quickly collapsed from the pain. Her attacker mounted her horse and the two men began to retreat into the trees. She picked up her bow which had been lying nearby and managed to shoot one arrow at them, but it missed terribly. Gasping for breath and realizing that there was nothing she could do, she laid down. Her thoughts returned to her parents, and fearing that she may never find them, she let the darkness overcome her.
She awoke to find herself lying on the floor of a small, low-ceilinged room. Sunlight was shining through a single round window. Looking around, she saw two small beds, no more than four feet long. Perhaps it was a nursery, she thought. Her side was throbbing, and the events of the previous night slowly came back to her. At least she assumed it was the previous night; she did not know where she was nor how long she had been there.
As she lie there thinking, a short, barefooted young man walked in the door. As Ariya looked at him, she recognized him as a hobbit. She had seen a few hobbits in Bree not long ago, and there was an older hobbit whom she occasionally saw in Rivendell.
"Perry, come here, she's awake!" the hobbit yelled. Then, turning toward her, he asked, "How are you feeling?"
She tried to sit up but a wave of pain washed over her, and she quickly lied back down. "I've been better," she said. After a short pause, she asked, "Where am I?"
Just then, a second hobbit walked in the door. The first hobbit said, "You're in the Shire. My name is Tanagrim Brandybuck, and this is my twin brother, Peramac."
"Call me Perry," Peramac added.
Ariya tried to remember the maps she had seen in Rivendell long ago, and seemed to remember a land called the Shire far to the west. She had not realized that she had traveled so far. "How did I get here?" she asked.
"Well," said Perry, "my brother and I were traveling back from Bree the night before last. We had left Bree later than we planned, and it was already dark as we approached the Shire. We suddenly heard quite a commotion in the forest, and after it was quiet we snuck in to take a look. We saw you lying on the ground, and assumed that you had been robbed, for there's been a lot of strange folk around the Shire as of late. Luckily we had our ponies and a cart, and were able to take you back here to our house."
"But never mind that, you must be starving," Tanagrim said. "We'll get you some breakfast." As the two hobbits left, Ariya sat up, slowly this time to ease the pain. She glanced down at her torn, blood-stained dress and saw bandages underneath. Seeing her cloak laying nearby, she picked it up and found her knife inside. Once again, she admired the intricate elven craftsmanship, thankful that the robbers had not taken it.
As she put the knife down, she heard footsteps coming toward the room. Looking up, she saw a female hobbit, older than Perry and Tanagrim, carrying a tray of food. "My sons thought you might like a bit of breakfast. I know it's only morning, but this ale will help you feel better in a hurry," she said with a wink. "My name's Lily," she added as her sons returned to the room.
"I am Ariya Alayah," Ariya replied. Looking down at the tray, she saw thick slices of bread and butter, a striped red and yellow apple, and a cup of ale. Suddenly realizing how hungry she was, she began to eat.
Lily soon left, but Perry and Tanagrim stayed to talk with her. "Why were you so near the Shire?" Tanagrim asked. "We've never even seen an elf before, not even in Bree!" (It was not long before Ariya realized that the hobbits had never traveled farther than Bree.)
"First of all, I'm only a half-elf. My father, Ambilë, is a man, but his wife Melwen is an elf." This was only the first of many times Ariya would have to give such an explanation, for she looked no different than an elf. "That is actually why I am here: I have been traveling throughout Middle-earth looking for my parents. I was separated from them soon after I was born. Would you happen to know where I could find them?" she asked without much hope.
"No," Perry answered without hesitation. "And I'm not sure if anyone in the Shire could help you." Ariya later learned that the hobbits seemingly lived in their own world, apart from the other races. Perry and Tanagrim were actually rather adventurous, often making trips to Bree.
"Too bad old Bilbo isn't here anymore," said Tanagrim said after a moment's thought. "He's traveled all over Middle-earth; he might have been able to help. But he left the Shire a few years ago, and I'm not sure if anyone knows where he went."
The name Bilbo sounded familiar to her, and she thought that perhaps that was the name of the hobbit who had arrived in Rivendell not long ago. But she kept her thoughts to herself, thinking that the old hobbit must have had a reason for not telling them where he went.
Ariya spent the next several days in the Brandybucks' home. She soon met the twins' father, Berabras, and the young hobbits told her that their father had been very hesitant to allow one of the "Big Folk" into his home. Berabras soon realized that Ariya was harmless, and after a few days he treated her no differently than did Perry and Tanagrim. Once she was able to walk about, many other hobbits from the village wanted to meet her. None of them had ever seen an elf before, and while some were distrustful of her, most were thrilled to see an elf in person. (It seemed that no matter how many times Ariya explained that she was a half-elf, the hobbits continued to call her an elf.) After a week of staying with the Brandybucks, she began to feel restless and thought that perhaps it was time that she should leave. However, she did not know where to go, thinking that it would be pointless to continue west and travel farther into the Shire. She voiced these concerns to Perry and Tanagrim one morning.
"I know!" said Perry. "I heard Gandalf is in Hobbiton, I bet he can help you. He may even know your parents from his journeys!"
"Gandalf the Grey?" Ariya asked. She had never spoken with the wizard, but had seen him in Rivendell on occasion. "What is he doing in the Shire?"
"He comes every so often to visit Frodo Baggins, Bilbo's cousin," Tanagrim replied. "If we left today, we could reach Bag End tomorrow."
Ariya agreed, and she soon set out with Perry and Tanagrim for Hobbiton. Their traveling was slow, for every hobbit they met on the road wanted to talk to the half-elf. The next day they finally arrived at their destination.
"What's this? An elf in the Shire?" Frodo asked upon opening the door. Perry and Tanagrim were surprised that Frodo seemed to be the only hobbit who had not heard of Ariya.
"I'm only a half-elf," said Ariya, her explanation shortening each time she said it. "I have come to see Gandalf, if he is still here."
"I am here," Gandalf said, coming to the door. "And you must be Ariya Alayah. You've created quite a stir in these parts," he said with a smile.
"I'm afraid I have," Ariya replied. Indeed, she had been surprised to find a land so self-contained that its people had never seen an elf. However, she also remembered that this was the first time that she had left home herself.
"Well come in, and tell us your story," said Frodo. The three of them entered, and Frodo went about preparing supper for his guests while Ariya began to describe to Gandalf the events of the past several weeks. It seemed that Gandalf had known Ariya's parents, but had not seen them since before she was born.
"Although I know someone who may be able to help you," Gandalf said as Frodo served his guests and sat down to join them.
Excited that she may be able to find someone to help her in her quest, Ariya asked who the person was. "His name is Lein, and he lives in the city-kingdom of Ridden," Gandalf answered.
"Ridden?" Ariya said. "I don't believe I am familiar with that city."
"It is in the land of the city-kingdoms, to north and west of Imladris," Gandalf replied. Ariya thought for a moment, and remembered seeing the land on Elrond's maps. She recalled that it was a land of five or six small cities, each ruled by its own king. [See author's note below.]
"How will I be able to find this Lein?" Ariya asked, her excitement growing.
Gandalf said that Lein was a smith in Ridden, but would tell her no more. Satisfied that she at least had some direction, the conversation soon turned to events of the Shire. Frodo offered to let them stay the night, and since Bag End was a rather large home, they readily agreed.
The next morning, Ariya, Perry, and Tanagrim thanked their host and Gandalf, and left soon after breakfast. When they arrived at the twins' home the next day, Ariya was anxious to leave the Shire. Since it was nearing sunset, the hobbits asked that she stay one more night. She agreed, and after supper the hobbits gave her many supplies for her journey, since her cloak and knife were the only things the highway robbers had not taken. They also gave her a small bow and some arrows, and while she was unaccustomed to a bow of that size, she knew that it would be better than having no weapon other than her knife.
The following morning, she gathered her supplies and said goodbye to the Brandybucks outside their home. Perry and Tanagrim were obviously very sad to see her leave, having grown quite fond of her during her stay, and lingered after their parents had returned indoors.
"Before you leave, Ariya, we have a gift for you," Tanagrim said. Ariya turned toward him and he held out a small wooden box. She took it and opened the lid. Inside was a small, pale blue stone, which seemed to shine as if it had a light of its own inside. She picked up the stone, and she could feel that it had been expertly carved into a smooth oval shape.
"A tinsar," she said. Observing the puzzled expression on the hobbits' faces, she added, "A star-stone, in the Common Tongue. Even in the dark, it glows with a bright, blue light. Where did you find this?" She did not realize that the stones were found in these lands.
"In a cave not far from here," Perry said. "We found several of them, and we wanted you to have one, to, uh... to light your path," he finished awkwardly. She could see that he was trying not to blush.
"Thank you," said she. "I will treasure it always." Seeing that the hobbits understood her gratefulness, she said no more of the tinsar. She returned the stone to its box and placed it in her pack. Ariya then bid the hobbits farewell, and turning her face toward the rising sun, she continued on her journey.
1. The "ei" in Lein and in future names is pronounced like the "ey" in "grey". (From the ROTK appendix.)
2. While I tried to remain true to Tolkien's Middle-Earth, I obviously had to make some changes to fully develop my characters. Thus, I invented a few cities to allow me to develop Ariya's character without affecting the events in The Lord of the Rings. After a few chapters, if you don't like these cities or feel that they don't quite "fit" in Middle-Earth, please let me know! But also rest assured that the entire story will not take place there--Ariya will be visiting several of our favorite (and not-so-favorite) places in Middle-Earth before this story ends!
3. No more silly author's notes for a while!
List of Names and Places through Chapter 2
- Ambilë: Ariya's mortal father. Chapter 1.
- Arelen: "Morning Star"; Ariya's Elvish name. Chapter 1.
- Ariya Alayah: Translated as "Morning Star" in an ancient tongue of men; the heroine of our story. Chapter 1.
- Beredhel: "Bold Elf"; Ariya's maternal grandfather. Chapter 1.
- Isilmë: "Moonlight"; Ariya's maternal grandmother. Chapter 1.
- Land of the City-Kingdoms: A land northwest of Rivendell, consisting of several small cities of men, each ruled by their own king. Chapter 2.
- Lein: a smith in Ridden. Chapter 2.
- Melwen: "Kind Maiden"; Ariya's elven mother. Chapter 1.
- Peramac "Perry" Brandybuck: One of the hobbits who helped Ariya on the East Road; twin brother of Tanagrim. Chapter 2.
- Ridden: A city in the land of the city-kingdoms. Chapter 2.
- Tanagrim Brandybuck: One of the hobbits who helped Ariya on the East Road; twin brother of Peramac. Chapter 2.