A New Evil - Chapter Three
Mother greets us at the door, her beautiful face creased in a dark frown. Disapproval glows like an aura around her, and the three of us drop our eyes, unable to meet her glance.
"Come in." It is not a friendly welcome, but a command. Her voice, soft and rich, is heavy with anger. We enter.
Her room, the one she shares with Father, is, like all the other rooms in Rivendell, light, spacious, airy. One wall is nothing but an open arch, playfully carved around the edges with images of our kin, the Wood Elves. The arch opens out onto a balcony overlooking the river and the waterfalls, and tree branches reach inside the room when the wind is right. The other three walls are textured with intricate carvings of branches and leaves, far more elaborate than in any other room here. It is a magical place, and when I step in I always feel like I am stepping into a tree.
But now the room seems to darken as the sky before a storm. Mother faces us, her fierce glare forcing our eyes to meet hers. Her voice is strained.
"Your father has just told me that you two-" her words are directed at Elladan and Elrohir-"intend to leave for Mirkwood in one day's time. Is this so?"
Elladan's reply comes out as a hoarse whisper:
"It is so."
"You two-my only sons-would willingly put yourselves in danger?"
Elrohir answers in a word:
"For the sake of your people, you would risk your lives to leave your home and aid your kin?"
They answer as one, stronger this time:
"And you will?"
Mother's face changes, the anger washing off to reveal a soft smile. Her look is now proud, warm, loving.
"You two are indeed your father's sons, and I am proud of you. May Elbereth and the Valar guide you and protect you in your journey. Go now, wait outside for Dae and I."
They leave, looking considerably more relieved. Mother's blessing has long been known to be good luck, and any elf would consider it an honor to journey with it upon them.
"Now, my Dae." She turns to face me, worry in her eyes again. "Your father tells me that you wish to go with those two on this journey." I nod. "I hope that you understand why you cannot."
I stop her. "I am afraid I don't. All Father said was that 'it is too dangerous' and things like that. Why is it too dangerous for me but not for Elladan and Elrohir?"
Mother smiles. "You truly are my daughter. All the she-elves in our line have been travelers; none of us content to sit at home while our warriors are off on some daring quest. You know that my mother Galadriel-"
I interrupt her again, for this tale is one of my favorites.
"-led a rebellion against the Valar! She was the 'only woman of the Noldor to stand that day tall and valiant among the contending princes.'" I quote a favorite line from an old manuscript. Mother laughs.
"Indeed! She wanted her own kingdom in Middle-earth, and she had such a will that, in the end, she won it. I see that will in you."
I blush with this praise, for I revere the lady Galadriel above all the other characters in the old tales. To be compared to her is the highest compliment.
"Did Father speak truly when he said that we would go and see her in Lothlórien?"
"Yes, he did. And we will not only see Galadriel, but Arwen-"
I gasp. Arwen! My sister Arwen! "And will she come back home with us, Mother?"
"She will. She has been gone to Lórien too long now."
I smile widely. I miss my older sister so much that it hurts sometimes. When she left for Lórien, many years ago, I wanted to go with her even more badly than the longing I feel now to go with Elladan and Elrohir. Seeing both her and Galadriel…and having Arwen come home…it is like all my dreams are coming true. I wish only that Elladan and Elrohir didn't have to leave, that we could all be home together, and safe. But I am not so naïve to believe that that would actually be possible now.
"How did father react when you talked to him, Mother? And did you tell him about bringing Arwen home?" I am very excited now.
Mother grins. "When I spoke to him he seemed to regret his rash promise, but we won't let him go back on it now, will we, Dae?" Her smile is mischievous and I know that there is a matching one on my face.
"Never!" I say, in a mock-fierce tone, and we both collapse into giggles on her bed. Soon she attempts to hush me.
"Ssssshhh! We are elven Queens and Princesses! We must be stately…" she starts laughing again, and that in turn starts me back up. "…We must be stately and dignified, as is befitting to the daughter and wife of Elrond Peredhil…"she trails off, and it is some time before we collect ourselves. When we finally stop, I draw myself up high, and the top of my head is nearly even with Mother's. Tall and regal and grand, we glide out of the room. Mother is so good-her face is perfectly composed in the gracious smile of a loving and beloved queen. I struggle to quell the spasms of laughter that rise within me, and succeed. I walk beside my mother, calm and controlled. Elladan and Elrohir, seeing us, immediately rise to the occasion: Elladan offers Mother his arm, while Elrohir offers me his. Mother and I take the offered arms and the four of us, the royal family of Elrond Peredhil, stride majestically down the hall towards the kitchens.
We enter the kitchens. Bregolas, seated at a table across from the door, sees the four of us, still ceremonious, and nearly chokes on a bite of bread. He quickly regains his composure and stands respectfully, offering Mother his seat. She grins, and the game is over. Bregolas senses this, and throws his arms around Mother in an embrace. Her smile grows and he releases her. Ever since his mother died, many years ago, Celebrían has been like a second mother to him. We all sit down, and servants rush to attend to us. Mother, regal again for a moment, waves them off, and begins talking.
"Bregolas, will you be going back to Mirkwood with Elladan and Elrohir, or will you be staying here for a time?"
"I will be leaving with these two-" he gestures to my brothers "-in the morning. Much as I love it here, I long to return home, even after such a short time."
"I know the feeling," Mother says, "When I first left Lórien, after I married Elrond, the homesickness was sometimes too much to bear. I felt like I couldn't breathe. If it hadn't been for Elrond, I don't know if I could have stayed."
"I'm glad you did," I say, placing a hand on hers. She always seems weaker, older when she talks of Lórien, and I am worried for her.
"I know. But you three mighty warriors might be interested to know that Dae and I will be taking a journey of our own soon."
"Mother…" I caution, remembering too late Elladan's episode when I mentioned this earlier. But it is too late, she is already going on.
"Dae and I are going back to Lórien for a time, to visit with my mother."
Elrohir and I are looking anxiously at Elladan, but nothing seems to be happening. I glance at Bregolas, and for an instant see that pained, wearied look in his eyes that I saw earlier. But it is gone, now, and he grows animated again, asking Mother questions about our trip. When are we leaving? How long are we staying? How big will our escort be? How long has it been since we have been to Lórien?
This last question I am interested in, and listen closely for Mother's answer.
"It has been too long for me. Two thousand, four hundred years since I have walked in the shadows of the mallorn. I have not returned home since I wed Elrond. Two thousand, four hundred…"
Bregolas turns to me, half his question still unanswered.
"And you, Dae? How long has it been for you?"
"I have never been."
"Nor have I. We will have to visit together, someday."
I turn back to Mother. I am worried. She looks sad now, weaker. I begin to wonder if this voyage to Lórien will be better for her, or worse. She is not as young as she once was, and I fear that years of homesickness begin to take their toll on my beautiful, ageless Mother.