A Tale of the Fourth Age - Chapter Four
It was the morning before Morgiel and Legolas would start their journey. They had decided to take a fairly straight course to Mordor, for they did not specifically know where in Mordor Túrthalion was hiding. They were spending the day preparing to leave Rivendell. Morgiel had almost exhausted herself with poring over the maps Elrond had, and was sure she could find her way to Mordor in her sleep. She was in her room packing her sack when she heard a knock on her door. She set her sack down, walked to the door, and opened it.
It was Lothariel. She bowed slightly and looked up at Morgiel. "My lady, you are to come to the Porch. Lord Elrond and Lord Legolas are there waiting for you." She had a smile on her face that looked as if she were trying to keep a secret. "You will come, lady?"
"Yes, Lothariel," she replied. "Please tell them I will come to the Porch shortly."
Lothariel left the room and Morgiel walked over to her wardrobe. She brought out a deep red and black dress. She wanted to wear something beautiful for one last time; for she knew she would not be wearing such things on her journey. She put the dress on. It fit perfectly. The bodice and the skirt were subtly designed and complimented Morgiel in all aspects. She clasped Arien's necklace around her throat and pulled her hair back from her face into delicate twists and braids. She picked the ever-growing isilótë from outside her window and put a few of the flowers in her hair. She smoothed out her dress and left her room.
When Morgiel entered the Porch, Legolas and Elrond were talking. They did not notice her as she walked over to them. They turned when they heard her footsteps, and an audible gasp escaped from the lips of Legolas. He promptly stepped up to her and took her hand.
"My lady," he said softly; and kissed her hand.
Elrond smiled slightly and turned to Morgiel. "My lady, we have come to the last day of your residing here in Imladris. Now the time has come for you to put to practice all you have been taught. This is a great task ahead of you, and many dangers may await you. Legolas will aid you in all that he is able, but the confrontation with Túrthalion must be done by you alone.
"You know the way to Mordor and you have chosen your course well. As long as you stay on that course you should not have many difficulties. I have received word from the King in Gondor that evil has started to come close to the Eastern lands; Ithilien and Osgiliath have been assaulted twice by small bands of orcs and Easterlings. This is very terrible news to me, for at the end of the War of the Ring it was thought that no orc or evil being was left in those parts. The Black Gates and the towers of Durthang and Barad-dûr have been thrown down, as well as the other strongholds of Mordor. It is all but a ruinous wasteland now, but it seems that there is still some evil power left there, and that must be destroyed as well.
"You will not have any help from those in the East, for you must travel secretly once you are close to Mordor. When you reach Mordor, choose your path wisely, for no one knows yet where Túrthalion is hiding," he paused and looked at Morgiel. "My lady, do you have any questions?"
Morgiel looked at him, then at Legolas. She was prepared to take on all of Mordor if she had to. And she was confident that they would finish their quest in victory. She turned to Elrond, her head held high.
"I am ready, my lord. I do not have any questions; I understand what is to be done. I would start now, if need be."
Elrond smiled. He walked over to a small table and picked up a bundle that was sitting on the table. He came back over to Morgiel and Legolas.
"Lady Morgiel Carnimírië, this is for you." He held out the bundle and unwrapped it. A long sword in an ornately decorated scabbard was in his hands. Morgiel took out the sword and held it up to the light. The blade was bright and sharp, and elf-runes were engraved on the lower end. The hilt was long and leather-bound. Morgiel could hardly believe that this sword was for her. She took the scabbard and sheathed her sword. She turned to Elrond with a grateful look on her face. "Thank you, my lord. It is a wonderful gift and it will serve me well."
Elrond put his hand on her shoulder. "I hope that you will not have too much need of it, lady."
Now Legolas turned to Morgiel and smiled. "Come, my lady; for I too have something to give you."
They took leave of Elrond and walked to the other side of the Porch. A small room was at the eastern end and Legolas led Morgiel into it.
He produced a long bow and a quiver that was full of golden-feathered arrows. "These are also for you, lady. They will be of good use when a sword cannot. They are from my people in Lasgalen."
Morgiel took them and thanked Legolas. They left the Porch and Morgiel headed back to her room. Legolas walked her to her room then went back to his to finish preparing for the journey. When Morgiel reached her room she set her new weapons down next to her sack and bedroll. She walked over to the Westward window and looked out. She could see the sun coming through the tall trees, and it cast a translucent green light over the room. `This is it,' she thought. Tomorrow will start the greatest adventure I have had yet. I hope that this will bring all the answers I have been searching for. I hope I can find what I have lost.'
* * * * *
That night Elrond held a feast in honour of Morgiel and Legolas. It was a grand feast, and all of Elrond's House was there. It was actually rather overwhelming for Morgiel, so as soon as she had finished eating she quietly excused her self and retreated to the Hall of Fire.
It was quiet there, for the Hall was empty. Morgiel walked over to where the roaring fire's light was playing with the shadows on the wall and sat down with her back against a tall pillar. She sat there silent, thinking about her life. She tried to remember what was before the Chetwood, but to no avail. She was exhausted from her day of preparing and soon drifted into deep thought.
Suddenly everything became bright around her. She knew she was not asleep, but she felt as if she were dreaming. From nowhere a green wood appeared in front of her, and she stood up. She walked to the eaves of the wood and saw a woman standing in front of her. The woman was dressed entirely in green and had golden hair. She had a sad look on her ageless face. She walked past Morgiel into the wood, but did not see her. Morgiel turned and followed the woman.
Presently they came upon a small cottage in the wood. The woman went inside and suddenly Morgiel was inside as well. A small child was sleeping on a bed in the corner of the cottage. The child had deep red hair and was clutching a little rag doll. Morgiel assumed that the woman was the child's mother, for the woman went over to her and smoothed her hair back from her sleeping face. As Morgiel came closer to the woman, she could see that the woman was wearing the same necklace as her. It was Arien, her grandmother. Morgiel was absolutely elated at what she was seeing. `This must be something from my past! I wonder if I will discover anything important. I wonder why I am having this dream. I do not remember Gandalf telling me anything of this sort.' Morgiel continued to watch as the dream unfolded.
Presently a tall, dark elf burst through the door of the cottage. Arien whirled around in surprise and exhaled a sigh of relief when she saw who it was.
"Feämbar, what are you doing here? You should be quieter, for Míriel is sleeping." She bent over her daughter, who had stirred, but with a gentle caress she did not wake.
Feämbar stepped closer to Arien. "My lady, your father has sent me to you;" he paused as Arien straightened and turned to him.
"Why has he sent you? Is something wrong?"
"Not necessarily, Arien, but your father desires to see you again. He wishes that you would return to your people. It would be better for you and the child than to stay here with that dwarf."
Arien stood tall and glared at Feämbar. "That "dwarf" is my husband. What gives you the right to intrude in my home? My father knows the choice I have made. He knew it long ago. So why has he suddenly changed his mind?"
Feämbar came even nearer Arien. "My lady, you know my feelings for you. You know how long I have looked upon you with desire. I wanted to marry you long before the dwarf even came to Sérenómë. I loved you then and I love you now. Come away with me. Your father has been considering the thought of making the journey over the mountains to the realm of Eregion. He feels it would be safer there for his people. He wants you to come with us. You can bring the child as well."
Arien stood there, silent. Morgiel wanted to tell her to stay, but she knew what had already happened. She continued to watch.
"My lady," Feämbar said softly as he pulled Arien close to him. She recoiled, but he held her fast.
"What are you doing?" she whispered. "Let me go at once." She tried again to free herself, but to no avail. Feämbar caressed her cheek and moved close to her face. Morgiel wanted to shout out but she found that she had no voice.
"You will come with me, Arien," he whispered. "I love you, and you will learn to love me. We do not even have to take the child with us--"
Arien slapped his face with her free hand. "How dare you!! Let me GO!!"
At that moment Orin entered the cottage. He quickly surveyed the situation and gripped his axe tightly.
"Unhand the lady, Master Elf!" he shouted. "That is my wife and you shall never touch her again unless you should want to meet my axe."
Feämbar let go of Arien and turned to Orin. He swiftly pulled out his sword and faced the dwarf. "You have no right to be with this woman. She should have been mine. You are not worthy to be called her husband or the father of the child who has been tainted with your blood. She will never be accepted because of this. You will regret the day you were born, Dwarf!!" He stormed out of the cottage, and the dream began to fade.
* * * * *
Legolas entered the Hall of Fire. The feast was still continuing on the Dining Hall, and he could hear the sounds of all the elves talking and singing as they ate. He had noticed that Morgiel had left, and he felt troubled. He spotted her sitting against a tall pillar close to the fire and headed over to her. As he came closer he noticed that she was staring vacantly into the fire. She did not seem to hear him approach and did not look up when he knelt down next to her.
"My lady, are you well?" he asked. There was no response. Legolas gently touched her shoulder and repeated his question. Morgiel started as if out of deep thought and looked up at him with a frightened look on her face.
"My lord, what are you doing here? Is the feast finished yet?"
Legolas sat down next to her and looked at her carefully. She looked rather pale, though her eyes reflected the light like a green fire. He wondered what was wrong.
"Lady, are you well?" he repeated again. "I noticed that you had departed from the Dining Hall rather early, so I came to find you. In truth, I do not like great gatherings such as that either. I would rather be alone most of the time," he paused and looked into the fire. "But now I would know if you are well. Tell me, is everything all right?"
Morgiel drew her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. She looked into the fire again, trying to sort out all that she had seen in her dream. She continued to stare and Legolas thought she had gone into deep thought again.
Presently she spoke. "I had a dream, Legolas," she surprised herself at her use of his first name. "I dreamed about my grandmother. It was something that Gandalf had not told me. I do not know why I dreamed of it; I was not even asleep. That is something completely new to me, for I have not had dreams of that sort ever." Now she looked at him with question. "Perhaps you could explain this to me?"
Legolas turned to her. "I think you have experienced for the first time what all elves do to rest their minds or to perceive something that has been thought or said to them. You have had a waking-dream. All elves are able to slip into dreams whenever they wish. Perhaps your mind was filled with thoughts of your past, so you dreamed about it."
Morgiel considered what Legolas had said. It made sense to her, and she was pleased to find that her elvish qualities were coming back to her.
"His power is fading," she said quietly, as if to herself. "I can feel it."
Legolas did not know what to make of this. "My lady?" he questioned.
Morgiel looked back at him. He had a confused look on his face. She smiled. "Oh, it is Túrthalion. I have experienced something that he has tried to hold back from me through his spell. That means his power has faded even more." She stood up, and Legolas stood up with her.
"I have thought of a name for my sword," she said. "`Cirúnya'; it means "swift red flame"; I thought it fitting, for the runes speak of its being as swift as fire. That is another thing; I have had no trouble learning to speak or read the forgotten language of my people. I have learned to write it as well. These are all good signs to me that the spell is fading faster than I or Gandalf had expected."
Legolas smiled at her. He was glad to see her in good spirits and he was not so worried anymore. He walked with her out of the Hall of Fire to the door of her room where he took leave of her.
"Good, night, my lady. Tomorrow we start our journey, so rest well." He bowed slightly and waited for her to enter her room, and then he left.
Morgiel was suddenly very tired, and did not waste any time getting ready to sleep. Before she retired she made sure that everything was ready for tomorrow.
As she climbed into bed she recounted to herself the course she and Legolas would take to Mordor. It would be a difficult journey to take, but she was not daunted. `This is the final day. Now there is no turning back. To victory or doom we shall go; and to which I do not know just yet.'
She drifted off to sleep thinking about her quest, and wondering what the outcome would be.
* * * * *
Morgiel and Legolas left the next morning before the sun came up. Master Elrond, his sons, and a small group of elves saw them off. They would be going on foot to maximize their secrecy, and even then it would be difficult to stay concealed once they crossed over the Misty Mountains, for they would follow the Old Road until the reached the eastern side of the Anduin River.
Elrond gave them his blessing and advised them to not stray to far from their course.
"I do not think you shall have many encounters with danger while you are west of the Anduin and nearer Eryn Lasgalen," he said. "But take care to watch for anything that might hinder you."
He turned to Legolas. "Take care of the lady, Legolas. The fate of this world depends on her."
Legolas bowed and said he would.
Now Elrond turned to Morgiel and took her hand. "Do not be weighed down by the burden of this quest. There will be hardships, but as long as you stay on your course and keep hope you will not be defeated."
Morgiel nodded, for she found that she could not say anything. She picked up her sack and slung it over her shoulders. She pulled her cloak close to her, for it was still cold.
She and Legolas now turned to depart from Rivendell. As they went out through the gate Elrond lifted his hands and spoke.
"May the blessings of the Elves and Elbereth, our lady of the stars, be with you."
The gate closed as they began down the path to the Old Road. Morgiel was silent and walked quickly while Legolas sang quietly to himself. When they were out of sight of Rivendell they stopped and turned to see the sun coming up over the horizon.
Legolas looked at Morgiel. The sun had lit up her hair and her eyes, and she looked almost like a Maia to him. He turned back to their road and they started up again.
"I never dreamed I would be travelling this very road again. It is all so familiar to me," Legolas smiled grimly with memory. "But we shall not be taking the road to Moria this time. That is a place I do not wish to see again."
"What was it like?" Morgiel asked. "Was it really that dreadful a place?"
"Yes, my lady. I would not wish my greatest enemies to go there, for it is a vast abyss of evil. I have been told that it was once a great dwarf-city that was alive with joy and light, but the dwarves awoke a Balrog, and it did much harm. I saw a black place of death and ruin; and not at all comforting to me. I would much rather be in a forest surrounded by trees as old as the earth itself."
Morgiel thought about the old willow tree that had been outside her cottage in the Chetwood. It had been the only comforting place for her in that time, but that was all a distant memory now. She smiled to herself as they continued to trek through the growing hills that were giving way to the Misty Mountains.
* * * * *
It had been ten days since Morgiel and Legolas left Rivendell, and they were almost over the Misty Mountains. They had not stopped to rest, except at night when needed, and they were keeping a good pace. As of yet they had not encountered any dangers, but they did not let their guard down. It was now the late morning of the eleventh day, and already they were half-way down the east side of the mountains. Legolas had found a small path that stemmed from the Old Road and they were carefully climbing down it. As they travelled Legolas recounted to Morgiel his part in the quest to destroy the One Ring.
"So you did not continue with the hobbits after the Falls of Rauros?" Morgiel asked him. She was captivated by his telling of the tale, for he made it seem as if she was there with him and the fellowship.
"No, for the two younger hobbits had been captured by the Uruks, and Aragorn did not want to leave them in that state. Somehow we knew that the fate of the Ringbearer was no longer in our hands. But we did not despair, for his task was completed; though through many trials we defeated the Dark Lord," he stopped and looked out across the land to where the Anduin could be seen, glittering in the sunlight. Morgiel shielded her eyes from the sun with her slender hand and found that she could see the Anduin and the surrounding lands almost clearly.
"What do you see, lady?" Legolas asked her.
"Am I supposed to be looking for something specific?" she replied. "All I see is the River and empty land on the eastern side. I do see the beginning of Lasgalen, but I cannot see if there is anything of importance. It is strange, though: I can see all of this clearly, and the River is at most two or three leagues away. Is this another elvish skill?"
Legolas smiled. "Yes, my lady, it is. I did not want you to look for anything in particular; I wanted to know if you could see as clearly as I do. I perceive that you can, so all is well. But I was looking for a place to ford the Anduin, and I have found it," here he pointed to a place south of where they were. "We will cross the Anduin at that point."
They began their descent down the Misty Mountains. As they neared the hills a strong East wind suddenly began to blow. It nearly knocked Morgiel down, and she began to slip on some loose rock. She stuck out her arms to balance herself but it only made it worse. As she began to fall she cried out and Legolas lunged to grab her. He caught her in his arms and they slid for some feet before coming to a halt. Legolas helped her to sit up, and they stayed there for a few minutes to catch their breath.
"Are you all right, lady?" Legolas peered into Morgiel's face with concern.
Morgiel ran her fingers through her hair, trying to brush out the dirt and small rocks.
"Yes," she said shortly. "And you? I am sure you do not dash around catching clumsy elves every day; considering there is no such thing as a clumsy elf; or at least there was no such thing."
"Well," he replied, "you are correct in that assumption, but I would do anything to save a friend. And yes, I am well. I have never felt such a strong wind of that sort. I wonder if it was natural..." he trailed off and looked into the distance towards Mordor.
Morgiel stood up and dusted herself off. She straightened her cloak and her sword, and checked her sack to make sure nothing was broken or crushed. She looked at Legolas, who had stood up and was beginning to trek down the rest of the hill. She followed after him.
"Why would a wind not be natural?" she said. "I have never heard of anything else, let alone an unnatural wind."
Legolas talked with her as they hiked. "The forces of evil can use whatever they wish for their purposes sometimes; especially things in nature."
Morgiel was feeling cross because of her embarrassing fall, and Legolas' reply did not help. She did not answer him, but quickened her pace so she was side-by-side with him. As they reached the bottom of the Misty Mountains Morgiel saw that there was a small camp of what appeared to be elves on the other side of the Anduin. She grabbed Legolas' arm to stop him and pointed to the band of elves across the River.
"Look," she hissed. "What are we to do?"
Legolas pulled Morgiel behind a jutting rock. He knelt down and peered out to look at the elves.
"I believe that those are elves from my father's wood, but no one in Lasgalen knows what we are doing. I do not know how long they will be there; I think the best thing to do is stay here until they leave."
Morgiel looked at Legolas in surprise. "What? You would hide instead of facing your own people? They do not need to know what we are doing. Will they not heed the word of a lord of elves? I should almost think you were being a coward, if I did not know you at least this well."
Now Legolas was surprised. "My lady, what causes this outburst? I should think you do not know me, to say such things. This is not at all what I have thought you to be as a lady of elves."
Morgiel looked down, ashamed of her manner. She did not know why she suddenly felt the way she did. She looked at Legolas, but he was staking out the ford on the River. She felt a tear slip down her cheek, and she suddenly felt defiant.
"If you do not mind, lord, please do not call me "lady". For I will not be a lady of the elves until this spell is cast from me forever. I do not think I am worthy of such a title."
Legolas turned to Morgiel and spied the tears making tracks on her dust covered face. He felt pity for her, but not the pity an adult feels for a child. He knew that she struggled with the burden of their quest, and that the spell that lingered wore at her heart. He lifted her chin, and looked into her now grey-green eyes. "Do not despair, my lady. This is not the hardest trial yet," he smiled. "But if I should call you Morgiel, then you shall call me Legolas."
Morgiel felt a small smile come to her lips. "That is fine with me, Legolas," she said quietly. She now felt the dirt on her face and hands and everywhere else. She carefully looked around the rock they were hiding behind, and she saw that the band of elves was gone. She stood up.
"Legolas, they are gone. We can come out of hiding now and I can wash myself in the River."
They carefully made their way across the plains to the west side of the Anduin. Morgiel found a small outlet pool to wash herself in, and then they made their way to the ford. It was close to the River Gladden, where the Anduin and the Gladden meet. The two travellers crossed it without difficulty, and were soon heading south towards Dagorlad, or the Battle Plain. First they would have to skirt round the eaves of Eryn Lasgalen and travel through the outskirts of the Brown Lands at the southernmost end of Lasgalen. Morgiel reckoned that it would take them about one month or so to reach the ruins of the Morannon of Mordor, and then she did not know how long it would take to find Túrthalion once they reached Mordor.
They were about five leagues south of the ford at the Anduin when night fell. They set up a small camp on the eaves of Lasgalen, but Legolas decided not to build a fire so they would spare no chance of being seen by anyone. Morgiel laid out her bedroll and lay down on it. She looked at the many bright stars in the sky and sighed. "The stars are very beautiful tonight. I wish we were looking at them from a different place and in a different situation, though. It would be more restful that way."
To her surprise Legolas did not answer, but instead stood up. His tall form was dark against the night sky. Soon his clear elven voice rang out in the night.
"A Elbereth Gilthoniel,
silivren penna míriel
o menel aglar elenath!
o galadhremmin ennorath,
Fanuilos, le linnathon
Nef aear, sí nef aearon! "
The song ended, and Morgiel stared at Legolas in wonder. She was a little surprised when she found that she understood what he had sung, but she was more surprised at his singing it. She sat up and drew her knees to her chest.
"That was beautiful," she said softly.
Legolas smiled slightly and sat down next to her. "Thank you, Morgiel. That is a song to Elbereth, and we sing it often; especially when the stars shine so bright as this." He fell silent and looked up again to the stars. The starlight shone on his face and hair, causing a soft light to fall around him.
Morgiel continued to watch him and then looked up to the sky herself. Presently she felt tired so she lay down. She pulled her blanket over her as a cool breeze swept through their small camp, and she fell asleep watching Legolas gaze at the stars.
* * * * *
The next day came with clouds. They were grey and covered the sky as far as the eye could see. The land was covered in light shadow as the sun rose behind the cloud covering and Morgiel and Legolas were already six leagues past the southernmost tip of Eryn Lasgalen and headed towards the Brown Lands.
They had encountered no one as of yet, and were silent most of the time, for they both felt some sense of impending doom. Morgiel thought that the clouds had something to do with their state of mind, although she usually welcomed the cooler weather. For not only was the sky covered in clouds, but the air was unusually close and damp, as if a summer thunderstorm was approaching. Morgiel kept her eyes fixed ahead of her, for she felt that something or someone might appear at any second. Legolas felt this too, for he had his bow in his hand at all times now, and scanned the plains frequently.
As afternoon approached rain began to sprinkle down upon them. Morgiel pulled her hood over her head and hurried up close to Legolas, who had stopped and was again searching the vast brown plains with his eyes.
"Do you see anything, Legolas?" Morgiel asked. She looked across the plains too, but could not see anything.
"No, I do not," he replied. "I thought I saw a dark shape coming toward us from the East, but now there is nothing." He tightened his grip on his bow, and turned to Morgiel. "We must stay on our guard more than ever now, for there is nowhere to conceal ourselves from unwanted eyes. If an enemy espies us now, we will have to face him, for there is nowhere to run."
Morgiel loosened her sword from its sheath and took her bow from where she had slung it over her back. She strung it tightly and plucked it to make sure it was ready. They continued to hurry across the hilly plains in a south-east direction and the rain continued to come down steadily. Morgiel noticed that Legolas led them around the rolling hills that made up the Brown Lands. She did not question him this time, for she understood more than ever their need for secrecy. She did not like the silence and longed for conversation, but every time she opened her mouth to say something Legolas would stop and look around carefully. She still could not see anything over the wolds of the Brown Plains, and for that she was relieved. `At least we are making our way across the lands without hindrance,' she thought. `Still, a little action would be welcomed on my part.' She gripped her bow tighter and followed after Legolas.
They were still in the middle of the Brown Lands when night fell. It had ceased to rain a few hours back, but the air was still damp and the ground had not soaked up the rain. They stopped to take a little food and water, but as they found nowhere to rest without getting wet, they stood where they were and ate.
"I think we shall not stop this night, if you are not tired," Legolas said to Morgiel. "I still do not feel that we are completely safe here, and we should continue to travel while we still have strength. It has been eleven days since we left Rivendell, I think, and we have travelled a great distance already. It would be wise to keep up this pace."
Morgiel looked up at the clouds that were breaking away to reveal a full moon. It soon shone brightly and lit up the land around them. She looked at Legolas. "It is the 18th of April, from what I can reckon. It is still about fifty leagues to the Morannon from here, so at the rate we are travelling we should reach the Morannon in about two weeks," she paused and thought for a moment. "That is, if we do not encounter any danger or unnecessary delay, and if we do not stop to rest for an extended period of time."
"That is good, Morgiel. I do believe this task will be completed sooner than we had hoped. I still feel that we should make haste, for I sense an uneasiness in the earth around us," he restrung his bow and motioned to Morgiel. "Come, let us go!"
He turned and began to make his way across the plains. Morgiel followed after him, and as the moon rose high into the night sky all that could be seen was the dark shadows of two figures heading through the Brown Lands towards Mordor and the dark power that lingered still in the ruined waste of that land.
* * * * *