A Tale of the Fourth Age - Chapter Three
The rain came down hard and fast as Morgiel struggled to find shelter. It had been two days since she left Bree, and as of yet Gandalf had not come. The sun was setting, but it was hidden behind the thick black clouds. Morgiel looked all around her. She was at Weathertop, the old watch tower of Men, and the place where Gandalf had said he would meet her. But he was not there, and there was nowhere she could rest and not get wet. She finally found a small over-hang in the eroding tower and ran underneath it. She pulled her soaking wet cloak around her tightly and sat there, huddled against the rock. Her poor horse could not fit, so he stood sadly in the rain, blinking every time the rain would strike his face. Morgiel peered out across the plain. `Where ARE you, Gandalf,' she thought to herself. `You said you would come.' She thought of lighting a fire, but the rain beat against the rocks even harder in answer. She was just about to give up when she saw something coming quickly over the plain. It was like a flash of light in the darkness of the rain. As it came closer Morgiel realised that it was Gandalf. He was riding on the most beautiful horse she had ever seen. It was a silver-grey, and a soft light seemed to shine about it. For a moment Morgiel forgot that she was wet and cold. The horse neighed and suddenly Gandalf was in front of her.
"Gandalf!" she cried. "I thought you would not come."
He looked down on her and smiled. "My child, why did you think such things? Did I not say that I would meet you in two days? It is the second day, and I am here." He dismounted his horse, and Morgiel wondered at him, for he was barely damp.
"It was getting dark," she said. "I did not know when you would come on the second day. I have had a rather rough journey, for it began to rain almost immediately after I left Bree. It has been raining on and off since then. I was worried that it would delay you perhaps."
"Do not worry about me, lady. Nothing of the sort could delay me; and I always keep a promise. Now I do believe the rain is letting up."
Morgiel looked up and saw that it was no longer raining. She stood up and followed Gandalf up the path to the top of the tower. She looked around at the erect stones that once were pillars. Now they were but a memory of the great Men who had built the tower long ago. She touched the pillar nearest her, and it seemed to quiver with the sounds of ancient cries and thoughts of the men who had lived and died within its confines.
She and Gandalf had now reached the top of what was left of the tower. It was wide and flat, with the remains of a stone chair here and there. The pillars rose ominously everywhere; some still held up the arches that had supported the roof which was long ago torn down. Morgiel rolled out her blanket and laid it down on the wet ground while Gandalf built a fire.
"Are you comfortable, lady?" Gandalf sat down near her and held his hands out to the growing fire.
"As cofortable as one can be in such conditions. But I shall not complain. Tell me, is there more to my past?"
Gandalf looked serious now. He turned to Morgiel and said, "Would you know everything?"
"Yes," she replied. "I would." She looked as serious as he.
"Very well then, I will start from the beginning.
"It was at the end of the First Age when your grandmother, Arien, met Orin, the dwarf whom you are related to. Arien lived in Ossiriand, which was in the realm of Beleriand near the Ered Luin, or Blue Mountains. This was before the world was changed the first time, for Beleriand was swallowed by the Sea in the Second Age. Arien and Orin married in spite of her father's wishes, and your mother, Míriel, was born. Very soon after this an elf of Arien's village, who had asked for her hand in marriage, found out that she had married a dwarf, and had a child. He was enraged and sought out Orin and killed him. Arien was forced to come back to her village with Míriel. After some time she consented to marry this elf, with whom she had two other children. But Míriel was shunned by her half-siblings because of her blood-line, so she kept to herself. After about five years most of the village relocated to the land of Eregion, near the Misty Mountains. They lived there in peace for a while until Sauron, a Dark Lord, forged his Ring of Power and began to wield its power. By this time Míriel had married and was with child. A seer of their people foretold of that child's hand in the fate of evil that dwelt in Middle Earth. She would be the one to rid Middle Earth of evil forever. That child is you, my lady.
"But Sauron had spies in all the land, and heard of this prophecy. He appointed Túrthalion to find you and destroy you and your parents. When Sauron's army made their way through Middle Earth, the elves united to fight against him. Your father fought as well, and died trying to save your village. Your mother was killed in the orc-raid that destroyed the land of Eregion, and you were taken to Túrthalion. As you know, he kept you for a very long time. He was deserted by Sauron, and I speculate that only when he found out that Sauron had been destroyed forever did he go back to where his master had reigned in power and abandon you. He realised that you were never going to serve the evil powers that dominated his life, so he left.
"He correctly assumed that you would be capable of caring for yourself, but he never thought that you would encounter someone who would know who you really were."
"But if he has cast this spell on me, then how would anyone know who I was?" Morgiel asked. "I don't think I look or act much like an elf."
Gandalf poked the fire with his staff. "The spell that Túrthalion cast over you will not be completely removed until he is dead. But it is beginning to fade.
"When Túrthalion entered into Sauron's service, he was given a prolonged life-span in return for that service. Now that Sauron is gone, Túrthalion's life and power will begin to fade. In fact, I suspect that it has already faded considerably, for I am beginning to see changes in you, my dear. As his power over you fades, the spell will grow increasingly less. But not until he is completely destroyed will it be gone forever."
Morgiel stared into the fire. She was rather overwhelmed at first by all Gandalf had said, but now it did not seem so ominous a thing. She somehow knew that everything would be all right in the end. The only thing that worried her was that she could not see the end of her quest. She turned to Gandalf and opened her mouth to speak. "Gandalf, what am I to do when--" CRRAACK!!! a sudden flash of lightning signaled the return of rain, and Morgiel hastily pulled her hood far down over her head. Gandalf did the same as the rain began to pour down upon them. There was nowhere to keep out of the rain, so they stayed where they were in the dark. The rain let up a bit and Morgiel turned to Gandalf once more. "As I was saying, what am I to do when we reach Rivendell? Are you going to stay and teach me all I need to know for my quest?"
"My lady, I shall journey with you until we reach Rivendell, then I must go. Master Elrond has been told of your plight, and he shall be able to help you before he sails over the Sea. His sons, Elladan and Elrohir, will also assist you in your training. I have business to attend to elsewhere, so I shall not be able to stay long," he paused and looked around. "Now, my dear, I think you should try to get what rest you may in this weather, for we have a long journey ahead of us. It takes about fifteen days to reach Rivendell, so we must make haste. I will keep watch while you sleep. Good night." He turned to the smoking remains of the fire. There was a small flash of blue light and the fire started again in spite of the rain. Morgiel wrapped herself as well as she could in her cloak and laid down. She did not know how anyone could sleep in such conditions, but soon her eyes closed and she drifted off to sleep.
* * * * *
The next morning came with no sun. As Morgiel and Gandalf made their way across the plains the clouds did not break, but sent fits of rain down upon the two travellers. They rode for most of the day without stopping, and continued like this for many days. To Morgiel, the clouds seemed to bring a foreboding sense of what was to come. She did not think she would feel so low if the sun was shining.
It was now the twelfth day of their journey. They were now surrounded by hills, and a wood-tangled valley opened up before them. They entered and began to pick their way through it as well as they could. When the sky began to darken behind the clouds they stopped. Gandalf found a small clearing and guided Morgiel to it. They dismounted when they reached the clearing and began to set up camp. Morgiel led her horse to a nearby tree and tethered him to it. She noticed that Gandalf did nothing with his horse, for it stayed near hers and did not wander off. She went over to where Gandalf was starting a fire and set down her sack and bedroll. She sat down near the fire.
"Gandalf," she said. "How do you keep your horse from wandering off? I see you ride with no saddle, like me, but you do not even tether him to a tree or to a stake in the ground. How is that?
Gandalf sat down next to her and lit his pipe. "My horse is unique. He cannot be tamed by anyone other than myself. He is descended from the great horses of old, the Mearas, whom the horse lords of the East rode in battle. His name is Shadowfax, and he has been a great help to me in time of need. I let him do as he pleases for he will always come when I call for him." Gandalf fell silent and held his hands over the fire. Morgiel suddenly felt tired, so she reached for her blanket and began to spread it on the ground.
"You are not hungry, Morgiel?" Gandalf turned to her, his pipe still in his mouth.
"No, I do not feel like eating at the moment. I am rather tired, actually, so I thought I would sleep since we still have a few days to travel yet."
"Three days, to be precise," Gandalf said. "But if you are not hungry, then I will let you sleep. We will be starting for the Ford of Rivendell tomorrow. If we keep our pace up, we may reach the Ford in less than three days. The River itself may be swollen though because of the rain. Well then, good night."
He went back to his pipe. The night grew dark around them, and as the fire died down all that was to be seen was the hunched, black shape of Gandalf sitting in their small camp. As the night continued a slight wind blew the clouds away, and the stars reached out their pent-up light to the earth.
* * * * *
As the sun rose over the grey valley Morgiel and Gandalf were already making their way to the Ford of Rivendell. As they rode Gandalf relayed to Morgiel much of what she was to do when they reached Rivendell. She was to learn to fight with a sword and to use a bow and arrows as the elves do. She was to learn of her people and her enemy, and she would study maps of all Middle Earth. Gandalf had told her that Túrthalion had retreated to Mordor, once the land of Sauron's reign. Now it was a deserted, barren wasteland of broken and burned towers and walls. Nothing living was accounted for there, but the Rangers of the South heard rumors of a man headed toward Mordor by way of Osgiliath.
They reached the Ford of Rivendell one day earlier than they expected. The River Loudwater was very high and the currents were fast. They stopped to assess their situation. Morgiel did not know how they would cross such a high river; it looked extremely dangerous. `I haven't even started my quest and here is the first danger,' she thought. `Oh, I hope Gandalf knows what to do.' She reined in her horse, which was becoming nervous of the noisy water. She looked at Gandalf, who was surveying the water intently.
"Gandalf, what shall we do?" Morgiel shouted over the noise of the water. "The water is higher than I thought it would be. Isn't there any way to cross?"
"Yes, my lady, there is. Do not worry, we shall be able to cross shortly." Now he dismounted off of Shadowfax and walked to the edge of the rushing river. He raised his staff over his head and opened his mouth. "Hlarquettanya taura sírë: á hostalya altar neni, ar á metyalya rimbë falmar tenna me oantië!"
Gandalf's thundering voice split the air as Morgiel watched in amazement as the rushing water receded and became as calm as a summer stream. Gandalf mounted his horse and proceeded to cross the Ford. Morgiel followed, absolutely astonished. The water flowed gently under them as they crossed the Ford. When they reached the high bank on the other side Morgiel turned back to watch the water. A wall of water came rushing down the River Loudwater as the spell was broken. It looked as if no one had come across the River at all. Morgiel turned back to Gandalf, who was riding into the woods of Rivendell.
"Gandalf, how did you do that?" Morgiel urged her horse on to follow Gandalf as he made his way through the wood.
"Do what, my dear?"
"The water; it slowed down when you finished speaking in that strange language. What did you say?"
Gandalf slowed Shadowfax until Morgiel's horse was abreast with him. He smiled. "I told the water to stop for us. And the language I spoke in was the language of your people. It is the High-elven speech, called Quenya; now it is only used in songs and grand ceremonies. It was the first language of the elves, when they lived in the Undying Lands. Not many remember it now, though."
Morgiel still could hear the words ringing in her ears. She could not understand them, but they seemed a familiar thing to her. She rode on in silence for a few minutes, then turned to Gandalf. "They are beautiful words. I would like to learn that language, particularly because it was the language of my people."
"Well," Gandalf replied, "I think you shall come to understand many things of that nature as the spell cast over you wears off." He turned Shadowfax to the left and stopped. "Here we are: the House of Elrond."
As Morgiel came around the bend she saw an amazing sight. A stone bridge led to the most beautiful house she had ever seen. It was surrounded by tall trees and waterfalls that cascaded from the mountain-side upon which the house was built. The sun was setting and Morgiel could see soft light that came from many inviting windows. She felt as if she had always been in that wood, and that she was just coming home from a day in the woods. All her worries fell away, forgotten. She was taking all the beauty in when a small group of people began to approach her and Gandalf from the courtyard of the House. She followed Gandalf as he rode over the bridge to meet them.
Morgiel now saw that the group had stopped and was waiting for them at the entrance of the House. When they reached the courtyard she and Gandalf dismounted and walked over to the people. one of them stepped forward to greet them.
"Mae govannen, Mithrandir. Welcome to Imladris, my lady. We have been expecting you. Come with me; a room has been prepared for you." He turned and Morgiel followed after him. He was tall, and was clothed in dark robes. He had long, dark hair, and piercing grey eyes. His face was serious yet ageless and wise. He did not speak as they entered the House, but when they were inside he turned to her. "Lothariel will show you to your room," here he summoned and elf-woman with golden hair. "When you are ready you may come to the Council Room; I will be there with Gandalf." He turned and walked with Gandalf down the left corridor. Lothariel bowed to Morgiel. "It is a great honour to have you here, my lady. It is a wondrous thing to have one of the High-elves staying here in Rivendell," she led the way down the right corridor and soon stopped at a door. "Here is your room, my lady. New clothes have been prepared for you and water has been drawn for your bath. The Council Room is down at the end of the left corridor. If you need anything please tell me." She bowed again and left.
Morgiel looked around her new room. It was big and bright, for there were many windows. Her bed was also bigger than any she had seen, and soft pillows and blankets were piled high upon it. She noticed that clothes had been laid out for her to wear. She walked over to the bed. It was the most beautiful dress she had ever seen. It was a pale green, and made of the softest fabric she had ever felt. It was light and delicate; nothing like her old woolen dress. She picked it up and held it against her body. It looked as if it was made just for her. She laid it back down on the bed and went over to the washroom. It was also bigger than she had ever seen. She decided that she would like staying in Rivendell.
* * * * *
"So this is the one whom the seer told about? She does not look much like us, Mithrandir." Elrond was sitting with Gandalf in the Council Room. He had a concerned look on his face as they talked about the lady Gandalf had brought to him. Gandalf set his glass down.
"Elrond, you know it is she. Túrthalion cast a spell over her so that no one would know her as an elf. She has just been informed of her true blood, so she is still insecure of her conduct around her people. But she is the one. I know you were hesitant to agree to such a task, but it is very important not only for the other peoples of Middle Earth, but for you and yours as well."
"I am leaving this place soon, Gandalf. You know that as well as I do. What does the fate of Middle Earth have to do with me now? I have already witnessed the one doom of my family take place; I want no more."
Gandalf leaned over to Elrond and looked him in the eyes. "Lord, you are still a part of this place. What will become of Imladris and the ones who stay for a while longer? What of your sons? They are not passing with you yet. I would not leave this place without seeing this matter set straight. You must at least set her on the beginning path to her quest. The lady needs instruction on what to do. She is hindered by this burden of a spell. It will not fully pass until her enemy is destroyed. With your help we can ease her burden and it will begin to fade. Please take note of my request and answer with favor. And you must remember, help from another is coming soon."
Elrond stood up and walked over to the window. "Yes, he shall be here in three months. Until then, my people will assist the lady in all she needs to know," he turned to Gandalf. "What does she know of her plight?"
"She knows what she must do. I have told her of her past and who she really is. She must know how to protect herself, and she must learn the ways of her people. I have already spoken to your sons; they have agreed to teach Morgiel how to fight with a sword and shoot with a bow. I presume that Lothariel and other women of your household will instruct her in other ways of being an elf-woman. And I ask you to show her the maps she will need to know; when he arrives they must plan the best and quickest course to take to Mordor. I do not think any of this will take much time, for Morgiel is a swift learner. She is eager to learn all she must know."
"I hope you are right, Mithrandir. For this is almost as significant as the quest of the Halflings was." Elrond turned to Gandalf. "She will stay here until the winter months have passed, for I could not let her start in such weather. She will be well cared for here, I can assure you."
At that moment Morgiel timidly entered the room. Gandalf beckoned her over to where they were. "Come, my dear. You needn't be afraid of us."
Morgiel stepped into the light. She was wearing the dress laid out for her. It fit her perfectly. She was girt with a belt of mithril, and a silver-grey mantle was around her shoulders. Her long, deep red tresses were cascading down her back, and she had small red and silver flowers in her hair. She looked the image of an elf-maiden most fair; a light was shining in her eyes like never before. Gandalf took her hand and led her over to Elrond.
"Do you not see the changes already? She has a strong will, lord. She will overcome this yet."
Elrond smiled for the first time. "My lady," he said to Morgiel, "I am honoured to receive such a guest as you. I trust that my people will treat you with the respect you deserve and that your stay here will be enjoyable. My sons have agreed to teach you all you must know to protect yourself on your journey, and myself and others will help you in anything you might need or know. Tomorrow I will show you maps of Middle Earth and the places you will need to know. I have thought it best for you to start your journey once winter has passed; and in three months the one who will accompany you on this quest will arrive here. He shall also be of help to you, I think." He led the way to the door. "Come, let us dine together and look forward to the coming of peace!"
* * * * *
The next day, Morgiel rose early. She was going to start her training today. She was excited, for Elladan was going to teach her to fight with a sword. She put on light brown leggings and a muted green tunic with a long-sleeved shirt underneath. Around her waist she strapped her old leather belt and her dagger. It was still cloudy and rather cold so she put on a grey cloak that had also been laid out for her. It clasped around her throat with a leaf-shaped pin. Arien's necklace she also wore, and as she fingered it she felt as if she was truly one of her kind. She left her room in high spirits.
When she reached the yard where she would receive her sword-fighting lessons she saw that Elladan was already there. He had with him two swords; one for him and one for her. As she walked over to him he bowed.
"Mae govannen, my lady. How are you faring this morning?"
"Quite well, thank you. You are Elladan?"
He nodded. "Yes; and you are the Lady Morgiel Carnimírië?
Morgiel smiled. "I am still becoming accustomed to being called "lady", but yes, I am she."
Elladan picked up one of the swords and handed it to Morgiel. He showed her how to strap the scabbard to her belt. He pulled out his sword and she pulled out hers.
"Shall we commence this first lesson?" he said with a smile as he held out his sword.
Morgiel held out her sword to meet his. "Let us begin."
* * * * *
Morgiel's lessons continued for countless days. She learned quickly, and amazed both Elladan and Elrohir at her skills with the sword and bow. Her mind became sharper and more perceptive as the days went by, and every day Elrond was astounded by the changes in her. She soon came to know all his maps by heart, and even discussed her journey's course with him. She came to be loved by all in Elrond's house, and she felt as if she had lived there all her life.
Three months passed by, and the day of her help arrived. No one in Elrond's house had said who it was, and Morgiel was anxious to find out. She awoke many times in the night, for she knew that this meant her task would soon be at hand. She awoke the next morning to dark clouds and cold air. She jumped out of bed and wrapped herself in her cloak. She put on a gown of dark green and her belt of mithril. She also put on her warm mantle of grey and silver. She brushed through her hair and braided it to keep it out of her face. She picked some of the small red and silver flowers that grew outside her window and put them in her hair. She clasped Arien's necklace around her neck and headed to the door. She stopped for a moment and put her hand to her heart. It was beating fast. She had never been so nervous in her life. She drew in a deep breath and thought of all that had transpired over the last few months. `I still cannot believe all that is happening to me,' she thought. `I hope this person is kind and understanding, like Gandalf.' She left her room and headed to the courtyard to greet the mysterious visitor.
Morgiel arrived at the courtyard and found that Elrond, his sons, and some other elves were gathered there. She walked over to where Elrond was standing and turned to face the gate. A tall elf armed with a long bow stepped up to the gate and opened it.
"Lord Legolas of Ithilien!"
An elf rode in on a beautiful bay horse. He rode up to the group and dismounted gracefully. He was tall and dressed in muted browns and greens. He had a long bow and two daggers strapped to his back. He also had a quiver-full of feathered arrows. He did not look like a lord to Morgiel.
He bowed low to Elrond and Morgiel. When he raised his head he looked straight into Morgiel's eyes. She let slip a small gasp, but no one seemed to notice. She looked at him in shy wonder. He had long golden hair and grey-blue eyes that Morgiel thought could see the farthest reaches of her heart. He was handsome yet unassuming in manner, and Morgiel could see that there was more than a wood-elf lord in his face. Here was one who had seen the ages of the world but had not worn them as a heavy burden. She was eager to become acquainted with him, for she felt that he would understand her somehow.
"It is an honour to meet you, my lady."
Morgiel suddenly realized that Legolas was speaking to her. He was standing directly in front of her, and had called her "lady", like everyone else had been. But, for some reason, it seemed different when he called her "lady"; she looked up at him and smiled. "It is an honour to meet you, my lord."
The whole company now headed back to the House. Elrond was relaying to Legolas certain matters of the quest that pertained to him, and Legolas was listening quietly. They reached the Council Room and all but Morgiel, Gandalf, Legolas, and Elrond left. They entered the Room and Elrond sat down. He beckoned Morgiel to sit next to him, but the others stayed standing. He turned to them.
"You all know why we are here. The time has come for the prophecy concerning the fate of Middle Earth to be fulfilled. Lady Morgiel is the one foretold to accomplish this task of ridding Middle Earth of evil. Lord Legolas, you have chosen to accompany the lady on her journey to Mordor to defeat the former lieutenant of Sauron, Túrthalion, thus fulfilling the prophecy and removing the spell from the lady herself. You will start your journey in two month's time, for it shall be easier to travel in the Spring. Legolas and Morgiel, with my help, shall plan the course of travel to Mordor. I believe that you, Gandalf, shall be leaving us soon?"
"Yes, I shall. I have business to take care of in Gondor; the King has sent word to me of pressing importance."
Morgiel looked at Gandalf. He suddenly seemed very serious. She wondered what was so important in the East. She was disappointed that he would not be able to see her on her way, but she understood that he must go.
"When shall you be leaving, Gandalf?" she asked. "Shall I see you again?"
"I do not think so, my dear. I shall be leaving Rivendell tomorrow morning, and I do not know how long I shall be detained. Do not worry, I shall be thinking of you always." He smiled down at her and she felt reassured.
Now Elrond stood up. "We shall begin planning the journey to Mordor tomorrow. For now, I shall let the Lady Morgiel and Lord Legolas become acquainted." He turned to Gandalf. "Shall we go, Mithrandir? I must hear of this news from Gondor." They left the Council Room, and Morgiel and Legolas were left alone together.
Morgiel looked at Legolas. She found that he was looking at her intently.
"Well," she said. "I feel rather out of place at the moment; I am not used to being in the presence of a lord." She smoothed her dress out and fingered her necklace nervously.
Legolas broke the silence. "That is a beautiful necklace you are wearing. It becomes you well, lady. And do not be nervous because of me; I am just a hunter of the woods. I am no one great.
"Tell me," he continued, "are you from the ancient realm of Eregion? I heard that you lived there long ago before it was destroyed. Do you remember it?"
"No, I do not," Morgiel replied. "I was taken from that place when I was an infant. It was then that it was destroyed. The reason I was taken is the reason I must travel to Mordor; for my kidnapper is there now." She stood up and went to the window. It was overcast; a sense of doom suddenly came over her. She turned back to Legolas. "My lord, why do you choose to help me? You do not know me, and I do not see how such a thing would matter to you."
Legolas walked over to her. He looked her in the eyes. "I have seen many evil things come to pass, my lady. I have had the honour of fighting against such evils. Now I choose to do the same with you. I do not want to see any evil thing come to power again, and I will help you fight it even unto the death. It is an honour to journey and fight with you, my lady. We have these two months to get to know each other; it is not very often I meet a lady of your nobility and blood.
"If there is any way that I might help you further your learning of anything, please tell me. I want to help in any way I can."
Morgiel was overcome with his kindness. She looked up at him and smiled. "Thank you, my lord. Come, let us go to the Porch and I will tell you all that I know of myself, and you can tell me of yourself. I think that we shall become friends yet."
They left the Council Room and headed towards the Porch, talking about many things. Even though they were ready to begin their journey, nothing could prepare them for the events along the way that would change their lives and the fate of Middle Earth.
* * * * *