Bittersweet Melodies - The Forgotten Saga of Araviel - Chapter 9

"Pilgrim, how you journey
on the road you chose,
to find out where the winds die
and where the stories go.
All days come from one day,
that much you must know.
You cannot change what's over,
only where you go.

"One way leads to diamonds.
One way leads to gold.
Another leads you only
to everything you're told.
In your heart you wonder
which of these is true;
the road that leads to nowhere,
the road that leads to you.

"Will you find the answer
in all you say and do?
Will you find the answer
in you?

"Each heart is a pilgrim,
each one wants to know
the reason why the winds die
and where the stories go.
Pilgrim, in your journey
you may travel far,
for pilgrim, it's a long way
to find out who you are." ~ Enya' target=_blank>Enya
**********
"G-good morning Lady Elian, Will," Araviel stammered in a choked voice.

"Is it?" Elian asked, "You look as if something terrible has happened. Are you well?"

"What? Me? I'm fine," Araviel lied immediately.

"Are you sure?" Elian continued, her brow furrowed in worry.

"Yes," Araviel said flatly, "I'm pleased to see you once more."

"We've come to ask you a favor, if you're willing," Will said. Innocent happiness was clearly visible on his bright face. Araviel miserably nodded, trying his best to mimic the other elve's obvious joy, but he couldn't even bring himself to smile.

"What is it?" he asked.

"We think that we are siblings, and Elrond agrees with us," Elian said in a delighted voice.

"Siblings?" Araviel choked as his face lapsed into a grin and warm relief slid into his tightly knotted heart and lovingly loosened the aching pain that had been growing there. Siblings! Will was her brother, not her lover. He hoped he looked only glad for them, and not rejoicing also for himself. She may yet come to love me he thought excitedly.

"That's wonderful," he croaked happily, "I thought you two looked somewhat alike."

"Yes," Elian continued, "Padric and Will think that if our parents were yet alive, they would be in the south, that's where Padric met them."

Araviel's grin faded somewhat, he had not been down that road in a long time. "South?" he repeated in a sinking voice.

"Yes," Will said. Elian was looking curiously at Araviel, whose face had suddenly become sullen, but he wouldn't meet her eyes.

"But neither of us know that much about the wilderness," Will continued a little awkwardly, "And we were wondering if you-"

"Could be your guide?" Araviel finished for him. Will nodded.

Araviel pondered the idea for a moment; if he went south, he could get closer to Mordor, where he eventually would have to go if he wanted to gain his vengeance on Sauron. But he hadn't been south of the Misty Mountains in more than ten years, and had never really wished to return. Then there was the matter of Elian....would he, by staying near her, increase his chances of gaining her love, or just torment himself with a closeness that could never be more than friendship? What of the road to the sea? He inwardly dispensed that idea, he would be a coward if he went to the Grey Havens after all that had happened. So many decisions and new loyalties had been thrust upon him so quickly, it was all becoming too much...his father's stern face filled a corner of his mind, and the eye of Sauron, in Mordor and on his skin another, but above these, taking precedence over all else in his mind, was the presence of Elian before him, and suddenly, he knew he didn't have a choice.

"All right," he said. Perhaps it was just his hopeful imagination, but he could have sworn he saw a happy light pass through Elian's eyes, as if she too was thrilled at the thought of remaining together.

"Although," Araviel, always afraid of being dishonest, said. "I haven't been across the mountains in almost ten years, and don't know the land as well as you may think."

"That's fine," Elian said quickly, "We need a Ranger, Araviel, and that's what you are. I know you are more skilled than you let onto."

Araviel couldn't help smiling boyishly at the compliment.

"That's settled then," Will said in a bright voice, "The four of us will leave together."

"Four?" Araviel asked.

"Yes," Will replied, "Padric wouldn't let us have all this fun alone, would he?"

"No," Araviel said. "How is he taking to Imladris?"

"He wants out as soon as possible," Will said with a rather malicious grin, "For some reason, he thinks one elf is enough trouble."

"I can see what he means," Araviel laughed. "When do you wish to set out?"

"Soon," Will said, "I have wanted to meet my parents all my life."

"Do you have any idea where they would be?" Araviel asked.

"Elrond says we have the look of Lorien, so we wish to speak with the Lady Galadriel, she knows most everything that goes on in these parts."

Araviel had seen Galadriel, the White Lady of Lothlorien, only once in his life, and it was in a time that now seemed very long ago, although truly not that many years had passed. He knew the way to the Golden Wood, but he doubted that the powerful and good elves that dwelled there would permit him to come among them. He inwardly cringed, unlike Elian and Will, whom he had told nothing about his past, the Galadhrim knew what he had done...Snap out of it! he told himself angrily, That part of me is dead.

"I have seen the Golden Wood," he told them in a low voice, "Long ago."

"Then you can lead us there?"

He nodded rather despondently, lost in his memories.

"Araviel, is something wrong?" Elian asked in a rather high voice. Araviel snapped his head back to attention, silently chastising himself for remembering, he had vowed never to think of those days again.

"It's in the past," he mumbled to himself, then, louder, "No, I've never been better."

**********

Much evil will come of this union.

Within the small room, Elrond sat, his raven haired head bowed and his grey eyes tightly shut, on the corner of his large bed. Unbidden, the vision had come upon him of blood, death, torment and anger to come. He trusted his foresight, and did not doubt the vision; something horrible was about to happen....

He glided soundlessly to the window and opened the pale grey curtains onto a picture of perfect harmony below. The sun had returned to its proper place in the sky and three young elves, perhaps the youngest left in Middle Earth, were speaking in low voices as they walked from the stables. Among the two siblings was Araviel and a shadow seemed to cover the young boy's face. Elrond smiled pityingly, far too often the lad was troubled with cares beyond his age. What new hand had fate cruelly tossed at him today?

Much evil will come of this union the foreshadowing voice whispered coldly into his ear. He shivered.

"What union?" he asked aloud to the empty room.

His senses reeled and he faltered back to sit once more on the edge of his bed with closed eyes. Her face filled his vision once more, a stern, unyielding light in Her astonishing blue eyes.

Galadriel, he said what do you wish of me?

The tides of fate are turning her voice, low and melodic, replied.

I am aware of this, the world grows more evil with every passing day he replied in a tired voice. The troubles of the world always seemed so much more present and alive when he spoke to the White Lady, the two were the wavering force that held the world of elves together, what would happen should they fail?

A shadow is growing in your mind, I feel it. Who are those you are thinking of, and what trouble follows them?

Will and Elian whose parents I believe were Galadrhim, and Araviel, son of-

Araviel? Galadriel's smooth voice interrupted long has it been since he last walked my woods.

He is marked by the Dark Lord and has sworn vengeance on him, but I fear his intentions are swayed by the fair Elian, whom I have fostered.

I feel fear and danger surrounding them, send them into the West, they are not safe here, and no one is safe around them.

What danger, my lady?

Much evil will come of this union she said in a stern voice of prophecy.

His senses reeled once more, Elrond tried to speak again to Galadriel, but she would say nothing.

He laid his head in his hands. It was very seldom that he, among the wisest yet living on the earth, did not know what course to take, but this was one of those times. Unbidden, the voice continued much evil will come of this union.

Elrond shuddered, and went once more to look out of the window, down onto the three elves speaking below, and a small smile spread across his wizened face; Will, who was a light hearted one, seemed to have just been telling a joke and Araviel was laughing, the dear child was actually happy for once! Well that was a strange turn of events...

These two have done what so many, including his own brother, could not he said to himself, What evil could possibly come of such a friendship?

Much evil will come of this union.

"No," he said aloud to the voice, "Much good shall come of it, Araviel came to my household ten years ago, and never have I seen him laugh. Though despair and hunger and war may plague the rest of the world, at least these three, if only for a moment, will find happiness."

For some happiness will never exist the voice hissed.

"That is not Araviel's fate," he said firmly.

***********

Elian, Will and Padric were waiting for him, but Araviel took a few fleeting moments to himself before he walked under the archway and out of Rivendell, into the forests surrounding the elven valley. He absently patted Liera's neck, but still had yet to mount her.

He heaved a sigh as he took a last glance back at Rivendell, and then turned to face the forest before him. For the first time in his life, Araviel was afraid; truly, simply and honestly afraid. Would they find the answers all of them sought for, openly or in secret? What enemies awaited them in the darkness of the mountains, or the vast southern realms?

As if a wind was rippling through him, Araviel almost felt the presence of Elbereth, Maker of the Stars swirl through his heart. She was there, in the skies, watching over him, and he heard her melodic voice ringing in his ears, resonating and sounding in the far reaches of his mind. In a numb, bemused sort of trance, Araviel listened to the gentle, motherly voice of the Goddess of Valinor.

"Dearest child of the stars, I will love and guard thee as long as the heavens wheel overhead and your love of Elian lingers."

Araviel's sense reeled as she began to sing, in a clear, high voice that would have put the fairest of spring's young larks to shame.

"Go with the wind at your back and the sun on your face,
With a song in your heart and the promise of grace,
Go with peace and in truth and let love lead your way."

And she left.

Araviel did not know why she had chosen to speak to him, but he was glad in his heart that she had. A warm sense, not of happiness yet, but of calm acceptance seeped through him; no matter what evils awaited him, and he was sure there would be many in the dark days to come, he now knew he would never be alone. His days of solitude and silent regret were gone.

What new adventures awaited him would come, and he would meet them with a smile in his eyes and his head held high, no longer an elf fleeing his past, or a silent enemy, but an upright and honest foe of evil and protector and guide of those who were good.

For the first time in his life, he knew that where he was, stepping off into the unknown future ahead, was where he was meant to be. And even in the darkness that plagued those tense days, the sun shone on his upturned face, Elbereth's song resonated in his heart and a sense of peace slipped into his soul, and began to cleanse his many wounds.

I know it's been forever and a day, I'm stage manager in a play and it is taking up sooo much time! But I've written the next few chapters and they are ready to go, because I won't be on for a few weeks, we are coming up on opening weekend...Ahhh! Anyway, sorry about the long wait, I'll be more prompt in the future.

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