Dusk of Ages - Tale 1--> Beyond the War
Here is a quick guide on how to distinguish languages:
[Elvish thought or telepathy]
Recap of Tale 13 of Return of the King: Kyshri's Story . . .
"I am still waiting to hear about how you managed to escape Mordor alive," Lord Celeborn put in, startling me from my contemplative state.
"Well, it could not have been Keelica," Aragorn concluded.
"No, Keelica did not save me," I answered softly, my thoughts drifting back to my time in Mordor after its fall. "Haldir did."
There was a long silence.
"But Kyshri . . ." Legolas ventured gently, ". . . he is dead."
"Good of you to notice," I snapped.
"Then how . . .?"
"As most of you know, the creature Gollum pulled me into Orodruin. I was blessed enough to land on a firm ledge that was, nevertheless, too close to the mountain's heart for my liking. When the One Ring was destroyed, I sent Frodo and Sam out ahead of me to be sure they would not be consumed in the flames. I then used my father's whip and my jumping skills to get out of the mountain.
"Molten rock blocked the way down, so I had to circle to the backside. There was a small path and I took that to get as far from Orodruin as I could. I ran until it was impossible to run any farther, then collapsed.
"I woke to a kind voice. It was Haldir and he told me . . ." I paused in my confusion and leaned around Legolas to look down the table. "He told me that you had sent him, Lord Celeborn."
There was a pause. It was followed by, "Did he?"
"Yes. He said that you had sent him and that I had once more made his job a hassle because he had been trailing after me for many weeks, going farther across Middle-earth than he ever had while he was alive.
". . . He led me across Gorgoroth, past Cirith Ungol and Minas Morgul, out of Ephel Duath, and into Ithilien. We had just crossed the Harad Road when he looked into the sky and told me that I no longer needed him. He disappeared and a few minutes later Rilloc landed and brought me here."
"That is all?"
I nodded. "Rather unspectacular, but true nonetheless." I looked around the table and saw them all stagay at me as though my head might be a little bit foggy. Snarling, I slammed my hands on the table as I stood. "You asked! I merely told!" With that, I stormed from the room.
Lord Celeborn's amused voice followed me. "She is a fiery little beast--her father was the same way when he was angered."
I let out a screech at that and continued on my way to the stables. I needed to get away from all this royalty and the best way to do that was to take a ride. To my delight, Quephiril was as eager for a short jaunt as I was. So I freed him from his stall, leapt onto his back, and let him trot proudly from the city.
Of course, right outside the gates was Pelennor and the bodies of the fallen were everywhere. Bypassing the Orc, goblin, and troll carcasses that lay about, I had Quephiril stop and said a prayer at every fallen Rohan horse, as the human bodies had been removed already. The hour I spent doing this soothed my anger as nothing else could have. I was alive now because of the dead and I honored the ultimate sacrifice that they had made for those they loved and for people whom they had never and would likely never have met even if they had survived.
Quephiril took me into Osgiliath and I was momentarily overwhelmed by the sheer despair that was embedded in the crumbling walls and towers. I closed my eyes and lifted my head to the darkening sky.
[Be disheartened no more . . . The war is over and Men live on . . .]
I do not know how long Quephiril stood by the quietly running river, facing the now fallen Mordor. However, when I opened my eyes again, the sun had long gone down and the stars shone brightly above.
Without my speaking a word Quephiril turned and left Osgiliath, returning to Minas Tirith through the efficient use of a very long and easy trot. I was allowed into the city with little fuss and brushed Quephiril--though as one of the Mearas and over such a short distance at such a controlled pace he really did not need the treatment--before placing him in his stall and giving him a few scoops of grain.
He looked at it, then at me.
[I am not trying to poison you, you big spoiled beast.] I then identified his pickiness. [You are used to that special mash the Rohirrim give you, are you not? Well, that is quite unfortunate. You shall either eat this or starve on nothing more than hay and water. It is your choice.]
Almost grudgingly, he put his nose in the bucket and began to eat. I watched him dribble most of every mouthful he took over the straw below him like any other horse would. [You are a master among horses, yet you do not eat like it.]
He snorted and I entered the castle. I was tired, so I decided to ask one of the servants to show me to a room. Succeeding in this endeavor, I pulled my gown off and crawled beneath the covers, snuggling into the fluffy pillow and drifting into an unbothered sleep.
However, that wonderful sleep was disturbed around dawn by frantic shouts and running feet pounding up and down the hall. I growled and jammed my pillow down over my head, hissing furiously.
Suddenly, the doors to my room slammed open. Before I could even lift my head to speak my name was called loudly and the sheets were thrown back to my waist. An extremely embarrassed choke-yelp came after that, followed immediately by a stumbling apology. I pushed myself up onto my right hand and what could only be described as a belligerent roar emitted from my throat as my left fist swung around and smacked a blushing Legolas square in the face, causing him to reel back in surprise and clutch at his now bleeding nose.
I twisted toward the wide-open doors, causing all the men there to avert their eyes instantly from me. "Does anyone else wish to humiliate me?! No? Then get out! NOW!"
The compliance was prompt and left Legolas kneeling alone on the floor, still holding his nose with his eyes squeezed shut from the pain. I flipped the sheets up around my neck and looked at him without a shred of compassion. [What was all that about, Legolas?]
Not daring to even glance at me, he replied in a nasally voice, [Last night, no one saw you return and---]
[Oh please. You could have asked the gate guard. After all this time you still believe me to be incompetent?]
He whirled on me, one bloody hand grasping at his nose and the other, also bloody, pointing eastward. Voice raised, he said, [Mordor may have been destroyed, Kyshri, but that does not at all make Middle-earth safe! To be completely honest, it is likely that more danger is to be had now that the forces of darkness have no guide to direct their malice! It will take time before the roads are safer to travel!]
I shot him a bored look and replied, [You have not answered my question. I am well aware that Middle-earth is a fair sight more dangerous than it had been and I was quite prepared to fight despite that I had no weapons. I am perfectly capable of breaking necks and I am not above stealing weapons from an enemy should it be necessary. My question is why you so clearly panicked when I did not return at your private curfew and had the entire castle searched come morning. I am not lacking in sense--I can find my way without needing you to lead me by the hand.]
His brow furrowed and I could see the corners of his mouth turn down on either side of his hand. [I was worried about you.]
[As sweet a sentiment as that is, you `worry' like my mother always did. Had it been possible she would have padded all the sharp corners in Arda to protect me from it. Fortunately, such a thing is really quite impossible--I left Lothlorien to see Middle-earth, not be shielded from it. If I had wanted the protection you and others have offered for that reason, I may as well have simply remained in my birthrealm and let my curious nature fade to utter madness that way.]
[You are a female.]
As if that explained everything. [Yes, and I have ever rued that fact.] At his look I elaborated. [It seems that because I am female it is imperative that every male within a fifty league radius rush to my aid the instant I head off by myself. Probably the only privacy I ever have is when I need to use the leaves and even then I must explain myself, as if I am going to run away inexplicably if no one is there to watch over me.]
[You need not exaggerate.]
[I am not. Since I joined you to acquire my revenge for Veikai you have done nothing but fret about me and my common sense, which you seem to think I am severely lacking. I have been living far outside of any long-established settlement since roughly my hundredth year and I have clearly not procured a mortal wound in that time. I do not think I would be in error if I said I had seen more death in my life than you have, either. However, as I am female you find me utterly incompetent as a warrior, which you prove by sending search parties out to look for me when I set foot beyond the walls of a city. Do you deny this as an exaggeration also?]
[Despite what you may think, I am not trying to make a housewife of you.]
[It certainly appears that way.]
[Yes, to you.]
[Legolas, all my life I have never been denied the choice to be a warrior. The `concern' you tout is rather similar to a noose. Ever tightening, rendering me unable to breathe, and waiting for the chance when I slip so that my neck will snap in half and end my existence as I know it.]
He went pale at the description. [I think you overreact, Kyshri.]
[I am sure you do. You have never had someone attempt to smother you and your curiosity as I have merely because you are female.]
He opened his mouth and I cut him off with a command to come nearer. He did so and I moved the hand over his nose, healing the injury I had inflicted. Sitting back and regarding him, I said, [You may wash in the room directly behind me and then you may leave.]
[I have nothing more that I wish to say to you--I am sick of trying to justify myself to your scrutiny. Wash and then leave at once. Do not bother to speak to me and further anger me.]
With the soul-eyed expression of a whipped puppy he obediently went into the adjacent washroom, cleaned his face and hands, and slunk from the room in a way that distinctly reminded me of a hound with its head down and its tail tucked betweed its legs.
When the doors were closed I placed the pillow over my head once more to block the incoming sunlight and went back to sleep, though it was a conscious rest. I was aware of my surroundings, though I would not return to full consciousness unless I sensed danger. The doors to my room opened and shut twice; I felt no evil intent and so did not wake.
When I did wake, I found a new gown had been laid out for me. It was about the same style as the last one I had been given--gossamer fabric sleeves, a modest neckline bunched into many folds--though this one was pure white and had some sparkling threads woven into it. It looked extremely familiar, but I could not place it to a where or when.
Shrugging, I slid into the silk-overlaid satin--pulling on the delicate dancing slippers that were there too--and left my bedroom, wandering with little purpose. I wanted to find everyone else, but was in no hurry to do so. I eventually found the throne room and inside were my friends, sitting in a rather loose circle and chatting companionably.
Eyes rose to me as I entered and I bowed. [Greetings.]
[It did fit. How fascinating.]
I lifted my head. [Lord Celeborn?]
Lady Galadriel explained. [That is your mother's best dancing gown, Kyshri. It was the item that brought your father's attention completely to her.]
[. . . Oh.] I turned on Lord Celeborn. [You did not think it would fit me?]
[You have gained strength in your body to wield the bow, the sword, and the whip efficiently--your mother did not. In that way was she slighter than you and in that way was the dress meant to fit her.]
I nodded absently and looked at the gown, taking in all its details once again. My mother had worn this before my birth and now . . . now I wore it. I knew where I had seen it at last--hidden away in my mother's wardrobe until celebrations called for her to dance. I could remember begging her to have a dress like it made for me, but she had said that the one who had made it had long ago sailed West and such skill had not been passed to anyone who then remained in Middle-earth. I had been upset, but she had promised me that she would give it to me when I married. After she and my father died, all thoughts of the beautiful gown had left me.
My mind blank, I instinctively twirled and then began to perform a series of warm-up motions. A few slow dance moves followed, until I was brought out of my reverie by Lady Galadriel's voice.
[Do you like it, Kyshri?]
Not looking up, I said quietly, [That is a rather silly thing to ask, My Lady. I think . . . I think it would be impossible to dislike it.]
[Then might I ask that you to dance tonight after we eat?]
A smile pulled at my mouth. I had not danced since I left Veikai, but I knew that all I needed was a decent warm-up. I opened my mouth to agree quite happily and was caught short by Legolas as he voiced disagreement.
[With all due respect, Lady Galadriel, Kyshri is still recovering from her time in Mordor. I do not think she is ready for dancing.]
Here it is after all this time!! As always, let me know what you think!!