Gildern, Lady of Lindon - ch. III
"It must be Valinor if your Valley is more beautiful than this, Ivie!" Haldir said to me as we leaned against the trunk of my tree.
"Aye, I used to believe it was. But no, it is not. It is my own escape from the troubles of this world. But hey now, would you like to taste the best apples in the whole world?"
"I would indeed. And they must belong to this tree. With your permission I will climb and get some from the top!"
"You have my permission, but I shall go up with you. I climb this tree often, and no one knows the ways of it's growth as I."
"Then you shall go first."
I slipped on my apron, and grabbed on to a limb, swung myself into the tree, and climbed up a few branches to make room for Haldir, who quickly sprang up after me. We climbed very high, almost to the very top of the tree before we plucked our first apple. We sat on the great branches of my tree, and ate apple after apple.
"These truly are the best apples in the world. I could eat these for days on end, without anything else to sustain me."
"Aye, but sadly it is almost supper time, and we have to go in after we finish the apples in our hands."
"Yes. Do you have to change into a formal gown for the supper?"
"No. This gown is usually what I wear if I have it on, guests or no guests. Are you ready?"
"Yes, I am. I will go down first, if you do not mind."
"Go ahead! And do not ask my permission to do something like that again, or I will have to report you as a fraud!"
"A fraud! Why a fraud?!" he asked as he made his way down the tree.
"A fraud. You have been appointed as my official friend that is not allowed to leave my side, and not ask questions that he knows the answer to." I made my way to follow him, having fun with teasing him a little.
"I have been appointed as your guard, not your `official friend' if that is what you call it."
"What do you think a guard is? A friend...most of the time. A friend who knows almost as much about the person they are guarding than the person herself!"
"Ahh, I see where you are going with this," said Haldir as he dropped lightly to the ground.
"Then you see why I call you an `official friend' that has been appointed by my father because he can trust you more than anyone else in the whole kingdom. Oh, there's the supper bell! It's time to eat!" as I dropped down from the tree, the supper bell rang. We rushed back inside the Palace and back to the Great Dining Room, where most of the population of the Palace would be. I spotted Methia and gave her my apron and told her to put it back up into my bedroom, then smoothed out my hair and gown and made my way with Haldir into the great room. I sat down in my chair to the right of my father-who sat at the head- and Haldir pushed my seat in under the table. He, himself went to the wall that was nearest me, and stood there watching as we ate. To my misfortune, Lairato came over and sat next to me and planted a kiss on my cheek. I quickly glanced at Haldir, but his head was turned and was talking to someone, so he didn't notice. All through the meal Lairato kept talking of his grand doings-as he is prone to do- and boasted of his achievements. I had to sit and pretend I was enjoying his talk, and for some reason he never shut up! Slowly the time passed, and finally supper ended. We all stood up and made our way our of the hall and went our own separate ways. Lairato never left my side, but instead linked our arms together and he took me for a walk. Haldir slowly followed, making sure not to get in the way.
"So, when I saw the shepherdess hanging off the cliff I rushed over to save her from a most certain death. She was so thankful to me that she wanted to give me some of her best sheep as payment. Wanting to honor her, I took the gift quite gratefully," boasted Lairato.
"Wow. And you think that's impressing me? Look, I've had enough of your endless blabber. Isn't it time you went to bed before your nana comes over and scolds you for staying up past your bed time?" I snapped as I found that no one but Haldir was around. Lairato, more than steaming mad pushed me into a wall and glared at me with his flaming blue eyes.
"If you ever talk to me like that again, I will personally see to it that you are sent to Mordor where you belong with that mouth of yours. Now look, just play along for a little while, then I'll see to it that we are no longer engaged...but here is not the place for this talk. Go up to your room, now. Your father said he'll be up to talk to you later on. Good night now, mellon nin. Sleep well."
"Please, do not call me that."
"Why not?" Lairato asked as he ran the back of his hand down my cheek and neck.
"Because I do not like it. And in private like this it makes me hate it even more. I feel like I'm lying to my father, and to myself."
"Well, you are. So your feelings do not deceive you. Good. Now go up to your chambers and get ready for bed. You have a long day tomorrow."
"Why do I have a long day?"
"We have to plan for the wedding! Remember? Now without any more words, leave." I quickly left him, but before I pulled away, he bent down and gave me one of those forceful and hard-and very unpleasant- kisses that he always gave me when he could get away with it. I quickly made my way to my chambers, and Haldir quickly followed me, unsure of what to really do.
"Ivie?" he asked as he closed the door behind us when we entered my living area, "Are you alright?"
"Do I look alright?" I snapped as I sat on a sofa and tried to relax. "Oh, I'm sorry. Sit down will you?"
"Here," Haldir went over to a small table where a pitcher and a few glasses of water were sitting and poured two glasses; one for himself and the other for me.
"You need something cool in your mouth and wet in your throat." He knelt in front of me and offered me a glass. When I took it he stood up and then sat down next to me. "Drink."
I slowly complied with his command and drank some of the water. I kept hoping and praying that he did not see all of what happened with Laiaráto and myself.
"Who was that Elf that was walking with you?" he asked casually.
"Hmm? Oh...him. Forget you ever saw him. He is the Prince of the Jerks and snobs, and that's all you need to know."
"Then I cannot protect you against his advancements if I do not know who he is or why he is advancing on you as such."
"There is nothing you can do, Haldir, without being at a risk. If you must know, he is the Prince of Holland, and has been my suitor for a long time. Today, he tricked me into accepting his proposal to marry him. I had to bargain my happiness for the War. If I did not except, he was going to make sure that his parents did not make war on Mordor, and that would be ruinous for we need as many warriors as we can get."
A few minutes later, Haldir started to speak, "But why?" but I told him it didn't matter why.
After a few minutes of awkward silence, Methia came into the room.
"Good evening, my Lady. Are you ready for bed?"
"Aye, I am, Methia. Good night Lord Haldir, I bid thee sleep well."
"Iaryavie! Come, we must decide what to do with the feast, what foods we want. You also need to unpack the wedding dress that your mother gave you," said Laiaráto
"How do you know about the dress?"
"I just do."
"So why are you prying into my life, like that?"
"Because I can. Now, here is the cook, tell her what foods you want."
"Oh, I can actually make a decision?"
"If you want to. I could just make the decision for you."
"Then do it. I am a girl, what do I know, right? Men can make decisions better than we," I said sarcastically as I returned the glare he was giving me.
"Go get the dress, put it in your bedroom, and I will be up there in a couple of hours to make sure you have done what I asked you."
"Why can't you do it? I mean, if you want it done right the first time then do it yourself." When I finished my sentence I walked away from him, not heading towards the storage room like he had wanted me to, but towards the front doors of the Palace. I walked outside and then headed towards the stables where my horse was. Haldir quickly followed me, not letting me out of his sight.
Ever since I had woken up that morning two weeks ago I had been constantly bugged about the Wedding Preparations, and I was trying to make it as hard as possible for Laiaráto so maybe he would call everything off. It was 15 days from the day I met Haldir, and Laiaráto would not let me have anytime to myself. He always made me go to my bedchambers soon after dinner, and whenever I tried to sneak off I got a reprimanding from Laiaráto. Now was my time. I didn't care how much I got scolded: I was going to have some time to myself where no one could find me.
"Ivie? Where are you going?" asked Haldir when he caught up with me.
I stopped, looked around making sure no one was around. I'm going to my Valley. Do you have a horse?"
"Yes, I do. Don't you think you should be planning for your wedding?"
"No. Because I do not want this wedding to happen, so why should I cooperate in the preparations? Come, get on your horse and follow me." Since we were Elves, we did not need saddles or bridals. We quietly rode our mounts out through the palace gates and out into the open field.
When we were out of sight of the gates we went into a full gallop and rode a few miles to the South, then we turned due West and made our way to the Blue mountains, which were about 30 miles as the wolf runs from the Palace. The time passed slowly as we made our way to the mountains, and we didn't talk. Finally, about a hour later at a lope we made it to the foot of the mountains. I led the way down a very narrow path that I made when I was still but a small Elfling, it led to my secret Valley. We picked our way carefully up the mountain, and about half way up there was a small cave. We dismounted and led our horses into the cave. I picked up the torch I had left in the cave at my last visit, and lit it. There was a roaring sound in the distance, and as we grew closer to our destination, the sound grew louder. We walked a seemingly long way, following the path that was put out before our feet. We turned only a few corners, and then we saw a dim light up ahead, but not only did we see a dim light, there was a waterfall directly ahead.
"A dead end," muttered Haldir.
"No, not a dead end. Come," I headed straight for the waterfall, but instead of going through it, I turned to the right, and there was a ledge five feet wide. "This path is safe for the horses, just go slowly so they don't slip."
We slowly made our way behind the waterfall, and soon we were out in the fresh air of a deep valley. Birds were singing their joyful songs, and a small river splashed and played under the waterfall. A soft wind was playing in the reeds and tall grass. Gentle clouds lazily floated in the sky, while the sun cast her merry beams upon the valley.
"Is this it?" Haldir asked in awe.
"Yes, this is my Valley. The Valley of Peace."
"Tis beautiful. You were right in saying it is more beautiful than the Palace Gardens. I can see why you want to keep it a secret."
"Someday, I'm going to build a house here. Well, actually, I already have, but I mean a house: a home. Not a palace, but a small home."
"And where is this house at?"
"In the trees, yonder. I built it in the trees," I replied, making no move towards the small wood.
"Did you build it all by yourself?"
"Aye, I did. Look! It's Salora!"
"Who's Salora?" Before Haldir finished, a Hawk landed on my arm.
"This," I pointed to the Hawk, "is Salora, one of my good friends."
"But it's a Hawk!"
"And? I have very few Elvish friends. In fact, very few friends at all. I have a need of friends, and when I find myself lonely, I need to look elsewhere for friends, even in the animal kingdoms. Hawks are very intelligent, and this one has been my friend for a long time."
"Oh," was all Haldir could say. He turned around and took in his surroundings. It truly was a beautiful place. I bid farewell to Salora, and then made my way to stand next to him.
"I'm sorry," I said.
"Why? You have nothing to be sorry about, I am the one that needs to apologize."
"No you aren't, and yes I do need to apologize."
"For this," I said as I pushed Haldir into the small river. I watched as he emerged, and tried to hold back my laughter as he glared at me and treaded water. I held out my hand to help him back up, and he took it, but pulled me down with him. When I emerged, Haldir was trying to get onto the bank, but with little success. I swam over to him, and pulled him down. Little did we know the someone was watching us. Watching two Elflings having a water fight, splashing each other and having a merry time, and jealously watched as we slowly yet surely fell in love with one another.
"Where have you been?" snapped Laiaráto as I walked into the Palace, "We have been worried sick about you. You missed dinner and supper, and your father is very angry."
"I doubt that. I've missed meals before and he was never angry, so why should he be now?"
"Because you are grown up now, not some silly Elfling who goes tramping about in the wild, so grow up and act your age. Besides, I don't think it would help the situation if I told your father that the two of you," he pointed to Haldir and me, " could not be trusted together?"
"What do you mean? Why don't you act your age? I don't think acting like a pompous brat is a civilized way for a Prince to act. Besides, you have no right to tell me when and where I can and or can't go. Not now, not ever. And You know what? I've had enough of your attitude. I am not your slave, and I refuse to be treated like one. Though you may be older than me, and though you may be a prince, I am still the Princess of all, and I have the right to tell you what to do, not vice versa. And I have half the mind right now to go to my father and tell him everything. In fact, I mean to. So say goodbye," I snapped back at him. I quickly walked to the Counsel Chamber, leaving a gaping Laiaráto behind, until he realized what I meant to do and he quickly followed suit.
"Father!" I said as I threw the counsel chamber doors open, "I refuse to marry this...this...spoiled rotten waif!"
"Ivie!" shouted the Queen of Holland, quite surprised and hurt.
"Good for you, Iaryavie!" said the King, Laiaráto's father as he clapped.
"And I refuse to marry her, she runs off forsaking her responsibilities, and decides to fall in love with a pauper boy!" said the jerk himself as he ran into the chamber puffing like a bellows.
"And I assure you he lies. I refuse to be treated like a lower life form by him. I demand the utmost respect from him, and I get none. If he refuses to give me the respect I deserve and demand, then I refuse to wed him. He is not deserving to be the Heir of the High King, and he doesn't even deserve to be a prince, for that matter!" I said, quite irked.
"Oh, now really, Ivie! You are over reacting. I'm sure in a few days you'll both be very happy again-"
"Mother, please, I can handle this," Laiaráto said, " And why do you expect me to give you respect if you won't show loyalty to your betrothed?"
"Why do you think? You aren't worth being loyal to. And I have knowledge that you have been unloyal. So don't pull that on me. And besides, you are a lying snake that only wants to marry me because I'm the Heiress to the greatest Elf Throne in Middle-earth! Oh yes, you may have spies, but I do too. I over heard you talking to one of your henchmen that you planned to murder my father soon after the wedding. Then, after I bore our first son, you were going to accuse me of treason and execute me as well. All you ever cared about was the throne. Well now, you aren't going to get it, are you? Your plan has all been revealed, hasn't it been? And I think it's high time that you be put in your proper hole, snake!"
"Is this all true, Laiaráto? Don't say it isn't, because my daughter has never lied to me before. Confess now, and you will get a fairly easy punishment for high treason," said my father as he stood up and walked over to stand next to me.
"Yes. It is all true," said Laiaráto after a few quiet minutes. His mother gasped in disbelief, but his father only stood up and walked over to him and slapped him.
"You treacherous brat. I am ashamed to call you my son. My Lord Erenion, please, do with him as you will, just don't send him back home with me, or he'll receive death as a punishment."
"I will decide what to do with him later. There are other things at hand to discuss," said my father. Then he called one of the guards to take Laiaráto to the dungeons. but before the guard could reach him, Laiaráto threw a dagger at my father and watched as my father stumbled and fell to his knees, then ran off down the corridors and was soon lost to sight. The guard ran after him, but no one ever saw him again.
"Ada!" I knelt down and held him to me. I searched for the blade, and found it had only hit his shoulder, a few inches from the heart.
A few nights later, some scuffling in my bedroom awaked me. I slowly sat up, expecting to see Methia, but what I saw was a dark hooded figure packing some of my clothes in a bag.
"Who are you? What do you want? Get out of here or I'll scream!"
"Now, now, mellon nin, don't over react. I've decided to take you for a little trip to Holland. If you don't cooperate, I'll resort to drastic measures that I'm sure you'll find very unpleasant."
"Do your worst. I'm not going with you," I replied, realizing it was Laiaráto. I stood up on the side of the bed farthest from him, but closest to the door that led to my living area. I slowly walked over to the door, but Laiaráto guess what I was doing and moved to block my escape. "Oh...wait," I said thinking quickly, " Did you say, "To Holland?" I've always wanted to go there, but father never let me. I love Holly Trees. You did say you'd take me there, right?"
"Aye, but why are you making your way towards the door?"
"I'm thirsty, and I have no water in here. The water is out there," I pointed to my living room, "Please, I just need a small drink?"
"Okay, but make it quick. Also, take your keys and lock the main door."
"Aye," I said as I threw on my robe and made my way out of the bedroom. Laiaráto watched me walk over to the pitcher of water and pour myself a cup to drink. As soon as his head was turned, I dropped the glass on the floor and ran as fast as I could to Haldir's door. I quickly turned the knob, but found it was locked for some reason. "Haldir! Haldir!" I banged on the door with clenched fists. "Haldir!!!!"
Laiaráto came up from behind me and grabbed my wrists, and jerked them behind me. He held them there with one hand and brought out a dagger. "I would keep quiet if I were you. Now try that trick again, and it'll be the end." A small whimper escaped my throat as he pressed the dagger against my neck. He pushed me back to my bedroom, and closed the door behind us. He made me get the money that I keep in my room and throw it in the satchel of clothes. Right when he was about to go down through the window, a voice in the shadows spoke.
"Leave her alone Laiaráto, you don't deserve her, and you know it."
"Oh, it's you, boy. Why can't I ever seem to get rid of you? You should have been dead by now."
"Haldir!" I gasped as a shadowy figure came into the light of the full moon.
"Because, you can't. And because you are a coward, and cowards never get their way for long." I noticed Haldir was limping, so I tried to run over to him, but Laiaráto prevented me from doing so.
"So, what are you going to do? You have been crippled for the time being...can you fight?"
"Even if I couldn't, I would still defend my lady." Haldir drew his sword and stood in a battle ready position. Laiaráto drew his sword as well, and pushed me into a corner. Laiaráto jumped at Haldir, but Haldir quickly dodged the hateful blade. The clash of metal was heard for a good 10 or 15 minutes. It was hard for me to judge which shadow was who, but when one shoved the other against the wall, I figured the victor so far was (to my disgust) Laiaráto.
"Say goodbye, boy," he said. As he raised a knife to finish Haldir, I found my dagger and threw it at his back. When it impaled his back, Haldir pushed him off himself, but I saw that Laiaráto's sword was being drawn out of him as well.
Haldir raised his sword and pointed it at Laiaráto's throat, "Goodbye," and Haldir finished him off. I found I couldn't move, I was glued to the spot, quite in shock. I saw Haldir fall to his knees, clutching at his side.
"Haldir...are you ok?" I forced myself to move towards him.
"Yes, I'm fine, are you?"
"Aye. I have no hurts to myself. But you do-" As I was speaking my father as well as many guards and a few elves including Celeborn and Galadriel came in.
"What happened here?" demanded my father as he surveyed the scene.
"Haldir is hurt, ada! He needs the surgeon," I said.
"Get the surgeon...NOW!" ordered me father to some of the servants, and he came over to me, "What happened?"
"I don't know. I was woken up by Laiaráto, he said he was going to take me to Holland. I don't know more than that, except Haldir came in and rescued me...he killed him...but gained serious wounds in the process." Soon, the surgeon came in, and tried to examine Haldir's wounds.
"Not much can be done in this light. From what I can tell, he has many stab wounds, but in this light, it is difficult to tell. We must take him to the House of Healing so I may examine him better."
At the signal from the surgeon, a couple of he-Elves came over and picked Haldir up. Haldir was in serious pain, now. I tried to comfort him as we made our way to the Houses of Healing. When we finally made it there, he was close to being unconscious. Candles were lit all over the place, and thus the surgeon examined Haldir by candle light.
"Will he live? Will he survive?" I asked as the red sun rose.
"Aye, he will. He will need lots of rest, though. He has many wounds, as I stated earlier. Two deep ones in his side, one in his shoulder, and many scratched and bruises on the legs and arms. I noticed he has two broken ribs, and a sprained ankle as well. He had a hard fight."
"Mi'lord! Mi'lord! I have just come from the King and Queen of Holland's chambers...they are dead!" cried a servant as he ran inside the Houses of Healing.
"How?" asked my father.
"Murdered! Stabbed in their sleep!"
"So Laiaráto had lots planned for last night, I see," said my father.
"How could he kill his own parents?" I asked, quite disturbed.
"He was desperate for a kingdom, and if he couldn't have this one at first, he wanted his parent's kingdom. Thus he being the rightful heir, and Elves being immortal unless they be killed...murdered them," replied my father.
"But all he got out of the deal was death himself," said I.
"They who live by the sword die by the sword...it cannot be helped. Come now Ivie, let us go have some breakfast. You may come back later if you will. Keep us informed, Alastad," said my father, directing his last comment to the surgeon.