Gilraen - The Story Continues - Chapter 4 - The Bow and Arrow
The Bow and Arrow
The moment Gilraen entered Eryn Lasgalen she was surrounded by elves, all having their bows drawn taught and all aimed at her. "What do you want in Eryn Lasgalen?" An elf said. "I come here in earnest supplication and ask for protection." Gilraen replied calmly. "What do you want with us. Why do you need our help? You do not seem to be in dire need. Who are you?" The elf replied. He was obviously the elves leader. "I!" Gilraen laughed, but her heart was not full of laughter, nor did her eye twinkle as it did when she truly laughed. She was playing a dangerous game, and she was going to have to be very careful. Most elves would consider it very arrogant of anyone, elf or no, who merely just said that he or she was their ruler. "I am called Gilraen, princess of Gondor and Arnor. I have come here seeking help." The expression of the elf leader relaxed a little, but then seemed to grow suspicious. "Why do you seek us? Has Gondor and Arnor failed?" He asked her questioningly. "Nay, but a great evil stirs. Your king, Thranduil has selected me as the Queen of the elves, and I therefore come to you most humbly, for great war comes, and I must be ready." She replied earnestly. With that she cast off her cloak and let it fall to the ground. A slightly surprised look appeared on the elves' faces, but a moment or two later they all bowed. "I am sorry that I was harsh with your majesty." The leader said. "It was to your credit that you were cautious." Gilraen replied, and to all of the elves present she seemed to grow in stature. The expression of wisdom in her eyes deepened, and her voice sounded more majestic. "These are hard times." She said and slowly she appeared to fade back to the girl they had surrounded a few minutes ago. "Majesty..." Began the leader elf, but Gilraen quickly stopped him. "No need to call me that now. Please just address me as Gilraen." She said. "Lady Gilraen, my name is Aeteran. May my company and I escort you to your palace?" He replied courteously. "Yes, certainly. But please Aeteran, just call me Gilraen. I do not feel adequate for my position as of yet. I would feel more comfortable if you just called me simply by my own name." Gilraen replied laughing. This time her eyes and heart laughed, too, and at seeing this many of the elves smiled. "Come, let us to the castle!" She cried, and all the elves turned aside and ran beside Firewind. After several hours they halted and Aeteran came back from where he had been running in front to back where Gilraen was, in the middle of the huge mass of elves. "Where are they going to sleep?" Gilraen said, yawning. "We are going to sleep in the trees." An elf said laughing nearby. "Come Gilraen, you need to rest. No doubt the journey here all the way from Gondor was tedious and trying for you. Come rest, majesty. One of the most important things to have when fighting, whether in training or in battle, is energy. Can you climb a tree?" Aeteran asked, soothingly. "Of course I can climb a tree." She replied, half dismounting, half falling, down from the saddle and off of Firewind. "Mayhaps your majesty is not currently fit to climb. May my people carry you up to your talan?" Aeteran replied anxiously. "I suppose." Gilraen yawned. "But Aeteran, please just address me as Gilraen." "Yes Gilraen." Aeteran said, as he handed Gilraen to the elves waiting above in the tree. They passed her along from elf to elf as if she weighed nothing, and once she was lying safely in the flat they dispersed to the other talans in the trees.
Gilraen awoke to having cold water from a stream nearby splashed down upon her from the upper branches of a tree by an elf. "Wake up sleepy head!" She cried down, laughing at Gilraen as she jumped to her feet spluttering. At first Gilraen looked as if she was going to mad, but then she looked down at her wet self and laughed with the elf. "Come down!" Gilraen said, laughing hard. "Nay! It is to much fun watching you from up here!" The elf cried back. Gilraen sat down and made herself stop laughing. "What am I going to do for clothes now?" She said, and then starting laughing once more. "I see you are enjoying yourself." Aeteran said as he pulled himself up onto the talan. "Come Gilraen,
I have brought you a change of clothes." He said, smiling to himself. "Did you tell her to do that?" Gilraen asked smiling. "Aye. I decided it was time to wake you." Aeteran replied, his eyes twinkling with laughter, though he kept a straight face. "I'll change then, and come down shortly." She said, her eyes twinkling with laughter also. Aeteran climbed back down the tree, and Gilraen took off her old clothes. Then she turned to what Aeteran had brought. There on top was a plain light green tunic, and leggings of the same color. Then there was a vest of a dark, forest green, and a short brown belt. There was also knee high brown leather boots that laced up the front. After looking over the clothing, Gilraen put them on and put her wet clothes into a bag that Aeteran had also brought up, and slowly climbed down the tree. When she reached the ground she found Aeteran, and a group of three elves. Other than those four there was not an elf to be seen, and Firewind and her baggage had disappeared. Before she could speak Aeteran explained. "Your majesty, my company has taken your horse and belongings back to the castle. They will take good care of them. If it so please your majesty, we will begin your training which you requested right away." He said assuringly. Gilraen started to protest, but thought better of it and a resigned look came upon her face. "Very well, I shall begin training." She said with a slight hint of annoyance in her tone. "But next time Aeteran, ask me first before you do something." "As you wish." Aeteran said humbly, but Gilraen could see that he was trying to hide a smile. "May I introduce to your majesty, Lenthenar, Isurindal, and Falisur." Aeteran said, and the three elves bowed in turn. "We are your most humble subjects, majesty." Falisur said kneeling on one knee. "Aye, but now you are my instructors all, and I expect you to treat me as a pupil, and not as a queen. Otherwise I think that you shall spoil me, and I will not be as good a fighter, or queen, that I could be." Gilraen replied, light-heartedly. "Then let us begin." Aeteran said, and they all started running through the forest.
Two days later Lenthenar was instructing Gilraen on how to use the bow. "You must look along the arrow to your target." He said. Gilraen put an arrow on her bow and drew it taught. She looked down the arrow toward the tree that she had designated as a target. A few tense seconds went by and then she let go of the string, and the arrow went sailing through the air and hit the tree exactly in the center of the trunk. "Very well done." Lenthenar said, congratulating Gilraen. "Now this time, arch the bow up a little farther so that the arrow goes up and comes down." He said cheerfully. Gilraen quickly fit another arrow to her bow, and again pulled it taught. She arched the bow up slightly as Lenthenar had instructed, and just as she let go of the string Isurindal walked in from a long run and stood right in front of the target tree. He only had a second, but a second was enough. He saw the arrow and threw himself to the ground just in time. "What, may I ask," he said as he stood off and brushed the dirt off of himself, "was the meaning of that?" "I am very sorry Isurindal, I'm afraid you stepped in front of my target right after I shot my arrow." Gilraen replied, trying not to laugh. Isurindal just walked over to another tree and sat down. "I think that will be all today." Lenthenar said to Gilraen, smiling. "You did very well." "Thank you." Gilraen replied, and sat down herself.
After a minute or two Aeteran walked into the camp. "Well, Isurindal, I do believe that you are to instruct Gilraen in the art of fighting with a sword, that is, if Lenthenar is done." He said to Isurindal. "I am done. She did very well for a beginner." Lenthenar said.
Isurindal and Gilraen both stood up, and Isurindal handed her a sword. "Do you know anything of sword play?" He asked bluntly. "Yes, I learned a little from my brothers." Gilraen replied cheerfully. "Then let us see what you know." Isurindal replied, and without warning started attacking. Gilraen managed to parry all but the last stroke, and after Isurindal took her through all of the steps several times, she was well able to defend herself. After Isurindal had worn her out, he said, "You should make a good fighter, and you are a very fast learner." This encouraged Gilraen very much.
Every day was the same, long, hard running, Lenthenar teaching her how to use a bow and arrow, and Isurindal showing her how to fight. Falisur helped her with learning what she did not know of the elvish tongues, and Aeteran was continually giving her advice and asking thought provoking questions. All the while the shadow over her heart grew darker, and she could feel the presence of evil in middle earth.
For the first few month Gilraen felt sore all over, for she had never gotten much exercise before, and the amount of work that her new elven trainers would have tired a fit person easily. But slowly and gradually her arms and legs grew stronger, and she was able to practice with the sword and the bow and arrow longer. There was a little dread in her mind of the time coming ahead however, for Aeteran had declared that as soon as she was a good fighter then they'd start "the running." Now, from what Gilraen had seen, elvish running was graceful and as fast as lightening. It was her personal opinion that she would never be able to run that fast, and that it wasn't worth it to even try. "Nonsense." Aeteran told her when she told him of her fears. "After a year or two you'll be faster than us, Gilraen. You have Arwens' skill and bravery, and Galadriels' wisdom. The blood of Great Elven Ladies and Lords runs through your veins, and there is no reason to fear. You can do it." The worst part was that Lenthenar, Falisur, and Isurindal agreed with Aeteran. So Gilraen gave up arguing with them about how pointless it was to try, because she wasn't an elf, and asked Isurindal to start taking short runs with her, just to prepare her for what she was convinced would be the hardest thing she had ever done. Isurindal laughed and agreed to go with her. Soon a year had passed and she was eleven. Many a night Gilraen would sit with her back against a tree, and look up through the leaves, and think about her family. The last time she had seen them all was what seemed like an eternity to her, and she cried herself to sleep on many occasions.
Then one day, when Gilraen had just thrown herself to the ground to rest after an exhausting practice session with Lenthenar and Isurindal, Aeteran came into camp after a long run, and announced, "Tomorrow we start the long run!" Isurindal immediately got up and started sorting the weapons that they had with them. "When are supplies coming?" Falisur asked. "This evening." Aeteran replied. Then Gilraen spoke. "May I ask where are we running?" She asked tiredly. "To Lothlorien, Fanghorn, Weathertop, and the Shire, Gilraen." Aeteran replied calmly. Gilraen sat up. "You mean we're leaving Eryn Lasgalen?" She asked. "As soon as dawn breaks Gilraen, rest yourself." Aeteran said as he collected what little they had with them and put them into a shoulder bag. Gilraen fell back down on the ground and closed her eyes. Some time later she was awakened by the sound of loud voices. It was the elves, her companions. Gilraen kept her eyes closed and listened. "I say she isn't ready Aeteran. You'll kill her with this run." Someone said angrily. Gilraen recognized the voice as belonging to Isurindal. "She has done well in learning our tongue, and she has matured in body and in mind this past year. There is no reason that she should have any difficulty." Another voice said. "That must be Falisur." Gilraen thought. " Has she not gone running with you Isurindal of late?" Yet another voice said, sounding very much like Lenthenar. "Aye, she has been running with me, but she is human, and I do not remember any human that could ever run as fast as we elves." Isurindal said proudly. "Her majesty is quite ready for this run. Let us remember that she is more elvish than most humans, and that some of the blood that runs in her blood is that of Melian the Maia, and King Thingol. She is not to be mocked. Also, Isurindal, do not become proud, because King Elessar ran with Gimli the dwarf and Legolas Greenleaf, our own prince, in the days of old." Said Aeteran calmly. Gilraen had had enough, so she opened her eyes and stood up. All four elves jumped up, with shocked expressions on their faces. Just as she was about to say something, an arrow came flying in the air toward her. Thanks to her training with the elves, she was able to duck just in time. Immediately Aeteran came over to her while Isurindal, Falisur, and Lenthenar all took their weapons from the stack Isurindal had made earlier and with drawn swords and bow they ran away in the direction that the arrow was fired from. "Are you all right, Gilraen?" Aeteran asked, with concern. "I'm fine. A little startled, but I'm all right." Gilraen replied, sounding breathless. "I trust that you slept well." Aeteran said, sounding a little unsure of himself. "Yes, but I was awakened by loud voices." Gilraen replied evasively. There was an uneasy silence for several minutes, but finally curiosity got the better of Gilraen. "Who was Melian the Maia?" She said, turning to Aeteran, who looked at her with a new found respect. "Queen Melian, majesty, is one of your ancestors. She and King Thingol reigned in the kingdom of Doriath, which has been long destroyed. She was a Maia, a Valar of smaller importance than that of the Vala.
Her daughter was Luthien, who married the man Beren. Their son was Dior, Thingol's
heir, and Dior's daughter was Elwing. The same Elwing who married Earendil, and whose sons were Elrond and Elros. From their majesty, you should know the tale." Aeteran said, with a faraway look in his eyes. "Aeteran, do you know all this from the tales, or were you there?" Gilraen said, her eyes questioning Aeteran much more than her words. "Let us just say that I managed to escape in the battle between Elwing and her people and the sons of Feanor at the havens of Sirion. Many years later, during the second age I crossed the Misty Mountains, and here I am today." Aeteran replied, with a sad tone. With that, there was again silence. A few hours later, as the sun started to set, Isurindal, Falisur, and Lenthenar came running back into the camp. The first thing that Gilraen noticed was that Lenthenar carried two bows, one was his own, the other, black and dirty and strange. Isurindal walked over and picked up the arrow which Gilraen had previously pulled from the ground where it had fallen. Then he and Lenthenar put the bow and arrow side by side on the grass. Gilraen stood up and walked over and looked at them. It was plain, and crudely made. "Get it out of Eryn Lasgalen." Aeteran said quickly after looking at them.
"Orc weapons are no things to be left here." He finished. Lenthenar picked the bow and arrow up and left, running. Gilraen could not believe her ears. As the realization of what had happened, and what it meant dawned on her, Aeteran said, "As soon as our supplies arrive we leave this place."