Heart of Earth, Heart of Stone - Chapter 11 - Dae Selador, Another Piece to the Puzzle.
Haldir could find no trace of Jaessa, though he was certain that she had come this way. Even Elves left some tracks, yet she had left none, not even a blade of grass was disturbed. How had she done it? He was among the greatest of Elven Trackers, he ought to be able to track a female! He circled the area, his keen eyes scanning every inch of the ground for the faintest trace that she had passed.
It was complete chance that he glanced into the trees above, and saw her perched among the leaves.
"Jaessa?" he said softly. "Can I come up?"
"Well, you could hardly disturb my thoughts more than you already have with your tramping around," she said softly, a trace of amusement lighting her tone.
Tramping! Elves do not tramp! Haldir thought indignantly as he gracefully climbed into the long branches to sit next to the lady.
"Are you all right," he asked reservedly, unsure of the wisdom of his query. "You don't have to explain," he rushed to assure her, "I just wished to make sure you weren't, . . ." he fumbled for a word that would express his meaning, but failed.
"I am ok, truly," she whispered, "It is just, . . ." she sighed, "My father is known as the Weapons Master. There are none that can match him in the use of any weapon. He has never been defeated."
Haldir watched her gaze grow dreamy as she continued, "Both my sisters resemble my mother mostly. Tinania has Mother's eyes, and Zandra has her golden hair. I resemble my father more, both in looks and temperament. He was always calm, seldom showing any emotion, except when with my mother or my sisters and I." She sighed again, "We were very close, my father and I, . . . I . . . wanted to be just like him, so I trained, morning, noon and night. I became very proficient with the quarterstaff and knives, but my greatest skill is fighting without weapons. I was determined to make my parents proud of me."
Here she faltered and stopped.
"I'm sure they are," Haldir said, hoping to prod her into continuing. To his surprise and dismay, tears formed in her silvery eyes.
"So they say." She looked away as she continued, "It is rather a tradition in my family for us to train for the first hundred years of our life, and then take the test to become Dae Kular. My parents both are Dae Kular, as are my sisters, and all my mother's siblings, and all but three of their children, and all of their children's children. My grandmother was the Founder of the Dae Kular, the Prophetess of Dae." She gave a bitter laugh, "and I, her granddaughter, was unable to become one of that group. I failed."
Haldir did not know what to say to this. He knew so little of Dae Kular, and had thought that she was one. He could not think of any words to dispel the sound of shame that filled her voice.
"Jaessa," he began hesitantly, "I am sure that there is no shame in this. Surely if you were meant to become Dae Kular you would have. Perhaps Eru had a different calling for you."
She was silent for a time. "No, there is no shame in being Dae Selador," she admitted at last, turning to him, and forcing a smile to her lips, "If it weren't for the Dae Selador there would be no Dae Kular, and the Council, and our entire world would not run. We . . . I mean, . . .the Dae Kular, . . . would not be able to do near as much good without the Dae Selador to support them."
"What is Dae Selador?" Haldir asked, hoping to encourage this other line of thought.
"Dae Selador means literally the Chosen of the Light, or perhaps Chosen Children of the Light. Light is our term for your Eru, the One, the Creator of All. Dae Selador are people of all races who are chosen for great works. Dae Kular, the Warriors, are actually just a specific group of Dae Selador. Healers are another group, and this is what I am. You are Dae Selador too," she said suddenly, turning her grey eyes back to meet his brown ones.
"I?" he spluttered, surprised.
"Yes, you are intended for greatness. Just the fact that you are on this quest proves that you are Chosen. Legolas and Gimli are also Dae Selador," she paused, "There are many levels of Dae Selador. Some are Chosen only for a small period of time, but some are Chosen for Eternity."
"Which are you?" he asked softly.
"I was born Dae Selador, and I will always be Dae Selador," she said, her voice cold and carefully controlled. He sighed in resignation, it seemed he would get no more out of her on that subject.
"Is it because you are not Dae Kular that you cannot fight?" he asked, suddenly forgetting his resolution not to ask about that, he regretted it immediately as she stiffened, and her voice grew even more icy, in a manner that he dreaded.
She leaped from the tree, and landed without a sound. She then looked up at him and said, "It is because I cannot fight that I am not Dae Kular."
Legolas looked up gratefully as Jaessa approached. Chearra was beginning to cry, and he was at a loss. Gimli was no help, he just looked amused, though he was milking the goat. Legolas began to greet the lady in joyful relief, but stopped when he caught the expression, or rather, lack of it, on her face. Gone was the softening that he had detected when they found Cherry. Her face appeared to be made of stone.
Silently she took the baby from Legolas's arms, and crossed to the bowl that held the milk Gimli had prepared. She walked away from the fire, and sat to feed the baby. Gimli and Legolas shared a puzzled and alarmed glance.
Haldir joined them a minute later, looking anxiously in Jaessa's direction, but making no move to join her.
"What happened?" Legolas whispered, "What did you say to her? Weren't you supposed to make her feel better?"
"Nothing," Haldir said, "Nothing."
Legolas quirked his lips in a bitter smile, "Well, at least it wasn't me who upset her this time."
He was slightly amused when Haldir refused to respond to this save for a disdainful smile.
They reached the Great East Road midmorning, and increased their pace accordingly. There was little conversation, even when they stopped. Jaessa had withdrawn completely from the rest of them, lost in the shadows which haunted her past. When they stopped, she immediately became completely absorbed in Chearra, feeding her, and talking to her, growing more in love with her as time went on.
As they drew closer to Rivendell, Jaessa had to fight the urge to slow. She knew it would be best to leave Cherry behind in Rivendell, but she could not bear to be parted from her. The peace that holding the tiny infant brought was the only peace she had felt in the four thousand years since Zandra had disappeared.
When she thought about it, Jaessa realized that Cherry had come to represent to her the little sister that she had failed. She had been so bitter when Zandra had been able to become Dae Kular, she remembered the day clearly, it was burned into her memory . . .
It appeared that the entire extended family was gathered to watch the new Dae Kular set out on her first mission. Of course not everyone was there, a mere event like a first mission did not stop the day to day affairs of the Dae Kular from going on. But everyone who was in between missions, or recovering from injuries, or teaching lessons was there.
Jaessa looked on from the back of the crowd, fighting to keep the tears from her eyes. This was an event that had been denied her, though she had looked forward to it for the first century of her life.
She had been so close to finishing her training, and she had been forced to begin again, nearly from the beginning.
A Healer, she was forced to being satisfied with being a mere healer! The injustice of it, that she, the sister who had trained the hardest, who wanted it the most, was forced to give up her dream.
Zandra raised her head, as she opened the gate to the Hall of the Worlds., turning her gaze about, searching for someone. Jaessa knew that she was the one for whom Zandra looked, but she could not bring herself to move forward. Zandra will just have to make do with parting hugs from their parents. It hurt too much to say goodbye.
"I'm coming Zandra, I'll not fail again. I'm going to give you that hug I denied you," Jaessa whispered. "I'll never fail as a sister again."
"What was that?" Legolas asked, and Jaessa nearly cursed, of course Legolas would hear if Zandra's name was mentioned. She brushed off his comment as she took Cherry from Gimli again. They had stopped for the night again, on the East side of the Last Bridge, that crossed the Mitheithel.
"Nothing, just talking to myself," she assured Legolas, not wishing to share how she had hurt her sister the last time she had seen her four thousand years before. It had lent even greater urgency to her search.
"If you're sure," he paused, "We'll reach Imladris midmorning tomorrow."
"Yes," she sent her thoughts along the road, "There are people there, many people, and they seem to be moving about a great deal, though I could not say what sort of activity it is."
She saw Haldir and Gimli look at her curiously, even though she had mentioned her power before, she had never attempted to explain, she was suddenly feeling the need for conversation, so she began, "My power is Earth, and I can communicate with the earth, and rocks in the ground, sort of sense what's happening for miles around. That's one of the reasons I am so good at tracking."
"What else does your Earth Power include?" Gimli asked with obvious curiosity.
Jaessa smiled, she could guess where his interest as a Dwarf lay. "Well, I can shape metal, and jewels, and well, any rock I suppose, though it requires a great deal of power to do such things." Then she turned to the Elves, "I also can . . . communicate with plants, . . . more like I understand their uses, and their feelings, rather than actual conversation I suppose. I have been asked frequently if I have any Elven heritage."
Haldir tipped his head to one side endearingly, "Do you?"
The simple question caused a bright smile to split Jaessa's face, "No, though I do have a cousin who is half elven, and her daughter is three-quarter elven."
"Tell us more about your family," Legolas said intently, which nearly caused Jaessa to laugh. Of course he wasn't interested in her family, but in Zandra's. It was only a coincidence that it was her family as well. He continued, "Zandra once said that her . . . your ancestors were human, how does that work? No humans could live for four-thousand years. Do you . . . er . . . will you . . . "
"Will she die?" Jaessa asked gently for him. He nodded, and she sighed, "I don't know. Our great-grandparents were mortal. They are now dead, as are all their children and their children's children, except for those descended from our Grandmother Elizabeth, the Prophetess of Dae. Somehow, for some reason, she was Chosen by Dae, and ever since, all of her descendants have also been Chosen.
"As to whether or not we die eventually, no one can say. A few of us have been killed, some have been lost to Darkness, and the two oldest we know nothing of, save they departed many years ago. All we know is that we are what we are, and though some have tried to give it up, because the responsibility is too great, we cannot escape. We are Chosen for as long as we live, however long that may be."