Hope and Dreams - Chapter 11- Lady of the Wood

Chapter 11
Lady of the Wood

I am so sory that it took me this long to post! I have been soooo busy lately with speach. I had posted before but I couldn't get it posted.

Pegacornish or Elvish
-Thought speach-

Legolas watched as Muriel dozed, her face was peaceful and almost happy. The moon shone it's light on her face, making it seem like she was glowing. Muriel's skin was covered with filth and Orc blood, and her hair was filled with twigs, some more Orc blood, and various other things, but he didn't care. She was still beautiful in his eyes, and no matter what happened he would love her, always.

Something caught his eye, he looked down to see Muriel's necklace, glowing like a star. Legolas took a closer look at the locket. It was fairly ordinary. The locket was fashioned like a silver heart and on the front there were feathers etched in. He turned it over to see some sort of writing, it was one that he had never seen before, Pegacornish, he thought. Then he turned it to its side and tried to open it. It seemed to be stuck so he tried harder to open it, but to no avail. Had the locket possibly been damaged during the Orc attack, he questioned. No, he thought, there were no dents in the sides, just smooth metal.

Legolas looked up to see Aragorn come back from his meeting with Haldir. He looked worn out as he came and sat next to the sleeping Dwarf. Legolas knew that this probably wasn't the time to bring up such a subject with Aragorn, but he was worried about Muriel's safety.

"Aragorn, I fear that Boromir might have taken a liking to Lady Muriel," he began.

"A liking, what do you mean?" Aragorn questioned, his eyes becoming narrow.

"On our third night in Moria, I awoke to see both Muriel and Boromir very cross. Then later on in the night, when Boromir was asleep, I asked her what had happened. She told me that he had said something that bothered her, yet her eyes told a different story," Legolas told Aragorn. "They told me that she feared him, and what he would do if they were alone together. Later that night she had gotten up to stir the fire, when I reached for her arm to tell her that there was no need in doing so, she tried to hit me. But when I asked what it was that she feared she said simply nothing at all, yet her voice cracked. I fear that Boromir might have tried to take her that night."

"Yes, I agree. We should keep a closer eye on Boromir, but I fear not only for the Lady's sake. But speaking of him, where is Boromir?" Aragorn asked. "I cannot recall him being here when Hadlir came to welcome us."

"You are right Aragorn. I thought I saw him go back down the latter, but where he went from there I do not know," Legolas said truthfully. "Should we go look for him?"

"No," Aragorn told him. "Boromir is smart and knows that he should not wander far from the encampment."

"But what could he be possibly be doing down there?" Legolas questioned.

"I was getting what belonged to the lady," a voice said from the ladder. Aragorn and Legolas turned toward the voice, to see Boromir come from the ladder. He was carrying a bad-tempered Senay up it. "I have brought up the lady's cat. I thought that it might want to see her. Ouch! Why you stubborn little feline, is this what you do to the person who brought you to your master?" Boromir asked when Senay had bit him on the arm. Her ears were back and she was hissing like a maniac.

"I don't think she likes to be carried, Boromir," Legolas told him.

"Hmm... It does seem that way now doesn't it?" he said letting go of Senay. She instantly ran out of his reach and ran toward the sleeping Muriel.

"Chula Senay. Lei sono il benvenuto sedere prossimo a noi.You are welcome to sit next to us," Legolas greeted her. Senay stared at him for a while, not realy sure what to do. This had been the first time he had ever spoken Pegacornish to her. But Senay quickly got over it and took his advice by sitting next to him.

"Gentlemen, I think that we should do as the lady and Gimli have already done. These borders are well protected so there is no reason not to sleep well tonight," Aragorn said picking up his blanket.

"Until morn," Legolas said nodding to Aragorn.

"Until morn," Aragorn answered, and with that the Elvish custom was complete. But Boromir said nothing for he did not know what had just taken place between the two of them. He had heard what Legolas and Aragorn had said about keeping a closer eye on him but that was all that he had heard of the conversation. He watched them closely as they settled down to sleep. Boromir watched loathingly as the Elf resettled himself next to the Lady. This Elf would be tough competition. If only he could get her alone and surprise her, but how? He was going to have to wait until a moment presented itself, but until then he was going to have to be on his best behavior. Boromir looked up to the stars wondering what the future would hold.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Muriel awoke with a sweat. Something was wrong, she could feel it. Muriel looked around to see if anything was out of place. Everything was the way she remembered it, except all the Elves were gone. She looked to her side hoping to see Legolas's sleeping face there, but he too was gone. Muriel was realy starting to get nervous now. Why had all the Elves left? She thought to herself. Something was definitely wrong. Two ideas flowed into Muriel's head, one was stay where she was until the Elves came back or to fly and discover what the danger was herself. She decided to do the latter.

Muriel called upon her wings and opened them to ketch the night wind. She quietly flew into the night sky, and over the beautiful trees. She kept alert looking for any sign of danger but she didn't have to look far. As she peered through the trees she saw on the other side of the Nimrodel there was a fairly large band of Orcs. They were still a ways from the stream and Muriel could make out their make out their twisted figures perfectly. She silently flew behind the band and through the branches of the trees around her. She swiftly flew closer to them before unsheathing Aife. The battle had begun.

She killed the first one without alerting the others but the second raised the alarm. She quickly landed, knowing that her best chance of staying alive was to fight on the ground. Using her noingha she would toss them against the trees and killing the rest by jabbing them here and there with Aife, who blazed like a firestorm. The battle was soon won and Muriel soon felt the danger lifted from her mind. Muriel looked back down at her wound, it had broken open again and was now soaking her pant's leg with her blood. Once again, she took to the skies.

It was a perfect night for flying, the air was warm enough just to make a small thermal so she didn't have to flap her wings as much. Muriel had always enjoyed flying, it made her forget who she was and what she was. For those few moments she was free from all worries and cares. She would have stayed out there flying all night but she had to get back before the Elves missed her. Muriel silently searched for the encampment by looking through holes in the tree tops.

Once she found the site, she quickly landed in her spot and fell back to sleep.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Muriel awoke again, fully rested this time. A pale faint light was beginning to creep into the forest but the stars were still visible through the branches of the trees. Muriel looked around again, Legolas was once again sleeping next to her. She looked at his blue eyes. She still hadn't gotten used to him sleeping like that, it just made her skin crawl.

Muriel decided that this would probably be the best time to clean her wound. She stood up to feel almost like knifes made of fire were stabbing her. It took a lot of her strength to stop herself from screaming and even then a hiss escaped from her lips. Muriel quickly shifted her weight to the other leg and slowly eased her weight on the painful one. There was still a lot of pain coming from the wound, so she decided to lighten her load by untying Aife from her sash for she couldn't leave behind her pack (it had all the bandages in it). She slowly started walking toward the Elf that had introduced himself last night, Haldir.

"I'm going for a walk. I'll be back soon," she told him simply.

Haldir nodded to her, "Call out if there is any trouble. There were Orcs on the prowl last night, so be careful."

"I shall, thank you for your concern," she said as she slowly climbed down the rope ladder. Upon reaching the ground she decided that it would be best to go to the one water source she knew of, the Nimrodel.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Boromir woke to see that his moment had come sooner then he thought. The lady Muriel was walking alone into the woods. He watched her until she disappeared from view and then, he made his move.

"No lady should be alone like that, not even in the safest conditions," Boromir commented loud enough for Haldir to hear.

"She shall be fine Sir. There are many sentries around watching out for danger and they shall call out if there is any trouble," Haldir said while staring at the faint stars.

"Still, I would feel safer if someone went with her," Boromir commented. He was still staring at where she had disappeared. Haldir looked at him with searching eyes.

"If you wish sir you can follow her and make sure she is safe," Haldir told him. Haldir did not trust this human, he was sure that his ears had heard correctly last night when Aragorn and Legolas had told him that she could take care of herself.

"I shall do as you have said," Boromir said going down the ladder to follow Muriel's path. Haldir debated with himself about rousing someone before he actually awoke Legolas.

"Hmm?" Legolas said, he was still groggy from last night.

"Legolas, the lady Muriel went on a stroll through the woods. After she had left the man Boromir decided to fallow her for her well-being. I did not like the way his eyes looked as he went after her," Haldir told him. Legolas shot right up from his sitting position.

"Which way did they go?" he asked hurriedly as he grabbed his weapons.

"In the brush over yonder. Why? Is there something wrong?" Haldir asked worriedly.

"It's to long to explain right now, but when I come back I shall tell you the tale in full," Legolas said hurriedly as he dropped to the ground and ran along the path Muriel and Boromir had gone down. He only hoped that he wasn't to late.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Muriel had finally reached the riverbank of the refreshing stream. Her knee was throbbing with the pain now, and was glad to be able to sit next to the gently flowing river. When she was in her sitting position she rolled up her pant leg to see the wound.

It was as she feared, infected. She looked in distaste at the greenish yellow puss that was starting to form. Quickly she pulled out one of her washing cloths and soaked it in the calmly flowing river. Once it was sopping wet she began the nasty job of cleaning the infected wound.

-You should have had Legolas or Aragorn clean and bandage it yesterday, like the Hobbits did,- Phoenix said.

-And this is coming from the person who prevented me from saving Gandalf,- Muriel shot back. Phoenix said nothing so Muriel went back to cleaning the wound.

"So the lady can be harmed," came a voice beside Muriel. She recognized the voice right away, Boromir. She turned to face him.

"What are you doing here?" she asked him with a hint of nervousness in her voice.

"I should ask you the same question M'lady," Boromir said coming closer to Muriel. "No one should travel alone these days."

"I don't need your company Boromir, and if the truth be told I don't want it either," Muriel said. Boromir was advancing steadily now and Muriel was fighting the urge to run. Even if she did run her knee would surely give out on her so she stood her ground.

"You look so beautiful sitting there next to the river and if I didn't know any better I would have said you to be a Maia," Boromir said with a mysterious grin.

"Flattery will get you nowhere," Muriel said. She was starting to edge away from him now and was not at all pleased at the way this was going.

"It has gotten me places before. Why should it fail now?" Boromir asked. He was practically on top of Muriel now, looking down at her with those lusty eyes.

"Boromir, step away from the Lady," a familiar voce demanded. Muriel looked behind Boromir to see Legolas with his bow bent, ready to shoot at any moment.

"Of course," Boromir said acidly backing away from Muriel. "I think I shall go back to camp and see how things are progressing," he said never taking his eyes off the Elf.

Boromir quickly made his exit but when he was close enough for only Legolas to hear he said, "She cannot be always protected by you." After saying this he ran off towards camp.

"Did he hurt you?" Legolas said nodding toward her wounded knee.

"No, this happened...before," she said truthfully. Legolas came closer to examine the wound.

"By the look of it you have an infection starting. When did this happen?" He asked her.

"Do you mean when I got my wound? Or when I got the infection?" Muriel asked, smiling a little.

Legolas laughed, "Both."

"Well, I happened to get the wound in Moria, an Orc stabbed me while I was fighting the Cave Troll. But the infection must have started sometime last night," she told him, shrugging her shoulders. Legolas gave her a grave look.

"You received this by an Orc blade? Why didn't you tell Aragorn or I yesterday?" he asked worriedly.

"Everyone was grieving over Gandalf's death and I didn't want to worry any of you," Muriel said shrugging her shoulders again. Legolas looked around franticly for something, but what that thing was Muriel did not know. He left her side only for a moment to get what he had been looking for.

"You pick your places well lady, this place has much athelas," Legolas said holding out the green leaves for Muriel to see.

"Don't call me lady," she hissed at him. He just smiled and began soaking one of her washing towels in the river. Suddenly a part of Haldir's welcome stuck in her mind. "Legolas? Why didn't you tell me you were a prince?" She asked him in a kinder tone.

"I was hoping you hadn't caught that," he said staring into her eyes. "To be perfectly honest I hadn't told you because I was..."

"Unsure on how I would treat you." she finished for him. Legolas nodded and Muriel continued, "I don't think how you treat a person should matter on the person's status but on the person's outlook on life."

"You are one of the first people who have agreed with me. They say that I am so privileged to be in my position," Legolas said as he put the cloth back in the stream.

"To a certain extent you are. You get four square meals a day, your father lets you go on adventures, and your opinion is the strongest in the kingdom, that is besides the king's. Think of the possibilities, by just you saying something can help your kingdom. Not many people can say that it happens to them," Muriel said as he began to wash the wound again.

"But I feel so trapped. It's like everyone is watching me and I cannot be anything less then perfect," he told her with a sigh.

"It can feel that way, but think of it this way. If your father was to come to Rivendell in a dress, how would you think Lord Elrond would react?" she asked him, trying to get her point across.

"He would probably think my father was ill, and irresponsible. Although I cannot picture my father in a dress," Legolas responded truthfully as he smiled.

"Right, your father and yourself are like figures for the rest of the world to see. They would judge Mirkwood by the way you act, dress, and who knows what else," Muriel explained with a smile.

"Lady, you seem to know a lot about the subject," Legolas said, teasing her just a little.

"Don't call me lady, Prince," she teased back. Legolas laughed his pleasant laugh.

"None of this formality now, I shall call you Muriel if you will call me just Legolas," he said with a smile.

"Alright, just Legolas," she teased him again. Legolas shook his head and laughed.

"I'm going to put the bandage on now. It might hurt for a moment," he said as he began wounding it around her wound. Muriel winced at the pain.

"Ow! That hurt!" she snapped.

"I told you," Legolas laughed.

"Oh. Ha, ha, ha. Just wait til it's your time to be wounded, we'll see who's laughing then," Muriel said gritting her teeth.

"There, finished. You are very lucky for Orc blades are commonly known to be poisonous. Although you will have more of a limp now, but better to have it now then for the rest of your life," Legolas said helping Muriel to her feet.

"We should be getting back. I told that Haldir fellow that I would only be gone for a few minutes," Muriel said while picking up her pack.

"I shall carry your pack for you for you are not in the position to do such a thing yet," Legolas told her, taking the pack from her.

"Yes, father," Muriel said under her breath but Legolas heard her.

"Don't you `yes father' me young lady. I'm old enough to be your great grandfather," he said in a stern voice, but he winked at Muriel to let her know that he was not mad at her. They began to walk together, Legolas slowed down so Muriel could walk easily beside him.

"Legolas? How old are you?" she asked him. Normally she would not ask such a question but her curiosity got the better of her.

"I currently have seen 2,139 years," Legolas said. Muriel abruptly stopped walking.

"You speak of it like it is nothing," Muriel said with wide eyes.

"For Elves, 2,139 years is nothing," Legolas said with a grin. "Now tell me your age please."

"It's not polite to ask a woman her age," Muriel said matter of factly as she began to walk again. "But since you said please I'll tell, I am 25 years old and going on 26 this year."

"You are but a child in Elven standards," Legolas said with a smile.

"A child am I? If my sword was with me, you would not be smiling," Muriel said with a grin of her own.

"There is no doubt in my mind, Muriel, that I would not be smiling. Although you don't have it with you so I can fortunately smile," he said.

Once they had gotten back it was time to pick up camp for they would be on the move soon enough. Muriel had the job of waking the Hobbits since no one else would do it.

"Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, wake up you sleepyheads," Muriel said shaking them each gently.

"Just a little bit longer," Pippin whined.

"Come on Muriel, let us sleep," Merry groaned.

Muriel picked up one of the spare pillows and held it up menacingly. "I swear, if all of you don't get up this very minute I will have to be forced to whack each of you with this pillow," Muriel threatened. It was an empty threat though for she did not like the idea of hitting the Hobbits in any way.

"Oh well. You'll miss your breakfast but I'm sure that's fine with you. I mean, you did ask to sleep a bit longer."

Suddenly all four Hobbits were wide awake and ready to eat. Muriel laughed at them for she had never seen anything quite like the appetite of a Hobbit. It seemed to her that it was the number one thing on their agenda at every moment of the day.

"So the lady has achieved what everyone else has not. What is your secrete?" Haldir said coming up behind her, smiling.

She laughed, "You just need to know what they want."

"So where's the food? I'm starving," Pippin stated, licking his chops.

"On the ground level and ready for eating. Everyone else has already eaten," Haldir said with a smile. All four hobbits ran to the ladder at once, and there was quite a mad scramble to get down it.

"Some one would have to be mad to go between the Hobbits and their food," Muriel said smiling. Haldir laughed, his voiced filled the air.

"That they would be lady," he said.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"What happened?" Aragorn asked Legolas when Muriel had gone.

"It appears that Boromir made another move on the lady," Legolas said.

"No, her limp. She did not appear wounded before. Did Boromir do this to her?" Aragorn asked again.

"No, Boromir did not cause the wound. It seems that the lady thought that we were too busy to care for her," he answered.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Gentlemen and lady," Haldir said when they had all gotten together again. "It is time to set out once more." And that they did. Haldir and Rúmil were there guides, and they were good guides for Muriel was sure that she would have gotten lost if it hadn't been for them.

They went back to the path that still went on along the west side of the Silverlode, and for some way they followed it southward. But soon Haldir turned aside into the trees and halted on the bank of the river under their shadows. Muriel shuddered, she liked water but nothing this deep.

"We're not going to have to swim are we?" she asked, desperately hoping the answer was no.

"No, good lady. There is one of my people yonder across the stream," said Haldir, "though you may not see him." He gave a call like the low whistle of a bird, and out of a thicket of young saplings an Elf stepped, clad in grey, but with his hood thrown back; his hair glinted like gold in the morning sun. Haldir skillfully cast over the stream a coil of grey rope, and the other Elf caught it and bound the end about a tree near the bank.

"Celebrant is already a strong stream here, as you see," said Haldir, "and it runs both swift and deep, and it is very cold. We do not set foot in it so far north, unless me must. But in these days of watchfulness we do not make bridges. This is how we cross! Follow me!" Then he ran lightly across it, over and back again, as if he were on a road.

"I cannot do such a thing! It is impossible what you ask," Sam said piping up.

"We have two more ropes. We will fasten them above the other, one shoulder-high, and holding these you strangers should be able to cross with care."

"What about my horse and cat? They cannot possibly cross at this point," Muriel said. she was a little worried that they would have to be left behind.

"There is a place a ways down stream, if they can find there..." Haldir couldn't even finish his sentence before Ahern, with Senay riding upon her back, leapt over the river.

"Never mind," Muriel said with a smile. The rest just stared in wonder.
When this slender bridge had been made, the Company passed over, some cautiously and slowly, others more easily. Muriel was one of those who where slow going over the river. It was in her nature to be frightened of deep water, seeing that pegacorns can't swim. But she was soon on the other side and there were no more rivers to cross.

Finally they were over the on the other side of the river. Muriel hardly paid any attention to the rest of them, for she was fascinated by the scenery around them. All of her years she had never seen a place like this, it's beauty so magnificent it took her breath away.

"I am sorry lady," Haldir said coming up beside her. "I must blindfold you also."

"Please, let me ride on my horse blindfolded, it would... clam me. I do not like to be unable to see my surroundings," Muriel said. Haldir nodded, he quickly blindfolded her and helped her climb upon her horse.

The ride was calm enough, and she could tell that there was soft turf underneath by the way Ahern stepped upon it. All that day the Company marched on, until they felt the cool evening come and heard the early night-wind whispering among many leaves. Then they rested and slept without fear upon the ground; for their guides would not permit them to unbind their eyes, and they could not climb. In the morning they went on again, walking without haste. At noon they halted, and Muriel was aware that they had passed out under the shining Sun. Suddenly she heard the sound of many voices all around him.

A marching host of Elves had come up silently: they were hastening toward the northern borders to guard against any attack from Moria; and they brought news. A strange creature had been seen, running with bent back and with hands near the ground like a beast and yet not of beast-shape. It had eluded capture, and they had not shot it, not knowing whether it was good or ill, and it had vanished down the Silverlode southward.

"Also," said Haldir, "they bring me a message from the Lord and Lady of the Galadhrim. You are all to walk free, even the dwarf Gimli. It seems that the Lady knows who and what is each member of your Company. New messages have come from Rivendell perhaps. And lady," he said speaking to Muriel, "you may fly freely if you wish."

Muriel stared open mouthed, once the blindfold was removed, not knowing exactly what to say. She decided finally that it would be best if she ignored it, maybe it had been a figment of her imagination.

"Behold! You have come to Cerin Amroth," said Haldir. "For this is the heart of the ancient realm as it was long ago, and here is the mound of Amroth, where in happier days his high house was built. Here ever bloom the winter flowers in the unfading grass: the yellow elanor, and the pale niphredil. Here we will stay awhile, and come to the city of the Galadrim at dusk."

After the others had laid upon the grass Muriel laid and thought about the past, her past. Almost every memory cut her deeper til she felt that there was a deep unbearable wound in her heart. She would have started crying if it had not been for Boromir.

"A beautiful lady like yourself deserves something as beautiful for your hair," he said holding out a circlet of the flowers elanor and niphredil. She felt all eyes on her as he placed it on her head.

"You're going to have to do better then that if you wish to get out of trouble with me," she whispered so only he could hear, but he only smiled and bowed to her.

"I think Boromir has gotten himself a little closer to the lady," Pippin said.

"I bet you Muriel'll fall in love with Boromir," Merry said, whispering into Pippin's ear.

"Yeah," Pippin said smiling.

"Now don't go betting on something that isn't for sure now," Sam said.

"But if you did bet on something that was for sure, you would already know the outcome and that would be pointless," Merry replied.

"Yah, what he said," said Pippin, who happened to be totally confused on the subject.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"It's beautiful here and it almost timeless like there is no beginning or end here just... there's no word to describe it," Muriel said as she looked around. "It's almost like singing, and yet you're part of the song, and then again you're not."

"You feel the power of the Lady of the Galadhrim," Haldir said who was standing beside her. "Would it please you to climb with me up Cerin Amroth?"

So the Company followed him as he stepped lightly up the grass-clad slopes. Soon after, they entered a circle of white trees. As they did so the South Wind blew upon Cerin Amroth and seemed to sigh among the branches. Haldir had gone on and was now climbing to the high flet. Muriel followed him, curiosity buzzing through her brain like angry hornets. Upon reaching the top Haldir offered her his hand and she gladly took it.

"Look that way first!" he said pointing to the south. Muriel looked to see where he was pointing and saw, still at some distance, a hill of mighty trees. Out of it, it seemed to her that the power and light came that held all the land in sway.

"There lies the fastness of Southern Mirkwood," said Haldir. "It is clad in a forest of dark fir, where the trees strive one against another and their branches rot and wither. In the midst upon a stony height stands Dol Guldur, where long the hidden Enemy had his dwelling. We fear that now it is inhabited again, and with power sevenfold. A black cloud lies often over it of late. In this high place you may see the two powers that are opposing one another; and ever they strive now in thought, but whereas the light perceives the very heart of the darkness, its own secret has not been discovered. Not yet." He turned and climbed swiftly down, and they followed him.

"Caras Galadhon! Heart of the Elvendom on earth," Haldir said once they had come over a little hill. "Home of Lord Celeborn and of Galadriel, Lady of Light."

Soon they were inside the great city, a city above the ground for the tree's held the buildings in there large branches. Muriel told Ahern and Senay that she would not need them now, and told them they should try and find a stable. Then the fellowship stopped at some stairs that seemed to go forever up words around the tree.

"Here dwell Celeborn and Galadriel," said Haldir. "It is their wish that you should ascend and speak with them."

One of the Elf-wardens then blew a clear note on a small horn, and it was answered three times from far above. "I will go first," said Haldir putting his first foot on the steps. "Let Frodo come next and with him Legolas. The others may follow as they wish. It is a long climb for those that are not accustomed to such stairs, but you may rest upon the way."

"Why must it be stairs?" Muriel said in a whisper to herself. "My leg already aches from all the walking we have done."

"Then I shall carry you lady," Legolas said beside her.

"No, I shall bear through this," she said blushing.

"No, you are right. You have walked too far already today and must rest that leg of yours," Legolas said as he picked her up. She was light to him and he carried her easily. Muriel was too tired to protest, and for most of the journey up she slept.

"Muriel," a whisper in her ear said. "We are here, you must walk on your own now."

Muriel looked up to see a wide talan, almost like the deck of a great ship. On it was built a house, so large that almost it would have served for a hall of the great council of Pegacorns. Muriel got to her feat at once, for she wasn't going to be thought of as a weak maiden. She entered be hind Legolas, and found that she was in a chamber of oval shape, in the midst of which grew the trunk of the great mallorn, now tapering towards its crown, and yet making still a piller of wide girth.

The chamber was filled with a soft light; its walls were green and silver and its roof of gold. Many Elves were seated there. On two chairs beneath the bole of the tree and canopied by a living bough there sat, side by side Celeborn and Galadriel. They stood up to greet their guests, after the manner of Elves, even those who were accounted mighty kings. Very tall they were, and the Lady no less tall then the Lord; and they were grave and beautiful. They were clad wholly in white; and the hair of the Lady was of deep gold, and the hair of the Lord Celeborn was of silver long and bright; but no sign of age was upon them, unless it were in the depths of their eyes; for these were keen as lances in the starlight, and yet profound, the wells of deep memory.

Haldir led Frodo before them, and the Lord welcomed him in his own tongue. The Lady Galadriel said no word but looked long upon his face.

"The enemy knows you have entered here," said Celeborn. "What hope you had in secrecy is now lost." He paused as if unsure to go on.

"Eight there are here, yet nine set out from Rivendell. Where is Gandalf?" he asked. "For I desire much to speak with him. I can no longer see him from afar."

The lady turned her eyes to Aragorn. "Gandalf the grey did not pass the borders of this land. He has fallen into shadow," she said with eyes widening.

"He was taken by both shadow and flame," Legolas said as pain filled his eyes. "A Belrog of Morgoth. For we went needlessly into the net of Moria."

"Needless were none of the deeds of Gandalf in life," she said, not harshly but enough to get her point across. "Those that followed him knew not his mind and cannot report his full purpose." She then turned to Gimli, who looked down from her gaze. "Do not let the emptiness of Khazâd-dûm fill your heart Gimli, son of Glóin. For the world has grown full of peril and in all lands love is now mingled with grief."

"What now becomes of this Fellowship?" Celeborn said, looking directly into the eyes of each member of the fellowship. "Without Gandalf, hope is lost."

"The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little, and it will fail to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while the Company is true," the Lady was staring directly into Muriel's eyes now. Muriel could feel her looking through her mind and memories. She continued, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Go now and rest, for you are weary with sorrow and much toil. Tonight, you will sleep..."

-Welcome, Muriel of the Pegacorns. It has been a long journey for you,- the Lady Galadriel spoke in her mind. -I know who and what you are, but have no fear I shall not tell the others. That I leave for you.- Muriel's eyes grew wide, she hadn't expected her to find that.

"Go now!" said Lord Celeborn, and Muriel forced herself to turn her gaze to him. "Even if your Quest did not concern us closely, you should have refuge in this City, until you were healed and refreshed. Now you shall rest, and we will not speak of your further road for a while."

Muriel bowed and turned to go but a voice stopped her.

"Lady Muriel, I wish to speak with you further," the lady Galadriel said softly. Muriel turned, she was shaking, not knowing if the lady would punish her or not. Muriel walked up to her, her head bowed.

"Yes Lady," she asked, dreading the worst.

"What is it that you fear, Lady Muriel?" she asked as she took Muriel's arm in hers. "There is nothing here that can harm you. All I ask of you when you are here is to enjoy yourself and leave the past behind."

"Enjoy myself?" Muriel asked, wondering what she meant by that.

"Yes, enjoy yourself. Now by the way you look now," Galadriel said, looking Muriel from head to toe. "you are wishing for a bath, are you not?" Muriel nodded.

"Come then," Galadriel led her down several flights of stairs and into a little building. Inside were doors leading to other rooms. Galadriel called out in her own tongue and a female Elf appeared as quick as lightning. Again she spoke in her own tongue and pointed to Muriel.

"This is Manduriel, she will be your personal maid for the time being," the Lady Galadriel said gently. "I shall leave you to your bath."

"The lady said you are not from here," Manduriel said. She had a very strong accent and it was hard to understand what she was saying. "I am sorry, I do not speak the common tongue very well."

"That's alright," Muriel said. "May I take my bath now?"

"Yes, yes," she said as she hurried Muriel into a room. The bathing room was very large, with the bath itself sunk into the floor, the size of a millpond, and steaming, almost like they were expecting her. Muriel shook the idea from her mind and watched Manduriel. She was undoing her tangled hair, tied tight to her head. Muriel gritted her teeth as the maid tried to untie the snarled hair. After many yelps of pain, her hair was finally hanged down loosely though it was still fairly tangled with twigs and other assortments.

"You undress there," Manduriel said pointing to a folding blind, "and through your clothes, jewelry, and everything else over the side and then you get into the bath."

"May I have some privacy?" Muriel asked. Manduriel nodded and left the room. Muriel did like she had said, she placed her necklace carefully on the other side, and quietly slipped into the bath. The warm water felt good to her skin. Next to her tub were a number of scented soaps and shampoos. Muriel smelled each til she found the ones she liked best. A bath had never been better to Muriel as she shampooed her hair.
After she had finished Muriel found a bath robe next to the tub. She hadn't remembered it being there before but she didn't let it bother her. The materiel was soft and warm and smelled of the flowers. A knock came from the door and Muriel made sure that everything was covered that she did not wished seen before she answered.

"Come in," she said. Manduriel opened the door, "Are you ready for your hair to be brushed now lady?" She said nodding to a vanity.

"Yes, Manduriel," Muriel said sitting down on the chair next to the vanity. Manduriel tried to work the tangles out of Muriel's hair once again and as she did this she sang in Elvish. Muriel's hair was long and think and hadn't been combed properly smooth for weeks. Better her than me, Muriel thought cheerfully. Manduriel was very gentle and the wet hair made the tangles easier to undo. Muriel caught herself drifting off to sleep every now and then. Finally, Manduriel twisted a gold cord around her hair but let it hang down behind her so she had to flick the end of it aside when she sat down. Muriel shook her hair; it felt funny.

Those last weeks (or was it months? She couldn't remember any more) she had it tied and pinned fiercely to her head, where it couldn't get caught in anything, like a branch of a tree or under her own saddle.

"There is a dress over there," Manduriel said pointing to where Muriel's clothes had once been. Muriel picked up the dress and looked franticly around.

"Is there something amiss?" Manduriel asked in a worried tone.

"My necklace. If you know where it has gone please give it back. It's the only thing I have left of my mother," Muriel said almost in a panic.

"I took it down to be polished. I...I shall get it if it pleases you," Manduriel said backing up as if Muriel had yelled at her.

"No. I am sorry. It was foolish of me to get so worried over such a thing," Muriel said blushing.

"No, Lady, do not be sorry. You said it yourself, it is all you have left of your mother. Such a thing should be handled with the utmost care. I shall get it now, while you put on your dress. It should be done being polished anyhow," Manduriel said with a bow.

Muriel turned back to her dress. It was white like the Lady Galadriel's, but not as fancy. It had long flowing sleeves. Muriel put it on, it fit like all the other Elvish clothes she had tried. Muriel sat on the chair once again and waited patiently for Manduriel to return but she did not have to wait long.

"Here it is Lady," she said handing the glittering silver necklace back to Muriel. Muriel received it and quickly put it around it around her neck.

"You look like a princess now," Manduriel said looking at Muriel. Muriel gave her a painful smile and left to find the rest of the fellowship.

Ok. Here's a question for you!!!

What in Muriel's past, makes her so upset?

The full story will be coming up in a couple of chapters, what the heck it might even be the next one. Don't worry your not graded on this!!!!

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