In Times Like These - Ch.10- Honorable Course of Action
Disclaimer: All characters are Tolkien other than my "OC."
I ADORE all my REVIEWERS. *hugs* Thanks you guys! Read my author's note please! I am taking a favorite character(s) poll!
Lady_Shinigami: Thanks, she's fine = ).
PrincessofNúmenor: Yes, I'm very much aware of the book that Haldir did not die. ,-,.
Iluvien: Yes, Gimli's a ball. Your thought process on the relationships are like mine. I prefer Legolas (as an individual) however as I wrote In Times Like These, Haldir developed incredibly well. He developed so well in fact that I dropped Elrohir out of it. Originally I planned the love triangle to be Elrohir x Anaire x Legolas, however once I wrote a little about Haldir, I changed it and had to drop Elrohir out of it. A QUAD-rangle romance is too much for anyone to handle, including me = ).
angel_elf: Everyone on this website is Haldir x Anaire basically, however other ppl from other sites are kind of split in the middle. I'm going to keep you guys guessing.
Nienna_Telrunya: Another somewhat new reviewer! Yay! As shown in the beginning, Anaire gets very paralyzed in war, especially with orcs. Why has she not reacted like that in the Fellowship b/c they're Uruks, even though they are cousins they aren't the same orcs that give her nightmares I mean fears are a very embedded process.
To let you guys know who do review and don't review (thus I don't have contact with): I post a chapter whenever I finish a chapter and get the next chapter fully corrected. It's a tedious process but I've stayed in a 3 to 5 day cycle basically O-o dunno how long I'm going to stay interested and reviews are always a good way to keep me motivated ,_,;;.
Thanks, your reviewers are awesome and special thanks to TINGILYE, my beta reader! The awesome author of Sarlisse! (which I beta!)
10: Honorable Course of Action (February 26, 2003 to March 3, 2003)
They had found the emblem of Lothlorien, they had followed the trail of the two hobbits in the rolling hills of the Rohirrim. They had reached a dead end, the trail had vanished. To the distance Anaire and Legolas glanced for they heard and saw the riders on horseback that were afar. It took Aragorn longer, but when his eyes saw them, he called out to them in friendly greeting, "Riders of Rohan! What news from the Mark?"
The group on horseback reined their mounts in the direction of the call, immediately gathering around them. When the riders had started to approach, Anaire had drawn back and covered herself with her hood. Indeed, it was an instinctive action for her when strangers were concerned. Gimli felt led to lay a comforting hand on her arm to reassure her. Ever since the boat ride and the fact she'd kept him company during part of the cross-country run, they'd bonded as trusted friends. What was even stranger was Legolas's and Gimli's strong friendship. For like other elves, Anaire was not.
As soon as the Rohirrim surrounded them, they pointed their spears in their direction, ready at a moment's hesitation if any in the group should turn belligerent. There was no question who the leader was as Eomer shouted out his inquiry, "What business does a man, a dwarf, and elves have in the Riddermark? Speak quickly!"
"Give me your name, Horsemaster, and I shall give you mine!" Gimli exclaimed.
It was the wrong thing to say, for Eomer handed his staff to another rider and leapt from his horse. Before Gimli could do anything more foolish, Aragorn laid a hand on Gimli's shoulder to calm his excited nerves. Taking his sword out of his sheath, he cut the air above Gimli's head in warning, "I would have cut off your head, Dwarf, if it stood but a little higher from the ground."
Anaire was the first to spring to Gimli's defense, a second before Legolas. "You would die before your stroke fell!" Legolas threatened. With two bows pointed at Eomer, there was no doubt that the elf's words were true. But they would not live through it either since the Rohirrim had immediately drawn their spears closer to the threat against their leader. Indeed, the blade of Eomer was pointed sharply against Anaire's vulnerable throat for she seemed the most dangerous as she was cloaked and hidden. "Show yourself elf!"
//The cover has reason,// she declared in a soft voice. //Everything does.//
"What madness is this?" Eomer cried out as he heard a strange voice in his head. "Are you a witch?" At first he had thought her to be a male elf, but her voice was undoubtedly feminine and alluring.
//No madness,// she responded as she pulled her hood back. As she did so, she lowered her bow and stepped forward toward him, unmindful of the edge that rested against her delicate throat. //Now you have beheld me, will you not lower your weapons?//
Eomer's eyes were enchanted by the vision of loveliness before him. All elven maidens were beautiful when compared to their human counterparts, but Anaire was unusual in her beauty. It was strange to be considered pleasing to the eye when she had a scar that marred her face, thought he did not feel that it detracted from her exquisiteness. Her scar--- from battle, no doubt--- he thought, only made her more pleasant to his eyes. Her silver tresses were touched by starlight and her intense grey eyes were filled with understanding of--- of him. He subconsciously gestured to his men to lower their weapons, while she told Gimli and Legolas to do the same.
"I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn," Aragorn declared when all weapons were lowered. "This is Gimli, son of Gloin and Legolas of the Woodland realm. And the one standing before you is Anaire of Lothlorien. We are friends of Rohan and of Theoden, your king."
"Theoden no longer recognizes friend from foe," Eomer responded, pulling his helmet from off his fair head. "Not even his own kin." His gaze shifted from Anaire to Aragorn. "Saruman has poisoned the mind of the king and claims lordship over his lands. My company are those loyal to Rohan. And for that, we are banished. The White Wizard is cunning. He walks here and there, they say, as an old man, hooded and cloaked. And everywhere his spies slip past our nets."
Withdrawing back into the safety between Legolas and Gimli, she pulled the hood over her head again. To have so many men staring at her was overwhelmingly uncomfortable. When she was critically studied by anyone, she felt disturbed and it only made her feel more so now. She felt relief that Aragorn had taken over the conversation and she could retreat back to doing what she did best, observing from the sidelines and picking up blatant emotions that she could not help but read from the mere expressions on their faces.
"We are not spies," Aragorn replied. "We track a party of Uruk-hai westward across the plain. They've taken two of our friends captive."
"The Uruks are destroyed. We slaughtered them during the night."
Gimli was distraught. "But there were two hobbits? Did you see two hobbits with them?"
"They would be small," Aragorn confirmed, "only children to your eyes."
"We left none alive," Eomer stated seriously. "We piled the carcasses and burned them." Lifting his arm to point to the distance, the remaining Fellowship saw the smoking pile far in the distance. His words were truth, his words were devastating.
It was the dwarf that was the most distraught of them all. The grief on Gimli's face was the most telling. "Dead?" he whispered in a hoarse, disbelieving voice. He simply did not want to trust in Eomer's plainly visible words. It was staring him in the eye, it was there right before his very eyes. There was no denying it, but he wanted to--- oh he wanted to!
Sadly, Eomer nodded his head. "I'm sorry." It was Anaire that took Gimli's hand into her own, something unusual for her to do. But with Gimli, it seemed that she broke all the rules that she was accustomed to having. As it was, Legolas laid a hand on Gimli's shoulder to reassure him. "Hasufel! Arod!" Two stout horses trotted up to them. "May these horses bear you to better fortune than their former masters." It was then that his eyes shifted back to Anaire's covered face. "I wish that we had a gentler horse to give for you to ride, my Lady."
//It is okay,// she responded back in kind for he seemed to expect an answer from her. //I cannot ride. But thank you for your kindness, my Lord.// With that, she bowed her face down to show her respect to him for his benevolence and for his rank, even if he was not recognized by his King Uncle.
"Fare thee well, Lady Anaire," he murmured softly. "Farewell to all of you. Look for your friends. But do not trust to hope, it has forsaken these lands." Signaling his hands to his riders, he shouted his command, "We ride north!"
As he was riding away, he glanced back once because in his mind he felt her voice, //There is always hope. You must believe. If hope has forsaken us, then all is lost. Hope must be kept, Lord Eomer. May it be with you.//
They watched the riders of Rohan ride off into the distance before turning their attention to the two horses that they had been given. Both were still spirited despite the hard journey they had been through, more than capable of carrying double riders at a good pace. The four glanced at each other, the question remained who was to ride with whom. None of the three males were going to decide, it was up to her. She knew better than to choose Gimli, he'd not provide the support she needed for the swift speed they needed to travel.
She knew that Legolas expected her to choose him. Then again, Aragorn was her brother by her sworn kinship to Arwen and soon to be her brother by marriage. In those ties, he was the logical choice. Indeed, he was the option that every sensible elven maiden would select if they had the situation she was in. The problem was, she was not rational. All she did was move to stand by Legolas's side where he held the reins of one of the horses. It went without say who she chose.
His breathe drew in when he realized she had decided upon him. He did not know why he was surprised; in his mind, he had expected it to be him. But that did not stop his heart from beating a pulse faster, a speed that only increased as more time went by. Placing his hands gently on her waist, he helped her up onto the stallion before sliding up behind her. There was nowhere his arms could go but around her as he grasped onto the reins to guide the horse, their bodies were up close to each other--- touching everywhere.
The friction, the very tension was stimulating. He was so caught up into his thoughts that it took a loud cough from Gimli to jolt him from his thoughts, his reflections. It was then that he realized that he had entirely missed the curious happenstance of Gimli mounting up behind Aragorn on the other horse. The reason Gimli had coughed was to let Legolas know that they were ready to go, that they were waiting for him.
He was annoyed with himself. This was not a time to get distracted. Indeed, it was a very dangerous time to be not fully concentrated on their surroundings. Any peril, any threat could happen at any time. There was no safety, no security anymore. Drawing in air to clear his head, he squeezed his heels into his mount's side to urge it to a full-blown gallop. Time was running out. Besides, Aragorn and Gimli had made fast progress ahead of them. They needed to catch up.
They had caught the trail again. It was Aragorn who saw that the hobbits had not yet passed away. He saw that the hobbits had laid in the wake of the enemy had with bound hands had found a way to unbind them. When their bonds were cut, they ran and were followed by the same foe. In their escape, they fled into Fangorn forest. There was no other way other than for the four of them to follow them into the forest on foot for the horses were wiser than they. They would not step into the madness like their new masters were about to.
"This forest is old. Very old. Full of memory... and anger," Legolas reflected. The moaning of the trees reverberated throughout the forest causing Gimli to raise his axe at the unseen menace. "The trees are speaking to each other."
Of the group, Anaire was the most comfortable in this dark and forbidding place. To her, it did not feel strange nor awful. Indeed, it felt almost like home. But what home was this? This place of trees, of wildness. No, this was not home, but the feeling was the same as her home. But where was her home? She was distracted from her thoughts when she heard Aragorn whispered vehemently, "Gimli!"
She saw him gesture to Gimli to lower his weapon. "Lower your axe."
"Oh." The dwarf slowly let his axe fall from its threatening position.
She felt the aura of distress around Gimli, thus she placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. //It is okay,// she said soothingly. //This place is haunted but it wishes no ill on those who given no ill. Do not fear. It recognizes friend from foe.//
"Aragorn, nad na ennas!" Legolas exclaimed, his eyes narrowing as he focused his ears on the slightly rustle of movement had heard that wasn't theirs. (Something is out there.)
"Man cenich?" Aragorn queried. (What do you see?)
There was a silence that followed, eerie and unforgiving. "The White Wizard approaches."
She was the only one that did not grab a weapon in preparation. She stood calmly until she was grabbed by Legolas and jerked by him until she was protectively behind him. She did not have to focus to know who it was. The power emanated from the one who approached was undeniably a being not who they thought it was. It had been a long while since she had true contact with Mithrandir. Their had been little communication since her stay with Elrond to study of healing, an art she had still yet to master. True, they had seen each other at the Council of Elrond, but converse--- no.
When Gimli's axe, Legolas's bow, and Aragorn's sword were deflected by his magic, she rushed up to him before Legolas could stop her and fell to her knees before him. It was impossible for him to be here. He had fallen. She had seen it. The Mirror of Galadriel's told no lies of what had come to be. So how was he here? She was not the only one to be filled with astonishment. She felt his shock at her presence. She would not have gone unless her amme had given her leave, like Galadriel had done.
"Who are you? Show yourself!" Aragorn exclaimed as he quickly rushed up to Anaire's side, anxious to protect her with his life if need be.
//It is you,// she said with a revered voice, //Mithrandir.// She lifted her eyes up at him, her deep and seraching grey eyes. //I saw you fall through amme's Mirror. Yet you stand here in greater power than what you had. You are the White Wizard, not Saruman. No, he was never truly White. You were. Cirdan saw that.//
It never failed to amaze Gandalf at Anaire's awe-aspiring ability to read minds. True, Galadriel was effective at it, but she had the power of Nenya to help her. Even Elrond with the most overwhelming Elven rings, Vilya, did not have the ability to read as well as she, indeed the Lord of Rivendell did not rival Galadriel in that gift. When he had first seen Anaire, he had seen her in silverlight with a dimness of spirit, still lost in what her fate was to be. That dimness was gone, replaced by a glowing knowledge of her path, her way. She had found her destiny.
"She is right," he remarked. "It is I." As the white light faded, his features and not that of Saruman's appeared. He knew what they were thinking, much as Anaire knew. Beginning from the beginning, he related his struggle with the balrog and his eventual triumph. "I did not fall. I have been sent back until my task is completed. There is much for me to do."
"Gandalf!" Aragorn called.
"Gandalf?" Gandalf remarked. "Yes... that is what they used to call me. Gandalf the Grey. That was my name."
"Gandalf!" this exclamation was by Gimli.
His eyes were shining but they rested on Anaire's. "I am Gandalf the White." His smile was for her more than the rest. "And I come back to you now at the turn of the tide, much as you, Istelile. Are you to be our shining star?"
//This is my path but I do not know yet what role I am to play,// she answered reservedly. //If I am to play a part at all, I do not know.//
"You are here for a reason," Gandalf said resolutely, "like the rest of us you have a purpose that is to be done. Anaire," he peered into her eyes as intensely as she did into his, "you have faith in others, do you not have faith in yourself?"
She had let herself be vulnerable. He had picked up on her hesitant thoughts. Before he might be tempted to dip further for her own good, she put up a shield on her thoughts a shield she had let off her guard for quite some time. It was the same shield she had used unconsciously to protect her through the agonies she had suffered through. That was how she had survived. She was fuller than she had been for the longest time, but still she was not yet whole. There was still something missing in her.
Another Elven Council had been called. This time it was to be in Lorien. It was true that the elves had decided to stay, to help. There was still the underlying question of how much aid they were going to give. They had done their part; they had set the Fellowship into action to destroy the One Ring. It was in their wisdom that that course was taken. Had they not done enough?
That was the question that needed to be answered. So representatives from Mithlond, Imladris, and Mirkwood had gathered in the citadel of the Golden Lady, in Lothlorien. It was here that they were going to decide what additional role they were going to play. Only Cirdan of the Grey Havens had not come, in his stead he had sent his representative that had appeared at the Council of Elrond, Galdor. Elrond and Arwen were here to give counsel from Rivendell as was Thranduil from Mirkwood since his son could not longer go in his place. But it was Celeborn and Galadriel that presided over the Assembly.
"You have all glimpse into the Mirror that shows what is to come," Galadriel stated in a soft, almost menacing whisper. "It is death and destruction that we have the choice to join in, in another gathering of elves and men. The Last Alliance failed, this one could be no different. But already elves have joined to help this fading realm, Legolas of Mirkwood and Anaire of Lorien. The answer we must decide is will all the elves join in the fight that is not ours? Will we once again march?"
"Did we not decide this already?" Arwen questioned. "Many years ago, more than a hundred seasons, we decided that the elves would stay and would see this course of history through. If we do not give all that we have to give, was the staying worth it? Is it in elves to be weak of heart?"
Elrond placed his hand on his daughter's shoulder, trying to placate her passionate response. "What my Arwen speaks of is true, we made this decision long ago. But her judgment is clouded by her love for a mortal man, Aragorn, the son of Kings of Men. Yet, still her words are what they are, truth. Our choice then was to stay, it is not a duty to protect Middle Earth--- it is no longer ours, but it is the honorable course to take."
"But still," Galdor spoke up, speaking the underlying sentiments in all elves, "to shed elven blood for the treachery of men is not to be taken lightly. Still, there are elves that harbor none too kind of feelings for the failing of men's strength in the War of the Last Alliance. As you said, Lord Elrond, it is not our duty to protect Middle Earth. Our days are ending. Why do we seek to sacrifice for nothing?"
"It is true," Celeborn responded gravely, "that if we choose to help the lesser children of Illuvatar that there is nothing for us to gain. Yet, as Elrond has spoken so nobly, it is the praiseworthy action to take. While we have none to gain, there is still what others may gain. Do we really wish darkness and evil upon all that is good when we have the chance to prevent it?"
"You all talk as if you are leaving for the Undying Lands," remarked Thranduil dynamically. "But not all elves wish to see Valinor. My wood elves and I have defended our lands against the orcs and minions of Sauron for many years, keeping the rest of your borders safe. There are elves that do not think that even if the days of elves come to an end that we must forsake this world that we know as our own. I do not know what course your elves will take, but as for me... not because my son and heir is in the Fellowship... I will gather a Mirkwood army and we will march on Mordor."
Before any of the others might speak, Galadriel's voice rose up in a soaring declaration, "The King of Mirkwood speaks truth. There are elves that are not ready to abandon Middle Earth for Valinor. There are elves that still call Middle Earth their home. There are elves that have yet to hear the call of the Seas. It is strong amongst our people, but there is a right time still. Mirkwood stands with Middle Earth, what say Imladris, Mithlond, and Lothlorien? Do we stand by our cousins or do we let them be covered by darkness?"
"Rivendell will march," Elrond stated serenely, "by the side of the rightful King."
It was not only her decision to make, her wise blue eyes settled upon that of her husband, Celeborn's. "Two of the three strongholds have joined," he commented. "The tip of the scale is balanced in the favor of the human race, but additional aid has never hindered any. Lothlorien will come to the aid of men. The elves will stand against Sauron once more."
"Grey Havens is only a port," Galdor said. "Unlike Lothlorien, Rivendell, and Mirkwood we do not have the strength to join in the Last March of the Elves. But we will be ready with ships to carry what remains to the Undying Lands once this battle is fought and the spirit of the elves have dwindled. We will protect you in retreat in the case of defeat. We will bid you farewell in celebration once the time is right to depart if there is victory. We will stand together to the end, whatever end it may be."
//There is hope that there will be no end,// Galadriel spoke into the mind of all with her hypnotizing voice. //That once this Third Age ends, a Fourth will begin and in that beginning the elves will leave--- for our days have ended, but the Fourth will be the start of the days of Men. That is why we elves will march this one last time, for the days of men to begin where ours have ended. That there will be no end, only another beginning.//
They had arrived at the Golden Halls. They had seen the hold that Saruman had had on the ailing King. It was Gandalf that had with his wily skills challenged the grasp of Saruman on Theoden. It was with a seesawing battle of wills that Mithrandir had triumphed with his light and banished the darkness of Saruman from whence it came. Once Saruman had been purged from Theoden, the shadows that had haunted and decayed his aged body had released the energy and power still in him. Even though not in his youth, Theoden was still the King of Rohan.
Yet, it was hard on any father to bury their child. She understood his pain. It was same her father had felt, felt when he had thought her lost. So she had been lost, her forehead had wrinkled with thought, thought that disappeared when she saw the tears that trickled down Theoden's face. It was not time to think on the past; there was only time to think on the present. //Have hope,// she whispered softly to him. //The end has yet to come. There is hope yet in strength. Do not think of the past, you cannot change it. Only the future, you can.//
Author's Note: I still don't know which way I'm going to go O-o. I'm so entirely torn. I'm going to have to talk to my beta reader. There's one way I really want to go, but I don't think you'd guys like it very much. Anyways without much ado, always wanted to ask this... which character do you like the most that I've written about? The obvious choices are Anaire, Haldir, or Legolas, unless they aren't which would strange as they're the main ones. Besides the 3 main, which other character is your favorite? Tell me the main favorite and a supporting character favorite! Thanks! Reviews make me smile ,_,.
P.S. Helm's Deep was tough to write. ,_,;; longest chapter written so far. I can only imagine what Pelennor Battle will be like O-o.