In Times Like These - Ch.3- Where the Elves Will Go
Disclaimer: All characters are Tolkien other than my "OC."
3: Where The Elves Will Go (February 8, 2003)
At the front of the group, Haldir halted, holding his hand up as he listened keenly to the eastern direction. Elladan and Elrohir, who were not far behind also turned to that direction and immediately strung an arrow onto their bows. The rest of the escort behind them did the same in almost simultaneous fashion for the two full guardian groups that had set out were all seasoned warriors. It was not long before the orcs they had heard and smelled appeared from the East.
Once they were seen, a volley of arrows skewed into their first charge, but to the elves' complete shock there were still a goodly number of orcs left. Quickly they all grabbed another arrow and shot once more, but most did not get the second shot before the orcs were without a sword's length. Haldir, being at the forefront of the group, leapt off of the mare, telling the mare sharply to get Galadhriel to safety. The mare was prepared to do what her rider had asked when the Silver Lady on her back slid off.
Unnoticed by Haldir, she withdrew the twin long knives given to her by him from their sheath, ready to fight along her teacher's side. But it was when the leader of the orcs saw her and headed to her that a sense of utter panic swept through her. Those hideous, awful eyes bore down on her with a determination, a purpose that was as lamentable as the one she had tried to forget without any success. She managed to lift her right arm up to protect her, but it wasn't soon before he had disarmed her and was about to plunge his sword into her stomach when Haldir shoved her out of the way.
A terrible expression of pain and grief was in her eyes as she watched her teacher take the blow that was meant for her. Yet, she was not able to find the strength to come to the defense of Haldir, she stood paralyze by the fear those eyes had driven into her once more. All she could do was crouch down into a ball, shaking, trembling, rocking back and forth as the fear that had overpowered her once took over her again. The past ten years she had tried to forget, but no those memories did not disappear. Over the time, she had been able to push it to the back of her mind, though they were not erased.
It was Elladan that saw that Haldir needed aid as two other orcs decided to help their leader, the two skilled elves fought off the attack. It was really about Elladan, since Haldir's left arm was useless and his right was not as good as his left. But her teacher still managed to fend off and ultimately kill the orc that had injured him, while Elladan gave the other two orcs quick death. She wasn't even aware of the danger she was in the midst of, too lost in her reoccurring nightmare when Arwen and Elrohir jerked her away, under the cover of their protection as the rest of the Galadhrim formed a protective circle around their Silver Lady.
Everything moved slowly, though the fight had ended swiftly. She watched with eyes of agony as she surveyed the death and destruction, not many elves had been killed, only one, not many had been injured, only a dozen. But the images before her blended into another reflection drawn from deep inside of her mind that was filled with gore, violence, and death. Her eyes gradually regained focus, but when Elrohir tried to approach, she backed away until her spine hit the trunk of a blood smeared tree.
Neither would she allow Arwen close, it was only Haldir that could come to her. It was once he was at her side that she saw the hideous wound done to his arm, echoes of her former pain overwhelmed her and her eyes rolled back into her head. Too much suffering, too much anguish, this world was tainted. There was no beauty in the blood and sweat and dirt. Where had it all gone?
"Galadriel," she heard Haldir's voice call out to her in the maze she was lost in, "Fanyarelisse... Estelinde..." None of those drew her from the depths she had fallen, none of them made her want to travel from the darkness in her mind to the darkness of the world. "Tithen min," he whispered into her ear, "im wad to protect you with my life." (Little one, I promise)
She opened her eyes. She knew of his vow. She did not doubt his word. No, she doubted the strength of her own heart. There were things that they did not. There were things that even she did not want to admit. There were circumstances that she had been through that she had not even shown Galadriel. Yet, the vividness of her memories still deprived her of who she was. She remembered the days and the weeks of her torture, but she did not recall who she was.
"Melaeanaire..." Elrohir whispered, "Mela, you are stronger than you know."
She did not look at him, but he did not feel slighted for she touched his hand before going to Arwen and leading her to Haldir, for Haldir was in pain. Arwen knew what she was asking, she was asking in her own subtle way to heal the one that had saved her from more pain, perhaps even death. Not for anyone would Arwen use the elven healing rituals she had learnt from Elrond, but for the adopted daughter of Galadriel, she would. Chanting softly, she placed her hand over Haldir's nasty wound, as she chanted faster and faster, a soft silver gleam appeared, closing the gash and healing it.
More time had been taken than necessary to regroup, but it was decided that it was best if the two groups split up and traveled their own way for the larger group made for slower going. It was all about the time and the speed for though the orcs were fast, their horses were still faster. Both groups now were heading with all the swiftness of many fervent callings to Elbereth for good wishes and safe journeys to their respective destination, Imladris and Mirkwood.
From where Celeborn sat at the head of the table in the long hall, he dropped the wine crystal glass he held and bowed his head down in pain as the darkness overwhelmed him like he had never felt before. As he reached with him mind, he found the source of the pain. He was powerful, an elf with the magic abilities to equal his wife, but the skills of mind were her strong point. It was then he knew why Galadriel had taken Estelinde as her pupil for his adopted daughter had Galadriel's gifts.
With concern, his wife focused on her husband, trying to discern what was wrong, it was while she tried to delve into his mind that she caught the turmoil that was rushing from Fanyarelisse. It was nothing she was not aware of, the reason for assigning her adopted daughter to this mission was for her to face a trial and overcome it. She had not expected the test to happen as soon as it had, but there was nothing no one could do. It had already happened. Reaching for Arwen's mind, she easily saw that everything was fine, no true harm had come, though she mourned the loss of one of the Galadhrim she had sent out to protect their Silver Lady.
"You have felt it too," Celeborn stated, his vision having cleared enough for him to see what had passed over Galadriel's bewitching blue eyes briefly. "Is she okay? I do not have the skill you have in reading minds, feeling minds."
//She is as well as you and I,// his wife said soothingly. //There is still much of her destiny to unfold, to lose her is to bring peril onto Lorien for she, she is the one that is to come after me. She may not know it, but her gift is more than being able to read minds. In her, there is hope in wielding the Mirror.//
He felt a dread rise up in him that his Estelinde may have the ability to foresee for though a rare skill to have, made all the rarer when the High Elves left for Valinor, it was also a horrible power to have. Many a night in Galadriel's youth under the tutelage of Melian, he had seen how his love had struggled with the cursed gift. For once the gift was realized, there was no way to forget it. The thing about seeing the future was that one did not choose what to see, it came on its whim and though not always true, the possibilities were probable.
After many days of hard riding and little rest, even the keenest of elven sense were getting dull, which was how a Mirkwood patrol managed to come upon with scarcely a warning having been said on the Galadhrim group. Of all the elves in the group, it was definitely their Silver Lady, who was doing the worst. It wasn't the physical hardship that had weakened her, but the mental strain. For the days they had journeyed, not even Haldir could get a reaction out of her. She was very much trapped by her living nightmare.
It was with much relief when Haldir spotted the elves of Mirkwood because before strangers, his Silver Lady never showed anything but an unbreakable face of marble, if she showed her face at all. It was no different when she saw the riders appear, her decision to pull the hood over her delicate features did not take him by surprise. Few in Lothlorien had really gotten a good look at her. Though, he wasn't certain why she hid her face from the eyes of elves because despite the scar her torturers had left her, she was a rival to even Undomiel's beauty to him.
Riding at the forefront of the Mirkwood group was none other than the Prince of Mirkwood, Legolas Greenleaf himself. Even she had to admire his unnatural beauty, his long blond hair and pure blue eyes were captivating. In him, that was the true mold elven beauty was based on, much like her adopted parents were. Elves equated to ethereal golden beauty. Yet, it was his confidence in himself that truly made her pay attention to him for beauty could fade as she had learned. His innocence was startling in one of his age. She saw he had no experience with the evil that lurked in the lowest levels of Middle Earth, how could he when he had such an easy, welcoming smile?
It was with relief that the Mirkwood elves greeted their elven kin because for a brief moment, they had thought the riders were that of the Nazgul. Those nine riders of the Dark Lord had traveled through their forests recently, searching for something of no good. Whatever they had been seeking had fortunately not been found in this region, but to have a group of Galadhrims in their woods told them there was a matter of urgency. What it was, they knew not.
For a moment, Legolas thought the Lady of the Golden Woods had come to grace Mirkwood with her light because there was one cloaked in white surrounded by the Galadhrims' protection. But he did not think, upon closer inspection, that the legendary Lady would ride in the arms of any elven male. He picture her independent and more surreal. His suspicious were confirmed when the one who rode with her addressed them, "I am Haldir of Lorien, we give fair greetings from our fair Lord and Lady of Lothlorien and have a message of utmost importance for your King Thranduil."
"Whatever must be given, can be received by me," Legolas declared, "for I am the Prince of Mirkwood."
Haldir shook his head gravely. "That cannot be for I was given the task of delivering the messenger only to Lord Thranduil of Mirkwood, my pardons Prince Legolas." The two exchanged a stare, where each measured the other up, for both were the best warrior among their people. After a while, the Prince's eyes drifted toward the cloaked figure that was protectively guarded by Haldir as if beyond priceless. He was curious and wanted to know whom the figure was when a most glorious voice filled his head, //Do not ask to know one no one knows.//
There was not a doubt in him that it came from her. He was greatly astonished that a she-elf had accompanied the legendary Galadhrims. Then again, he now sensed the soft aura of power that surrounded her. He was hit with the epiphany that it was because of her that the journey had been made. She was the reason that the Lorien elves had come for she was the messenger.
From his stunned expression, Haldir assumed that his Galadhriel had spoken to the Prince of Mirkwood, thus while Legolas was distracted, he pushed his request forward, "May we continue on, Lord Legolas? For the message that our Lady has to give is only for your father."
Gradually, Legolas got over his daze to give his consenting nod, "Welcome kin to the forests of Mirkwood, we will guide you to our home."
"So the time has come," Elrond remarked after seeing all that Arwen had to show him of Galadriel's vision, "where the consequences of man's failure are truly to surface and spread blight across all the lands. This did not have to happen if the strength of men, the hearts of men had not failed. Then again, they are men, what can be expected? Nothing but for this. History is repeating itself. It has already begun. It is worse than I feared. There is still a choice that has to be made... do we stay to watch the doom of all that is good or do we go to the Undying Lands and forget of all that will come to pass?"
The question the great Elrond pose was not merely for the decision of his family nor for the elves of Rivendell... it was a decision all the elves on Middle Earth must answer for it was only together they still were strong. Elrohir and Elladan shared the same expression of uncertainty as did their younger sister, Arwen. For in the end, all elves eventually went to Valinor, so was it any difference if they went earlier or later?
"Will we stay to watch the end of Middle Earth for if what you have shown to me of Galadriel's vision comes to be it is not the days of elves we will be fighting for but for the days of men to continue. We no longer have the numbers nor the strength for the elven kind to be what it was." Elrond's gaze was steady and serious and strong. "The Council of Eldar must be called." He directed his gaze to his twin songs. "You both must go to Mirkwood and let them know of this, for I must speak to Galadriel and Celeborn." He shifted his look toward Arwen. "You will accompany me to the seeing room."
She stood before the King of Mirkwood with her face still cloaked next to Haldir, who was the one who greeted the King, "I am Haldir of Lorien, March Warden and Head of Guard, and this is the Lady Melaeanaire Fanyarelisse Estelinde Galadhriel o Lorien, the adopted daughter of the Lord and Lady of Lothlorien."
"Does the girl not speak?" Thranduil demanded.
Haldir shook his head. "No, my Silver Lady does not speak how you and I speak but in methods known only by few. The Lady of Light herself has sent my Silver Lady to show you a message that only she can give to you."
"Will the child at least show her face?" asked the King.
The March Warden glanced at Galadhriel, it was not something that even he could ask of her. For it was by her whim who was allowed a glimpse of her. He heard the whispers of the crowd, the wonder and the curiosity of why the girl did not show her face. Perhaps, she was ashamed because those from the blood of Galadriel were gifted with extraordinary beauty. Celebrian, Galadriel's daughter had been the image of her mother, while her daughter, Arwen, was said to be the likeness of Luthien, the fairest elf to grace Middle Earth. Yes, perhaps it was embarrassment.
She drew away from Haldir's side and walked up the steps to where Thranduil stood. Before all eyes, she bowed before him and pulled the hood off of her fair head. It had been ages since any elf in Mirkwood had seen true silver hair like the silky tresses on her head. When she stood up, tall and proud, her grey eyes caught the blueness of their King and through that locked gaze, she fed him the horrible images Galadriel had imprinted into her own memories. Her message carried more power than Arwen's for unwittingly, she had added her own pain into the illustrations she sent him, the prophecy of what may happen.
During this exchange, the Prince of Mirkwood stared at both his father and this mysterious Lady, who had such power as to frighten elven children. He wondered what she was telling his father because he sensed something was going on between them, something that caused the clear blue of his father's eyes to darken. When their contact broke, he watched as the Silver Lady crumbled to her knees, unable to bear the weight of her burden. He was about to rush to help her, but her protector beat him to her.
Holding a hand out to her instead of just lifting her into his arms, for he knew that would not please her. She looked at the hand and refused it, getting up on her own power, pulling the hood back on. Only those that stood near Thranduil had gotten a good glimpse of her. So whispers spread amongst the Mirkwood elves quickly, some rumors were that she was even more beautiful than Undomiel. Other said that she was terrible to look upon, that beneath the cloth hid a face no one found lovely. But all stories agreed when she departed from Mirkwood as soon as she'd appears that her hair was the finest silver ever seen.
Legolas watched her departed, feeling strange. It wasn't that her beauty left an impression on him, he wasn't so sure she was beautiful, only that she was unusual. For never had he seen a scar on any elf before, for to have actually scarred meant that the elf had been through enough to have passed through the Halls of Mandos. He had been too caught up with the scar that began at her cheek bone and spread down to the corner of her lips to notice anything else. How brave she must have been to survive that experience. How mysterious she was.
Later that very night in Thranduil's private room, the King related to his son, Legolas, all that the Silver Lady had impressed upon him. The only difference from Arwen's message to Rivendell was that she had warned the Mirkwood King additionally that his was the first of the elven strongholds to feel the coming darkness head on. Be prepared, she'd warned him with the pictures she's infiltrated into his mind. Be strong for unless he was, Mirkwood would succumb and fall.
There was not much that Galadriel and Elrond saw with the exact same opinion, but on this issue concerning the fate of Middle Earth, they beyond concurred. What was left now was for Elrohir and Elladan to return with word from Thranduil, the last other true elf stronghold. There were others, of course, but scattered and not as heavily significant as Mirkwood. The only other place of significance was Mithlond and Rivendell kept in strong contact with them. In the end, all elves had to agree for them to set their sights upon the future. For as Elrond had voiced, it was together that they had a chance.
//If we stand and do nothing,// Arwen voiced, //there will be nothing left in Middle Earth. If we were able to stop the destruction, if we were able to prevent the end, is that not worth a chance? Is eternity worth knowing that others have no hope of having hope? I do not know much of any of what you have experienced, but to stand and do nothing is not like you, father.//
//No,// Galadriel agreed, //that is not like the Elrond that my Celebrian fell in love with. Then again, he did not have three children that mean more to him than anything else in the past. Even if we stay, even if we fought, if what is meant to be is meant to be, there is nothing we can do to change what will come. We can fight, we can struggle, we can even endure--- that will not change what is already being written.//
//Is there any loss in the staying?// Arwen asked. //If Mordor corrupts all Middle Earth, if Mordor bends and enslaves all the free folk, if Mordor rises to the level unbeknownst to any, can Mordor not find the way to Valinor?//
//Only the Eldar know the way to the Undying Lands,// Celeborn added soothingly. //That will not come to be, but Arwen's heart is noble like her mother's. Do we not all agree that the best course we have to take is to do what we can, for we are blessed beyond all Illuvatar's children? In our death, we go to the Hall of Mandos, there is no grief in that, no sorrow. The call to the sea is strong amongst our people, we will know when it is time to depart.//
//We agree,// Elrond declared, //that we will stay and see what the path of elves and the path of men shall take in determining where Middle Earth will stand. Word will be sent to Cirdan, being of like mind, he will agree with what has been spoken here. All we wait for is for Thranduil's message for if he agrees, then all the elves of Middle Earth have agreed to stay and to endure and to fight a battle for the good of all the free folk.//
Implanted in Elrond's and Arwen's mind was the glowing smile of Galadriel before she closed the connection between Imladris and Lothlorien. The Golden Lady normally did not need much rest, but many days of trying to reach her Fanyarelisse had been unsuccessful, even with Celeborn's aid. Her adopted daughter refused to speak to her, and there was no way she could push her to accept what she wished to say. Closing her eyes, she only hoped that whatever had happened on the trip did not damage their relationship for in Fanyarelisse, Galadriel had found another true daughter of her own mind and heart.
It was less than seven days after the Silver Lady of Lorien had departed when the sons of Elrond appeared in the forests of Mirkwood. Matters were grave; hearts were stern; minds were wise. He heard what Elladan and Elrohir had to say and he knew what the elves of Mirkwood would do. It was not in these hardy woodland elves to give up and forsake their home. Even if they were the first to be covered in darkness, even if they lost their home to the hand of evil, they would not lose faith, they would not lose hope.
No, the elves of Mirkwood would stay in Middle Earth. For in Mirkwood, long had elves dwelt that were brave, strong, and courageous. They were not the type to falter in the shadow of calamity; they did not dealt in the doubts of what route to take. For in them, they had forged this forest into their own and made it their home. Let Mordor try to conquer. Let the hand of Sauron attempt to battle the Silvan Elves on their grounds.
Author's Note: As always comments are nice, thanks! And they do help me write faster = ).
Chapter 1 was released on 2/8/2003
Chapter 2 was released on 2/13/2003
if that will help you find them.