In Times Like These - Chapter 9- A Life Taken
Disclaimer: All characters are Tolkien other than my "OC."
shieldmaidenofrohan- thanks! always helpful to hear what the readers think!
lady_tinuviel- book/movie, i'm going to be mixing elements and deliberately changing a few things = ). everything that doesn't follow the book or movie is because i voluntary used my author's license. most facts are what they are fact and i've used them when i've needed to. the frodo idea of yours is a bit alarming O-o though.
angel_elf- thanks! encouragement is great!
anira_aear- read and see ,-,;; as said i'm half book and half movie, with a leaning toward the movie in most parts but some parts i'm taking directly from the book.
illuvien- i have posted, happy? and you can't decide and neither can i. and i'm always at least 1 chapter ahead of you guys (cuz i have a beta reader to keep things um consistent ,-,;; and i never quite go through the corrections until days later)
nienna__telrunya- wow long review, thanks! well you'll only see if she reaches mordor or not ,-,;;. i cannot expand more b/c i have this FRIGHTENING tendency not to finish what i start and the longer i make it the more likely i'm not to finish it. currently i'm working on a Hana Yori Dango fic (50,000+ words), ALBO (an original drama, 15,000+), an original novel (70,000+), an Orli/Lij actor fanfic (18,000+), and a couple of odd short story ideas. Yeah, i'm pretty busy, that includes going to school + website maintenance ,_____,
Lady_Shinigami- do not fears, your fears have been misplaced at least temporarily ,____, and decisions, decisions--- doesn't remind me, decision time comes soon!
9: A Life Taken (February 23, 2003 to February 26, 2003)
Three boats set out. One carrying Aragorn, Sam, and Frodo; the other holding Boromir, Pippin, and Merry; the last containing Legolas, Gimli, and Anaire. It was in that order the boats were speeding down the river, the path to their destination that was ultimately to lead them to the very depths of Mordor. Legolas and Anaire were chosen to lead up the rear because with their elven senses, they would be able to give far better warning to those ahead of them of the danger that was not to be seen from behind. Besides, Legolas and Gimli were both adamant and adept fighters that were capable of protecting the rear guard well.
The ride was soothing and steady enough that Gimli was allowed the chance to openly admire the lock of hair that he had asked from Galadriel as his gift. He sighed and rested it against his cheek. Having met the Lady of the Golden Wood, his opinion of elves had rapidly morphed from one of distrust to open admiration. It didn't hurt that Legolas had saved his life either, but truly it was the Lady of Lothlorien that had transformed his estimation of elven kind.
//She has never done that before,// she told Gimli. //You are truly a special dwarf to receive such a gift from Amme.// Though she was unsmiling, the light in her grey eyes were filled with a glow that was enchanting to his own eyes.
Actually, as he studied her carefully, there was the same aura about her that he sensed around Galadriel. There was something surreal about her that was the same sensation he got from the Lady of Light. It was otherworldly, mysterious, and knowing. It was lucky that his beard covered up most of his face when he caught Legolas giving him a blandly curious expression for he was certain that his cheeks had turned a crimson color. "Thanks," he muttered, quickly averting his eyes elsewhere, anywhere but Anaire's intriguingly lovely face. "Your Amme is special."
So that was what they were talking about, from what Legolas could tell from the rather one-sided conversation. It was only when Gimli had spoken that he was able to confirm his guess. It wasn't hard to deduct since Gimli was caressing Galadriel's golden lock of hair like it was the most precious jewel, this coming from a dwarf. It was almost funny, but he was not able to laugh because he respected Gimli as a companion and as a friend.
"Anaire," he said her name softly, delicately, as it was meant to be said, for it was a beautiful name--- it suited her well, "your hair needs to be braided." It was not what he had meant to say at first, but it had occurred to him as he had paused to let his words caught up to his thoughts that that was necessary and needed. Her flowing silver strands would only impede her, she needed to have them bound into braids.
Her hands flew to her silver tresses that were flying wherever the wind blew. She knew that Legolas was right, she had not even thought of that. At the least, it gave her something to do while she sat in the middle of the boat. Neither Gimli nor Legolas would allow her to help with the boat's progress, so she had nothing to do. But this was quite necessary. If she did not get her hair bound, it'd indeed was going to be a hindrance.
Watching her braid her hair enraptured Legolas, her hands were graceful and skillful as she threaded her hair into the traditional braids with a quick and swift ease. It wasn't long before her fingers had finished weaving her hair into the intricate knots, smoothing away all the unruliness that the wind had caused when it had run its airy fingers through her locks. Despite that her hair was bound to the back, her face was distinctively feminine, even with the awful scar that traced her cheek. That scar made him remember the turmoil that she'd been through.
His eyes never left her face even to behold the two enormous statues of men in armor that flanked each side of the river, their left hands stretched out in a gesture of warding. He only saw the reflection of appreciation in her steel eyes as they past them by. He had to be jolted from his ardent admiration by Gimli, who said loudly, "I know that I have the strength of many men and several elves, but I still need your help to beach the boat."
He thought he caught a trace of an amused smile on her lips. Was it his imagination--- that she was smiling? He wasn't sure because when he did a double take, it was gone--- erased from his vantage viewing point. When he heard the telling cough from Gimli, his expression was that of a scowl when he realized that he was again staring at Anaire's face. Forcing himself to pay attention to the water, anywhere but her face, he furiously expended his energy into docking the boat on the river's side.
As soon as they had all gotten out of the boats, Aragorn stated his plan of action, "We cross at nightfall, hide the boats and continue on foot. We approach Mordor from the North."
"Oh?" Gimli retorted. "Just a simple matter of finding our way across Emyn Muil, an impassable labyrinth of razor-sharp rocks! And then it gets even better! Festering, stinking marshlands as far as the eye can see!"
"That is our road, sir dwarf," Aragorn declared in a voice that was final. "Perhaps you should take some rest, and recover your strength."
"Recover my...!" Gimli sputtered.
Legolas was staring around, focusing on what was indiscernible as was Anaire. "We should leave now," he said softly. Anaire also nodded her head; she had sensed the same thing.
"No," Aragorn responded firmly, "orcs patrol the eastern shore. We must wait for the cover of darkness."
"It is not the eastern shore that worries me," Legolas replied with an edge of worry. "A shadow and a threat has been growing in my mind. Something draws near, I can feel it."
//It is dark; it is looming.//
Meanwhile, Gimli was still preoccupied with the comment about recovering his strength. "Recover my strength! Pay no heed to that, young hobbits."
Haldir stood at the edge of the river, staring where Anaire had departed away from him. It had been unbearable to watch her leave him the first time, even knowing she'd return sometime soon to Lothlorien. This time, the second time to let her go was even harder because this time he did not know when she was coming back. Maybe she wasn't even going to return, that thought paralyzed him and sickened him.
From behind the March Warden, Celeborn approached and laid his hand on Haldir's shoulder. "I know what you are thinking," Celeborn stated. "It is what troubles me as well, but she had to go. It is what she needed to do. It was her fate."
Slowly the Head of the Guard nodded and replied, "I know, but even that does not make it easier. My fear is that she will not return, even if she does it will be for a time longer than I have ever been parted from her before."
"Your fear is the same as Galadriel's," Celeborn remarked. "But I have faith in the strength of her soul. She will come back. She will. In her, there is a will to survive beyond what is survivable. She will survive; she will return. I know this."
That Haldir knew was true. For he knew how tough she was from their practice sessions. She did not relent; she'd fight to the death. She pushed herself passed the realm of her endurance. That was the way she was. If he did not stop when he knew she had had enough, she'd push herself until she collapsed from exhaustion. So he was careful, he only hoped that those in the Fellowship knew to watch out for when she reached her limit.
From where she stood behind Celeborn and Haldir, Galadriel had heard what they had discussed--- it touched her own thoughts in her own mind. For it was the same concerns she had for her Fanyarelisse. It reassured her the confidence that Celeborn had in Anaire, for it lessened her own fears for her adopted daughter. Yet even though the anxiety had lightened, it was not completely erased. She knew what waited Anaire, she knew.
"Where is Frodo?"
She had followed Boromir because she had this awful sense of foreboding from him. Something was disturbed about the air. Something good was not to happen at this locale. So she trailed with careful caution behind him, her gift of foresight was minimal without the Mirror of Galadriel. She got the sense, a whiff of what was to come and reading his mind did not help--- he had no idea what was coming.
Everything made sense when she caught sight of Frodo. The whirl of torturous emotions inside of Boromir were caused by his struggle against the One Ring. So she stayed back and watched the confrontation. If anything got out of hand, she was ready to do what she must to protect Frodo and the One Ring. but the tormenting anguish within Boromir gave her hope. Perhaps, he could overcome the weakness plaguing man. Here was his chance.
"Why do you recoil?" Boromir questioned. "I am no thief."
"You are not yourself!" Frodo exclaimed.
There was an obvious strain in Boromir's expression, as light and as imperceptible as it was--- it was there. She saw what others did not see. She read what was in the mind, in the heart. "I ask only for the strength to defend my people! If you would but lend me the ring."
"What chance do you think you have?" Boromir queried. "They will find you, they will take the ring, and you will beg for death before the end! It is not yours save by happenstance. It could have been mine. It should have been mine! Give it to me!"
//Flee Frodo,// she whispered fervently just before he slipped the One Ring on and vanished from all visible sight.
"I see your mind!" he shouted vindictively, his mind almost fully corrupted by the ring. She did not have to notch an arrow, Frodo was gone. He was safe, saved by the terrible One Ring. "I see your mind! You would take the ring to Sauron! You will betray us! You go to your death, and the death of us all! Curse you! Curse all you halflings!"
It was then that he fell and the shadow over his mind faded. "Frodo? Frodo?" he cried out with his misery. "What have I done? Frodo, I'm sorry!"
He had done no better than she had expected, but he had done no worse than what she had thought. Drawing an arrow from her quiver, she caught the horrid scent of some unknown foe. She was ready to do what she had to and she was certain in her heart that Frodo was seeking safety and his doomed destiny. There was no more she could do for him, but there was something she could do for Boromir. She knew how hard the darkness was to overcome, and though he had succumbed--- he had not fallen captive.
In his distraught, he had run off and when she caught up to him, he was defending Merry and Pippin against the orcs and the Uruk-hai. Keeping a stationary position above on the trees where she'd be most useful, she cut through the rank enemy's ranks with her arrows that she launched with the speed and accuracy that would have made Haldir proud. When she reached back for another arrow and came up empty, she sighed and leapt down from the branches, drawing her twin blades.
"Anaire!" Pippin and Merry exclaimed simultaneously with astonishment. They'd thought that the person shooting the arrows had been Legolas from a distance. Though they had thought it was strange that he hadn't come into view. It made sense now when they realized it was her. "Boromir!" they pointed, where their friend was fighting the foe furiously.
Their double exclamations brought the attention of the Uruk-hai upon her, two immediately charging at her. This was the elf that had cut into their numbers. Revenge was the foremost thought on their minds. As she saw them bearing down on her, she slid one long knife back in and grabbed the dagger that Elladan had given her and threw it at one of the chargers. Her aim was true as it split the skull. One down, one more to go.
She withdrew her long knife and quickly met his assault with all the strength of body and mind she possessed. Fighting these minions of the betrayer Saruman was easier on her mind than the Ulairi. These stinking creatures did not play with her mind, they had but the crudest thinking skills, destroy and destroy more. It was child's play to read their next moves, but countering it wasn't easy. They were a match, more than a match for her elvish strength.
She was suddenly blinded by the realization that the end for her was coming too soon as she fought off one attack only to know another was coming. But it never came. When she finished off her attacker, she saw from out of the corner of her eyes that Boromir was guarding her back as she was fending his. It was with relief that she focused all her attentions and energies to the front as another assault by the filthy enemy began.
From afar, Legolas was letting arrows fly through the air as he caught sight of Aragorn, Gimli behind him. As the duo battled their way way to Aragorn's side, the first searing thought in the elf's mind was that Anaire was not there. "Where is she?" Legolas cried out with worry and anxiety as he let lost two arrows at the same time, slaughtering two of the orcs.
To his side, Gimli ploughed his ax through the skull of one of the filthy beats, flinging the limp body in the mass of orcs approaching them, giving them valuable time to gather their wits. It was then that they heard a piercing and powerful sound travel through the air. "The horn of Gondor," Aragorn identified fiercely. "Maybe she is with Boromir."
The first thought on Legolas's mind was what would Anaire be doing with that distrustful human? He couldn't help but dislike Boromir because he was the rival of Aragorn, the one in his mind that upheld the law of the elves and the valor of man, the true King. Yet, everywhere he and Gimli had searched so far had turned up with nothing. He only hoped that she was with Boromir because at least the human was a fit and worthy warrior.
The same hope was Aragorn's mind since when he knew that Anaire was to join them; he knew that he had to protect her. She was Arwen's oselle, one of the most important people to her. With his life, he vowed to protect as he would Arwen--- his beloved Undomiel expected no less from him.
There is something that you wish to speak to me about," Arwen stated softly. "I know the look on your face, Ada. You cannot hid much of anything from me. We are too similar."
Elrond nodded. He knew that. "That is true my beloved daughter, I have talked with your grandmother and she has related to me that the Fellowship has arrived and departed from Lorien, that your Estel was safe when she last saw him. Mithrandir is lost though."
"A tragedy," she commented, her eyes filled with sorrow, "but that is not all on your mind, Ada. There is more still."
"Yes," he confirmed, "there is more. Your oselle has joined the Fellowship." They both knew that that path was filled with certain death. "She left with them two days hence."
The news was paralyzing. She now had two of the most important people in her life in the Fellowship, on that doomed destiny--- her love, Estel, and her sister, Anaire. Yet, she trusted no one more than the both of them. "He will protect her with his life," she said with absolute certainty. "And Anaire is strong."
"Foremost," Elrond stated resolutely, "he must guard the One Ring. If that falls into the hands of the enemy, nothing will protect her, not even all the free folk on Middle Earth uniting."
The trio flew to the direction were Boromir's horn was sounding from, Legolas at the front. His hope was leading him because for some undeniable reason, he had the need to protect her. His heart stopped dead when he saw her lifting her sword valiantly to stop the Uruk-hai, only to have it wrenched from her grasp. Swiftly, he reached back for an arrow and came up empty. Damn.
He withdrew his dagger instead, throwing it with deadly accuracy that sliced the hand that was about to hit the defenseless Anaire. That gave her the precious time she needed to dodge out of the way and grab her sword, using it to block the blade of the enemy. The last few minutes had been a desperate battle as she had watched Boromir fall with two arrows in him. He had been so strong, no weakness of heart resided in him.
So she had protected him on this battlefield that was sure to be his deathbed. Her arms cried out in agony as she pushed herself to her last reserves. She had failed to stop Merry and Pippin from being taken by the foe. She had been certain death was coming for her when she had seen the silver dagger of Greenleaf cut through the air. It was as she was blocking the blow that Legolas attacked the Uruk-hai from behind.
Drawing attention to himself and away from her, he bravely battled the Uruk-hai, while Aragorn and Gimli fought off the rest of the orcs. She did not pay heed to the battle of desperation. She did not see Aragorn finally beheading the Uruk-hai with Legolas's aid in keeping the enemy distracted. No, she fell to her knees beside Boromir and placed her hands on his wounds.
He was dying. There was nothing she could do. She had not the ability to heal him. Her gift was not in that art, that was Arwen's. But the least she could do was give him tranquility and reassurance. //I saw,// she told him. //I saw your struggle, Boromir of Gondor. You did not succeed, but neither did you fail. Above all men raised by men, you have shown courage this day.//
With the intensity of the life that was about to leave, he gazed beyond her to Aragorn, who was standing behind her. He haltingly told him of how he tried to take the One Ring from Frodo, trying to explain how he had failed. But Aragorn, being Estel, told him that all was well and that he had kept his faith. When Aragorn pull out an arrow, Boromir said, "Leave it. It's over. The world of men will fail. All will fall into darkness, and my city to ruin."
"I know not what strength lies in my blood, but I swear to you I will not let the White City fall, nor our people fail," Aragorn vowed.
"Our people. Our people." Taking the sword that Aragorn placed into his hand, Boromir brought it to his chest. "I would have followed you, my brother, my captain, my King."
//Be at peace, Boromir, son of Denethor, you did not mean to do what you did. Your King has forgiven you. You are a good man. Do not fear what is to come. Clear your conscience. It was the One Ring, not you.//
He glanced away from Aragorn toward her. "You are not like the others, you are beyond the others." After he said those words, his eyes closed and his spirit fled his body to where the souls of good men went for he was a noble man. But as she glanced from out of the corner of her eye, her ARwen's Estel was meant to be beyond good, he had to be great.
Yet despite that he'd grown up in the elven tradition, she saw he had not forgotten his human heritage. It was never so plain as when he pushed the funeral pyre of Boromir out to the river where it'd flow wherever the river led. As his body floated away, she sang a haunting lament for him that bespoke of his struggle against the One Ring, how despite it all, he had not failed the Fellowship.
"Hurry!" Legolas exclaimed, seeing the hobbits across the river trying to land. "Frodo and Sam have reached the eastern shore!" Aragorn merely glanced to another direction. "You mean not to follow them."
"Frodo's fate no longer rests in our hands."
"Then it was all in vain," Gimli remarked. "The Fellowship has failed."
Aragorn shook his head. "Not as long as we remain true to each other. We will not abandon Merry and Pippin to torment and death. Not while we have strength left. Leave all that can be spared behind, we travel light. Let us hunt some orc."
With Aragorn leading them, they fly through the rough terrain. Legolas naturally took his place next to Anaire's side, while Gimli made up the rear. As they traveled together she could not help but feel his tumultuous thoughts, his inquiring question about her lament for Boromir. It was because he did not trust man, yet she did. //Do you not trust Aragorn?// The disbelieving look he gave her was his answer. //We must believe in the inherent goodness of men because that is where the hope of Middle Earth lies.//
For many miles they journeyed, she ran by Legolas's side before dropping her pace so that she matched Gimli's. Always at the front was Aragorn, pushing them on a blistering pace that even Legolas was feeling the burn. If she felt this worn, she only wondered how Gimli was doing. She knew dwarves were not made for the long going. She was worried about the dwarf, anxious whether he was doing well or not. She had felt the weariness in his mind and had seen the fatigue in his stride. //Master dwarf, are you okay?//
"A dwarf is always okay!" he exclaimed between puffs. With eyes filled with concern, he noted how her pace faltered every ten steps, stumbling so that she had to catch herself. Perhaps, she was even more tired out than he. If that was the case, it was best if she was by him so that he could help her in case she fell. "If you do not mind, stay by my side and we will brave this road together."
Author's Note: As always, reviews are wonderful gifts ,-,. So don't forget to review! *sighs* this would have been out earlier, but I had to take my mom to the hospital. We both kind of panicked when we couldn't get the blood to stop gushing from her cut O-o. It was kind of hilarious looking back but we were both kind of antsy. And I said 1 of the 2 things are definitely going to happen, the other is not certain `cuz *coughs* I haven't made up my mind yet. Woohoo! Keep telling me which you prefer, YOU the REVIEWER can sway my mind ,_____,.