Lady From Beyond the Sea - Chapter 11 -- Breaking of the Fellowship
Far into the dark quiet hours they floated on, guiding their boats under the overhanging shadows of the western woods. Great trees passed like ghosts, thrusting their twisted thirsty roots through the mist down into the water.
Legolas peered into the gloom, eyes alert for any sign of an enemy. But his gaze was constantly drawn to the lady who sat in the front of the boat, deftly wielding her paddle. What is that necklace? he wondered, What made her eyes glow so when she saw it? Was it perhaps a gift? From a long lost love?
Finally Aragorn maneuvered his boat to the shore for the night, and carried a sleeping Frodo onto the bank. The others quickly followed suit. But Legolas noticed that Zandra was not preparing her bed. He walked over to where she was gazing across the river, staring blankly into its dark depths, unbroken by the reflection of any stars. He saw that she was fingering the pearl necklace that was now clasped about her throat.
"Do you not intend to sleep?" he asked.
She turned to him and smiled, her eyes glowing, though behind the joy there was sorrow as well. Sorrow for a lost love? the thought came unbidden to his mind.
"I don't think I could sleep tonight," she said softly, "There are too many thoughts, too many questions running through my mind. I shall keep watch I think."
He nodded, and turned to go, but her voice stayed him, "I should not object to some company," she said hesitantly. "Unless you are too tired?" she added quickly, turning it into a question. He hesitated. There was nothing he wanted more than to be near her, but he did not know if he could be near her and still hide his feelings. And if she began to tell him about a past love, he did not know if he could bear the pain. But he could not resist the pleading in her eyes, so he nodded mutely, and moved to sit by her on the grass. She turned her gaze back to the river.
"I. . ." she paused, as if unsure if she should continue, "I have been in the habit of. . . talking to Gandalf," she began, "It helps me to put my thoughts into words, and . . .." she stopped again, her tone questioning.
"I would be honored to be your confidant." Legolas replied gravely, Please do not tell me that you love someone else! he begged silently. "Is it because of the necklace?" he asked, as she made no move to continue. She nodded, and looked at him again, her eyes luminous.
"Oh Legolas!" she cried, and he was taken aback to see tears forming in the eyes that had captured his heart. "It is so wonderful!" She stopped, too full of emotion to continue. She took a deep breath, as he held his, waiting for what was surely to follow. . .
"I have solved the first riddle!" she exclaimed finally.
"Riddle?" he asked puzzled, and she nodded enthusiastically.
"When I looked into the Mirrormere, I saw a riddle, and this necklace led to the answer!"
"What was the riddle?" he asked.
"What does fire, earth, water, stars and shadow have in common, and what have they to do with me?" she took a deep breath and then continued, "And the answer is my family!!!!" Legolas could have cried aloud in joy. He was to hear confidences about someone she loved, but not as he had feared.
"How does fire, earth, water, stars, and shadow equal your family?" he asked, laughing in relief, though he hoped she would see it merely as being happy for her discovery.
"Water is me of course. Fire and earth, . . . they are my sisters! Can you imagine that? I have sisters!!!" She leapt to her feet and began to spin around; her arms flung out. "I have sisters!" she stopped and looked at Legolas again. "And I can remember them," she whispered joyfully.
She walked back and knelt before him. She took off her necklace and held it out in the palm of her hand.
"This holds the key." she said, staring intently at it, her eyes aglow. "The pearl in the center is for me, for water. The diamonds are for the earth, . . . For Jaessa." Her voice caressed the name, "And the fire opal is for fire, for Tinania. My sisters." Her eyes took on a far away look as she continued.
"Tinania was the eldest of us, with fiery red curls, and clear blue eyes." she looked at him again, "Do you remember when I told you that I did not sing?" he nodded, "I felt as I spoke that there was something more that I should say, something that always followed that phrase. `I can't sing, that is Tinania.' My sister Tinania sings like a bird. She was so vivacious. She never did anything by halves, but threw her whole self into everything. I stood quite in awe of her as a child.
"Jaessa was next. She was practically Tinania's opposite in every way. She had dark chestnut hair, and eyes the color of the bark of a Mallorn. Her character could only be described as sweet. She was always calm, and dependable, like the earth that was her power." She stopped, and the sadness that still lurked in her eyes grew more pronounced. Her fingers curled around the pearl pendant, and her eyes closed. Legolas ached to draw her into his arms, but managed to restrain himself.
"You have spoken only of fire, earth and water," he prompted her gently, hoping that reminding her of the answer to her riddle would cheer her, "What of stars and shadows?" He was rewarded by her looking up and smiling again, though the sadness was still there. The smile was sweet rather than buoyant, almost in a sad way.
"The stars are for my mother, and the shadow my father." Tears welled up in her eyes. "I can remember father going through his sword forms, moving quick and lithe. When he hunted and fought, he was just like a shadow. I have already spoken of my mother, she is the one who gave me the necklace." Legolas felt profound relief at this. Perhaps there was no man in her past after all. "Jaessa and Tinania each have on like it," she continued, oblivious to his reaction to her words, "Jaessa's had a diamond at the center, and Tinania an opal."
"So you have your memory back?" he asked. Then cursed himself for his clumsiness, as the sorrow in her eyes grew again, and she sighed.
"No," her voice was sad, "All I have are the memories of a child. It is my childhood, and only part of that. I still don't know my parents names, or where we were from. I don't know where I was going when I met. . ." she stopped, and he could see the sudden pain in her eyes as she swiftly stood and walked a little away, her figure silhouette in the lightening dawn.
He also stood, and reached out to place a hand on her shoulder. Who? he wanted to ask, Who did you meet? but the words would not come. Before he touched her she stiffened, and pointed into the shadows across the river.
"Do you see that?" she asked.
Legolas peered into the greyness, and saw two pale points of light. . . eyes. He reached for his bow, which he strung in one fluid motion, and was about to string an arrow, but Zandra forestalled him.
"No don't," she said.
"But it is Gollum," he said, "He is bound to be bringing trouble."
"Perhaps," was all she said. Legolas looked again across the river, but the eyes were gone.
"I would not have him killed." Zandra said, "I understand his wretchedness. I know only too well what darkness can do to you. Who is to say, but what I might have eventually become like him." She turned and walked back to where the others were sleeping, only pausing a little when Legolas whispered, "You would Never have been like him. Never."
On the tenth morning of their journey the travelers came to a wide ravine, with great rocky sides to which clung a few trees. The channel grew narrower and the River swifter. Now they were speeding along with little hope of turning, whatever might lie ahead.
Zandra, peering forward saw in the distance two great rocks approaching. Tall and sheer and ominous they stood upon either side of the stream. A narrow gap appeared between them, and the River swept the boats towards it.
"Behold the Argonath, the Pillars of the Kings!" cried Aragorn. "Long have I desired to look upon the likenesses of my sires of old!"
Zandra looked at him, as he sat in his boat. The weatherworn Ranger who had been her friend was no longer there. In the stern sat Aragorn son of Arathorn, proud and erect; his hood was cast back, and his dark hair was blowing in the wind, a light was in his eyes: here was a King.
Aragorn led them to the right arm of the River. Here upon its western side, under the shadow of Tol Brandir a green lawn ran down to the water from the feet of Amon Hen. Here they spent the night.
The next morning when they had eaten Aragorn called the Company together. "The day has come at last." He said, "The day of choice which we have long delayed. What shall now become of our Company that has traveled so far in Fellowship? Shall we turn west with Boromir, or turn east to the Fear and the Shadow; or shall we break our Fellowship and go this way and that as each may choose?"
There was a long silence in which no one spoke a word.
"Well, Frodo," said Aragorn at last. "I fear that the burden is laid upon you. You are the Bearer appointed by the Council. Your own way you alone can choose. In this matter I cannot advise you. I am not Gandalf, and though I have tried to bear his part, I o not know what design or hope he had for this hour, if indeed he had any. Most likely it seems that if he were here now, the choice would still wait upon you. Such is your fate."
Zandra waited with bated breath. She knew that Frodo had agonized over this question since Lorien. She could see the indecision written plainly on his features, and the fear in his eyes.
"I know that haste is needed," he said at last, "yet I cannot choose. The burden is heavy. Give me an hour longer, and I will speak. Let me be alone!"
"Very well, Frodo son or Drogo," Aragorn said, "You shall have an hour, and you shall be alone. We will stay here for a while. But do not stray far or out of call."
Frodo sat for a moment with head bowed, then got up and walked away. Zandra watched him covertly, but anxiously, and so did not see Boromir doing the same.
She stood as soon as he was out of sight. Aragorn grabbed her hand as she turned away, a warning in his eyes. She nodded, and thought, Don't worry, you said an hour, an hour it shall be.
She strode over to the water, and crouched with cat-like grace on the bank, staring into the water's depth, pondering the choice that was before Frodo. What would I choose? she wondered. If the burden were mine, what would I do? She feared that she would not have the courage to do what must be done.
"We are Dae Kular," a voice from long ago drifted into her thoughts, "We do what we must. If we fail, who else will stand?" Dae Kular she thought, it seemed so familiar, that phrase. AS if it were something she had heard all her life, but now the meaning escaped her. Who is we? she wondered in despair, Who am I?
"Where have you been Boromir?" she heard Aragorn ask, and alarm flooded her. Boromir had been gone? she had not noticed, she had failed! She rushed to Boromir, and grabbed his collar, her sword drawn and she pressed the point to the blood vessel that throbbed at the base of his throat.
"What did you do to Frodo?" she growled.
Boromir hesitated for a moment, then looked at the sword poised to end his life, and spoke, "I spoke to him. I urged him to come to Minas Tirith and not to go east." He swallowed, "I grew angry and he left me. He vanished. I have never seen such a thing before. He must have put on the Ring. I could not find him again. I though he would return to you."
"Is that all that you have to say?" said Aragorn, looking hard, and not too kindly at Boromir, making no move to rescue him from Zandra.
"How long?" Zandra asked angrily. Her sword drew a bead of blood, "How long since you saw him last?"
"Half an hour, maybe," he answered, "Or it might be an hour, I have wandered for some time since. I do not know! I do not know!"
Zandra felt the terror rising in her, she lowered her sword. She had to find him! She could not fail again! She whirled and ran, no thought in her mind but to find Frodo. Dimly she heard Aragorn calling out, and noticed Legolas and Gimli following her, calling out Frodo's name.
"Frodo!" she cried, "Frodo!" What would you have done? she thought desperately, trying to figure out where to look.The path that you shall tread lies already beneath your feet. Galadriel's words echoed again in her mind. No!!!! I will not fail, I cannot accept that!!!! We are Dae Kular, We do what we must. What we must! The Ring must be destroyed! Frodo is going to leave us!
Legolas stopped in shock as an eagle whizzed past him, it's wing feathers grazing his cheek. It had come from where Zandra had stood but no longer was. She had turned into an eagle!
Suddenly all around him were the harsh guttural cries of orcs. Without thought he stung arrows, and let them fly, and before him the orcs fell. Beside him Gimli was setting into the orcs with relish. Legolas risked a glance up at the eagle that was flying swiftly towards the river. A volley of arrows flew up from the trees, and to his horror one struck the bird. It gave a shrill cry of pain, and plummeted to the ground.
"No!!!" he screamed, and set about killing the orcs with blind anger. Soon he ran out of arrows, and fell to with his long knife. When all the orcs were dead he ran as swiftly as he could towards where he had seen Zandra fall.
He found her in a clearing, surrounded by dead orcs. She lay sprawled on the ground, her sword lightly clasped in her hand, dripping with blood. An arrow protruded from her side.