Lady From Beyond the Sea - Chapter 23 - Goodbye
Zandra: She has water power, which includes weather power. She is slowly regaining her memory of who and what she is. She is Dae Kular, which literally means "light warrior," but she thinks it is something more.
Tinania: Zandra's eldest sister, she became something (we don't know what yet) and went away. She has fire power.
Jaessa: Zandra's other sister, described as sweet, and calm. She has earth power, which includes plants.
Zandra's Mother: associated with stars
Zandra's Father: associated with shadows
Dyryn: Zandra once thought she loved him, but he tricked her and imprisoned her in Dol Guldur He had a ring, and became the Witchking of Angmar.
Gallin: Boy from Rohan, a friend of Zandra's, died at Helm's Deep
Zandra rode behind Aragorn and the king in silent misery. Why, oh why did I tell him? she agonized, thinking of the horror on his face as she uttered those fateful words. I loved the Witch-king of Angmar. Never mind she hadn't known at the time, never mind that he hadn't even been named as such yet . . . she had been in love with one of the most evil beings of the Second Age.
Gimli had interrupted their conversation just after Zandra had finished telling Legolas who Dyryn was. Thus she didn't know, except for his horrified expression, what he thought. She was afraid to think that his expression was his answer.
You should be glad if your past horrified him. Perhaps it will finally convince him not to love you, she told herself. But the thought that she might have killed his love for her only brought her more pain.
I didn't want to cause him pain. she thought. He didn't deserve that shock. I shouldn't have told him. But the desire to bare her soul to him was inescapable. She remembered her own shock when she had learned what Dyryn had become. She had spent a great deal of time after Gandalf helped her escape from Dol Guldur learning the history that had transpired whilst she was imprisoned, not to mention the history before she could remember. She had known from her own experience, of course, that Dyryn had become a Wraith, but discovering he was the leader of the Ring wraiths, well, it was very painful.
Much to her dismay, the pain she felt now at possibly losing Legolas's love was ten times that which she had felt at Dyryn's betrayal.
Oh, Dae! she cried inwardly, I love him! This is what love is! The feeling she had felt for Dyryn paled by comparison. It had been fascination only, a mere infatuation. Her heart soared in the exultation of her feelings, and ached with the pain of it.
Love is pain. a voice whispered from her past. Love is vulnerability. Love is comfort, love is strength.
"Why did Tinania have to go?" a much younger Zandra asked. "I miss her so much my heart hurts."
"She is beginning her work as Dae Kular," her mother said. "You know that, we discussed this yesterday."
"But, why? Why did she become Dae Kular? Doesn't she miss us?"
"Of course, she loves us, she loves you."
"Then why? Why is she hurting us?"
"Because she loves Life too. She loves Dae, she is Dae Kular because she loves people."
Zandra digested this. "That is good . . . How come missing has to hurt?" her voice turned plaintive.
Her mother sat down and pulled the child into her arms. "Because love is pain. We hurt when someone we love hurts."
"Do you hurt right now?"
"Yes sweetie. I miss Tinania too, but I'm happy at the same time, because I'm very proud of her."
"I don't want to hurt." Zandra said, then continued with a child's logic. "I don't want to love if it hurts."
"Oh Zandra," her mother laughed sadly, "Someday you will go too, and I'll miss you terribly. You will meet some wonderful man who will love you, and you'll love him, and then you'll understand."
Oh Mother, . . . Anera, . . . Zandra thought, I do understand. I just hope it's not too late.
Just then, a Rider galloped up from the rear of the line.
"My lord," he said to the king, "there are horsemen behind us. As we crossed the fords I thought that I heard them. Now we are sure. They are overtaking us, riding hard."
Theoden at once called a halt. The Riders turned about and seized their spears. Zandra drew the swords that crossed her back.
The sinking moon was obscured by a great sailing cloud, but suddenly it rode out clear again. Then they all heard the sound of hoofs, and at the same moment Zandra saw dark shapes coming swiftly on the path from the fords.
When they were some fifty paces off, Eomer cried in a loud voice. "Halt! Halt! Who rides in Rohan?"
The pursuers brought their steeds to a sudden stand. A silence followed; and then in the moonlight a horseman could be seen dismounting and walking slowly forward. His hand showed white as he held it up, palm outward in token of peace. At ten paces the man stopped. He was tall, a dark standing shadow. Then his clear voice rang out, very familiar to Zandra. She sheathed her sword and dismounted as he spoke.
"Rohan? Rohan did you say? That is a glad word. We seek that land in haste from afar. I am Halbarad Dunadan, Ranger of the North," he cried, "We seek one Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and we heard that he was in Rohan."
"And you have found him!" cried Aragorn. Giving his reins to Merry, he ran forward and embraced the newcomer. "Halbarad!" he said, "Of all joy this is the least expected!" Zandra walked forward, her hands extended in greeting.
"Halbarad!" she said.
"Milady!" he took her outstretched hands, and raised them one at a time to his lips. "It has been too long since you rode with us."
"All is well!" said Aragorn, turning back to the Riders. "Here are some of my own kin from the far land where I dwelt. But why they come, and how many they be, Halbarad shall tell us."
"I have thirty with me," said Halbarad, releasing Zandra's hands. She looked up and saw Legolas glaring at her. A faint flush stained her cheeks. Was he jealous? Or just angry at her revelation of earlier? Oh how she wished Gimli had not interrupted!
They swiftly set out again. Zandra rode alone now, for Aragorn was conversing with his kin, and, though she had traveled with them often, she did not wish to intrude now.
The night was old, and the East grey when they rode up at last from Deeping-coomb and came back to the Hornburg. There they were to lie and rest for a brief while and take counsel.
Zandra found herself unable to sleep, so she went to the stable to groom Serilla. She was hoping that Legolas would find her and they could talk, hoping, and dreading.
A sudden shadow fell over her mind. She let out a cry of fear, cowering against Serilla's flank. Serilla shied, sensing her mistresses fear. The Stone! The Palantir from Orthanc was here, and was uncovered!
Gritting her teeth, she forced herself to stand. She willed conquer this! Someone was looking in the Stone, she had to stop them. How it came to be here she did not know, for she had thought Gandalf had it.
Impelled by a sudden determination, she ran towards a high chamber in the Burg, from which she could fell the roving Eye.
She burst through the door before she could think. For an instant she could feel Sauron's gaze full upon her, then it was gone. She could see the Stone, Aragorn was bent over it, looking deep within its depths, but Sauron was gone!
An instant later Halbarad grabbed her and pulled her from the room.
"What do you think you were doing bursting in like that!" he asked roughly.
"I didn't know it was Aragorn looking in it," she said numbly through her shock. "I had to stop whoever it was from giving anything away."
Her mind struggled with the impact of what had happened. Aragorn had revealed himself. She had inadvertently revealed herself, and Aragorn had wrested control of the Palantir from Sauron, he must have.
"Halbarad, how could he risk it?" she whispered dazedly.
"I judged the time right, and my strength enough," Aragorn said, emerging from the room. His face was lined with more cares than before.
"It is well you were right," Halbarad said grimly. "Else all now would be lost."
You have no idea, Zandra thought, He could have given everything away, could have given Frodo away. She met Aragorn's gaze and knew he was thinking the same.
"Are you all right my friend?" he said gravely. "I am sorry, I tried to do it far enough away from you that you wouldn't sense it."
"I'm fine," she said, "But Aragorn, . . . he saw me."
"Yes." If possible Aragorn's gaze was grimmer than before. "It seems that one thing at least that Saruman said was true. Sauron wants you back."
Zandra felt the blood leave her cheeks at this confirmation of her fears.
"We must make sure at all costs that he does not get you." Aragorn said after a moment of silence.
"What do you mean?" Zandra said warily.
"You must stay as far from him as possible." Aragorn said grimly.
"Stay away?" she said dumbly, "You mean stay here?"
"Not here, perhaps in Dunharrow, or you could go to the West, back to Lothlorien, you would be safe there."
"So I am to cower in fear while the menfolk ride to battle!" she exclaimed angrily. "How dare you! I am Dae Kular! Whatever else that means, I am a warrior. I have just as much right to be there as you! I swore to do all I could to help. This was my fight before you were born!"
"Think! There are many ways to fight." Zandra whirled about to face Legolas, who had just come up with Gimli. "The best way for you to fight Sauron is to keep yourself out of his hands!"
The anger drained out of Zandra as swiftly as it had come. He doesn't want me there. she thought numbly. Legolas wanted to leave her behind. He did not want her at his side. That it was purely for her sake didn't occur to her. All she could think was He doesn't want me anymore. I have killed his love.
Her whole body sagged. Legolas saw defeat enter her eyes, tears forming on her lashes. Surely it wasn't that bad? He knew she wanted to come, to be a part of things, but it was for her benefit that she must stay.
Suddenly he realized what must be wrong. Silly girl! He thought, She thinks that I don't want her because she was innocent enough to fall in love with a villain. That is the real problem! She spoke before he could.
"At least I can accompany you to Dunharrow," she pleaded. At Aragorn's affirmation she took a deep breath and brushed past Legolas, not looking up. He reached out, but she was gone. He started after her, and stopped as Aragorn restrained him.
"Let her go. She'll see the wisdom of this eventually," Aragorn said, "For now we must go speak to the king, and I have something to tell you and Gimli."
Legolas was certain now that their leaving her behind was not the true problem, but he realized that now was probably not the right time to broach the subject. So Legolas agreed to go with Aragorn to the king.
They found the king with his Company of Riders, all assembled and ready to go.
Aragorn moved to stand by the king's horse. "I am troubled in mind, lord," he said, "I fear I must change my purpose. Tell me, Theoden, you ride now to Dunharrow, how long will it be before you come there?"
"It is now a full hour past noon," said Eomer. "Before the night of the third day we should come to the Hold. More speed we cannot make, if the strength of Rohan is to be gathered."
Aragorn was silent for a moment. "Three days," he murmured. "Then, by your leave, lord, I must take now counsel for myself and my kindred. We must ride our own road, and no longer in secret. I must ride east by the swiftest way, and I will take the Paths of the Dead."
"You will do as you will, my lord Aragorn," said Theoden, his face pale with dread from that fell name, "It is your doom, maybe, to tread strange paths others dare not. This parting grieves me, and my strength is lessened by it; but now I must take the mountain roads and delay no longer. Farewell!"
"Farewell, lord!" said Aragorn, "Ride unto great renown! Farewell Merry! I leave you in good hands. Legolas and Gimli will hunt with me still, I hope, but we shall not forget you."
"Goodbye!" said Merry tearfully. Then, Theoden spoke to Eomer, and he lifted up his hand and cried aloud, and with that word the Riders set forth.
"Well," Aragorn said at last. "I must eat a little, and then we must also hasten away. Come, Legolas and Gimli! I must speak with you as I eat."
Aragorn related quickly his experience with the Stone of Orthanc, telling of the great threat from the South that he had seen, and explaining the need to travel the Paths of the Dead.
"This is another reason you should remain behind Zandra," he said, addressing her as she joined them. "The road leads underground, along a dark path, and I would not bring you through such darkness again."
Legolas looked at her, and his heart ached at the hurt in her gaze. What put it there? Aragorn's words? Or her own?
"Come! Aragorn cried, standing, "To the Stone of Erech! I seek the Paths of the Dead. Come with me who will!"
And while Theoden went by slow paths in the hills, the Grey Company and Zandra passed swiftly over the plain, and on the next day in the afternoon they came to Edoras; and there they halted only briefly, ere they passed up the valley, and so came to Dunharrow as darkness fell.
Zandra rode towards the rear of the company, trying to prevent more heartache by avoiding Legolas. When the arrived at Dunharrow, she pleaded fatigue, and requested a chamber. As she entered her room, she gave in at last to her emotions, and fell upon the bed, crying herself to sleep.
In the early morning of the next day she was awakened by the sound of horses outside her window. She rushed to the opening, and gazed at the assembled company. She scanned all the Riders, but could not see Legolas. There was Arod, and Gimli stood beside him, but where was Legolas?
As she watched she saw Eowyn, clad as a Rider, approach Aragorn, and gift him with the Cup of Parting. She spoke to him for a brief while, then seemed to grow agitated, and fell to her knees.
Zandra heard the click of the door behind her, and whirled about to meet the grey eyes of Legolas.
"Legolas," she said, suddenly breathless at the intense look in his eyes. She lowered her gaze.
"There is no time for all that needs to be said between us." he said, swiftly coming to her, and raising her chin with a gentle touch. "Stay safe," he commanded. Then he lowered his lips to hers in a bruising kiss, and was gone.
Zandra stood for a moment, stunned, she raised her fingers to her lips, half convinced it was a dream. Then she ran to the window in time to see Legolas leap upon Arod's back, and Gimli clamor up behind him.
The Company wheeled about, and galloped off. Legolas looked back once, and Zandra waved. With one last heart-stopping smile, Legolas turned again, and rode out of sight.