Mirkwood's Blade - Chapter Nineteen - The Anduin and the Argonath
"Are you really going?" asked Galadriel's voice from behind her. Novarwen turned around to see her adopted mother standing in the doorway, her blue eyes sad.
"I have to," Novarwen replied, looking down. "I pledged myself to the Quest in Rivendell. But I promise I'll come back. I promised Theryn that I would, and I never break my promises." She tried to smile, but couldn't. Galadriel and Celeborn had felt like her blood parents for the whole time the Fellowship had stayed in Lorien, and it was harder to leave them than it had been to leave her real father. She hugged Galadriel tightly.
The Elf queen pulled away after a few moments. "I know you will come back," she said, squeezing Novarwen's hand, "and when you do, we will never let you out of our sight again." Now Novarwen smiled, and Galadriel did too. "Go with them, daughter," she added. Novarwen quickly threw the rest of her things into her bag and left the flet.
The others were assembled by the shore of the Anduin River, waiting for the boats that would carry them down the river to the Falls of Rauros. Novarwen joined them, standing next to Legolas, staring down the river.
"There they are," Legolas commented in a low voice. Blinking, Novarwen followed his pointing finger to where the three dove-gray Elven boats were being rowed toward them. Novarwen was glad to see that they were big enough to hold three people each and baggage besides. It would be a tight fit, but since four of their number were hobbits, they could manage.
Novarwen climbed into one of the boats as the Elf rower got out of it, tossing her bag into the stern and picking up the oar. Frodo followed her in, and Sam followed Frodo. Novarwen had them sit in the center of the boat. Frodo seemed especially weary, and she noticed, with a surge of fondness for the hobbits, how Sam immediately dropped his bag and let Frodo lay his head on his shoulder. Aragorn climbed into the boat after the hobbits, got the other oar, and took up a position in the front. Novarwen, taking her cue from him, took the stern end, and waited while Legolas coaxed Gimli into the second boat and Boromir loaded bags, Merry, and Pippin onto the third. Finally all the boats were ready, and they were just about to shove off when Novarwen called, "Aragorn, stop!" The Ranger turned to see what had made Novarwen call to him, and saw a fourth boat, elegant, with a swan-like prow, drift towards them. In it sat Galadriel.
The Lady's boat glided to them across the smooth waters of the Anduin, and when it drew level with them, she said, "Before you go, I have brought gifts which I offer you, in memory of Lothlorien." She gave a faint smile as she looked around at the company. "For you, Aragorn son of Arathorn..." She handed a sheath across the space between the boats, and Aragorn reached out and took it. Novarwen caught a glimpse of it as Aragorn studied it, awe on his face - it was patterned with gold flowers and leaves, and runes covering it spelled Anduril, the name of his sword. He looked at Galadriel, the awe still in his eyes. She smiled again. "But that is not all I came to give you." A flicker of sorrow flashed through her eyes as she gave him a green stone set in a silver brooch. "I gave this stone," Galadriel said with a catch in her throat, "to my daughter, Celebrian, and she gave it to hers. Now it comes to you as a token of hope." Even though she was already tall and majestic, Galadriel seemed to grow even more so as she added, "Take the stone, and take with it the name that was foretold for you, Elessar, Elfstone of the house of Elendil!"
A faint smile touched Aragorn's mouth. He took the brooch and pinned it on his chest, then bowed to Galadriel. "I thank you," he said quietly. Galadriel inclined her head slightly to him, then turned to Boromir.
"To you, son of Denethor," she said, her eyes sad as she looked at Boromir, "I give this." She held out a gold belt, well made and delicately crafted. Boromir's eyes widened as he took it from her hands and buckled it around his waist. "And for you," she added, smiling at Merry and Pippin, "these." They had belts, too, but silver belts, with clasps in the shape of a flower. Novarwen gasped as Galadriel gave her brother a bow. "This, Prince of Mirkwood, is a bow like those my own people use, and with it I give you arrows." She gave Legolas a smile that verged on a grin as she added, "I see that your arrows are all gone." Legolas grinned back and took the bow.
Galadriel gave Sam a box with soil from her orchard, and the young hobbit blushed to the ears as he took it from her. Gimli surprised them all when he asked if he could have a strand of her hair. Galadriel seemed taken aback, but she pulled three strands out and gave them to the Dwarf. Gimli carefully put them away in a small pocket.
Then the Lady turned to Novarwen. "And to you," she said softly, "a gift from my first daughter to my second." She opened her closed hand, and Novarwen caught her breath. Shining like a star on Galadriel's hand was a fine chain of silver, with a delicate crystal flower hanging from it. "When Celebrian came of age," Galadriel murmured, "this was my gift to her. I think she would be pleased if you had it now."
Her hands shaking, Novarwen carefully lifted the necklace from Galadriel's hand and slipped it over her head. "Thank you," she whispered, touching the crystal flower almost reverently.
Galadriel smiled. "I also give to you a bow, and arrows, for the same reason I gave them to your brother." Novarwen smiled and accepted the bow and quiver, which she carefully put away in the stern of the boat.
Then Galadriel turned to Frodo. "And you, Ringbearer," she said softly, "I come to you last who are not last in my thoughts." She held out a small crystal phial filled with light, but no light Novarwen had ever seen was brighter. It shone from her hand as she spoke. "In this phial is caught the light of Earendil's star. May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out." She took Frodo's hand and closed it over the phial. "Namarie," she added, leaning down to kiss the top of Frodo's head.
Then the boats pushed away, and Novarwen caught a last glimpse of her mother, standing in her boat, her hand raised to them all in farewell, before she had to pick up a paddle and row them away from Lothlorien.
The Great River was huge and wide. Novarwen's arms ached as she dipped the paddle into the water one more time. Frodo was lying down in the bottom of the boat. Novarwen wished she could stop and sleep, but of course she couldn't.
A fine pink-tinted mist was swirling ahead. Novarwen blinked her eyes quickly to try to wake herself up. Aragorn laid down his paddle, staring ahead into the mist. Now she could see huge towering figures rise out of it.
"Look, Frodo," Aragorn whispered. The hobbit sat up and looked. The figures were clear now - two great statues of men in armor. The statues' left hands were held out, palm forward, in warning, and their eyes seemed to see the three gray Elven boats drift toward them. "The Argonath," Aragorn murmured. His eyes shone as he looked up at them. "Long have I desired to look upon the kings of old." He paused a moment before saying, "My kin."
Novarwen smiled. It was the first time he had admitted that he was indeed the heir of kings gone by. She looked up herself at the statues, and couldn't help but be awed by their power, even years after they were built.
The boats came through the space between the statues. As they rowed along, Novarwen's attention was suddenly drawn to the bank. Something was there, something evil. It was approaching quickly, very quickly. She stared at it, trying to see whatever it was, but she couldn't see it. Her senses, though, told her that something was very wrong.
Finally, they rowed the boats in to a shore. Novarwen set her paddle in the boat, picked up her bow and quiver, and leaped out of the boat. She turned back to help Sam out of it, but when she offered her hand to Frodo, he shook his head. His hand went to the chain he wore the Ring on, and he looked utterly weary. Novarwen quickly cast a look at Boromir, and he was pausing for a moment before he climbed out of his boat. She shivered. Whatever was on the bank was not the only evil the Fellowship had to contend with.