Mist & Shadow - Chapter 3 - The 3rd Degree

The Hobbits stared at the she-elf in shock.

"How can you not know your name?" Merry finally broke the heavy silence. "Do you know where you're from?"

Her face went completely blank and still. She blinked. "No, I don't remember anything. I don't know where I am or how I got here?" A panicked note came into her voice.

"Alright, little masters." Ariel began herding the Hobbits off the bed. "You've tired the Lady enough for one day. Out with you!"

* * * * *

"How soon do you think you can have it done?" Athrun asked the smithy, referring to the incomplete throwing dagger that the smithy held in his hand.

"I could have it done in a day, but if you want it perfected, give me two, the smithy said, judging his incomplete work with an appraising eye.

"Fine; two days. I return then for the finished product," Athrun nodded to the smithy and turned on his heel. Two days; he had hoped to get it sooner, but he preferred to have a perfected weapon, and not a hurried one. He strode down the long open hall purposefully, nodding politely, but somewhat coldly, to the giggling and staring elf maidens as they passed. As he drew near to the end of the hall, something made him stop short. His sharp elven ears caught the sound of gossiping voices down another hall. Normally he would have simply ignored them, but they were speaking of the she-elf that he had pulled from the river. He realized that he had almost completely forgotten about her, and the injured hobbit, until that moment. He stayed where he was, listening as the two women gossiped away, uncaring about who might be listening.

"Did you hear about the she-elf they pulled from the river?!"

"Aye! I heard that it was actually one of those wretched Moriquendi!"

"You don't say!"

"Aye! Lithiren overheard it from Lord Elrond this morning in the house of healing and told me all about it!"

"Well she should be of little threat though; after all, she is unconscious still."

"Oh no; I heard she woke but a short while ago."

"You must be joking!"

"Nay! I'm not! Go see her yourself!"

"Oh, I dare not do such a thing! Why does Lord Elrond even keep her here?!"

The voices moved past, and Athrun stood there for a moment, his face unchanging. He didn't trust two gossiping women as his sources of information, but was she really a Moriquendi? It was possible....
Athrun changed his course, heading down a separate hallway towards the houses of healing. It couldn't hurt to take a look himself.

Athrun slowed his steps as he neared the room where he had left the she-elf, his steps ever silent as most elves. He paused, his hand on the curtain, but then stopped and raised a hand to knock on the wooden door frame, to announce his presence. His actions were halted altogether by the sound of many voices in the room. So she was awake.

"How can you not know where your name?" A shrill voice with a heavy accent drifted through the curtain, "Do you know where you're from?" There was a long silence.

"No, I don't remember anything. I don't know where I am or how I got here?" There was a panicked note in the distinctly female voice.

Another female voice began ordering people out of the room, claiming they had tired the lady enough for one day. Four Hobbits immediately piled out almost knocking Athrun over. "Oh, excuse us." One of them commented before they all dashed away down the hall talking about the elf that didn't know her name.

* * * * *

Ariel said nothing for several minutes after the Hobbits left. The she-elf simply sat in the middle of her bed with her hands in her lap staring at the white, rumpled sheets. "Milady, do you truly remember nothing?" Ariel decided to be direct. It was the only thing she could think of to do because there was no gentle way to pose the question.

"I remember nothing except this morning. The rest of it is a blank wall of nothingness." A single tear rolled down her pale cheek. "I know I should have memories and a name, but they're not there."

"Oh dear," Ariel clasped her hands in front of her and continued to pace. Never in her life had she hard of an elf losing their memory completely. "We must tell Lord Elrond," she thought out loud.

"Why?" The she-elf looked at her nurse sharply. "Why does anyone else have to know."

Ariel looked at her, surprise in her grey-green eyes. "Because he is the Lord of Imladris and the one who healed you, with help from Lord Aragorn." The last was an afterthought. "And people will ask questions! You can't say 'I don't know.' to all their questions. It would only make them suspicious, you being a Moriquendi and all."

"A what?"

"A Moriquendi."

"What does that have to do with it?" She wiped away the last of her tear.

Ariel paled slightly and wished she had held her tongue. "Never mind. What we ought to be worrying about is what we're all supposed to call you." Ariel smiled. "I imagine you'd get tired of being 'Lady' all the time." She laughed nervously.

The she-elf shrugged. "It doesn't really matter."

"Of course it does!" Ariel proceeded to rattle of a list of names she thought would be suitable. None of them appealed to her sullen companion in the least. She finally sat down on the edge of the bed in exasperation. "What would you like to be called?"

The silence stretched until it seemed as if there was a fragile wall of glass in the room that the slightest word, movement, or breath could shatter it into a million pieces.

"Erebwen-en-Mornië." The she-elf's voice was so quiet, Ariel was not sure she had spoken at all.

"Come again?"

Her charge turned her head a fraction of an inch. "Mornië. Erebewen-en-Mornië."

Ariel said nothing for several minutes. Her thoughts, however, refused to be silent. "Lonely Maiden of Darkness. How appropriate." She finally found her voice. "Well, it's different."

Mornië gave her a small smile. The tiny twinkle in her eye told Ariel that that was exactly what she had wanted.

* * * * *

Athrun remained frozen outside the door, not caring that he was eavesdropping on a supposedly private conversation. "So she remembers nothing? Then I suppose we won't be finding out what she was doing in the river any time soon." He heard footsteps approach the curtain, and suddenly he realized that he shouldn't be there. With one quick move, he stepped back behind a curtain With one quick move, he stepped back behind a curtain out of sight, and waited until the footsteps had passed. He realized how ridiculous all this hiding and spying about would appear. After all, he lived here; she didn't. He stepped back out from behind the curtain and started down the hall, not even pausing at the she-elf's door. Now was definitely not the time to be bothering the woman. What had even compelled him to come see her in the first place?! He shook his head in disgust at his own behaviour and left quickly, before anyone spotted him.

* * * * *

Frodo flipped through Bilbo's book. The maps, drawings, and sketches were beautiful; their painstaking detail made them all the more life-like.

He turned another page and found a map of the Shire. His beloved Shire. "I miss home." He mused aloud, running his finger over the think black line that marked the Brandywine. "But it's nice to know that it's waiting for me. Safe and perfect."

Bilbo smiled sadly at him. "Keep that hope with you, lad."

"I wonder what it would be like to not know who you are or where you came from." Frodo's thoughts of home brought to night the she-elf he and his companions had met earlier.

Bilbo looked at his adopted heir curiously. "What makes you ask that?"

Frodo shrugged. "There's a young she-elf who was in the Houses of Healing the same time I was. The four of us - Merry, Pippin, Sam, and myself - visited her this morning."

"What does that have to do with anything?" The old Hobbit was rather confused.

"She's lost her memory, Bilbo; doesn't remember anything, not even her name."

Bilbo sat down on the low, stone bench with a heavy sigh. "Frodo, there are some things in life that we have no control over. You remember that, my lad." The elderly Hobbit could tell how much this strange elf's situation was bothering Frodo. "There isn't always a reason for everything that happens, but, if there is, it will come at the proper time."

Frodo nodded as he closed the book. He stared at the leather, embossed cover without really seeing it. He had thought about his own situation many times. He hadn't lost his memory, but he felt like he had lost his life. "I wish I could forget for a while. It would make things so much more simple."

"Simple maybe, but the problems would still be there later. Things don't just disappear."

"I just wish they would sometimes." Frodo was feeling depressed and sorry for himself and he knew it.

"Listen, lad, there's not use in you going around like this here. You should enjoy yourself for the time being. Nothing can harm you here." Bilbo patted him on the shoulder. "There's to be a feast tomorrow night; you can introduce me to your lady-elf friend."

* * * * *

Athrun remained frozen outside the door, not caring that he was eavesdropping on a supposedly private conversation. "So she remembers nothing? Then I suppose we won't be finding out what she was doing in the river any time soon." He heard footsteps approach the curtain, and suddenly he realized that he shouldn't be there. With one quick move, he stepped back behind a curtain, waiting until the footsteps had passed.

He realized how ridiculous all this hiding and spying about would appear. After all, he lived here; she didn't. He stepped back out from behind the curtain and started down the hall, not even pausing at the she-elf's door. Now was definitely not the time to be bothering the woman. What had even compelled him to come see her in the first place?! He shook his head in disgust at his own behaviour and left quickly, before anyone spotted him.

* * * * * THE NEXT DAY * * * * *

Mornië slept peacefully through the night. The morning sun peaking through the eastern window woke her much more gently than the Hobbits had the day before. Sitting up slowly, favouring her recently healed and still bruised ribs, the she-elf slowly climbed out of bed. Ariel had made her rest all day the day before. Today, she would have none of it.
There was a tall, wooden clothes chest in the corner. Not knowing what else to do, she padded silently across the floor toward it. Opening it slightly, her gaze was met with silk and lace dresses. Mornië wrinkled her nose. She opened both doors and began digging through the miscellaneous articles of clothing until she found what she was looking for. A pair of black trousers, a cream-coloured blouse, and a sky-blue, sleeveless tunic that reached down to her upper thighs.

She decided to let her hair hang loose before wandering out the door into the hall. There was no one else about that she could see. Shrugging, she wandered out onto a terrace and down the stairs. Birds sang and twittered in the trees as she followed the paved path under their branches, humming a nameless tune. Mornië soon found herself in a garden with a fountain in the centre. The fountain had a stone deer with its head bent as if drinking from the water in the basin at it's feet. It was a calming and peaceful place that she would have to remember for later days.

Mornië walked towards the fountain slowly, enjoying the quiet peacefulness of the garden, only broken by an occasional bird and the splashing of the water. She failed to notice, until she was nearly to the fountain, that she was not the only one enjoying the solitude of the garden. Ahead of her, leaning in the shade of a tree, was an elf. She noted the dark hair that fell around his sharply chiselled face, and the definition of his tense arms that remained crossed over his chest. His face was serious and brooding, and it appeared that he didn't want to be disturbed. Slowly, Mornië started to retrace her steps down the path, when a deep voice startled her.

You don't have to go." The elf didn't move from his positing except to look up. "What's your name?"

Mornië regarded him silently before answering. "I don't know my real name. For now, Mornië suffices until i remember."

The elf just nodded, considering her with cold, blue-grey eyes. "You can call me Athrun," he said simply, moving from his spot under the tree and moving towards her. "I was beginning to wonder when you would make it out of that room," he commented dryly.

"How did you even know I was here." She was slightly shocked. "Unless, the Hobbits told you. Or Lord Elrond."

"No, and not likely," Athrun responded to her two guesses, "I'm just a warrior and a scout. Lord Elrond has better people to be talking to of late, such as wizards and prince's. As for the Hobbits, I knew about you long before they did."

Mornië thought she saw a sparkle of amusement in his eye, though his face didn't change. "Then how?"

Athrun shrugged, deciding not to tell her that it was him who had pulled her from the river. It wasn't relevant. "Rumours fly fast," he said brushing off her questions.

"Rumours? Now I'm not very sure I want to know." Mornië knew he was lieing. "If you'll excuse me."

"Where do you intend to go?" Athrun asked, not moving to follow her. Mornië shrugged; she hadn't really thought about it. She certainly didn't know her way around this place. "Let me show you around." The offer took her by surprise.

"Well," Mornië didn't really know what to say. "um..."

"Good." Athrun accepted her lack of answer as a yes. "Shall we?" He offered her his arm with a mock bow, the corners of his mouth curled up in what might have been a smile, but Mornië wasn't sure.

"What are you up to?" Mornië didn't take his arm. She just watched him.

"Is there a law against escorting a lovely young woman through a strange city?" he asked, his voice practically dripping with sarcasm. He raised an eyebrow at her in challenge. He was hoping that the "lovely young woman" remark would throw her off as it did many women.

Mornië raised one of her own eyebrows at him. "There is if you don't know the woman and she doesn't know you." She shrugged. "Besides, one of the best ways to get to know a place is to get lost in it."

"Perhaps, but Moriquendi aren't very trusted here, and you're sure to find that many of the city's citizens won't hesitate to take advantage of you," Athrun noted the puzzled look on her face. "She's either a very good actor, or she truly doesn't know what I'm talking about."

"Why does everyone automatically assume I'm a Moriquendi? I don't know what I am." Mornië could feel herself growing angry.

"Whoa, slow down!" Athrun soothed her. If looks could kill, he would have been dead. "Why so angry?"

"Because I don't even know what they are!"

Come now, you're kidding right? Everyone knows what the Moriquendi are," Athrun dug deeper.

Mornië threw up her hands. "Do I look like I'm kidding? Ariel mentioned them yesterday, but she didn't tell me what they were."

Athrun looked at her sceptically. "I find that a little hard to believe. No elf has ever completely lost their memory. Moriquendi or not."

"Even if I was one of these 'Moriquendi', why would it matter?!" Mornië was practically seething at this guy's line of questioning.

"So you don't deny that you are a Moriquendi?" Athrun could tell he was getting under her skin, but he didn't stop.

"I never said that!"

"But you never said you weren't!"

"I told you, I don't remember!"

There was an uneasy pause as Athrun's steel blue gaze clashed with Mornië's own angry eyes. "Do you?" he finally asked, accusingly.

"How dare you ask me that? You don't know anything about me, and... and... I don't either!" Mornië, much to her embarrassments, began crying; hot, angry tears.

"Athrun! You should be ashamed of yourself!!" Ariel had been standing nearby, listening for several minutes, completely shocked.

Athrun rolled his eyes and took a step back, knowing what was coming.

"You... you." Ariel was so angry she couldn't think of anything to say. "She is a guest in Imladris, and she has only recently recovered from grave injuries and here you are questioning her!!" She waved her arms around as she spoke. "And, to top that off, you made her cry!!"

Ariel... I was just..." Athrun tried to defend himself, but the older elf cut in.

"I don't want to hear it!" Athrun bowed his head meekly, knowing he would just have to endure her storm. "I can't believe you would ever do something like this!" A wicked gleam entered Ariel's eye at that moment. Mornië looked like a frightened deer ready to take to her heels at any moment. She was frozen in place, however, staring at Ariel. "How do you propose to make it up to her?"

The brooding look had returned to Athrun's face. "I have a feeling you're going to tell me," he said after a moment. Mornië was taken aback by how quickly the mask had fallen over his emotions. He was impossible to read now.

"You must escort her to the feast tonight."

Mornië groaned. "Not that! I'm not going!!"

"Oh yes you are young lady," Ariel had taken command, "I insist. And Athrun! You will be escorting her. If you try to get out of it, you can be sure I'll find something else for you to do." Athrun rolled his eyes and nodded. There was no arguing with this woman.

"You can't do that to me!" Mornië wiped her tears away. "Haven't I endured enough of him for one day?"

Ariel smiled at her kindly, and then gave Athrun a warning glare. "Don't worry dear; he'll be on his best behaviour."

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