Return of the King: Kyshri's Story - The quest to destroy the One Ring told through the eyes of a runaway Elf (part eight of thirteen)
[Elvish thought or telepathy]
Recap of Tale 7 . . .
I stretched my arm out and caught Aramel's wrist, her momentum swinging her around to face me. [Aramel, he is . . . different.]
[I care not!] she cried. [He is my husband! Release me at once!]
I obeyed and she disappeared into the darkness; after a moment I heard her muted sobs of relief and let out a breath that seemed to lift a great weight from my shoulders, though I was unsure what I had been burdened with.
[Kyshri, I have an extra set of clothes if you wish to bathe.]
[As much as I would love to, Rumil, I cannot. The Rin---] I blinked as a tight circle of swords, spears, and arrows were trained on me. I whirled, frightened at the sudden turn. [Wha . . . What . . .?]
[Lady Galadriel instructed us to be sure you had a few days' rest before you set out again,] Rumil explained. [She said not to threaten you, but I know that is the only way you will listen. You will stay with us for at least two days. If you cannot comply with this willingly, then we will bind you and force it upon you. Either way, you will not leave until we allow it.]
I drew back and puffed up resentfully. [. . . Fine. But I protest.]
[And if I have to stay for two days, you might as well hand over those clothes you offered as well as any soap and oils you may have that will get this stench off me and my attire.]
I gave Pikmon's cheek a pat, promising to visit with him later, and followed Rumil to his pack. [How long have you been here?]
He handed a bottle back over his shoulder to me. [Lady Galadriel sent us out almost as soon as she was able to make contact with you. So . . . roughly four weeks, I suppose.]
[Four weeks . . .? Have you heard anything about the battle at Pelennor?]
[It has been concluded and last I was aware, the armies of Men had amassed there after a few days and marched on Morannon under the command of Mithrandir and Aragorn.]
[. . . Did you . . . hear anything about . . . about Legolas?]
[Who?] Rumil asked absently, handing me several more bottles. [. . . Oh, you mean the Elf who followed you throughout Lorien and would have drooled over you had such a thing been deemed dignified behavior? I heard no word of his death and I am sure I would have if he had been slain.]
Ignoring the slight on Legolas and attributing it to the same sort of jealousy and protectiveness that Haldir had displayed, I allowed a sigh to escape me. [Thank you, Rumil.]
He straightened up and dropped a short pile of clothes over the bottles I held, smiling warmly. [What for? You know I would not lie to you.]
[Just . . . Thank you.]
I bathed and furiously scrubbed on my clothes and armor for hours. When I finally felt clean I squeezed my hair out and dressed, tossing my clothes over a few sapling branches to dry and sitting by the fire to put fresh oil on my armor to keep it from rusting.
[Glad you finally decided to join us,] Rumil greeted as I plopped down beside him. [I thought we might have to send a search party for you.] He sniffed my hair. [You still smell.]
I heaved a sigh. [I know. I doubt I will ever be able to get rid of the foulness entirely.] I took a whiff of the back of my hand and snorted. [It is even embedded in my skin. Perhaps the Dead Marshes should also be known as the Bog of Eternal Stench as a warning to any other fools like myself.]
[I will second that, if you like.]
I was given a tent and slept for, according to Rumil, three days straight with eyes closed the whole time. I was not inclined to believe him, as I had not felt tired enough that I would sleep with my eyes closed as an exhausted Elf would, but nor did I feel like arguing with him.
I scratched the side of Pikmon's neck. [Yes.]
Rumil handed me a pack. [Take this. It has a few weeks' worth of supplies--I am sure the periannath are running out of lembas by now and good clean water is likely impossible to find there.]
I slung the pack over my shoulders and kissed his cheek. [Thank you.]
He laughed. [Do not thank me! I am only the messenger!]
[Ah, but I would never have gotten the message if you had not come. Down, Pikmon, dear.] The huge owl carefully settled so it was easier for me to climb to his back. I embraced Rumil tightly. [Say hello to Orophin for me.]
[I shall.] He drew away, gripping my shoulders firmly, and gave me a shake. [Return to us.]
I nodded and leapt to Pikmon's back. He rose immediately and pushed away from the earth, taking to the sky as dusk fell, and headed south. Pikmon said that he had come in Rilloc's place, as the Eagle had been making herself invaluable help to the people of Veikai. She learned of the worldly events from passing Eagles and the gossiping inhabitants of the city and worried that I would need her aid. Yet she was far too tired to be of any use to me, so Pikmon had agreed to come in her place and aid me if I needed it.
[You are both such sweet darlings, to be willing to come to me on a thought that I might need you! Thank you so very much!]
After a few hours I directed him to fly over the mountains into Mordor. [But only fly as far in as you are comfortable with. You are unarmored and the Nazgul ride vicious beasts as big as you--I do not wish for harm to come to you. If you see the hobbits, please tell me.]
It was not until a dim dawn lit the clouds that I spotted a flash of white. I had Pikmon circle once, twice, thrice to pinpoint it and then come to a stop so that the piercing white light shone like a beacon to my eyes.
[That light, Pikmon! Descend to it!]
Taking my frantic tone fully to heart, the greater owl pulled his wings in to his sides and fell to the earth as a stone might. At the last possible instant he flared his silent wings wide and extended his legs, talons grasping at the uneven terrain just to the side of the two still forms lying there, wrapped in Lorien cloaks.
One of them struggled to rise, the powerful burst of air from the sudden halt of Pikmon's descent startling him. He reached into his pocket and grabbed for an object there, thrusting it out at me so that the same bright light that had first drawn me now glittered in the darkness. My poor owl hooted angrily and hid behind one wing, but the light did not affect me as it was apparently supposed to.
"Back, dark beast!" came a cry. "Back!"
As rude as it was to put down his bravery, I laughed in amusement. "Put the phial away, Sam! You hurt Pikmon's eyes!"
There was a pause and then a small hand cut off most of the light emanating from the crystal container. Wide, shocked hobbit eyes stared back at me, hoping and not daring to believe all at the same time. ". . . Kyshri . . .?"
I smiled and waved. "Mae govannen, Samwise son of Hamfast! And next time, do not try to use light against an Elf!"
"I'm really very sorry, Kyshri," he apologized, coming over to me as I slid from Pikmon's back. "When he landed I thought it was one of the Ringwraiths and their monsters! Very sorry," he said to Pikmon, who allowed him to pat his cheek with a soft hoot.
"Do not concern yourself," I told him. "I would rather you be able to react so quickly against a friend than not at all against a foe."
I reached up and scratched Pikmon's neck. "How are you?" I looked over at Frodo, who had yet to stir. "Not well, I suppose."
"Not really," was the reply. "That cursed Ring is driving Mister Frodo mad and weighing on him."
I bit my lip. "I feared as much. Well, we shall have to press on, then."
"Your owl can take us to Mount Doom, can't he?"
"Pikmon?" I turned to the greater owl, who hooted and puffed out his chest confidently. [Are you sure you can?] He nodded and I smiled, leaning in to kiss his feathered cheek. [You are a dear indeed, Pikmon.]
"Well maybe we'll live after all, since wings are better than feet."
I blinked. "You thought you would die?"
"We've all but run out of food, Kyshri, and there's only a mouthful of water left to drink."
I felt my mouth drop open. "Your water lasted this long?"
"No. We found some streams here."
I gagged at the thought. "Urgh! Here, drink this." I swung my pack around in front of myself and unhooked a pouch. "It is not the sweet water of my home of Lorien, but it is certainly not the cesspool of this repulsive place!"
He took a few conservative gulps and then tried to give it back. I pushed it back at him. "No, Sam. Please drink as much as you like for now. I have more. This pack is full of food and water for you and Frodo."
His eyes went wide again as he stared at my pack. "You brought it for us?"
"Well, I brought it from Rumil, who brought it from Lorien. Really, it would not have occurred to me to bring you anything but water."
". . . What do you have?"
"What do you want? I have lembas, which I am sure you are quite sick of by now, and I have jerky, which will surely last just about as long as the lembas if kept properly wrapped, and I have some fresh and dried fruits. Then, of course, I have a lot of water."
He eyed the pack, then hesitated and looked at Frodo. ". . . I think we should wake him so he can eat too."
I pulled an apple from the pack and placed it in his hand, knowing he would be reluctant to eat before Frodo. "You eat this and I will take a look at him. He is exhausted and sleep might do him better than food at this time." I set my pack by Pikmon and moved to kneel by Frodo, hearing Sam take a large bite from his apple behind me.
Placing my hand on the Ringbearer's shoulder, I bent to look at his face. It was pale and drawn--clearly stressed--and I gave him a careful, experimental shake. He woke with a start, focused on me, and gave a hurt cry, shielding his eyes. Under the impression Sam was playing with the phial again I turned, but Sam held the red apple in one hand and the pouch of water in the other, observing curiously to figure out what I had done to Frodo.
I faced the dark-haired hobbit once again, watching as he shrank away from me blindly. "Frodo?"
He recognized my voice. ". . . Kyshri!"
"You . . . You're too bright!"
I drew back and frowned. " Too . . . bright?"
"Yes! Dressed in white and shining like the sun!"
I looked down at my silver armor and green raiment beneath, obviously not white, then suddenly understood what he was seeing. The `other me' as it were--the noncorporeal manifestation of me. My soul, if you will. The Ring, consuming him as it was, must have somehow been allowing him to see me in that manner without actually putting it on.
"I am sorry, Frodo. Here." I stepped over him and crouched behind him, my forearms resting on my knees. "How about that?"
He peered out cautiously. ". . . Wh . . . Where are you?"
"Oh." He rubbed his eyes. "What are you doing here?"
"Helping you, of course. Sam? Might I ask you to bring me that pack?" He did so. "I have brought the gift of foods with me. Are you hungry or would you prefer to sleep?"
"I'm rather hungry," he said softly. "What do you have?"
"Fruit, meat, and lembas."
"You want a piece?" I handed him an apple as I had Sam and watched him consume it eagerly. "I have plenty of water as well."
I retrieved a length of jerky and munched on it thoughtfully. One bite had me aware that it was deer meat--though it should have been obvious before--and I gave a quick and silent thanks to the faceless deer for providing me with life through the sacrifice of its own.
Frodo finally noticed Pikmon. "An owl?! . . . Pikmon!"
"That's right, Mister Frodo," Sam answered. "He's agreed to fly us all the way to Mount Doom so's we won't have to walk!"
"That's great! You're a lifesaver, Kyshri!"
"Kind of you to say so, but I will not risk Pikmon's life. I love him too much to allow him to fly to his death. The first bad sign I see and Pikmon goes back to Veikai, deal?"
Unfortunately, that `deal' unraveled several hours later. Watching over Sam and Frodo--as they slept with full stomachs for the first time in only the Valar knew how long--and Pikmon as he roosted the day away on the uncomfortable earth, I was alerted to an approaching Nazgul.
A big box of digi-cookies (::: ) to whoever can find the reference to the cool 80s movie in this Tale!!