Return of the King: Kyshri's Story - The quest to destroy the One Ring told through the eyes of a runaway Elf (part eleven of thirteen)
[Elvish thought or telepathy]
Recap of Tale 10 . . .
[Kyshri, please. For once in your life, let others help you.]
I frowned, for I could not recall ever denying aid from anyone, but then I at last acquiesced. [Very well, then. Have it your way. I shall sleep.]
[Do so,] he agreed. [I will watch over you.]
I sighed and relaxed into the pillows, drifting quickly into unconsciousness.
She slept with her eyes closed, a clear sign that she was utterly exhausted. Elves would never sleep with their eyes closed except as children or when they had been through a great deal and needed much rest to recover. As he had promised, Legolas kept a constant vigil over her, monitoring her breathing and heartbeat to be sure that she had not returned to him only to slip away in death.
Aragorn did what he could for her, discovering weeks-old lash marks across her back when her tunic was removed so the sword slashes on her arms could be wrapped. Legolas saw them before he could bandage them and was positively livid for the rest of the day, though there was nothing that could now be done.
At the entreaty from both Aragorn and Legolas, Elrond visited her when he arrived in Minas Tirith with Arwen. He determined that there was nothing he could do that had not already been done, then suggested she would awaken soon and that she could tell them herself what further aid she may need.
The sun was low when I woke. I did not recognize my surroundings, but as I was in pain I resisted the urge to sit bolt upright. Instead, I eased myself up slowly and looked around the room. It was a crisp, snowy white and still very bright in the setting sun. Though that did not tell me where I was, I felt neither entrapped nor as though I was in any sort of peril.
I found a simple lavender dress lying at the foot of the bed and searched for my tunic and pants; to my clear dismay they had not been cleaned or repaired and I cursed whoever had dared force me into a gown.
So I tugged on the dress, careful not to agitate my injuries any more than I already had, and slipped from the room. After uncounted twists and turns I found myself in a large stone courtyard. There Rilloc was sitting, patiently allowing people to touch her, eyes closed in quiet repose.
[Rilloc!] I cried in dismay, running toward her. She lifted her head to me and chirped warmly, putting her beak to my face. I pushed her beak downward so that I could touch the large silver streak on her head and the other smaller streaks that so faintly outlined her eyes and beak. [Oh my darling friend, what has happened to you that you would change color so?!]
She explained that it had been a mixture of her extensive aid to the people in Veikai and her worry about me--specifically when Pikmon had returned with news of my being in Mordor and under attack by the fell beasts. The worry had grown when Telrak had appeared and informed her that he had summoned her father and her uncle to aid the armies of Men as they marched on the Black Gate of Mordor. If the Eagles were being summoned, she assumed, then things must have been going badly for the enemies of Sauron.
I kissed her beak and hugged her head tightly. [I am so sorry to have caused you such fear.]
She nudged my cheek warmly and told me she was merely glad that she had not given up on me.
[Indeed,] I laughed. [Or I might have died anyway trying to get here!]
I tried to duck beneath Rilloc's wing, but I was too late.
[Do not hide from me, Lady of Veikai!]
[Go away, Legolas! I have no wish to return to that room!]
[Is there something wrong with my room?!]
[She has been sleeping in your room?]
[. . . It is not as it sounds, Lord Celeborn---]
[Lord Celeborn?] I echoed. [Lord Celeborn!]
I all but tumbled from Rilloc's back and dashed for the doors that led inside. Lord Celeborn was there and he opened his arms, letting out a startled `oomph' as I collided with him.
[Lord Celeborn,] I murmured as I nuzzled into his collar. [You are well. I am so glad. Turkal told me Lorien had been attacked and I feared the worst . . .]
He closed his arms around me and kissed the top of my head. [You always did fret too much.] He drew away slightly. [And what is this . . .? You are actually in a gown?]
[Someone did not have my tunic and pants washed and repaired,] I replied, hissing the initial word at Legolas, who rolled his eyes.
[Give me at least a little credit, Kyshri, for knowing that you would only be more rough-and-tumble in your customary clothes.]
[Yes, but . . . but I look so . . . So dowdy with my bandages showing through the sleeves.]
[You were not supposed to leave bed for five more days as it was,] he shot back. [You would have healed more by then.]
[I do not---]
[Cease your arguing,] Lord Celeborn commanded. [I cannot believe that you still bicker so childishly at your ages. If you are going to do such silly things then you may as well marry for the right to quibble so.] He looked at me. [Your parents did that, you know.]
My mouth fell open. [They did not!]
[Are you calling me a liar?] he demanded as we started walking back inside.
[Yes, I am! I know quite well that my parents fell in love when Father taught Mother to use a sword!]
[So they did. Yet I am willing to bet a great deal that they never told you they spent their entire betrothal squabbling about the details of their marriage and where they should live after that and how many children they should have and what sort of schooling these imaginary children should have and on and on and on . . . They could agree on nothing and almost called the wedding off altogether just to stop the quarreling. However, Haldir and I knew a secret about them and, you could say, saved your life.]
I am a sucker for stories about my parents and it was extremely difficult to get the people who knew them best to tell me, so I absorbed this freely-given story and was drawn deeply into it immediately. I tugged on Lord Celeborn's sleeve like a child and prompted, [What secret? What secret?]
He leaned in slightly toward me. [Well, Haldir told your mother and I told your father that the whole mess was a test by the other to see if they could really be married without being miserable.] He shrugged. [As they were both stubborn as an untrained horse, they stuck with it.]
My mouth fell open once more. [You conned them into getting married?!]
[It was one of my more clever moments.]
[But . . . But what if they had been miserable?!]
[Haldir and I already knew Malyr's nature quite well and Galadriel was able to provide us with information on Irelia's, so the risk was not as great as you may think. Your parents loved each other very much--they both just needed a prod in the right direction.]
I sighed and shook my head. [That is not very romantic.]
He laughed. [Well then! Next time tell me that is what you wish to hear and I shall weave you a tale laden with romantic sentiment!]
I snorted and turned to Legolas. [Lord Celeborn likes to think that I am a tiny child and will believe such fairy tales.]
[Do not try to turn him upon me!] Lord Celeborn commanded from behind me, tickling my sides. I squealed very indelicately and tried to get away from him, but having had a daughter of his own and then three grandchildren, he knew how to keep hold of someone quite well. [You shall only get yourself into greater trouble, inciting such rebellion against a lord!]
[Stop pulling rank!] I wailed, still struggling.
With a twist and flick he had thrown me over his shoulder. He began walking once more. [Is that not what rank is for?]
I hissed and turned to Legolas. [You could prevent the indignity I am about to suffer.]
[I forbid it,] Lord Celeborn put in.
Legolas, trying to hide a smile from me but failing miserably, looked at me apologetically and shrugged helplessly.
I howled. [This is not fair! Males are such . . . such pollywoggles!]
Legolas tilted his head. [What is a `pollywoggle'?]
[It is a word she made up,] Lord Celeborn informed him, [so she would not curse. It has no real meaning.]
[Because I would be in for a beating in front of the entirety of Middle-earth if I did curse, even though I am far too old for such discipline.]
[As long as I am older than you,] Lord Celeborn shot back, [you will never be too old.]
I crossed my arms and scowled back down the hall. I remained quiet until a set of doors were opened and voices from within reached my ears. [Put me down!] I hissed to Lord Celeborn.
[Never!] he hissed back in a mockery of me.
Legolas simply smiled and I made a rude gesture at him that only caused him to smile more widely.
The whole room quieted suddenly--Legolas would not tell me why--and Lord Celeborn bowed slightly and announced in a very slow, dignified tone, [Everyone, she has arrived.]
I clutched at my face, mortified, and groaned, [Lord Celeborn!]
He laughed and patted the small of my back patronizingly. [It is a return for all of the suffering you have put me through! Revenge is indeed sweet . . .]
That seemed to be the end of my torture, for I was set gently on the floor--a far sight more gently than usual--and as the festivities for whatever resumed I was left with Legolas, who asked, [Might I hear at last how you came to find your way here safely?]
I eyed him. [Get me a drink and I shall.]
He smiled. [A fair trade, I suppose. Very well.]
While he was gone I stepped out onto the balcony. A party open to all in the city was just fine with me, but such small and lavish ones like this where only the most important people attended made me rather uncomfortable. So I put my face into the wind and took comfort from that.
A few moments later I heard two almost identical voices say, [Greetings.]
I turned to my left to see a pair of dark-haired Elves in the exact same deep bow and replied politely, [Well met.] The two straightened and I identified them almost instantly. [Ah, well met indeed.] I bowed to each in turn as I spoke to them. [Greetings to you both, my lord Elladan. My lord Elrohir.]
They looked over at each other and raised an inquiring eyebrow, as though collectively they could get whatever answer they wanted. Then I finally understood as Elladan said, [My lady . . . how did you manage to tell us apart? I do not believe we have ever met before.]
I smiled secretively. [I spent my youth around a set of twins--I have learned to pick distinguishing characteristics. Besides, we have met before. I could never forget our first few encounters.]
Now the twins were looking at each other in horror; they obviously had not even the faintest idea of who I was. Eventually, they turned to me with extremely apologetic expressions and informed me of this.
I laughed. [I am not surprised to hear that, for I appear very little like I used to almost three thousand years ago in Lothlorien.] They tilted their heads and looked at each other thoughtfully, then at me again. I continued. [You were visiting Lorien with your mother and sister. I was the one who rode on the backs of deer.]
Their eyes lit up instantly. [Yes, yes! You helped us to protect them when the Orcs ambushed us!]
I nodded. [And you so kindly repaid me by playing pranks and otherwise harassing me for the rest of your stay as well as killing my best buck.]
Elladan gulped and Elrohir said, [We did?]
[I do not forget the faces of those who slay my deer without permission.]
[We are most deeply sorry,] came the apology. [We did not know.]
[That is the only reason I did not skewer you in your sleep.]
[Hush, child,] came a new voice. [You perhaps guard your deer too much.]
I turned and bowed. [Lord Celeborn.]
[That will not get you out of trouble.]
[I did not expect it to. I am old enough to take responsibility for what I said. Besides, I am not the least bit sorry I said it for it was the truth. And were not you and Haldir and Father always lecturing me about honesty?]
He lifted one eyebrow. He knew that I was right--though he also knew that I knew that I was twisting the meaning of what he had said all those years ago--and did not bother to dignify my words with an answer.
[Wait a moment,] Elladan challenged, examining me. [We saw you then, but where were you on our next visit and the one after that? Are you not one of Lady Galadriel's maidens?]
I frowned and Lord Celeborn answered before I could. [She and Haldir had a disagreement and she left Lorien.]
A cruel smirk curled Elladan's lips. [You ran away.]