SHADOW AND SILVER: The Story of Aurelin - Chapter 4
Disclaimer: All the characters and places, the entire world, besides Aurelin, Laswing, Calenloth and Belegorn, belong to JRRT.
Also the tips about archery are from a site, the address of which I seem to have lost.
All comments are most welcome! Let me know what you think!
A few days later the winter morning sun was casting it's bright beams into Aurelin's chamber. She had been alone all that time and none had disturbed her, giving her time to think and decide what were her further plans. Aurelin was grateful for the much needed hours of thought and solitude.
She had relented to the words and pardon in the Hall of Fire but that had been a decision as quick as her anger at being cheated. Now, having had the necessary time to cool off and ponder what had been said in the hall, she had made up her mind. Forgiveness had been in her heart then, only now it had settled in her mind as well.
Aurelin meant to go to the lord of Imladris first and then seek Laswing to start her training in weapons. She got up from her bed but even before her fingers left the soft coverlet, she heard a knock against her doorframe. Even without turning to see who was there, she was sure that she need not go and find Elrond since he seemed to have forseen her wish to come to him. She twisted around with a smile and bade him to enter.
After the greetings Elrond started, "You have been in here for enough time. I know you have made up your mind."
"Yes, I have."
"So tell me, to what path did your mind and heart council you?"
"I have decided to stay," she replied with a smile which was answered by the older Elf when he heard her words.
"I thank you for the time that you gave me. My heart had chosen the path but the mind had to catch up. You know how I am. I was immensely furious at you and Laswing. If I had acted then like my heart commanded, I'd have been half way to Mirkwood by now."
"I feared that you would do something like that."
"And rightly," she explained, "I was so disappointed and felt betrayed. Fortunately I was guided to the right path. Undoubtedly you know of what I speak since I guess he told you what passed between us. But Laswing can be very persuasive."
"I know the main points: that you were really mad at him, however, after he made you see the real motive of our actions, you understood us as well," said Elrond touching her cheek with his right hand. "I am glad to say that you have changed already, a glimmer of the old Aurelin is shining through the grey mist that has surrounded you for so long."
"I don't feel much different. Well, maybe a little." Aurelin looked down, eyes on the floor, "I ask for forgiveness for my forgetfulness of your love towards me. I said a lot of things in anger that were not true."
"So I have heard! But don't fear, there is nothing for me to forgive."
The young Elf was grateful but a bit embarrassed, "He told you about my, well my..." She stuttered and started again, "It's just that...., you know I'd never..." thinking about her hasty threat of using weapons on the misdoers.
Elrond laughed, "Oh, that. No one doubts that you wouldn't hurt a soul for any reason save self-defence. Not I, nor your friend."
"My friend...I guess he is. It's strange to name someone my friend, I haven't done that in an age. But that is exactly what he is."
"And you are lucky to have a friendship of such an Elf. Long has he been in Middle-earth and he has seen a lot."
"That is what interested me from the very beginning, "she queried, "why would he want to trouble himself with me?"
"My dear Aurelin, you underestimate yourself! You have a bright flame burning in you, like a star in a clear winter sky. Not the fierce burning light of Feanor what will sooner or later consume those around you. No, like the Sun and flowers turning their fragnant blossoms towards the light, are you. The keen interest and your passion make it easy for people to want to be in your company. Laswing is also recalling the little Elfling who he saw years ago and would like to see her again, I think."
"Oh, Eru, I hope not!" Aurelin exclaimed. "I'd be running around playing tricks on everyone - chance branches in your way and the occasional rain of leaves from high up."
"Not that playful, then," Elrond emended knowing what she had been up to most of her early years. "I guess you should go and meet Laswing. I heard that you were going to learn bow-handling from him. He should be waiting for you near the falls."
"I think you are right, my Lord. I shall make ready."
After Elrond had left Aurelin went through her closet to find something suitable to wear for the training session. She found soft silvery grey boots, green trousers, a blue long-sleeved silk shirt, a green and brown jerkin and her wristguards.
Clad in green, blue, brown and grey she braided some of her hair to two braids to fall down from the back of her head and two smaller ones behind her ears to get the hair out of the way.
She left her quarters, dressed like she had not been seen by anyone after the slaying of his father.
It took a little while for her to find the right place. It was cool and moist but no snow had fallen yet, the trees of Rivendell had still some leaves attached and there were of course the evergreens with their needles that made everything unlike winter.
Finally she came to an open space surrounded by pines and found the place she had sought.
Gilgaer was busy with one target, rather feeling than hearing her soft steps, he turned around.
"I was not sure whether you would come but I set up the targets anyway," he greeted Aurelin, happy to see her.
She smiled back at him,
"I was not certain myself, but here I am. Before we start I have to say something. I don't remember if I apologised to you yet, now I will. I hope you won't think me rude for the delay. I had a lot to sort out."
"No more needs to be said of what happened, you had a right to speak your mind and so did I. All has been cleared," Laswing reassured, quenching Aurelin's fears.
"The other thing I was almost sure of was that you'd glide here in one of your trailing gowns," he grinned.
"I did not awake in Cuiviénen yesterday!"
"I see you haven't," the Elf couldn't stop grinning at her serious expression. He looked her up and down.
"You have done well. Braiding you hair was wise, you wouldn't want them torn out of your head, would you? The close fitting jerkin and trousers are good as well, everything flowy is just in the way when in battle."
"Now to the weapons," Aurelin's new teacher continued, "I suppose you don't have a bow of your own. Luckily I brought two of them with me so I can give you one of them."
Aurelin couldn't believe this and said so, "I don't know how to thank you. Letting me use one of your bows is generous. What if I break it, how can I give you back a broken bow?"
"You won't give it back to me, it will be your own and you have to see how to fix it if it breaks. Although you needn't fear this, I have used this one for a long time and it hasn't broken, I doubt you have the strength to bend it until the cracking of the wood," chuckled Leafspray, "Not if you haven't some secret powers, hidden from everyone."
"This is a gift I cannot repay, ever!" was Aurelin still stunned by the offer. "I mean if you had just picked up a bow but to give your own..."
"I want to do this. I have use the second one more often anyway. This one was a gift but it is too short for me. It would be a shame to leave it to gather dust though. You have no need to be so startled and polite at my gift. Just take it and as a return gift, learn to use it so that you are able to defend yourself and don't get killed somewhere because you had too little skill. That is all I ask," told he to Aurelin becoming serious.
"I promise too keep this bow and myself well and whole."
"Alright, here are some arrows as well. I had them made for you and a quiver also. You won't have to bend that bow as much as some of the others which is good considering that you are not tall and don't have long arms. The arrows are just right for the bow. I think we should start with shooting arrows, later we can come to knives or swords. One thing at a time."
Aurelin strapped the quiver to her back and took the bow to her hand. She waited for further instructions. Laswing turned to the target. "We should start not too far from it, this is a proper distance," he said pulling Aurelin back a few steps, "Now, here, this is perfect."
He continued teaching her, "First the stance - you have to be straight, the whole body parallel and in line with the arrow, shoulders over knees, eye very focussed and looking right down the shaft. Don't try to tilt it yet." Laswing took the pose beside Aurelin and she mimicked it, "Like that?"
"Yes, straighten your shoulders. Now it's as it should be. Next the arms - brace against the tension without straining, and lock the joints but not too stiffly, the forearm that's drawing has to be aligned with the arrow-shaft." He stood behind her back and straightened her arm, "Are you with me still? Remember that to get the best result you have to draw always exactly to the same place. And close your mouth."
"What?" couldn't Aurelin contain a giggle, "I was not going to run around shooting an arrow with my mouth wide open."
Leafspray had been all seriousness before her comment and she had been surprised at his most formal pointers, she had so gotten used to his laughing mood and joking. But now the sober expression the Elf wore disappeared in a twinkling,
"I hope you won't," he laughed, "and you are not going to run around a while yet, first you have to know how to shoot a bow while standing like something that is in your bones from your birth. Then we can advance to shooting from horseback and while running. The closed mouth is important though, as funny as it may seem to you - even the littlest changes in jaw position can disguise your reference point. Lastly, the release has to be smooth, no wobbles."
Aurelin tried to follow all the pointers and instintively she got it almost right. She was not a tall Elf and when Leafspray had to align her forearm, he had to stoop to do it. Finally he was satisfied with her pose and told her to release the arrow. Aurelin did her best to hit the centre of the coloured square but missed the bulls-eye. Gilgaer was happy with her performance though, praising her,
"For the first shot ever this is amazing. You missed the centre by a hair. And the most important thing, the stance and release was perfect. Aurelin, you will be great with the bow yet!"
They practised the whole afternoon - Aurelin nocking an arrow again and again, getting ever closer to the centre. However her arms began to tire, at first she tried to hide the fact but she was not able for long. The last effort she made was prized though with hitting the bulls-eye. She beamed up at her teacher and he smiled down at her in return, one happy for her accomplishment, the other for seeing his teachings had not been in wane.
"I guess that is enough for today," he told her walking to pluck out the arrows from the target, "I can see that you are drained. Hiding your weariness is not wise, you should have told me when you wanted to stop."
"But I was doing so well, I didn't want to stop."
"Your skills won't vanish overnight but over-tiredness can cause injuries. Come now, after this heavy work we should find something to eat. Let's get your arrows and then we can go!"
The two gathered all her arrows and headed to the dining hall. Aurelin was really tired so that Laswing let her sit down on a chair and went to get the food. He returned shortly with two platters and two goblets of wine. She had put down her bow and quiver for that time and they ate in silence.
After the meal Aurelin got up and Leafspray picked up her gear. Walking side by side they came to her room where Aurelin took her bow and quiver. She looked at the Sun setting in the West, it's rays bringing out the gold in her hair, making it seem as if her hair had turned into a second Sun with coppery gold light emanating from it. But her eyes were tired and seeing that, her companion bowed and bade her good night,
"Rest now and I'll see you again tomorrow." He turned and walked in the direction of the stables.
Aurelin put her weaponry onto a chair and lay down on her bed being extremely happy to feel the soft mattress under her back. For a while she just stayed in that pose. After that she decided to slip into something more comfortable, so she put on a loose dress and went again to the bed. With her eyes open she let her thoughts stray and felt the weariness leave her.
The next days and months were about the same. Spring showed it's first signs, birds began to sing more and the trees looked as if awakening from their sleep during the colder days.
Aurelin spent most of her time with the bow and Gilgaer Laswing, ever excelling in it's use. They had tried shooting while moving and a few times with her riding on Alagos as well. Aurelin was happy and satisfied with her life, becoming more and more open. She didn't get so tired after the practise anymore, that giving her the time to be in the company of the singing Elves in the Hall of Fire, dancing and laughing. Her other favourite thing to do was to go riding on the open lands near Rivendell. Her steed appreciated the chance to run like the wind that had given him his name and so they had many a race with Laswing and his horse.
The Elf-maiden grew accustomed to having the other Elf always around her and found herself missing him when he had other errands.