The Calling - Chapter Eighteen
Elladan leaned against the balcony, staring out into the sunset's pink tinged sky, Earendil was barely visible at this hour as the young elf lord gazed south. The breeze picked up and his raven black hair tied loosely began to dance and whirl around his sombre face as if taunting him.
"Ai.." he exclaimed quietly, he had been foolish of late.
The elf took one final look and turned to re-enter the house, making his way silently to the fest hall where dinner would be served shortly. Bypassing most of the chairs he came to his customary seat, a place or two from his father's at the head of the table. The chamber was empty, silent also but for the voices and clashes of crockery coming from the adjoining kitchen.
As he waited for dinner the hall gradually filled with elves, and musical voices filled the air up until the point where the sombre elf felt like walking out, then, just like that, the voices hushed as the Lord of Imladris took his seat and dinner was served.
Elladan looked up from his food and smiled absently at his family seated around him as they began to eat, his eyes landed on his sister last of all and he had to look away. He felt ashamed that he had spiralled out of control since Tae's rejection, and even more ashamed that it had been his loving sister who had shocked him out of his ruinous behaviour.
Elladan had no explanation as to why he had acted the way he did, he certainly didn't make a habit of it and he swore to himself that he would never make such a fool of himself again. It had been a simple sentence which had shattered his stubborn resolve and he had crumbled like a dead leaf, feeling totally wretched.
'Elladan, what would mother think?'
Arwen gazed over at her elder brother and back to Elrohir, she felt slightly guilty for involving her mother in the argument they had shared the previous night as she knew how much Elladan grieved for their dearly departed Ammë, but it had done the trick to coax him out of his petulance.
She smiled at Ro', she knew the younger of the twins had perceived her discomfort and felt better when he shot her a secret smile back. The plan tonight was to get Elladan back into the fold, to create a diversion which would remind him of better times and give him cheer. She signalled back with an arch of a delicate eyebrow in the direction that Glorfindel was from her.
The balrog slayer sat next to her, unwittingly the central figure in a plot to make one of the twins smile, he continued to eat his nourishing meal whilst conversing with Erestor about the old days.
Meanwhile Elrohir had produced a small vial of powder which he was quietly showing his brother under the table. With the barest hint of a smile Elladan listened to the prank as it was outlined to him by his brother, he looked up at the mention of whose idea it was and was met by an apologetic smile on the fair face of the instigator. He smiled back, this time injecting warmth into his expression as he silently made up with his beloved sister.
Elladan had been made aware of it at just the right time also, as two mouthfuls later Lord Glorfindel was looking decidedly uneasy. The blonde put down his knife and fork and twisted around in his seat, a rare feeling assailing his frame. With a painful grimace and a string of elvish curses and even some dwarvish ones which made Lord Elrond frown, Glorfindel stood up and ran out of the room clutching his stomach.
Instantly Elrond looked to the barely contained smirk on his daughters face and followed her smiling eyes to his younger son and surprisingly Elladan also. The elder twin had been so strange of late that Elrond was nearly glad that the prank on his advisor had returned some semblance of normality to his household. He very nearly opted to ignore the fact that he was on to his children as being the cause of Glor's 'problem'.
"Whatever caused that I want it disposed of and a full apology to him. You three will join me in my study after we are finished here." he said loudly, drawing the gazes of the inhabitants of Rivendell who also sat down to dinner that night.
The innocent looks of his children nearly knocked his calm angry façade into laughter but he held his expression, no matter how he wished to burst into a smile. The Lord of Imladris sighed inwardly. Finally things where returning to normal.
"I wondered where you were hiding."
"Now you've found me, what's up?" he asked rather despondently
"Nothings up, I've jut finished my lesson and I thought I'd come and find my favourite marchwarden." Tae admitted.
"What did you learn today?" asked the marchwarden forcing a smile.
"Oh, just perfected my mind reading technique and practised some combustion spells."
"No living things harmed?"
"Not at all fortunately, though Lord Celeborn did walk past as I was invoking a particularly nasty fireball. He nearly lost his eyebrows!" she laughed.
Haldir chuckled though he noted his mirth did not meet his eyes and he picked up the object he had set down when Tae had approached, he produced a knife from a fold in his tunic and resumed his task of whittling down the small block of wood he held in his hand. The wood was quite pale and nondescript but for the one side where the elf was working on most laboriously; from out of the plain wood an eagles head and shoulders was emerging.
"You didn't tell me you were an artist, that's amazing."
"I was doing this the day of the gathering after you had been running away from Legolas and Elladan's little archery tournament."
"Ahh, I remember now." affirmed Tae with a grimace as she remembered the events of that day.
"Do you want to give it a go?"
At this Haldir produced another block of wood that hadn't been worked on as yet, he passed it over to Tae with a smaller knife that he drew from a slender boot.
"What do you want me to sculpt?"
"I don't know....something from home? Something that would make you feel happy if you saw it?"
Haldir's faint frown and despondent nature had Tae rocking back on her heels inwardly, she had never seen the elf in this sort of mood and she wondered how she could broach the subject or if it would be better to ignore it.
"I'm not sure Id like to see anything from my world, at least nothing that would make a good carving" she said, thinking of Big Mac's and Jacuzzis.
Turning the wood over in her hands Tae noticed a faint silvery sheen that encompassed the material; like water maybe. With an art student's eye she gauged the size of the block to see if her chosen subject would fit, took up the proffered knife and began setting out a basic shape into the wood.
Haldir set back to his work and didn't look up again for about twenty minutes when his knife hand began to tire; he looked over to his companion, bent over her knees with tongue between teeth in concentration. He smiled at this but then frowned again; did the young half elf know what her path held?
This morning he had spent time in counsel with the Lord and Lady of the Wood and they had not even tried to hide the fact that their meeting was purely to find out about Tae's progress here. Haldir had listened intently as Celeborn told of Tae's former life, that of her mother's and the troubles that where ahead for her.
Haldir wasn't a cynical elf, but he understood how much hope Tae had of achieving her goal AND keeping her life. This was what troubled him now as he gazed at the fun loving girl, if what Galadriel had said was true then Tae didn't know much about her 'mission'. Haldir feverently hoped that her friends would be by her side when she finally found out. He had voiced his concerns to his Lord and advised him and his wife to reveal the tale as soon as possible, but he knew also why they hesitated; it would push her further from them.
He shook himself from his recollections and looked to what the half elf sculpted and smiled. Tae looked up upon sensing his gaze and held out her hands in triumph, a rough likeness of Onyx lay in her palms.
"You should leave that here to keep Voronwer company, she has become quite attached to your stallion of late, and maybe you will have to return someday so Onyx can meet his legacy."
"I hope I do return soon, not just for that voracious horse of mine. I swear, I went down to see him first thing this morning and he just ignored me preferring to snuggle up to your brother's mare."
"I think she's leading him on."
Tae laughed at the thought of Voronwer leading Onyx on.
Galadriel turned from her husband to gaze at the forest floor below, her elven eyes easily identified Haldir and his young charge lazing about at the foot of a mallorn.
"We have to tell her."
"I know Cel', I just hope she is ready."
"I have informed Peredhil, though his is displeased at our decision."
"As you would expect, I fear he would try and protect her from the lot of it if he had the choice."
"Aye, he is fond of her....as we all are. He wanted to tell her himself, he thought she might take it better coming from somebody she was closer to."
"I doubt 'who' she learns of her mother's fate from will make much difference in the end. It doesn't change the fact that Palermo was seduced by the dark powers and nearly killed us all."
"Ai!" exclaimed the regal elf, signalling for his beautiful wife to come closer for a comforting embrace that for once would not ease their troubled minds.
"You're going to hurt yourself doing that."
"Nonsense Haldir, you know, for a moment there I thought you were an exciting young elf, full of life and adventure." she teased from on top of a high rock.
From her high vantage point she saw the raised eyebrow of the blonde elf then she jumped to the next rock as he came up to her level. The pair then set off along the boulder strewn trail leaping from stone to stone careful not to touch the ground.
"Last one to the stables has to..err..put their hand in horse poo!" she giggled pouncing on the next rock
"What do I get for being first?" replied Haldir drawing level with her on a higher rock to her left.
"Ha! You have to beat me first old man."
"Huh, a man couldn't do this." with his reply the marchwarden leapt up into the air, turning a complete circle and landing steadily on a stone further ahead.
Tae just stood there gob smacked until she realised that Haldir was getting further and further away from her, she bit back the insulting comment she was brewing and sprinted off.
As he reached the last jump Haldir hesitated, gauging the fair distance he would have to jump. This was his downfall.
As Tae reached the elf she kept running, her feet hit the rock he was standing on and she soared up into the air and glided over to the next rock with a very big smile on her face. She stepped off the rock as Haldir made the jump and stood on the stone grinning.
"Cheat." he scowled.
"What? Moi? Cheat? Surely you are mistaken friend elf, how could I have cheated?"
"You weren't supposed to use levitation to get across the gap."
"Who says I did?"
"Give over foul magicker, don't think I haven't noticed that everytime you invoke your powers your whole eyeballs become black as Onyx's coat."
"Well, I give you one thing Haldirolorien, you aren't as unobservant as your brother." she laughed and dropped into a bow.
"Shall we?" asked the elf, linking arms with her and crossing the closely cropped grass to where Onyx was standing munching on a bale of hay which way tied to the wall of the stables.
"Yo Onyx!" Tae greeted, walking over and patting her horse on the back.
The horse just snorted and carried on chewing his food.
"See what I mean? All he thinks about is sex and food. There's bloody men for you!"
"Ai, we elves are not all like that!" defended Orophin coming out from an adjacent stable where the fain Voronwer stood flickering her eyelashes.
Tae didn't bother replying, she just shot the elf a look which spoke volumes. Which she then regretted when she remembered their last parting when he had kissed her, she gave an embarrassed smile then and just put her head down.
Sharp as ever Haldir noticed the exchange and frowned to himself, he wondered if there was anything going on between the two and he feverently hoped there wasn't. However, if anyone, he thought, it would be his younger brother making all the moves.
He would just have to talk to Orophin and persuade him not to go after her, of course he already know of his brother's affection towards her but he didn't know Tae knew.
Haldir was well aware which elf solely owned her heart.
"Tae, I am glad I found you." called the warrior elf from across the paddock where the half elf was jumping Onyx with the supervision of the marchwarden and his brother.
"Hey Seline, how's tricks?"
"Good and you?"
"I'm fine, were you looking for me?"
"Ah yes, the Lord and Lady have sent for you. They wish to see you in their talan as soon as possible."
Haldir flinched and made as if to follow Tae from the practise ground but Seline stopped him with a look which told him Tae would do this alone. He waved goodbye to Tae as she left, promising to sort Onyx out and storing the smile she gave him. It would prove a wise move, as not often afterwards would Tae freely smile without warrant.
"What do they wish to see her for brother?" asked Orophin patiently; noting the anxious look his brother gave Tae's retreating form.
"They are to tell her the fate of her mother."
Elrond paced the room, thinking, wondering how Tae might take the news of her mothers' apparent defection to the dark side. He hoped that someday she might forgive him for hiding this from her after how they had bonded.
He thought back to the night they had sat in the hall of fire together, him playing with her curls and Tae staring dreamily at the elvish minstrels. He wondered if she would ever trust any of them again.
"Maybe I should talk to her."
"I think it's a bit late my friend" answered Glorfindel from a chair at the side of the chamber.
"I have to do something Glor."
"I know, just give her some time, Celeborn probably hasn't even told her yet."
If you never say goodbye
To the best things in your life
There are things you don't appreciate at all
So its best that
You don't try
Holding back the time
Are you ever gonna be
Postcard from heaven
Go to where you belong
You'll never find the perfect situation
Till you know where you're from
If you ever say goodbye
No regrets I wont ask why
And I wish you
All the best love in the world
Should you ever change your mind
Wont bring back the sunshine
Are you ever gonna be quite satisfied
Lighthouse Family ~ Postcard From Heaven
It was late by the time she returned to her familiar chamber, even in darkness she could see by the perpetual light which was eerily exuded from the mallorn trees. Red rimmed eyes and clenching jaw Tae sat down on her bed, her conversation with the Lord and Lady of the Wood replaying over and over in her head.
'You need to know a few things before the final stages of your training here are complete. Talen has nothing but praise for your progress..'
Even as Celeborn said that Tae had noticed a strange suggestion of a frown on Galadriels fair face, she was certain what she was about to hear was not going to be good.
'....she thought to use her powers for good...he seduced her...used her..she very nearly perished' she had said, all the while staring down at her with that sympathetic frown which one uses to pity people.
Tae didn't want pity.
There was a knock at the door.
"Tae, Its Haldir, please let me in."
She wanted to be alone.
'She wont come out Elrond, we've all tried. Save knocking the door down I don't know how to get in there. She wont even answer when we call her.'
'This is not good, I will try and speak to her as we do. I will contact you again if she opens up to me.'
Tae lay half in and half out of her tear stained covers staring at the ceiling, her eyes were unfocused and her head was throbbing with pain. She was turning things over and over in her mind with regards to her mother and she could come to no conclusion which would explain her mother's actions.
She just wanted to find something which would defend her mother from the accusations of the elves but she knew in her heart that Galadriel and Celeborn would not lie to her.
How could she betray the elves to this Serbitar guy, how could she risk the lives of her kin on the false promises of a creature of pure evil. How her mother was so easily persuaded. How could she be so power hungry.
The pain in her head suddenly cleared and she heard a clear voice calling her voice through the jumbled voices of her swirling thoughts. Knowing this to be the sign that somebody wished to 'converse' with her she slipped tentatively into a trance like state where she could talk freely with the familiar sounding voice.
'How are you feeling my child?' the anxious tone was not absent from their communion, Elrond visibly sagged back in Rivendell when Tae accepted him into her mind.
'What does it matter?' she thought distractedly, pretending abysmally that the whole episode hadn't affected her much.
'Of course it matters, I....we all care an awful lot about you Tae, no matter how short the time we have been acquainted may be. I know what you have just found out. I wish it was me that had told you.'
Elrond was flustered by Tae's blunt question.
'...I don't really know. I thought you might take it better from me.'
'You know of what I speak Tae.'
'What, that I'm upset because I've just found out who my mother really was? That I grew up with a complete lie as a parent!I get deposited here in this world like I'm some special reject and if that hasn't turned my life upside down enough I next learn that I have the blood of an imaginary being!'
Taes voice was becoming more and more strained and high pitched.
'That my mother WAS an imaginary being and now I live in a land of imaginary beings! Excuse me for getting slightly unhinged at times.'
'You cannot hide from me that you are hurting, confused and angry! Just open up to me, or somebody else...please Tae!I know how you must feel' pleaded Elrond.
'How could you possibly know how I feel, you don't even know me." she hissed.
'I know more than you think.' answered Elrond quietly
'Oh right, did your mother have a thirst for power which saw her leave her people to die whilst she cavorted around with a dark lord? Did your mother betray and nearly destroy your world for her gain and then feel so guilty she transported herself to a different land to set up another life? Was the mother you knew a completely different person, was she loving, selfless, caring and thoughtful?'
'No, but I knew your mother, and she was a good person. Just misguided.'
'Misguided? Elrond you think the glass is half full don't you! I know now who my mother is and I'm glad I was told, that's the end of it. I don't wish to talk about it anymore.'
With that Tae severed the mind link and threw her pillow across the room in frustration, a set of fresh tears pouring out onto her already soaked face.
"Someday you will Tae Epsom, some day." replied the Lord of Imladris out loud as the link was cut. He turned to the window and looked out and up to the stars as they twinkled in the velvety sky; wafts of song reaching him on the night air from the hall of fire.
Glorfindel did not have to ask his friend what was said, he had seen the changes in posture all the way through his silent conversation and Elronds eyes shone with a sombre light which told the balrog slayer the outcome of their talk.
With a heavy heart the blonde excused himself and left Elrond alone, leaving the elf lord to himself.
Once out in the corridor the melancholy elf made for the kitchens, staying with Elrond had caused him to miss supper and he was loathe to go to bed on an empty stomach no matter what mood he was in.
It was a cruel fate for Tae to find out in such a way, he thought, but then again, what comfort could any one of them give somebody they didn't really know much about. Glor couldn't think of any way which would have given a better outcome whilst filling Tae in on the parts of her family history she knew naught about.
It was such thoughts of family which lead him down the oft travelled road to Gondolin and thoughts of his own family. Glorfindel had not seen his family for ages, since the fall of his fair country and his battle with the balrog, he knew he would see a few of them when at last he made the trip to Valinor, but his grief was not lessened by the time that had lapsed.
If anything, living with his adopted family of Elrond and his children made him think more regularly of how things might have been if only things had played out differently. Maybe he would have had children of his own by now, not to mention a loving wife to keep him warm on the lonely nights which came all to frequently these days.
Turning a corner into the kitchens he heard at once the familiar voices of the twins and their sister, no doubt up to mischief again. The thought softened his mood somewhat but it was still evident that he was troubled to any who saw him.
"Glor, what a pleasant surprise....err....we were just fixing some supper if you fancy it."
"Sure, I'm famished."
"Are you alright Glorfindel?" asked Elrohir, conscious that his friend and mentor seemed uneasy.
"Aye 'Ro I will be."
"Where have you and father been all evening, Erestor was looking for you earlier." asked Arwen handing him a plateful of bread, cheese and meat.
Glorfindel thanked the Evenstar for the food and paused, unsure how or even if he should tell them what was going on in Lothlórien. He decided to tell them, remembering how everything else that had been kept from them in their lives was usually bribed out of someone.
The next day saw Haldir and his brothers making pancakes in the hope to be admitted into Tae's room. Without as much mess as last time they took their bribe up the flights of stairs to her quarters and shoved a few pancakes under the door to entice her. They were blatantly ignored and their plan failed miserably, Tae just didn't answer their calls whatsoever. Rumil and Haldir soon left knowing that they waited in vain but Orophin lingered.
He got tired of being disregarded eventually and gave up on her, he had toyed with the idea of breaking through the door or climbing through the window but he guessed that either wouldn't be appreciated. Sometimes isolation was the only thing to give you comfort and appease a troubled heart. He hoped for Tae it would not last forever.