The Calling - Chapter Sixteen
Dressing quickly after a wash in a water filled basin that had been set out the night before (Haldir had warned her not to expose herself and go searching for waterfalls in the middle of the leafy city as the Lorien elves where not as relaxed as their valley dwelling neighbours), she bounced down the steps, winding her way down the trunk of the humongous tree to the spongy, grass covered ground below.
Noticing nobody was around Tae swiftly strolled to the designated meeting place and sat down next to the shimmering fountain to wait for her mysterious teacher. It did not take long for the elf to make his appearance, dressed in a shimmering cloak of many colours over a black silk robe he looked exactly unlike any elf Tae had seen before. His long pearly blonde hair was tied up high on his head and his nimble fingers where adorned with variously sized gem studded ring, the elf practically jingled as he walked towards her- a grim smile set upon his fair features.
"Good morning my lady, we meet at last. My name is Talen and I shall be helping you realise the talents that your mother has bequeathed to you."
"Gal--I mean Lady Galadriel told me that my mother was a mage, you knew her as Palermo, when she was in my life she was known as Helen." replied Tae as she stood to greet him.
"That is a good name, I can see elements of her beauty in you as I take in your sight---no wonder Elrond's son has fallen for you so completely."
Tae said nothing in response to the elf's statement, not wanting to get into any more debates over her and Elladan's relationship. Last night Orophin had inadvertently began a conversation about the Lord of Imladris' older son and pretty soon after that, half of the elves gathered there where enquiring about their 'non-existent' relationship. After much blushing and some help from Haldir who could see that his friend had no wish to talk about Elladan, Tae had managed to change the subject to what there was to do around Lothlórien.
Talen smiled as he saw the half elf shift awkwardly under his scrutiny and beckoned for her to follow him to a secret glade he commonly used for his experiments and training. Walking along, Talen apologised for prying into Tae's social life and the two struck up a healthy conversation about life in general and how the mage usually passed his time when there was nobody for him to train.
The train of discourse soon reached the subject of Tae's visions though and she explained all that had happened to her since her arrival. Talen noticed that she missed out few details about coughing up blood that Elrond had told him about but the elf held his tongue, surprised that she was telling him even this much.
He studied her face as she talked about her visions, gauging the effect that the disturbing sights where having on her mentality, as she paused to wave to the marchwarden and his brothers as they hung around the areas kitchens, he concluded that she was hiding the majority of her grievances; a technique that she had no doubt inherited from her secretive mother.
After a while they reached their destination, and Talen pulled out a chair for Tae to sit on and sat on another across from her. Tae gazed around the spacious glade, shielded from prying eyes by a curtain of willow branches it was not far from a body of water she could hear babbling nearby. Arranged around the 'walls' of overhanging willow there stood variously sized tables and cupboards, on which sat different coloured vials and numerous jars of foreign objects.
Tae's gaze was immediately drawn back to her companion when she heard a loud scratch and a steady intake of breath.
"Elrond told me elves don't smoke."
"This one does my dear, dreadful habit, though perfect to help one relax after a hard days toil. That *** Mithrandir got me hooked and I've been puffing ever since."
Tae chuckled to herself as she imagined Gandalf teaching this elf to smoke; she wondered if she would ever get the chance to meet the legendary grey pilgrim.
"Let's get down to business then my lady, what is the first rule of magic learning?"
"Wrong. It's make sure you are sitting comfortably." said the elf with a crooked grin. He went on to try and position himself on his chair more suitably, but ended up shoving the chair under a nearby desk and flopping down on the floor.
The tall elf walked lightly through the gardens, pausing to sniff the fragrance of a nearby rose that had recently begun to embrace the world with its pale orange petals. He was feeling happy, the group he had been training lately had just performed spectacularly in front of an emissary from Mirkwood and Asfaloth had just become a father to a most promising young foal. Life was good.
Turning as he made his way up the tiers of the gardens he heard raised voices and looked towards their source to see two elves having a heated debate about something or other. The balrog slayer immediately recognized one of the elves as Elladan but could not make out the identity of the second. Inching closer the inquisitive blond gasped as realisation hit him, his good mood quickly disappearing.
'So the rumours are true'
"So you would love a half-blood before me, is that what you are saying?"
"Do not forget that my father is a 'half-blood' Matarese, if you think so little of half elves you should really take it up with him!"
"Don't play games with me Elladan, you know what I mean, you would ride a mule instead of the prize mare!"
"Do you have to put it so coarsely? Besides, you and I both know that the other night was naught but a passing fancy. Its not like you have not already 'passed' half the elves around here!" cried the male, sharply grabbing the smaller elf by the arms and shouting directly into her face.
"How dare you!" she screeched pulling out of his rough grasp "You did not seem to mind when you invited me into your bed, in fact you seemed to quite enjoy it if I remember correctly!"
"Me invite you? You surely jest Matarese, you practically begged me to let you in!"
"Aye and it didn't take long----just wait till that tanned half-blood of yours comes back here, I'm sure she will be interested in what her precious Elladan has been up to in her absence!"
"Do it, I am sure she would not care." replied Elladan grumpily, he backed away from the dangerous she-elf and sat down noisily on a nearby rock.
"Don't be so sure of her feelings Elladan, everyone knows that she returns your love--just not openly. You should have seen how upset she was when you didn't show up to bid her goodbye!"
"Seriously----though I have no idea why the girl has fell for one so mixed up. I don't know why you would bother with her when you know you and I get on so well---" whispered Matarese walking over to the other elf and wrapping her arms around his powerful shoulders.
Elladan responded with a glare which told the female that she had pushed him too far, she let go of him and turned on her heel; strolling unhurriedly back to the Homely House to find some other male she could take advantage of, shooting one last poison barb as farewell.
"Ah well, I suppose she has moved on to bigger and better elves down in the Golden Wood---you are probably just a forgotten dream to her now."
Elladan frowned and cast his strong eyes down to the ground in frustration. He had gone to Matarese hoping that she would agree not to mention a word of their relationship to anyone and their conversation had turned into a shouting match. No, he was not sure that the spurned female would not directly seek out Tae and inform her of his infidelities.
Even though the two were not and had never been together, Elladan was sure that Tae would be discouraged of considering him as more than a friend if she found out.
His brother was right; Matarese was one total she-elf.
The dark haired warrior stood up and let out an angry sigh, if only he had not been feeling down that night, if only he had not gone back to his room so early, if only he had locked the door, if only he had not caved so easily, if only Tae loved him. If only.
"Want to talk about it?"
"Not particularly, besides, haven't you heard the rumours?"
"Well yes, and you have just confirmed them for me. I asked you once if you loved Tae and you said you wanted to be by her side forever. If you still love her you must act like it." the usually warm, friendly tone of the balrog slayer had somewhat diminished as he criticised the younger elf.
"Do you think sleeping around with others whilst she is halfway across the land will show her that you are worth loving? Tae is having an extremely hard time from what little I have learnt from your father, I imagine one of the few things that could keep her sane is knowing that a friend like you is there for her. But no, you had to blank her on the day that she left and now she probably thinks that you hate her. Whether she loves you or not it matters little, she could do with a friend----"
"What do you mean having a hard time, what have you heard?"
"--I should not have said anything" whispered the blond male
"What happened Glor? Tell me!"
"Very well. She has experienced more fits, collapsing and the like, your father is worried about her as you could well imagine. We all are."
"Why was I not told, again?! Does my father not think her welfare of consequence to me? For Eru's sake Glor' I love her, I couldn't bear anything happening to her!"
"I am sure nothing will 'Dan, your Grandparents are taking good care of her, I'm sorry nobody told you." assured Glorfindel, putting an arm around his shoulders comfortingly, at least he now knew that 'Dan wasn't trying to get around all the elf maidens of Imladris again and was generally confused over his love for the newest addition to their 'family'.
"What is the cause of all of it, why is it happening to her?"
"It may be that she is just plain sick----it may be---" began the older elf lord
"---that someone is doing it to her." finished Elladan. He looked up onto Glorfindels eyes which mirrored his similar worried ones.
Standing up off the rock that had been his comfortable perch, he thanked his friend for the information and set of to find somewhere more peaceful where his wrath and feelings of utter helplessness could not be witnessed.
"I had to tell him Peredhil, I feared that your son would only become angrier if he found out any later. You know as well as I do that Elladan has fallen for her, though I have noticed you have done your level best to prevent it. You can't stand in the way of love. Maybe you need to talk to your father-in-law, surely he could counsel you upon it; after all, he went through the same thing when you and Celebrian courted."
"I know what I have to do Glor!" snapped the Lord of Imladris, his nerves shot with worry about his young charge.
Glorfindel raised a dark eyebrow, nearly meeting the crown of his golden head; he knew his friend was worried about Tae, now he knew the extent of his concern. There was obviously more to what was happening in Lothlórien than Elrond had cared to discuss earlier.
Elrond's vexation calmed as he saw the expression on his life long friends features, he had no right to snap at him thus, no matter what was happening.
"Forgive me my friend." he said quietly.
"Of course, now are you going to tell me what else has happened to Tae?"
"Galadriel and the others seem to think that Serbitar has already gotten to her------"
"The petty elves think that I have a hand in it all, how surprised they will be to discover that the human part of Lady Epsom will kill her. It will only take a few months and I will be rid of her without having to lift a finger, although it may be a little boring taking the blood which will alleviate me to godlike status from a disintegrating corpse."
"We could always level the balance again sire---tell them how to save her so we can have the pleasure of executing her ourselves in the future."
"As satisfying as that sounds, I doubt Elrond will listen to me on how to save his precious Tae. They are more likely to slay her themselves than take my advice."
"Would you take your own advice if put in that position Lord Serbitar?"
The taller figure chuckled, waved his hands once and the image in the palantir was gone.
Tae sat down to lunch at a long low wooden table at which sat all the elves she had spoken to last night, plus a few others she had not met. The elves of the Golden Wood did not usually have dinner as a large group, but as many smaller groups dotted around the realm. Haldir had made Tae promise to join him and his brothers so she could tell them all what she had learnt from Talen and now she sat between him and Rumil, while a male elf known as Faráel dealt out the soup and rolls that would be their simple meal.
"So what did you do?" asked Rumil eagerly, his glistening eyes focused on the sole object of his attention.
"I had a good laugh, Talen taught me how to move objects with my mind, he tried to get me to levitate myself but I ended up in a heap on the floor so I'm not to fussed about trying that one again."
"So you're feeling better again after the drama of the first few days?"
"I'm absolutely fine, I probably just had a lil' fever is all." Inwardly, Tae was annoyed at the way everyone seemed to be asking how she was. She was pretty certain that she had had her fill of visions etc and she wanted nothing better than to carry on with life as normal, well, as normal as she could be considering she lived in a community of faeries.
"This lady is made of stronger stuff than you think brother, after all she has fought off the drunken advances of the legendary balrog slayer of Imladris, that on its own should deserve special recognition."
Haldirs light words did the trick to dissolve the tension clogging the atmosphere and everyone, Tae included, dissolved into laughter; those who where there at the time of this incident remembering the inebriated elf's drunken ramblings.
After the laughter subsided, Tae wiped the tears from her eyes and smiled warmly at the marchwarden, glad that she had found such a friend as Haldir.