The Cry of the Gull (Chapter 15) - Rest and Sleep

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Chapter 15
Rest and Sleep


Rayn and Balved walked back toward the gazebo, each deep in their own thoughts. As they approached the door, Rayn waved Balved inside.

"I will keep watch, go and see how our friend fairs." Balved nodded and sloshed through a puddle before the opening that served as a door into the tomb. He looked at Legolas. He was staring peacefully at Aer, who caused Balved to jump back in surprise.

"Ai!" he cried in shock. Legolas laughed. Rayn appeared in the doorway and she, too, cried out in surprise.

"My little Aer," said Balved, kneeling before the great gull. He held out his hand and touched the tough beak of the bird. For a moment the young Elf sat there, stroking the graceful white feathers on the throat of the bird.

"Do not stop," Aer mumbled. Balved fell back in amazement. Rayn looked in wonder at the bird.

"What is this?" she whispered. Legolas's keen ears caught her question.

"He is Aeraew, a Maia, he is Ulmo's messenger and he has the power of speech," the prince explained.

"Yes," said Aer. "Don't be frightened of me; I am here as your protection, and your guide. Pack your things, young children, for we move tonight. I am told we must travel toward Lothlorien."

"Yes, Aer," whispered Balved, still amazed at the overpowering change that had come over Aer. "It does sound strange to the ears to say that, for who would ever respond in such a way to a gull?"

§ § §

As they packed Rayn hurriedly explained Balved's encounter to Legolas.

"He tried to take you to him, Legolas. We must beware for they want your life," she said.

"I know these things, Aeraew has told all. I will be careful." He saw that her face was pale and fearful.

"What ails you?" he asked.

"I have never been in so much danger in all the long years of my life. It was safe in Valinor, and now it is safe nowhere," she said softly. Legolas touched her shoulder comfortingly.

"We will be safe, Ulmo is on our side, remember?"

"Yes, but it matters little, since we do not know if Eru is or not," said Rayn.

They ran far that night. Aeraew flew low above them, scouting the way ahead. The dark cloud covered both horizons, and there was no way to tell when dawn had arrived. When many hours had passed, Aeraew flew down in front of them and landed. Turning to Legolas he spoke.

"There is a small village up ahead, one of the fringes of Rohan, I am guessing. We might take shelter there for an hour or so. The wind blows hard to the East, it is hard to fly, it would seem that something does not want us to come to Lothlorien," he paused, deep in thought. "Yes, I do believe we shall pause our journey there." He flapped up into the air again and called to Legolas and the others to follow him.

They had not run far when over a hill Legolas could see a small village. The Elves ran toward it. As they drew near they could all sense fear in the air. They slowed their pace and finally stopped at the edge of the town. Aer soared to earth and joined the group. What their keen eyes could see betryed no signs of life in the dark world. Legolas strode to a door and knocked. No one answered. He pushed gently on the door and it gave. Inside the shadowed building his keen eyes could pick out the huddled shapes of men, women and children.

"Who are you?" a voice called out from a group of people huddled under a staircase.

"My name is Legolas, I am an Elf of Mirkwood and I am here to help you."

"He's a servant of the Wicked One," a woman's voice cried from the figures that shrank behind a door. "A servant of the One who came to us, and destroyed our land."

Rayn stepped inside, her eyes burned like fire.

"Who is that?" the woman shrieked. Legolas glanced at Rayn, tall, beautiful, commanding in her gold mail.

"I am Rayn, a princess of the West. We are not here to hurt you. We are here to gather an army and fight this Wicked One. There is no reason to be afraid, we are three Elves and a Maia, and we are traveling towards Lothlorien, we came here for rest."

"Rest?" a small voice began. An angry "sh!" was heard and then the sound of a scuffle.

"No, Mama, they aren't bad, they need Rest." A little girl ran to Legolas and tugged on his pant leg.

"I have Rest," she said. Legolas kneeled down next to her. Her big brown eyes looked up at him in perfect friendship. He noticed she badly needed a bath.

"You do?" he asked.

"Yes, Rest and Sleep are for the Elves. Come, they want to see you." She led them out of the building and toward another. The woman that they had heard began to cry.

"Do not be afraid, we will not harm her," Rayn said. Balved and Aer walked over to the little girl, who looked at the great gull with large eyes.

"Would you like to ride on a bird?" Legolas asked her. She nodded absently. Legolas lifted her up and set her on the back of the huge gull, straddled as though she were riding a horse.

"Birdie doesn't need Rest, he flies. No Sleep, neither. Giddy'ap, Birdie! That way!" She pointed toward a low building that sat stretched between two barn-like structures. The Elves followed, puzzled by the girl's strange words.

The barn was not a great way off, and soon they reached a big door in the side of the low building. The girl dismounted and pointed to a latch just above her head.

"Help," she said simply. Legolas lifted the crossbar and shoved it out of the way of the door. The little girl pushed on it and walked in. Legolas saw that it was indeed a barn. She grabbed his hand and led him further into the building, with Rayn and Balved following close behind. Lined along the walls were stalls of various sorts. On the doors were decorated plates carved with names. "Sugar," "Scar," "Rage". The girl led them down the hall to a pair of twin stalls. Balved drew in his breath sharply, for therein stood two beautiful horses.

"See," said the girl. "Rest and Sleep, I named them myself." Legolas began to laugh. Rayn and Balved, too, smiled at the simple logic of the child. Indeed, on the doors of the twin stalls were plaques stating the names of "Rest" and "Sleep".

"They're yours. Mama says they were the King's, before he died."

"Éomer is dead?" Legolas asked. The girl nodded.

"His horses came here, to get away from the danger. My heart tells me they belong to you. Mama says to believe your heart, is that true?" She looked up expectantly at the Elves. Rayn bent down next to her.

"Of course it's true, often those feelings come from the Great One, and we have to trust Him."

Legolas looked over the horses. Both were brilliant white, Rest was smaller than Sleep, but more alert and aware of goings-on as he looked intently at the Elves, watching them with great dark eyes.

Sleep was heavier, bigger, more powerful and commanding than Rest. He, too, stared at these strange travelers with a quiet but intelligent stare. Legolas recognized them immediately to be of the Mearas, of the line of the mighty Shadowfax. He reached out his hand to Rest, who eyed him and snorted. Legolas mumbled soft words in the language of his people. Rest stood and allowed himself to be stroked.

"How long have they been here?" asked Legolas.

"For since the Mighty Ones came," said the girl in a small voice. "No one can ride them." Legolas nodded, and spoke again.

"Mighty Ones?"

"Yes, they were four in number, I saw them walk down the road, when I wasn't supposed to be looking out of the window. One was white, like he was made of clouds, then one walked behind him, she was very bright, like the Sun, but different. She was white, like the moon," the girl said, stuggling to describe the second figure.

"But there were two more?" Balved cut in, remembering his encounter with Mandos.

"Yes, one was hooded and in black, behind that one walked another hooded one, she was in grey." Balved went white at the mention of a figure in black.

"If you know she was hooded how could you tell it was a she?" Rayn asked.

"I didn't finish," she said firmly. "The grey one was sad. She looked at me and I could see her crying."

Rayn gasped. The girl looked at her, puzzled.

"When was this?" Legolas asked.

"Last week."

"Thank you, you have been a great help," Legolas said, taking the girl by the hand. "Come, the bird and I will take you back to your mother. What is your name?" he questioned curiously as they walked down the hall.

"My Mama calls me Mir, but she doesn't know about the name the Elf gave me." They stepped out into the darkness.

"What Elf?" Legolas asked, more curious about this girl than ever. He wondered how she could keep a secret from her mother and then spill it to strangers the way that she had.

"She called me princess, she said that she was a Queen. I saw her over there." She pointed, and Legolas's keen eyes could pick out a clump of trees to the East.

"She said she was on her way, and that my new name was Undomiel. She also said you'd come, and to tell you everything."

"Arwen," Legolas muttered.

"Yes, the Queen. You know her?" The girl asked as Legolas lifted her in his strong arms and put her on the back of Aeraew, who was listening intently to thier conversation.

"Yes, I do," said Legolas softly. The girl nodded and said no more. They crossed the muddy street and the girl slid down off of the Gull.

"Goodbye," she said and went into the wooden house.

"Namarie," Legolas said under his breath. As she disappeared through the doorway he had a strange thought that this would be the last that he ever saw of that little girl. He turned and ran back to the stable. Rayn met him at the door.

"Nienna, she saw Nienna, Legolas. Do you know what that means?" Rayn was frantic. Balved walked out of the stable, leading the horses.

"I don't," he said. Aer spoke.

"It means that the hour is later than I reckoned. It means that Morgoth is no longer coming." Balved looked at him quzzically.

"It means he is already here."

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