The Maids of Mithlond: In Pursuit of Love - Chapter One
Book Three: In Pursuit of Love
Note from the Authors: It's hard to believe Book Three is here already! Considering its not even finished the story is really catching up with us. Once again, the wonderful Megami has whipped up a little (not really) synopsis of Book Two. It will be noticed that the contents of Book Three are extremely close tied to events seen in the Lord of the Rings books, and there are many places where direct text quotes were needed.((These are marked by their usual *)) Any added names used in this story are copyright of Megami & AuroraOrodel. As always, we do not ask for any criticism; simply enjoy! ((Also note that these chapters might come out at a slower rate than the others have, due to the fact that Book Three is still in the writing process.)) ~Cuio Mae!~
~Orodel & Megami~
After 77 years of peace and quiet in Rivendell, Shedheniel and Nildarien Illisel find themselves in need of a vacation.
Shedheniel visits Mirkwood again and Nildarien wanders aimlessly across the countryside, looking for Telden.
Unbeknownst to the twins, Telden visits Rivendell looking for them and is greeted by his long-lost sister Imilin.
Shedheniel arrives back home in time to see Telden, who runs off after she mentions Nildarien might visit Mithlond. He leaves Shedheniel and Imilin to tell Nildarien of his presence in Rivendell when she returns.
On her way home, Nildarien spots the Nazgûl and sets off for Rivendell at top speed.
After informing Elrond that the wraiths ride again and hearing of Telden's short stay in Imladris, Nildarien is distraught.
After a few tedious months, Shedheniel departs with Glorfindel to search for Aragorn and the hobbits.
A lone confrontation with the wraiths leaves her wounded, and Shedheniel returns to Rivendell.
She arrives home to find Imilin and Nildarien waiting impatiently for something to happen.
Legolas' arrival in Rivendell wasn't exactly what Nildarien had had in mind, and with the Prince of Mirkwood comes the old quarrel he and Nildarien had shared.
The sisters attend the Council of Elrond and learn of the terrible things happening in Middle Earth.
Meanwhile, a rumor has started about Nildarien; questioning her ability to be "faithful" to any lover she might posses.
Elrond invites the twins to join the Fellowship, but Nildarien declines and proposes that Merry and Pippin go in their stead.
Legolas, infuriated by Nildarien's refusal to let Shedheniel join the Fellowship and blinded by the rumors about her, gets into a battle with Nildarien.
Shedheniel is wounded in the process of trying to stop them, and runs off to her room, giving Legolas and Nildarien the chance to speak as adults for the first time.
Finally, Elrond sends the sisters as messengers to Lothlórien and they set out from Imladris with heavy hearts.
While crossing Caradhras, Nildarien feels a strange sense of foreboding.
She tries to communicate with the mountain twice, and receives cuts across the palms of her hands.
The sisters quickly travel to Lothlórien, where they settle down for awhile after delivering their message.
Not too long after their arrival, Nildarien takes on Caradhras with full force, saving the Fellowship and giving them a chance to get off the mountain. This drains Nildarien of all strength and renders her unconscious.
Shedheniel finds her sister and brings her back to the city.
She soon lands in trouble herself, when she has visions of the Fellowship's battles in Moria and receives their wounds.
Shedheniel wakes after a short bout of unconsciousness and travels to the borders of Lothlórien to greet the Fellowship.
Shedheniel briefs them on the story of her visions and Galadriel sends them to rest.
A finally conscious Nildarien surprises Shedheniel and the sisters discuss the recent events.
They begin to relax in their new environment, with the exception of the newly found hate that begins to boil between Boromir and Shedheniel.
Boromir and Shedheniel hold a mock battle that turns into something more when Shedheniel is stabbed in the shoulder and barely stops herself from stabbing Boromir.
Nildarien and Legolas, their relationship bordering on friendship now, voice their worried opinions about Boromir and Shedheniel's situation.
Shedheniel finally discovers that Boromir is after the ring of power and confronts him.
A fight ensues, leaving Shedheniel bruised and hurt. The Fellowship departs and, after a few words with Lady Galadriel, Shedheniel goes after them.
Once she realizes Shedheniel is gone (along with a few of her knives as well), Nildarien speaks to Queen Galadriel and follows Shedheniel on horseback.
While tailing the Fellowship, Shedheniel befriends a squirrel she calls Bandir. The Fellowship finally stops to let Frodo make the final choice of what they will do.
Shedheniel sneaks to their camp in time to help with the fighting and witness Boromir's death.
She apologizes to Boromir and promises to save Merry and Pippin.
Unbeknownst to her, Nildarien is on her trail.
And so the story continues...
Nildarien was several miles away and galloping fast to the South when it happened.
It hit her in the chest first: a terrible clenching, almost tearing feeling. It swiftly progressed to her head, and the scars on her hands had been set burning again.
How she managed to pull Alambil to a halt, she never knew, but moments later she felt a wrenching tug that pulled her whole body forward and she tumbled from his back.
Nildarien lay motionless on the ground, her breath coming in ragged gasps. Her eyes fell shut and a picture flashed in her mind: a great horn, tipped with silver, cloven in two...
Nildarien forced her eyes to open and scrambled dizzily to her feet. She heaved herself back into the saddle and urged Alambil forward at a canter. As she rode, Nildarien felt ahead for any sense of the Fellowship; it was not easily found.
They were scattered everywhere from what she could tell, and Boromir was missing entirely.
Unbidden, the image of the cloven horn came to mind, and she was struck with a sickly realization: Boromir was dead.
Once again, Nildarien searched ahead, this time for Shedheniel. She relaxed a bit when she found her sister's presence very much alive and intact, but still kicked Alambil into full gallop.
"So that's what happens to me when someone dies," she though with a shudder.
As time passed, Nildarien made regular checks ahead to see who was where and whether or not they were all right. She'd had a considerable amount of practice with this particular aspect of her power during her journey, and it had become quite simple. She could now do it with her eyes open and without completely exhausting herself, as had been the case. It had given her a sense of security to know that she could control a little more of her unusual gift, but what she had recently felt because of death had forewarned her that she did not yet know the extent of her own abilities.
* * *
Nildarien reached Parth Galen as night was falling. She tied Alambil near the riverbank and wandered though the woods, littered with orc bodies.
"I don't like the look of this," she said to Tirian. "Or the feel."
The hawk sensed her worry and pecked at her ear in reassurance.
Nildarien knelt next to one of the dead orcs and yanked out the arrow that had ended its cursed life.
"Eagle feathers," she remarked, studying the fletching. "Another fine shot by Legolas."
She threw the arrow down and continued. A moment later, she pulled a long shafted arrow out of the throat of an orc archer and again looked at the fletching.
"I recognize these feathers," she said. "They're yours, Tirian. Shedheniel was here, and not too long ago. These beasts haven't been dead for long."
Nildarien turned around and without warning a dully-painful throb pressed her brow. At first, the sight of the tree and why it brought her pain did not make sense. Then she saw the blood pooled at its foot.
Heart racing, Nildarien dropped to her knees, and almost at once the soft rustling swishing sound that was the voice of a tree filled her mind. And she understood.
"Come, she-elf," it whispered. "You shall see what I have seen."
Nildarien pulled herself forward and placed one hand on the tree trunk...
Orcs. Thousands of orcs, thundering past, leaping over their dead comrades without a care. And at the foot of the tree lay Boromir, pierced with many arrows...
Nildarien jerked her hand away with a sharp breath.
"Show me no more," she murmured.
"I understand that you do not desire to see more," the tree said in its strange, swishy voice. "Death is terrible to behold and to feel."
"You feel death as I do?"
"Yes, young one. All trees do, when our own are destroyed."
There was a moment of silence and Nildarien began to realize that she was actually talking to a tree, albeit silently, but she decided that it didn't matter.
"Why am I the way I am?" she asked. "Why can I speak to you and to the Earth and feel your pain?"
"Because," the tree answered. "The Earth Queen has given you a great gift. Embrace it, young one. Learn to understand it. And be of good spirit, for the Valar do not give blessings in great number or without purpose."
Nildarien sighed and pulled herself away from the gentle voice of the tree and began to walk slowly back to the riverbank. As she did, she heard a rustling "Farewell!" from all around her.
Alambil nickered happily when he saw Nildarien returning. She swung onto his back and a quick sweep of the land told her she needed to go Northwest.
"Find them, Tirian," she said, and the hawk spread his great wings and leapt into the sky.
Briefly, Nildarien turned to face the Eastern bank and she could just make out an elven boat hidden cunningly among the brush.
"Good luck, Frodo," she whispered and was gone in a thundering of hooves.
* * *
Only a few hours earlier, Shedheniel stood in the same spot Nildarien had spoken to the tree. In fact, she was standing behind it, waiting for Aragorn to make his important decision. Her squirrel Bandir was perched on her shoulder. She was so busy blaming herself for Boromir's death that she missed the first few things Aragorn said.
*"We will make such a chase as shall be accounted a marvel among the Three Kindreds: Elves; Dwarves; and Men. Forth the Three Hunters!"
Shedheniel smiled despite her grief.
"He's forgotten women. Forth the last hunter to make an even four," she muttered, and taking care that she was well out of sight, followed her friends.
* * *
Shedheniel first intended to pass the companions as they slept and follow the orcs through night and day, attacking them alone if need be. That plan was shattered, as Legolas showed no sign of going to sleep the second night of her chase. Or was it the third?
The visions Shedheniel saw as she cased after the threesome were terrible. Chaos and evil. Orcs. Of course, this was what Merry and Pippin were seeing, assuring her that they were alive at the moment. But for how long? Of that she could not be sure. Besides their pain and feelings, she knew nothing of their whereabouts. And to make matters worse, the dizzy spells that were a result of her lack of sleep were getting steadily worse.
When the fourth day dawned, Shedheniel was awake to greet the rising sun, as usual. She gazed out over the plain and to her dismay she couldn't see those she'd followed. With a weary sigh, she took off again on her seemingly endless run.
She hadn't been running more than five minutes when the pain in her head brought her to a halt. If this was just a headache caused by her need to rest it was the worst.
Shedheniel's head swam. She couldn't think clearly and she couldn't see straight.
Suddenly, everything was spinning and Shedheniel was spiraling into darkness. At the last moment before she lost consciousness, she remembered to cast her hood over her face.
* * *
"Uhh..." she moaned in pain. Shedheniel vaguely remembered fainting and feeling dizzy. Then she noticed she was not alone. Many horses stood in a circle around her, and upon them were many armed riders with yellow hair.
Shedheniel moaned again and struggled to her feet.
One rider urged his mount forward, his spear aimed at her neck.
"Who are you and what are you doing in this land?" he said. Shedheniel eyed him with caution. He was very tall. Even with her heeled boots on, she was four inches shorter than Legolas, and this man was far taller than that.
Seeing the weak spot in his grip, Shedheniel seized the man's spear and turned it so the blade was at his neck. She smiled and tossed it back to him.
"You have a poor grip," she said.
The tall man stared at her with wide eyes and Shedheniel was glad her hood was up.
"Who are you and what are you doing here?" he asked again.
"Why do you need to know? I am following my friends. Perhaps you have seen them."
"We may have. Tell us your name or we shall tell you naught," the tall leader replied, dismounting and drawing his sword. Taking his spear in his other hand he flipped Shedheniel's hood off and all the riders began speaking and whispering at once.
"It's a woman!" they said, along with other such things. Bandir clambered onto Shedheniel's shoulder, chittering angrily, and she distinctly heard someone say:
"It's a witch! Look! That's her familiar."
"My name is Shedheniel Illisel. I am searching for my friends. Who are you and have you any news of other wanderers in this place?" said Shedheniel, drawing her sword as well.
The tall man seemed to have regained the voice he had lost by then.
"I am Éomer, son of Éomund, the Third Marshal of Riddermark," he said. "We may have news of your companions, but first describe them."
"That is fair enough. How often do you see a trio made of the Three Kindreds? One Elf, one Dwarf, and one Man. Have you seen them?"
"We have," said Éomer. "We passed them nearly two hours ago and spoke with them. I lent them horses in return for their promise to return and aid us in battle. They were hunting orcs."
"Yes, those would be my friends. Could you tell me which way they went? I must find them."
"I could, but first I would know this: why are you following them? They made no mention of a companion they left behind, save that deceased," Éomer asked.
"They do not know I pursue them, though pursue I have. Now need presses and I must follow. Orcs captured two of my dearest friends and I vowed to save them. Would you deny a dying man's last wish?"
Éomer said something in his own language to his men and they drew off, leaving him to speak to Shedheniel alone.
"The orcs you spoke of were slain by my men during the night and no sign of your halfling friends was found. Yet, I feel you have other reasons for this chase. I will lend you a horse if you promise to aid us."
"I will aid you only as long as my comrades. I thank you and accept your kind offer."
"You remind me somewhat of my sister," the tall lord said after a moment.
"Why?" Shedheniel cocked her head.
"Because you are a warrior."
"In all my travels I have never met another lady warrior besides Nildarien. Perhaps I could speak to her sometime?" said Shedheniel.
"I think she would like that. Come now, I will see you to your horse."
Éomer then spoke to his men and they brought forward a fiery red stallion similar in appearance to Nildarien's old horse, Rahar. His name was Hárelir.
Shedheniel thanked the riders many times and, with a promise to return, she rode off in search of her love and her comrades.
* * *
The fiery Sun, glowing red, was sinking in the West and the fourth day of Nildarien's journey over Rohan would soon be at its close. She had ridden far and fast, sometimes catching brief glimpses of her quarry. But now, she saw no one, and pressed on even faster.
Quite suddenly, a warm throb pressed against her forehead. Nildarien pulled back on the reins, bringing Alambil to a halt, and looked behind her.
Not at all far away, she saw a band of yellow haired riders making straight for her. Fast.
She only just had time to pull her hood up and tuck her hair inside before she was surrounded by spears. Nildarien dismounted and they closed in around her.
"Hold off! Really, you men of Rohan are too suspicious," she said, and though she disguised her voice it did not mask the elvish lilt she always had when speaking Common.
One rider, who seemed to be the leader, leapt down from his horse and came cautiously toward Nildarien, a hand on his sword hilt.
"And we have reason to be," he said, rather gruffly. "Now state your name and business."
"My name is of no consequence," Nildarien replied. "And my business I tell to none save those I know I may trust."
"You ride in my land. You shall tell me," the man commanded.
Nildarien kept silent and concentrated. She had never done what she was about to attempt and didn't even know if it was possible. Sending her thought down through the earth, she was surprised at how easy it was. She first felt a tingling around her hands and the voice of the earth whispered in her mind what she wanted to know.
"But how do I know that I can trust you, Éomer, son of Éomund?" she asked, a grin spreading across her face.
Éomer jumped back, startled, and drew his sword. A murmur ran through the circle of riders.
"You are a stranger here, traveler. How is it you know me?" he said. He clearly suspected sorcery.
"That is my knowledge. Not yours," Nildarien replied elusively.
"Your speeches are all in riddles. Perhaps you will speak more clearly before the King."
"That will not be so, for you shall not take me to him."
"No? Then I see you must be brought by force," Éomer snarled and lunged at Nildarien.
But quicker than any could see, Nildarien had drawn her own sword from its sheath on Alambil's saddle and it met Éomer's with a strangely unisonant clang.
"I think not," she hissed and swung her blade out from beneath. Éomer quickly fell into a mind-numbingly simple (for an Elf) strike and parry rhythm, and Nildarien knew the fight was hers. He was what Telden would have called "overly precise" using definite moves and techniques. And Nildarien's skill with knives and swords was in her trickery.
Éomer made a sudden change of pattern and slashed wildly at her head, but Nildarien ducked and swept her blade under his feet. He jumped just in time and brought his sword down on Nildarien, who was still on the ground. She blocked the blow and Éomer began to force her down. Nildarien leaned back so her legs were free to move and kicked up into his wrist. This was an old trick of hers, but it worked all the same. It broke his grip and he lost his sword. In one fluid motion, Nildarien pushed herself up with both hands and her heels collided with his chest, knocking him to the ground. The force of her kick carried her to her feet, and before Éomer could move, she set the edge of her blade to his throat.
"You needn't be frightened," she said. "I'll not kill you, but you need to touch up on being unexpected. I could see your every move before it came."
Éomer gaped at her in amazement.
"What sort of warrior are you?" he gasped.
"A woman," Nildarien said, pulling down her hood and shaking her hair free. All disguise was gone from her voice, and the riders began to whisper.
"My name is Kementiriel," she continued, using the title Galadriel had given her. "I seek passage through this land and it was most ungracious of you to stop my way and then attempt to kill me before you knew I was an ally."
"That was indeed folly," Éomer said. "I will let you pass now unhindered."
Nildarien removed her sword, and, to show she truly had no murderous intent, helped him up.
"I begin to wonder how many lady warriors there are in the world," he said, picking up and sheathing his sword. "You are the second we have met today, but the first mentioned no one by the name of Kementiriel in the trade."
Nildarien started a bit and glanced sharply at the man.
"Pray tell, whom did she mention, then?" she asked.
"She said the only other she knew of was a certain Nildarien," Éomer replied. "Perhaps you know of her?"
Nildarien very near laughed at this, but instead she smiled mischievously.
"Indeed, I do," she said. "No one is closer to her than I."
"Well, then the lady Shedheniel was mistaken in her count. But you must be eager to be on your way. I shall keep you no longer."
Éomer made a signal to the riders and they parted their circle.
"I thank you, Éomer," Nildarien said, mounting her horse. "Farewell for now and be wary. The shadow of war lies on much of Middle-earth and it may yet descend on Rohan."
"Farewell!" Éomer called as Nildarien galloped away. She soon left them far behind and headed full speed for Fangorn.
* * *