The Two Towers: Kyshri's Story - The quest to destroy the One Ring told through the eyes of a runaway elf (part ten of thirteen)

Recap of Tale 9 . . .

[Kyshri,] he called softly, giving her a gentle shake, not wishing to startle her. [Kyshri, wake.]

She obeyed, her eyes fluttering open slowly. She looked up at him wearily, not moving. [Is there something you need, my lord?]

[Only to be sure you are well.]

She sat up and frowned, as though believing he lied. [You did not care before. Why such sudden concern?]

He sighed and lowered his head. He hoped she was not planning on being too difficult. [I was shocked and saddened. I did not think before I spoke and I did not mean to be so cruel. Forgive me.]

Tale 10

The corner of my mouth twitched in a half smile. [You are forgiven, my lord. I am sure I would have acted in the same manner.]

He held out his hands. I took them and he pulled me to my feet, flicking leaves from my hair and clothes. [Are you cold?]

I gave a little shiver. [A bit. I have not had time to repair my clothes since the warg attacked me and as a result they are not providing me with the best insulation possible.]

He removed the outer layer of his robes and drew the longcoat around me. Already trapped, I wriggled half-hearted. [My lord, no. I am far too short to wear it; it will drag along the earth and become dirty.]

[Then it shall become dirty. Put your arms in the sleeves.] I obeyed and he drew back, giving me a once-over. He lifted his hand to his mouth, but I did not miss his smile.

[Do not make fun of me!] I cried furiously, fisting my hands and stiffening indignantly. This action hid my hands completely, of which my fingers had hardly been seen beyond the shorter edge of the sleeves.

Lord Celeborn, still resplendent in his silver-white robes, laughed. [I am very sorry, but you look so . . .] I crossed my arms. He hesitated, then coughed. [No matter. Come, you must be tired.]

I yawned and nodded slowly, slightly surprised when he placed his arm around my shoulders. I had not expected such familiarity, but welcomed it all the same. I gathered the fabric of the longcoat in my hand, keeping it at my ankles as we returned to Lorien.

We went to Haldir's house and I absently navigated the way to his room. I pulled off my boots and crawled into the bed, drawing the sheets up to my chin and shifting to lie on my shoulder. Lord Celeborn sat on the bed's edge and stroked my cheek with the backs of his fingers. The rhythmic action started to put me to sleep and I found myself drifting off, my body shutting down for rest.

~*~

He watched her body relax and her breathing even out. He remembered only then that she still wore his longcoat and considered waking her, but then thought better of it as she snuggled into the collar. It mattered little that she wore it, for he had no plans to go anywhere else that night.

She slept two hours. He was relieved; often, elves who had lost a loved one had no wish to either rest or eat for weeks. He just hoped that he could get her to eat next mealtime and wondered if Haldir had been forced to deal with that problem when her parents had died.

From his place on his friend's lounge, he looked outside just as a streak of lightning lit the sky. An extremely loud and sharp crack of thunder followed and in the next instant his arms were full of a wide-eyed Kyshri. He was not quite sure how she had gotten there, for he had not seen her move.

[. . . Kyshri?]

There was another snap of thunder and she ducked, then looked up at him sheepishly. [. . . Forgive me.]

He was too startled to worry about that. At her age, to be so frightened . . . When she had been through thousands . . . [. . . Are you afraid of storms?]

She slid from his lap to kneel on the floor. [Not really. I mean, I am, but it is not the conventional fear.]

He raised an eyebrow. [Oh?] He could not wait to hear this one.

[Did you know I was struck by lightning? When I was forty-five?]

He blinked. That was hardly what he expected to hear. [No, I had not been aware.]

She nodded. [The first bolt of the storm. I had no warning.]

[But . . . you love the rain.]

Another nod. [I do. However, for the first few minutes of a storm it frightens me a great deal. I realize how irrational it is--lightning could strike me again at any time--but that is how it turned out.]

Thunder cracked once more and she ducked against his knee, hiding her eyes in the lounge cushion. He reached down and pulled her up with him. [I am not going to have to rock you to sleep, am I?]

[No,] she assured him with a yawn, wriggling into a more comfortable position against his side. [Just . . .] And without finishing she laid her head on his chest and fell asleep once more.

He ran his fingers through her hair, keeping her asleep as the storm raged outside. Once the thunder died to gentle rumbles, he gathered her and placed her back in the bed, covering her as she had been. Then, fearing that she might wake again, he laid on the sheets beside her, attempting to sleep himself.

He did finally succeed as the rain intensified but both the lightning and thunder remained a quiet murmur.

~*~

I woke to find myself flat on my stomach, my left side pinned beneath Lord Celeborn, whose arm rested across my back. I lifted my head from where it had been tucked against his and looked out the window. The storm had apparently just stopped, for the sun shone on rain-glittery mellyrn trees.

[Up, are you?]

I looked down at him. [How long have you been awake?]

[Hours, I suppose. I have not kept count.]

[You did not have to stay.]

He sat up and pet me. [I felt better remaining.]

I stretched and yawned, then sat up as well. Healing injuries from the past days that I had ignored through lack of sleep and blatant refusal to note now flared with renewed vigor and I hissed as my body seemed to tear itself in half. I settled gingerly back to the bed and closed my eyes.

[Kyshri, are you all right?] Lord Celeborn asked, concerned.

[I am fine,] I replied. [The wounds from the warg and its rider are reminding me of their presence again, that is all.]

[Shall I send for the healer?]

[No. I will be fine in a moment. I simply did not pay them enough due to still be gentle with them and they are seeking vengeance.]

He seemed to disagree, but did not push the matter, waiting instead until I tried again to rise. Once I was on my feet, I returned his longcoat. [I did not mean to keep it so long.]

He smiled as he drew it on. [It is of no consequence.]

Outside, a sad song began. I lifted my head and looked toward the balcony and listened a bit, then bowed my head. [Forgive me, my lord, but I must excuse myself . . . to prepare.]

He nodded once, slowly. [Very well.]

I left and went to my room, trading my torn clothes for one of the few gowns I owned. It was an emerald green that faded to a lighter shade which mingled with a light shade of blue and darkened to the blue of coming night at the sleeve ends and the lower half of the gown (I did not choose black because Haldir had threatened to curse me if he happened to die and I wore it; I do not know why).

I cannot say the gown was Haldir's favorite because I did not usually wear a gown, even before I ran away--it was so I could dance easier--and if the occasion called for such attire, he made a very large and very embarrassing production out of the mere fact that I had `dressed up'. As a result, I never knew which one he favored most.

I unbraided my hair and brushed it out, bathing quickly. I opened the window and let the breeze dry my hair as I pulled the gown on. Once I felt I was ready, I stepped from my room and went for the door. To my surprise, Lord Celeborn was in the foyer (actually, he had the door open and was standing at the stairs overlooking everything), waiting for me. He noticed me in the corner of his eye and spared me a glance to show me that he was not ignoring me before refocusing on the goings-on below. However, it was only a brief moment before he turned to me again in an astonished double-take.

I paid proper respects. [My lord.]

He said nothing for a long while. When he recovered his voice, he said, [I do not recall ever seeing you in a gown before.]

[There have not been many times when I have worn one,] I answered. [I do not find them comfortable enough to dance in.]

He conceded to that with a small nod and extended his hand. I took it and allowed him to escort me to where the rites were to be performed. Rumil and Orophin were there as well as Orophin's family (at that time, he was the only one who had married). Lady Galadriel was there as well, apparently having come on her own without escort. She smiled gently at me and touched my cheek with the length of her fingers, reassuring me silently.

I stood as tall as I could during the rites, having been through this twice before here in Lorien and a dozen times or more in Veikai. However, when it came time for the final prayer to be said, all eyes turned to me. I was taken aback momentarily, but after glancing at Rumil and Orophin, neither of whom were in shape to do it themselves, I supposed that it did fall to me as his adopted daughter.

Closing my eyes and taking a breath to steel myself, I stepped forward and said the final prayer. This, also, I had done twice here and more in Veikai, but that did not make it any easier. However, after the prayer I finished it on a note that turned out to be actual annoyance. Everyone looked at me as I continued to speak past the prayer's end.

[And I truly hope you are watching all this and getting a good laugh at it, because you commanded me not to wear black or else and I obeyed and I currently look like a fool.]

A short, quickly stiffled chuckle went through the small gathering. I stepped back as the last of the rites was to be performed and, as I had every time before, I lost control there. Unbidden tears slid over my cheeks as I watched and it was then that I found the strength for a final farewell.

My voice cracking with tears, I sang:

Win dain a lotica
En vai tu ri
Si lo ta
Fin dein a loluca
En dragu a sei lain
Vi fa-ru le shutai am
En riga-lint

Win chent a lotica
En vai tu ri
Si lo ta
Fin dein a loluca
Si natigura neuver
Floreria for chesti
Si entina

lalala lalala lalala
Fontina Blu Cent
Des Cravi esca letisimo
lalala lalala lalala
De quantian
La Finder eve

Win dain a lotica
En vai tu ri
Si lo ta
Fin dein a loluca
En dragu a sei lain
Vi fa-ru le shutai am
En riga-lint

As the last words escaped me, I bit my lip to keep control of my tears. It worked only until I felt Lord Celeborn's hand on my shoulder. I did not turn to him as the tears overcame me, but I did reach up and grasp his hand in both of mine, twining my fingers with his fretfully.

He stepped forward and whispered a comfort in my ear; even with that, I could take no more of what I was seeing and turned to him to hide. He froze for a moment, then closed his arms around me and tucked my head very gently beneath his, rubbing my back lightly.

It was not until the rites were truly complete that I found that I had the will to move. I placidly allowed Lord Celeborn to guide me away from that place back to Haldir's house. He returned me to Haldir's room and settled me on the bed, drawing the blankets around my shoulders. [There will be a supper later tonight.]

[I am not hungry.]

He made a concerned noise. [Kyshri . . .]

I lifted my head. [Please, my lord. I know you wish to see me eat, but I cannot. Not right now and perhaps not for many days. But I will live, I assure you; you need not fear I will starve myself unnecessarily. I made a promise long ago.]

He gave the barest nod and left me alone.

Once again, the song is taken from Escaflowne, which I don't own--if I did, I'd be a zillionare or something like it.

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