The Two Towers: Kyshri's Story - The quest to destroy the one Ring told through the eyes of a runaway elf (part twelve of thirteen)
He did not want to believe her, but he knew she was right. With a heavy heart he declared quietly to his lady, [. . . Then she will remain unfettered, even if it brings her death.]
Galadriel reached over and took his hand. [If she were to die, husband, she would die as she has lived--a free soul. She would blame no one.]
[I would blame myself,] he murmured, pained merely by thinking of it.
Before Galadriel could reassure him, the chamber doors opened and Rumil and Orophin stumbled inside, freshly soaked. [We found her!]
I woke to find myself mostly submerged in the swirling eddies of Celebrant. The water was like liquid ice, but I considered myself fortunate to have rolled into a shallow part of the stream. Usually it was anywhere from shin- to knee-deep and I would have perhaps drowned.
Rolling onto my back, I discovered that it was still raining; the drops were like hot thorn-pricks on my skin thanks to the cold of Celebrant. I surveyed the area, trying to discern what had happened to me. I had jumped from the tree and smashed into another one . . . My memory ended there, but the land told the tale.
I had rebounded from the tree's trunk to the high bank of the stream, rolling and bouncing down the incline (if the huge swaths of mud among the fallen leaves were any indication) into the stream and come to a stop near the far bank, my head propped on a large water-smoothed stone. How long I had been there in the cold I did not know, but the storm was still hissing and snapping above me.
Rising slowly, I stumbled to the bank. My head spun and I dropped to my hands and my knees to retch. Once I recovered from that, I braved the frigidness of Celebrant to wash my mouth clean. Rising once more I staggered sluggishly toward home, travelling alone for an hour, every step agonizingly slow.
I lifted my head and wavered dizzily as I tried to focus on the Elf running to me. [. . . Firdon?]
He hugged me tightly, then pulled back to hold my head still. [We were so very worried . . . Kyshri? Are you well?]
I swallowed thickly. [I . . . I hit my head . . . on a tree . . . back there . . .]
He looked beyond me. [By the Valar . . .]
I looked back as well, wondering what could have drawn his attention. It was the bank of the Celebrant not six hundred yards behind us, the wide brown streaks of mud showing plainly. Had I only gone that far in an hour's time?
[You fell down the bank?]
[I fell out of the tree first.] He looked at my eyes again, then lifted a length of dark cloth and blindfolded me. I struggled weakly. [What are you doing?]
[Keeping you from becoming ill.]
[Too late for that.]
He very gently picked me up, careful not to jostle me too much so I would not become sick as before. I hooked my arms around his neck and kept a hold of the collar of his tunic as he called for Rumil and Orophin. They found us rather quickly--apparently not being far away--and touched my cheeks, murmuring quietly to me. I reached out a hand and each of them grasped it in turn, leaning down to kiss my forehead lightly.
Then Firdon turned and headed in the direction I supposed home was. The blindfold and more particularly my hurt head kept me from correctly determining our direction. We travelled for what seemed like years, until I heard the soft stomping of horse hooves in the stables.
From that point my bearings straightened themselves and I quickly surmised that I was being taken to Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel. To busy myself I counted the three-hundred steps to the main chamber's talan. Then the doors were opened and Rumil and Orophin entered first. [We found her! We found her!]
The very next thing I heard was a soft swish and then a wet splat and a grunt of surprise. Someone--Rumil, I believe--began to laugh. [Have you lost your sense of balance? Can you not keep your feet? Must your hand be held?!]
[May you slip and fall upon your face when you leave!] Orophin hissed.
[Bring her here,] Lord Celeborn commanded of Firdon, ignoring the brothers' squabbling.
Firdon obediently stepped forward, but suddenly slipped and skidded across the floor. I sighed in resignation, for if he went down, so would I. But he kept his balance and continued forward more cautiously.
[Why has she been blindfolded?]
Carefully, Firdon set me on my feet. Unsure of myself, I did not relinquish my grip on his collar. [She struck her head upon a tree and incurred an injury. Her eyes are large.]
The blindfold was fiddled with and then taken away; I shied away from the light in the chamber, blinking and squinting at its brightness. Hands forced me to look up and the light was so intense I had to keep my eyes closed so that I was not in too much pain.
[Open your eyes,] Lord Celeborn ordered. I did so and they teared up almost immediately. [All right.] Gratefully, I closed them and dropped my head, wiping my eyes on my wet sleeve. [Take her home and make sure she rests. And Kyshri, do not leave the house until you are well.]
Firdon reached out and took my hand and I automatically turned to follow him, but Lord Celeborn stopped him. [Firdon, you remain. I wish for you to explain what happened to the best of your knowledge.]
How would Firdon know what happened? I was the one it had happened to! [I can---]
[No,] was the firm answer. [You must rest. You may tell me exactly what happened later. Rumil, Orophin.] Fingers were snapped and the chamber lights dimmed considerably.
I opened my eyes warily, but the light was at just the right dimness for it to be gentle to my eyes. I turned slowly and started to follow Rumil and Orophin. As before, even being careful, Orophin slipped and fell. This time, however, he grabbed Rumil's hand and drug his brother down with him.
Right onto his face, as hoped.
They rolled around for a moment, regaining the breath that had been knocked out of them, then stumbled to their feet and continued out the door without a word. I followed, unintentionally making an extremely large production of sliding around on the floor for a moment. Catching myself, I straightened and went on my way. As the door closed behind me I heard Lord Celeborn's voice as he raised it from his conversation with Firdon:
[And will someone clean up that water?!]
Rumil and Orophin escorted me home and made sure I was settled before leaving. I changed into dry clothes and squeezed the water from my hair, then gladly went to bed. My sleep was unusually deep and uninterrupted by dreams; the sort of healing sleep that came only when very great injury had been done.
The next morning I woke feeling far better than I had and the runaway part of me urged me to leave. I felt I had been here too long, though I did not know quite how long it was. Restless, I retrieved my freshly-repaired clothes and traded my old outfit (not a gown) for them. I collected my weapons and belted them on once more; their weight was familiar and mildly comforting.
Making my way to the chambers, I knelt. [Lord Celeborn, Lady Galadriel.]
[Leaving so soon?] Lady Galadriel asked.
[What do you think it is you are doing?] Lord Celeborn demanded. [You are injured!]
[Yes, my lord, but I feel much better. And I must leave, for I have stayed here far too long.]
Lord Celeborn was not sympathetic. [You must be jesting. Do you really believe I am going to let you leave in your condition?]
[My lord, my departure is not under question. Whether or not you approve, I will be leaving.]
He let out a harsh laugh. [And how do you expect to do that? I must merely speak one word and the stables will be under close watch, the gate will be shut and guarded.]
There was a shrill whinny and I lifted my head, turning it to the side to listen. I then smiled--my restlessness was explained. [You will be hard-pressed to catch me then, my lord.]
[Quephiril is one of the Mearas. Only with another of his breed could you possibly hope to give chase.]
He gave me a hard look. [Do not pass the borders of this city.]
Fury flashed across his face at my insolence and he stood. [You would bring death upon yourself simply because you felt you had to leave?! You are one of the Eldar--do you put such little care on the sacredness of your life that you are willing to throw it away?!]
I stood and bowed wordlessly, my hand positioned over my heart in a pledge of my allegiance. Then I turned and moved for the doors.
[Kyshri!] he roared.
His voice reverberated in the chamber and I paused, turning to him. [If you are planning to exile me, say it and be done. I have another home to go to and while I do not wish to sever ties with a place of memory, I will do it if necessary.]
He started to do so, then shut his mouth and sat down. [If you feel that it is worth wasting the life that Haldir sacrificed his own for, then be gone.]
As he wanted, I am sure, I hesitated. But I knew I could not remain and stay sane (if only everyone would see that!), even if this was my birthrealm. [He may have, but he also died so that Middle-earth would be safer for me to roam.] And with that, I spun and exited.
I went down to where Quephiril waited, pinning his ears and stomping his hooves at curious elves who came too near. I hopped onto the stallion's back. [Let us return to the others.]
He trotted for the gates, but a voice provoked me to stop him. [Kyshri.]
I turned to see Lady Galadriel approaching with one of her maidens, who carried something long wrapped in a green-gold cloth. [Yes, my lady?]
The maiden held her small burden and Lady Galadriel folded back the edge of the cloth to reveal two swords with the blade ends slightly curved. The scabbards were black with the design of a spread-winged Eagle in gold and kept together by a length of chain. The blades themselves were slender, almost feminine, and bore a short enscription in Elvish.
[These swords--Feanar the Fire Spirit and Daenar the Shadowfire--belonged to your mother. They were forged in the years when Beleriand still existed east of Ered Luin and they have seen much battle since their creation. She used them in the war against Morgoth as well as Sauron.]
Awed, for I had not known my mother was a warrior--her attitude had never struck me as that of one--I read the etchings on the blades. [They react to the presence of orcs?]
[They do.] She sheathed the blades and handed the swords up to me. [Take them with you and may they serve you as they served your mother.]
I was about to thank her, but explain that I already had a sword, when I realized that I had lost it in the battle at Helm's Deep. So I accepted the twin blades with a bow of my head and wrapped the chain around my waist, latching it to itself and giving it a tug to be sure it was snug.
[My thanks, Lady Galadriel.]
She smiled. [May you fare well on your journey and find that which you have been searching for over the millennia.]
I did not understand what she meant, for I sought only revenge, but I nodded. [If I may ask you to relay my apologies to Lord Celeborn?]
[My thanks, my lady.] I gave Quephiril a nudge with my heels. He headed through the gates at a trot, breaking into a paced run as we left the trees of Lorien, simply ignoring the silver tips of the scabbards as they tapped his flanks incessantly. He carried me for a week--we stopped only twice to rest and eat--and crossed paths with a large party of Rohirrim who had stopped for the night.
[Kyshri!] came a joyful cry.
I turned and locked on the owner of the voice, letting Quephiril carry me into the camp. He came to a stop by Hasufel and Arod and I looked down to dismount to find Legolas there waiting for me. He stretched his arms up, catching my waist as I slid from Quephiril's back, and I put my hands on his shoulders for balance as he set me on the ground.
Without a word he embraced me gently and I hid my eyes in his shoulder. I sighed shakily and let his tunic soak up my fresh tears; wherever I found them, for I thought I had wept all I could. [Oh, Legolas . . .]
He merely stroked my hair and made soft cooing noises. Surprisingly enough, I did calm down and finally went to greet Aragorn and Gimli. While Legolas very reluctantly went out to scout the area for what was apparently the twentieth time, they told me all about what had happened after the battle at Helm's Deep and about their long trek to Isengard and their confrontation with Saruman, as well as their surprise when they received a gift from Wormtongue: the Palantir, which he threw down at them from the heights of the tower.
I humphed. "So the fool had a use after all, did he? I suppose then that it is not with regret that I should reflect on my choice to allow him to survive his flight from Edoras."