“Think you it wise to set off on such a journey?” Elrond questioned.
Celebrian turned to her husband and studied his face. Creased with concern it was, yet something else was there also. Celebrian hesitated, searching in the depths of Elrond’s eyes for the answer.
“What have you seen?” she asked quietly.
Elrond lowered his gaze, making no reply. At length he broke the silence. “These times are perilous for all. I have seen nothing, my dearest one, save uncertainty. It looms as a black void before us. My heart warns me against your leaving.”
Celebrian pondered those words, knowing the council of Elrond as one to be heeded.
“Am I not to go then?” she asked.
“No, do what you will. I cannot tell you ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ when I know so little.”
Celebrian drew Elrond to herself, laying her head against his chest. She could sense he was troubled by his own words.
For sometime they stood as they were, a bittersweetness about them.
Finally, Elrond spoke. “Does it please my Lady to go to Lorien?”
“It would,” she replied softly. “It has been many a year since my feet have tread in the Golden Wood. It calls me home, Elrond. Still can I hear the gentle rustle of the wind through the mellyrn’s leaves….”her voice faded, then began anew. “But I must not be misunderstood; Imladris is my home now, and no less love do I have for it than for Lorien.”
Elrond smiled slightly, knowing Celebrian’s words were true.
“Go then. Grant me but one request; take Ailill with you. He is an able warrior and, if necessary, will defend you well.”
* * *
The morn of Celebrian’s departure came swiftly to the House of Elrond.
A small party stood assembled within the courtyard, patiently awaiting Celebrian.
On the terrace above she bade Elrond and her sons, Elladan and Elrohir, farewell.
Shortly after, the company left.
Elrond watched till they were out of sight and even then his gaze lingered on the horizon where Cekebrian had vanished. “May the Valar keep you until you are within my arms once more, Light of my soul,” he whispered.
* * *
Ailill rode at the front of the party, his senses alert for any sign of danger.
Behind him were Celebrian and her handmaidens, followed by three Elven warriors.
Ailill, recalling Lord Elrond’s words, let his hand stray to the swrod at his side.
“The Orcs grow bolder by the day….be ever vigilant. They have become cunning, Ailill! Lady Celebrian has not grasped the danger that lurks throughout the land; pray, do not let her come to know it.”
Ailill shifted in the saddle, listening as Celebrian’s laughter floated to his ears. She was fair to look upon, but her greatest beauty was her spirit. Gentle as a dove was she.
Nay! The Dark Forces would not have her, vowed Ailill to himself.
* * *
To the relief of all, the party reached the Misty Mountains without delay or mishap.
Before them towered Caradhras and the Redhorn Pass. They had but to cross the mountains and Lorien would be before them. With this thought, the companions began the trek.
It was not an easy one, the ground uneven and the horses skittish.
Ailill began to have doubts as the sun slipped closer to the horizon and the party still had not reached the pass. To be caught in Redhorn at night would be dire indeed.
Slow though the progress was, they at last came to the entrance of the pass.
A heated debate raged within Ailill as he considered what to do. Either choice offered peril.
“We will continue,” he eventually said, glancing back at his companions.
Reasoning with himself, he pointed out there was still hours of daylight. Sometime later, Ailill was still reiterating that thought to himself when he heard the first cry.
His gaze flew to the craggy walls hemming them in. He saw nothing. Quickly he turned to look at the rest of the party. Celebrian’s pale face evidenced the fact she also had heard it.
“The Orcs are near, are they not?” she asked quietly.
Ailill had no words for her, but instead urged his horse
Suddenly an arrow struck the ground in front of Ailill. Not a moment later, an Orc leaped from a rocky cleft down into the pass. He was followed by more.
Ailill unsheathed his sword, as did the other Elven warriors.
Celebrian trembled as the scene unfolded before her. She watched as Ailill decapitated an Orc, only to thrust his blade into another’s chest.
This went on seemingly forever to Celebrian. Her armed guards battled their attackers gallantly but to little avail. They could not keep them from her forever. An Orc appeared beside her,it’s grotesquely misshapen face sneering up at her.
Out of reflex, Celebrian seized the small dagger she wore and buried it in the creature’s throat. No sooner did she withdaw it than a scream escaped her lips. An Orc jumped onto her horse behind her as one grabbed the reins.
Ailill caught a glimpse of this, an angry cry rising within him.The momentary distraction was all that was needed. The enemy raised his wickedly curved scimitar and brought it down upon Ailill. The blow was heavy, and fatal. The Elf slumped in his saddle, slipping onto the ground below.
Celebrian struggled against her captor, futile though it was. Her only weapon was wrenched from her hand, leaving her defenseless.
Her fright turned quickly to panic as one of the ambushers hoisted her from her saddle onto a ledge above. Her resistance was met with cruel harshness.
Ailill felt the blow, sensed himself falling, and yet it was all dulled. He lay still, feeling no pain. It took only a moment for the haziness to clear, only a moment for him to realize what had happened. He tried to stand, but he could not move. He could feel nothing.
Ailill lifted his eyes to the stony walls surrounding him and saw Celebrian.
No! his mind cried. He watched, utterly helpless, as the Orcs disappeared with her.
Ailill gasped, vieing for a final breath, his life seeping onto the cold earth beneath him. “I failed you, my Lady, I failed you….”