The REAL Part Thirteen
“I’m not made of glass you know,” came the tart voice from behind the bed curtains. Aragorn’s company had been comfortable in Thranduil’s palace, and had been there for a week. They had been drawing up plans for the whole time as to how to defeat the Orcs. But Firnciliath and Astianen had spent most of their time with their recuperating friend. Now they were discussing whether or not she should attend the great banquet the King was giving in their honor that night. It had been delayed because of all the wounded who needed to recover. Now the two women jumped. They had thought the girl in the bed was fast asleep.
“I’m not made of glass you know,” repeated Analsiel. “I want to go to the banquet, and I’m not going to be carried there in a chair. Now help me out of this enormous sleeping contraption so I can feel my feet again.”
Firnciliath and Astianen grinned at each other and went to help their friend from the bed.
Analsiel was not as steady on her feet as she said. She had not walked since the ambush, and she became pale and dizzy after only minutes of standing up. But both of her friends helped her, holding her elbows and giving words of encouragement until she could move around the room. Perhaps it was not that graceful, but it was the principle of the thing that mattered. She refused to let the girls help her bathe, saying she could do it quite well thank you, and would you please go?
Astianen muttered to herself as she left the room. “Oh, yes, you can certainly quite well. That’s what you said about walking.”
Analsiel heard and indulged in a chuckle after both her friends had left.
Bathing was also not as easy as she had hoped, but at least she didn’t have any cuts or scars to hurt her in the hot water. She was stiff and sore from all the walking she had done after being dormant for so long, and the bath helped a lot.
“I’d almost forgotten what it was like to have my hair clean!” she thought, as she luxuriously rubbed her hair and scalp with the scented lotion the Elves provided.
When she had crawled unwillingly out of the bath, she searched for a wardrobe. There were several in her room. She opened one and found men’s clothing. Another one was full of children’s clothes. “This must be a guestroom, and they just put in clothes for all types of people,” she realized. When she found the wardrobe full of clothes her own size, she nearly slammed the door again and considered going to the banquet in her old traveling clothes. The closet was full of Elvish gowns that were very low, very slim, and very…well very Elvish. She was a mortal and she couldn’t even imagine herself in the kind of dresses the Elves wore. Before the War of the Ring, the two races had dressed in fairly similar fashions, but now Elvish women wore lighter, more sheer gowns, instead of the heavy brocades and the silks and satins that were worn among mortal women. She checked all the closets and found one that was empty. Sighing she realized, “This must be where they kept the clothes of mortal women. I shall have to tell them to refill it.”
But there was nothing to be done at the moment. She had to where and Elf dress. But she would find the least Elvish one and wear that.
Her search proved futile. All the dresses were the floaty pastel kind she had feared they would be. But she finally selected one that was pale blue gauze that shimmered silver when she walked. It made her faltering steps look graceful, and the long silver sleeves hid her skinny arms, as the tapered waist hid her skinny one. It had been a shock to her to see herself after she got out of the bathtub. She was very thin, unhealthily so and her face had sharpened its angles. She almost felt that she wasn’t looking at herself. Now she shook away the feeling and drew out a pair of silver slippers form the bottom of the closet and a head wreath of tiny flowers worked in silver with a small blue stone set in the center flower. She put both of these on then walked to the mirror again. Her reflection was not so unappealing now. Her eyes were brought out by the color of the gown, making her face less gaunt, and her thinness was hidden by the drape of the dress. Even her black hair had some of its old luster back now that it was clean. But something was missing. She felt at her neck and noticed the absence of her silver leaf. She almost ripped her dress in her haste to get to the bed table where it lay. As she put it on, she vowed then and there never to be without it again. She re-examined herself and was pleased with her reflection. So with a contented sigh and Firnciliath’s directions to the hall, she stepped out of her room and stepped carefully to the banquet hall.
She met Firnciliath on the way there. The two were both nervous about their first appearance ever at Mirkwood, and both were sure that the other looked more beautiful. Firnciliath wore a gown of deep red stitched at the hems with gold to keep the light fabric from ripping. It was held up at the shoulders by two golden pins, and Firnciliath had a ruby ribbon woven through her golden-brown hair. The effect was very beautiful. The two stepped together feeling almost shy as they looked at the others finery. Then Analsiel tripped on her dress, Firnciliath caught her and the two them shared a laugh, which broke the nervous silence. Then they were at the hall doors.
They had to be formally introduced said the herald as they walked forward. They rolled their eyes at each other, and agreed. Analsiel wanted to go first to get it over with, but Firnciliath refused to let her.
“You’re almost the guest f honor,” she said stubbornly. “It won’t do if you go in first and then I upstage you, will you?”
Analsiel didn’t really care, but Firnciliath was passionate, so she let her have her way. The herald swung open the door, calling out in a reedy voice, “Firnciliath, Lady to Queen Arwen of Gondor.”
Firnciliath stepped forward and out into the light of the hall. It was lit by at least a thousand candles, and an enormous fire in each corner of the room. The tables were dark wood, but laid with silver and gold dishes that reflected back the light of the candles. At the head table sat King Thranduil, Prince Legolas and King Aragorn. But that was not what Firnciliath noticed. Nor was it what Analsiel saw. What struck their eyes were the two faces to the right of Aragorn. Analsiel could not help but cry out their names as Firnciliath ran toward them.