The small band walked all morning and well into the afternoon. Aliana was relieved not to be tied to an orc’s back anymore. She kept remembering the smell of the foul creature. There was something about it that tempted to bring back a long forgotten memory. But she tried not to think on it. She was tired of thinking on the past. Aliana finally had a chance at a future, a future where it didn’t matter where she came from. These three men made her realize that it didn’t matter that she wasn’t Elvin, it didn’t matter that she was a mortal that shouldn’t have been born mortal. If a man, a dwarf and an elf could be comrades, she also had hope. Hope. That was something she had not felt in a long time. The thought of it brought a smile to her face.
“Do you find something amusing?” asked Aragorn, who had been walking behind her for sometime and had finally brought himself even with her.
“I was just thinking. How is it that you find yourself in the company of an elf and a dwarf? I have never heard of elves that befriended dwarves in many centuries.”
“I guess in a way we have Isildur’s bane to thank for that. For as much evil that lied within it, I don’t think it ever realized how it brought much of Middle Earth together.”
Aliana listened to their story of how the fellowship was formed, how they had lost their friend Borimir of Gondor while Merry and Pippin were taken captive, how the wizard Gandalf had fallen victim to a balrog, how Froto and Sam went their own way and finally how they had followed Merry and Pippin to save them.
“Merry and Pippin are very lucky to have friends like you”, she said afterwards. Aliana was very much impressed how strong the bond was between these friends.
All of a sudden Legolas stopped in his tracks. Aragorn came to his side. “What is it”, he quietly asked.
“Someone approaches……….the White Wizard.”
Aragorn was quick to answer with “Saruman. Do not let him speak or he will cast a spell on us all.”
Legolas hurried to Aliana’s side and pushed her behind him.
“I can help”, she said, but he quickly laid his hand on her shoulder to reassure her and turned back towards the oncoming visitor, an arrow already pulled taught in his bow.
As the figure broke thru the trees, a blinding white light surrounding him, Legolas spent his arrow. The figure waved his staff and the arrow fell to the ground. Gimli threw a small axe and the figure knocked it out of the air. He then pointed his staff towards Aragorn, whose sword grew hot in his hands and it fell to the ground. Looking at the site now standing in front of them, Aliana was relieved to be guarded for the moment.
“You search for two small hobbits. They have met with someone they know. Does this please you”, the bright figure asked.
“Who are you” shouted Aragorn. “Show yourself.”
As the four of them watched, the light faded. Aliana noticed immediately how much the figure they now found in their presence had an overwhelming effect on the three men.
“Gandalf!” Aragorn whispered in disbelief.
“Yes, that is what they used to call me, Gandalf the grey. Now I am Gandalf the white.” The three men gathered in front of him. “How can this be?” asked Gimli. “We saw you fall.”
Gandalf told his friends of his fight with the balrog and how he was sent back to finish his destiny. Once he was finished he looked behind the men and smiled at the young woman who had not moved from the spot Legolas had set her. “My lady Aliana. It is nice to see you safe”, he said with a kind smile and a wink. How did he know her? She didn’t remember meeting him before.
“Do I know you?” she found herself asking.
“No, unfortunately we have never met. Galadriel, Celeborn and myself thought it would be better to keep you out of site until you were ready.”
The wizard’s words threw Aliana into shock. “You know Galadriel and Celeborn? Why would it be better for me to stay out of site? I don’t understand.”
Gandalf sat down on a nearby log and motioned for her to join him. She paused for a moment, unsure of this new arrival. She had spent so much time alone that she had a hard time trusting people. She had thought all morning about how she had immediately trusted her new comrades and finally decided it was because of the situation that had brought them all together. As she looked between Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli she saw nothing but trust in their eyes as they looked upon Gandalf. This finally eased her mind and she brought herself to the spot next to the wizard. Gandalf then motioned Aragorn to join them. Legolas moved to stand guard in front of them, and Gimli stood guard behind them. Gandalf then started…..
“My dear, you remember your parents being killed by the orcs when you were little, don’t you?” he said in a tender voice. She nodded to him.
“My dear, even though they cared for you dearly, they were not your parents. They were your aunt and uncle. When you were born, your father had a visitor who told him of a plot to kill his family. He sent you to your mother’s sister and her husband to live, hoping you would be safe. But Sauron learned of this and sent his orcs to kill your new family. They were on their way to take you to Galadriel for safe keeping when the orcs attacked. Your aunt was wise enough to hide you and save your life.” He stopped for a moment giving her a chance to take in what she had just learned. Then he started again.
“When Galadriel found you, she knew who you were and knew the terrible danger you were in. She knew she could keep you safe, and she loved you from the moment she laid eyes on you. The lady of the wood also knew that you had been born with a purpose, so she taught you all that you would need to know for when your destiny was laid in front of you. All was well for many years. But by the time you were sixteen, Sauron’s evil was threatening to creep into Lorien and she knew you wouldn’t be safe there much longer. That is why she sent you to live with Lady Athorn in Vaneril. Lady Athorn was never told of your lineage, to keep you and her safe.”
Aliana thought for a moment, her head bowed down so no one would see her tears. She did not want them to think of her as weak. She had been lied to her whole life about who she really was. That explained the turmoil she had always felt about where she belonged. When she felt she had enough strength to lift her head she asked, “Where does my real lineage lye?”
Gandalf studied her face, noticing her strong features. He then turned to look at Aragorn who was standing in front of them with a look of sympathy on his face as his eyes were locked on Aliana. Had none of them noticed the resemblance? It was so obvious to him. The same eyes, the same strong cheekbones, the same dark brown hair. Even the same mannerisms. He kept looking at Aragorn as he said the words, “You are the daughter of Gilraen and Arathorn, chieften of the Dunedain. You are descended from Isildur.” As he turned to look into Aliana’s eyes, he said the final words.
“You are Aragorn’s sister”.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.