Aliana was home.
She felt as if she had not been gone for years. The food tasted exquisite, just the way she had remembered it. She sat to Galadriel’s right, as she had always done as a child. Many elves came up and welcomed her home. So many of the faces were familiar, and she remembered almost everyone’s names.
After dinner, the plates were cleared away and the tables were moved to clear the middle of the flet. Galadriel looked at Aliana and could see that she had grown too tired for the oncoming festivities. Rising, Galadriel offered Aliana her hand.
“Let us find your room. You have had a long day, Aliana.” Aliana gladly took the lady’s hand. They made their way across and came to the door leading to Galadriel and Celeborn’s home. Aliana felt like a child again as she walked through the door. Everything was exactly how she remembered it. She instinctively walked to the door leading to her room and entered. The room was exactly the way she left it. There was a nightgown lying across her bed. Galadriel entered behind her.
“A bath is being drawn. While you are bathing, Rumil will bring your things to your room. You will feel much better in the morning. I will leave you now. We will talk in the morning. Galadriel wrapped her arms once more around Aliana.
“I can not tell you how glad I am that you have found your way home. This house has not been the same without you here. Rest well, my child.” Galadriel turned and left the room.
Aliana found a hot bath waiting for her filled with steaming rosewater. She quickly bathed and dressed in the white nightgown and climbed into her bed. She knew Sauron could not reach her here. She was finally safe. Closing her eyes, she entered the void and found Legolas’ heartbeat. As their hearts beat together, she could hear his words.
“I carry you in my heart, Aliana. Always feel me with you.”
“I feel you, my lord. Know that I am safe. Know that I love you with all that I am. You know where to find me.”
“I will find you, Aliana. I will come for you when it is over.”
With those words, she fell into a deep sleep.
Morning came with the maidens Galadriel had sent readying Aliana’s clothes for the day. She opened her eyes to see a young maiden dressed in a yellow gown that matched her hair standing over her.
“It is about time you opened your eyes, my lady. I have taken your clothes to be cleaned. The lady has sent several dresses for you to choose from. As soon as you are ready, Lord Celeborn and the lady are awaiting you to eat breakfast with them.”
With a curtsey, she turned and waved the other two elflets to follow her.
Leaving Aliana alone, she rose from the bed and walked over to the dresses. The emerald green gown quickly caught her eye. It only took her moments to dress and brush out her hair. She left her room to find Galadriel. It did not take her long, as she only had to follow the sweet smells coming from beyond the front door. She found the lord and lady sitting at a small table that had an empty place set waiting for her.
Breakfast was fairly quiet with only small talk. Once they were done eating, they all took a stroll to Galadriel’s private garden.
As they entered the garden, Aliana glanced to the spot she had found herself in that morning after the long battle at Helms Deep. Galadriel noticed her thoughts.
“We have stood in this place not long ago. Your life has changed because of it, my child. You have woken your destiny.”
“But why me? I have never done anything special. I am sure there are others who deserve this more than I.”
Galadriel could not help but smile at her.
“You were born with your destiny. You can not change that. Just as Aragorn is learning, you must accept it. It is part of who you are.”
Galadriel and Aliana walked along the stream that ran on the edge of the garden with Celeborn walking silently behind them. Galadriel spoke of many things that were coming into play for middle earth. Aliana finally understood the roles of the people she found herself surrounded by.
“Aliana, do you truly understand what has come into place for you?”
“I have been given a bond with the prince to be able to warn the elves when evil comes back to middle earth.”
“Yes, that is true, but that is not the whole.” Galadriel sat a large root under her favorite tree and motioned for Aliana to join her.
“The three tests were given for a reason. There will come a day when all elves will leave middle earth, including the prince. There will be eons of peace in this land and the land will go through many changes. If Sauron is defeated now, he will be cast into the void. It is written that he will find his way back and take revenge on the land. When that time comes, man will need the aid of the elves to defeat him once and for all. The bond you and the prince have been given is for this purpose. But, like I said, it will be eons before he is able to break free. This is why you have been given the gift of immortality. But it will leave you in this land alone. The test of courage and selflessness was to prove that you have the inner strength to stand the test of time. The prince’s test of true love was to prove that the two of you would be strong enough together to hold a bond strong enough to last eons.”
Galadriel reached out and held Aliana’s face in her hands.
“Aliana, you will endure loneliness and heartache like you have never known. You will not be able to take a mate or bear children to keep you company. Love for another will break the bond with the prince. You will witness the death of all friends that you make. You will watch this land change many times over. But in the end, because of the sacrifice you will make, you and the prince will spend eternity together. Do you now understand the burden that lies on your shoulders?”
“Yes, my lady,” Aliana whispered. “But what if I am not strong enough?”
“Remember my child, this is your destiny and yours alone. It was given to you because of who you are. Trust in yourself. Trust in Legolas. And look to eternity when the night seems too long.”
Galadriel rose and walked to the marble bowl sitting on the pillar. “My dear, do you wish to take another look?”
Not waiting for an answer, the lady picked up the pitcher and filled it from the water flowing out of the roots of the mallorn tree. She filled the bowl as Aliana walked up to it. Aliana peered down into the rippling water, watching it slowly turn as smooth as glass. Silently she waited unaware that she was holding her breath. Suddenly a battlefield came into view. The huge field was filled with orcs and humans and huge beasts with long noses. The beasts were so big that they carried many men on their backs. Watching the battle she realized that the strange men were on the side of the orcs. Watching brought tears to her eyes. As a single tear hit the water, it caused a ripple. As the ripple smoothed, the scene moved in closer on one spot. Legolas was engaged in battle with several orcs, apparently trying to make his way through, but to what she was not certain. Blackness rose up behind him. Suddenly she realized it was the nazgul. Not just any nazgul, but the witch king himself. Terrified she watched as the witch king lifted his mighty sword and plunged it into Legolas’ back. Not being able to watch anymore, she tore herself away from the bowl and threw herself at Galadriel’s feet, sobbing loudly.
“If my destiny has been laid out before me, then why have I been shown this? I can not fulfill the prophecy with him,” she sobbed.
Galadriel lifted Aliana to her feet.
“My child, you have been shown this for a reason. Just as you saved your brother, you can change this, also.”
Aliana looked up into Galadriel’s eyes. The lady looked down on her with a saddened, wise look.
“Your things are packed. I have laid out new traveling clothes for you. You must be swift, or all will be in vain.” Pushing Aliana, she finished, “Go ready yourself, child.”
Aliana ran back to her room and quickly changed into the clothes she found laying on her bed. The white tunic with light blue sleeves was soft to the touch and felt good against her skin. The white pants fit perfectly and the light blue boots were comfortable. She found her quiver filled with new arrows and strapped it on her back. Grabbing her scabbard, cloak and pack, she ran back down to the bottom of the great tree where she found Farion awaiting her. The lord and lady were standing close by. She threw her pack over Farion’s back and turned to say her goodbyes. Something told her that she would not see either of them again for a very, very long time. As she looked upon Galadriel, she saw the tears welling up in the lady’s eyes. First she hugged Celeborn.
“I will miss you, atta. I love you.”
“And I love you, my little one. Heed the lady’s words, Aliana. Keep yourself safe.”
Once she broke from Celeborn’s strong hold, she moved in front of Galadriel.
“Trust in yourself Aliana. When all seems lost, remember eternity. It will be waiting for you. He will be waiting for you.”
Aliana threw herself into Galadriel’s arms.
“There are so many things I wanted to say to you. If only I had more time,” Aliana quietly said through her tears.
“My child, we will have that time. But for now you must ride! Do not ride through open land for Sauron is gathering his army from all corners of middle earth. Remember I am always with you. I love you, my child.”
Aliana pulled herself back from the lady. She gave them both a curtsey and hopped up on Farion’s back. Taking one quick last glance around, she turned her horse and made her way back through the forest. Just as Caras Galahdon fell from view, she heard Galadriel’s voice in her head, “Always remember Aliana, look to eternity when the night seems too long.”