They had been traveling for what felt like forever. Aliana rode Farion for quite awhile, but found it easier to hide in her feelings by leading her faithful friend. She hoped those around her would think her attention was on the path she found herself walking instead of where it actually was…..somewhere on the path towards Isengard. Lady Eowyn had been warned by Aragorn early that morning of what would transpire this day. Eowyn had tried several times to start a conversation with Aliana, but silence would only ensue. The lady understood her friend’s disappointment, as she felt the same. Her uncle had wished her to stay, also. It had become a way of life….to be left behind. To be protected instead of the protector. How Eowyn wished to take control of her own destiny. She could feel it laying dormant deep inside her, waiting to be woken. Aliana had gained Eowyn’s admiration for what she had found the courage to take upon herself at Helm’s Deep. Eowyn had tried all morning to talk to Aliana about that night, but Aliana was lost in her own misery.
A slow throbbing pain was slowly growing in Aliana’s side. She knew the miles of walking were starting to take their toll on her. One of the guards had been watching her closely as he had been instructed early that morning by the king himself. He had noticed her stumble several times and kept himself close to her. She had gained the respect of the men….especially the guards who had unknowingly fought by her side. He did not want to insult her by suggesting she was growing too tired to walk. He understood the heart of a warrior. And this lady had definitely proven herself as just that.
Aliana could not push herself forward without resting for a few moments. She had come to a stop and found herself doubling over to staunch the pain that was growing uncontrollable. Quickly she grabbed Farion’s leg and pretended to check his hoof as she felt eyes upon her.
“Is he all right, my lady?” The guard knew what she was doing but played along for her sake.
“It looks like he has stepped on a sharp rock. He will be fine. I will let him rest a moment.”
“Very good my lady. If he needs assistance, I will be glad to lend my services.”
“Thank you, but I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
The guard rode on ahead to give her a moment to herself. He stopped not far off pretending to take a rest of his own.
Aliana noticed a boulder on the side of the road and led Farion over. She dropped his reins, knowing he would stay by her side. She sat on the smooth surface, treating herself to a long drink of water from her pouch. She reached over and pulled a small soft blue scarf out of her pack that was tied to the saddle. Aliana poured just enough water on it to moisten it and preceded to wipe the back of her neck. The coolness of the cloth washed away the weariness that had overtaken her. As she felt her senses come back to her, she turned her thoughts once again to the men that had left her behind. No matter how hard she tried, she could not stop the pain of abandonment that she felt. As she closed her eyes, she brought Legolas’ face into view. Even though he was not physically present, his vision calmed her. His last words lingered in her mind. But he had not said these words, she had heard them in her head. How she wished he had said them.
As her thoughts were on the elf prince, voices softly entered her hearing, as if from far away. Aliana opened her eyes expecting to see someone standing close by engaging in conversation. There were people walking past, but no one conversing. Again she closed her eyes and thought on the elf prince. Again she heard the voices. Instead of opening her eyes, she concentrated. Aliana shut out everything else from her mind and was engulfed in total blackness. The voices grew closer and after a moment she could make out Legolas’ voice. He was calling out to someone to show caution. Another voice called out in the darkness. “Why did you not bring her with you? I looked forward to finally laying these old eyes upon her.”
“She is none of your concern!” Legolas seemed agitated at this person. His agitation put her on guard.
“Ah, I can feel her presence. You have fulfilled the prophecy have you not, young elf prince? Yes, her presence is strong in you. She is here with us as we speak.”
Could he be talking about her? Was she really linked into Legolas’ conversation? Her heart started beating quickly. As she honed in on her own heartbeat, she could feel Legolas’ presence next to her. He was so close that she could feel his heart beating quickly, also. She realized that their hearts were beating as one.
“I sense her fear. Sauron will sense it also. She is not safe. He has spent many years looking for her. If he finds her, the Elven prophecy will not save your sister, ranger. You have left her alone and vulnerable. Her fate is in your hands, my lords. If you care for her and this world, do not leave her in this state.”
Elven prophecy, she thought to herself. Where had she heard that before?
“My lady, is he alright now?” Aliana nearly jumped out of her skin. She opened her eyes to find the guard once more in front of her. She quickly gathered herself.
“Yes, he is fine now. He just needed to rest.”
“Lady Eowyn asks for you to join her. Please permit me to accompany you, my lady.”
Aliana brought herself to her feet and gently curtsied to the noble guard. She knew he had been watching her all day. She allowed him to help her up onto Farion’s back. Once he was also mounted, she followed him up the road to where Eowyn was waiting for her. Once Aliana was by Eowyn’s side, the guard finally left her. Aliana’s heart was still beating wildly. What had just happened felt like a dream. That had to be it. She was so tired that she had fallen asleep and dreamt about them. A link was not possible between a mortal and a firstborn. But why did something about an elven prophecy sound so familiar?
“We will be able to see my home once we clear this hill, Aliana. A nice warm bath is not far off now. Then we have a feast to plan for tonight.”
Eowyn’s words pulled Aliana out of her inner thoughts. Forcing a smile, she replied, “My friend, a hot bath never sounded better.” Aliana felt terrible that she had not been very good company for her friend on this trip, but deep down she knew Eowyn understood her feelings. She was so grateful to have found such a great friend in this woman. Aliana knew she would miss Eowyn. Aliana knew she had one more night with her family and friends. She hoped it would be a perfect night.
As the two women clear the top of the hill, Edoras came into view. They both gave each other a knowing glance and spurred on their horses. Leaving the guards to bring the people safely the rest of the way, they set themselves into a race to reach the hot tubs that would be waiting for them.
Her eyes were closed and she felt like she was floating. The fast ride through the valley, the stabling of the horses, the run up the stairs into the main hall….the events of the last couple days leading up to this…..it all felt like a dream…..most of it a bad one at that. The smell of lilac water lingered in the air and helped her relax almost as much as the hot water she now laid in did. Lying there, she felt like she was home in Lorien again. Strange, she thought…..she never really thought of Lady Athorn’s house as home now. She had enjoyed the old woman’s company, but she had been so alone. Aliana had spent those years growing accustomed to being alone. It had always seemed that she was destined to be that way. The reprieve she had received in finding her older brother had been very much welcomed, but that was exactly what it was…..a reprieve from loneliness. Aragorn had a destiny to fulfill. It would take Legolas and Gimli to help him achieve it, but she was not needed. If anything, she would only be a hindrance. Aragorn could not concentrate on what needed to be done if he was constantly thinking about her welfare. If only she would have stayed in the woods that day, she would have never put him in the positions she had. If she had not been lying under that tree in Fangorn Forest, they would have not been delayed in their journey and they probably would not have been put in the position they found themselves in at Helm’s Deep.
Aliana thought back on that day that she had come across the orcs. As she had done every year since she had left Lorien, she had gone to the forest in hopes of seeing Lady Galadriel. She had missed her so much all these years. Galadriel had been the only mother she had ever known. Aliana ached to feel her motherly arms around her again. The realization hit her at that moment. That was where she would go……she would go back to the only place she ever thought of as home. A calm washed over her and she cleared her mind. Thoughts of the elf prince filled her mind. If she was ever to see him again, it would be amongst the elves. Leaving him would hurt more than anything she had ever felt in her life, but it was for the best. She laid her head back into the water, letting her hair float around her. With her ears in the water, she could hear her heart beating. With her eyes closed, she visioned Legolas in her mind. His presence once again felt so close to her that she could feel his heart beating in time to hers. This was the one comfort she would take with her….being able to feel him when she needed to…..even if it was not real.