We’re getting to the end. After this, I might make a new series with the characters of this series, or a new series altogether.
Night, under Caradhras, Twenty-First Hall, the Chamber of Mazarbul
The Lord of Moria sat on his intricately carven throne. Humming a sad tune to himself, he waited for the Elf to finish enlarging his little room. Which, now that he thought about it, he didn’t need so much. Oh, well, it was a trade anyway. I nursed her back to health, and now she is doing me an irrelevant favor. I’ll free her, eventually…once I get my mithril.
Rising and reaching into the folds of his robe, he recovered the key to the little room where the Elf was, toiling her heart out. He almost felt sorry for her – but then remembered the reward she would bring him. She was merely a victim of unfortuante circumstances.
Turning the key in the lock, he wondered what kind of smart-aleck insult she would serve to him. But then again, he had plenty of those up his sleeves.
"What on Middle-Earth?" he exclaimed. The door, as he pushed, would not give. Something was holding it back.
"Oy! Elf! Open this door!!" But no sarcastic remark came from inside. There was not a sound.
He pushed again. The door would not budge.
What did she do to this door?
"Oin, lad, lend a hand!" Calling to the Dwarf Captain standing guard, Oin rushed over as Lord Balin showed him that the door wouldn’t open.
With the doubled strength of the Dwarves, much heaving, and much panting, the door moved open – only a crack.
"What’s that nassty Elf up to?" Oin huffed.
With one final heave, the door slowly creaked open. Shoving their small, tough bodies through the opening, they found a shocking sight.
Piles of rock and boulder lay before the door. The southern wall – not the eastern, like he had ordered – had been hacked at and a series of crude steps sat on the wall, staring resolutely back at them. In the centre of this piece of art, some words were scrawled on the wall:
‘Go kiss an Orc.’
And the Elf was nowhere to be seen.
"What…where…?" began Oin.
But Lord Balin said nothing. He looked up at the shaft. Pale white and silver beams of moonlight lit the darkened room, and the stars shone faintly. Doubtful thoughts crept into his mind.
"Tomorrow morning," said Lord Balin slowly, "I want Dwarves looking for her. Anything you can find that will help – a blood spot, a footprint – anything that will help us find her. I want my hostage back."
"Yes, my lord." said Oin, and leaving the room, went back to his duty.
outside the House of Lord Glorfindel, Rivendell
Lord Glorfindel stood out of doors on his balcony, his troubled blue eyes scanning the faraway dark peaks of the Misty Mountains. The pine trees stirred restlessly, like a child who could not sleep. Rivendell itself seemed sleepless. The soft wind carried up to his balcony the sound of quiet footsteps, hushed voiced, and secretive whispers. His only comfort was that everyone else in Rivendell seemed just as worried as he was.
The attack squad had arrived back in Rivendell around the middle of the night, and upon hearing the distressing news of Arvariane from Elrond’s son Elladan, he had done nothing – nothing but pace the floor of his moonlit balcony and worry about the fate of his daughter, and what could be done to save her. He had no intention to send messengers to King Thranduil in Mirkwood, as it would take far too long. And as much as he knew that Dwarves were not a completely dangerous people, they had still chosen to keep his daughter hostage, and therefore were not to be trusted.
In the morning, he thought, things would be better. Once the Council decided on a course of action, it could be put into motion. And then my dear Ariane would be saved, just as the Lady Celebrian was.
Briefly his thoughts turned toward her. The Lady was healing well in body, but in her mind, something had changed. Her eyes no longer reflected a tranquil joy and peace. Instead, her gray eyes were clouded with some lingering pain and sadness that even the Lord Elrond could not understand. Her recent experience had moved her beyond all perception of happiness. She was so far from herself…
How will my daughter take this? The Lady Celebrian is far older and wiser than her. The Lady knew evil to an extent, but if she can be so transformed by ill fate, how much more would Ariane – an inexperienced, young Elf – be able to take?
Earlier that day, atop Caradhras, Misty Mountains
The sun had already sunk under the surface of the snow-capped peak of Caradhras. Twilight had settled in the Misty Mountains, and all things fell had awaken. It would not be long before darkness would fall and cover everything in shadow.
Ariane had put back on her ragged, bloodstained cloak for fear that she, although an Elf, would become chilled, especially in her weakened state. Tired from chopping stone, weary of her long journey, and hungry beyond even her belief, she could only manage placing one foot in front of another.
Atop the mountain, a quivering wind flew through Ariane’s dark locks, tossing them about her face and making them fly in the wind. Gusts of snow blew up in front of her, impairing her vision and her path. The sky’s dark, hazy purple matched the colour of her squinting eyes, and her mithril dress became cold and discomforting on her skin. Still she walked, step after step, steadily downwards. By the look of it, she realized, that she would reach the bottom by tomorrow afternoon. The weight of the axe across her back bore down on her something terrible, and the warming, healing effect of the Niphredil was gone.
Suddenly she stumbled. "Ahhh!" she cried out, but the crushing weight of the axe stifled her cry as it came down upon her. She tumbled sideways down the steep slope, bouncing off sharp rocks and ice, and hoping the axe would not hit her. Ariane ended up falling flat on her face into a small but deep pool of melted ice. She couldn’t help but curse the Orcs, the Dwarves, the weather, and everything else that had gone wrong on this wretched journey home. As she turned her wet face upwards, she found herself staring into a blackened sky. The stars seemed remote, and the white face of the moon stared back at her mockingly.
Ariane attempted to sit up. She looked down into the pool of icy water at her reflection, but gasped – for the face she saw there she did not know. The delicate face she saw was sad-looking and adorned with a crown of messy dark hair laced with snow. The light in the Elf’s violet eyes was extinguished, and a hot tear streamed down its rosy cheeks. Its ears were roughly stitched together. A drop of blood fell off its quivering lips, disturbing the reflection, and making tiny crimson and silver ripples.
Again the face in the water changed. This time she was certain the face she saw staring back at her was not her own. A very beautiful Elf stared back her, with a delicate face and a crown of shining silver. The Elf’s violet eyes expressed feeling and vibrance. Her rosy cheeks sat upon high cheekbones, and the corners of her mouth were turned upwards in a small, sympathetic smile.
Inside her head, she heard a familiar voice saying in Quenya:
Arvariane Estel, don’t stop trying. If we give up hope, both you and I die inside.
My daughter, look up into the sky.
I’m watching over you.
The sweet face in the water seemed to smile even more. Mother? Ariane thought. As she looked harder into the pool and blinked, the face seemed to dissipate, leaving her staring back at her foreign face. "Mother?" she said out loud. "Mother? Mother??" But only the wind answered back in gentle whispers.
Ariane turned her face toward the sky. The same moon and same stars remained. But from the east, she saw something – a tiny dot at first – but as it flew closer and closer, she made out its shape.
A moth? My mother sent a moth to save me? Groaning, she pulled herself onto her feet. The moth flitted around her head, dancing in circles and loops. Then it bore away on the wind, towards the east. Ariane followed it with her searching eyes, and to her surprise, saw two more dark shapes coming out of the east. Closer and closer they flew, clearly coming to her.
Eagles? I’m sure they were in some war or another…I’m sure of it. The Eagles are coming! They swooped down powerfully onto the slope, and looked at her through sharp eyes. The largest eagle stepped toward her.
"Well, this is a sight for sore eyes! A young She-Elf, dressed in mithril, wielding an axe, hiking over the mountains at nightfall!" said the Lord of the Eagles.
Ariane made no response. The Eagles seemed to read her thoughts and see that she was in no mood for joking.
"I’ve been sent to get you. Come, young miss, onto my back," said he. The other Eagle turned his head to the sky and let out a piercing cry. Then he took off, back in the direction of his eyrie.
The Lord of the Eagles let out another sharp cry. Ariane, first doubtfully, then wearily, crawled onto the great Eagle’s back. "Who sent you?" Ariane asked curiously.
"One who can command me," the Eagle replied. "Hold tight." With one majestic beat of his wings, the Eagle was off the slope. Flying over the silver peaks of the Misty Mountains, Ariane looked at the blurry earth running away below her, remote in the east, and then closed her eyes.
Morning, the Gardens of Rivendell
Elrohir, dressed in dark gray, sat on a small stone bridge in the Gardens of Rivendell, staring into a stream of the River Bruinen. Bright sunlight filtered down into the flowering trees, and the birds sang melodious songs for the sunrise. A handful of small stones were in his hand; one by one he expertly tossed them, and they skipped along the surface of the water. A myriad of thoughts clouded his mind as he waited for the Council of Glorfindel to start…the Council that would decide what was to be done about sweet Ariane.
His thoughts were broken my the sound of soft steps coming toward him. Looking in the direction of the sound, he saw his little sister Arwen coming, dressed in royal blue and silver. Her deep blue eyes looked searchingly at her brother.
Coming up and sitting beside him, she took up some stones in her gentle hands and skipped them into the stream. "It’s not until much later, Elrohir. There’s no sense in worrying now," she said sweetly.
"Well, somebody must worry about her," said Elrohir defiantly. "It doesn’t seem like anybody else cares as much as I do."
"Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are the only one that cares about her," Arwen explained. "She has the love of many."
Elrohir sighed. "I suppose that means the Prince of Mirkwood too."
Arwen looked up at him. Elrohir avoided her look. Jealousy was written all over his face. She lay a hand on his shoulder. "Dear brother, it is not your place to decide who can love her, and it is also not your place to judge others for doing so. All’s fair in love…" Arwen began distantly, as she looked up into the east, her mind in another place.
Elrohir finally faced her with a sad little smile. "I know you are right, Arwen. It’s just so hard to accept," He pulled himself to his feet and dropped the remaining stones in the water. Fish scattered, droplets splashed up, and Arwen let out a small laugh.
"I should probably go apologize to him…and you should see how Mother is." Elrohir pulled Arwen to her feet and embraced her. Then they left, going in two opposite directions.
Morning, the peak of Caradhras
The dark shapes of Dwarves lay scattered all about the snow on top of the mountain. With determined, fierce faces, they searched for a clue that would please the Lord of Moria.
Oin led the search, but so far, in the two hours they had been searching in, it was seeming impossible to him to find a trace of the troublesome Elf. He thought that the Dwarves were probably growing weary of looking for something that did not want to be found. Not even a light footstep was anywhere to be seen, as the wind had blown the snow around last night. Groaning in frustration, he thought, This is hopeless. The Elf, surprisingly, knew what she was up to, and she probably knew that the wind would cover her tracks. Maybe there’s more to Elves than meets the eye…
" My Captain!"
"Huh?" said Oin, snapping out of his thoughts. "Did you find something?" he asked eagerly.
"Uhhh…no. We wanted to tell ya that we’re searching in vain. There’s no point – she left not a clue. I know that Lord Balin’s not gonna be very pleased about this, though…" said Ori, who had been looking wearily.
"Oh, it’s not any o’ yurs’ faults," declared Oin sadly. "Lord Balin should’ve known what he was dealin’ with when he brought in a feisty Elf."
Later that morning, the Council of Glorfindel, Rivendell
Finally the time had come. The clear, ringing sound of the Council bell had summoned all of Rivendell’s great figures to sit in the beige stone circle. Lord Glorfindel sat in the High Chair, looking melancholy in his suede robe, adorned with colours of light gray and dark green. The silver-sewn sleeves lay crossed upon his chest.
The seats filled quickly, and those sitting said nothing to each other. Lord Elrond sat at Lord Glorfindel’s right hand, and the sad Lady Celebrian sat on his left, both wearing the blue and silver colours of their house. Elladan sat opposite from Lord Glorfindel, his forehead wrinkled in thought. Lord Erestor sat solemnly, and the sweet face of Figwit also graced the Council. Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood, sat opposite from Elrond’s son Elrohir, but no longer did they stare at each other with hostility. In fact, Legolas smiled quickly at Elrohir once he sat down, and Elrohir returned the same warm gesture. Arwen, sitting beside Elrohir and Haldir of Lorien, noticed this and smiled to herself, happy that she had helped mend what was broken.
Lord Glorfindel stood once everyone had settled into their seats. The Council had begun.
The gates of Rivendell
Ariane slid off the Eagle’s back after a flight through the night. She stood before the gates of Rivendell. It seemed like she was looking at some distant beautiful memory that she could not recall for the longest time. She was not as weary as before, and eternally grateful to the Lord of the Eagles.
"What can I do to thank you?" asked Ariane, smiling thankfully.
"Don’t do anything. It was reward enough to help you, young miss. Anyways, I get my rewards from the one who sent me."
Ariane thought about what he said, and looked up into the sky. A knowing smile bloomed on her face.
"I must go," said the Eagle.
"Wait! Could you perhaps do me one last favor?"
"Could you get me over these gates? The guards don’t seem to be here."
Inside the entrance of Rivendell
After thanking the great Eagle one last time, Ariane turned toward the homes of Rivendell. Everything seemed quiet. No Elf could she see walking about, nor could she hear any voices. Were they inside? The sun was hidden behind some ominous-looking clouds, but it wasn’t raining – not yet. So where was everybody then?
Ariane started to walk. The paths were deserted, the bridges and balconies were empty. The bulidings seemed vacant. I come home to find everyone missing. What’s going on? she thought. Wait…are those voices? Off in the distance, she could hear voices, first faint, but growing in volume with every passing second. Running off in the direction of the sound, she continued to search for a single soul.
The Council of Glorfindel, Rivendell
The sky looked like it would burst any second and let down a torrent of rain. Still the Council continued, full of heavy debates. Many Elves believed that the only way to save Ariane was to do it the proper way – go to Mirkwood and get King Thranduil. And then there were the others who just wanted to negotiate with Lord Balin of Moria in order to rescue her. Either way, Lord Glorfindel had decided that he would go with the rescue party to do whatever was decided.
After much thought, Lord Glorfindel began to speak. All arguments ceased. "I want to go to Moria and see my daughter. I will negotiate terms with the Lord of Moria and pay him back. And if he still wants the apology of King Thranduil, we will send for it – but Ariane need not wait for him to come. They will let her be freed if I take her place as a hostage – and I will. I just want my daughter home." Lord Glorfindel sighed heavily. A teardrop rolled down the poor Elf’s cheek just as the first drops of rain began to fall from the sky.
"Nay," suddenly Legolas stood up. "I will take her place. This argument is between my father and the Dwarves. And since he is not here to make a decision, I will act on his behalf. I will take her place."
The Elves looked up at Legolas, wondering what had come over him. Squinting as a drizzle fell all around them, they saw the Elf was dead serious.
"That’s a noble gesture of you, Legolas, but…" began Lord Glorfindel.
"…but it need not be done. Lord Balin does not have a hostage." somebody finished.
Ariane appeared from behind a pillar. Looking on the face of her father and her friends for the first time in weeks, a rush of utter joy came over her, her eyes lit up with happiness, and a smile stretched across her face.
"What on Middle-Earth?" began Lord Glorfindel as he stood, the rain pouring heavily from the gray sky; hurling down from heaven in thick sheets.
All the Elves stared at her with wonder and amazement. Ariane did not look like the young, spirited She-Elf they once knew. She appeared like a traveller who had not been home for too long, like one who had not seen a familiar face for the longest time. She had seen the face of evil, she had been in danger. And beneath all those scars and bruises and cuts, they could see most definitively the face of her mother, delicate and sweet and hopeful. Mustering all the courage she had left, she stepped forward.
"Ada," Ariane began.
Lord Glorfindel ran to embrace her.
to be continued…
So there’s now just the epilogue left.
Thanks for reading 🙂