Dawn, House of Lord Glorfindel, Rivendell
Ariane woke with a start, panting unbelievably quickly and shivering from the terror nightmare she had just experienced. Her hand went straight to her chest to the spot where the serpent had struck her. She felt around, the chest of her nightgown drenched in cold sweat, but relieved to find everything normal.
“What a terrifying dream,” she whispered.
Her breath calming, she suddenly became aware of her consciousness. Looking about her she noticed she was back in her bedroom at home and it was dawn. The warm sun had just come through her window and lit her room, heating it slightly. Still shaking, she put a hand to the side of her head.
“How did I get back here?” she asked herself, confused to how she came from the festivity hall to land back up in her bedroom.
Furrowing her brow, Ariane sat herself up and realised that two of her travel sacks were sitting near her full-length mirror. Why are they out? She thought for a moment, before the sudden realisation that her father had let her go to Lorien came rushing back. That is right! Father let me go on this trip to Lorien.
A small smile spread across on her face, thinking about the prospect of seeing the lights of the Golden City for the first time in her living memory, as so many of her friends had described them to her. Realising that she had not packed yet, Ariane hopped out of bed and was quick to start choosing appropriate clothing and accessories from her drawers for the journey and stay ahead.
By the time breakfast hour came, Ariane had prepared one of her large travel saddlebags and changed into an imperial purple collared v-necked dress and trousers, that she usually wore for horseback riding and her shin-high black leather boots. As she was about to push her first brushstroke through her hair, she hissed in pain. Looking at her wrist, she noticed her mother’s bracelet slightly more tarnished than usual.
“That is odd, last night it was squeaky clean,” Ariane said to herself. Sliding the bracelet up slightly, she revealed a faint burn mark tracing the shape of the bracelet. Ariane then remembered the dream and the pain she felt as the bracelet burnt into her. Examining it more closely, it began to smart as she touched it. “But that was just a dream.” Making a decision, she took the bracelet off and switched it to her other wrist.
Shaking the thoughts of her nightmare, Ariane finished grooming herself and pulled on her grey elbow high gloves to hide her wrist, before casually making her way down to the kitchen. She arrived to find her nanny Florinya, cleaning up dishes.
“Good morrow, Florinya,” Ariane greeted.
“Good morn, my lady,” Florinya answered. “Did you sleep well?”
The Elvish kitchen of the house was small, but exquisite. Several tree trunks were beautifully entangled with the décor, with a large hollowed out oak tree trunk, lined with ceramic and stone, for a fireplace stovetop and oven. Below the windows, which looked out over the atrium of the `Library of Knowledge’, a smooth white stone bench top, with a fine white ceramic basin decorated with leaves and vines sitting on top, used as the sink and next to it, a plain silver pitcher which was used to fill the basin with water. The pantries and shelves were also decorated with intricate white vines, all intertwined with finely carved patterns of flora of Middle-earth.
“Alas’ no,” Ariane sighed. “But no matter, I am awake enough for the journey today.” Florinya nodded and smiled.
Florinya, a Noldorian elf with dark long hair down to her knees, flawless skin and delicate features, was a trusted friend of the family living in the house since the day Ariane was born. Her husband had fought beside Lord Glorfindel and Lord Elrond in the War of the Last Alliance, but had been killed in battle. Since then Florinya had lived as nanny to Ariane, teaching her etiquette of the royal court and much about the plants and animals of Middle-Earth, whilst her father, Lord Glorfindel, was busily advising Lord Elrond on matters of military.
“How did I get back here last night?” Ariane inquired.
“One of Lord Elrond’s sons found you sleeping in the gardens last night,” Florinya answered, a small smile on her face. “He carried you back here. You were quite exhausted I must say, for you did not even stir, as I changed you out of your celebrant gown once he left.”
“Elladan or Elrohir?” Ariane asked, hoping it was the youngest of the twin brothers.
“My dear, I do not know. They both look so much alike, I just avoided using their name and called them `my lord’,” Florinya shook her head. “He was dressed in the silver green of the Noldor, if that helps. I think it was Elladan.”
“No, it was Elrohir,” Ariane smiled. “Elladan was in the silver blue last night,” Ariane corrected.
“Bah! They are too similar for me to tell apart!” Florinya burst. Ariane smiled at her nanny’s predicament.
“Where is my father?” Ariane asked, looking about. “I usually hear him crunching on fruit or the scribbling of his quill on documents of importance.”
“He had to go off at the break of dawn to advise Lord Elrond on matters for the entourage’s journey to Lorien later this morning.” Florinya turned and faced her ward. “You will have a lovely time in the Golden City. I will miss you.”
“Aye, I will miss you too, Florinya,” Ariane hugged her nanny.
“It is beyond belief, but you are the splitting image of your mother,” Florinya complimented.
“I am told that a lot from father. Which reminds me, I must speak with him about the itinerary for Lothlorien before anything else.”
Florinya reached out and touched Ariane’s cheek lovingly. “Go have your breakfast now then. You will need a lot of energy to get through today. I have packed you enough meals to get you through to the Golden City of Lorien.” Florinya gestured to the little knapsack near the fireplace. “It will be a week’s journey by horseback you know. Do not forget to pick it up before you leave today.”
“Thanks Florinya!” Ariane gave a kiss on her nanny’s cheek before she picked up an apple from the wooden fruit bowl on the bench top. “What would I ever do without you?”
“Not much, now go!” Florinya ordered gently, shooing her to eat breakfast. “And have another fruit. One apple is not enough for Lord Glorfindel’s growing daughter.”
Ariane smiled. She then picked up a pear from the fruit bowl and bounced out of the kitchen, intent in looking for her father, chewing on her apple.
The House of Elrond, Rivendell
The grandest residence in all of Rivendell, the House of Lord Elrond Halfelven stood upon the highest peak of the city refuge, above several other Noble houses, one being Lord Glorfindel’s, and guesthouses. Looking splendid in the morning sun, the edges of the residence seemed to sparkle like water droplets.
Lord Elrond and Glorfindel were in the study of the residence, with Lady Celebrìan, Orophin, Rùmil and Haldir of Lorien, discussing on the route the entourage was to take to Lothlorien that day.
“The pass of Caradhras is a little too dangerous at this time,” Orophin mentioned. “The snows of the Misty Mountain this winter have taken its toll, so I believe it will be a lot wiser if we go by boat.”
“My brothers and I were lucky that we were able to pass before the snows fell too heavily,” Rùmil informed. “Though by the time her highness has visited the Lord and Lady of the Wood, it should have cleared up.”
“But I think it is still wiser if your highness, Lady Celebrìan, takes the Old Forest Road back here to Rivendell in a month’s time,” Haldir suggested. “It may take a little longer, but rumours have it that there have been strange activities within the mountains as of late.”
“What activities have you heard, Haldir?” Lord Glorfindel asked.
“Scouts of Lorien, before we left two months ago, reported an increase of orc and goblin bands lingering near the Redhorn pass,” Haldir revealed. “But when we passed through there, we did not find anything. So we have considered it as just rumours.”
“There have been increased orc activities in East though,” Orophin added. “I do not think it is wise we go through the Old Forest Road at this time either.”
“Then the entourage and I will take boats into the East to Lothlorien by the Rivers Bruinen and Nimrodel and in a month’s time, return by horseback via the Old Forest Road,” Lady Celebrìan concluded. “My love, do you agree to that decision?”
“Aye, my love. Although, I am worried as to why rumours would say that there are orcs in Caradhras?” Lord Elrond pondered, loudly.
“Do not worry Lord Elrond,” Orophin assured. “Your wife and the entourage will be safe. If we leave by afternoon, we should arrive in Lothlorien by tomorrow morn.”
Noonday, Archery Range of Rivendell, Southwest of the City
Notified of the changes made for her trip to Lothlorien with the royal Rivendell entourage earlier, Ariane managed to contain her enthusiasm long enough to bundle essential belongings in her bags, along with her weapons, Starlight and Earth’s Wrath blades. Still high on excitement once she had finished, Ariane headed east of the city towards the archery range, wearing her black leather quiver strap with the House of Finarfin belt buckle, which was in a shape of a silver oak leaf, and carrying her long bow.
The Archery Range of Rivendell was 2 kilometres southwest of the southern entrance of Rivendell, across the River Bruinen. A huge 1000 metre radius clearing in the forest, surrounded by the vast trees of the Forest Trollshaw, with the Misty Mountains rising not far in the distance to the east, the archery range could also be used as a horseback training ground and simulated battle fields. However, it was quite rare since the days of the `War of the Last Alliance’ and was soon just used as a firing range.
Using the launcher, a slingshot like contraption that was wound up and used to target moving objects, Ariane noticed a tall hooded form practicing archery. As fruit, which would be used for feed later on, was being flung out into the distance, the archer drew their arrow and fired it, striking the target. Each time a fruit was launched, the archer drew and hit their mark, splitting the fruit in half each time.
Impressed at the fluency of movement, Ariane had only seen Elrohir use the launcher and that was because he was the finest archer Rivendell had ever seen. Awed that her friend still had the skill, Ariane emerged from the forest and approached the archer, once the launcher had finished spinning.
“You still have the talent I will never have, Elrohir,” Ariane compliment her friend.
The hooded archer seemed to tense as if not sensing anything until then. Turning, the archer pulled back their hood and Ariane gasped. It was not her friend Elrohir, but someone quite different.
“I did not know you were my friend?” Legolas asked surly, annoyed that he was mistaken for someone else as his ice blue eyes stared at her.
“Oh dear! I am so sorry, your highness!” Ariane apologised quickly, blushing at her mistake, as she looked at the ground so he would not notice the red. I cannot believe I mistook high and mighty Legolas for sweet, sensitive Elrohir! “I did not recognise you in the hood. I am sorry for mistaking you for someone else. I shall leave you to your practice.”
Ariane turned and began to walk off, when a strong hand gripped her arm.
“No,” Legolas’ voice insisted, as he turned her back towards him, still holding her arm. “Do not leave.” His voice softened and Ariane noticed that he was blushing slightly too, his eyes darting around. “I should apologise for being so rude. I did not mean to sound curt nor did I mean to hurt you. Please, forgive all my errors I have done to you?” Ariane had a bewildered look on her face. “What?”
“That is the first time you have apologised to me,” Ariane said softly.
“Well, it is the first time you have given me the chance to apologise,” Legolas replied. “I know I have insulted you several times in the past, but know that it was not intentional. Well, most of them.”
“I think I know which ones were.” Ariane then looked down at where the Prince of Mirkwood was still holding onto her. Legolas noticed and then quickly let go in embarrassment. This is the Prince of Mirkwood? How is it he can get embarrassed so easily after apologising? Maybe he is not so uppity after all.
“Sorry,” Legolas said bashfully, his eyes avoiding hers still.
“Not to worry, your highness,” Ariane waived. “You are a superior archer, much like Elrohir.” Legolas seemed slightly taken aback at the last comment, but then shrugged it off.
“Please, my lady. I hate the title. Call me Legolas,” he insisted softly, this time looking Ariane straight in the eyes.
At that moment, an extraordinary sensation, like a bolt of lightning and a cold shiver mixed in together, had hit Ariane the moment she looked back at the Prince, his ice eyes burning right into her soul. She could not help but feel incredibly terrified in her heart, as everything around them seemed to be drowned out as he held her gaze. What on middle-earth? This cannot be right! Her thoughts confused. Her heartbeat quickened and she was sure that she had stopped breathing as he reached up to touched her face.
Something was happening. Legolas felt an incredible wave of panic, yet calm and confidence wash over him as he looked into her deep lilac eyes. A feeling of excitement but absolute fear engulfed his heart as his breath becoming staggered. By the gods she is exquisite! But what is happening? His own thoughts contemplated in an alarm. Time seemed to stop and Legolas reached out to caress her face, thinking that if he touched her, she would dissolve. But she did not neither did she pull away, a tingling feeling as he touched her skin, shivering slightly as if it were cold. Legolas leaned a little closer to her when a hollow gong penetrated the moment, signifying it was time for an important party to leave. Both elves snapped out of their spell and Legolas quickly withdrew his hand.
“Um…I…ah…have to go, Legolas,” Ariane stammered, clearly bewildered as to what was about to happen.
“Right…” Legolas trailed off. “Um…you have a safe journey Arvariane Estel. May the gods guide you and keep you safe.”
“And I to you, Legolas,” Ariane returned in kind. “May your journey back to Mirkwood be a safe one.”
“We might cross each other again in Lorien,” Legolas said.
“We may.” Ariane smiled slightly.
Legolas’ heartbeat quickened, before she turned and ran off in the direction of the Elven refuge. Watching her disappear amongst the forest trees, Legolas stood thunderstruck at what just happened. This is not right! I hardly know her, his rational thoughts concluded, again. But this feeling of sadness, yet bliss at the same time, why do I feel so at peace with her, yet so frightened when not?
Plaza of Rivendell
By the time she arrived at the side entrance of the city, Ariane was out of breath. Very rarely was she out of breath, but she had to run all the way from the archery range non-stop, to get away from the feeling she had just experienced. What happened? Why do I feel so afraid, so vulnerable with him? Like a sorrowful happiness, is that possible? She thought. This cannot be right. I do not know what is worst, uncertainty or apprehension? As she compared what she felt with Legolas to how she felt with the son of Elrond last night.
The thought of Elrohir and how his grey eyes sparkled as he smiled at her the got stuck in her mind, quickly washing away the feeling she just had from her heart, but her mind still contemplating it. A warm fuzzy sensation then came over her and she smiled, her run turning into a skip. She did not feel the same fear when she was Elrohir, but tentative, maybe because she had always had a crush on him.
Reaching the pentagonal shape of the Plaza of Rivendell, the high entourage of Rivendell had already gathered outside the Library of Knowledge, friends and family saying goodbye to their loved ones and the Sentinels of the Golden Wood making sure that everything for the coming journey was in order. With ten horses packed and ready to transport the entourage to the docks on the River Bruinen for the day-night journey to Lothlorien by boat, Ariane saw her father searching the plaza from the library steps, when he spotted her. I am really going to miss everyone, as the feeling of emptiness began to come over her.
“Ariane, my dear! Where have you been?” her father vexed, as he approached her.
“Is it not obvious from the bow and quiver strapped to my back?” Ariane snapped. Lord Glorfindel stared at his daughter, surprised at her outburst. My! I am certainly moody today! “I am sorry, father. I just realised how much I am going to miss you,” Ariane quickly apologised, aware of her mood-swing all of a sudden.
Lord Glorfindel smiled slightly at his daughter and caressed her cheek, lovingly. “I shall miss you to my dearest daughter. Always be vigilant, Ariane.”
“Aye, I know,” Ariane understood. “You have always taught me to be watchful and I will watch myself and others around me.”
“I am still not keen for you to leave Arwen’s side,” Lord Glorfindel expressed, concernedly.
“Father, do not be concerned. I will be fine in Lothlorien,” Ariane assured. “Besides, if I get into trouble, I have Haldir and the Sentinels with me.”
“It is not in Lothlorien I am concerned about.” Lord Glorfindel stressed, as he remembered the prophecy Lady Galadriel gave him the week his daughter was born. Her fate is tied in with that of Arwen Evenstar, Lord Glorfindel remembered. I have told her of her duty to protect Arwen and Arwen has sent her on this trip. It is part of her destiny. he then concluded. “It is your trip there and back again. I feel afraid I will lose you and you are my only reason for living to this day.”
“Father, you allowed me to go and if you are speaking of my duty to protect Arwen, I am protecting her because she asked me to protect her mother,” Ariane said, as if reading her father’s thoughts.
“I know, I know,” Lord Glorfindel nodded. He then embraced his daughter tightly as if it would be the last time he saw her.
“Do not worry, father. I will return.” Ariane hugged her father again, before she turned to say goodbye to her four closest friends.
Dressed in the flowing silver robes, robes of her homeland and culture, the Teleri Wood Elves of Lothlorien, Lady Celebrìan held her husband’s hand as if she would never let go. Lord Elrond caressed his wife’s face gently with the back of his hand and then lifted the one that held his up to his lips and kissed it softly.
“I shall miss you, my love,” Lady Celebrìan spoke softly into her husband’s ear as she embraced him closely.
“And I to you, my heart,” Lord Elrond replied, as he smelt his wife’s hair as if it were to be for the last time. He then kissed her softly on the lips.
Pulling away from her husband, she turned to face her children all of whom had their heads bowed with the same poignant look on their faces.
“I am sorry my sons that I will miss your coming of age,” Lady Celebrìan apologised to her twin sons first, lifting up Elladan’s chin and then Elrohir’s. “I know how much you want me to be there for you both at such an event.”
“It is not that, mother,” Elladan answered, softly. “We have just had troubled dreams of late.”
“We are just concerned for your safety,” Elrohir added. “We do not want anything to happen to you.”
“What are these dreams you all have had as of late?” she inquired of her children.
“We have just felt apprehension in our heart mother. We are worried for you and the entourage,” Arwen answered earnestly. “We love you very much and wish none of our doubts come true.”
Lady Celebrìan smiled lovingly at her children. “Oh, my dears, I love you all very much too, but do not be troubled my young ones,” Lady Celebrìan assured. “I shall return. You have forced me to take Arvariane with me as well, so that should ease your troubles should it not?” Her children cast wary eyes at each other. “Come on, do not act like that,” she scolded softly. “Be positive, I will be all right and everyone will be all right. You yourself my daughter asked your friend to join me and protect me did you not?”
“Yes mother,” Arwen nodded half-heartedly, Lady Celebrìan sensing her daughter’s fear.
“Arwen, what has made you so anxious about the safety of my journey?”
“Nothing,” Arwen said after a moment’s silence. Arwen’s sullen face then changed as her daughter spotted Ariane coming up beside her. “Take care of my mother, Ariane. And take extra care of yourself.”
“I will Arwen,” Ariane assured, smiling. “Your mother and I will be fine.” Lady Celebrìan smiled at her daughter’s friend, for her assurance.
Arwen then gave a light peck on her friend’s cheek. “Fair winds, my friend.”
“Naamarie, Arwen!” Ariane then turned to the twins. “Naamarie, sons of Elrond!”
“Farewell, Ariane,” Elladan clasp his hand with Ariane’s and held her shoulder.
“May the light of Earendil guide you, Arvariane Estel,” Elrohir farewelled, but then put his forehead to Ariane’s and held her gloved hands.
“Thank you for everything, Elrohir,” Ariane said, her tone sincere.
“Always a pleasure,” her son replied, knowingly. “May you return safely to us. May you return to me,” Lady Celebrìan then heard him whisper in Ariane’s ear, before he pulled away.
Lady Celebrìan looked at the reaction of Ariane, who just smiled. What is going on between those two? Ariane then said goodbye to Lord Elrond and Erestor, before joining the rest of the entourage on their horse. Focusing back to the journey, Lady Celebrìan then held her daughter’s face and kissed her forehead. She did the same to her sons.
“Now you all behave. I love you all.” Lady Celebrìan then turned and went to mount her horse.
Everyone in the entourage was ready to go the moment Lady Celebrìan was ready to leave for the Bruinen waterfront. Riding slowly through the archways of the gates of Rivendell, towards the docks, Lady Celebrìan and Ariane took one last look at their families, smiled and waved before heading into the East.
To be continued…