Oo… I feel bad! I promised not to let it be so long between submissions, and here I go again!
Since it HAS been so long, here is a little refresher on Chapter Four and the chapters before:
Anorien, having lived with her mother, separated from their kind and all others, is suddenly alone when her Naneth is slain by a stray Orc. Hurt and lonely, she is found by Elrohir and Elladan. Immediately irritated by Elrohir, Anorien’s decision is made that much harder.. Should she go or should she stay? She decides to go, but for one purpose: to take her revenge on her father, who, by the account of her mother, abandoned them both at Anorien’s birth.
Becoming exhausted and torn by the long travel, Anorien collapses, and then is transported by the twins to Anduin’s banks…
Elrohir reached the sandy riverbank just as dusk began to fall. He laid Anorien down carefully as Elladan caught up and began to pull branches and leaves from an inconspicuous hill where he knew a boat was hidden.
Pushing the now-exposed craft to the water’s edge with his brother’s aid, Elrohir paused a moment to wipe away the sweat beaded on his forehead.
“If we both row together, we can cross the Anduin here and go up the mouth of the Nimrodel without much trouble,” Elrohir explained, scooping Anorien up again and swinging her into a resting position in the boat.
Elladan placed his folded cloak under her head.
Elrohir took a paddle and sat in the front of the boat as Elladan shoved off and hopped in with a splash.
Elrohir couldn’t help looking down at the girl’s town feet as he rowed. Why had he been so careless? He would have noticed if Arwen had been in pain and struggling. It galled him that he, who called himself mature and responsible, couldn’t notice another’s problems if they did not hurt him. Matters were made worse by the fact that Anorien was female, already weaker than he and needing more care and consideration.
But then it occurred to him. He didn’t feel as badly for Anorien as he did for himself. The thought didn’t soothe his ruffled conscience.
She wanted to wake up so badly, but it was as if heavy, cold chains had been placed on her spirit. Chains that kept her eyes closed and her body exhausted and cold.
She would have even welcomed the sight of Elrohir, if she could’ve woken up and felt all right again.
When the bright lights bathed her face in glory and splendor, she longed to open her eyes and behold whatever lovely vision must await, but she could not. Her spirit was strong, but something had happened.. The dark streak in her heart that had always been there grew. It recoiled from the lights and made her intensely want to curse the origin of them. It wanted blackness and all the things she could not have. It wanted to crush everything good and beautiful and, if necessary, Anorien.
He was alone in the dark, without a friend, without anything. All he had was his hatred and spite. But then.. What was that? He felt it.. He felt a threat.
He had been thrown from the skies long ago, but he had sworn to take his rightful place again in the great Dance. He would do anything to fulfill his vow. He would kill, steal, cheat, lie, but he would do it.
The threat came from one so small.. one so weak, he felt confident he could crush her as a strong man crushes a pebble. She was the only thing in his way, and he would stop at nothing to kill her. He should have killed her three hundred years ago when she entered the world, but that time was past. He would make it right now.
Elrohir and Elladan safely navigated their way up the mouth of the Nimrodel and into the Golden Wood, domain of Celeborwn and Galadriel, their grandparents. With Anorien’s condition worsening by the moment, they, aided by the border guards, rode hard into the City of Light and sought the aid of the healers there.
The healers dressed Anorien’s cuts and wrapped her feet in warm linen. A cloth was steeped in fever-breaking herbs and laid on her forehead, but at last, the healers had exhausted their knowledge of their art.
“There is nothing more we can do, lords. Her body is no longer hurt, but if she wakes, t’will be by the grace of Iluvatar. Her spirit is held in bondage to darkness, and no amount of healing can break the chains that hold her. A shame. Such a pretty thing.”
And the healers left, leaving the brothers alone with the girl.
Elladan opened his mouth the console his brother, to tell him it wasn’t his fault, but Elrohir got up heavily and muttered, “Would you excuse me a while, ‘Adan?”
Elladan knew better than to argue with that tone. He vacated the flet quietly, his boots making little noise on the winding stairway that wrapped the great mallorn. He understood. His brother had always been fiery of temper and could be cold and insensitive sometimes, but to him, shirking responsibility was the unpardonable sin.
Elladan knew that since Elrohir was oldest and therefore the ‘leader’, he would blame himself entirely for Anorien’s passing.
Elladan thought it was the girl’s own fault. How could they have known if she did not speak? And how, how could a few mere cuts threaten death to a Quendi?
Alone, Elrohir sat down on the mattress beside the girl and stroked her face with his fingertips while speaking softly.
Somehow, it soothed his conscience to be able to tell her how sorry he was for not taking better care of her.. tell her how much he wanted her to open her eyes and scowl at him for some new offense.
He took her thin, long-fingered hand in his and rubbed it gently, hoping she’d wake and slap him for impertinence. The fingernails were bitten and chewed in a most unseemly fashion, the skin around them red and inflamed.
Elrohir didn’t notice the flaws. He only bowed his head and prayed.
The people of Caras Galadhon bowed or curtsied as their Lady passed.
Galadriel usually had a smile or a kind word for those that nearly worshipped her, but today, her mind was elsewhere. Her grandsons were here! They had not visited in years, and she missed them so!
There were few she truly loved, but her grandchildren she doted on. She wished Elrond would send them to see her more often, but the Pass was treacherous, and she did not want to see her angels in danger.
Galadriel reached the healing flet’s stairs and ascended them quickly, but gracefully.
Reaching the top, she entered and cried, “Elrohir!”
Elrohir jumped off the bed he sat on and ran to his grandmother to hug her tightly. “Grandmother! It is so good to see you!”
Galadriel released him and stood back. “You’ve grown some more, my boy! What does your father feed you?”
Elrohir laughed. He looked down on Galadriel by at least three inches and she was not diminutive in the slightest. “Nothing for several years, Grandmother. Elladan and I are returned from Gondor. Their borders are constantly invaded by Orcs and the foul creatures of Mordor. They call for aid, but none answer.”
“Yes.. It is true,” Galadriel sighed. “I fear no amount of aid will save Gondor in the end. But come! Let us talk of happier things. Where is Elladan?”
“I sent him away. No doubt he’s wandering loose in Caras Galadhon searching for you or Grandfather, ” Elrohir smiled.
Galadriel laughed merrily. “I see. Now, who have you brought with you?”
Elrohir stepped aside to allow Galadriel a better view of the girl. “‘Adan and I found her in Rohan. She was alone, with only a sword. After a tense time, she agreed to come with us, but she has fallen ill.” He did not need to explain further. Galadriel could see the real reason behind Anorien’s illness. It wasn’t necessary to put it in words.
“Ah. But why does she still sleep? She has been tended to, has she not?”
“She has, Grandmother, but the healers say there is nothing more they can do, and it is likely that.. that she will perish if Iluvatar does not will her survival.”
Galadriel did not reply, but instead walked to the bedside and knelt down. She placed her hand on Anorien’s cheek, but she cried out and drew her hand back, the palm cherry red. “Ai!”
Galadriel cradled her hand and did not reply when Elrohir asked, “Why can you not touch her, Grandmother?”
The Lady drew in a deep breath and put her hand back on Anorien’s cheek and muttered a low prayer over the girl.
When she pulled her hand back again, the palm of it was blistered and the room smelled of burnt flesh.
“My boy, what do you know of this girl?”
“Nothing, really. Only her name. She has told us little else. She doesn’t trust us.”
“I see. The evil, or the capacity to do great wrong, within her is astounding. It burned her when I touched her skin.”
“I have not been burned, but I have neither your power nor your goodness.”
“Nonsense. You have everything I have, you just have not found the key to unlock it yet,” Galadriel smiled affectionately. “Many are more powerful that I, but sometimes the road to discovering that is too hard for most to travel.”
“I appreciate your faith, Grandmother,” Elrohir grinned. “But perhaps I am better at wielding a sword in battle than I am in ruling a city.”
Galadriel chuckled. “You will know, when it is time. I have said the Prayer of Estel over the girl. There is truly nothing more anyone can do, besides wait.”
“I will stay with her until we know if she will wake, or slumber on.”
Galadriel nodded and kissed Elrohir’s scratchy, unshaven cheek gently before passing through the curtain to glide smoothly down the silver stairs.
Elrohir resumed his vigil.
I had intended to post all of chapter Five, but time runs short! The next half will be submitted in the next couple of days. Thanks, everybody! –Alassë