CHAPTER 2: MANY QUESTIONS
“What was that all about?” Jax greeted the elf as the citadel doors shut behind her. She smiled at him but failed to answer. The whole way down the levels he peppered her with questions.
“Who were they? Are they really from the west? Why aren’t you answering me?” He finally put his foot down. Rowan laughed.
“They are elves from the West, and I’m not answering you because I don’t want to.” She replied. Jax frowned, but he allowed her to remain silent until they reached the level where the stables were. Inside the three silver stallions stood, shining like jewels against the few dreary chestnuts that were also standing in their stalls. Rowan walked up to Legolas’s horse, and patted him on the nose.
“Why do you look so familiar?” She whispered, and swept the long mane away from his forehead, revealing a white mark shaped like a perfect star. Rowan gave a little gasp and hugged the horse around the neck.
“Elemmire!” The elf cried, and the horse nodded his head at the name. She knew this horse well, he had been her mount in the days before the War of the Ring, but she knew not how he had come here, from so long ago.
“You’re old now, son of Shadowfax.” She cooed, as Jax silently watched her reunion from the side. Rowan turned her head to glance at her friend.
“He was mine back in the third age, before I lost him in the last War. I didn’t know he still walked this earth,” She said. “I would never forget such a beauty. His name is a star that Elbereth herself wrought when the world was first created.” Rowan continued, not caring that the name of Elbereth meant nothing to the men of Gondor anymore. She was caught up in the memories of an age long since past, and suddenly she wanted to see Legolas again, and ask him how he found Elemmire. And how the elves had come from Valinor, and all these questions that started to gnaw at her mind the moment Legolas had rode through the gates. Sighing, Rowan let her hand slip down the stallion’s back.
“. . .Elbereth?” Jax asked, quietly. The elf maiden looked at him, shaken out of her reveries. They don’t know her name, she thought.
“Elbereth is the one who created the stars- she is one the elves adore very much. But she dwells across the sea,” Rowan replied. “Eru gave her and Manwe the power to rule this Middle Earth.”
“Who’s Eru?” He said. Rowan started a moment- these people do not know the name of Eru!
“He created the world, Jax. How- how could you not know?” She said, aghast and staring at the young man with the confused look upon his face. Jax shrugged his shoulders, and reached to touch Elemmire on the nose. The horse snorted, and jerked his head back from the youth’s touch.
“Why is he so flighty?” Jax asked, not giving a second thought to Rowan’s remarks on the Creator. Rowan let the matter drop- this time. But she wanted to bring it up later.
“He is not used to so many men, maybe. I’m not sure, but he has the same temperament as Shadowfax.” She said. Jax looked at her strangely at the name of the legendary horse, but Rowan ignored him. She had explained enough, and it was painful to draw such long dead memories out to one who did not understand.
“Come back to the citadel with me.” She said with a smile, and the elf patted the horse once more, grabbed Jax’s hand, and raced back up to through the levels, ignoring the stares they received as she pushed past the crowds.
By the time the two reached the courtyard Jax was well out of breath, and waved Rowan to continue without him. With a laugh she did just that, and pushing open the wide doors, she noticed the king was still in the room with the other elves. Sighing, she walked in anyway. Even though she had been there a million times, it took her breath away in the same way that it did when King Aragorn was here, and she had walked with Arwen through the marbled halls. Those were good days, of peace and laughter; but now there was a brooding sense of distrust and anger hidden in these halls, and Rowan shivered.
“Rowan? Is that you?”
The elf maiden turned, and caught sight of the queen making her way down the halls. She wore a flowing dress of silver and blue, that shimmered as she walked. Rowan had knit it for the queen, who couldn’t help noticing how Rowan’s own garments seemed to glow on her. But right now, Rowan felt drab in her simple green gown next to Queen Wynhym’s dress. The queen was by no means considered as beautiful as Rowan, even though she herself contained small traces of elven light within her, but no one ever mentioned that.
“I’ve been looking for you every where. What is this about you becoming a soldier? I myself couldn’t believe it when Amrath told me , but- you’re a woman! We aren’t supposed to fight.” As the queen said this, she took Rowan’s arm and led her out of the great hall. The elf smiled at the queen’s obvious depression at no longer having her as her councilor.
“I would much rather spend time with you, lady, but I cannot. Corin’s orders.” She said. The queen waved her hand in discontent anyway.
“Corin’s orders? Since when does Corin give the orders?” Wynhym asked.
“Since he became general of the King’s army.” Rowan replied, smiling at the queen’s nonchalance.
“Oh, silly generals.”
Rowan laughed again, and the queen joined her, their voices reverberating down the stone walls with surprising strength. When they stopped, they had reached the queen’s room, and entering Wynhym became sober again.
“Rowan, dear Rowan, before you leave me, I had something that I wanted to tell you.” The queen sat on the little red couch and motioned Rowan over.
“What, your highness?” The elf asked.
“I wanted you to have this.” Wynhym reached over to the oak desk beside the couch, and opening the drawer she pulled out a necklace. Rowan gasped when she saw; it was the Evenstar, Arwen’s necklace that she had given Aragorn when they pledged their love to one another. The queen dropped the silver charm into Rowan’s open palm.
“I thought it was buried with King Aragorn, when he died.” The elf maiden murmured, seeing the dull silver suddenly glow when it touched her open palm. Queen Wynhym smiled at Rowan’s awe, and handed her a note also.
“This came with it,” The queen said. “It has long been waiting for you to claim it.” Rowan took the note, and opening read the elven words with tears in her eyes.
To my cousin, Rowan,
I know that you are not one to leave this Middle Earth without your heart also. I also know how much you love these lands, and I am proud of all that you have accomplished here, from the days we grew up in, when you slew the orcs outside of Imladris, to the days of the Third Age, and in the War of the Ring, where your victories have also reached my ears. You will receive this jewel long after I am gone, and I wanted you to have it as a token of the Elves. Aragorn also sends his love with it. I will not see you in Valinor, my light is gone, but take comfort that I will be with my love forever, wherever I go. May the light of the Valar be with you,
Your Loving Cousin
And Your Friend Forever,
Rowan wiped the tears from her eyes, and felt the queen’s gentle arm over her shoulders.
“I’m sorry it took so long to get to you.” Wynhym whispered, and clasped the necklace around the elf’s fair neck.
“It looks lovely on you. When I held it, it seemed dull and lifeless, but on you it sparkles again.” Rowan smiled through the tears, and brushed her blonde hair out of her eyes with a sigh.
“I didn’t ever think that Aragorn would part with this.” She said, knowing that the queen didn’t fully understand the value of such a necklace. Rowan stood, and touched the necklace before addressing the queen.
“Thank you.” Was all she could say, and bowing, she tucked the note in a pocket and left the queen.
The door shut with a loud clang behind her, and Rowan stood for a few minutes, leaning on the wooden door and stoking the Evenstar with a gentle finger. She closed her eyes, and her mind drifted back to when her and Arwen were children, laughing and playing together, under the fresh, green leaves of Imladris. She saw them run through the elven halls and upon a balcony overlooking a rosy garden. . .
* * * * * * *”Look, they’re in bloom!” Arwen cries, and reaches down to touch the petals, her sea-blue dress rubbing against the railing. Rowan laughs in delight as the slightly older elf plucks a rose from the dirt and hands it to her.
“It matches your dress, cousin.” Arwen says.
“There you are, girls.”
Arwen and Rowan turn, and spy Elrond coming down the stairs behind them, Celebrian locked in his arm, and Rowan’s mother, Mäiner, is close behind.
“Naneth!” Rowan shouted, and brushing past her aunt and uncle falls into her mothers open arms.
“Darling! Where have you and Arwen been? I was waiting for you when I came, a few hours ago.” Mäiner says, drawing away from the hug. Rowan bears a confused look on her face.
“But you said you wouldn’t be here until next month.” She says.
“Yes, well, I am here now, with Gailor and Lindon. Come with me, I have something for you from your great-aunt Galadriel.” Mäiner smiles, and Rowan giggles, taking her mother’s hand and they walk away as the vision turns to grey. . .* * * * * * *
Rowan jumped at the sudden voice, and turned, seeing Corin standing close beside her.
“You startled me.” She said, laughing slightly, and taking her hand off of the silver chain around her neck. Corin saw the necklace, and frowned.
“What is that?” He asked.
“It is from Queen Arwen- back in the Third Age.” She quickly said, knowing Corin may not remember. But to her surprise, he knew exactly what she was talking about.
“King Aragorn’s Arwen? Wow, that’s ancient.” He murmured, but then changed the subject.
“The army was going to leave tomorrow, as you know, but these elves are putting a slight tear in our plan.” Corin said.
“What are they talking about?” Rowan said, her attention fully on Corin. The prince smiled at her enthusiasm.
“I didn’t hear much, but what they were talking about seems to elude the fact that we’re marching tomorrow. I wanted to talk to you about it-” But he was interrupted with voices down the hall.
“They’re out! I’ll be right back.” Rowan cried, and raced away from the confused prince. She strode down the halls until she came to the throne room, and was glad to see the elves there with King Amrath.
“Thank you for you concerns.” The king was saying, and the elves bowed. Legolas caught sight of her and smiled quickly when she came near.
“I want to show you something.” She whispered, pulling him away from Elladan and Elrohir when they where in the courtyard. Rowan pulled the note out and placed it in his open palm. When he read it, he turned his eyes upon the Evenstar on Rowan’s neck.
“I don’t believe it.” Legolas said, memories flooding back. Rowan took his hand, and pulled him farther away from the white tree and the elves, and Jax still waiting.
“You never answered my question; how are you here?” She asked, wonder still prominent in her voice. Legolas grinned at her ceaseless curiosity before he spoke.
“The Valar sent me, much like they sent Mithrandir in the past age. You needed us.” He whispered, close to her ear.
“But why?” She replied, the answer not quite good enough for her. Legolas sighed.
“You know the uprisings in the south?” He asked. Rowan was a bit surprised he knew, but just nodded. “The haradrim that were at peace with us once Aragorn took the throne? They are starting battles with the men who have settled south of Minas Tirith. There are many of them, and war is brewing. . . I don’t want you here for another war.”
Rowan looked at him with a deep love in her eyes.
“I am supposed to be here.” She said, recognizing the last part was out of Legolas’s concern for her, and not really a valid reason. “You don’t understand, Legolas. That is why I cannot leave. My heart is here because this is where I should be. Soon I will come and join you on the West shores, but not yet. Not now,” She paused, recalling the mention of the Valar. “Why did they send you? There are men enough here to ward off any attacks, large or small. Whatever my part is it will be small. . .” Legolas shook his head at her words, hushing her.
“Your part is much bigger than you know, Rowan. I am here to help you. Elladan and Elrohir came because their wisdom is needed in the courts of the King. I am here for you.” He said, and kissed her tenderly. After a moment, Rowan pulled away and looked deep into his clear eyes, searching for something, although she couldn’t quite say what.
“What is my part?” Rowan whispered. Legolas laughed, the sound startling her although it was quiet.
“You cannot know that,” He said. “Because I don’t know that. But you know it in your heart. Look there.”
At these words, Rowan smiled, and placed her head on his chest, reveling in his presence. Long they stood, before a voice interrupted Rowan’s thoughts.
“Hey, how long are you going to stand there? Corin wants you, you know. Something like Gondor’s still marching, or something. . .” Jax called, feeling a twinge of jealousy at the closeness shared between the elves. Not that he liked Rowan like that or anything, but it made him feel left out. Rowan took Legolas’ hand and led him over to where her friend stood, arms crossed.
“Legolas, this is Jax. He’s been my friend here in Minas Tirith for a long time.” The elf maiden said, as Legolas saluted Jax in his elven way. Jax looked slightly confused at the gesture, but mimicked it anyway, drawing a giggle from Rowan.
“Corin told me he wants you.” He repeated, not enjoying being laughed at in front of such noble elves. Rowan sighed, not wanting to leave the light presence of her elf friends, whom she had missed more than words could say, but she turned anyway, and entered the citadel once more.