Eliana dropped to the ground, her eyes bereft of the happy light that usually lit them as her lashes fluttered closed.
“Eliana!” Legolas said as he knelt beside her and cradled her head gently in his lap. No, she couldn’t be hurt, not now. Legolas brushed her soft hair away from her face. “No, Eliana you must wake–“
“What in Varda’s name happened to her?” Haldir asked, stooping down next to Legolas. Eliana did not move, and did not seem to be breathing. Haldir bent his head close to her mouth, hearing the faint rumor of breath. “She is still breathing, but only just.” He sighed and leaned back on his heels.
“She said something.” Rumil whispered. “What was it?”
“Poison.” Legolas said after a moment’s consideration. “But poison from what?”
“Her side,” Haldir said, reaching out a cautious yet gentle hand to barely brush the place where the arrow had hit her. “There must have been a poison in the wound, though we did not see it.” He looked at Eliana with pity in kind eyes, all traces of arrogance or conceit gone, replaced by worry. “There are not herbs here to help her, and I have less skill with healing than some.”
“I know of one who has such herbs and skill.” Legolas said, anxiously looking to the two brothers. “Aragorn, son of Arathorn. Find him, quickly.” Rumil wordlessly strode off into the trees. “Eliana, mellon , come back to us.” He whispered. She couldn’t die, she was too strong, and what would happen if she did not survive the hurt? She will never have known… He thought remorsefully as he prayed to Iluvitar. Please, Eru, the One who rules us all, keep her safe.
Eliana wandered helplessly in a dark dream as the poison spread through her body. She had horrific visions and heard voices calling out to her in a black tongue. Suddenly a voice raised above all the others, terrifying her. The very sound of it was like knives and cruelty to her mind; it spoke with the embodiment of unceasing malice and despair.
“ Stranger from another realm, you are not welcome here. ” It hissed to her as she tried to shrink away, but a feeling of exposure grew on her, like she was being sought by a lidless eye. “ Go back to your world, ” It called to her, “ or come to mine. ”
And then she saw it: a great eye, with a slit pupil like a cat’s, wreathed in flame. Eliana knew that it was searching for her, that it wanted to find her, and another thing to solidify its unending reign of terror.
“There can be no life in the void.” It called as it groped for her. “ Only–death. ”
“No!” Eliana screamed, fighting to throw off the stifling blackness. Her mind reeled, vying for escape before she was seen.
For a second the darkness halted: why was she resisting? This link between to worlds was supposed to be weak; a feeble woman whom Sauron would twist to his dominion and force her back to her realm, embodied as his servant and an emissary of his power.
“No!” Eliana screamed again. She had felt the Eye falter in doubt, and she threw herself towards escape. “You shall not have me! Be gone!” She was fairly seething in fury.
The darkness drew back in agony, furious that it was despoiled. Eliana felt warmth on her flesh again, and the pain had passed. She heard kind voices calling her name; voices she knew wanted to save her. With a sigh she slowly relaxed, and opened her eyes to the waking world once more.
Back in the archery clearing, Rumil returned with Aragorn at a run. Aragorn saw Eliana’s limp body lying on the ground, her head resting in Legolas’ lap.
“Oh no,” he said as he went to her side.
“She said `poison’ before she fell.” Legolas told Aragorn. Fear shone in his eyes. Eliana, mellonamin, don’t fade, he told her silently as he stroked her silken hair.
“The wound must have been poisoned, though we did not know at the time.” Haldir said. His once smug face was lowered in shame. To think that I had a part in Lady Eliana’s injury– he thought remorsefully to himself.
“If it was a poison, then it was a powerful one.” Aragorn said sadly, taking one of Eliana’s seemingly lifeless hands in one of his own. “For was not her wound healed? She has borne it long, longer than others could have done.” He sighed. “The hidden servants of the Enemy have many a venom for misfortune, but I will do what I may.” He moved to lift Eliana from the ground when suddenly her form tensed, and her eyes opened, though they did not see the others surrounding her.
“No!” she screamed suddenly, fighting Aragorn’s hand. Her eyes were dim, staring at a nameless foe.
“Eliana come out of this darkness,” Aragorn said, trying to calm her.
“NO!” she shouted again, and with surprising strength fought off Aragorn’s hold.
“Eliana, no!” Legolas said, taking her shoulders and looking in her face. It startled him to see her looking at him without seeing him; her face was pale with fear. Again she tried to battle off the hands that sought to help her as she was fighting her unseen enemy.
“You shall not have me,” Eliana raged in fury and fear. “Be gone!” She struggled again for a moment, and suddenly her body relaxed, her eyes closed, and she collapsed into Legolas’ arms.
“Is he gone? Am I safe?” She asked, shrinking near to whoever held her, large eyes bright and rimmed with tears.
“Yes, Eliana, you are safe.” Legolas told her, holding her close as she trembled in shock.
“I saw–I saw–awful things.” Her voice broke and she closed her eyes and cried silently onto his tunic.
“No, whatever you beheld, it is past.” Aragorn told her, patting her shoulder consolingly.
“I’m sorry- I’ve gotten your tunic wet,” Eliana muttered to Legolas, wiping her eyes. “Aragorn, what are you doing here?” she asked him.
“I came to help you,” Aragorn told her worriedly. “I was told that you were poisoned and needed my aid. Were you poisoned?”
“Yes, I am, or I was, I’m not sure anymore. I’m just so tired now.” Eliana yawned. Suddenly she snapped back to awareness and grabbed the front of Aragorn’s tunic. “It was him,” she said, eyes fearful.
“Who is `he’?” Aragorn asked.
“He poisoned me, his sent a messenger to shoot me.” Eliana came to realize. “Aragorn, it was the–Enemy!” she released his tunic.
“The Enemy himself?” For the first time since she had met Aragorn, he looked afraid. “Are you certain? Did he find you?” in an undertone, he added “Did he find about Frodo’s Burden?”
“No, I am sure he did not.” Eliana suddenly felt exhausted, and her mind seemed slow. “I did not let him, I promise you.”
“Great must your strength of will be to contest that of the One who seeks to destroy us all.” Haldir said, placing a careful hand on her shoulder, as if she might break. “The Lord and Lady should know about this at once.” He stood to leave with Rumil. “Though I do not think we need fear; evil does not come into this valley.” Together, he and his brother left quickly.
“We need to get back to the City,” Aragorn said briskly. “I have some athelas that should destroy the remaining effects of the poison.” Eliana could already feel her limbs becoming heavy. “Need we carry you?”
“No, no I will manage. I can walk.” She stood up to promptly sway where she stood and almost fall down again. Hands caught her about her slender waist and picked her up.
“Yes, you certainly can,” Legolas said dryly as they made their way to Caras Galadhon.
On the way back to the city, Aragorn asked her if the Enemy had found any of the whereabouts of the Fellowship.
“Hmm?” She asked sleepily, enjoying the unique sensation of being carried by someone who handled her as if she was a kitten.
“Are you quite certain that He does not know where the Company is yet? Does he know Frodo has the Ring?” he asked.
“No, he does not.” Eliana could tell her words were becoming slurred with the effects of the toxin. “I would not let him, though he tried to find me.” Within seconds, the poison forced her to sleep.
Aragorn supposed that she was telling the truth. Eliana can without doubt be trusted with knowledge of the Company, He thought, still concerned for her life.
“What happened to Lady Ellie?” Pippin asked worriedly as they passed the other members of the Fellowship on their way to Eliana’s rooms. “Is she sick?”
“No, she was poisoned.” Aragorn told the other Hobbits, who were staring at Eliana’s still form in Legolas’ arms.
“Poor lass,” Gimli said with gruff worry.
“It was unwise of her to use a weapon as she did; it certainly must have caused her present state.” Boromir said haughtily. “Women should not use arms; they are too fragile and easily hurt.”
“Her bowmanship rivals mine.” Legolas said coolly, grateful Eliana was asleep and could not here what Boromir had said. He had a feeling she would be very upset. “And she is not fragile and helpless; I would not be surprised if she has unseen skill with other weaponry as well. Her strength of will is strong enough to challenge that of the greatest Evil, and win.” Without another word he and Aragorn went to climb the great stairs of the mallorn tree, leaving Boromir in rebuked silence, to consider his rash words.
With Galadriel’s permission, Aragorn healed Eliana’s wound with his remaining athelas as she slept. After he had left Eliana to rest, the Lord and Lady came to visit Eliana.
“She is weary, poor child.” Celeborn said, gazing at Eliana with kind pity in his eyes.
“Yes, but that will pass.” Galadriel said, sitting gracefully in the chair at Eliana’s bedside. “Her mind is tired from her ordeal today, yet I perceive that she spoke true when asked if she told the Enemy nothing, of herself or the Burden.”
“She has a great strength of will, though many would think it unlikely.” Celeborn said. “I have heard from the March Warden that she is quite adept in bowmanship as well.”
“Her skill could equal mine,” Legolas said with a grin, having come into the room when Aragorn left.
“Indeed. Delicate though she seems, she has a great spirit within her for the will of Good. She may surprise you, Legolas Thranduilion.” The Lady said as she stood to leave. “But perhaps not. You will be glad of it, I do not doubt.” She and Lord Celeborn left, the Lady giving the Elven prince a fleeting smile.
“I wish Lady Galadriel would not forever speak in questions,” He said with a sigh, taking the vacated chair beside Eliana’s bed. He kindly brushed a stray lock of hair behind the gentle peak of her ear. So pretty, he thought contentedly.
“What are you seeking an answer to, Legolas?” Eliana asked, catching his hand as it brushed the side of her smooth face. She sat up with a smile and looked at him inquiringly.
“Just to any question, never you mind.” He said, kindly tweaking her pert nose. She laughed. “It is good to see you awake at last. How do you feel?”
“ Much better.” She said with a sigh. “Aragorn will do wonderful things someday with that healing gift of his.”
“Indeed he will,” Legolas said, gazing at her with bright blue eyes.
Suddenly Eliana was overwhelmed with remembering how she had fought both Aragorn and Legolas in her dark dream.
“I just wanted to say I’m sorry if I hurt you when I–was poisoned.” She told him, looking back with difficulty. “I hope you do not think less of me because of it.” She lowered her eyes in embarrassment, cheeks beginning to grow warm.
“Eliana no, of course not.” Legolas said kindly, placing a gentle hand on her chin and lifting her face to look at him. She raised her long dark lashes and gazed at him, eyes bright with their star-like shine. “I could never think less of a person with such liveliness, or who has such a sweet nature.” She blushed as he drew nearer.
“Not you.” He said coming nearer still. Legolas could see every emotion hidden behind her hazel eyes. “Never you.” He was much too close. Carefully, almost timidly, he placed a slow, soft kiss to her tender mouth. Eliana was completely still, too shocked to do anything but let it happen.
There was a loud knock on the door. The Hobbits were greeted by a rather pale Legolas as a very red Eliana straightened the blankets on her bed.
“Hullo Lady Ellie!” Merry said cheerfully. “We brought you flowers to feel better.” Sure enough, each Hobbit was carrying a small vase laden with white and gold blossoms.
“How thoughtful of you,” she said, laughing as they placed them on her beside table. Her eyes, however, where on Legolas when she said: “Thank you. That was very sweet.”
Credits to Tamora Peirce, author of The Song of the Lioness quartet. Her work inspired me in certain parts of this chapter. : )