Elizabeth and the man starred at each other for a minute. Thousands of questions raced through her mind. Who was he? Where was she? What in heaven’s name was going on?
“Who are you?” she finally managed to ask.
“You are the stranger, I believe you should be the one to tell me who you are,” the man replied. He held the bow up once more but still kept the arrow slack. As he shifted to hold the bow up again his hair moved away from his ear. It was pointed. He pulled the string back ever so slightly and asked, “Now, who are you?”
“What are you?” she asked ignoring him and still gaping at the fact that he had pointed ears.
“You come to Lothlorien, but do not know what an Elf is?” said the man, raising an eyebrow.
“N-no,” said Elizabeth, “where I last was Elves don’t, or at least, didn’t exist.”
The Elf considered what she said. He sighed. “Could you please kingly tell me who you are?” Elizabeth could tell he was getting impatient and trying not to show it.
It was her turn to sigh. “My name is Elizabeth Trigg. I’m from the West and ran away to keep from going to the East.”
The Elf relaxed at her words. “My name is Haldir. Come, the Lord and Lady of Lothlorien will want to meet you.”
“Lord and Lady?” Elizabeth asked faintly.
“Aye, Lord Celeborn and the Lady Galadriel,” said Haldir putting his arrow back in the quiver and his bow away. “Come.” He motioned to his end of the…
“What is this floor-like thing we’re on?” she asked.
“It’s called a talan,” explained Haldir.
She got up and walked cautiously over to his end and looked down. There was a ladder. “Climb down. I will follow,” said Haldir.
Elizabeth still wasn’t quite sure whether to trust this Haldir or not, but she saw no real reason to mistrust him, other than the fact his weaponry reminded her of the Indians that lived near her home. She climbed down from the talan and turned to watch and listen to the river.
“Ah, the Nimrodel,” said Haldir, silently walking up behind her. “You can hear her voice in the falls.”
“Whose?” Elizabeth asked distantly. She had never seen or heard anything as beautiful as the Nimrodel.
“The Lady Nimrodel, for whom the river is named,” explained Haldir; “it is said you can hear her singing in the falls. But now come, we have a walk ahead of us before we reach the Lord and Lady.”
Elizabeth turned and reluctantly walked away from the Nimrodel and followed Haldir deeper into the Golden Wood. “Are there other rivers? That we’ll have to cross I mean,” she asked.
“Aye, but not as fair as the Nimrodel. We call it the Celebrant–Silverlode–I believe they call it in your tongue. The waters are rougher and more than some of the other rivers here in Lorien,” replied Haldir.
It was then that Elizabeth suddenly remembered her basket. “Haldir, where did you put my basket?”
“We saw no basket, why?” asked Haldir, with guarded curiosity.
“I brought a basket with me, it had my clothes and some food in it. It contained nothing terribly important,” she answered, slightly desperate. She didn’t want something happening to it since it had been a gift from her brother.
The thought of him brought tears to her eyes and even more so when that reminded her of the parents she may never see again.
“Are you alright?” asked Haldir.
She shook her head as the cough came back. Haldir waited patiently for her to stop coughing before walking on.
One thing she had been smart enough not to put in the basket was an Indian-made bracelet, another gift from her brother. As she walked she looked at it. It was leather, buffalo-hide her brother had assumed, with an intricate beadwork shaped to look like one of the Indian paint horse’s head. It stayed on her wrist with two strings of soft leather that you had to tie together.
“Oofff!” she huffed as she collided with Haldir. She heard the sound of an angry river rushing by. She looked around Haldir and saw what she assumed was the Celebrant. Then she noticed a rope strung from this side of the river to the other.
“Cross it,” commanded Haldir.
“How?” He surely didn’t think she would walk across the rope did he?
Apparently he did for he said, “I see you do not possess the skill to simply walk across.” He gave a call that reminded Elizabeth somewhat of a bird and another Elf appeared on the far bank. Then Haldir tossed a second rope and the other Elf caught it then tied it to a tree about the height of Elizabeth’s shoulder.
Haldir walked nimbly across, leaving Elizabeth nothing to do but cross. “Do not look down!” called Haldir above the sound of the rapids. She swallowed and grasped the rope in one hand and took a step. The rope shook slightly beneath her foot making her step back. She took a deep breath and carefully stepped onto the rope again. The river was beginning to make her dizzy so she closed her eyes and concentrated on putting on foot directly in front of the other.
She was about three-quarters of the way across when she began coughing again. Her footing slipped and she instinctively turned to grab the rope with her other hand. The rope that she had been walking on was too far away for her to swing back on and still have her footing. Haldir had begun to go back for her but she shook her head. “I’ll be fine!” she yelled to him. He nodded and backed off. Then Elizabeth began to slide her hands toward the other side and once again closed her eyes. In a few moments she felt solid ground beneath her feet and someone grabbed her arm and hauled her back further away from the river.
“You must be more careful!” said Haldir.
Elizabeth nodded, too shaky to say anything back. Finally she was able to walk on.
The rest of the way seemed like a dream. The woods were beautiful and she knew why it was called the Golden Wood; the leaves on the trees were turning gold instead of the normal red, yellow, and orange of autumn, but then again were these woods truly normal?
She hardly noticed when Haldir directed her to a turn on the path or in the direction of the city when there was a cross-section. She came back to reality when she saw the most beautiful flowers. Some were a yellow and others were a soft pale colour.
“We arrive at Cerin Amroth,” Haldir said softly. “The yellow flowers you see are elanor and the others are niphredil.”
“They’re beautiful,” whispered Elizabeth.
“Come,” said Haldir and he directed her to a high flet.
When she reached the top she was as breathless as if she had just run a long race. Haldir turned her south and at a first glance she saw what seemed like an ominous shadow. “That is Southern Mirkwood, but come now, and we shall go to Caras Galadhon.”
They walked for what seemed to Elizabeth, an eternity, and she had to stop several times. A few times the cough caught up to her before they finally reached a white bridge and the gates on the other side.
Their arrival must have been anticipated for they opened before Haldir had a chance to knock. She was glad to because the sun was a little more than halfway across the sky and she hadn’t had breakfast. She was also nervous, she now trusted Haldir enough to follow him to his home city, but what would the others be like? Would she trust them?
Haldir led her up stairs and through a maze of paths before they came to a wide lawn. It was lit with silver lanterns and a fountain stood in center. On the southern side towered a tall tree. As they approached Elizabeth noticed a ladder that led up.
One of three Elves stationed near stood and blew once from a horn. Three answering blows came from above. “Now we shall ascend and you shall meet the Lord Celeborn and the Lady Galadriel. It is high and you will be permitted to rest on the way up,” said Haldir.
After she passed a few flets Elizabeth had to pause. She didn’t want to hang there and hunger drove her forward so she continued up.
It seemed an eternity by the time she reached the top. Most of the Elves had seemed friendly but on the flet before, an Elf girl gave her a glare full of such hatred Elizabeth thought it couldn’t belong to one from a race that was as fair as the Elves.
She reached the top flet and managed to keep a cough stifled that had been nagging her for some time.
Before her were the Lord and Lady. Both were tall and silent though not one was taller than the other. The Lord had shining silver hair while the Lady had hair that was much fairer than gold.
“Welcome Elizabeth Trigg,” said the Lord. “Your arrival, though last minute, was not unexpected.”