As soon as lord Elrond called dismissal of the council, Elone rose and left. She could not stay another minute in the same vicinity as her father. No, I do not hate him, she thought,but how can I not be bitter? But I am a new person; he does not need ever know what I have become. It shall suffice for him to know I left.
Night had fallen on the peaceful valley. Being of the Firstborn, Elone did not fear the dark. She welcomed it. Seperating herself from the main group of newcomers to Rivendell, she walked away from the Last Homely House. Turning into the gentle pines, she paced a path. Ah, she knew them so well, the secret paths of Imladris. The one she had chosen wove through the waterfalls and left her a clear undisturbed veiw of the stars. Earendil, she wondered,Earendil, keeper of the Silmaril. She gazed at the brightest star. What did you teach to your son Elrond that he has forgotten? Would you have loved me? Silence reigned around her, save for the constant sound of rushing water. Manwe, she called, Varda Elbereth, Star-weaver. Take me now. Gather me up in your arms, in your stars. Place me on the eternal ship with Earendil my grandsire and let me shine upon my father’s face. Then he shall know me.
Her lament was ended abruptly as she sensed another presence. Realization that she was not alone brought a sudden end to her thoughts. Turning, she saw another Elf. It was the one from Mirkwood, the one they called Legolas Greenleaf. He was gazing about him, and singing softly in Elvish, words that Elone did not catch. Upon passing her, he nodded courteously, but did not speak. He merely walked on by. Wondering that he did not stop to talk, she raised her hand to her face. There she felt a hood, and a peice of cloth wrapped tightly about her hair. She had not had the heart to cut it. A chilling wind gusted suddenly by, and she shivered. It is a barrier She touched her hood. Not from cold winds only. I have placed a barrier within myself: a wall between Arnach and Elone, between warrior and maid, between present and past.
Turning suddenly on her heel, she began to run on a passionate inspiration. Not down the path after Legolas, but down. Down, towards the river that rushed below her. Down, towards the place where she knew her soul could find comfort. But do Elves have souls? What did Eru intend? Dispelling any sentimental or self-pitying thoughts, she leapt, like a deer, through the rushing foam of the river. She landed perfectly on a smooth rock, installed convieniently just off the bank. Coiling her muscles like a spring, she leaped again, landing on the other shore. Standing, breathing lightly, she gazed up at the near-vertical wall of rock and soil before her. Planting her fingers easily in a well-known slit in the rock face, she lifted herself up. She began to climb. Beside her, a thin waterfall rushed constantly, close enough to push her down back into the unforgiving river water. But she did not miss a beat. She knew this place, though she had not been here for years–long years! Within moments, her feet found the familiar ledge hidden in the overhanging brush. Twisting her body deftly, she slipped in behind the wall of water, and landed on a smooth rock floor. The sound of the water echoed pleasantly inside the small cave, and the light threw strange patterns on the walls. I know this place. This is mine. And it knows me; I am not forgotten here.
With trembling fingers, she ripped off her hood and threw it on the floor. Her hair, red and gold, firey and shining, cascaded in waves upon her sholders and fell in waves down her back. The bitter October wind seeped in behind the falls and whipped her hair around her face. She raised her hands and began to sing. The roar of the waterfall drowned it out almost completely, but she stood and sang. Tears held back from hundreds of years fell down her cheeks.
Far off, on a path, Legolas Greenleaf paused. His keen ears caught a sound, as if some maiden singing, mingling with the rush of water, but the wind whipped it far away.
Once her song had ceased, Arnach sat down on the floor of the cave, her back to the cool wall. She did not want to stay in Rivendell. There is no use in it. Even if Frodo does leave for Mordor, seeking the Cracks of Doom, what help can I be? Elrond will surely send others with him, so I needn’t feel guilty. Aragorn and Gandalf can be of more service that I could. Besides, Aragorn is bound to this, in the fate of Isildur. She stood up, resolute. I should leave tonight, if I am going. Perhaps I should go by Edoras, to warn Theoden-king of Saruman. But I have one thing to attend to first. Drawing her hands behind her, she worked her fingers through her hair, plaiting it into one long braid. She fastened it with a leather strip. Then, drawing her sword from its sheath, she put it to her hair and severed the plait. Most of a braid fell to the floor. I cannot cut it shorter, I fear my vanity has not diminished. But ’tis more convincing as a male-elf at this length. The hair she left brushed barely below her sholders, about the length she had seen the other Elves’ at the council. She bundled it back into her hood, smeared her face with dirt, and slipped back out into the night, kicking her loose hair into the stream of the waterfall.
Swiftly she ran back to the buildings of Rivendell. I must get enough rations to make it to Rohan, and refill my quiver. And should I speak to Gandalf? No, there isn’t time. She reached the stables, and was welcomed by a friendly whinney. Ducking through the slightly open door, she was startled by another person in the dark stable.
“Who is there?”
Elone smiled. It was only Gandalf. He stood before one of the stalls, pipe in hand, gently stroking a magnificent horse with the other.
“What brings you here, Elone, my child?”
“I’m leaving, Mithrandir.”
“I feared so. The sweet air of Imladris is forever poisoned in your nostrils, I fear. Is that not so?”
“Where will you go?”
Elone moved to a different stall, to where stood a horse of deep golden bay.
“To Rohan. I have ridden with the Riddermark. Theoden-king deserves a warning before the storm of Isengard breaks above his head.” She turned to her horse. “Aman, my love, are you ready to ride?”
“Aman. Such was the name of the realm of Eldarmar, when the Valar dwelt in Middle-earth,” Gandalf’s voice was low and thoughtful. “To name a horse ‘blessed’ is a sign that the namer seeks a blessing.”
“He was given the name by another.”
“Ah.” Gandalf smiled. “So, you ride to Rohan?”
He studied her face. “Child, the Vala have blessed you. How you have passed off as a male-elf is beyond me.” He stood a moment, deep in thought. “Though I am not as powerful as the Valar who sent me here, I have been given certain gifts. Here.” Gandalf rumaged in his pocket and produced a thin cord upon which hung a simple stone, roughly in the shape of a circle, carved in with strange markings, letters Elone could not read.
“This is a simple amulet,”said Gandalf as he handed it to her. “Yet by my power and the grace given me, it can aid you more than you know. Once it is placed around your neck, to all that behold you, you will seem as a male-elf. Nothing about you will change, but it will change how others see you. And thus you will stay until something breaks the cord upon which this stone hangs.”
Elone gazed at the strange token. “Gandalf, it sounds so absurd. How can this little rock change me?”
Gandalf smiled. “Trust me, Elone Elengwath.” Yes, Gandalf, I trust you. Thank you, Mithrandir, thank you.
She placed the amulet around her neck. Gandalf tied it into a wizard-knot, which would hold it forever. And then, he stepped outside and gazed at the heavens. He raised up his hands and whispered words in a language that Elone did not know.
When Gandalf turned back to Elone, he saw standing there no longer a young, distraught Elf-maid. It was a sturdy young warrior; nothing about her was different, but she was percieved differently. Even her hair seemed more brown that red. Gandalf smiled in encouragement. He opened the stall door and let Aman out.
“Go, Arnach. Warn Theoden. Fight for Rohan. But remember the Ring-bearer and his quest. Come to his aid if you think of him. Do not spite your father. He is preoccupied with thoughts of the One, and your sister’s love for Aragorn.”
Elone snorted, but smiled back at Gandalf. “Thank you Gandalf. I shall pay it back to you someday.”
“No need, my dear. Only repay it to our land, and to service against Sauron. Now, ride!”
Elone swung herself up upon Aman and whispered in his ear.
“Noro lim, Aman, mellon nin, noro lim.”
Aman sprung away as Gandalf opened wide the big stabe door. Far into the night, she shot away. Away from Rivendell, never to return. Goodbye, Gandalf. Goodbye, lord Elrond, my father. Goodbye, Elone. Arnach is here to stay. The wind is cold, but my blood surges through my veins like fire and ice. And I swear–do you hear me Elbereth?–that one day if I regain my father’s love, then I will return here. If not, I will remain an exile until either I join my mother in the halls of Mandos, or leave for Valimar. Haste; Saruman is foul. I fly into the night, and I do not know what lies before me.