When Eodred awoke at last it was the darkness before the dawn, when he stars were just turning pale and faint in the lightening sky. He sat up, for a moment confused, looking around. To his right the trees loomed, dark and foreboding; to his left the River Isen ran on in its swift course, unchanged, unchanging, uncaring. Avar stood nearby, a dark shape against sky and stars, but his brother and sister were nowhere to be seen. Eodred lifted himself to his feet, looking curiously at the Elf. Avar was silent, as he had always been. His hair was dark, black…. Why did that seem familiar? Something about a dream. The thought slipped away.
Eodred bent over to pick up his shield and helm from under his cloak, which he had used as a pillow. The predawn air carried a slight chill, so he fastened the green cloth–a little soiled now from the river and the battle, and rent here and there–about his shoulders, slinging the round shield across his back. It was scored with the slashes of the orcs, and the white horse was hacked to pieces, but it still held together. Eodred touched the sword still in its sheath. That was there as well.
He moved up beside Avar, but though the Elf turned to look at him he did not speak. “Avar, where are the others?” he said, but the Elf did not answer. Eodred wondered if he even spoke the common tongue.
The two did not have long to wait. Minutes passed, perhaps a quarter of an hour, and Eadil emerged from the shadow of the trees, Anormene behind her like some golden-haired shadow. It was hard to see in the darkness, but Eodred got the impression that she wasn888t quite meeting his eyes. “Eodred,” she said, her voice oddly muffled, “I went out with the Ents and the Forest Elves. We found the uruk-hai last night, fifteen of them, in the woods. None of them had gotten away from the Ents, Eodred.” she looked away.
If he had been the kind of man, her would have cursed to himself, but as it was he only looked down. Robbed even of revenge he thought bitterly. A friend dead, half a patrol, unrelieved grief… and nothing. Nothing. That was what his name meant.
He turned away, his mind blank. Don’t think, he told himself, Don’t think, that’s worse, so worse, you won’t be able to make it… robbed of revenge, robbed of glory, he’s dead, d’you hear he’s dead dead dead… ‘Can a mortal return from the Halls of Mandos?’ His own words mocked him. Who are the Valar to me? he thought savagely. Of all of them, all those Great Ones, who has seen the Void? None but Melkor alone! That thought was a sudden chill. Melkor alone… A Voice filled his head, a ringing of bells and a thunder of hooves, of darkness and fire, of Shadow and Flame.
“Eodred!” It was half-shout, half-plea; Eadil shook him by the shoulders. “Eodred, no, that’s not the way, the Void does not destroy itself, Eodred hear me he can’t give you what you seek, he has no command over Illuvitar. Eodred: galad mé mornië. Galad mé mornië.”
He was wandering, wandering in the corridors of Mandos’ halls, when the cry came to him, far off and faint, a mere echo of the bells he sought. Light in the darkness it called to him, singing sweetly, oh so sweetly, Light in the darkness. Somewhere in the darkness of his mind the demon of Shadow and Flame laughed at him, but the Voice overcame it. He blinked his eyes open.
Eadil was looking down at him, her silver hair gleaming in the sun. “Silver,” he said, “silver and black and white.”
Eadil looked at him. “Eodred, you cannot go there, not yet,” she said. “He is waiting for you, you’ll find him someday, but you cannot go yet. That way lies the Darkness and the Door unto the Night.”
He smiled at her, a little sadly. “A star is shining,” he told her, turning her around, pointing upwards. “See, there, through the trees? Do you know whose star that is?”
Eärendil’s star. He knew before she spoke the words. A light in the darkness he thought, a light like the one the Lady gave to the Ringbearer. “Eadil, Avar, Anormene,” he said, turning to the three of them, “I want to tell you something, a dream I had.” He paused, wondering if this was wise; but with those faroff words he had heard ringing from so far away the memories had come flooding back. “A dream of silver, and black, and white.”
For once there was no laughter in his mind. For once the ringing bells were silent. Even the demons were listening, he knew. Even the Demon of Shadow and Flame. I will find you, he swore softly to it, even as he told his tale. I will find you and I will hunt you down, and send you back to where you belong, beyond the Door unto the Night. Come. Your master is waiting. Silence greeted him, as cold and empty as Death.