The last week of festivities went by in a flash and all too soon Arwen and Aragorn were packing to leave.
“I wish you didn’t have to go.” Ervinai moaned one evening as she was bidding Arwen `goodnight’.
“Why don’t you just come home with us and visit for a while, Ervi?”
“Yes, we’d love to have you.”
“I’ll pray about it and let you know!”
“Alright. `Night Ervi.”
Walking back to her talan that night Ervinai prayed. As she prayed she began to get excited. There’s really no reason for me to stay in Lórien…why couldn’t I go spend a few months with Arwen? Oh Lord, I don’t want to do this if it’s not Your will. I pray that You would let me know if this is something You don’t want me to do.
Suddenly she spotted a miniature trail leading off into the woods. Deciding, on a whim, to be adventuresome, she stepped off the main pathway onto the side lane, her feet fairly dancing in excitement. Ervinai marveled at how different the forest looked by night as she followed her feet down the track rutted with tree roots and brambles. After a few moments more she heard water. Grinning, she raced for the sound, stopping only when she saw the river. It was just a little stream, but wide enough to cause a break in the treetops above. Moonlight spilled down, tickling the leaves on its way, until it reached the giggling brook. Ervinai fell to her knees, slack-jawed, and watched in awe as the light played with the tumbling waters. “Beautiful” did not do it justice. It was ornate in its implicit glory.
As she knelt a verse came to mind, a verse she had memorized years ago in Sunday School as a child.
“The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” *
Wait! That’s the answer! He wants me to go! “Okay, Lord. I’ll go to Minas Tirith.” she whispered, looking up at the sky, littered with stars, through the opening the trees permitted. Then, because she couldn’t possibly walk away from the wonder without taking part in it, she slipped off her slippers and waded into the shallow stream. The water was cold, and the stones were sharp, but she didn’t mind, nor did she bother to lift her skirts from the trickling waters. It was so refreshing, she stooped down and splashed some of the liquid coolness onto her face and arms.
Then, one idea triggering another, she cupped her hands around the water and flung it into the air, throwing back her head at the same moment to see what happened to the water in the moonlight. The droplets hung on the air, iridescent pearls on the shawl of mist which threaded through the cool air. Laughing delightedly, Ervinai caught up some more of the rivulet and tossed it skyward as well. She grinned when she realized she’d thrown the water directly overhead and all the little pearls splattered against her face and bare arms.
“Lord, You are so beautiful.” she whispered, eyes closing and face tilted upwards.
She heard a twig snap. Spinning around, Ervinai found a sheepish-faced Elrohir and a befuddled Éomer eyeing her, her soaking gown, and her slippers on the bank with unveiled curiosity.
“What are you two doing out here?” Ervinai demanded, immediately embarrassed that they’d caught her and angry that her quiet time with God had been interrupted.
“Uh…well…” Elrohir began.
“What were you doing?” Éomer cut in.
“Having fun.” she replied tersely, stomping out of the river and snatching up her slippers.
“Cousin, cousin.” Elrohir soothed, finding his voice. “We’re sorry we disturbed you. Look, you stay here, we’ll go.”
“No, it’s time I was getting to bed anyways.” She glanced longingly at the riverbed before taking to the path once more. Sorry, Lord, I guess we’ll have to finish our time later. She hadn’t gone far before,
“Ervinai, wait up!” Éomer trotted up beside her. “Elrohir decided to explore some more, but if I know him he’ll be roaming around, talking to the trees until dawn, and, unlike him, I do require sleep.” he offered as an apology for disturbing her again.
“It’s okay, Éomer. I don’t know why I got so defensive back there. You guys just scared me, that’s all.”
“You’re not mad?”
“No, I’m not.”
“So what were you doing?”
He looked at her a moment before replying. “Seems like a funny way to pray.”
She smiled. “Everyone’s prayers are different.”
“Yes, I suppose so.”
A couple of days later Ervinai gently hugged Galadriel before turning to embrace Celeborn, who kissed both of her cheeks and said, “We’ll be waiting to hear from you. Garo lend vaer.” * Ervinai nodded, then turned on her heal to join her companions on the path below. She asked herself belatedly why she’d ever agreed to go on this journey anyways.
“Have I not commanded you, beloved? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” *
Her brother Runando awaited her with a saddled and bridled mount. With a rueful smile he held out his arms; she stepped gratefully into them, taking the opportunity to smother a sniffle in the rough folds of his tunic. He squeezed her long and hard, then let go and peered into her eyes while whispering, “Don’t stay away too long, little sister. My prayers go with you.” Blinking hard to keep hot tears at bay, Runando’s face swarm and Ervinai saw the face of her brother on earth. She nodded once in numb response, then blindly clambered onto the back of the horse. She clung to the hope that once they were out of the forest she’d be okay, it was the “goodbyes” which always got to her.
When the travelers stopped late that evening to make camp, Ervinai was in a much happier disposition. She was back to the feeling of peaceful joy she’d felt the night she discovered the river in the woods. Wanting to be alone to mull over the day’s events and just to be with God in silence, she slowly made her way to the edge of camp.
Éomer’s shadowed eyes followed her into the darkness, but he resisted the urge to go after her, sensing she wanted solitude in which to pray to her god. He had seen her on the trail earlier today, eyes closed, lips moving in a quiet prayer. He wondered who she prayed to. Illúvitar? Manwë? Elbereth? He watched as she convulsed with wracking sobs at times, silent though they were. Which of these Elvish deities demanded that much devotion? He was sure if they’d not been riding she’d have prostrated herself to her unseen god. He, on the other hand, worshipped no one. Let the Elves cry to the Valar, Sauron knows they did it often enough cleanse the whole of Arda! No, Éomer could take care of himself.
Surrounded by the deep darkness, Ervinai’s soul exposed it’s secret joys and sorrows, for the glory of God. Stars glittered promisingly overhead, gracing the vaulted heavens with beauty unequalled. Quietly, Ervinai began to sing: her voice trembling slightly in the beauty of God’s grace.
Light of the world
You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes, let me see
Beauty that makes this heart adore You
Hope of a life spent with You
Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether wonderful to me
King of all days
Oh, so highly exalted
Glorious in Heaven above
Humbly You came
To the earth You created
All for love’s sake became poor
Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down…*
The stars she was gazing at suddenly winked out one by one at an alarming rate across the ink-colored sky. Ervinai broke off in the middle of a note, her raised arms falling slowly back down to her sides. The shape of darkness wheeled overhead in a whisper of unseen wings, whilst the camp beneath fell into a tense silence, waiting for what they knew not. Ervinai now fervently wished she hadn’t ventured out quite so far from the safety of her friends.
The spawn let lose a searing shriek of five notes on a descending scale from shadowed jaws above. Ervinai heard herself scream with it; her arms and legs crawling with goosebumps and the hair along her neck standing on end.
Éomer’s blood ran icy cold when he remembered Ervinai out in the darkness, alone.
The beast tore through the chilling night air for Ervinai, an easy target, where she sat on the crest of a hill just outside encampment.
Stunned into immobility, Ervinai cringed and shrunk desperately into the hill beneath her. She muttered a prayer that the creature would leave and go back wherever it came from. Her frantic petitions did nothing to appease the monster. It swooped lethally toward Ervinai, who sat motionless, begging this all to be a nightmare. Its dark wings flapped through the stars, hypnotizing her until —
Strong arms from behind thrust her roughly aside, and she found herself sprawling into a little hollow next to the hill. Ervinai’s last conscious recognition was that she heard a man scream out in pain as the wings of darkness cracked together directly overhead, then flapped away; something hit her head and she lost consciousness.
Waking to the bustling of skirts and whispering of many strange, distorted voices, and a ringing of ruthless quality in both ears, which throbbed in time with the incessant tapping in her skull, Ervinai struggled to open her heavy eyelids. She groped outward tentatively in the darkness with trembling hands and found a woman seated nearby. Ervinai muffled a choking sob of relief when the woman leaned over and she discovered it was Arwen.
When she finally managed to pry her seeing digits open all the way open, Ervinai saw she lay inside a low tent. Arwen’s dear, oval face was lined to exhaustion, yet her eyes lit up softly when Ervinai met her gaze. The patient strained, trying to speak, but the nurse-queen shushed her gently while laying two cool fingers firmly across her cousin’s too warm lips. “What happened, Arwen?” Ervinai queried haltingly, despite the pressure against her mouth.
Arwen’s brows bent together and her lips pursed outward. Finally she answered, though Ervinai sensed she hadn’t told the whole truth. “You hit your head on a rock and you’ve been unconscious for two days, dear.” She smoothed a cool cloth onto Ervinai’s forehead. “Right now you need to rest. Here, have some broth.” She continued to speak in a quiet, soothing voice to her cousin as she slowly fed her a bowl of hot soup then watched as Ervinai drifted into a shallow sleep.
When next Ervinai awoke, the ringing in her ears was gone, though a dull pain in the back of her head remained. Rising slightly, she took in her new surroundings: she was laid out in a fine bed in the center of a granite-chiseled room. The tent had disappeared. She slid bravely out of the large bed into the much larger room, gasping in surprise at the coolness of the stone floor. Into the hall beyond she quietly padded, immediately coming across a wide open door opposite her own.
Curiosity lured her to peek inside, but what she found there made her stomach turn. A man lay face-down in the bed. The shades were drawn, so it was hard to see, but as she peered closer she saw he was bared from head to waist and three open wounds raced across his swelling back. Arwen rose from where she was seated near the man’s head to protest Ervinai’s presence in the cool room, the bandages she was preparing falling soundlessly from her lap to the floor. Aragorn came cautiously toward Ervinai, trying to cut her off from the vision of the mauled figure on the bed, but she slipped out of his grasp for a better look.
A pale, boy-like face with a bearded jaw and generous mustache lay unconscious on the pillow. His rugged head burned in her eyes like embers from a smoldering fire only moments from burning out. Tears filled her eyes as the air left her body and she fell backwards into the startled arms of a stranger just before darkness took her.
Arwen gasped, pent up tears from their voyage across many leagues finally falling, as she raced to her cousin’s side. Aragorn looked worriedly between Ervinai and his wife before his eyes came to rest once again on the frighteningly still, deathly pale figure of his friend.
For days Éomer’s body raged with fever, as though some poison had been emitted by the foul beast that first night out of Lóthlorien. Aragorn sat with him until he himself was drawn and white, so that Arwen and Ervinai had to drag him away for the sake of his own health.
Ervinai slept and ate sparingly, spending most of her time in prayer for Éomer. Of course, she realized now, that it had been Éomer’s voice calling out her name and he who shoved her aside on that hill just out of the Golden Wood. He had saved her life, and, in return, might be called upon to surrender his own. She wondered what she had done to deserve such friendship, wondered if she could live a life worthy of the sacrifice he paid.
“My lord!” a huffing and puffing captain burst into the room where Éomer lay, unconscious as of yet, and where Ervinai sat spooning broth down the unconscious king’s throat. Aragorn sat across from her, holding Éomer’s head. Hearing his captain, he shot her an apologetic glance, then rose.
“Yes, Lûth, what is it?” the king asked, trying, and failing, to hide the weariness in his voice.
“I’ve the report you asked for, my lord.”
“Ah, yes. Tell me, what did you discover about the attack on Ervinai?” their voices grew softer as they moved further down the hall. The captain replied in a wary tone, whispering something about strange footsteps, then the king’s voice reverberated down the hall, raising the hair on Ervinai’s neck as he roared, “Dragons?!”
Ervinai had moved out into the hall, to better hear what the king and his captain were discussing, and when she heard “dragons” her knees gave way and she leaned against the doorframe, suddenly dizzy. In an instant the captain was there before her, taking her hand and feeling her forehead for fever, asking if she were alright. Her vision swam, but she fought it, silently cursing the fragile state she’d entered into ever since the attack. The dragon attack! Oh, Lord! Please help us!
It was many more long, long days before Éomer was considered “safe” from the toxins that feasted on his blood and even then it was with utmost wariness he was left alone at any time, day or night. Ervinai often sat with him thus, glad to see Arwen and Aragorn resume many of their normal duties as monarchs.
Therefore it was she, and no one else, who was present when the ruler of the Riddermark opened his eyes one cool afternoon in the marble palace and immediately attempted to roll from his position on his face to his bandaged backside. Not the smartest decision, but, for one just regaining consciousness after being attacked by a dragon, it’s to be expected. He immediately let loose a howl of pain and leapt, enraged, from his bed as one who has been burnt by a hot coal or bitten by a snake. His eyes, live with terror, met those of Ervinai who had been sitting placidly by his bed practicing with a needle and thread as Arwen had taught her. She gasped and quickly scrambled to her own feet, alarmed by the whiteness of his face underneath the unkempt beard and mustache.
Lûth, the captain of Gondor’s reputable guard, stationed at the end of the hall, and drawn by Éomer’s fierce yell, came sprinting down the hallway to Ervinai’s side, just in time too, for their weak patient fainted dead away. His towering height fell straight toward Ervinai, who cringed, but didn’t move, knowing she couldn’t just step aside and let him crash unhindered onto the stone floor. But her worry was needless, for the captain quickly intervened, and, groaning under the dead weight of Éomer, staggered toward the bed, as Ervinai rushed to help lift Éomer back onto it.
Lûth turned toward Ervinai as she stood with hands on hips looking with concerned disapproval on Éomer’s still form. Her dancing eyes rose to meet his and he chuckled as she broke into golden laughter of her own. Her mirth died away, however, as she remembered the sobriety of the situation. He still smiled though and, catching her chin between calloused thumb and forefinger, looked deep into her eyes and whispered into the sudden silence, “I believe you can rest now, my lady.” Ervinai just nodded her head slowly, eyes wide, wondering if she weren’t already dreaming.
* Joshua 1:9 (NIV Version)
* Garo lend vaer- Have a good journey
* Joshua 1:9 (NIV Version)
* Song Name: “Here I Am to Worship”
Artist: Michael W. Smith
Author’s note: Hey guys! I hope you liked this chapter! *evil grin* There’s more to come, so don’t go away! ; ) Sorry this one was so long in coming out…there were some complications and I ended up having to rewrite a BUNCH of this chappie. *groan* Anywhoo, thanks so much for all of your comments, you’re so nice. : D Have a great week!