The sun was at its peak in the sapphire sky, beaming down on the four of them with warm, steaming rays. This was the first day they had set out for Harad, and already the heat was becoming more and more, the vegetation and wildlife less and less. They hadn’t felt a gentle breeze in days and the air felt so dead, lifeless. Sûlroch snorted and bobbed his head carelessly as they trotted down the dusty road, an awkward silence filling the space between them.
Elboron looked far ahead of him and saw Morelen riding silently atop Sûlroch, her slender form rocking gently with the movements of the stallion. He saw the black beast and black beauty in perfect harmony with the other, a perfect image of wild and fierce majesty, and he hoped that she would not turn her head back to see him staring at her so.
The dust kicked up slightly as they trotted along and it gave the air about them a peculiar haze, the mix of moisture and dust giving the sky a surreal, golden fog.
Morelen had tried to ride in the far back, unsuccessfully of course, for Elboron insisted that he bring up the rear.
She chanced a quick look at him but as soon as her gaze touched him his eyes darted away from the distraction and straight to her, their paleness making him seem cold and slightly Elvish. She whirled her head back around and concentrated intently on Sûlroch’s mane, her cheeks burning.
Ever since her most recent attempt at escape, she had replayed their dispute over and over again in her head, reliving every sensation and thought she had experienced, relishing them secretly.
She had, at first, tried to expel the memory from her mind completely, to discard it, to pass it off as nothing, but she found that the harder she tried this, the worse it became. So, she decided it wouldn’t hurt to simply think about it; after all, no one else could hear what she kept silent. She decided to explore it in greater depth, to view it from every angle so that perhaps she could be at peace with the whole experience.
Of course she was not naïve or completely innocent in these matters; she had had a relationship with one of the kitchen boys (without the king or queen’s knowledge) that lasted for nearly two years, and she knew what it felt like to be held, to be caressed. Though what she had experienced with Elboron was neither gentle nor a caress, it for some reason it made her heart pound at the mere thought of it. She was confused and a little angry with herself for harboring such emotions.
This is pathetic! She thought, incredulous. Could it be that I feel this way just because I am young, and any man in the same situation would stir my feelings so? Or is it him alone…She could not deny the thought, even to herself. She shuddered, either way I am too young to know the difference.
“Ugh,” she accidentally murmured aloud.
Returning to her mind, she chided herself, grow up!
She tried to shake off the eerie feelings that were suddenly creeping unbidden through her veins, seeping all throughout her being.
I am so pitiful!
In the front rode Legolas and Gimli upon their horse, Arod. Roused from her reverie, Morelen listened closely, for she thought she could hear them speaking. Instead, she heard Gimli grunting a methodical, slow song of the dwarves, his voice deep and rumbling like a small rock slide. His head rocked back and forth slightly as he chanted, his foot beating against the horse’s side to keep the beat. She also heard the elf’s soft voice humming a tune, his smooth, honey tones vastly different from his friend’s. She couldn’t make out what the dwarf was singing, but she suddenly recognized Legolas’ song and her breath caught in her chest, her heart lodged in her throat. His warm voice murmured,
“The stars are far brighter
Than gems without measure,
The moon is far whiter
Than silver in treasure:
The fire is more shining
On hearth in the gloaming
Than gold won by mining,
So why go a-roaming?
O! Where are you going,
So late in returning?
The river is flowing,
The stars are all burning!
O! Whither so laden,
So sad and so dreary?
Here elf and elf-maiden
Now welcome the weary,
Come back to the valley,
Come back to the valley.
Morelen fought to keep back the tears, for this song Arwen had sung to her over and over when she was a child, her sweet, crystal voice lulling her gently to sleep. Both of them, the king and queen, had sung to her songs in almost every language since before she could remember. She was pained beyond recognition and it felt as though she had been wounded by an arrow or spear, rather than words.
Instinctively her hand covered her heart and she clutched at the tunic, as though to pull out the pain with her bare hands.
The two looked so foolish, each singing a song completely different from the other, and yet they were content to sing and to listen, to hear and to be heard.
Aye, Legolas thought conspiratorially to himself as he looked back at Morelen, her expression weary and heartbroken, my song has had its desired effect. She misses them, for sure.
Unconsciously, Morelen found herself humming the elf’s song and soon Elboron joined them, for it was a well-known elvish tune, until only Gimli sat singing alone, his unique melody contrasting sharply against the other. As he suddenly noticed that he was completely outnumbered, he lifted his head and looked around, though he did not stop singing. Defiant and stubborn, he hummed his louder until he nearly matched their combined volume. Elboron could not hold back a grin at the dwarf’s competitiveness.
Is this what Legolas lives with every day? The poor elf!
Elboron thought to himself, chuckling softly.
Abruptly the dwarf stopped, hunching over, an angry little look on his face. Legolas looked behind him and smiled, his rich blue eyes twinkling with happiness.
“Come now, Gimli; your song complemented ours wonderfully. Why did you stop?”
Gimli scoffed and grunted, his arms folded across his thick chest, “I was outflanked.”
Elboron laughed at the war metaphor, leaning over so his laugh was muffled in the smooth mane of the horse.
A small, mischievous smile crept into Morelen’s features and she shook her head, remembering how silly the two of them were when she was a child, and still were to this day. They certainly made for the best playmates.
“Mahal!” Gimli mumbled, annoyed, “How much further is this place, anyway? This beast has never been the most comfortable, and I’m sure he is tired of carrying such a heavy dwarf.”
Legolas said, “In truth, I know not. Many different tribes and races inhabit Harad, so who’s to say which one is Morelen’s? I think we’ll be traveling these lands much before we discover anything of importance.”
“Blast it all!” Cursed Gimli.
“Perhaps in the meantime you might teach us your Dwarven song, Gimli? I would love to learn it.” Said Morelen, a hint of humor in her voice, an unspoken challenge in her words.
“Oh come on,” “But you sing it so wonderfully!” “We would be most honored!” They all protested, teasing him until his face became red with both anger and embarrassment.
“No, not in a million years…” He argued vehemently. Their carefree banter continued as they rode casually down the dirt road, beads of sweat sparkling on their brows, playful laughter ringing in the heavy air. Gimli grumbled but began to sing modestly, much to the mischievous delight of Morelen and Elboron,
“Far over the misty mountains cold
To Dungeons deep and caverns old.
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale, enchanted gold….”
*Mahal* The Dwarvish name for their people’s creator. Known by the elves as, “Aule.”
*The Elvish song is one from The Hobbit used by the Greenwood elves and the Dwarven song is one I found off of the internet, though I don’t know its author.*