Title: In Times Like These
Disclaimer: All characters are Tolkien other than my “OC.”
About the Question asked: I made up the ceremony but it seemed Tolkien-ish to me, hope you guys don’t mind!
Enjoy this update!
5: Changing Hands of Fate (February 11, 2003 to February 13, 2003)
They rode for days on end, taking almost no breaks for the times had only grown more dangerous. Despite their fleetness of horses, they still had had to deal with an orc attack, which they successfully fought off with no injuries much less casualties. All those in the Galadhrim group were skilled by many a years of protecting Lothlorien. But finally, they had reached Rivendell where Elrond and Arwen were awaiting their expectant arrival.
“At last you come,” Arwen greeted with glowing eyes as she rushed to her sister and hugged her eagerly in welcome, “you were delayed, were you not?”
Anaire nodded. //By orcs,// she answered, //but that was momentary. The fasted route was blocked, so we had to work our way around. Has the Council begun?//
Arwen shook her head. “No,” she responded, “the representatives from Gondor have yet to arrive, though the Mirkwood elves did beat you here.” She bowed to her father and took her sister’s hand. “Come to my room, we have much we need to discuss.”
Waving his hand in agreement, Elrond dismissed them and turned his focus onto Haldir, whom he had much to inquire of. “Any word that needs to be made known to me, Haldir o Lorien?”
“None, Lord Elrond,” he responded. “What Galadriel told you last time remains true, that is all she bade me tell you.” It was what he had hoped not to hear, but so be it— Galadriel knew what she was doing better than anyone.
“Anaire, she fought well against the orcs she met during journey to Imladris?” Elrond queried.
“Well, of course,” Haldir replied in almost a scornful fashion that his pupil would not have fought well, “she is as skilled as any in my guard or else she would not be in my guard. Over the years since the doom has been foreseen, I have prepared her to handle whatever may happen. There is still more for her to learn, more for her to experience, but though not naturally a gifted warrior has forced herself to be one.”
“Forced herself to be one?”
“Yes,” he said simply, “she has tried hard to be skilled with weaponry, yet still she is lacking. She pushes herself harder than any I have taught because she wants it. She is not talented, but she is the best student I have. Only when she is distracted is she weak, when she is focused her ability to read minds make up for any deficit of natural ability.”
Elrond had heard enough. Glancing at the hallway where Arwen and Anaire had departed, he stared at the spot where the two sisters had left hand in hand. Together, they had a destiny woven into the hope of Middle Earth. It was not for him to question when Galadriel had already allowed Anaire to walk down the path of certain death. Maybe there was something else that the Lady of Light knew that he did not, for he did not think Galadriel would knowingly sacrifice a daughter of hers into the forefront of an absolute demise.
She watched her sister move up and down the length of her room with knowing eyes for Arwen had never been able to shield her mind effectively from her. Yet, Anaire did not allow herself to dip into Arwen’s mind when the information would be freely given if she waited for it. It was for that reason that Arwen had brought her here to discuss something that was plaguing her mind, something Anaire had already guess at. //There is something you wish to say. So say it, Undomiel.//
“Istelile,” Arwen began, her hand on the pendant they both had, “we share this necklace between the two of us… it is our bond with each other… but I wish to give it… to Estel.”
Her suspicious were confirmed. //We share the necklace, but the bond is in our hearts. Giving the pendant to Estel will not change our sisterhood. Giving your heart to Aragorn will not lessen the ties that bind us. Undomiel, it is your heart to give. Give it well, give it freely.//
“Thank you, Istelile,” Arwen whispered. “To have a sister whose heart is as true and as pure as yours is a gift beyond all else.”
//I am no better than the others,// Anaire responded. Arwen was about to ask why she thought that, but Anaire’s stony expression told her it was not wise to inquire. There was still much about her sister that she had yet to know though Anaire knew all she kept within her. She did not understand why, but she knew better than to pressure her for that only forced Anaire back into her shell. It had taken all these years for her to open up this far and still she did not speak aloud.
Anaire averted her gaze from Arwen’s and stared out at the darkening sky, seeing a vaguely familiar silhouette of a figure on the bridge over the lake of Imladris. She did not have to see his face to know who it was. It was Estel. He was waiting for Arwen, undoubtedly. //He is waiting for you.// Her sister gave her an apologetic look before heading out to meet her lover. Anaire watched as Arwen with a sympathetic gaze for their very love was in the end, whatever end it was going to be was going to filled with sorrow.
As she turned her face, she caught her reflection in the mirror. It had been hundred of years since she had dared to see her face. Now she was getting a good look at herself, and she understood why everyone gaped when they saw her. She traced a solitary finger down her scar that began below her eye and traveled down to the corner of her mouth. She couldn’t get passed it, how did others get pass it? When she focused in on her grey eyes, she saw the darkness that others did not see. For she knew what resided beneath her eyes, the dark shadows.
She was still haunted by her demons. It was something that she couldn’t shake away from her core. Whenever she saw orcs, she had to fight the fear within her to run, to hide, to simply escape. She wasn’t that helpless child they had taken and abused any longer. She was made of strength now, the strength to resist them and to prevent them for torturing anyone the way they had tormented her.
Lost in her thought, she had no idea she had even left Arwen’s room and was wandering aimlessly down the hallway until she bumped into someone. Lifting her head up quickly, she quickly bent it down, not able to bare the sight of having someone glance at her, her terrible scar, her terrible secret. It wasn’t like her to go anywhere without her cloak, why did she not have it now?
“It is you,” said a voice, soft and liquid, entirely unfamiliar to her. “It really is you.”
The call in his voice made her lift her face up again. She stared into eyes that were a true blue, and she realized that she did not know him though he knew her. She tried to place his face, his perfectly beautiful face but she could not. She did not recognize him, yet somehow he knew her. At least, he thought he knew her. Shaking her head, she began to back away from him.
From the way she was shaking her head, it was obvious that she did not remember her. He had not thought about her in a long time, but there were times when his mind was pulled back to his memories of her. The way she had knelt before his father, the determination in her gaze, the strength in her fragility had moved him and had made her unforgettable. “You spoke to me,” he whispered insistently, closing the gap she was making between them. “Do you not remember? You said: Do not ask to know one no one knows. You met me at Mirkwood when you brought a missive from the Lady Galadriel. I am Legolas, the Prince of Mirkwood…”
“Do not pressure her,” Haldir interrupted as he walked up to Anire, placing her white cloak onto her shoulders. “In time, she will remember you if that is what she wishes.” He moved to the front her, fastening her cloak on for her like a father. “Istelile, Elladan and Elrohir have arrived back from their last mission and both wish to speak to you before they ride out tonight, since it has been quite long since they have last seen you.”
She nodded and bowed respectfully to Legolas before she left to go to rooms that Elladan and Elrohir shared while they were in Imladris. Once she had faded into the night, Haldir turned sharply to Legolas and was about to say something but Legolas beat him to it, “Why does she not remember her trip to Mirkwood?”
“The trip was traumatic for her because of the attack by the orcs,” Haldir responded finally, still staring down the empty hallway that Anaire had used to walk away. “It was not discovered how badly it had unnerved her until we returned to Lothlorien. It was then that she started to open up even more to Galadriel, showing her more fully the memories that still plagued her. It is not that she does not remember you, she does not want to remember that trip much like she does not wish to remember her past.” He stopped speaking after that, giving a stiff nod before he too turned away and followed the path Anaire had taken.
Still standing where they both had left him, Legolas pondered the halting information that Haldir had given him. Truth be told, he had almost not recognized her not that she appeared different. There was a different air about her, a different aura. When he had first seen her, there was this feeling of being lost like she wasn’t of this world. When he had seen her just now for the first time in many years, he got a different emotion about her. No longer did she feel surreal, she no longer felt quite so out of reach— she was in reach.
A glimmer of a smile appeared on her lips when she saw her brothers, Elrohir and Elladan waiting for her. It had bothered her as she’d made her way to where her brothers were waiting, why she didn’t remember the beautiful blond and blue eyed elf that knew her. She vaguely recalled Mirkwood but only barely. She remembered going to Mirkwood, but she didn’t recall the elf that claimed to be its Prince. What Haldir said was true, that when her mind wanted to remember it would.
“Anaire Istelile,” Elladan greet, going to her and giving her a hug, “it is good to see you again, muinthell.” (sister)
Elrohir approached after his brother and kissed her gently on the forehead. “Muinthell,” he whispered as he embraced her, “Elladan and I wish to ask you to come with us on our journeys around.” He paused to let his request sink in. “Will you come?”
She stared into Elrohir’s piercing gaze, and she knew that he knew why she’d come to participate in the Council that Elrond had called upon. It also meant that she could possibly be part of whatever their father decided on what to do with the one ring. For both Elladan and Elrohir knew that the one ring could not remain in Imladris, the elves did not have the strength to keep it from Sauron. They had not regained even half their strength in the War of the Last Alliance of Men and Elves.
//You leave tonight?// They nodded, they indeed left this night. //I cannot,// she replied, //I am needed to represent the elves of Lothlorien at the Council. My apologies, Elladan and Elrohir.//
“It is okay,” Elladan responded, “I had to ask to give you another option. Keep safe, Anaire, for when we return we want to see you as well as the day we left you.” Taking a silver dagger from his bag, he tossed it to her. “For you, whatever path you take,” he declared. “Made by master dwarves and will serve you well as it has I.”
From Elrohir’s finger, he pulled a ring set with a precious moonstone off of his finger and placed it into her open palm. “Given to me by amme from her amme that I now give to you, Anaire. Remember how far you have gone and who you are.” (mother)
//Thank you.// She slipped the ring onto her finger and placed the dagger into the sheath at her side. //There is something I have for both of you.// She took out of her pocket two small phials filled with a clear liquid. //From the Mirror of Galadriel for you to remember the clarity and the vision behind your paths.//
All three knew that this exchange of gifts may be the last time they saw each other for the longest time ever. Each was to undertake a dangerous journey to prevent the desires of Sauron from being realized no matter what the cost. The decision of the Council those many years ago had decided that though the days of elves were coming to an end, they would stay to make sure that the days of men, the days of the free folk did not end.
“Elladan and Elrohir,” Haldir stated, breaking the penetrating silence that surrounded the three of them as he had walked up to them, “Lord Elrond needs to speak to you.” The twin brothers gave one final glance at their adopted sister before they hurried to go to their father, for in these times things were urgent. Once they had departed, Haldir whispered softly, “You need to rest, Istelile before tomorrow comes.”
Her grey eyes lifted to meet his intense blue ones that knew her as well as anyone besides Celeborn and Galadriel. //I know Haldir. I know.// She raised her hand up and followed the scar down her cheek, something she had never done before. //I saw my face in Arwen’s mirror. Is it unsightly?//
He took her hand and traced her scar with his finger gently, barely touching it. “No,” he answered, “it is not.” When his hand came to her chink he tilted her face up so that his blue orbs stared into her grey ones. “The mirror only reflects your appearance and not your heart, not your soul.”
//Thank you, Haldir.//
“Remember,” he declared after he had escorted her to her room, “even though we are at Rivendell, the morning sessions still stand. Be ready before the sun rises.”
The next morning, Anaire was up, working at her aim with her bow when she heard the footsteps of someone behind her. She whirled around expecting to see Haldir, only to be confronted by the elf from last night. Her eyes widened, but she quickly controlled her emotions and refocused her attention on the target. Stringing her bow with an arrow and narrowing her eyes with concentration, she then let it loose. The arrow flew through the air and split the arrow that was already in the center of the target.
“Less time to aim equals more time to shoot,” Haldir advised as he slipped from behind a tree. “You need to be quicker and less careful.” He approached her and stood next to her. Taking his bow, he pulled arrows from them fast with barely any time to aim he released them. He didn’t stop until ten arrows had blown from his bow. “Let the feeling guide you. You will feel the intuition.” He placed his hand on hers, standing behind her like she was still a novice, he commanded, “Close your eyes.”
She closed her eyes and shot whenever he placed an arrow into her hand. When she reopened her eyes, she saw that all her arrows were approximately near the target, despite that she had had her eyes closed and had spent little time aiming. When she looked up to see what Haldir’s expression was, she saw he was pleased because there were no emotions written on his stoic face. It was easy for her to tell when he was irritated, frustrated. She did not have to read his mind.
//That is better is it not?//
“That is better,” he agreed. Without giving her a chance to prepare herself, he withdrew his sword and lunged at her. Swiftly she slid her twin long knives out and blocked the blow, this randomness was what he’d been trying to teach her all these years to expect what was unexpected. Anaire was plainly on the defensive, while Haldir was on the offensive. Legolas watched with fascination as neither really got a distinct upper hand. They fought like they danced.
Neither of the three noticed Arwen’s approach. “Anaire,” she called, “the Council is about to begin.” When Arwen noticed Legolas standing to the side, she continued, “Prince Legolas, you are needed at the Council as well.”
“May I attend the Council?” Haldir requested, sheathing his blade.
Arwen nodded. “I believe a spot has been reserved for you, Haldir as the March Warden of Lothlorien. You are to be seated next to muinthell nin. Will you three follow me?” (my sister)
“Strangers from distant lands, friends of old. You are summoned here to answer the threat of Mordor. Middle Earth stands on the brink of destruction,” Elrond declared. “You will unite or you will fall. Each race is bound to this fate, this one doom.” He paused and his gaze fell onto the hobbit that had carried the burden. “Bring forth the ring, Frodo.”
To Elrond’s immediate right stood his sworn daughter, Anaire, who watched with keen eyes as the hobbit placed his hand over the center of the Council and dropped the ring. The expression on his still pale face was relieved, glad to be rid of the awful weight. In him, she saw how the ring had pulled at him, how it had made him suffer through the lure yet he had fought it with a heart of purity.
“So it is true. The ring of power. The doom of man.”
Boromir stood up, the son of the Steward of Gondor, the representative of man. “It is a gift, a gift to the foes of Mordor. Why not use this Ring? Long has my father, the Steward of Gondor, kept the forces of Mordor at bay. By the blood of my people are your lands kept safe. Give Gondor the weapon of the enemy. Let us use it against him.”
The feeling she got from this man, this son of man was not the same emotion she received from Aragorn. It was not that he was an evil soul, it was that his soul was easily swayed. Already the lure of the ring was pulling at him, trying to reach him and move him as it had moved Isildur. The darkness she felt made her heart ache with the barrenness until she stepped closer to Haldir, who stood right beside her.
“We have but one choice,” Elrond continued. “The ring must be destroyed.”
“What are we waiting for?” Gimli queried loudly. He stood onto his feet and pulled his axe out, striking the ring. But he did not draw the focus that Frodo did of hers. True, Gimli was knocked to the ground, yet Frodo was paralyzed by something, some vision he saw. Carefully, she probed the outer reaches of his mind and saw, saw the horror of what he saw. The eye of Sauron.
She almost gasped, but managed to keep it to herself. “The ring cannot be destroyed, Gimli, son of Gloin by any craft that we here possess,” Elrond stated firmly. “It was made in the fires of Mount Doom. Only there can it be unmade. It must be taken deep into Mordor, and cast back into the fiery chasm from which it came. One of you must do this.”
A silence filled the air that was deafening. Her eyes hit all those that were there, and her eyes fell onto Legolas. He was noble and good, strong and brave. It was not long before the silence erupted into a vortex of voices. She watched the chaos that started as the races of Middle Earth argued amongst them for what way they’d take to destroy the One Ring.
It filled her heart with agony as she heard the Ring chanting, chanting its name, its terrible purpose in the language of its master. She was seized with the festering darkness that she kept trapped within her. Those horrible words reminded her too much of what she had gone through that she had unwittingly grabbed Haldir’s arm. Comfortingly, he placed his hand over hers.
“I will take it.” She was the only one to hear Frodo’s declaration, but she was not the last as he repeated in a stronger exclamation, “I will take it!” The rest of the Council turned their focus to the brave, pure, innocent Hobbit. “I will take the ring to Mordor. Though I do not know the way.”
“I will help you bear this burden for as long as it is yours to bear,” Gandalf declared, resting his hand upon Frodo’s shoulder.
“If by my life or my death I can protect you, I will.” Anaire watched as the love of her sister’s life knelt in front of Frodo with his vow to be faithful as only the true heir to man could do. “You have my sword.”
“And my bow.”
“And my axe.”
“You carry the fate of us all, little one,” Boromir remarked. “But if this is truly the will of the Council, Gondor will see it done.” Yes, his heart was easily swayed, but this man was not corrupted not quite yet. It remained to be seen if his heart was stronger than the taint that the weakness of men’s hearts already bore.
This was the fate of Middle Earth being decided here. It was a wondrous moment as the races all joined together. She stepped forward, stepping to join when Elrond’s hand prevented her from moving forward. She glanced up at him with inquiry in her eyes, this was what she thought she was brought here to do for Galadriel had told her that there was something here to bind her destiny.
It was not to be she realized as she watched three hobbits spring from their hiding placing, making up the seventh, eighth, and ninth members of the nine party Fellowship. “Nine companions,” Elrond commented. “So be it. You shall be the Fellowship of the Ring.”
“Haldir,” Elrond said, “Galadriel has recalled you back to Lothlorien, but Anaire will ride after Elladan, Elrohir, and Glorfindel, whom are tracking the Nazgul. That is what Galadriel has foreseen is her task to fulfill. It was only this morning that she informed me of this.”
“I cannot leave her alone,” Haldir declared. “Who will protect her until she meets up with them?”
“You will accompany her until she meets up with the small group of Imladris I have sent to delay the nine riders,” Elrond responded. “After you meet up with them, you will then travel to Lothlorien.” He paused momentarily. “Prepare her things while I speak to her privately for you must depart before the Fellowship and clear their way, the task I have given my sons.”
Haldir nodded and bowed low, leaving Elrond’s study. Not long after, Anaire entered and the father of her oselle, guided her up the stairs to the seeing room. “Galadriel can explain to you your destiny better than I,” Elrond declared before he left her alone in the room. (sworn sister)
Anaire had never tried to reach along, but she had studied how to. So she faced the direction of Lothlorien and reached out with her mind to feel Galadriel’s touch. Her mind was clamed as she felt her adopted mother’s golden feel. //Amme,// she greeted and then added as she felt the gentleness of Celeborn, //Adar, how are things in Lorien?//
//They are good, Estelinde,// Celeborn responded. //There is much Galadriel needs to speak to you of and there is little time. But know my strength and my will are behind you.//
//I know, Adar. I know.//
There was a moment of quiet as those thoughts sunk in. //Anaire, my Fanyarelisse, first I had thought you were to accompany the Fellowship, but you are needed to clear the path they are to take. In time, fate may change that, but be strong and faithful for the road you take is fraught with danger as is theirs. I believe that your brothers will keep you safe, Haldir will see you to them safely.//
There was more that Galadriel had yet to speak. She knew her adopted mother as well as she knew anyone. //You have something to ask. Ask it, Amme.//
There was a trace of a smile in the image that Galadriel sent to Anaire. //Your thoughts of the ring-bearer, the Fellowship that is to accompany him.//
//Frodo’s heart is as pure as any eldar,// Anaire began, //but the pull of the One Ring is strong. His heart is still stronger. I believe he can bear it better than any. Aragorn of all men has the strength of heart to keep the faith of men. Legolas, the elf Prince, is the right representative of elves, noble and honorable. Gandalf will hold the Fellowship together with his wisdom and his experience. Gimli, the dwarf envoy, is quick to react and has the will to make the journey. The four hobbits have no experience, but their bravery and their loyalty will serve them yet. Boromir of Gondor concerns me most for his heart may sway most easily. The Nine are idealistic, that will preserve their hope. That is what they most need, hope.//
//Anaire, my Fanyarelisse let your soul guide you safely back to me.//
When the horses were ready and the rest of the group from Lothlorien were prepared, they were sent off to catch Elladan and Elrohir. Before they left, Elrond and Arwen bid them a special good bye. What was most touching was the parting between the sworn sisters. Their embrace was heartwarming and tender, filled with the filial love they shared. At last it was time to go and Anaire mounted the gentle mare that she rode for the mare was easy to ride.
The group was about to depart when a strong voice called out, “Anaire of Lothlorien!” She stopped and glanced back, taken by surprise when she saw the Prince of Mirkwood running toward her. He knew that she remembered him not, what was he doing then? She soon found out when he placed a small package into her open hands. “For you on your trip, may this help you.”
She was astonished by his audacity for she had thought him to be reserved. But she took the letter and put it safely into her bag. Later when there was time, she would read it. There was no time now. With all haste, the group departed from Rivendell. Even with their speed, it took two days before they caught up to the twins of Elrond.
Once they reached the group of three that Elrond had sent from Imladris to track the nine dark riders, Haldir dismounted off his stallion, leading his horse to her. “I want you to take my horse,” he told her. Before she was able to protest, he pulled her off her sweet mare and helped her onto his stallion. “Telpetal won’t let you fall, he won’t leave you behind. He is fleeter than your mare and more able to handle the hardships of the travel. He will not fail you, will you?”
The stallion snorted, shaking his grey mane and stared at Haldir as he helped Anaire up onto the horse. “Watch over her, Telpetal, guard her as you would I. Protect Istelile no matter what. I trust in you.” The horse bowed his regal head for what Haldir spoke he would do. “Farewell, Anaire Galadhriel, my Istelile, let Elentari keep you safe. I leave her in your hands, Elladan and Elrohir, sons of Elrond, and yours, Glorfindel.”
They nodded, they would protect her with their lives if it was called upon for them to do. //Farewell, Haldir.//
Turning back the road they had taken, Haldir led the Galadhrim group to the direction of their home. If he looked back he was frightened that his resolve and his determination to do what was called for him to do might fail. So he pushed himself, forced himself to leave her behind to the mercy of whatever danger that brewed. It was the first time they had parted ways, since they had first met.
The Rivendell group waited until the Lothlorien group had faded away before they urged their horses and hers back to the pursuit of the Nazgul. The riders were close, within riding distance. It was not to be long before they caught the nine dark riders and made sure that they delayed them long enough to give the Fellowship enough of a head start on their mission. For in a few days, the Fellowship of the Ring would set out on their deadly journey.
Author’s Note: Feedback is VERY MUCH appreciated. If you have to tell me what you’d like to see, what you think will happen, constructive comments— that’d be awesome in helping me along with this plot. Thanks for the reviews so far!