7: Journeying Forward (February 17, 2003 to February 19, 2003)
Above the ground, she rested on the branch of her favorite mallorn. She had done this for the longest time, whenever she needed to retreat to think about things, she came to this spot. Her mind was instantly free to recall the last conversation that Elrohir and she had had before he had left to return to Imladris. Once Elrond had heard his sons were safe, he immediately began planning for them another task in which to aid the Fellowship.
“Anaire,” Elrohir had said, “it was your voice that brought me out of the place without light back into the light. Since I have awoken, you have not spoken. Why are you afraid to use your beautiful voice?”
It wasn’t like she hadn’t ignored questions she hadn’t wanted to answer before. This time was different for he had saved her and this was all he wanted in return, an answer. she began,
“But it is not,” he responded. “It is not the same, perhaps similar yet not the same. I know it is your nightmares that closed your voice and muted you. I know that you relive the pain whenever you confront the darkness. And I know you have the strength to do this, thus you have the power to use your voice because not using it is a gift that is wasted. That only satisfies the darkness.”
For the longest time, they stared at each other before Elrohir made his required departure. “I do not know when I will see you again, muinthell nin. Keep safe and keep my words in your mind,” he whispered softly, bending down to kiss her forehead. “I will see you again. Im wad.”
she said before taking a deep trembling breath, “Elrohir.”
The smile that graced his face, she’d always remember. As she reflected on it now, a glimmer of a smile appeared on her own face. Yet, it faded quickly because she still had not done what his words urged her to do. Galadriel and Celeborn knew she had spoken aloud, but to them she had not yet let hear her physical voice. Her brother understood her fears truly for when she had cried out against the orcs for torturing her, they had only struck her more. It had not been long after that she muted her and not long after that, she had shut her mind completely off. It was only with the detachment of body and mind that she had been able to survive.
From below she was distracted by Haldir’s distinctive voice, “You have not forgotten about practice have you, Anaire?”
She shook her head. She had not forgotten. An amusing thought crossed her mind: as if Haldir would let her forget. Standing straight up on the branch, she paused before she leapt off of it. She heard him catch his breath as he always did when she did that particular stunt. She didn’t know why; she’d never gotten hurt doing it. The height she’d fallen from wasn’t nearly as high as she normally jump from anyhow. But Haldir was Haldir.
“You still have to improve your use with the sword,” he remarked, drawing his blade out. “You wield it like it weighs a score more than it should. It is not wrong to handle it with two hands if you need to. You must not allow the sword to slow you down as much as it does. Wielding this blade is much different than your knives, but you treat it as if it were entirely foreign.”
she said resignedly, not sounding like her usual quietly determined self. She griped the sword firmly, ready whenever Haldir decided to start his attack.
He didn’t give her a warning; he never did. As he told her pointedly, the enemy was not going to give her a forewarning of their attack— they’d just attack. Like usual, she was able to fend off his assault by focusing hard on what move he’d make when. But as normal, she tired and grew weary until even knowing what he was going to do didn’t help. She knew he made all these sweeping moves to tire her out, and it always worked. It wasn’t like she couldn’t meet him edge to edge, she did have to protect herself. There was no other way but to do what he forced her to do.
“Are you trying?” he goaded. “Because to me you are not.” It brought a spark in her that was only momentary. It was all too soon when he had his sword against her neck, his blade resting on her vulnerable flesh. “That ended too fast,” he admonished. “You normally last far longer than what you have this morning.”
Many elves would think Haldir was overly harsh and pushed her too hard, but it was for her own good. If he hadn’t prepared her as he had, she wouldn’t have been able to hold out against the Ulairi for as long as she had. If she had not, she and Elrohir would have perished. When she decided to take up a weapon again, she had vowed to herself to be able to be able to protect herself by herself.
“We have no more time,” Haldir declared, sheathing his sword back into his scabbard. “Lady Galadriel told me to inform you to meet her at the Mirror. I will see you when you are through, Istelile.”
She wanted to speak to him, but it was not yet the time. Not quite yet. He knew, she’d be near her mallorn somewhere. He watched her go with a heavy heart, not because she was not ready— she was ready. He was not sure he was ready to watch her go without him to guard over her. Letting her leave once was difficult enough.
From the deepest chasms of Moria sprang a balrog, a demon of the ancient world, determined to stop the Fellowship, unwavering as it stood ready to fight its fight. But it was not going to be easy for Gandalf was not going to let it be easy for the balrog. Once everyone was safely across the bridge, he made his stand, placing himself between the balrog and the Fellowship.
“You cannot pass,” Gandalf declared.
From the safety of the other side, Frodo cried out, “Gandalf!”
A flame spread its intense wave across the balrog. “I am a servant of the secret fire, wielder of the flame of Anor! Dark fire shall not avail you, flame of Udun!”
The balrog merely drew a flamign sword and swung it at Gandalf, who blocked it swiftly with his staff. “Go back to the shadow! You shall not pass!”
To emphasize this grandiose statement, he slammed his staff into the ground, a flash of brilliant white light swept the balrog back. But it did not take the warning, for it stepped onto the bridge that quickly gave away. The balrog fell, managing to draw its whip of fire, that catches Gandalf’s ankle when victory and triumph is near, to pull him down to the depressing depths. For a moment, the wizard held the edge, however brief.
“Fly, you fools!” Those last words, those lost words were all that were left as Gandalf followed his nemesis into the fiery abyss.
Time was fading. Time was quickening. Time was coming. It was going to be soon. It was approaching swiftly. There was no time to waste. Still, in Lothlorien there was a bewildering peace that belied the unsteadiness of what was soon to be. For she had seen, she had witnessed what tragedy had already taken place.
“Come closer,” Galadriel urged when she heard the soft footsteps of her Fanyarelisse. “Look into the Mirror. It has something it wants to show you.”
Once she reached Galadriel’s side, she peered onto the silver surface of the Mirror, watching as Galadriel poured more water to swirl the potent images that were beginning to appear. Once the ripples smoothed away, the images sharpened and she saw the mourning faces of the Fellowship. All were filled with sorrow, but Frodo’s was the most poignant. The Mirror, sensing her interest, drew closer to the hobbit until Anaire saw in the reflection of Frodo’s eyes— Gandalf, falling after battling the balrog.
The consequences she understood were grave for Gandalf had been the one with the mindset to keep the focus and the faith. He was the one that kept the Fellowship together and strong. With him gone, it rested as her eyes did on Aragorn. As had been predicted and foreseen that his War of the Ring would be won only by the valor of men. It was only in men did even a show of a remained.
There was silence as another image replaced what had already come to pass. This, Anaire knew, was what possibly may be. Her eyes were filled with the impressions of suffering, of torture, of agony, of blood and of death. That was to be the end if Sauron won the One Ring back. Galadriel’s knowing voice filled her head,
She did not. Everything was changing rapidly, what might be the one course one day was not the direction to choose the next. She did not know her path until the day arrived that she had to choose. This day was not quite the day where she needed to decide. Doubts plauged her mind because she was not sure of herself. “I do not know yet,” she said aloud without truly realized it until she saw the astonishment on Galadriel’s face.
“I had heard that your voice had called Elrohir back to us,” she responded. “So you speak with your voice, that is good. You are finally recovering, are you not? It has taken much time, but this is the time when wholeness is needed. The end has begun. What end will it be?”
They had departed Moria. They had left it’s dark and tainted caves. Corrupted by the orcs, stained by the blood of the dwarves, and yet there was no joy in the leaving. They had left one of their own behind; Gandalf had remained by the virtue of protecting all of them. If it was not for Gandalf, they would not have made it out of Moria.
Frodo’s decision was haunting him. Maybe, it would have been wiser to take the Pass of Rohan, even if it did pass too close to Isengard. The choice had been his to make. There was no taking it back, but that still did not keep it from tormenting his mind. It was his choice; it was his decision that had doomed Gandalf. To live with that burden, however long it may be, was crushing.
“Legolas, get them up!” Aragorn declared, his eyes already surveying the land to choose the path to take to get them to their destination as quickly as possible.
Boromir, feeling sympathy for the pain apparent in the hobbits, cried out, “Give them a moment, for pity’s sake!”
“By nightfall these hills will be crawling with orcs! We must reach the woods of Lothlorien. Gimli, Legolas, get them up! On your feet, Sam. Frodo?”
It was too much, this weight that he must bear. But bear it he must, that didn’t prevent the tears that were threatening to spill, that did fall from his sorrow filled eyes. There was a great pain. There was a great sorrow. Yet, continue they must. It was what Gandalf would have wanted.
She stood next to the mallorn, her silver hair cascading around her willowy form whenever the wind decided to blow around her. She made a lovely sight against the impending shadows, a ray of light. He took his time approaching her, careful not to make a sound until he was right behind her so that she did not know he was. Whenever she grew reflective, it was easy to surprise her.
Raising his hands up, he covered her eyes with his palms. She did not move, and he did not say anything. There was no doubt to Anaire who it was. No one dared to come to her like that, only Haldir— only he dared. she murmured,
“To keep you on your toes,” he explained. “It is not good to become that far gone in your thoughts that you are not even ready for an enemy to spring on you from behind unexpectedly.”
He nodded. She had, which was why he was here. He had something he wanted to ask of her. “Yes, you have proven your worth. Your eyes and your ears are far keener than most elves. While you are here Anaire, however long that may be, I ask of you to rejoin the Guard with me.”
She slowly turned to face him, her grey eyes gazing deeply into his blue eyes. Before Celeborn had asked Haldir to let her go with him, which was why Haldir had prepared her and asked her. Her adar was not behind this, Haldir wanted her by his side. It was an honor for he chose only the best.
The grin on his face lightened up his usually stern features. She was momentarily taken back by the superfluous emotion coming from him. Like her, he was vigilant in keeping his face like a statue. She often heard his two younger brothers teasing him playfully about that. Haldir never reprimanded his younger siblings, treating them to the silence treatment that forced them to change the subject matter rather quickly.
“I am glad that you will return to the Guard, others will be too.”
The distance of the silver trees had been swallowed by their steady progress. The Fellowship were amid the strangely sacred mellyrn, feeling edgy yet not afraid. It was a distinctive emotion, though it was not alarming. For there was so much beauty, so much splendor to behold that it was simply overwhelming.
“Stay close, young hobbits,” Gimli warned. “They say a great sorceress lives here, an elf-witch of terrible power. All those who look upon her fall under her spell, and are never seen again.”
From still afar, Galadriel saw their coming. she thought as she peered at their progress in her Mirror,
“Well, this is one dwarf she won’t ensnare so easily!” Gimli exclaimed. “I have the eyes of a hawk, and the ears of a fox!”
The Galadhrim elves smiled to themselves briefly before they answered the signal that Haldir had given them, drawing their bows and coming into view. Ever since the Fellowship had entered into the Golden Woods, they had been following carefully behind. Trailing them to make sure that their intent was not to disturb, that all they sought was passage. In such unsteady times, one could never be sure.
At the very front of the group, Haldir stood proudly, his golden strands gleaming in the weak sunlight. “The dwarf breathes so loudly we could have shot in the dark,” the March Warden declared easily for only Legolas had been fast enough to aim his arrow at the archer that was aiming at him.
“Haldir of Lorien,” Aragorn declared, “we have come for help. We need your protection.”
The tension in the air was unbearable as the elves stared at the Fellowship with a calm that was unnerving. What broke the pressure was when the archer that had his bow pointed at Legolas lowered it and pulled back his hood. The silvery tresses of Istelile, Lorien’s silver star, blew around as the wind picked up. When Legolas saw who it was, he also dropped his bow. “I did not know it was you.” He was about to kneel before her, but she prevented him from doing so.
“How does Legolas know her?” Gimli asked. “How does…” The dwarf’s voice trailed off as the greater majority of the Galadhrim bows pointed toward him.
To Legolas’s shock, she knelt down before him and placed his hand on her heart before she released his hand.
“For what?” he inquired.
she answered simply. After she had told him thus, she rose up and gazed directly at Haldir. Shifting her face to Aragorn, she welcomed him, Her eyes shone when she saw the evenstar at the hollow of his throat. (You are welcomed here)
After Haldir gestured for them to do as their Istelile had done, the Galadhrims lowered their bows, but with a moment’s warning they were ready to aim again. Haldir’s eyes rested upon Gimli, and he said bluntly, “You have entered the realm of the Lady of the Golden Woods. You cannot go back. Come. She is waiting. But none of dwarven kind has ever laid eyes on the majesty of Lorien. None shall. The dwarf must be blindfolded.”
One of the elven guard stepped forward with a black cloth, prepared to blind the dwarf’s eyes, but Gimli avoided the Galadhrim deftly and declared with a furious tone, “I will not stand such treatment by elves!”
Aragorn stepped in before the elves and Gimli truly lost their tempers. “We will all wear the blindfolds.”
She had not been paying attention to what was going on around her, for her grey eyes had been caught by Frodo, the young hobbit that carried the weight of the world. In his eyes, she saw his pain, for it was the very same pain she had once suffered through herself. When this journey was over, when the task was seen through, she did not think even the most brilliant of stars could ever cast out the darkness that was in his heart now. This would stay with him.
Her eyes shifted when she caught Aragorn’s statement to Legolas, noticing his visible disappointment in missing the spectacular beauty of Lothlorien. After all, all elves once should see the loveliness that was Lorien. Yes, Imladris and Mirkwood were beautiful in their own way, but Lothlorien was different— it was ruled by the hand of a Lady. She was partial, yet she believed it was the most beautiful of all the elven strongholds.
she told Haldir.
“It is up to you, Istelile.”
“Then you can, I will not stop you.”
The Fellowship was no doubt wondering who Haldir was speaking to, but the Galadhrim knew. They had grown use the one sided conversations. They knew not to ask, for they’d not be answered. It was beginning to darken, so the elves started to move the Fellowship forward when Anaire placed her hands on Legolas’s face. She gently caressed him, letting him know it was a friend not foe. From her touch, she felt the tension in his lean muscular body. Patiently, she waited until he relaxed before she undid the cloth.
Once she did that, he whirled around to confront her, grabbing her by the wrists. When he saw who it was, he dropped his hold in her immediately, but his wondering gaze did not stop searching her eyes for an answer. she explained.
His heart pounded wildly because of the close proximity she was to him. If he moved forward a little, they’d be touching again. But he didn’t, and she moved the hood back onto her solemn face before she ran lightly to the front of the group. He watched her featherlike movements as she easily surged to Haldir’s side. From the close contact between them, he wondered what sort of relationship the two of them shared.
There was relief in Haldir’s mind when his Istelile was once again by his side. When he had seen Legolas grab Anaire’s wrist, he’d had to control the urge to interrupt them. For he knew that the Mirkwood Prince had not meant to do what he had done. It’d been an unwitting move born from the dangerous journey he’d partaken in. Once he realized who it was, he’d released his hold swiftly. That instinctive move was what Haldir wanted ingrained into Anaire, but as of yet, he’d had no luck.
The overpowering emotions from Haldir’s and Legolas’s mind made it difficult for her not to peek into their consciousness. But she did not allow herself the temptation, since she had promised Galadriel not to take advantage of the minds of those that were friends unless given permission. Only in time of need did she not need consent. But it was hard not to take one glance, to dip in for a minute. She sighed and focused on the mellyrn around her, anything but the lure of reading open minds.
Their arrival was expected. It was the reason Galadriel had specifically chosen Haldir’s guard to greet them. She had a feeling that Anaire knew what was coming, but she had not asked any questions. She never did. She did what she was told like a good child did. But the time was coming when she could no longer decide the path for her Fanyarelisse anymore. That she’d have to decide on her own. No one could make the decision for her. Not even Galadriel.
As always, comments highly appreciated.