Lady From Beyond the Sea – Chapter 9
Now why did I do that? Zandra wondered, Surely you don’t fear him? She rejected this thought immediately. It was not Legolas that she feared; though fear there was. She sank to her knees, and leaned against on of the great trees for support.
“You are so beautiful.” The words echoed in her memory. It was one of the few memories that she had really tried to forget. It hurt too much. Until now she had succeeded, but now that memories came flooding back.
She had worshiped him, and thought that he felt the same for her. Looking back she cursed her foolishness, her gullibility. She should have known, she should have been more alert.
Zandra walked through the unfamiliar woods. In the last village she had heard rumors of growing darkness to the south, and that was the direction that she was going, so she was very much on the alert. Doubly so since this land was so different from her home. So when she heard a horse on the road behind her she swiftly ran off the road and leapt into a tree that was standing off to the side.
She peered through the leaves, and was saw a large black stallion pause almost directly beneath her perch. She saw no sign of the rider. She waited several moments in the tree, gazing about, trying to find the horses master. Suddenly she felt a touch on her shoulder, and leapt from the tree. Whirling in the air to land, knife drawn to face the stranger. He leapt down lightly in front of her, his hands out to show that he held no weapon.
“Whoa, wait, I didn’t mean any harm,” he said, slowly approaching her.
“Stop right there,” she warned him, “I do know how to use this.”
“I have no doubt. I am sorry for startling you. I am afraid I am rather too fond of practical jokes, and when I saw you climb that tree, I could not help but surprise you,” he explained, she looked into guileless blue eyes, and found herself lowering her knife, though she was prepared to raise it again in an instant.
“Who are you?” she asked, still wary.
“My name is Dyryn, and you?” he responded, an ingratiating smile lighting his eyes.
“Zandra,” she found herself responding to his smile in spite of herself.
“I see we are heading in the same direction. May I travel with you?” he asked boyishly.
“But you are mounted, and I am afoot. It is awkward to travel thus.” She said, disappointed, she was lonely, and would enjoy the company. Her earlier mistrust was completely forgotten in the face of his charm.
“That is easily solved, I can take you up behind me, my steed can easily carry us both, and I will drop you off at any point you choose,” he quickly added as she began to object again. After a bit more persuasion she had agreed. Somehow he seemed to her like the type of person that you could trust. It did not occur to her to ask herself how he had come upon her unawares, or how he had known she was going south. If she had thought about it, she might have also asked why he was going south, and how he had known she was in the tree. He had been out of sight when she climbed up. She would have even questioned her automatic trust in him. She would have noticed the feeling of power that surrounded him. But she was young, and trusting, and these things did not occur to her until much later.
So she mounted behind him, and they traveled on. His conversation was charming, and he kept up a constant flow of it. In no time at all she found herself completely absorbed in him. So absorbed was she that she did not make any objection when he turned aside from the road, with only the simple explanation that it was a short cut.
After several days in his company she was convinced that she was in love, and thought that he reciprocated her feelings. She loved blindly, but wholly.
Several weeks after they met, they traveled into a dark wood.
“We are nearly there.” he said over his shoulder, and she wondered idly where that was. They came to a clearing, and he announced that they would spend the night there. She curled up under one of the trees, and slept. When she awoke she looked up to see him leaning against the tree across the clearing, a strange look in his clear blue eyes. She smiled up at him, her eyes still foggy from sleep.
“Good morning,” she said sleepily. He smiled, and turned into the forest, making a gesture summoning something from the dark. Several of the most hideous creatures she had ever seen emerged from the shadows. She leapt to her feet, crying out, and reached for her knife, to see Dyryn holding it in one hand.
“Looking for this?” he asked, and she noticed that his eyes were cruelly mocking. She lunged for it, but found herself grabbed from behind by more of the dark creatures that she would learn were orcs. She fought desperately, but felt a sharp pain in her neck. Darkness began to creep across her vision, and a weakness invaded her limbs. She turned desperately towards Dyryn calling out his name, her eyes pleading him to help her. He only laughed evilly at her, and gestured with one hand for the orcs to follow him. She noticed the gleam of a ring on his finger.
She awoke in the darkness. Her wrists were chained above her head. She struggled with all her strength, until the chains bit into her wrist, and blood ran down her upraised arms. She screamed and cried until she could cry no more. Finally, when she had collapsed in exhaustion, the manacles on her wrists the only thing holding her up, she saw a glimmer of flame approaching. The door to her cell creaked open.
There before her stood what she had thought to be her love. She turned her head away from him in disgust. But he put his finger under her chin and forced her to look at him.
“You are so beautiful,” he whispered, and he stooped to kiss her. His lips bruised hers. His kiss was not tender, but punishing. He kissed her so hard that her lips were cut on her teeth, and she tasted the metallic flavor of her blood. Finally he pulled away laughing. He licked at the blood that stained his lips.
“So sweet,” he laughed cruelly, “It is a pity my Lord has need of you. I would so have enjoyed taking you. You would put up a fight worthy of me.”
She glared at him, the love that she had thought she bore him turned to pure hatred. He only laughed again, and turned, striding away into the darkness. That was the last time that she would see more than a flicker of light around a corner for thousands of years.
Legolas cursed himself as he watched her disappear through the trees. Why did you want to go and do a cow-handed thing like that! he scolded himself. One would think you an elf lad just discovering that girls were pretty. She was upset already, and what do you have to do but start mauling her!
He had felt as though he couldn’t help himself. She had looked so adorably confused and vulnerable. All he had wanted to do was take her and comfort her, protect her, . . . kill anyone that even thought of hurting her.
Then she had looked up at him, her eyes sparkling with tears. Her lips so soft. . . He cut that thought off abruptly. Now, thinking about her lips won’t do you any good. She trusted you, and what did you do? Play the rouge! He stopped and cursed himself again.
She deserves someone who will gently and slowly court her. Someone who will slowly ease her fears, earn her trust. Not someone like you who can’t keep his hands off her! The thought of someone else earning her trust, her love, made him want to howl with the pain, or plant his fist in the fellow’s face, despite the fact that as far as he knew he didn’t exist.
That thought brought him up short. What if there was someone in her past? Someone who was the “light before the darkness?” Just thinking of her with someone else felt like a dagger in his heart, but he steeled himself against the pain. If she does love someone else, then I’ll step aside. he thought, The only thing that matters is her happiness. And then the only thing there is for you to do is prevent her from finding out what a fool you are for falling in love with someone that loves another. He turned to go rejoin the rest of the Company thinking, If only my fool heart would stop breaking!
They remained some days in Lothlorien, so far as they could tell or remember. All the while they dwelt there the sun shone clear, save for a gentle rain that fell, to Zandra’s delight, and passed away leaving all things fresh and clean.
Legolas was away much with the Galadhrim, after the first night he did not sleep with the other companions. Often he would bring Gimli with him on long walks through the woods.
Zandra missed his presence, and felt as though he were avoiding her. She spent a great deal of time with the hobbits, and did not often wander alone. When she was alone her thoughts constantly returned to Legolas, and their kiss by the river. That way led to pain. She knew she must have hurt him by running away, but she couldn’t explain to him why, especially when she so seldom saw him.
One evening Frodo and Sam were off walking, and Merry and Pippin were taking an early nap after an especially substantial meal, so she found herself walking alone by the river. She sat down on the bank, leaning against an overhanging tree, and let her feet trail in the water. She closed her eyes, and let her mind wander.
Something was nudging at the edge of her awareness, but she brushed it aside. She had tried not to think of Legolas’s kiss, but now she gratefully called the memory forward, savoring every instant. She became aware that she was being observed, and opened her eyes to find the object of her ruminations watching her from not far away. He jumped a little when he realized that she had discovered him, and made as if to flee. But he shook himself and instead stepped forward. She stood as he approached.
“Zandra,” he began.
“Legolas,” she said at the same time. They laughed, and a little of the tension eased.
“I wish to apologize,” she said, “for what happened, I . . .”
“It is I who should apologize,” he objected, “I acted quite ungentlemanly. I should not have taken advantage of your distress.”
“It is not that. . .” she began, but was unable to continue, she could not explain, not yet. She sighed and smiled brightly, “Let us both forgive and forget.” Though I shall never forget. she vowed, I shall treasure that memory for eternity.
“I don’t know that I can forget,” he joked, raising one eyebrow, and she laughed at his teasing. But before she could reply she realized what that nudging awareness was.
“Water magic!” she cried, turning to the source, “someone is scrying!” Even as she spoke she felt an all to familiar shadow feeling its way towards her. She cringed away from its searching tendrils instinctively, desperate not to be detected. She felt Legolas’s arms go around her, and leaned into him for protection.
“What is it?” he asked, but even as he spoke she realized that the Shadow was not searching for her. . .
“Frodo!” she cried, and tore herself from Legolas’s embrace, to run towards the water power she sensed. But even as she ran the magic ceased. She slowed, and felt the Shadowy arm pass over Lorien, its search foiled. Legolas came up beside her.
“What happened?” he asked again.
“I don’t really know,” she said, still walking in the direction of the fading traces of magic. Presently they saw Frodo and Sam walking towards them with the Lady Galadriel. She hailed Legolas and Zandra.
“Come my friends. Tomorrow you must leave, but tonight my Lord and I wish to speak with you.” Zandra merely nodded. She knew that something of great import had just happened, but felt that any questions would not be answered.
The Fellowship of the Ring again gathered in the chamber of Celeborn.
“Now is the time,” he said, “when those who wish to continue the Quest must harden their hearts to leave this land. Those who no longer wish to go forward may remain here, for a while. But whether they stay or go, none can be sure of peace. For we are now on the edge of doom.”
There was a moment of silence, “They are all resolved to go forward,” said Galadriel, looking in their eyes.
“As for me,” said Boromir, “My way home lies onward and not back.”
“That is true,” said Celeborn, “but is all the Company going with you to Minas Tirith?”
“We have not yet decided our course,” said Aragorn, “Beyond Lothlorien I do not know what Gandalf intended to do. Indeed I do not think that even he had any clear purpose.”
“Maybe not,” said Celeborn, “It is not my part to choose for you; but I will help you as I may. There are some among you who can handle boats; Zandra of course; Legolas, whose folk know the swift Forest River; and Boromir of Gondor; and Aragorn the traveler.”
“And one hobbit!” cried Merry, “Not all of us look on boats as wild horses. My people live by the banks of the Brandywine.”
“That is well,” said Celeborn, “Then I will furnish your Company with boats. Yet they will not give you counsel: in the end you must abandon them and the River, and turn west – or east.”
“Goodnight my friends!” said Galadriel. “Sleep in peace! Do not trouble your hearts overmuch with thoughts of the road tonight. Maybe the paths that you each shall tread are already laid before your feet, though you do not see them. Goodnight!”