A/N: First off, I’m sorry that this chapter is so terribly late (don’t I keep saying that…) But all sorts of things (including school) started happening, which slowed me down, rather. Sorry. The chapters are getting onger, I think. For this one, a map might come in handy, particluarly if one isn’t very familiar with the geography of Beleriand. There is one at www.tolkienonline.com/gallery/item.sd?iid=449. And I don’t own Middle Earth, for goodness’ sake!
Chapter Nineteen: Farewells
Two rivers, a long way from the sea,
Just like my destination and me.
To my relief, it was a simple matter to obtain leave for my departure from Melian and Elwe. I merely joined the line of petitioners at the lesser court, and when the time came for me to speak I bowed and said that, with thanks for their hospitality, I requested leave to depart. Although I could feel curious eyes on my back I kept my face unreadable, or at least so I hoped, as the king gave his permission and formal gratitude for my tidings. I bowed again, and made way for the next petitioner. As I slipped out into the hall I heard the queen'[s voice echo in my mind. //Fare you well, child of Gondolin.//
I was able to find the way back to my room without becoming truly lost. I took a few wrong turnings, but with some amount of luck, was able to find the correct route again.
When I opened the door I found Emeryk perched on the windowsill. He swooped over to land on my shoulder, and for several moments I was occupied with stroking him. Once he had finished preening my hair, I was able to turn my attention to getting ready to leave. I stepped inside the room, and then stopped short – it seemed that some of the preparations had been done for me.
My sword and knives were lying on the bed with their sheaths, beautifully polished, and beneath them was a black tunic. It was warm and long, sturdily constructed. I mentally blessed whoever was responsible – it had to be the Queen or Alatariel – for that, as well as the color. I did not feel quite ready to wear anything except black, yet. It still suited me; if not as the color of Morgoth, then as that of mourning.
I found that my pack had been placed at the foot of the bed, and that it held a substantial amount of some type of dry bread wrapped in leaves. They were sealed with wax, shaped into the emblem of a white flower. In the pocket inside the pack were my flint, quartz, and the fragment of my harp that I had found in the ruins of my home, in Gondolin, but also a small packet of dried herbs. I looked over them and realized that they were a healer’s kit; treatments for gashes, arrow-wounds or sprains – each had its purpose.
I tucked it back in the pocket, and slid my weapons into their sheathes. I was not sure if I should carry them in the usual way – sword across my back, one knife in the right sleeve and the other slipped into my boot. After all, one of the conditions upon my entering Doriath was that I would not bear weapons within the border. Was that still in effect? I hoped not, because if it was I could get into a considerable amount of trouble. The Queen might understand, but Elwe was not quite so cordial, and I did not want to do anything which might arouse his ill-will, or more than was general for a Noldo. It would not help either me or Taurion – he was the one who had sworn to my good intentions. But if I was not supposed to carry them, why had my weapons been returned?
In the end, after wasting several minutes trying to contemplate all aspects, I decided to risk it. It was only logical that as they had given my sword and knives back to me, I would be permitted to bear and, if neccessary, use them.
But sea and stars, why did it all have to be so complicated?
As I slipped the blades into their places, a knock sounded on the door. I tied the flap on the pack, calling, “Come in.”
The door opened to reveal Taurion, who ducked under the lintel. “I thought you might be leaving.”
I located my cloak – it was draped over the back of a chair – and picked it up. “I am. The king gave me leave this morning.”
“Oh,” he said. “To the Mouth of Sirion?” I nodded, and he continued. “What route do you intend to take?”
I closed my eyes for a moment, trying to remember the lay of the land. “Isn’t it almost due south?”
“Yes.” He frowned, and dug out a small, worn map from his pocket. Smoothing it out he placed it on the windowsill, as Emeryk obligingly moved to one side. “It might be easier, though, if you followed the Esgalduin until it joins Sirion.” He traced the route with his forefinger. “Then along the river, past the Falls at Andram, to where it resurfaces. After that through Nan-Tathran, where it is joined the Narog, and you’re almost to the Sea.” He looked at me a bit anxiously. “It’s a long way, Morien.”
I looked up from fixing the points in my memory. “I’ll manage. But thank you, Taurion.”
He sighed. “You’re sure?”
I glanced at him, quizzically. “Yes. And what else can I do?”
He smiled wryly. “I’ve no idea. But I’ve been through some af that territory before, and parts of it are dangerous.”
I frowned. “Oh? It’s a bit far south for any of Morgoth’s minions to be venturing.”
Taurion shook his head. “No. It’s Men who are neither allied with nor against him. They just prey on whoever comes their way, Mortal, Elf, Dwarf, or Orc, regardless.” He studied my face with faint uneasiness. “And that you’re female wouldn’t mean anything.”
I was slightly startled. “I didn’t think it would.”
We stood for a moment looking at the map before Taurion folded it up and replaced it in his pocket. “I wish you’d had more time to meet Mothwen, though. She was very interested in knowing you. Naneth and Ada, too.”
I blinked and looked out the window. “I wish I had. But I do have to go, and even if I didn’t I doubt your king would be overly delighted to have my time in his realm greatly prolonged.” Taurion winced. “I don’t blame him,” I went on. “My kindred has done some despicable things.”
“You haven’t,” he pointed out, and it was my turn to flinch and look away. He sighed. “Face it, Indil, that wasn’t you.”
“I suppose not,” I answered softly. “But it does still feel that way, sometimes.”
He wrapped an arm around me shoulders, giving me a quick, light hug as I continued to stare out the window. “But not so much?”
I looked at him, considering. “No. Not so much as it did.”
He smiled faintly, and released me as I stepped back into the room’s interior. I stuffed my empty waterskin into the pack, taking up all the room left. I might not need it, since I would be travelling along one river or another almost all the way, but it was best to bring it. That left me with only my sword, which I slung across my back, adjusting the strap. Emeryk, seeing that I was ready, took off from the windowsill. But to my surprise, instead of flying to his accustomed perch, he flapped up to Taurion’s shoulder and settled there. From that perch he looked down at me innocently.
I blinked, and Taurion laughed. “Appearantly he wants me to see you both off.”
I grinned. “So it would seem.”
We wound our way through the passages of Menegroth, Taurion in the lead. I was thankful – I know I would have been hopelessly and completely lost by myself. But without taking any wrong turnings, it was not long before we were out of the gates and crossing the bridge over the Esgalduin.
Emeryk was still on Taurion’s shoulder when we reached the other shore, and I glanced up at him questioningly. “Staying up there?”
He cawed and took off, circling up to the treetops before dropping down to a nearby branch. Taurion watched him thoughtfully. “I’m glad you have him with you.”
I smiled slightly. “So am I. He certainly livens thing up.”
We just watched him for a moment as he preened one wing, until getting irritated with the staring Elves and giving an agrravated squawk, fluffing his feathers. Taurion finally spoke. “Well…safe journeying, Morien. Or Indil, rather.”
I shrugged. “It doesn’t matter, really. But fare you well, and may the stars light your path until we meet again.” It was an old, often-used farewell blessing; neither of us expected to see the other again.
Taurion gave me a quick hug, which I returned. “And thank you. I know it was rather unexpected, my showing up out of nowhere.”
“It was.” He smiled wryly, and then grew serious. “But go carefully. Until you cross the Girdle it is safe, but after that…”
“I know. I will.” I impulsively stretched up and kissed him on the cheek. “Farewell, Taurion.”
It took some time to reach the Sirion, and after that as long again toward the border. But the way was easy, and the river a landmark impossible to lose. It was the same massive, rushing torrent of water that much farther to the north flowed around Tol-en-Gaurhoth. I did not particularly like that thought.
I only had a few quick glimpses of other Elves while travelling through Neldoreth. I caused no harm, they kept to themselves. Being alone has rarely bothered me, and I had Emeryk for company.
He continued to slowly grow, but remained smaller than most other ravens. He could still sit comfortably on my shoulder, and I was grateful for that.
Please comment! I’ll really try to get the next chapter (which I promise is more eventful) out sooner.