A/N:Thanks to my reviewers, Laurelin, my mom, and J.R.R. Tolkien, whose world I Do Not Own.
Chapter Thirteen: Drifting
The kind trees whispered in the long watch
And I used to wonder in tremendous shadow,
And be afraid of where the wonder led.
Aidan Carl Matthews
I heard Taurion climb into the platform. It took him a moment to to locate me, dressed in black and seated in the shadows. “Indil?”
I turned, and Emeryk hopped from my shoulder to the floor. “Taurion.”
He came over and sat next to me, absently patting Emeryk. In the darkness his expression was hard to make out. “Why are you here?”
I looked away. I couldn’t tell him, not before I delivered the news of Gondolin’s fall to King Elwe. I took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I can’t tell you. Not yet. But–”
“Do not tell me they turned you away,” he broke in. “After…….I’m sorry. I convinced you to go home.”
“It isn’t that,” I said softly. “They didn’t turn me away. No one did.” No one. “I…..I needed to see you, it…….I just need to deliver my tiding first. Then you’ll understand.”
“I see,” Taurion answered quietly. “Or rather I don’t, but I can wait.”
“Thank you,” I whispered, looking away and fighting back tears that were threatening to surface. I had come to terms with my grief for Gondolin, but oh Valar, it still hurt.
Taurion silently wrapped an arm around my shoulders as I blinked hard. Emeryk hopped in my lap and looked up at him a bit indignantly. “Who’s this?” Taurion asked with a smile.
I straightened, composed now. “Emeryk. I found him with a broken wing, and…..” I trailed off, “he’s a part of me now.”
“He’ll die, one day, though,” Taurion pointed out. “Creatures not of Valinor do.”
I know he will,” I answered quietly, watching as Emeryk found a comfortable perch on my knee. “It doesn’t matter, though. Anyone can die, and caring always means being hurt. It always will.”
“I suppose,” Taurion said, then added wryly, “I imagine you know that better than most.”
I laughed sadly. “Yes.”
We sat in silence for a moment, and then Taurion stood up. “I had best go tell my uncle that you are trustworthy.”
I looked up. “You’ll speak for me, then?”
He raised his eyebrows. “Of course. You don’t have any heinous schemes, do you?”
I was a bit surprised. “No.”
“Good. I didn’t think so.” He nodded, and swung off the platform into the tree.
A courier was sent to Menegroth to tell Elwe Singollo of my claim as a messenger. I waited on the border, as this took several more days. Taurion was there most of the time; the other Elves still did not trust me (with reason, I suppose), and I had a feeling that his assignment was to unobtrusively guard me. And then, finally, the King’s message came.
I was, once again. sitting on the platform – flet, the Sindarin Elves called it – preening Emeryk when Mothdur climbed up, followed by an Elf I did not know. I stood up and bowed slightly as Emeryk gave a cordial croak. The Marchwarden glanced at him before speaking. “Thingol wishes to hear the news you bear. However, you must not bear arms within the kingdom, or cause harm to any creature. Do you agree to this?”
I nodded. “Yes.”
Mothdur motioned to the Elf behind him. “This is Elsir. He and Taurion will escort you to Menegroth. You will depart in the morning.” He gave a curt bow of farewell, which I returned, and once again followed by Elsir descended from the platform.
I sighed and stroked Emeryk’s head. “It’s on to Menegroth, then. And what after that? I can’t stay here, not for long.” I looked up at the sky for a moment. More and more I had been finding that the heavens gave me a sense of peace – I don’t know why. Looking at the stars made me forget all my guilt and troubles and worries, or at least realize their insignificance in the grand tapestry. Sometimes. I still did not know what to do.
The Girdle was strange. I knew that I must have been let though, but I could feel it at the corners of my mind. A sort of haziness and blind, stumbling confusion. It made you want to turn back, or to endlessly and aimlessly wander nowhere. I paused, and Taurion, who was walking behind, pushed me forward. “Keep going,” he said. “It isn’t much farther.”
I continued, and found that he was right. After about a furlong the feeling faded away, and I had enough attention to look around me.
Doriath was beautiful. The beeches were not crowded, but just dense enough to be called a forest, and decked with light, spring green leaves. There was a carpet of soft grass, scattered with hemlock and small white flowers. I could make out blue sky and sunlight through the trees, and Emeryk shifted happily on my shoulder. He did not seem to have been affected by the Girdle.
I did not have much time to admire the woods, as Elsir, who was in front of me, had continued walking. I followed him, not looking too much at the ground. I almost tripped once, but quickly recovered my balance.
I was suddenly aware of how out of place I was, the single streak of black in a serene landscape. Taurion and Elsir almost blended with the trees; they fit. After all, this was their home.
Grief welled up in me again for my home, the place where I had belonged. Now that I was in Doriath I felt aimless. I had come to see Taurion, and now I had done so. Now I was to bring my news to the King at Menegroth. After that, I would no doubt be politely requested – or ordered – to depart. But I had nowhere to go.
I lifted Emeryk down from my shoulder and cradled him close against me. His light, feathered warmth was reassuring. He at least was one fixed thing – no matter what I would take care of him.
Hours later the feeling began to grow on me that we – or rather I – was being watched. I was not surprised. To be sure, I was strange – a Noldorin maid in the woods of Doriath, standing out like the only penstroke on an unmarked page. I shrugged off the feeling .
That night we stopped and lit a fire. Happily, the Marchwarden had supplied us with food, because mine had given out just before I reached the border.
Elsir, who had not spoken much during the day, tried to strike up a conversation. He was only partially successful, as neither Taurion nor I said much. However, he continued on, making a valiant effort. He reminded me faintly of Arindo, one of the Elves who had been in my scouting group.
Elsir struggled on for a time, but there was really very little to talk about. So it is not suprising that he came to the subject of my mission as a courier.
“So, milady,” he asked cheerfully, “why were you in particular chosen to carry a message to Doriath?”
Across the fire Taurion shifted, and I could tell from the slight change of his expression that he would like to know the same.
“I wasn’t,” I said bluntly. Elsir looked suprised, but did not enquire further. Taurion looked faintly troubled.
Well, I hope you enjoyed it! Please do review if it is at all possible – I’m more like to update soon if there are lots and lots of comments. *dangles carrot tantalizingly* Come on now…..