*********** The Plains of Rohan, the Road to Helm’s Deep
The éored rode hard and fast since Rían told them the news of the upcoming battle. Rest breaks were rare and camp made only when the sun was long gone from the sky.
Rían did not want to stop but knew she could continue alone no longer, as the road was too dangerous. As it was, she paced through the camp furiously; ignoring the curious and frightened stares directed her way. More often though, Éomer would find her sitting quietly, brooding, with that grey cloak pulled tightly around herself.
Initially, Éomer thought she might be cold but remembered elves did not feel the cold as humans and no matter how many times he asked Rían refused to burden him with her affairs. One thing was certain…the closer they drew to the Hornburg, the more agitated Rían became.
Suddenly there came shouts from the sentries.
“It is the Grey Pilgrim!”
“Gandalf has arrived!”
Rían felt her heart stop as Éomer hurried to meet the Istari. Tears pricked her eyes and she forced her breathing to stay calm when it threatened to cease.
Mithrandir? Ai, by the Valar it must be hopeless indeed, if Mithrandir himself came for reinforcements!
//Eru! Do not let me be too late….please protect them!!//
“Ada, do you have a moment?”
Elrond looked up from the book he was reading to see his daughter smiling expectantly at him.
“Of course, Arwen. What is on your mind?” he asked, setting aside the leather bound tome.
“I know it has only been two years since my last trip to Lothlórien,” she began as she took a seat next to her father. “But I would like to visit again.”
Elrond saw the restlessness in her eyes, tempered by…what was this? Mischief?
“Ah, I believe I understand. Estel is riding with the Dúnedain rangers and Imladris no longer holds any appeal for you,” he teased, nodding his head.
“That is only part of it, Ada,” Arwen smiled slyly. “Although he did say they would be scouting the southern regions.”
“I knew it,” the half-elf sighed. “But there is a small problem, daughter mine.”
“What do you mean?” Arwen grew tense; concern marring her brow.
“Your brothers are also riding with the rangers and I need Glorfindel here.”
Now it was Arwen’s turn to nod knowingly. “You are worried about my escort…but fear not. I have an idea.”
Erestor stopped when the balcony came into view. He knew Rían would be there, staring toward the southeast, as was her wont when not on duty. Sometimes he would see her tilt her head slightly, as if hearing something from afar or recounting a memory, then she would smile; a smile so filled with delight and
sadness it was difficult to witness!
//My dear niece, if he suffers half as much as you-//
After the Lórien elves had departed Imladris those years ago, Rían had confided in her uncle. She spoke of the initial contact in Edoras, when she had returned Haldir’s bow and they felt that odd energy surge. Neither knew what it was and each time they touched, by design or not, the energy strengthened.
`He drives me to distraction, Uncle!’ Rían had confessed in exasperation. `But my soul only feels at peace when we are close.’
Seeing as how stubborn, and even afraid Rían and Haldir were regarding each other, perhaps the Valar had indeed seen fit to bond them as Elrond had hinted. Given the choice to make themselves they would most certainly run to opposite corners of Arda to avoid the other!
`Mayhaps time away will help,’ Erestor offered, albeit lamely.
He had seen for himself the connection the two shared and knew it would not weaken. Nevertheless, he could not point this out since Rían was not ready to accept this and he was willing to wager neither was Haldir.
Erestor took a deep breath and steeled himself for the forthcoming conversation. He had been called to Elrond’s study just under an hour ago and was asked to deliver Rían her next assignment. When he heard what it entailed he practically choked. He had stared in disbelief at his lord for several long moments, his dark eyes blazing with betrayal.
He must have made some sort of noise then, for Rían turned to greet him.
“Uncle! What are you doing skulking over there? Come join me, I have asked for our lunch to be served here,” she smiled brightly as she stood.
Erestor walked to her and placed a kiss on her cheek, her forced joviality strangling his heart.
“What is it?” her smile faded when she saw the troubled look in Erestor’s dark eyes.
As he attempted to gather his thoughts, a servant arrived with their meal. Rían watched her uncle and began to feel uneasy. He had news to tell her, that was undeniable and it was news he would rather not voice. She took her mug of tea and drank from it as various unpleasant possibilities raced through her mind.
“Is it that horrible?” Rían asked when the servant left them alone once more.
Erestor skipped the tea and poured himself a glass of wine, which he promptly emptied in one swallow.
“It must be,” she sighed, setting down her mug.
“Elrond gave me your new assignment,” Erestor began, his voice heavy with dread. “The twins are with Estel and Glorfindel cannot be spared…I offered to go but Elrond refused.”
Rían listened as her normally composed uncle ranted and muttered almost incoherently. He even got to his feet and paced the balcony.
“I told him he should make Arwen stay until her brothers return, but nooo, he says she would go anyway. I then asked if the Lord of Imladris could not make his daughter mind! He laughed and reminded me that even I, his most feared Chief Advisor, was incapable of keeping my own niece from sneaking out to kill orcs with his sons!!”
Rían’s head began to spin as she attempted to follow Erestor’s words. He was afraid; she could see it in his eyes and heard it in his voice no matter how hard he tried to hide it!
What had Lord Elrond said to cause such unrest in Erestor? she wondered as she rubbed her left wrist; feeling her uncle’s agitation.
As her heart began to thunder with unknown fear, she finally stood and grabbed Erestor by the arm to stop his circling.
“Tôr-en-adan,” she whispered. “Tell me.”
Erestor’s pulse raced as he spoke. He was afraid of what Rían’s reaction would be when she knew.
“I am sorry tôr-iel-nin…Elrond has assigned you to Arwen’s escort, I could not talk him out of it,” he started, his voice low and halting.
He expected Rían to turn away in anger or shock at his next words; he was completely unprepared for the sparkle in her eyes when he finally spoke them.
“You leave tomorrow for Lothlórien.”
Tôr-en-adan – uncle (brother of my father)
tôr-iel-nin – my niece (daughter of my brother)