He slowly drew out the ring. “Wear this for me forever until the day we both die if it is our fate. I love you, and I want you to be my girl.”
And I wouldn’t object too highly.”
“But you would object?” he asked.
“I need some time to think it over,” she replied.
“A penny for your thoughts milady?” he grinned wickedly and opened her mouth with his own.
As his lips plundered her own, all thoughts of rejection flew away as she slipped her arms around his neck and leaned in closer. Perhaps it was the near perfectness of the trees around them, the difference in scenery, or the peace the evening brought. Kyla was carried away by floods of emotion, but she did not surrender completely, and they went to sleep wrapped in each others arms.
I awoke in the morning to the soft sun rays pouring into my eyes. I felt Orlando’s arm draped across my stomach while the other lay under my neck. He looked so peaceful when he slept. I softly kissed his cheek and began to sit up. Aroused by my movements, he slowly touched his eyes blocking out the bright sun.
“Dawn has already come,” he murmured, and I answered with a nod. “I was hoping for some more precious time.”
“We’ll have plenty of time to spend in the days ahead,” I replied.
“Have you given any thought to my offer?”
“The twins informed me that we would leave today. They are not here so I can only guess they are waiting for us,” he stood up and began to dress.
I turned my eyes away as he dropped the blanket and slipped my breeches and waist shirt on. We had made a habit over the past few days at dressing at the same time since it was more convenient and quicker to do so. We hurriedly gathered up our things and made for the river. I knew Haldir would be there to bid farewell. Other elves were there as well, however, and I knew he would attempt nothing rash in their presence. I heaved a sigh as we approached the boats. Haldir was standing upon the shore. I made my way toward Eladdan with Orlando following close behind. I passed by Haldir, but he did not attempt to speak with me. Nor did he even look at me. He nodded calmly to Orlando and spoke a few words to the twins in elvish. I was surprised at this until I learned the reason later.
“Haldir is my friend, Kyla,” Elrohir informed me as I sat in the boat. “I spoke with him earlier, and he told me he never meant to hurt you. He stumbled upon your interlude in the glade. Galadriel was the only one to go there. For him, it is sacred ground you could say. The memory of the lady he continues to serve remains with him. To see the place she stood in inhabited by others sharing love which he has never shared also reminded him of the friendship he lost with her when she departed over the sea. It angered him, and he acted rashly. He knew you would not be leaving soon, but he could not bear the spectacle any longer. He apologizes deeply and also apologizes for the words he had with your friend. He never trusted him completely, and you Kyla, it seems reminds him of a girl he loved long ago. Memories come back to him of her, and he nearly believed you were she.”
I shook my head and sighed. “Well, he behaved appropriately today, and if he does so again when I am in Lorien, I will show him…respect.”
“Fair enough,” murmured Orlando.
Elrohir tapped my shoulder and pointed upward. “The Argonath!”
I gazed upon the immense wide statues gleaming in the afternoon sun. Their hands outstretched warning it seemed to me of the oncoming waterfall signifying the break in the Anduin. I nearly rejoiced at the thought; this was the same place the Fellowship was. This dream (if it was a dream) was much too good to be true. I watched the statues disappear behind me as we made our way to the west shore. The twins pulled the boats onto the shore and began to make camp. The day went by quickly since we had to gather provisions, make a camp, fire, and unroll out our beds for the night. We would continue on foot to Gondor, but our pace would be rapid. This was the next part of the journey I did not anticipate. However, I did not realize at the moment that I would not be joining them on the remainder of the journey.
My head lay against Orlando’s. I lifted my hands to close around his as we gazed up at the stars together. I smiled looking at the amazing and different constellations. There were far too many to count, and I knew stars at home could never hope to shine this bright. The great night sky unrolled her dark garment before my eyes, and the silver beams of the moon fell upon my face. Could anything be more perfect than this moment? Orlando’s lips brushed against my forehead and I opened my eyes to see him smiling down at me.
“What are you thinking about?” he asked.
“Just the stars…they’re beautiful aren’t they?”
He nodded. “Sometimes, sleeping under them is what it takes to appreciate them more.”
“It’s amazing to me how beautiful God created everything to be. The stars, the river, the ocean…even in a world that is not our own, He still is here. I can see him in the stars and in the moon.”
“Kyla, the only thing that keeps me uplifted now is you.”
“What is wrong?”
“Something is troubling my spirit. An unforeseen enemy is approaching. I do not know when or where, but we must be ready.”
“Did you tell the twins?”
“Yes, and now I am telling you. I should not have even spoken. You will not be able to sleep.”
“I do not fear as long as you are with me,” I smiled, and he kissed my lips again.
“Do you have an answer yet?” he asked.
I shook my head. “Orlando, you cannot know how much I want to say yes, but there is still a barrier between us. We are not of the same faith or at least not yet.”
“But I am learning, Kyla. From you…I have seen what your God is through you, and I know that He is real. It just may take a little longer for me to love Him as you have grown to love Him.”
I nodded. “And until that time comes, my answer will have to be no.”
Suddenly, the sound of a horn filled my ears. I widened my eyes recognizing it immediately. Orcs! I instantly stood up reaching for my bow and quiver. Orlando was right behind me gathering his up as well as his sword.
“Kyla, I don’t want you to be here when they come.”
“Relax, I’ll be fine. You showed me how to fight. Let me prove it to you now.”
He nodded, but I even began to fear when I saw the swarm of not only orcs but skilled Uruk Hai descending down the beach. Even with several other elves surrounding us, I still began to fear. There were perhaps a hundred orcs quickly making for the beach. I loaded my bow and concentrated. All the time in the world. Watch for your target. Fix your eyes upon it. Do not let it out of sight. Narrow your eyes…good. Release! The orc was struck in the head, and I did not waste time. I loaded two arrows into my bow and released them quickly. They hit their targets accurately. The elves around me sent a flood of arrows into the oncoming orcs, and though many fell, they still continued to come. Suddenly, Orlando grabbed my arm and dragged me down the beach.
“What are you doing!” I asked.
“I told the others if anything were to happen, we would join them upon the eastern shore. They will hold them off while we prepare the boats. Get in.”
I shook my head in disbelief and confusion as I climbed in. Why were we running away? Suddenly, I realized what he was about. Orlando shoved the boat out but remained on the beach.
“I don’t want you to get hurt. Go to the eastern shore. I’ll rejoin you shortly!” he finished his last sentence while running up the beach.
“Double crossing idiot!” I shouted in anger and began to paddle so as not to be taken with the current down the waterfall.
As I began to row, I realized that the water was flowing the opposite direction. The current was strong, but it was not taking me down the river but even more towards the opposite shore. I pointed the boat to the western shore where the battle was and paddled hard. Nothing would help. My boat was taken to the eastern shore, and I watched from far off as the battle progressed, and one by one elves fell to the ground from orc wounds. Tears fell from my eyes as the boat landed on the shore. I felt powerless to stop. NO! I would not be powerless. I was never powerless before. I took off my outer vest and my shoes. I could swim across. I was a good swimmer, and I could make it.
“I would not do that if I were you.”
I widened my eyes not even needing to turn around. My hands trembled, and the hairs upon my neck pricked up. Slowly I turned and beheld two white pupils. A hand reached affectionately toward my face and brushed across my cheek. I shuddered seeing the long claws attached.
“You could not save them and only would have been killed in return.”
“I’d rather take my chances drowning,” I replied as I watched the battle progress. Orlando, the twins, and one other elf remained. So many dead.
“Come, Kyla,” he held out his hand and touched mine. “We cannot stay here. I must take you away. And you will come with me.”
“Why would I do that?” I asked looking up.
“Because I know your curiosity. And you have no other choice.”