Farewells for Mirkwood, Favors for the Elvenking and Dreams of the Dead
The sun was casting an orange tint across the sky as it fell slowly behind the tree line. It was the next day, after the elves had returned bearing the numerous litters of their fellow kin and one not of their own. Maegwen sat on a chair beside the window, staring out, as if still waiting. Had it not been a mere forty-some hours previous that she sat right there, eagerly anticipating the return of Figwit, almost bursting with the joyous thought they would soon be together? And now she would never see him again, full of the warmth and love she craved. She felt so cold and alone, and hurt.
She rested her head against the glass, and closed her eyes, a single tear falling down her cheek. She would try not to break out into another complete and utter emotional break down, like hours before. She had not slept, she had not eaten, and she just sat in her room curled up into a ball, shaking like a leaf in the middle of a windstorm, and crying into her knees. She was in pain, both in her heart and in her body. Maegwen had cried so much her ribs hurt and her eyes were puffy. Now, she did not feel that she even had the strength to sob. She just sat there, staring out the window like an empty shell.
Maegwen was so angry. She did not know why, or at whom, but she was angry. Angry with herself for having this ‘vision’ that cost her both her beloved horse and the elf she had wanted to spend the rest of her days with. She was mad at Figwit for letting her go, and staying behind. She did not care if he wanted her to go back and be safe. She would rather have died than go through what she was now. And she was angry with Elrond for ever letting her go. She had not made a difference. Elves had still died. More passed away even. She clenched her hands into tight, white balls, and slumped in her chair. She was in such turmoil and grief she did not even notice the elf watching her from the doorway. He sighed and softly knocked on the door.
“Maegwen?” asked a smooth voice. She turned. Legolas stood there dressed formally in a blue tunic, hair nicely back but a grim look on his face. “The ceremony will begin in a few minuets. Are you coming?”
She sighed, shaking. She glanced out the window again, and saw a train of elves going off into the woods, and they carried stretchers with grey cloaks to cover the dead. Maegwen had feared this hour all day. Legolas walked over to her and set a hand on her shoulder. She looked up the arm and nodded. After grabbing a shawl of green given to her when she did not know exactly, she followed Legolas slowly. They met Thranduil and others of his house, including Erwina. Her son had been one of the elves that had died. They then left the house, just as a soft rain began to fall. It felt good somehow. Maegwen was glad. At least the sky knew her pain.
She stood there, clutching Rochon’s arm, swaying slightly as she saw Figwit’s litter set down beside two others. A moment was given to all for silent remorse. Maegwen saw Erwina go to her son’s body and speak words of elvish. A lament for her brave son to express the ache. Maegwen followed her example and went to Figwit. She did not say anything aloud, just stood there, and thought silently. Could he hear it from Mandos?
‘Well, this is it.’ She said wordlessly, all anger suddenly melted away. ‘I always thought you would out live me, what with you being an elf. But I guess even the better of us have to leave.’ She brushed a hand down his cheek. ‘I can not stay and speak for long, though there is so much I wish to tell you.’ She looked up and saw Erwina leave, and she looked at Legolas. He nodded. It was time.
‘All there is to say is…’ her eyes strayed to Figwit’s face which she had avoided looking at directly, and had concentrated on his hand. His eyes were staring at her, cold and dead, and it frightened her. Maegwen’s emotions welled up, and tears sprung from her eyes. ‘Don’t look at me like that! I tried! I did not mean to fail you. I’m sorry. I am so sorry.’ She kissed his cold lips, closed his eyes quickly, and ran past the others, who watched her leave, but none tried to stop her.
Maegwen sprinted through the trees until she found a mossy, grassy hill and fell upon it. There was a slight valley after it, and beyond it she could see the Forest River. She looked at the water for a while until she put her head in her arms and cried. She could not stop crying. She could hear mournful monody behind her, and she thought about what it was like back there. The burning of the elves’ bodies. They would set fire to the kindling about them and watch their loved ones go up in ashes. The woman wept harder.
“Maegwen?” asked a voice some time later, when she now lay on her back, staring up at the stars that wonderful Elentari had brought so long ago. They shone as though candles, guiding the souls of the dead, to where it was they were to dwell now, free from grief and pain.
“Yes?” she asked, not looking up. She knew who it was. Legolas appeared over head, and he sat next to her.
“Are you all right?” asked the prince, he too raising his eyes to look at the blinking lights above.
“It hurts.” Maegwen said, swallowing back the urge to cry again. She then looked at him. “How did you know I was here?”
“I thought you might come here. I do not know why. Perhaps it was just coincidence. But I used to come here when I thought about my mother, when I was young. I would cry for hours.”
Maegwen nodded. He knew her pain. It was not exactly the same, but they had both lost a loved one. Maegwen tried to say something to console the prince, but no words came. So they sat there under the stars until finally Legolas suggest they go back.
“Gilgnalad and Rochon have decided you will start back to Imladris the day after tomorrow.” Said Legolas as they walked back. Maegwen nodded. They approached her room, and they parted ways silently. Maegwen did not cry that night. She slept. But her dreams were plagued of nightmares, and not just of Figwit. Orcs would be after her, running after her, shooting arrows and attacking her. She cried out so many times, but others that heard her thought it was about Figwit. Only when Rochon went to check on her did he realize she was also in bodily pain. He went to her, and shook her, trying to wake her.
“Maegwen.” He said quietly, not wanting to wake those who might have already fallen asleep. But he was getting desperate. “Maegwen!”
“What is it, Rochon? Maegwen, who do you scream so?” asked Gilgnalad who walked into the room, apparently just waking from a very restful dream. He was out of it completely.
“Maegwen, she… I do not know what is the matter! She will not awake. Find Erwina!” Rochon said, looking frighteningly at his older brother. Gilgnalad dashed off sleepily but alert. Erwina came back minuets later following Gilgnalad, by then the room occupied too Thranduil and Legolas. It was the poison, Erwina reported, that was giving her grief. She had cleaned it all out, or so she had thought. But somewhere still in her body there was the black virus, bringing unbelievable pain.
The poison was not enough to kill, on the bright side of things, if indeed there was a bright side. But Erwina did not know what part of Maegwen the poison was effecting, and she did not want to do anything rash, so it was best they just wait it out. Besides, Maegwen’s temperature was decreasing to a more pleasant one, and she was screaming less. It was most probable that the poison would be exiting her system soon, and she would soon be better. No plans had changed, and they would still be leaving the day after the next.
Maegwen, upon waking, had little recallation about what had happened that night. She just woke up, as sorrowful as the day before. She felt that she would never be happy again. She wanted to return to Imladris, but she felt as if Figwit was still in those woods. Or a part of him at least. She could not explain her feelings. And she feared having to tell Celebrought, Figwit’s mother, what had happened. Celebrought had helped bring Maegwen up, and was more like a mother than anything she had ever had. It would be so sad.
The next day, the others packed and took care of the horses and got ready for the long road ahead. Maegwen watched them busy about as she sat in her room, the cool air floating in. She felt so tiered and spent she just wanted to sleep forever. But this was the Gift and the Doom that was laid upon her race, and she would have to endure the hardship. If she had been an elf, she was sure she would have died in the night.
The sun left long before Maegwen turned to her own things. She thought it well to get them into order. They would be leaving early the next morn. A feast was being held for the safe ride home, but Maegwen was not in any mood to be merry. Nonetheless, Legolas showed up at her door to escort her. They went speechlessly, and when they arrived in the hall, a hush swept over the hall. It seemed as though everyone was looking at her. Maegwen felt squeamish. She took a seat on the right of Thranduil, and Legolas sat on the left. Gilgnalad and Rochon who were beside her and Legolas, talked to the king about the ride home. They expressed their wishes to travel to Lorien, in case that Gollum might have gone west into Moria. Thranduil doubted it. He had probably gone south to Dol Guldur and stayed there. Not that Thranduil was swaying them to not go to Lorien; in fact, if they did, Thranduil asked them a favor. Laurehiril was the sister of one of the elves killed, Halhiril, and if they took the route of Lorien, that they might tell her what happened. Gilgnalad agreed to it. So it was settled. The small company would leave to Lorien, even earlier than before for they had been in Mirkwood long and Elrond would be expecting them back soon. Maegwen asked for leave early and went to her room. The elves would be singing, and she was in no mood for jest. She could not sleep though, and was eager to leave, and spent most of the night staring up at the ceiling. The loss of Figwit had settled, and Maegwen could face it now. And it hurt to be able to accept it. She did not want to. And she knew that she would have to tell those at home.
They fell asleep a few hours before it was time to be off. A little breakfast had been prepared for Maegwen while the other two readied for the journey. Thranduil spoke with Maegwen, thanking her many times for coming. He had enjoyed her company of what he had had, and he assured her that her trails had not come to naught. She had saved some lives. Maegwen did not feel good about it at all.
The three mounted their horses just as the sun was coming over the trees. Thranduil bowed, and thanked them for everything and bid them return to Mirkwood some day, but perhaps when things were brighter. Legolas bowed too, and then the three were off.
It was a tiresome four-day journey to Lorien, and Maegwen began to feel sick. She was almost sure it was the poison. But she did not feel in pain, just nauseated. She hoped someone in Lorien might help her.
Though the spirits of the others were high by the time they entered the boarders of Lothlorien, Maegwen was less than gleeful. Figwit would have loved to come here. He had said once he wanted to visit there for Arwen had told them a lot about it. It seemed very beautiful, but Maegwen was still saddened greatly. They continued to ride, and Maegwen felt the growing feeling that she was being watched. She looked up at the sky, only to see it cloaked in the binding branches of the trees. Mallorn they were called, or mallyrn as a collective group. They had smooth grey boughs and branches and the leaves were a bright and lush green. Gilgnalad was tough around the edges, but he grinned. These trees were so beautiful. Like great works of art. As she rode past on Nimroch, she brushed the trunk of one of the mallorn. It was pleasant to the touch.
“I suppose that we should go to Caras Galadhon to greet the lord and lady. These are their lands.” Gilgnalad said. “But where is it?”
“I do not know.” Rochon said. “Perhaps…”
But no more was said. Suddenly, they were surrounded by individuals clothed in dark grey attire, and most had their hoods up. One did not, and he came striding up towards them, bow ready for fire. He had strong facial features and soft golden hair. His eyes flashed at her, and they reminded Maegwen of the early breaking dawn. But he seemed to soften his hard gaze, and took the arrow from the string. He had apparently not noticed they were elves previously.
“Who are you, and what are you doing here?” asked the elf. “What business do you have with the Lord and Lady of Lothlorien?”
He seemed to be directly looking at Maegwen, but Gilgnalad offered an explanation.
“We are elves from Imladris, but ere we traveled from Mirkwood, for we had errands there. Now, we come to bring news to a woman by the name Laurehiril. It is not good news, but it must be brought forth. Will you take us to her, or at the least deliver our message?”
At the mention of the name ‘Laurehiril’ one of the elves walked forward, and spoke quietly to the head elf in elvish. He did not speak much of their tongue. Maegwen could speak elvish, but this tongue was different from what she had been brought up speaking. Then the other elf turned, and spoke in a smoother voice.
“What news do you have? This is my brother, Orophin, and Laurehiril is his wife. My name is Haldir. You say you were in Mirkwood before. Does this then concern her brother Halhiril?”
Maegwen smoothly climbed off the horse and went forward. “It does. But… I wish to deliver the message personally. I feel as though it is my responsibility. Please let us through, Haldir. We mean no harm to these beautiful woods, or anything that lie in it.”
Haldir stood there for a moment, thinking. It did not take much persuasion.
“You will follow me. But first, give me your names, as I have given you mine.”
“I am Gilgnalad, son of Tathar and Culanna, and this is my brother, Rochon. We came here as an escort to Maegwen.” Gilgnalad motioned towards the girl in front of him, who was looking at Haldir with a proud glow. “This is Maegwen. She is Master Elrond’s daughter, and sister to Arwen Undomiel who but eight years ago dwelt here.”
“Lord Elrond’s daughter?” Haldir asked with an amused yet confused gaze. He stood taller. “You are no elf.”
“No.” Maegwen said. “He adopted me when I was very young, and he has been very kind.” She did not feel he needed to know more at the moment.
Haldir led them through the millions of trees that climbed high above them. Though the Galadhrim had a tradition of blindfolding their guests, Haldir thought he need not to them for they were elves, and they were bringing messages to Laurehiril. Though Orophin wanted to know what the news was, Maegwen refused to tell anyone but the woman. Laurehiril should hear the truth first.
It was evening before they entered Caras Galadhon. Maegwen had only seen the stars shine this bright in Rivendell. They were so beautiful, and they twinkled in her eyes. She looked back at the path, and saw that Haldir had been looking at her, but quickly turned back to the path a head when she tried for eye contact. Maegwen understood. She had been trying to figure him out their trip there as well. He was different from the elves she knew. But she could not explain it. There was something she was feeling she could not explain.
“Here are the stairs that will lead us to the Lord and Lady. You will come before them, and they will pass judgement.” And he showed them forward with a motion of his hand. Gilgnalad followed by Rochon trailed Orophin, and Maegwen went after them. Haldir took up there rear.
They got to the top, and then were ushered to Lord Celeborn’s chambers. Maegwen had never seen anything so elegant or radiant. But she was mistaken. That title was taken as the Lord and Lady descended the stairs. They were tall, and their faces were young, and their eyes were knowledgeable. Gilgnalad and Rochon bowed, but Maegwen was filled with awe. They had such a presence that stunned her. She noticed finally she probably looked rather like a fish, and bowed in turn.
“Welcome, peoples of Rivendell.” Said Celeborn. He then questioned them why they were here, how they came to being here and the like. Most of their tale was unraveled, and Maegwen was called on many times for her input, for some of it was blurry to the others, and it had been after all Maegwen’s ‘vision’. When it came to speaking about Figwit, however, it was still hard, and her voice crackled. Celeborn seemed very interested, but Galadriel was more compassionate. They were then given leave, and Maegwen was very tiered. They would be sleeping in a little arbor made for them by the elves. Maegwen went with Orophin and Haldir who were going to show her to it, but Gilgnalad and his brother wished to speak more with the elves. Orophin again questioned her about the news brought for his beloved wife, but Maegwen would say naught. She was saddened, having to relive her whole ordeal of the last month again, and having to be strong about it. She did not want to break down in front of Haldir. He had an air about him that led her to think he did not appreciate weakness.
“I will tell you tomorrow. But I have been a lot these past days. I just want to rest.” Maegwen said. Orophin nodded, and Haldir turned and the two left. Maegwen slept easily that night, and did not wake till after afternoon. They had not rested the whole way to Lorien, and she was dreadfully tiered. She fell asleep, the lights of the stars shining brightly.
Maegwen roamed the flowery hills of Lorien as the sun climbed higher. It was so beautiful. She felt as if most of her grief had melted away and that she would never be unhappy again. Well, most of her grief. The gnawing at the back of her mind told her worse was yet to come. But she could not explain how. Something in the long run. Gollum had been in Mirkwood for a reason. She did not understand why, but he was there because he was dangerous. Why else would the orcs have taken such measure to get him back? Why else would Maegwen had the vision? Why would Figwit have died?
She could think clearer here in Lorien, and was able to get things in order. She was able to understand things or deal with things that she couldn’t bear to think about before. But she still did not want to have to speak with Laurehiril. She knew it was her responsibility. She felt responsible more than anyone for the things that happened in Mirkwood. And she would be able to understand Laurehiril’s pain.
“Hullo?” asked a soft voice from behind her. Maegwen turned. There stood an elf maiden wearing a white dress and her long, golden hair swept over her shoulders. She was very pretty.
“Hullo.” Maegwen said, smiling pleasantly. “Is there something that I can do for you?”
“Oh, I was just wonder who you were. I have never seen you before. Are you new here?” asked the elf, walking over. She wore a beautiful necklace with a golden leaf that reflected the sun.
“Yes. I am from Imladris. Previously I was in Mirkwood, but I have business here.” Maegwen explained.
“I thought that you were from somewhere else.” Then her eyes widened with surprise. “Why, you are no elf.”
“No. I am a human.” Maegwen said, smiling. Many had mistaken her for an elf in her lifetime. She looked uncannily like her adopted father, and more so her sister.
“Yes. You travel with a band of elves and dress in our fashion. Why is that so?” asked the elven maid, the looking of interest growing. Maegwen sighed, and was suddenly distracted with a tiny yellow flower bud blooming in the fresh grass. She went to it, bent down, and picked it out of the ground. The pedals were like gold in her hands; so beautiful.
“My father is Lord Elrond. Not my blood kin, but he assumed me as his own, and cared for me and loved me.” The orphan smiled thinking of all the good times in Rivendell when she had been younger. Climbing all over Elrond, and wrestling with him and pulling on his long, soft hair. It was so long ago.
“Ah, then Arwen is your sister?” asked the elf with a smile. “And how is she? I have not seen her in a couple of years.”
“She is doing well, or I would think so. I have not seen her in a month at the least. The last time I saw her was before I left for Mirkwood.” Maegwen fell to her knees, and the elf followed her. They sat there in the grass, and Maegwen told her about her vision and the things that happened after. She was a good shoulder to softly cry on when Maegwen brought Figwit up again. Then she sighed. The sun was high. She stood.
“Well, thank you for listening to my story. It was nice to get it out, and tell someone everything. I have not been able to tell anyone how I’ve felt. The men, they… they expect me to be strong.”
“You can not be strong all the time, Maegwen.” Said the elf. She stood too. “And I must also depart. I will go find my husband. I usually see him ere now. I suppose he is wondering where I am.”
“Alright. I hope to see you again…” Maegwen let it hang for the elf woman to finish. And when she heard the answer she could have slapped herself, but instead just stood there frozen.
“My name is Laurehiril.” She said smiling. “Good bye, Maegwen.”
Maegwen watched Laurehiril walk over the hill, then she stood quickly.
“Laurehiril, wait!” she called, and ran down the green slope, and caught the elf’s arm. She sighed, and Laurehiril looked confused. She did not know what to make of Maegwen’s saddened appearance.
“What is it, Maegwen? Do you still wish to talk?” Laurehiril asked. “I can make time, if you like.”
“Laurehiril, I’ve got to tell you something.” Maegwen said. “It is not good news, and I almost do not want to tell you because you are now a friend, and I do not wish you to be sad.”
Laurehiril looked scared, but put on a brave look for Maegwen’s sake. “You can tell me.”
“The first thing, is that I actually came to Lorien in search of you.” Maegwen explained. “I have news for you. It is… about Halhiril.”
Laurehiril’s mouth dropped and her eyes widened. From Maegwen’s explanation of the death of all the elves in Mirkwood, she had a horrible feeling she knew what was the matter. Maegwen took a deep breath of air.
“Your brother was killed. Laurehiril, I’m sorry.” Maegwen said. Laurehiril nodded, and turned. The elf did not know what to think. It was a big shock. She had not seen him in a long time, and had actually been planning on travelling to Mirkwood to see her kin. But now she would not be able to, unless she was to be greeted by horror and death.
“I wish to be alone.” She said darkly, and went away through the trees. Maegwen fell again to her knees and blew air at the hair in her eyes. She had a feeling that might happen. On the other hand, she was acting rather calm, in Maegwen’s mind. If her she had learnt her brother had died, she would have been crying harshly. But she did not have a brother. But Figwit had almost been like a brother. But closer. He had been so many things. A security blanket, a brother, a friend… but he would never be a lover.
The day wore on. But Maegwen was quite content just roaming Lorien. It felt more homey than Imladris, maybe. It was perfect. She loved Lorien, but wished to see her father again.
It was night, and the first time she had seen Gilgnalad and Rochon all day. They were among the elves much of their time. Maegwen was less social, and walked by herself. However, the two elves were off again, for Celeborn wished to speak with them. He had messages that he wished to give to Elrond, and though he had invited Maegwen to go, she stayed in the bower and in their tent, lying on her back, gazing up at the stars. They were so beautiful. She soon felt herself singing a song that she had never heard before from the lips of any being. It was about Elentari; Elebereth Githoniel; Varda Starkindler. Maegwen had heard lore of her and the other Valar through books and scripts of the Eldar in Elrond’s many libraries.
She felt that someone was watching her, but did not stop singing. If anything, her voice grew louder and more beautiful, and when Maegwen stopped, she sighed. She had never sung like that. She never sang at all. She didn’t think she could sing.
“You have a very beautiful voice, Maegwen.” Said a dark voice. Maegwen turned sharply. Haldir walked over, and stood in front of her. Maegwen settled. His grey eyes twinkled like she had never seen before. He was a beautiful man. The woman tried to shake the thought from her head, but it was as if she was in somesort of a trance. A wonderful trance.
“Thank you.” Maegwen said quickly. “And I will thank you for not spying on me any longer. I wish for rest.”
“I was not spying on you. I came to find you. You were not with the others from Imladris.” He kneeled in front of her. “I assumed you might have been here. Then I heard your singing. I… I did not think you could sing like that. I’ve only heard two other individuals sing as pleasantly, but they are both elves.”
“Thank you for your words. You are kind.” Maegwen sounded stiffer than she wished, but the singing had tiered her. “But why were you searching for me?”
“I saw Laurehiril earlier, and she was weeping, and not even Orophin could get her to speak. We thought it might have been your news, for neither I not Orophin have ever seen Laurehiril weep. And I come here to ask you what you told her. Is it of her brother, as I guessed?”
Maegwen nodded. “It is. Her brother was killed by the orcs.” Maegwen buried her face into her hands, and shivered. Haldir gasped, and he closed his eyes solemnly and sorrowfully.
“I knew Halhiril ere he left for Mirkwood, for he went thither after his parents left for the Undying Lands some years ago. But he dwelt here for a time. Did he die well?” he looked at her, hoping for a worthy answer.
Maegwen shook her head. “I do not know.” She looked up from her hands. “I was not there when he died. I had taken wounds and was sent back with the Prince of Mirkwood, but was not there to see if…” she could speak no more.
“This is sad news. Alas for Halhiril. Almost a brother he was to me. Did you know him well? You sound grieved much.”
“Someone I knew and cared for much died too when Halhiril did. I… I do not think I will ever get over his death. I…”
“You loved him?” asked Haldir with a mixture of emotions on his face as he read her eyes like a book. Maegwen nodded. Perhaps it had been more obvious to others than it had been to her and Figwit. Legolas had guessed easily. Why had they waited so long?
“I think that I did.” Maegwen said. “It is hard to explain. I’ve known him my whole life. He was my best friend.”
Haldir nodded. “I understand. I do not just say this to make you fell better, though if it consoles you, I am glad. But I too lost someone I loved muchly. Not in the way you did, but I miss her at times when the night is cold and lonely. Milokamen she was named. We were happy, or at least I believed so. She passed to the Undying Lands many years ago now, the extent of the life of a mortal man. She had such eyes that… I cannot explain it.”
Maegwen smiled at the look in his eyes. She promised herself to be more careful about passing judgement on others before she knew them. Haldir wasn’t anything like her first assumption. He was kind and loving. The elf beside her caught her grin. The more they spoke, the more she grew to have a liking for him.
“Do that again.” Haldir said suddenly. Maegwen’s eyebrow tilted.
“Pardon?” she asked.
“Do that again.” He repeated.
“Smile. I have not seen you smile before. Your eyes come alive like fire when you smile. You have a beautiful smile.”
Maegwen grinned wider. Haldir smiled too, then a look of guilt passed over his face.
“I suppose talking about the one I loved and you having a beautiful smile and voice is treachery to Milokamen.” He said looking at his hands. Maegwen shook her head.
“I do not think so. I loved Figwit very much, and he had this way of making me feel so wonderful.” she sighed. “But I think that you have very nice eyes. They are so clear and grey and they remind me of a beautiful morning just coming over the tree tops casting shadows on the grass…” she leaned back, noticed she had been leaning forward a great deal to stare into his eyes. She blushed. “I am sorry.”
They did not say much more afterwards, and Maegwen eventually drifted off to sleep. She had a strange dream. It was a cloudy day, and Maegwen was talking with Haldir as they walked. They were talking and laughing and Maegwen felt she had never been so happy. But then they came to a crevice. It was a long way down, and the jump was long. To fall meant certain death. But Figwit was standing on the other side, smiling. He had never looked so happy himself in his life. Maegwen was about to jump over. She did not care if she fell to her death. She wanted to be with Figwit. But the elf shook his head. No words were exchanged, but Maegwen understood. He did not want her to come. He wanted her to stay where she was and to be happy and no longer grieve for him. To come to him was death.
Maegwen woke up crying.
**Did I over use the word ‘ere’? I’m sorry, but I like that word. It reminds me of ‘ear’ which reminds me of elves. Hmm. “You know when you’re obsessed when…”
(Don’t you say a THING Aline, don’t you say a thing.)