Long after Ellysia had taken her bath and changed into evening wear, she lie awake in her bed, staring at the stone ceiling. She felt very oppressed, like the walls of her world she could see were closing in around her. Sleep would not come for her this night, for much lay upon her mind.
Tip-toeing out of her doorway and down the hall, Ellysia tried to make naught a sound. A door was open to her right, and she peered in, only her eyes showing around the door frame.
It was Eowyn’s room. Ellysia could see her dear friend’s head resting upon the pillow, blankets bunched up around her chin, eyes red from tears. It pained her to see her friend like this. She knew the Sheildmaiden had exchanged words with Aragorn, and she saw the way the woman looked at him. But Ellysia supposed it was the way Aragorn did not look when he replied, was what really hurt Eowyn.
Taking leave from the doorway, Ellysia crept down the hallway and took a right, leading her down a cold corridor. She knew where she was going.
Opening up from the end of the passageway was a great, expansive cavern, unlit little candles adorning the wall every few feet. This was Theoden’s grand Hall, deep in slumber. But she did not stop to gaze at its silence. Stepping briskly across the threshold, a parallel doorway stood, beckoning her across the cold stone floor.
Quickly sweeping over the ground, Ellysia made her way to the other doorway, and began to walk slower down the narrow hallway. She was having trouble remembering where it was, but soon a small door with a brass handle upon it came into view, and her memory returned. Ellysia pressed her hand softly against its handle and opened it, cautious of the low groan the old door let out.
It was the armory. Rows of swords and axes alike were aligned, with a great forge in the middle. They were of the finest kind of weaponry; fit for any great warrior. Hand crafted here in Rohan, they were built to fit the true Horse Lords. But it wasn’t what Ellysia was looking for. Scanning the piles, she searched the room from top to bottom- but could not find it. Sitting down with a sigh, she rested her head against the cool stone wall. Rubbing her eyes with her hand, she looked over toward the door. But a gleam, a sparkle of silver, caught her eye.
There it was! Over, upon the high shelf by the door…her sword! Ellysia scrambled up off the floor, rushing over to the shelf. She slowly pulled it down, marveling at it. Not a spot of rust, not a single dent. Just as she had left it. Eowyn must have told the smith not to touch it, she thought to herself. Carved upon its hilt was a running horse, symbol of the Rohan trade.
Ellysia walked out of the armory and back into the middle of the great Hall, where she had most light. Two windows let in the moon’s beams, sending shafts of light through the air to rest in shapes upon the stone floor. Gripping the sword, she raised it above her head. She could feel its power; remembered the way it fit her hand so well, the perfect stance she drew with it. She swiveled it around her wrist and lunged it forward, her heart racing. Remembering, and letting go.
Ellysia was beginning to finally feel alive again. Letting go of what happen to Thailen, the guilt she had felt for years for a crime that was not her fault; picking up a weapon again, not fearing what she might do with it, but trusting in its ability to protect her. In her own solemn vow to protect the living, not cause their death, she drew confidence. The dead layers of her soul began to finally shed. But something was missing, and she did not know what. A part of her was empty, void; she did not feel whole.
And just then, something moved from the shadows. Ellysia couldn’t see it, but she felt its presence. Her heart racing, she twisted around to hear the clash of metal against metal, and to see the rugged face of…Aragorn.
“What are you doing here?” he asked her, his voice gruff.
“What are you doing here?” she countered.
“You first,” said he, an eerie calm upon his voice.
“I, ah…I-I was just practicing with my sword. I haven’t used it in years, I’ve gotten a little rusty, but I figured I would need it at some point, going where ever we are going and whatnot,” she stuttered.
Aragorn pulled his sword away from hers and placed it by his side. “No, you won’t. You’re not coming.”
“What?” she said, a dumbfounded look upon her face.
“You’re not coming,” he replied.
“Did you even ask me if I wanted to?”
“No. Because I won’t let you.”
“It is not your decision to decide where and where I do not go,” she spat back.
His usual warm, dark eyes stared coldly at her. “I will not let you go.” He turned away from her, only finding himself to feel the point of her sword pressing upon his back.
“And why not?” she asked.
He swiveled round, meeting her sword mid-air, where they caught in a clash of strength. “It is not safe. And you do not understand what we do.”
“How so?” she asked him, getting angry because of his obstinacy to her prospect of joining them.
Aragorn pressed his blade harder upon hers, making her twist backward. Over the top of his sword, he looked to her. “Just go home, Ellysia,” said he.
“I…have…no…home,” she replied through gritted teeth. Pushing his blade away with the twist of hers, she tucked her foot underneath his leg, and sent him tumbling to the ground. Before he could sit up, the tip of her sword was at his throat.
“Ah, playing dirty, now are we?” he remarked, and quickly he reversed her own move upon him, sending her to land upon her bottom. She scrambled under the table nearby to pop up upon the other side. Bracing her sword with both hands, they had a stand-off.
“Why do I bother you, Aragorn? I am not in your way. Are you afraid of me?”
“Then why do you want me to leave?”
“It is not safe for you here.”
“The entire time I have been with you was unsafe. Why did you not say so then?”
“It never came up.”
“Please, Aragorn. Don’t lie. It’s bad for your health- quickens your heart rate, tenses your muscles- trust me, I know.”
“Because your head is not here. You aren’t here for any particular reason. You just…are. It’s like you are looking for a means to an end.”
She stared at him solemnly. “Maybe I am.”
He scowled at her. “What about your betrothed? What about him? Why do you wish to die, elf?”
“I never said I did.”
“You just did.”
“You are putting words in my mouth- and my personal life is none of your business, Ranger.”
“I have nothing left in this world. I have no place to call my own. I will not live in someone else’s house out of their pity, I will not subdue myself to please anyone, and I will not live in a land that keeps me for the sole purpose of waiting for me to disappear.”
“You are lost. I was like that once. You don’t know what you want to do, where you are headed- you are just living for the moment. You are a nomad.”
“But you don’t understand!” she cried, clanging her sword against his. “I don’t…fit in, anywhere! Lorien…I left Lorien a long while ago. I can never truly go back. Rohan depresses my soul. Rivendell…I love Rivendell with all my heart, but I just can’t live there.”
She sighed and loosely hung onto her blade. “I just…I just can’t find…myself. Nothing fits me. Nothing is the way I would wish it to be. You have your whole life planned out for you. If you….when you defeat this monster, you will regain your rightful kingdom, and everything will be as it once should have been. But I…I have spent my whole life angry, angry at myself, and angry at my father. I have almost no compassion left in my heart. I have no one left I would call my family. I have nothing.”
Aragorn tucked his sword back into the loop in his belt and walked around the table to her.
“Sometimes, we must accept the way things are. But you can change them. Don’t settle for what is given to you. Make it what you want it to be.”
Aragorn put his hand upon her shoulder. “You’ve had a hard life, I know. You’ve been taught to live while you can. But you need to let go of that sometime. You’ll know what you want, someday.”
She stared up at him with angry, solemn eyes, and shrugged his hand off her shoulder. “I know what I want.”
“Then what is it?”
She stared at him, defiant, but no words came from her mouth.
“You don’t know. But just because you live forever, doesn’t mean you have all the time in the world. Don’t let your life pass you by.” He began to walk away from her, moving closer to the doorway.
“But, Aragorn,” she called out to him. “You say to do what I want. I want to go with you, I want to walk the Paths of the Dead.”
He turned back to her. “Give me one good reason to let you go.”
“You say to me, I need to find my way,” she replied. “How can I find my way though this world, if you stand in my way?”
He cast his eyes downward for a moment, and then looked back to her. “That is not a reason.”
“That is the only reason I wish to give to you,” Ellysia replied softly.
He nodded. And for one moment in time, Ellysia thought he actually understood what she was thinking, in her heart. “We leave at dawn,” he said, and continued on his way.
“Thank you,” she said softly, gripping her sword tightly once again.
“You are thanking me for your imminent doom, you know that, don’t you?” she heard his voice say, as he continued to travel away from her.
“Yes. But as you say, I need to find my way. I haven’t tried the tip of a sword just yet.”
Ellysia nervously readjusted the pack upon Saracen’s back for the third time as dark clouds rolled above. She pulled her gray cloak closer around her body, fastening it around her neck with the black button sown upon it.
Placing her foot in the stirrup, she hoisted herself upon the steed’s back, and adjusted her seat. Tucking back a loose tendril of hair that fell from the bun atop her head, she took one last look upon Edoras. And a wave of relief swept over her body.
She had finally, truly, let go. She had said it, without dying, and had returned to this place, once beloved. She still loved Edoras. Things felt different now. Less burdened. Her shoulders felt light, and she could not help but let a small smile rise to her lips.
Legolas steered Arod beside Saracen, and touched Ellysia lightly on the shoulder. She jumped at his touch.
“I’m…sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said quietly, casting his gaze downward.
“Oh, no, it’s fine,” she blushed. “I’m just, ah…a little… ah…-“
“Nervous?” he asked, his warm smile returning to his features.
“No,” she replied quickly with a little laugh. “…Well, maybe a little. But I’m not afraid.”
“You don’t have to go, Ellysia, if you don’t want to.” His face was serious.
Ellysia’s gaze turned to rest upon Aragorn and Eowyn talking, and could visibly notice Eowyn was upset. She did not want to end up like that- living a life so dull and drab that she would wish to go upon a death quest to feel alive again. But wasn’t that what she was doing?
Ellysia’s hazel eyes returned to the fair elf’s face. “No. I will go. I know naught where my path leads me. But for now, I will go with you. My heart tells me that great things will happen in this future- and I intend to not disappear.”
Ellysia felt a tug at her sleeve, and she turned away from the elf, to see who it was. It was Eowyn, hastily wiping the tell-tale signs of sorrow off her face. Ellysia bent down and pulled her friend into a tight embrace.
“Again, must I leave you friend,” said she, softly.
Eowyn’s icy blue eyes stared up at her. “I do not think I understand; you are allowed to go, and yet I am banished, again, to shirk in the shadows.”
“No one is asking you to hide, Eowyn; you are needed here. These are your people, and they need you. I have nothing left but the breath in my body. No one will miss me,” the elven woman replied, placing her hand upon the side of the Sheildmaiden’s head.
Eowyn squeezed Ellysia’s hand. “I would miss you. Be careful, friend.”
Ellysia’s eyes narrowed, and titled her head towards Eowyn. “Something’s not right here…you give in to easily. That is not you.” She leaned closer to the woman. “Promise me you won’t do anything foolish, Eowyn. His decision is the best for you. Promise me!”
Eowyn said nothing.
Ellysia sighed wearily. “This is it, then. I take leave. May we see one another again, my friend, before the icy hand of death comes down upon us both!”
She waved back, and soon the entire company was on the move, swiftly flying out of Edoras, as the ominous clouds continued to darken the sky.
The storm was coming.