Starry Twilight – Chapter Ten – Elrohir’s Realization
Elrohir felt excitement welling up within him at the thought of the adventure to come. It would be just as the old days again. Fighting Orcs, battling to save Middle-earth, avenging his home. That thought sobered him immediately. Now there was, perhaps, not so much to be lost. Lothlorien was faded, his home, Imladris, had been razed to the ground. His people had already mostly left, save only those who had never answered the call to Valinor in the first place, and possibly never would. There was nothing left to protect.
His nephew seemed strangely shocked by the news, though he had seen the devastation wreaked here. And he raised a question everyone ought to have been asking. How had Jaessa decided that the Orcs were indeed connected with the Haradrim? It seemed an unlikely union, despite their past in both serving Sauron.
“I cannot say that,” Jaessa answered softly, “But I know that Zandra is in Gondor, which would imply that she is in the hands of the Haradrim, and the threat that occupies Angmar is behind both her imprisonment, and the Orcs.”
What threat? Elrohir wondered for the first time since their unexpected guests had arrived. Elladan would say no doubt that he was being a slowtop. Who could it be who had organized the Orcs again? For there was no chance that the Orcs had allied with the Haradrim on their own, nor the Southrons with that foul breed. Who could have created again the union which only Sauron had held firm?
“So Gondor is merely a step in some scheme by a greater evil,” Eldacar said bitterly, “Is that always to be our fate? Standing between evil and the rest of the world?”
Jaessa smiled sadly, “Do not bemoan such a fate,” she said quietly, “It is of much more worth than you seem to realize.”
Haldir added to her statement, “And in any case, the fate of Gondor is tied with that of the rest of the world. It is necessary now for us to see what we can do to ensure that fate is not cut short. You are certain that Angmar must be their goal?” he asked Jaessa. Elrohir looked at the dark haired lady again, amazed at how much she still seemed to resemble his sister. It must be purely his imagination, for when he thought about it, there was little there except their coloring, but she seemed to emanate Arwen’s presence.
She spread her hands, “As sure as I can be, I know so little of . . .” Elrohir would not have noticed her pause had he not been watching her so intently, but as it was her words gave him pause. “. . . the world. This is the first time I have traveled beyond Valinor.” Elrohir’s brow cleared. That would explain it. She must be a Maiar. Probably related to Melian, one of their own ancestors, and the one from whom Arwen took her looks. That mystery solved to his satisfaction, he payed little attention to the brief interlude establishing that fact.
“That’s of no account now,” Legolas cried impatiently, echoing Elrohir’s feelings, if for a different reason. “If the Southrons are trying to take Zandra to Angmar we must make certain they don’t succeed!”
“Yes, Morgoth cannot be allowed to get Zandra,” Jaessa said, as though she were stating the obvious, which Elrohir supposed she really was. Morgoth should not be allowed to get anything. But she did not seem to realize the catapult she had just launched into their midst.
“Morgoth!” Tinel exclaimed in horror, shrinking back to the wall of the cave. Elladan followed her and put his arm around her protectively. Such was Elrohir’s shock that he did not really pay attention.
“The Black Enemy?” Elrohir cried, gripping the table in shock. “But he was imprisoned by Manwe and the other Valar! He is not in Middle Earth now, he can’t be!” His mind was whirling. It made sense. If anyone could unite the Haradrim and the Orcs it was Morgoth.
“I do not know can’t,” Jaessa said seriously, and Elrohir wanted to laugh hysterically. This was much more than he had bargained for. His ancestors had battled Melkor. This was not a thing he was supposed to have to face in this Age. “All I know is that he spoke to me,” She says it so calmly, Elrohir thought with horrified amusement, as she contintued, “and he is after Zandra.What must now concern us is how we are going to stop them. From this map it looks as though there is really little between them now and the mountains. And once they reach the mountains there is little to hinder the transfer of Zandra from Gondor to Angmar. All that stands between them now is whatever free standing armies Rohan has gathered. And it is not likely they will attempt long to hold them back in that direction, not when their holds lie to the West.”
She was right. Elrohir could see it clearly. It was a bold move, a foolish move, but Morgoth did not care about the thousands he slaughtered, so long as he attained his goal. And one of those goals would be to destroy all the Elves which remained in Middle-earth, before moving on to Valinor, where all that remained of his family dwelt. And they were the only ones who knew of the danger. They were the only ones who could do anything about it.
“But the Greenwood!” Tinel protested, “They will surely stop them?”
“There is no reason for them to, so far as they know. The Haradrim have no need to enter their realm,” Elrohir pointed out, a strange calm coming over him. They had not the power of their ancestors. There was no way they could succeed where they had failed. “They just need to reach the mountains, if they are indeed in league with the Orcs.”
“Unless we tell them of our need,” Elrohir’s brother said quietly, turning to Legolas, “Surely they will come to our aid? When they know what’s at stake?”
It does not matter. Elrohir thought, They cannot stand against Morgoth, even with the Rohirrim’s aid. Perhaps the end of the world has finally come.
“I am not certain,” Legolas said slowly, “Very few of my people have left for the West, as we did not go when first called, so we have the numbers. But they have ceased interest in the actions of Men, striving to be isolated as much as possible.”
“If it is truly Morgoth who threatens,” Tinel said earnestly, “Then it behooves every free people to do what they can to aid us.” Elrohir looked with admiration at her lovely face, her eyes glowing golden in the candlelight. She was right. It did not matter that they could not succeed. They had to try. There was no one else, and when there was no one else, those who were there had to do as they could.
“We can but try,” Legolas said at last.
“Trying may not be enough. We have to do something to be certain that they don’t succeed.” Jaessa said calmly.
“But Rohan cannot hope to stop them the way they stand!” Elrohir said viciously, “The Greenwood is our only hope.” A hope that was no hope, he added silently, furious with her for mocking them for trying against hope.
“If there is only one hope you must find another,” Jaessa said firmly, silencing Elrohir’s further protests. What could she mean find another? There was no hope in their one hope, and she expected to find another? “Surely Rohan, if alerted to the danger will shift their focus to keeping the Harardrim from the mountains?”
Eldacar shook his head, “If you are so anxious to keep them from getting to Angmar, the Rohirrim cannot move,” he pointed at the map. “If they go anywhere they will leave the Gap of Rohan open, and they will have a clear line to Angmar. Indeed, this would probably be their preference, since they aren’t fond of mountains.”
“For the nonce we just have to hold them until winter. A month, two at the most. Surely the Rohirrim are strong enough to block both paths for that long?” The calm certainty in her tone lit unlooked for hope in Elrohir’s breast. Why did she think holding them until winter would solve the problem?
Eldacar dampened his brightening hope as he shook his head, “The Rohirrim have not such numbers.”
“Before winter?” Tinel asked, curious, “why winter?”
“Because they come from the South, and the snow that will fall near to the mountains will act very much in our favor,” Haldir answered for her, “Though whatever we do we will be between the hammer and the anvil,” he continued, turning to look at the Maiar. “You realize we will have the Haradrim at our front, and possibly Orcs at our back?”
The expression in her eyes again dashed Elrohir’s hope. Again, all they had was a hope that was no hope. They would fight, and they would die. And perhaps, just perhaps, it would be enough that Eru would provide a way for future generations to imprison Morgoth once again.
A sudden realization hit him, as he gave up hope for his own life. Gondor was overrun, Rohan soon to be. Arwen might be somewhere out there, either in the land which was swarming with Haradrim soldiers, or else wandering in the land which was soon to be a battleground. His little sister might be wandering lost.
The baby’s unhappy cry pulled him momentarily out of his shock. Jaessa was at Haldir’s side in a moment, scooping Chearra into her arms. “Besides,” she said, tenderly “I need to find someone to take care of Cherry.” Elrohir looked around wildly. Arwen might be in danger, and they were here talking about a baby!?
“Why cannot we do both?” Eldacar asked at last, and Elrohir looked at him in confusion, he had no idea of what they were speaking. But wait, Eldacar was gone when they had last traveled to Gondor, perhaps he had accompanied Arwen whereever she had gone. He might know where she was!
“What was that?” Haldir asked. “Both what?”
“Well,” Eldacar said slowly, “We could both ask for aid from the Elves of the Greenwood, and, if that fails we can ask Rohan to shift their strength to fight as long as they can.”
“There is not enough time to do both,” Gimli said.
“There is if we split up,” Eldacar said reasonably. “Perhaps the ladies could go to the Greenwood, with my lord Elrohir and Elladan, and the rest of us could go to Rohan, and arrange what defense we can there.”
He turned to Jaessa, who replied, “I shall come with you to Rohan.”
“There is no need,” he began urgently, but stopped when she held up her hand.
“I think there is. More need in Rohan than in the Greenwood. I can strengthen their fortifications so that they can be defended with only a few men. This would be of little use were I to go to the forest. They will not be defending their fortifications, but attacking the Haradrim front line.” Her soft voice was firm, and strangely no one argued against her, thought Eldacar was tempted. “It is settled then. Tinel, Elrohir and Elladan will go to Legolas’s father in the Greenwood, and the rest of us will go to Rohan. We shall leave first thing in the morning.”
It seemed then that it was decided. It fit with Elrohir’s own plans, so he did not argue. He would go to the Greenwood, for that seemed their only hope, but first, he would find out where Arwen was, and he would find her, and see her onto a ship bound for Valinor. She would be safe from Morgoth for as long as possible.
Everyone seemed to be dispursing now to make their preparations. Jaessa sat with her baby, while Gimli went to fetch the goat. Legolas and Haldir were talking with Eldacar and Elladan, whilst Tinel looked on. Elrohir joined them, standing at his nephew’s elbow.
“Eldacar, could I speak with you for a moment?” he asked, indicating that they step outside the cave. Eldacar nodded to the others, saying he would return shortly.
“What is it Uncle?” he asked, concern in his eyes. Night had fallen, and stars twinkled overhead, bathing the ravaged city with a soft light, as though tears fell from heaven.
“Can you tell me,” Elrohir stopped, this was not as easy as he had thought. As her brother he ought already to have known where Arwen had gone. But he didn’t, so he must discover it. “What can you tell me of my sister?”
“Do you not know?” Eldacar said with dismay, and his gaze hardened, “My father should have seen to it that you were told. It is unforgivable that he did not.”
“We know only that she left Gondor after Estel died,” Elrohir said eagerly.
Eldacar’s eyes saddened, and a strange empty feeling filled Elrohir. This was not good. “She was the only mother I knew, as my mother died at my birth. I loved her dearly. I could not let her make her final journey alone, and, she allowed me to accompany her.”
No, Elrohir thought desperately, Do not say what you are going to say. Do not say “final journey. His heart hammered painfully, But wait! Perhaps she took ship to Valinor already, thinking that perhaps we had given up, yes! he thought clinging to this last shred of hope. His sister was not gone. She could not be!
“I had never been to Lothlorien before. I thought it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. She told me it was as nothing compared to what it had been when the Lady lived there.” His voice was soft, sympathetic, the voice of one who is trying to be a friend.
Lothlorien? She had gone to Lorien? But that was right in the path of the Haradrim army!
“There, in the home of her ancestors, she left this life,” Eldacar’s words were halting, awkward, as thought he did not know how to say the words. Elrohir felt numb. It could not be true. He closed his eyes for a moment, and let the pain wash over him.
His voice was hoarse with grief as he stammered, “Thank you,” and began to walk away.
He did not see which direction he went. He did not care. Arwen was dead. Arwen was dead. The words echoed again and again in his mind. Somewhere inside of him, even as he fought to convince himself it was not so, he knew that it was true. He had known it, deep inside, for months now. But even now the reality was almost too much to bear. His little sister, his beloved Evenstar, was gone forever. Not even merely lost to the Halls of Mandos until the end of the world, but lost forever to whatever fate held for Mortal Men.
A scream tore painfully from his throat as he fell to his knees, “Aaaaaarweeeeeeen!!!!!!”