Author’s Note: By the way, the song that I used in Tale 20 was the 80s song, “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel (the lyrics can be found when Jonathan is speaking to Krystine as he dies). It’s one of my favorite romantic songs, right up there next to “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister.
Important: This Epilogue has been broken up into four sections. The first is a history of the soul that became Alpha and Omega. The second is first-person POV musings of Alpha and the third is first-person POV musings of Omega (not Jonathan and Krystine–they were simply incarnations of the Alpha and Omega consciousnesses) and should be all in italics. The fourth is about Haldir, Legolas, Dirnees, Elladan, and Elrohir post-War of Arda.
Recap of Tale 20 . . .
He cut himself off and froze. What was he doing? Krystine had said that the child would go to Sophie. Why was he sitting there bonding to it?
He dropped his head and sighed, holding the infant tighter. She murmured a soft question and raised her arm, her tiny hand smacking lightly against his cheek and clumsily brushing away the tear that had escaped his careful guard. A polite noise by the door made him compose himself, then look up. [Yes?]
Dirnees, face twisted with sadness, said gently, [We should go home.]
The former Marchwarden of Lothlorien gazed around the room for the last time. When he left, he would not look back. [. . . Home . . .]
It was not a special soul, aside from the fact that it was newly created and had not yet been born into a body. It had not been acting out of the ordinary, either. It was doing nothing to distinguish itself from the other souls around it, yet it soon came to notice that it was getting a great deal of undue attention.
The Valar had been waiting for a soul like this, waiting for a soul they could gift strength to so that it might be a formidable opponent to Melkor’s minions and help keep peace. Most of the souls that existed were already living in Middle-earth in Elves, Men, birds, trees, rocks or were in the Halls of Mandos after leaving such forms . . . They needed a soul that had no knowledge of or attachment to the idea of life so that they might teach it what they wished without it fearing death.
This brand new soul was the one they chose.
However, Melkor noted this favoritism and decided that he would foil any sort of plans the Valar may have, take the soul, and while he had it, twist it into the most evil creature possible to taunt them.
A long struggle ensued with the soul, oblivious to the reason for the fighting and frightened at the surges of power, caught in the middle. Yet the battle continued and eventually, in a moment of agony that would never be forgotten, the soul ripped in half, thus ending the war.
The Valar hurried to calm their half of the poor soul as it suffered through the pain of separation. The soothing hardly helped. It felt lost and more alone than it ever had before. It wanted nothing more than to be reunited with the half it had lost and go back to the waiting it had done prior to this battle it had been drawn into unwillingly.
Still, the Valar needed the soul now more than ever. They knew of Melkor’s dark intent and now were forced to take the appropriate countermeasures, lest he wreak devastation upon Middle-earth.
So they gifted the soul with previously unseen strengths and taught it to use these powers to their fullest extent for the good of all around it, while at the same time Melkor was teaching his half of the soul that the only way to achieve the peace that the Valar had told it of was to annihilate everything that walked upon two legs. Only then would peace exist.
The two halves were thus taught the same ideal–peace in Middle-earth–to be reached in two completely opposite manners. It was painfully clear to the Valar that there would be a conflict, as Melkor had surely intended.
And so were born the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.
War was the only possible outcome.
I have a memory that I have cherished ever since the Second Age. That time, the two of us did not meet for the first time purposefully. By complete accident I had found her tucked in the far corner of a brothel, one of the few lucky girls who managed to wrangle her way into being a simple cleaner.
She was well-protected under that title, I discovered when I–out of curiosity of her presence there–chose her and was denied. I assured the woman in charge that I only wished to speak to her, so with a great deal of suspicion she allowed me this and told my Omega to shout for her if I started to act out of hand. I offered her the chance to stay and listen to the conversation, but she had pressing matters to attend and declined. My willingness to let her eavesdrop, however, seemed to make me a bit less untrustworthy in her eyes.
I could hardly believe how shy my Omega was. It took almost an hour to get her name and another hour of talking about myself before she opened up more. She was amazingly intelligent and quickly deciphered that I had come here looking for her and not for pleasure. I was even more surprised when she agreed to leave all she knew behind to join me in my travels.
She told the woman in charge of her plans and was sent off with her final pay and a fond pat on the head. She stayed with me and as I had promised, I explained why I had been looking for her and told her our history. She took in the information with open arms and an open mind because she had noticed changes in her abilities since her eighteenth birthday.
From that day forward we engaged often in mock battles. I trained her to be an opponent worthy of my skill in battle when I should have simply killed her. Even knowing that she did not leave me and every day when she woke up to the rising sun she hugged me for allowing her to live another day.
Those embraces are my most precious memories and I think that after a few such mornings, in the beginning, I stopped considering killing her in her sleep just so that she could hug me in the morning.
It was a full turn-around from the First Age, when she had utterly hated me and was so bent on finishing me that her health was constantly fluctuating and no one could touch her for fear of breaking her in two as she was so concentrated on wiping me clear from the face of Arda. A good wind would surely have knocked her over in those times.
But in the Second Age, and now in whatever Age this present day is, she has retained some measure of affection for me. She is my one weakness–a weakness I will eventually be forced to slay. I hope, however, that when she dies I will be there to hear her say something similar to what she told me upon her murder in the Second Age.
“. . . There is always hope . . . for redemption . . . I love you . . .”
It is impossible to say that I hate him. Yes, he is an utter jerk, and yes, I wish I was not so susceptible to his charms; however, that was not a trait Melkor was willing to let me have. Yet I cannot blame that vulnerability on him merely because he is the only thing that I can take my frustration out upon–he is only what he was twisted to be, after all.
Still, there are times when I feel like simply slitting both our throats, as that is the only way to avoid the war we have been molded to fight. We are two of one and it is difficult to battle him when I am, essentially, warring against myself for a world that seemingly has no wish to be at peace even though they strive for it on occasion, when the fancy strikes them.
. . . Well, whatever. One could go mad debating whether or not the beings that live there deserve to be saved or exterminated. It is not my choice to make and I am glad of it–I do not understand how he can so easily accept responsibility for so many deaths, even if he was conditioned to have no emotion. Though I suppose in his mind it was Melkor’s choice that they all die–he is simply the messenger, as it were. An angel of death who has come to reap the souls of the living for their crimes against the world.
Puh . . . Fool. If I knew it would do any good I would slap him, but it is just as clear as glass that he has no intention of seeking to atone for his work that has caused so much sorrow over the Ages. It seems that only when the Valar can take him from Melkor will he be cleansed and his brainwashing reversed. Such an idea that I may have to wait for Ages yet to come for that to come pains me, but there is little I can do except wait for him to be returned to me.
I have always felt lost without him, as he is my other half, and I wonder if he ever feels the same way. He does not allude to it aside from some moments where I can catch him off his guard and see that longing in his eyes. Whether that longing is truly a wish to be with me as one soul again or merely the lust that comes as part of a physical body I do not know, as I have never had the chance to present the question to him.
He taunts and teases me always, though his touch–except during battle–has never been rough or hurtful. The heartlessness he displays when he speaks of his purpose could likely have killed Sauron with its belligerence, though over time I have disciplined myself against his words. Ever before he used them to work me into a frenzy and then sat back and laughed at my rages.
Still, as much as I call him an unfeeling murderer and sully his reputation to the fullest–though it would not be far to go–he also has a magic silver tongue that he seems to only show to me in our last moments of life.
“. . . You shall ever haunt my heart and dreams, my divine Omega . . .”
[Will he be all right?] Dirnees asked quietly as the four younger Elves looked in on Haldir, whose back was fully to them where he laid on the pallet in the small quarters below deck. [He has not moved from there since we set out.]
[He will have to be all right,] Elrohir replied with a sigh. [Now that he has made the choice he has, it would be infinitely foolish to give up.]
Haldir rolled his eyes. Stupid Elflings, thinking they could sneak up on him to do this sort of thing. One did not so easily forget their training as a Marchwarden no matter how long it had been since he had responded to that title.
Also, despite their concern, he knew he would survive. He lifted his finger to brush it across the cheek of the infant sleeping in front of him. Somehow, he had succeeded in convincing Sophie to permit him to take Mithiril to Valinor with him. Though the child could never possibly replace Krystine even if he wanted her to, the infant–as well as a few of Krystine’s favorite stuffies–was all he had left.
Especially since the bodies of Marie, Krystine, and the Evil had been left in the care of Marie’s family.
A clatter of talons on wood distracted him for an instant and he smirked as the younger Elves tried to hush the bundle of energy. Pelting into the room, the tiny grey dragon leapt onto the cot with him and chirruped as he settled behind Mithiril and went immediately to sleep.
Phantom had come along on their journey because both Wraith and Ghoul had made it quite clear–now that their masters were dead and just before departing to the northeast on what may have been a final excursion–that Phantom was not to be separated from Mithiril. Just as Wraith and Ghoul had been the counterparts to Krystine and the Evil, it seemed Phantom was the counterpart to Mithiril.
Sighing heavily to himself as he watched the pair rest, Haldir at last drifted into a fitful sleep.
[Their souls shall be honored for all time,] came the soothing voices of the Valar. [Do not mourn them too deeply. The child is also safe and welcome–she is only the same as any other living being, despite her parentage.]
When Haldir woke later he knew he had dreamed but could not remember its contents. Despite that, he felt far calmer than he had since leaving America and got up to check on the scrolls and parchments in the hold to be sure the fresh air was not doing them too much harm. The Elflings had agreed with him that the many texts of the Library of Gondor needed to be taken to Valinor and copied so that the history was not lost. He had also allowed Marie’s family to photocopy a portion of the writings (a process that fascinated the Elflings) for their own uses.
Seeing the containers of parchment made him think of the times when in her childhood Krystine would snuggle in his lap while he deciphered and translated the languages and then, when she was a bit older, would sit by him and draw or finish schoolwork. A pang of grief stabbed through his heart as he thought of Krystine, but the feeling did not linger long and was quickly replaced by a comforting warmth and a feeling of tranquility.
[So you are alive after all,] spoke a quiet voice.
Haldir turned to Legolas. As the younger Elf had lost his best friends to the grip of Death as well, he had found it was easier to speak to him than to the others. Even Elladan and Elrohir did not understand–they had not wished to see their sister or foster brother fade into nothing, as the mere thought of it was too much for them. [So I am . . . A miracle, I suppose it would seem to your brother.]
[Dirnees is still a child concerning death. He rarely went out on the patrols in Eryn Lasgalen, before and after it had that name, and has never experienced the pain that death causes.]
[They say that death is more painful for the ones who are left behind.]
[Such has been my experience. I have felt it myself and seen it in the hearts of others.]
[It is so odd . . . Somehow this hurts more than the deaths I went through as Marchwarden.]
[You knew it was possible that you or they could die at any time–the forged camaraderie was made to be broken. You had not expected her to die this way, even knowing she was mortal.]
Haldir nodded absently. That was exactly the answer he had searched for; the one that made the most sense. [. . . Are we near Valinor?]
[We should arrive tomorrow.]
Sure enough, the ship docked early the following afternoon and Haldir was surprised to find Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn there to meet him. He bowed the best he could with Mithiril and Phantom hanging off him and acknowledged the greetings from his lord and lady with a measure of sadness. There was now no gold forest for him to protect, but he was quite sure–he concluded wryly–he would have enough trouble with his two charges.
The younger Elves paid their respects and moved past, carrying the crates of parchment and scrolls from the Library. Phantom dropped from Haldir’s shoulder to get beneath their feet and trip them. Mithiril giggled at him and clapped from her place in Haldir’s arms. Unaware of his sharp fangs, the dragon chomped playfully on Elladan’s leg and the dark-haired Elf let out a startled and pained yelp.
[Haldir,] Lady Galadriel called softly.
He shifted his gaze to her. [My Lady?]
[There is a spirit over your left shoulder. She has long black hair and brown eyes and is dressed all in tight-fitting black clothing, including a long leather coat. Is she someone familiar to you?]
A smile came to Haldir’s face for the first time since Krystine had died. [Yes . . . Yes, she is.]
Namarie . . .
Mithiril –> `Grey Lady’ ~ taken from Elvish mith (`grey’) and hiril (`lady’) ~ Such a name was given to her because as a shared creation between pure Evil and pure Good (assuming that the color of their souls would be black and white as symbolic of their sins, or lack thereof), she herself would only be a normal person–flawed and capable of both good and evil behavior, not just one or the other.
The same, therefore, could be applied to the grey Phantom and as his parents once guarded hers, so shall he now guard her.
I do not profess to know Elvish particularly well, even though it fascinates me. Therefore, if Mithiril’s name is improper in some manner, I’m sorry–I’m just that stupid. Oh, and that second-to-last line in the history section of this Epilogue was stolen from the video game Xenogears. Sorry–it just worked so well I couldn’t resist!
So there it is!! Aside from the Harry Potter one-shot I just wrote recently, I think this is the shortest fic I have ever written so far. Plus, I’m really pleased with how it turned out, seeing as I only knew that I wanted to have the fic set in the current time when I started writing. I hope you all enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing!!
Oh, and while I’m yapping, I’m toying with the idea of a sequel-fic for Mithiril and Phantom. Anyone interested? It probably wouldn’t be out anytime soon, as it has no title and none of it has been written, but I am willing to give it a shot.
And now it is time to announce, as a few people have questioned me recently, that Return of the King: Kyshri’s Story is complete and ready to be posted. See you next week!!