I remember being a child, always playing with my friends. I rarely had an opportunity to run around with Baird, as he was almost constantly off training with Father.
We were a highly respected family in Rivendell because of my Father’s hard work. He spent quite a bit of time training ‘warriors-to-be’, and he was always in every battle. Every night, before he slept, you would find him polishing the blade of his sword, then setting it gently on a velvet cushion.
Until the day he was killed.
Elrond sent him off into battle, as usual. Before Father left, he held my brother and I close and kissed us good-bye. He promised he would come back.
The next day, a messenger from the battlefield came to tell us that Father had been killed by a group of orcs. He promised us that the surviving Elves would bring back his body for burial.
I did not exactly understand that Father was dead, and that I would never see him again. But, at the time, I was only about six years of age.
“Where’s Daddy?” I would ask.
“You git, he isn’t coming back!” Baird said. “He’s dead.”
I still did not understand it. Not until Roark, my friend, explained.
“Your Father was killed,” he said. “Just like the beasts he slaughtered, he will never come back. He is dead.” After he finished his explanation, he hugged me. I felt my eyes burning with tears that I could not hold back.
Although I knew Father was dead, I would only mourn for him at his burial, then I would never think back on the horrible loss. He would not have wanted me to suffer.
Now that Father was gone, Baird had nobody to learn battle skills with. Since we were almost like royalty, Elrond offered to help. Even though Elrond was a good trainer, Baird thought Father was better.
“I only learn the basics with Elrond,” Baird would say. “Father taught me unique tricks.” And I agreed, for every once in a while, I would watch Baird’s lessons with Father. But whenever Baird would show me what he had learned with Elrond, it never seemed as exciting.
A few years passed, and mother began teaching me to write. I thought it was the most amazing thing I would ever learn. You could do anything with a simple quill and some ink: Create happy endings, draw, record your favorite memories.
But I always wanted to be remembered as a heroine, to ride into battle.
“Nonsense,” Mother would say. “Adara, dear, you know women are not allowed to go into battle. Now go wash up, supper is almost ready.”
I did not let this stop me from doing what I wanted.
That night, I snuck into Mother’s room, where she kept Father’s sword on a small desk. I ran my fingers along the soft velvet cushion that it rested on, then carefully picked it up.
Unfortunately for me, the sword had been placed below a window. The blade had become tangled in a curtain. I tugged hard, trying to free it, but in the process, the sharp edge cut through the fabric. I knew I was in trouble.
In the commotion of my stamping feet, Mother’s eyes had snapped open. She immediatly sat up and jumped out of bed, thinking some beast had broken into our home. I had frozen in place, staring at Mother with wide eyes. Was I in trouble?
Mother began laughing, realizing who I was in the dim moonlight.
“Adara, why are you awake?” she asked, taking the sword’s handle from me and rescuing the blade from the curtains. “You should be in bed.” Even though it wasn’t exactly a command, I slowly walked out of the room and climbed into my own bed without arguing. I could still hear my Mother’s laughing from her bedroom.
I did not know that my Mother had actually asked Elrond to give me lessons the next morning. She must have realized how much I wanted to learn to battle. Baird thought it was absurd.
“What d’you think you’re getting at?” he asked. “Mother, she’s a-“
“A female, I know, Baird,” Mother said gently. “But the lessons are just to teach her how to protect herself. I would never have her sent off to battle.”
I smiled when Mother defended me like this. All I could think about was that I was going to weild a sword. I was going to shoot an arrow.
I was going to be a heroine.