‘…Her hair was long, her limbs were white,
And fair she was and free;
And in the wind she went as light
As leaf of linden-tree.
Beside the falls of Nimrodel,
By water clear and cool,
Her voice as falling silver fell
Into the shining pool…’
The days drew on much more slowly and sadly until the time of Ivriniel’s planned departure came. At the front doors of the palace the house of the Prince was assembled, Finduilas and Imrahil holding gentle tears; Adrahil and Irilde watching stoic and proudly; her uncle and aunt Gilant and Lindisse; and the Prince Angelimar stood unwavering with the three high captains of Dol Amroth – Lord Cemendur, Lieutenant of Dol Amroth and the father of both Irilde and Lindisse; Lord Hador, Captain of the Men-at-Arms of Dor-en-Ernil; and Lord Orodreth, Captain of the Belfalas Navy.
Many of the people of the city had come to watch the departure of the Lady Ivriniel, yet her attention was fixed only upon her dear family. Some respectful yards away patiently waited her chosen escort, the Knight Galador son of Orodreth, handling two horses with masterful ease.
As she made her many sad goodbyes, Prince Angelimar took her aside for a second, and spoke to her in secretive confidentiality; ‘Ivriniel, my fair grandchild, though I wish you a safe journey and return to the city, I know in my heart that I shall not see you again. I am an old man, and your father is ripe and ready for the Princeship, for my days are now few. I have only left to tell you how much I love you, but I too love Dol Amroth, and I foresee that your path shall indeed lead back here, for I deem that you have a part to play in the dark days to come. Remember the White Swan and the Blue!’
With an embrace that seemed to never wish to be broken, Adrahil and Irilde held their daughter. The face of the son of the Prince was a mask, but he was confident that she would return to him once more. Irilde was less opaque, and smiled as she wept. ‘Daughter dearest, I am as grieved at your leaving as I am glad of your fulfilment. But dark days are ahead, and maybe daughters and mothers shall not see each others’ faces once again, and we will need all our courage. Farewell!’
Last of all Ivriniel went to her younger sister and brother. All three together embraced at once, and each saw before them the roads they must take soon, which would inevitably see them split from one another. Finduilas saw her life leading to a seat beside the Steward in Minas Tirith; whilst Imrahil saw himself rise as a captain and later to become Prince; but though Ivriniel saw before her the road to the White Lady, after that she was unsure. They all wept peacefully, and no word was needed, such was the bond between them. But soon Ivriniel took herself from their hold, and as eldest they followed in her example. They held themselves proudly and highly, but with much constraint as she walked towards her escort Galador, whom lent a helping hand as she mounted one of the white horses he handled.
As Galador too took to his steed, Ivriniel waved sadly, but with a smile intensified in beauty through her sorrow, and her family too returned the gesture. Then she turned her back and trotted alongside the resplendent Knight from the city, but as she went no songs were sung or trumpets flared, but several of the townspeople had cast white flowers into the street before her feet, bidding her to seek them on the way back home. Soon they had passed the sturdy gates, and were gone, riding across the fields of Dor-en-Ernil northwards until the fair port-city of Dol Amroth vanished behind the hills and the horizon, and Ivriniel’s heart sunk to the depths of the sea her home was built beside.
As they passed through the verdant lands of the Southern Fiefs lying between the Bay of Belfalas and the White Mountains, Galador spoke to Ivriniel in attempt to lighten her heart, and though she answered little she bid him to continue to speak, for his words seemed to comfort her somewhat.
‘Dor-en-Ernil is the land of my wife,’ Galador said as they manoeuvred up its roads. ‘For Nienor my love is the daughter of Hador, Captain of the Men-at-Arms, who is great friends with my father Captain Orodreth of the Navy, whom set us together. Two children she has borne us; both my pride and joy. Four years younger than you is my beautiful daughter Gilmith, and one year below you is Orophir, already a brave and skilled warrior, and his heart is as strong as his stroke.’
Yet soon they left behind the northern bounds of the Land of the Prince, and entered into the realm of Pinnath Gelin by way of the crossings over the Ringlo close to the ancient abandoned Elven harbour of Edehellond. Her uncle Gilant had further told her how the life of the White Lady was too tied into this port, and as Ivriniel gazed upon it she could almost feel an aura upon it, which made her feel the same way she did when she experienced her dreams.
Galador had chosen to take the roads closer to the coast than the White Mountains, for after the Prince Angelimar had defeated the Corsair Fleetmaster Pharazamir at Linhir four years prior, it seemed the threat from Umbar had been contained for now, but none of the Captains of the Southern Fiefs were foolish enough to think they were not scheming a renewed attack. But as the threat of the Orcs of the White Mountains was still unknown, it had made more sense to trace the shores of Belfalas.
All the land was bright and merry as the two riders passed through the fief of Anfalas, and when they passed through the port of Rondalph they were greeted merrily. Yet Ivriniel could still find no cheer, for as they passed further and further away from Dol Amroth, desire to repent from her quest and return home to her city and her family, to the familiar sounds of the sea against the city, was heavy in her. After several more days, when they had stopped at the town and crossings of Serelond, Ivriniel decided to open her heart to Galador, who was happy to give her his council.
‘If you were to return now, undoubtedly in shame to your noble father, if I may say so, you would only wish you had stayed true to your course, perhaps for the rest of your days. Besides, I would always deem it unwise to turn aside from a path once it had been set before one’s feet.’
Having heeded her wise companion’s advice, Ivriniel had passed northwards inland through Anfalas, far from the noise of the waves and the gulls, which made her steps even harder. Yet other than her internal sadness, no other oppression bore upon her or Galador, and soon they had crossed the River Lefnui and beheld the tall White Mountains upon their right crowned with snow, and the ranges of the Druwaith Iaur upon their left, where the legendary Druedain were said still to live in secret. But before them lay the plains standing as a gap between them, and the fortress standing in its midst.
‘There lies Annunost, the Westhold,’ Galador said, espying the fortress and the surround. ‘There is the last garrison of Gondor before we cross into unguarded lands, and thence into Calenhardon – the land of Rohan.’
True to Galador’s words, some days after reaching the Westhold they had crossed the River Isen into the desolation of the Enedwaith, before braving the wild lands where rogues and Dunlendings roamed, and finally to the boundaries of Rohan; the Fords of the Isen. All the woods were muted, the only sound to be heard the flow of the water upon the stones. The two travellers passed with much caution, for they mistrusted such poised silence. Suddenly, a figure emerged from the shadows of the trees, his hands raised in peace. His gear was rugged and woven in colours of earth. Galador met his gaze with a strong stare, and though he did not unsheathe his sword his hand was poised to grasp the hilt.
‘Well met, children of Amroth,’ the man said in a fair voice, ‘My name is Thorongil, under the service of the King Thengel of the Mark. What is your business here, for I can see that you have travelled long and far from your homes by the sea?’
‘You seem like no Knight of Rohan to me, Thorongil,’ Galador said warily. ‘If I would have to guess, you look more like a Dunlending scout.’
At this Thorongil chuckled. ‘I do not disagree that I look a little…roguish. You will have to excuse my appearance, for travelling the wild is my lot. Perhaps this is why King Thengel has chosen me to scout Dunland for him.’
Galador still held his glance, but Ivriniel looked at this rascally-seeming man and saw something in his eyes that made her question his status. In his guise he appeared to be nothing more than a simple vagabond, but hidden by this mask few noticed the high kingliness in his face.
‘Greetings, Thorongil,’ she said. ‘This is my companion, Galador, Knight of Dol Amroth, and I am Ivriniel, daughter of Adrahil son of Prince Angelimar. We request permission to travel through the land of your King, for we seek to find the legendary forest of Lothlorien.’
Galador immediately shot her a warning stare. ‘You cannot tell any passer-by on the road our purpose and titles, my lady!’
‘I am sorry,’ Ivriniel apologized, turning to Galador. ‘There is just something…trustworthy about him.’
‘Your companion speaks wise words, my lady’ Thorongil advised. ‘There are folk less wholesome than I in the wild places, if you could convince your brave Knight so. Yet I am glad to meet such noble folk; I can see that it is true that not all the blood of the Silvan folk left the shores of Belfalas. But I am more shocked to know of your destination. Few left in the world actively seek out the realm of the White Lady, for many ill words now bandy about its name.’
‘And what would you think to such sayings?’ asked Galador.
‘I can tell you with utter honesty that no evil should be found in Lorien, lest you bring it there yourself; though if you are admitted and return to your homes once again, you shall find that you have not returned unchanged,’ he said wi!@#$lly, as if recalling old memories.
‘You have been there before?’ Ivriniel asked excitedly.
‘Yes, my lady,’ Thorongil smiled, almost sadly. ‘And I will so again, in time. But my path drives me across other lands before that time may come. Soon, I plan to come to Gondor, to the White City; and perhaps I may behold the wave-washed walls of Dol Amroth, if such fair people as you still thrive there.’
‘Do you know the way to Lorien from here?’ asked Galador, at last convinced by this stranger. ‘We have maps, but as you suggest, places of legend are easily forgotten.’
‘North from here you will find the eaves of the forest known as Fangorn, where wholly different legends exist,’ Thorongil answered, pointing. ‘Follow the shadows of its borders, crossing the River Entwash, and soon you shall find friendly roads through the region known as the Wold. Stay true to the northward paths and you will find easy passage across the River Limlight. Pass over the eastern bounds of the Field of Celebrant, and soon you shall find it. I must warn you though; use mannered speech upon the bounds of Lothlorien, for outsiders are not always so readily welcomed. If your city still speaks any of the Elven-speech, use it; that should help your plight, as should your lineage. If you have trouble, tell them you have been told the way by the Elfstone.’
Galador nodded in gratitude, but Ivriniel was held in puzzlement at the title ‘Elfstone’, though she did not want to ask its purpose.
‘Now forgive me, you noble travellers, but I must do some travelling of my own; it is nearly dusk, and foul things are beginning to creep through the night in such places, even with the vigilance of the Riders of the Mark. I bid your eyes be watchful, and your steeds’ steps be wary.’
‘Thank you for all your advice, and your kind words,’ spoke Ivriniel. ‘Your courtesy should not be forgotten in Dol Amroth, and nobility gives you fairer garment than a noble such as me.’
Thorongil smiled, and when he did his eyes sparkled, and the years seemed to fall from his face. ‘Goodbye, Lady Ivriniel. If foresight is too not faded into legend, I deem that our paths will cross again.’
And with that he was away across the fords, as strong as a horse and as swift as a fox, though to Ivriniel this man of the wild seemed yet more king than beast.
Staying true to the advice of the mysterious Thorongil, Ivriniel and Galador had made good progress. The trysting eaves of Fangorn were behind them, and Galador was glad, for he had been highly disturbed by the claustrophobic menace of the trees, however Ivriniel had been more entranced than scared. Though the days were darkening and old alliances were fading with the wind, in Rohan the ancient bond between the Rohirrim and the Dunedain was remembered, and each village would aid and direct them with gladness, even so far as the northern reaches of the Wold, where the tales of the high towers and white walls of the Mundburg were passing to the telling of old wives.
The fair waters of the Limlight were crossed, and so ended the more populous regions of Rohan; though the Field of Celebrant was still their territory, earned for the blood spilled at the riding of Eorl the Young, and in the distance the two riders could descry burial mounds standing yet, helmed by spears, rusting, yet resolute.
Yet soon the old battlefield was gone, and, at last, in the distance they beheld trees, tall and immeasurably ancient, glowing in the dusk sun like an aura of magic was upon them. They came before the borders, and at last Galador’s road could go no further.
‘I now must turn back,’ he stated. ‘I am to go no further than Lorien, as your father commanded me. Yet I am concerned yet for you, Ivriniel. If you would wish me to travel within with you…’
‘You are a Knight of Dol Amroth, and to break my father’s word would be treason; yet I would have it no other way than his, in this matter at least. You led me through the wilderness, but I must take the last steps alone. This is after all, my task.’
‘Then what was mine? To lead you safely only to thrust you alone into the unknown?’
‘Yes. You were to take me to the borders of Lothlorien, and that you have done, and without peril. But I shall miss you dearly, Galador. You were a great comfort, and a great friend to me along the road. But now you must return to our city, to your wife Nienor, and your children Orophir and Gilmith. I am sure they miss you sorely.’
‘Yes – they have often been on my mind of late. But what of your family? Do you have any word for them, my lady?’
‘I would speak to them of my heart, if such words could be made to grant them it,’ she said sadly. ‘But tell them all my love for them is still at home beside them; and one day I shall return to it, and them. Now go, and please Galador, be safe. Return home to your family and your brothers-in-arms.’
‘A true command,’ smiled Galador. They dismounted, and embraced one another. ‘Perhaps we shall never see one another again, Lady Ivriniel, even if I do return home, but something stirs in my heart that tells you; our fates have been woven together, but what that means I cannot say.’
‘You need not say, for I perceive it also,’ Ivriniel said. ‘Goodbye, Knight of Dol Amroth.’
With that, Galador and his white horse galloped away, though he kept his glance more on Ivriniel than the road ahead, still making sure she was out of harm.
Ivriniel sighed deeply. She was now alone, the tall trees of Elvenkind like towers before her. Steeling herself like a great breath before a plunge, she led her horse into the shade of the forest, and was enveloped by its beauty.