Mirror, Mirror, on the Stump or Follow the Golden Woods Road
I am standing in a long, dismally lit hallway. I recognize it from uni; the year I got my performance degree. There are rows of doors and as I walk by each and every one, I remember the personality of each piano that lived in the room. Some had easy touches, this one over here was like playing a cement block, a sticking key, an out of tune note. My favorite had a bright tone and no one wished to play it, but the touch was sweet and I could easily feel the levels of the pedals, so it was mine. As I pass each room, I hear sweet music from behind each door and as I reach the end of the hallway and turn back around, I realize that hanging from each doorknob is a strand of pearls. I put my hand to the doorknob of my practice room and hear a wretched keening that causes me to recoil. I’m frozen. I try to back up but I feel a wall behind me. I do not desire to go forward, but am unable to go back. I struggle with the wall but it is strong and it will not budge and as I turn to push against it, a hand covers mine. A strong hand, with a gentle touch. “Lirimaer,” his voice says gently, “Baraermin, we will open it together. I am here.’ And he guides my hand to the door knob…
I try to sleep
They’re wide awake
They won’t let me alone
They don’t get paid or take vacations
Or let me alone
They spy on me and try to hide
They won’t let me alone
They persecute me
They’re the judge and jury
All in one
Bronwyn lay on the bed. She had lain there for two days, only rising to take care of nature’s needs. When they had reached Caras Galadhon, Haldir had hauled her, much to the amusement of his neighbors, to his parent’s talan screaming curses at him from over his shoulder. Once there, he had body slammed her on the bed, said something angry and unintelligible to Orophin and Heridil, and stormed out of the home. She heard him going down the spiral stairwell. He had never said a word to her and when she rose to go after him, Orophin blocked the doorway, obstructing her passage. She became angry, yelled at him, but nothing would budge him. He was immovable and stern and he reminded her of how the Elves had been when she first had arrived. It hurt that all of a sudden, their relationship had changed from the warmth and caring of friendship back to intruder into the Golden Woods.
She waited all day for Haldir to come back, apologize, allow her to apologize, yell at her, anything, but he never did. At first, she was angry and wished for the confrontation, but as the day wore on, she digested what he had said to her in anger in the wood.
“You did not think of the consequences, you did not think of the danger, you did not think of the difficulty you would put me or Rumil or Orophin or Heridil or any of my archers in. Did you consider that with Heridil and Orophin being more concerned about making sure you kept up and were watched and fed, that they were unable to do what they needed to do? Did you consider that by defying me that now I had more to watch out for besides Orcs, I had to watch out for you as well? You walked into the middle of a bigger nest of Uruk-hai than is normal and they were not normal? Did you stop to think that had you been killed that I would have died as well? That whatever destiny you are heading for would come to a halt? If the thought of my death or yours means such a minuscule amount to you, think of it this way. What if Heridil had jumped down to protect you? I had to stop him twice. He would willingly, for the sake of your friendship, die for you. You did not think, you put all of us in danger because of your foolish actions.”
“He would willingly, for the sake of your friendship, die for you”
“I stopped him twice!”
“Did you stop to think that had you been killed that I would have died as well?”
“…I would have died as well…”
“…he would die…”
“…I would have died.”
“Did you not think? Did you not think?” His voice echoed inside her head.
Just where was your brain, Bronwyn?
No Haldir. I did not think. I just did not want to be left behind.
The realization caused her to cry, huge tears that streaked her cheeks, made her eyes swell, and gave her the hiccups. She felt a hand on her shoulder and saw Heridil there, trying to comfort her. And she cried harder. It was no longer Haldir’s anger that upset her; it was the assault of her own self-serving actions, the knowledge he was right. She had not thought well. She was confused by her feelings for him; wary, apart, the need to be cautious, and yet at the same time, she desired his company. And as a result, she had reacted to a pissy comment by a pissed off Elf trying to protect her. And damn near gotten both herself and him killed.
Orophin went to Galadriel late that second day. “She cries, My Lady, She cries and cries and does not eat. When she sleeps, it is not for long and it is not peaceful. She tosses and turns and cries out. She talks and talks and I cannot understand what she says. It pours forth from her mouth as a litany. I am worried for her well being. Haldir will not recognize her when he returns if we do not do something. I do not wish to question, but if this continues, she will not be able to summon the strength to argue with Haldir, much less rise to meet whatever destiny is in store for her.”
On the third day, Galadriel went to Bronwyn.
Can’t say I blame them all for being hurt
After all I treated each and everyone like dirt
But time has come and cast a spell on me
And breaking hearts ain’t what it used to be
Haldir was completely unapproachable. He sat high in the tree, watching, waiting, for anything. His archers did not interact nor attempt to fellowship with him. Only his brother would come near.
“You should eat more,” Rumil stated joyfully. “If you do not, you will not have the strength to be able to argue with her, will not be able to spank that delightful bottom rosy, much less make love to her until she cannot speak.”
“I do not wish to speak of her. She is willful, disobedient, and could have been the death of us.”
Rumil sat down next to him, chewing on a strip of dried venison. “Tell me, what conversation did you have with her before you left the first time?” He handed Haldir a strip as well.
Haldir accepted the strip without thought and chewed thoughtfully. “I told her to stay. I told her she would be safe. She disobeyed me.”
“Did she insist or did she seem accepting?”
“She resisted, of course! She is such a woman, demanding her way. She told me she could help, that she was not without her weapons. I told her to stay put and that she was a woman and the Orc Hunt was no place for her”
“Ah,” Rumil finished his strip. “So you challenged her.”
“Challenge?” Haldir threw down his strip. “I did not challenge. I gave her an order. My archers follow orders. I expected her to follow it as well.”
Rumil chuckled quietly. “You expected her to react like an Elf. You expected her to follow you as if she was an Elf and lived here for three thousand years. You expected her to react like a trained archer. Haldir, my favorite older brother, she is none of those! If you told her she was helpless, a hindrance, of course our Brave One would want to prove you wrong. That is what you did and that is what she did. You told her she was helpless and she wanted to prove she was not.” Rumil took a huge breath and continued quietly. “I was there when you told Lord Celeborn that you did not care if she drove you insane for the rest of your life. Well, there it is, she is. She is not one of us. Haldir, you have the right to be angry, but you set it in motion. You could have told her the truth.”
Haldir glared at his brother. “And what truth is that?”
“That you love her. That you would have been worried to distraction with her presence.” He was quiet for a long time. “Haldir, you are harsh with her. Every stride, every step forward she makes, you make the task harder. Do you not realize she is an excellent archer, not an Elf, true, but nothing to be ashamed of. Do you not see that although her sword agility does not surpass any of us, she does not give up? Do you not see that Legolas was correct in saying that her knife skills are not of this world? She pushes harder and harder and harder and yet, you refuse to see it. She walks in a realm none of us have walked. She is learning our ways. She butchers our language, yes,” Haldir grimaced in agreement, “but she tries. Her musical prowess, whether it is that which she creates with the instruments or that which she creates in the air, I cannot describe the joy I feel when I hear her.”
He stood up.
“We watch the two of you. You push and she does not step back. She gives no quarter and pushes back. And you give no quarter. Neither of you budge and it is as if two giant trees are battling. You bend little, but do not break. It is a painful dance to watch. You think with your head, as is your wont. You are a strategist; you carefully consider every possibility, from every angle. You are trained to do that. She does not think that way; she thinks with her heart. She is headstrong, yes, but her heart, her heart beats true. If I did not have you at my side, I would welcome her presence and abilities next to me in battle. She is a worthy, skilled warrior. I would not want to be her adversary. Behind that wall of verbal insults and wariness, hides a soft, gentle, compassionate woman. Did you not see the look on her face when you said you or Heridil would have willingly died for her? If you were not my brother, I would challenge you for her love.” He looked deep into the forest. “For years, I thought no female was worthy of you. Now I have to wonder; with your actions, are you even ready for the one who is?” He strode off.
“Rumil.” His brother stopped and turned to him. “From the moment I left Caras Galadhon, I have felt her sitting in my mind. She does not eat. She cannot sleep. I feel it. She is wearing down. Soon, the Lady Galadriel will have her look in the mirror and all that she runs from will force its way out and she will shatter. I am afraid that I will not be able to get there in time to pick up the pieces.” Indigo blue eyes implored stormy grey ones. “What do I do?”
Rumil stepped back towards his brother and pulled him to his feet. “Follow your heart. When she calls for you, return on swift wings. Tell her how it made you feel when she disregarded your wishes. Tell her how you feel about her. Then take her to your talan, not our parents’, and make love to her for days. Come to think of it, take her somewhere far away and make love to her for days. I do not think many of us could stand to hear your groans of ecstasy!”
The woman swam in the bathing pool. Well, swim was not the right word. She sat next to a rock, submerged to her neck.
“You see what I mean, My Lady?” Heridil whispered, worried at Bronwyn’s appearance. He had come into the clearing after hearing Bronwyn’s splashes and carefully tried not to stare.
Galadriel had been shocked when she laid eyes on Bronwyn. Her hair lay in clumps, grimy from her days out in the woods. Her eyes had dark circles and she looked wasted. She did not smile, did not speak, just lay in the bed with her head covered. Celeborn had tried to talk sense into her, told her how worried all had been when she was discovered missing, she just cried and told him she was stupid. He told her that Heridil and Orophin had been removed from the Fence because of her, for aiding her. She cried harder.
“She pines for want of him, but is afraid the confrontation will undo what was begun. And she cries buckets of tears!” He threw his hands in the air. “Iluvatar help me, I never knew what to do with a crying female! Even you did not carry on so much the night I breached your maidenhead!”
Galadriel nodded. ” She grieves her actions. She grieves her loss of him. He grieves as well. He worries he spoke too harsh, but he spoke true and she needed to hear that. But he will not come until called. He senses her, feels her pain. He hears her more than he hears me and he broods. Brooding. It is what he does best. Listen carefully when she speaks. She recites the histories of kings and queens and scandals of her native land.” The two Elves called Bronwyn out of the pool. She was listless and moved without vitality.
There you go, baby
Here, am I. Well you
Left me here so I could
Sit and cry
Golly Gee, what have you
Done to me
Well, I guess it doesn’t matter anymore
“Bronwyn, you need to eat.” It was said to her often, every hour without fail.
“I’m not hungry.” was her only reply, if she replied at all. Her mind worked furiously and the demons played on the outer reaches, ever closer inward of her consciousness.
After four days, they brought her from the talan and took her to the garden, hoping to raise her spirits.
She sat in the garden, on the cool grass, wearing leggings and one of Haldir’s left behind tunics. It was large, much too large; it hung off her shoulders and she had cuffed the sleeves. It smelled like him and she seemed to take small pleasure in that and it gave her a little comfort. She stared at the alcove where the mirror lay. She sat in the grass, knees bent and pulled up to her chest, hands wrapped around her legs and her head resting on its side atop her knees. She stared blankly at the gazebo and her history poured forth like a rush of floodwaters.
“…John Longshanks became king. He was hated, despised, feared. He married a thirteen-year-old girl and their struggles for sexual one-upmanship were well documented. He was forced to sign the Magna-Carta. He received the throne upon the death of his brother, Richard the Lion-hearted, who was killed during the Crusades over triffles. He was a warrior, but his preferences for male company was rumored and it is thought he was the lover of Philip II of France. He, in turn, received the throne from his father Henry…”
“Bronwyn,” It was Celeborn. “Please eat. You will lose your strength. Haldir will not be happy to come back and find you wasted. He will think I was derelict in my care of you”
Bronwyn sighed and ceased her verbal wanderings. She turned dead eyes up to him. “Haldir will not be happy regardless of what I do. He is not happy when I work hard, he is not happy when I do well. He is not happy when I succeed, he is not happy when I fail. He is not happy with me at all. He has been saddled with me and I have brought shame to Heridil and Orophin. He sent Alilian away. I have questioned his reasoning and defied his authority. For that, I am sorry. But he will not listen to my apology.”
Celeborn placed his hand on her shoulder. “He did not send her away. I did. Do not worry about Orophin or Heridil. Haldir will eventually bring them back to the fences. He does not hate you or hold you in low esteem. He is a hard Elf, shaped by hard circumstances and has a heavy burden placed on him. As much as you wish you were not, you are an additional burden for him to carry. Nay, I do not mean that badly. He places great care and responsibility in whatever charge he has been given. And he has taken charge of you. Eventually, he will see all your gifts; already, he sees many of them. In time, he will trust those gifts and allow you to use them with his. In time, the two of you will work together as a team, in fact you already do. He has treated you badly, yes, but you did a very silly thing and are deserving of whatever punishment he decides for you. But he cares deeply for you.”
A tear stained face looked up at him. “He left without saying goodbye. He didn’t say anything to me. Did he say anything to you?”
Celeborn gave a sad smile. “He said to tie you up if necessary. He said to keep you safe so he could turn you over his knee when he returned. He also said he did not like your black finger nails .” And with that, he left the garden. He met Galadriel on his way out. “Already, without her consent, it begins. We must move now.”
There was movement on the ground. The Elven archers looked towards the thicket a mile away. Soon, he saw them.
“Bronwyn.” She looked up into the eyes of Galadriel. “It is time.” and Galadriel extended her hand. “It is time to look in my mirror.”
The group of Uruk-hai was a good-sized troop, according to the scout; he guessed around sixty. Saruman was getting crafty, sending out larger and larger groups. They stepped into the clearing, sniffing the air, not yet sensing that a dozen Elven archers had them in their sights. Haldir pulled his bow to ready, string pulled back to his ear and aimed at the one in back.
And felt a little lurch in the section of his brain that belonged to Bronwyn.
“Will you look into my mirror?” A silver pitcher poured water silently into the bowl, emptying the contents.
“What will I see?”
“Even the wisest cannot tell.” Bronwyn climbed onto the stump next to the mirror.
She faltered for a moment and heard –
“Baraer, I am with you. Do not be afraid. Face your destiny. We will face it together. Become the vessel.”
And she looked.
The Uruk-hai lay dead at the feet of the archers, each and every one killed in a matter of minutes. None escaped. Haldir stood in the middle, counting the dead. And was becoming aware of the growing scream.
And saw it all.
The cold house, the instruments, the cold hallway, her husband, the car wrapped around a tree, her son, a bright light promising to take her to completion.
Her son. Duncan.
She heard screaming. Loud, howling screams. She realized, the painful, soul-wretching sound came from her body and they hurt her throat with their ferocity. She flung herself away from the mirror and collapsed in a heap on the ground.
One minute, he was standing, counting the dead, the next, he was on the ground, on all fours, gasping for breath. He felt as if his heart had been ripped out. And at that very minute, he knew. He saw what she had seen.
“You bitch!” She screamed at the top of her lungs. She was still on the ground, sobbing. Hot, scalding tears coursed down her face in searing rivulets, her hands clenched in fists, hitting the ground. “You knew! You bitch! And you made me remember! You fucking well made me remember! How could you…You knew! Aaah! Dammit! You knew! And you made me…” she broke out in fresh sobs.
“I saw what you saw.”
Bronwyn leapt to her feet. “You what? You saw? But you didn’t live it, did you?” She collapsed on the ground again. “Oh God! My baby. My Duncan. Oh, my baby.” She was on all fours, head against her hands. She was vaguely aware of The Lady sitting next to her and pulling her in her arms.
“Oh, Bronwyn. I did not know. I am so sorry.” And they both cried together.
“Haldir? Are you all right? Are you hurt? Did something happen?”
Haldir was on his knees, curled over with his hands over his face. He looked up into the concerned eyes of Rumil. All of his archers were gathered around. He was tasting salt and realized he was tasting his tears.
“Rumil!” he gasped. “Rumil! She has looked in the mirror and she has remembered. Oh, Baraermin! She has remembered!”
Bronwyn had finally calmed down into hiccups. There was no music, no animal sounds. Celeborn stood quietly in the archway, watching. Orophin had stopped weeding and sat weeping. All of Caras Galadhon had stopped at the onset of the wailing. She wiped the tears and drippings from her face with the backs of her hands, streaking rich earth across her cheeks. “What now? What happens now?”
Galadriel held her close. “You move on. You accept your past and grieve and move on. You embrace your destiny and allow your past to fade behind. Your husband and your son are not coming back. You cannot go back. I am so sorry, Bronwyn. I truly did not know.”
“And if I don’t? If I don’t leave it? If I don’t move forward on this path?”
Celeborn knelt down on the other side of her. “You were sent here for a purpose. If you do not accept it, you will die. Your destiny will fade unfulfilled and the future will be at risk.”
She stared into the trees. “Do it or die. Do it and save the world or die and it all goes to hell.” She laughed quietly, without joy. “Just put all the pressure on me. No biggie. Weight of the world on my shoulders! Sheee-it.” She stared down at her hands. “But what is it I am stepping into?” She pulled away and looked up at Galadriel. “Who am I?”
Galadriel smoothed the hair back from her face.
“You are Bronwyn Morgan ap Powell. You are the Historian of the first Three Ages, the Storyteller of the Races, the Musician of All, the Voice of the Unheard, the Keeper of the Truth and of the Innocent. You are to be the Founder and Mother of the Celtic Bards. You are the Last Vessel and when you become to accept this task, you are to be the Bard of Middle Earth.”
Haldir had come to his feet. His breathing was ragged and every breath was pained. “Rumil, I saw, ” he whispered to his brother, “I saw what she saw in the mirror. By the Halls of the Valar, I do not know how she has stood it.” He purposely took control of his breathing. “She needs me. I must go to her. I need to go to her.”
“Has The Lady spoken to you and requested you to return?”
Haldir pulled himself to full height. “Rumil. The Valar destroyed her family. They plucked them from her fingers one at a time. Her son was innocent in this; he was afflicted on purpose and she now knows this. All the others, she understood, she accepted. But not her son. She needs me. I must go. I cannot and will not wait for her to call me. She has shattered in many, many pieces and she does not accept.” He took a deep breath. His entire company had been standing around, listening. “Rumil, I leave you in charge. I do not know what is going to happen when I show up unasked for in Caras Galadhon. Until my return, you are the March Warden.”
Rumil put his hand to his heart. “Go with wings, my brother.” He looked closely at him. “Tell her. Tell her you love her.” He grabbed him and hugged him close. “Haldir, my love for you runs deep. Be patient with her. She is good for you. I would not lie to you.”
And Haldir began the eighteen-hour trek through the forest.
“I’m what? What? A Bard? I have been brought back to tell stories and collect them? Why didn’t they just send a friggin’ computer and a wagonload of floppies?” She looked around as if she had no idea where she was. “This is too much. I can’t…I can’t…I can’t think. This is too much to filter through and I am overloaded. My family is gone, taken from me, I’m plucked out of my life and home and dumped here in Middle Nowhere and am expected to save the world in some way or other, by telling stories. I have no idea what to do. I can’t deal with this. I need rest.” and she wandered out of the glade and towards Haldir’s family talan. Celeborn started to stand and follow her, but was stopped by his wife.
“Leave her be. She is exhausted. She will sleep tonight. Her demons will not bother her, for they have been released. She will receive most of the answers she is looking for and she will come to reasoning and understanding with all she has been through.” She looked into the distance. “Haldir comes. Unbidden. He senses her pain and he reacts to it.” She looked at her husband. “She will choose him as her Guardian and Shield, and we will lose our March Warden. He will give up all for her, eventually.”
Celeborn nodded. “Yes, I realize that. He will give up being the Guardian of the Golden Wood to being the Guardian of the Bard. Question is, is he ready for that?”
And Haldir sped through the treetops, risking all.
“I get knocked down
But I get up again
No, you’re never
Gonna keep me down…”
Bronwyn came out of the Garden in a haze. All of Caras Galadhon had come to a halt with her screeching and waited to see what she would do.
Except Liandrien. Knowledge that her former lover had carried her replacement over his shoulder in disgrace back into the city and had been out-of-control furious, had fueled her vehemence.
“Knife-welder.” Bronwyn turned dead eyes to the silver-haired beauty.
“I told you. He would not keep you. You are an embarrassment. He will throw you ou-” Liandrien was unable to finish her sentence as she felt herself slammed against a tree. Bronwyn had her by the throat and Liandrien felt the airway in her throat constrict.
“You will shut up. You know not what you speak of and I would just as soon tear you from limb to limb for the sheer pleasure and joy of it. Haldir chooses whom he wants, when he wants and nothing you can do shall stop that. I find you annoying, despicable, and a bothersome, trite creature. You task me! You deserve your loneliness. Leave me alone!” And with that she turned her loose to fall on the ground, wheezing for breath. Orophin and Heridil were watching.
“Do you think she realizes she attacked Liandrien?”
Orophin looked down at Heridil. “Do you think she realizes she was speaking in Sindarin?”
Galadriel and Celeborn were standing behind them. They watched Bronwyn slowly move towards the talan. “It begins in earnest.”
Bronwyn slept for almost 12 hours. Her body rested, much needed, but her soul flew to the Halls of the Valar. And there she begged and screamed and fought with them. It was all laid at her feet. Every nuance, every reason, every move, almost every available outcome. They explained all. Everything. Except Haldir.
And Haldir stopped for nothing.
It was sunset when Galadriel and Celeborn were summoned to the talan. Orophin stood guard in the front room. When they entered the sleeping chamber, they saw Heridil silently standing in a corner and Bronwyn packing. Clothes, small bags and weaponry were strung about the room in haphazard fashion. The roll was spread on the bed.
“She will not listen to me. I have begged and pleaded, but she does not see reason-“
“Reason? Reason? What reason am I supposed to see, Heridil?” Bronwyn shot back. “The reason why I should stay? Wait for Haldir to come so everyone can have the pleasure of listening to us smash pottery? To hear us throw things? So I can sit and know that the Elves of Caras Galadhon are taking bets on how hard he can beat me? Or make love to me?? Do you not think it hurts, knowing I was wrong to do what I did and I do not wish to relive that? He will not accept my apology and I will be damned if I am going to sleep with him when I know he hates me. And when in the blue hell did I start speaking Sindarin?” She looked around the room before she continued. “I cannot stay. This pain, it hurts like I have swallowed knives. There is too much here. I need to be alone. I need peace and quiet and time.” She raised her hand to Galadriel. “I know! Time is something I do not have, but I must have it. Do you know how long I had between the time of my son’s burial and the time I was dropped into the Mines of Moria? Two days. Two days! Dead less than a week before I was dropped in the nightmare of Moria.”
“You know why.”
“Yes! Yes! I know why. I was contemplating suicide. It was done to rescue me. But instead of dropping me in Eden or here, your gods dropped me in a horror and left me there for days with fruit and lembas and cracked ribs. Do you know why they dropped me there? Huh, do you?” Celeborn simply stared, not given a second to respond. “Haldir would not have appreciated me. He would not have recognized the gift if it had been wrapped prettily and set naked in his bed. He had to be courted, coaxed. And they made me his duty. A duty, a responsibility, not a love.” She turned back to the roll, neatly putting it together. Galadriel noticed Haldir’s tunic that she had taken to wearing was neatly added into her things. Galadriel sent Heridil out, with the silent order to return with lembas and a flagon of water. “I refuse to be someone’s responsibility. I have been my own since forever. Every person I have ever trusted left me, allowed me to fall. He is everywhere here, he permeates the very air.” She slipped on the long vest over her turtleneck and sat on the abandoned chair to buckle on her spurs. “I need to grieve my son. Finish grieving my marriage, my husband, my life. I cannot do it here. If I am going to do this, I must have time to let it go.”
Celeborn whispered to his wife. “We cannot allow her to leave.” He quickly found himself backed to the wall, arms pinned to his side, her fist buried scant millimeters from his shoulder into the divider.
“I am not giving you a choice, My Lord. You will give me this time or I will simply refuse to do what I have been chosen to do. There are times when death sounds tempting!”
His blue eyes looked into hers. Searched. “You know what you have been chosen to do. You know what the cost will be if you do not.”
Her other fist slammed into the wall, on the other side, neatly pinning him. She was standing scant centimeters from him and he could feel her breath. “I know full well what they have designed for me. Power, a full life, immortality, knowledge and the ability to regain and retain all that is lost or hidden. The ability to remember history in exquisite detail. To see it, taste it, smell it. The ability to pass it along, to remember, to remind, to shape, to correct, to hinder, to guide. A family, although I suspect each child will be an immaculate conception. All that was taken from me and more. I bargained with them, I do not accept easily. But how I must receive it; by giving up all I had and all I was, plus taking on what will pass, the cost was dear. My son was guilty of nothing and yet they took him, afflicted him purposely. I do not know if I can live with that knowledge and I am not sure I am ready to pay the ultimate price.” She pulled her fists from the wall and proceeded to tie her hair back into the leather wrapping.
“Bronwyn. You cannot even consider dying. You cannot consider not becoming what it is you are already becoming. You are the Last Vessel. There are no others and there is no time to create one!”
She turned on him, turned on them all. “A vessel. That is all I am. A vessel to await HIM to use me!” She picked up the porcelain pitcher and raised it above her head. “This is a vessel!” and slammed it to the floor, smashing it to pieces. Galadriel recoiled. “And that is what I am. Shattered. I am shattered and I do not know if I can find and put all the pieces back together. I do not know if I even want to!” Heridil was standing in the doorway with a rucksack of lembas, fruit, and two flagons of water. Tears were in his eyes as he watched his friend prepare to leave. She put on her weapons, her knives, her sword, her bow and quiver and shouldered her roll and the rucksack. It was a heavy weight. “You don’t get it! To you, this is all my duty and my destiny, something I just should accept and embrace. Someone gave me this chore. It is a grievous burden. No one asked me if I wanted this! They took everything from me. My life, my husband, my son, all of it,” she snapped her fingers, “gone! Like that. Could you bear it? For what? To tell stories? To sing songs? To birth a line of historians? I do not even know how to deal with Haldir or how he is supposed to fit in this. He is horrid to me, I do not trust him or his motives, and yet his presence comforts me. That frightens me! I want him yet he terrifies the shite out of me.” Her voice lowered to a hiss. “You will not tell him I said that.”
“Celeborn.” She called him by name, no title. “You must prepare your people for the War of all Wars. Many will find the Halls of Waiting too soon. The enemy draws up to Mirkwood and Lothlórien. Soon, a battle comes to rest on Helm’s Deep and it will open the floodgates of war and the races of Man will unite. Gondor will take a final stand and the King will arise. This age will fall and unless I take my place, all will fade and will be forgotten. I can not interfere in what happens. You must decide where to take your stand. I have no idea how I know that or where the knowledge came from.” She strode to the door, spurs clicking on the floor. Heridil and Orophin stepped back to allow her to make way. “I thank you for your hospitality. You have been more than kind.” She said that in the Common Tongue. She hugged Heridil and Orophin and strode from the talan.
The silence was deafening. Celeborn spoke first.
“We cannot allow her to leave. It is dangerous.”
“We cannot force her to stay.” She looked towards the setting sun. “He comes, but he is still hours away. That should give her some time before he catches her. He will catch her.”
Celeborn looked at the two archers. “Follow her. Do not allow her to see you. Follow her to the edge and keep her protected.”
Heridil and Orophin did not make a sound as they left the talan.
Six hours later, before the sun rose over the horizon, Haldir stood in the deserted bedroom. It was if she had never been there. There were holes in the walls and the shattered pitcher of water on the floor. He looked to the table where the pitcher had sat and saw his mother’s fire ruby necklace. And the offensive bottle of black nail polish.
To be continued…
Baraer – Fiery One
Baraermin – My Fiery One
Lirimaer – lovely one