Howdy Hey and how are we all?

It feels like I just got home and I’m going back into the Interior again! AGAIN! This will be my last trip. We are expecting Tropical Storm Elsa tomorrow – hefty winds and probably 2 to 3 inches of rain. Reminds me to bring the porch chairs into the garage. I’m taking clothes to mom (she’s lost a LOT of weight) and a badly needed bathrobe to Dad. Star Trek, James, T, Kirk, yes indeed! My siblings told me gold or blue was just fine, but do NOT get him a red one! As long as the thing keeps his proton torpedo covered, it’s good!

Every time I go up, mom has gone further downhill. She has now been in the hospital 6 times since February. There are things going on besides her blood sugar – at least it seems to have stabilized. They are settling in to their new abode. I’ve hung up pictures and such so it seems homier.

Close friends and family members are screaming for me to see my doctor. I’m exhausted and keeping a low-grade migraine for the last few days. I have scratchy eyes. I think it has to do with the fact my June was NOT restful. 2 trips into the Interior, a well-needed vacation in Myrtle Beach, (lots of wrecks. a 4 hour drive took 7) Elsa coming in, my blood sugar is up, driving a 15 foot truck for around 6 hours. Getting in and out of that sucker hurt.

Just lots of factors.

Slowly, my parents things are being integrated into my home. It will be MORE apparent at Christmas, but right now, my bedroom…

For more than a few years, I’ve wanted this quilt set so bad, and the included side things – the throw pillows and the big picture, but I never thought that day would come. Well, it came, arrived and I think it’s beautiful, but I would give anything to have it go BACK to my mom and dad’s and for them to be home, healthy, and mentally intact. Really. It just feels wrong.

Sigh.

Moving on.

The Vessel

Chapter 10

de pain, Haldir, de pain or Who’s your bitch?

***

— where I come from

Blondes have more fun

Just watch them sit on a Saturday Night

Peroxide causin’ all the fights

Oh yeah!

***

She was back in the garden, Orophin at her side. The Elf had healed quickly and was looking forward to going back out on the Fences within a few days.

Bronwyn thought he was nuts. She was irked to no end at being told that no sleep spells had been used on her; they weren’t necessary as she had conveniently passed out, nor had any special Elf spells been used to heal her. They were purposely making her heal slowly, naturally, to keep her from going out with the Fence patrols, she was convinced. She had been sewn up, an ugly puckered scar on her shoulder and left to ruminate in Haldir’s bed. His talan was on the outer edges of Caras Galadhon and closer to where Haldir was and wanted to be. Her monthly cycle had started and she was especially surly. And she had Haldir set in her cross hairs.

“Insufferable arse!” She angrily tugged at a stray lock of hair.

Orophin sighed inwardly. He had been listening to this argument for days and in all honesty, part of his desire to get back to the Fences was to get some peace. It was more than obvious to all that Bronwyn was in the process of losing all of her defensive strengths and was taking her fury out on anyone in sight, especially the former March Warden. He hurt for his friend, hurt for her situation, and the loss of her son. As soon as Haldir had gone after her, the complete story had spread throughout Caras Galadhon. Even Liandrien had sniffed that even she would not wish a child’s death on any mother. What she had been called to do floored even the most stoic Elf and despite their preoccupation with Bronwyn’s charms, and their respect for who she was to be, not a one would have traded places with Haldir. Only he, with his patience and his own fair share of arrogance, could withstand her caustic comments.

To make matters worse, her bardic abilities were increasing at a painful rate, unchecked and uncontrolled. Music soared unbidden, along with it, emotional visuals, capturing anyone in a fifty-foot range. She struggled to warn those nearby when she felt it coming on, but sometimes she could not foretell fast enough. Orophin spent thirty minutes mesmerized, seemingly sitting front row of The Eminem Show. He could not call it music, but he found the pounding rhythm and fist waving in the air to be painfully interesting. And he had admitted to his brother, he would not mind going back to view more of it.

He also watched the Falling of the Twin Towers. He stood next to Bronwyn with that, seeming to stand in the lobby of the first tower to come down, watching, hearing the girders groan and collapse, hearing the screams, the alarms of the firemen trapped, smelling – he could smell the smoke and burning steel and bodies – and cried, cried watching the terror, the devastation, the stupid, pointless, inhumane loss of life. He cried in Rumil’s arms all that night, wondering aloud if Man was worth all of that.

Heridil observed Genghis Khan and the car race that had claimed the life of Dale Earnhardt. He also experienced the Peachtree Road Race in a large city called Atlanta on a hot summer day and enjoyed making snowmen and creating snow angels in Canada.

Haldir witnessed worse.

Haldir beheld atrocities. He observed Christ’s crucifixion with her, from Mary, the Christ’s mother’s perspective. He walked the killing fields of Nazi Germany, an unseen presence, at Bronwyn’s side, with her pointing out all, they walked through Auschwitz, mine fields in North Korea, jungle warfare in Vietnam. John Wayne Gacy. Ted Bundy. Aztec blood sacrifices. Jack the Ripper. The Third Crusade, when the Crusaders never made it to the Holy Land, instead choosing to ransack and pillage Constantinople.

Cheesecake. New York Style.

He had tasted it; Great Iluvatar, he tasted the lusciousness sliding down his throat. He sailed in the crow’s nest of the Santa Maria, feeling the wind in his long locks and smelling the ocean salt. He walked on the moon, saw the beautiful blue marble that was Earth. He rode the Matterhorn Rollercoaster, Bronwyn at his side, screaming her delight, hands in the air. He sat next to Madame Curry, with Alexander Graham Bell, sat in a huge hall and watched Franz Liszt make women swoon with his piano playing. At least, Bronwyn said it was a piano and that was the instrument she played the best and missed the most. It had made her cry. Many things made her cry. Many things made her laugh. She would bounce from one extreme to the other. He did not know how she stood it. All of this, pouring in, completely unbidden.

Rumil, quite by accident in walking by, watched the execution of women in a small, dirty field. He was incensed. “They killed their women! Killed them! Why? They cheered, like it was a sport! Do they not know that without their women, they are dead? Without them, they are nothing?”

In running away from Bronwyn, he missed the hula dancers.

Celeborn took a ride on a Harley Davidson. He disliked the harsh sound, but smiled for days thinking about the wind blowing through his hair and moving faster than a horse. He was also strangely turned on by the black leather pants he appeared to be wearing.

Galadriel saw a Josh Groban concert. She was, for lack of a better word, blown away. She had also ‘attended’ a child’s dance recital; little girls dressed in ‘leotards’, ‘tu-tu’s’ and ‘ballet slippers’ and found it enchanting.

As Galadriel foretold, Bronwyn would dance at the most inopportune times. Strange music erupted from the Garden one morning and by the time Galadriel, Haldir, and Celeborn had rushed down, she was contorting in strange ways. It was beautiful, sensual, mind-boggling. Celeborn’s head tilted at an engaging angle.

“Does one suppose she would possibly teach my Lady wife to do that?” Galadriel smacked him in the arm and Haldir wisely kept his council to himself. When it was over, she was panting, flushed. She looked up at Celeborn, eyes dilated, lips full…

“Asian Indian. A harem. The sultan…he…” she gasped. Her eyes landed on Haldir and her look went from desire, to nothing. She bumped him as she rushed past.

Haldir had been holding his breath and he exhaled as she left.

“How much longer, Haldir? How much more will you take from her?” Celeborn’s voice was tempered anger. “She begs for discipline.”

Haldir was yanking on his braid. “Did you not say she would be hard to tame, that she would not trust me? She does not. She fights and struggles within herself. Ramsey stands between us.” He threw the errant lock back into place. “If it were possible, I would kill him myself to show her I love her.” He turned on his heel and followed her to the archery fields.

Galadriel seemed to float next to her husband and gently put her hand on his arm. “Do not be upset with Bronwyn. She is in turmoil when it comes to Haldir and she pushes away what she desires most, in fear of being hurt again. Do you not see how she looks at him when she thinks no one is looking? She adores him. Her eyes follow him everywhere. No matter where he is, she knows where he is.”

“Does he know?”

Galadriel was quiet for many moments. She herself, was with Bronwyn when she relieved in fast motion, the time with Scotland Yard as they investigated her husband, the money, the drugs, the dealings, the women, the many, many women. The marriage was not open, yet he had treated it as such. The emotional upheaval of what her husband had done left even her shaken to the core. “Yes. He knows. She wears his tunics, she desires his scent so. She no longer wears her hair ornaments; she uses his clips to hold her hair back. He feels her turmoil; understands her suffering. He has tried all he knows to convince her.” She smiled, a small smile. “I do not believe romance is our Haldir’s strong point. Mayhaps another picnic with many bottles of wine and make sure no one interrupts?” She looked at her husband.

Celeborn had a very unsavory look in his eye. “No. I do not believe there is enough wine in all of Lorien to solve their problem.”

***

Oh it’s cold in here in the city

It seems that time stands still

I long for the day when I can settle down

But I guess I never will

Darlin’ I hope you wait for me…

***

Haldir knew where she would be. The archery fields. He could feel her frustration building up to a fever pitch. The crowds that had followed her there before were no longer in attendance. The constant vigil for attack had everyone on double shifts and duty. Even those who weren’t archers were carrying weapons and bows at all times, ready to go if necessary.

And her skills were deteriorating.

No one would wield a sword with her. She was, in fact, as much a danger to herself with it as to anyone else. In her frustration, she had hacked at a tree, slaying it many times. She fumed that a sword and a rapier were nowhere near alike. Her Elf-like archery skills were failing just as quickly.

In what she called “real life”, she had always been a decent archer, if the target sat still and she had a minute or two to aim. She still hit the target most of the time. But not a bulls eye every time; she was no longer splitting arrows. And an average two or three of every ten were finding themselves anywhere but in the target.

She pretended it was not so.

She stood, legs apart, bow arched, in front of the target, unaware of eyes watching her. Watching her miss. Too many times. Her grip was correct, her stance correct, everything was correct. There was no reason for her not to hit, with reasonable consistency . He walked quietly behind her.

“Give up, Baraer. It is over.” His hand reached over her shoulder to pull the bow from her grasp. She hung on in childish obstinacy, the bow becoming the object of a tug-a-war.

“Over? Over? Give what up?” She took one hand and smacked at his fingers.

“Baraer. Be truthful with yourself. Your sword skills are gone. You frighten even me with the lack of it. You are a danger to yourself. Your archery skills are diminishing as well. Soon, your knives will fly away and not come back.”

“You shut up!” She spun around, sticking her finger in his face, hers turning blood red, eyes flashing in fury. “I am still rehabbing this shoulder, which everyone refuses to heal! It is stiff and it hurts, and of course my game is off!” He did not have time to ask her what ‘her game’ was. A wave hit her and she fell forward into his arms. With her there, he lived a Jimmy Buffet concert, watching her sing and dance to ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise‘. The wave ended as fast as it started. She flung herself away, tears building up. He grabbed her back.

“Baraer, listen to me.” She tried to pull loose, but he tightened his grip. “No. Do not fight me. Listen!” Brown, furious eyes met deep blue water. “As your bard skills enrich, your warrior skills fade. You are not a warrior. Give up your weapons…they will be the death of you. Please give them up.”

“And how do I defend myself, milord Guardian? You? You who allowed me to get shot in the first place and put me in this predicament? I do not need you. My shoulder is weakened but it will soon be back to where it should be. I do not need you!” She attempted to stalk off, but he roughly grabbed her, no gentleness in his grip. He pulled the tunic to the side off her shoulder, ignoring her sputters of protest, and pressed the palm of his hand against the ugly wound. An electric jolt shot through her and she gasped at the branding heat. When he removed his hand, he plucked the strings from the stitches from her shoulder. There was no wound, no scar, no stiffness.

“Try again, Baraer.” He picked her up by the elbows and set her in front of the target. “You are now healed. Please. I anticipate with baited breath to envision your renowned skills of finesse and agility.” He stepped backwards, bowing low, hands extended.

She pulled an arrow from her quiver, eyeing him disdainfully. Notched it and let it fly. As soon as it was released, she had pulled and notched another and let it go. She repeated the process eight times. She missed once. The other seven arrows were scattered haphazardly on the target, not one in the bull’s eye. She stared at the target, too infuriated to feel embarrassed.

“Baraer, as your weaponry skills diminish, mine escalate. You do not seem to realize that it was not the Lord and Lady who put you in my care, but the Valar. You were injured because you did not trust me to protect you and charged off on your own. You can not do what is intended without me and I need your trust to do what I must do.” His voice was authoritative, yet quiet. “You must lay down your weapons. They will not help you in the end. They are not your purpose.” He recognized the stubborn set of her shoulders and inwardly he sighed deeply. He reached out to her. “Baraer, you can not be both Warrior and Historian. Your purpose-“

“Do not tell me what my purpose is! I know my purpose!” The archery field erupted in soaring music, beautiful in its intensity, evoking feelings of water, water flowing freely, down a mountain. She stood, face uplifted in the air, arms outstretched, wind through the loose strands of her hair and he was blown away by the sheer joy and freedom of it. He rolled with the strings, their rising and falling, could feel the coolness, the rush of the mountain liquid, flowing through his veins; he was swimming, he was the spawning fish…

It suddenly stopped, jerking him to earth, interrupting the musical orgasm he was about to experience, leaving him gasping for breath.

“The Moldau. Smetana.”

And she flounced off, leaving Haldir angrily tugging on his braid, the onslaught of a headache coming on.

***

She sat morosely at the table, her chin and left cheek cradled in her left hand. Galadriel and Celeborn had invited her to lunch and she played with her food. She figured Haldir was just happy to get her out of his hair. In public, they barely tolerated each other, her insults hurled at an alarming frequency, his only response being “Are you quite finished impinging my person and parentage?” Yet at night, behind closed curtains and walls, she could not get close enough to him. Deep down, she admitted to herself that encircled in his arms was the only place she felt safe, the only place where she could objectively process the knowledge and information that had flooded her brain unchecked. Sex was not the issue, had not happened since leaving the abandoned farm; protection was. She was finally getting a toehold on the control and the First Born were no longer being subjected to the horrors of witch burnings or riots nor the sheer youthful exuberance of rock concerts or amusement park rides. She was overwhelmed by the feelings, yet was slowly, surely gaining control of how the information lay processed in her memory.

Haldir was terrified she would break. It was unimaginable, containing that much information, in that detail and to still walk. He understood the problems the Valar had had with this “vessel” and his heart went out to Bronwyn.

“Bronwyn. When we invited you to lunch, it was to see you put food in your mouth, not watch you push it around your plate.” Bronwyn’s head jerked up, out of her musings, to look upon a smiling Celeborn. She quickly speared as much food as she could manage on her fork and shoved it in her mouth. She chewed zealously and gave Galadriel the ‘okay’ sign.

“Bronwyn. We can not help but notice your relationship with Haldir is a bit…strained.”

She knew it. She knew they would bring it up. She used the time, chewing the mouthful of food to focus her thoughts. It took several swallows to get everything down and she took a long drought of wine.

“Strained is a very genteel way of describing our relationship, my Lady, not that it is any of your business.” Bronwyn wiped her mouth with her napkin and laid it next to her plate. She leaned back from the table and crossed her arms, looking Galadriel in the eye. “But since it is apparent you invited me here to discuss it, why do you not just speak what is on your mind?”

Celeborn hissed in exasperation. “You presume on my fondness for you much, methinks. I will not tolerate rudeness to my wife.”

She directed her attention to Celeborn. “You are correct, My Lord. I apologize.” Her tone was mollified and her posture not so stiff, so the elf did not question her sincerity. “I am exasperated by this entire ordeal and I am fair certain that I am taking it out on everyone. The closest friend that I have ever had has been removed, for unknown reasons to me, another has retreated to the Fences and its dangers to hide from me, my rantings, my powers. Haldir’s brothers, whom I love dearly, brothers, siblings I have never had, now walk a wide stretch around me. Haldir, whom I lo…” she stopped herself too late and closed her eyes in pain. “…whom I am expected to hand myself on a silver platter to, tells me I am to be helpless and should trust him explicitly. And for the life of me, I can not understand why.

“All my life, I have been an island. I have been on my own for as far back as I can remember. I took care of me.” Her finger poked her chest “I take care of me. The one time…the ONE time…I allowed myself to be helpless or trusting, the rug was pulled from under me. Love him, yes. Trust him, no.” She took a huge deep breath and ran her fingers through her hair, dislodging the Elven clip that held it from the sides of her face. The style was softer than the rigid ponytail, the clip, Haldir’s. “I am not like you. I am not made like you. You are filled with honor and duty. Haldir is an honorable Elf; I acknowledge that. I am a short, crabby human, a bitchy woman. Whatever soft feelings he thinks he has for me will fade quickly. I am a duty to him. I will not pine for someone who does not love me back.” She rose from the table.

“Bronwyn, wait.” She paused. Celeborn stood up. “Haldir is many things. He is not a liar. If he says he will love you always, he will. He does.”

Bronwyn’s face fell. “That might be true. But I am his duty and with him, duty is first. I would be his love first and I am not convinced I am that. Besides, I told you before; I refuse to be any Man’s or any Elf’s responsibility!” Her footsteps fell quietly as she left.

Galadriel’s eyes sank. “What are they going to do?”

***

There is no other

To compare to you…

***

It was late when Haldir quietly slipped into his talan. He knew he had been drinking to much, but sleeping with her in his arms did things to him, to his body. And with the wine, he had been doing some thinking. A lot of thinking. And had decided on a way to wear her down. And even he admitted to himself in his slightly inebriated state that it was cruel, even for him. But in his mind it was time she realized their parts and accepted her end of the bargain. He was tired of her rudeness, her pride. And if what he had heard was true, she was no longer content to take her churlishness out on only him.

…You’ve got me burnin’

Giving all I have to you…

He pulled off all of his clothing, loosened his braided hair, and climbed onto the bed. She was wearing an under tunic of his, an old one and it was bunched up around her waist, leaving her legs and bottom bare. He laid next to her, watching. Her eyes moved under closed lids, never stopping, processing all that had been dropped on her that day. His arms moved around her waist, sliding under the shirt and pulled her to him. She immediately rolled over and snuggled in, smiling in sleep.

“Haldir…” it was a whisper, on air. He nuzzled her neck, trailed kisses down her cheek to her ear. Tousled hair tickled his nose and he carefully brushed the mass away, exposing the small, rounded appendage.

And gently blew.

…You show me feelings

I could never find…

Even in sleep, she shuddered in pleasure and he grinned to himself, knowing she was helpless. He nipped at the lobe and proceeded to tickle the canal with his tongue.

She awoke with a jolt, quivering in his attentions. Her body caved in; he knew what that did to her and he heard her gasp. He pulled her in closer, his hands moving up her back, his leg, slung across her hip, pinning her to the bed. His mouth moved to hers and he swallowed her protests. It was gentle, infinitely sweet, his tongue caressing her bottom lip. She opened for him, relaxing in his arms. And purred in contentment.

…But those feelings ain’t complete

When you’re not here all the time…

“I love you, Baraer.” he murmured into her mouth before reclaiming it again. If she said anything, it was only intelligible, captured in his lips. Her hands had found his chest and her fingers nimbly danced on his flat nipples. His hand traveled down between her legs and played in her folds. She arched up for his probing. She was already slick and ready. He inserted one long finger and said it again. “I love you, Baraer. Do you know how much?” His mouth left hers and went to her breast, covered by the tunic. He teased the nipple through the thin fabric.

…Oh Baby Love

Early in the morning…

“Nooo…” she was breathless, arching to him. He moved over her body, straddling her, using a knee to force her legs apart. His mouth claimed hers again and she nibbled on his bottom lip. His hands moved under the tunic to her breasts and he rolled the swelling nipples with his fingers. He repeated. “Do you know how much I love you?”

“Noooo…” it was a groan.

He found her entrance and slid in to the hilt. His hands pressed hers to the bed above her head and his mouth slid to her ear as he set an exasperating slow rhythm. “I would die for you, Baraer. Put my life on the line.” She thrashed her head and he claimed the other ear. “I would stand in front of Sauron and take the arrow meant for you. I love you that much.” She arched into his body, moaning, crying out in a language he did not understand, not that it mattered. He rammed in and stopped, pinning all of her to the bed, and reared up on his hands.

…You come creeping in my mind

Oh Baby love…

“Look at me.” Glazed, inflamed eyes met his. He smiled a grin and somewhere, she registered that it was evil, an evil grin. “Do you know what would be happening right now if I did not love you?”

He withdrew, suddenly and straddled her. Before she could voice a protest, he flipped her over on her stomach and leaned over her. His finger reached between her legs and found her. Her thoughts were hazy in her lust and she arched backwards and up to accommodate him. Never in his life, in almost three thousand years, had he encountered a female that could be so hot and wet, so quickly. Using his fingers, he maneuvered her heat, her honey, back towards that small puckered opening. Her thrashing stopped and he saw her eyes opened wide in shock.

...Oh Baby Love

Wake up with the yearnin’…

“No.” It wasn’t a denial for access, it was surprise. He became aware that she had stopped breathing. His whispered lips touched her ear.

“I want that. I want what you have refused to anyone!” He slowly inserted one finger and she tightened even more. She felt him smile against her ear. “You are very tight. Never have I encountered such tightness.” He gently probed, pressing downward, finding her g spot through the walls. “You would feel most enjoyable encased around me.” She did not relax. “If I did not love you, I would take you just like this. I should take you like this. It would hurt and I would not care one fig that you would be in pain.”

Her eyes were as large as a startled hart’s. She had not taken a breath.

…I’m yearnin” for your touch

Oh Baby Love…

“Please. Do not.” It was a plea that almost undid him. His eyes narrowed and he hardened in his resolve. His voice never rose above a whisper.

“Do not?” he mocked. “Do not what? Do not hurt you? Do not stop? Oh Baraer! You do not trust me, anyway. Give me one reason why I should not?” His finger was stroking in a delightful rhythm and despite her fear, she found herself becoming aroused. “Ah. Your words say one thing and your body another.” He removed his finger and placed himself at her tight entrance. She immediately attempted to crawl from under him, up the bed, but he caught her and held her down between her shoulder blades.

…Give me a reason

To be a fool for you…

“You can not escape, Bronwyn.” She gasped at the use of her name, he said it rarely. “You are at my mercy.” He continued to press at her entrance. He was large and she was tight and he knew no matter what, at this time, it would not be an enjoyable experience for her and everything he worked for would be eradicated. He backed off and flipped her on her back.

“But I love you, so it matters.” He kissed her deep, searingly. He nudged her knees apart and sank back into her in one stroke, impaling her to the bed. Her legs locked around his waist. He built her up, waited for her climax and just as she was shy of the pinnacle…

He withdrew.

“Noooooo.” She tried to use her legs to force him back, her wave crashing short. He waited, laughing in her ear, until she was back to the base. And entered her again.

…But I don’t care about foolish pride

When it’s concerning you…

She bucked wildly, locking her legs in tighter. Her orgasm rose quickly. Just as she reached the top…

He stopped. And withdrew.

“Tell me. Tell me you love me.” His plea whispered in her ear.

“Nooo…” it was barely breathed. “I need…”

“You need to say it. Believe it. Know it is true. Say it. Tell me you love me.”

She tried to move her hands between her legs, but he captured them and held them above her head. And waited until her breathing settled just a little.

…I’ll be your slave, yes I will

Give me your command…

And he entered her again. Again, quickly her climax rose and he whispered, demanded in her ear. “Tell me. Tell me you love me. And know you mean it.”

“Nooo..” it was raspy, a gasp. He stopped again. She hit him with small fists. “Okay, okay, I love you! I love you, you beast. Please…”

He began again, rebuilding her. She sobbed in frustration and again quickly reached for the brass ring.

“Tell me you will trust me.”

She stopped moving. He did not. He continued. “Tell me you will give up your weapons.”

“No.” It was whispered, barely heard. He dipped his head and took possession of her mouth again. He built her up, tuned her like a Stradivarius. And repeated his request. “Trust me. Give up your weapons.”

…You can order me to stay around

All I can…

Her face was slick with tears. She breathed into his mouth. “I cannot. Please do not make me.”

He deepened his kiss, stole her breath, kept her at the edge without allowing her to fall. “Give them up, Baraer. It is time”

“Nooo.” It was stronger, insistent. He slowed his rhythm, stalling her. Her fingernails dug into his chest, painfully, and he relished the sting. “Oh please, stop torturing me. Either let me have it or leave me be!” She arched against him.

He continued the assault, the slow burn. “Tell me, Baraer. Tell me why.”

She groaned and it fell forth like a cold stream over hot rocks. “Because, you sadist, I am your duty, because you have been saddled with me, because I am unsure of your history, because I am a short, grouchy woman with fat hips and I can not… compete… with any of the beautiful Elves you have gone through so easily, so why should I be different? What is so special about me?”

…Oh Baby Love

Wake up with the burnin’

Burnin’ for your touch…

Although he never broke rhythm, the words stung his soul. ‘Ah, he thought to himself there is the true demon.‘ Who would have ever thought his Baraer was unsure about herself. Now he knew where the true source of her anger lay.

“No one, Baraer, no one can compare to you. It is they that can not compete.” He sped up, gave her what she desired and they exploded together in an earthquake that shook the bed.

When breathing resumed to normal, he pulled her into his arms and tilted her chin, so her eyes would meet his. The murky blue depths glittered dangerously down at her in the moonlight and his hair seemed to glow with a light of its own.

“Listen carefully. I would break your sword if it would help. I would hide Legolas’ bow, confiscate your knives, if I could. I am not Ramsey. I did not cheat you of your marriage vows. When I say I love you and only you, I mean it. I understand your fears; I understand your questions. But make no mistake; I will not be your lap dog, I will not follow you like a pet; I will no longer allow you to denigrate my person or anyone here in Caras Galadhon. Do I make myself clear?”

Fiery brown eyes glared back at the cold blue ones. “Perfectly.”

***

Bronwyn raced through the forest, atop the flets. She was in full battle gear, hair back in its traditional black thong. She had still managed to find one of Haldir’s clasps to attach above the first knot. Her arms were bare, wearing only the black tank and skintight leggings. She had her sword, laying crossways her back, her knives were slung with precision and she carried her bow. Teddy was in his accustomed spot, tucked into her waistband. Haldir had her by the elbow, helping her to keep up.

Lothlórien was under attack.

Haldir had fought for her to stay behind with Galadriel and the handmaidens. Celeborn had been kind enough to ask her how her knives felt. She showed them by putting them in the same niche over and over with amazing speed. It was the one skill that hadn’t deteriorated. In fact, she had told Haldir as they dressed and geared up, they had never sung, never vibrated like they were doing at this time. It was almost frightening. As they left the talan, he roughly jerked her to him.

“You will listen to me. You will abide any order I give. You will not question me, nor will you fail to do what I tell you to do. Do not begin to think that despite the sweetness you yield to me in the night, that I have forgotten what you did the last time you went on a raid. This is not a hunting party. This is an army. There are many, they will have many kinds of weapons and even if you do not trust me as you should yet, you will trust me while we are out there. Failure to do so will cause your death. Do I make myself clear?” He did not give a chance to answer, to retort angrily, as he leaned over and kissed her, sweetly, his tongue lingering over her lips as if they were red wine.

Galadriel had stopped her as she prepared to leave the gates. “There is not much time, Bronwyn. Frodo and Sam are near the foot of Mount Doom.”

“They have made it? They have made it that far? Oh God, Frodo…”

“Bronwyn. Do not lose your focus. Remember your calling; your destiny. This battle coincides with the fate of the world hanging in the balance of the One Ring. It is a diversion to keep you from doing what you have been called to do.” She turned to walk away.

“I do not understand, My Lady.”

Galadriel looked over her shoulder. “You will.”

And now, she ran, keeping pace with the Elves, Haldir at her side. He looked calmer and more assured than she felt. Her energy was not natural. As he had stated, as her bardic skills increased, so did his own skills. His senses had escalated; he knew where she was, how she felt. He claimed he could not read her mind, but he could read all else, so she felt he might as well be able to do that. His healing abilities had escalated to what many would consider magical. Every time she began to loose energy, he held her and eased all tension from her body, renewing her, revitalizing her. They reached a gathering point, close to the edge of the forest.

It seemed like every Elf in Caras Galadhon was there. She never knew how many actually lived there and the number was staggering. She saw Rumil and Orophin, who came and hugged her. Heridil started to hug her as well, but was backed down by a scowl from Haldir. She elbowed him in the ribs and hugged Heridil anyway, much to the delight of the grizzled Elf and much to the consternation of her Guardian. Quivers were loaded, Elves were lined up on edges. Haldir placed her between himself and Celeborn. He laid his hand on her head and tugged gently at her ponytail. She looked up at him.

“Do not unsheathe that sword. It is for my use. No arrows, unless you have no choice. Use your knives. When I motion, you are to move behind me. You will trust me in this and when this is over, I will take you into the wilds and teach you to trust me explicitly. Comprende?”

She arched a very elegant eyebrow.

He leaned over. “Com-pren-de, Baraer?” Her eyes narrowed.

“What-teh-vah!”

She reverted her attention away from him.

“Knife-welder.” The voice was the hiss she remembered well. She looked three archers down.

Liandrien was Warden’s gear, arrow notched. “Aim true.”

Bronwyn’s hand went to her heart. “You as well.”

“Iluvatar’s Balls! How gracious.” Haldir snorted and rolled his eyes.

All eyes were on the edge of the forest. They could hear the Orcs. Her knives were out, spinning in her fingers endlessly. “Oh yes. Come. Come my darlings. Come to Beavis…” Her knives; they hummed, oh Lord, they sang, vibrating in waves. She could hear…

Waves of sound came up from the ground. Bronwyn had come up full, back arched and arms out-stretched, the sound controlled and emanating through the bush and stone, through the feet of the Orcs. They stopped, confused. Her voice echoed, sounds, singing, reverberating in the trees. Haldir had never heard anything like it.

“Baraer. What music is this?”

More music came through the tress; it flew on the wind and sent chills up every Elf’s spine. The Orcs were totally disoriented, superstitiously looking around everywhere but up.

“The Birds of Tilmun.”

“Whatever it is,” Celeborn hissed, “it is working.” All bows were up. Bronwyn’s knives spun, humming. The beginnings of the legion were well in, when arrows began to rain from the trees.

Bronwyn’s eyes and hands never stopped moving. The music soared, but was eventually drowned out in the din. She saw Orc after Orc taken down, but they never stopped coming. Most were equipped with swords, daggers, totally useless to combat the expert archers in the trees. Some had bows, crossbows. They were the ones Bronwyn targeted. Her knives flew, continued endlessly, until her arms ached. Haldir had taken her behind the line once and used his skills on her shoulders. She did not remember thanking him. Her knives almost had minds of their own. They had gored up several times and she had wiped them down on her leggings, until they were so encrusted with blood and meat that she reverted to wiping quickly on Celeborn and Haldir’s leggings. They did not complain.

It went on for hours. Finally, no more Orcs were flowing into the forest, but the remaining survivors were spread out like ants.

“They are under the flet. They are behind us.” Bronwyn slid between the two Elves and went to the back, eyeing the scene behind.

“Baraer! Get back here!” Haldir glanced over his shoulder. She started to return back to his side. And saw…

Orcs, climbing the trees. Countless Orcs. Her knives were gored, jammed with blood and muscle and her leggings, along with Celeborn’s and Haldir’s were caked in the grossness from her continual wiping. Her shoulders and arms ached and Haldir had not had a moment to even attempt to ease her discomfort in the past hour. She would not have asked anyway. She tried to use her bow, but missed all five shots she knocked off. She was desperate to stop the attack coming from behind. She vaguely heard Haldir’s voice over the din.

“Bronwyn! Do not make me retrieve you!”

The music raised. Louder and louder; Power Station’s “Bang a Gong, Get it on.” the opening drum, vibrating through the trees. The Orcs fell from the foliage. Twelve archers, including Haldir and Celeborn fell to their knees, covering their ears in pain. She heard Haldir yell, “Focus, Aim it.” but she was too frightened to try again.

And she saw that Heridil had fallen stunned to the ground. She didn’t think; she did the only thing she knew…

Haldir felt her go cold. He could hear over the noise, over the sounds of battle, the ringing in his ears, her sword sliding out of the scabbard. He lunged for her, but she was already over the side, sword in hand.

She leapt into the bedlam, hacking. One Orc slashed at her, she saw the flash move upwards. And felt…nothing…she saw leering fangs, smelled fetid breath, and looked down only to see the hilt against her stomach.

Where was the blade? She heard him…”You die now.,” before seeing him turn into an arrow porcupine. He fell, taking a blood covered blade…

Her blood?

“Son of a bitch.”

…And falling over. She slid to the ground; could smell the soil and the blood; could see Haldir and Celeborn standing over her. Haldir was on his knees, his hair spread out over her, with the strangest look.

Tears? Her hand slid to his face. Wet, soaked with tears. For her? His mouth was moving but she could hear nothing. Pain, so much pain on his face. And more tears.

And then, with the slowing beat of her heart, it dawned on her.

He loves me. I did not believe and he truly loves me. His hands were moving, she could feel the heat over the stab wound, was vaguely aware of his words, filtering through.

“Bronwyn Morgan ap Powell, Baraermin, lasto beth nîn, tolo dan nan galad.”

She smiled sweetly and wiped his tears.

“Angel…My stern, beautiful ange…”

And Haldir saw the glaze of death glide over her eyes.

***

TBC

***

“Bronwyn Morgan ap Powell, Baraermin, lasto beth nîn, tolo dan nan galad.”: “Bronwyn Morgan ap Powell, My Fiery one, hear my voice, come back to the light.”

The Moldau by Smetna.

Blondes have more fun

Molly Hatchett – The Rambler.

Baby Love – Mother’s Finest

A Vollenweider – the Birds of Tilmun