Tags

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I need some normalcy.

Came back from my mother’s funeral to discover the owner of my home is going to sell it. I’m trying to see what I can do by Wednesday to buy it (for those here long time, I’m talking about the House of the Shady Vale.) My alternatives are way over-priced (1400-1600), way to small, way too dangerous neighborhood. That’s it. And way to small costs as much as I have now. I’ve contacted several brokers. I guess they’re busy because only one has returned my phone call and right off the bat she was telling me she can’t help. She’s forwarded me to someone else. The clock is ticking. I have until Wednesday.

I’m really hating Word Press right now. They’ve completely destroyed any way for the normal person to post.

 

The Vessel

Chapter 13

Loggerheads or Spiders, Orcs and Wargs, oh my!



***

It’s the end of the world as we know it

And I feel fine…….

***

 

Bronwyn pouted fiercely. Her quiet refuge had been invaded and turned into a command post overnight. Haldir was aware of her growing temper and was in no mood to do anything but to allow it to fester. After all, it was not her study, but Celeborn’s.

Celeborn, Haldir, Rumil, and the Emissary from Mirkwood, Lialidrul, poured over maps spread over his desk, over piles of books, over Bronwyn.

She yelped over that, a pointless effort as not only one, but four sets of elegant eyebrows arched at her. She had jerked her legs under herself and glared as formidably as possible. She was not told to leave; no, this was important, important to the Elves of Mirkwood and the Golden Wood. If the Woodland Elf thought it unusual that a human female be allowed to sit in on such goings on, he wisely, for the time being, kept his thoughts to himself.

That she belonged to Celeborn’s former March Warden was obvious; that she realized she belonged him apparently did not register with her. She had a sharp tongue and an independent quality that the Emissary did not find becoming. And she chattered rapidly in the Common Tongue, which he did not understand and considered base. It was apparent that Rumil, the new March Warden, was amused by her and Celeborn, the Silver Lord, was overly fond of her. Where she came from and what her reason for being allowed to eavesdrop on the makings of war was none of his concern and he did his best to ignore her.

He arrived within hours of hers and Haldir’s shared dream, bearing ill news from Mirkwood and requesting aid from Celeborn. Dol Guldur, a fortress in the southern part of Mirkwood, had long been rumored to be retaken by the Shadow. What was left of Sauron and Saruman’s armies were congregating there and it was feared they would strike Mirkwood and Lothlórien. He was thinner, his braids were woven differently from the Lothlórien Elves. It was not a difference she had noticed between Haldir and Legolas. She did not like him. He sneered often and curled his lip in disgust when he looked at her. He tried to make her feel small and she despised the way he considered her.

“With the position of Dol Guldur, here…” Haldir’s finger stabbed a spot on the map spread on the foot of the couch where Bronwyn legs had originally been stretched out, “Thranduil’s legions can spread and attack here and here,” his finger made sweeping gestures, “Rumil, can lead a battalion of archers,” the finger continued to sweep, “from here. Lord Celeborn from this angle, and I from here.”

Rumil nodded in agreement. “We can send reinforcements from this angle and from this rise and cut off any retreat.”

 

“But that leaves this legion of archers open to assault.” The Emissary sneered and pointed hard on a spot on the map.

Bronwyn picked up Celeborn’s lute, which was lying behind her, next to couch and began to strum.

When the Emissary had arrived, Haldir had made his wishes well known that he did not want her seen at all. If word got back to Thranduil that Celeborn had secreted The Vessel and was keeping her safe and snug in Lothlórien, he would do everything in his power to gain control of her, as he would consider her not only a rare jewel for his collection, but also a prize of sorts. Celeborn was convinced that her presence was necessary in her capacity as historian and Keeper of the Truth and all but ordered Haldir to produce her. And produce her, he did.

Her hair was pulled back in a severe ponytail, lashed with the leather thong. She wore leggings, his over-sized tunic and an Elfling’s cast off, scuffed up boots. Everything was done to make her look as unappealing as possible. The Emissary was most definitely not impressed by her.

And she was madder than hell.

She had been told not to speak unless spoken to and then only to respond to the Common Tongue. They did not want it known she could speak Sindaran, much less Quenya. When preparing to meet the Emissary in Celeborn’s study, Bronwyn asked Haldir why she was dressing so horridly and why she could not join in the conversation.

“Because I said so. That is all you need to know.” He caught the thrown hairbrush in mid air.

“But can you not tell me why? What is the reasoning?”

He pulled on his braid, settling his most stern gaze on her. “Can you not trust me enough to simply take my word for it?”

“Haldir! I trust you and I will do what you ask. But I think I at least deserve to know why I am being made to look beggarly!”

His only answer was a scowl and the word “Come” thrown over his shoulder as he left the talan.

She continued to strum. And began to sing. Quietly.

“I’m too sexy for my love

too sexy for my love

Love’s going to leave me

I’m too sexy for this shirt

too sexy for this shirt…”

The Emissary turned dispassionate eyes on her. Haldir did not look up from the map. “Not if they wait for this flank to move here.” He reverted to the Common Tongue, but still never looked up. “Baraer, please cease.”

She stopped singing, but continued to strum. Quietly. Her eyes narrowed to angry slits.

Celeborn, being an intelligent Elf, saw the storm brewing between the two. After being married more than a few thousands of years to a powerful, free-thinking Elleth, he knew a thing or two about defusing situations.

“Tithen aras,” he removed the lute from her grasp and laid it back next to her in its original position, “come look.” He took her hand and pulled her over the map at her feet. He proceed to gently reaffirm what she had already heard in simpler terms in the Common Tongue, explaining legions, ranks, flanks, battalions and where Haldir was suggesting to have each one strike.

“What is he doing?” The Emissary whispered to Rumil.

“Explaining what we are talking about.”

The Emissary saw Haldir look at him, undisguised fury in his face. “Why bother? She is a pet and should be sent away.”

Rumil gasped. Celeborn ceased his instruction and looked in shock at the Emissary. That he would be so bold in his rudeness was not expected. Bronwyn, hearing clearly, but struggling to stay focused on the map, turned beet red. Haldir turned to the Emissary, his voice never raised, controlled, yet furious.

“Baraermin is many things. A pet is not one of them.”

Celeborn cleared his throat and tucked and errant lock of hair behind her ear. “She is our scribe.” He leaned over her and the map. “Little one. What do you think?”

“I am no war general, My Lord.”

“I know that, but sometimes, the simplest things work the best.” He smiled at the confused face.

“Could you not find a slave who could speak Sindarin? And why isn’t she writing?”

Celeborn was more in tuned to Bronwyn than Thranduil’s Emissary at that point.

Rumil cleared his throat. “She is not a slave either. She is here of her own…volition. Her memory is flawless. She will write it down back at her talan.” He looked at his older brother, looking for guidance. Haldir’s eyes were staring holes through map, working hard to keep his temper in order.

“He thinks I’m….owned?” Bronwyn’s whisper was aimed towards Haldir. “He thinks I’m owned? Can I stun him?”

“No.”

“Can I tweak him, just a little bit?”

“No.”

“Can I get my knives and pin him to a tree by his ears?”

“No!”

“Dammit to hell!” Her breathing was heavy, that she was agitated and working to keep from crying, obvious. She looked back down at the map and stabbed with her finger. “Dol Guldur. Bad guy?” Haldir nodded yes. Her fingers splayed across the north. “Mirkwood Elves, supposed good guys?” He continued to nod affirmatively. Her fingers circled around to the south. “Us? Definite Good Guys” Another nod. “Simple. Bad Guy Sandwich.” She motioned with her hands as if packing a snowball. “Surround them, squash their heads off.” She slid back on the couch and grabbed the lute.

“I don’t give a damn

‘Bout my reputation

The world’s in trouble

There’s no communication”

The chords were harsh, fast, the melody ground out between teeth.

“Bronwyn! Stop it now!” Although his voice was soft, the order was not one to be brooked, the words, clipped. Haldir’s normally cool gaze burned in fury; furious at her rising peevishness, furious at the insulting manner of the Mirkwood Elf. He surveyed the emissary. “Do you have any idea what leads this army? Orcs do not have the intelligence to organize themselves and I am hard-pressed to think that a rogue Uruk-hai could possibly have taken control.”

Lialidrul looked dispassionately at the map. “No. There is no clue, none of our scouts can confirm what abides in the fortress. All they can confirm is the size of the army. Thousands. We will be hard pressed, even with our skills to contain them.”

“And not knowing who is leading them is a most definitely…misfortunate.” Celeborn’s words hung in the air.

Bronwyn was strumming again and humming low. Haldir knew this one.

“And they’re always slipping through the cracks!

It’s a never ending attack!

Life is a Lemon and I want my money back!”

Eyes searched hers, searing, making a promise she did not know if she wanted him to keep.

“As she is so ill trained, perhaps you should allow me to take her to my liege. He will teach her manners.” Rumil decided that Lialidrul’s sneer was permanent.

She immediately changed tactics.

The head nurse spoke up

Said ‘Leave this ’un alone’

She could tell right away

I was bad to the bone!

Buh buh buh buh…

Haldir reached over and snatched the lute from her hands. He handed it to Celeborn. “If you wish for it not to be splintered, I would heavily suggest that you keep it far from her grasp!”

Bronwyn, in equal fury, leaned forward over the map. She braced both hands on both sides of the parchment and…

The wave came unbidden, with a force she had not felt since before her death in the Woods. It rushed her and everyone in the room.

Scales, fiery scales, a furnace, long lashing tail, fire, fire, burning scorching fire, gaping maw of ..fire, fire, fire…

She jumped backwards, eyes huge. The blood had drained from her face and her hands shook. Her words came out in a rush, unstoppable, unchecked.

“Dragondragondragontheyhaveadragon!. Oh God! Oh God! They have a Mother fucking dragon!”

Haldir was at her side, knocking the Emissary backwards to get to her. He pulled her into his embrace and held her tight.

“Baraer, it is alright. Now that we know…”

“It’s a Dragon! Dragons aren’t real! They are mythological, a folk tale to scare children! They do not exist!” Tears ran down her cheeks and her body shook. “They are not real!”

Celeborn was next to Haldir, on his knees. “In your world, no. In ours, yes. There are not many left, but they do exist.” He turned and his eyes bore into Lialidrul. “This changes nothing. We will combine our forces to rid Mirkwood of this evilness.”

“She is a seer?”

Rumil inhaled deeply. “In a sense.” Thranduil’s emissary turned on Haldir’s brother.

“She is a seer! Is one not enough for you? You have hidden a seer from the King. I demand you allow me to take her back to Mirkwood for my Sovereign.”

“Absolutely not!” Celeborn stood up and went nose to nose with Lialidrul. “She is not a pet, nor a slave. She is free-born, welcome to come and go as she pleases here. Your rudeness has not passed her by and she has reacted badly to it!” He turned to Bronwyn, still in Haldir’s arms. “Little one. Why do you not go pester the Uruk-hai? You may take your frustrations out on them.”

She looked up from the concave of Haldir’s embrace. “No. ” she sneered. “They are no longer any fun. They feign unconsciousness. Besides, we need to finish this. I need to finish this.” She looked over Haldir’s shoulder back to the map. There were strange markings she hadn’t noticed and she pointed to them. “What are these?”

Haldir peered at the map. “Oh. Spiders.”

Tempestuous eyes slid to Haldir. “There are spiders as well?” He looked at Celeborn, eyebrows raised. Her eyes moved to Celeborn. “Just how big are these spiders?”

He raised the question to Rumil and Lialidrul. Lialidrul’s arms created a large circle. “This. Bigger.”

Her jaw dropped.

“Humongous spiders and a giant snake with legs that breathes fire. Any other joys to surprise me with? A basilick? Cyclops? Zombies? Maybe this paragon of Elf-hood – ” she stabbed a finger towards Thranduil’s messenger, “is really female? Liandrien’s sister perhaps?” Celeborn stifled a chuckle. “Oh, yuk it up, Buttercup!” she retorted at him, “but mark my words, I am not going into the forest to fight spiders! I will take on all the Orcs, me and my knives, and you rugged He-Elves can have the spiders and the dragon!” She turned back to Haldir, eyes narrowed, arms crossed in what he considered a most endearingly obstinate manner.

Celeborn chortled in Sindarian. “I did not understand half of what she said, but I believe we have been told off in a most Bronwyn-like fashion!” And all five heads knotted back in for the remainder of the planning session.

***

I’m starting to feel loopy

Your dizziness consumes me

Jesus didn’t speak English

But I do think I understand

***

He found her that night, sitting on the bed, bathed in moonlight, with legs curled up under her chin. She refused to dine with Celeborn and Galadriel as long as the Lialidrul was a guest, feigning exhaustion and a headache. Celeborn didn’t buy it, but he said nothing, understanding her feelings. After dinner, he took a long walk with his former March Warden, discussing the upcoming events, the necessary preparations, the mind set of Bronwyn. He gently explained communication skills between tightly bound lovers. Some things, Rumil had told him earlier, others were more pin pointed. He gave Haldir a whole new perspective.

Unbeknownst to them, Galadriel was in Haldir’s talan, having the same discussion with Bronwyn.

And now, the moon was up and the two sat together on the bed, in identical, opposing positions, hip to hip, yin and yang.

“We have problems.”

He smiled mirthlessly at her comment. “Aye.”

“Galadriel seems to think we do not communicate well.”

“Celeborn is of the same opinion.” It was quiet for several minutes.

“Haldir. I am sorry. I am at a total loss on how to talk to you.”

“You talk plenty for both of us.” He expected the back-handed slap he received on the arm from her and took it in stride. He took her in his arms and lifted her chin. “The Valar put us together for a reason. I have a set purpose when it comes to you. You said you would trust me to make the right decisions.”

“That is the problem!” she shook her head in consternation. “Your definition of trust and my definition of trust are two different things. You feel trust is where you make the decisions and I follow blindly. I follow no one blindly. I trust you to do what is necessary to keep me safe, keep us safe. I respect your abilities, whether it is to fight or plan strategy or whatever it is you do. But if you have knowledge of a situation, I simply ask you tell me so I can be informed as well and not follow ignorantly. Just because I ask why, it does not mean I do not believe you or do not trust you. I wish you had told me how loathsome this Emissary from the King of Mirkwood was.”

Haldir’s head jerked up and anguished eyes bore into hers. “If you think he is loathsome, you should meet his liege. Thranduil makes his messenger look like still water. This one is rude, but the King is impropriety and boorishness personified, And he would want you and would not take no for an answer. This is why I did not want you there, why I did not want you seen. I understand My Lord’s reasoning and I do not blame you for your vision, but this makes things very difficult. Thranduil’s messenger will be hard pressed not to rush back to Mirkwood to tell him that Lothlórien freely holds a prize he most desires. He will stop at nothing to hold you, bind you to him. Thranduil is greedy; he loves riches and jewels and you would be such a jewel to him.” He exhaled sharply. “He thinks you are a seer. Iluvatar forbid he should discover you are the Vessel.”

A cool breeze wafted through the talan, ruffling his hair.

“Haldir, how does one kill a dragon?” Arms tightened around her.

“It can be done. Bard the Bowman, a man of Laketown, killed one with a black arrow. Of course, if I remember correctly, Smaug had a chink in his armor and Bard was able to kill him through that weakness. If this dragon has not chinks, or one cannot get close enough to look, it will take a strong arm and a long, sharp sword to pierce a dragon’s scales.”

“So, in other words, don’t count on it!”

He lifted her chin with one long finger. “I did not say that. I did say it will be difficult.” He leaned over and searched her lips with his, infinitely sweet, endlessly gentle. After many minutes, they came up for air.

“What are we going to do?” Her face was in his neck, inhaling his earthy scent, her fingers stroking the tips of his ears. “Will you at least explain when I ask?” He was sliding his tunic from her body.

“If you promise not to ask endless questions.”

No questions were asked for the rest of the night. Sweetness reigned supreme.

***

I’m not afraid, of what I don’t know

For understanding is all that I earn

What is for sure is I’m gonna go

I’m going to live, I’m going to learn

Right before your eyes, I’m changing….”

***

Orophin, Heridil, and Bronwyn sat on a bench, fletching arrows. Regardless of how badly she shot without help, her ability and skill at creating perfect arrows was close to supreme. The three sat, heads bobbing together to music, bouncing in the air. Haldir approached, face contorted.

“What language is this noise in?”

Bronwyn never looked up. “English.” Her head never stopped bobbing and her hands never stopped moving.

Orophin piped up. “Joe Cocker!”

Haldir’s shuddered, with his lip curled and he stalked off, seeking out Rumil.

Heridil shrugged elegantly. “He will hate James Brown.”

***

We are hoping

Yes and we’re praying

This time

Will be the last time

That we will fight like this…”

***

The Elves were lined up on the river. Many had already crossed in the great boats, but an equal amount had lingered behind, listening to the argument that was falling from the tops of the trees at the edge of the Woods. Rumil stood contemplating the clouds, Orophin and Heridil were flipping a coin to see who would have to ride with them. Celeborn, in full armor strode up to the threesome, his silver cloak streaming behind him. Irritation was etched on his face.

“What happened? I thought they had agreed to communicate better?” he hissed.

Orophin and Heridil shrugged, hands in the air. Rumil leaned towards Celeborn. “They are. That is why they are argui-” A loud crack was heard from the Wood, the sound of a limb breaking.

“Dammit to hell! Don’t you dare blame that on me! Shite!” In truth, only her voice could be heard, rising in furious pitches to Haldir’s quiet rebuttals. She burst forth from the trees, leaping none to gracefully over the fallen limb and all could see why Haldir was so upset.

She was wearing no padding, no armor.

She was in tight black jeans, a black, sleeveless tank, arms and a goodly portion of her chest exposed. Somewhere, she had found a metal armband, fashioned as a snake and had it wound around her forearm. She had her knives, her sword, her bow, all strapped on and her hair was in the formidable leather thong anchored by her cross and his silver clip. She had on her boots, and Celeborn knew she had hidden a slim dagger in them.

Haldir followed in his gold sculpted armor, a long red cloak signifying his importance and status as a battalion leader. He too had a various array of weapons at his disposal, bow, arrows, (all sculpted and fletched by her hand) long sword, two short swords, hidden daggers everywhere. Despite the additional weight and bulkiness, he moved stealthily, as a jungle cat, hunting prey. Unlike her, he made no sound as he moved.

“You will be the death of me, dressed thus. You have padded clothing. I do not understand why you refuse to wear it.”

“It is hot and uncomfortable!”

“There was armor made for you!”

“It slows me, hampers my movement, and I clang and bang so much I wake the dead!” He muttered something lost in the wind and she turned on him like a she-devil.

“What did you say?”

“You heard me clearly, Bronwyn! I will not repeat it!” Haldir’s hands were itching to go to his braid.

“You called me a…a…neithadol!”

“Uh-oh.” Rumil jumped in the nearest full boat and called to Celeborn. “I will meet you on the other side!” Celeborn noticed that Heridil and Orophin had gotten into a boat as well and were trying to coax others in to fill it. He looked back at the bickering couple and decided to settle it himself. They were now chest to chest, scowl to scowl, light towering over dark.

“It is, how you would say, m’lady.. if the shoe fits?”

“Excuse me. May I mediate quickly?” Fire and Ice turned on him, regaling him with the full brunt of their animosity. “Haldir? You first.”

“She is not properly outfitted. She refuses to wear any protection whatsoever and she will be cut down in the first volley, nor she will not listen to reason. I am of the opinion to leave her here for her unwillingness to hearken to my recommendations!”

Celeborn nodded in agreement and looked at Bronwyn. “And you?”

“Hearken!” she spat. “Hearken! Who talks like that!” She returned her attention to Celeborn. “It is hot, cumbersome, I cannot move freely. It hampers my movement.” She had turned back to Haldir and was now ramming her index finger against an armored chest. “I am SUPPOSED to trust you and I do trust you to protect me. You have resorted to calling me vile names! How dare you call me a ‘wrong head’? And you dare not leave me behind after your dream!”

He had made the mistake of telling her of his dream the night before, curious if she had had one as well. She had not, but it was too late. He had ‘awoken’ in the middle of the night, with her curled delightfully against his side and Duncan sitting on his chest.

“Keep her within arms length. Be supportive. Help her wield her sword. Remind her to break the glass. She fears the spiders more than the dragon. Let her know how you feel. Women like to hear that now and again. You will both be fine.” He had patted Haldir on the chest and then he had disappeared.

“Little one, a little padding or extra protection would do no harm.”

She stalked around him muttering “All you Elves stick together, no matter what!” She stopped and turned on her heel. “You said to trust you! I am trusting you to take care of me. I cannot fight if I am hindered! Do what you have to do, I will do what I have to do.” She stalked off towards the boat Heridil almost had full. “Move over, ya Salty Dawg, you! Rambo is coming!” She puffed up with false bravado and jumped into the boat.

“Bronwyn. There is no room for Haldir in this boat!” Orophin whispered.

“I think that is the idea!” Heridil whispered back.

Celeborn looked at his exasperated warrior. “Who is Rambo?” Haldir was pulling furiously at his braid, shaking his head in agitation and replied in the Common Tongue.

“Damned if I know.”

Celeborn’s laughter could be heard quite a ways. It was the last time anyone would have time for merriment for many, many hours.

***

I’ll never leave, I’ll never stray

My love for you will never change

But I ain’t ready to make up

We’ll get around to that

I just wanna be mad for a while.

***

The battalions were lined up in rows, deep, deep rows, as far as Bronwyn could see. The precision of each line, each archer, was as if cut and laid out with a ruler. She was amazed at the discipline of each and every warrior. Galadriel was there, behind the regiments, on a white palfrey. Even she was in armor and armed with bow and sword. It had been whispered that Bronwyn would be sent back to stand with the Lady of the Golden Wood, but Bronwyn had made her displeasure and refusal to follow that order very clear. Something was set to happen and it was obvious to her and Haldir – even though he was not speaking to her at the moment, in fact was no where near her – that the Valar had every intention of putting her in the middle of it. The Mirkwood Elves were to the rear – miles and miles away, in the forest, pushing their way towards the Lothlórien Elves. Orcs, thousands of Orcs, were in no formation, just piles and groups, there on the open field, staring the Lothlórien Elves down. It occurred to Bronwyn that this was the very same field that she and Haldir had seen the Orc Army a few weeks before, after spending those blissful three days at the abandoned farm. The forest was in sight and the plan was to push the Orcs back into it, toward Dol Guldur. Armor gleamed in the sunlight, almost blinding. She walked to the front line, knives still in the holsters. They hummed, vibrated; she could not believe no one else could hear them. Haldir strode up next to her, eyes on the Orcs, as if to glare each and every one to the ground.

“Baraer.” It was the first he had spoken to her since leaving the shores of the Anduin. “You will stay by my side. Do not venture off.”

“Yes sir.” She felt it best to kow-tow to him, just a little, as he was right about the armor or padding. She now felt very naked, next to the battalions in their capes and armored plates.

“Do not use your sword or your bow, unless I say.”

“Yes sir.” Her sudden compliance was maddening.

“Wait for my signal to stun our opponents.”

She did not answer. He looked into mutinous eyes. And sighed.

“Baraermin. It tires you. I would not have you tire yourself out too soon. I doubt we will be given the time for me to be able to rejuvenate you.”

She scuffed a boot in the dirt. “Oh. Alright.” Hmm, he thought. Celeborn was right. This time.

“You will move behind me if I say.”

“I have your back, my love.” His eyes closed in sweetness at the endearment.

“You task me. Sorely.”

“It’s my job.”

She reached up and gently pulled his braid. He smiled slightly and looked down at her. Duncan’s words rang in his ears. Tell her…

“Baraermin.” Her eyes met his, challenging, sparkling. “Proud, I am to have you at my side. Always.” The smile and look on her face was worth every moment, every ounce of gold to him.

“I would not trade anything for the last few months I have had with you. I look forward to the rest of our lives.” Her hand moved from his braid, to the tip of his ear and he shivered in the small splendor it brought. “I would ask a small favor, please?” She crooked her finger towards him and he bent down closely, so the conversation would not be overheard. “When this is over, ” she whispered, “may I remove your armor?” He nodded.

“With my teeth?” He jerked straight up in shock, jaw dropped. She tipped it closed wearing the most innocent smile. He mouthed the word ‘teeth’ several times, his look was dumbfounded.

“Do you think of nothing else?” he queried.

Orophin was standing next to them and despite the whispering had heard the entire exchange. He was hard pressed not to burst out laughing.

Haldir leaned back down. “Perhaps when this is over, we will go back to the farm. It is not far from here and we have happy memories there.” She smiled her consent.

“Haldir.” Orophin was pointing at the large group of Orcs. They had conglomerated into a group and looked as if preparing to strike. It was unknown if they knew they were surrounded. Their pikes and staffs were up and Bronwyn noticed that they were beginning to move in rhythm. Soon, the entire brigade, or whatever they were terming themselves; thousands of Orcs, were thundering, chanting as one. Bronwyn knew the ancient Celts and Scots did this, quite possibly even the Picts. Their noise rolled like thunder, as one. The din was almost deafening, the back beat familiar and Bronwyn could not catch herself in time to stop.

“Buddy, you’re a boy,

Make a big noise

Standing in the street

Gonna be a big man someday

You’ve got mud on your face

Big Disgrace

Kickin’ your can all over the place

Singin’

We will, we will, rock you!”

Orophin and Heridil stared at her, as if she were insane. Haldir just shook his head.

“Well?” she hissed. “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help it! It was there for the taking!”

Eventually the noise stopped. And stillness rolled over the plains as loud as thunder.

“May I answer?” Haldir’s gaze slid over her slowly. He extended his hand as if to entreat her to begin.

She stepped forward. And she answered.

The swell of the guitars boomed from the ground, the sky, the rocks. It blared from the forest and encompassed the air. The very blades of grass vibrated from it. Her eyes were closed, her hands outstretched and she became the music.

Purple haze all in my brain

 

Orophin and Heridil were grinning and Haldir realized every Elf in his contingent was bobbing their heads to the music and beginning to sing along.

Lately things just don’t seem the same

 

It dawned on him they knew this song. Had sung it before. Where had he been?

 

Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why

 

Every head was back and joined in the din

Scuse me – While I kiss the sky!

What in the name of Iluvatar and his balls, was she doing?

Purple Haze all around

Don’t know if I’m comin’ up or down

She was dancing. Great Iluvatar help him, she was dancing, totally lost in the music.

Am I happy or in misery? What ever it is, that girl put a spell on me

 

The Orcs were all agog. All but one.

Help me, Help me

Oh, no, no

Haldir saw an Orc bow up. He stepped forward to warn her.

And the arrow was loosed.

He snatched it from the air, timing it almost in slow motion, in front of her. She immediately stopped dancing and stared at the Orc arrow in his hand. Everything stopped and silence ruled in mass quantities.

“They shot at me!” Her voice easily carried, her disbelief evident. A most elegant eyebrow raised in her direction.

“You make such a fetching target, my love.”

She was so infuriated, she did not hear the profession. “They shot at me! Which one of the fucking bastards shot at me? Damn them all to hell!”

He nodded in the general direction of the Orcs and said nonchalantly . “I believe it was the ugly one.”

She snorted. “The ‘ugly’ one? THE Ugly One? Haldir! They are ALL fucking ugly!”. He did not miss the fact that she had slid her knives out and they were spinning on her fingers. He pointed in the general direction.

And with a ‘Come my darlings, Come to Beavis.’ she slung both knives. They spun, found the Orc that had shot at her, neatly decapitated him and flew back to her hands. She flicked the blood from the blades and grinned at Haldir.

“Peace, love and Crabs, Hal-Dear! That’s how it’s supposed to go!”

The Orcs rushed and the battle began in earnest. And above the din, above the sounds and screaming guitar riffs and licks of Jimi Hendrix, Haldir heard her battle cry call out…

“CORNHOLIO!!!!!”

Swords clashed and arrows flew. Pikes and staves were thrust and parried. Haldir notched arrow after arrow and when his ran out, he placed her to his side, facing away, and used the arrows in her quiver. Her knives never stopped and he understood why she had rushed so brashly ahead in the wood the day she was almost over come by the Uruk-hai. When arrows gave out, he went to his sword. Several times, he picked pikes from the bodies of fallen Orcs and reused them. The Elves advanced and pushed the Orcs backwards towards the forest, the Mirkwood Elves and Dol Guldur.

Two hours into the battle, the Orcs unleashed the Warg riders. There were not many, thankfully, only a hundred or so, but Haldir wished for his arrows back. It took three, sometimes four flings of Bronwyn’s knives to bring one Warg down. At one point, she and Haldir were back to back, defending their position, defending the blade of grass they stood on, surrounded by three Wargs and their jockeys. His sword was up and he knew her arms were tired.

“Baraer! Stun them. Please” He vaguely heard ‘Bungle in the Jungle’ bouncing through the fields as she spun the waves to fling.

Within seconds, the first was down, then the second. At the same time, she was throwing her knives at the third and by the time the second was down, he was dead. All three riders jumped off and attacked and they took them down easily. She felt his hands on her shoulders, heat emanating from them, releasing the tiredness, the tension from them, making them fresh again.

Thunder and lightening, Couldn’t be bolder

I’ll write on your tombstone, and thank you for dinner…

“I told you I had your back.”

He smiled and squeezed, before looking over her head and gasping.

She looked over her shoulder to follow his gaze, to see Celeborn and Galadriel, stalked by three riderless Wargs. Both were filthy and bloodstained. Without thought, she raised “Locomotive Breath” and began to fling the sound waves at the Wargs.

“In a Jethro Tull mood, are we?”

All three went down and Celeborn stabbed them, saluting her after finishing off the third.

“They retreat!” She looked towards the forest and saw scattered remnants of Orcs running towards the trees. Her feet became very heavy.

“Baraer! Do not dawdle.” He grabbed her arm and proceeded to pull her towards Mirkwood. She responded by digging her heels in the dirt. He stopped and glared. “Bronwyn! I do not have time for childish games.” He took in the set, white line of her mouth.

“I do not like spiders, Haldir. I was not kidding. I hate them! You go on and take them. I will clean up out here.”

Haldir was exasperated. “Baraer. We must finish this together. Our destiny – not yours, not mine – ours – lies inside that forest. Trust me.” Large, frightened doe eyes stabbed at him.

“I trust you!” she hissed. “It is the large hairy spiders I do not trust!”

“We do not know if they are hairy!” He recognized the churlish, stubborn set of her shoulders and arms and knew she was not going any closer to the forest without a long, drawn-out argument. So he did the only thing he knew to do. With a growl, he grabbed her and threw her over his shoulder and carried the cursing, screaming woman into the forest.

***

Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced? (1967) Purple Haze

Baraer – Fiery One

Baraermin – My Fiery One

Tithen aras – Little dear

Neithadol – Wrong head