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The Vessel

Chapter 14: Puff, the Magic Dragon or Ooooh! Bright Light! Bright Light!!

by Zeesmuse

Chapter 14

Puff, the Magic Dragon or Ooooh! Bright Light! Bright Light!!

***
I don’t like spiders and snakes
And that ain’t what it takes to love me…

(Jim Stafford)

***

The woods were dark and she could feel the anger and wariness of the trees. Sounds of Orcs and Elves clashing, fighting could be heard, as well as the occasional scream of terror. She walked next to Haldir, literally under his cloak, shielded by his arm. Actually, drug by his arm was probably more like it.

He carried her, screaming obscenities and heaping grievous curses upon his head, into the woods for a good fifteen minutes. He made sure to point out every spider web he could see or think she might mistake for one, in order to guarantee that she would not make a run for the edge of the forest the very second he set her on her feet. Somewhere between the time he picked her up and the time he set her down, he had managed to come up with a quiver of arrows. She did not want to know how he came by them.

“Baraermin.” He stopped and gestured to a patch of moss by a tree, effectively releasing her. “Clean your knives. You will need them.” He immediately set to looking around, above their heads, scouting possible hiding places for anything unfriendly. He notched his bow.

Bronwyn stepped sideways, removing herself from the sphere of his arm. She looked around the small glade, looking for anything hostile as well.

Specifically, anything hostile with eight legs and eyes.

“Haldir.” He heard her call his name and continued to scout silently. “I do not see why you couldn’t have just cleared the woods of the spiders and then returned for me.”

He snorted without mirth. “Thranduil has tried to rid Mirkwood of its spiders for many centuries. What makes you think I could do in the span of a few hours the very thing the King of this realm has not been able to do in the span of several of your lifetimes?” His eyes never stopped moving, never stopped roaming.

“Well, I trust you!” She heard him mumble something that sounded like ‘Trust me enough not to wear adequate protection.’ She took a deep breath and tried to be conciliatory. “Thranduil isn’t you!” Dark indigo eyes casually raked her form. She gave him what she felt was her most winning smile. He went back to his surveying.

“No, he is not.” He gestured back to the moss. “Baraermin…your knives. Quickly, please.”

She walked over to the moss patch and unslung her knives. Orc blood and muscle mass was much easier to flick from the blades than Uruk-hai, but with the bringing down of the wargs and the constant use of them, they had gummed up several times and her leggings were coated from wiping. Haldir had offered his cloak for the same purpose, but she was loath to use the beautiful cloth for that base service. She double checked to make sure her teddy bear was still securely anchored at her back waist band and then knelt down next to the mossy patch. Upon touching the blades to the ground, they sprang open, allowing her to loosen and clean the blades and its mechanisms. Her head was down and she soon became intent on her task. She did not hear the whisperings of the forest nor was she paying attention to the musings of the trees.

“You know,” she contemplated out-loud, “it is to bad that there are no modern crop planes here. You could have simply dusted insect killer over the forest and dealt with this problem long ago.”

“Baraermin.” It was a whisper. “Do not look up. Do not move.” She froze in place.

!THUNK!

His hand jerked her backwards by the scuff of her tank and she looked up to see a spider the size of a large Rottweiler in its death throes not two feet from where she had been cleaning her knives. An arrow was imbedded deep in its eyes, its clenching fangs dripping poison. He felt her stiffen. His voice was full of droll, dry humor, so like him.

“You were correct in your assumption, Baraer. These spiders are hairy.” She struggled to get her feet under her body and attempted to run off, but he kept tight hold of the back of her top. He was afraid the flimsy material would rip. He pulled her to his side, his face searching hers, looking into cowering, terrified eyes. ‘Ah Bronwyn, do not fall apart on me now.‘ he thought to himself. His lips curved into a gentle smile. “Sweetling. You have trusted me with all…” his lips went to her ear, her face in his hard shoulder, so she could not see his eyes continuing to search for more, “…including that delectable arse of yours; please do not cease now.” He felt her tremble, whether with terror or laughter, he could not tell. “Besides,” he continued, “I am looking forward to going to our hideaway and allowing you to remove my armor with your teeth.” The shaking intensified. He suddenly turned her loose, and in a split second, shot a second and third spider, both larger than the first. These squealed and hissed in their passing and Bronwyn was hard-pressed not to scream. She put both fists to her mouth and bit the knuckles until they bled.

“Shh. It is alright, lirimaer.” His fingers brushed the bleeding digits, tingling heat instantly repairing the broken flesh. He noticed scratches, scrapes on her arms from the battle in the field and his fingertips gently stroked each and every wound, no matter how slight. When they all had vanished, he took her in his arms and she felt energy surge through her body, her muscles, causing her blood to sing. Her arms snaked around his waist, not wanting release, not wanting to let go. He allowed her her peace for a short minute before extracting himself. “Where to from here, Baraer, besides out of the forest?”

She thought for a moment. “The dragon will be at Dol Guldur.” She had talked at great lengths with Celeborn and Galadriel about dragons and knew it would stay hidden in its lair until forced or goaded out. “We should head there.” She mumbled under her breath, “…where ever ‘there’ is!” and she stalked off away from the dead spiders.

***

The itsy-bitsy spider
Went up the water spout
Down came the rain and
Washed the spider out…

***

He noticed when she had pulled her sword out. Deep down, he found it amusing, watching her prowl with the sword, swishing it in front of her, looking around quickly, trying to look dangerous. And her self-mocking words echoed in his ears.

As if!

He heard the leaves crackle and before he could shout a warning, he had loosed an arrow into the body of yet another spider.

Heard her scream.

He turned, another arrow notched, ready to fly. And quickly caught himself from laughing.

“Ew! Ew! Dammit! Dammit! EEEEEEWWW! Ew! Ew! Dammit!”

A spider had tried to jump or drop on her, but instead of coming up with a tasty human meal, it had impaled itself on her sword, thick raucous blood, oozing down the blade. She was trying to fling it off, waving it around haphazardly. He walked up behind her and taking the sword from her, he scrapped it off against a tree. He presented the blade back. “My lady.”

“Yrch!” Her shoulders were around her ears and she shuddered, theatrically.

“I do not believe that means what you think it means.”

“I know what it means!” she snarled. “In Sindarian, it means ‘orc’. In my world, it’s close to ‘Yulk’!”

“Yulk?” 

Bronwyn shuddered verbally, hacking up nastiness. “Yuuccch!” 

They continued in this fashion for an hour. Sometimes, they saw the spiders first; other times, they caught them in mid-jump. Several attempted to drop down from the heights of the trees, but taking the cue from Bronwyn, they simply raised their swords and allowed the spiders to impale themselves.

Several times, they found spiders occupied with captured meals, some Elves, some Orcs. Bronwyn was appalled at Haldir’s willingness to allow the spiders finish off the Orcs, before killing them. As they approached Dol Guldur, they were joined by Elves; sometimes one or two, once a group of eleven. They came across Rumil and what was left of his battalion. Many Elves had fallen. Soon, Mirkwood Elves began to filter in with the surviving Lothlórien Elves. They were not wearing armor; instead wearing the green tunics and leggings that Bronwyn remembered Legolas wearing and their hair was braided, weaved differently. They appeared to be stand-offish, but when attacked by a group of Orcs or spiders, they jumped into the middle of the fray regardless of who stood next to them.

“Rumil.” Haldir had sidled next to his middle brother. “Have you seen Orophin?”

Rumil shook his head in worry, “Nay. I was going to ask you the same. What of Celeborn? Heridil?”

Back and forth, they traded names. Some they had seen, some they had not. Many, too many were fallen. Bronwyn had refused to look upon the faces of the dead, for fear she would fall to pieces. Haldir had looked and taken notice. Alagdol, fallen. Baraniavil, fallen. Haldir’s childhood friend, Goravie, fallen. Orohoth, fallen. Alcatar, fallen.

Liandrien, fallen. Cut down by not one, but two Warg riders. Bronwyn cried when she heard. Although they had not become friends, after the attack in the woods, they had come to a grudging respect for each other. In her grief, she forged ahead and stepped into a clearing.

Immediately her palms began to itch.

Dol Guldur.

And she heard whispering in her ears.

‘Come into my lair said the Dragon to the Bard.‘ and without a moment’s hesitation, she pulled her sword in front of her, stepped into the open gate and moved through the courtyard.

***

Puff the Magic Dragon
Lived by the sea
And frolicked in the Autumn Mist
In a land called Honalee…

***

Although, she was now out of sight, Haldir was not far behind her. He refused to allow himself to be taken in by the sheer size of the castle, its walls overgrown with ivy and other crawling plants. He could hear the spiders weaving their webs within the branches clinging to the walls, but right now, they were not his concern.

His concern, his Baraer, was forging blindly into the interior, listening to a voice that chilled him to the marrow of his bones and rattled the core of his soul. He could feel her palms itching. Which would she fall to first? The Dragon? Or the books hidden within?

***

She paused at the large room and peered within.

The Library. Yes. Library with a capital “L”. If she thought Celeborn’s study was a feast, this room was heaven. Large, the ceiling going up…up…up….stories high. Shelves and shelves and rows upon rows of scrolls, books, things under glass. Her sword drooped just a touch as she entered the room.

If she could have gone into multiple orgasm, she would have right there on the spot. Haldir could feel her joy, her fullness of breath and he knew what she succumbed to. He followed stealthily behind, killing three spiders in his wake.

She went further in, turning, slowly spiraling. Her sword was completely down, she was totally unguarded, her breath coming in deep gushes. Forgotten was the battle on the plain, forgotten was well being of her friends, forgotten was the grief in the loss of those she knew had gone, forgotten were the spiders, forgotten was the dragon…

Haldir was not forgotten. His voice called like a whispered beacon. ‘My love… Baraermin… watch your step.. what do your eyes see?…’

She continued to peruse the room with silent pleasure. The books, the rows and rows of books, rows and rows and stacks of scrolls, so much knowledge, so much…

“My, my, my! Do mine eyes deceive me?” The voice was deep, velvet, stroking the senses. “Why, nay, they do not. It is the little bard, so far from her home.”

Bronwyn followed the sound of the voice upwards. Perched upon a ledge and across several tops of bookcases was the dragon. None of the discussion with Celeborn and Galadriel nor anything she had read, or anything gleaned from her vast knowledge prepared her for what stretched out before her eyes.

It – he – was a thing of beauty, truly. Red-gold scales, with dark, metallic royal purple spine spikes, all the way down to the lashing tail, bright and glimmering like jewels. His eyes were glittering green and they were narrowed in an evilly appreciative stare. He was smiling, his maw gaping, showing razor sharp teeth. His tail flicked lazily and she noticed red claws and red wings. He was huge; as large as the Balrog and he sat up, preening like a cat, forelegs stretched out in front, claws fully extended, in all their glory. He was sitting, regally and regarded her with interest.

“You are a pretty little thing. I think it might be a sad affair to do away with you.”

“Oh, ” Bronwyn said, much more steady than she thought possible, “keep me around. You might find me amusing.” Her sword was back up and she was backing away. The dragon smiled in a self-serving manner and she could have sworn she heard a deep chuckle.

‘Oh Bronwyn Morgan. You would be amusing, however your very presence is disconcerting and a problem, so very much like your historical Mary, Queen of Scots, you will have to be done away with.” His wings stretched out full and he lifted, hovering from the ledge and moved over her. She backed up quickly and rushed between two shelves. They rattled and tipped as the dragon set down none to gently on the floor and she barely escaped the falling cases, books cascading to the floor. She ducked behind a large pile and called out.

“Oh unfair, cruel creature! You know my name! Yet, I know yours not! What do you call yourself?” She heard claws clicking together and she attempted to make herself as small as possible.

“My name? Ah, I supposed it would not hurt. Fair lady, I am Smut.”

Bronwyn was thunderstruck. She looked around in disbelief.

“Your name is… what?”

She could imagine the giant head, shaking back and forth. “No, My name is not ‘Whut’. My name is Smut.”

Haldir stood outside the door. He had seen the massive creature, heard the cases fall and the ensuing conversation. And inside his head, Bronwyn was cackling with laughter, mentally rolling on the floor in hysterics. The creature’s attention was not focused towards the door and he slid in quietly, at its back, bow drawn, at the ready. He heard her speak again.

“Well…Smut…” her voice was tight, Haldir could hear her working to keep her laughter under control, “it is most certainly a pleasure to meet you. I will not enjoy having to kill you.” Haldir’s jaw dropped in astonishment. The creature was quietly searching for the source of her voice, unaware that she was moving quietly,

Quietly? When did she learn to move as an Elf?

and was now to his side, still out of vision. The dragon, Smut, did not see her. But a spider had. She saw it as it prepared to leap and in a fit of fury, spun wave after wave of sound at the monster. It fell short of its mark and lay on its back, twitching helplessly. She quickly dispatched it with her knives, not realizing that Smut had caught the entire spectacle with amused interest from the corner of his eye.

“Oh my. You have gotten powerful, have you not?” She felt the temperature rise in the room, sharply. Sensing what was going to happen, she took off running, down the aisle, away from the dragon. The fireball went over her head and charred two shelves of books.

“Oh nooo…” she moaned, seeing hours of enjoyment go up in smoke. Her anger at the senseless loss got the best of her. “You moron! Can’t you aim any better than that?”

He moved slowly, turning his head to the direction of her voice. “Ah. And I thought I was the fiery one in this room.”

“You should see her when she is angry!” Smut’s ears perked and he continued to look around.

“Ah. A second voice. Perhaps…the Guardian?”

Bronwyn answered. “You’re damn straight, Skippy!”

The dragon – Smut – was slow on the floor, his bulk hampering him. There was not enough room for him to stand up and move around, so he simply sat on his rear, like a cat. Claws clinked again.

“Ah. My lucky day. Two for one.”

Haldir slid behind a casing and peered at the dragon. So far, he was unable to detect any missing or damaged links in his armor. The temperature rose abruptly and both Haldir and Bronwyn took off running. A fireball exploded where Haldir had been standing. Scrolls went up in flames.

A hand snaked around Bronwyn’s mouth before she could curse over the waste of the parchment. She stomped on her captor’s foot and when she couldn’t get her teeth into the hand over her mouth, she spat. Her captor spun her around and she looked into the deep blue eyes of Haldir. He wiped his hand off in her hair and laid his finger across his lips.

Smut was sitting, basking in his own glory as he idly looked around. “You cannot run nor hide, my little Bard. Your Shield cannot save you. Make it easy on both of yourselves. Come out and I will be quick and merciful. You will not feel a thing.”

“Answer him and then we run…that way.” Haldir’s voice was a low, low whisper, barely audible. “Keep him talking.”

Eyebrows rose. “Sure Smut, anything you say. Just one thing first.”

“Why, but of course. Last wishes and such. What is it you wish to know?” The temperature escalated and another fireball issued forth, but it did not matter. They had already moved towards another section.

“Haldir,” she whispered. “If this keeps up, we will have nowhere to hide! He is burning up everything!”

Haldir looked closer at the dragon. “Baraermin. Give up the thought of rescuing a single scroll. I am sorry. Speak to him. Ask him anything!”

Was that a chink he spied?

“Ah.. yes, Hey Smut. How did you know who I am?” They ducked and zig-zagged around the casings.

‘Ah. All of us who have been around for thousands of years knew of your coming. Those of us of importance, that is. All of the dragons, we all knew. We knew of you, we knew of your Shield, your Guardian. Wondrous person, he is. Skills beyond comprehension. Very special, he is. I would bet he is an Elf. You were very lucky to be put in the care of the one the Valar thought to be the best.” The temperature rose and 2 more shelves went up in smoke.

She pointed in another direction and he nodded. “If my coming was spoken of for thousands of years, why must I die? Why must my wondrous, fabulous Guardian die as well?” They took off, doubling back, down a row to a far corner of the room.

“Ah, well, sometimes history does not need to be remembered, does it? The one who kills you, kills your Guardian, gets those powers. I would like them and quite frankly, I would prefer to be remembered as victorious and Sauron be forgotten as the one who wielded power at the end of the Third Age.” Yet again the temperature rose and yet another bookcase was destroyed, enveloped in flame. Haldir could sense her despair at such a waste and knew if they got out of this, he would be consoling her for a long, long time. That was a chink he saw, situated under his right foreleg, close…to his heart.. Haldir pulled his bow, carefully took aim and shot.

It was a perfect shot and Smut howled at the intrusion upon his flesh. He scratched and dislodged the offending missile and screeched in anger. The temperature rose quicker than ever and the entire corner where they had been hiding was burned to a crisp.

But they were no longer there.

Bronwyn looked behind her and again grieved over the loss of knowledge. Her palms itched as if eaten with poison ivy and her fury mounted. Haldir felt it, but was unable to stop her flight.

“That’s it! That’s it! I cannot allow you to set anything else on fire, you dumbass lizard!” She ran out and stood directly in front of the Dragon. Her sword was out and she glared with every ounce of fury she could muster. “This stops and it stops right now! Now behave and be a good boy and go back to whatever mountain or rock you crawled out from under – Moria would be a nice habitat for you – or so help me, I’m going to put out your fire once and for all.”

Smut chuckled and then howled, his sides shaking with merriment. “Oh my, oh my. You are a funny one.” He looked down to see a tall Elf standing behind to her, reaching around to grab her sword that she held in front. “Ah, the Guardian is an Elf. Lothlórien, I believe.” He shook his head, agreeing with himself. “You can tell by the braids.” He reared back completely on his hind legs, balancing on his tail, the sore spot where Haldir had shot him, opening slightly like a raw fissure. Bronwyn took advantage and allowing Haldir to hold her sword, slung both knives.

They buried deeply, sharply, opening the wound more. Smut bellowed, rearing back more and she took advantage upon their return to her hands and flung them again. Thick blood welled up around the wound and he fell, all four legs on the floor with a thudding BOOM!. Anger glinted in his eyes and the temperature rose. Haldir grabbed her arm to flee.

She flung him off. “No! I stand my ground! I am Bronwyn Morgan ap Powell. I am the Historian and Storyteller of the Ages. I am the Protector of the Future and Keeper of the Truth, appointed and empowered by the Valar and Ìluvatar and you have no power over me! Back down, you arse wipe, or I will back it down for you!” She lifted her sword to the dragon again.

Oh, lovely.’ Haldir thought to himself. ‘Now she thinks she is a wizard.‘ He stepped behind her and reaching around, took hold of her sword with her.

Noticed it glowed green.

The music swelled, rattling the windows of the room and the heat rose. The fire hit the blade, full force and bounced, arching around them as if the two were encased in a protective dome.

“Whooaah!” Bronwyn inhaled, feeling her oats. Haldir felt her puff up, her bravado and self esteem rising…

***

One dark night it happened
Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon
He ceased his fearless roar…

Peter Yarrow, Leonard Lipsky, Puff the magic Dragon

***
HEY! You come up with a better one!
***

“I said, I am Bronwyn Morgan ap Powell. I am the Historian and Storyteller of the Ages. I am the Protector of the Future and Keeper of the Truth, appointed and empowered by the Valar and Ìluvatar and you have NO power over me! Back down!” Her knives flew again as the temperature rose and as quickly as she returned them to her sides, she grabbed the sword with Haldir and fended off another attack. Smut took a ponderous step towards the two warriors.

The music had risen, angry, loud,

Carry on my wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done…

She saw the waves, saw them spinning, large white lines bounding overhead and she flung them at the mighty dragon.

He shook his head, as if to dislodge water from his ears. “What? You play your games with me?”

She spun them faster, aimed at his head, specifically at his ears. Harder, harder, continual, until he fell over, leaving the chink, the wound exposed. Blood oozed from his ears.

“Baraermin.” He pointed at the susceptible puncture. Together, blade still glowing, they pushed the sword into the wound, as far as it would go.

The dragon cried out and tried to stand. His tail lashed wickedly, but they pursued their task.

“Haldir,” She groaned. Both were using every ounce of energy they had, but it was not enough, “Haldir, I can’t…the blade is to the hilt already. It isn’t enough. What now?”

“The glass, Baraer.” he grunted, still pushing, “The glass. Break the glass.”

“Break the glass? What do you mean ‘break the glass’? What the hell is that?” She was grunting as well. She continued to throw sound wave after sound wave at the dragon and he convulsed, tail still twitching madly.

“How am I supposed to know what it means? You are the musician!”

Break the glass. Break the glass. You are the musician. You are…

Of course! How could she be so blind?

She continued to press, but looked at Haldir. She was tired, worn out both in body and in spirit. The constant barrage of sound waves had driven her to the brink of her wall. “If I hurt you, tell me. I will stop.”

“Just do it!” He continued to push.

She imagined…

Aretha the mighty Franklin. That voice moving upward and upward. The sound spiraling and spiraling, the wave spinning and spinning. She positioned it right at the dragon’s head, as he lay still thumping. And as the wave, the pitch, broke the glass, she flung it into the dragon’s ear.

He convulsed, writhed.

And his bones shattered.

Followed by his muscle mass liquefying.

Organs ruptured. The sword, no longer having any obstacles slid into his body, straight to his heart.

His brain exploded.

Showering the two bone-weary warriors in blood and gore.

And as Smut the Dragon died, Bronwyn completely collapsed.

***

“My Lady! I will wait no more!” Rumil paced angrily in front of Galadriel and Celeborn. “They have been in there too long and I worry!” Orophin stood next to him, ready to follow his brother. He was injured, his arm hanging limply by his side, but he was stoic and placed himself next to Rumil. He was flanked by Heridil, in no better shape. They could hear fireballs being launched.

And then the windows broke. Smoke rose from the side of the fortress and every Elf standing stepped back in horror. Even the spiders leapt from the sides of the walls and skittered into the forest.

“Nooo.” It was Orophin. He made a dash towards the front gate, only to be pulled back by Celeborn. He jerked from the Lord’s grasp and spat. “We lost her once, we will not lose her or my brother again!” He dashed towards the gate, followed by his brother and friend.

They did not get far.

As the fortress began to collapse, Haldir’s outline could be seen, deep in the castle, carrying an unconscious Bronwyn, ducking falling mortar.

“My Lady…”

“Shh.” Galadriel’s hands were out and her eyes closed, pain etched across her ageless face. “I am holding it up.”

Haldir, filthy, matted in gore, cleared the front gate. When Galadriel flung her hands and turned loose, the walls came down. Dust flew and rose, fire consuming what could burn. And as he reached The Lord and Lady of the Wood, he laid his burden gently on the ground, his hands immediately roaming, seeking injuries and exhaustion. Her face, her form, looked as it did, the first time he laid eyes on her. Filthy, vile, beyond reason.

“Bronwyn Morgan ap Powell, Baraermin, lasto beth nîn, tolo dan nan galad.” Wounds healed, but she remained unconscious. He was unaware of the bright light filling the clearing.

“She is not dead, Haldir of Lothlórien, Guardian and Shield of the Bard. Cease your worry.”

He looked up, momentarily blinded.

She was beautiful. More beautiful than the Lady Galadriel. He would have never thought anyone could be more beautiful than she. Every Elf, every elleth, even the horses, bowed before this being. She was clothed in white, flowers adorned her raven black hair, which hung to her waist, her blue eyes flashing in joy. She smiled down at the filthy Elf.

“Well done, most good and faithful servant. Know that I, and the others of the Hall, recognize your valor and devotion to this most difficult of creatures that we have burdened you with. We have chosen her Shield and Champion well.” She looked down at the still body of Bronwyn. “Bronwyn Morgan ap Powell. Arise and claim your destiny.”

Eyes slowly came open and Bronwyn picked herself up from the grass. She looked tired, exhausted, but she looked at the being clothed in white with no fear.

“Bronwyn. You know my name.”

“Yes. You are Tari, wife of Oremi. You are my champion in the Halls of the Valar. You are the Lady in White who plucked me from my despair “

“Yes, that is correct” She smiled gently down at the grungy woman. “Bronwyn, it is time. Your sword.” The vision, produced Bronwyn’s sword that had been left in the flank of the Dragon. It still glowed, but was clean, free of blood and gore. “Please, read the inscription.” She handed it to the grubby, small warrior..

In a powerful voice, Bronwyn recited the words she read in tears to Lord Celeborn scant days before.

“When is the time to thrust down your sword?
When is the time to hand over your bow?
When is the time to sheath your knives?
When is the time in which to claim your titles?
Only when the Valar say thus.”

“Bronwyn. The Valar say thus. Hand me your knives.”

With no hesitation, Bronwyn unbuckled her belt, her holstered knives and handed them to the Goddess.

“These were a gift; a promise made to you. As long as you held them, they would protect you. They will continue to protect you. You are never to use them in battle again. Only when you have no choice, are you to use them. They are also a message. The day they do not return to your hands and you must hunt them, is the time to leave for the Grey Havens.” The figure handed them back and Bronwyn put them back on her hips.

“Bronwyn. The Valar say thus. Hand me your bow.”

This Bronwyn gave reluctantly, but nevertheless, handed to the Valar. She took the bow and inspected it closely.

“This was also a gift, given in love and admiration of your skills and your spirit. This gift is to be handed down to your children and theirs for eternity. It will never wither, never break. Times will come when it will lose its way, but always it will return to your children’s children. It is your guide to your children and their descendants, your mouthpiece. You are to never use it in battle again.” She handed the bow back to Bronwyn and she returned it to her back as well.

“Bronwyn. The Valar say thus. Hand me your sword.” Bronwyn eagerly handed it over. The Valar, Tari smiled gently.

“So eager to rid yourself of your most powerful weapon, yet you knew it not. It will not break because it was yours before you came to us. This was also a gift, a memory of your past. You have used it for many years in another form and once you are complete, it will be returned in its original intention. It will never break, never fade. Bronwyn Morgan ap Powell. It is time. Claim your titles. Claim what is yours! Claim the Blood of the Earth.” She handed the sword back to the shaking Bard.

It took a minute for her to realize, understand what had been said, what had been requested. And then she raised the sword, pointing to the sky and spoke in a clear, strong voice.

“I am Bronwyn Morgan ap Powell. I am the Historian for the Ages; I am the Storyteller of the Races, the  Seer of the Future; the Musician of the All, the Voice of the Unheard. I will be the founder of the Celtic Bards. This Vessel no longer stands empty, but filled with life and love, creating in me the Bard of all of the Earth. I claim Haldir of Lothlórien as my Lord, my Heart, my Shield and my Protector and I will go and stand with him. I want nothing but to be his Baraer!”

And with that, she laid the sword across her forearm, cutting deep.

“My blood is of the Earth.
The Earth is of my Blood.
We are One. We are the Same.
We are forever joined.
I am aware of all of her joys and sorrows.”

She turned her arm over, so her blood spilt and seeped into the ground.

Forever joined.

She raised the sword, one last time, and with a mighty heave, thrust it into the ground where her blood was spilt. Electric white light raced from the dirt to the sky and all were blinded. As sight slowly returned, Bronwyn had collapsed on the ground and by her side was…

Her guitar.

Old, ancient, given to her by Nana. Beloved friend.

The glorious being stood in front of Haldir.

“You are blessed and ranked high among your people. She has claimed you as her Lord and Lord over her you shall be. She will forsake all to gain admission to the knowledge and stories she has been placed here to seek. She will not see the dangers, nor the pitfalls. She is bound to you. She will never cease to be a thorn in your side, but she will bring you equal, if not greater joy. For your loyalty to us and to her, you have been gifted with keener eyesight and senses. You will continue to feel her, see her, know her being, placement, and countenance. In battle, your senses will be increased and your knowledge will increase as well. Your healing powers will continue to escalate, for Ìluvatar knows you will need them. Take good care of her and keep her out of trouble. It will be very hard.” A whisper of a hand stroked grimy, sweat-slicked hair behind a pointed ear and he shivered at the gentle touch. “She has nearly wasted herself out and will need much quiet time to recuperate. She will be unable to use any of her powers for many days and they will return in the order she received them. She made a jest at your expense on the field. Make her stay true to her word.”

And the light disappeared as fast as it appeared.

***

Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more…

***

Every Elf in the glade had gathered around Bronwyn. Haldir leaned over her, healing the long, self-inflicted gash first. Blood had continued to spill on the ground, seeping into the grime and grass of Mirkwood. The Valar Tari, had been correct; Haldir could feel, sense the exhaustion in the small woman and it seeped into his bones as well. He did not notice the new presence or see a opening made for the arriving warrior.

“Well, well, Celeborn. Has your pretty March Warden not learned to bring dirty, stray pets home?”

***
tbc
***

Baraer – Fiery One
Baraermin – My Fiery One
lirimaer – Lovely One

“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.”