The story of a broken hearted spirit.
Categories: Fiction Characters:
Action/Adventure, Angst, Crossover, Drama, Het, Hurt/Comfort, Romance
May 29, 2016 Updated:
June 08, 2016
1. Chapter 1 by Arasa17
2. Chapter 2 by Arasa17
3. Chapter 3 by Arasa17
I am Faerie. I am spirit. I am…without hope.
I wrote these words on the clean face of a white birch. These were the words in my heart, and I wrote them in a moment of despair. I couldn’t face them then, not yet, but I couldn’t deny them either. It was a fact, my destiny.
I look now through the moonlit trees of Greenwood, an ethereal being, a mere phantom caught between who I am and the want of my heart so close to me, yet so far. Even if I wished to though, I could not speak. For I am cursed, punished until I see the error of my ways. I have broken one of the most sacred laws of my kind…direct interference. I saved the life of my love but a moon’s revolution ago, and I have yet to regret that err. I couldn’t do anything else…
It was not my place, they told me. I had no right. I don’t have the wisdom to make such a choice, they told me. I have not the power to follow through with my actions, to deal with their consequences. Indeed, I didn’t even know if the blow would kill him. It is true! I know that.
I don’t share the power that so many of my kind possess. I can’t even summon material form for more than a few hours. I’ve been told that I will grow as years pass…but I didn’t have years. I had seconds. I made my choice, and I am not sorry for it. I am only sorry that the choice was mine.
It all began harmlessly, fascination, an intrigue, really. I found the elf asleep one night in a tree. I saw him flutter in and out of his rest, heard the words he whispered to the trees, the wishes he wished on the stars above… He wished for a friend like no other. He wished for a love.
It was simple chance, or fate…I don’t know, but an accident. It was a queer night, a night where the stars shone and shot across the sky. He’d left the celebrations praising their light to climb their limbs, and there, alone in the night, he sat with me. He didn’t even know it.
I refused to think of him any longer after that, but soon, I found myself in the trees of Mirkwood again…The air he inhabited was lighter. It sung like the trees, and I wanted to feel it time and time again. I rode the wings of the wind with him as he ran the branches of green. I watched the darkness vanish from his home, as the shadows fade at the breaking of day when he fought it from his lands. I saw the love and admiration in his people’s eyes, the life and light in him, and somehow, some way…I grew to love it.
It became a part of me, such a beautiful, crucial part of me that I couldn’t bear let it go. Looking back, I know it was a selfish love, but the choice I made was the choice I had to.
By and by, those too wary to go asked me to look on Rivendell, see what darkness brewed there. It was there again that I saw my elf, though I had not a clue as to who he was, not even a name. I never dared come close, stayed and watched from afar when others drew near. I had nothing more than a face, a fair, perfect face full of everything I needed.
It pained me more than he’ll ever know to see him fight through the War of the Ring, but it was a glorious day when the Dark One was vanquished and he was free. How could I know it was then that my troubles would begin? It happened so quickly.
He was with a company of woodelves on his way home. It wasn’t fair…he was so close! They came from nowhere. Not even I saw them coming. A band of yrch attacked on the fringe edges of Greenwood, and just when it was worst, when the black blood ran fast and the elves were pushed back, the spiders appeared. It was confusion, panic on my part. The arrow coming was just a blur… a black, bullhead blur dipped in poison. Even now, I know not if it would meet its mark…but I made sure it didn’t.
In a brilliant flash of light, the arrow disintegrated in a thousand harmless shards. Even the orcs withdrew in surprise, fled as the woodelves gained the upper hand, but the damage was done. Before I even had time to think on what I’d done…the others came.
I stand as a ghostly apparition, overlooking the moonlit clearing in the trees where my elf and his companions sleep. I think on that what I’ve done, what has happened, what is to be. I remember what the others told me, what they did… I am banished from my peers. My punishment is solitude. I cannot speak to them, my powers have waned, even my life, I fear, drains. I know it is not so, but so deep is this grief, I know not what to do with it.
Stranger to me than anything though, is the fact that it is not my banishment, not the wrath of my superiors, not even the dwindling of my strength that causes this grief. Even now, he sleeps on, unaware, resting in sweet oblivion to my pain.
But…I’ve made my choice.
I remember what they told me. It is only good, they said, he knew not what to think of the shattered arrow... We are to live in seclusion, I am told. Among mortal and immortal alike, we are legend, myth, nothing more…and it is to stay that way. Had he questioned, had he driven others to hunt us, find what we are and what powers we possess…they would have silenced him. For the sake of all, they would do this.
As for me, this my punishment will lift if I deny him, deny myself and forsake this foolishness, they told me. If I swore on the sea, the stars and my soul never to see him, never touch him, and most of all, never again protect him from the bitter taste of death… I knew then, and I know now that it is something I can never do, not completely.
My choice is the only one left me.
Slowly I lower my eyes, opening my fingers. They cup a silver moon set in midnight-blue stone, fitting snugly in the v of my palm. I’m not sure what it will do for him, but all I have, it has…he has.
My love…I shudder…what a cursed thing. My love, selfish that it is, could have brought the faerie’ wrath upon him, brought him to his knees where my elf should never be. It would have been my fault alone…my fault.
I will not chance this.
It is his birthday on the morrow, customary among the Eldar to celebrate with feasts and dancing. He will be distracted. He will not know what to think. I give him a gift now that only I can give. With it, I swear to leave him, for his safety and mine. I swear never again to endanger him for my sake…only not without this piece of me.
Halting, clenching what I hold, I walk through the clearing, a phantom dressed in the bittersweet taste of unrequited love, and I look on him…forbidden honey. He rests apart from the others, and even as I pass, a glow of dust whisks from my fingers.
“Sleep…” I whisper to them, eyes on the pale sheen of light clinging to my love’s hair.
They breathe more deeply, and they are safe here. I sense no danger.
I kneel next to him in a whisper of broken, unshed tears, tilting my head to look on the blanket of serenity he sleeps in under the warm night sky, once more. I look through the stone depths of my gift then, and suddenly, I wish that he could know…somehow, somewhere…there was someone who loved him, cared for him with a passion deep and real.
“Now I leave you…” I falter, swallowing the knot in my throat. It hurts almost as much as sitting here, looking at him for the last time…almost. I shake my head slowly, “I…I never meant to endanger you so. I never meant to love you.”
I hesitate, fingers trembling, before I slip it around his neck, laying the pendant carefully atop his chest: protection, my love. In it, I have placed every earnest wish for his safety, for his happiness, every time I’ve looked on him and wished he could know that I did.
Fainter than the murmur of wind, fainter than the pulse of his heartbeat under my palm, I whisper. “Farewell...”
All I ask for this is a gentle, almost chaste kiss to his forehead. I linger, stroking his hair, feeling its coolness, the silky fibers against my fingers… and a tear slips from my chin.
In the twilight between unfettered dawn and the shackles of night, I breathe, closing my eyes in a moment of peace, never realizing the stream coils down his face like a new fallen raindrop. I don’t realize how he flinches, that his fingers twitch, lost in the hazy dark he lingers in. I am lost myself. I don’t see that they slowly close into a fist, rubbing his knuckles, shifting.
Instead, I reluctantly break the touch, loathe, and hot tears sear my eyes, “I am sorry… my love.”
Then, fingers leaving him, pulling away with only a last, lingering caress, tracing the moon I have given him, his eyes dart back and forth once, before they flicker open. No…
I freeze, horrified, just a luminescent glow shimmering over him. No! What have I done?
For one brief, terrifying instant, I can’t bring myself to move, to vanish, or even pull away. Under my curse, drifting back and forth, spirit to flesh, I could barely summon the strength if I wanted to.
He’s jumped, hand half reaching for his knife, but he doesn’t make it, still bleary under my spell and stiff, staring. His eyes lock on me, and I don’t know what he sees. I don’t think he does, either. They’re unfocused, confused. Again, I curse the others bitterly for taking what was mine. I could not even do this simple thing!
Stiff, almost wary, he licks his lips and whispers, “Ya…ya naa lle?”
No sooner have the words left him then I’ve spun away and disappeared in a brief burst of faint, blue light…and he’s left staring into the midnight dark of nothingness.
“Nae e elei.”
I don’t dare speak the words aloud, but only when he takes a short, gasping burst of air and looks around, sitting up and I know he doubts what his eyes have told him…I touch his mind with its answer. Just a dream…nothing more, nothing less.
“Sleep…” I whisper to his tired thoughts, fainter than the breeze, “…forget.”
Please…please my love, forget…
He doesn’t respond, doesn’t even flinch. He just stares, thinking, a grimace contorting his features and clamping blades of grass in fistfuls for his helpless confusion. He stays that way a long while, listening to the trees’ murmurings, seeking confirmation, but they tell him nothing. They’ve never spoken of my presence before, and they will not betray me now. They will not forsake one friend for another…I pray.
And so, resting under the sheltering curtain of leaves, the elf asks himself if he’s truly seen anything at all. He looks into the night and wonders if his mind has conjured my form in a weary, listless dream...and I sincerely hope by all the great powers of Eru that he does…
Even as I watch, he glances about just once more, before laying his head back in the bed of leaves, staring up at the starlit sky. His breaths steady, his pulse slows… I feel the rigid alertness melting into the comfort they offer.
Slowly, I breathe a sigh of relief and turn way, begin my departure, a solemn, lonely walk over the forest floor. It shouldn’t affect me, I know, but under the wretched, angering curse I suffer, I shiver in the wind that gusts through the leaves.
It will be the last time, I think.
This place stings with every step, weighs my heart down into my feet with every shallow step. I don’t think I could bare seeing these trees again, for with every remnant spell of evil that lifts, every shade of darkness that bursts into life with the elves’ sweet song and avenging blade, I’ll be reminded of the light I have lost.
I can’t look back. I can’t regret…and I have no more heart to lose.
I am Faerie. I am spirit. And now, falling against a warm, moss-laden trunk in despair, unable to hear its sweet whispers, I am… without hope.
"Ya...ya naa lle?" Who...who are you?
"Nae e elei..." Just a dream.
Sooo… this story’s been pestering me to pay attention to it for awhile now, and so I did. I hope you enjoy reading half as much as I did writing.) Even if not though, expect a beautiful bombardment of updates ‘cause I’m not going to let it rest!
Well, this is a fine way to spend out the day…with an absent-minded elf.
“Come on, lad!” I look up, jarring him with an elbow to knock his head from the clouds. “Where’s your mind gone to? Have you not heard a word I’ve said?”
For the past hour, I’ve been trying to tell him as subtly as possible that he should be more alert in these trees. The air is too close, the branches too dark for my liking. Legolas’ party and our company of dwarves met up at the borders of Mirkwood, and though there was a sliver of tension between the two, not enough to warrant escape. He was restless though, and after a day of slow journeying, he suggested that he and I go ahead. His excuse was to ‘scout the area’, but in his condition, I doubt he’s ‘scouted’ anything at all.
In all my travels with him, he’s been like this. Legolas is a steady, warm beam of light and a flighty breeze whirled into one. Some days he’s at nowhere but the moment, all eyes and ears, alert and ready like a nervous sparrow. But then again, when the sun shines particularly bright, when the warbles in the trees reach a crescendo, he’s like this…eyes flitting about as carefree as a humming bird.
“Gimli…” he merely replies, as if I’d said nothing. He walks along beside, an almost infinitesimal bounce in his step, “You must tell me. What is it like to dream?”
“…dream?” The question takes me by surprise. “Haven’t you ever dreamt before, elf?”
“Aye, I have…” He slows, pausing as if to think. For a moment, not even the squirrel chattering at him from a nearby branch distracts him, “…but not in the way you do, I think. What is it like?”
“Well, I…uh, I suppose…” I stop, and I find I can’t quite gather the words to describe it. How does one go about explaining a dream, anyway? “It’s like- no, no. Well, you see…Ah, no, not that either.” As it turns out I can’t, and after spluttering in frustration, stomping the path down with a booted foot, I twist around to look at him. “Well what do you wanna know about ‘em for in the first place?”
He quirks an angular brow, a mysterious smirk on his face. He shrugs a little though, slowing at the forest trailside, and I sigh, reaching out and grasping his arm.
“All right, Legolas...” It isn’t often that I use the elf’s name, but when I do, I mean it. “Now tell me what all this is about. You’ve been a little queer, if ya don’t mind my saying so, ever since we left. And why did you do that, by the way, lad? There’s safety in numbers, you know.”
I look around the leafed limbs arching overhead where they throw long shadows along the ground, interspersed in dappled light. Odd creaks and groans fill the treetops, and the soft moan of wind through the branches is constant. The place gives me the willies, to be honest, but the elf doesn’t seem to notice.
“Come, do not worry so, my friend.” Legolas waves a hand, “We are far too near the city. We are safe.” With that, he walks lightly from the winding trail and once leaving it, spins about. There’s something new here though, I think. There’s a vigor in his eyes.
“Very well then, my stout friend, I will tell you!”
I wasn’t expecting it, but I brighten a little. Finally! The elf is stilted and nimble, as if itching to be anywhere else, but he seats himself on a fallen log and stays there. With that, he draws his legs up under him in the shape of a diamond, resting his hands atop, and after breathing a hard sigh, fidgeting with his cuffs, looking ready to leap up at any moment again…he spills out. “I had a…dream….that has bothered me for days.”
He casts a glance, as if expecting this to shock me. I merely grunt, stroking a stray braid of beard, and he must take this as sign to continue.
“I told you of the yrch attack, of the white burst of light and the arrow? If not for that…light, it almost certainly would have struck, Gimli.”
“Good thing too,” I snort, wagging a gloved finger at him, “Or I’d never forgive you, elf.”
He sighs, “I am not sure what to do with all this, truthfully.”
“So do nothing.” I shrug. “Leave well enough alone, Legolas.” I nod to the sun coasting its waning path across the sky, “’Sides, whatever happened to arriving in time for yer’ begetting day? At this rate, we’ll not be there by nightfall, and yer Father’s already preparing for it.”
He sighs, “I know! It has been months since I have seen him, and I miss him. I do but…but I simply cannot forget.” He drops his eyes, almost ashamed, before shifting as if an ant had crawled up his back and he wasn’t quite willing to scratch at it. “I-I simply cannot rid myself of it! It was so real... I could not rest again the entire night.”
I take the packet of weed from my pocket and its pipe, casting a glance, “And?”
“And…” he squints, sliding a strand of flaxen hair from gusting between his lips, “…and what, Gimli?”
. The moist air clings to the wood, and I set to lighting it. Slowly, the pipe glows to life, and I rest on one arm, puffing a few gusts of smoke out before answering. “And what’s made ye so flittish, then?”
After all, how disturbing can some silly dream be?
“But I have told you!” he sits up, darting his eyes through the trees, back and forth, “I cannot rid it from my head! She is all I can think of. She was so real. There have been so many strange things, Gimli. There’s something that I miss, something important, and I cannot think of what!”
I pause at that, eyeing a suspicious lump of moss at my feet, and everything begins making sense, “She, eh?”
He stares at me sidelong, before nodding, “Aye…it was a she. At least-” he stops, eyes faltering, and the storm of wonder, curiosity that I saw there fades a little, like when a whip of wind holds a roll of thunderheads at bay. “- at least I believe it was a she. In any case, I think she wants me to find her, Gimli.” He gets to his feet and begins pacing, vehement, “I must find her! I must.”
I snort with all the refinement I have, “Aye, laddie. Your mysterious dream girl wishes ye to come and rescue her…right.”
At times like these, it’s hard to believe the elf’s seen more summers than I have tankards of ale. It’s a fine thing, too, because it’s gonna have to be me who straightens him out.
“Now tell me, how will I go about finding her? You must help me, Gimli.”
“I must, eh? I fear you’ve lost your mind.”
“I…I what?” he stares, and I merely shrug.
“Perhaps you’ve been in the sun too long.” I shift atop the rotting wood, glancing about, “It is hot, I’ll give ye that, and the air in these trees is dense enough to gag a maggot.”
“These trees, Gimli, are my home.” Despite the snap of anger in his eyes, when I squint upward, I see something else too. He walks back, placing one boot in front of the other, pondering, thinking hard.
“I am not mad.” He says finally, folding his arms, “And I cannot forget her. Am I to believe it was nothing but a phantom? A vision?” He shakes his head, “I have never heard of such things! I am not a seer, and this was not a dream. It was…different.”
“I’m sure, laddy.” I wish I could take his words seriously. Truly I do, but when that dreamy, clouded expression falls over his face again, the puff of smoke I blow out seems more interesting. It shivers and trembles in the humid air, forming a rapidly widening O that frays at the edges and drifts away on the wind, until it’s disappeared into nothingness.
“And besides…” I grunt once it does, “…even if this dream was something like a…a vision, why wouldn’t ye remember it better?”
He stares, “You do not believe me then, Gimli?”
If it weren’t so surprised, I’d actually thing there was anger there.
“Come now,” I shuffle to face him, plucking the pipe stem from my mouth and setting to knocking the loose ashes out. “Doesn’t it seem a bit unlikely?”
He doesn’t answer for a long minute, but when I look up again, pausing, I nearly curse. Well, that’s fine! I’ve gone and hurt him.
“Well I have proof.” He digs under his shirt for something, frustrated, and I squint against the sunlight.
At this rate, we the supposed ‘scouts’ are going to fall behind the rest. They’ll be along any minute…and what is he doing? Going on about ‘proof’ and spirit women. Finally, he succeeds in pulling a chain loose from his chest, and after disentangling a stray strand of hair from it, extends the pendant.
“I… was given this.”
When he lowers it into view, revealing a moon shaped crescent in his fingers, I can’t help letting the pipe go slack in my teeth. Not just the solid blue gem cut into its face, but the very silver where it lays seems to glow in his palm… Flecks of sparkling silver dot its depths like starlight. The rays of sun seem to gather along its edges until they shine, and though it’s small, not even the size of a finger, it draws the eyes from all else.
Well, it’s pretty. I’ll give him that.
“What does that prove?” I snap out of my stupor, tearing away and puffing more vigorously. “All I see is a nice necklace. I think ye should just forget the whole thing, lad, for your own sake.”
“But Gimli,” He struggles a moment to pull it free of his hair, using both hands to loose it from his neck, before holding it into the light. “Look at it. ‘Tis warm to the touch, glows in my fingers. There is an essence here; I can feel it. It could be nothing but elven make. I’ve seen naught like it. Have you? Have you seen its match?”
It takes a few minutes of examining, once he gathers the chain and drops it in my hands, but I have to admit…it is unique. My race are craftsmen, born and bred of stone. We mold it as it molded us in the beginning. Yet still, we’ve never mined, never sculpted a stone like this.
“I’ll admit, laddie, I’ve never seen this gem. Light as mithril, darker than silver, and harder than gold…where did you get it?” I set the pipe down, tossing it carefully and examining the chain from all angles, “Don’t mind saying I’d like to get my hands on more of this.”
He sighs, and only when he leans back, sliding back on the wet wood, I look up. A frown darkens his face, and his eyes dart in my direction, jaw clamped in the way he does when conflicted. “I… know not.” He recaptures the necklace from my grasp and spins it round and round in his fingers, “I do not even know who gave it.”
And then, the pieces fall into place, “And you think this…she-elf…was the one who gave it to you?”
He shrugs, glancing up at the sound of light footsteps approaching, and the heavier trod of leather behind it. “Who else but?”
“Well, I don’t know lad,” I glance to the approaching party, “…but you’re a little too late to talk of it now.”
He stares an instant, before nodding and looking away.
I watch their arrival, sitting by the path, and I notice nearly half Legolas’s company are she-elves…fair she-elves. Nothing compared to the little hairy women of my kind, or the regal kind of beauty that is the Lady of the Wood’s, but well enough. The glances thrown the elf prince don’t seem particularly unfavorable either, I think, watching them pass. A few even linger to wait for him…guards, I suppose. Still, I’d think he would know it if one of his sentries snuck up on him in the night and hung some chain around his neck.
“Legolas, have ye thought perhaps that it wasn’t an…” I nudge his side with an elbow, picking up and shouldering my axe, before nodding to the dark head walking ahead of us. I don’t dare speak more, knowing the uncanny hearing of the pointy-eared creatures, but he catches my drift.
I shrug, “Could be.”
“Then what, Gimli?”
I don’t answer a little while, and I wonder if it was best even to mention it. I wasn’t serious, of course. Now that I think of it though, I wouldn’t put it past the elf to take it so.
“Gimli…” he extends a hand, motioning for us to stop, “Tell me…please.”
“Well,” I plant the axe handle in the dirt, folding my hands atop. I don’t like planting such ideas in his head, but in the last few months, I’ve seen things that I never would have believed, things that were true. Nothing seems too ridiculous to mention.
“Well, lad…perhaps what ye think ye saw wasn’t altogether real.”
He arches a skeptical brow, and before he has time to protest, I cut him off, shaking my head.
“Now, now… hear me out. In the old days, long before my father Gloin set out for the mountain, he told a tale of his ancestor, Buhren.” I walk on, but slower, not quite willing to lose sight of the group of dwarves plodding ahead. If something were to attack in these trees, it would be nice to have help.
“He was but a lad of twenty at the time, hardly old enough to wield an axe, but he had a stout heart and a will about him. Anyways, in the middle of wild and uncharted mountains, miles from home, orch filth attacked his group. He was the only survivor, and he wandered a month and a day, half-delirious with hunger.”
The elf walks beside, bow in hand, and for once, I think I have his whole attention.
“When he was nigh unto death…” It’s here that I drop my voice, “…they say a spirit came to him. He called him a Darzh, ‘fairy’ in the common tongue. He led the child to the parties looking for him, and though none believed his tale, he swore on his grave that it was true.”
A long while passes, in which I’m not quite sure what the elf is thinking, but finally, he pauses. In his eyes is the storm of wonder again, and at the same time, a resolution.
“I swear this day, my stout friend, I will find whomever…or whatever…soul gave this, and why they want me to do it. Perhaps then, we’ll know if your story is true.”
“Well,” I sigh, “If that be your wish, I’d best see it through. Else…” I lift a finger, “…you’ll not have the time to keep your oath, elf, and I’ll have come to this Greenwood for nothing. You’re not getting out of seeing my home.”
“I wouldn’t think of it.”
What a simple, beautiful thing…the leaf.
I turn it slowly in my fingers, looking through the thin green membrane and into its heart. There’s a quality to it that a part of me envies, its realness, its firm substance. I can touch it, feel it, run the spider web of green tendrils through my fingers. I can feel its life in the form I’ve taken. It’s the easiest to maintain, the way I rest, but the most difficult to deal with, flickering between spirit and flesh.
It doesn’t matter now.
It seems like all but the sun and moon are lost. Even for them, I seem to worry. I feel like a glowing ember slowly fading to darkness, wanting to burn but without the will… The rushing of bubbling water fills my ears, a lonely flock of gulls drifting past on the distance. Their calls are empty, almost forlorn here not far from the sea, but there’s a kind of serene peace in the fading sunset. It’s helped me settle a little, and here, at the end of the earth, where sky, sea and land meet, I watch the skies at the Junction.
This is my place, where I go to find quiet, solitude and most of all, space. Here above, where the falls never stop, where the water from the heavens join the flow of water down under, the light never fades. Always the sun shines or the moon glows, for the clouds and stank darkness can never completely squelch it. They’re beneath me, like all the earth should be. Yet now, I feel unworthy. I’ve let them take hold. The birth and death, light and dark that rules that world, petty grievances and fights that shouldn’t matter to me…they do.
I hope the others don’t sense it. I hope they can’t see the ties that bind my thoughts, my heart with that world. Otherwise, I’ll never be free. This wretched solitude will be permanent!
I know I can’t take it. I wasn’t born to live alone, and without the bustling nonsense that makes the mortal world, or even the cold kind of aloofness that makes the others like me, I think I won’t survive. Besides, my love will never know. He won’t care anyway. He’ll never even know my last thoughts were of him… I could drop from the sky and sink into the sea foaming at the river mouth running by, and he’d never care.
Suddenly, a sound like the whir of wind through a keyhole breaks the quiet. Someone’s coming! I snap my head up, forcing myself out of this melancholy. It wouldn’t do for…who is it? gods! an elder… to see me like this.
He, or she - it’s hard to tell in the spirits so old as this - descends in a pale glow of light and settles beside. I don’t move, don’t even breathe as…he, I realize…warps slowly into his taken form. I recognize him instantly, and a cold feeling of dread sinks into the pit of my stomach.
Why, oh why didn’t they send my friend? Why didn’t they send Tamling? His was the only vote against the choice to banish me. Are things really so bad as this? I did what they asked! Well…I think about it…sort of.
“Do you know why I am here?”
I turn the leaf slowly in my fingers, pass it from hand to hand, and then, on a gust of cool wind that blusters past, let it go. It whisks back and forth over their sky until it sinks through the graying mist, flutters down through a sheet of green, and then drops like a twirling boat in the river.
I should answer quietly, articulately, and with a humble, repentant heart…but I don’t. Instead, I nod slightly.
“Good, that will make this easier.”
I risk a glance, only to find his eyes on something else apparently more interesting. So I look away too, sitting cross-legged on the wet stones. White water bubbles under their cold faces and spills from the cliff side in white droplets, only to spatter the darkening clouds forming beneath.
“You disobeyed.” He explains, “One way or another, you will make recompense.”
Wonderful…I suppose he knows about the necklace, then. Isn’t making me give him up enough? Must they get me for that one little thing? I release a sigh. There isn’t much to be done about it now. What will they do? Take it from him?
“What do I have to do?” I ask softly, studying my hands. A pearlescent glow clings to my skin, but it’s dusty, almost gray. His fingers, slender and folded elegantly before him are beautiful, brilliant in the fading sunset, and I frown, looking away.
“Precisely what we tell you.” He states simply, and my heart sinks into my stomach. I hate feeling so powerless, like the pawn in a game of chess where the players can’t be seen, can’t be reached…just blind, invisible power.
“And… what is that?” My voice breaks down into a whisper, but he doesn’t notice.
“You have planted the seed of discord.”
“You have woken the name of our kind to the world beneath, and against our wishes, against our orders, you have endangered us all.”
“Endangered…” I look up.
“Yes,” The faerie’s eyes glow stormy gold like his hair, and looking at him, I can almost see the sun between. It’s frightening to think of the years he’s seen, the countless days passed before those eyes. “And now,” he continues, “thanks to your disobedience, it is necessary that we repair it.”
I wince, dropping my head. It was just a token! A trifling gift, what could he possibly have to fear?
“But… it was nothing.” I insist, grimacing and darting over the hazy world, the land I know so well. It feels like a part of me. He’ll have nothing left of me if they take it.
“Nothing?” he says slowly, and I feel tension ripple through the air like a stone in the lake, “Perhaps the enslavement of all your kind is nothing to you? War, perhaps?”
“He doesn’t mean to hurt to you. He couldn’t hurt you. We’ve done nothing to him!”
“You speak so freely on the behalf of a mere earthling?” he scoffs, “A groundling?”
“He is not a groundling!”
Suddenly, a burst of charged air gusts through my hair and I freeze, but not willingly. The power melts into my body and holds me in place. He doesn’t flinch, not even a twitch, but I can’t fight it.
“Do not raise your voice in the presence of an elder, youngling.” He says quietly, but the moment he does, I hiss a sharp gust of air through my teeth.
“He doesn’t deserve your ridicule!” I protest, “You don’t know anything about him.”
He laughs then, and with a toss of his eyes, releases me. I rub my arms, shifting away. It doesn’t hurt more than a sting, but shame and humiliation scratch at the place where anger flares. He’s already speaking on though, and doesn’t look at me.
“Do not tell me of what I know, foolish child. He is a stranger to you. You are asinine to think otherwise.”
“- when was he born?” He interrupts, and my voice withers. He says it like he already knows the answer, “What is his name? Who is his father? Does he have a lover?”
I shake my head, looking away. It doesn’t matter! It doesn’t change the way I feel.
“Legolas.” He states finally, “…his name is Legolas. Did you know this?”
I can’t lie. I shake my head again, no, feeling for the first time in centuries like an absurd little girl.
“Well, he has guessed the true identity of his visitor.”
I blink, focusing on keeping my head down, “Y-you mean…”
At that, I’m not quite sure what to feel. A small place, very deep down glows satisfaction at the realization. He knows I was there! But it doesn’t last long. This can only mean one thing.
“Do you know who he plans to enlist for help?” he breaks my stupor, and his eyes are focused and intense, “Who he wishes to help him find the Faerie?” He waits a long minute to answer himself, and I refuse to answer. When he finally does though, he leans closer, so close I feel the stir of air at his words. It shimmers around him, charged like after a thunderstorm, and it makes me shiver, leaning away. “…the King of the Woodelves.”
The king… I look up with a snap. “The king? Why?”
It takes a strange minute. I can feel his unease, something in the way he doesn’t meet my eyes, wide in horror. It isn’t aloofness this time though…something else. I don’t know what.
“It matters not. All that matters is that you do not leave our realm, youngling, until this is over. You will sit by and let us deal with him as we see fit. You will not help him, and you will not help yourself.”
My throat chokes off, “W-what are you going to do?”
He doesn’t answer, but slowly, gradually, I can feel his presence beginning to fade. He shrugs slightly, and I stare, agape in disbelief. How can he be so nonchalant? I realize he’s leaving now, but not too quickly, giving me time to think. What isn’t he telling me? Why won’t he tell me?
Oh. My heart stops, freezing. I grip stone, and the thunderheads rolling into swarms let loose a rumble. Oh no…
“You’re…you’re going to kill him!” I gasp, trembling in disbelief, “You’re going to kill him, aren’t you?”
He pauses briefly, and though his essence has begun to warp, fade into a blur, I know he stops, “Depending.”
“Y-you will…” I can’t think, can’t even breathe. “Oh, Eru…no.” before he has time to answer, I leap to my feet and scramble to the falls’ edge, spitting out, “You can’t!”
“Do not blame others for correcting your mistakes. You question the will of the elders?”
“You don’t have the right to decide who lives and dies!”
“Silence, child! We have the only right.” Instantly, the spirit throws a flashing finger into the air, and a whip of wind blasts from his hand. Shining gold orbs light the falling dark in his eyes, and in them, I see lightning crack.
“I won’t let you!” I shout. It’s useless and I don’t care.
“What will you do?” The gold robes whip around his feet in the rapidly blustering wind, and all around and beneath, storm clouds are gathering in the dusk.
“He means you no harm.” I shake my head, pleading. He should have forgotten. But he didn’t, and he saw me. He’s curious, wants to know how, what. He’s curious…Oh why? “It isn’t his fault. It’s mine, I swear! He wants nothing from us. He’d never hurt us!”
“How could you possibly know this?” he throws his hands out, and when he speaks again, a sickening part of me wonders if he’s right. “Even if you did, can you speak for his kind? How about mortal men? For greedy dwarves and spell casters, those who would want this power for themselves? We will protect ourselves at all costs.”
As if to demonstrate, he throws his head back and lightning bursts from his fingers, blending and swelling with the storm. The clouds twist and swell, coiling like venomous snakes until they gather on the winds. Flashes of lightning rip mercilessly at the sky, and they send bursts of sound rebounding from the black masses. I cover my ears, feeling power rip through me like ice.
“Stop!” I shout, but nothing happens. “Please stop!” I scream over the wind, and though we’re high over the earth, the rain will have begun falling in sheets. “I’ll stop him.” I pant as it calms a little, the deafening roar abating. “…I swear I’ll stop him. Just please, please don’t. Don’t hurt him; don’t touch him. I’ll do it myself!”
“How can you be trusted?” comes his voice like thunder, but he doesn’t leave. He’s waiting, waiting for something.
“I will!” I look up, begging shamelessly, “I swear I will. This is my fault, not his! Let me fix it. Pease, just let me fix it!”
“What if you fail? What if it is too late by the time you try?”
I shake my head, and in the pooling water and whipping wind, fall to my knees. “Please…” I grip the rocky stones, losing control. “…please let me try.”
Slowly, the storm recedes enough for the sky to break through. It still rages on the surface, still swells and rains, but under his feet like a great throne. I’ll do anything to make this right. He doesn’t deserve to be punished for my sake, and I can’t let my people suffer for it either. I’ll make it right…I will because I have it.
“How will you do it?”
It surprises me into silence. Is he listening? Will he really let me do this? Even if I could choke out the words, I don’t know what to say. I don’t have a plan…but it doesn’t matter. I’ll find a way. “Let me go down.” I ask anyway, ignoring my screaming nerves, telling me to stop, to think. “I’ll befriend him, convince him it’s a lie.”
He sinks from the sky enough to touch earth. “But this is not enough.”
I push back onto my heels, and through rain-streaked tears, I whisper, “Then what? What do I have to do? I’ll do it.”
He doesn’t reply a long moment, and in his crystal amber eyes, I see cold finality, harshness, power. “You will take the stone of Ketedur.”
It takes a long minute, but I freeze, “W-what?”
“You will take the Stone of Ketedur, relieve him of all memory of you, and return with it for discipline.” He lifts a finger, and I can’t protest, not yet. The thought leaves me dumbstruck. “If you will do this, and if you succeed, we will not touch him further.”
“But…” I look around, panting, breathing so hard my vision spins. “…but I don’t have it. Even if I did, Ketedur could take years away! No one could do this, not without taking centuries from him.”
“I know that.” He stares harder, “But his years are unnumbered. He is not mortal. What does it matter? Find a way in and take it. Would you rather the alternative?”
I shake my head, “But his friends! He won’t remember. They won’t matter, th-they’ll not mean anything to him… Oh, I can’t!”
“Then you will leave us to deal with it?” he pauses a moment, before his voice deepens and quiets, more powerful, enunciating each word carefully. “…or will you bring us the Stone?”
“The Stone…” I whisper, and suddenly, trembling in the cold, pieces begin falling into place. It isn’t about me. It isn’t about Legolas. It never was. They want the stone. It has powerf, I am told, but useless without the Faerie. They want me to take it, why? Do they fear it in the king’s hands after all these years? Do they want it for themselves? I just don’t know!
“I-t’s guarded in the king’s halls. I can’t.” I rasp, staring at the ground, before clenching my teeth and looking up. I wish I had the power to back the venom in my voice, “You want me to get it for you.”
For a moment, the storm stills to an almost deadly silence. The raging flashes of white still light the clouds, but here above, the quiet thickens to a deadly blanket. Slowly, gradually, sitting in the icy water and looking helpless and angry over the rolling clouds, I realize I have no choice. For the moment, they’ve taken them from me.
“It is ours by right.”
I look up in a flash. “Well get it yourself, then.”
He doesn’t even blink. His face is a mask, glowing and emotionless. “Certain charms placed on it prevent us access to that vault, but if you gain their trust, are allowed through, you will have it.”
“And through me, you!”
He lifts a finger, “Would you prefer we deal with the elf ourselves?”
“I-” I stop, slipping a hand over my mouth. I gather myself in, taking the last vestiges of strength I have. What else can I do? What other choices do I have? None, that’s what. Like in the taverns below, the smoky little pubs, the ones with the power and all the cards. There’s nothing else to do.
“I…I’ll do it.”
Like the hammer pounding the seal of a grave, a clap of thunder ripples through the dusk and I stare into nowhere, breathless. What have I done?
A rush of air fills my lungs and I gasp. An invisible strength lurches me from the stones and into open air, and with whispered words that I don’t hear, a brilliant flash of blinding light ignites. Only the last, lingering words echo in my ears as wind and space race past in a blur.
“Let this word be your bond…”
So be it.
I wasn’t here to see the birth of men, the first elves land on golden shores. I wasn’t there to see the dwarves hue mountains of stone. But I’ve seen elves and dwarves live and die, kings born, sparkle to the peak of their reign, and then fade. I’ve seen pain and heartache, love, joy. Only now that I can do nothing for it, do I understand.
The black blur of wet leaves burst into view and I cover my face. Slapping branches and an explosion of light blasts open an expanse of forest floor; rain streaks down the twisting, climbing trunks and spatters wet leaves, sending them shuddering in the wind. I land hard.
Panting, pushing wet hair out of my face, I lean on my arms, taking in great droughts of chilled air. Mirkwood…it must be! A dizzy, lightheaded feeling blurs the forest, and I can’t see, can’t feel my limbs for a long, tingling minute. When I do though, I glance down in surprise. Pushing up out of the mud, a dirty, rain streaked tunic cinches around my waist, leather boots and leggings under that. It would seem I was part of a forest patrol.
I wipe my face, panting to clear my head, and it’s easier to keep this form than before. Maybe the almighty spirit gave me the strength, maybe to carry out my ‘mission’, or maybe just to demonstrate power. It doesn’t matter, I suppose, pushing out of the dirt and stumbling upward. I have a job to do…and it lies in the direction of Thranduil’s Halls.
Eru help me.
As always, constructive criticism is much appreciated.-) Thanks for reading. Happy Tuesday!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.