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.