Today was the day we were to leave Lothlorien, and the day after my big 'revealing'. I felt uneasy, somehow the fact that no- one was frantic to leave bothered me. I had liked the peace and quiet, but it had just let me dwell on the oncoming darkness more. It would be a relief to leave and do something. For the first time ever, travelling had given me something to smile at, as my friends laughed and made jokes. 'But there're not your friends.' A little voice in my head said. 'Not anymore now they don't even know what to think of you.' I mentally told the voice to shut up, even though it spoke the truth. No matter how grim I was, I needed to remain optimistic.
With nothing to do I wandered aimlessly. Though I had done this many times, the familiar feel of ground passing beneath my long stride was calming. I couldn't think straight after what had happened yesterday. I knew that I would not be treated the same way as before, even if the differences were only subtle. I knew I would probably be even more of an outcast. Thoughts of different situations that may happen clouded my head. I inhaled deeply. A sweet smell tickled my nose. I silently scolded myself for being to absorbed in thoughts to notice. The smell grew stronger as I walked. I heard quiet steady breathing and a slow heartbeat nearby. I kept on walking, but withdrew to shadow. I ended up in a clearing perfumed by flowers.
"Darke" a voice said. I instantly recognized it as Galadriels, and realized that it was were we had talked two days ago. I mentally scolded myself for being so slow- minded. "Come sit" she said. I went and sat on the log, like before. "Have you enjoyed your stay in the Lorien?"
"It has been nice to wander its halls as a guest." I replied.
"I hope you get the chance to do so again."
"So do I. But were not here to exchange niceties are we?"
"On the contrary. I mainly wanted to see you to congratulate you on telling your friends your life story. I think the way you did it went well, especially how you delt with Lord Borimer." She sighed. "Your thoughts are clouded. I can make nothing of them as you hide them deep inside."
"Please don't read my my mind. But thank-you. I myself thought the way I told them was rather bad."
She gave a small chuckle. "You are a true story teller. You managed to get it to sound realistic, yet not too evil. And you gave them proof."
"I may be a good story- teller, but I am a reluctant one."
"You really are very blunt aren't you? I will miss the presence of a simple spoken person."
"Thank-you, I guess."
"Someone is coming. They are looking for you. I will leave you to it." Soundlessly she left.
I remained sitting on the log, withdrawing into a part that was in shadow. Loud (to me) breathing drew closer to the clearing. A fast steady heartbeat became audible as the person drew nearer. I recognised the beat as Borimers, which I was less than happy about. However, the lady said he wished to speak with me so I stayed.
I sensed him draw into the clearing. He began walking toward me, but didn't see me. Instead he sighed and sat on the other end of the log. "Hello" I said, deciding that there was no point in hiding. He gave a small yelp and jumped. "Sorry" I said. "No problem. You just surprised me, that's all." He replied breathless. "Shouldn't you be preparing to leave? Or are you taking a final stroll to say goodbye to this place?" I already knew what he was meaning to do, but I needed to make small talk. "Actually, I wished to speak with you."
"Oh. Why, and what about?"
He seemed a little uncomfortable. "I- I wanted to apologise for my actions previously. I didn't think that you er- would er-" he trailed off.
"Have such a painful and strange life?" I asked. He gave a sigh of relief. "Yes that would be it. I would like to apologise for my suspicion. You of all people had a great reasons to act like you do, and I swear on my life I shall not question your actions again."
I was quite touched. I had not expected that the Gondorian would have such emotion for such a trifling matter. "Thank- you." I said. "Your apology is appreciated a lot. But your actions were just and valid. I do seem rather evil, and it was smart to be suspicious. Please don't swear anything to me though, especially not on your life, I value it." I gave a small smile.
Borimer was astonished. I'm not sure what he had expected, but I don't think it was that. "I take it back then. But please get me to do something for you, I feel obligated after how I treated you." I thought for a moment. I didn't want to force him to do anything. "There is one thing that you could do." I said. "Stop admiring me, I don't deserve it. I am grateful for the apology, but just because you know my past doesn't mean you should change your actions toward me. It isn't important to what happens now." He gave a short bark of laughter. "You are really the strangest person I have ever met!" he said. "But thank-you! I only acted so because I felt I owed you a sincere apology." I smiled. "It's ok. I think we can now say we are on good terms?" I raised an eyebrow, not that he could see because of the hood. "I think we can" he replied. "We should probably go back to the others." I broke a short silence. "We should" Borimer replied, and we walked off to find them.
After finding the others we all made our way toward the river Anduin. Boats waited, their ports(right side) bobbing against the jetty. Galadriel and Celeborn waited for us. Celeborn began to speak. "Every league you travel south, the danger will increase. Orcs hold the west bank of the Aduin." He began. "Nor will you be safe on the eastern shore. Strange creatures bearing the white hand of Sauruman patrol the bank." He began speaking to Aragorn in Queyna. "Le aphaeda aen" (you are being watched) was all he said. He handed him something. Next Galadriel walked up to Legolas, handing him something as well. I heard a faint twang of a vibrating bowstring. "This is a bow of the Galadhriem." she said. "You are worthy of its skill." She gave Merry and Pippin small knives or daggers. I heard the faint swish of small blades being unsheathed. She handed something that smelt earthy to Sam. "Thank-you my lady." Sam said. "Have you run out of those nice shiny daggers?" She gave a small laugh. Next she came upon Gimli. "What would the dwarves ask of the elves" she asked him. "Errm.." he trailed off. "A single hair off your head, to remind me that no beauty compares to yours." She handed him some of her hair. She came upon Aragorn "I have nothing greater than the gift you already bear" she announced sadly, touching something on his chest. I knew she talked of Arwen, Aragorns love. Finally she came to me. "I can give you nothing, but advice. Look for what you are yearning for. Your heart is not yet full." She sounded sad, and spoke in Sindrian. Galadriel gave Borimer something long and metal, but it wasn't a sword. She moved onto Frodo and gave him the light of Earendil. She gave him her blessing as well.
We got into canoes and began to paddle away. I was in between Legolas and Gimli, talking quietly about Galadriel. I pondered what she had said. 'Look for what you are yearning' made no sense to me what so ever. The only thing I yearned for at the moment was that the ring be destroyed. I began to mentally sigh, as a faint aching started in the middle of my forehead, quickly spreading across my face to my ears. "Search for what your life hasn't had." Galadriels voice resonated in me, just as the aching faded. 'That's not any help.' I thought to myself. 'My life hasn't had many things.' I said aloud. Legolas turned around. "Are you okay?" He asked concerned. "Fine" I replied "Just thinking." He continued rowing.
That night we camped very close to the bank. It was just like before- sharing stories and jokes round the small fire, even if just to keep our spirits up. There was change though. Although they all laughed around me more easily, the absence of Gandalf was noticeable. Usually he would sit chewing on his pipe, laughing his loud hearty laugh with the rest of us. Now when we lapsed into silence, there was no- one to fill it. Eventually everyone got out their bedrolls and fell asleep. I sat against a tree, senses aware of everything that was going on around me. The calm was unexpected. We all thought that once out of Lorien that we would be set upon by foul beasts, but the only interesting thing happening was wondering how much louder Gimli could snore.
I felt the cool breeze wash over me, teasing the edges of my cowl. I pulled it down a little further over my face. Footsteps, inaudible to all but me, approached. I stayed still, but my index finger neared the knife in my sleeve. They neared me, and I pulled the knife out, just as I began to hear the heartbeat. Legolas came and sat down beside me. I untensed. "Did you think I was an orc?" He whispered. "No. A fouler creature maybe." I replied back to him. "I'm offended!" He said in mock anger. I smiled. "Couldn't you sleep? I don't believe the ground would be as comfortable as the beds in Lothlorien." He gave a short quiet bark of laughter. "They were quite comfortable. You should have at least pretended to need sleep just so you could lie on one!" I smiled again, more openly this time. "I haven't lain on a bed for all my life, and I'm not about to start now." Legolas shifted his position, before stating "You're very stubborn aren't you?"
"Don't try and change the topic, it's past midnight and you should be sleeping." I needed to try and avoid the topic of my past, and the trait of stubborness linked directly to it. I had already revealed enough about myself in Lothlorien. "I'm an elf, I don't sleep the way most do anyway."
"You've slept every other night, why not this one?"
"Has it occurred to you that I might just not feel like sleeping tonight?"
"Yes it has, but I can tell that isn't the reason. Now what is it? I had to spill my life out to you guys, you can tell me what is troubling you."
"You don't need any more troubles." This annoyed me. I had told them all not to treat me any differently because of my past.
"I told you not to treat me differently because of my past. You are my friend, and I want to know what is bothering you."
"You would find it childish."
"I'm over six thousand years old and some things I do are still childish."
Legolas sighed in defeat. "Nightmares. I'm afraid of nightmares. Leaving Lothlorien- it reminded me of how I left Mirkwood when I was going to fight Smaug. Last time I was plagued by them for months after. I don't want that to happen again."
"It's not childish." I said turning to face his general direction. "We all get them, and we're all afraid of them. I could sleep if I wanted to, but while waking I am plagued by nightmarish thoughts. I don't need them to become any more vivid, and because sleep holds no benefits to me I don't. It takes a real warrior to overcome them though. You did it once. You can do it again." I put a hand on his shoulder. "Now go to sleep. I think you'll be rowing again tomorrow."
He began to get up and walk away, when a large gust of wind blew, almost knocking my hood off my face. I quickly grabbed it before it blew off completely. "Why do you wear it?" Legolas asked. "The hood? You have nothing to hide from now- we are your friends." I smiled sadly. I used to wear this hood so in the times when I could see, I wouldn't see the reflection of what I had become. Later I wore it so I could hide more easily. After all these years it's become part of me. I feel as bare without it on as you would running around in nothing but your breeches." I gave a short bark of laughter. "I guess it is one of those things that you'll never get rid of. Now sleep!" I said gesturing for him to go.
As he walked to his bedroll I thought. That was was the first time I had laughed for at least 4000 years. And probably the most I had smiled at one point as well. What had he done that made me laugh? Nothing he said or did was overly funny, nor anything anyone else had done. I sat quietly, head bowed toward the direction were the breeze was coming from. I heard the rustling as Legolas made himself comfortable, almost hidden by Gimli's snoring. How anyone could sleep through the racket he made, I didn't know. "Thank-you." I Legolas said to me softly. "For helping me." I just nodded my head in his direction, with a small smile. There is was again. Being happy, or at least a little. I thought of what Galadriel had said. Maybe this was what my life hadn't had? But I had been happy plenty of times before. This couldn't be it could it? No- it had to be something on a less broad spectrum- eating nice food or drinking wine maybe? I smiled again at my own little joke. There it was again. I needed to stop doing that.
The fellowship woke, and soon we were off down the river again. As I had predicted, Legolas ended up doing the brunt of the rowing. Gimli couldn't row for his life, and I just felt lazy. The day was uneventful, apart from Pippin being sick over the side of his boat, courtesy of eating too much lembas bread. Again we camped for the night, and set off in the morning. As it grew nearer to dusk, Borimer commented on something in the water. I couldn't hear anything over the lapping of the water against the hull(bottom) of the boat. Aragorn said it was Gollum and I gave a shiver. I had spoken with the creature once, and he reminded me too much of myself. I actually thought that if he had a more- kinder and less obsessive nature we may have gotten on quite well. I shook the irritating thoughts out of my head.
We continued rowing, and the current became slightly faster. I felt the shade of trees on either side of the bank grow deeper. "We will soon pass the Argonath." I whispered to Gimli. As soon as we were covered by a deep shadow, I knew I had been proven correct. I heard Aragorn whisper to Frodo that they were statues of the kings of old- Aragorn's kin. I took over the paddle, letting Legolas and Gimli gasp and gawk at the great statues. I had been to this area many times before, but I had never seen the statues. The closest I had ever gotten was feeling the stone nose of one of them. I had no clue what they looked like.
We passed the statues and landed the boats on Parth Galen- the beach. We began to set up camp. I began to kindle a small fire with a few sticks that Merry and Pippin had gotten. They were out getting more firewood.
"We cross the lake at nightfall. Hide the boats and continue on foot. We approach Mordor from the north." Aragorn announced to us all. "Oh yes?" Gimli retorted. "It's a simple matter of finding our way through Emyn Muil.! An impossible labirynth of razor sharp rocks! And then it gets even better! Festering stinking marshlands as far as the eye can see!" Gimli was angry. Sam's heart rate had gone up, telling me that he was nervous. "I can show you through there easily." I said to them all. "I know the parts well. I will see that we get through there safely." Gimli sighed exasperated. "That is our road." Aragorn said. "I suggest you rest and recover your strength master dwarf." Gimli grumbled.
Legolas ran toward the forest, then ran back toward Aragorn. "We should leave now."
"No" Aragorn replied. "We must wait for the cover of darkness. Orcs patrol the eastern shore."
"It isn't the eastern shore that has me worried. A shadow has been growing upon my mind. I can feel something drawing near."
"You're not the only one who feels it." I said to him. "I can smell orcs quickly approaching. Also Borimer is missing, and Frodo."
Sam quickly arose from his dozing, half bewildered in worry for Frodo. I stepped on the fire to put it out, then sprinted into the woods. The others quickly followed me. I came to a large clearing, where I could hardly hear the others. I slowly unfolded my wings, which were very stiff from being pressed hard against my back for so long. I began to flap them slowly, angling them to face down. They weren't glossy, but a dark charcoal black. The color allowed me to hide among the shadows created by the foliage. I felt myself rise off the ground, and my flapping grew more powerful. There was a steady quiet beat as they went back and forward. Hell, it felt good to be able to use these muscles again! I rose to just above the treetops, and listened for Borimer and Frodo. My 15 ft wingspan was just missing the trees. It is amazing how much a large cloak could hide.
Shaking myself out of my daze, I started to turn my head around listening for some sign of our missing members. I heard Merry and Pippin crashing through the underbrush nearby, then bingo- there was a voice that sounded a bit like Borimer's. I couldn't be sure, as it was so far away that it was mumbled- but it couldn't have been anyone else. I flew in the direction that the voice was coming from. I skimmed the treetops as fast as I could, casting aside my cloak which was getting in the way of my wings. I had a spare anyway. I began honing in on the voice now. Frodo was there to. I could hear his quiet alarmed whispers after Borimer talked to him. "You are not yourself." Frodo said. I turned more to the right, where I could now hear the words and sentences being spoken. My wings were spread rigid to either side of me. After a first few very fast beats of my wings I allowed myself to glide fast and smooth along the treetops. It was the fastest possible way I could get to them in the time I had. "What chance do you think you have?" I heard Borimer say.I was closing in on them now, fast. "They will find you, and take the ring. You will beg for death before the end!" Kran(f#&K). Kran kran kran kran kran. Borimer was after the ring. I angled myself down so I could use gravity to speed myself up. The wind rushed past me, ripping at my weapons and clothing. Only centrifugal force kept my darts in their quiver. I just managed to hear Frodo give a yelp and Borimer scream "You fool!' over the roaring of the wind.
I folded my wings tightly onto my back and dropped from the sky like a stone. I felt myself hit tree branches, and curled myself into a ball. At the last second before hitting the ground, I braced my arms out and did a forward roll onto the ground, breaking my fall. Immediately back on my feet I sniffed around catching their scent. I sprinted after, them easily weaving through the trees despite my blindness. I reached them just in time to hear Borimer collapse to the ground calling Frodo quietly. I knelt down next to him, and began shaking his shoulders. "Borimer awaken!" He groggily got up. "I tried to take the ring.."
"I know, I know." I softly said. "It wasn't your fault."
"It was, and now he's run off." He groaned.
"Run where" I anxiously said.
"I don't..." His sentence was cut off by the clang of swords. "Wait here." And again I sprinted as fast as I could through the forest.
"Find the halfling! Find the halfling!" the gurgling voice of an orc cheiftain yelled. I could hear the swish of Aragorn's sword decapitating an orcs head. The twang of Legolas's bow followed soon after, accompanied by the hacking of Gimli's axe. I heard Merry and Pippin breathing heavily under a fallen log. I bent down, and spoke to them. "Go to Borimer. He's a bit less then a mile away, down that way. "I pointed toward the direction I had come from. I handed them a knife heach. "You might need these." We began to get up, when an orc began to approach us from behind. It prepared to slash me with its huge sword from behind and the hobbits gave muffled screams. Calmly I took a knife from my belt spun it in my hand and stabbed the beast in the sternum without even moving my position. "Go quickly" I coolly said as a wave of orcs rushed toward us. They jumped up and sprinted away as fast as their little hobbit legs could carry them- I think.
Without hesitating I whirled around and began to throw my darts at the orcs. I heard the sound of bodies falling to the ground, and smiled grimly. As they grew closer I began throwing my knives, which were better for short distances. More bodies hit the ground. I wasn't sure how many there were, but there had to be at least 20 of them. I backed into a tree, swiftly pulling myself up into its branches. The twang of bowstrings and the whistle of arrows told me that I was being shot at, but I shielded myself with my wings. Courtesy of Morgoth, most of my body was hard as rock, wings included. I began to throw my darts at them again, and soon ran out. I heard Gimli hiss in pain just a hundred meters away. Knowing that my friends needed help, I swarmed up to the top of the tree, and jumped off, snapping my wings out. Somehow, I managed to pick what was possibly the tallest tree in the woods, and didn't get a stomach full of pine needles. Arrows hit me and rained down back onto the orcs. A few grazed soft spots, but I ignored the pain. I needed to get to my friends and fast. I let loose a few darts before running out completely. Within 8 seconds of jumping off the top of the tree I reached my destination.
I landed just a little behind Legolas. Gimli and Aragorn were in the middle of the battle hacking and slashing, while Legolas shot arrow after arrow and never missing his mark. When I landed behind him, he gave a small surprised yelp. "Good to see you too." I said to him. With one smooth movement I got my sling and some shots out and began to throw the lead balls at the beasts. After getting over his initial surprise, Legolas began to shoot at the orcs as well. The orcs around Aragorn and Gimli thinned as they fell down dead.
I heard the heavy breathing of an orc racing up behind me preparing to strike. Just like I had done when Merry and Pippin were there, I got out a knife and stabbed it in the sternum. Swiftly I turned around and began to throw my knives at the orcs that had somehow gotten behind us. Legolas used an arrow to stab another, while dropping his bow and pulling out a knife with his other hand. His arrows had been spent. He charged toward the oncoming hoard, slashing and parrying with the long knife. I felt around for more knives and daggers as the beasts approached us, but there were none. An huge orc- a Urak Hai- began to charge toward me. The pounding of his feet shook the earth so much I could feel the vibration go through the thin soles of my boots, up my legs and through the rest of of my body. As he approached it yelled "silly blindfolded man." That I didn't like. I rapidly turned to the side and brought my huge wing off my back and around in front of my face. I drew it back. Before the Urak had known what had hit him, I thrust my wing out with all my strength. The Urak went flying back several meter's through the air, and landed on the ground upon a rock with a sickening crunch. I felt a prickling on the back of my neck as the others stared at me. I ignored it, and drew my sword slashing the last orcs head off. I quickly resheathed it. The others were finally stopped staring.
I heard the clash of a sword in the distance. "Borimer needs our help. He's about a mile that way." I told Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, pointing in the direction the sounds were coming from. "I'm going to find Frodo." Legolas who had been sourcing out his arrows took the last out of an orc with a sickening squelch. I heard the rattle as he put it back into his quiver and picked his bow off the ground. Then they ran off through the trees. I took flight to find Frodo. I figured out what he was doing, and I thought that he needed a word of advice before leaving. I heard the small sound of hobbit voices yelling "the shire!" before I reached the treetops. Then I began to glide on my wings toward were I could hear a boat being pushed into water.
I heard the voices of Sam and Frodo as I approached the river. "Go back" Frodo said quietly and sadly. "I'm going to Mordor alone."
"Of course you are!" Sam yelled back. "And I'm coming with you!" I neared them, just as I heard the sound of Sam beginning to wade through the water.
"Sam, you can't swim!" Frodo screamed in panic. I sped up, but at reaching Parth Galen I heard the soft plop as something sunk under the water. "Sam!" Frodo screamed. I cursed my slow brain, as I figured out what was going on. Sam was drowning! I tucked my wings in as tight as possible, and dropped like a lead oliphaunt into the river.
The water was cool, but deadly. I held my breath and used my wings to propel myself forward towards the drowning hobbit. Sound travels more easily in water, so I was able to pinpoint his exact location without hesitation. I heard Frodo splashing his hand around, trying to find Sam. I wrapped my wirey arms around the floundering hobbit, and stroked downward with my wings with all the strength in me. We sped toward the surface of the river, and burst out in a shower of droplets. I desposited him in gently into the boat, with him still spluttering. He coughed a few times, while I hovered above the boat, beating my wings slowly. "Thank-you for saving me sir." Sam finally said to me breathless. "Sam" I said concerned "it's me Darke."
"Oh" he laughed. "You look different- without the cloak and the hood and wings out and..."
"Sam, it's ok you're not the first."
"Well thank- you anyway."
"You're not going to stop us, are you?" Asked Frodo with suspicion in his voice.
"No, actually the opposite. It is wise of you to leave now before any others get taken."
"That's good. I made a promise to mr Frodo. Don't you leave him Samwise Gamgee. And I don't mean to. I don't mean to." And with the stress of the event that had just happened he burst into tears. Frodo hugged him until he calmed down. "Well I guess this is goodbye Darke." Frodo announced sadly. "I guess it is" I said with equal sorrow. "You might want these." I pulled a soft square package from my belt, handing it to Sam. "You can't go to Mordor without any supplies!" I gave a small smile. Sam began to unwrap it slowly. "Lemba's" He laughed out loud. "I completely forgot to get supplies! And- some bracelet thingy." I smile softly again. Hobbits were so simple. "That 'bracelet thingy' has lasted the last 7 000 years. It was my great great great a simple copper bracelet can last that long, you can survive this quest."
"Oh" said Sam, as the seriousness of what they were doing sunk in. "Well I guess we should go" Frodo said with finality. "You should." They began to paddle to the other side of the lake. "El rest at ough randi. El rest at brek um ough el dio ing." (I wish you luck my friends. I wish you all the luck I never had.) And then I flew as fast as I possibly could back toward the others.