My daughter = Iellig
Prologue – A Shadow Past
He was calling her again. The sound of his voice reassured her. Nothing is wrong. It is all a bad dream! Thank the Valar!
We're home, in our cottage, and tomorrow I'll weed the vegetable garden again and Rosdaer will probably go hunting, and when he comes back he'll bring me a doe or a brace of rabbits, and we'll cook and eat together, and then make love. Like normal. Smiling, Pephennas rolled over and reached for him, and her fingers found nothing but cold sheets. She opened her eyes. Gone again. The lamp had gone out hours ago, and the moon had come out to shine her silver face upon the room which had been her childhood chambers. A frisson of pain shot through her tender heart, and she forced back tears before they could come, before they could hurt.
She had been so sure this was the cottage in the woods where she had lived with Rosdaer, and that he was just gone to the next room to fetch a drink of water in the night. In the next room, her Mother and Father were having a hushed, tense discussion. Phe could just make out the words.
'She is young, Caduven. And she is not mended from Rosdaer.'
'That is hardly the most important thing!' then a pause. 'We cannot be here when he rises again. He would kill us all. I would see her wed and I do not care how she feels about it, I care only that she does her duty. As should you.'
'I do not want her so far from us.'
Caduven rolled over. Phe heard the bed springs. Then silence.
She slid out of bed and put a thin dressing gown over her nightdress. She gazed at the silent moon, and studied clearest details of her face, rarely seen. It was a little chill, even though it was late summer. She missed her garden in the woods, and their comfortable bed which Rosdaer had built himself from an old Oak, and even the empty cradle which they had been trying so hard to fill. She missed him. How the loss of him still hurt, especially thinking of his coppery hair and cheeky smile.
Rosdaer was no good with a bow but he was a master with wood. She smiled when she thought of the things he had made, and mourned the loss of his creative soul, and the trinkets he used to bring her to show her he still loved her as much as ever.
'Cilbes,' said a whispering wind, near her ear. She twitched and batted it away with her hand, suddenly tense. Her back had gone cold and goosepimpled.
'Stop it,' she breathed, automatically, even though she was not sure if it was real. Do not talk to me. I do not want to remember.
'Cilbes,' it said again. She shook her head, her eyes welling with tears. That is not my name anymore.
'Go away,' she choked, teetering on the edge of tears. The voice went silent.
Pephennas. Her new name was a shallow attempt to erase her past. Caduven would have forbidden all talk of Rosdaer is he could, but Phe was stubborn. He declared one night that an elf who could not defend himself was no fit husband. In dying, Rosdaer had become Caduven's greatest disappointment, and before he was cold, Phe was restyled an almost-maid whose experiences and personal trials were of as little importance to her family as her feelings.
The next morning, Caduven made his announcement over breakfast.
'We ride to the halls of Sindaroth, to the King. We must retie the old bonds with Thranduil. The Orcs have risen and behind them comes the darkness, and the darkness will come here first before it ever reaches our noble lord. We must be ready.'
The way he said 'noble lord' made Phe think that he felt the opposite about Thranduil.
'You ride with us, Iellig. It is time you made a new start.'
Phe's breakfast nearly rose up her gullet. She swallowed that back and said nothing, because nothing was all she was expected to say. To marriage, she thought. He intends to give me to some stranger! Under different circumstances Phe would have been curious to see the Elvenking's halls, and Thranduil himself, about whom she had read so many stories, but never imagined she might have chance to meet. That night she slept badly. She was troubled with fears for the journey, concerned by the number of Orcs on the road. And there was a darkness which followed her through her sleep, and an eye which she could never catch with her own gaze, but which she felt watching her back. She could feel it still in her mind when she rose.
The next morning, she mounted her horse and looked back at her childhood home. In years gone by she had thought it beautiful, a towering house hewn from the rock of a great volcanic plug, which overlooked the surrounding plains from the top of a great hill. It's architectural beauty was quite sublime, but it was a cold place, a house of worship in ruins. Poisoned were the memories of happier times, by the darkness which had grown inside her. Ivy had crept up the walls and put its destructive tendrils into all the gaps, and brought parts of it crashing down. There were no funds for repair, no funds for much now really. Phe was not foolish to believe that another marriage would be anything but an exercise in financial gain.
She gazed at the back of her father's head as they rode away. Caduvens leather coat had faded, his boots were polished to a shine but they wore the wear and tear of years. His long, dark hair, thinner than it used to be, was tied back tidily and always his beard was groomed. But he was an old elf from a young house, with no power or standing bar what marriage could buy. Phe was sure his sights were set on an escape from Middle Earth. An escape fit for a King. To the Summer Isles. How he covets them!
An un-daughterly feeling rose. How she hated him. His voice, his arrogance, his pride. His schemes. Caduven spoke to his captain of the guard.
'Be ready, Amomen. In case.'
Phe glanced at the folded green sigil on its long pole, strapped to the side of spare horse. She was to ride and dance and speak as prettily as was expected of her, to please her Father and the Elvenking. That much, Caduven had earlier made very plain. In her silent desperation, Phe looked back as their home disappeared between the trees, and the only break to the silence now was the trickling rivulet which had carved its way down the cliffs behind the house, into a small valley, and now it wound along the roadside, guiding the way to its grander cousin. And then on to Sindaroth, where fate awaited her like a spider in its web.
I want to go home, she thought. I want you to rise again for me Rosdaer. Please, do not leave me all alone.