Arwen rode south. Away from the road West, away
from Rivendell, away from all the long years of her
Asfaloth, immortal horse of Valinor, raced lightly
over the lanes and fields of the Angle. Here and there
a farmwife glancing out a window or an idling laborer
caught a glimpse of a white horse flying across their
prosaic countryside with a dark cloaked rider on his
But Arwen knew nothing of them, she was crying so
hard she couldn't see the road in front of her, much
less the the occasional farmhouse or stray laborer.
*Father, Father forgive me! I can't leave him - it
would tear the soul from my body and I wouldn't be
Arwen anymore, just an empty shell. And you'd blame
yourself for it - only it wouldn't be your fault it'd
be mine for not following my heart.
*Please don't hate me, Father, for my unspoken lie,
for letting you believe I'd chosen the Ship. But I
could no longer face your pain. Oh why couldn't you
accept my choice as you did my brothers'? Why did you
have to make it so hard for all of us?
*Father - Papa - I may never see you again! I will
never see my mother again. Oh Mama, will you forgive
me? will you understand?
*Do you think I want to break your heart, Papa? I
don't, I don't. If only I could take the ship with
you, if only I could see my mother, feel her arms
around me one more time...But I can't, I can't.*
Suddenly she collapsed forward onto her horse's
neck, sobbing bitterly into his mane. Asfaloth
wickered his concern, trying to roll an eye back to
get a look at her.
"No," she choked, "I'm all right. Run swiftly,
Asfaloth. We must catch up with my brothers and the
She straightened, struggled to calm herself. Soon
they would pass into dangerous lands, Hollin and
beyond that the Enedwaith. She had to be alert, on her
guard. No more time for tears - or regrets.
*I can't leave him, Father. I can't leave our
world, our people. He needs me. They need me. Nobody
in Aman does - not even you and Mother. You want me,
but you don't need me. Not as long as you have each
other. You know it's true, Father, you love Mother as
I love Aragorn. Oh why couldn't you accept our love
and let me go?*
She wiped her eyes with her sleeve and stared
determinedly ahead. No more tears, no more weakness.
Isengard was on the move, and Mordor too. And Aragorn
was somewhere in that maelstrom, he and what was left
of the Fellowship. Needing her, even if he wouldn't
admit it, her and what she carried. His hour had come.
It was time to make the prophecies come true.
By dusk she'd reached the Swanfleet and the half
drowned ruins of Ost-in-Edhil. The Rangers had a rest
house there, three restored rooms on the second floor
of a semi-submerged palace. Her grandparents' palace.
Celeborn and Galadriel had lived here long ago. Before
she was born, before her parents had even met, before
the Rings were forged.
The rooms had once been part of their private
apartments. Exquisite low reliefs, still delicately
tinted, adorned the walls of the former presence
chamber with scenes of Elven Tirion in the days of its
Bliss, but the Dunedain had replaced the original
tesselated floor with one of wood, and furnished it
with table, chairs and storage chests.
The withdrawing room behind it had once had wide
windows looking northward over the orchards and
pleasances of Hollin. Now they were closed against the
elements by stout wooden shutters, the opposite wall
lined with cots. The final room, the privy closet, had
long ago been hung with tapestries wrought by Melian
and her maidens for the walls of Menegroth. Galadriel
still had them - they hung in her chamber in Lorien.
As a child Arwen had made her grandmother put a
name to every one of Elves figured there over and over
again until she could remember them all. A few faces
had been familiar - those of Elves still in her
father's service, or her grandfather's. But many more
belonged to those slain in the sacks of Doriath. Faces
that would never again be seen in Middle Earth.
Now it was a bare walled room starkly furnished for
a captain of Rangers with a cot, a table, a chair, and
a locked box of maps. Arwen opened the window shutters
a crack for air, and composed herself upon the cot.
Not to sleep as Men know it, but to wander the paths
of memory and dream in the manner of Elvenkind. She
was not yet weary enough to need sleep.
In her dreams she returned to Lorien to relive her
last visit there. While her father and grandparents
argued she had looked into Galadriel's mirror, seeking
news of Aragorn.
She saw the near disaster in the snows of
Caradhras, and Gandalf's fall in Moria. The Company's
brief respite in Lorien; Frodo fronting her
Grandmother in this very grove - and Galadriel's final
victory over the pride and ambition that had driven
her all her long life.
She saw the breaking of the Fellowship; Frodo's
flight across the river with Sam. Boromir's brief fall
and quick repentence, and his death in defense of the
young Hobbits who, dispite all he could do, were
carried off prisoner by the Uruk Hai of Saruman. And
she saw Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli tracking them
across the rocky hills of Rohan.
After that the visions had fragmented into
possibilities. She saw Aragorn die under Orcish
swords, in torment in the dungeons of Barad-dur,
stabbed to the heart by a treacherous Steward, without
blenching. These things would not happen.
She saw a joyless victory. A solitary King ruling
for long lonely years before passing his throne to an
heir of his blood, but not his body. And a tear fell
into the water, sending ripples across the vision. For
that *could* happen. That was the future her father -
and his own misguided nobility would condemn him to.
*And what of me?* she'd asked the mirror. *Would the
Blessed Land heal my grief as my Father claims?*
She saw the silver domes of Valimar of the Bells,
Taniquetil shining in the sun, Elven Tirion, and a
house on Eressea where her father dwelt with her
mother and a gentle, smiling, empty eyed shell that
could no longer be called Arwen Undomiel. Whose
company was agony, not joy, to those who had loved
That too could happen, if she let it.
She would not.
Arwen had returned obediently to Rivendell with her
father. But that very night she had put on the shadow
cloak Luthien Tinuviel had woven of night colored
silks and her own black hair and embued with spells of
sleep and concealment, to walk unseen into Elrond's
library and up the steps to the gallery where the
statue of Elemmire cradled the shards of Elendil's
sword. And she took them.
She brought them not to a Rivendell smith, owing
allegiance to her father, but to a guest; Fingol
Goldenhand of the House of Feanor, and his companion.
*Narsil.* he had said softly. *Forged by Telchar of
Belegost under the light of the young sun and moon. If
it is not to loose its virtue it must be reforged by
their light as well.* and he'd smiled at her. *I know
an old forge in a hidden dell. We will do it there.*
She'd stood watching as the fragments of metal were
heated and hammered, reshaped into a single blade,
under a full moon; the ensign of Isildur. But Fingol
had waited till sunrise for the final forging, and as
he raised the remade blade in salute to the Bright
Maiden sun and moonlight mingled ran down the blade
like water and Arwen felt tears on her cheeks.
*It is beautiful. Thank you.*
*It will need scabbard and belt.* Fingol had said
as he laid it across her waiting hands."
*I have those.* She'd answered. Long made and
waiting in a chest in her chamber.
Arwen opened her eyes to a room completely dark
save for a faint glimmer of starlight from the window.
She got up, pushed the shutters all the way open and
looked southward over the Wilds of Enedwaith.
"Do I risk travelling by night?" she asked herself,
fingering the soft stuff of her cloak. "The King needs
his sword. Do I dare a night ride to bring it to him?"