THE HALADIN

by Archaic Scribe


Chapter XV

SOCIETY OF THE SEERESS


"It is time you know more of the Ancient Ones, the Makers who came before Frey and Freya, dear child," Canute said as he lead Haleth to the field where she had previously sought the memory of Bryeth and gained the punishment of Freya.

They sat in silence for a long, long while before Canute spoke, under a warm morning sun, which had driven away the fleeting kiss of the frost giants. Yet still, the chill breath of the wind would not be abated so easily and feel out of the control of the blazing yellow orb which now hung with magnificent victory in the sky.

"This is one of the mysteries that you will not recall from lessons during past years spent in this village, for it is a powerful knowledge not to be shared in the common talk of those who live but one life," Canute said, nodding his head, as if affirming the fact to himself.

"There are women among the priestesses that were educated in this very village that walk the far lands as respected seeresses, but their mother remains here and she is named Heith," Canute said slowly before he continued, "There is one among us, my child, who is blessed by the very hand of those of even more import than the goddess Freya."

Haleth was silent, listening intently to the prophet's next words with careful attention and slight shock.

"She is Heith, and she has the blessing of the Norns. She sees the visions allowed to her by Urth, Verthandi and even Skuld, and Heith will be at your hand for the rest of your days on Midgard," he said, now pausing for a moment before continuing.

"Heith must accompany you on your future journey, for it has been ordained by powers beyond human reckoning. You can not possess this gift of Sight any longer, dear child, for the punishment given by the gods is absolute - you know of what I speak. You are no longer pure in the eyes of Freya, but it is the Norns who determine the laws and fates of men. You have bonded with a soul no longer of your own world, an act not bearing the blessing of any gods, but the independent willfulness of those who were not to choose their own fate," Canute said dramatically as he fixed his gaze upon Haleth.

"Alas, my child, what Lord Bryeth and you committed was indeed, an act of choosing your own fate, knowingly breaking the High Laws set by the goddess, and you are lucky to be here now. Know this, you will suffer for it for the rest of your days upon the earth and perhaps again upon your departure from this Midgard," Canute said with a heavy, regretful sigh.

Heith had already made him aware of Haleth's latest transgression and the Norns, Urth, Verthandi and Skuld had deemed to Freya that this priestess could not again be allowed any future visions, for a gift would not be reward for a willful sin. Haleth would be bound for a future full of personal sacrifice and punishment for both her and Bryeth had known somewhere, deep down in their core reckoning that what they willed was against the High Laws of the gods. Certainly Haleth, for she had spoken that very question aloud, and the gods and goddesses had been listening.

Haleth was Canute's child in many ways, as were all who had studied with him the hidden arts of his scaldcraft. It was all that was within his reach to give Heith to her as a protector and visionary. He knew his days on Middle-earth would cease soon, and he choose to live them out in his own land, under his own rule, for he knew the Sons of Frey would drift into mist and memory. The Daughters of Freya would have a short glimmer of time and quickly be engulfed by mist, though their legend would live on for all of time.

Canute possessed his own gifts of vision, though not as powerful as those of any women for the women of the tribes were held sacred and blessed by the goddess Frey and more importantly, by the three goddesses who dwelled under the Yggdrasil, the great ash tree of the nine worlds.

"You have your life, child, and have been marked for leadership among your people, and the goddess would not have you deviate again from your path, even given your blatant willfulness," Canute said with a smile, desiring to softened his words and restrain anything that would be heard as harsh to Haleth's ears.

Haleth's face was set as hard as stone as Canute looked at her, gauging her response, when finally, she dropped her head with regret and acceptance.

"Be it as it is willed by the goddesses," Haleth said, rising from her spot on the ground and nodding at Canute before she turned and walked back to the village.


The afternoon began to wane as Haleth made to return to her chambers after meeting with a few of the priestesses she knew that still remained as divine servants to Canute. The words of Canute and what she had done with Bryeth loomed heavy on her mind and even the pleasurable experiences of the steamy bath houses and kindred company with long missed friends had not completely left her mind and heart free to soar with gladness.

"This is your fate to accept what the goddesses have decreed, so sleep you out of doors, under the cover of night in yonder meadow and cleanse yourself of sin and make sacrifices, for there is naught you may do to absolve yourself," a voice said from the doorway of the Great Hall of Canute.

Haleth turned with consternation, feeling the sensation of every hair on her body standing up with bewildered attention, as if a mysterious spell had been cast upon her flesh.

The old women before her stood in a cloak of black, trimmed with a swirling, violet tapestry design around the hems of material, her silver-like hair long and unbraided. The high priestess stood substantially taller than Haleth, and taller, Haleth could see, than most men did who made up all of the scattered tribes.

"I am Heith," she said in a transcendental whisper.

Haleth looked at the elder women with unabashed reverence thinking instantly, it could be no other, after all.

Heith's mantle was thrown behind her narrow shoulders, silver hair cascading down her back and fastened together about her slender throat with a strap adorned with rare gemstones. Her cape became a flowing cloth of billowing material draped down her back, to display nicely toned arms encircled by arm rings of gold set with more precious jewels.

Her necklace was made of glass beads, their reflections when light was cast upon them a dancing array of translucent amber. Her stave was held upright in her hand, the gnarled nub swelling and cresting the top, like a radiant being unto itself, regal and magnificent atop twisted wood. Between the gnarled, contorted layers of wood that crowned the staff's top, brass adorned the grooves between the twisted wood, set with a brilliant array of stones in red, orange, yellow, emerald green, sky blue, indigo and violet. Around Heith's sparse waist was a pouch which was fastened by charm amulets on metal links, binding the chain that draped around her midsection.

Haleth nodded her acceptance and made her way to the meadow without hesitation.


After the ritual of sacrifice and cleansing similar to that she had performed in Haldad when she had first seen Bryeth's spirit, and a dreamless night of sleep, Haleth departed with Heith and a large party of priest and priestesses from Canute.

A new epoch was upon them.

Haleth ordered messengers and scouts to comb the lands for any of the Haladin who had fled into the forest before the Orc came upon them or who had traveled back to their ravaged homesteads to survey what remained and gather what the could salvage from blackened ruins and cinder. They would meet at Mulco and leave for Estolad shortly afterwards and whoever would come was welcome. Whoever choose to stay could freely do so, but Haleth had made it clear to all she could on whatever occasion presented itself that future safety lay in dwelling close to the region of Canute.

As they began to leave the enchanted realm of Canute with most of the priestesses and a small amount of priests who had once called the protected village their home.

Haleth opened her mouth as if to speak before Heith smiled and nodded, as if in approval to some unannounced order or silent conversation, "Let us continue the rest of this journey in silence while you contemplate the responsibility of official, full leadership before you go in willingness to the Oath-stone at Mulco. After such, many challenges await you in Estolad and beyond."

"Here," Heith said after a long silence, "I shall tell you the true story of creation, so that you may learn another of the mysteries not taught among the commoners."

Haleth listened with attentive fascination as Heith recounted a story of ancient gods and goddesses, of giants, dwarves and even elves.

After this last description, Heith paused and smiled as Heith continued her story after sensing Haleth's emotion, "I have seen you severely wounded and brought to health by the blessing of the álfar, Lady Haleth. I have seen the gifts one of the Princes of the Noldor would bestow upon you, including the one you ride. Think you not that it was merely a stroke of good luck that your messenger made it to this particular lord's dwelling and that he came initially out of the goodness of his heart?"

Haleth thought quietly in reflective silence and astonishment, had Caranthir only been a nature spirit sent for her protection and benefit, a bearer of tangible gifts with an army of nature spirits at his command? This could not be their power any longer, not in these times, Haleth thought to herself with curious and unnerving perplexity. Had Heith had a hand in convincing him, an Elven-lord known for his solitude and reluctance to know humans? Did Heith hold the power to interfere on the Norns behalf, to move such a powerful immortal being such as Caranthir, himself, as he was, so much as one of the gods to her vision, thought and heart? Haleth felt the long strands of mane from her horse that wove its way through her fingers as the lengthy hairs began to shake violently in her hands.

"You must surely know you were meant to accomplish great things in this life," Heith stated matter-of-factly, a calm air to the tone she projected now to Haleth, as if physically caressing her to comfort. "With Noss for a mother and Haldad for your father, a rare miracle at even having the bond of a twin brother - think, my child, on the similarities that may hold to Frey's daughter and the story of Frey and Freya, twins themselves at that. Do you believe that that is only a coincidence as well, Lady Haleth - do you not see the possibilities in this situation, in your lineage? You are a true descendant of Freya - powerful in mind and spirit when awoken from self-doubt and her very blood flows in you, strong and vibrant. Would you betray all that lies ahead to entertain your own personal desires."

Haleth grasped blindly at the meaning of all the information the Heith was expressing aloud, hidden and overwhelming her senses and intellect. Her head began to ache with the various scenarios that slammed brutally around in her skull, bringing about a physical pain that was intense and nearly unbearable.

"We are one day and one night from Mulco, so let us make rest here," Haleth said finally, shaking the fog of cobwebs from her brain as Heith smiled knowingly to herself, admiring Haleth's command of control more and more as the hours wore on into days.

"Aye, lady, rest yourself while you may, for Mulco will hold both mighty ceremony and feasting with little of rest before we must depart with haste to Estolad," Heith commented as they veered their horses off to the left of the path where a peaceful, serene meadow awaited.

As Haleth and Heith finished their meal, they adjourned to lay near one another under the night's sky to rest under a cover of stars and warm, animal fur blankets.

As they gazed up at the glistening stars set against a clear sky, Heith spoke, guessing at Haleth's thoughts, "The race of the álfar are not so intimidating after you would know them."

Haleth immediately felt defensive and wished with intensity for a shield against the elder woman's strength of insightfulness, as if Heith had surmised one of her darkest and most veiled desires.

"Have you, Haleth, never wondered at the feeling of that special and unique bond between Caranthir and yourself," Heith said with a silky voice of a weaver at her loom. "I say this," Heith said with bona fide kindness as she turned to face Haleth, "to tell you of more elves in your future, Lady, for we shall never speak of these visions again. It is your destiny to meet the cousin of Caranthir, though estranged they are, I can say with most certainty and without thwarting any future decisions you must make for yourself. What you must find of importance in what I say, is that you are of a powerful line, you know in your heart of hearts that the álfar-lord felt your power as you felt his. You must also know that the álfar do not give such blessed gifts of defense lightly, nor would they normally send with you a companion, animal form though it is, a friend to accompany you wherever you may roam. Though kindred and independent spirits in solitude, the álfar-lord was touched in places he knew not -this is something I know you must have sensed or soon sensed when given time to retouch the memory at length - places he did not realize a human being could touch him. There is a special bond you share. He is your nature spirit, not only your protector, but also the essence of the forest itself. He will not embrace this, so he hides himself in the dark abyss of Lake Helevorn, surrounded by protective mountains, and only little amounts of the pine forests, a touch of what the power of his true calling would have him do. He cannot bear to be near the forest too long, for it awakens a longing in him which he cannot deny and would tempt him to forsake an terrible Oath made in blinding folly, which will bring about his ruin - and so, he can only protect you from afar - though he does not comprehend the meaning of his desire to protect you."

Haleth tried to sort through the taxing amount of information Heith had just spoken, but dared not analyze it too carefully at the exact moment. Instead, she welcomed the disconsolation, the feeling of despair that washed over her with Heith's last comment, mingled with sorrow for Bryeth. Haleth longed to ask Heith about the Oath, but dared not for reasons she could not herself comprehend, but little did Haleth know, her question would be answered without it having to be asked.

Instead, Haleth absently began to caress the bear that was draped around her neck, a wooden bear, a token from Beinir for good luck against all manner of things evil. As her thoughts drifted to the forest, she thought of Caranthir and her mother as her other hand moved to trace the emerald that was encrusted in the dagger that was fashioned after her mother's knife.

Her mind racing with ricocheting thoughts of disorder and confusion, she moved her thought to the mixture of ash and love held securely at her defined torso. A fleeting thought of Haldad and Haldar flashed before her mind's eye before she firmly pushed it away, the pain to overwhelming, too great to bear under all these new insights share with her by Heith.

"This álfar-lord, Caranthir the Dark, thinks of Lady Haleth as a mysterious, enticing women - brave, courageous, in need of protection - someone worthy of his attentions. When he reaches his Halls of Reckoning, Mandos, I think it is in their tongue," Heith said thinking for a moment and then nodding her head in affirmation, "He will know your true spirit, but only after much suffering for his transgression. He will suffer as Lord Tunni now does..."

Lord Tunni! Caranthir!

Her mind screamed with embroiled madness at Heith's last remark, and her insides fought to burst at the contained rage held at bay, searching for an outlet, a safe haven in which to explode.

Haleth was astounded, for she had not ever dreamed hearing such overwhelming information, and most especially after she had broken a High Law.

What exactly was Heith saying about Lord Tunni and the Elf-lord? Haleth had a prowling suspicion that there was a comparison her stubborn ire would not acknowledge while her heartstrings pulled at her weakness for both, man and elf alike.

"You must know, my dear child," Heith said with motherly affection, "That the immortals of Midgard do not know the truths of our race, for they believe humankind live but once."

Haleth shivered under her warm and safe feel of the coverlet, as if she was about to be transported to a plain beyond her understanding. Dismissing the thought, her mind saved her from insanity and clarified the realistic moment of truth - she would have no more visions, no apparitions of any sort. She was banned from practicing the mysteries of true, deeply understood and appreciated enlightenment. What she saw after her coupling with Bryeth were only the last lingering affects of her powers, the last of her bond slipping away into a fevered flash of information.

Heith touched her aged hand to Haleth's forehead and spoke words of blessing before she said, "Child, you shall live out your days of punishment on this Midgard, and you will suffer for your willfulness, but be assured that you will have peace beyond for Caranthir and Bryeth shall be one to you in the next life. Be dutiful and make your sacrifices to Freya and it will not be forgotten, but absolved after your penitence in this world. Your end lies in the Forest of Brethil where we will gain a new ally in our fight against the creatures of the underworld of darkness that mar this land with needless, senseless death."

Haleth was overwhelmed with emotion and thought but spoke with firm resolve, "We will never be put upon unawares or will any women, man or child be untrained in warfare after the devastation we have suffered."

Heith gently stroked her hair, calming her with the secret balm of the essence that was of a High Matriarch, spinning a web of calm that surrounded Haleth as she fell into an exhausted and deep, dreamless sleep.


THE FOLK OF HALETH

An Epilogue


Oaths of allegiance were sworn to Haleth on the sacred Oath-stone at Mulco, the last time Haleth would ever be upon the soil of Thargelion, the realm of the Elf-lord, Caranthir, though his presence never faltered for she was reminded of him everytime she rode her horse or drew her sword.

However, the words of Heith haunted her thoughts, but the Seeress never spoke of him again and Haleth had relented on every asking any further information on Caranthir, Bryeth or Tunni. It was not her right any longer, nor her will.

In the days to come, she would use her elven blade more than she would have dared dream possible, even in her wildest and rarest of dreams - all that haunted her mind during sleepful hours were memories. However, with the help of her intuitive horse, blessed sword and the Seeress and party of priest and priestesses who accompanied her through the dangerous roads from Estolad to Brethil.

No easy journey, this, but after they arrived in Brethil, with the added help of the Drúedain, the New Order of Haleth made their way to their new home, their new legacy.

They became renown in their fighting skills, where even the Orc dare not tread upon their secret lands acquired for them with the assistance of Finrod Felagund, lover of men and cousin to Caranthir Fëanorion, friend of Haleth.

They lived for many years the way of life they desired until, at last, Haleth gave way to the demand for her presence in the Great Halls of those that departed Middle-earth before her.

The Folk of Haleth would then be ruled by Haldan, son of her brother Haldar, who died valiantly in battle with Haldar, mighty chieftain of the Haladin.

Avsluttet, Ferdig, Fullbrakt.

Finished.


Author's Note:

Firstly, thank you to all of those who have been reviewing and feeding my muse. This story got a bit longer than I had planned in my outline, and as I am sure with most stories, there are struggles, writer's block and the challenge of balancing the daily responsibilities and requirements of life against the driving force that possesses one to express and tell a tale. This story was no exception.

Now! Time to catch-up on the fanfiction reading list I have going!

This last chapter was specifically meant to meet an explanation of things you may have been wondering about, or rather, what poor Haleth has been mystified about during certain situations in the story...implied explanations to secrets may be a better way to say this.

There is some information that is provided to us by Tolkien and that is well.

However, there are some things I also purposefully have not explained. Your imagination is your own and I want you to feel free to use it with this story and draw your own conclusions about motivations and situations.

The only real concern I felt necessary for Haleth to know was the implication of how Lord Tunni and Lord Caranthir share a certain sin, kinslaying. (In theory, which is good enough in the eyes of the High Laws, Lord Tunni was just as guilty of killing Bryeth as if he had cut him down by his own sword. Not lending aid to kin is inexcusable in the eyes of the Haladin). ;-)

Also, poor Haleth - she has been through a lot already hasn't she? I thought it would be nice for her to know how Caranthir, a powerful elf-lord felt about her and what his true meaning was, as interpreted by the Seeress and Powers that Be. Eventually, I think it will give her a great confidence boost later on in her travels and dealings with Finrod and her forward message later to Elu Thingol. She needs to have the confidence to say it with conviction, without any flinching or intimidation after her encounter with Caranthir. I'd like to think this knowledge from the Seeress gives her the power in that regard.


Next, to the data!

The Makers referenced are the Norns.

Álfar - elves. In Scandinavia, most álfar, or elves, were thought of as one of the various nature spirits who they would sometimes give sacrifices to during early references to them in mainland Scandinavia.

Noss was one of the two daughters of Frey listed in the Heimskringla, for which it was said, all things costly and beautiful were named.

My inspiration for the description of the Seeress, Heith, was referenced from "The Sagas of Icelanders," specifically, a story called, "Eirik the Red's Saga," which was translated by Keneva Kunz in a collection of sagas printed by Penguin Books.

The colors on her staff are representations of Chakras (used in yoga).

The representations are as follows:

Red represents root and implies security. The element associated with red is earth.

Orange represents sacral and its theme is creativity and sexuality. Its element is water.

Yellow is the solar plexus, representative of self-esteem. Its element is fire.

Emerald green; heart, love, air.

Sky blue; throat, communication and self-expression, represented by sound.

Indigo; third eye of sight, intuition, light.

Violet; crown, enlightenment, thought.

My thought in incorporating the basis for yoga into a tool used by the Seeress was one of pure deviation from Norse mythology. However, I figured it would fit in nicely with the theme of what a Seeress represented and to be an accomplished, successful witch, it would be a given that one would have to have all the elements balanced to attain a state of nirvana, where one might receive the ultimate visions given to one by the Norns, the most powerful goddesses of all - even the gods are beholden to the fate and laws they make.

So, that was basically the way I felt I could give some sort of detail as to one of the secrets they might use to attain the state of receiving visions, since there was no details as such for my reference in the Heimskingla or other Sagas I have at my disposal at the moment.

The name of the Seeress, Heith, is taken from the ancient saga in "The Poetic Edda," which is also know as the Eldar Edda. The specific story is "The Prophecy of the Seeress," (of course).

It should be noted that in "The Prophecy of the Seeress" story Heith is only a name frequently born by witches in the ancient times. The Heith in this story is meant to be the "original, the mother" witch by whom all of her predecessors would come to be known by in their own right. This is much like the representation of the goddess Freya. Those who came after her, the women who either owned or ran their own households were given the ceremonial title, "freya"...and so on and so forth. The witches that came after Heith were so called, "heith."

On Beliefs. Humans live but once, according to Eru and Tolkien. However, you must bear in mind that just because this is fact, according to author and Ilúvatar, that it easily does not mean that this is something the humans in the stories themselves always believed. Remember there are many religions and beliefs in the wide world...nobody can really know for certain, can they?

The point on the beliefs in this story for the Haladin? I honestly do not see this as a Silmarillion canon deviation. The Haladin were sundered and strange with their own customs and language - why not their own beliefs?

In summary, Tolkien did not say exactly what the Haladin themselves believed, but only that humans had but one life and by Ilúvatar's gift, they passed into that which is a mystery even to the Eldar.


Disclaimer:

Characters and situations of The Silmarillion (Second Edition) by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien are the property of The J.R.R. Tolkien Copyright Trust and Christopher Reuel Tolkien.

Produced solely for the enjoyment of other fans and not for any monetary profit. Please do not sue me, as I have little money.