A/N: In this fic, I decided to give elves a hierarchy as I think they would have. Obviously, there is leadership and some elves are ranked higher than others which signifies that there is some type of hierarchy. I think that to a point, there is peasantry among elves, but it is not to the point of human peasantry and could never compare. Elven peasantry in my opinion would be educated and still have the connections to nature, but their clothing and material goods (or lack thereof) would separate them from the higher ranking elves. In any healthy realistic economy, there is a small upper class, large middle class, and a well-sized lower class. In this case, we will pretend that there is not that large of a lower class in elven standards (and there probably wasn't).
So yea...tell me if I should not continue this or if this sounds like an interesting beginning. This is my first Haldir fic so take pity.
"Alright, don't panic," Raali said to herself, staring at the weathered map. Sunlight streamed through the trees and it was an overall beautiful forest. Leaves fluttered down and the scent of the trees was almost delicious. Birds sang and serenity prevailed.
She cursed loudly and shoved the map into her knapsack, crossing her arms over her chest and pouting. She could have sworn that she had made a right as soon as that huge river came into sight and now...now...well she was lost to put it simply.
Simple directions. Simple instructions.
"Give this letter to your father," her mother had said. "And hurry child!" She had galloped off into the silent night and now it was well past dawn and she doubted she was anywhere near Mirkwood. She was wearing naught but a simple drab blue dress and no shoes. She had little time to change or bathe when the journey was rushed upon her.
She had left everything behind in her haste and did not even think to bring food. Her mother had a strange look in her eye when she gave her the letter and practically shoved her out the door. And in the clothes that she had been working all day in! Her hair was filthy and she did not doubt that she smelled less than pleasant at the moment.
Drawing her sword, she urged her horse forward.
'This doesn't seem like Mirkwood,' Raali thought. 'Shouldn't it be...murkier for lack of a better term?'
She continued to ride slowly and then stopped. The forest was silent. Completely silent. No birds sung. Her deep blue eyes scowered the forest. She stopped and she could very well hear her breath. She raised her sword in preparation. She knew that whenever it was this quiet, there was deception in the air.
But she moved her horse onward. Perhaps as she went deeper into the forest, it would get darker. Pushing a lock of hair behind her ear, she prompted her horse to go to a faster trot but stopped suddenly.
She could hear the sound of about 50 arrows being notched. Her heart pounded with fear and frustration. Swallowing hard, she held both her hands up and looked around at the many fair haired elves scowling at her, prepared to release their arrows into her flesh.
"Um...sorry?" she said innocently.
"Put down your weapon," a cold voice ordered and she let the sword drop onto the ground next to her horse. "And dismount from your horse."
Raali did so and turned to find an extremely tall elf glaring down at her. Or at least he seemed extremely tall. He was the tallest out of all the elves and the elves were certainly taller than her. She pondered on his height a bit longer until he spoke again, making her jump.
"You have entered the realm of the Lady of the Wood," he said in a voice that sounded like he said this quite often. Raali's eyes grew wide. She was in the woods of Lorien! As a child, she had been told the elves here were beautiful and yet guarded their lands so fiercely that few of even their own kindred dared to enter. It was said that the guard here, hardened by much pain and blood, was the strongest in all of Middle Earth. There was not an army that could trespass the Lorien wood and live to tell the tale.
"Are you serious!" she exclaimed, frustrated and a bit frightened. "So this isn't Mirkwood?"
He gave her a strange look. "Does this look like Mirkwood?"
"Maybe it changed...,"Raali bit her lip.
"This isn't Mirkwood," the elf continued firmly. "What is your business?"
"Now wait a moment, this simply must be Mirkwood," Raali said angrily.
""This isn't Mirkwood," the elf repeated, visibly irritated. "Now tell me what your business is in this land, or I will get it from you in other less pleasant ways."
"I-I think I'm lost, but...hey!" her knapsack was suddenly snatched out of her hand. "Give that back!"
"Telis, search it," he ordered and threw it to one of the elves who walked away with it. "The rest of you check her horse and the saddle bag."
She started to walk towards the elf with her knapsack, but a strong hand stopped her. "You will not follow him."
"Why not?" she glared. "It is my bag, is it not?"
"We will see if you bring anything that is harmful to this kingdom," the March warden said, his gaze hardening. "We will see if you are a spy or wish to do evil in our land."
"Me?" she stiffled a laugh. "A spy? I was running an errand for my mother. I was supposed to deliver a letter to my father in Mirkwood and I could have sworn I made a right on that big river...but now I'm here and I'm not so sure and-"
"I care not," he interrupted snottily. "We have had great evil come into our lands in the disguise of innocence. I will not risk the safety of this land under any circumstances."
"What do you mean?" she cried. All she wanted to do was to get home as quickly as possible. "You stopped me and now you are telling me that you do not care? This is ridiculous. I have to get home. My parents will be very upset with me. I really think this is all a big misunderstanding and-"
"Haldir!" the elf named Telis called. "I think you should come and take a look at this."
"What?" Raali exclaimed, anger and irritation in her voice. "What is there to look at? Have you not seen a knapsack before?"
"Read this," he said, pushing the letter into the March Warden's hand.
"That is none of your business!" she cried. "You can't just read other people's mail!" Raali reached to grab the letter but Haldir caught her wrist and pushed her back roughly.
She was shocked and a little hurt by this gesture, but she stayed quiet and watched his eyes read quickly and narrow into cold (err...coldER) grey slits. When he finished, he looked up at her and scowled.
"You, my Lady, are fooling no one," he said.
"And that means...?" Raali stared at him blankly.
"You are coming with us," the March warden frowned and motioned for two elves to grab her.
"What have I done?" she cried, struggling against the two that held her in a painful grip. But with a swift movement of the March Warden's eyes, she was moved away and lifted up into a tree where she was dropped suddenly onto a damp wooden floor. The two elves were talking as if nothing had happened
"This is not fair!" she exclaimed. "I have not done anything! You can't do this!"
The two elves continued to ignore her as she scowled angrily at them.
"You can't keep me here!" Raali proclaimed angrily and started to crawl down the ladder. Both guards sprang up and grabbed her, shoving her back onto the floor.
"No!" she growled. She was angry now. Never had she been treated in such a way by any elf, but when she tried to get up again, a sudden cold touched her skin. One of the elves had taken out a dagger.
"Keep still," he demanded through gritted teeth. "And keep quiet." Raali swallowed and then nodded, easing back into a corner away from the elves. They continued to talk merrily as if nothing had happened.
She spent the night in the corner with no food and water, constantly being wakened by any sound that was made. In the morning, she was practically dragged down to the forest floor.
"The Lady requests your presence," Haldir smirked at her. A sudden fear struck her.
Moving her dark hair out of her eyes, she looked at him confused, "But...why?"
"She has her reasons," he frowned and then stepped forward, leaning into her a bit. "I suggest you drop the innocent act. No one is buying it."
"What are you talking about?" she asked with concerned eyes. She did not like the way this was going.
"She'll see right through you," he warned and then stepped away to discuss something with another elf. She chewed on her lip anxiously and then looked up to see him approaching her, a white cloth in this hand.
"We have decided that you are to be blindfolded," the March Warden said.
"What!" Raali was horrified. She backed away slowly, but someone moved behind her suddenly and held her in place. "I refuse to be blindfolded like some common criminal!"
"You are a common criminal or possibly even worse," he growled and then grabbed her and pulled her towards him. Raali had never been handled in such a way by an edhel. He tied her hands and then blindfolded her.
She felt someone prod her in the back.
"Walk," someone behind her grumbled and so she did, tripping over a branch and falling over, landing face first on the ground. Everyone around her laughed and no matter how hard she tried to get up, she could not. Someone pulled her up and told her to walk again, but she tripped again, another burst of laughter erupting from the elves.
"Enough!" she heard a familiar cold voice. She could see why this Haldir of Lorien was the leader. His very tone made the rest feel weak and inferior under him.
She was gently lifted off the ground and set upon a horse. She felt someone move behind her and wrap strong arms around her to keep her secure.
"Why would they treat me like that?" she asked, her voice barely above a hushed whisper. "Is that how elves of Lorien treat their kin?"
"How else would you expect a criminal, a peasant criminal, to be treated?" the cold voice of Haldir asked.
"I am not a criminal!" she insisted, tears penetrating her voice. "What in the world would make you think I was? Please, for Valar's sake, believe me when I say that I meant no harm whatsoever in coming here. I am merely lost! I swear it!"
"That letter was all the convincing I needed," his voice dropped so that only she could hear it. "I would be careful if I were you." She wanted to ask him what he meant, but they were soon going at a full gallop.
When they slowed, she decided to take another approach.
"Please," she begged. "Take me home, please...or...or..tell my mother and father where I am. At least do that. Please."
"We will see," was the answer and then there was no more. Only silence until she was again taken off the horse.
"Please at least tell me what it is I am accused of doing, at least that," she pleaded. Silence was her answer.
"Are we here?" Raali asked.
"We are resting for the night," someone far off answered in a harsh tone.
"Can someone please untie me?" she called out. No one seemed to hear her plea. "Hello!"
They had laid her down on the ground where she writhed, trying to take off the restraints and finally giving up, succumbing to tears once more.
"Scum like you deserve worse treatment," someone near her spat, "May the Lady take no pity on swine like yourself."
"How dare you?" Raali shouted. She was fuming at this point. How dare this stupid elf assume all these things without even knowing her! How dare all of them treat her like this! " You don't know the half of it! I am no criminal! It is you who is the criminal!"
"Calling me a criminal, you dirty-" the elf swore and she heard a struggle between him and the other elves. "Leave me be, I'll show her criminal!"
"Leave her!" another elf yelled and all was quiet. She felt a sudden wetness on her foot as someone (presumably the mean elf, as she dubbed him) spat at her.
She truly wished for food and water at this point. Food was a hard shot and she doubted that they would share, but water was everywhere. In fact, she could almost hear a river nearby.
"May I please have some water?" she called out into the darkness of her world.
"Hey, the Lady wants water," she heard one elf say.
"Oh yes, we should grant the ladies' wish of water," another piped in. She felt someone lift her off the ground and whimpered in fear and confusion. Why couldn't they just bring the water to her?
Her question was answered as she was thrown into the depth of the river she had heard earlier. Panic began to well up. She had never learned how to swim. She had always feared the river and while the rest of the children swam effortlessly and without care, she would sit by the bank watching them, perfectly content to be away from the water's edge.
But now she regretted not learning to swim for she felt herself going under, deeper and deeper, the current moving her along. She did not know which was up and which way was down and her lungs burned with lack of oxygen. She felt herself slipping out of consciousness and thinking how unbelievably painful it was to drown...
I dropped out of the tree and stretched, walking over to get some food. I had not eaten in a while with all that has been happening. An orc party here. Visitors from Mirkwood there. And that dreadful peasant girl.
The letter was so sincere in its conviction of her. She had said that it was from her mother to her father, but that had been a lie. She had said that she did not know where she was. That too had been a lie. She was not to be trusted and I had no problem of informing my fellow Galadhrim of this. My guards, however, are not the most benevolent of elves and so part of the reason that I had started to walk around was to check up on her. In fact, Lorien is known for its ruthlessness, partially thanks to me. All creatures fear to walk into our realm and that is how we have survived for so long. Frequent death has hardened us. It would harden anyone.
But I am no villian. I am the March Warden of Lothlorien and as the March warden, it is my duty to keep the city and the forest safe, no matter what. I will not allow what happened to Greenwood (now Mirkwood) to happen to our beloved Lothlorien. No, not as long as I still draw breath.
The girl had seemed so innocent. I had guessed that she was from a village near Imladris from her dark features. Judging by her clothes and hair (which were covered in dirt and reeked of a hundred stables), she was a peasant and they are not always treated with respect. Of course, in my humble opinion, they did not deserve it. I give pity to no one who does not at least try to better themselves. So now I walk towards the clearing where my Galadhrim should be resting, yet instead I hear laughing and jeering.
My heart freezes as I rush over to see the girl thrown into the water, still blind-folded and tied.
"What is the meaning of this?" I yell. They all quiet down and look at me with shamed eyes.
"She's not coming to the surface," one of the elves said, sounding afraid. Everyone looked at the still water. A few bubbles had floated to the top but there was no sign of the elleth.
Without thinking, I plunged into the dark water. I could barely make out a flash of white and dove for it, grabbing her arm. I swam to the surface with her as quickly as I could. I was panicked. She was not moving. What if she had died? I would have failed my duty to Lady Galadriel and Lord Celebrian.
I brought her up to the surface and pushed her out of the water and onto the riverbank. Crawling up beside her, I saw that she was not breathing. I quickly ripped the blindfold off. It had slipped down to her neck. My heart was racing and I silently prayed that Orophin was here. His healing skills were superb. He would know what to do. I was a decent healer, but I did not know what I could do. So I did what seemed logical. I turned her over so that she was lying on her stomach and pressed down onto her. Water came spewing out of her mouth as she coughed it up. Her hands were still tied and I quickly untied them, suddenly feeling a pang of ...something..that I had never felt before...as she curled up and began to cry.
My eyes turned to my Galadrihm who stood staring at me curiously.
"I doubt the Lady and Lord would be pleased if we were to bring her back dead," I said to them. They all dropped their heads in shame. I was very angry with them. They would need to be punished for this, but that could wait as I peered down at the trembling girl.
I heard Haldir speak to his men and shivered. They did not care whether I lived or died, and would not hesitate to kill me whether for their Lord and Lady nor for themselves. I sat up and watched him chastise them, my dress practically plastered to me in an almost embarrassing way. Soon all became silent and the March warden's eyes slid to mine. I quickly looked away, afraid to meet his gaze. He was a very intimidating elf. But then one would need to be to get in such a position.
I was trembling, I realized. Not because of cold (because we elves cannot feel it) but because of pure fear. They could very well kill me if they liked. They could do anything. I was a peasant after all. My death would not be counted among their records.
I felt him come beside me and pick me up, starting to carry me towards some random tree. These Lorien folk were strange, living in trees so high and such.
I looked at the Lorien soldiers as I passed by. Some looked at me in awe and the rest just stared.
"That dip in the water did wonders to her,"I heard someone say. Yet these comments were only heard by me and the March warden kept walking. I looked up to observe his features. He was quite handsome. His hair was pale gold and his eyes were a cold silver. They reminded me slightly of the color of cold steel, their color and gaze. He was simply beautiful. Everything about him screamed power, dominance, and a need for obedience and respect.
He glanced down at me and I felt small, trapped in his gaze, in his arms. Yet try as I might, I could not look away and then I was lifted into a tree and set down gently on a wooden floor.
"The Lady has ordered clothing for you," he said and threw a dress towards me. It was very beautiful. It was white and gold, something that I would have to sell my house for yet this elf was giving it to me to wear.
"Can I keep it?" I asked, trying not to smile out of sheer glee. When he nodded, I suddenly stopped and looked at the dress. It was so beautiful, so intricate...but...well it was actually too intricate. In fact I didn't even know what to do with it. I didn't know how to put it on!
"I'll leave you alone so that you can change," he said and dropped out of sight. I looked at the dress curiously and wondered how I was going to approach this. I was thankful that he was polite to lay out some undergarments for me as well, for mine were sopping wet and certainly not as nice as these. I stripped and put those on first and then looked at the dress. I would get into it...somehow...
Should I continue? Should I not? What would you like to see happen? What wouldn't you like to see happen? All feedback and criticism welcome! Flames will be used to cook babies!