AUTHORS NOTE: This is NOT the new chapter. I added it and moved it to chapter 9. I've been editing this story and didn't realize that if I moved it the link in your email would send you to the current chapter 24 and not the one I added. Sorry about any confusion. This chapter will eventually get edited, but I am less than half way through the process.
Part 1 ~Dari
Dari kept her eyes up to where she knew Rúmil was standing, just a few warriors over from Haldir at the front of the wall. The ground shook with the stomping of their enemy and the air was full of their grunting and rattling armor. She had never seen a Urak-kai, but from Feldor's description, she was grateful she had fought so hard in the strength trials.
"Get ready!" Feldor called out to the elves. He was behind her, ordered by Haldir to spend his effort serving the secondary archers and being their eyes and ears for commands from above.
She shifted her gaze briefly to Aragorn and when his arm signal came with a muffled shout, they pulled back and released their first volley. At first they shot their arrows in rhythm, but quickly it became a decision on how fast you could and wanted to release.
Seeing a few of their own fall, dead, backward off the wall, the fear Dari had been avoiding began to creep into her heart.
"They are putting up ladders to breach the wall! Aim carefully to protect our warriors!" Feldor told them.
It was what they all knew to do, but hearing her friend give the direction reminded Dari that they were of one mind. She saw above it was the same; all the elves drew their swords together.
"I love you," she heard in her mind. She gave a return kiss in spirit and saved her arrows for those that would dare attack her husband.
The force of darkness seemed to pour over the wall with huge bodies brought down by the flashing of silver blades. As the night went on and more from each side fell, she lost sight of where Rúmil was in the madness. She shot arrow after arrow at the huge, monsters and watched as some disappeared out of sight to the ground on the other side of the wall, some toward them, their carcasses piling up along with the elves sacrificed here.
"Where are you?" she cried in her mind.
"Beside the noisy dwarf…"
She laughed at his irritation and immediately found them and began shooting any who came over the edge.
"Save some arrows for when I'm tired, Maethriel!" he said with humor.
"Did you see that?" Feldor asked her. "There in the drain!"
Dari glanced over and said, "It is thick metal, they could not get through even with a batting rod."
"I know, but, they aren't even trying... they are doing something else..." He then began to shout to them all, "Back up! Away from the wall!"
At first Dari didn't listen, she was looking up at Rúmil, but Feldor grabbed her arm and pulled her with him just as a great and sudden fire blew with a wind stronger than any she had ever witnessed. It came with a deafening roar, tearing apart the massive wall and sending pieces of it flying all about, down on them and their enemy.
Part 2 ~ Rúmil
"Wake up!" Rúmil heard, feeling his whole self being shaken. He split his eyes, his head aching, and saw his brother's commanding glare. "It is not over, on your feet!"
He was pulled up and took his stance, noticing fewer of their foes climbing over the wall, but when his awareness awoke, he realized why. He looked down to see their secondary archers, swords drawn, running out of the wall to fight.
Beside him, as Haldir killed three more, Rúmil heard him shout, "Maethriel should have passed strength weeks ago… but she didn't want to stop training!"
Rúmil lifted his sword and went closer to the where the wall was broken, picking off a few that came over the ladder there. He could not see her in the fight below and dare not distract her with a word in her mind. But as the enemy pushed them back, overwhelming their strength with numbers, his dread grew.
"I am going down," he called to Haldir, heading for the stairs.
His brother grabbed him by the chest armor and said, "We knew this was the end, we choose this."
He pulled away from him and ran, jumping three steps at a time and when he reached the bottom he heard Aragorn call out, "To the keep!"
All of the elves in his sight began to pull back, pushing against him as he was trying to move forward out into the field. He heard her, shouting at him as if he was a fool, "Go in!"
Before he turned, he heard Legolas shout, "Help me, brother!" He was trying to drag the kicking dwarf and Rúmil ran to take the other arm, picking him up running for the door to safety within the fortress.
Once there, he saw other elves coming in and heard someone shouting, "They are coming, shut the door! Barricade it!"
Legolas and the dwarf ran to the front entrance, and Rúmil stood among the few who had made it in. "Where are you? Where are you?" he called.
There was no answer and when the doors shut and the heavy gate lock came down it echoed in his soul. He stared at it, unable to believe the depth of hollowness at the thought…
"Are you gone?" he asked. He waited as the others around him were regrouping, nursing wounds and helping the men who were bleeding. His eyes fell to the floor and he asked on last time. "Where are you?"
"I am with Haldir," she said. He blinked and took in a breath of minuscule comfort and heard her say, "He wants you to help with the healing; as little as you know, you are trained enough to make a difference."
Obeying his brother, he put aside his worry and found Feldor was alreadt working. They continued, those they patched up heading back out to where they might fight more. After all were made stable and the elves counted their numbers as twenty five surviving out of three hundred, Feldor sat next to him.
"I was so glad to see you. I thought you fell with Haldir."
At those words, Rumil turned to him suddenly, his eyes studying his face for the truth of it. "There is no other keep above? No other place to which they could have run?"
"No," Feldor said. "You did not know?"
In his mind he heard her, "There is no pain here. But there will be at home. Stay alive… they will need you."
Rumil quaked with the knowledge of whom she meant; the two sweet innocents who had been shielded from this inevitable outcome.
Part 3 ~ Lien
Shivering in the cold rain, Lien had collapsed, too tired to go further, and still far from where she heard the thunderous clashing of war. She had no energy left to cry or even move when a horse came to her side, nuzzling her cheek.
"Go away," she whispered, frightened of being found. She knew she was safe in her cloak, but if someone saw this creature, they might become suspicious.
And then she heard, "Lien! Is that her, Sully? It is her!"
When the beautiful blond elf fell on his knees beside her she could barely see in the dark, but her hope spoke for her.
"Ada?" she asked. "You found me…"
"It's Haldor, Lien," came the reply and an arm went around her. As she was lifted he said. "Father is still fighting! You'll see him at home once he wins this war."
She started to struggle, for fear of what that meant. "I don't want to go home… There's a forest chasing me!" She pushed him away from her and he struggled, holding her tighter and tighter until she wriggled away and he dropped her with a thud.
"Stupid sprite!" he said as he grabbed her arm. "Do you want to die?"
Unable to answer for the fear and dread in her heart, she covered her face with her hands and leaned into him. "Take me to Ada," she said. "I want to go home with him…"
He held her for a moment and then said, "We are close enough that it almost makes sense to wait… but we will wait outside, I will not join, do you understand?" She nodded her head and he asked, "Can I lift you? I don't want you walking any further, you do not look well." Again she nodded and he picked her up.
He did not climb on either horse, but sent them both ahead to scout for danger and to find a place for them to hide. Feeling safe, Lien fell to sleep and only woke once he set her down. The vibrations from the ground mixed with the horrific sounds, like angry boars and a thousand tumbling trees.
Lien covered her ears and looked around to see they were in a crevice of huge boulders and there was the dull light of dawn. She started to speak, shouting so he might hear her, "Hal-"
He covered her mouth and whispered in her ear, "We are not alone. There are evil scouts all long this range. For now the horses are distracting them from us."
He began to move away and she grabbed his arm tightly, terrified to be left.
Again he came to her ear and said, "I am only going to see what noise it is that comes from the East, I heard it through the morning, rising with the sun." She did not let go and he permitted her to creep to the edge of the crevice with him.
Lien did not look, she kept her head buried in the back of her brother's gray cloak, cursing herself for being so bold and yet still hoping Haldor might still taste some glory before it was over.
Above them a voice snarled and he pushed her under the overhang. Another, higher pitched, nastier voice answered it, both sounding like they had venom in their throats; the worst tone of malice Lien had ever heard.
His face to hers, Haldir said, "They have spotted the reinforcements of Rohirrim riders, I must cut down the scouts before they give warning. If I do not return, you remain here until after all has gone quiet or there are men shouting in victory. If the other side should win, do not leave until the horses fetch you, do you understand?"
She reached out and squeezed his hand, nodding with a smile; but he did not return it.
Part 4 ~ Haldor
Sneaking out and around the boulder, he saw one orc running down the gorge toward the Urak-kai army Swiftly he unfastened his bow from beneath his cloak and shot him. The sound of the orc's cry alerted the others to his presence and Haldor stood against the rock, still.
"Elf arrow!" accused a scaly voice. "Lorien lard hides in the shadow like cowards!"
An orc jumped down right in front of Haldor and said, "I smell the stench, burning my nostrils like sulfur…"
He sliced off the head of the beast and four others jumped down, one so close to the crevice where Lien hid that he panicked and ran to tempt chase away from her safety. Their arrows missed him and he disappeared in his cloak against the far face of rock, bringing bellows of fury from them.
Taking a moment as they ran toward him, Haldor turned to the battle, hoping for a glimpse of his father's red cloak and imagining his long sword tearing apart the beastly creatures. Instead, his heart sank. The wall had crumbled and large black forms swarmed over every level of the place.
The orcs here were yelling to their commanders below and though he had lost all hope of any meaningful victory, Haldor knew this battle was about men, not elves. He could not let the riders of the mark, now nearly there, be given away.
Silently he sprang forth and struck the loudest of them, hitting him so hard that the creature flew through the air and against the rocks, bouncing off of them and tumbling down the ridge. The next he stuck through like a pig and then kicked him off his sword. He took out the full force of his fury on the two left, running towards them in a sudden burst so that in their surprise they were not ready.
He grabbed the sword of one with his left hand and knocked the others out with his forearm, toppling them over and rolling between them so that when he came to a standing position behind them he leaped to the side and struck, killing both of them at once.
Gazing up at the bright sun he could barely see for the light of it and he at once understood why the riders were slowing.
"They are going to blind them as they attack!" he said, overjoyed by the thought of the strategy. Grasping the two foes he'd slain he pulled them out of the way and then looked up in horror to see that over Lien's hiding place another orc was peering down, tilting his head in curiosity.
As he ran for where he had left his bow, the air filled with the fearful sound of a horn, so low and terrible that he thought at first it was another charge from the Urak-kai. It was enough to distract the orc eying his sister and he easily shot him. Thankfully the beast fell over the space where she hid and not into it, and Haldor relaxed, watching the amazing men on their steeds led by the resurrected white wizard.
He felt it must be over, and that carelessness cost him, for now three Urak-kai came at him, growling with spikes and axes.
Having no place left to hide, he ran out, away from his sister and drew them. He shot one with an arrow and it fell, but the second one knocked it out of the way with the spear and they two charged him. Haldor would not be stopped, though and drew another, hitting him this time so that he fell forward, tripping.
The horn again blew again as the one left standing tossed his spear. Haldor tumbled out of the way and jumped to his feet, burying his sword into the creature as it jumped upon him. He turned the heavy beast off of him and looked below to see bursting through the front doors of the castle, a kingly rider, followed by another man and then a friend; Legolas. He smiled, relieved in one instant, but devastated by pain in the next.
The thick black arrow went through his chest and knocked him backward. The pain alone was stunning, but more so the thought of what was going to happen next. He could feel from the ground that the riders were there now and he blinked up at the black faced creature, Feldor's arrow sticking out of his neck. He expecting he would die by the raised ax into his head, but Sullendry was there, rearing over him and distracted the monster long enough for an ornate, wooden spear to come flying through the air, striking him dead.
Haldor swallowed, feeling faint and struggling to breath. He blinked up at someone who was dressed as a man, but whose ear tip looked pointed in Haldor's blurred vision. As this person examined the wound, Haldor heard the shout of the riders and felt the ground trembling as their horses stormed ahead, in surprise attack, as it should be.
Part 5 ~Feldor
Though he shared in the sentiment of the cheering and celebration of victory, Feldor could only offer a few smiling nods of solidarity to his friends among the men. Rumil would not leave the caverns, but Feldor could not stay away.
Since his first kill outside of Darkwood all those years ago, death had always been a bleak and dreary edge in his mind. He loathed causing it, he despised to think on it, and his worst moment alive was watching his brother succumb to it. Yet every day he witnessed that dark shadow steal a little bit of his wife from him. He'd asked her to stay inside with Rumil and their youngest children, not because he didn't want or didn't need her support, but because he did not want to look on her and be reminded of her passing as he dealt with this magnitude of grief.
Before Feldor arrived on the field, some of the men had already begun to sort the dead. The older Rohirrim especially were moved by the elves and were the most among the strong paying their respect. Many throughout the night after the retreat had expressed to him; they knew they would have been dead had he not brought his kind to them. There were also a few who had cursed elves in his presence, never knowing his origins. They now came to him and embraced him, praising those they had once loathed.
When he saw there were two lines of elves being laid next to one another, dead men laid between them like brothers, Feldor's heart warmed to the softening of his adopted people. He stepped through the bodies, looking for faces he knew and when he came to his dearest friend, he took a knee beside her.
Her thin hand, the one he had held so many times, did not hold his back. He remembered how Dari had been the first to volunteer, stepping forward before Haldir had even gotten out the entire invitation. His mentor had fallen silent, choking slightly and then continued on as Rumil and then Orophin stepped forward, followed by others he had known and others whom he had not.
"I was told I would find you here," Eomer said to him. "That is Maethriel, isn't it?" Feldor nodded, not even looking up. The great rider knelt down beside him and said, "My uncle has asked me to ride with him with Gandalf and a few others to confront Saruman… I would stay with you in if you but ask."
Feldor looked up. Eomer appeared much older than Feldor, but he still felt to him a son. "No, you should go with him. Theodred is gone, the king will look to you now." Eomer nodded, breathing out heavily.
Seeing Legolas among Theoden's men, he said, "Do not tell speak to him of how many elves we lost. Let him focus on his quest and face his grief when it is over."
Eomer nodded and after he stood and jogged off to his uncle, a voice called down for him from above on the wall. He set Dari's hand on her stomach and walked to the steps leading up. When he saw three men dragging a body with a red cape, he was filled with rage at their dishonor and shouted at them.
"Put him down!"
He ran up, two steps at a time and the men roughly dropped the body and backed up. He could not rebuke them, they were elders to him in their eyes; though he was older by half their age again.
"This elf was like a father to me," he explained. They nodded, now understanding.
"It was the commander, wasn't it?" a young boy asked. Excitedly, without the taint of death in his mind he went on. "We watched from above, my brother and I. We saw him kill more than five hundred before we had to go throw rocks… he was the most brilliant warrior of them all!"
"Yes he was," Feldor said. "And sword fighting wasn't even his greatest strength and talent."
"What was it then?" the boy asked, aghast. The interested men around crept up, curious.
"His heart to love kin was greater than his ability to kill enemies." The boy gazed on the face of the warrior with wonder as Feldor closed his mentor's eyes. He then braced himself, putting his arm under his shoulder and his other under his legs.
"Three of us could not lift him!" a man warned him.
Straining under the weight, made heavier by armor and death, Feldor would not bend to the pain and called out as he stood, holding tightly as he took each step, down the stairs with careful precision. By the time he made it fearfully to the bottom there were twenty or more watching. Seeing him struggle to pass, they rushed to clear a path, pulling the Urak-kai out of the way.
When he came to the line, he walked to the center of it and his muscles screamed at him for ordering them to move against their will. Then carefully and gently, as if it was his own child, Feldor set him down to nobly lay with the rest. Elves were happy to let their shells rot where they die, but Feldor had lived with men. He understood the respect paid to a body was about the feelings of those left living.
Haldir did not need this, but Feldor did.
The men around him went back to work, gathering the few remaining elves and piling up the Urak-kai for burning. They did not mind that Feldor lingered, allowing the sorrow to flow through him.
Feldor only looked up when a strong boy on a horse came riding up to him, speaking in Sindarin, "Ada! You are alive!" Feomund jumped from his horse, standing with the elf army laying between them. Then he spoke as one of the men. "Eomer told me before he left that you did not fall with Eomund! Are mother and the little ones inside and safe?"
"Yes," he said and stood. His son's smile filled his heart with renewed hope and joy and he thought that perhaps he could go on.
"I wanted to tell you," his son said, "There was elf on the ridge, he slew half a dozen scouts who would have blown our cover. He was pierced, and I tried to save him as you taught me, but he stopped moving before I had to leave him to fight."
"I don't know who that could have been," Feldor said. "But I will go with you…"
Before he took a step, there was another cry from the wall, this one of a woman who was pointing off into the field. She sounded terrified and someone else up there tried to calm her.
His son turned and spoke the words Feldor was thinking. "Is that spirit or flesh?"
The tiny glowing figure was carefully making way through the bloody masses, the crystals sparkling on her glimmering silver gown as only Feldor knew elves' work to do. Her hair was gold and bounced in long curls and she held her hands out, sleeves dripping from her wrists as she balanced, coming closer, light-footed and cautious.
His son turned to him for an answer when up on the bank Feldor noticed a horse, even from this distance he could see the stallion was grand and colored as he knew. If that was Sully, then the slain elf above and the young elf lady had to be… the twins.
Feldor felt the wind knock out of him and he turned to fetch their uncle only to see behind him Rumil was already walking through the broken wall. His helmet long since discarded, his eyes fixed on his niece and his face was cold stone, as from the days before they entered Darkwood.
"She doesn't know yet," the elder said as he stood next to Feldor.
"My son said he treated an elf on that ridge from where she came… if it is her brother…"
After a few moments Rumil whispered, "This tragedy may be too much for even me to bear."
Feldor glanced at her and then down at her father. To his son he said, "Come, let us give them their privacy and watch from afar."
Part 6 ~ Rumil
"You will not bear it alone," Maethriel told him. "We are here, we have not left." All night he had called to her and there had been only silence. He gazed down at Haldir and she said, "He is here too."
The men in the field kept their distance as Lien shied away from them. Behind her Sully and Sullendry were trudging, heavy hooved and hearted, like two protectors flanking her.
She jumped over bodies and balanced between others, magically managing to avoid any filth. When she was close enough to see Rumil, her expression evolved from urgency to fear. As she sped her journey toward him the light of the sun shown more directly on the bronze armor of those fallen, dazzling the field with its reflections like a river of liquid gold running with streaks of scarlet.
It caught her attention and Lien stopped for a moment, her hair flying forward with the force and bouncing back on her jeweled bosom. Blinking, she began to run, picking up the skirt of her dress and leaping like a gazelle and drawing the mesmerized stares from all observers.
When she reached the first line of elves, she was overtaken by their still faces. She gazed up at Rumil and he could not offer her any sympathy or words; she was not supposed to be here. She should not have to endure this agony; and neither should he! Too much was his loss already.
"You are not alone," he heard again, and he took a breath, waiting while Liendriel stepped through to where he stood, now not taking her eyes away from his.
Her stiff body was trembling as she approached, her face tight with torment and her big, beautiful eyes, pooled with tears. She stopped before him and allowed herself to bow her head to see who it was at his feet.
She stepped back and the sweet breath she took in was as the sound of a chilled winter breeze. She reached down to his brother with her petite fingers, stretching them out to him. Her mouth opened, but no words or sound escaped and as she gazed up at him Rumil saw in his niece's eyes the same emptiness he had seen in Maethriel's when she was struck by Gandalf.
She was falling out of this life…
He reached for her, taking her in his arms as he had when she was a babe. She was rigid and staring up at him with eyes eager for comfort. But he had no words to make the pain go away; of all he had endured and witnessed in this life, there was nothing he knew that could ever sooth this terror.
"We are here," Meathriel said. "Haldir is right behind her…"
To his niece he said the only comfort he could offer, "Go on, little one. Let go. Your Ada will catch you."
With his permission, her eyes dimmed and she went limp in his arms. Rumil fell to the ground with her, lay her next to his brother and bowed over them both with cries coming from so deep within that he felt they would split his heart.
Part 7 ~ Lien
At the sweet release of her sorrow, the dark gloom and gray gave way to brilliant golden light and the face of her pale uncle melted into a warm glow of features she recognized as the one who loved her beyond everything; and he was brighter than the sun without piercing her eyes!
"Ada," she said, but not aloud. He smiled, holding her and lifting her to him.
"You choose me over life?" he asked as if it was silly and he was mock scolding her. "And you as young as you are?"
She could not help but laugh and threw her spirit arms around him. She felt his very essence as he embraced her in return.
"Forgive me father, for all my cruel words and how horrid I was… I never stopped loving you and I never want to leave you again."
She could feel him welcoming every word and felt his kiss on the side of her head as he snuggled her into his mighty chest and arms; larger in this world than she remembered in the other.
"Look, Lien," he said. "I want to show you something." He had her hand and held it fast as he lifted her above the others gathered around. She looked down to see her uncle Orophin and his friends as well as her aunt Dari whose arms were around a dark figure.
"See there," her father said. "Can you see that far off place and the lights there, glimmering like the moon reflecting in the river?"
She nodded and said, "What is that wonderful place?"
"It is a prison; guarded by despair. It is where both elves and men lay trapped beneath a curse of doom laid on them by Sauron after the last alliance of men and elves. Do you remember the stories?"
"Yes! I remember hating them, and feeling so sad… I feel no sadness now."
"You are above it here," he said, "We all are, but there is something we can still do for those who are not… do you want to be a hero with me?"
"Yes!" she said.
"Then you must let me go and lead them to Valinor and the Halls of Mandos. For we have been granted the honor of setting them free!"
"What can I do to help?" she asked.
He looked down at her aunt and they descended to where she sat. Lien started to see her uncle unlike she had before. He was younger, somehow, his spirit bright and yet it was within a broken shell, like a wilted flower. Then, in his arms she saw herself, or who she used to be, dark and empty.
"It is not your time," her father said. "The rest of us have met death by war, you left by choice. You do not have to accept it… you can go back…" She looked at him and he said, "You can be a hero to your uncle, be there for him, do not make him feel the loss of your life as well as ours."
His face was so beautiful that Lien did not want to leave, the joy was so complete, she did not want to let it go. She shook her head and he smiled at her.
"I have given Legolas my permission to court you," he said. "I do not know that he will, but he knows I would have no other than he."
The joy she thought she had felt before now sprung higher and brighter than ever imaginable and she kissed him on the cheeks, over and over again until he laughed. And as he lay her back down, laughing still as he let her go, she saw him standing tall, radiating in colors and beams of light from all around him as if he could light up all of Middle Earth and further still outshining the the stars.
Part 8 ~ Rumil
He wished he could go with her, but Rumil knew from the past death was not part of his permission from the Vala. He begged, one last time to Nienne for the strength, the will and the power to go one, to not lose the healing he had gained for the grief thrust upon him by evil and darkness.
At the end of his prayer, breath came into his niece, her eyes flew open and her color returned instantly. She looked up at him and he thought at first he was imagining it, but she smiled, brilliantly like a morning star and put her hand up to his face.
"I caught a tear," she said.
He gasped and squeezed her shoulders.
"Ada sent me back to you," she said. "I was naughty to leave, being so young."
He smiled, able to hear those words in his brother's voice. She sat up and looked at her father's corpse. "He doesn't look like that at all now," she said. "He's more beautiful that even the images of Glorfindel I've seen… and I know not what Galadriel looks like in her spirit, but he was brighter in his than she is on this earth. I hope she is not offended by me saying it."
"I think she won't be," Rumil said, still stunned. "It is good to have at least one of you back…"
"Oh?" she said.
"Haldor…" he said.
She raised her brows and said, "Oh! Haldor was not there." She looked up on the hill and said, "He must still be alive, we should fetch him!"
It seemed nothing to her at all, her sorrow had fled and she was back to the cheerful young sprite he knew from before she had ever begun to learn about the dark things of this world. She spoke with the horses and kissed them both before they selected Sullendry to ride.
Feldor took Sully and his son and a few others rode with them to the ridge with hope for one more survivor.
On the way Liendriel looked all around at the ugly beasts and was completely unaffected by them.
"I don't know why they try," she said. "Even if they kill us, we still win. Eru doesn't let evil taint the afterlife' he casts it into the abyss! We always learn such things but we don't live like we know it is true."
She looked up at him over her shoulder and said, "Really the only thing that can take us down is believing the lie that we can be taken down! It all makes sense to me now." She looked forward again and added, "Though I barely remember the feeling of it, I realize I too was ready to give up on love and give in to doubt. It is such a nasty trick that lie!"
She then gasped and said, "Uncle! The song of Eru! I understand it now, and why he allowed the darkness... life is like a melody that keeps the audience waiting and waiting, you know there must be more... we wait and it almost hurts that pain of waiting, and then finally, all the best songs stretch you eagerly to seek their resolving... and then they do! That is what we are witnessing! Anything for forces of darkness throw at us is simply turned to glorify Eru, like a song that he will always allow to be resolved!"
Rumil had no words to add to her wisdom and rode in silent approval, nodding with teary smiles whenever she checked back to his expression. When she fell silent, he leaned down and kissed her soft hair, the joy of her recovery filling him to resolution of all his loss.
When they reached the peak, there was no body that he could see until Lien jumped off and removed her cloak from over him. There Haldor lay, just as Feomund had claimed, lifeless and still. Lien paid that no mind, kissed his forehead and whispered to him while Rumil and Feldor looked at the work his son had done.
"I tried to do it as you said," he explained.
"It is good enough for an elf," Feldor acknowledged. "Though I wonder why he sleeps still."
"He is only tired," Lien said. "But he can hear us. Everything's going to be alright now," she admonished. "You are surrounded by family and love! And you got your wish! You fought in a battle with Ada, but I am sorry to say it is not his greatest battle, for that is yet to come. I cannot wait to tell you all about it but I will wait so that I might see your face light up with joy at my telling!"
Half a day later, Rumil watched his nephew lifted onto a wagon and was still moved beyond words at the countenance and mood of his niece.
"She's right, there is no sorrow here," he heard Maethriel confirm.
"You have not left?" he asked. "I thought you would go fight with Haldir. You certainly are worthy of such a glorious battle."
"I will not leave you," she said. "Not until you are ready."
"I would not ask you to stay," he said. "The Halls of Mandos are of greater comfort than wandering this world as a spirit. Haldir is setting the others free, you should not be kept as a prisoner, chained to me."
They traveled quite a distance without her responding and a touch of fear pricked his heart. "Are you gone then?" he finally had nerve to ask.
"No," she said. "Don't you think I know when you're covering by now? You aren't ready; and you don't want me to go, you're just trying to be noble."
He let out a laugh so that the others around him could hear and Lien turned to him from the wagon and asked, "What's so funny?"
"Your aunt Dari is haunting me with her humor," he said.
"She is as fond of and attached to you in the afterlife as she was here!" Lien announced. "Do you want to know what she looks like there?"
He did, but he was afraid to ask for the sadness of not seeing it with his own eyes.
"Tell her yes," he heard.
"She says I do," he told his niece. "But I'm not so sure."
Lien ginned and Feldor asked, "She's really speaking to you, isn't she? What is that like?"
"She spoke to me in spirit many times before, especially after we bonded. It is like when Lady Galadriel speaks to you… or like when you have a dream."
"I wonder why Lamer never spoke to me," he said more curious than sad.
"Because Lamer was not attached to anyone as much as his own senses," Lien announced. "He was great fun and I loved him, but I'm sure as soon as he saw a better life, he ran off to claim it." She looked at Rumil and said, "I am happy enough to know that such a life is there waiting, and I intend to bring a little bit of it with me wherever I go to remind those who forget where they are going."
Rumil smirked and said, "Tell me what she looks like!"
"It was hard to see exactly everything," she said. "Because she was sitting behind you, with her arms around you, her cheek against your cheek. And I had never seen her so happy in my life; as if she was about to melt into you and that was the only place she wanted to be… and she was beautiful too, but of course you know that."
Rumil chuckled and the image warmed his heart from the inside to the tips of ever part of him. After hearing it, from then on, whenever he thought of the image, he could almost feel his wife there.
Part 9 ~ Feldor
Rumil had taken Haldor and Lien along with his son and the other remnant of elves back to Lorien, much as Feldor had been taken nearly fifty years ago. His son insisted on being their guide and, in his mind, protector, but Feldor knew, Feomund also wanted to see Lorien, at least once. Feldor was not sure he would return, but it did not worry him either way. He wanted his son to understand where he came from and enjoy the richness of that culture, if only for a short season.
The way everything had turned out, Feldor was not worried anymore. Everything was as it should have been. Had he not been wounded or had he not fallen in love with Gwen and had a son whom he had taught how to tend wounds, Haldir's son would likely not have lived. He knew not if Haldir still would have fought and died in this war, but he guessed it would have come down to that in the end. Either way, there was no way around the circumstances as they had unfolded; in his mind, it was meant to be. Death, life, loss, it was just the way of this world. It was not a world elves were meant to be in, but that did not mean they could not enjoy it.
His wife had told them that regretfully their house and all of their possessions had burnt, but his family was alive, and he never felt so grateful for them. Eowyn and Eomer had invited them to stay in the Golden Hall in Eomund's quarters, and so they had gone ahead with the others with children who were misplaced. After the young ones were asleep, Gwen insisted he return to celebrate with the warriors. Feldor was tired, but having sent off his elven family, he needed the companionship of these men to feel like one of them again.
By the time the hobbits had sung, the dwarf had passed out and most of the women and surviving men had retired to their own forms of celebration, Feldor was ready to return to his wife.
"I'm not supposed to know," Legolas confronted him. "Eomer is a good man but a terrible liar."
Feldor had forgotten about that and now wondered if Legolas knew about Liendriel and Haldor as well. She had asked everyone not to tell him what she had seen; she wanted to be the one; to see the face of her prince as she explained it all. Feldor tried to make his way to the door, but Legolas went on and on about how impressed he was with Haldir coming and his sadness for Elienne, but belief that she would celebrate her husband's heroism more than grieve his death.
"Something tells me Haldir knew he was going to die, he was very defeatist at the end…" Legolas continued. "He even relinquished Liendriel to me, if I should, 'want to entertain her affections', is how he put it. I had never dared dwell on them before he said it, but now when I think of her, I feel myself warm and dizzy… What does that mean?"
"It means you should spend time with her and see if it increases or fades," he said and moved around the elf again.
"But…" Legolas said, coming after him. "I don't think she will be of mind to entertain any proposals after she learns of this tragedy. Her father was her life… she will be grieved beyond measure, I don't think I could take seeing her that way."
"Do not sell her short in your mind," Feldor said. "She may be stronger than you know."
"You do not understand the bond they shared," Legolas insisted, following him to the door unable to discern Feldor was trying to leave. "Fathers and daughters are very close, it is difficult for we elves to understand."
"I have a daughter," Feldor pointed out. "I think I understand."
"You do?" he asked. "Congratulations! When?"
"Nearly eight years ago," he said. "I also have two sons, and Gwen is five months pregnant with our fourth child."
"I am so incredibly happy for you… let us drink to it as men in this culture do!"
"No!" Feldor snapped.
"Why are you being so short with me?" Legolas asked.
"Because the more time I spend with men, the more I realize how slow and self-absorbed elves are."
Legolas paused, trying to make out if Feldor was being serious, and then he looked slightly hurt.
"Forgive me," Feldor said. "Men also tend to say what they feel bluntly and without weighing the injury… which is what leads to so many brawls among friends."
"I am glad you were honest," Legolas said. "I prefer it." Feldor began walking the last few steps toward the door and Legolas followed and asked, "Where are you going?"
Feldor stopped and turned around and said, "Unlike you, who can wait thousands of years to decide if you will or will not court the one you love, my wife may be gone from me in as few as fifty or sixty. And I do not mean it personally against you, but I would rather be with her while she sleeps than try to convince you as I did Rumil. Time can be short, even for elves that live forever."
Legolas grinned and said, "You have changed so much! You sound like an elder."
"Yes, well, you seem to me more immature than my seventeen year old son," Feldor snapped. And then, seeing that slight elvish brow wrinkle, Feldor found his grace again. "Good bye, my friend," he said more sweetly. "May your quest be a success. Aragorn is very blessed to have you… and Lien will be thrilled for any attention you decide to show her, I promise."
"Thank you for that," Legolas said. "I aspire to mature at least as much as you before it is over..."
Feldor felt his friend's desire to continue the good bye, so without answering, he waved and walked away, not bothered by the cold wind for the thought of where he was headed.
10 ~ Elienne
Sitting with Murial and Galadriel in their Lady's home, Elienne felt numb as they waited. She knew Haldir was gone, she felt him leave; she'd known he was going and had all but ordered him to go. It was his dream and his purpose; she was glad to have been part of his life for the short time they had before it came to fruition. But she had not expected to lose their children to the whims of an angry daughter.
"Do you feel them yet?" Galadriel asked her again.
She shook her head and gazed at the comforting beauty across from her. Murial took her hand and said nothing. Her friend's mourning for Haldir had been richer than expected, she had loved him very deeply; enough to let him go when she realized he did not love her as she wanted.
"I do," Galadriel said finally. "Haldor is wounded, but he lives and Lien…" She tilted her head with a smirk and then smiled. "You will have to see for yourself."
Elienne blinked at her, but believed her news was good. She breathed out a relief and Muriel squeezed her fingers.
"Go greet them!" Galadriel said with a wave. "They are entering the forest now."
As soon as Lien started to speak and the words poured from her, Elienne understood what Galadriel had meant. She listened with one ear as she tended to her dreary son and met glances with Rumil whose expression was distant at times, but peaceful.
Feldor's son gave a small account of what he had seen had happened to Haldor before he took to sleep in a tent set up for him. When they had Haldor settled in a healing bed, Lien finally calmed down and decided the only way she could express her visions properly was through painting and settled in a cot beside her brother.
Once her daughter was quiet, Elienne was finally able to coax a word or two from her son.
"Were you…" he started to ask, "hurting… when we were gone?"
"I am feeling grateful to have you home alive," she said. "Feomund told me you fought ferociously. I am so proud of you."
"We should not have gone…" he said. "We disobeyed…"
"You are forgiven, and it worked out for the best, it is better that your sister went where she did than if she were here regretting herself as she would have been," she said.
"I held on for you," he said.
Elienne kissed him and said, "Thank you, son. You are my treasure..."
Haldor found his peace and nodded off to sleep and she focused on Rumil.
"She's here, isn't she?" Elienne asked. "I can you see you're speaking with her in your mind."
"You can see that?" he asked. "Haldir had to move on, she doesn't want you to feel bad because she stayed with me."
"I know why he moved on," she said. "And I have many memories, and many letters, and I will see him again someday."
"Death doesn't bring you sorrow, does it?" he asked. Elienne looked down, and he added, "I noticed that when Lamer passed. It is nothing to be ashamed of, we all handle our feelings differently."
"I don't know that its shame as much as… wondering if my feelings are not as strong as they should be. Do you find me shallow?"
"I find your honesty, simplicity and consistency comforting," he said. "The only issue I ever had with you was the affect you had on my already too passionate brother!" Elienne laughed at the truth of it and he added, "Maethriel says she's glad we have each other for friends. Considering what our first meeting was like, it is rather ironic that we should be stuck with each other."
"True," Elienne said, remembering how awful it had been. "Is 'stuck' how you look at it, though?"
"Of course not," he said and looked down at Haldor. "Not any more than I feel stuck with these two beloveds."
Author's Note: Thanks to everyone who read, and made this story a favorite, and especially to my faithful reviewer, Bee. I know it was dark and full of turmoil, but I hope I gave enough of a happy ending to make up for that!
I plan to work on the transition between HeartSong and this one. The story won't change, though I might add a few details that I thought were missing and I may take out a few things that seemed to be unnecessary and made it too long. When that is done, I'll probably add another chapter to this book to announce it.
Also, I could go on to write more about Feldor, Haldor and of course a Liendriel and Legolas romance, but only if I thought there was interest…