The Choice

Chapter 10

She starred at the mirror for what seemed an eternity. She was even less recognizable to herself than normal. The face starring back at her was not her own. She felt out of place. Her hair was elegantly pulled back into an intricate braid that traveled to the middle of her back. 'Was her hair lighter?' She asked herself, and then shook her head. Her hand maids had thoroughly scrubbed it that morning, getting out every last bit of grim and oil they could, and besides she never took much time to look at her hair in the mirror. If she was asked her opinion she was much too fancy to be planning to depart. Even her clothes were elaborate.

Her dark grey wool lined breeches sat high upon her waist with a matching long sleeve undershirt to match, tucked neatly into them. Then there was a long light blue tunic, which also had long sleeves down to her wrist. Next was a darker royal blue tunic, shorter than the one under it that only went just past her shoulder. Both were open in the front to allow for good movement. And of course there were the new black leather boot and arm guards. All the garments, her black belt included, were woven with intricate designs and elvish lettering. She felt she was ready to attend a gathering versus leaving on a trip, though she would admit they were beyond comfortable and beautiful.

A sigh escaped her lips and she raised a hand to rub her face. She was trying not to dwell on the fact that in a few mere hours she would be leaving Lothlorien. The great Elven city, the place she was beginning to think of as home, would be left far behind for places unknown; it sent shivers down her back. The fear was building, pushing at the edge of her control, willing itself free, willing itself to consume, but she could not let it, not now, not anymore. Her life would depend on it.

And so she found herself with Zenith, as she so often did when her mind occupied itself with disturbing thoughts. With the mare, she could forget her troubles, forget her fears. She stroke her dark brown face and black muzzle as she spoke quietly to her, and Zenith pressed her face into her chest. It was if the mare understood she was saying goodbye and was offering her own. Evelyn found herself speaking to the horse in her old Irish dialect, it gave herself a sense of comfort and ease, it was something of home, one thing she would always have as the time passed by.

"What language do you speak?"

Hand flying to her heart, she spun around, unable to breathe. She felt as if her heart would thump right out of her chest, until she recognized the man in front of her. It was the Elf Prince. Slowly she regained her composure, swallowing hard. "It is the language of my homeland." She answered, turning quickly away from him. Since that fateful day she had overheard him and Lord Aragorn speaking she had avoided speaking to him as much as possible and pushed herself twice as hard in practice and on her free time, wanting more than anything to prove the arrogant bastard wrong. So far that was a failure. Anger boiled in her veins at the thought of his words, and yet shame was there too, rearing its nasty head. She had let herself down, she had not improved enough to be able to survive, they all knew it, and she would only slow them down.

He studied her as she stood there with the horse. She was dressed in some of Lothlorien's finest clothes, the lady treated her well. He could not understand why she received such treatment, being a human and not of noble blood, but he would not question Lady Galadriel. She looked the part of a seasoned traveler, but Legolas knew better. He was tasked with watching over her, as if he did not have enough on his plate to have her added to it, she could at least be confident and outgoing. That at least would make things better, but he was stuck with this quite shy scared little mouse of a girl. He could feel the fingers of frustration starting to snatch at the corners of his mind and he had to fight it down before he spoke again.

"It is time, everyone is waiting." He informed her, voice cold and void of emotion. Legolas could see her take a deep breath at his words.

Inwardly she cringed and deepened her grip in Zenith's fur. The fear bubbling up was struggling as hard as it could to break free, wanting desperately to consume her in its grasp, to drown her in its murky depths, but she would not let it, she refused to. Opening her eyes she looked into Zenith's large round eyes, sadness filling her heart. Still speaking in her native language she told her friend goodbye, tears threatening to spill from her burning eyes. She watched the mare take a few steps backs before bowing her head to the ground. Coming back up the mare reared as high as her legs would allow, letting a shrill whinny pierce the air and took off into the woods, not to be seen in Lòrien for a long time to come.

Evelyn stood tall and set her shoulders Turing toward where she knew the elf still stood. Without looking at him she strode forward, not sparing him a glance and made her way to the shores of the river Anduin.

She stood in line with the other members of the fellowship on the shores of the great river. The hobbits stood beside her fidgeting in anticipation, for to each, the lady of the Wood had been offering gifts. She listened quietly as the lady spoke with Lord Aragorn. She heard her mention that she could offer him no greater gift than that which he already possessed and from the corner of her eye caught sight of the jewel hanging about his neck. She knew she referred to love, for to the elves, there was no greater gift than that of giving one your heart.

By the time they reached her at the end of the line, she too was felling as fidgety as the young hobbits. Galadriel stood before her, smiling down at her with Celeborn by her side. The Ruler was dressed in a silver gown, encrusted with jewels that sparkled in the sunlight, matching the glittering of her golden hair which hung in lose waves down her back as it always did and a delicate circlet adorned her head.

"For you, my child..." she paused, turning to face an elf on the outskirts of the group gathered, beckoning him forward. When he reached her he bowed and offered the long parcel he held out to her, which she gingerly took. "…a sword, made by our finest blacksmith." She finished as she unwrapped the sword, extending it to the woman.

Evelyn sucked in a breath when her eyes beheld the weapon. Her eyes starred at its hilt, it was beautifully decorated in blues and grays portraying a dove—but not just any dove, it was the dove from her tattoo. Until now she had forgotten her conversation with Galadriel many months ago. She had asked her about it one day soon after her arrival, curious as to her reason for having such placed permanently upon her body.

She remembered the day clearly in her mind. She had just turned eighteen and was walking in town with some of her friends when an image of a tattoo in the shop window caught her eye. It portrayed a very large and intricate flying dove emerging from a stormy sky. She had gotten it instantly, taking up most of her back. There had been something about it, she did not know what, but it felt right and she had told Galadriel as much, and the dove represented faith, hope, and peace in her world.

She ran a hand down its delicately curved blade, elvish inscriptions of the words carved into its length. It seemed to turn almost transparent at her touch and icy cold. She pulled her hand back slightly from its cold touch, mouth opening slightly as warm tingle ran up her arm. She looked to Galadriel to see if she had noticed. She was not sure what she saw in the wise woman's face, but though she quickly hid it, it was not a smile. It was something else, something that made Evelyn's insides go cold. 'No, no.' she told herself, 'Stop freaking yourself out.' It would do her no good to start hallucinating. It must have just been the light of the sun playing tricks on her as it hit the blade's sharp edges. 'Yes, that is what it was.' Her voice tried to reassure her.

"Thank you, my lady." She finally managed to mumble.

Galadriel smiled, "May you always use it for its purpose." And with that she leaned forward and placed a small kiss upon her forehead and turned to lead them to the boats.

At first she had found herself tense and rigid as a board when they first started off down the river. They had thought of her at least and put her in the boat with Merry, Pippin, and Lord Legolas. She was not happy with the elf and wished to avoid him, though he was the best option out of all the others. Lord Aragorn had tried to befriend her, and she had tried, well mostly tried, as best she could to do the same, but she was still not at ease with him.

Soon, however, she found the slow rocking of the boat peaceful, seemingly washing her thoughts away, and therefore her fears. Slowly her muscles relaxed in the warming rays of the sun. Earlier she had talked with the hobbit some, about food, much to her chagrin. She was already hungry, used to being able to eat when and how much she wanted…well, not any more.

Closing her eyes she tried to let the peaceful sounds around her fill her mind, let them paint pictures in her head of what was around them. She could see the birds nestling in the trees, see the small waves of the nearby shores lap over the rocky bottom, and see the leaves rustling in the quite breeze. A small smile graced her face.

"Why do you smile woman? Pleased with your looming death?" Boromir's gruff voice broke her revere. Her spine stiffened and all joy she felt was stripped from her, of all the company, she disliked him the most.

Legolas inwardly sighed, she had just relaxed enough for him to stop drowning in her apprehension and the Gondorian had to ruin it, he had half a mind to say a few choice words with him, but decided against it. They could not be fighting among themselves. The poor hobbits looked absolutely horrified by his statement.

"Do not listen to him Miss Evelyn, he only jest." Pippin said trying to comfort her, he could feel her tenseness just as everyone else. Boromir gave a snort as he turned from them, Gimli, who was in his boat, said not a word.

Evelyn looked to the little hobbit, she knew he was trying to make her feel better, and though it did not work she did not want to let him know that. So she lied, "Worry not Pippin, his words mean nothing." She forced a thin lipped smile.

"His words should, he is a lord, and his orders are yours to follow." Legolas chided. Did this woman have so little respect for her betters? He sucked in a breath as the woman whirled towards him, eyes narrowed to venomous slits.

"Firstly, My Lord," she made sure to put extra emphasis on the part, "I have sworn no allegiance to Lord Boromir of Gondor. Secondly, I believe you mistook my meaning. His words mean nothing to me, for he does not. For his words to bother me, I would have to care of his opinion of me and my fate, and I don't." she spat, heart rate rising with her anger. He may be an elf and a prince, but that did not mean he had the right to think of anyone lower than him as dirt under his shoe, which is exactly how she knew he thought of her. Of course she was still technically lying, for his words had hurt. She just did not want them to know that. She had to appear strong.

For a moment he found himself at a loss of words. He had not expected her to have such a violent reaction to his statement, nor hold such conviction as she spoke. 'Women were too temperamental' he thought to himself, before he decided on how to reply. "Those are harsh words."

"Harsh words for a harsh time."

He watched as she shrugged her shoulders and turned back around. What would she know of a harsh time and land? War had not come to Lothlorien, and before she was there, she could not have experienced much in her short lifespan. So he asked her as much, curiosity getting the better of him. Legolas found he was ill pleased with himself for wanting to know more.

"My land was not all happy; it had its own evils."

"Like ours?" Pippin spoke up, eyes going round, thinking Sauron's might grew great indeed.

"No my dear hobbit, Sauron does not exists back in home, nor do elves, hobbits, or dwarves." Her voice was quiet, thinking back not so long ago when she back in Ireland, though much seemed foggy to her know.

'She knew of Sauron!' Legolas thought to himself, wondering just how much the Lady had told her. Did she know of the ring and the purpose of their quest? If she did, this was the first she gave any indication of it. But her knowledge of such could bring doom to them all. If the enemy captured her, she would break quickly under their torture, and all hope lost. He felt his fear rising up in his throat creating a large knot, making it hard to breath.

However, instead of asking her, he listened, irritated he was actually intrigued by what she was saying, and he hoped to rid his mind of such thoughts as her being their doom. What would a world be like without all the other races? It was hard to imagine, for it was he had ever known all his long years on earth.

"So how do you have evil?"

"Our evil is in the human race." She could see in his eyes he did not truly understand her meaning. So she continued, "The race of man is the only race in Ireland and though there is good in people, there is also hate and fear, which lead people to evil deeds."

"Cannot your Kings and Queens stop the evil men?" Merry asked, hopeful.

"Maybe one day. There is always hope for a brighter future, on just needs to have a little faith." She did not feel like explaining to him how their form of government worked, it was not so simple as he put it. And she feared even if they win this battle they journeyed towards, peace would still have to be fought for.

"I hope that when you return home, you find that peace." Merry told her, a large smile on his face and Pippin nodded his head vigorously in agreement.

A pang of sadness washed over her, knowing she would never go home to Ireland, she would never know about there being peace on Earth. Evelyn wanted to cry, to scream that she would never know, but she could not. Swallowing the sadness, she buried it deep, trying to suppress the grief she wished she could be rid of so desperately. Smiling she looked at them both and said, "Maybe." Instead she would have to look for peace here in Middle Earth.

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