The Choice

By Aralinn

Fantasy / Romance

Chapter 19

His mind was reeling. The woman had thrown much more information at him than he could process in one sitting, which is how he found himself sitting against the old stable, staring into the night sky. He could not fathom the Valar being so cruel as to design fate the way they had, but then again it was as Gandalf had told him when he found them in the stable. The Valar have their plans yes, but they do not have complete control over how the result is obtained. There are many factors and choices made that can alter the course fate follows. For whatever reason, there was a higher purpose to the woman's fate and the manner of her death than even the Valar knew—that scared him, he always had viewed them as all knowing and wise—yet it seemed that truth was now a lie.

Of course, some of her revelations had brought some light to some of her curiosities like her strange accent and speech. Moreover, he now could understand her overly cautious, if not phobic, tendencies. Anger began boiling in the pit of his stomach at the thought of the men that attacked her. Whether human or no, it was against all he believed in, to do such blatant harm to an innocent person, no matter the reason. Even the knowledge that humans were not always as virtuous as elves, did not abate his anger and images that she described to him kept replying in his mind.

Then there was the addition of her family history. It brought him little comfort to know her father's powers had to be bound, and he banished to a different world. Could Evelyn's own power cause the same outcome? Could she become power hungry as her father had? It was always a possibility. Look at Sauruman; though it took many centuries, his Istari magic made him crave more and more until he turned to the darkness of Sauron. They could all only hope she was strong enough to resist.

Legolas sighed and rubbed his face with his hands. Why did it have to be him whom she confided in, he did not want the extra burden it added to his already troubled thoughts. Shaking his head, he pushed himself from his perch and strode off in search of something to occupy his mind.

Evelyn sat in the window seal of the guest room provided to her, and watched the proceedings of the town. Woman and children bustled back and forth, packing their belongings into carts and packs on their horses, as the men gathered their weapons. The city was emptying by order of the king. They were fleeing to Helms deep, Rohan's fortress when under attack. The evacuation included her company, much to her displeasure. Should battle come, she was not sure of the king's plans, and where she fit into them, but she did not want to find out. Evelyn was not sure her group would be able to stop him should he chose to use her. They were not rulers here. She felt the fear creeping upon her like a disease and clenched her eyes shut trying to force it down. Her eyes jerked open when she heard a distinct creaking sound. Evelyn gasped; the window seal she sat on was coated in a thin layer of ice where her hands once rested. Raising her hands to her eyes, she turned them, inspecting every inch. Nothing looked different, there was no indication that she had just frozen the wood, but she knew she had. Her powers where attached to her emotions, just as the Valar had told her, only here there was not anyone to heal the damage she caused. It was the first time the implications of her powers hit her, and her fear only increased. Sliding from the window, she sank to the floor, arms wrapped tightly around her torso so not to freeze anymore of the room. Luckily she could not freeze her herself she thought ruefully.

The woman jumped when a harsh knock sounded on her door many hours later. Rising unsteadily to her feet, she walked towards the door, pausing before she slowly opened it to reveal the dwarf standing at attention, arms behind his back as if he had been waiting long. Of course, that was a possibility; she was not sure how long it took her to stir once the knock sounded.

"It is time to leave." His voice was gruff, but Evelyn could hear the grudging tone it held. They had wanted to meet the coming army head on, and instead they were running. Which she was silently happy about, though she never told, they would think her even more cowardly, however, there was a queer knot in the pit of her stomach that told her no amount of running would save them; battle would find them no matter where they fled.

With a nod she turned, leaving the door open for Gimli as she gathered her few belongings and made herself ready. Taking a deep breath, she accepted the Dwarf's outstretched arm and began her descent to the waiting towns' people and her company.

"I never thanked you." She told the dwarf, keeping her gaze steady on the horizon.

"For what? T'was but a short walk to fetch you."

She laughed, catching him off guard, for she so rarely laughed, he was not sure at first it was even her laughing, but maybe some villager passing by. However, looking at their grim set faces he knew better.

"No, silly, for yesterday. I wanted to thank you for sticking up for me." she informed him, her somberness returning as the king's words echoed in her mind again.

"Oh, ah, ahem…someone had to; you are one of us lass." He finally manage to tell her, stating the fact as if there was all the truth in the world behind it, though she knew there was very little, and it hurt her deep inside, opening an ache she did not know was there. She wanted so desperately to belong somewhere to something. However, it was just her, and she was alone.

Evelyn sat astride Arod, with Gimli on Hasufel beside her, Aragorn held tightly onto the chestnut's reins for the dwarf's sake. The elf walked beside the ranger, rarely speaking, though it did not bother her. She had not spoken to the elf since her failed escape when he had somehow gotten all her secrets. It was impossible to tell what he thought, if anything, about the truth, he hid his emotions well, though occasionally she could the flicker of his jaw muscle twitch. It was the only indication of the tension he held. She felt shame and embarrassment for not being strong enough to keep her own secrets, but another part of her was glad. It was as if a dark cloud had been lifted off her shoulders now that the elf knew, and the others. Though she had not told them, Evelyn could see it in their eyes that the Prince had told them. They had made it a habit to have one of them with her when she was near any of the soldiers, well usually the townspeople in general. She felt indebted to them for she knew it took time away from their own affairs, but they always refused her adamantly when she told them such.

Distant shouts echoed from across the looming hills, causing the procession to halt. Whispers started erupting all around her, though Evelyn paid little heed, she had her eyes glued to the horizon where, shortly before, the elf had disappeared to watch their path. Something was terribly wrong. The sickening feeling in her gut was back, worse than before. Then the howls came and the people began panicking, their own shouts rising up to those of the scouts. Evelyn wanted to be sick, was the elf okay? Were any of them going to survive?

"A scout!" Legolas' familiar voice cried out as he came atop the closest crest, and Evelyn released her held breath.

The soldiers reacted at once and made ready to protect the woman and children, following behind their king. The elf had quickly made his way down the hill and atop Arod and she found herself plopped unceremoniously on the ground. "You stay with the others!" he bellowed as he kicked the grey stallion forward and once more out of sight.

She found herself stranded amongst the throng of panicked people, all running and jarring into her. Somewhere up ahead she heard Éowyn trying to calm the people. Then she found herself suddenly all alone, the mass finally having moved around her and on towards Helm's Deep. Evelyn stayed where she stood, unable to make herself neither follow the others nor go to the aid of her friends. The moments after passed slowly, as if time itself had stopped.

In the distance, she could hear the sound of horses approaching. The battle could not be over could it? It was too soon. Only two riders appeared on the hilltop, stopping to scan the surrounding land. Surely more than just two had survived, her company had to have survived. They spotted her quickly, the only person around for probably miles now, and raced towards her. Evelyn had no time to react before they were upon her, two men of Rohan's army. Where were the others? Her mind filled with all the terrible possibilities of their fates.

Circling her menacingly, they had their weapons drawn, preventing any attempt at escape. "You are to come with us, by orders of Théoden, King." One spoke, eyes hardened in his inspection of her. What he saw did not please him. Evelyn made no move to comply with their orders; instead, she searched franticly for a way out. "If you do not come willingly, we shall take you by force." His voice was gruff and unyielding as he spoke. Evelyn could only stare at him, now frozen in fear; all previous thoughts were washed from her mind. When she made no move to obey, the soldier that spoke to her yanked her by the arm, pulling her towards his mount.

She yelped and instantly began to struggle. They would force her into a battle she was not ready for, one she did not think she would ever be ready to face. Fear threatened to consume her, and she could feel the tingling of power bubbling to the surface. A voice in her mind rang out shrill in the panic, she could not let the power rule her, she had to control it, she could not hurt these men, they were not the enemy.

She felt herself being shaken, the grip on her arm tightened even more. Images began filling her mind. She could see the men's faces swimming around her, laughing at her weakness, then staring at her in anger that she almost got away. The pain of the knife filled her abdomen. She had to get away, she had to flee, she had to fight. 'No!' She told herself, shaking her head, willing the images away. 'Control it!' Her mind yelled.

"Bind her! Get the woman and come on, the king wants her!" the second soldier called.

The man that gripped her arm dismounted his steed, keeping his iron grip on her arm as he did so. He spun her, pinning her arms behind her and began to attempt to rope her wrists together. "Let me go!" She screamed as she felt herself loosing herself to the fear. She felt a hand across her face and tasted blood I her mouth, and the only thing she saw when she opened her eyes was the man with the knife.

The power surged within her body, erupting in a blinding flash. The horses squealed in horror and the men screamed, though Evelyn heard nothing. The power dissipated as quickly as it came, leaving her ears ringing and her mind clouded. Attempting to move she found her efforts pointless, she could not make her arms move, why would they not move? She wondered. Then she remembered the soldiers and her eyes popped open and she saw the man who bound and hit her. His motionless body was lying on the ground, a spear of ice through his chest. Evelyn knew he was dead. She did not see the second soldier still astride his horse starring in horror, nor did she hear when he spurred his horse away from the scene as fast as the stallion could muster. All she knew was that she had killed a man, and not just any man, an ally, one of the king's men. He has been an innocent man.

"What have I done?" she whispered into the wind, sinking to her knees, her head falling limply forward, with tears spilling down her cheek.

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