To Be a Warrior
Christopher froze, and then continued on again, moving silently though the trees.
The call came again. Christopher stood still, then slowly rasied his hands to his mouth and returned it.
He eased into a sitting position, his back against the mallorn trunk. Thirty minutes later he was joined by three other figures cloaked in grey.
"There is something amiss ahead and to the right." Haldir told his brothers and nephew. "Something off, as if it doesn't belong."
He moved noiselessly through the pillars of mallorns, the golden light of Arnor warming the earth. Silently the other's followed him. After a good bit of walking he raised his hand. They halted. Soundlessly and as one they reached into their quivers and pulled out arrows, fitting them to their bows.
Christopher's head shot up, peering into to the branches. He gave a shout, loosing an arrow as he did so.
There was a thunk as the elven shaft embedded itself in the body of a great harry spider. It hissed in pain and fury, and then began to descend the tree, its many clustered eyes fix on Christopher. I was quickly followed by many of its kin.
The next few moments fell into confusion. The spiders kept coming until Christopher lost count; it felt like thirty at the very least. A spider was dead at his feet, though he wasn't quite sure how it had happened, and he had long ago cast aside is bow, a quiver can only hold so many arrows. He swung his blade in a circle, loping the leg off of one off the arachnids. It tumbled to the ground, the other seven limbs flailing about. H plunged his sword in the middle of its body and the legs curled up around him. He looked up.
Orophin was plucking arrows from dead spiders, Rumil was wiping his own sword, and Haldir was working to pile carcasses together. Christopher's spider was the last to be killed. He wrenched his sword from its abdomen and wiped it on the grass. He walked over to Rumil.
"What are spiders doing here, across the Anduin?" he asked "I thought that they all lived in Mirkwood. Ada?"
Rumil said nothing, only looked at his brothers. They walked over to the two. It was Haldir who spoke first.
"I do not like this. Never have the giant spiders of Mirkwood crossed the Anduin, and never have the set foot in the Golden Wood. They could not have done this without aid, for spiders cannot swim, not even these." Now he turned and smiled at Christopher. "Meanwhile, Anessen, I think that you have earned your braids."
Christopher stood tall and proud, though inside he was a nervous wreck.
'What if I fail? What if let Ada down? What if they're wrong? What if I haven't earned my braids?'
None of these thoughts, however, showed on the young elf's face as he stood with two other new warriors, their heads for the most part filled with thoughts of a similar kind. All of them were at least two centuries older than him, though they had begun their training around the same time that he had. There had been no elfling besides Melgildur in the past century.
Haldir paced the small line, tweaking tunics and straitening clasps. Finally he nodded and stepped back, taking his place with the others. Silmewen, Rumil, and Orophin stood together, Melgildur sitting on Rumil's hip. The friends and family of the other two stood near, watching solemnly as Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel came out from the trees.
Lord Celeborn was dressed as a warrior, with his bow strapped to his back and his sword at his side. His silver hair was held back by two intricate braids on either side of his head. The braids of a warrior, in the pattern of Doriath. The braids that the three young elves were about to receive. It was tradition for the eldest warriors present, in this case Lord Celeborn and Haldir, to perform the ceremony. Lord Celeborn moved to stand in front of the young elves.
"We are gathered here today to celebrate the courage and prowess of Ellyn assembled here before you." Lord Celeborn addressed the group gathered. "Each ellon trained and worked very hard to do his duty protecting you his people.
"When one's home is threatened then everyone becomes a defender and protector with whatever tool is at hand in order to save one's life, one's livelihood, one's home. This is expected of anyone who wishes to survive in a time of need. With a warrior, however, defending and protecting are choices often made when there is the respectable option to stay home, and no one would think differently of the ellon for remaining in Caras Galadhon and not fighting."
Lord Celeborn turned slightly and gestured to Christopher and his comrades.
"These Ellyn before you made a choice to excel beyond the necessary skills to survive. They have chosen to be available to protect and defend even when those tasks are not asked of anyone else. They have honed their fighting skills with the bow and the sword beyond that which is needed for the hunt. They have volunteered to go forward and meet the enemy rather than waiting for the enemy to come to them. They have followed the call of this duty with honor and dignity out of love and loyalty for their fellow Galadhrim.
Christopher straitened. There were still butterflies in his stomach, though. Masses of them. That didn't stop him from glowing with quiet pride.
"When a warrior has complete his first personal defeat of an enemy, he earns the mark of a warrior: the badge and sign which mark him as a proven fighter and a brother in arms. The warrior earns the right, privilege, and honor to wear his braids.
"You have all heard of the spiders that have invaded our land from Mirkwood and attacked our people. These Ellyn standing before met this enemy and defeated it with the might of their arms and the blood of their bodies. What they have done for you has earned them the right to the braids which set them apart, the braids which mark them for all to see as warriors."
Now Lord Celeborn turned to face the three elves. Going to the one on the left of Christopher he began braiding, his practiced fingers quickly working the hair into the intricate pattern of the Galadhrim. Next it was Christopher's turn. The insects in his stomach stilled as Lord Celeborn tied off the two braids, securing them with small strips of leather. He took a deep breath as Lord Celeborn moved onto the last elf. Soon he was done.
At a nod from Lord Celeborn, Haldir picked up the sigil e-hereg, the blood knife designed especially for use in the ceremony, and moved to stand next to the Lord of Lothlorien. It was tradition for the two eldest warriors present, to acknowledge the willingness of the new warriors to shed their blood in defense of others by shedding their blood for the new warriors.
Haldir handed the knife to Lord Celeborn, who took it and cut his right hand on the palm, and then handed it back to Haldir, who did the same. They stepped up to the first elf, and Lord Celeborn said loudly, echoed by Haldir, "Warriors' blood for warrior's braids!" They wiped their blood on the braids of the new warrior.
Then Lord Celeborn placed his finger tips on each side of the elf's face and kissed each of his eyes, then his mouth, and then proclaimed "a warrior is born, a sworn brother is given." He stepped to the side, and Haldir did the same. They moved onto Christopher.
"Warriors' blood for warrior's braids!"
"Warriors' blood for warrior's braids!"
"A warrior is born, a sworn brother is given."
"A warrior is born, a sworn brother is given."
It was then the last elf's turn, and the ceremonial words were said and echoed once more. Finally Haldir and Lord Celeborn stepped back and surveyed the new warriors.
"As per tradition," Lord Celeborn told them, "you may wash your hair after Arnor sinks into the west on tomorrow's evening."
Christopher and the others nodded their understanding, and then Haldir introduced them each by name to the small gathering. "Suiadan...Anessen...Glandur.
Christopher took a deep breath, and then headed over to his family.
Christopher sat perched in a tree on the borders of Lorien, overlooking the Celebrant, or as men called it, the Silverload. He was one of several marchwardens strung out along the tree-line, keeping watch for any trouble.
His eyes narrowed, and he shaded them with his hand so as to block Arnor's rays. There was a smoke rising from where the gate of Moria stood, though the mountains hid it from the direct line of his sight. Making up his mind, he carefully swung into the next tree, and so on through the forest, before coming down a few yards further in. About halfway to the talan where Haldir was he was joined by Orophin.
"So you saw it as well?" his father-brother asked. Christopher nodded.
"That is well. Carry the message to Haldir, I will return." Christopher nodded once more, and continued on his way.
"Captain Haldir!" He called softly at the foot of a large mallorn. Within seconds a grey knotted rope dropped down before him. Using it as support, he swiftly climbed the tree.
Nodding his head respectfully, he gave his report. "Smokes and steams rise from Moria, Captain, billowing in great clouds almost to the top of the mountains."
Haldir looked at him. "Is it thick?" he asked. "Could you see anything through it?"
Haldir opened his mouth to say more, but was interrupted by the arrival of another elf.
"Yrch, Captain. Many yrch coming from Moria."
"How many?" asked Haldir.
"I counted at least twenty-five, maybe thirty." The scout replied.
Haldir turned to Christopher. "Anessen."
"Go and gather the rest together. We will meet at the place where the Celebrant enters the Wood."
Christopher nodded and hurried off. He was soon at the first post, down by the where the Nimrodel entered the wood, telling the elf there to meet at the appointed place. The next elf he found was Rumil.
"Ada! Yrch has been spotted coming this way, and Hal-Captain Haldir has called all the marchwardens to where the Celebrant enters the Wood."
His Ada acknowledged him, and he went on his way again, collecting the remaining marchwardens.
Soon they were all gathered at the point. Haldir had a map of the surrounding area spread against the bark of a mallorn, and was talking with the elf that had brought him the news.
"How close are they?" he was asking as Christopher came up.
"Too close, Captain," the other replied. "When I last looked they were following the Celebrant down. I believe that it is their intention to skirt the forest."
Haldir nodded. "Thank you," he told the scout. Then he noticed Christopher. "Ah! Anessen! Are they all here?"
"Yes Captain Haldir. All are present."
"Good." He now turned to the others, all nine gathered in a semicircle around him. "As soon as I give the order, pick them off from the trees. If any survive, myself, Rumil, and Taurion," here he gestured to another elf, "will deal with them."
All present nodded, and then quickly and silently dispersed to take up their positions. They did not have long to wait. As soon as the shadows lengthened a company of Moria-yrch was seen, going east. The scout had not counted wrong; there were twenty-six there, as well as two slave drivers – huge black beast with long, cruel wips, snarling in the tounge of Mordor and hurrying them onwards. Soon the yrch were well within bowshot.
A bird trilled in the trees. The yrch took no notice until ten of their number fell silently, each shaft finding it's mark. Then they most certainly noticed. They were thrown into confusion. Those remaining alive trampling over the dead and living alike in their haste to get away.
Christopher sighted down his shaft, aiming for one of the one making a run for the trees.
Another tweet. Another volley. This time nine fell, the tenth only narrowly escaping death. Now there were only seven left, three making it to the trees, the other four swiftly falling to six well-placed arrows. One more died to Orophin's aim, the final two making their end on edge of Haldir and Taurion's blades.
With that, the battle was over. It wasn't long, thanks to the skill of the Galadhrim with the bow, and Christopher felt both a little relived and a little disappointed. The later soon disappeared, however, when Rumil clapped him on his shoulder.
"I am proud of you, my son," he told him, and that was enough.