Galadriel looked over the objects arranged on the table, counting silently. They were all there, her tools and aids for the task they would have to carry out this day. She placed each one in her pack carefully and tied it shut. Everything was ready.
As she turned to go, a whisper brushed her ear and she stopped, alert. There it was again: so very soft, it could be mistaken for any teasing, kissing breeze. The White Lady looked about her, feeling for the source of the call. She slung her pack over her shoulder and began the long descent to the ground below.
How many times had her feet slipped over each step of the great staircase... they were not innumerable: she had counted them more than once, and always they gave three hundreds, a score and one. It came to her mind, now, that there would be only a few more days for her, in the elven-count, under the eaves of the golden mallorn forest.
“The Blessed Realm, at last,” the thought fleeted by. There were several tasks to get done before the voyage, some pleasant; the one today was not, although it would bring light and song back to Greenwood the Great. As she followed the stairway around the huge bole of the mallorn, the whisper touched her cheek once again. Stronger, now, and surely coming from a small bower across the open space below, where many herbs sprouted and bloomed under the love of her hands.
Her footsteps followed the summoning sigh and brought her to the fragrant spot. She cherished the hours spent there over countless years, but it was not in her plans for this day; however, the call came for a purpose, she knew, and would contribute to the forces coming together for this victory.
There. Yes, the small shapely bush in the farthest nook of the bower. The savanam, small but ancient, with its beautiful curving leaves so often carved and woven into the decor of her artisans’ good works. She knew the powerful plant spirit that abided in it, though they seldom spoke. If it was calling to her now, there was surely a cause.
“Tell me, I am here with you to attend your message,” she whispered into the tips of the leafy branches. “I will close my eyes and bathe my face in your sweet scent.” She emptied her mind of all else and waited. A moment passed and she saw in her mind’s eye a golden belt in her own hand, made of linking leaves of this very bush, fashioned from the metal beloved by Arien, the Sun. She was then fastening the belt around the body of a tall warrior, son of Men. “Boromir!” she breathed. “The fallen champion of Gondor... what of him, dearest angel of the greenlife?”
Like shadows flickering in the noontide forest, she saw many likenesses of the lost warrior, instants of his days following the Brotherhood’s parting from Lothlorien. In all of them he was sad, tormented, and suddenly swept away by evil: first in his very own actions, and then by the servants of the Enemy. “This I know, kind spirit, and of his untimely end. They placed him, his brothers... Elessar, Legolas and Gimli, in one of the boats we sent them with to speed their journey and carry the burden more safely. They placed his broken weapons and the Horn of Gondor upon him, and the swords of his enemies beneath his feet, then they sang for him and gave his body to the Great River and the Falls of Rauros.” She sighed. “He amended his wrongdoing at the end. He gave his life to protect the Perian cousins, and confessed to his king with his dying breath.”
She felt the golden mist of Rauros and the churning force of its waters regaining their way across the plains of Rohan. Out in the middle of the wide stream she saw a tiny boat, riding low in the water, and again a spattering of pictures of a long untroubled journey. “I know also that he came for an instant to his brother Faramir, watching upon the banks of Anduin, and that he left behind only the halves of his great horn... that found their way to his father’s hands... I know the grief in the City of the White Tower.” Galadriel paused, and brushed her face softly on the leaf-tips. “This is what I have seen. Will you tell me more?”
Instants appeared in her mind of the small boat’s drift following Anduin’s long loop around the skirts of Mindolluin and the Pelennor Fields. “His beloved city would have all turned out to honor him, and strew the entire river with flowers, had they only known,” she mused, “but he went in secret and in silence, finally at peace, far from the battle brewing around him.” She saw then the dawn of a day on an ever-widening stream, and heard the crying of the gulls on their flight inland. The elven-craft came finally to the merging of salt and sweet, and was soon swept onto the gently swelling mountains of the Sea.
“He was taken by Uinen, then, my dear tree-sprite, was he not?” A flutter against her cheek bade her sink again into the images in her mind. She saw Boromir’s boat sliding through waters strangely gentle, and she knew that both the craft and its sleeping rider had passed from Time counted by Men and even from that of the Elves. “This that I see may have passed already, or it may be passing as I gaze upon it. Or it may be a foresight of that which will come. What special grace, far beyond our simple spells, is drawing him? And to what place, if any? Perhaps the Ainur of the Deep will send him to drift over the endless Sea... until...”
* * *
A tiny atoll on the fringes of the Shadowy Seas glittered in the first rays of the rising Sun. The water, a wide round blue plate, faded into the distant mist that mirrored back her golden warmth. A small, beaten boat approached the islet as if coming home from a hopeless journey, home at last, and nestled into a crevice that drew it in as would a mother’s arms. Finally, the elven craft came to rest and the clear water pooled within it was still. The warrior was yet asleep, and so would remain.
Much later, a sea-bird chanced to seek on the atoll a place to perch and survey the border of the Sundering Waters before attempting the long flight westward. It came upon the little boat held fast among the rocks and settled on the high carven prow. Almost it squawked and took again to the air, so surprised was it at the sight of a Man (always so dangerous even in sleep) and his gleaming metal sheathed in water both sweet and old, from far away, still circling sparks of energy drawn from the depths of unknown force of a falling river. The quietude reassured the cautious bird and called it back to inspect. Shiny objects and red-blooded flesh, most attractive but hardly to be reached through the strange tingling water. Better advised, it shook out its feathers and preened itself, then focused on the venture ahead and took flight with a powerful spring. It became a dot and then a speck against the western wall of mist, and at last was seen no more.
* * *
A tiny sob shook Galadriel’s body. “So he is there,” she thought. “Until when, until what? How came he to that holy spot between worlds, and why?” She focused inside herself and questioned the plant spirit once more. To her mind’s eye came again the atoll, and from the waters arose a figure long-remembered, seemingly a female of marine beauty. Her long hair streamed away to become foam and weeds and water, and her skin glistened with scales and barnacles and minuscule sea creatures. “Uinen!” breathed Galadriel. “Our beloved Lady of the Seas... my heart breaks with joy to see thee once again... Is this a foreshadowing of my own return to Aman, and my absolution? Or simply an answer to my question, this mystery of Boromir?”
The watery figure -now huge, now slender- approached the elven-boat and raised her arms, streaming with ocean surface. She embraced its contour and blessed it with a breath of life, then turned and faced Galadriel’s mind’s eye. A deep, sweet voice, almost too strong to bear, vibrated in the Elf-Queen’s inner ear.
“This son of Númenor will sleep here until the final day of reckoning with our Great Enemy. There was in your heart, Artanis, a corner restless for the fate of this Son of Men, Second-born of Ilúvatar. Did you not feel this?” The deep-sea eyes of Uinen gazed into the core of Galadriel’s being.
“I did not, before, but now I see that there was. I mourned his loss, and wondered about him. What I see at this time, from afar, fills me with joy and wonder.”
“A warrior without peer he was, and will be when he is called to awake once more. Like Turin Turambar, son of Hurin, and chosen others of their stature, they will give battle at our side against the final coming of Melkor, and in that service will clear away the stains of their wrongdoings. Proud and hasty choices, rather than evil in their hearts, led them astray... as thyself, Artanis. But thy story is yet unfinished, and I would have thee victorious this day. Go therefore in thy full power, Artanis, and know that I am with thee.”
Uinen seemed to dissolve into the sea, and with her the entire picture in Galadriel’s mind. She felt again the leafy tips of the savanam against her face and its soft scent around her. As she straightened up and opened her eyes to the daily sight of her mallorn-forest, she felt tears streaming still down her cheeks. She sniffed and sighed, then laughed softly.
“Even after so long, one does not entirely know one’s self. This tiny sorrow in my heart over Boromir’s final fate, unaccounted for, could have hindered the wholeness I need for the breaking of Dol Guldur. The Valar with us always; their grace, infinite.”
She lifted her pack and slung it across her shoulder. Her steps, strong and springing, crossed the clearing and turned towards the greensward where the boats awaited. So many, called together to carry the Host of Lorien across Anduin, to root out the evil ones still possessed of hill and forest even after the passing of their master.
While she waited for Celeborn to board, her thoughts flew briefly to Frodo and Sam, then to Aragorn. Against all that could have been expected, against all the long strategy and brutal force of Sauron, they had won the day. The day and the Age. She thought then of Mithrandir, the master player and executor of the will of the Valar, and desired his company and conversation in the days to come.
“Arwen, my child,” she spoke softly to her granddaughter, “to you alone will I reveal this day’s wonder. When you are Queen of Gondor, the very same peace brought to me by the vision may serve to soften the lingering sorrows of others. Your Elessar, who still feels this loss deeply, and the good brother Faramir. Perhaps. You will judge wisely, I know.” She sighed once again.
There was that, she knew. They would return to Aman, she and Elrond and Mithrandir, and the Ringbearers; later, her own beloved Celeborn, and Elrond’s twin sons, and even Círdan, at the very last sailing from the Grey Havens. All the High-Elves would return, over the coming years, but not Arwen. There was the coming joy of embracing once more her darling daughter Celebrian, and the sorrow of the final kiss of blessing on Arwen’s brow. “Such is the nature of love, and loss,” she sighed to herself. “We have so loved this Middle-Earth, that even in parting we will leave for its happiness the brightest of our stars.”
As she settled among packs and bundles, she thought again of Boromir. “A hero’s fate for his hero’s heart,” she smiled to herself. “He will awake at Uinen’s call as if from a gentle night’s rest. His wonder will be short-lived, for he will suddenly find himself within the light of the Valar’s forces, helm and shield and breastplate shining bright, and surely she will bring him a great sword. Careless of where, he will surely know what, and he will do his part. Namarië, son of Gondor.” She smiled again. He would most certainly look very handsome.