Chapter 6: Lothlorien Part 1: A Past Revealed
I walked slowly next to Legolas as we talked softly. The southern road was long and weaved among the large oaks and golden willows of the Lorien forest. It seemed like hours passed. As the trees grew thicker and changed to Mallory trees and a few I didn't recognize, I noticed Legolas' happy aura dampen slightly.
"What troubles you?" I asked.
"The Golden Wood simply reminds me of what my home used to be"
"I'm sure it is beautiful"
"In the fall months, the leaves all turn vibrant and indescribable colors"
"I can only imagine Mirkwood's beauty. Lorien's woods turn such amazing colors but it is only green and gold"
"Reds, Orange, Yellow, even the Brown leaves look remarkable" he said with a slight smile.
"After you complete this quest of yours…" I paused.
I heard a branch snap then it was silent. I only heard the wind pass through the trees for a few minutes. There was a second snap a few minutes later. I turned my head towards the sound, only to feel Legolas flat against my back, bow drawn.
"Who travels in these sacred woods?" I heard a voice ask from my left.
"Legolas Thranduilion and Maethriel of Hidenil" he said softly, tightening his bow, eyes narrowing I'm sure.
"Ah, Legolas, it has been many years" A taller elf stepped out showing dark brown eyes and golden blonde hair longer than Legolas'. Legolas relaxed and put his bow to his back. We walked towards the elves.
"Orophin, a Warden of Lorien?" Legolas chuckled greeting the leader placing his hand on his shoulder.
"Is it hard to believe my friend? What brings you to the Golden Woods? It has been many years and The Lord and Lady were not expecting our Mirkwood kin"
"We travel with the Fellowship set out from Rivendell" Legolas said looking serious again.
"I will take you to my brother" His tone wasn't so easy going any more either.
I looked between the two elves in front of me. Legolas was once again tense. What was so important about this fellowship of theirs that brought such negativity?
"Legolas? Can we trust him?" I asked in the common tongue hoping the elf wouldn't understand.
"Yes" He nodded before following the group of elves.
I followed wearily. We walked some time before we reached a tree with a watch Talon above. It looked identical to every other one in the Lorien forest. Lorien's borders were very protected… We quickly ascended the ladder and came face to face with the other members of our group. I smiled and stood next to the hobbits with Legolas not too far behind me.
Aragorn and Legolas conversed softly about where we had gone, but their conversation was cut short by an elf walking up to us. We all gave the tall and muscular elf our attention. He looked familiar but I could not place his dark eyes and gold hair at first. But the longer I looked at him, the more I thought. I knew his face. Then it hit me; a face I wish I could forget, a face of pain and sadness as he ran through my village. Haldir, Marchwarden of Lorien.
"Welcome, Legolas, Son of Thranduil" Legolas nodded.
"Our fellowship is in your debt, Haldir of Lorien"
"Aragorn of the Dunedain, you are known to us, well met"
"Maethriel of Hidenil, it is relieving to see you alive and well" He looked at me for only a moment but I could see guilt and relief in his eyes. I nodded but before I could respond, Gimili interrupted.
"So much for the legendary courtesy of the elves, speak in words we all can understand!"
"We have not had dealings with Dwarves since the dark days" Haldir said honestly ticked off. That was something well known to most of Middle Earth: Dwarves and Elves do not get along.
"And you know what this dwarf has to say to that 'I spit on your grave'" Now he plain pissed Haldir off. Great. I personally didn't even appreciate his comment.
"That was not so courteous" Aragorn put an authoritative hand on his shoulder, correcting the Dwarf's behavior.
"Gimili, we were merely greeting each other" I snapped at the dwarf and he looked at me then Legolas and Aragorn.
"No matter" the Dwarf barked back. We looked around at each other. Tension was becoming thicker and thicker until Haldir's gaze fell on Frodo.
"You bring great evil with you ringer bearer" He paused obviously torn between options. But, what caught my attention was the last part of his statement. Evil…ring bearer? What is he talking about?
"You can go no further" He turned and faced his brothers.
"What?" I asked without realizing it.
"I didn't stutter. I said none of you can go further" Haldir looked at me with hard eyes.
"Haldir, a word" Aragorn asked stepping away from our group.
"We came here Haldir! We came for refuge! If you send us back now, the ring will fall right into Sauron's hands! You send us back, you will be responsible for the fall of all Middle Earth" Wow, Aragorn was not sugar coating it.
"I know not the Lady's will. It will do us all well not to undermine her decisions" He whispered trying to explain himself. But Aragorn still looked unsettled.
"What of Maethriel? At least let her pass through to your realm. She lost her village and has nowhere to go. The lady knows this and judging by the look on your face when you first saw her, so do you"
As they were talking, I heard a voice. One I have heard before but not since…I was a child.
"Maethriel, Haldir will allow you into my realm. All will be revealed soon young one" Only one person in my entire life called me 'young one'… Galadriel.
"My lady" I smiled.
"I will see you shortly Mae, do not be afraid" I smiled a small sense of relief passing through me at her familiar words.
I clung to my mother as we rode into a very beautiful forest. It had gold leaves and the air smelled like fresh flowers though it was almost midwinter. I shook in fear. We left our home in the North some weeks ago but my mother was hurt. She had taken a wound to her side in a small conflict with Orcs and seemed to get weaker by the day.
"Who enters the Golden Wood?" A man with pointed ears like mine appeared from behind the trees and asked my mother.
"I am Lileth, daughter of Eraton. I seek a refuge for my daughter" she said in a short puff. Talking was very tiring for my mom.
"I cannot let a human pass through our borders without just cause"
"Please sir! My mommy needs help. She's hurt!" I said peering at the mean with tears in my eyes. How could someone not want to help her?
"Human wounds are none of elvish concern" He said turning around.
"You are turning away one of your own" she said taking another deep breath to speak.
"You are not elvish" the man snapped.
"No, but my daughter is" I looked up at my mom. She pushed my hair past my ears and exposed the tips.
"So it may seem. Follow me, the Lady of the Woods will have to deal with the little one"
We traveled into the woods further and I could tell my mom was getting sicker the longer we rode. Eventually we reached a giant tree and my eyes widened at the beauty of it. A lady in a white dress was descending the stairs and came before us.
"Celriana, see to it that Lileth is seen by a healer. I must look over little Maethriel for a while"
"Young one, do not be afraid. You are safe now. I am Lady Galadriel" She picked me up and carried me to a room where she had a maid bath me and brush my hair.
"Where's my mommy?" I asked after a while.
"She is healing young one" she said patting my head. She put a small circlette on my head of flowers and I smiled.
"There is someone waiting to see you" she said smiling.
"Your father" I looked at the lady.
"She looks just like her mother" the elf said before coming to bend down before me.
"Welcome home Young One" Lady Galadriel said leaving the room.
As I blinked my eyes, I heard Haldir speak, breaking my trance.
"You will follow me. The Lady has made her will known" He said turning on his heels and heading deeper into the forest.
"Great more elves" Gimili murmured.
"Gimili, we're not so bad" I said looking down at the Dwarf with a soft smile.
"You're not lass but the lads sure are"
"Legolas isn't…" I stopped midsentence as I laid eyes on the city of Caras Galadhon. Lights were spread throughout the area and winding staircases ran up the trees to Talons and Homes. I have not seen it in many years only heard stories from my brothers and father. My imagination from my younger years didn't do it justice.
"Lass?" Gimili asked.
"It's amazing Gimili, look"
The particular tree that led to the Lord and Lady's palace was one of the biggest I've ever seen. The base had to be 20 feet around at the least. The stairway was covered and held pale blue and yellow lights that gave everything a lightened hue. I was behind Haldir, Aragorn, and Legolas as we climbed the great tree.
We came to the top and the glow was so bright that I had to cover my eyes.
Moments later, two figures, a man and a woman, appeared descending a small staircase in front of us. I recognized Lady Galadriel instantly with her long golden blonde hair and pale blue eyes. Lord Celebron hadn't changed much either. His darker blonde hair still fell to his shoulders and his eyes were the ever-serious brown. Neither had changed in 230 years since I saw them as a young elfling. I bowed my head in respect to the royal couple of Lothlorien as did most of my companions.
After a few moments, Celebron spoke.
"Nine of you are here and nine set out from Rivendell yet, Gandalf is not among you. Tell me where is he? I much desire to speak with him"
"He has fallen into shadow" Galadriel spoke softly and mournfully.
"The quest stands at the edge of a knife, stray but a little and it will fail; leading to the ruin of all" A long pause entered the room as we all looked around curious of the lady's words.
"Yet, hope remains if the company is true" She smiled as she looked at Aragorn, then Frodo and me.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Go now and rest for you are weary with sorrow for you lost leader. Tonight you will sleep in the comforts of Lorien"
We all relaxed as Celebron left the room leaving just the Lady before us.
"Maethriel a moment" she said smiling. I nodded following her up the stairs.
"Take a walk with me" she suggested.
"Of course my lady"
"It has been many years young one"
"A lot has changed"
"All things happen for a reason. Though the loss of your village and family is heart breaking, I foreseen you joining this fellowship many years ago"
"Have you seen our future?"
"I see many things, but the future of this fellowship is hidden from me beyond your stay here, but your future has been shown in pieces"
"What does it hold?"
"You know very well young one that I cannot tell you any future events"
"What of my past? Can you tell me of my mother? She died when I was young but I was never told much, other than she was born in Gondor"
"That was for your protection but I believe you will come face to face with the truth soon"
"I have right to know please my Lady"
"Your mother's name was Lileth. She was the daughter of Eraton, who was a descendent of Isildur" I knew who Isildur was even in my lonely village. Isildur was the last king of Gondor.
"I'm Gondor's heir?"
"The only one known to the enemy. Your mother knew you would be safest out of sight. She kept you hidden for your youngest years but when she was injured that is why she came to Lothlorien, to me. I kept you safe for many years in Hidenil with your family. The enemy's eyes could not come past our borders. It is still mysterious how Saruman's servants found you"
"I thank you for the protection you gave me"
"You know your heritage now, but I must ask you to keep it a secret. There are those in this world that do not wish for a king or queen to return to Gondor"
"Why? The nation has been without a ruler for many years"
"Those who wish the demise of men do not wish a king to return. But, worry not Maethriel. The fellowship will protect you from these dangers"
"I know they would, but they have loyalty to Frodo first"
"Though you know not why" It was a statement not a question.
"Legolas always tells me it's not his place to tell me"
"The Prince is right, it isn't but now it is dangerous for you not to. So, I will tell you the story of the One Ring" She went on to explain how the rings of power were forged and how Sauron forged a final ring to rule them all. Lastly, she spoke of how Frodo came to be the ring bearer.
"So the fellowship seeks to destroy the Ring"
"Yes, and you and your friends now hold the fate of Middle Earth in your hands"
"I know it is much to take in young one but take this night to rest. We will discuss more later. Celriana show Mae to the hot springs and bring her fresh clothes" Another familiar face guided me down the stairs. Her blonde hair was longer but Celriana looked no different.
As I slipped into the water, I had quite a lot to digest. First, I was Isildur's heir. Second, my friends were on a quest that will shape the future of Middle Earth. Third, Galadriel expected me to go with them.
All in a day's journey I guess.