She rose before the sun did, and walked slowly through the grey misty morning to the stables. A chant of sorts, in a deep voice, echoed dully through the air as she made her way closer to the dark shadow of the gnarly-looking building.
I've seen a lot of sad things
I've seen a lot of bad things
I've seen blood and strife
I've seen dark and light
But I ain't never said.
I've seen a lot of odd things
Like shadows of the dark, the lot
of them take all you have
And leave you out to rot.
You may say that this world's
tired and broken,
And all we can do is run
Well, lemme tell ya son
it's more than just that
and if you believe everything's fine
this day'll be your last.
Now done is this rhyme
but lemme tell you one more time
This world's everything but fine.
It was Borik, who had already loaded a heavy pack on a rather elderly grey pony with a face as if it sucking a lemon. "Ah, finally!" he said, noticing Uialithil, "I've been waiting for TWO HOURS!"
"You could have been sleeping," she said, irritated, "I see you are really very serious about this."
"Yes! I do not mess around! Let us be off!"
"Um, are you my escort?" came a small voice in the fog.
Uialithil looked about. The small hobbit from the inn, the one called Emerald, straightened up, a small pack on her shoulder. "Yes," said Uialithil kindly. "Your sister Diamond requested I take you to Deere's Lake. Is that correct?"
"Yes," said Emerald. "Another escort will meet you on the road before the Old Forest. They will take me to the Lake, but they were too scared to come to Bree with all that's been happening in the Shire. You're right brave, missus."
Uialithil smiled. "Come," she told her, and hoisted her up onto Aiglos. She slid her twin blades morianga and Elenmacil into the two sheaths on her dark steed's body, and swung up herself. "We are ready to go, Borik. Do you have everything?"
But Borik's eyes had flashed at the sight of the morianga's dark metal. "I've seen that before, I has."
"Where?" asked Uialithil wearily, loosening her grip on Aiglos. The horse began to move forward, and Borik kicked his own pony into a walk and then a trot. She was disliking him more with every moment: the rough, swift kick to his thin pony's ribs, his arrogant attitude, his loud drunk voice, his constant smoking and blowing the smoke on purpose at others' faces- all of it was rather grating.
She felt Emerald's small hands dig into her sides as the hobbit struggled to stay on Aiglos's back. They bumped and swayed as Borik rested dark eyes on Uialithil.
"Someone I once knew held it."
Uialithil turned away: she knew full well that Borik had fought in the Gondorian skirmish 508 years or so ago, though rather terribly. Others may not have known, because more recent tellings of the tale did not mention Borik by name or the part when Wesemar saved him. She was rather curious on how Borik had managed to survive past an average dwarf's lifespan of 200 years. He was, if she calcultaed correctly, being in his 40's at the time of the fight, 548 or so years old.
"Interesting. May I ask how you have managed to live so long? Do you have elf-blood?"
Borik spat on the ground. "Elf-blood! That would be a disgrace, to muddle the pure blood of my forefathers! But your question is valid. Take a look."
And from his cloak he pulled a ring.
"Ah yes. They say 4 of the Dwarven rings were eaten by dragons, 3 taken back by Sauron." he said at Uialithil's immediate shocked expression. "Not so. I found this ring, I did. It makes me immortal, it does. And it's shiny and sparkly and oh does it look fabulous!"
Uialithil shook her head.
"Secrets are being told," he sniggered, "a secret for a secret, Iael. My question is simple. Why do you have such unusual eyes? I know elves of your hair color have grey eyes. I've been around enough for that. But what of you? You're not an elf fully, are you? You've got... Minau blood, perhaps?"
Uialithil hissed at him. "I am a full elf," she said, "as you are a full dwarf. My eyes are none of your concern."
"A secret for a secret,' he said in a sing-song voice.
"Then ask another question." said Uialithil angrily. Emerald was peering over onto the fast-moving ground, her eyes growing sleepy.
"Alright, then. Why are you really here? No elf would go away from home if not on a mission."
"I am a scout," said Uialithil: it was the excuse her and Glorfindel and Elrond had established as her cover. "I survey the towns and the people and then report it."
Borik asked no more questions, but he could tell that this wasn't the real reason. Instead he asked a question of another type: where they would be going.
"A town called Deere's Lake. We must make for it by tomorrow, or they will sell off the supplies I ordered to the next highest bidder," she said. "We're going to take a shortcut through the Old Forest and spend the night with the Master of the Wood."
"Can't we just take the Greenway all the way?" Borik asked nervously.
"Ah. Scared of the Old Forest, are we? No worries, master dwarf. Tom and Goldberry are kind souls and have bid me to stop by for lunch and some rest. No creature will attack us in the woods, as Tom is the Master, and Aiglos has been blessed by the elf-kin: never will an animal mangle you if Aiglos is your steed."
As Emerald has said, an escort of a dark man and what appeared to be his sister was waiting near the Forest near noon. The hobbit leapt off and rushed to them, and the woman lifted her up like a mother does a child and laughed. Emerald appeared rightfully scared, as noises from the Forest were echoing around them. The woman waved to Uialithil saying,
"We shall see you in Deere's Lake, miss elf!"
With that her and her brother rode off with Emerald clinging desperately behind. Uialithil watched them leave, then whispered to Borik, "Tom won't come unless we sing to him our arrival. Be quiet and let me do it, won't you?"
Borik was too frightened to speak, but jerked his head slightly.
So she began:
O Tom! Bombadillo!
Come, I won't take a no!
For it is I, the Twilit Moon
for lunch this very noon.
Borik and her listened for an answer, standing quiet on the outskirts. Over a hill through the thick trees came Tom, heels clicking and singing. He had a dark brown beard and hair, a battered hat with a bright blue feather, blue eyes, and great yellow boots, and he was shorter than many men, and was what you may call a Minau: others thought he was of the angelic race that was made at the start of the world, during Ea: for they were older than even elves and weren't purely of this world. He sang as he came over the curve of the green grass:
Hey! Come merry do! Here is my friend
Dark hair as the day's end!
Hey! Her eyes are the color of sea-water
Be as Goldberry the river-daughter
Here be the ocean-child standing!
Her black cloak as a nighttime branding,
she is here, hey! For a lunchtime feast!
Oh darling Goldberry will be glad to meet!
My Goldberry be a lovely woman, but she's knelt
to our star-queen, Varda's maiden, lo sea-elf!
Hey, ho! Merry do I do!
Tom proceeded to take them to a beautifully well-tended part of the forest, with trimmed hedges and grass and stone walkways leading up to a small cottage. A garden of many types of flowers bloomed around, and a river full of water lilies wound throughout. A few nightingales and bluebirds flew over to Uialithil, and perched on her shoulders singing.
Borik followed along with a rather sour expression.
The door opened and light poured out. A woman with rippling yellow hair and a dress of living flowers came out, holding out her pale arms and embracing Uialithil. "Ah! Twilit Moon!" she exclaimed, "Even as you be an elf of ocean and I a lady of river, we are cousins by the water! Now, come. Tom and I will host you this day, you and your little dwarf companion."
They came to, and saw lying on the table all the makings of a delightful meal: there was cheese and bread, meat and greens, wine and water, and many an elvish thing. All four sat down, and Goldberry laughed, "Your friend has the appetite of a thousand lions!" for Borik had immediately began stuffing his face.
"He's a business partner," said Uialithil carefully.
"What of your visit?" asked Tom, "it has been a good while since I have seen you! Merry do I do, indeed! Quite unprecedented, but not at all unwelcome!"
"I am travelling to my motherland," she said. "to Lorien."
"Ah, the blossom-dream-land!" said Goldberry, "I see. You are going home, but towards the War, no doubt. Do you intend to help?"
"I would, but at the moment I can't. I must focus on getting home safe, not heroics."
"Ah," laughed Tom, "what a different person you have become! Why, not more than a few yen ago you would be charging off to war, and be drawing your blade at any throat! But this change is for the best. It means you are maturing."
Goldberry smiled warmly. "But what is this I see? Not only has she matured in spirit and soul, but she has matured in love. I see it in her eyes. But I shall not ask. That is between you and whoever you are with! Now, let us be merry. You have come a long way, and it is cold outside."
Later that night she came to see Tom in the library, and she pulled out her map to mark her path so far. He sat quiet in an armchair, humming to himself, and watched as Uialithil polished morianga. "Have you seen this blade before?" she asked, and he took it and looked. His fingers ran down it.
"It's history is hidden by soot and ash, broken crowns and bloody staffs. But I would not worry," he said, "for the evil that lies dormant will not come to for a very long time. Years, I would think, and by then the source of the evil itself may be destroyed. So, do not worry, Twilit Moon! You are safe! Now, it would do well to sleep- not just an elvish-sleep, but a pure sleep. Come! Your room is this way."
Borik lie snoring in a bed, and Uialithil sat on the spare near the door. The rain washed down all around them, streaking down the windows of the small, dark, cozy room, and Tom closed the door with a murmur:
"Rest, for the days coming will not permit it."
They came into the rather quaint town of Deere's Lake that next noon. As they entered, Uialithil spotted a watermill running off the nearby river. The town was mostly wooden boarding and stockhouses, with a few homes here and there (mostly inhabited by the storefront owners), and many bridges crossed over the water that passed beneath them.
A voice rose over the silence to say:
A grey and white horse came cantering up to meet them, and Uialithil saw Farin bringing his steed to a halt. Uialithil did the same, stopping by a dark doorway. Inside she could see the man and sister (who waved and smiled) from before, with Emerald almost hiding behind them. The tall man watched her intensely with dark eyes as she and Borik passed. She held his gaze until he ducked back into his shadowy house and softly closing the door. As the pair approached Farin, the elf swung off his saddle and ran panting to meet them.
"Farin!" she exclaimed, embracing him briefly. "Do you bear evil news?"
"Well met, Lady! No! But Elrond says he wishes you to be quicker with your 'dillydallying'- as he has learned of your detour. He says evil apparitions and spiderlings have been on the Greenway and believes it dangerous to you!"
"Ah, yes. I saw many hints of spiders, webs and such. I even had to slay one, when it attacked me. That was after you left me my first day travelling."
"Ai. Maybe I should've went with you. I am yours, after all- the Lady's messenger and escort." he nodded solemnly, but then he noticed Borik. His voice filled with venom. "And whose this?! A dwarf, with my Lady?! Disgraceful of you, benedar of the mountains!"
"He's paid me," said Uialithil in a rather mad tone, as a parent berates a child, "to show him the way beyond my motherland. I am not harboring any racial resentment- and you shouldn't either, Farin! You are a high member of Elvendom, and an example, but you're not being a fine one!"
Farin went quiet. He was younger than Uialithil by a few yen (albeit almost a foot taller) but he was all she said. However, he had a hatred for dwarves (dwarrows) that went beyond the mutual one that was common between the elf-kin and dwarf-sons, and it was much more complicated. The simple mention of his Lady being in the company of such a creature deeply offended him.
"Well then," he said bitterly to Borik. Then he turned back to Uialithil. "I knew you would be here, but I expected earlier."
Uialithil nodded. "I was ambushed by a rather odd troll that could speak quite intelligently, even made songs of sorts. No doubt Sauron's trolls have even rubbed off on the nicer ones. Then I had to save a hobbit from the aforementioned spider, and then I have to save another hobbit by bringing her to her escort."
Farin murmured for another moment, taking hold of Aiglos and Vilya and walking them over to a stable. Borik made a rude gesture, and pulled his own grey pony (who Tom had taken to calling Old-joints) to a stall.
Farin, taking the chance, jogged back over to Uialithil, leaving the stablemaster to bar Borik from leaving unless he paid for all three horses.
Uialithil raised an eyebrow when Farin reached her.
Farin laughed, but the bitterness still lingered in his eyes. "I have messages for you once we get to the bar," he said, "but I have a question. Did I see Razan looking at you?" his tone was playful.
"Oh, that's his name? The hobbit who I handed off to escorts by the Old Forest were supposed to stay with him."
"Yes. Razan and his siter Raylee have been volunteering to help hobbits and others affected by the War, and by the Shire-ravaging. He's also the goods supplier. He's to stock us at nine tomorrow, before we leave." said Farin. Borik had started to walk back over.
"That's very kind of him. Are we staying here tonight?"
"Correct, madam! I will see you off into your journey until we reach the Nin-n-Eilph. I have much to tell, most of it good. Shall we go to the bar?"
The bar was called the Stagfight. Many mounted animal heads were hung on the wooden walls, and the patronage were mostly rough-looking men and a few dwarves, all laughing uproarishly and singing in loud drunk voices. Above the bar was a stag with a broken antler.
"Now, where to start?" said Farin when all three found seats side by side at the bar. "You left on the 2nd of December, it is now the 4th. The Fellowship is to leave by the 25th at the earliest."
"How are the others?" she asked when the bartender pushed her a small shotglass of wine. She absently used her hand to stop Borik from gnawing on a gem from his beard.
Farin laughed, "What not about them? They're always asking about you. I may have a good memory, as do most of the elf-kin, but there were so many well-wishers I had to make them all write their greetings down! Here." he drew out a folded piece of yellowed paper and showed it to her:
Have a safe journey. Elrond
Be quick, Uial, there's always danger lurking. Godspeed! Love, Glorfindel
Do some good. It is better to give than to recieve. And don't stop singing! Lindir
I shall roast anyone who harasses you. Just say the name, place, and crime. Oh... and preferred method of roasting. Most Truly Yours, Gandalf
Hullo and hope you're well! From Bilbo Baggins
I send my love. Love, Arwen
Good luck. May Varda be with you. From Aragorn
Be safe. Sincerely, Legolas
I want to hear the whole story when you get back! From Samwise Gamgee
"Legolas?" asked Uialithil, running one pale finger down the numberous other varied scripts on the backside.
Many other elves who she vaguely recognized had scrawled a quick 'good luck' or blessing of some sort. "He wrote? That's unexpected."
"Yes! He's worried about you, almost even more than Glorfindel was, if that's possible. I saw it in his eyes were I took his message. He was anxious so I asked him, 'Why so worried? I mean, we're all a bit scared for her, but we've grown used to it. She's as much a vagabond as Mithrandir is, she can't sit still for more than a couple days. This time around it was a record. But she's a force to be reckoned with, and she's not your betrothed, so why stress so much about it?'
"He only said, 'I'll write be safe.'"
"That's kind of him. But... well..."
"You two have grown closer, haven't you?" said Farin, knowing perfectly well. "I saw you two talking a lot together. And I spoke to him, and he seems to like you."
Uialithil shook her head. "I am of the Silvan elves, and he is a prince. Even if the love existed, it couldn't be."
Farin sighed. "Silvan? Not so. Has Elrond never said?"
"Said what?" asked Uialithil with a hard tone.
"I won't share unless he bids me to," Farin said. "Anyway, he is against such a love, of yours and the Prince's, to an extent. As he is against Lady Arwen's and Estell's. But I say, to udun with that!"
Uialithil stared at him. "I ought to clean your mouth out with soap, Farin." she said while Borik looked confused.
"And what do you think, benedar?" Farin asked of the dwarf, ignoring the threat. "Is it love? They have spoken a lot, and everytime I'd see them after, they'd be giddy."
Borik shrugged, downing his beer. It frothed over and into his beard. "Pwah. Love? Sounds to be, but what do I know? Just ask her if it's so."
Farin rolled his grey eyes and said mockingly, "Just ask her if it's so, nah, nah-" but then he brightened. "A direct question? Ah, that may work. What about it, Uial?"
"Hm?" she asked.
"Just tell the annoying pretty boy the truth," said Borik. "I'd like to know too."
Uialithil sighed. "Ai."
Borik looked confused, but Farin grinned. "What'd she say?"
"Ah, I knew this day would come," said the elf, a bit sadly.
"What'd she say?!" said Borik louder.
Uialithil frowned. "No doubt one-sided. But it answers your question. Won't you tell him?"
Farin nodded, "I shall." Once he finished his wine, the bartender called Grassbay turned to Uialithil. "We heard from Farin here that you like to sing. Do you have anything for us, perhaps? We haven't had a lot of singing for a while, because of all these problems going on."
A drunk man joined in the cheer, "Yeah! Song, from the pretty elf-lady!"
Hey! There's a bar on this here road
Where they serve up the spirits cold
Beer if you're the hobbit-sort drinking
There goes the dancing and glasses clinking!
Wine if you'd like, splendid as King Thranduil's
now we have the songs if you've had your fill.
Brandy if you're a dwarf-throat needing refreshment
'round this inn, no racial resentment!
And if you're a man, perhaps all three
Is just what a traveller needs!
Warm beds and hearths, on your way to Minas Trith
Or perhaps down to the Shire? No worries, sire!
No matter where on the map, come and raise your cap!
For this here bar on this here road
Where they serve up the spirits cold!
For the merriments aren't over
Til all here have a hangover!
She went out to the town's central fountain afterwards, sitting down on the dry stonework in the late evening breeze. After a moment she spotted a guitar resting on a bench, and she came back to the fountain to play it and sing softly,
When the snow's all fallen, and the sun's done shining
When Illuvar's then calling, and the elves are done rhyming
When the song's sung, when the dreams fade
When the world then dies and ends that was made
When the flowers are done blooming
When the dwarves are done mining
When the mountains are done looming
And the lovers are done pining
When the tale is finished, the dance is preformed
When the light's then all weak and all the stars formed
I will bring you home, I will love you so
I will heal your wounds, I will learn your runes
I will make you warm, in the sun's dark form
I will led you to the Halls among, and sing you an elvish song.
I will never stop singing,
I will make your dreams come true
I will rebuild our broken land
And make your life anew.
I will grow a garden filled, and bring you jewels too
I will make a ridge of hills, and I will yearn for you
I will write you a story, I will dance and fly
I will light us a candle as we name all the stars in a new sky.
"Hullo! That's mine, that is. "
She whipped about to see the same man from before, smiling in the pale evening light. "Oh," she said sheepishly, attempting to give the guitar back to him.
"No, no!" he said, holding his hands up, "that's quite all right. You're an elf, correct? I can tell by your song. Do you know the song Traveller?"
"You're Rohorrim?" she smiled gently, leaning forward, her hair falling softly out of her hood.
The man nodded happily. "Yes. My name is Razan. And you?"
"I am Iael to your kind," she said.
"Ah yes! Farin spoke of you, and very highly, I might add. Now, what about that song? I'll play and you can sing." he smiled, and lifted the guitar from her, sitting down on the fountains. Strumming the first few notes, they began:
Running wild, running free, over the hills and the streams
Throughout the land, don't you just stand!
Come, pull your blade, join the fight: we won't stop til morning light.
Take your ale,
dream of kingdoms
Little children playin' knights
in the pasture
But we're the ones
living in the dream,
yeah, we're travellers
Grab your horse, take your map, we're rolling stones
Sing your song and draw your bow
Shield your eyes from the sun, for tomorrow we ride on!
He smiled and laughed. "It's a children's song, and children don't understand the pain of what they call 'adventuring'." he said, "But you do, I heard. Farin said you've been everywhere."
"That's an overstatement," she said, laughing with him. "I've been to every elf-land you could dream of, to Rohan and Gondor, even on the outskirts of Mordor. There are places I've never been , but wish to go someday."
They talked for a while, and she left feeling as if she had made another friend. However, Razan felt as if he had met an angel: the woman of his dreams. But dreams are just that: unreachable. As the love that had overtaken Beren for Tunuviel, Razan wanted Uialithil, only it was never meant to be.
Here are the translations if not provided by the text:
Elvish for "no-father": another use-your-brain indirect swear.
Sindarin for "hell", "underworld" or "down-world". Again, see above.