Back, and Not There Again: An elf's story
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Gandalf glanced shortly at Valadron. Her expression turned into one of complete bewilderment as the words sounded in her ears.
“Welcome,” said Galadriel. A thin smile touched her lips and Valadron caught the glimmer of elvish magic in her eyes. But even the pale light of her skin could not pierce the deep shadows of mystery behind her calm gaze. “Mithrandir,” she said turning to Gandalf. “The Darkness of the East had passed and you traveled to the West. Why do you return?”
“Never again,” replied Gandalf slowly, “will my path cross with Lorien.”
“You will go to the Grey Havens,” she concluded sadly. “There you will meet the Ringbearers and across the grey seas you will fly, never again to walk upon this earth.”
She closed her eyes and Gandalf respectfully bowed his head. Valadron folded her hands and bowed her head also though she didn’t know why. For a long time they stood in pure silence. The golden leaves stopped fluttering, the small streams stopped trickling, and the sun passed behind a dark, looming cloud. After a time Galadriel opened her eyes. The sadness disappeared and the greenish grey returned. “Come visitors,” she said, her smile recovering. “I shall see you it that you will be greeted with great hospitality. Your stay, I assure you, will not fall into ill arms.”
Valadron stared into the beauty of her surroundings as she stood at the edge of the elvish tree house she was staying in. Gandalf was further away, closer to the bright and beautiful Caras Galadhon. He had informed her that he was in conversation with the Lord and the Lady. After their last meal he would depart and Valadron would be unable to follow.
She touched the white rail that circled the rim of the floor with her fingertips. It was cool but smooth as she grasped it tightly. The wind was at a minimum, only having the power to make the white and silver branches dance and sway. A thick blue mist drifted far below and blanketed the forest bottom. Luminous lights emerged from the aged trees and wound themselves upon the stairs that winded up and around the giant white trunks. Again she gripped the small cold bottle that rested against her chest on its silver chain. Ever since they entered Lorien it began to portray an immense ivory glow. Valadron gripped it tighter as she looked into the distance. There was a mystical atmosphere she sensed, especially near the chamber of Galadriel and Celeborn. It was about time she found out what it was.
Her curiosity had again gotten the best of her. After changing into the pale dress that was given to her by the Lady she silently crept down the winding stairs. At the bottom were two proud elves, male and female, with wavy blond hair and blue eyes. They both held their own neatly carved wooden bow and arrow as they surveyed the woods with their chins held high. Valadron passed them with a quick wave of her hand, signaling that she meant no harm to their duties. She found herself in the middle of a light-colored platform that many trees that emerged from. She followed its circle until a few openings showed before her. If she took a left she would climb to another level of the elvish dwellings. If she took a right she would ascend a pair of stairs that took her to the tree canopy. Seeing that both directions were useless to follow she carried on straight ahead to be welcomed by another gleam of light. Through it she saw the familiar form of Galadriel. Seated beside her in equal dignity was a male elf that she assumed was Celeborn. Gandalf stood in his white robes before both of them with his hands at his side. All were in deep conversation when Valadron approached. She stood beside the limb of a small white tree and tried to go unnoticed. But Galadriel was already aware of her presence. Instead of alarming or dismissing her she calmly smiled.
“Come forth,” she called. “Do not be afraid.”
Valadron took three timid steps and stopped a few paces away from Gandalf.
“Who is this elf with a curious heart?” asked Celeborn with an amused expression.
Valadron looked at Gandalf and saw him nod.
“I am Valadron of Rivendell,” she said warily. Galadriel and Celeborn exchanged strange glances.
“You say you are from Rivendell but you appear not so. What is your tale?” asked Celeborn. Valadron hesitated dearly before answering.
“I once lived in Lothlorien before…” Her voice faded and was drifted away in the thin breeze.
“Ah! But now your tale is different. You originate from Rivendell but now you lived in Lorien. How is this so?”
“The mystery of my childhood drew me here,” Valadron blurted. “I lived here with my parents until…”
“There is no need for anger,” said Galadriel with a soft gaze. “We know what thought haunts you the most. You once lived here but you were taken to Rivendell.”
“Then you know what happened,” said Valadron with suspicion. Why had they questioned her when they were aware of her past?
“The story will not be told now at this time. We will eat in the forest today and talk of what matters are needed,” concluded Celeborn. “After you are finished we will say farewell to Mithrandir.” Gandalf bowed low and turned to leave. Valadron followed in trudging steps slowly behind.
When they entered the outside of the forest the sun greeted them with great yellow beams. They shined through the silver and gold leaves that fluttered in the wind and across their path and great trees with huge boughs absorbed its golden light. From time to time Valadron would catch the glimpse of elves traveling under the shadows or in the shade. Some stood and bowed their heads when Gandalf passed for this was his last moment before the final departure.
As they walked further they heard the sound of a stream. Pretty soon a silver river appeared and Gandalf recognized it as Anduin the Great. After walking alongside it for several minutes they came upon the spot where Galadriel had set up their place of dwelling. She had set a glimmering white cloth on the soft grass. Set before them were many varieties of foods and a pitcher.
Valadron seated herself beside Gandalf. She crossed her legs as everyone else and sat patiently.
“Welcome, Mithrandir,” said Celeborn in the elvish tongue. “Welcome Valadron.”
“I am glad to be joining,” replied Valadron, also falling into her native tongue. Galadriel opened one of the cloths and placed one floured cake in everyone’s hands. It was small and somewhat thick so Valadron nibbled it at first. It was slightly sweet with a bit of flavor.
“Now,” said Galadriel. “Let us speak of what bothers you.”
Valadron took one more bite and then started.
“There is one thing I would like to say before we begin. It is half of the reason I traveled here.” She took the clear bottle off her chain and placed it in the Lady’s hands. “It was given to me as a gift by Gandalf although it was a gift to him by you. I felt that I was meant to have it though I could not take it knowing that it was such a precious thing.”
Galadriel placed her hand over it and suddenly the water turned as silver as the leaves that brushed past them. She chanted a few elvish lines and then returned it. “I has been passed to you now,” she said. “It has been purified and blessed again. It shall bring you good fortune whenever you need it.” She then passed silver cups around and poured an orange liquid into each.
“Now let us hear of your journey,” said Celeborn returning to Common Speech. “I wish to know the perils that lie beneath your quest.”
Gandalf drank from his cup and then began in full detail the telling of their voyage. He explained the departure from Rivendell and the attack of the ravenous wolves. He told the coming of the horses and the escape from the goblins in the passage of the Misty Mountains and then the trudge across the Gladden Fields. Afterwards he drew to the finish and ended with the entering of Lothlorien.
“An interesting tale indeed,” said Celeborn. “Though something is missing. You did not explain the story of Valadron too clearly.”
“What drove you to leave?” asked Galadriel.
Then Valadron began her brief tale of the night that the anniversary of the returning Fellowship occurred and her decision of leaving Rivendell. She also explained the dream in which Galadriel visited her.
“Then everything has been told,” ended Celeborn. “Except for the tale of your parents.”
Valadron’s eyes grew in wonder. She would find out the mystery behind the dilemma that had kept her from staying in Rivendell. Whether it ended up in disaster or fortune she did not care.
“I remember it clearly,” said Galadriel, her grey eyes shining. “The forest was everything but what you see now. The branches were torn off giant trees and some were scarred with flames. The leaves were brown and dead and the ground was muddy and sometimes frozen. A perilous evil emerged from the East; a horrific power had been awakened. The skies were dark and we thought we were safe. We discovered later that many of our people were missing. Warriors were sent into the shadows to retrieve those who were lost. They returned many weeks later with little luck at all. The Enemy, the Lidless Eye, the Almighty Power had corrupted them. He spoke many lies of great fortune and benefit to them. They were persuaded and one by one they entered his darkness. Our armies attempted to resist him but it was hopeless. Even his lies and foul promises swayed them. One day two elves were captured by Orcs and were taken before him. They resisted and refused his might so in the end they were tortured. Soon enough they became servants of him also. It was they who were your parents. We found you wandering in the forest. Orcs were searching for you. You would have suffered the same fate as your parents had we not taken you. But at that time we could not keep you in Lothlorien for children are the easiest to be taken by the Enemy. Scouts reported that the sons of Elrond were looking for survivors in the last ambush. We took you to the forest and rested you beneath a tree. They found you later that morning. Now the tale continues off of your story.”
Valadron took moments of silence to recover. But she was not overcome with grief.
“Thank you,” she said instead. “I am now free of my troubles. For long I desired to hear of them and maybe meet them, but just knowing that I was not abandoned is enough.”
“And for that I am glad,” said Gandalf. “I hope you will be able to turn to Rivendell someday and tell your adventures to Elrond and your relatives. But I have stayed late. I fear it is time for me to leave now.”
They all met once again in Caras Galadhon, the chamber of Galadriel and Celeborn. Other elves joined them in peace such as Haldir and many other guards. Everyone bowed their head as the Lord and the Lady descended their steps to stand before Gandalf.
“Farewell, Mithrandir,” said Galadriel with her hand above his head. “May your last journey end in peace and may the grey seas carry you to your end.”
“I am grateful to have stayed here,” answered Gandalf. “Thank you.” He turned a final time and stepped down the stairs.
“May Shadowfax keep you well,” called Celeborn.
Before he was completely gone Valadron followed.
After he had gathered his things and packed his bags Gandalf guided Shadowfax and Namidir as they began to leave. Floating through the air in a beautiful melody a lament was being sung for Gandalf:
“Mithrandir, Mithrandir, A Randir Vithren
Before the grey mist had completely swallowed them Valadron appeared.
“Goodbye, Pilgrim Grey,” she said with a short hug.
“And goodbye to you,” he laughed. “Oh! One more thing.” He put his hand on Namidir’s back and guided him to Valadron. “I’ve no need to take him with me any more. Therefore he is yours to remain in your possession.”
“I’ll watch over him,” she promised. With that Gandalf leapt upon Shadowfax and within the blink of an eye he had disappeared. Namidir nuzzled Valadron’s face. Suddenly she laughed. “I guess it’s just you and me now,” she said, brushing his nose. She jumped on his back and kicked her heels and both headed home.