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The Light of the Northern Star

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Notes/facts that DON’T exist in the canon universe.

(I’m putting as limited facts as possible to avoid spoilers)

  • Erawest Fervainel - Erawest Northern Star; the title character of this fanfic. Once joined in the Battle of the Five Armies, Elrond’s niece, Arwen’s cousin, Friend to Bilbo, Daughter of Fearaen Luinloth and Armedlion Bear-King, and Legolas’s childhood sweetheart.
  • Fearaen Luinloth - Lady of the Silver Crown, Elf-Queen of Meriltaure, Eldest daughter of Galadriel and Celeborn, Mother of Erawest Fervainel, and Wife of Armedlion Bear-King; Once fought in the Last Alliance of Men and Elves, where she lost her husband and succumbed to her grief, nearly killing her.
  • Armedlion Bear-King - Lord among Bears, Elf-King of Meriltaure, Older brother of Elrond, Father of Erawest Fervainel, and Husband to Fearaen Luinloth; Once raised by a she-bear as a young after he lost his mother and father; Fought against Morernil and died in the Last Alliance of Men and Elves.
  • Meriltaure - Translated as “Rose-wood”; Known as “The Fortress of Blossoms and Thorns”, Armedlion and Fearaen’s kingdom, and Erawest’s home.
  • Nimfin - Translated as “White Hair”; despite his name, Nimfin is described as “a pure black horse with an air of elegance, wisdom, and mystery”. He was often mistaken as a Ringwraith’s horse, due to his appearance and untamable nature. He was raised and owned by Rainariel Edraith before he was sent to be Erawest Fervainel’s horse.
  • Morernil - Formerly known as Galuel, one of the High-Elves and a King of Meriltaure before he was lured by Sauron, prompting him to betray his patron: Rainariel Edraith, and became Sauron's vassal. 
  • Rainariel Edraith - Titled as The Ethereal Light and/or Daughter of The All-Father; While she was warned of her constant involvements in Middle-Earth, she dwelled among the inhabitants as often as she could. One of her greatest followers was Galuel before he betrayed her for Sauron’s forces. While Morernil survived after Sauron’s defeat, the people of Middle-Earth began to lose their faith in The Ethereal Light for her failure to stop Galuel from turning to evil, and for not coming to their aid. Nevertheless, Rainariel’s fame throughout the land and history was significant.
  • The Northern Star - Belonged to Rainariel Edraith before it was sent to Erawest Fervainel through Gandalf. According to Elbereth, The Northern Star was the most precious to Rainariel as it was also called “The Heart of The Ethereal Light”, and prolonged the wielder’s life force. In other words, it could keep the wielder immortal and invincible in battle unless he/she would give it away, then the wielder would become vulnerable.

 

 

Chapter Text

The world has changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was- is lost; for none now live who remember it.

It began with the forging of the Great Rings. Three were given to the Elves- immortal, wisest, and fairest of all beings. Seven to the Dwarf Lords- great miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls. And nine, nine rings were given to the race of Men, who above all else, desire power. For within these rings was bound the strength and will to govern each race. But they were all of them deceived, for another ring was made.

In the land of Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom, the Dark Lord Sauron forged in secret a master ring, to control all others. And into this Ring, he poured his cruelty, his malice, and his will to dominate all life.

One Ring to rule them all

Sauron’s malevolence began to seduce even the most benevolent of the High-Elves, Galuel, into his domain, provoking strife between the fallen Elvenking and his former patron: Rainariel Edraith, The Ethereal Light and Daughter of The All-Father. The struggled ended with Galuel spurning The Ethereal Light once more and joined in Sauron’s forces to be reborn as Morernil, The Vassal to his dark sire. In his service, he offered his soul and sealed his master’s essence in the Ring with his sins of luring every kind into darkness.

One by one Free Lands of Middle Earth fell to the Power of the Ring. But there were some who resisted. A Last Alliance of Men and Elves marched against the armies of Mordor. And on the slopes of Mount Doom, they fought for the freedom of Middle Earth. Victory was near. But the Power of the Ring could not be undone.

In the midst of the battle, it was Armedlion, the Elven Bear-King of Meriltaure, who left a scar on Morernil’s flesh with his spear. But before he had the chance to cut him twice, he was killed in the very presence of his wife. Fearaen, while avenging his death, proclaimed a curse to her husband’s murder:

By Armedlion’s blood, you shall perish!

It was in this moment when all hope had faded that Isildur, Son of the King, took up his father’s sword.

Sauron, the enemy of the Free Peoples of Middle Earth, was defeated.

His nefarious Vassal fled, never to be seen again. It was only a small step to victory… or so they thought...

The Ring passed to Isildur, who had his one chance to destroy evil forever. But the hearts of Men are easily corrupted, their faith in the stars and the Ethereal Light was replaced with doubt, and the Ring of Power has a will of its own. It betrayed Isildur to his death. And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost.

History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years the Ring passed out of all knowledge. Until, when chance came, it ensnared a new Bearer.

The Ring came to the creature Gollum, who took it deep into the tunnels of the Misty Mountains and there it consumed him. The Ring brought to Gollum unnatural long life. For five hundred years it poisoned his mind, and in the gloom of Gollum’s cave, it waited.

Darkness crept back into the Forests of the World. Rumor grew of a Shadow east. Whispers of a Nameless Fear. And the Ring of Power perceived its time had now come. It abandoned Gollum. But something happened then the Ring did not intend.

It was picked up by the most unlikely creature imaginable: a hobbit, Bilbo Baggins of the Shire.

For the time will soon come when hobbits will shape the fortunes of all…

Chapter Text

In spite of the fact that she was born and raised by her mother, her eyes- the same green like the wild woods, proved that she was her father’s daughter.

“Bilbo!”

 

The sound of a familiar voice echoed in the night-air as Bilbo Baggins broke his gaze from the landscape of Imladris to the source of that voice. A smile broke on his wrinkled face when he laid eyes on Erawest Fervainel coming to his direction with open arms. Even though his age changed him from the last six hundred years or so, she still preserved the same youthfulness a long time ago. Her skin was white, glowing in the blue night, and seemed unmarked- despite that she went through many battles protecting her fortress, her lips kept the same hue of a rose with a welcoming smile, and her eyes- the most beautiful of all greens, like the woods of her great home- always engraved in his memory. While he remembered that her golden hair was once long and flowing, she cut it off to the base of her neck, and yet, it didn’t make any difference for him.

“My Lady Erawest!” Bilbo received her embrace as he felt her arms around him.

Erawest pulled back and looked at him from head to toe. “So quick, yet so much time has passed.”

“It is wonderful to see you here, my lady. But what brings you here to Rivendell? Still taking your studies from Lord Elrond, I suppose.”

She laughed at his remark fondly and sat with him. “Good point but no. You see, my uncle sent my mother some urgent message,”

The Northern Star, the white jewel rimmed with gold and a hanging pearl, upon the middle of her chest, glowed faintly. Bilbo saw it; although it wasn’t the first time he’d seen it shine, it was glowing dimmer than he remembered. 

“Is it anything… bad?”

Erawest looked at him steadily and said, “I won’t say so specifically, but it is urgent enough for my mother to leave her dinner untouched. She told me that there is no need for me to go, but then, I insisted anyway. Who knows if it is bad, Master Hobbit.”

She heard a small chuckle coming from him, making her expression twist in confusion.

“Of course, you did. After all, you are more stubborn than a dwarf,” Bilbo said with a mischievous grin.

“Hey!” she playfully shoved him. “Don't blame me for my stubbornness, this is inherently acquired for my part. And what about you, Mr. I-Forgot-My-Handkerchief-So-Let-Us-All-Turn-Back? What have you been up to?”

“Oh, nothing much,” that small moment of mirth replaced his expression with slight seriousness. “Except I’m finishing my book.” 

“Are you really?” Erawest asked enthusiastically.

“Yes,” he nodded. “Although, I do admit I miss the adventure and wish that it shouldn’t end yet… not this time… not ever really…”

Erawest recognized this face so many times. She knew what the thoughts of longing were like, and it was painful, sometimes, a heartache even to the most resilient creature on earth. She draped an arm around his shoulder and said quietly, “I understand. But we must remember that we are all underlings to time. We are like the seasons, Bilbo, we have our own beginnings, labors, battles, and ends. Whether by our will or not, we must follow the time until we reach our ends and let the new spring arrive to continue our adventure and preserve the memory,”

He looked at her and gave her a warm smile. “Nothing does change about you, my lady. You still speak with your own wisdom to this day.”

She quirked an eyebrow. “‘My wisdom’? If there is anyone to give credit, it should be Gandalf. We all know he is the master of riddles and speeches.”

They shared a brief moment of laughter before they let the air in Rivendell consume their senses and a moment of peace and quietness enveloped them for minutes.

“Is it bad?” Bilbo broke out. “Is it bad that the thought of me being here in Rivendell makes me want to revisit the lands I used to wander around with a company of dwarves? Laketown… the Woodland Realm… Erebor…”

“You really miss them, don’t you?”

“Yes…” he replied, hanging his head. “Is it bad, my lady?”

She shook her head. “No. But it made me certain of one thing.”

He turned to her.

“Even though you grew, age didn’t change you from the hobbit you were years ago,” she said.

Of course, nothing brings more comfort, joy, sorrow, and pain, than the past itself. The past is irreplaceable, so there is no choice for us but to embrace it.

 

When the rest of Imladris was asleep, Erawest stood in her balcony, gazing at the stars. What used to be a peaceful sky now has that bearing of incoming danger. She felt the light of the Northern Star flickering underneath her fingertips, on her chest, when she looked upon the earth, then back to the heavens with teary eyes. She grew tired in these sleepless nights… 

She recognized her mother’s knocks. Her mother, Fearaen Luinloth, didn’t wait for any response or permission to enter as she already opened the door and made her presence in the room. Erawest studied how her mother was wearing a high-collared blue robe, which was too formal for a sleeping gown. Her silver-blonde hair tied in a fastened braid. And her face, with those gray eyes and arched brows, showed so much attentiveness as she would in every council.

Fearaen approached her, “Another nightmare, my child?”

Erawest shook her head and turned away. “No. Just another night…”

Fearaen stayed at her spot and could only gaze at her back, where she observed the cut of her daughter’s hair. She remembered how Erawest used to brush it and played with the tresses, how it flowed down like a golden waterfall, how it resembled hers then. That is, until that one incident, those locks became heavy on her head, so Erawest took out her dagger and… well, we know what came next.

Nana ? Is there any reason why my uncle sent for us?”

Me , child,” she corrected. “ Me .”

Erawest fidgeted. “... Well, did he?”

Fearaen sighed. So much like her father. “He is still… uncertain. Let us have some sleep first-”

Erawest turned to her with knitted brows. “‘Uncertain’? From what I know, he was never wrong with his foresight-”

“Erawest, please! Sometimes we could be wrong.”

Suddenly, the room froze. The tension between the two women grew; they became uncomfortable, waiting for one of them to say something.

“What do you mean ‘we could be wrong’?” Erawest asked slowly.

Silence

Nana ?”

Fearaen bit her lip and exhaled. She moved and held her daughter’s shoulder while looking deeply into her eyes. “As much as I don’t want to keep secrets from you, I would rather tell you when things are certain. I know it is ridiculous of me to be so indirect, but you’re tired.” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear as Erawest looked away. “Don’t hide it, I know you are, so rest instead. Yes, I’m worried, too, but I am more worried about you. Do you understand?”

She nodded obediently and replied. “Yes, Nana .”

“Good,” the queen kissed her head and went out to her chamber, leaving Erawest in the middle before she retired to bed.

 

By the time it was mid-day, Arwen arrived in Rivendell with a halfling in her arms.

“Arwen!” Erawest called while running down the stairs.

“Erawest!” Arwen paced faster and let her cousin briefly embraced her.

Erawest looked down on the hobbit and noticed his eyes had gone blurred, his skin perspiring and pale as death, and his voice turned into wheezes and groans. “Quick, take him inside!”

They rushed to Elrond’s study where he was seen in the middle of a discussion with Fearaen. They looked at the doorway as Arwen called, “ Ada ! Help him! He’s been stabbed by a Morgul-blade.”

They brought the hobbit into another room and set him on the bed. Fearaen helped Elrond with an elvish medicine; as he placed it upon the infected spot, the hobbit yelped while she calmed him. They took off any article of clothing that got in the way, and for a moment, they froze, staring down at him with a sudden agitation- a face that would have Erawest march to the bed-side if it weren’t for the sound of Arwen losing her balance. This broke Elrond from his trance as his expression changed from fear to worry.

“She’s fine,” Erawest said reassuringly. “The journey made her tired. She just needs some rest.”

Elrond sighed in relief. “Very well, get her to her chambers. We’ll mend him here.”

She nodded before scooping her cousin into her arms and carried her away.

“Fetch her some water and fresh clothes. Quickly!” She called the servants as soon as they got into Arwen’s bedroom.

They brought her a basin and a cloth, a glass of water, and a newly-washed dress. Erawest wiped her forehead with the wet cloth while Arwen moved her head.

“Thank you…” Arwen said faintly, squeezing her cousin’s hand.

“Ssshhh… Lie still. You need to rest…”

Arwen groaned, “Frodo, where is Frodo?”

Assuming that she was referring to the hobbit earlier, she said, “He is in good hands, my mother and your father are looking after him. You don’t need to worry-”

“I forgot…”

“What?”

Arwen used her remaining strength to talk to her. “Erawest… do you still remember, the story we thought was lost in history?”

Her muscled tensed, “Yes… why?”

Arwen continued to stare at her, hesitating to answer, as if she was trying to find the right words. “... it found its way back…”

 

Erawest passed through the hallway into the guestroom. Elrond and Fearaen were still there on Frodo’s bedside, this time, they were accompanied by Bilbo, who was nailed to the ground looking worried on the patient in bed. So, this is the Frodo Baggins Bilbo kept referring to?

While she moved closer, she noticed his neatly-folded clothes on the nearby table. On top of that was a small bump covered with a silver handkerchief, her mother’s handkerchief. Taking the edge of the cloth, she raised it until she could see the rim of a golden ring. Then suddenly, she felt the Northern Star pulsing against her skin, the room slowly began to envelop with shadow and a voice of unknown evil lingered in the air. Her hand stopped, or so she thought when she realized that she could see more of The Ring- it seemed to reveal itself. That lustrous band- the Gold among golds, the Precious, the One Ring to rule them all- offering itself to be her companion, her servant, hers

The Northern Star glowed dim, beating faintly on her chest. Erawest immediately withdrew.

She went to her mother’s side and looked at Frodo. Despite the obvious disease that reeked his body, she could see the signs that told that he will be fine any time. Staring back at him, and then thinking back at The Ring, she couldn’t help but feel pity for him; the thought of such a small creature had to come all his way to a strange elven land, carrying something pure evil in his pocket, was disheartening. Of course, Bilbo was the like that before, but for her, in Frodo’s case, taking The Ring across the boarders of Shire into unknown lands is like someone carrying the burden of the entire world through the slopes of Mount Doom. What is worse was that the Ring cannot stay in Rivendell, nor in Lothlorien, nor in Mirkwood, not even the fortress of Meriltaure could be protected from such evil. Did Frodo come all this way for naught? 

Fearaen was chanting an elvish spell as part of the ritual. When she finished, Erawest leaned closer to her.

“Cin ceri- ú- gar- na treneri- nin…” (You don’t have to tell me)  

Fearaen turned to her.

“Im istā́ ha kwer…” (I know It came back) Erawest said solemnly. “...Ha na- dadwen an ed herdir…” (It’s coming back to Its Master) .

Fearaen gave Elrond a look that said if she could be excused for a moment. Elrond nodded at them, and Fearaen and Erawest went out of the room.

“Is this what my uncle saw in the future?” Erawest started as soon as Fearaen shut the door. “That The One Ring will return?”

Fearaen sighed. “It wasn’t clear until we saw it in his pocket.” 

The moment she fully scrutinized her daughter’s face, she felt herself flinch: Erawest was making that air of stubbornness- her never-ending exhortation.

“Erawest, don’t even think of it.”

“But The Ring cannot stay in Rivendell,” she said in a higher voice. “It has already corrupted the Woodland Realm, let alone here and our kingdom. Something must be done!”

“I know! But we must wait for Mithrandir-” Fearaen hissed before she was cut off.

“Gandalf will tell us to destroy it as it is the only way,” 

“It is not that easy, Erawest,” she said sternly.

“I know-”

Fearaen replied before Erawest completed her sentence, “Then you must understand why we should wait-”

“Waste time while Sauron’s forces are growing and Morernil recruiting everything that moves as their henchman?” she cried. “For goodness sake, Frodo was stabbed by a Ringwraith.”

“Taking The Ring into the fires of Mount Doom is a dangerous business. And who would be willing to destroy it? Elves? Dwarves? Man?”

It was then when she could see clearly what lies behind Erawest’s eyes- Armedlion’s eyes- the same stubbornness, the same determination before he charged in battle with his spear.

“Not again… don’t tell me,” Fearaen said in agitation. “No! I won’t allow it! I forbid it!” she started to walk away, then abruptly stopped her tracks as soon as Erawest called out at her.

“You can’t change what has been planned! Look at what happened! It’s reminding us that this day would come.”

Fearaen whipped around. “You already risk your life once and now you are walking around like a fragile glass that could easily break!”

“At least, have faith-”

“‘Faith’? ‘Faith’?” She repeated the second time with disbelief. For Fearaen what faith was left for her daughter when she used her gift for the wrong purpose. And now, since Erawest chose that path, she must pay the price that would cause her mother so much grief. “You talk so much about fate you don’t even understand the consequence of your actions-”

“I do,” Erawest answered silently. She knew what her mother was talking about, she knew what she did, and she had no regrets. “That’s why I did it…”

It was Erawest who retired from the hall, leaving Fearaen outside before she entered back into the guest room where Frodo slept. She would vent her frustrations on Elrond later.

 

Chapter Text

“Welcome, Master Hobbits, to Rivendell, The First and Last Homely House East of the Sea,”

Aragorn led Sam, Merry, and Pippin across a narrow bridge where a river ran underneath. They stared in awe from the stone figures guarding the entrance to the trees, waterfalls, roofs, and pavilions cohabiting in this one world while a group of voices could be heard in the air, humming- singing like the Ainur. In front of them was a grand staircase with two guards standing immobile on either edge as if they were mimicking the statues.

A lady presented herself to the guests and Strider, as what the Hobbits called Aragorn by, recognized her with a smile. She was an elf-maid of noble birth, likely a close relative to Arwen Undomiel since her father was Armedlion, the Bear-King and a great descendant of Beren and Luthien. Her mother was Fearaen, a sister to Celebrian and a daughter of Lothlorien. She had the shortest stature among her elven kin and yet beheld the loveliest eyes for they reflected the green woods of her father’s youth. Her hair, even if it was cut to the base of her neck, still ran like golden water. She dressed like the starry night, upon her breast lied a white jewel with a rim of gold and a hanging pearl- Rainariel Edraith’s Northern Star.

“Mae athollen, Estel.” (Welcome back, Estel.) Erawest greeted him while descending.

“Glassen an achened le, Erawest.” (It is my joy to see you again, Erawest.) Aragorn replied back. They embraced before turning to the Hobbits.

“Gentlemen,” Aragorn started. “This is Erawest, Princess of the Fortress of Meriltaure, niece to Lord Elrond, daughter of Armedlion.”

Even if she was the second elf they encountered, compared to Arwen, Sam, Merry and Pippin saw her in a different light; Arwen was full of mystery, she proved herself a reliable protector of Frodo and a skilled horse-rider while maintaining an air of grace. Erawest, on the other hand, while mysterious like her cousin, introduced herself as a walking starlight full of poise and regality, and her voice, though soft-spoken, commanded respect.

“My uncle is expecting your company, my young masters,” she bowed at them. “Please, come in, rest, dine- feel yourselves at home.”

They timidly followed her in with Aragorn catching up to her.

“How is Arwen?” he asked in a half-worried tone.

She looked at him and smiled. “Why don’t you ask her yourself?”

As they stopped at the balcony, a tall figure of a she-elf stood with her back turned, and yet, Aragorn recognized her. He immediately went to her side, urging her to face him, and Arwen took him in her arms. Erawest took it as a sign that they should be left alone by themselves. She motioned the three guests to move along while they kept their glances on Strider and Arwen with slight anxiety, after all, they were following a stranger.

“You will see Strider again, my masters,” she said reassuringly. “But for now, I must take you to your rooms and have the meal prepared for you.”

She halted and turned at them. “Have any of you got your second breakfast yet?”

Sam and Merry had their brows raised. Pippin had the widest grin on his face.

 

Erawest dined with the hobbits and she brought Bilbo with her, much to their joy, and Bilbo had more knowledge of the elven world compared to any of the halflings in the room. He told them more about his stories and mentioned how Erawest once escorted Thorin’s Company in Mirkwood, how she fend off the spiders, how she pleaded Thranduil to spare the dwarves before Bilbo single-handedly made an escape, how she went away to get Gandalf back, and how she led an army of elves in the Battle of The Five Armies. All of these fascinated the Hobbits as they finally found the mystery behind her regal demeanor: she wielded her father’s spear and has witnessed bloodshed. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop them to talk to one another, and as the minutes passed, they began to talk informally, raging from Sam’s gardening to Merry and Pippin’s escapades.

“You should know better than stealing Gandalf’s fireworks!” Erawest said while laughing hysterically.

“Don’t blame me, it was his idea!” Pippin claimed and pointed his finger at Merry.

“It was my idea that you agreed on!” Merry defended. “Also, I told you to stick it in the ground.”

“It was going to fly out anyway!” Pippin yelled.

“Shush, you two! This is not The Shire and we are guests here. Have some respect,” Sam reprimanded sternly. He turned to Erawest and his expression softened when he apologized for his companions’ impulsiveness.

However, Erawest didn’t wipe the smile from her face. She missed this sort of noise, full of laughter, stories, and pure fun. It was nice to have peace and quietness in Rivendell, Lothlorien, and Meriltaure, but sometimes, she preferred that silence to break with pans and plates clamoring and breaking- a relieving-chaos where there’s no need of proper etiquettes. She looked at Bilbo and noticed how he smiled fondly at the younger ones; there was also a sense of nostalgia in him because he remembered how a set of dwarves used to make a mess of this very same dining room, throwing away their vegetables across the room and making sounds with their silverwares while singing and kicking on top of the table.

“So, my lady, if it’s not so rude, what is Meriltaure like?” Sam asked politely.

Her face lit up and she responded enthusiastically, “Well, Master Gamgee, when you heard of Meriltaure, what do you think it looks like?”

“Oh…” his cheeks turned red. “I don’t know, I don’t want to offend you, my lady… maybe… like Rivendell?”

Erawest chuckled. “No, you don’t offend me, Sam. But you can say that it is a little bit like Rivendell. You see, it is found in the deepest part of the woods in the north, rimmed with streams. It is called by some as The Fortress of Blossoms and Thorns for we advocate the works of art, hence we intend that our statues and paintings must be detailed, our people must learn to play an instrument, sing, and dance, and our clothes made with the finest linen so we must stand out as our own. Nonetheless, as the rose has her thorns, our fortress has her bears; ever since my father lost his mother and father, it was a she-bear who looked after him in the wild before he reunited with his brothers and became Prince of Meriltaure. From that day on, the bears pledged my father an oath that they shall defend the fortress no matter what cause. And of course, we have our own soldiers, after all, their sovereigns are warriors, so they are expected to be highly trained.”

“What is the food like there?” Pippin asked, earning him a shove from Merry.

Erawest, not bothered by the question, responded, “We mainly eat lembas bread, berries, vegetables, and fish. We also have boar on a few occasions as we are sent to hunt if and when necessary. And yes, we have wine and ale, especially when we feel like celebrating.”

“Oh! That’s not bad,” Merry said. 

Pippin nodded in agreement; his face clearly called cravings for meat, despite that he already had one an hour ago.

“I wish I could see more of the elvish world. You only know so little about them in The Shire- well, except when we have Mr. Bilbo- but they sound really fascinating,” Sam muttered shyly.

Erawest reached and patted his shoulder. “You will, Sam, you will. Time will come that I will let you wander in the halls, listen to music, and watch the flowers grow in the Fortress. And you will always be welcome, and the bears will guide and protect your way.”

Sam beamed in appreciation.

 

After a few small talks, Elrond and Fearaen came in. Erawest stood up, urging the rest to follow.

“Gentlemen, may I present Lord Elrond, the master of the house. And Lady Fearaen of Meriltaure.”

The Hobbits bowed at their presence before Elrond motioned them to sit.

“I welcome you all to Rivendell. Although the road may not be the smoothest course, we are glad for you to come in safety,” Elrond said. “Your friend is still asleep yet. However, I assure you that he will be stable by the time he’s awake.”

Merry and Pippin looked at each other while Sam and Bilbo sighed in relief. 

Elrond went to Erawest and asked, “Masse Aragorn? Nin carfa di sé” (Where is Aragorn? I must speak with him)

She replied that he was with Arwen. 

Elrond nodded and announced, “Gentleman, I’m afraid I must excuse myself for now. But please, find some comfort here, for this is your home, too. You may visit your friend when you are ready, Fearaen will assist you. And of course, Erawest will keep you company.” 

As Elrond exited, the Hobbits finished what was remained on their plates and followed Fearaen, who happily complied their requests to see Frodo. Erawest remained in her seat.

“Are you coming with us, my lady?” Bilbo asked.

She smiled and shook her head. “Maybe later. I have some lessons to attend, Master Baggins.”

Bilbo smiled back when she emphasized the word.

“Are you sure, Erawest? There is still room for more,” Fearaen said with a concerned expression.

“Yes, mother. But I’ll come by later, I promise,” Erawest replied formally.

“Alright, then,” Fearaen then turned to the guests. “This way, gentlemen.”

As she heard the door closed, she waited a few minutes, then got up on her feet and went to the courtyard. Inhaling the fresh air and stretched her arms, she took off her shoes and stepped on the marble floor.

 

Lift your arms; bring them down to your skirt, take hold of them, lift, show your feet; skip; stand on your leg, extend the other backward; leap, then touch the ground with your toe; move, turn, slide, raise your arms like wings; lift up your leg and let it fall while you turn, keep your skirt up; skip then stand on your leg, extend the other backward, arms parallel to your legs; leap, then touch the ground with your toe, again; go there, do not run but glide, keep your skirt up, don’t fall on your heels; do the same movements: lift and let your leg fall while you turn; now, rest your heels; heels up, and spin on your toe, keep your other leg extended on the back; one small jump, land gently, and curtsy; spin, spin, and kneel when you stop- do it again; come over here, hold your skirt, keep them up and don’t let them go; heels up, now- with one leg propelling to and fro, hop to the other side with the other leg. Imagine yourself tapping on water, moving swiftly before the ripples reach your foot. Yes! Yes! Turn but don’t stop. Let go of your skirt but keep your arms raised; stop, drop your leg, and ravel the sky; come back here, skip, and spin back:  fly! Circle around! Let your dress flow! Let your feet take you across the floor! Feel the world around you! And finally, kneel…

She heard applause from a single source, and when she looked up, her mother was there with the widest beam on her face.

“You dance beautifully,” Fearaen said.

Erawest got up and flattened the wrinkles of her skirt. “Well, you’re the one who taught me that. And I love it.” she smiled back.

Fearaen sat on the bench as she gestured her daughter to sit beside her. She looked at her in the eyes and asked her in a tone that meant she would listen to her daughter’s response patiently, “Are you still upset with me after yesterday?”

Erawest blinked and took a minute to find the right answer. “I don’t see why I should be or stay upset with you.”

She exhaled. “Look, I understand your frustrations. I know you want to take action as soon as possible. But your uncle and I wouldn’t risk it, rather, give us little time. For we cannot force what is not meant to be unless it is by will.”

“I understand,” Erawest said. “And yet, I should be the one apologizing. You’ve done so much for me and I took everything for granted. You’ve taught me, raised me… no matter what, you are still my mother, my better. And if I defy you again, please forgive me, and let the world punish me for my wrongdoing against you.”

As any mother would, Fearaen took her daughter in her arms and kissed the top of her head. No words were needed for this gesture of love; in the end, even though she knew that there would be a day when Erawest would be out of her reach, in truth, she wouldn’t let fate take her daughter away from her, regardless of the future for Middle-Earth.

 

Days later, Gandalf arrived in Rivendell.

 

* * *

 

A light flashed before him, then fragments of scenes: a white sky and branches behind a glass window; figures calling him in Elvish tongue, bidding him to come back, bidding him to wake up.

“Where am I?” Frodo heard himself muttered. 

His question was answered by a familiar voice, “You are in the House of Elrond. And it is ten o’clock in the morning on October 24th if you want to know.”

He opened his eyes. “Gandalf!”

Gandalf was sitting on a chair at his bed-side smoking his pipe. Fearaen did an excellent work mending his wounds and bringing his grey robes fresh, making him spotless and more presentable. “Yes, I am here,” he said to Frodo. “And you are lucky to be here, too. A few more hours and you would have been beyond our aid. But you have some strength in you, my dear hobbit!”

Frodo managed to sit up, but he groaned painfully at the scar on his shoulder. He looked at Gandalf, again. “What happened, Gandalf? Why didn’t you meet us?”

“Oh, I'm sorry Frodo… I was delayed,” he answered.

A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to. Those words repeated in Frodo’s mind as he heard his response: “delayed”. It would have been nothing if it weren’t for the frown on Gandalf’s face. He seemed to be deep in thought; something was troubling him. Frodo was confident and had a strong inkling on Gandalf’s abilities, but at this point, he realized that something was not right.

“Gandalf? What is it?”

“Nothing, Frodo,” Gandalf said, giving him a small smile while the tension still lingered.

Then, all of a sudden, Sam rushed into the room and went to Frodo’s side.

“Frodo! Frodo!” he clasped his hand in joy.

“Sam!”

“Bless you, you’re awake!” Sam said in relief.

Frodo laughed.

“Sam has hardly left your side,” Gandalf said fondly.

“We were worried about you, weren’t we, Mister Gandalf?” Sam said.

“By the skills of Lord Elrond and Lady Fearaen, you are beginning to mend.” As Gandalf spoke, they all turned to the two figures who just entered the room- an elf-lord in a light suit with dark hair and arched brows, and an elven lady, with silver-blonde hair and gray eyes, in a blue dress- stood at the end of the bed.

“Welcome to Rivendell, Frodo Baggins.” Lord Elrond said with a slight bow.

“Your friends await you in the garden.” Lady Fearaen said with the same reverence.

Frodo smiled in appreciation.

 

As they left the guest room, Frodo and Sam made their way across the halls. Rivendell was an elven domain upon the gorge surrounded by shrubs and pines, marveled with waterfalls leading to a running river, and sets of marble and stone roofs, pillars, and bridges. For it seemed to be hidden under the mountains, one could assume that this was indeed The Last Homely House East of the Sea- a sanctuary from ruin… and this was what Imladris beheld itself to Frodo.

When they were passing the halls, it was a hollow passage with pillars and windows at the side, letting in rays of sunshine and splayed them on the floor. What gave beauty to this seemingly blank space was the outside world: the sky, the trees, the falling leaves, the birds, and the endless choir in the air. What gave a sense of life, a presence was the two hobbits wandering… until Frodo saw a figure of a woman in white disappeared into another hall.

“Who was that?” he asked, assuming Sam might’ve seen her.

“Who, Mister Frodo?”

“There,” he pointed at the entrance where the woman went. “I saw someone passing by. Who was that?”

Sam only looked at him. “Only one way to find out.”

They followed the exact path where that woman went, and it led them to a courtyard radiated with white light and where the red leaves fell. Frodo recognized Aragorn and Arwen sitting side by side on the bench. They were watching something or someone performing a dance. Lo and behold, he had his eyes set on her .

She moved like a wisp in the air. The way her arms were raised and arched with those sleeves looked like wings. She danced on her toes, her heels rarely touched the marble unless when she had to. Her movements, swift yet elegant; when she lept, it was short yet she seemed to float. She spun with one leg while her arms were above her head. She teasingly touched the ground with her toes before bringing them up then back down again. When she turned, she let her muscles, her dress, and her hair flow in the same direction as her body. Her bearing, above all, was full of emotions, mixed with pain and happiness. When she bent down, she seemed to pay reverence, and when she got up, she beheld herself. On her neck was a white jewel with gold and pearl, glowing dimly under the sun. A delicate creature- a walking starlight…

When she ended the dance, she positioned with her hand reaching to the sky. Aragorn and Arwen applauded her, just in time, they have their attention on Frodo and Sam. Arwen was the first to get up and immediately embraced Frodo with a smile on her face.

“Thank goodness, you’re alright!” Arwen said as she pulled back.

Aragorn patted his shoulder. “We are glad to see you well, Frodo. I admire you resilient.”

“I can’t thank you two enough,” Frodo said. “Really, I thank you for looking after them, Strider.”

Then again, his gaze went to the she-elf in white. Upon noticing, Arwen took her hand and brought her closer to the others.

“I don’t think you two have properly met,” Arwen said to Frodo. “This is my cousin, Erawest.”

Frodo finally got a closer look at her. She was shorter than the average elf, and yet, she had this atmosphere of grace- etherealness. A subtle smile formed on her lips; golden hair framing her round face; her eyes were the most beautiful hue of green. Soft-faced but her eyes seemed to command respect, prompting him to bow and gave her salutations.

“There’s no need for basic formalities, master hobbit,” Erawest spoke. “You are here as our guest, and it is us who must serve you.”

“Erawest has also been keeping your friends’ company while you were ill,” Aragorn said.

“She told us a lot about her home and how she helped Mister Bilbo fend off those spiders in the woods,” Sam added in a low whisper. This instantly sparked Frodo’s thoughts as this elf was the same elf who risked her own safety for the sake of being exposed to danger and adventure (as what Bilbo once described). He looked back at her again and examined intently her face.

“Well, we must be off now,” Aragorn said, Arwen gestured that she’ll come with him. “We will meet you later. Erawest, we leave them to you.”

“Certainly.”

They nodded before they left.

“You danced beautifully, my lady. Do you do it all the time?” Sam asked.

Erawest chucked. “No, I don’t practice often. But thank you for the compliment, Sam.” She noticed Frodo still staring at her. “Is there anything wrong, Frodo?”

He blinked and shook his head. “Oh, no- I’m sorry, my lady- It’s just, I never thought I could finally meet you, after everything that Bilbo told us, I- we would never imagine being out of the Shire… and be here.”

“I understand,” she smiled gently. “I know a hobbit who never thought of leaving his home until an old grey wizard came by and gave him… ‘a little nudge’.”

Frodo and Sam looked at each other amused. When Erawest put on her shoes, they went back inside and she took the lead around the halls.

“Now, what would you like to do? Are you hungry? It’s almost elevenses, I could fetch you two some tea,” Erawest suggested as they were close to the kitchen.

“No, thank you,” Frodo answered. “If you don’t mind, can you take us to our friends?”

“Of course!”

She had a hair as long as a river, and it glowed like the sun on her back. That was what how Bilbo described her, and yet-

“Lady Erawest?”

“Yes, Frodo?”

“Pardon my question, but what happened to your hair?”

Erawest would’ve stopped her tracks and recoiled at that question if it weren’t from the numerous people, even her cousin, who asked the same thing. Although it was like the hundredth time someone had asked her that, she had to take a minute or two to come up with a proper response. “That… is something I couldn’t explain simply,” she said. “It is a complicated story, Frodo. I might tell you at some point  but rest assure that this is something I did in my own accord.”

Respecting her answer, Frodo (and Sam) didn’t mention it, again.

“Lady Erawest?” Frodo called again, there was a hint of regret in his voice.

“Yes?”

“Can you tell us about your homeland? About Meriltaure? Bilbo mentioned it before but he didn’t say anything else.”

There was light in her eyes when she answered him, and what was said before was completely forgotten, replaced by her own story of the Fortress she grew up in.

 

As she brought the hobbits together in the garden, she watched how Merry and Pippin ran to Frodo’s side and nearly pounced him in joy. In the garden, on a stone bench sat a frail old hobbit. In his hand was his red book, and at his side was his cane. Frodo greeted Bilbo and the latter received him warmly in his arms. Her work here was done.

She went to her room when suddenly her cousin was already inside. It was Arwen who opened the door and gave her the most mischievous grin. Before she could ask anything, Arwen already pulled her in, and in a quick motion, she found herself in front of her vanity while her cousin started to wipe her head.

“Arwen, what are you doing?” she tried to brush away her hand.

“No cousin of mine will get out of this room sweating like a pig,” she said and dropped the cloth then powdered Erawest’s face.

“Seriously? What is this about-” 

Arwen held her chin and started painting her lips. “You look paler than a ghost. At least add some color to your lips.”

Erawest rolled her eyes at her. “At least tell me what’s happening.”

Arwen turned her so she was facing the mirror and took her brush, untangling the golden tresses and readjusted the white ornament on her hair. When she’s done, she placed her chin on her cousin’s shoulder, looking at their reflections and said dreamily, “When he sees you outside, he’ll sweep you off your feet into his arms. And, maybe… you know.”

Wrinkling her eyebrows in confusion, Erawest asked, “Who?”

Arwen laughed and rolled her eyes at her. “Don’t be a novice! You know he’s coming.”

Chapter Text

“He’s strength returns,” Elrond said. He, Fearaen, and Gandalf were in the balcony, observing Frodo as he walked away with his arm around Sam’s shoulder.

“That wound will never fully heal. He will carry it... the rest of his life,” Gandalf said grievously.

“And yet to have come so far,” Fearaen began, moving to the closest seat by the table and continued, “Still bearing the Ring, the hobbit has shown extraordinary resilience to its evil.”

Elrond passed Gandalf and poured wine for himself and Fearaen.

“It is a burden he should never have had to bear. We can ask no more of Frodo,” Gandalf asserted, almost insisting.

“Gandalf, the enemy is moving. Sauron's forces are massing in the east- his eye is fixed on Rivendell. And Saruman you tell me has betrayed us. Our list of allies grows thin,” Elrond said.

Fearaen could only dig her nails into her palm.

“His treachery runs deeper than you know,” Gandalf said, slowly approaching them. Fearaen and Elrond looked at him with furrowed brows.

“By foul craft, Morernil showed Saruman more knowledge, and used it to cross Orcs with goblin-men,” Gandalf continued, “he's breeding an army in the caverns of Isengard. An army that can move in sunlight and cover great distance at speed. Saruman is coming for the Ring.”

“This evil cannot be concealed by the power of the Elves,” Fearaen hissed. “We do not have the strength to fight both Mordor and Isengard!”

The old wizard just looked down hopelessly, moving away to the balcony as he set himself lost in thoughts.

“Gandalf,” Elrond called. “The Ring cannot stay here.”

As he did hear him, Gandalf saw a man in his armor with a shield on his back, riding on a horse, entered through one of the gates. He was well-groomed, face framed with his brown hair, and his eyes gazing Rivendell as if he were from another world. After him, came a company of elves led by a young prince on a white horse. He was fair-faced with a fair hair that shined like silver, he was clad in brown and a quiver of arrows strapped behind him, and his eyes- a grey-like blue- looked around in awe. Then, came the dwarves- one of their masters was the son of Gloin, who was once a member of Thorin’s company. He had the strongest identity of his father: rustic hair and beard, heavily armored, and eyes that held the strongest determination; in his hand, he carried his ax.

Fearaen joined in Gandalf’s side and observed at the newly-arrived guests before them: there was Gimli, son of Gloin, with whom her daughter had been acquainted with a long time ago. There was also the son of the Steward- Boromir, the current champion of Gondor. And of course, Thranduil’s son…

“Naa lle sal’ ruthui yassen Legolas, ómu innas en hên-lein est boe ma lye savin?” (Are you still mad about Legolas, even though your daughter’s will is something we must accept?”) Gandalf said.

Fearaen blinked, realizing that she had been glaring down at the young prince. She replied, “Amin avo nattira Tharanduilion. Est ho garn dadvinn panya en iell nín sad.” (I do not resent Thranduil’s son. It is his recklessness that put my daughter in this position.) She looked sternly at Gandalf straight into his eyes and asked with a higher voice, “I have every right to judge him. And now that the enemy is drawing near, my child’s life is hanging on a piece of thread. And you tell me, a supposed-childless widow, to accept that so easily?! To accept that her daughter is half-dead!? If only I could’ve stopped her, then Erawest’s fate wouldn’t lie in peril.”

Gandalf stood quiet, not even flinching. He knew clearly that this could put the queen in a raging temper, and yet, he knew better that it would be wise for Fearaen to understand the most painful of all truths: that one day, her daughter wouldn’t last any longer. Tragic and heart-wrenching it was, even Gandalf regretted bringing the Northern Star to Erawest. Weeping and mourning couldn’t change the fact that she did it- she already did it, so what could words of sorrows help to bring back time?

“This peril belongs to all Middle-Earth,” Elrond intervened, finally breaking her from her tempestuous trance. “They must decide now how to end it."

Fearaen decided to move further away from them; she repoured her wine and went further into the study. A painting of Armedlion stood in front of her, portraying him in his green armor, draped with a white cape, dark hair over his shoulders, tight-lipped, arched brows, and his green eyes possessing the same essence of fiery whenever he took hold of his weapon. His spear- sometimes called Crithrhaw, was made of white wood as a shaft, and a Noldorin blade, half the size of the sword, with the sharp edge curved outwards and etched with golden vines- was in his grip, glaring against the light. She looked closely at his counterfeit, searching in his eyes whether he was her husband. And yet, the grip around his spear didn’t loosen, his lips remained a line, and his eyes didn’t soften when she met his artificial gaze. Nothing has changed; the painting remained the same, and Armedlion would be forever remembered in that image: the green soldier-king who boldly challenged the dreaded Vessel of the Dark Lord; Armedlion, Bear-king of Meriltaure, Fearaen’s king… not Fearaen’s husband.

Fearaen sighed, eyes on the floor, and pressed her hand against the canvas. “Your spirit is affecting us, my love…” she whispered. “It is possessing our daughter. Tell me,” (she returned to his gaze) “were you also part of this ordeal? Sending Erawest into battle carrying only the last piece of her life? Did you see this coming? I know you never met her, but she is your flesh and blood; the least you could do is to guide her, that is if you could ever be there… by her side…”

He only stared.

“Armedlion? What drove you to go against a powerful enemy? Was it your impulsiveness? Was it assigned to you? Or was it fate? After all, while you dedicate your life to the Eldar, you still embrace your mortal blood…”

“The race of Men is failing,” she heard Elrond coming in the room. “The blood of Númenor is all but spent, its pride and dignity forgotten,” he continued. “It is because of Men the Ring survives. I was there Gandalf. I was there three thousand years ago…"

Fearaen came closer and stood beside Gandalf.

Memories flashed in his mind: he remembered the day when he saw his brother lying dead on the ground, his sister-in-law fighting in his steed. He remembered fighting his way to their sides when he saw Sauron defeated.

“… when Isildur took the Ring, I was there the day the strength of Men failed.”

They stood at the slopes of Mount Doom,

“Isildur, hurry!” Elrond stood above the man. “Follow me.”

One could imagine the inferno that was roaring in the cavern where the Ring was made. The ground shook, and the river of fire smoldered beneath them, consuming every rock and other matter.

“I led Isildur into the heart of Mount Doom, where the Ring was forged, the one place it could be destroyed.”

“Cast it into the fire!”

Isildur only stared at the Ring, letting it slid between his fingers, letting himself lost in Its trance. The Ring was starting to seduce him.

“Destroy it!” Elrond shouted, trying to distract him from Its power.

“No…” Isildur answered with a faint lopsided smile. He turned and began to walk away.

“Isildur!”

He never heard him… or yet, he never listened…

“It should’ve ended that day, but evil was allowed to endure.”

Elrond turned around and faced them. “Isildur kept the Ring. The line of kings is broken. There is no strength left in the world of Men. They’re scattered, divided, leaderless.”

“There is one who could unite them,” Gandalf said confidently, “One who could reclaim the throne of Gondor.”

Fearaen shook her head in disagreement, “He turned from that path long time ago. He has chosen exile.”

 

Chapter Text

When she heard the sound of hooves and the soft neighing of horses, she knew immediately who came to their company. Erawest leaned over the window and saw a set of elves, likely from Mirkwood, tending their horses and gathering whatever necessities they brought with them. Among those people was a familiar face; he looked around Rivendell as he would to a place he hadn’t seen for a million years. His eyes, roaming from barks to pillars to entrances, landed on one of the top windows. As their eyes meet, she had the purest grin on her face, and her heart skipped in excitement.

 

“Now, all we have to do is to wait for the prince to call his princess,” Arwen said teasingly against her ear.

 

“Or I could just come down there instead wait,” Erawest suggested, still grinning. She looked at her cousin, took her own suggestion and dashed from the window to a flight of stairs.

 

Her heels echoed every time she stepped while her skirt dragged the dust on the floor. Servants and other people at present moved aside, clearing a way for her to go through. Her hairpins started to fall off and her tresses were tangling on each other. She was beginning to sweat as she huffs from her lungs. Losing her posture that her mother trained she must have at all times, it was indeed unladylike for her to run while in her royal wardrobe, and yet, it wasn’t the first time she had done this.

 

“Impatient, are we?” Aragorn said mischievously when she passed him.

 

“Oh, shut it!”

 

Erawest pushed the heavy doors with sudden force, forcing it to fly open and almost took them off from their hinges. She could hear Aragorn’s soft chuckle from the sudden gesture and could tell that Arwen, who has been following her the entire time while picking up her hairpins, was standing there jaw-dropped, stunned by her cousin’s not-surprising strength.

 

Ignoring the fact that she nearly broke down the door, she proceeded to the open area where he was seen talking to his men. They saw her over his shoulders and bowed to her. She made the same gesture to the guests. Confused, he looked behind him.

 

How long was it? A hundred years? A thousand years? It wasn’t that long in their lifetime; also their communication was linked with letters and occasional visits. They could not be possibly been separated for decades, but in such time, when they come upon this revelation, a mere day without seeing felt like an eternity. So every moment when their eyes meet, excitement grew in their psyche, that they couldn’t help but feel each other through embraces.

 

“Legolas!” she called him as she sprinted to his open arms.

 

Legolas received her and spun her around. Never letting her go, he kept her levitated with her toes hardly touching the ground. “Erawest,” he just loved the way her name rolled from his lips (emphasizing the “r”).

 

“You tight-lipped fool, why didn’t you tell me you’re coming?” she asked against his neck.

 

“Is it a crime to make surprises?” he said with a grin.

 

“No,” she pulled away and gazed mischievously at his eyes, “but I’m the one who should be making surprises,”

 

“Good,” he smirked, “but I make better surprises than you.”

 

“Ahem!”

 

They turned to see Aragorn with arms crossed and Arwen trying to hold back her smile.

 

“You, two really don’t know how to control yourselves when one of you is around, let alone wait until our company is settled properly,” the Man said sternly.

 

Erawest tried looking away to hide her embarrassment while she can feel the discomfort from the other elves behind them.

 

Legolas straightened himself up and said apologetically, “Mae govannen, Aragorn.” (Well met, Aragorn.)

 

Aragorn sighed and started to come towards his direction. They made their gestures of greeting. “And to think you have forgotten about your friend when you poured all your attention to your ‘wife’.” he said, then eyed Erawest teasingly.

 

Erawest, in response, grew red and shouted, “Excuse you! Says him who pledges himself to-”

 

“Le nathlam hí Imladris,” (We welcome you here in Imladris) Arwen intervened, bowing to the guests, who were half-grateful, half-confused, and half-amused by this unusual yet unsurprising event.

 

“Please, excuse our manners, my lords,” Arwen continued, keeping her posture straight and hands clasped in front of her. “But you may enter, we will lead you to your rooms and a feast for your coming will be prepared soon.” They thank her as they started to leave, giving her, Aragorn, and Erawest one last greeting before they disappeared into the halls.

 

Arwen glared at her cousin.

 

“What? I didn’t say anything,” Erawest said “innocently”.

 

She just rolled her eyes at her and shook her head. She went to Legolas’s side and greeted him the same way Aragorn would greet Erawest: informal but with high respect.

 

“So how was the state of the Woodland Realm?” Arwen asked.

 

Legolas shrugged his shoulders, “Spiders. So far the woods have been infected by the disease. We even have to fight our way throughout of Mirkwood.”

 

“And now that It has been found, I assume they became stronger,” Erawest implied.

 

“Exactly. That is why my father sent me here. He knew about what is about to come. I never understood what he meant until Lord Elrond sent us word.”

 

“I do not mean to be blunt, but why hasn’t your father gone with you, Legolas?” Aragorn asked.

 

Legolas and Erawest stared at each other.

 

He paused and answered, “My Lord Thranduil would rather stay and defend, after all, he is the king of his kingdom.”

 

Aragorn nodded his head and responded silently, “I see…” he said this in a way he understood the mindset of a determined ruler, excusing him from whatever reason that would deem him “selfish” when in fact he did what is practical for his people. Or, it could be that when he saw how his friends- the Elven Prince and the She-elf with starlight pendant- gazed at each other knowingly as if they knew the real truth, Aragorn completely understood Legolas’s answer.

 

There was a long uneasy silence before someone entered the scene.

 

“Erawest!”

 

Breaking from her trance, she looked up. “Nana!”

 

Fearaen slowly descended the small steps and slid to the group. Aragorn and Arwen bowed at her and moved aside as she stood directly in front of Legolas.

 

“Le suilon, Hiril vuin Fearaen,” (I greet you, my Lady Fearaen) Legolas bowed with his voice trembling.

 

“The pleasure is mine, Legolas Greenleaf,” the queen only nodded. “So tell me, did your father sent you in his stead to Rivendell?”

 

“Y-yes, my Lady, well, it’s more like he would rather have me go-”

 

“Is your father ill?”

 

“No, my lady. He is in perfect condition-”

 

“Ah! So he lets his son wander off from his kingdom without any form restrain!”

 

This put everyone else in an awkward situation and Legolas in embarrassment.

 

Naneth!-” Erawest was about to protest.

 

“I will see you in the banquet tonight,” she passed him without batting an eye and ignored the rest.

 

She walked away with her arms resting dead on her sides while she dragged her blue skirt across the stone. Her head remained high, her spine in a perfect curve, her eyes looking forward without shedding any light of hospitality, and her lips- shut tight in a line. She looked like a dreaded fairy queen who was about to cast a curse upon her intruders. When Fearaen stopped, it seemed like a calm before a storm as she spoke up.

 

“Erawest.”

 

Her daughter waited.

 

“Please change your dress,” she looked over her shoulder. “I don’t want any sort of indecency coming from you at the banquet table.”

 

As soon as they looked at the gray dust on the edges of Erawest’s dress, Fearaen already disappeared.

 

Erawest groaned in frustration and said, “She runs this place as if she were the queen.”

 

“She is a queen to her own right, Erawest,” Arwen said. “And I believe she has every right to be respected. If it not for her service, the world wouldn’t have properly fended.”

 

“I know that, but I just want her to have some… consideration. I am more than grateful for what she did for all of us, really. And yet, sometimes, I want her to be more heedful of what’s coming from her mouth because, in this reality, we all suffer in so many ways.

 

“Erawest…”

 

“Arwen…” she urged Arwen to look at Legolas, who stood there frozen, looking at the threshold where Fearaen had gone, while Aragorn was trying to consult him.

 

“How many times do I have to go through this with her?” she sighed hopelessly. “How many times- to what extent do I have to convince her that it was no one's fault?”

 

Arwen wrapped her arms around her, and Erawest let her head rest on her cousin’s neck. Although, she wasn’t the one who needed comforting…

 

* * *

 

It was already dusk, and yet, the song of Rivendell still lingered. Behind these pillars and walls, through boughs and leaves, from his window, Legolas looked up the sky as a moving picture: it was blue, except that it was consumed by the after-glow of the sunset, hued with rose-colored fog and violet streaks of clouds. In this canvas, the heavens started to set the stars, among them was a lone star placed high and fixed above the clouds. It did not stand out as the brightest, but he saw it first because it seemed to seek him. His heart started to beat in unison to its glistering light.

 

The yellow lights began to emerge from the windows, and dinner was almost ready. Legolas already cleaned and dressed in his silver attire an hour ago, and he could go to the dining hall by himself without getting lost, it’s not like he went away for a while and had forgotten his turns and corners in Rivendell. And yet, he remained in his room, for now at least. He felt no comfort at whatever lied behind his doors. He felt a little bit of frustration and sense of worthlessness, he might consider skipping dinner and call it a night, after all, he went from Mirkwood to Rivendell through escapades with spiders, mountains, and even orcs while carrying his father’s request to attend Lord Elrond’s council. Also, earlier, he made a scene with Lady Fearaen’s daughter; even though he knew that it was, in part, Erawest’s fault for setting the fire, he was still responsible for letting it spread, and everyone, by which he meant his entire men, his best friend, and the Princess of Imladris, were there to witness them in their most intimate moment, without any regard of privacy. He should really be ashamed.

 

There was knocking on the door.

 

“Minno,” (Enter,)

 

The door opened followed by a voice. “San, cin kar na staui hi a penga?” (So, are you going to stay here and sulk?)

 

He did not turn but she felt her presence coming nearer.

 

“You know, a beautiful night like this is not fit for a sad face,” she said, looking at the same star.

 

Legolas could see the Northern Star from the corner of his eye glowing low and high like a heartbeat. The more he saw it, the more his own heart thumped, synchronizing with her light.

 

“You don’t need to starve yourself,” she added more sternly.

 

They looked at each other.

 

“Whatever my mother said, that doesn’t mean that you should refuse the offer of our hospitality. Weren’t you here for a reason, Legolas Greenleaf?”

 

Of course, she knew.

 

“Of course you do,” she said. “So how could you deliver your father’s wish if you walk around Elrond’s house with an empty stomach? I am sure your father would rather see you well, my dear friend.”

 

Legolas sighed softly. He shook his head and looked away.

 

“Is it about earlier?” she asked

 

No answer meant yes.

 

“Dear,” she held his hand and moved his head so that he was facing her, again. “It is not your fault.”

 

He clicked his tongue roughly pulled his face away from her. “You always said that-”

 

“That’s because it’s true!”

 

“You don’t have to burden yourself with my own sin.”

 

“What sin?” she nearly shouted. “That you are willing to become my friend?”

 

“Erawest, you know the truth,” he said

 

“Exactly, that’s why I did it. Because I know it is right.”

 

What else was there to say? That it didn’t concern her? Oh, but it does; even if they try to convince her that none of it concerned her, she won’t be swayed by them. Legolas did that a hundred times before, and it would only be a waste of breath if he tried talking to her like that again. And yet, he asked anyway,

 

“Is it worth it?”

 

She moved closer. “If it isn’t, then I wouldn’t be here.”

 

He tried escaping her gaze, instead, she caught him with watery eyes.

 

“Legolas,” Erawest began, removing a strand of hair from his cheek, “Please be a dear and come to dinner with me. They are waiting for you…”

 

Legolas let his face buried in her neck while she cradled and placed small pecks on his head.

 

“Company won’t be the same without you,” she continued, still holding him in her arms. “You don’t need to speak, you don’t need to look at your best, but your smile is all we could ask.” The thought of him smiling at the littlest detail was giving her butterflies. For Erawest, there was at least an infinite why she enjoyed her time with him; in spite of everything, she never changed the way she saw him. For her, he will always be irreplaceable- always her Legolas.

 

Erawest wiped the tear that had been rolling on her cheek for a while, and pulled them apart saying, “Also, we need to be there as soon as possible before Pippin could eat everything on the table.”

 

Legolas laughed and started walking out with her.

 

“Isn’t he the blond one?”

 

“No, that’s Merry, but close enough.”

 

“Ooh…”

 

* * *

 

In the next morning, Fearaen put on a violet dress with golden patterns over an olive-colored kirtle. She arranged part of her hair into an elaborate braid and placed her silver crown on her head. She clamped her necklace and fastened her golden belt around the curve of her waist when she heard someone knocking on the door.

 

Nana, what do you think?” Erawest said as she came in. She was wearing a red and orange dress with the same golden pattern as her mother’s, a golden belt around her diaphragm, and of course: the Northern Star. It was no surprise that these clothes were made authentically from Meriltaure and their straps of gold were tributes from Rivendell. For Erawest, she made a perfect picture of her noble lineage, except…

 

“Where is your crown?” her mother asked.

 

Erawest sighed and rolled her eyes. She should’ve known not to ask for her mother’s opinion as she started to walk away from the room and into hers, with Fearaen following her.

 

“Do I have to?” she asked, almost whining like a child.

 

“Your uncle is wearing his and I’m wearing mine,” Fearaen responded nonchalantly.

 

“Yes, because he is our host. You, on the other hand, are a long-served soldier from the Last Alliance.

 

“And you are the daughter of that long-served soldier.”

 

Without another word, she made her sit in front of the vanity and placed the crown on her head. It was a golden circlet that girdled around her forehead with thin strings of golden chains hanging on the side to the back of her head, where it was clamped to form a line-curtain.

 

“You really want to know why I want to see you with a crown?”

 

“Why?”

 

“So that the Council would not look down at you.”

 

Erawest turned to her and asked, “Do you think they would dare to look down at us?”

 

“Ah, don’t be foolish, child,” Fearaen said. “We are both women and-”

 

“Yes, we are,” she interrupted. “But you fought in the battle and everyone sees you as a rightful queen. Also, like what you said, I am the daughter of that long-served soldier; the same blood runs in my veins, whether with a crown or not. So, do you think they would dare to look down at us?”

 

Fearaen blinked in surprise then smirked as she pinched her cheek lightly. “Very good… however, I must say that as long as you wear this crown, it calls for your place in nobility. And by 'nobility', I expect you to chin up, and restrain yourself from your temper. They would rather look up to women who had a sense of dignity and patience. ”

 

Naneth, is it just me or are you contradicting yourself?” she squinted her eyes.

 

She sighed in exasperation. “The world is full of contradictions, Erawest.”

 

They began to move out into the court where some of the Elves and Men were waiting. Before they could reach there, Fearaen told Erawest one last advice: “Erawest, remember, restrain yourself from your temper.”

 

Erawest stared at her and said, “I only promise to try.”

 

BONUS:

While wandering yet again around the halls, Frodo and Sam saw Erawest in the other end of one the corridors laughing and talking with an elf in brown robes. They remained unnoticed until she caught them in the corner of her eyes.

 

“Frodo! Sam!”

 

They caught up with each other.

 

“So how was your day so far, Frodo?” she asked lightly with a smile.

 

“It’s wonderful, thank you,” Frodo responded with the same enthusiasm. “We were wondering lately if you can join us with Bilbo later after dinner.”

 

“Oh, I would love to be in your company! But first, I would like you to meet my friend.” She motioned him to her side.

 

Frodo and Sam gazed at her companion like a painting. He was very beautiful, perhaps the fairest among his kinfolk with that youthful glow. He was tall as a young tree, lithe, immensely strong, and tireless even after hours of journey from his Woodland home. His hair was gold in color yet silver against the light. His eyes were livid-colored but endearing. And he had a smile that could prompt you to smile back.

 

“Legolas, these are Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee from The Shire. Frodo, Sam, this is Legolas, Prince of the Forrest of Greenwood.”

 

Legolas bowed to them reverently. “I am honored to meet you, master hobbits.”

 

“The honor is ours, my lord,” they said timidly.

 

The elf looked at Frodo. “Baggins, isn’t it?”

 

Frodo blushed. “Yes?”

 

Legolas smiled at him excitedly and said, “I know about another Baggins, who happened to be an unexpected guest of ours back in Mirkwood. By any chance, you’re related to Bilbo Baggins?”

 

Frodo and Sam’s eyes lit up. “You know my uncle?”

 

“I happened to know him. Very clever little hobbit, and very brave. And seeing you coming all this way to Rivendell from your home across so many dangers, I suppose this determined and courageous spirit of his runs in the blood.”

 

Frodo was about to brush off the compliment, which only ended up with his stuttering, making the elf chuckle and continue smiling. And as Frodo stared at Legolas’s bright face, he could feel his cheeks burning that he could almost faint.

 

Legolas turned to the other hobbit. “You’re name is Sam, right?”

 

Sam gulped and answered. “Y-yes… uh…”

 

“Sam,” he started seriously. “Erawest had told me much about you, and being a constant companion to her, I deeply admire your loyalty, even going as far as he goes despite the dangers ahead while you are just a gardener. So please,” in an unexpected move, Legolas kneeled and grabbed Sam’s hands, which shocked Erawest and Frodo (in a good way). But from afar, it was a different picture. Legolas continued, “promise you must take care of him, for not only is he your master, but your friend and your closest.”

 

Instead of saying “I promise”, Sam could only see stars before he slumped back happily into darkness while the voices called his name in shock.

 

Chapter Text

(A scene in an open court around the mid-afternoon where autumn leaves fell. Elrond hosting the meeting; on his left was his advisors, Gandalf, Frodo, and a group of elves including Legolas Greenleaf; on his right were Fearaen, Erawest Fervainel, Aragorn II, and a set of men including Boromir, followed by the company of dwarves lead by Gimli. A pedestal was in the center)

 

ELROND: Strangers from distant lands, friends of old. You have been summoned here to answer the threat of Mordor. Middle-Earth stands upon the brink of destruction. None can escape it. You will unite or you will fall. Each race is bound to this fate — this one doom. [Gestures to the pedestal] Bring forth the Ring, Frodo.

 

(Frodo raised and laid the Ring on the pedestal.)

 

BOROMIR: So it is true…

 

(Frodo returned to his seat beside Gandalf and sighed in relief. Members of the Council stared at the Ring on the edge of temptation. Sauron and Morernil’s voices could be heard the longer they stared at It.)

 

BOROMIR: [Raised up to address the Council] In a dream, I saw the eastern sky grow dark. But in the West a pale light lingered. A voice was crying: ‘Your doom is near at hand.’ [Approaching the Ring.] Isildur's Bane is found.

 

(Boromir reached out towards the Ring. Gandalf, Fearaen, and Elrond exchanged concerned looks. Boromir's fingers hovered above the Ring.)

 

BOROMIR: Isildur’s Bane…

 

ELROND: [Leapt up] Boromir!

 

GANDALF: Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,

 

(Gandalf stood and continued the Black Speech. The Ring echoed him. Thunder crackled as the sky darkens. The Council stared around them in fear and confusion. Gimli grabbed his axe; Boromir backed away; Elrond held his temples; Legolas closed his eyes; Fearaen held Erawest’s hand while Erawest clawed her armrest; Frodo looked around with a worried face then stared at the Ring.)

 

GANDALF: ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

 

(The voice died away. They went back to their seats, including Boromir, while still horrified.)

 

ELROND: Never before has any voice uttered the words of that tongue here in Imladris!

 

GANDALF: I do not ask your pardon, Master Elrond, for the Black Speech of Mordor may yet be heard in every corner of the West! [Half-addressing to BOROMIR] The Ring is altogether evil!

 

BOROMIR: It is a gift.

 

(Gandalf looked back)

 

BOROMIR: A gift to the foes of Mordor. Why not use this Ring? [Pacing around] Long has my father, the Steward of Gondor, kept the forces of Mordor at bay. By the blood of our people are your lands kept safe! Give Gondor the weapon of the enemy. Let us use it against him!

 

ARAGORN: You cannot wield it! None of us can. The One Ring answers to Sauron alone. It has no other master.

 

BOROMIR: And what would a ranger know of this matter?

 

LEGOLAS: [Standing up] This is no mere ranger. He is Aragorn, son of Arathorn. You owe him your allegiance.

 

BOROMIR: Aragorn? This… is Isildur's heir?

 

LEGOLAS: And heir to the throne of Gondor.

 

ARAGORN: Havo dad, Legolas. (Sit down, Legolas.)

 

(Legolas sat back down)

 

BOROMIR: Gondor has no king. Gondor needs no king. [Returned to his seat]

 

GANDALF: Aragorn is right. We cannot use it.

 

FEARAEN: You have only one choice. The Ring must be destroyed.

 

GIMLI: Then what are we waiting for?

 

(Gimli grabbed an ax and struck the Ring with full force but was repelled back, throwing him to the ground. Frodo saw the Eye of Sauron and winced in pain while Gandalf looked at him in concern. The Ring remained undamaged with the shards of the ax around it. Low whispers were heard.)

 

ELROND: The Ring cannot be destroyed, Gimli, son of Glóin, by any craft that we here possess. The Ring was made in the fires of Mount Doom. Only there can it be unmade. It must be taken deep into Mordor and cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came.

 

FEARAEN: One of you must do this.

 

(Silence.)

 

ERAWEST: If you don’t mind, my lady, may I suggest that this task should be boarded by a company rather than an individual? Perhaps ten, at the very least: nine to balance the number of the Nazguls, and one to bear the Ring. Other than that, this is no simple quest, now that Sauron’s forces are growing, so does the power of the Ring. And what comes next is that this would become a burden, and the Bearer, we could say, won’t ask for more but a helping aid while they pass to the valley of shadows.

 

(The Elves nodded in agreement, while the Dwarves and Men doubted it)

 

BOROMIR: One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its black gates are guarded by more than just Orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep. And the great Eye is ever watchful. Of course, you never knew that, don’t you? After all, what does an unexperienced elf-maid knew about warfare and wastelands when she doesn’t even know how to lift a sword?

 

ERAWEST: … [Stood up and walked closer until she reached the pedestal] Boromir, son of Denethor, have you heard of the Battle of the Five Armies? Because I did, because I’ve been there. Did you witness how the Elves, Dwarves and Men banded together against an army of orcs and wargs? Did you witness the corpses of every race toppling on the dust? And what of the women and children? You can hear them scream, running and pushing themselves to safety when there was nowhere else to go. No, Lord Boromir, you weren’t there. But you were right, I was an unexperienced elf-maid, and I didn’t use a sword… but I massacred a line of pests with Armedlion’s spear, and I dare you to take me for an ignorant fool if you want to face the same blade that killed my enemies.

 

FEARAEN: Erawest, daro! (Erawest, stop!)

 

BOROMIR: Armedlion? Is he your-

 

ERAWEST: That’s right. I assume it may have slipped from your memory that you are looking at the daughter of The Bear-King, Morernil’s challenger, husband to a warrior queen, wielder of Crithrhaw. Yes, I know of Mordor, it is nothing but a barren wasteland. So next time, you better watch your tongue before you make any assumptions.

 

(Fearaen grabbed Erawest’s hand and forcefully dragged her back to her seat. Boromir was still in a daze until he regained his posture. There was a gap of silence until Boromir spoke up)

 

BOROMIR: She is right, it is a barren wasteland. Riddled with fire and ash and dust. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume. Not with ten thousand men could you do this. It is folly!"

 

LEGOLAS: [Stood aggravatedly] Have you heard nothing Lord Elrond has said? The Ring must be destroyed!

 

GIMLI: [Jumped to his feet] And I suppose you think you're the one to do it?!

 

BOROMIR: [Raised up] And if we fail, what then?! What happens when Sauron takes back what is his?!

 

ERAWEST: [Stood up] That doesn’t mean the solution would be using his weapon against him! It is too powerful for all of us to bear and it could corrupt us instead!

 

GIMLI: I will be dead before I see the Ring in the hands of an Elf!

 

(A Commotion started as arguments erupted amongst the council members.)

 

GIMLI: Never trust an Elf!

 

(Frodo remains seated, watching the Ring, with the figures of the council reflected on its surface.)

 

GANDALF: Do you not understand that while we bicker amongst ourselves, Sauron's power grows?! None can escape it! You'll all be destroyed!

 

(Ring: “Ash Nazg Durbatulûk! Ash Nazg Gimbatul! Ash Nazg Gimbatul! Ash Nazg Gimbatul!”)

(Suddenly, flames flared up, engulfing the surface of the Ring. The intensity of the arguments increased. With a determined face, Frodo stood and took a few steps toward the arguing council)

 

FRODO: I will take it! I will take it!

 

(The argument died down. Gandalf closed his eyes in sadness and relief as he heard Frodo's statement. The members of the council slowly turned towards Frodo, astonished.)

 

FRODO: I will take the Ring to Mordor. Though - I do not know the way.

 

GANDLAF: [Walked towards Frodo] I will help you bear this burden, Frodo Baggins, as long as it is yours to bear. [Placed his hands reassuringly on Frodo's shoulders]

 

ARAGORN: [Rose up] If by my life or death, I can protect you, I will. [He knelt before Frodo] You have my sword.

 

(Aragorn stood up and joined with Gandalf. Erawest let go of her mother’s grasp and approached Frodo before she hunched down in front of him.)

 

ERAWEST: Whether by the will of the stars or not, I will fight to clear the path for you, the same way I did for your uncle. [She bowed] You have my spear.

 

LEGOLAS: And you have my bow. [Walked to join them.]

 

(Frodo and Erawest looked at him in surprise before Legolas stood beside Erawest.)

 

GIMLI: And my ax! [Looked grimly at Legolas as he joined the group]

 

BOROMIR: [Walked over to them] You carry the fate of us all little one. If this is indeed the will of the Council, then Gondor will see it done.

 

SAM: Heh! [Jumped from behind the bushes and joined them] Mister Frodo is not goin' anywhere without me!

 

ELROND: [In amusement] No indeed, it is hardly possible to separate you even when he is summoned to a secret council and you are not.

 

MERRY and PIPPIN: [Emerged from behind the pillars to join them] Wait! We are coming too!

 

(Elrond looked at them in confusion, even though he was half amazed, his face seemed to say that he was expecting more hobbits to pop out.)

 

MERRY: You'd have to send us home tied up in a sack to stop us!

 

PIPPIN: Anyway you need people of intelligence on this sort of mission, quest… thing.

 

(Gandalf looked at Elrond to consider it/Pippin’s idiocy with an open mouth as if he was trying to come up with something but nothing came out.)

 

MERRY: Well that rules you out, Pip.

 

ELROND: Ten companions…

 

(Elrond and Fearaen, who was subtly upset, stared at each other before she seconded the notion with a nod.)

 

ELROND: So be it! You shall be the Fellowship of the Ring!

 

PIPPIN: Great! Where are we going?