9. Part 9
His sword-arm is the only part of his body that moves, his weight lightly balanced on the balls of his feet, his eyes not moving from my face. He no longer calls commands or timing, but tests me, advancing little by little.
"Your heart is not today with us, Master Maeglin," He observes the listless response of my sword to his swift, dexterous thrusts.
"I grow tired of swordplay," I say, though it was I who arranged the meet, for my sword is newly-forged and called to be tested.
Eyes hardening, Elemmakil at last signals a cease to the duel, lowering his sword to his side. "Swords are not used for play," he speaks without fear, omitting my title of courtesy. "Swords are used to fight, and to kill. We do not play at such things. If it is play you seek, you should learn from a harpist."
I return his gaze evenly, hefting the smooth ivory handle in my palm, watching the flicker of the silver-white blade. I know that for all his harsh words he does not resent me-- at times I see that he is glad of me, indeed takes pleasure in my company. But he mistrusts my skill with the sword, for he feels that the ease with which I attained it leaves me with little regard for the burden of danger which accompanies it.
He is right, for I care little.
I swing the blade abruptly, and it travels in a fluid arc toward his throat, a lethally unprotected area avoided in practice. Elemmakil is startled, his pace backward uneven, his own sword brought up in guard in what is nearly too late a response. The steel blades clash and we test each other's strength. For once his eyes are not on me but on the tremulous contact of our swords.
We are near to evenly matched in a duel; in pure arm strength, he has the advantage. I lower my sword and Elemmakil looks at me, his breath even, his cheek not flushed.
"Then we are finished," he states quietly after a moment, and I know he does not only speak of this afternoon.
"We are," I reply with a nod of dismissal, pretending to misunderstand him, and turn from him. Though in turning I see a bright-eyed face at the door, I ignore it, sheathing my sword. Elemmakil's feet travel heavily to the doorway, speaking words that are quiet and stern, indiscernible. I hear no reply. My back to the door, I unclasp my thin breastplate, and in Elemmakil's silence hear a lighter foot enter the room behind me.
I turn my head to see, and it is a elf-maiden, familiar though I do not know her name. She is small of limb, delicately-boned, her hair dark but not quite black, and it is held behind her back, a rapid waterfall of waves. She wavers in approaching, her face shy to meet my eyes.
"I wished to see your sword," she finally offers, clasping slim, translucent hands behind her, pointed chin raising in the triumph of speech. An unseen smile dents her cheek.
Wordlessly I hold it out for her to see and she forgets her timidity to stroke the hilt in fascination, spreading her fingers over the carving of the golden vessel of Vasa. Her hand moves to the blade, her fingertip pressed to its edge.
"Will you not hold it?" I ask, amused that she steps back at my own stride forward.
"I do not dare," she laughs.
"It is not heavy." I place it in her open hand, and for a moment, she is clumsy with it.
"My father will not teach me how to use the sword," she says by way of apology. Then her fingers contour the handle and she steps sideways, her arm lifting. Experimentally she turns her wrist, her face one of delight.
She is Elemmakil's daughter, then. "Why does he not?" I move behind her, watching her careful dips in the air.
"Oh." The sword is unsteady in her hand, so she wraps the other around the handle also. "He fears the aggression that is brought out in training." Her eyes turn to me in curiosity as I move away, fetching a plain practice sword from the wall. "He does not wish for me to think of battle."
"You need not." I come to rest in front of her, one leg bending, hand twirling the light sword over my head as I assume a severe countenance reminiscent of Elemmakil's earlier solemnity. She laughs. "Swordsmanship is an art. You like to admire that which pleases your eyes, do you not?"
I smile, for her eyes are not on the sword, but on my face.
"I will teach you."
She springs forward, her skirts held in one hand, my sword in the other, eyes alight and hair swinging behind her. I move to strike, and she blocks it, the impact sending her backward a pace.
"Parry. Feint. Thrust. Use your wrist."
"Stop! You confuse me."
Blinking, I pause, and she jabs neatly into the centre of my armour.
"There," she says, her face quite serious. "Now, if you would only hold still the entire time . . ."
I swing at her and she stumbles away, her mouth spilling laughter as she feebly raises her sword to guard. Our blades meet, but I withdraw and swing again, and again, and helplessly she begins to back against the wall, her fair brow glistening. But when her back touches the marble, she lunges.
I step aside so that the blow misses, but I am impressed. "What is your name?" I ask.
Her breath is heavy, her voice still light as she steers her sword-point toward me. "Lothelen.*"
I bat her blade away, smiling. "You are no glass flower. I shall have to rename you."
"And what would my lord have me called instead?" She has taken a shy air again, her attack faltering, her eyes peering up at me through a black lace of lashes.
"Wen-rohir," I say. "Knight maiden." And I switch to the offensive, striking relentlessly, above her, at her side, pressing forward till our blades meet in one final, solid clatter between our perspiring faces.
It is eerily similar to the struggle I just had with her father. This time, however, I have the advantage.
Slowly, I ease my full strength against the sword, so her blade drops lower, and lower, until it is at her waist. But she does not withdraw, her eyes fixed in mine, and I see they are dark grey, wide, starry. Her arm trembles, her lips part, her breath is warm against my neck.
And it is I who release. Her blade plunges downward, but she catches herself, sliding a foot in front of her, chin lifting to look at me as I sheathe the sword I hold.
"Well done," I comment softly. "And what else would the maiden be taught?"
Her eyes flicker the length of my face and she does not retreat, arm hanging limp at her side. "To judge wisely. To speak truthfully. To love wholly. To hold a sword properly."
I reach for her wrists. "To judge wisely, do not judge at all; believe only fact which you see and hear and know." My fingertips slide down her hands. "If you fear to speak truth, do not speak." Clasping a hand over each of hers, I ease them slightly apart, settling against the grooves of the hilt. "To love," I am whispering now. "Love only once, and do not save any part of your being for another, not even yourself."
I touch her.
My fingers lay gently against the hollow of her pale throat, my palm flattening against the soft skin stretching to her bosom. Her breasts rise and fall with rapid breath, her pulse leaping against my fingertips, but she does not move. I reach higher, trace her neck, push back her thick tresses to expose a shoulder, and still she moves not, her eyelids lowering, her cheekbones flushed, her mouth parted. Her eyes are dark and liquid, her face turned up to mine.
Always I seek for Celebrindal's light, to encompass me, to banish the darkness inside.
Perhaps once I will let the darkness out to swallow light.
My fingers curl tightly over her shoulder. Her eyes are now closed, her lips seeking mine. I bend my head, taste her breath. Then in sudden urgency, I kiss her. Her lips are moist, warm, supple to my violent ravaging, her eyelashes a delicate brush on my cheek. I frame her neck with both hands, stroke down to her collarbone and up again to her jaw. One hand reaches behind her, down the ridges of her spine, and her body is trembling. My lips leave hers, travelling her skin, and the erratic pulse of her heartbeat intoxicates me for I know she is frightened.
My hands are to her hips now, and her head is fallen back. She gasps. "Maeglin--"
I look up and there is a shadow fallen across her face. I blink, but it does not leave. My hands grow rougher, my mouth returned to hers in breath-sucking ravishes. I taste her, taste her fear of me, her awe, her submission and it maddens me more. My hand is braced against the back of her skull, the other seizing her closer, closer, closer, so I feel her, I feel her growing cold and dark under my passion . . .
The shadow is not on her face. It is in my eyes.
She falls against the wall when I let go, her eyes dazed, and her face is not angry but confused as she looks up at me, a child, a maiden, a half-lit star facing night sky for the first time.
"Glass flower," my voice is hoarse, and I blink rapidly to clear my vision. She pulls upright, her brow narrowed. "You fight well; but you are yet too fragile for life."
"You speak in riddles," Lothelen's chin is lowered, her hair hanging as a curtain against her face, her voice quiet and uncertain.
"I live in riddles," is my reply. I reach unsteadily for my sword, but thinking again, leave it for her.
"Do you not give an apology?" she asks suddenly.
I look at her, my hands hanging empty, and my mouth feels dry. "No."
"And I do not wish one." She stares at me for a moment, then nods her head. "You have my leave to go," she speaks with dignity, stepping back from me, and I wonder at the change until her voice falls small again before I turn. "Looking at you pleased me, Maeglin," she says, "but your touch frightened me."
I close my eyes, for I do not wish to look at her. "For that, I am sorry."
"Are you?" she asks.
I open my eyes and shiver. "No."
*Lothelen --- "Loth" = flower, "hele" = gass; I'm faaar from being fluent in Sindarin, so the word order or suffix may be wrong. Corrections, as always, are welcome.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.