4. Part Four: ‘Tis Evil In The Wild To Fare
Arwen’s passage went unnoticed for the most part. Those who saw her thought she was a wraith of some sort. It was difficult to tell and some rubbed their eyes more than once to be sure. A few even pointed at her with forked fingers to ward themselves against evil spirits from the wild. The woolen cloak should not have had the properties of the ones made by her mother’s people yet it did more than shield her from prying eyes. Or maybe it was Arwen’s grief that made her seem dim, there but not there.
Truly she cared not. She was single-minded in her goal to reach the woods of Lothlorien.
Time had wrought its changes to the elven realm. Arwen reached point of the Naith were the Anduin accepted the Silverlode’s offering. If it were not for the living towers on the hill and the many mallorns spread about its feet, she would have thought herself to be at the River Entwash or the River Limlight. Wrapped in a fog of sorrow she was, but she still remembered crossing the two rivers.
What then was the reason behind the shrinking of the forest of beloved mallorn trees? Arwen had no answer.
At one time there would have been boats to ferry her across the river or border guards that would cast her slim, silver lines of rope to bridge the icy water. Arwen rode upstream to find a place that was shallow enough for her horse to walk, hopefully, or swim, hopefully not, across.
It took another full day to find such a place. The Silverlode, unlike the woods, had not shrunk. And another full day to make her way back to Caras Galadhon.
The Golden Wood was still beautiful where there were still mallorn trees to merit the name. Yet something was missing. The grass, the flowers, the trees used to be vibrant with life. Now the grass was just green and the flowers merely pretty. For every mallorn that blossomed with the yellow flowers that caused the leaves to finally fall, there were two that did not bloom. It seem Lothlorien had lost the same grace that she had given up.
Signs of decay were everywhere in the elven city. There was no need to enter through the Great Gates. The wall that had circled the city had crumbled into heaps of dust that could be ridden over, though not easily. Parts of the circling stair added to the debris that formed where flets had given way to time and the elements.
Amazingly enough, the fountain still bubbled at the base of the great tree and it was here that Arwen made her new home. With water and the lembas she brought, her physical needs would be met for as long as she needed or as long as it took.
One day blended into another and every day she woke with the same question in her heart. Was this the day? And for many months, the answer was no. While waiting for the answer to change, Arwen walked the silent woods and lived in her memories. Yet each morning dawned with the loss of some of these memories. Not of her life with Elrond and Celebrian before Estel, but of her life with him. They were all she had left and she was losing these too.
“Until you have lost all that you gained.”
So this was the final price she was to pay for her choice of a mortal life. ‘Twas a heavy one indeed, but if it was too late to take that choice back at Estel’s deathbed, then it was beyond too late to do so now.
Spring gave way to summer, which in turn bowed to autumn that conceded to winter. The new spring was near but had not yet come. It was a morning that when her breath still hung in the air in visible puffs, proof that Arwen still lived. For the first time in months, restlessness stirred in her heart. Impulsively, without knowing where it came from, Arwen left Caras Galadhon and made her way to Cerin Amroth.
She had not visited this spot since returning to Lothlorien. The thought of this place aggravated her grief instead of assuaging it. Not today. As she climbed the slope, past the scattered clumps of elanor and niphredil, past the ring of bare-branched white trees and into the ring of mallorn, peace settled over Arwen with a comforting embrace.
Here, this was the very spot where she and Estel first plighted their troth. Here is where she chose a mortal life over the immortality of the Eldar. This memory, the only one she still possessed, filled her heart with a joy she thought she had left behind forever.
It was time and her Estel waited for her.
On the first day of spring the mallorn trees dropped their leaves and the wind tossed them into a mound over the body. In time, grass grew and covered her in a mantle of green dotted with yellow and white flowers. Never again, did the mallorn bloom. And in the wild, for good or evil, the heart of elvendom on earth stopped beating.
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.