7. The Jeweled Dagger
The pair rode north along the banks of the Anduin into the hilled woodlands and turned northeast away from the river into the Wold. It was a pleasant, mild spring unplagued by the violent rainstorms that usually occurred between the mountains and the Great River. Everywhere along the path, wild roses were blooming, and daisies and sweet pea poked their colorful heads through the tall grasses. Aragorn still tired easily and the countryside was deserted, so Elladan did not push the pace. From time to time, he studied Aragorn, brooding and depressed, deep within himself. Elladan held back from interfering with the balance his brother was trying to achieve in his mind. But, as he sank lower into the black mood, Elladan despaired for his recovery. As they crossed the Limelight onto the Field of Celebrant, he finally felt he must speak.
"Life is not all bad. You've survived a terrible ordeal," Elladan began. Aragorn raised a hand and cut off his brother.
"I all but slayed Fallon myself and I struggle to sieve out the reason for this life lesson, so give me peace, my brother," Aragorn said quietly, staring straight ahead at the road.
"Arwen waits for you in Rivendell," Elladan tried again.
"Perhaps," Aragorn said, with a strange, grim smile. "or she may reject this blood-smeared lover." He turned and finally looked full at Elladan, and suddenly the Elf knew what really troubled Aragorn's soul: doubt in the one trueness his world pivoted on and dismal dread that his fear would be soon realized. Elladan knew no protest on his part would answer. Only Arwen could do that. Silent miles passed away under the horses' hooves.
After a time during which Aragorn seemed in deep thought, he looked up and asked, "Why has Elrohir never married?" Elladan's horse snorted at his sudden shift in weight.
'This man is too much elf,' thought Elladan, 'he picks up my thoughts so easily.' For he had been thinking of his brother's lost love.
"Why, then, do you not ask me why I have never married?" Elladan's feigned indignation brought a firm smile to Aragorn's lips.
"The answer to your married state I know well. It lies in that multitude of maids' beds you have warmed since I have known you. You value your immortal life too much, since your wife would surely kill you for such indiscretions." Elladan laughed as they rode on awhile longer. He decided to seize upon Aragorn's improved mood and try to ease his fears.
"I will tell you a family story, one of the few you don't know. I judge you are in a state to hear it. It is, though sad, a story of great love, which always makes a good tale." Moss on the floor of the wood they rode through muffled the horses' hooves. Elladan was a great teller of tales and Aragorn listened attentively.
"Once, long ago, Elrohir of Rivendell treated life as cavalierly as any frivolous young elfling and his father despaired he would ever develop into a serious young lord, the protector and champion he needed for his realm." Elladan saw the complete surprise in Aragorn's face. "Yes, it's hard to imagine the dour warrior as carefree and foolish, but he was. His salvation and damnation was a lady.
"Lord Falandir of Lothlorien, whom you know was a soldier much revered for his actions at Dagorlad, had a daughter, Halsea, tall and strong and as proud a maiden warrior as ever lived in the Golden Wood. Her hair was silver-pale as moonlight and her eyes were grey-green as the sea. She could split an arrow with another at two hundred paces. Her honor ran deep and her spirit was great, but she had never met a man she felt more than comradeship for until the spring when young Elrohir accompanied Mother and Arwen to visit Grandmother.
"He met her walking under the golden mellyrn. Their eyes met and his heart was hers in an instant. The dark warrior spent the summer in the shade-laced forests wooing her with song. She was as smitten as he and pledged to him as the birches lost their leaves. Father and Mother were enchanted with the girl and approved the match, seeing the great love their son bore her. They wed on the bridge in Rivendell one year later at harvest time, wreathes of autumn berries in their hair. His love for Halsea and their future together caused Elrohir to take his role as Ada's son seriously. So, the toasts to long happiness at the wedding feast seemed certain to be fulfilled."
Elladan rode in silence for a moment, savoring the memory. "I never saw another more in love," he mused, "unless it's you." That drew another smile from Aragorn and Elladan was pleased his tale was having its intended effect. When Elladan spoke again, his voice had changed; its tone was hollow and haunting.
"The tale should have ended there but…my mother was not the only one captured that day at the High Pass. When the orcs came, Mother was wounded in the attack and was unconscious through much of her ordeal. Halsea was not; she fought back valiantly and was treated in return with vicious torture. She was brutalized, repeatedly brutalized." They rode on in silence a ways.
"It took us days to get to them. When we finally discovered the lair, it was a long, hard fight to get to the captives. There was such a din, the captives had to hear us coming and rejoice since we descended on the orcs with horns trumpeting to the peaks and banners flying. Elrohir said he wanted no subterfuge. He wanted the evil ones to know who slaughtered those who dared injure our own. Elrohir fought like I'd never seen him, an avenging Valar from ancient legend." Elladan stopped again, remembering that day. "'Twas slaughter. No orc remained alive when we were finished."
"Elrohir had given Halsea a slender dagger, the hilt set with round beryls the color of her eyes, as a bride gift. Somehow the orcs hadn't found it."
"The dagger he wears on his belt?" Aragorn asked.
"Aye, that's it."
"I oft see him take it out when he thinks he is unattended and muses, seeimh almost obsessed, fingeringthe sharp tip." Elladan nodded and continued the story.
"When Elrohir got to his beloved, the dagger was plunged into her heart, the blood still running hot, her bruised cheeks still wet with tears. Elrohir went mad. Glorfindel and I barely stopped him from resheathing the dagger in his own breast. The scar Glori wears above one eye was got at that awful moment.
"The other captives told us Halsea had been driven mad with torture and poison. She was deluded that Elrohir could not love her stained as she now was. She loved him beyond imagining and could not bear to glimpse what she thought to see in her husband's eyes when he got to her. I believe she chose death with remembrance of his love rather than immortal life with any doubt of it."
"I have never heard this tale or any part ---the family does not speak of it?" Aragorn asked.
"When Elrohir regained his senses back in Rivendell under Father's care, he called us all together and swore us never to mention Halsea's name again. None has since until today. I would you'd hold the family's oath in this, as you do in all things."
Aragorn nodded. "Her grave is down on the woodland trail, the place with the filigree arch and stone bench in the walnut grove. I've seen Elrohir resting there, his spirit filled with great remorse, and he moves away without speaking if I approach." Elladan looked at his younger brother searchingly, certain he had more to add.
"I hope I have not added to your sorrow," Elladan said, "for there was reason in my telling of this tale. If Halsea had not given in to groundless fear, though in her state she could not be faulted, Elrohir would live happy today, warmed by the love of his lady instead of half-mad with grief and hatred. I would not have my sister living so, grieving you and feeling guilt because you felt she could not love you as you are."
They rode silently for the rest of the afternoon. As they made camp, Aragorn caught his brother's arm.
"Thank you," he said simply. Elladan saw a light long absent kindled again in Aragorn's eyes and was satisfied his story had some effect.
Aragorn did not share with his brother that whenever he went near the grave in the walnut grove, he had a flash of prescience. Sometime in the distant future, brown leaves fallen from bare trees covered the gravesite, sleet fell from a grey sky, and Elrohir, head resting on the stone, lay dead, the beryl dagger through his heart.
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.