13. An Unmovable Force? Not Likely!
Midday on the final day of the trip, they crossed several small streams and were met by elves dressed in the livery of the personal guard assigned to the royal family. Once they were identified the travelers were led into the wild park surrounding the royal retreat.
Nurael studied the new surroundings anxiously not knowing what to expect. The clearing was ringed with a thick nettle hedge of a bush she was unfamiliar with. Two openings gave entrance to a green velvet glade surrounding a single tree and a stream ran across one side flowing into a deep pool before exiting out the other side. There were a number of small plantings about the base of the huge graceful oak tree that provided the base for three flets built one above the other that comprised the only shelter. A series of small platforms arranged in a gently climbing stair about the tree trunk held huge large containers of tub shaped planters placed along their edges filled with colorful fragrant climbing roses and other flowers that formed roofs and sides leading up to the entrance of the first level. The scene was one of total peace and serenity.
Turning to Celeborn who had accompanied her into the retreat she smiled in delight. “My lord, I can see why you and your lady have not shared this with anyone. It is a place for the Valar themselves.”
He smiled in return, “We have often thought so ourselves. We seek its beauty that we may find a refreshment of spirit and let go the formality of royal protocol and ceremonies that become stifling after a time.”
She nodded. “I understand little of those problems my lord, but I know that such renewal is important to everyone at one time or another. Haldir and I will find his answer here as well. He may not appreciate it now but in time he will and he will understand your sacrifice that lets us share this wonderful sanctuary.”
“In this instance it is no sacrifice, Mistress Nurael. Even as Galadriel and I have served our people, so has Haldir served both us, and them, for many years at the risk of his own life time, and time again. He has more than earned it.”
Nurael nodded and turned back to once more study the glade. “If you have no objection my lord I think we can place our tents over there under those stairs and then build a small fire for cooking just off to the right beyond those lovely plantings.” She gestured towards the far side of the glade. “We should be able to enjoy all of this without damaging anything.”
Celeborn frowned at her. “Is not the talan suitable for your needs?”
Nurael looked at him in shock. “Surely my lord you do not intend for us to intrude into your most private living areas? We will be quite comfortable here at the tree base.”
“Nurael, my lady and I are both in complete agreement. You are expected to use all of the retreat. Let me show you what is there and see if any changes will be needed to suit your needs.”
“My lord, I don’t know what to say. I did not expect this.”
“Nurael, it is only a talan, not some mysterious, sacred place. If it will help Haldir recover and at the same time provide him with privacy, than we are happy to allow its use.”
She followed him up the stairs to the first level and paused in amazement. Here there was no indication of the importance of its regular occupants. The floor was covered with simple but colorful rugs and scattered about were a number of low tables and divans upholstered in soft fabrics in dark colors. Books and needlework were piled on a nearby chest and there was a large fabric drape that was pulled aside revealing a balcony partially enclosed with fountains of the fragrant rose bushes.
Just beyond the balcony a second stair wound around the trunk of the tree leading to the second level housing a small sleeping platform containing a large sleeping couch and several storage chests that contained additional bedding and clothing. The third, and smallest, level was reached by a ladder and was used for storage.
“I suggest you use the sleeping level yourself and let Haldir use the main level. I suspect he will be restless and have a need to work it off. He will be free to come and go without disturbing your privacy. Cooking is done just beyond the back entrance to the glade. We have a couple of retainers who have provided us with meals when Galadriel or I were too lazy to do it ourselves. They will be glad to relieve you of that chore and to help you prepare any special food or drink that you determine Haldir needs during his treatment as well. I will introduce you to them shortly.”
He gestured to the steam and pool. “You will find that it is deep enough to swim in, and not too far away there is a heated spring that is wonderful for bathing or soaking of tense or sore muscles.”
Nurael could only silently nod, still overwhelmed to have been given total access into the royal retreat and then told she could sleep in the royal bed itself.
Celeborn continued. “I had a couple of horses sent on ahead and I believe they will suit if you and Haldir would like to do some exploration beyond the boundary of the glade itself. You have only to ask for them.”
“There are wardens who patrol the outer perimeter and they will provide game, fowl or fish as you desire. You need not fear that they will talk about your presence here. They are sworn to protect this place and respect our privacy.”
Nurael nodded silently still overwhelmed with the generosity of their lord and lady. When Haldir joined them after completing a survey of the surrounding area, Celeborn smiled and reminded him that he was here to recover not plan the security of the compound.
Haldir sighed, “My lord, always have I exercised such caution. It has helped to insure the safety of our people. It is difficult to change my actions now simply because I cease to be March Warden.”
“Haldir, understand this, you have not ceased to be March Warden,” replied the firm voice of his lord. “As any of your warriors must occasionally take time off to heal, so now it is your turn. When you are ready, you will again assume the full duties of your post. Both my lady and I desire this. Until then you will remain here and follow the instructions of your healer to the smallest detail. When she is satisfied that you have indeed completed all that she requires of you then you will be free to return to Caras Galadon and your duties. Do you understand and agree to these instructions?”
Haldir stood silently head bent before his lord for some time before raising his eyes reluctantly to face him. “It shall be as you wish my lord, I will obey the healer.”
Celeborn studied the anguished face of his March Warden before placing a hand on his shoulder, “Meldir nin, we wish only the best for you. You have served us well as did your father before you. Your knowledge and skills have indeed done much to protect the Golden Woods. Now it is time that you are protected in return. Do not deny us that privilege.”
Haldir looked confused and had trouble understanding at first. He could not remember a time when someone had cared for him since his parents’ departure. Always he was responsible for others and it was proving difficult for him to change his perception. Making it even more difficult was the fact that his caregiver was to be the troublesome pest that had plagued him during the years his brothers had still been hin. He nodded his head his eyes now focused on Nurael who returned his gaze unflinchingly.
“As I said my lord, it shall be as you wish. My only goal is to return to my duties and responsibilities as swiftly as possible”
Satisfied, Celeborn nodded and after giving additional instructions to the personal guards and saying farewell to Haldir and Nurael departed with his escort to return to Lothlorien.
Haldir and Nurael remained staring at one another for quite a long time before she sighed and gestured up at the flet. “Let us get settled, March Warden, then we will discuss what will be needed to get you back to your duties as soon as possible.”
Meldir nin-my friend
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.