18. It Begins
“You are the most exasperating, stubborn, idiotic elf I have ever had the misfortune to know. How Lord Elrond can even think we could be bond mates I cannot imagine. All of my life you have affected every decision or action I have ever taken and not in a helpful way. You have no intention of ever taking a mate, so where does that leave me? I was prepared to be alone as long as I could serve as a healer for our warriors on the fences. But now even that will be taken from me. I will have to return to Imladris and leave all that I hoped to accomplish unfinished because the Golden Woods needs you more than me.”
Nurael bent her head and wept quietly into her hands until she heard the sounds of breakfast being set out in the outer room. Blowing her nose and wiping her face with the same wet cloth she had used earlier on Haldir she entered and nodded to the retainer as he finished.
“Good morning, Mistress Nurael. I hope you will enjoy your breakfast. Is the March Warden any better?”
“No, he remains the same. This morning will be a busy one so please see that no one enters until I have indicated we are finished.”
“Yes, Mistress Nurael. Will there be time for me to remove the remains from the table before you begin?”
‘Yes, that should not be a problem. I will close the outer door before we start. If it is closed then you will have to wait.”
“Is there anything you will require before then?”
Nurael shook her head. “Every thing is prepared.”
“I will see that a strengthening tea is prepared for both you and the March Warden. I am sure you will find it helpful.”
She nodded while privately thinking that Haldir would still be unconscious when they finished.
“Thank you, I am sure we will.”
He bowed and quietly left her to her breakfast.
As Nurael toyed with her food she continued to contemplate her future. She thought of her grandparents and wondered if she should consider joining them in the Undying Lands. At least there would be a measure of peace for her with no Haldir to remind her daily of her weakness for him. Of course healers were always needed somewhere so perhaps she could find a more rewarding place elsewhere?
*Things are not that dire just yet, Nurael. * Elrond’s amused voice gently touched her mind.
Embarrassed to be caught so unawares, Nurael turned a bright red and stammered a welcome to her teacher. *My Lord Elrond, I was only considering possibilities. *
*I understand, but such darkness must be set aside if we are to succeed in our efforts today. *
*Do you really think we will gain the knowledge we need to help him? *
*Yes, how can we fail with such an array of talent to accomplish it? *
The musical tones of the Lady Galadriel chimed in. *Of course, Mistress Healer, we will search and find the source of the darkness that cripples the faer of our march warden. And when we do, we will do what ever is necessary to remove it. *
*Good morning my lady, Lord Elrond, and I were….. *
*I know, young one, you worry much over things you cannot control. All we can ask is for you to do the best you can. We will have to do the rest. Is all ready there? *
*Yes, let me go to Haldir’s side. * Nurael pushed back from the table and closed the outer door to the talan before moving to stand by his side.
*Very well. Elrond nin, are you ready? *
*Yes my lady. I have insured I will not be interrupted from my tasks. Glorfindel is standing guard at the door even as we speak. *
*Excellent. Both Celeborn and Master Maenestad are here as well. Nurael, will you place your hands on either side of Haldir’s head when I tell you? I will use your touch to focus on. Once I have breached his barriers you may remove them and stand by for any requests for help in the required physical tasks. *
All was silent for a short time. Nurael made her self comfortable at the end of the divan and bent forward to bury her face in the long fall of his hair before returning to await the initiation of the link.
It began as a low murmur at first and she shook her head uncomfortably. Then there was a narrow filament of golden luminosity that enlarged and filled her mind with its glowing presence even as she sensed the addition of silver and green threads intertwined about and through the golden shimmer. A deep blue light joined it and formed a wall before her inner vision. She knew then that Lord Celeborn, and the master healer, had been joined by Lord Elrond. Leaning forward she prepared for her place in the link and at Galadriel’s mental nudge, she placed her hands as instructed on either side of the sleeping Haldir’s head. She continued to watch as the silver and blue threads were joined by an azure blue thread and to her amazement realized that it was her own mind now tied to the link.
*We are all now bound together. No one must break the link without warning. * The deep voice of Elrond echoed through their minds. There was a soft shurring of sound as all acknowledged the warning.
The golden radiance began to pulse and separate into an elongated sphere. Trailing the sphere was a slender cord of shimmering silver, green, blue, and azure blue threads. Passing through the blue wall Galadriel attempted to go beyond and through the grey rock wall that was the visible barrier guarding Haldir’s mind. Her initial push was met with an equally strong rebuff. Pulling back she paused and then tried three more times with increasing strength until at last she breached the barrier and found herself floating in a sea of sickly green and black mists swirling through pools of shining blues and gold. There were cries of pain echoing throughout the morass that caused her to flinch before strengthening her presence there and letting them all know she had successfully made it through. At that all of the threads dropped off with the exception of the blue one that represented her safety link to Elrond.
Pausing she listened to the cries before focusing on a gruff snarl that kept repeating. “It is all your fault. If you had not been so weak, we would not have lost so many warriors.” Another wailed in high-pitched tones, “Weakling, weakling, weakling.” Off in a distance she heard another that sounded like a child. Following it the mists cleared and revealed a narrow corridor. She entered and paused before a door that swung open revealing a small room. Inside was the broken figure of an elfling and holding the smaller figures of two other elflings in his arms.
*Why do you weep penneth? * She asked the forlorn ellon.
*Because our naneth and ada have gone away and I cannot find them. I do not know what to do. How will we live without them? How will I care for my gwanur? *
*Do you not know that I will care for you. *
*Who are you? *
*I am Galadriel, the Lady of The Golden Woods. Your ada served me as March Warden for many years. I swore to your parents that I would care for you and your gwanur if anything happened to him. Here in this room you are but an elfling. Elflings are allowed to be afraid. It is for the grownups to be brave and protect them until they become adults. *
*But they say we are weak and do not deserve to live. We can only do that by being strong and not fearing anything. I have failed and I am afraid. *
*Who tells you these things? *
*Can you not hear the voices? *
*I hear the voices of doubt and fear that you have allowed to take root in your deepest faer, but they are not real. *
*I am afraid. *
*You cannot stay here hiding in this little room. There are many who love you, who seek to aid you. Will you not allow me to guide you out of the shadows and into the light where you may see the truth for your self? *
*I am safe only as long as I remain here. They will not leave me alone. *
*If you remain here you will prove the voices right. *
*You do not know what I have done, what I have failed to do. *
*Then tell me, show me why you deserve such punishment. *
*I cannot. *
*Then you must be prepared for me to search your faer until I find your failure. All of your failures and I will spread them out beyond to all. *
*No my lady, you must not do this. I forbid it! * The firm voice of Nurael flashed through the shadows in an azure blue flame.
*Nurael, how did you…. * Galadriel stiffened in surprise.
*Forgive me, my lady, I do not know what drew me in, but I am here and I know what you are doing is not what should be done. *
*Penneth do you know what danger you have put us all in? *
*I did not seek to follow you, it simply happened. I must be the one to lead him out. I do not know how I know this, I just do. *
Galadriel paused considering her blunt statement. *Very well, I will allow you to do this but I will remain nearby to protect you both and show you the way back when you must return. *
*I thank you my lady. *
There was silence and only the azure blue flame remained.
*Elfling, do you know who I am? *
*I am not sure,…..your voice is familiar. *
*Then listen to it. Hear it. Believe it. *
*I will listen. *
*I am Nurael. I am friends with your gwanur and spent many years with them while growing up. You have known me since I was an elfling like them.”
*Yes. Do you remember me now? *
*I….think…..so. You caused mw a lot of trouble. *
*Did I? * There was laughter in her voice.
*You used to laugh at me like you are doing now! *
*I am not laughing at you Haldir, I am laughing at the memories of the problems you caused me. *
*I…caused …you….problems? *
*You certainly did. *
Softly, *We can talk about those later. Now we are here to deal with yours. *
*I do not want to do that. *
*Only elflings refuse to face the unpleasant Haldir. You have grown up and become a great warrior, one that your ada and naneth would be proud of. Your brothers are proud of you. I am proud of you. All of us including the lord and lady wish for you to return to the light and be your old self. *
*I cannot. I have failed them all. *
*Haldir, hear my voice, trust it. Let me walk beside you and look into the dark places. Let me lend you my strength until you know the measure of yours. *
*Why would you do that? *
*Do you not know, ind nin? *