19. The Battle Continues
Nurael sighed and reached for his hand. *Elfling, before that is discussed, we must help you conquer your fears. Leave your brothers here and the Lady Galadriel will keep them safe while we go forth and do battle with the voices that trouble you so. *
*I cannot. * He shrunk back against the wall, shoving the other two elflings behind him protectively.
*Haldir, you are a great warrior to all of us. Time and time again you have led your warriors against the enemies of the Golden Woods. At the risk of your own life you have saved many. Even here with your deepest fears holding you prisoner, you still seek to protect your brothers. That is not the mark of a coward or one who would avoid responsibility. *
He frowned in concentration. *I remember many battles but that was when I was a full-grown elf. I am but an elfling now. *
Nurael gritted her teeth in exasperation and lowered her head so that she did not reveal herself.
*Steady, Nurael, remember why you were chosen for this task. * The soft voice of her teacher reached out through the link.
*I will, Lord Elrond. But even here he remains the most stubborn, unmovable, opinionated, self-righteous mule that he is outside. *
*Then use your bluntness. Do not accept his self-pity. *
Turning her focus back to the elfling in front of her, she studied his white face. *Haldir, either as a warrior or as an elfling you are required to obey those to who are in charge, is that not right? *
He reluctantly nodded his head.
*When you were the March Warden, who were your leaders? *
He twisted his body, every muscle protesting a response, but finally he blurted out. *The Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn. *
*Good. When they told you there was a task to be done, was it ever against all that you knew to be proper and for the good of their people? *
There was a long silence then a reluctant *No. *
*And you do know that they have placed you under my care? *
Again the long silence followed by a reluctant *Yes. *
*Then even though you are an elfling you understand that you must obey my orders. *
He nodded slowly.
*Good, I know what I require of you is a terribly frightening thing. Facing one's private demons alone would tax even the bravest of our warriors. For an elfling it would be even worse. But you will not be alone. I will be with you and adding my strength to yours. The Lady Galadriel will remain to protect your brothers in your absence. No one will dare to challenge her. *
Haldir looked back at the small figures of his brothers. As he watched a gentle light surrounded them with a blanket of golden shimmers and with a sigh they slipped to the floor and closed their eyes in sleep.
*Even now she surrounds them with her protection. See how safe they feel? Safe enough to sleep! *
He stood there indecisive for many minutes watching the sleeping elflings before he squared his shoulders and turned back to face her.
*I will do as you ask. May I take your hand now? *
*My hand will always be there for you, ind nin, whenever you need it. Come, we will face your demons together and destroy them. None can stand before us when we are together. *
For the first time in many months the figure of Haldir moved forward with a resoluteness he had been lacking. He placed his hand in Nurael’s and looked up at her.
*I am ready now, but please hold me tightly so I will not become lost or frightened again. *
Nurael looked down at the determined figure of the elfling, squeezed his hand gently, and smiled.
*I will do so. But you must understand Haldir there will be things that frighten you again. It is all right to feel so. We all have fears. When that happens to you remember the touch of my hand and draw strength from it. It will help you to face them down. *
He stopped and looked up into her face with a very worried look. *If I use up your strength, will that not leave you defenceless? *
*No, it is a strange thing but when one shares such strengths, it double or even triples its availability. The more you share the stronger you become. *
He considered that, and then nodded. *There is sense in what you say. I have always believed you had to be the strong one in order for those that you were responsible for could remain safe. When you have no one to share and help replenish the strength with, your efforts to remain strong will eventually drain you and leave you weak. *
Galadriel sent a silent message of encouragement to Nurael.
*Well done, Healer. You have managed to get him to consider a new point of view. That is the first step on his road to recovery. *
Elrond added his approval as well. *I agree, Nurael. Now strike while the anvil is hot. Move him beyond the room! *
*It is not wrong to be strong for those under your protection and leadership, Haldir. It is wrong not to seek respite and renewal with one in whom you trust and consider your equal. Such a one need not be your match physically but should be equally strong in spirit. *
*Like the Lady and Lord Celeborn? *
He nodded and turned to face the door where the golden light of the Lady stood guard against the darkness beyond. *I thank you lady for the protection of my brothers while Nurael and I come forth to deal with the voices. *
*Even as you have shared your protection with my family, March Warden, I am happy to share mine with yours. Go without concern for their well-being for they are safe in my care. * The Lady’s voice brushed his mind gently and he felt the sweetness of her affection surround him, soothing some of the wounds he carried so painfully.
He started towards the door now firmly pulling the startled Nurael by her hand. He paused momentarily as if gathering his courage and gripped her hand painfully.
*I am ready Healer. *
She returned his grip firmly. *Very well, but remember I am here beside you and you may use what ever of my strength you may need. *
He nodded and they stepped through into the darkness that swirled about in chaotic motion. The sounds of the jeering voices built and fell in a discordant chant. He winced but held tightly to Nurael’s hand.
*Which way? * He shuddered.
Nurael hesitated but only for a moment. *Let us deal with the one that calls you a weakling first. Make it prove its accusation. *
He shivered, then turned with Nurael in tow towards the direction the piercing cry came from. Following its shrill accusation through a dark sickly acid green tunnel they quickly reached the end in front of a small wooden door criss-crossed with belts of iron. There was a key in the lock above the handle.
He looked at her uncertainly.
*You must unlock the door Haldir, I cannot do it for you. * Nurael said gently.
Nodding, he reached gingerly for the key several times before succeeding in grasping it. When he turned his face towards her, she smiled encouragingly and squeezed his other hand firmly. With slow deliberation, he turned the key and stepped back as the door swung open. As it did the voice died down into a squeak like that of a mouse. Surprised he exchanged glances with her and then returned his attention to the room beyond the door. There was the shrivelled up figure of a stick like grey male who wiggled about on the floor like a worm. Speaking in its squeaky high pitch voice it continued to accuse Haldir of being a weakling.
*It would seem March Warden, one who is truly weak is making such accusations. Demand to know the basis of his charges. *
Letting go of Nurael he moved angrily into the room. Standing there he put his hands on his hips and glared at the worm. Nurael hid a grin behind a hand as she saw flashes of the old Haldir emerging in the elfling.
*What right have you to make such accusations towards me? * He demanded.
As he stood over the writhing loathsome thing, it’s voice grew weaker and weaker before finally expiring completely and the worm disappeared. He looked at Nurael in surprise.
*This was what I feared? *
She nodded. *It is one of them. *
*But I believed it! *
*It is easy to doubt oneself, but in doing so, you also open the door to such as this. In time if you do not face it you come to believe it. *
Frowning he turned and studied the now empty floor before him. *How do you stop it? *
*Such fear is not always logical and must be dealt with rationality. By accepting that you have been affected by its touch, you can best deal with it by sharing it with the ones you trust most. They become your anchor that allows you to explore and then reject it. If you lack that anchor then all you hear is the voice that nags until you have no other choice but to believe it. *
*And that is what I have been doing? *
He stood with head bent as he sorted through the many thoughts clogging his mind and added to the chaos of his faer. Finally he turned back to her. *Let us see what else I have foolishly listened too. *
Nurael hesitated. *Haldir. You should be prepared to accept that there maybe some truth in what the voices say. If that is so, you will still have to face them and accept the guilt. What you must not do is dwell over much upon such a failure and allow it to dictate the rest of your actions. Let yourself to forgive yourself. Learn from it and do not make the mistake again. We are not the Valar. But even they have been known to make mistakes. Do not judge yourself more harshly then they judge themselves. *
Haldir slumped and began to sink back into his despair.
*Haldir. * her voice cut across his mind like a whip and jerked his attention back towards her. *You have begun the battles for your fears.. You have won the first one, now you will have to go on and win to the war! *
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