20. The Trigger Is Revealed and Progress Is Made
*Haldir, you need not fear me. Have I not said I am here to share my strength with you? Here is my hand, hold it and let me help you face the other battles ahead. *
He shuddered. *You are angry with me! Why should I not fear you? *
Nurael groaned inwardly and slowly counted to ten before speaking in a soft soothing tone. *I am not angry with you. I only wish to keep you focused on the task at hand. You saw how easy it was to overcome your first challenge. You know it can be done for the others. *
*The rest will not be so easy, will they? * The Haldir ‘elfling’ whispered painfully.
*No, but then we did not say otherwise, did we? *
Haldir shook his head acknowledging that they had not. Finally squaring his shoulders once more he reached for Nurael’s hand. *I am ready. *
Nurael smiled at him and together they re-entered the dark mist shrouded hall where the voices continued to bellow and yell in an unholy chant of… “Failure…Shame…Coward.” Haldir flinched and grasped Nurael’s hand tighter.
*Courage, my golden warrior. * Nurael placed her other hand on his shoulder. He turned toward her blankly for a minute then a grin spread over his face.
*Am I truly your golden warrior? * He asked in delight.
Nurael cursed inwardly knowing that those three words had revealed more then she had ever intended. *Of course, you are the golden warrior to us all. Do you not remember the way all the elleth vi for your attention? How the warriors of the golden woods seek your approval? *
At those words he frowned. *I have never sought this. *
*Yet you have never sought to mitigate it either, have you? *
*You say I am guilty of arrogance and pride? * Anger laced his words.
Nurael paused and carefully considered both her answer and his possible reactions. Knowing that bluntness had served her well before, she decided it would continue to be her best approach.
*You have always been arrogant, Haldir. You wear it like a cloak draped around you as protection against others at all times. Few have seldom seen the real elf behind it. That is a shame, since I have found I like the you hidden there. I know that there are times when such arrogance is proper and helps you deal with those you must give orders to. But all are not subject to such requirements and they can resent it. *
*As you did when I removed my brothers from your influence! *
*Nothing like plain speaking. * He snorted wryly.
*Would you have it any other way? *
*No, even as an elfling you were plain speaking. Irritating as it was, it was preferable to the self-serving words of many others. * Flashes of the old Haldir were reflected in his speech and posture.
*We are digressing from our purpose. There are your fears we must face so that you may emerge stronger then before. *
Turning to face the loudest voice he nodded. *Let us begin then. *
Following in his wake Nurael smiled inwardly thankful she had managed to deflect him from her comment. If she were careful he would remember little of the personal comments between them and think only of her efforts towards his healing. He must never know of her true feelings for him or he would not hesitate to use it to put her in her place.
*That was unkind, Nurael. He has never deliberately sought to do so. * Elrond’s voice echoed quietly through the mind link.
*Lord Elrond, you have never been at his mercy. He has done so to others before, and I do not doubt, he will again. It is part of that protection he has surrounded himself with. * She responded defensively.
*If you cannot deal with him impersonally as your patient and rise above your own personal opinions and fears, perhaps the time has come to remove you as his guide. *
Shocked, Nurael stopped suddenly and considered Elrond’s words. As she gazed blindly forward, she suddenly took note of the fact that Haldir was quickly disappearing in the darkness ahead.
*Lord Elrond, I will deal with you later, right now my patient needs me, and we cannot afford to let him face what lies ahead alone. * Nurael grimaced and charged after her patient. She failed to note the amusement rippling through the mind link.
*How did you know she needed the reminder, Elrond? * Galadriel softly chuckled.
*I have grown to know her well during her training, my lady. She tends to allow herself to become too involved personally with her patients. For all of her abilities as a healer, she still has a way to go to full maturity. That is something only time and experience will correct. *
*Is that not understandable in this case? *
*Yes, but understandable or not she must learn to distance herself. *
Nurael quickly caught up to Haldir just as he emerged from the grey swirling fog and faced a pompous tall fat blob of a male dressed in dirty robes that flapped about him as he strode back and forth on a stage above them. He carried a long scroll that fluttered out behind him and he was checking off each of Haldir’s faults as he announce them to all and sundry.
*Fault number three million two thousand eight hundred and seventy seven, * he intoned in a strong officious voice.
Haldir jumped upon the stage and grabbed the scroll from the startled figure. *Prove it. * He demanded. *Prove I am a coward, that I lied, that I abandoned my responsibilities. *
The male figure looked smugly at him. *But you did, March Warden, when you failed to trust that your warriors knew their training, when you failed to let your captains do their jobs and insisted on controlling everyone’s actions. When you failed to tell your lord and lady how you failed to properly protect the village of Lithrif. *
Haldir stared at the figure in horror unable to either answer or defend himself.
*That is it! That is the trigger! * Galadriel exclaimed suddenly.
*How can you be so sure, lirimaer? * Celeborn interjected.
*Because his cousin’s children were among those lost during the yrch raid that destroyed it. He lost family and you know how much value he places on them. He failed to protect them. *
*But everything had been done that could have possibly been, and everything that was important to their safety even to the ordering of the families into closer locations nearer Caras Galadon, * Master Maenestad objected.
*I know, but he wanted to bring them within the city itself and their elders refused. Since he did not get them to come in and his family suffered the lose, he sees himself as a failure. That has to be it! The timing of it is too much of a coincidence not to be. * She insisted.
*That may well be the trigger, but there are other things that have weakened his ability to judge correctly and so led to his failing into this illness of his faer so easily. * Elrond cautioned.
“I agree. * Galadriel reached through the mind link. *Nurael. *
*Yes my lady, I have been listening. *
*Haldir seems frozen now. Perhaps a suggestion that he can seek out answers to these charges elsewhere, then face this troublesome one at the end? *
Nurael nodded and turned her attention back to her patient. *Haldir. * She waited for a response. *Haldir, * Climbing up on the stage she shook his shoulder. It took several attempts but he finally tore his eyes away from the smug figure now dancing up and down in front of him. Nurael noted the dazed look he wore and turned him away so that he would see only her.
*Nurael, * he whispered. *He tells the truth, I did fail to protect the village. *
*Perhaps, perhaps not. If it is true, we need to understand the whole series of events so that a proper judgement can be rendered. We must search through all areas of your memory. We need to understand your orders, both received and given. *
*But more than that we need to go back to the very first charges of weakness, cowardliness, and failure that you levelled against yourself to your childhood. Once we have found the beginning we can deal with each event and build from there. *
*I do not understand why we need to do that. Surely it cannot be important to go so far back. *
*Haldir, there was a doubt lurking somewhere that began all of this. Something happened to make you believe it just a little at first. Then there was another, then another and another. Finally you were filled with them. If you face them now that you are an adult, those first doubts can be seen in their true light and I believe that you will find that they were not worth the worry and pain you have heaped upon yourself. *
*You make me sound weak and helpless. * He frowned fiercely at her.
*You make yourself weak and helpless by refusing to face your fears. Now shall we chase them out of the shadows and into the light and see what they really look like? *
*What about him? * He gestured back over his shoulder.
*He will still be here waiting when we have dealt with them. *
And so began the clearing of the spider webs of fear and indecision that for centuries had tied up his soul in endless pain and anguish. It started with his anger towards his parents for deserting him and his brothers when they were young, leaving him to raise and protect them in their parents’ stead. Though as an adult he now understood that the death of his father in battle and his mother’s fading was not of his making, but he could not accept it emotionally.
His resentment for losing part of his own childhood and anger over his brothers' need for him to be their anchor in the frightening new world they faced had continued to fester. Where was his anchor? There had certainly been none for him! Then he became angry with himself for feeling that way. Fearful of failure and needing to make sure he succeeded, he strove to control every facet of his life and that of his brothers.
When they reached his memories concerning the period with Nurael, she saw for herself the effects of her antics had on him and understood the pain she had caused him with her teasing and interference with his plans for his brothers. He was torn between his duties as a warden and that as guardian for his brothers.
As Nurael and he visited each of these painful memories in turn, he finally understood he was not to blame for many of them. Haldir was able to accept the naturalness of his feelings, forgive himself, and let them go. One by one, each of the painful bubbles was lanced and the poison they held released to disappear forever. He began to walk taller and his eyes were brighter.
*I am not a failure. * He turned joyfully back towards Nurael. *Healer, I am not a failure. *
*No, Haldir, you were faced with responsibilities far exceeding what you should have been expected to deal with and you fulfilled them magnificently. The way your brothers turned out testifies to that. *
He hesitated, *I have not treated the ellyth of Lorien very well. *
Nurael smiled. *I doubt you will find them complaining. The attraction of your looks and prowess as a warrior as well as your reputation as our fearless March Warden easily let you become the focus of many a elleth’s daydream or secret longing. Your 'do not give a damned, take it or leave it’ attitude fascinates them. There is something about a bad ellon image that makes an elleth want to tame him. *
Haldir looked suitably embarrassed then studied her countenance with interest. *How about you Healer, do I fascinate you? *
Nurael froze then turned away. *That is nonsense, Haldir. We do not have time to indulge in such petty games. We still have the matter of your self-charge of failure to protect the village of Lithrif. *
*When we have finished Healer, we will visit this again. * He warned.
Nurael looked icily at him and said to herself. ‘I think not, Haldir. I will be gone before you can remember it.’
Lithrif-Ash (S) + Bark (S) to mean Village of ash colored bark. Trees and all were covered with residue from Mordor
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